Q: Is the Company of Friends a source of grassroots change in your region? Why or why not?
I believe the old business model is dead. A new model is now forming in conjunction with and partially because of the communications infrastructures offered by the Net. Cheaper technology and better, faster communication structures are providing a way for new ideas to bypass the old corporate infrastructure. Company of Friends is one of those many new communication structures. Companies and organizations that embrace new concepts will flourish. The closed-minded will wither.
One person who reads a magazine can affect some change, but when several of these people come together, their understanding is enriched, their confidence is bolstered, and their sense of mission is clarified. That can make each person more effective, even when they are on their own and away from the group.
The Company of Friends creates an identity for people who are committed to change and committed to making a difference in the way business is done. It’s a way for like-minded people to find each other and form a network to sustain their desire to grow personally and be effective professionally. More importantly, CoF is comprised of people who have pre-identified themselves as change agents. CoF gives people like us a reason to get together, communicate, and coach and dare each other to be more like our models and mentors.
The Company of Friends has already brought together people who wouldn’t have otherwise connected in this community. The folks who participate in Company of Friends seem to be very passionate about improving this region because they really believe that an improved community will benefit everyone. There’s a lot of pride in Tampa Bay as a region. The majority of residents may be transplants, and we may not belong to this place in a traditional sense, but we feel very strongly about it. We tend to see our mission not in terms of fixing something that is broken, but in terms of taking some very good things in this region and elevating them to a new level of prominence.
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