When Barbara Palmer wrote a story in the March issue about how E-180, a social technology company, has created a “brain-dating” platform that is being used to support peer-t0-peer learning at conferences, she emphasized that it connects attendees through topics they most care about. They come home with new insights and connections — not just another pile of business cards.
Not that Christine Renaud, E-180’s CEO, underestimates the value of business cards. When she handed me hers at C2 Montreal last May, I was immediately intrigued by the photo (above) that appears on the back. It was taken, Renaud explained, when her mother was teaching Epenge Kabasele, E-180’s creator of opportunities, how to make fudge. Given Renaud’s goal of bringing people together to learn from each other, it needed no further explanation.
Still, I was curious to hear how that charming photo came about, so Christine recently put me in touch with Epenge. Here’s Epenge’s backstory:
“I have been working for E-180 for almost a year-and-a-half now. What really got me into working for the organization in the first place is the vision and mission driving the motivation of its leaders. We literally come to work every morning with the purpose of changing the world and transforming every single human being on the planet into life-long teachers while supporting them with our tools throughout their learning journey. Whether that human being is at a conference learning new skills, in an airport waiting for a flight, or in a café trying to kill time, we want to help them foster meaningful connections through peer learning.
“One of the first things you realize when you start working for the company is that you have to believe in the product — and most importantly, you have to use it. We are encouraged to expand our knowledge and further our learning by booking Brain Dates with individuals that can teach us what we want to learn. I love to cook, so when I noticed that Micheline [Christine’s mother] had an offer titled ‘How to make perfect fudge,’ I knew I had to book a Brain Date with her. She is the grandmother you always want to have around. She is calm and peaceful, yet she always has a story to tell.
“We spent a great afternoon laughing and sharing stories and I had the pleasure of getting to know Micheline — ‘Mamouche’ as her daughter Christine fondly renamed her. My time with Mamouche made me realize that sharing knowledge can be done at any age but also that we all have something we know that can be taught to someone else, whether it be about cooking, professional skills, new technologies, culture, or life experiences.
“The funny part is that we were unsuccessful in making the perfect fudge that day. We may have failed the sweets but the perfection of that Brain Date came from the time we spent together.”