Be Human Salons Business Leadership Culture Past Events Workplace

Be Human Salon: The Right Connection

June 1, 2014

Be Human Salon: The Right Connection

A salon? That’s what my invitation says: “The Be Human Salon Featuring Special Guest Dave Gray.”

Let me tell you why I’m so excited about what is, in fact, a very old idea. I was first exposed to the concept of salons when I was a student at the Conservatory of Music where I learned of the much revered salons of Clara and Robert Schumann. The pianists / composers were famous for intimate gatherings where new music was tried out and discussed. Later, studying literature, I was intrigued to learn how in the 1920s, Gertrude Stein hosted her own salon where artists and writers gathered – Picasso and Hemingway regularly attended them – and the latter wrote about them in a memoir.

The history of the salon goes back at least to 1664 in Italy, but from that day to this Thursday (and likely beyond if I know the people at the Be Human Project), real versions of these happenings can never be mistaken for a mere “party.” These are happenings for progressive executives, writers, artists, creators and intellectuals to hear from a leading thinker on a specific topic, followed by a pointed discussion.

What’s that? There’s something called “the Internet,” you say? Yes, but it never will replace a few hours of face-to-face conversation in a stimulating, comfortable environment. I’m also looking forward to this event because it is hosted by the Be Human Project (a nonprofit wing of Bigwidesky), whose aim is to bring more humanity to everything we do – from branding to the exchange of ideas. They know all too well that personal connections are what it’s all about.

A salon connects. “Connecting” appropriately is the topic of this particular salon, the second they’ve hosted. Bigwidesky’s Eliot Frick will be sitting down with author and SVP strategy expert Dave Gray to discuss his new book, The Connected Company. (Dave is certainly worthy of our attention as his last book, Gamestorming, has sold more than 50,000 copies and been translated into 14 languages).

Some of us did it quicker than others, but at this point we’ve all accepted and embraced how social media has empowered the consumer, and it’s a radically different world out there. What we’ve been more hesitant to do is to come to grips with how that affects the way we run our businesses internally. The Connected Company is nothing short of a wakeup call for any of us who think there are at least some old management style elements that are effective today. “Many of today’s companies are hierarchies, where work is divided into functions,” Dave writes. “A divided company is reliable and predictable when the environment is stable. But when the environment becomes uncertain and volatile, divided companies become brittle and things start to break down.”

True to the spirit of what a salon was always meant to be (and true to the way information is exchanged today), Thursday’s event won’t be a “top down” lecture. I’ll hear Dave talk for a little bit, and then Eliot will engage Dave for a 45-minute exchange of ideas. This will be followed by a free discussion of ideas from those in attendance. I’m looking forward to hearing both what Eliot and Dave have to say, and what others in the room are thinking. Professionals, thinkers and creators all sharing experiences and perceptions ­– timeless. Do I expect to walk away with all the answers? No. But I bet I’ll have a better idea of what the real questions are.