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2024 CACOC Women In Business

Updated: May 9

I know what you’re thinking.

It’s the same thing I’m still kind of thinking.

Don’t touch it, dude.

Well…I’m touching it.

Last week, I had the opportunity to man the registration desk at the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce 2024 Women in Business event for the third year in a row. 

This year, the event played host to vendors, sponsors, huge regional businesses, solopreneur startups, and almost 300 guests, as well as a few lucky volunteers like myself. 

I try to volunteer at a lot of events, and I host a lot of events, but for a couple years now, the Chamber's Women in Business event has been one of my highlights of the year. 

For a while, I’ve tried to figure out what it is about this event that has me eager to wake up earlier than usual, head out to set up tables, hand out name tags, repeat the same welcome message a couple hundred times, and listen to a wide variety of jokes that range from gentle laughs about “letting a man in” to a little bit more risque “do you have something you need to tell us” type jabs. All in good fun of course.

If nothing else, it may be the only Chamber of Commerce event that I’ve attended that I could label as a joyous event. 

Sure, there are a few hiccups here and there as there are at any event. Things to work on for next year and people who don’t get the experience they hoped they would. But by and large, it’s a day filled with laughter, celebration, recognition of accomplishments, and happiness. 

Still, I’ve never really been able to put my finger on exactly what it is about this event. I’m a woodsy, blue jeans and flannel, smells like a bonfire kind of guy - at least according to myself - and more often than not, the prospect of a flowery, gala sort of brunch thing is a sure way to ensure that I find a conflict in my schedule.

However, I’m also an eager learner and this year I tried to be a bit more studious in figuring out what it was about this event in particular that resonated with me…especially since it really wasn’t designed to.

At the end of the day I came up with three things.

First, and I know this will seem counter-intuitive, it’s a very diverse group. Sure, it’s women. But within the group, there is a tremendous variety of industry, company size, levels of success, experience (read: ages), and financial status. 

It’s not often you see the CEO of a regional healthcare company chatting and networking with a cottage law, home-based baker. Or watch as the maker of handmade jewelry showcases her wares to a captive audience of automotive executives. 

None of it forced, none of it awkward. Just a genuine display of mutual respect amongst groups of people who may not find themselves in the same room any other time of the year.

I've also never met a "related to a Rosie, Rosie the Riveter" person before, so that was cool too.

Second, and I know I kind of said this before, but it’s fun. People dress up (other people - I think I was supposed to…maybe next year). People have mimosas and pick at snack boards filled with cheeses and meats. It’s an amazing, beautiful venue. People smile and are happy.

As a casual observer, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was not a business event, but rather a social gathering of 300 friends…who just happen to also be supporting each other’s businesses (and it sort of is). 

Maybe it’s just me, but a lot of business events I attend just aren’t that. And by that, I mean fun. People aren’t there to have fun. They are there to work, get a return on time invested, and move on to the next dull, boring, efficient thing they need to do. 

Lastly, it’s easy. 

I don’t mean easy to put on. The Chamber staff and committees work incredibly hard and plan all year to create an event that is easy to attend, participate in, and get value from. I believe the trick to this is that the organizers spend countless hours thinking through every possible detail, anticipating every need, so that guests are greeted with a seamless and effortless experience.

The result is an event without stress and complications which allows guests to relax, enjoy themselves, and focus on their own reasons for being there. 

From my perspective (which was never requested and might not be needed anyway), the day is not a celebration of women simply for being women. This was a celebration of truly amazing people, innovative and successful business owners, professionals, dedicated providers to their families, and people who really just inspire the heck out of me.

I’m lucky to have been surrounded my whole life by women who are amazing. I still haven’t hit many of the milestones my grandmother hit by the time she was half my age. And at more than twice my age my maternal grandma was still running, jumping over parking barricades, and involved in absolutely everything. My mother raised two kids with a business she started in our basement while completing a masters degree at night. My sister was (and still is) basically the best at everything she put her mind to and executes things to a level of perfection I've never dreamed of. And my wife somehow manages to be the smartest person I know, a successful healthcare professional, and the best mom to our kids.

No one needs to tell me how amazing women are, I see it every single day.

Ok. I still know what you’re thinking. 

“You're not a gender studies professor, you’re a coworking space consultant…what’s the point?”

(and possibly "why am I still reading this?", yet here we are).

The point is, I think I figured out why I really love the event so much. And sorry, it’s really not too much to do with the women part of women in business (or maybe it is). 

What I realized is that the environment that is created in that beautiful venue for that incredible day is the environment I strive to create every single day in our coworking spaces.

A place where when you walk through the doors it doesn’t matter who you are because you are now “one of us”. 

A place where executives, freelancers, artists, and robotics experts all come together, working side by side to achieve a better life for themselves and their families.

A place that is fun and a place you want to be. A place where you can laugh, joke, maybe even hug, and still be a professional accomplishing your goals.

And a place that is easy. Being a member of one of our coworking spaces shouldn’t be a crazy, complicated over-thought thing. It should seamlessly integrate into your life. (see what I did there?)

So a big thank you to the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce for letting me be a part of this special day - it was truly amazing to watch you bring to life an event that encompasses so many of the hallmarks I strive for. And thank you to all the women in attendance. Whether you inappropriately asked about the anatomy underneath my blue jeans or simply said thanks for volunteering, I appreciate you all.

And Happy Mother’s Day to everyone - I hope you have an amazing day! 

In the words of my Grandma, “Well, that's about all I know”.

If you or anyone you know is considering starting a coworking space in a small town, please don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule a discovery call. We can help you create a welcome, fun, easy space that will motivate and inspire everyone who comes through the doors!


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