In my period of ‘under-employment’, while absent-mindedly surfing the web looking for, I don’t know what, I found myself on a website titled ‘Ladies that Latte’.   OK, I can hear you ……. this again?  Is this Striped Sister obsessed by coffee?  Well I wasn’t aware of this particular addiction (!) but once again this event had the attraction of a coffee and something certainly more intriguing.  I delved deeper into the website and saw a lot of women with very smiley faces, gathering at various locations with the purpose of ……… er………..discussing business ideas?   Now I don’t consider myself remotely entrepreneurial but in the spirit of trying new things, I clicked the Eventbrite invite and signed up to attend an event in London Bridge.  My philosophy being that the more you try new things and put yourself in new situations, then the less daunting these endeavours will become.  After all I am using my ‘stepping stone’ theory!

So, on the day of the latte expedition, I found myself on the remarkably familiar Northern Line, heading to the already familiar London Bridge, attending a not-so familiar meeting.  Imposter syndrome – I very much think so!  But then again, what could possibly go wrong when I have the security of a latte in hand?

I suppose at this juncture, I must confess I was not exactly attempting this venture alone.  I had previously called in the troops so to speak.  Yes, you’ve guessed it, another Striped Sister had been roped in, not really knowing what she had signed up for.  That made two of us.

Well as you can imagine, I turned up early.  Predictable in my unpredictability.  Another trait maybe?   There was a woman on a desk as I gingerly pushed open the door of the café/bar/restaurant.  She was scaringly PR, a bit too smartly dressed for this time in the morning if you know what I mean, and seemed to be checking people in. ‘What was my name?’…. ‘Did I want to leave my business card in the bowl?’  Crikey!  Firstly, I don’t have a business card, and secondly, this seemed a bit like throwing your car keys into a collective ring.  Incidentally, I don’t drive.  There seemed to be a lot of busyness, again for this rather early hour, and people standing up and milling around.  Men in suits even.  Hang on a minute wasn’t this ‘Ladies that Latte’?  Eventually, it became apparent that this was an altogether different networking event and ‘Ladies that Latte’ was around the corner.  Relief does not begin to express it.  I had already been planning my exit route.

l strode through a relatively empty restaurant and found a large table in a room off the main seating area with three people already seated.  Two women at the top of the table who were looking at their laptops.  Another woman seated to their right who I headed to sit next to.   Lucky me.  Good choice. I’m sitting next to an open and friendly woman who has a decluttering business.  Match made in heaven number one.  I love decluttering and I can talk about the ‘Konmari method’ ad infinitum…… well at least until another latte comes along.   Gradually more women started to arrive.   Still the women at the top of the table remained silent, still busy on their computers.  More women arriving until there were a table of around 10.    Eventually, reinforcement turned up in the form of Striped Sister number 2, albeit late!  I shot a nervous grin in her direction and to say she looked puzzled was probably the understatement of the year.

All I remember of the next few minutes was that the two women at the top of the table raised their eyes above their laptops, introduced themselves and then said: ‘What can we do for you?’  Simple as that.  Two successful businesswomen who want to help others, share their experience and connect you with others in order to help.  No agenda, no fee, simple helping.  We all went around the table and discussed our business ideas and why we were there.   Now as I said early, I am no businesswoman and I wasn’t exactly sure why I was there, but when asked to explain, words found themselves.  I’d found myself out of work, I was trying to think of where to go next, trying to fathom out the complexities of my life and how to solve them, and then, without even knowing it, I said the magic sentence: ‘I’m looking to recalibrate my life.’   I’d summed it up without thinking, but I guess it was always there and wanted a forum in which to express itself.   I tried to explain that my life was beginning to look like an extraordinarily complex jigsaw puzzle that needed putting together again and I was trying to work out how to do that.

As these words catapulted out of my mouth, I watched the two women. Again, quiet but with intense and forensic listening that you only get from those who know what they are talking about.  There followed advice that was helpful and practical with no puff of self-aggrandisement. This was so astonishing to me that it was clear I had been in a sour environment for way too long.  Well perhaps not so surprising, but what is surprising, is that it took a coffee with this particular group of women to actually bring that home to me. And that’s where ‘Ladies that Latte’ started me on my new quest.

© stripedsisters 2019

For more information about ‘Ladies that Latte London Bridge’ – please refer to the monthly events on Eventbrite.

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