2021 CYP Kick Off Encourages Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Written by Maggie Wickey, 2021 CYP Steering Committee Chair

CYP kicked off 2021 with a virtual event on Thursday, January 28. We said goodbye to Robyn Durant, our Steering Committee Chair for 2020, and I was warmly welcomed as this year’s chair.

I shared a brief update with the young professionals in attendance about our goal for this year: help you navigate a business landscape that’s been greatly impacted by the pandemic with a mix of virtual programming and small, socially distant in-person events.

After a brief message from CYP’s sponsors – REV Federal Credit Union and the College of Charleston MBA program – we settled in to hear from Patrick Bryant, a local entrepreneur who is passionate about investing in Charleston and young professionals.

Patrick began by showing us a quick video of a dancing man at an outdoor concert. The video starts with a lone dancer throwing out his best moves while onlookers appear to either ignore or mock his solo dancing. After a few seconds, the man is joined by a second dancer, and then a third. Slowly but surely, a crowd begins to form, and everyone is dancing out in the open air.

After the video ended, Patrick explained that several important lessons about leadership are engrained in that short clip:

  1. Have an idea. He stressed that ideas can come from anywhere and are simply a matter of knowing what’s happening in your community and being able to identify what’s missing. Patrick noted, “The best way to bake an idea for a business is to become an expert in the topic, and then once you are an expert in that thing, look right and look left and see what’s missing.”
  2. Find your second person. After you’ve fleshed out your idea, you have to find a partner or a follower – at least one other person who believes in your idea and will help you bring it to life. Otherwise, Patrick noted, you’re just a “nut dancing alone.”
  3. Don’t let the haters stop you. It’s a given that any idea is going to have naysayers. What’s important, Patrick explained, is only listening to feedback from people whose opinions have merit, and using their criticism to improve your idea, not discount it.

During the Q and A session, Patrick answered questions about COVID, books and, of course, how not to be a guy dancing alone.

I had to know – how do you know if you’ve got a good idea, or if you’re just awkwardly dancing by yourself? Patrick said that a good first step is to tap into your network and bounce your idea off a few trusted individuals. He also recommended asking an expert in the industry what they think of your idea.

Another attendee asked Patrick about how his businesses had to pivot during COIVD-19. Patrick admitted that the pandemic threw most (if not all) companies through a loop. He gave an example of an event company he works with that had to quickly learn how to support virtual events. Instead of simply waiting for a shift back to in-person events, the organization developed ways for nonprofits to host live auction bidding and raffles via video. The changes they made resulted in over 300% growth in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Finally, a YP asked Patrick what books he recommends for growing leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs. Patrick suggested Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt, Tribes by Seth Godin and Contagious by Jonah Berger.


To learn more about Charleston Young Professionals, visit https://www.charlestonchamber.org/cyp

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