The Value Of Social Events And The Greater Startup Community

“I was defintely in a dark place.  It was the meetups and startup events that brought me back.” – Michael Grabham, founder of Startup Grind Seattle

Who knew something as a simple as a meetup could help someone get back to feeling normal again?  But that is exactly what happened with Michael Grabham, one of my recent guests on Founders RAW.

He details how he was in a “dark place” after experiencing a big failure in one of his businesses a number of years back.  He didn’t go into much detail during our conversation but he alluded to being very down and out, probably in some sort of depressive state.

Why am I guessing depression was upon him?   Well, I dealt with those feelings as well.  Even the best of us can have our worst times, and those times can seem to drag on for so long you feel like it won’t ever get better.  That is what I think Michael was referring to when he mentions his dark place.

So how do you get out?

Like he mentions, you lean on your community and get around excited people doing cool things.  He decided he had enough and started going to meetups and other startup events here in Seattle, meeting founders and other people working on new projects.  He knew he would be lifted up simply by osmosis.

In fact, that is how I originally met Michael, at an event called Tech Cocktail held in Seattle in fall 2011.  After that, we kept meeting every month or two where he would advise me on what to do next and who I should talk to.

This face to face time was incredibly valuable to me as a rookie founder.  But amazingly, I had no idea how important it was to him and where he had been (psychologically) so recently in his past.

It’s funny, you never know what, to what degree and to what depth someone is dealing with, since we all put on these masks as we go about our day.  It’s quite possible one of the people you will talk to at your next social or networking event is deeply struggling with something, and you may never no it from the outside.

Yet they are silent screaming “please help me!”

Do them a favor and ask “what can I do to help you?”  You will be amazed at how surprised they will look when you say that.  Also, ask to get in contact with them and book a coffee/beer meeting with them so you can talk deeper privately.  I guarantee you will change their life – or they might even change yours.

I think we underestimate how important our greater community is.  It very well can save the person standing right next to you.