Brendon Brown, University of Hartford
More Than Just Business
My trip to San Francisco with the National Millennial and Gen Z Community was phenomenal. At first, I was skeptical, the opportunity seemed to fall right into my lap and because of that, my main focus at the start of the trip was to make every second count.
Opportunities like this don’t happen to me often, so I was set on making our advisor Bill Imada proud by being professional and ready to engage with all the businesses he had lined up for us to visit. I was ready to put my PR skills to the test.
I decided to pack a card game called "We’re Not Really Strangers." Although, this wasn’t aligned with the plans I had set for this trip, something in my gut told me to bring it; the card game was a literal last-minute addition to my suitcase.
Being around a diverse group of people was something I deeply appreciated. I almost immediately began to falter on my preconceived notion of how I should act. The first day ended up being for leisure so I relaxed and let my guard down. We ate dinner at one of the oldest Italian restaurants, rode the trolley back to our hotel late at night, and before I knew it, I had no shame in simply being myself.
On our last night in San Francisco, I decided to bring out "We’re Not Really Strangers." Before I knew it, we had 12 people in their PJs joining us in the lobby, ready to play a game with a recommended 8-player maximum that was meant to stimulate deep conversations amongst strangers. At first, I was worried that no one would be fully engaged but by the end of the game there were so many vulnerable moments and tears shed. We truly bonded even more as a group. I went back to my room delighted that I had trusted my gut instinct to bring this stimulating card game.
I was happy I got a chance to spend quality time with so many high-quality people. On top of that, I was able to fully be myself. I shared my thoughts, feelings, and values without being criticized. Being a Christian man, I’ve never shared my faith with so many people I barely even knew. I was amazed at how much 32 people from across the country with all sorts of backgrounds have in common.
These moments were important at the end of the day because to me, it’s what made our group special. We all had different career interests and personal beliefs, but we made room for vulnerability and inclusivity. The bonding that occurred showed me a bright image of the future, not only for my newfound friends on this trip but for myself as well.
The National Millennial and Gen Z Community are full of diverse individuals with unique talents and perspectives. To me, this group represents the future of our country and quite possibly even the world.
I was able to rest easy knowing that when it comes down to what matters, there will be leaders out there with a newer perspective that is more than just business. They’ll lead with openness, consideration, and empathy.