The Power of Community

In a space designed by world-renowned architects and filled with C-suite executives from a Fortune 50 company, only the occasional swallow and shift in chair broke what seemed to be almost a unified flow of breath as we listened to 31-year old Mike “Mikey” Thompson’s story of how human interactions and people rallying around him have kept him alive. Since the age of 10, Mikey has battled cancer four times – enduring over 75 surgeries, two bone marrow transplants, facial reconstruction and countless blood transfusions. At one point, Mikey explained that he was ready to quit. He had no more fight, but his community did. His people were not ready to let him give up. They rallied behind him, giving him hope and strength and kept him fighting.

In a space designed by world-renowned architects and filled with C-suite executives from a Fortune 50 company, only the occasional swallow and shift in chair broke what seemed to be almost a unified flow of breath as we listened to 31-year old Mike “Mikey” Thompson’s story of how human interactions and people rallying around him have kept him alive. Since the age of 10, Mikey has battled cancer four times – enduring over 75 surgeries, two bone marrow transplants, facial reconstruction and countless blood transfusions. At one point, Mikey explained that he was ready to quit. He had no more fight, but his community did. His people were not ready to let him give up. They rallied behind him, giving him hope and strength and kept him fighting.

We believe in the power of community.

When asked by Lowe’s Home Improvement and NowPlusOne to inspire their leadership and immerse them in Rallyhood’s vision and culture, we couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to demonstrate and prove this power of community – beyond stats, research and stories. We wanted them to feel the power of community.

So, we decided to host the experience at the headquarters of one of our first and dearest partners, LiveSTRONG. The site itself, designed by Lake-Flato, reflects the mission of connecting to each other, the community and the environment. Plus, LiveSTRONG is one of the pioneers of using branded communities to affect change and behavior.

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We don’t pick life’s challenges; challenges pick us. We pick how we respond. We selected a senior executive from Lowe’s at random upon meeting the team. We isolated Kevin from the rest of his team and their activity and asked him to pedal on a stationary bike for one minute – giving it what he could. While Kevin responded to the awkwardness of this request with the upmost grace and cooperation, we believed that he was likely not really trying his hardest, pushing himself to his limits. Roughly 15 minutes later, we asked Kevin to get back on the bike again. This time, however, his community was there to cheer and rally him on. With the help of wristbands, headbands, pom-poms, both well- and slightly poorly-executed cheers, hoots and hollers and the eye-to-eye support of a new friend in Mike Thompson that knows how to fight when your body doesn’t want to, he definitely did not hold back this time. In fact, he managed to cover nearly 60% more distance! While this was just a fun experiment to demonstrate the power of community, it is very consistent with results from other substantiated research. For instance, cancer survival rates are reported to improve by as much as 66% with strong social support.

Now, I know you are thinking – a $50B+ company came to an Austin-based start-up for inspiration!?!? Yes, indeed. And, trust me, our first thought was not to demonstrate the power of community but to pitch exactly how we could engage and connect each and every one of the Lowe’s customer communities! However, that was not the intention of their visit, and we honored that. We applaud Lowe’s Home Improvement for truly living by their motto of Never Stop Improving and having the humility and open-mindedness to explore new ideas and approaches from uncommon places. And to thank Kevin for being such a good sport. We also want to recognize the creativity of NowPlusOne who curates these Insight Immersions. Demonstrating our own culture, passion and insight in this new way made us a better company and we thank you for that.