Sara Chojnacki, the founder of Hello Sara Christine talks to The Ortus Club’s Lorna Davidson about the power of knowledge-sharing and how it provides solutions and creates collaborations that go beyond borders.
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How did you first realise the power of b2b knowledge sharing? Where did your b2b knowledge-sharing journey begin?
I’ve always been interested in sharing knowledge. I need outside support and thinking all the time. I think that’s always been my ammunition, but the idea just really kicked in last year. With the pandemic, everyone was working from home, and all of a sudden, I’m in these four walls thinking, “Am I the only one that’s thinking this?” and “How am I supposed to improve?”
I feel like no one got the memo. No one knew what to do. How do we address clients? How do we address their needs? We all kind of jumped into the pot together during the pandemic. So I started reaching out to my recent connections because I realised I needed to find like-minded folks, people doing similar things that I was doing and look for those similarities. I started reaching out to them but it felt weird thinking, “Oh, I’m reaching out to competitors” or “I’m reaching out to people that I would normally not reach out to.” Instead, it became more like, “Can we share our secrets because we can’t do this alone anymore?” I think that’s where the power of knowledge sharing kicked off for me. I thought about how my business could make or break someone else’s business. That’s when I realised b2b partnerships are kind of synonymous with knowledge sharing.
Why is B2B knowledge-sharing so important?
As I said, the pandemic has opened us up to share with each other. At this point, knowledge-sharing is now not only just “Are you experimenting with that kind of technology?” or “Are you experimenting with this kind of people process?” but it is about building relationships. In the next ten years, partnerships are going to be key. Retailers have become banks; banks have become retailers, so why are we not working together?
I always ask people questions such as “What keeps you up at night?”, or “What keeps your CFO up at night?” because that’s a common challenge that we all share. Knowledge-sharing is really seeking people on the outside that are doing similar things so you can ideate. It’s like doing a really awesome brainstorm with your team. But now, we have to take that action outside of our organisations. Who knows? Magic could happen. I’ve seen it in the last year with these unique partnerships that have formed.
Looking back at 2020, what was one challenge you faced as a CX expert? Tell us about how knowledge-sharing played a role in finding solutions?
The biggest challenge was understanding that we are not alone. When I had the opportunity to moderate executive roundtables, or be a part of these smaller intimate groups of like-minded people leaders, it opened up my mind to one: that I’m not alone, and two: that there are so many people dealing with the same problems that I’m dealing with. The interesting thing was, they’re solving their problems in a different way, and I could see that my way was not the only way.
It was hard to realise this in the past because, as founders or even executives and people leaders, we’re sort of siloed in our own container. We have 133 things to do in a day, and If we go out and try to brainstorm, talk and ideate, it’s a real miracle moment. But I realised in 2020 that knowledge-sharing was critical for me. When I set aside the time to look for people struggling or dealing with similar challenges, it really opened up my mind to new ideas and solutions.
Honestly, I would say that I’ve innovated more in the last year because being part of these groups also gave me outside validation and approval. Being able to hear successes and failures from other people made me want to collaborate with them. The next thing I know, I have all of these relationships turn into partnerships that have helped me create new experiences for my b2b clients.
“Being able to hear successes and failures from other people made me want to collaborate with them. The next thing I know, I have all of these relationships turn into partnerships that have helped me create new experiences for my b2b clients.”
What B2B knowledge-sharing opportunities are there today?
Honestly, I have to say, through my experience of being at an Ortus event, bringing together like-minded people in a small group has been the secret sauce. We get intimate, we’re in a safe space, and I think that’s what’s missing in many ways.
When the pandemic began, the biggest thing I was hungry for was networking. But I wasn’t sure how you could do that virtually.
The solution for me was these moderated events where you come together in a small group. It’s really about creating a container that allows people to feel vulnerable and that’s what helps when addressing challenges and networking.
Hands down, I have got to say, Ortus nailed it. I have made more connections in the last year through Ortus roundtables than before the pandemic. We make a connection and talk about challenges that bring us together. That’s the best way that I’ve seen that has produced actual, deep, and innovative solutions for me.