At last Thursday’s Omaha YP Summit, several threads wove together to confirm, for me, the inherent thrilling potential of conversation. At the opening keynote, Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise exhorted us to observe the true revolution that existing within our hearts, and encouraged us to find the courage to embark on a path towards that. In my later breakout sessions on Improving your Art of Conversation, I referenced Braun’s suggestion as I prompted participants to discuss their hobbies, passions and aspirations, and thereby move beyond the identities imposed on them by job titles.
Adam Braun also recounted the back story to the naming of Pencils of Promise. He told the audience that while attending his first ever symphony performance, and allowing the piano performance to wash over him, the name just popped (excuse the pun) into his mind. It struck me that this was another of many examples of flashes of inspiration that emerge from the nether reaches of our minds when they are allowed to roam. Indeed, distraction and happenstance are essential ingredients for inspiration, as I have written about here, and they are key aspects found within conversation. Braun’s story was timely given the Yahoo! “No Work From Home” memo furor. What struck me about that memo, reported at All Things D, was the statement that, “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings.” The issues of chance, randomness and a willingness to embrace uncertainty (especially by managers) were directly referenced during my YP Summit breakout session conversation workshops, and Adam Braun’s anecdote and the Yahoo! policy were coincidentally opportune.
There were many other personal lessons for me from the YP Summit, and it was rewarding to see that conversation played an integral role in a superb and stimulating experience.