Name: Ryan Cooke
Hometown: Arlingotn Heights, Illinois
Circle Start Date: March 8, 2018
What do you do when you’re not running a Ben Franklin Circle?
By day, I’m a project manager at CultureIQ. We help organizations administer employee opinion/engagement surveys and drive culture and engagement initiatives. I spend the rest of my time being a dad, a husband, and a health and fitness nut. In addition to hosting a Ben Franklin Circle, I frequently lead 21-day challenges promoting simple, cost-free healthy habits. This group, Healthy Little Things, exists as a blog as well as a private Facebook Group.
What attracted you to the Circles?
So much! Like Franklin, I’m a bit of a personal development junky, so, whenever I hear about opportunities to grow, I’m all about it. Recently, I’ve also been intensely interested in the concept of fostering community. I moved to the suburbs a couple years ago and feel like I lost my social life. It’s a struggle that a lot of dads share—have a baby, move to the burbs (away from social networks), and then spend all your time outside of work with said baby and family. Without an existing social network close to home, and without much expendable free time, this is an easy trap to fall into. My Ben Franklin Circle has helped me to connect with people (in person!) in my community. The final selling point for me was joining a sample Ben Franklin Circle that my friend Patty hosted in Chicago. The level of conversation around such big themes was something that I’ve rarely experienced, and is so incredibly enjoyable.
Tell us a little about the composition of your group.
I LOVE our group! While recruiting, I tried to find as diverse a group as possible. On that front, I think we nailed it! There are nine of us in total. Our group spans multiple generations, with a few different ethnicities, religions, and geographic origins. I also don’t believe any two members share the same occupation or industry. Most members were invited though sending direct messages, but I also posted about the Circle on a local Facebook alumni group from my undergrad university.
How has hosting a Ben Franklin Circle impacted you?
I can honestly say that I’m happier, healthier, and more productive since our Circle started meeting. The simple act of having a conversation with great people once a month makes me happy. I really look forward to our meetings. The commitments I’ve made coming out of each meeting have also helped me prioritize what’s important and to simply “be better.” Additionally, I’m a more confident speaker and facilitator than when we started. We’ve only met four times, but I feel like I’ve improved since we started. Don’t get me wrong, I have a long way to go, but appreciate the relaxed and supportive setting to practice.
Which virtue means the most to you personally and why?
Can my answer be, “whichever virtue we discussed last?” I enjoy our conversations at each meeting so much that I feel like I have a ton of momentum and motivation around that virtue for the rest of the month. Looking forward, Sincerity and Justice really speak to me, but Resolution is probably the virtue I most closely identify with. I find the concept of “performing without fail” impactful and inspiring.
What is the last commitment you made to yourself? How’s it going?
Following our conversation on Resolution, I made a commitment to actually write down my To-Do list and prioritize it each day. (Quick shout out to Order as well!) The simple act of moving random tasks from inside my head to a checklist is helping me actually get these things done. Completing tasks for work and major tasks like grocery shopping and meal prep are easy. It’s the random little tasks, like writing a thank you note or sending a follow-up text to a friend, that too often never get done because I don’t write them down. Not anymore! So far, so good!