Cloud nine territory is where you are providing an experience versus consuming one, particularly when you feel you are doing it well. A rock star, poet, comedian, executive, storyteller, whatever -- makes no difference. You have an instinctive feel that you are engaging. When you are communicating with an audience of any size and they are drinking it up, it feels good. You're teaching, entertaining, creating an emotional connection. It is flat-out sharing with others. You're providing an experience. Your followers are consuming what you're expressing and enjoying it.
The reason providing an experience trumps consuming one is this. When you are experiencing and enjoying something someone else is performing, that is the end. It is one-sided; the consumption is entertaining. It is good that you are having fun and interacting. But it is even better when you are creating the experience and having fun engaging as well. Double the fun. In short, I want to consume the world, its people and all they have. But I want to give more than I take. So giving back beats consumption all day, every day. Make sense? It does to me.
You can perform anywhere. At work, at a dinner party, or on social media (I am right now). I would agree all you need is an audience of one. I started writing late in life. I am pleased with the results. I know the "rush" feeling of thousands reading and reacting to my thoughts and opinions. And I know the guts it takes for a woman who read my work to send me a note saying, "You made me cry, thanks." Writing and engaging has provided help to others and given me a release well beyond whatever "bread winner" means.
In February, I attended the inaugural No Longer Virtual Conference, in Atlanta. A room of eclectic, emotional, smart, fun, people who had a couple of things in common. Some of us put the connections together but not all. We all write on social media, and some of us were already connected on LinkedIn. A few people had previously met face to face. But we were basically a group of strangers who had a shared interest or two and a desire to interact. We had fun, and we all had dinner together the nights I was there. We were rarely distant from one another. If I didn't know better, I would have thought this was some form of school or work reunion celebrating our journey together and giving ourselves a big high five for having done so.
I was humbled as the older business guy in the room with my X's, O's and anecdotal stories. There were REAL writers in the room who had written books and made a living doing so. The excellent Grammar Goddess, Susan Rooks; Inc. contributor and social media Mastermind, John White: the wildly entertaining Dustin McKissen (he writes for CNBC). How about Chris Spurvey or Zach Messler, executives and authors in their own right. The "way cool" Lynda Spiegel, whose work has shown up in places like The New York Times. Every once in a while I pick up theTimes or The Wall Street Journal and write my name on it, in ink. I realize this is the closest I will ever get to writing in it. But it does feel good for a moment. Then I use the paper to start the fireplace, or clean up something unpleasant on the floor.
All of these characters provided an experience for the rest of us, whether it was a formal presentation or not. The rest of us consumed it. We couldn't wait to give back by adding our comments and performing something for the rest to consume. It was obvious just a comment would do but we performed anyway.
So what is the magic? What was the glue that made this all work? It was meeting face to face. There was a connection that existed long before we all walked into the room. It was the baseline that manifested itself at a new level once we met. As you march through your career with your head down because that is what we are taught as business people, think of what you're missing. Rarely do we get the chance to branch out, to do something creative, and call it work.
No Longer Virtual is the unique and special idea Sarah Elkins has developed. She’s the one who took the risk, planned the event, and pulled it off with meaning, expertise, and fun. Telling stories never felt so right.
Find your inner peace and by all means let your freak flag fly. Join us in Denver, Colorado, next year on February 22 and 23.
This group won't judge. Instead, you are likely to walk away and feel different. I did immediately, but I waited six weeks to write this to test if the different feeling was sticking. It is and is something I don’t want to wear off. I would rather find a way to rub it in even more, so it becomes indelible. A piece of me that I can share as peace to you. I strive to give back by performing something others can consume.
See you all in Denver!
My best, Chris