“You change the world when you create something that never exists before.” — Srinivas Rao
When Frankie and I started Own Your Story community event, we were not inspired by such a noble reason.
We both spent a lot of time figuring out ourselves, went through 10-days of silence in Vipassana meditation, felt that something is missing in our society but couldn’t define it clearly without getting lost in our long conversations.
Instead of endless talk, we decided to organize meetups around the topics we’re interested in and see if we can find our ‘tribe’.
Fast forward 4 months and 8 sessions, I was amazed by this ‘accidental creation’ that fills me with love and gratitude every time I walked away from a session.
Psychography vs. demography
When it comes to knowing your audience, I used to think that we aligned with millennials who want more in life other than working on a job that didn’t bring fulfilment.
When we were able to find our community, I was surprise to see the 3 decades age gap between our youngest and oldest members.
The moment of realization came when I heard Seth Godin’s manifesto in an interview:
“My product is for people who believe in ….
I focus on people who want …..
I promise you that engaging with what I make will help you ….”
The age gap makes perfect sense when we apply ‘psychography’ — we attract people who believe in what we believe and want what we want!
It’s about human connection
Our initial idea was to create a safe space that empowers people to be authentic and ‘do the thing that makes them come alive’.
At the back of my mind, the measure of outcome is output-oriented — do the participants learn something? Live a more meaningful life? Create something new?
Again, I had an aha moment when I came across ‘Back to Human’: instead of changing life, what we do closes a big gap in the modern world — the lack of authentic human connection.
We created a space where all of us can be ourselves, talk to each other, and feel like we belong to something bigger. This echoes with ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs’, where love and belonging are essential before moving up to self-actualisation.
Experiment and explore
A friend used to ask me, “What’s your vision for ‘Own Your Story’?”
I couldn’t give him an answer and I was totally okay with it. Instead of having an end in mind, we are small and lean enough to experiment with different themes and ask ourselves every time: what works?
When we have nothing to lose and expect nothing in return, we set the rule for our own playground.
Because of this, we learn that the safe space for human connection motivates people to keep coming to us while a ‘fulfilling life’ or ‘self-actualisation’ is the byproduct of the connection we make.
I am extremely grateful that I took this leap together with a partner who share the same values as me.
In the past 4 months, it never crossed our mind to skip a session in any circumstances. While the initiative started with a book about my life story, I found that the values are stronger when I remove myself out of it.
I am always humbled by the community who make time to be with us and stay back to mingle for hours. Together, we co-create the culture, the space and sow the beautiful experience of expressing our truest self with like-minded people.
By showing up consistently, we earn the trust from each other.
I had a lot of fear when we first started organizing events — what if nobody turns up? Am I too annoying to post the event to 10 different FB groups every 2 weeks?
I learn that when I believe in something bigger than myself, it gives me the strength to show up and take the risk.
By embracing each other’s’ stories and supporting each other’s dreams, we have seen wonderful connection that extended to work, new projects, sports, and mentorship.
Through this journey, I believe that all of us have the power to make a difference, even though it is as small as hosting a meetup and starting a conversation.
Now that we experience the beauty of community, we have a new puzzle to solve: what is a sustainable model for human connection?
“You are here to make a difference, to either improve the world or worsen it. And whether or not you consciously choose to, you will accomplish one or the other.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich
Hi, I am Isabelle, author of ‘The Art of Owning Your Story’, I write about conscious living and personal growth, building a podcast called ‘Own Your Story’. If you enjoy what you read, subscribe to get the latest content delivered to your mailbox! Thank you 🙂