Editor’s note: Triangle entrepreneur and thought leader Jes Averhart, CEO of Jes & Co and host of the “Reinvention Road Trip,” is a regular WRAL TechWire contributor who explores topics pertaining to reinvention, especially prompted by the onset of the global pandemic. Her columns appear weekly. This week she discusses the power of simple connections.

Note to readers: WRAL TechWire would like to hear from you about views expressed by our contributors. Please send email to: info@wraltechwire.com.


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Today, I want to take you on a journey. A little time travel.

Now, sit back for a minute and think about a time you really enjoyed a campfire.

Sink into that memory.

Smell the smoke. Feel the warmth. Hear the crackling fire.

Jes Averhart

For me, I immediately think about summer camp at Camp Palmer. After a hot day packed with activities, we’d all find our way back from the far corners of camp to talk, laugh, and roast marshmallows around a welcoming fire. We’d sing songs and watch our counselors perform skits while recovering from the day’s adventures. It was a time to connect and reflect as friends and it was my favorite part of the camp experience – food for my young soul.

Now… take a minute to think about the person that built the campfire you have in your mind. How did that amazing setting come to life? We know it didn’t just spontaneously combust into existence, right? Who made it happen?

The fire starter.

Live a little lighter: The power of simple connections

People who have never built one may not appreciate this, but building a fire isn’t easy. There’s a reason why scouts get a badge when they master this! The fire starter needs the right equipment—kindling of various sizes, matches or flint and steel, aged dry wood—and the knowledge of how to properly stack the materials so that oxygen can flow and feed the flames.

Starting a fire is a whole thing… and the end result is something that benefits everyone. It’s a shared resource, initiated by one key person but something that warms many.

Because of this, the fire starter is seen as essential and often lifted up as the ‘community hero’ in the group. It’s an honor to be the person who has the knowledge and skill to start the fire; it’s fulfilling to be the one who brings everyone together in this special way.

On the flip side, what happens if no one steps up to the task? Just ask a group of cold, tired tent campers at the end of the day. Without a fire they’re left shivering and disconnected from one another.

Living in isolation? Need to reinvent yourself? Then make some connections

But what do campfires have to do with business, you ask? Why on earth is Jes writing an odyssey to fire starters in TechWire? Because campfires build community and your team needs regular time around the “campfire” or they can feel cold and disconnected as well. Just like a campfire brings light, heat and a place to gather, your team needs this vital connection too.

Next week we’re going to delve deeper into this concept, but right now I want you to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. When you think about fire starters, who or what comes to mind? Sink into this for a moment. My grandfather used to start the fire when we’d camp by the lake. I can picture him now. Let yourself relive the experience of watching that person as they built the fire.
  2. Now think about your workplace. Is there anyone on your team that takes the lead in this way? Who is the fire starter on your team? Do you have one? Is it you?
  3. Think about their impact. Why do they stand out in your mind? What does it take for them to start the spark? Was there anything in particular this person said or did? Why did it matter?

Next week we’ll explore more of what campfires look like at work, and why this is so important. Until then, feel free to explore our online Campfire Circles community where we discuss topics like this every day.