10/27/2014 10:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Schmooze or Lose

Co-written by Tony Luna


Whether networking, talking or mingling, we humans are interdependent and social animals who rely on each other for individual as well as collective success. To continuously innovate ourselves we need safe havens for soliciting informal opinions, advice and making new connections. Is it any wonder that creative professionals love getting together and shooting the breeze?

Personal rejuvenation can happen haphazardly, opportunistically, organically or by design and it seems that creative professionals primarily pass though three phases in their life: Learning their profession, working on something meaningful, and then building their legacy. Creative professionals will often join professional associations, such as alumni organizations or public speaking organizations, such Toastmasters International, to learn new skills while networking with others.

There is a fourteen-week course called "Crafting a Meaningful Career," focusing on mid-career professionals, that is being offered through Art Center College of Design/Public Programs in Pasadena, California. Along with attending the course, attendees are provided with a lifetime membership in Schmooze Festivals where three times a year, course graduates and tailgaters alike meet to share their dreams, insights and their latest projects.

According to Tony Luna, the creator of this course, when Art Center's Public Programs allowed him to begin teaching his concept for a career reinvention/career rejuvenation course over eleven years ago, he was gratified by the enthusiastic support that the class received. The vision of the class was to provide support, inspiration, and networking to mid-career creative professionals who are eager to take their careers to the next level.

As the class grew in popularity, it was evident that the topic could not be contained to a one-time class. It became important to keep the ideas generated moving forward by offering periodic meetings where those who had participated could give presentations about their new ventures and also network and collaborate with other talents to help each other achieve mutual goals. The name SchmoozeFest was chosen for the meet-ups because they are designed to be informal, fun, and a place to exchange and nurture ideas with like-minded individuals. The format allows each participant ten minutes to do a presentation about their projects. Once everyone has presented, there is a general networking session in which the participants select with whom they wish to have further discussions.

To keep the energy of the SchmoozeFests moving forward during the intervening months Tony started a blog for people who attended the classes, lectures, and workshops (or were interested in creative entrepreneurial ventures) to keep in touch and be inspired. The blog is posted once a month and is comprised of emails and notices that have been sent in about the group's various accomplishments. While the base was initially comprised of people in the creative arts such as artists, illustrators, graphic artists, photographers, filmmakers, etc., interest in the concept spread and they now have engineers, educators, and corporate executives among the participants since every occupation has the capacity to be 'creative.'

Tony is a big believer in the concept that everyone can create their own job title and job description by crafting a unique position in the marketplace based not only on their education and skill sets, but also on their exceptional life experiences, interests, and influences. He ended by saying that the passion-centered life is most rewarding and that life is altogether too short to be living someone else's dream.

Special thanks to Tony Luna for researching and co-writing this article.