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RapidChat: Heather Colletto

Over the years we've been conditioned to only share the highlight reels of our life on social media; We don’t show each other the framework behind the success. "But each of those stories is a series of months—even years—of self doubt, anger, and so on." reflects Heather Colletto, Founder of ServeGR, who recently shared her very own story of Context with CreativeMornings GR.

 

Over the years we've been conditioned to only share the highlight reels of our life on social media; We don’t show each other the framework behind the success. "But each of those stories is a series of months—even years—of self doubt, anger, and so on." reflects Heather Colletto, Founder of ServeGR, who recently shared her very own story of Context with CreativeMornings GR.
Rapid Growth: What sparked your involvement with CreativeMornings GR?

Heather Colletto: I know Molly. She reached out to me at the beginning of the year (2017). Initially… I wasn’t sure I had a story to tell. So I asked to see all the upcoming themes. “What about compassion?” she asked me. “No. Not me”, was my reaction. But when I saw the word “context”, I immediately connected that word to my story. 

RG: Why did you have such a strong connection with that word? 

HC: It was what I was seeking and misidentifying all along. “Context” is my story, for better or for worse. Throughout my life I have been constantly searching for a new context. A better context. The woman I think that I can be. But thinking about context this way is such a failure of imagination; it discredits yourself. I said it that morning… “you are your own context.” Context is what you bring to the situation you’re in. I wanted to tell that story.

RG: So then… how does your story begin?

HC: When I think about sharing my story, if feels like sharing a series of stories of professional and personal failures. It is so easy now to say “well this happened, then this happened, and now I am here speaking at CreativeMornings with you.” But each of those stories represents a series of months - even years - of self doubt, anger, and so on.

RG: Why do you think success is so commonly seen as a linear process?

HC: We don’t show each other the “how” or the “why” behind the success. All we show is the positive outcome. Success stories are all hindsight; they make sense after the fact. But the journey “there” is often a lot more messy. When you don’t show the mess, too, it feels fake. I don't know if this is helpful, but I am personally sort of allergic to sending beautiful Christmas card photos. So when we did ours, I actually used a series of photos from when our three-year-old stole our phone and snapped photos of the family. The back of our card said “we sang to Hamilton in our kitchen, fought about politics”… and so forth. I think it's really important for people to be honest about things. So yes, this is my lovely husband and we are going on our 10 years together, but we fought like hell to get here. I think it's good for people to see the imperfections, too, and realize they’re normal.

RG: How did you feel sharing your story with a room full of individuals, who were (more or less) looking up to you for advice? 

HC: I am a pretty private person, so it was terrifying. These are my most intimate plot points of my life. So to throw them out there...that was a big deal. I know that crowd, and they are incredibly generous, but it felt uncomfortable because I am not proud of parts of that story. Though it was certainly invigorating to be free and talk about it. 

I hated the Q&A because it felt like people were looking like advice - like I had answers. My immediate reaction was “were you listening? I have no answers!” But sure. I have had a unique set of experiences that I can be vulnerable with. If that makes them feel comfortable, and they want me to listen to their journey, I am more than willing to give my “advice”.

RG: What are some of the less “glamorous” parts of your story?

For one, I was in love with Michael (my now husband), for years before we got together. I hate telling people that. Because now that we are together, people in similar situations think it can work out. But it isn't that simple, or easy. The same goes for my job search. At one point, I sent out 50 resumes in Philadelphia and got one interview out of it, because I simply didn't have a network there. I gave up, and that’s when we moved to Grand Rapids. It was incredibly discouraging at the time.

RG: But your move to GR did lead you into creating an amazing resource for the community - ServeGR

HC: Yes. I’ll give you the elevator pitch. Serve GR connects you will volunteer opportunities within the greater Grand Rapids area. It is funded by Westminster Presbyterian Church and it is about giving time, versus money. I used to ask people for money (in past roles), but asking people for their time is so much harder. 

RG: What need do you feel that ServeGR is fulfilling for Grand Rapids?

HC: Why do we have any tools to do anything more easily? This tool feels like it is making things easier, which is immeasurably important for our community. Hop on Google and try to find a volunteer opportunity. You don't know what you are getting into. You are getting different degrees of information and it is really easy to get overwhelmed. With ServeGR, opportunities are current. Volunteer testimonials are honest and real. ServeGR gives people as much information as possible, so they know what they are getting into.

Jenna Morton is the RapidChat correspondent for Rapid Growth Media.
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