Powerful Reminders from Emerge and Turning 30
By Laine Himmelmann
As promised, this year’s Metro Edge Emerge Summit definitely took things to the #NextLevel. The largest gathering of young professionals in Northern California brought together over 600 YP’s and included everything from a morning welcome with an aerial dancer hanging from the ceiling of Memorial Auditorium, craft beer, mimosas, and a rockin’ all-day DJ. It included epic breakouts and speakers including local lady change maker Bernadette Austin and Sacramento Origin Material CEO John Bissell (my friend’s rockstar boss and the guy who will eventually put Sacramento on the international map for creating a biodegradable plastic).
All that in and of itself made for a pretty awesome conference. But for me, it was undoubtedly 6 little words from the Emerge Keynote, Stockton’s Mayor Michael Tubbs, which really took things to the #NextLevel.
For those of you familiar with Mayor Tubbs, he is the youngest mayor ever elected in a large city and has accomplished tremendous impact in a community that greatly needs it. As Mayor Tubbs began his keynote, he reflected on his time spent as a student and young city councilmen and his time in the trenches. “Don’t despise small beginnings”, said Tubbs, “because waiting time is not wasted time”.
Waiting Time is Not Wasted Time
Tubbs told of how at 22 as a young city councilmember he met with (what he referred to as) “the town grannys” who encouraged him to close down a liquor store. What took three years and may have seemed like an arduous and small victory at the time has metamorphosed into a blue print for decreasing crime block by block. The neighborhood where it first took place, once red for the amount of crime, is now green. It was with this story that Tubbs reminded us how though in our early years we might feel discouraged by our positions and eager to move up, it is the time spent in the trenches that we are able to make mistakes and learn so that when the times comes that we are in a position of power we’ve already learned. “Waiting time”, he again reminded us, “is not wasted time.”
This past week I celebrated both my 30th birthday and the promotion of my dreams. As with all milestone birthdays (and promotions), I couldn’t help but reflect about this past decade and the journey that got me here – specifically MY time in the trenches (the trenches of work, the trenches of relationships, the trenches of life…) I reflected on my first year at Habitat, a recession graduate with $32,000 in student loan debt working as an assistant and waitressing every day after work in order to make ends meet. I reflected on the many long hours, small victories, big joys, and all the things in between. I thought back to my many apartments, most filled with roommates until recently, and on all the horrific dates and relationships of my 20’s. I reflected on the adventures, the travels, the joy, and all the memories which I wouldn’t give up for anything in the world…
Bernadette Austin in her Emerge speech mentioned that real life is like a game of Minecraft in that your journey twists and turns and there is never one clear objective or single way to get there – we just all do the best we can with the tools that we’ve been given and keep moving forward, gathering more skills and emerging stronger as we move forward towards whatever goals we set for ourselves.
When we are deep in our own individual Minecraft, “waiting time” it can be difficult to see the lessons we are learning and professionals and people we are becoming through the process. If someone had told me in my early 20’s that trudging around ice chests and long nights and weekends would pay off, I would’ve wanted to believe them, but I couldn’t have been sure. Now, I know it was true. The waiting time was not wasted time.
Conin O’Brien once said “Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
This year’s Emerge Summit, surrounded by so many enthusiastic and inspired young professionals who, like me, are all trying to navigate their own version of Minecraft while making their own unique mark on the world, reminded me that our community is in good hands. We may not all have the opportunity to be Michael Tubbs, but we all have the opportunity to learn and one day lead so that we too can make this world a better place.
I look forward to attending again in 2019, this time with my new business cards.