26 February 2024
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As we start the year anew, laying groundwork and making plans for the year ahead, our thoughts naturally turn to what is important to us — to the people we hold dear, the relationships we want to nurture, the collaborative work we want to foster and pursue. In that vein, it seemed like the time to guide our conversation toward the importance of community, connection and relationships, to the foundational role these three things play in our success – and the joyful quality they bring to our lives and work. In that vein, we sat down with Cherie Slane who, in forming the Gold Collective, has built a community that is kind, inclusive and welcoming — where business can be fostered and, perhaps more importantly, relationships are built and nurtured. She has turned passion into purpose, in a way we deeply admire. We hope you enjoy the discussion.

Cherie Slane founded the Gold Collective in 2017. In the ensuing seven years, the community that she formed has become a vital referral network for its members. But it is so much more than that. It is a true community of talented and ardent entrepreneurs who value what they bring to the collective every bit as much as what they get out of it. This, in fact, is the organization’s common thread, its secret ingredient, and what makes it stand out from — and above — other business organizations and groups.

This is due in no small part to Cherie herself, who built the Gold Collective to fill what she realized was a need for authentic and purposeful connections with their roots in business but their true value in personal connection and community.

The name Gold Collective was inspired by the pioneers of the California gold rush, whose entrepreneurial drive and philanthropic spirit helped build the foundation of San Francisco.

The collective, which began in San Francisco, has grown to include New York and — soon — other cities as well.

What sparked the idea for the Gold Collective?

When I was with San Francisco Magazine a lot of my work was not only filling the needs of our clients and advertisers, but building relationships. During my time there, one of our clients told me he needed more of exactly this — relationship building. He was advertising and participating in sponsorship opportunities, but what he really needed was help with strategic connections and conversations.

After that, I started hearing the same message from people over and over again. They were searching for ways to build community and specific connections.

Were there certain businesses you started with?

I started scheduling networking lunches with art galleries and smaller businesses. I always want people to meet each other. It didn’t even feel like work.

How did it progress?

It all came together in a matter of months. I remember thinking, “This really works!” Honestly, at first I didn’t even think of it as a business. It was just something I did. But there really was a need out there that was going unfilled. Finally I asked myself, “is this a business?” The answer was yes. It really was about listening to what people wanted and needed.

I’m curious about what you were like as a little girl.

I was definitely more of an observer. Technically, I’m an introvert, though I can be extroverted and I place a high value on relationships. Relationships have always been important to me.

It just goes to show you nurturing our social intelligence is important and valuable for all types of personalities, and social intelligence and connections can look different for different people.

We’ve talked about different types of intelligence. Can you tell me a little about that?

I think that the quality of social intelligence is historically undervalued, both in our businesses and in our schools. It is such a pivotal tool, not only for financial success, but for emotional and psychological success. People need a way to connect. The Covid-19 pandemic showed us that. We need to foster ways to connect now more than ever.

Do you have an early inspiration for the way you approach your work?

My grandfather was probably the biggest influence. He had a store in Mill Valley that was an  inspiration for me. He brought people together, and I grew up listening to those conversations, soaking up an understanding of the underlying role of authentic relationships in business, community and life. He was a pillar of the community, built with the phrase “tell them I sent you.”


How has The Gold Collective changed?

It started with a book — putting together a beautifully-presented collection of valued members and placing it where it would be seen by the right audience. Then, starting with the San Francisco Decorators Showcase, I introduced non-profits in the mix, in a way that made sense for our members.

Through the years, we have evolved to the point that the relationships we build within our community have proven to be more valuable to our members than exposure brought about by the book.

To that end, we are not planning on printing the book any longer. We realized we don’t really need the book to foster community and relationships.

How do you know who to bring together? Who is a great fit for The Gold Collective?

It is a bit of a gut feeling, but one of the most important aspects is a sense that a person is truly more interested in the community than themselves.

It boils down to good people working with good people.

What have you learned from the process, and what brings you joy?

The thread to everything we do is the community piece, which translates to working and socializing with like-minded people in a supportive environment. This is how business works when it’s at its best. I learn this more and more every year I’m in business. Helping other people is its own source of joy.


Now, for some fun questions…

What’s the one thing you love most about what you do?

Connecting smart, fun people that I know are going to hit it off!

Who — or what — inspires you?

I’m especially inspired by my 13-year-old son. He has had to overcome some big challenges and it’s been a gift watching him grow into such a resilient and kind young man.

What’s the single best business or creative advice you’ve ever received?

My business coach and strategist, Louise Englehart, has encouraged me to be true to myself and create the business that I really want.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

I’d be a private art dealer.

How do you love spending time outside of work?

Laughing with my kids! My 11-year-old daughter is the wittiest person I’ve ever met.

What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?

I don’t like to go out at night. I’m a daytime person!

Last book you read?

Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. I enjoyed it!

Do you have a favorite quote? If so, we’d love to hear it!

“This too shall pass.” (Next time I’m having a bad day, can you remind me that that’s my favorite quote? ;)︎