Yes, on 15th February five years ago, the London Social Media Cafe which was soon to become better known as The Tuttle Club held the first regular meetup at the Coach & Horses in Greek Street and we’ve done the same thing (more or less) somewhere or other every week (give or take) since then.
A bunch of lovely folk turned up this morning to do the same lovely thing as ever: talk, drink coffee, laugh, talk, meet new people, have a moan, whatever it is that you all do, I don’t know, I just wander around grinning inanely.
First thing this morning, Rob O’Callaghan showed his appreciation for #tuttle (which inspired his Tunbridge Wells group: (#twuttle and its various spin-offs) by treating me to breakfast at the top of the Gherkin in the City. Because it was something he could do. It was great. I’ve never been up in any of these super-tall structures before and the 40th floor with it’s 360-degree view is amazing. Thanks to Rob and Phil Macleod who hosted us.
Back down at the RFH #tuttle buzzed its way through three hours (at least). I was asked, by people who’d been around for a while and new people too, what I got out of doing it. It’s a question that obsessed me at the beginning, but the answers aren’t what I expected back then.
It hasn’t made me rich or particularly famous. I’m skint most of the time and I have been for five years, but I’m happier than I’ve ever been and anyone who wants to tell me that it’s all a failure because it doesn’t make money is missing the point of life, in my opinion.
About six months in, I decided that I would commit to just showing up and welcoming new people and I knew then that I wasn’t ever going to make money directly from #tuttle and that it wouldn’t thrive for long if I made it all about me and used it as a vehicle to get well-known and cash-in from there. And I wanted it to thrive for a long time. I still do.
But I’d already learned this from blogging – that you get your rewards *because* of the things you do, not *for* the things you do. So what are the things I got?
Well doing this thing changed the whole way I see my life and work and it changed how I am perceived by others. I no longer think of myself as any kind of consultant,(though I will still happily take consulting fees!) I’m an artist, I make beautiful things, and #tuttle is one of them. The biggest thrill I got today was being told by a newcomer that “it was beautiful”.
I’ve been able to do things that I didn’t think possible. I’ve traveled and written and photographed my way coast-to-coast (and friend-to-friend) across the USA twice and then hobo-ed around the UK for a whole year living and working with people I’d met on the internet who’d got to know and trust me because I did #tuttle.
I got to call myself Social Artist in Residence at the Centre for Creative Collaboration and then spend a couple of years really thinking about what the hell that meant.
I got to work with a group of the simultaneously nicest *and* smartest people I’ve ever met on creating a new approach to business consulting, a process that resulted in some fabulous open data and the creation of at least one company.
My recent work on #ourdigitalplanet and #wewillgather (I’m considering amending my bio to say just “I work on hashtags”) has been successful because of this weekly deep experience of organising without an organisation.
And I got to meet you all and share in your journeys. I got to see you grow and be encouraged and build your lives and projects and businesses. I got to listen when you were down and depressed and couldn’t see the light just around the corner. I saw hungry young things take flight and soar and become industry stalwarts. I saw a certain entrepreneur meet hardcore users of his product and get real user insights into the thing he’d later sell for millions. And I got to partake in the multitude of fascinating soap-operas of our intersecting lives, laughing and scheming and crying and dreaming and, conversation by conversation, reaching a far better understanding of this social web thing together than we could ever have done on our own.
Thank you all, everyone who’s been along on a Friday morning, even just the one. Thanks to everyone who picked up the idea and started one in their own town (otherwise how would I have ever known to visit Long Beach?!?) Thanks to everyone who offered suggestions and guidance on making it better. Thanks to the trolls who spewed and stewed and (thankfully) repeatedly went hungry; please, if they wake up, don’t start feeding them now…
OK, that’s all, go back to what you were doing. See you next week.