I feel fortunate to have grown up in a beautiful place. When I was younger, my family and I would take the train from the suburbs and head north to the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago. I was surrounded by beauty. Even in the dead of winter, the snow gently fell on hundred-year-old buildings, historic landmarks, and bridges over icy water.
The city was, and still is, beautiful.
At first it seemed trivial, just another silly way to boast why you, or your city, is better than another. In some cases that might be true. Florence, Italy came from a place of arrogant opulence. So much money spent on all this stuff. This stuff, I learned, does not need to be cocky. It needs to be beautiful.
Now look around you. Where are you sitting, or standing, or scurrying? Do you reside in a beautiful space? Do you create a place for yourself, your team, your family to enjoy? Or are you dreading the clutter, dust, and endless post-it notes scattered about your space? That flickering overhead light sure doesn’t help.
Be good to yourself. Beautification is important, not pompous. It’s exciting, inviting, and worthwhile.
Today, I live in a truly beautiful city (and it’s not Chicago). Half the time I talk about where I live, I’m describing the scenery, the vibrance, the energy… the beauty. I paint the picture. Wherever you spend your time… whether it’s in front of your computer, in the bathroom, or in your comfy bed, make it beautiful. There is enough grey in our world, don’t let it seep into your space.
I regularly get lost down a proverbial rabbit hole on the Internet. I start Googling a restaurant’s hours of operation and end up watching 40 dogs-running-in-their-sleep videos YouTube (meet Bizkit here), then ordering new glasses. Sometimes these ‘trips’ are expensive and sometimes they are incredibly valuable.
Today was the latter.
This TED Talk dates back to 2010 and you may have already seen it, but it’s one I’ve never come across before and is now my favorite.
The featured speaker Brené Brown is a researcher of human connection. What a fascinating thing to consider from a scientific perspective. Her whole video is included and you should watch every charming minute, but I just wanted to share what leaped out of it for me.
Her research path (not without blood, sweat and tears) led to this concept about human connection:
Vulnerability is the core of shame, fear and our struggle of worthiness, but it also appears to be the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love.
The two ways people treat their vulnerability relate to whether or not they have a sense of worthiness. Those who believe they deserve to belong…well, they do. Our fear that we do not deserve connection is the one thing that keeps us from making connections. What a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Those without the sense of worthiness referred to their vulnerability as ‘excruciating’ and worked hard to suppress it through food, alcohol and the like.
The dilemma in trying to suppress feelings of vulnerability is that you can’t selectively numb emotions. With quieting your fears and shame, you lose your joy and gratitude. You lose your purpose.
On the other hand, she calls those who have the sense of worthiness the ‘wholehearted’ (I just love that!). They embrace their vulnerability as a beautiful and necessary attribute. They are courageous.
Courage is defined by its good ole Latin origin (in so many words): telling the story of who you are with your whole heart.
So what do we do with this besides emphatically nod our heads?
Have the courage to be your imperfect authentic self…as a brand, as a community and as a human being. You will find human connection there.
Photo from my friend Libby Williams
I’ve been struggling a bit lately.
Having just come off a long stretch of helping craft and co-author a book called The Passion Conversation, I have that sort of post angst that comes from hitting a huge milestone and finishing a fun project. It was remarkable to be able to think so intently about something I care so deeply about.
Writing for this new book actually caused me to stop and really think about my own passions, my own calling. Am I really following my passions? Oh, I have plenty that I’m passionate about.
Seeking happiness and bringing it to myself and others. Simplifying life. Living peacefully.
Somehow over the years I have learned that those pursuits make me happiest.
But sometimes I still wonder. Am I really following my passions? Is there more?
My kids are college and shortly after college age. If you have kids that age (and therefore know a bunch of kids that age) you know they get told often to follow their passions. At graduation time that’s often the advice some very wise and wonderful people hand out freely and with certainty. I’ve most likely given that same advice myself a time or two.
But what if you don’t have a passion? Yet…
I heard this NPR interview on the way in to work last week and I sat in my car in the sunshine and listened to the entire thing.:
It’s worth a listen. But it honestly left me wondering what I would tell the young man in the story (Max) who felt he didn’t have a passion to follow. My lack of a real good answer bugged me all morning. Especially in light of the book we just wrote.
Cordell and I started talking about Max and his question.
Here’s the gist of what Cordell shared with me:
I’ve met many recent college graduates who have no idea what they want to do. We’ve screwed them up by telling them to follow their passion. Passion is like love. Love is not a feeling. Love comes from doing. We have to apologize to these bright young minds and encourage them to just do something. Passion is what you discover about yourself along the way. It’s not something you just magically have. It comes from experiences. People don’t share passions. They share experiences. Stories are about something that happened to you. The passion conversations do not come from your heart first. They come from a collision with life.
Maybe that yearning for more that puzzles me at times is what keeps me excited and embracing life and all it’s many changes. Maybe they’re even more passions I have yet to unearth. That knowledge is pretty damn wonderful and magical.
And for businesses that insight is magical too.
Passion conversations, not product conversations, come from your collision with life and the stories and experiences you share with those you serve.
What do you think?
On three separate occasions, I “spoke” with four different people from Crate&Barrel. Five if you include the supervisor. I’m in wedding registry mode. It’s been interesting. But this is not a rant, I promise. It’s a reminder that people are awesome.
First impression: if you call the customer service number and there is a wait, they offer to call you back. They recognize your time is valuable. How considerate.
Anthony, my first C&B friend, was incredibly kind. He even called me back, twice, after he spoke with his IT team. “We have been dealing with issues online, but there’s a solve. We will try this first.”
Unfortunately, the issue arose again. The issue: can’t log into my account.
So I went the IM chat route. Immediate response from Laura. She reset my password and asked me to wait 15 minutes.
Back to Sherri via IM, who looked back through the call/chat log, and noted my issue would be best served by the registry team. She gave me the phone number and I called.
One minute later, JoReen answers. She, as well as everyone else I’ve communicated with, apologies for all the issues I’m experiencing. But together, we’re fixing this. New security features, questions, passwords, blah blah blah… she didn’t care about telling me the details. She was focused on a happy camper at Crate&Barrel.
Of note: I have not purchased ANYTHING here. I’m registering for gifts I hope other people will purchase for me. I’m not a customer. I’m a prospect. But they made me feel like family.
After the kind words, pleasant conversations, and effort to rectify my IT issues, I just had to chat with the supervisor. Marty graciously accepted my compliments, and he told me that each team member would receive a certificate for going the extra mile. My praise will be a part of each team member’s annual performance reviews. I am so happy because of these people. Whenever I have the chance, I will talk about, shop at and praise C&B. The people behind the brand are the reason for that.
Have our expectations been managed to anticipate shitty customer service? Should be we as surprised and delighted by awesome experiences like this? The least we can do is embrace them. The best thing we can do is take note and follow their awesome lead.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been watching the tech world go back and forth about Google’s latest creation, Google Glass. It’s been announced for a while, but the product has actually been shipped out to the lottery winners who wanted to pay 1500 bucks to test it out. If you’re not familiar with the product, it’s essentially a computer that you wear on your face like a pair of glasses. It projects a heads up display in the corner of your vision that enables you to see the weather, get directions, take video or pictures, you get the idea.
Once you look past the privacy issues and the dork factor of the design itself, as shown here, the possibilities of potential uses seems pretty interesting. I can imagine recipes being displayed while cooking, or breaking news headlines showing up as the stories happen. It’s making information even easier to access than our smartphones do. This can be good, as well as unnerving.
I’ve been thinking about all of the people now who bury themselves in their pocket computers as if there is nothing else that can possibly be more interesting going on around them (myself included). There are a bunch of reasons we do this that range from being neurotic about the possibility that you might miss replying to an @reply on your twitter feed within 5 seconds, or just using it as a distraction to avoid feeling uncomfortable in a crowded elevator. I think the biggest drawback to this phenomenon is our growing avoidance of human to human interaction, and heaven forbid making eye contact with the person in front of you. Can you imagine how this would grow exponentially if everyone had a computer feeding them information in the corner of their vision 100% of the time? Saturday Night Live commented on this pretty hilariously last weekend, but there is a lot of truth to the comedy.
Anyway, I understand that this is technology and cranky commentators (I don’t include myself in this bunch – usually I’m drooling over the shiny objects like everyone else) will whine every time a new gadget comes out – think tv. But I am a bit concerned about the reliance we have on these devices to feel connected to others. In some ways I imagine that in order to experience true empathy, people need people. With that said, I leave you with this incredible video that I ran across while researching this post. A lot of cars in Russia are now equipped with dash cams, think police cars over here in the states, and someone compiled this video of people just being awesome.
Anyway, let me know what you think.