Over the years I have seen and experienced the power and magic of social media. Today I will share one of those stories. Some years ago I connected with a lady called Amy Lee on Facebook. She was Co Founder of Millionaire Chess. I am quite open to connecting with strangers especially when there are many shared connections and I had noticed that Amy and I shared several mutual connections from the chess world. I kept in touch with Amy and our friendship developed.
Missing out by connecting only with people you know
Sometimes on social media people only want to connect with someone who they know personally. However, I believe that by doing this we are missing out of one of the big advantages of social media. It can connect you with strangers who can turn out to be really amazing partners in life and business. That’s the real power of platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. We are most likely going to business not with our friends of many many years but the people that we meet through our friends and business connections. Remember the idea of six degrees of separation. Basically it starts that we are six steps or less away from connecting with anyone in this world, absolutely anyone in this world. And in my case through my chess friends I came to be connected with Amy Lee.
The opportunity of a lifetime, job at MC
When I left my teaching job at Kathu High or around that time I was catching up with Amy and it so happened that she was looking at getting someone to help out with social media, marketing and operations at MC. They were organising the richest open tournament in the whole world and the next tournament was around the corner in October. No other tournament in the world offered as much money as Millionaire Chess. I mentioned that I was very interested in the role and before long I was hired and working with Amy and the legendary Maurice Ashley, the Maurice Ashley, one of the greatest commentators around. He takes chess to another level. From the time I started talking to Amy to the time I was hired, it took I think less than 2 weeks. That is how fast Amy moves.
My wife was quite skeptical at first but very soon things started to take up shape and belong I was looking up flights and applying for a VISA to the US.
Working remotely, getting stuff done
We were doing everything remotely as a team at MC. Amy was in Vancouver, Canada, Grandmaster Maurice Ashley was in New York, Teresa was in Virginia, US. I just couldn’t believe that we could all get work done from different parts of the world, different time zones but it was happening. We had regular meetings over Skype and Google Hangouts and used various apps like Trello, Evernote, Google docs to keep track of everything. There were so many things to attend to regarding MC. The attention to detail in the team was mind-boggling. Amy kept track of every single little thing that you can think of around the event.
One of the things I had to manage was communication and coordination with the players and other people involved in MC. It was a truly daunting task handling emails from all the people interested in attending MC but Amy and Teresa made it so easy. There so many dates, times and milestones to keep track of and it started to get crazy as the event approached. It was a lot but the team made sure that everything was on track.
Word is bond
I was just amazed by how casually Amy would say something and it would happen. You know one of those sayings that “Word is Bond.” When Amy says she is going to deliver something, you just know it is going to happen. She is one of the most reliable people I have ever met in my life. One of the casual things she mentioned was that they would fly me to the US for the tournament, cover all my costs for the trip. No ways, are you kidding me? I have only been working for you for a few weeks and you say you are going to fly me to the US. I was so shocked by this offer that I actually did not take it up. I said I would need to think about it. What’s there to think about? I was so grateful for the conversation that I had with Teresa Parr who more than convinced me to go to the US.
Teresa, she made sure I took the opportunity
Without Teresa I would have missed the opportunity of a lifetime. I would never have gone to the US and met the team. I would not have attended a truly fantastic tournament, met one of the greatest chess players of our time Magnus Carlsen, accompanied the chess players to their matches. Without Teresa’s guidance and support I would have been truly lost. Thank you so much Teresa. I will always be grateful for that.
Going to the US, for chess
Once I told Amy that I was definitely taking up her offer to go to the US everything started to happen very fast, the VISA, sorting out the dates and travel itinerary. So after starting a new role in March, by October I was making my way to the US. When I started writing this article I wanted to focus on the power of social media and nurturing relationships but I am still completely blown away by how a complete stranger I connected with made some of my wildest dreams come true and has become one of my best friends, going to the US and meeting some of the World’s Top grandmasters.
Millionaire Chess, MC, the experience of a lifetime
I have been to many chess tournaments in my life but absolutely nothing and I mean nothing could have prepared me for the Millionaire Chess tournament. The third edition of MC took place in Atlantic City. I have never ever been to a chess tournament where the organiser goes out of their way to make players feel this special. I got to meet so many amazing people through chess.
The big wish
If I have any big wish in chess right now it is that we can find a sponsor for this fantastic tournament called the Millionaire Chess. That tournament is simply too good to be consigned to the history books! I have a feeling that one day that tournament will come back and I think this time I don’t want to just do admin or marketing, I want to play!
Dream, dreams, they do come true
Dreams do indeed come true. Amy Lee showed me that and reminded me that there are still amazing people who will do everything to ensure they keep their word and promise. I saw the incredible power of social media and technology.