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The Emotional Center

On our wedding weekend, Stephie’s father Steve got up in front of our friends and families the night before the ceremony and did something incredibly powerful and moving. He had changed some of the lyrics to “I Will Walk With You” and sang it accompanied by his double bass and bluegrass band for us. Steve had my same problem of not being great at memorizing things, but he had practiced for weeks for this moment. Still, before the final verse he briefly stumbled and instantly recovered saying, “Stick with me–this is important.” And it was. Not a dry eye accompanied the applause at the end. What he had done was created an emotional center for the whole weekend.

I have thought about that a lot afterwards–how every event needs an emotional center to bring people in and allow them all to embrace each other creating something really special. Being able to connect emotionally allows us to get out of our routines to appreciate how special a moment (or event) can be.

When I was asked to speak at the Facebook Leadership Communications Summit in Menlo Park last week, I felt like my role for the group of marketers and strategists was to step up and create that emotional center. I am used to doing that at my photo and video shoots. Getting up on stage in front of 300 people is another challenge.

I built my talk for emotional connection. I talked about how if we really pay attention to all the details in our lives before breakfast, we can create a foundation for the rest of our day. I talked about really appreciating our lives in a way that is not looking for more, but rather diving deeper.

I showed some of my most personal work. Recently I have started embracing my personal work in new ways and it has led to a string of new assignments perfectly aligned to where my heart and soul are. It is thrilling to be starting these new adventures.

I talked about the tools Facebook and Instagram have built for us to communicate in totally new ways in 2017, but I talked about them like hammers and nails and wood. We have these amazing tools, but now, what are we going to build with them??

Many of the people at the conference shared their struggles with convincing their clients–mostly large global brands–to embrace the opportunities (and tools) we now have to share what makes them amazing. This is not about inventing who they are or creating something that doesn’t exist to represent them. It simply requires digging down deep into the stories that never get told and taking the pictures that never get taken. I talked about the value in telling the best stories that often never see the light of day. I was told over and over, “Easy for you to say–you come in and see those stories so clearly. Not everyone can do that.”

As Tom Waits sings in “Foreign Affair” –

when traveling abroad in the continental style

it's my belief one must attempt to be discreet

and subsequently bear in mind your transient position

allows you a perspective that's unique

The discretion is the trust we establish. Trust is necessary for us to do our work, and that demands that we are trustworthy. Our “transient position” is essential for our role as outliers, which allows for our “perspective that’s unique.” We dig down deep into the stories that are sitting right on the end of our nose and capture them for sharing.

My 6 year old Asher was telling me his dream a couple of weeks ago when I asked him what dreams are. He said, “Dad – you know when you close your eyes to sleep and it gets dark?

Dreams are what let the light in.”

Our job as creatives is to let the light in with the most personal and intimate approach possible.

Communication is about sharing that light.


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