Regina had just left Heath Ceramics (where we worked together) and quickly got consumed in consulting work, as she’s a known brand and strategy force, event master, and magazine publisher who is also fully equipped with a sturdy moral compass and set of values. All of these dots connect to her passions: bringing people together in meaningful ways, and how design and space shapes pretty much everything we do.
We started doing some work together and she was in full agitation. Not the angry kind, the kind where there’s a voice inside that just won’t leave you alone — she was itching to do something, and boy, did she.
She got to work — pulled in the Designing Your Life tools, wrote a vision, wrote a manifesto, and got clear. There was a big problem, though. That thing that wouldn’t leave her alone — creating a place where people, later-in-career types, could find their tribe, plan an encore career or write a book, launch new businesses and ideas, all in the perfect space and supported by social media, marketing, and operations help — it needed a place, a space. And she had no interest in getting knee-deep in millions of dollars of California real estate.
Here’s how prototyping — reaching out to the world — works its magic. She connected with folks she knew who introduced her to folks they knew and just started talking about her vision. Not only did each conversation create insights and ideas, darned if the most amazing thing didn’t happen. She reconnected with the forces behind the likes of SOCAP and Impact Hub, and things got interesting. They brought her into their ecosystem where she serves as managing director of GatherLab, and with their support, she launched Refinery — a way to bring people together in just the way she had imagined, who rove each month to interesting places of art, culture, food, making, social impact, and more — to connect, learn, and create.
Instead of getting stuck in the real estate conundrum, she unleashed her creativity with a little help from her friends and found a solution in gathering at eclectic, behind-the-scenes places. There are endless nooks and cubbies in the Bay Area that inspire and delight.
It was a remarkably short trip from nagging voice inside to actualizing Refinery. Determination, doing the work to get clear about what she wanted to create and dogged prototyping got her there. And it’s only the beginning — the evolution continues as she refines Refinery.
The just-launched Refinery is Regina Connell’s vision-come-to-life for “grownups of creativity, curiosity, and generosity who are looking to lead more purposeful, joy-filled lives and create meaningful legacies… as we hit our 40s and beyond.” Refinery founding members kicked off at Workshop, sipped some rum at Obispo, and had a delightful adventure into the history and practice of natural scents for food and life at Aftelier Perfume’s Archive of Curious Scents. Would-be authors are gathering to write that book within, and there is so much more to come. Can’t wait to see what will emerge from the connecting and roving — all in homage to enabling members to unleash their gifts and to do good things in the world.
Sunday Morning Reflection
What won’t leave you alone? What are you gonna do about it?
Sunday Morning: 108