As a kid I remember noticing grown-ups having conversations with very serious expressions on their faces. They usually huddled around a table or stood outside a meeting place, discussing about the discussion that just took place.
I always wondered what it was that they were talking about. I wondered if they were changing the world one conversation at a time. I always wondered about how the conclusions that they have reached in hushed voices would impact my future? As a kid I never found this answer, but as a grown-up I did!
The answer is … NOTHING!
Their discussions did nothing. They did not change the history of the world or cure poverty or find the medicine to the next big disease. The impact of their discussions ranged from – what grocery store mommy would buy her rice from (based on which uncle my dad had a disagreement with) to – who I was allowed to hang out with after school (based on which aunty my mommy was fighting with).
As I grew up, group discussions became a fashionable thing, one-on-one were the S***t and let’s take this discussion offline dictated who I was having my next coffee with. Some bosses advised me to look serious at work. You weren’t allowed to laugh too much, talk too much, because come on – you are at work and how can work be fun? At one particular work place I felt like the only way to look more serious would be to pretend I was dead.
I often see people seated around rectangular tables having round table conferences. Usually staring at a screen or at the face of the person talking with unparalleled intensity; in both cases the premise is the same – most people in the room do not have the first clue about what is being discussed.
Big words, business terminology and gigantic numbers somehow make us feel more important, more intelligent, and more informative. Somewhere in between collecting data, creating profiles, looking at campaigns and reviewing performances we forget to measure – how many lives did we actually touch? Did we make a significant difference in anyone’s life? Did someone go to school because of us or did the hungry get fed because of the big business decision we made or the important deal we closed.
I have been asking myself this question for years – I work in communications, I pride myself for working in communications, yet at the end of the day when I sit down and try to write down what it was that I did through a press release or a media announcement or a blog post that actually changed someone’s life, I don’t have much to say.
I think we all ought to ask ourselves this question. I think we all ought to drive ourselves to answer this question.
Love Always, Z