Catalyst for Thought: Really Intelligent People with Big Hearts…

Originally written while a board member and vice president of Catalyst – I resigned in 2009 and the organization continues to thrive.

Almost four years ago, I attended an SBYPC event called “How I Made my First MILLION, and How I Gave it Away“.  The event  featured Patty DeDominic, Larry Crandell, and Dr. Jean Weidemann each discussing their non-profit activities.  It was an interesting presentation to see these community and industry leaders share their vision for charity fundraising, the future of micro-lending, and why it’s so important to give back.  I later learned that the event was setup as a separate division called “Big Think”, a concept conceived by Chrissy Deferville and Kristin Brown.  These two ladies had the notion that inspirational leaders could give lectures and the proceeds would go to local non-profits.  A few weeks later, Chrissy approached me and asked if I would help design such a venture.  I was honored and thrilled.  Just a few days later, we had our first venue selected, our format designed, and thanks to our growing network of friends and associates – a budding, entrepreneurial team that is now known as Catalyst for Thought.

Catalyst has put on 14 presentation/interview events to date, aptly called “SYNC”.  One of my favorite events from 2009 featured Peter Matthies discussing the “The New Entrepreneur” and benefiting the Santa Barbara Dance Institute.  In the final moments before showtime, we were adding more seats in the final minutes as our attendance recorded a new high of 150.  Catalyst is a 501.3.c thanks to the legal counsel of Mr. Robert Croteau and the hard work of Buynak Law.

Kristin Brown, one of the originators of the concept, is the liason with all of our non-profits.  Scott Dinsmore sources the speakers.  Past board members include Annie Johnson, who while managing her second tri-mester and her events business, handled events coordination.  Then there’s the public relations expert Lilly De Oliveira.

Although I’ve never done the math, I think the group of volunteers has a median age of about 29.  These are professionals that take time out of their busy schedules to not only manage Catalyst, but build Catalyst.  The organic growth of Catalyst has been nothing short of inspiring.  We set out goals and team members take on tasks and responsibilities with passion and enthusiasm.  And, moreover, we find this self-disciplined group to make an original idea better, more creative, more thoughtful.  It’s infectious (in a good way).

There’s a slew of other talented team members including Gavin Roy who creates the musical electricity before and after our events, Davis Brimer who interfaces with UCSB, Tracey Soloman who handles all of our accounting and finances, Tracy York who has been handling Web database issues along with wearing lots of other hats, Barnaby Draper who provides the videography resources,  and Jeff Bochsler responsible for the often challenging task of obtaining our event sponsorships.  Now Jeff and Allison Trowbridge have taken over my original role as host and moderator – most recently interviewing the stunning Kathy Ireland.

Catalyst has a mind of its own led by great minds; intelligent people with big hearts.  The organization now has a regular lunch session that’s called “Meeting of the minds” where  folks lunch with business leaders to more intimately discuss technology, entrepreneurship, and anything else that lunch calls for.

I’m very proud to have helped design the layout of the Catalyst events  and would like to personally invite you to attend a Catalyst for Thought event in the near future.

For now, enjoy this behind the scenes video clip which gives some perspective on the Catalyst energy, from the early days:

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