The Kitchen Table: Breaking down ‘Community’ for Business

This morning I attended my first ‘kitchen table’ session, hosted by Amy Young, Brent Wagner, and Rick Wolfe in Toronto.  A Kitchen Table is exactly what it sounds like – the discussion that starts around everyone’s household meeting table – and it’s the idea we emulated, being able to agree, disagree, throw out opinions and contribute our thoughts.  The topic this morning was ‘Community’ and how to build a good one.

But first, I never actually gave that much thought to this idea of community.  Clearly, I’d never stopped to smell the coffee.  We’re all part of one, or many.  It’s ingrained in our nature to be part of a group that typically follows the same structure, these seven traits to be exact:

  1. Common Interest
  2. Behavioural Norms
  3. Credentials
  4. Language
  5. Exclusivity
  6. Interdependence
  7. Trust

Our first speaker, Amy Young, used a great analogy for each of the traits of community, all from the same example: the movie The Devil Wears Prada.  Her experience working with Holt Renfrew, a very different client compared to her norm, inspired this comparison – and it works.


This leads into the idea of being scared and jumping into a new community with authenticity and complete wholeness.  One cannot learn the ways of a Pyrenees Tribe without absolutely assimilating into their culture.  Still, by trying to assimilate, we must all face our greatest adversity when approaching community: the clay lining.  A Civil Engineering analogy, this one pertains to the impermeable, final layer that we all must break through to achieve success.  What is yours?  That was our homework for next session.

On the whole, the event intrigued our group and we delved deeply into some powerful ideas.  Not to mention that we were immersed in the clouds on the 68th floor of First Canadian Place, it was actually a surreal, assembly-like feeling of a senate or group tackling the bare, basic ideas of human interaction.  We were our very own ivory tower.

Last movie reference – Ocean’s 11 emulates the idea of community.  Eleven men who each play a part in a million-dollar heist was another great comparison.   Their group is one that is both inclusive and exclusive, retains each member’s identity, speaks a common language, and one where each member is dependent on the other.  Isn’t a community also about bringing in the right members?  Is it not about ensuring you approach and be approached based on your gut feeling?


In relation to business, these factors all play a key part in knowing how to approach clients, working among coworkers and making a career change.

“I’ve got a guy.”  A great, proverbial notion that we each have our own reference to a community, of sorts.  A plumber, a restaurant critic, a consultant, a thief…

“I’ve got a guy” is also the line George Clooney says to get out of his jam in the end of the first Ocean’s movie.  And it works.

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