SB3 was a wonderful tonic for what ails us currently as we struggle to live our dreams while making a living that meets our obligations. The positive energy that encircled the conference rooms in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago came directly from the deepest acts of encouragement and sharing that were going on.
One of my “aha moments” was realizing how precious such encounters are and yet how easily they can be created when people get together, free from fear and the pressure of the daily grind. The catalyzing power of the conference came directly from the sharing that was going on in each session. Rather than seeing each other as competitors and our business as a “zero sum” game, we were seeing each other as peers and contemporaries who could generously share experience, insights, and knowledge, thereby allowing all to carry away some kernels of wisdom that can be put to good use in the future. New information could be used as fuel to enlarge the opportunities for all.
Creating powerful visual stories that entertain, inform, and incite positive change in the world is a complicated task. It is sometimes hard to remember that our joy comes from being able to see purely and create powerful visual communication when we are all struggling so hard just to find the next client or assignment that can enable us to stay working.
Another “aha moment” for me came from listening to discussions about how to frame one’s business as providing solutions rather than a commodity. As most business people will say, long-term business relationships occur best when one is seen as being able to effectively listen and then solve another’s problems, thereby meeting their immediate needs. It requires an open mind, a generous heart, patience, a dose of humility, and the instinct to reach out to others as potential collaborators in order to frame and manage complex story-telling projects. I don’t think we have to be perfect in all we do business-wise. We just have to be authentic, kind, and purposeful listeners who then can figure out the best way to execute. Good things come from acting in that way and continually trying to understand and figure out smart ways to meet client needs.
While the world of visual communication and the landscape of media companies may be changing at a breakneck pace, the essential skills crucial for success still seem to involve fundamental human behaviors rooted in operating from wellsprings of personal passion, commitment, and positivity. It was good to see those traits being reaffirmed by all involved in putting on SB3 and to see how it was creating new clarity for many of those in attendance. Ultimately our ability to put things in context for others through our visual communication, depends on seeing things clearly ourselves.