A MeetUp Manifesto

A MeetUp Manifesto

Hey, guys. Hope y'all are staying warm. It only hit 80 here today.

Katie and I have officially lived out here two years to the day. It feels like yesterday that we were scrambling to pack and get on the road for a job that fell into her lap. In fact, two more IKEA runs in the next month and we might actually get moved in.

Mrs. Finn is doing incredible out here at her job. She's still working for CallidusCloud, entering her 3rd year. They do sales commission software tracking which flagships their suite of business SaaS tools. Her boss is incredible. They stay engaged, gave Mrs. Finn a roadmap for growth, and she's following it. They loved her work so much they moved all 400 employees in the corporate office to the building across the street from our apartment complex. Something like that.

For those that know the developer Nathan Bruer who lived in Porter - and now has a two-bedroom condo for sale up near the lakeshore if anyone is interested - just moved out here last weekend. He's a Googler now. His corporate apartment is nice. Their shared amenities are ostentatious, and fun.

We think about y'all more often than we admit. I listen to outlaw country more than I ever did back home. It makes me feel more connected.

Some days it feels like the job was left half-done, helping get back-home ahead of the tech curve. Other days I'm chasing sundowns. It's an adjustment.

But most of all, it was hard to leave. She got a job offer doing the kind of things at the type of companies we were hoping to bring to The Region, but as of yet were not able to at the scale that she found. We looked at her opportunity and realized that, sometimes, the best way to bring goods back home is to live in the marketplace and learn for awhile. We followed the same logic we were working to try to keep other talented tech-focused workers from using as a reason to leave. So, there's guilt, which I try to swallow down with Cherry Garcia froyo once in awhile.

I couldn't tell you whether or not we'll come back. Some days she muses about having her children be 6th generation Valparaiso High School grads. Other days we're driving to the mountains. It's a beautiful flux.

meetup-finn-2I throw all those aforementioned thoughts into my head when I think back about the tech days back home. The great thing I think I learned while co-directing the Meetups / Tweetups w/ Daver was that the events reminded me how communities are built every which way but according to plan. In the end we learned that the community only stays as active as its fellow community members. When we paid more attention to the point we marked on map than to who was holding onto the steering wheel, we made the most progress. And those days were incredible.

If I were to do it different, I would have continued the focus on helping the community to learn the tools and tactics of the digital world with a little more structure on planning out themes for the year - especially informative themes, "how to advertise on Google and Facebook," "how to deal with the latest changes in Facebook page algorithms," and the like. And then keep lining up the meetups with the new restaurants and old haunts of the Region. Growing exposure to tools as well as to the latest growth seemed to go hand in hand. It was probably something Daver said we should do. Or, at least, he's probably leaning over and whispering that notion in the ear of whoever was closest to him just now. Just kidding. Love you, Daver.

And I should have done a better job of having Dalton pay my tab. That's my bad.

But if you haven't finished your drink and gone back to the bar to replenish while the crew reads this, I would suggest to the community to continue to listen to these folks hosting tonight. They have a lot of great ideas. They'll show you how to grow online. They won't do it to keep themselves relevant. They'll do it to keep the community up to date. The rules of "local business" are changing, especially with more and more work being done online. "Local" business online is more about niche and less about borders. Y'all don't want to be the ones customers windowshop before buying it on Amazon Prime or some wholesaler website. Y'all are here because you want to be the ones folks buy or hire. Learning how to use digital tools will help your businesses adjust and grow. " This focus is what helps separate Ideas in Motion from the first gen of tech companies in the area.

meetup-finn-3It's this type of growth which will build a foundation for the next generation. The knowledge will help incorporate and keep tech companies in the area, and retain such talents as Katie and Bruer.

Stay active. Tonight's event is not a reality TV show. The joy doesn't come with the closing credits unless you played a role tonight. Make it a role to remember - and other things I learned the hard way.

Thanks for listening to me prattle more than I did during the events. If you haven't done so, buy something from the restaurant host. Even if it's a Diet Coke. Consider it a tip. For what you're getting in return tonight, between the networking, exchange of ideas, and PR exposure forthcoming from the team and their crew of photographers and content writers, it's a steal.

I should be back in August. On the 20th I have a wedding to go to. So if y'all plan a meetup around then, that would be nice. Dalton, bring your credit card that day. :-)

Til the next adventure.

- Nat Finn. Legacy Directory. NWIMeetup