Yesterday, I sat in an airplane hanger with 4,000 CEOs and thought leaders from around the world, listening to a line-up of world-class speakers. The event was the HSM World Business Forum. And I’ve had the privilege of “covering” it for the last 3 years as a blogger.
Every year, I leave inspired beyond word. Not just by the ideas and conversations, but the quality of the speakers. As someone who aspires to speak to larger and larger audiences on larger and larger stages, I love to see how the best in the business do it.
But then, there are always those moments during the two-day event where extraordinary ideas converge with a radiant personal energy to create magic.
For me, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra conductor, teacher and speaker, Ben Zander, was that moment.
He was alive, literally floating through the audience. In fact, he started in the audience fluttering, skipping, dancing and prancing up and down the aisles. And, with the exception of running up to the stage to play piano in short bursts, he stayed in the audience for nearly two hours.
Minutes in he had 4,000 stuffed shirts singing happy birthday at the top of their lungs, gesticulating with their arms, animating their faces, laughing. Even more conservative genius marketing types like Derek Halpern (who happened to be sitting next to me) joined in. Not out of some awkward sense of being forced into a contrived experience (I’ve been to those, too), but because Zander swept us all away. Resistance was futile.
His life-force was infectious. Utterly immersive. Radiant.
Zander was so clearly and deeply in love with what he does and so utterly passionate about his message (embracing music and possibility), and who he was sharing it with (he hugged and kissed half the front row after speaking) that he literally could’ve said anything and we would have been human putty.
And this is even more astonishing, Zander’s energy at the end was indistinguishable from his energy at the beginning. I’m betting he could’ve gone another two hours without flagging. I’ve no doubt this comes in part from learning that, when he conducts, often for hours, every person in the orchestra will feed off the energy he radiates. If he starts high, then slowly empties, so will his musicians…and so will the audience. So, it’s his job to be radiant.
But, you can’t go to that place where you literally glow on a level that makes people say “I want THAT!” if it’s just your J.O.B. It’s got to be an organic extension of your very being. Zander isn’t a conductor, a teacher or a speaker, he is music, light and energy embodied. Raw, transparent, fully-aligned with what makes him come alive.
Stuart Wilde said if you want to make more money, raise your personal energy. When you do that, more people will show up, when they do, bill ‘em!
We spend so much of our lives trying to learn how to market better, make better products, build better companies, train in operations, sales, marketing, process and innovation. But, it’s all for nothing if we don’t also spend equal, if not far greater time and energy, exploring, then building around the people, the activities and the experiences that allow us the opportunity to fully align our actions with what makes us come alive.
Because when you do that, you begin to radiate energy. People want to be around you. They become enchanted. They want to follow, lead and support you. And, you’re not supposed to say this out loud, but they want to be you. Or more accurately, they want to have that same inner glow.
Being in the room with Zander brought this home like never before. And it very likely inspired some deeper thought about where I’m going with my career and life.
But, Zander also shared a window into the mindset that allows him to go to the place I aspire to first visit more often, then inhabit. Beyond passion, beyond alignment with what makes him come alive, he creates very deliberate filters that allow him to view occasions that shut most people down as opportunities for wonder.
When you commit time, money or energy to something and it falls short of your hopes and expectations, most people call that a mistake and say, “man, that sucks.”
Not Zander. His response…
Have you picked up your copy of Uncertainty yet? It’s out and the reviews are rocking my world.
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