One of the nice things about living where I do is that within three or four hours drive (or a short flight) I can be in another state, other cities, and being close to the U.S.- Canada border can be in Vancouver, BC. Whenever I can, I take a road trip for innovation and inspiration. The same was true when I lived in Boston (except for the quick access to Canada)
This past week, a colleague asked me if I'd like to drive with her to Portland, OR for a business event. I jumped at the chance, because I knew I'd get new ideas and meet new people. I happen to be one of those folks who gets energy from others - definately an extrovert!
The side benefit about a road trip with a collegue or business alliance partner is that you can discuss ideas in more detail when on the road. Michelle and I are planning to create a couple of programs between our two companies. You also get time to get to know your alliance parnter or partners better.
The great thing was that we did this whirlwind trip and left with lots of new ideas and excitement because of the people we met and the topics discussed.
The first day, we dropped by one of the best independant book stores in the U.S. - Powell's City of Books. Later, we attended a Women in Technology mixer and learned about an amazing program called Plate & Pitchfork, which are farm dinners that help unite the diner to the farmer. Our local contact, Ann, suggested we leave and get to another event with about forty business owners, and she led the way. The next morning, we visited a Chamber of Commerce roundtable session and saw a fantastic presentation on Search Engine Optimization for a mere $5 as a guest. We learned things that we were stunned to know, led by a graphic designer who just happens to really understand what is under the hood below web design.
How did this trip help me as a business builder? Lots of new connections, but more importantly it is seeing how others innovate in different ways - and away from the 'same old, same old that you might get used to.
Finally, I ran into a woman I'd heard about and was introduced to through email over a year ago, but never connected with. You never know what might happen on the road - and from a business inspiration standpoint - it is great to get out of your homeostasis and be around new ideas and people.