As we watched the cars pull away, Lindsey and I sat around the last embers of the fire and looked at each other with a shared knowing; our stomachs were full, but our souls weren’t. Something from the event was missing. We now know just what it was.
Build it and they will come?
In 2018, Lindsey and I moved back to our home state of Maine and were looking for change. We had each just left a big city - NYC and Boston - and were looking to connect with new people in more meaningful ways than is often possible with Meetup.com or the bar scene. We wanted to create something different and revive the interests and passions we had as kids. So, we dusted off our outdoor skills and started making meals over open fires in beautiful locations in Maine as a way to draw people away from their screens and create opportunities for real human connection. We went for it and invested in an entire kitchen of cast iron, learned to use a hatchet, mastered the science of lighting a fire, and began experimenting with recipes. We made risotto, paellas, pizzas, gyros, pastas, grilled caesar salads, flambeed fruit, birthday cakes, and steaks over the fire all around the coast of Maine.
Just before the pandemic hit, we hosted one of our most memorable dinners. We worked with a local farm to host a gathering of 25 people on a beautiful October day. The tables were set on a western-facing hilltop with flowers, bales of hay, textiles, and candles. Chickens with fancy feathers wandered around the grounds and we all joined in and helped prepare the duck bourguignon. The farmers donated the duck, and guests brought homemade desserts and helped bury the potatoes to bake among the hot coals. We all sat down to eat just as the sun was setting.
But as the evening came to a close and we watched the cars pull away, Lindsey and I sat around the last embers of the fire and looked at each other with a shared knowing; our stomachs were full, but our souls weren’t. Something from the event was missing. We now know what it was.
The missing piece
We realized we had spent all of our energy focusing the entire event around the fire, food, logistics, and table settings. Neither Lindsey or I had engaged in a single meaningful conversation that night. Naturally, guests mingled and ate with those they already knew, and the few people who did make new connections got stuck in the usual ‘What do you do for work?’ types of conversation. The table wasn’t set for genuine human connection.
This experience offered us an important lesson: it's not the setting, the food or the fire that create meaningful connection, it has to be created on purpose.
Just as you can’t throw kindling, newspaper, and matches into a pile and hope for a fire, human connection can’t be an afterthought, byproduct, or something you just cross your fingers and hope for. It requires intentionality and thoughtful attention. You have to create an atmosphere of sharing and authenticity. It requires that you communicate a clear purpose and invite people in such a way that helps them understand what they can expect and what’s expected of them. Hosts welcome guests with an inspiring message, one that’s authentic, relevant, and a little vulnerable. Then, guests leave feeling they were seen, heard, and valued for who they truly are. With all this in place, the food, place settings, flowers, and ambiance become a bonus, no matter how exquisite.
From farm to capital H.
The pandemic hit hard, and with it came sustained social isolation. What the world now needed most - human connection, unity, belonging, institutional trust - was just as obvious as our next move. By late 2020 we started capital H. with the vision to create a company that would leverage our deep expertise in data analysis, culture change, consulting, coaching and facilitation to drive positive change for people, companies and communities through elevating empathy, human connection and trust.
Today, we are coaches and consultants who help remote and hybrid organizations create human-centered cultures through generating empathy, trust, and belonging. We help leaders lead with authenticity, vulnerability, and truth. And we help people generate a sense of connection to themselves, others, and the world around them that is otherwise hard to reach in the world we live in today.
About capital H.
The "H" is for Human and our mission is to make work a more human experience. We’re innovators, facilitators, sisters, and consultants who bring over 25 years of collective experience from academia, global non-profits, and Fortune 500 companies leading teams and designing experiences that unite, connect, and inspire people. We are profoundly inspired by what’s possible when we harness the power of human connection and believe that a more connected, and truthful world will unlock the door to a better future for us all. Schedule a free introductory call with us today!