Five Things Organizing Gangplank Brownbags Has Taught Me

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Guest post by Dani Cutler.

I don’t need to dwell on what Gangplank is, and what it means to the community. Pretty much everyone reading this knows. If not, here’s a introductory video great to check out.

One way I was able to give back for a time was running the Gangplank Chandler Brownbag presentations each Wednesday at noon. I have been using what Gangplank has to offer for a couple of years prior, between Gangplank Jr. events, podcasting, and using the space for other reasons. When asked to take on the Brownbags, I was fortunately in a place where I could. It was one of the most fun and challenging things to experience. Here are some ways coordinating Brownbags has helped me grow:

1). Networking. You will meet many people this way. Not just the brownbag speakers, but also in those who use the space on a daily basis. It’s a wide variety of people with an endless variety of interests.

2). Learning. When you are coordinating the show, you get to see all the performances. Not only do you get a wide variety of presentations to learn on a business level, I’ve also learned more about local food, the music industry, philosophy, community events, and have even done a little yoga. We’re talking real-world application here.

3). Boldness. I learned really fast that if you need something, it’s better to just yell it out than try and figure out which individual person to talk to. As I was learning how to use the sound system and the projector, I yelled often. Not to mention the practice speaking in front of people once a week. After all, you do have to introduce the speaker, and let people know what is coming up in the future. Side benefit- it’s ok to ask for help.

4). Leadership. Before taking on brownbags, I had been on committees, and have volunteered my time. I was even President of the PTO at my daughter’s school. However, that was a nearly a decade before this, so I was rusty. Coordinating brownbags helped me gain some confidence back and not run away screaming when all eyes were on me looking for guidance. In fact, all this confidence led me to head the organizing committee for TechPhx, a low-cost technology “un-conference” held every November in Tempe.

5). Started my own business. Probably the biggest thing being a part of the Gangplank community has taught me is that if you can’t find it in someone else, create it yourself. I had been looking for employment for several months without any luck. What spending a year consistently being around these amazing people in this space showed me that I have the skills and the experience to branch out on my own. So I did. If that’s not a definition of “Be Dangerous,” I don’t know what is.

Thanks, Gangplank.

~Dani

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