In March of 2020, when Chicago announced the shelter in place order, both Tribe’s owners (myself and Cari Rogers) were out of the country. I had been in London since January, and Cari had been running a retreat in Costa Rica and was busy helping everyone get back home before all flights to the US were canceled.
The COVID train arrived in London about two weeks before Chicago. I sat in disbelief, watching something unfold that I never imagined I’d experience in my lifetime. Seeing the bustling, gridlocked Central London streets that I grew up on, desolate; people standing solemnly, 6 feet apart in lines for grocery stores, eyes staring into space. It took my breath away every time I left the house for our allotted 1 hour per day.
Knowing that Cari was busy managing a crisis of her own, I checked in from London daily with our practitioners, giving them a heads up of what might be coming their way. We coordinated what signage should go up (beginning with a now laughable “Flatten the Curve” poster) and which additional sanitization protocols to put in place in the days until we finally had to close our doors on March 21st.
In 2020, Tribe was our Roscoe Village physical location only. As a community of independent business owners who are always busy and rarely in the same place at the same time, we use Slack, a messaging platform for business, to facilitate connection among our practitioners.
The collective shock each of us felt by needing to shutter our business for an unknown period of time drove a strong desire for frequent face-to-face connection that our old schedules would not have permitted. We jumped on a Zoom call the first week we were closed to try and figure out WITAF had just happened. On that first call, we decided to check in every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to support each other through the insanity of what was happening. We shared training and funding resources, learned what Pivoting meant, and provided moral support for each other during the rollercoaster of emotions we were all feeling.
It became evident that the essence of Tribe was the human connection between like-minded, like-hearted, and like-souled individuals, not the physical location where they practice. Cari & I soon realized this was the evolution of Tribe beyond our four walls we had envisioned for some time, and the framework for Tribe’s new virtual membership was born.
We began the work of building a virtual version of our physical space to support more independent practitioners in their dream of having a private practice. Looking back, we realize we were woefully unprepared for the work that lay ahead of us. Who knew that building a virtual Tribe would be as much work, if not more, than the physical, mental, and emotional work we had put into launching our physical location? The complex tech possibilities, failed software trials, dead ends, glitchy code, automations, endless decisions, and the expense of building a virtual village could have overwhelmed us to the point of giving up on numerous occasions. But just like the hurdles we encountered when we opened our space, we picked ourselves up and kept going. The pandemic showed us the importance of community for practitioners who want to make a living helping people to feel better. Our community provided us with the strength and motivation to continue.
Now that life has resumed its usual pace; we meet monthly on Zoom to share what is going on in our lives. We support each other’s business by forming meaningful connections and learning about each other’s vision, passions, and interests, and how we can help each other grow. We have coined the term NotNetworking for these calls.
Networking is stressful for most humble healers. Having to dress up and promote ourselves is not in our DNA. Cari & I have spent the last ten years brainstorming alternative ways to increase client referrals and remove this pain point for practitioners, and we think we might have finally figured it out.
Last month we launched Coworking in our Chicago studio space to facilitate in-person connections and focus on efficiency and productivity while in community, and in person NotNetworking will be following soon.
“No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind.” – Napoleon Hill
Something magical happens when like-minded individuals get together and share ideas.
Who in your life inspires you to think bigger and keep going when times are tough?
Written by Ellen Letten. Brain Health educator and co-owner of Tribe. In addition to her own practice, Ellen supports other wellness professionals in private practice.