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The AGEIST and CHOSEN Connection Series: Our First Experience

Together with CHOSEN, we have found a new way to make deep connections, the sort forged at multi-day retreats, through Zoom conferencing.

Both AGEIST and CHOSEN are organizations that think big. When we see a place where we think we can make a meaningful impact we go all in. If we look at what is one of the most limited areas of our current homebound lives, it is the ability to make meaningful connections with new people. 

It is important, of course, to maintain all of our existing connections with family, co-workers, and friends. But what about making new deep connections with people we don’t yet know? This is where we audaciously saw a need for some fresh thinking about how an online platform could be used creatively to help foster exactly that. It would require some heavy technical lifting, some very generous help from a lot of our friends, and taking the principles learned from physical experience so that they could work in a digital format.

Digital Answer to the Multi-Day Retreat

How would one take the anticipated learnings and connections that result from an 8 – 10 day experience in the wilds and make it work in 2 hours over Zoom? To our knowledge, this had never been done and required a massive re-think about how Zoom could be used and could best contribute to the attendees.

What exactly was this? Well, it is a bit difficult to explain as most of us are used to Zoom being used for webinars, parties, family chats or plain corporate communications. What we created was a highly choreographed digital experience incorporating small group connection, performance, and participatory movement within an action-packed 2-hour window. 

IN-Q Poetry Inspired Guests

A big part of this was the 30-minute “keynote” performance by IN-Q, the award-winning poet and multi-platinum songwriter. He was named to Oprah’s SuperSoul 100 list of the world’s most influential thought leaders and has inspired audiences around the world through his live performances and storytelling workshops. His poems about our responsibility to take this painful moment in history as a window of opportunity to change completely mesmerized people. Q is an empathetic genius, and we were so fortunate to have him with us that day.

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To pull this off for our 40 hand-selected attendees from around the world required a month of preparation and a crack tech team of 4 working behind the scenes to keep Zoom behaving. There were a couple of tech issues — Zoom is a deeply problematic platform for this sort of activity, prone to acting up, and even people who are highly skilled and acclimated to the platform can find themselves wrestling with it. But these were minor teething problems that only a couple of our people encountered.  

Proof of Concept

Why did we keep this to only 40 people? Because we knew there would be a lot of learning that would come from inventing something that had never been done before, and we wanted to work out the kinks before we went fully public. 

The great news is it was a tremendously successful experience. Proof of Concept! We successfully designed an experience that was uplifting, positive, and connecting for everyone. Not a single person dropped out during the program. Just that was a major achievement in the multi-tasking digital-overloaded world we are living in.

What’s next? Bigger and better! This one was a test: Could we create something meaningful? Yes, we did and in spades. More information on the next bigger and better version to come. We have very high expectations for this initiative and look forward to bring it to all of you next.

IN-Q’s book Inquire Within just came out last week, and it’s about taking your pain and transforming it into growth.

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David Stewart
David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

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