Written by: Mike Healy
If you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance you’ve read the other stories we’ve published to date. If you haven’t, you really should. They’re terrific. I’m frankly honored to be sharing the same webspace with the authors. I do have one critique, however: none of them properly introduced themselves—and we’re supposed to be a social club! It’s really too bad that they didn’t, too, because Jim, Elyse and Carly are all great, and anyone reading this would do well to join Guild Row and get to know them.
With that in mind, if you have a few minutes, please allow me to: 1) introduce myself 2) offer a brief mediation on introductions in general while we’re on the subject, and 3) tie those notes together in a final section that reveals what you really want to know: when is Guild Row going to open, and how do you fit in?
First off, myself. My name is Mike Healy and I’m one of the co-Founders of Guild Row. I have a young family (wife, two little kids, cat) I’m crazy about (the cat is actually just ok). We have a two-flat in Avondale, with extended family occupying our upstairs unit. I coached high school football for a bit. In 2011 I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail as part of a charity fundraiser. I had major knee surgery in 2017 (likely related). My background is in urban planning. JAWS is my favorite movie.
Now that we’re friends, let’s chew on the subject of introductions for a moment. Here’s how I approach them: I ask a lot of questions. A lot. Not in a pestering or annoying way, I don’t think. I ask them in, essentially, three stages:
Exploratory Stage. Who is this new person? What are they interested in? What kind of conversation do they want this to be?
Active Listening Stage. Once we’ve found a rich vein of subject matter, I’ll try to get pretty specific, because a) learning is fun and b) if I’m going to ask someone a lot of questions, I want to make the questioning rewarding for them as well. Ideally (for both of us) the questions are prompting some interesting answers. Sometimes we go on a deep dive journey into a given subject. Sometimes there’s a lot of prodding, pushback, and good natured argument. At any rate, if I’m doing a good job there’s genuine interest and (good) energy on either end of the exchange.
Launch Stage. No one wants to be breaking ice forever. Hopefully before too long, my interlocutor and I reach the point where either of us can gracefully wrap up our introductory conversation with germane inquiries like “This has been great and I’d love to keep the conversation going—mind if I grab your e-mail address?” or, “I’m sorry, I have to go to the bathroom?”
You could say it’s an alpha/beta testing dynamic for interpersonal relationships. Or you could say I’m a middle child. Both would be true. Anyway, I think you can see where I’m going with this.
Guild Row’s ‘Active Listening’ Phase—A ‘Soft Open” With Our Founding Members
We want to build a place where people can connect over a willingness to get their hands dirty; not a one-off shop for a random night of amusement, but a community, where people can learn, build relationships, and gather around real world things. We can’t write about that in a business plan. We can’t just do it ourselves. We need to enter into an active listening phase with actual Guild Row community members, and late this summer that’s exactly what we’re going to do. As soon as construction is complete, we’re going to open our doors to a select number (~200) of individuals—our Founding Members. The Founding Members will be our partners in prototyping, honing and establishing all the most essential elements of Guild Row’s life: from protocols to programming, from the calendar to the cocktail list. Above all, the Founding Members will be entrusted to help us in establishing the culture, values, and personality Guild Row will need to be all that it might be.
How long will this period of incubation with our Founding Members last? At a minimum—three months. At a maximum? We just don’t know yet—whenever it is that we’re ready to let our opening day members in the door and be sure that they’ll find a club inviting and worthy of their time, talent and energy.
To address the question you’re (hopefully) asking at this juncture: how might one become a Founding Member? Because of the moment’s paramount importance, as well as the excitement and interest we are humbled to have enjoyed thus far, Founding Membership at Guild Row will be available by invitation only. While we already know who many of the Founding Members will be, we also in the spirit of openness and inclusion want to be clear that we are open to inquiries from anyone who is compelled to reach out.
I do want to be clear: although the active-listening period we engage in with our Founding Members will be dues free, the object is to launch into long-term relationships with each of them. As such, all Founding Members will be asked to make a two-year membership commitment to Guild Row. We are asking our Founding Members to put their stamp on Guild Row (in more ways than one). For some of you reading this, we may have reached out already, but if we haven’t, and you’re interested in finding out more, let me know—my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.