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Mind Jam Anybody? Seeking Feedback, Building Community and Improving Your Business

Last Friday I tried something I’ve never done before, I hosted a Mind Jam. It was an opportunity for me to present my business plan, the big picture, to a group of esteemed colleagues and fellow entrepreneur’s to gain their feedback and insight. Truth be told, I also did it for accountability and to build community around my business.

The entire experience is difficult to summarize because it was both enlivening and exhausting. A total of 12 people took 2 hours out of their day to hang out with me and talk shop. That in-and-of-itself amazed and touched me. Especially because these were busy people, accomplished entrepreneur’s and leaders that I admire and whose insight I value.

While it was invigorating, the preparation, the discussion and the followup were also a little bit draining. I spent hours developing materials to share for the discussion. I built models for growing my business, and worked diligently to hone in on which details were relevant to the discussion. Despite all that effort to prepare, there’s still so much work to be done….And my mind’s been racing since the Mind Jam as I process everything that was shared.

Earlier this week I had the privilege of attending the Fort Collins NewTech Meetup for the very first time. This is a fun and supportive community of tech savvy entrepreneur’s where participants have the opportunity to pitch their business and gain feedback from their peers. It was awesome to bear witness, especially since I now have a new level of respect for the people that presented that night.

I could sympathize with how the folks giving their pitches felt. So excited about what they were working on they couldn’t wait to share it with the world. Yet a little confused and in need of direction, clarity and support for successfully creating their vision. Open to feedback, lingering on what other’s say as they evaluated the relevancy of the comments or questions made.

Seeking this kind of feedback is great if you have follow through. You have to process through many comments or questions, many that are difficult to hear, and decide what to do about it all. One of the things I heard from a few different people on Friday was that they thought it courageous of me to seek and organize a method for gathering feedback and “opening my kimono” so to speak.

But I think extending oneself like that just gets you partway there. The fully courageous act is leveraging what you learned to improve yourself and your business. That is about knowing what pieces of advice to ignore, and which pearls of wisdom to act on. Putting yourself out there and seeking input from your community is only as powerful as your ability to synthesize, modify and deliver a better product or service as a result.

So now the challenge is on, both for myself and for the businesses that pitched at the NewTech Meetup: do each of us have the courage to apply what we learned and take our businesses to the next level? Only time will tell!

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