A wise person once told me that "We can do much more together than we can apart." Several years down the road, I can now testify to the truth in that statement. Partnerships and collaborations deliver bigger outcomes. It's that simple. And it's beautiful.
Just over a week ago a guy called David Jones II contacted me on Instagram to tell me he was in London with his team and that they were organising an Instameet with the aim of connecting with local creatives in our city. He was keen to connect with @London also. David is on the leadership of a US-based collective known as @WePioneer which is a global community for disruptive creatives, entrepreneurs, and go-getters.
Talking with him I very quickly realised that we had shared hearts and vision; that being a desire to invest in people and creatives, in entrepreneurs and influencers, and to encourage and help release them into their gifting, and to facilitate the networking and befriending of people from all manner of backgrounds and cultures. And like us, they were using Instagram to do it.
David had kindly invited me and our wonderful @London community to participate in the instameet and I knew that if we invited our faithful community down, we could effectively pour petrol on David's flames and help to share an incredible moment together. And so at 5 days notice we announced the meetup for Sunday 10th January as a New Year's Photowalk... a few days later, 452 people turned up in Piccadilly Circus!
I can't describe the exhilaration and sense of privilege I feel when gathering a crowd. To be honest, you really really need to come to one of our events to experience it for yourself, to feel the buzz and the energy and the anticipation. Every time we do it, I know we're touching and changing lives. I know that powerful stories will emerge. I know that new relationships will be born. New projects and ideas will emerge. I know that someone who is inherently lonely and isolated can walk into a new world of acceptance and friendship. People have written to me and told me how they had been suicidal and lost, and contemplating suicide. But when they came to one of our Instameets, they found friendship and life started to take on a whole new meaning for them. What an honour to be part of these moments.
And so David and our leadership teams begin to lead the crowd on a walk across London, stopping first in Trafalgar Square...
Next we pass through the Admiralty Arch which serves as a stunning gateway to The Mall and the long approach to Buckingham Palace.
Next we pass through the stunning St James Park. By this stage people are remarking in amazement how the previous 3 weeks had seen near-constant rainfall in the UK, yet today, we walk through the crisp winter air with sunshine on our backs.
We cut across Westminster fairly swiftly as we begin to realise that we're on the brink of a very special moment. The sun is dropping down towards the horizon quickly. The crowd take up positions all along Westminster Bridge and down the embankment as we prepare for a spectacle.
We all have the privilege of witnessing the most incredible sunset that I've seen in London for a very long time. And I've seen A LOT of sunsets! How amazing. No rain. No wind. Just crisp air and a beautiful sunset! We could not ask for more!
At this point we regroup again and reveal to the crowd that we have a secret location and an amazing place to get warmed up. Literally just the other side of Westminster Bridge, and along the Embankment, sits the Tattershall Castle - a 900 capacity vessel sat opposite the London Eye and under the watchful gaze of Big Ben. The crowd head inside for fish and chips, hot chocolates, beers and many other delights.
It's the perfect end to a phenomenal day out. No more walking - just talking and befriending, networking and dreaming. As always, I know that I won't fully understand the impact of the day. Ever. Yes stories will emerge. But it's impossible in that moment to fully comprehend the sum of what has just happened. I'm grateful to David and the @WePioneer team for trusting us and for being willing to think outside the box, and for having the same understanding - that we can do much more together than we can apart.