It’s 5:15 am and already my Slack channels are full of new messages. Clients are wondering how we’re planning to promote an event; our liaison has questions about scheduling upcoming workshops; our photographer has uploaded a batch of photos from the latest shoot; our copywriter has social media she needs me to approve.

Although I have my coffee steaming in front of me, it hasn’t quite reached my bloodstream yet, so I sit back for a moment and watch the day unfold. It’s always a dance: balancing the needs of our clients against the time each team member brings to the table, working in calls and email exchanges, and leaving enough time to get the kids off to school. In the early days of the Kinship, it felt like I had stepped off the edge of a map into seas no one had sailed before. Now, as my team works together to bring our clients’ dreams into being, it feels a lot more like home.

What comes to mind when you think about kin? For me, it’s always been family. Maybe your family is a big, close-knit one, full of text chains and nieces’ soccer games and Sunday dinners. Maybe it’s smaller: a few nuclear members and holiday get-togethers. Maybe yours isn’t defined by DNA, but by affinity. Or maybe it’s something else entirely.

But no matter who you call family, they’re important. There’s a bond there that runs deeper than geography or circumstance.

Kinship is cooperation, support, understanding. It’s shared joy and struggle. When I decided to name my team the Kinship, it was with all those definitions and nuances in mind. I wanted to create a marketing team that wasn’t selling a preconceived idea of what clients needed, but rather working to support our clients and build from their inspiration. I wanted to be the person my clients would call with a flash of insight first thing in the morning, the person they would trust with their late-night misgivings.

As I started building my team, I realized that kinship would need to come from within as well. Because we work so closely together, it wasn’t enough to hire competent people. I needed to find people who were different, who had an interesting take on things, who weren’t interested in maintaining the status quo. I needed a little flock of black sheep: people who had deep expertise and unique points of view. Each one needed to be able to look at a problem, work with me to build out half a solution, and then take the rest on from there. Finding these very special people has been an ongoing project, and an ongoing source of joy. There’s nothing quite like meeting a new teammate and getting the feeling there’s no limit to what they might accomplish.

There’s a notion that many stories, at their heart, follow a similar pattern. Someone sets off on a journey. They leave the safety of their home to follow the call of adventure, or of duty, or of necessity. Once they’ve crossed the threshold from their known world to the unknown world, things start to get interesting. In the unknown, the adventurer meets antagonists, faces tests, endures ordeals. They often face the innermost parts of themselves, and the most alien parts of their world.

The trick of it is that the adventurer has to cross into the unknown not only to complete their mission, but also to find the people who can help.

The Kinship started as I traversed the part of the map marked only Here be dragons. And there were definitely some dragons! But there was a lot unmarked on that map: the friends, the allies, the accomplices, the family. There was joy, and purpose. By the time I’d found my bearings, I knew it wasn’t in me to return to the safety and comfort of home. Instead, I collected those allies and stayed in the uncharted waters, waiting for brave souls to venture out in search of adventure and in need of help.

I’m there today, at 5:15 am, coffee in hand. I pull up my day’s schedule, rally the crew, and set out once again.

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