Breakfast club: mornings get risky, weird and magical all before 9.

Author:Leggett, Page
Position:NC TREND: Meetups


We can't all paint, pirouette or compose a symphony.

But were all creative.

Matt Olin preaches his "everyone is creative" gospel to a packed house every month at the breakfast meetings he introduced in Charlotte last November. From Albuquerque, N.M., to Auckland, New Zealand, thousands meet for coffee on first Fridays to hear a talk on the same one-word theme. Topics have included money, urbanism, bravery, failure and humility. Unlike other networking groups, admission is free and open to anyone. CreativeMomings is operated by volunteers: The speakers, photographers or videographers do not get paid. Those who sign up online fastest, artists to CEOs, get a seat.

In Charlotte, those seats tend to fill within five minutes. Olin, a copywriter and theater producer, is host and emcee. Cinematographer Levin Chaskey films, and his wife, Alexis Jo Bruce, curates the live music; CreativeMomings might be one of the few places where dance parties spontaneously erupt before 9 a.m. Tim Miner, marketing director for the Brixx Wood Fired Pizza chain, completes the leadership team. There's donated coffee and pastries, mingling and often a trivia contest or even a game of Truth or Dare before the morning's speaker is introduced.

CreativeMomings began in Brooklyn in 2008 when graphic designer Tina Roth Eisenberg wanted inspirational speakers at conferences that didn't require travel or a lot of time. When a friend asked if he could start something similar in Zurich, she realized she had founded a movement. The 151-chapter organization adds three to five new groups each month. Raleigh opened North Carolina's first chapter in 2012, while Rachel Zink kicked off an Asheville version this summer.

CreativeMomings is not a business networking group, but businesspeople attend--and often end up networking. "Sometimes there can be a predator-and-prey element to [networking organizations]," Miner says. "But at CreativeMornings, no one has their guard up. It's not the kind of place where anyone's going to give you a hard sell."

In Charlotte, about 275 regularly attend. Speaking to a full house at downtown Charlotte's Bechtler...

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