Last week, someone grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said, “You’re only limited by the limits of your own moxie.”
At least that’s how it felt when author and educator, Anita Verna Crofts, took the stage at this year’s IN-NW digital marketing conference and advocated for “chance encounters of the creative kind”–those spontaneous conversations and connections that, according to Crofts, spark unforeseen opportunities. Crofts would know. She landed a book deal from a seemingly random series of encounters–and a healthy dose of moxie.
Photo from IN-NW 2017 by Fahad Aldaajani
The First Encounter
It started with pie. Actually, a zine called A Commonplace Book of Pie, but it comes back to pie, doesn’t it? Crofts received this particular zine as a gift from a house guest. A burgeoning food writer, Crofts was gobsmacked. In fact, she still waxes poetic when describing Book of Pie–its rustic design, letterpress; its poetry set against pie recipes. “I was smitten by the writing, and wondered who wrote it,” Crofts said.
Enter chance. Crofts flipped to the back of the book and noticed the author, Kate Lebo, was a Master of Fine Arts student at the University of Washington. “I thought, her office is likely 100 feet away from where I work every day,” Crofts said. An email introduction yielded a scintillating conversation over Indian food, and a creative connection was born.
Over the next months and years, the two women provided each other unexpected career stepping stones.Crofts helped Lebo realize her dream to publish a poem in Gastronomica by introducing her to the magazine’s editor, and Lebo, after securing a book deal for Book of Pie, invited Crofts to participate in one of her book readings. As chance would have it, Crofts caught the eye of a publisher in the audience who would later produce Crofts’ own foodie rhapsody–Meet Me at the Bamboo Table: Everyday Meals Everywhere.
The Mojo of Many
Whether you believe in the six degrees of separation theory or don’t, being open to–and seeking–new conversations increases the chances you’ll find the exact person you were looking for, or didn’t know you needed. And today, Crofts said, a plethora of possibilities are a click away.“With the scale of the digital ecosystem, it’s never been easier to track down and make overtures to individuals we admire,” Crofts told the IN-NW audience. “That to me is one of the beauties of the days we live in.”
So gather your passion and verve, and write a letter, send a LinkedIn message, or simply strike up a conversation with someone unfamiliar. Sure, they might not respond–but what if they do? The key, according to Crofts, is remembering that we make chance happen–it’s a proactive stance. “You make chance and you take chance, so have your antenna up and you’ll be amazed what happens,” Crofts said. “There’s nothing to lose, but everything to gain.”