I hope you can hear the apology in my hello. I haven’t written anything here since November 22nd, last year.
I hope you can hear the sheepish shuffling. I know I promised to openly and honestly document this project. It would be easy to say I’ve just been too busy. That things have kind of exploded and I’ve been deep into it all.
But that would only be half the truth.
The other half is that I haven’t felt like I’ve had anything important enough to say. I’ve sat down a few times to to tell you how things have been going, but every time I’ve stopped, and THE VOICE in my head has posed the rather frank question:
“Who gives a shit?”
HA! Who indeed?
But this morning, an old school friend sent me a message asking about it, which was a lovely and generous thing to do (so thank you Alleyne), and there has been something I’ve wanted to share.
Also it’s good to see you again – an odd thing to type, but that’s how it feels. Guess that’s connection.
SO – I also have something BLOODY BIG to share with you, but next time. Just have to put another couple of things into place, but I’ve truly found my purpose and the purpose of Cult Tribal, and I can’t wait to shout about it to the world. But I’m going to kick it off as an open source project, so I have a couple more things to work out before I do.
In the meantime, I’d like to share something QUITE LITTLE with you, but something quite profoundly moving for me.
I called this chapter “Sorry. Too human.” The sorry is for not writing for ten weeks. Sorry about that.
The second part of the title is really what this is about.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with a bunch of partners (let’s go with that instead of “clients”) these last few months , from single-founder startups to global corporations, understanding what they stand for, finding their true purpose, the heart of their brand.
And what has struck me, more than ever in my life, is just how profoundly human and personal this all is, if you let it be.
Now I’ve been standing on stage for ten years talking about the importance of being human in business, so this should not come as a surprise to me. But this is a whole ‘nother level.
Let me try to explain to you without compromising anyone’s privacy.
The very first thing I try to do with someone when we kick off THE WORK is to explore what drives them. What they value. What lies in their heart.
I’m looking for a connection between them and their brand. Something true, so that everything we then look to build the brand from is authentic.
Where that’s taken us each time has been humbling and, well, a little dangerous, quite frankly.
God, we’re so human when we let us be.
Bullied, belittled, dejected, exhausted, unworthy, confused, afraid…
I’ve had founders sharing intimate and vulnerable details of their lives, their upbringings, unlocking insights into what really matters to them, and why.
I’ve seen executives throw up defences and justifications and scramble to the safety of WHAT HAS BEEN, triggered by the fear of WHAT COULD BE, and the uncertainty that brings.
I had a founder ring me the other night to talk not about the work at all, but about the pressure they were feeling, and how it was impacting their family.
I’ve felt at times more like a therapist than a brand marketer or whatever it is I’m supposed to be calling myself.
What right do I have? Surely that’s just too human for business?
Or is it just so fucking incredibly appropriate and RIGHT?
You know what I think? I think we rob our souls of light, or connection to our humanity, when we switch off from being personal.
I think our culture of business is broken, and we need to heal it.
I think we have let things get to a place where people are serving business, where business should be serving people.
I think we’ve gotten so caught up in winning, that we’ve forgotten what it is we’re competing for.
And if we could all be given permission, for just a moment or perhaps forever, to be human – really human, and just ourselves, and that would be alright, it would be enough…
I think we are ready to change.
As organisations, we need to find our place in the world we live in, with its people and the planet that feeds us, and be of service. Take responsibility. Be worth having around. Contribute. Do some good.
I think it’s time for a new era of business.
Or perhaps it’s something of a return to an era of old. Before the industrial revolution. Perhaps this is more of a coming round full circle. Only with some learnings and a better understanding of ourselves and the world.
Too human? Go for it.
Thanks for listening. Can’t wait to share more…
PS. This photo was my first kiss. I was nearly two. Her name was Anna. I know, she doesn’t look thrilled. That’s my sister Natascha in the background, rolling her eyes. We’re in a town in Germany called Albersdorf, where my father Werner was born. He died in December – one of many very human things that have happened since my last chapter of this blog.
I also learned a new word. “Sonder”. It is the realisation that everyone around us has a story. Everyone has their own shit they’re going through. Their own hopes and dreams and fears and challenges.
Too human? No such thing.