“Coopetition” & Networking”

A Chat & Collaboration With Teresa Thomas, Director of MN WIN

co·op·e·ti·tion   kōˌäpəˈtiSH(ə)    n/noun  “collaboration between business competitors, in the hope of mutually beneficial results.”

Ever feel tired of the hustle? Pooped out from competing? Soul sucked out from networking? What do you get when you combine collaboration + competition? That’s right, coopetition! It might just help you reboot from the creep of ‘compassion fatigue.’

Kelly Pratt and Teresa Thomas, who both run organizations geared in service to connecting women, chat about an upcoming collaboration, borne of their “coopetition.”

KELLY: Good morning! I am Kelly Pratt with the So Do It! Society and Salons, and our guest on Talk 2 Think today is Teresa Thomas. Teresa is the founding director of Minnesota Women In Networking, which is how (she and I) first connected. It was the very first networking organization that I started when I moved back to the Twin Cities in 2012, and I haven’t wavered! It has been the best networking group I’ve found so thank you, Teresa, for all the connections you’ve made for me.

We are in a Collaboration and Cooperation mode this month, and I’m excited about some of the changes that you’ve been making. My business is all about helping women to do the things that they have been keeping in their hearts and on their back burners and it’s not all about business. It’s for women who are feeling somewhat isolated, and I just heard (this) phrase, ‘compassion fatigued,’ so women who are giving and serving and doing for others all the time. That’s basically who I am serving in the So Do It! Society.

I know what you did a year ago, which has like kind of exploded your world a little bit, is called 50 Fun Things, and it led to our collaboration (later in the month). So let’s hear about 50 Fun Things, and then we’ll talk about our collaboration.

TERESA: So a year ago, I was turning 50 in late September, and I had had not such a great year. I think I was suffering from compassion fatigue and you know, those feelings of a little bit burned out, and ‘is this really what I want the next phase of my life to look like?’ – to be on this hamster wheel and not necessarily doing the things that I really wanted to be experiencing in my life.

I originally did this just for myself: I put together a chart of fifty fun things that I wanted to experience. I shared it with my friends and life just started to change…what I didn’t expect was how much of a difference it made to others, and they encouraged me to get this stuff into the world!

It’s not a workshop; it’s a set of tools. So we can do it self-guided or with the group. It’s been really amazing seeing people from different walks of life and how their lives are opening up and having just much more fulfillment and joy in small and big ways.

You have some exciting projects that you’re working on in collaboration with some other women that were in those workshops, as well.

KELLY: It’s true! At the first 50 Fun Things event I attended at a WIN event, one of my So Doers and I were sitting next to each other, and we both discovered that we have this desire to get back into theater. That was maybe just under a year ago. Susan and I, and as of last week, another one of our So Doers in the salon decided she wants to get back into theater, too. So now the three of us just met last week, and she’s going to direct, Susan’s going to star, and I’m going to produce! Look out for this show that we’re going to be doing in the next year. And, that’s coming out of, you know, an accidental collaboration between our two organizations!

One of the things about networking groups, many of them have this limitation of only one plumber, only one coach, only one this, only one that. One of the things that attracted me to Minnesota Women In Networking is that you didn’t have any such limitations. You were very open, and you were all about lifting each other up.

I believe in collaborative competition, which is now – there’s actually a word, you can look it up, called coopetition. I’m a Martha Beck coach, and one of the things I love about our tribe is if as a coach my style of coaching doesn’t work for the person I’m talking to, I know a coach who will be the right fit. That’s what coopetition is all about.

Competition is important, and we need it to grow our businesses. But I don’t I don’t want to, you know, take down a competitor. I want my competition to be strong, because that shows that there’s a need for what we’re doing. Fifty Fun Things and Minnesota Women In Networking is the embodiment of that (concept).

TERESA: Yes, it’s fostering that win/win mindset that we can all succeed, and that we will succeed even further when we work together versus against each other. I’ve seen realtors in our meetings talking with one another and sharing ideas. I’ve seen coaches doing the same thing.

KELLY: We have a (joint) event coming up on the 13th of November. So Do It! salons go for 13 weeks, and our final final meeting for the trimester is at the end of November. And, I know you’re kind of wrapping up the year – so this is our kind of big, let’s-look-forward-to-the-end-of-our-year-and-the-beginning-of-the-next event. It’s called Money, Meaning and Mojo, three of my favorite things! Tell us a little bit about it, because you came up with this whole idea.

TERESA: It will be a special event through Women In Networking and in collaboration with the So Do It! Society, and it’s also going to bring in some aspects of 50 Fun Things. The idea really grew out of thinking how could we take those three pillars and combine meaningful connections, learning new ways to succeed, and keeping motivated to move forward.

Really it’s all about us having real open conversations about how do we keep motivated and focus on why we do what we do. How do we have real conversations about money? It’s not just the pie in the sky like, ‘oh you know, believe it and you’ll achieve it…’ but what are some hard decisions that we have to make? Or things that we have to work through? Or setbacks, and opportunities that we can claim for ourselves? To be honest you know as an entrepreneur, it’s a hard journey often times. Sometimes our mojo can use a little kick, a little bit of extra support.

So the day is designed to be very interactive. We’re going to have Lindsey Seavert from KARE 11! She’s an amazing reporter who has a heart of gold. She’ll be interviewing the two of us about what we’ve been experiencing and learning, not just ourselves, but with the women that we serve. She’ll also share her personal story about how she stays motivated, and why she does her work in what can feel like a cutthroat world of, you know, being a reporter and in the media (which all of us entrepreneurs can relate to that kind of a world).

Our other guests speakers are going to have those real conversations about money and mojo. It’s going to be a full day on Tuesday November 13, and space is limited, so you’ll want to register early. But it’s going to be a great way to not only bring the two groups together, but to have other women who aren’t part of those groups to build experiences over the day.

KELLY: Right. I think they’ll get a really good feeling for what the energy is like in both of our organizations. There’s such a, you know in a Venn diagram where the two circles kind of come together in that little Center? We really cross over a lot! I have many WIN members in our organization and vice versa. I’m actually calling mine a movement now – the So Do It! Movement.

I’m real excited we’re going to be featuring one of our So Do It! members who’s going to be talking about mojo and how she keeps it flowing. She’s also a money expert, and her name is a AJ Frenzel. The woman that is the WIN member that you’re spotlighting is entrepreneur Rosemarie Ndupuechi. She’s like a little bit of money and a little bit of mojo, too. So we’ve got a lot of mojo flying around that day!

I particularly want to say to everyone that compassion fatigue which we mentioned at the beginning is a concept that I just heard recently. It kind of hit me, in this current climate where women are finding the courage to stand up and tell their stories, this is something that – it’s a quiet sort of story that a lot of people don’t really understand. But, we take care of other people as women: even when you find yourself in a job, women are often the ones to take care of the other people in their professions. Then you go home and take care of more things. This day will be an opportunity for you to come and take care of yourself: to talk about rebooting your mojo, to take ownership of your successes, and who you are, and just have a blast for a whole day with a bunch of other really cool people.

TERESA: Yeah, to leave ya’ energized with a fresh perspective looking at 2019 and feeling like you’ve got great women who are on a similar journey who get it and are rooting you on. I want to say, about the movement, I think that’s a really powerful word. I’ve been using that with 50 Fun Things, too, because what makes that word so powerful is it’s not a limited, contained project. It’s more than that: it’s about moving forward. It’s about becoming something even greater than you could imagine.


Kelly Pratt, founder of the So Do It! Society, chats with the founder of the Minnesota Women In Networking (MN WIN) organization, Teresa Thomas, about “Coopetition” and how it can improve your networking.