Friday, April 18, 2008

Ubuntu

Most lunch meetings are uneventful: Raw fish, small talk about kids, bemoans about fatheads, cut-to-the-chase business dealings, and cordial encapsulation and good-byes. Starched shirts, formal posture, firm handshakes. Necessary encounters, but not necessarily memorable. I killed a plate of sashimi with a new friend last week that flipped the coin.

We began with the normal (aforementioned) stuff, but quickly transitioned into an assault of corporate speak: The lack of meaning, the void of sincerity, the apathy of communicators in communicating their message. I tossed The Cluetrain Manesto's first assertion across my bowl of rice: Markets are conversations. She flipped; we bonded.

Most communication -- personal and broadcast/marketing -- is unauthentic. It's sterile and apathetic. People are lazy, and their communication shows. It reminds me of two sage thoughts:

Matthew Arnold: Have something to say and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret of style.

Strunk and White (The Elements of Style,
Rule 17. Omit needless words): Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.
Back to my lunch. We dug deeper into the authenticity of people, their actions, their sincerity, and their communication. My new friend -- a fellow Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy Board member -- created a presentation for the SEA Showcase introducing and elucidating the African philosophy of ubuntu, which focuses on people's relations and allegiances with each other, and the authenticity of their interaction. She quoted Demond Tutu:
A person with ubuntu is open and available to others ... affirming of others ... does not feel threatened that others are able and good ... for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole.
A greater whole. I had lunch this week with a CFO of a Fortune 500 company. His grand compliment of an entrepreneur he backed was his combination of persistence and his all-about-the-company allocentric attitude. Big pie, small slice. The entrepreneur played, played hard, and it was all about the greater good, not his self interest.

My new friend's SEA presentation continued, quoting my dad's many moons ago commencement talk to the Academy:
You will only find both satisfaction and success if you play at the process.
My heart strung, her presentation continued (quoting my dad):
I ask that you join a team of artists. I suggest that you and this team of artists play at the art of business. Please play.

1 comment:

ramey said...

communicate. be the point. holla back!!