My, oh my, what an interesting year 2018 has been!
In many ways, 2018 has been both an extremely fun and growth-filled year and also a difficult, tumultuous time. For me, and likely many of you, there were days of feeling triumphant and powerful, followed by days of feeling lost, scared and anxious.
Like many of you, 2018 was filled with many curveballs and unknowns, but, as resilient humans, we keep moving forward, shake them off and continue day after day.
By far, the biggest curveball for me this year, was the launch of the Austin Wellness Collaborative Official Membership in July (and the loss of my fur-baby, Phoebe, but that’s for another time and place). ❤
As for the AWC Membership…here’s the scoop!
Months prior to launch, the opportunity to up-the-ante and provide more value for AWC participants was presented to me by a friend who saw my ability to organize and connect people. For months, I sat with the idea, not feeling like I had the time or energy to throw myself in to another project outside of building my private practice, caring for my geriatric dog, spending time with friends and working part-time in 2 different clinics.
I could see the bigger picture – a collaboration of health and wellness entrepreneurs working to shift the paradigm from sickness care to wellness care, together.
I saw this happening in Austin and around the nation, and could visualize the host of events, conferences, podcasts and workshops that would result from it all!
I saw us (and still see us) as the prototype for Collaborative Wellness Care in the nation and even pitched the idea to the Society of Women Entrepreneurs (Society of WE) back in April of this year. Despite gaining tremendously valuable feedback from that Hot Seat opportunity, just thinking about adding another project to my life had my stomach in knots.
I felt it would be too much to take on alone.
When I thought of launching the Membership, I got caught up on details such as:
- How the heck do you manage an online membership? I know nothing about technology!
- What would be unique about the Membership?
- How could I charge for skills that just come naturally to me? Skills I didn’t even have to go to school for…!
- How could I add more on to my already busy work life?
- How would I find time to do the marketing and daily admin activities?
- Would anyone see the value in joining a paid membership?
- What’s a fair price to charge?
- Do people actually want community? Or was it just lip service?
And on and on and on….
In May and June, I went on vacation and decided to take some space to breathe. During those breaks from my regular, work-filled life, I decided to drop the membership idea despite knowing there was a great need for health and wellness professionals to connect with others in their shoes and feel supported in a deep and meaningful way.
But, here’s where the curveball comes in…a lightning bolt of inspiration hit in July and the opportunity to create what I’m passionate about (connecting people) came together! Early in the month, my feelings about starting the Membership shifted, and I decided it was time to “sh*t or get off the pot” with the idea.
I hired a very part-time assistant, Jasmin Salazar of CollaboRave, who helped create a PayPal button and connected me with a Community Relationship Management (CRM) software program for Facebook. Within a week, we were up and running, launching officially on 7/11!
I have to say, it was a STEEP learning curve on my end (I am pretty anti-new technology), but, I’m proud to say that we have been FULL STEAM AHEAD ever since! 🚂
Here’s how I see it…
The AWC Membership is a way to make the organization more sustainable and to deepen our impact in the world. It highlights our members and enables us to share more of our resources via our monthly Meet-Ups (food costs money), an online directory (websites and management cost money) and an array of offerings still in the works (many of which cost money)!
It also gives us an organized way to give back to the communities we want to serve right here in Austin with a sustaining monthly donation to Austin Health Commons, a non-profit designed to break down the walls of social injustices, particularly in regards to health and wellness.
Here are some of the milestones/numbers:
- To this day, we have donated over $450 to Austin Health Commons!
- I can’t thank you enough for your help in achieving this!
- The Facebook group started with 479 participants on Jan. 1st, 2018 and now exceeds 1170 health and wellness professionals looking to connect with like-minded professionals – a 139% increase in less than 1 year!! WHAT THE WHAT?!?!!!
- We now have over 110 High-Level Healers who are AWC Official Members (there has been some attrition, which is to be expected), ranging in a wide array of healing backgrounds, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chiropractic, Massage & Body Work, Integrative Medicine, Reiki and Energy Medicine, Naturopathy, Chefs, Health Coaches, Life Coaches, Relationship Coaches, Marketing Gurus, Meditation Instructors, Therapists, PT, OT, Functional Medicine Practitioners and on and on. (sorry if I left you off, there are too many different categories!) I am humbled to say the least!
- The largest proportion of AWC Official Members comes from MDs/DOs (18%).
- To me, this is HUGE as it highlights the seismic shift from straight allopathic medicine to a more patient-centered, holistic approach! AMAZING!
- Meet-Up attendance averages around 50 incredible people!
- The Meet-Ups are my favorite part about AWC. I love hugging you all and connecting IRL (in real life for non-Millenials). I also love our top-notch speakers who have so much to share with us all! Thanks to all who come and participate! ❤
- Our online directory now features over 70 of our Official Members! Check it out here –> austinwellnesscollaborative.org/directory.
- Shout out to our official WebMaster, Jazael Martinez, for creating it FROM SCRATCH
- Meet-Ups have been hosted at 6 different venues around town, highlighting the business owners that host us!
- We’ll add our 7th venue in January! I am SO grateful to our partners who allow us to take over their spaces for the meet-ups! ❤
- We’ve featured 44 Member Highlights within the group and on our public social media pages since July 2018 and have over 700 followers through the mediums.
- The AWC Steering Committee is comprised of 7 fantastic humans!
- We are now meeting monthly and are seeking about 10-15 sub-committee members to help guide and steer our growing organization.
A whole lotta growth has happened over the last 11.5 months. I am in awe of what we are creating and hope that you have found value in AWC, be it for a personal health referral or business growth.
While 2018 was a fast-paced, no-holds-barred year, I just want to express my gratitude to everyone who participated in growing AWC in any way, even if it was just liking a post or creeping behind the scenes. I’m so happy to have you all in my network as I truly believe it takes a village to heal our broken healthcare system and the people it was built to serve.
To see what’s in store 2019 –> Click here to see our events
I hope you’ll join us along the way…whether it be via sending good vibes or attending in-person meet-ups.
We are ALL in this together, no matter what the letters behind our name, or lack thereof, are.
The Future Is Collaborative!
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