Coming Together Changes Everything
When you bring people together, you have the opportunity for everyone to be more successful in some way and to feel even more connected.
If you look beyond the delivery, but the thought that goes into it, it comes down to the curiosity, willingness and spirit to give something a try (that others may not have yet done).
Where This Starts
The influence of this article lies in how we delivered the Schaef By The Seaside events (Wednesday 7th and Thursday 8th September), but also how you can think about arranging your own occasion if this is something you are planning.
Earlier this year Mark Schaefer and I spoke about Mark heading over to the UK. It gave people the opportunity to meet a well-respected marketing leader and to listen to him present ideas and thoughts in a live, in-person environment.
The purpose was to help people find a thread to help them connect what they do with the wider world around them. The overall message was on being human in the work we do and how to remain relevant. This was structured around a lecture at Bournemouth University and a lunch event the following day.
From a community perspective, it was to help people attach meaning to what they do and to each other.
A Slide That Summed It All Up
Mark Schaefer presented us with this slide during his presentation at Bournemouth University.
Let me look to answer this from a host’s perspective and prove why ‘bringing people together changes everything.’
When you put on an event you have to recognise a meaningful reason for why you want to do it. It could be a topic you want to explore more or a way to share an idea with a group of people. It is centred around what other people will take away, rather than what you can take from someone else. If you call it networking, then you start to become everything to everyone. It pays to take a gamble (read this article that looks at risk on what makes a side project work).
From Mark’s slide, when you bring people together it provides a framework on so many different levels. You come together to get away from familiar surroundings (home or the office). You come together to celebrate, show union, and strength or say farewell. You come together to figure out a problem and share. You come together as it feels so much better than being on your own.
From the events, here is what we saw where being ‘together changes everything.’
Familiarity with the main guest magnifies the occasion
Most of the audience was already accustomed to Mark (Schaefer) and his work over the years. Being a part of the YATM community was also easier for Mark as it was being amongst friends, rather than trying to work out who people were and their backgrounds or what level to deliver at. Even if people didn’t know Mark personally, there was every moment to step up and say ‘hello.’ We made sure that happened.
You connect the group
There have to be moments where people are encouraged to be in a smaller space. For instance, this could be the place to grab a bite to eat and a drink. During the lunch event, it was made to feel like a B2B wedding where we printed a table plan so everyone could see where who they were with. During the lecture event, people helped each other out by giving lifts to people they may necessarily know too well, to the after event.
Rituals give a sense of grounding
For all YATM events, since the start of COVID, we finish with a song. It’s a way to bring to a close that isn’t just an abrupt ending. Ryan Anderson closed our lecture event and we all sang together. It’s a way to connect everything together and that no matter the surrounding, it’s the stamp of what we do together. To others, it may seem chaotic, but if you are a part of YATM, you know it’s the way we say goodbye.
It reinvigorates people
What you are doing is encouraging others to step away from familiar surroundings and to know that the result will be worthwhile. Anna Bravington said in a post, “I work from home, and sometimes I just need to get out from in front of my desk and chat with others – bouncing ideas off each other and immersing myself in diverse thinking.” As John Espirian said it’s a ‘break from the norm’ to feel bolstered.
It encourages people to progress their own thoughts
When an event ends, it shouldn’t mean that everything stops. It could provide the start to interpret and expand on ideas and how they shape into your own way of thinking. Lucy Whittington shared, “The end result is that today already I’ve actioned some of the ideas instead of adding to my camera roll. Because I wrote down actions for me not just ‘what he said’.”
Others to feel a deeper sense of connection with celebration
During our lecture event, we also turned it into graduation for the YATM Creator Lab students from Bournemouth and Poole College. Rather than complete our programme and move on to planning for autumn 2022, it was a way for everyone to acknowledge the students who had dedicated time and to give a round of applause (and loud cheers) for the work they had done. It’s a good feeling when others recognise they feel a part of something.
You encourage the group to come closer in
During our lunch event, part of the discussion required the input of the audience. We ran a poll on what is going to make the biggest change in marketing in the next two years (80% participation)? During this section, we invited people to come closer and to see the live poll on the TV screen. It was a way for people to know their thoughts were valid and that everyone had a role to play. This was the opposite to creating a distance between what is being delivered and who is consuming. Everyone shaped the discussion.
What It All Means Going Forwards
Bringing people together shows everyone else, this is what we do ie. sing, learn, motivate, encourage, discuss, and reinvigorate. This is what puts the stamp on the culture and the way that we do things.
What is effectively happening is a way to create an identity that is surrounded by deeper learning and creating a sense of fun. The more you do it, the more people feel at home as they see themselves as part of it. The more you do it, the more comfortable you become to test new ideas.
Jay Acunzo shared in a YATM Online Offline event in October 2021, “What if I made something better or more personal, or more emotionally deep for the people, that I’m speaking to? I’m truly making something that matters to them.” Read this article on make your work matter.
We all have to take chances to do something that can make an impact.
Bringing people together and encouraging their involvement, means that everyone ends up getting more for their efforts. This could be talking to someone they didn’t know, the spark of an idea or using the occasion as a way to guide their thinking.
When you know the people who are in, you are making something for those who care. The ingredients and love you put in result in a meaningful output for everyone involved. The power of bringing people together genuinely does change everything.