Finding Your Tribe: The Secret Sauce to Professional Growth


It's been a year and I can't believe it. 

One year ago this month, I got to spend three days with 36 Google Innovators from around the country in our Nation's capital and I did not come back the same person. I found my Tribe, drank the Innovator kool-aid, and have never looked back. Because of that experience, I now understand what the true meaning of the word Tribe means.

According to Merriam-Webster:

Tribe is a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest

That's a great definition MW, but here are the things I've learned over the past year about Tribes that no one ever told me:

different tribes for different goals

I have some pretty awesome friends, but some aren't in my professional tribe. We've known each other for years and care about each other and each other's families, but professionally, we have very different goals. That's great and totally normal. However, in order to meet professional goals, we have to surround ourselves with the people who we want to either become more like or do what they do or know what they know. Some friends can't offer that, and that's ok. That's where my Innovator Tribe stepped in and helped me step it up.

Tribes are waiting for you to find them

You can't just hope that your tribe shows up one day, on your doorstep. You have to go seeking them out. Sure, some of your friends can join that professional tribe too, but I'm sure some don't even want to! My point is, whether it's virtually or in 3D, reach out, say "Hi", and tell them you want some of what they've got and that you're willing to do what it takes to become a part of it. It's worth the vulnerability and the time commitment.

your tribe is smarter than you

If you picked the right tribe, you're going to feel stupid. A lot. At least, that's been my experience. There have been many times where I look around, read a thread, and think... "OMG... I don't belong here. These people are way out of my league." But then I think to myself, "But this is why I'm here. To grow. To engage. To listen and watch. To offer up knowledge or opinions when I happen to know the answer to someone's question. I do belong here. My other option is to be alone, on an 'island', sitting stagnant. Nope. I do belong here." That's the beauty of surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you. You have no option but to grow. 

Your tribe will push you to do uncomfortable things

Last year was very tough for me. After WDC with my Innovator Tribe and simply because I knew what I wanted to do and wouldn't take the leap, I struggled emotionally and even physically with what my heart and head argued over every single day. I consulted family, friends, and (of course) my tribe. It was clear. I needed to get really uncomfortable and take the unconventional jump. I considered dumping my project and my education career altogether and starting over in a new lane. I considered safe and sensible new lanes to start in, even applying and interviewing to begin other career paths. But my tribe pushed me to think differently and to go for what my heart had been telling me to do for years. I did it and I'm not looking back. 

your tribe deserves lots of thank yous

This year has been so unforgettable and I owe it to all of the tribes in my life. My family, friends, and of course my Google Innovator Tribe. They each have played an extremely important role not just in my professional life, but my personal one as well. Thank you so much for accepting me and allowing me to be part of this Tribe that is Google Innovator. I'm humbled by all of you every single day.

Thank you so much for this incredible experience. I'm so excited for Year 2 and beyond! 


Amber HarperComment