Farewell FUSE: Everyone Has A Story

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~ by Kitty Hart

Id love to experience Stanley Hainsworth in an elevator. Wouldnt you? Rather than feeling compelled to stand skinny in my own space, eyes down, or pretend to do something on my phone, it would be nice to actually meet someone new in this space that seeps with awkward human interaction.

If you werent present for Hainsworths talk he clued us in to a little elevator behavior he has come to own. Once the elevator doors close and all riders have made their floor selection, Hainsworth turns toward his fellow riders and says something like, I want to thank everyone for attending todays meeting. I've prepared a short agenda, so…” Apparently, by the time he has two sentences out the ice has been broken and some sort of unexpected conversation ensues. Fabulous! I will try this.

Hainsworth the actor, producer turned creative director shared a great deal of wisdom in his 40 minutes upon the FUSE stage. But I think he would be pleased to know of one takeaway that particularly resonated with me. He said, Everyone has a story. Take opportunities to talk to people. As I thought about this simple little statement, I realized how sad it is that we need to be reminded. Even those of us that hail from the Minnesota-nice state, need to be reminded.

As brand strategists and designers, we all know everyone has a story. We eat, sleep and breathe this belief in the work we do. So it is actually the second part of his statement that I want to touch on as we bring closure to FUSE15.

We all attend these conferences for different reasons. Many come to really just focus on the educational content. Many attend primarily to meet people, network and find new business opportunities. And, many work hard to combine these two efforts. Regardless, talking to people is necessary. So I think FUSE re-imagined offered great new opportunities for us to talk to people we may not have in the past. While I always dreaded breaking into small groups when I was in school, the salon approach allowed us to have comfortable and collaborative discussions with complete strangers. These strangers then became acquaintances as we saw familiar faces on our respective field trips and then new friends as we clinked glasses and nibbled roving appetizers during the happiest of hours.

Whether we arrived at FUSE solo, with one colleague or several, the new format offered more time to connect with someone new. And if you were around for the latter part of day 3, we even saw a handful of unsuspecting peers take the stage impromptu to talk about painful lessons learned.

Hainsworth's words ring true as we prepare to close this week of inspiration. Everyone has a story. We need not be afraid to talk to people even in the most awkward of spaces. Opportunities abound. Its up to us what we do with them.

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