Five Tribes that Influenced My Life and Career
I grew up on a family owned produce farm surrounded by 3 dairy farms in the rural part of North Haven, Connecticut. My parents didn’t work the farm for a living but they always made sure that my brother and I participated in the ancient ritual of community, where members come together to plant crops in the spring and gather again in the fall to harvest them. Some of my earliest memories are riding with my aunt on the back of a Farmall as we fed seedlings to a hungry contraption that placed them into the earth, where they formed neat little rows. I also have wonderful memories of the tomato fights I had with my cousins at the end of every summer as we harvested the fields. What can I say? I was a kid. With all of our antics we didn’t actually help much, but we came away with a sense of being a part of something important, something bigger than us. We came to understand that being part of a community made us stronger as individuals. We were not alone.
Providence College Basketball Team
Soon I found myself part of another tribe – this time because Providence College had recruited the son of my dad’s partner to play on their basketball team. We started going to all of the games regardless of whether they were home or away. We flew all over the country for tournaments and it was quite the adventure.
On long flights to the various events the players would try to sneak in some study time, but I was oblivious to this! I would sit with the guys talking up a storm, chatting away until they would toss one of their books into my lap, hoping to shut me up long enough for them to actually get some work done.
The players were influenced me in a big way because they had me reading the likes of John Paul Sartre at the ripe old age of 11! My time spent with The Providence Tribe nurtured my love of learning and started me on a journey of self discovery opening the door to the endless opportunities that life sends our way.
I mentioned earlier that my dad was an entrepreneur. He started one of the first Oil Spill and HazMat Emergency Response companies here in Connecticut. It’s no surprise that the next two ‘tribes’ I became a part of were in the Environmental field.
New Haven Harbor Petroleum Cooperative
The first group to greatly impact my life was a non-profit organization called the New Haven Harbor Petroleum Cooperative. The group was made up of one representative from each of the companies that conducted business on the harbor. It was 1982 and I was fresh out of college with my shiny new marketing degree when they approached me to manage an event they were sponsoring. I was charged with the task of planning a 4 day international Hazardous Materials and Spill Control Conference. I knew nothing about how to pull off something like that! With no experience what so ever, I chose to accept the challenge anyway. Looking back I realize it was because the influencers of the group had my back and provided me with a safe environment (no pun intended!) to learn and grow. If I stumbled a little bit during the 15 months I spent planning the event they gave me guidance to get back on track.
CT Forum Regulated Environmental Professionals
During this time I also began to work for the family business which had just added hazardous waste transportation to the many things they already did. Rules and regulations in the environmental field were being promulgated around this time and I found myself part of yet another tribe. The industry was in its infancy and there were only six companies in Connecticut that had to deal with the new EPA Regulations, so we joined forces for the sole purpose of surviving the onslaught of regulatory mumbo jumbo.
As the industry matured, more companies wanted to join our small group and the CT Forum of Regulated Environmental Professional was formed. What a name! What were we thinking? It was such a mouthful; we started to refer to ourselves as CFREP for short.I mention this tribe because it was different for me; I began as a member then found myself in the position of influencer. I eventually become one of its leaders when the organization continued to grow. We incorporated as a nonprofit and by the time I left the environmental field in the mid 90’s we had grown 500 members strong!
Professional Association of Dive Instructors
As I write this I realize that every part of my life has been influenced by tribal like behavior. When I became a certified SCUBA Instructor we would gather in Jamestown, RI most summer weekends, with students in tow, to hold open water certifications. First we would descend on the campgrounds to pitch our tents and then go down to the shore to hold our classes. After a long day under the sea we would head into town to share a good meal before heading back to camp. During our nights around the campfire the new divers would share their excitement and fears with the more experienced divers. They also asked a lot of questions about what kind of gear we used. They asked about our regulators, our BCD’s, and even about what type of mask and wetsuits we used.My students began to buy all of the brands I favored; their actions made it clear that they respected my ‘authority’ and valued my opinion. In hindsight this is the first time being an Influencer had a direct affect on a local economy, but that’s not why I share this particular tribe with you! I share it because I was greatly influenced by its members. I had wonderful adventures and witnessed the glory of nature because of this group.
I’ll never forget when I learned the art of patience. It was a Saturday, and I sat with a student at the bottom of a lake for hours holding her hand until she became comfortable enough to continue with her certification. It meant the world to her and her husband; when they asked me to join their family on a dive vacation, it meant the world to me. During that vacation I witnessed the eerie beauty of a Manta Ray, graciously moving against the backdrop of the deep blue sea. I will never forget that moment, ever.
Then there was the weekend diving trip when a group of us explored the wreck of the USS San Diego. We had so much fun one of the students asked me to buy into a ski house rental in Killington, Vermont. It’s there that I witnessed my first outdoor wedding which left such an impression on me that Alan and I would exchange our vows three years later, lakeside, surrounded by the beauty of the land that my family had nurtured for more than a century.
Today I find myself the influencer and leader of many tribes, especially here in my community. Most of them I have been a part of for many years, but every once in a while I find myself scooped up and plopped down in the middle of a new one, and I find my life and career influenced all over again. I love that, because with each new community member we meet comes the gift of learning life lessons from their past experiences. The potential for growth is incredible if you simply open yourself up to the possibility.
Cheryl T Campbell is a bestselling author and international speaker whose career has been a diverse journey taking her from the hazardous waste field to SCUBA diving Instructor and ultimately to small business owner. While developing a successful Interior Decorating and Custom Upholstery Shop she became fascinated with internet marketing and has never looked back.
She is the author of Relationship Marketing and the New Entrepreneur; co-author of The New Masters of Online Marketing, Publisher of The Tribal Woman Magazine and Internet Marketing Unlocked.
Her company, 4 Winds of Change LLC is parent to a diverse group of online properties that encompass video marketing, lead gen, CPA marketing and ecommerce. 4 Winds is also the brand name of an all natural, chemical free beauty product imported from Morocco and sold locally in her home state of Connecticut.
Cheryl is passionate about sharing her knowledge of internet marketing and how you can apply it to create and grow leadership based businesses. She also feels strongly about giving back to community and runs a non-profit charitable organization in her hometown of Madison, CT.
To the joy of becoming,