Anything can be rethought

Rethinking is happening with classical music right now.  Going to the symphony is a fine thing, no doubt. But it is an undertaking. Get dressed up, file in, stay silent, clap at only the prescribed moment, file out. Most people are, quite honestly, nervous at the symphony. And it isn’t really a natural way for many of us to enjoy music. No talking, no drinks, feeling uncomfortable and uninformed.

The folks at Fringe are changing that. I went to my first Fringe event on Saturday, and I was completely blown away. Its was laid-back and cool. There was beer, wine, and finger food. People clapped when they felt inspired by the music. We wore jeans. The musicians wore jeans. There was art and DJs before, during and after the event. Short movies and documentaries about the performers before the shows. And, like at any great concert, an obvious connection between the musicians and the audience. Rather than a room full of frozen penguins staring at a stageful of frozen penguins, there were just artists and music lovers. Smiling, clapping, and just generally having an awesome time. Fringe transformed classical music from something you do to feel adult, to something you do for fun.

It was an interesting lesson in how to rethink anything. Anything at all.

What exactly is the point of these things?

I sent an email to a friend at KPMG. At the bottom of the reply is this. Why do these things exist? Is there any POSSIBLE way I am legally bound by this? Is this designed to make the lawyers at KPMG feel like they are earning their salaries? Or to scare me? Or what?

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Who are you?

Everyone knows your weaknesses.

Or your quirks. Or your strengths. The truth is, you rarely fool anyone (Which is why people like people who are just themselves. Watching a charade is exhausting).

I learned this again last week in a most unusual way. My girlfriend threw a surprise party for my 40th birthday. But not just any surprise party – a roast.

All manner of speeches, videos, props, pictures, and jokes were levied. From my very oldest friends, to my very newest. Truthfully, it was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me, and might well go down as the best night of my life.

But the striking thing was that every speech, joke, video, and prop was a caricature of what I thought were my most obscure personality traits. Phrases, thoughts, values, and mannerisms that I think of as relatively minor, and figured probably went mostly unnoticed. 25 years of friends – some of whom I have not seen in 20, some of whom I’ve known for less than one – pulling out the exact same stuff.

Turns out, it’s those things that make up much of the core of what makes me different – and thus – define me to my friends.

I think this applies to companies as well. I think company leaders have a tendency to focus on the big things that define them: Products and performance and such. All important of course. But I bet it’s safe to say that the accolades, or the complaints, or the jokes about a company probably come from the little things. The little things that you do all of the time but don’t think about. How the phone is answered, how clean the bathroom is, how you react to certain requests. Most likely, once you have a customer ( just like once you have a friend), the big things take on a much smaller role, and the small things become defining.

Let us all learn somehow from my night of personal humiliation!

And thank you to everyone who made Saturday possible. Especially you Krystin.

But also to you Homer, Angie, Stacy, Lisa, Harlan, Caroline, Dave, Julie, Sergio, Evan, Marie, Tony, Diane, Cyndi, Nathan, Joe, Rich, Flo, April, Morris, Eli, Jason, Abigail, Patrick, Gretchen, Matt, John, Haley, Larisa, Beth and the many others who could not make it but were there in spirit.

Oh, and another thought for you, my dear friends…

Watch your backs, bitches.