Great Business: The Trellis

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If you have been following along on this blog for a while, you will know that there is nothing I like more than introducing you to awesome people. And then when it’s two awesome people… Today I am thrilled to shine a light on two women who have been dear friends of mine for decades. They are women who have spoken truth to me about friendship, parenthood, work, marriage, academics, and spirituality. They are the best of the best. Lindsay, recently started a business called The Trellis. The Trellis is a place for meaningful learning – whether you are in high school, college, or many years beyond both but still seeking advice and guidance on your next steps. And I wasn’t the least bit surprised when Lindsay told me she had asked Brooke Fisch to join her and help with specific workshops. It’s a pleasure to introduce you to these women and all they do.

In the last decade I launched this blog and my production company. I have loved every second of my “follow up” career. But the hardest part has been finding the courage to keep going, as I have wondered if what I do resonates. If The Trellis had existed 6 years ago when I began, I know it would have helped me to hone my mission statement and focus more clearly on my end goal. I’m thrilled to share a little more about what The Trellis offers below. This is a blog post that would be great to send to friends with high school aged children, college aged young adults, and those who may be curious about entering back into the job market after some time away from it.

Q&A with Lindsay Hayes Hurty, founder of The Trellis:

What is The Trellis?

Like a trellis, which is a structure designed to support plants as they grow, The Trellis houses workshops designed to support participants as they grow naturally in their personhood. In small group community, workshops focus on inspiring people to be more alive in their lives by intentionally addressing the question: how do I want to grow into what’s next for me?

The workshops are thoughtfully designed to create a space for intellectual connection, soul deepening, spirit awakening, personal awareness and forward progress; it’s a community where meaningful friendship and connections are created. Shaped around a theme, guiding questions, journaling and inventive exercises, workshops elicit authentic reflection, discussion, and learning. Each participant’s experience is unique, depending on what the individual brings to the group and the personal growth that is craved.

Where did the idea come from? 

The background, as odd as this may sound, is that I believe in small groups. I always have. I’ll explain. As my youngest child approached preschool, and after six years of being a full-time home-based mom, I felt called to tend to my intellect, my spirit and my professional purpose and it’s new shape. I began reflecting on the many meaningful endeavors of my life, and I discovered that the common thread of my personal, academic, professional and spiritual lives is that I’m consistently drawn to small-group gatherings that focus on deepening oneself in intentional (although sometimes accidental) ways. Outside of schools and faith homes, in-person small-group circles that go beneath the social surface are hard to come by. Of course there are loads of social circles, and thank goodness for that—my social outlets have been lifelines, especially as a mom—but I also crave connections that probe for deeper understanding of oneself within the ever-changing landscape of life. I learn so much as I listen to others navigate the waves of their lives. And I suspected that others might feel the same way.

To a few trusted friends, I eventually voiced my idea to initiate a community building effort by designing and facilitating small group workshops that inspire participants to be intentional with their lives; with the encouragement from people I love and trust, The Trellis Workshops sprouted organically. That simple voicing and subsequent encouragement opened a creative flood gate within, and as soon as that very evening, I began spending every free minute crafting a vision, then a business plan, then curriculum. And for the past two years, the business has been ever evolving—and I love this work! A few remarkable women have joined me as co-designers and co-facilitators of specific workshops—we’re having fun and growing!

Who is your ideal client?

Each workshop is designed for a specific client, as workshops cater to individuals sharing a kindred life space; but, in general, the ideal client is someone who wants to be there and wants to engage with the content and fellow participants. So much wisdom exists amongst the group’s participants—it’s the facilitator’s job to get participants to interact and share their inner wisdom and ultimately learn and grow from each other’s insights and experiences. And of course we sprinkle in some research and insights from relevant texts along the way. The tagline of The Trellis is: Where grown ups keep growing.

What do your (workshops) cover/cost?

The most popular workshop is called What’s Next? (previously called Becoming a Working Mom), and it’s ideal for home-based moms who are flirting with the idea of broadening their scopes and wanting to re-imagine how they might fit back into the professional space. The workshop, which consists of four 90-minute sessions, strives to help participants sort through their skills, interests and passions while considering the big picture of family, motherhood and personal calling to ultimately craft a plan for growing personally and professionally.

Two other workshops that excite us are the Beyond College Workshop and Beyond High School Workshop, both of which I co-facilitate with Brooke Fisch, professional career advisor and résumé writer. These workshops are ideal for rising graduates (mostly juniors and seniors) who are wanting to be intentional about how they pave their paths into young adulthood, with respect to experiential education, scholarly development, career pursuits and personal fulfillment. We offer them the space to think big, ground their ideas in reality, and prepare for the next stage with essential tools, tips, strategies and documents (polished résumés and college essays).

And for people who would like custom retreats or workshops—like, a Brown Bagged Lunch discussion series for elementary school moms; a church vestry retreat; a workshop for college-bound kids on being intentional with social media through the freshman year transition—there is a Design-Your-Own Trellis option, so that clients may have a custom experience for a self-selected group of participants.

The workshops are all thoughtfully and individually designed. In general, the workshops are priced at $60/hour. Some workshops, like Beyond High School, includes participants walking away with a polished college essay and résumé, which require many hours of work outside of the actual workshop, so pricing varies depending on the workshop. The Design-Your-Own Trellis workshops vary significantly depending on scope and duration.

How does your background help you lead groups? 

Unless you have lived with a teacher, you may not know just how much they really do behind the scenes. I taught 10th and 12th grade English at New Canaan High School for eight years, and I was lucky with my district, as I had autonomy and was trusted to be creative in designing the daily learning experiences for my students, all while in the company of inspiring and smart colleagues. Being a teacher was the greatest hands-on experience I’ve had to design and facilitate Trellis workshops, as it gave me the ability to curate relevant materials on a topic, develop strong organizational skills, design creative content and exercises, lead bubbling discussions, ask probing questions, really listen, and keep a group on task.

More recently, I was tapped to lead the adult spirituality ministry at my church and have been involved with that for the past four years—helping to design and execute a weekly program that inspires spiritual growth for adults in community; this has been such a fulfilling role that cracked opened my entire perspective on what I want out of adulthood. The teacher in me wanted to enter a new landscape—one that’s not definitively academic, but also spiritual and emotional. Deeply human, really.

Where can people get more info about what you offer?

Our website is up to date! If one subscribes to the distribution list, s/he will be among the first to know about new offerings.

What have you learned so far from the “What’s Next” group?

Moms are incredible! The women who take this workshop are all so committed to their momming, and also want to grow in other ways. They want to tend to their spirits in the midst of a life that demands their tending to the spirits of their children. Most want to get back into work in meaningful and creative ways; others are looking to determine their passions and calling so that meaningful work may be in their future. What I’ve learned is that sharing space with other women who are discovering their renewed or revised calling now that they are moms is SO inspiring and forwarding for everyone involved. It’s supportive and empowering to be on the path of personal and professional fulfillment, together.

How have the Beyond HS and Beyond College workshops made you view the next generation?

There is so much that I could say about this. The baseline intelligence of the next generation blows us away! They are aware of how the greater world works when it comes to humanitarian and environmental issues; they value wellness, balance and healthy lifestyle; they are confident activists for causes they believe in; and they are comfortable approaching their lives creatively—unafraid to consider inventive paths and exercising the freedoms they have in their hearts and spirits. They have access to more and they absorb it.

All adults seem to have some gripe with the younger generation. Millennials may as well be wearing scarlet M’s on their chests, as the world has strong opinions about them. Our perception from the workshops we’ve led is that like all generations, they have strengths and weaknesses. What they lack, is what all young generations lack, and that is the time under their belts to yet be wise. And because they are the first generation to be entirely submersed in the digital age, the concept of time is different too, which confuses everyone. The propensity to be consumers of information and distracted with digital options can preclude them from the old fashioned way of becoming wise: settling in, trying things out by committing and going into depth, reflecting, reframing their mindsets, deeply listening, rethinking, and so on.

Speaking in general terms and simply from our personal observations, their defining difference as a generation is with communication and day-to-day self management skills. One might describe it as a larger issue of general manners, when it comes to things like speaking to adults in authority positions, recognizing the efforts and accomplishments of others and having respect for the traditional value of being polite.

We have found that young people are fabulous in person when asked to turn off devices. They do not know a world without devices, and they struggle to empathize with elders who naturally communicate in live ways. Likewise, when we have discussed the perceptions of their generation in workshops (because this is a huge topic we address in our Beyond College workshop especially) and their actions that lead to these perceptions, they are receptive, curious and interested in finding a balance that will set them up for success in the professional space. As college graduates, they can’t be expected to be ready for the human aspect of a professional world that’s largely designed around hierarchy because of age and status, and which judges a generation that feels safer with screens than with eye contact. And, they are coming from an upbringing where their young voices were highly valued in their homes—it is normal to them to think that their voice matters, even as the newbie or youngest employee. They don’t think it’s disrespectful to speak candidly to the higher ups—they trust that they were hired for their value. This societal transition needs to be opened up with intention and respect. They are well aware of the Scarlet M’s they wear; but there are some inherent disconnects between their generation and the other generations, and because we are all in this together, I believe that we should address the tension directly and with mutual respect.

What’s next for The Trellis?

We’ve got big plans! Many of them are not ready to be made public, but keep an eye on us!  But the next Beyond College Workshop begins on June 2nd in Darien! We will be offering Beyond High School in late summer, and another What’s Next? series in the fall.

And Brooke, how can people find you? And what private services do you offer? 

The services I offer at this point are help with writing and editing résumés, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and interview coaching. You can email me here.

Team Bios:

Lindsay Hayes Hurty, EdM

Lindsay is the founder of The Trellis Workshops. She is a former English teacher at New Canaan High School, youth minister and photographer. Her volunteer work has included co-leading and facilitating the adult spiritual education program and the MOMS group at St. Luke’s Parish, co-leading a program called The Engaged Workshop with her husband, and serving as president of the Parent Association at The Children’s School. Lindsay graduated from Colby College with a BA in English and Harvard University with an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning and Social Policy. Lindsay is also a mama of three and is married to Blaine, whom she met at doggie daycare during her first year of teaching. They live in Darien.

Brooke Fisch

Brooke is a professional résumé writer and career advisor, helping job seekers recognize their strengths, market themselves to potential employers, and find rewarding careers. She began her career in the advertising industry in New York City, and then spent ten years at Standard & Poor’s where, as the Associate Director of Marketing, she regularly reviewed résumés and interviewed candidates. She is certified with the National Résumé Writers Association (NRWA) and is a member of the Professional Association of Résumé Writers & Career Coaches. She graduated from Trinity College with Faculty Honors and a B.A. in Economics. Brooke is also a mom of four who is married to Justin, whom she first met in childhood. They live in Darien.

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