Locally-Sourced is for More Than Just Catering

I think I’m like most people in business. When “big name billionaires” like Richard Branson of Virgin, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, or Jeff Bezos of Amazon write a blog, or give an interview, we scramble to read about it. We hang on their every word – maybe buy a book they recommend – and then expect we are on the path to become them.

But… are these people really our best mentors?

Don’t get me wrong, there is no question that these billionaires are very successful people that have important and inspirational things to share. I’m just not sure we can connect with them on a truly personal level – which for me goes a long way.

And thus my point about locally-sourced and the impact of local community networking.

Recently I had the opportunity to both attend, and participate in, a panel discussion with local CEO’s running successful companies in the Richmond, VA community. These were people in charge of well respected companies. People interacting with other local businesses on a daily basis. People who are accessible for a follow up coffee. People who, at the end of the day, really aren’t so different than you and I. Can you say that about Michael Dell?

At the panel I attended there were 3 fascinating speakers that had wonderful stories to share. In fact, I was the first audience member to eagerly follow up with questions! One of the panelist opened up about his unique strategy for growth that I just had to learn more about.

In the panel I had the honor of participating in, we shared stories of turning pain points into opportunities. Even though we are a catering software company, this is a topic that resonates with any business – large or small. Our vulnerability to open up in the discussion was well received. Personally I received quite a few emails with questions and agreed to speak with companies interested in learning more.

Last week I had an awesome lunch meeting with a prominent investment banker here in Richmond. For the small cost of lunch, he shared many great experience and advice points – a small price to pay for this knowledge. Even more important than the wisdom gained in that lunch, my new ally offered to help connect me with other key strategists within his network. His take away point : don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask for help and advice. You just never know where it may lead.

So I encourage everybody to check with their local Chamber of Commerce, CEO group organizations, breakfast clubs, networking groups, LinkedIn connections, etc. to find ways to communicate with other leaders right in your community. I believe you will find just as much inspiration, if not more, than the billionaire blogs.

Who are your best inspirations for personal growth? Share your experience with us!