Maybe You Need a Larger Canvas

On Saturday night I went with some friends to see Michael Franti & Spearhead play at Pier Six in Baltimore. Before the concert one friend extolled Franti’s gifts and promised it would be an uplifting experience.  Really?  A concert?  I expect concerts to be good fun and entertaining but uplifting? Hmmm…
He was right.  Franti’s paints his blend of reggae, hip hop, world music on a larger canvas.  Throughout the show he brought people of all ages, shapes and sizes onto the stage to dance and play with him.  He danced and sang his way to the back reaches of the venue.  Each band member shared time in the spotlight and their wireless instruments enabled them to dance their ways into the crowds too.   They exuded such energy and joy I knew that they were having a blast playing for us.

Enrolled is the word that came to mind.  And explains the perceptible difference in my experience of the talented, energetic opening act and the fabulously engaging Franti and band.   It got me to thinking of how this could be translated into a work experience.  How can we enroll others in what we do?  How can we ‘go out into the audience’ and bring the experience we want others to have to them?

Some strategies based on what I saw from Franti:

– Engage: Understand the audience and meet them in your delivery

– Work on a larger canvas: Get rid of artificial boundaries

– Dance & Play: Build fun into the experience

And keep adding to the list to make the experience you deliver uniquely yours.

What’s in a name change?

Booth Class of '94 Reunion
This past weekend was my 15th B-School reunion at Chicago Booth.  Only when I went there it was Chicago GSB.  It became Chicago Booth last November when a well to do alum donated $300 million to the school.    Hey, for $300 million I’d change my name too.

Change is so often uncomfortable.  Even when it relates to hallmarks of our pasts that have very little to do with our current experience.  My friends varied in their reactions to the name change and to the beautiful and modern Charles M. Harper Center (that itself was named the Hyde Park Center until May 2007) that became the home of the GSB…err…Booth in 2004. At least two refused to call the school Booth.  One waved in victory the lone GSB t-shirt she found on the clearance racks at the book store.    Still others picked out some new gear proudly emblazoned with Chicago Booth.    Many of us were wide-eyed and perhaps just the littlest bit awestruck as we toured the sleek hallways, the majestic and light-filled winter garden, the spacious student lounge and amenity-rich center.  We laughingly recalled walking barefoot in the snow, five miles to and from school each day. Uphill.  In both directions.  I must have told the story a dozen times of my last visit to campus during which I spied with envy the wonderful upgrade I found there then: an ATM in Stuart Hall.  Clearly others had dreamed far bigger than I had.