August 25th-27th, a group of 30 Millennials will arrive at the Pali Retreat in the mountains outside of Los Angeles County for what is to be a transformative experience for the creative entrepreneur. Shanelle Williams and Kareem Taylor had a meeting of the minds and a weekend getaway/retreat/ networking event titled ENCOUNTER was created. As a borderline millennial, I can agree that we not only take few vacations, we very rarely place ourselves in networking opportunities with a group of people we don’t know. Therefore, when I heard of this event I reached out to Kareen to not only find out info but to understand the movement that will be ENCOUNTER.
When did you realize that an event like ENCOUNTER was important?
I went on a friends wilderness retreat for entrepreneurs and passion seekers. It was in the middle of the Anza Borrego State Park near San Diego. Three days in the middle of the desert with freeze dried food and no cell service. It transformed my life. I came back wanting others to experience something similar, except not in the middle of nowhere, but to get the feeling I got. So, Shanelle Williams (of True Splendor Events) and I got together, and started thinking “how can we bring this to others?” We understand the power of retreats, and also the power of connection with others – and how that powers business, career, life. We felt Encounter in the mountains would be the best way to bring it to the world.
How did you come up with the overall concept?
The name “Encounter” comes from the word itself. We put a bunch of words on a white board that described the retreat. Words like transformation, life-changing, mindset, shift, and then came encounter. We feel people may encounter a person or an idea at this retreat, and it will change the course of their career, and life for the better.
Being laid off felt like a rug was pulled up from under me. I felt useless. It was an emotional punch at first, just felt like I’d been kicked in the gut. It didn’t help that I was stressed by the job, and had been sick at the same time. So I was in a dark space. That is one of the reasons I took my friend up on his offer to go to the wilderness, though I didn’t realize the benefits at that time.
Men, in general, do not take the time to take care of ourselves. Are you putting a special push out there for men?
We have been advertising the event towards men and women. I’ll tell you right now; we have not one man signed up yet, all are women. I wish it was not this way, but numbers do not lie. We’d love to have men join us! We need a diverse array of POV and energy. We’ve planned many events, and the numbers always show men are not interested. Though we wish it was different.
Do you plan to have more ENCOUNTER trips throughout the year?
As of now, Encounter is happening just this year and is only one time.
How did you and Shanelle come together?
Shanelle Williams is my partner, and we also do business together. Shanelle is an event planner with global experience, so she knows how to put together events. We decided to put together our skillset to create Encounter. I’ve built a following via social media the last seven years, so I’ve been engaging my audience who are generally interested in personal development.
What do you ultimately want to come about from ENCOUNTER?
At Encounter, we want people to create lifelong, life-changing connections with each other. In my own life, I connect people whom I think should know each other. Some of these people have dated, broken up, had kids, worked together, started businesses, became frat brothers, made money together, etc. So we truly believe we have launched what is a creative society for entrepreneurs and ruckus makers. One of the things in life that have helped me is my relationships. The jobs I’ve had in the last three years, I haven’t applied for. I’ve leveraged my deep rolodex. But you first have to build that network, and ultimately, that is what we want Encounter to be. You can get a network by being some multimillionaire CEO apart of a secret high-brow society or you can be a Harvard MBA alum with access to the cigar shop, but this isn’t really for them. It’s for the outsiders, the outliers, the people who want to rock the status quo — Encounter belongs to them.