A VMS member who didn’t know me took the time to have coffee with me (back when such activities were not high risk!). Over the course of the hour, he asked thoughtful questions to suss out where I was in my career journey and suggested several parallel courses of action I could entertain; one of which was to consider joining the VMS Community.
I was told that the pay was lousy but the value was priceless, for all involved.
This was all the way back in May of 2017, and I was fortunate enough to make it through the screening process and on to my first two mentorship teams in fairly short order. I soon discovered that I had joined an amazing group of people with infinite skill, patience and enthusiasm for helping everyone involved become the very best they could be. Truly a healthy community—the signs were everywhere.
One sure sign of a healthy community is a membership that clearly shares common values and goals. As I became involved I saw countless entrepreneurs and Mentors alike dedicated to giving their time selflessly and openly, and as a result always walking away from every encounter having felt they had selfishly benefited disproportionately from the experience. Everyone I met was a lifelong student and a strong supporter of the entrepreneurial spirit, and I constantly witnessed a desire to put the other over themselves.
Healthy communities promote diversity of experience, thought, and opinion, and the breadth and depth of experience sitting around any given table at any given VMS gathering continues to be hard to fathom. There is always work to be done but VMS enjoys a respectable balance of gender and culture and certainly an impressive array of business and life experience.
Healthy communities also promote interaction among all members. Between the actual meetings with entrepreneurs, my calendar soon became dotted with Mentor Rallies, continuing education opportunities, and entrepreneur admission panels. There are at least a half-dozen more opportunities for interaction with other members via various working committees, and of course no shortage of entrepreneurs interested in additional perspectives and Mentors willing to welcome me to the team.
i was told the pay was lousy but the value was priceless, for all involved
Measured and deliberate growth is another sign of a healthy community, and at some point in every Rally we are updated on the thoughtful growth of the program. Through hard work and significant individual generosity the community’s budget shows ongoing signs of keeping pace and growing as well.
In my opinion, smiles are a sure sign of a healthy community, and although many of our conversations are very serious, there is never a shortage of smiles and laughter around the table.
A community in good health will see their members grow, accomplish what they had hoped, and then leave—often to return in another capacity. We see this frequently at VMS as entrepreneurs work through the program for a time and then return as Mentors themselves. Healthy communities also know when and how to say goodbye, and although it's rarely required, the organization has shown the ability to be decisive when the program is no longer a good fit.
At the end of the day, communities exist not because of physical walls or bylaws or admission panels but because of mutually shared interests, values and goals that bring like-minded people together to grow and share, and it's these common traits that make VMS the formidable community it continues to be.
The pay is still lousy but the value continues to be priceless, for all involved.
VMS Mentor since 2017