Give and Take Reflections

Developing greater comfort and skill with powerless communication requires a change in habits – from talking to listening, self-promoting to advice seeking, and advocating to inquiring. Adam M. Grant, Ph. D. and author of Give And Take

Can I shift communications from answers to questions? Can I challenge myself to listen more and speak less? Can I continue to give for the sake of giving, not because of expectations or reciprocity? Can I always give credit when due? These are all questions I pondered as I dived into the art of giving, which clearly benefits individuals, groups, and organizations.

Reading and exploring the principles that Grant proposes in Give and Take, conjured up emotions I don’t usually experience while reading a business book. I found myself celebrating the likes of President Abraham Lincoln, professor C.J. Skender, and comedian George Meyer of The Simpsons fame. The examples of their lives and other givers helped me truly understand the importance of network, building great relationships, and continuing the giving nature of my soul. And at the turn of a page, I found myself getting angry with architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Jonas Salk, the international hero and inventor of the Polio vaccine. As it turns out Wright and Salk are what is known as takers. Salk gave no credit to the six researchers in his lab who were major contributors to the Polio vaccine – Byron Bennett, Percival Bazeley, L. James Lewis, Julius Youngner, Elsie Ward, and Francis Yurochko and Wright gave no credit to the teams of people who made his great works possible.

From frustration to fascination, I found myself wanting to operate from a giver mind-set in all of my actions. I believe in our ability to create our styles as artists and leaders, that we can also create giver identities and values for increased impact on the lives of both ourselves and our world.

Scratching in NYC at Super Bowl XLVIII and MoMA

Annie_Super_Bowl_XLVIII_editThe camaraderie of entire communities, cities, states, and even countries surrounding team sports intrigues me. Last week I jumped at the opportunity to hop on a plane and watch the Seahawks play live in Super Bowl XLVIII, yet found myself looking forward to “scratching” for three days in New York. Twyla Tharp has an habitual routine to keep her inspired by simply changing her environment known as “scratching.” I embraced the opportunity to be a part of the pulse and energy of the game, yet what I was really looking forward too was the bonus of heading to one of my favorite inspirational places on earth, the Museum of Modern Art, aka MoMA!

Greeted by Isaac Julien’s film installation on nine double-sided screens, I felt immersed in creativity. I was experiencing living art created from tragedy. Julien created Ten Thousand Waves about the 23 Chinese cockle pickers in England who drowned in 2004 on a flooded sandbank off the coast in Northwest England. My mind expanded.

All that matters is what you are doing now and whom you are doing it with. How do you share your art, your message, with your community?

Thoughts are art. How do you create or recreate your thoughts? How do you realize your
imagination? Film is a reflection of consciousness. Can I recreate my images, film, thoughts, and expressions into something with dynamic impact to inspire others?

Annie_Gordon_Elephant_exhibitMoMAAnd I wondered and wandered for more than four hours through white walls filled with imagery, sculptures, paintings and more. I stumbled upon Douglas Gordon’s video installation called Play Dead, Real Time, and found myself inspired standing in a room with two giant elephants. Scottish born Gordon is known for investigating the construction of meaning and the notion of the sublime. I was a part of this moving exhibition. How did he know that two elephants moving in a dark room projected on large screens could be so awe-inspiring and magnificent? I walked between the screens and my silhouette projected under the elephants. I felt connected to the sublime.

And deep within I could feel the connection that others would have to living underwater if I could use screens and images that others could become a part of, the sublime ocean. Gordon left everything to the imagination of the viewer, yet we knew his purpose. Images create lasting impressions, yet when we are submerged and able to feel the pulse of presence, our lives are changed forever. The reason for heading to New York may have been to attend the Super Bowl, but it was being immersed in an exhibit imagining possibilities that kept me scratching and searching my soul. How could we get world-wide attention for the life-source of our planet, our ocean, on a Super Bowl scale? Without blue there is no green. Team Ocean, can you hear Her roar? What would make millions cheer for Her the way they create noise at the level of earthquakes for the Seahawks?

Return on Engagement

During the past ten weeks, there is not one item of content that moved me, yet a series of connections highlighting the importance of mobile marketing, storytelling, accountability through data, and the need for return on engagement. In real time, I find myself turning towards my mobile phone and iPad for communication, rather than my computers and have become a two to three screen viewer. As was announced by Coca-Cola earlier this month the corporate website is dead, I find myself redefining the message I want to share through my websites and the importance of developing the strategy while crafting stories people want to hear. Less than 2 years ago people were building content with 1500 words because of what our search engines needed, now it’s proven people shy away from sites that have more than 600 words per page. For years I have heard the importance of ROI, yet during the past ten weeks I believe ROE or return on engagement has forced its way to the forefront. Creating a return on engagement can be just as important, if not more for a brand.