The Tuttle Club

A note about Tuttle, my new favorite ritual in London.
BY Taylor Davidson | September 22nd, 2009
Tuttle at the ICA, London, England

I was introduced to The Tuttle Club by Alan Patrick at SXSW. Noting my love for meeting interesting people in my travels, Alan invited me to drop by next time I was in London.

So when I started my little jaunt, checking out Tuttle was one of the first items on my agenda in London.

The first person I met at my first Tuttle when I walked up to the outdoor patio at Inn at the Park was Lloyd Davis (@lloyddavis). Only now do I realize how lucky I was.

What is Tuttle?

To quote Lloyd from the Tuttle Club Annual Report 2009:

** What is it? **
The Tuttle Club is a loose association of people finding a way of working better together both online and off-

** Who goes? **
Most people have an interest in social media or online social networking – beyond that it’s hard to categorise them.

** What happens? **
People come along, meet new people, drink coffee, talk, scheme, build new businesses, find clients, suppliers and collaborators. In short, they work hard at getting things done while having fun.

** Why? **
Is a very interesting question. There are (at least) as many reasons as there are Tuttlers. Mostly it boils down to a recognition that building rich relationships with real live people is a tremendously valuable activity.

** How can I help? **
Come along. See what we’re doing. Share your knowledge and your dreams. Come again and bring some friends.

** Can I come? **
Yes.

Tuttle: “still a prototype for something else”

Last week at TEDxTuttle Lloyd shared some of his experiences from Tuttle over the last years. As Alan recapped:

Lloyd looked at his experience of curating the Tuttle club over the last 3 years. Its main claim to fame is it is still growing in size and capability after this time and has yet to be perverted from its (lack of) specific purpose. As he points out, its major claim to fame is that it is an open club (it’s fervently open to anybody, but it’s not for everybody). Some key points were:

  • It’s like running a Kid’s Birthday party – “nudge” aberrant behaviours early rather than be draconian later.
  • Someone has to shoulder the risk – I’m here, I’m doing this – and give others the confidence its happening.
  • Tuttle spends nothing on promotion, etc – the best way to do this is to do cool stuff and then talk about it.
  • Tuttle uses Twitter heavily, it’s ideally architected for the Tuttle dynamic – but its mainly a way for people to talk face to face. However, the online/offline conversation means that you interact with the real person.
  • “I know more about people, but not in a creepy way, because I see them every week.” That leads to more opportunity for serendipitous meeting and connection, as we get to know and trust people.

I’ll add a couple more points from Lloyd and Alan that I wanted to highlight:

Diversity and inclusion. Everybody is welcome, and the people that come to Tuttle is a mighty diverse group of people; at the same time note that Tuttle isn’t an attempt to create something that is for everybody, but something that is instead open to anybody.

Distributing power. People come up with various ideas for Tuttle: “we could do something else” with Tuttle, to which the answer is invariably “so go and do it”. Meaning, give away power, and it comes back (often in “bizarre, strange ways”).

Rich connections. The simple way Tuttle people get together means that people are getting to know each other in a way not usual for a business network. The richness of the connections that comes through the culture of Tuttle is the strongest and most appealing part of the group to me.

Complementing online social networking. Tuttle fills the hole in online social networking, by actually getting people to talk to people face-to-face. People often say online social media takes you away from real interactions: thus, “that’s why we do Tuttle.” (I’ll simply say I’ve started (and continued later) some of the most fascinating conversations with people at Tuttle; thank you to many, many people for listening, sharing and rebutting.)

Tuttle is “still a prototype for something else”. Tuttle is simple: talk, do stuff, learn, teach each other, work together. The regular, “same time, same place” ritual of Friday mornings was created as a prototype, not an end in itself, and it will continue until … well, until it ends. Tuttle has created some positive accomplishments (detailed in the annual report and on the Tuttle blog), and over time Tuttle will create more opportunities for interesting, useful and awesome things (a Brit wouldn’t say “awesome”, but I’m American, so I will).

Tuttle is a social space for creating, a space for doing and for learning from each other through doing. Is Tuttle creating the right balance between serendipity and efficiency? Who knows: but since people continue to come back, and the numbers continue to grow, something must be right.

What will it be in the future? Lloyd doesn’t know, Tuttle doesn’t know, but that’s not important. But when the time comes, it will happen.

A bit of play, a bit of snark, a bit of improvisation; a self-assured, authentic, “fragile and beautiful” collection of people and experiences that may be far, far stronger than we think, due to the simple power of Tuttle’s lack of a plan, ego or intent.

Of maybe not. But as far as Tuttle is concerned, it doesn’t matter. Tuttle is what it is, until it isn’t, and then it will be that. Simply “be here now”, every Friday, 10 AM at the ICA in London.

I’ll miss it when I leave this Sunday.

(Or maybe, just maybe, I can take a bit of Tuttle with me on my travels. We’ll see.)