A Frank Look at frank 2016
Before frank, the idea of attending a conference was about as appealing as a root canal.
In my mind’s eye, a conference was a place where people in stiff suits eagerly shake each other’s sweaty palms, exchange business cards and blurt out an elevator pitch to anyone in earshot.
After three days of authentic conversation, thought-provoking speakers, inspiring connection and tangy margaritas at frank, my assumptions were turned upside down.
conference gathering was a meeting of the minds. It was a sacred space for people to share ideas, seek out support and creatively problem solve with individuals and organizations trying to change the world.
Although frank is branded as a space for people in the field of public interest communication, it was an inclusive, not exclusive place. I wasn’t shunned from conversations for not being the director of communications for a nonprofit, but rather celerated for the steps my startup is taking to tell the stories of Gainesville’s movers, shakers and changemakers. I was welcomed into conversations about things that matter and invited to share my own experiences.
I laughed out loud at the jokes of the MC Lizz Winstead (still starstruck that I met the woman who co-created “The Daily Show”), I cried when investigative journalist Curt Goyette explained how he broke the story of the Flint water disaster and I furiously scribbled notes when documentary filmmakers Marjan Safinia and Kristina Robbins divulged their secret strategy for hunting down authenticity.
Every time I left the Hippodrome after a frank session, my mind was buzzing with new ideas and fresh perspective.
Following my handheld frank map around town allowed me to experience Gainesville like a tourist for a few days. It reminded me just how charming, lively and enjoyable this city is and gave me beautiful insight as to how attendees from all over the world felt in Hogtown.
While I did walk away from the conference with a sizeable stack of business cards (and my palms were sweaty at times), the cards don’t simply represent a new contact or lead, but rather new friendships, new mentors and a radiant new support system.
They are heartfelt connections with individuals willing to be frank (and I mean really frank) about how we can change the world.