1. Lessons In Leadership
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The Place Where THEM Becomes US

A resolution for 2023.

I’ve always believed that those of us in the live events industry have a unique mission to build connections through a sense of community. It’s in evidence at kids’ soccer games, Shakespeare festivals, and even in conventions that cater to highly specialized medical professionals. Wherever people are aligned behind a shared affinity or higher purpose, they find it easier to set aside the more polarizing political affiliations that are the source of so much discord today.

If you follow Story Corps on NPR, you may have heard about research that seeks to unravel the divisiveness that characterizes too much of our social interaction. I find it encouraging to note that 9 in 10 Americans say they are exhausted by the political division in this country. The Story Corps “One Small Step” program seeks to remedy this with a platform that brings together people of different belief systems for one-on-one conversations. They’ve shown that when individuals talk to each other, they lean into their sense of empathy and quickly discover they have a lot in common. It’s as if we are hard-wired to look each other in the eye, and when we do, we see ourselves reflected there as parents, as citizens, as consumers, and as people just trying to find our way in an ever-shifting landscape.

This is what the events industry does, but on a massive scale. We bring people together in tribes that transcend ideological leanings, where they can engage with diverse individuals about a shared interest. The connections are still personal and one-on-one — multiplied times thousands of people who are thrown together in pursuit of commerce, education, networking opportunities, and entertainment.

This is the triumph of community over clique. It’s the moment we realize we have the power to create judgement-free zones in which people can work and play together and set differences aside. It’s where “they” and “them” become “we” and “us.”

My resolution for the new year is to do everything I can to build communities where people are inspired to look beyond convenient labels as they pursue purposeful connections. Empathetic connections. Meaningful connections that drive progress, prosperity, and peace. 

This is my hope for the new year. This is my hope for the world.

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