What white water rafting can teach us about running a small business

Twenty years ago, Connie Martinez decided she and her friends needed to have more fun. Martinez was a smart, ambitious woman living in Silicon Valley. Most of her friends were also successful women who put their energy into their careers and families. Like many businesswomen and entrepreneurs, they didn’t spend much time taking care of themselves.

“One day Martha Kanter and I were together,” Martinez said, and we said, “We should have more fun. My family and I had gone white water rafting, so I had the idea to get together with friends to go rafting.

So Martinez created the Women of Wild Water—a group of about 25 women who, once a year, travel from the Bay Area to Ashland, Oregon, where they see plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, shop, hit the bath and hang out. . out.

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The Wildwater Women reunite each year for a weekend of fun, shopping, dining — and serious whitewater rafting.

But the activity that cements the group’s bond is a full-day whitewater rafting trip on the Upper Klamath River.

This is no sleep cruise. It is a continuous series of 47 named rapids, with many classified as IV and IV+. Rapids are rated on a scale of Class I-VI with Class IV “characterized by intense, powerful and turbulent water … the risk of injury to swimmers is moderate to high.”)

“We only had one reason to get together,” Martinez said, “to have fun and enjoy each other. There’s no networking, no job hunting. Nobody’s here to use each other. .”

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How to create a long-term organization

I am lucky that Martinez, a friend, invited me to become a wild water woman. Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about business, myself, and friendship from Wild Water Women.

You can also learn a lot about running a small business from the people who have made Wild Water Women successful for two decades.

Martinez, in particular, is an example of how to create a long-term organization. She did all of the following:

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