Pittsburgh Professional Minds: A Social Movement

In the early twentieth century, Millionaires Row housed many well-heeled members of Pittsburgh’s high society. Our city was in it’s development prime and the home to many turn-of-the-century industrialists and financiers like Andrew Carnegie and Henry Clay Frick. These civic-minded individuals set out to increase job percentage while attracting the attention of thousands of immigrants who flocked Pittsburgh in search of work, education, and a better life. With the steel industry booming, our job market indeed made Pittsburgh a highly populated area. The early 1900s set the bar for Pittsburgh profession.

Fast forward over one hundred years and our city is still the home of great professional minds who returned to the late Millionaires Row to mingle at the Mansions on Fifth luxury hotel, one of the last among the city’s grand mansions. The Pittsburgh Social Exchange hosted an upscale business reception ‘Mingle At The Mansions’  to bring together like-minded professionals within our city for network opportunities and career enhancement. The evening consisted of delicious hors d’oeurves, auctions, and musical entertainment by Quinta Voce Woodwind Quintet. Standing in the same place that Henry Clay Frick and his attorney Willis F. McCook (the mansion’s original home owner) once stood over one hundred years ago, Pittsburgh’s professional growth is put in a much greater perspective.

Though we’re not the steel town that we once were famously known for, our city’s professional social veil has only enhanced in further development throughout the years. Back then, one’s social status defined your ability for career advancement, whereas Pittsburgh today glorifies all aspects of business while recognizing all forms of leadership. The Pittsburgh Social Exchange (PSE) is to thank for their acknowledgement of professional and social growth by providing upscale events to welcome all levels to network, connect, and advance.

Chatting with PSE’s President, Ethan Nicholas, put social status in perspective and exemplified the importance of social interaction in today’s business world, “What’s awesome about today is it doesn’t matter who you are and where you’re from as it did then, social networking brings businesses and people together in all forms of leadership and wealth. PSE has an open door policy regardless of your economic status and leadership.” Perhaps this social acceptance and interaction is the reason for the continuance of career advancements in today’s businesses. “Social settings will always impact business,” said Nicholas, “The most important element of networking is knowing people, people do business with people not technology.”

While mingling among the last of the great mansions in hopes of seeking career opportunities, it was proven that the social status which existed in the Frick-era and impacted such growth, does not matter in Pittsburgh’s profession today. “Back then, everyone knew who was wealthy and it was evident of where they lived. There are more millionaires in Pittsburgh today than there ever were, Nicholas explains, “In the next 2-3 years that number will double because of technology providing the ability to connect with others and facilitate business so quickly.” Our day’s business drive is the result of social interaction and acceptance. The famous quote, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is PSE’s ultimate mission and though the twentieth century housed many great minds on Millionaire’s Row, many more great minds were housed last week. “If the Pittsburgh Social Exchange existed back then, I think Phipps, Frick, Carnegie and others in those executive realms would be in attendance to our events, it would be an unapproachable and difficult social veil to pierce. But economic status isn’t as important today as it was then,” says Nicholas, “At PSE we’re appreciative of talent regardless of status, we’re an integrated system of social acceptance which makes business thrive today. We bring together all levels of leadership and diversity.”

This social-driven mindset is exactly what made PSE the most diverse social chamber in the tri-state area. What started as a small 40-person Facebook group in 2009 has now become a network of 15,000 subscribers and has expanded to Cleveland, Atlanta, Erie, and Washington D.C. Soon, the PSE team hopes to connect 30 different cities within the US. “Our reason for growth is simple, Nicholas says, “It’s the way you treat people, inviting in all levels of leadership.” After all, people grow businesses; people of diverse talents and skills, when we welcome in all people, we are welcoming all business.

For more information on the social networking events hosted by the Pittsburgh Social Exchange visit