Recently, I had the opportunity to take part in a large branding workshop. I have to say, it was a truly amazing experience. What made it amazing? It wasn’t really the workshop itself, it was the people that took part in it. It was the people who surrounded me.
These “people” were smart people, very smart people. It was a refreshing experience and, at the same time, a humbling one. I’m not saying that I haven’t been in rooms with smart people before, I have. What I am saying is, I haven’t been in a room with this MANY smart people before. I really am not at liberty to disclose what was actually said, or what the brand workshop was focused on. I can disclose, however, the experiences that I took away.
I am a young man when it comes to the professional world. I know, I am nearly 30 years old and some people consider that old, but in the grand scheme of things, that is very young. I understand that I have a lot to learn and I very much welcome that challenge and this workshop provided that challenge. I was in a room with the playmakers and the decision makers for the majority of a day. We all sat down and pondered the why, the what, the how and what the next steps were in branding. The “where we are,” to the “where we should be.” We had brand planners, designers, marketers, copywriters, web designers. We had executives and creatives. We had all the people that contribute to the brand in one room. And more importantly, we all were listening.
It wasn’t a matter that no idea was a bad idea, it was a matter that all the ideas were heard and discussed. That is the true meaning of collaboration, every idea gets heard and its time in the light. These ideas came from very, very smart people. Those who not only know what a good idea is, but know why it’s a good idea because they’ve been there. The smart people know when to listen and when to speak. They know the results because they’ve been there. They aren’t just the playmakers, they are makers of the game.
When I say I was humbled, I truly was. I’ve been in rooms with smart people before, really smart people. But this wasn’t college football, this was the NFL. I had to bring my “A” game at be “on” all the time. There was no room for error in this hall. Now, when I say smart people, I don’t mean people who were smarter than people that I have met, I mean people who are smarter than me. These types of professionals bring the best out of you, if you are open to it. Being immersed in “A” game thinking, elevates your creative thinking and the logical side of your brain at the same time. This is the type of experience that I long for. I may come out the room with an understanding that I don’t know a whole lot or at least, as much as they do. However, it makes me strive for more. More knowledge, more experiences, and more talent.
What did I takeaway from this experience? I learned that there is a process to these types of idea-sessions. Here’s the breakdown:
Someone once said that you never learn anything by talking. Listening is probably the best activity to master. No multitasking is allowed, close your computers and turn off your phones. Listen, take notes, assimilate the information heading your way. There is a reason why someone is speaking, because they have something to say. You can learn from people. They can assist you in thinking in a different box. They can spark ideas in your head.
When I say it was a humbling experience, it was. I was a little nervous in engaging with some people and having my ideas heard. But what I realized was, that I was there for a reason. Nothing comes out of passivity. If you feel that something needs to be said, say it. Offer up a critique of someone’s idea. Engage, question, articulate, and argue. Discourse and dialog bring about amazing ideas and change. They also allow us to explore other ideas and take ourselves down different creative paths. Also, meet new people. Introduce yourself. After people meet you, they become more open to the idea of discussing ideas with you.
Always come out of the room with an idea or something to move yourself forward. I came out of that room with a ton of ideas that I want to move forward. I came out of that room with many new contacts and connections. I also came out knowing that I need to know more than what I know now. I decided to buy some books, catch up on reading. If you come out without any sort of takeaway, you’ve wasted your time and sadly, theirs too.
This aligns with “Listen” and “Takeaways.” Take the information that you’ve listened to and the takeaways and assimilate that. Learn from your counterparts and learn from the ideas that were shared, even the ideas that don’t work. Ask yourself the “why” and if you don’t have an answer, seek it out.
Who did I listen to? I listened to everyone.
Who did I engage with? I tried my best to offer up and idea or opinion to anyone. It was scary from the start, but I rallied.
What takeaways did I leave with? A ton! I need to read up, I need to follow up, I need to take ideas that were solid and implement them.
What did I learn? Try not to be scared to interact with people. All ideas are welcome. I need to learn more. I want more dialog. I have many, many pages of ideas I need to implement.