Monday, January 19, 2015

The Power of Connection

If you've been reading my blog for very long you should know how often I talk about the power of connecting on social media.  I even wrote a blog post about it a while ago called "My PLN Saved My Career".

This weekend was a perfect example of why I choose to connect online with others.

About a year and a half ago I met Brad Gustafson online.  He was a principal who had just joined twitter and was just eating up everything!  He was excited, passionate, and learning.  I began to form a friendship with Brad.

Then after some time I got on Voxer and really enjoyed the ability to have conversations outside of 140 characters.  I'm not sure who formed it, but a Voxer group between Brad, Ben Gilpin, and I was formed.

That group just morphed into a great friendship. We talked every day, and with me starting my principal position it was perfect to have a constant sounding board. Then our conversations steered off course some towards life and other things, and true friendships were formed, not just professional.

About 2 months ago Deb Gustafson (Brad's Wife) contacted Ben and I.  Brad was finishing his Doctorate program and Deb was throwing a surprise graduation party and she wanted us to be there.

Now to put some of this in perspective, Brad lives in Minnesota, Ben lives in Michigan, and I live in Texas.  Not exactly close by.  I had only met Ben once face to face and Brad once face to face and Ben, Brad, and I had never actually been in the same room together ever!

But we were totally in.

So as it came about, I ended up flying into Minnesota on Saturday.  Brad came to the airport to pick me up.  But the kicker was that he had no idea WHO he was picking up or why.  His wife just sent him my flight information and told him to be there.  I absolutely loved the look of shock on his face when he pulled up and saw me.  And even better when I broke the news that I hadn't come alone, but that Ben was landing about 2 hours later!

Ben, Brad, and I (with families) got to spend the weekend together talking, sharing, and connecting.

People have asked me before "why would you fly all the way to Minnesota for someone you hardly even know and have only met once???"

And that's when I know, they don't understand the power of connection.  Ben and Brad are like family to me.  And there are a few others I've formed relationships with online that I feel the same way.  I consider Brad a great friend, and you only get your Doctorate once!  I had the ability to be here, the bigger question is why wouldn't I?

Social media has allowed us to tear down so many walls and to build friendships that before couldn't exist.  I am so thankful to have met people like Brad and Ben, people who feel like family.  Brad is such a source of inspiration.  He pushes my thinking and challenges me almost daily.  He's incredibly kind and super passionate.  I am proud to be able to say that I could fly down and support him in a celebration that he worked so hard for, and even more so to see all the people that showed up at his party to show their support.

When people ask me why I'm on social media, this is my answer.  Social media has changed my life in so many ways, and it's something that you just don't understand until you actually experience it.

To my buddy Brad, congrats again, your recognition is well deserved.