Yesterday I got to play hostess to the Mount Holyoke College Club of the Peninsula's 80's brunch. These decade brunches began a few years ago and the 80's had never done one. I worked on the plan with Betty Cheng and in December we put it into motion. We selected a restaurant in Palo Alto - Nola. Then sent an e-vite to everyone who graduated between 1980 and 1889. The event was well received and on Thursday we had 12 yes's and 2 maybes. A very good turn out for 55 invitations (the overall club has around 430 members from Daly City to Fresno). When I called Nola on Thursday night for our reservations the very nice woman took the reservation and we hung up. She called back 10 minutes later to tell me that Nola no longer serves lunch - Not a good moment. Thankfully e-vite let me send notices to everyone invited with our new location at Il Forniao in Palo Alto (excellent excellent waffles - I highly recommend them) and we ended up with 8 attendees.
We all had a blast. The group talked for two hours on a wide range of topics and the info was fascinating. Of the 8, five had children, 3 did not. Only one of us was still doing what she had majored in during college and she had created her own major at Mount Holyoke. One had gone back to school in her 40's and just graduated with a law degree. Several of us, myself included, had ended up in marketing. 3 are in high tech and were interested in learning more about what my institute does. Everyone shared their stories on the challenges of work life balance. Perhaps most fascinating was the social media discussion. 5 of the 8 had facebook accounts and used it actively, 3 did not. Some had twitter accounts but most never posted on them or paid attention to what was going on.
So what did I come away from this event with? I have a feeling of great satisfaction at being able to connect with these women. I reconnected with an old friend who had drifted away because of her long commute and my crazy travel schedule a few years ago. We discovered that I don't travel much and her commute is now 3 minutes so dinner is on the to do list for us. I hope I made some new friends. And we've all agreed to do this again later this year.
That leads me to my marketing learning. Everyone was very interested in doing this again but most felt strongly in doing it locally. And the term local has a different meaning to each person. One person shared she would not have gone if we'd done it in San Jose - yet I had come from San Jose with no problem - it's a quick 20 minute drive on a Sunday. Others suggested doing something jointly with the San Francisco club tu others said they'd no desire to drive to SF. Some thought San Mateo might be a good in between place. All in all it showed me that doing the decades brunch is a great idea but to be inclusive we'll need to think very carefully about location. I also recognized that women in their 40's were very willing to engage in more group activities with their peers than many had been in their 30's. Children consumed their weekends in their 30's but now that the kids are older they felt they could take some time for themselves.
So yes, we'll be doing the 80's brunch again this year and I'll be giving the location a lot of thought.