Your Network: Mission Critical

The absence of a solid network is most acutely felt when there’s an emergency. You’ve seen and heard me talk about the importance of a Top 5, and it’s in these moments that a network of 5 or even 100 becomes mission critical.

This lesson was driven home for me in a most unexpected way: As the city of Kabul, Afghanistan fell in August 2021, I was on WhatsApp with one of our cohort members receiving the minute-to-minute details. I share this story with her permission.

As she described hearing the first gunshots in the city, coming from the western gates, I’ve never felt so helpless to assist another human being. In those early hours and days, all I could ask her to do was reply to my check-in texts each morning when the power came back on.

Determined to be more useful, I posted on social asking to be connected to anyone assisting with evacuation efforts. As it turned out, one of our IMPERIA™ mentors was doing that very thing, and brought me into an extraordinary community of journalists and ex-military. I continue to be in awe of those weeks, and the willingness of a group of strangers to do whatever was required because we were now a team — from filling out endless forms with passport details in case a flight opened up, to conveying on-the-ground information to avoid certain airport gates, or warning people to stay home and hide. It was several weeks of managing chaos, nerves, and hounding anyone with government authority who would listen.

And we weren’t even the people terrified for their lives.

It was then clear to me the true power of a network, because I developed an all-consuming vision: The next time this happens, I want to be able to pick up the phone and have somebody send a jet somewhere. As in “Call Serena Williams and see if she’s willing to send her jet to pick up our cohort members and get them out of danger.” That might be a pipe dream, but I’m a big thinker.

In the wise words of my friend Kelly Hoey, the access changes the outcome. That my access to the underground activity was already in my network was a massive bonus, and though we weren’t successful in getting anyone in our circle on a flight, I’m forever grateful to a soul sister who will always be part of my life, and who introduced me to critical contacts around the globe. Because this will happen again, somewhere, and we need to be ready.

As for our cohort member, she is safe. Though we hit an endless loop of dead ends from our side, she found her own way out. She is pure power, and the work she does will have a significant impact on the world. Now she needs room to breathe, and soar.

IMPERIA lives in service of the giant within her. 


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