Sunday, June 22, 2008

Likemind Blends Perth’s Coffee and Creative Minds

New Yorkers Noah Brier and Piers Fawkes met online through their blogs and decided that given they had so much in common to meet up for a coffee. One thing lead to another and they started to invite other people along by posting details of their coffee mornings, gathering like-minded creative people in one place to talk and share ideas without the constraints of structured networking or formal topics for discussion.

“We never had a plan with likemind other than to get people together to enjoy a cup of coffee and a conversation. We did it in the morning because it was the only time we could meet that week, however, its turned out to be our best decision as the morning forces people out of their routine and those who come to likemind actually want to be there” said Noah.

By their fourth meeting, 30 people had joined the group. Since then, likemind groups have sprung up in 51 cities all over the world – including Paris, Tokyo, Cape Town and, since August last year, Perth.

Hashem Bajwa, who works as Worldwide Planning Director for agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners regularly attends likemind gatherings in San Francisco. When discussing likemind, Hashem cites Apple CEO Steve Jobs who described how “innovation requires like-minded people getting together and working on ideas together”. True innovation is when a person calls you at 3am with a random idea, or a small group getting together and working on a concept for its merits and faults. Likemind is certainly that."

Our Perth gatherings have so far been attended by creative people from organisations including The Brand Agency, Meerkats, RAC, Maxus and Block Branding and students from both ECU and Curtin University.

Together with Ronnie Duncan, I co-host Perth’s likemind gatherings. We, and the other groups around the world, meet on the third Friday of every month in our respective cities for coffee and a chat, sponsored by some of the companies that attend.

Over a coffee, we share creative ideas, collaborate on projects or discuss trends. The group provides a forum for networking, sharing and mentoring and is comprised of a mix of creative people including creative directors, architects, writers and even students who are just starting out in various creative disciplines.

Simon te Brinke of Gramercy Park consulting who regularly attends summarises the meaning of Likemind perfectly: “I’m someone who loves to be in the company of visionaries, creatives, creators and innovators. Once a month likemind gives me a fantastic start to the day simply by enjoying the company of these types of people, all of who are people I sincerely respect, both personally and professionally. Likemind is not about networking, business or creating opportunity. It’s about people with vision who like to enjoy the company of other likeminded individuals, all of who share the values of sincerity, mutual respect and trust.”

Dale Simmonds of The Brand Agency concurs. “Likemind is a reminder that there are a lot of talented people out there and gives you a slightly different take on things,” he said. “It’s great to have a laugh.”

Blogging and social media has really opened up a lot of opportunities for people to meet and share ideas, and likemind offers a way for creative people to meet face-to-face.

It’s amazing to see people chatting away like old friends even though they may have met only 10 minutes earlier. Seeing people from different companies, creative disciplines and levels of experience come together to share their creativity is really exciting – and so is bringing this kind of thinking to Perth’s creative space. Knowing that people are gathering in likemind groups around the world makes us part of a global community of creativity that we can tap into.

The types of people who gather at a likemind meeting also provide the perfect audience for authors and publishers wishing to promote their new books. In the US last month, publisher Random House paid for the coffee and gave each attendee a free copy of Rob Walker’s book Buying In: The Secret Dialogue Between What We Buy and Who We are.

We pay homage to formal groups in Perth such as FORM who lobby the government on important issues about creativity in our city and while we intentionally don’t have a structured agenda for likemind gatherings, we enjoy the possibilities created by bringing this group of people together.

When I asked Noah where likemind was headed he said he wasn’t sure at this stage. “We continue to expand to new cities as people volunteer to host. We are also working on some stuff to make the web experience a little more robust. Two years later it’s just nice to see what likemind has become”.

If you would like to attend the Perth Likemind coffee morning the details are posted here: