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Consumer Insight, Innovation, Collaboration, innovation consulting

Connie Williams, CMO & CKO Synecticsworld

By Connie Williams

So I said to Annie Leibovitz last night….yeah, I was hanging with the stars at the induction ceremony for the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame.  Actually my conversation with the famous photographer, who was one of the amazing inductees, was held at the end of the evening in the ladies room.  Even the famous need to use the restroom before a long ride home.

The theme that ran through the evening for these terrifically successful and insightful women was to have a well-considered Point of View (POV) – not from pure instinct but after listening, after studying, after observing.  Being aware of what is going on.  Being curious.  Exploring possibilities.  Yes, really hearing and seeing what is actually there.  Then taking a stand.

In Ms. Leibovitz’s acceptance speech she talked about having that POV, looking at a wider range of possibilities as she examined life through her lens.   Her famous photographs, of rock stars, of celebrities and even of ordinary people, find a way of bringing new understanding, new perspective on what’s important.  For courageous inductee Anne Garrels (National Public Radio’s senior foreign correspondent for over 20 years), it was about staying on the ground in dangerous places until you really understand what’s going on, not just flying in and out and thinking you have the big picture.  And the third inductee, the brilliant Connecticut broadcast journalist Faith Middleton was described as a real listener who was able to get the best out of over 14,000 interviewees by paying attention to what was being said rather than just thinking about her next question.  It was Ms. Middleton who began her remarks with what is a powerful question from meditation practice:  Is Awareness Here?

In our Insight work with clients, this awareness is where we must start in order to achieve real learning and new perspective — in order to discover and to create new ideas.

  • Put aside assumptions – about your customers, your marketplace, and even your colleagues.
  • Be open-minded, literally wiping the slate clean, so you can really listen, observe, and hear what is going on without pre-conceived notions.
  • Dig to go beyond the surface and beyond the obvious.

To paraphrase Henry James, be a person on whom nothing is lost.  Look for understanding and be fully aware of all your surroundings, in work, in pleasures in our whole life.

 

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3 Comments

  1. Brava! Way to go, Connie. You captured the spirit of the evening at the CT Women’s Hall of Fame brilliantly. “When I grow up, I want to be a woman.” Thanks for sharing your thought-leadership with us! – Kathy McAfee

  2. Anne Bannister

    Wise words, Connie and a well written article. Thanks for reminding me of the keys ways to stay aware.

  3. Robert Finn

    The idea of “staying on the ground in dangerous places until you really understand what’s going on, not just flying in and out and thinking you have the big picture” applies to teamwork as well as reportage. Everything in life is grist for the mill.

    I find that defensiveness and fear of constructive criticism are even greater among executive management teams than among their junior staff. The higher up the organizational ladder, the harder it seems for senior execs to live and act with humility, feel and demonstrate empathy and admit their vulnerability – all of which are necessary for constructive conflict, strong teams and companies.

    Just finished watching the film Manhattan, and so will finish with the Muriel Hemingway’s closing line “ You got to have a little faith in people.”

    robert@healthycompanies.info
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/robertfinn

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