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. 

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


DURHAM – Can you remember a time when you witnessed the birth of an idea? Or a time when you created the environment that allowed for really good brainstorming? Moments like this are powerful and are often the beginnings of “good trouble.”

Jes Averhart. (Photo via Rachel Mork)

Over the last week, I experienced this in real time…twice. First during our Fall Reset Workshop  and then again five days later at the Black Founders Exchange Kickback hosted by Google for Startups and the American Underground. In each instance, questions, doubts and curiosities hung in the air. But rather quickly, walls were broken down, genuine connections were made and ideas flowed.

It was cool to have a front row seat to this magic. It was like watching fireworks appear out of nowhere – and the formula was simple:

  • First, to create the magic at all, someone has to take the initiative. If you want to be a part of something special, you might need to be the catalyst. In my case, I set up the gatherings, secured the spaces and crafted the guestlist.
  • Design intentional collisions. It’s easy to pull together ‘the usual suspects’, and hey, if that’s what you want, do it! But what would happen if you hosted a Meetup of people who share an interest?

At the Black Founders Exchange, we invited local entrepreneurs and members of the creative community in order to facilitate intentional cross-discipline collisions. And it paid off. It was cool to overhear people talking about AI, raising capital and the visual arts in the same conversation.

  • Remember that you’ll have introverts and extroverts mingling so offering a nonthreatening “get to know ya” activity helps folks engage. Have an icebreaker question ready to kick things off. Icebreakers don’t have to be cheesy or cringy…they are popular because… well… they work!
  • Finally, don’t be surprised if what you create spills over into other gatherings or establishes new traditions. Creating the right environment leads to robust conversations which in turn should offer the possibility for future collaborations and/or partnerships. (I know ours did!)

So go ahead – dream up a time of intentional collisions. Because we know that in today’s rapidly moving world, where time is a prized possession, intentionality might be all you need to solve a problem, establish connection or start some good trouble.