I remember when I met him. The conversation. The thoughtfulness with which he spoke. The respect and interest I felt as we inched closer to knowing each other. I asked his birth year; he was born in 1981: the last, last year of the GenX generation. His name was Peter, Peter Corbett, and his business was (and still is) istrategylabs.
That was about a year and a half ago. Maybe a little more. Since then, I’ve come to know him more: a conversation here, a conversation there. Reading his blog posts and Facebook status updates. But mostly, and most significantly by watching him as someone I’ve consciously chosen to watch and follow. And let me tell you, in the social media space, there are a lot of people clamoring for attention, guru-ness and stature. But, Peter, well, he’s a leader. He’s a thinker. And he is, for me, the opposite end of my generation. I’m curious about how he sees the world.
If he’s hosting an event in DC — and he has hosted a depth and breadth of events that would astound even a professional event planner — I note it. Sometimes I attend the same event. If something has his attention, I’m curious to know why and to expand my own thinking.
Part of my curiosity comes specifically from the fact that he is almost 20 years younger than I am, yet is so capable. Who is he? What trends is he noticing? And acting upon? Where is he putting his energies? Into community events, connecting the DC social media scene with the DC (Nova) Tech Councils. TwinTech. Ugh! At first it drove me nuts to watch my precious and heartfelt social media peer events become infiltrated with the government contractors. Oh, such a different breed. I hated it. And yet I went to the events. I understood it was important. That the integration needed to happen. For both communities.
He’s organized and supported barcamps and transparency camp, public media camps and gov2.0 camps. He’s connected the DC tech and DC arts scenes with a big, intentional, let’s-get-to-know-each-other party. He’s created Apps for Democracy and has been instrumental in bringing to the fore the relevance and vision of citizen participation, geekdom-ness and governments. He’s rung the opening bell at the NY Stock Exchange, opened offices in NY and SF in the last year and has really big — as in B-I-G — clients.
And still and all, someone blasted him in a meeting for being 29. From his Facebook page (and copied with permission):
Perhaps, on a generational level, someday I’ll convince Peter he’s a GenXer with tremendous bridge capacity. As a GenXer, so he can relate to GenXers. He can bridge to Millennials, as he is one year older and is an older brother to them, so to speak. And he can bridge to Boomers because GenXers and Boomers, while they — and each — generation have their areas of friction, also have their alignments. In other words, Peter is fascinatingly positioned, to me, as someone I want to listen to because of his age.
Mind you, I’m not interested in someone because they are 29. But someone who is as Peter is and does as Peter does AND happens to be “only 29,” well, that’s someone I have on my radar. I can’t watch everything. I can’t know all the trends. But I can watch and be connected to a trend-spotter and -setter such as he is.
Next up: BIBA.