I was confronted with that question a month ago after I met Cindy Chang Mahlberg of Denver at an Entrepreneurs Conference in New York City. I attend these events hoping to meet people and learn.
After one of the conference sessions, Cindy and I talked about what I do as an Explorer. I shared with her stories from some of my company’s expeditions. She was fascinated and intrigued. Then she told me about her work.
Cindy is co-founder of a start up called Women in the Mix. They are about providing real tools so people can create a thriving and enriching mix of career, family, and life. Amidst the many conversations focused on “having it all” and “leaning in,” her venture is focused on the practical and “how to.”
She is also a lawyer with Campbell Law Group and has been asked to scale the firm globally, and to create a platform that comprehensively serves social enterprises and impacts investors around the world. The firm’s vision is to provide innovative legal solutions to socially-minded business clients while reshaping how law is practiced and delivered. Cindy is doing exploration and has the skills of an explorer. She is connecting, asking questions, and seeing what is not there that needs to be created; and she’s doing it with immense curiosity, all while being a wife and mother of two young boys!
We had a great conversation and connected on many levels. Even as we were talking, people were stopping by and saying, "We're glad the two of you are talking," and "This is an important connection!"
I’m always looking for new expedition possibilities. And it’s nice to meet fascinating people. That is what explorers do; we find new places, meet new people and find new ways forward.
Before Cindy and I went our separate ways we pulled out the business cards. I looked at Cindy's card--nice design, interesting logo. And she looked at my card for The Exploration Group. It says, Dwight Gibson, Chief Explorer, The Exploration Group. She looked at the card, she looked at me, and she looked back at the card and said, "I love your title. It’s perfect. I need a title that represents who I am. May I be Chief Explorer in my company? May I use your title Chief Explorer?”
I was shocked. No one had ever asked me that before.
People have said, "I like your title." "I want to be an explorer when I grow up." "Whatever you do, I want to do it." But no one has ever asked me if they could use my title and make it their own.
I stammered, I said “yes,” then I said “no,” then I said “I don't know.” And then I just stopped talking and paused. A dream was coming to life.
A goal for The Exploration Group since its inception in 2009 was to someday see a world full of CEO's, Chief Exploration Officers. The URL for our website is www.Exploradelphia.com. Exploradelphia is a combination of two words, the Greek word Adelphia, meaning brotherhood, and the word Explore which means to investigate systematically, to examine.
The Exploration Group’s goal is to see a "brotherhood of 21st century explorers." People who know there are things they don’t know yet. Furthermore, they know it will take, not management, but exploration to find them. The reality is that organizations cannot manage their way to new opportunities, and they can’t manage their way out of unsolvable problems. Exploration is the only way to truly discover what is new. Management may be part of the mix, but it is exploration that makes what is new, happen.
By meeting Cindy, the decision we operationalized was to knight the first person in the movement of 21st century explorers. The first "brother" is a "sister." And that is only right.
Lots of entrepreneurs and explorers say that it is not about them. They want their business to grow, and they want to change the world. They have big dreams, but they also have tight-clenched hands. They hold on to their ideas. The first test comes when they are faced with what they are willing to give away.
I was tested. And at first, I was found wanting. I stumbled when asked to give away my title. I was startled. But the reality is, yes; we need a world populated by Chief Explorers (general explorers) and Chief Exploration Officers (explorers charged with a particular exploration). Let the movement begin!
Would you welcome with me the new Chief Exploration Officer, Cindy Chang Mahlberg from Campbell Law Group and Women in the Mix.