Heart, soul, shoes: the power of stories and what really matters

The tragic events in Japan over the past week has certainly made me reflect on what matters. When all is said and done, no matter how shiny, how sophisticated or how many tools we have, it’s about human connectedness.

Peel back all of the email campaigns, social platforms, games, videos, ads, and metrics and it comes down to simple one to one relationships. Forming the bonds that form the communities that form the cities and countries we live in. None of us regardless of culture are that different. We all want to feel a connection. To know that each of us matter. And in tragedy, it’s those simple – and not so simple bonds that keep us going. So for this Friday, I want to share five posts that illustrate the power of these human connections that technology facilitates but also impedes depending on how we use them.

Lisa Petrilli wrote a heartwarming post about the connections she’s formed through Twitter – how #LeadershipChat has become a strong community and supported her during the recent loss of her grandmother. For those still skeptical as to whether Twitter had value, this makes a pretty definitive case for how it brings us together if we’re willing to make the effort. Remember, you’re in control of how you invest your time on Twitter.

I’ve been familiar with Toms shoes and admire their 1 for 1 philosophy. How impressive is it that they’ve given away over 1 million pairs of shoes? This post is about the power of a simple story. The power of building a business by doing good. Not technology, nor a revolutionary product. It’s about making a huge difference in the lives of many. It’s brought home by the story of the girl who knew the whole story and asked why Blake, the founder, cut his hair, when she met him in an airport. How can you infuse such humanity into your company?

I’m still wrapping my head around the power of a tsunami to completely up-end a country within minutes. I was just as amazed in 2004 with the tsunami in Indonesia. If this doesn’t illustrate how fragile our lives are, I’m not sure what does. But beyond the immense destruction are the stories of those living through this. And this letter from Sendai, talking about the sense of community and hope, also shows what really matters. Again, it’s about connectedness.

These next two go hand in hand. Dan Perez talks about the last day of his friend Victor’s life. How they shared an evening of laughter then he passed away that night in his sleep, most likely from a second heart attack. He was just forty. Dan asks the question, “what if today was their last day?” None of us know exactly when that is, but how would it change what we did? Would we use our time better? Would we take more care in our interactions with those closest to us? I read this post a few months ago and still think about it today. Dan shares a story and a message for us.

Connected with Dan’s story is Justin Levy’s story about his life and his mom. He lost both parents within five months while in high-school. He talks about how important it is to leave those closest to us on good terms for there’s always a chance we may not see them again. He experienced that first hand and shares that in a provocative post on using death as a motivator. It’s something we never want to face but know we inevitably will.

What I hope you take away from each of these is a desire to dismiss the marketing speak and think about how you can create meaning and touch lives through your work or business. Regardless of what industry you’re in, I believe there’s a way to make such connections. It may take a different way of seeing the world, certainly.

At the very least, I hope these stories help you value your time and the conversations you have with those closest to you a bit more.

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