I am an absurdly busy person. It’s no secret that I spend most of my “free time” (away from work) moonlighting.
Most often, I create my own stress. I am deadline driven, and detail oriented. In the midst of my stress-induced illness, I was often asked why I “bother” to do any of this “extra” work at all. Why do I consistently run myself into the ground? Why not just give myself a break? I could prattle on about the state of Millennial finances or adding to my creative toolbox, but that’s not the point. The answer is rather simple: I do this for the people.
Advertising isn’t about being clever. The root of any (decent) campaign goes much deeper than that. We make things for people that relate to other people. That relation somehow creates a need for a particular brand, product, service or creates a feeling. But above all, it is about creating a relationship. We market grills so the Backyard Barbecue King can reign over his domain. We sell soil so the Green Thumb Gardener can grow their plants. In the end, it’s about the people, not just the sale.
Connection is my passion. Despite many jokes, I am a huge people person. Perhaps it is my small town upbringing or my affinity for talking to strangers in the supermarket, but I enjoy connection. I am usually the first person to say good morning in my office and I definitely wave to strangers as I drive by. I ask my barista about her horse named Buster and remember that my fuel attendant has a brand new baby. The details are important to me, as they are what makes a person unique, and also makes that connection genuine. I take great pride in paying attention.
Accidental Connections. Have you ever written with a sharpie and lifted the paper to discover that you accidentally left an impression on the following page? This is precisely how everyday connections work. You never know how your actions will bleed through into the lives of others. Buying that coffee for the person behind you might have changed their whole day. We are all occupying this hunk of space rock together, so be kind to one another. People may not remember precisely what you did/said, or even your name, but they will remember how you made them feel.
Call yourself a “one (wo)man wolf pack” all you want. The fact of the matter is, humans crave connection and meaningful relationships. Chances are, most of you pick up your phone and scroll through your Facebook feed multiple times a day. Why do we do this? Most things don’t change in a matter of minutes, your friend from high school is still selling some products (that might change your life), and that other friend is still babbling on about some political nonsense. This is the relationship equivalent of opening the refrigerator, not finding what you want, closing it, and opening it again expecting different results. We’re all searching for some sort of connection, why not make it count?
Give a crap. We’ve talked about how to be interesting, and genuine. So, how do we “make it count”? What sets genuine people apart is the same thing that helps forge a connection, being invested. It takes zero effort to be a kind person, but it does require effort to connect. Taking the time to listen and communicate is key in any relationship. Take a moment to give actually care about what someone else has to say. By doing so, not only do you make that person feel seen, heard and valued; but also connected. Relish the moments that people take the time to do the same for you. These are little bright spots in a world where empathy seems to be lacking.
Time spent doing what you love is never wasted. I like to help people. This is the root of why I also hate to say “no”. If an hour of my time can help someone improve their life in some way, it is absolutely worth it to me. If I have the time or the skills to assist someone in their business venture or craft project, I’m in. I’ve heard numerous arguments for making time for myself and not taking on too much. But for me, it all boils down to the people behind the projects. One hour of my time might mean saving 6 hours of their time. This also is where things tend to get tricky for me.
Don’t be afraid to say farewell. This is where people who enjoy connection, such as myself, often struggle. While I’m all for creating meaningful connections, I’m also a huge proponent of cutting ties when things aren’t working out. Yeah, I can hear you over there chuckling, recounting some of the times I should have followed my own advice. (Again, I’m human too).
If you have to force it, leave it. That goes for ponytails, yoga poses and (most importantly) relationships. There are numerous articles encouraging everyone to “break up” with anyone (or anything) that becomes “toxic”. But here’s the biggest problem, all of these articles are arbitrary until the key points hit home and the shoe fits. Not every “toxic” relationship involves screaming, manipulation, or hurt feelings. Sometimes, the fit just isn’t right. The biggest thing to remember is that regardless of the situation, you’re dealing with real people with real feelings. Be mindful, even in your goodbyes.
Progress starts with the people. There have been an astoundingly large number of tragedies in the headlines this year. My heart aches for all of the families that have lost loved ones and I pray they find peace, but that simply isn’t good enough. We need to continue trying to create a culture of connection. So many incidents occur because someone felt “alone” or “disconnected” from society. I’ve talked about not being a garbage human, but it goes beyond that. Progress begins when we start seeing each other as equal humans. We can blame society all we want and continue to blame violence in video games. The truth is, it’s up to each and every one of us to be compassionate and make the effort to connect.
Thank you for taking the time to connect with me. Want to chat more? Drop me a line here or send me a message. Talk to me about your dreams, hopes, wishes, aliens, robots, philosophy, the universe, your dog/cat/horse (with pictures please). Trust me, I want to know.
Stay excellent, friends.