Friday, December 19, 2014

I Am Strong When You Are With Me

"He wants to hold my hand. But I'm short."
"So walk side by side."
"He wants to hold my hand. So I said to him, 'I'm short. I can hold your arm though.'"
"What did he say to that?"
"Once I put it that way, then he calmed down."
* * *
Paradox:
  • We seek to grow and evolve as individuals.
  • We live to walk arm in arm with our significant other.
* * * 
"OK, you're in voice change mode."
"Good morning."
"So is it really true that 1 in 3 women keep their ex's phone number in their phone, and are even still secretly in love? Because I think about my wife, and frankly that scares me."
DC's Hot 99.5 was holding its daily morning discussion of relationships. Around the microphone: Kane, Danni and Intern John.
"Absolutely, Kane. I'm getting married on Sunday. But if Brandon were to call, I'd leave my fiancee in a heartbeat." 
"You're kidding."
"Absolutely. And he cheated on me."
"He cheated on you? And you still love him? We don't judge, we just observe. But that's crazy."
"I love him though."
"Can I tell you something please? Please don't get married. Why are you marrying him?"
I can't remember the response.
* * * 
I work in a startup. We have our own office space. Yet much of the time, we operate by posse.
Meet, hash it out, read the draft, knock it out, rehearse the presentation and comment before things go out the door.
  • Yes, it's quality control.
  • Yes, it's time-efficient.
  • Yes, it's engagement, culture, and morale.

But there's something else at work too. We are flying out there on the high wire.
We need each other there for moral support.
Because we will screw up, but we still have to go on.
We need to know we can fall and get back up without losing face.
* * * 
The other day I had to give a branding presentation, and I didn't know the crowd at all. And I was scared. Throat locked up. Legs shaking. Sweaty.
I looked out at the audience. Tight-lipped. Expressionless. No read.
So I imagined them sitting there in their underwear.
But the visual was fairly distasteful. I couldn't see it through.
"They're a tough crowd, aren't they? You'll be alright though."
There, a member of my team. I must have looked really bad.
"Yeah," I cranked the corners of my mouth up, even though I couldn't smile. "I'll survive." 
* * *

They called me up. It started out badly.
"I'm the one standing between you and lunch, hahaha. Not a great place to be."
You could have heard a feather flying in the air, the air was so dead. Not a sound.
I am dead. I'm sure of it.
And then, out of nowhere. An invisible hand pushed me out of the podium area and toward the u-shaped table in the middle of the room. 
Now, out of nowhere I was Liza Minnelli.
"Who here likes McDonald's coffee?" 
Some startled expressions. Hands went up.
Hey, this is fun!
"Who here likes Starbucks?" 
A wave of energy blew through the room.
"NEITHER!" somebody hooted.
"BUDWEISER!" a third.
And then the room went wild. 
The monologue became a dialogue, a tri-alogue, a multi-athlon.
My guardian angel had given me a tip:
"My child, you're not alone. Bring them into the circle with you."
For that half an hour, we had a posse of our own. Unbreakable.
What I learned that day:
  • On your own, you are undoubtedly an ass.
  • But in a group that accepts you, you're an ass with class.
There is no presentation without a frame. That frame comes from the context, from the culture. But you don't know the natives till the natives let you in. 
So change the way you approach your business - your brand.
Don't think of it as you on your own, the isolated one who has all the ideas.
Instead ask your stakeholders how.
How can we move together in unison?
How can we become a small, tightly knit team?
* * * 
We are each of us aspects of the Divine.
What I lack, you have. What you need, I can supply you.
We work better in small teams. Humans are a series of concentric circles - overlapping circles - together.
A great relationship is one where you stand on your own two feet, but can finish your partner's sentences.
In the end, the strong brand is co-produced. It is branches, roots and wings. 
_______
All opinions my own. Check out my author page on Amazon. Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr. 

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