Let’s face it. I’m a confirmed extrovert. For those of you who know me, that was a “duh” statement. I can’t help myself. Last weekend, my husband and I flew to Portland, Oregon. Before we boarded the airplane, I looked at our seat assignments. Once again, I was in the middle row. And my husband had the window. My husband is 5 inches taller so I couldn’t really suggest he take my seat.
I joked, “Middle seat, really?”
His response? “But you love to talk to people.”
Of course I do. I have a natural curiosity to understand a person’s story. I love to listen, engage and understand their purpose in life. With all my travels, I meet quite a few people on airplanes. And sometimes, we end up friends — I’m talking to you MaryAnne. This time, my seat mate was a burley red bearded man named Jason. He seemed kind of surprised when I turned to him, smiled and said, “How are you doing?” That was all it took. Hook. Line. Sinker.
My husband and I ended up talking with Jason the entire flight. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. I learned about the commercial greenhouse industry. And the plastic resin he sells (that DuPont abandoned 30 years ago) for these structures. The four years he lived in Sun Valley, Idaho. The 18 years of coaching he's had with baseball, soccer, and football. And his 12 & 14 year-old boys. Baseball is everything with his family. He even timed his flight to make it home in time for his 14 year-old’s game.
So, why am I telling you this story?
Today, I start a new position at SAP as the Head of Global Influencer Marketing. My job is to build relationships with a community of thought leaders who can tell an integrated SAP story in meaningful ways. We'll create innovative content to align with solution campaigns and use social media to get the word out. And at the root of it all is good storytelling. Understanding someone's story and building trust. Trust is the currency all brands must have when marketing to an audience. And if you can find trusted advisors to share authentic experiences about the purpose of your brand, you’ll make an impact on the world. And that's my new job. I could not have gotten here today without all of you.
I encourage all of you to take the time to make a real life connection. Listen to someone’s story. Understand where they came from. And what makes them who they are today. You never know where that new relationship will take you. Maybe you end up life-long friends. Perhaps it’s just a nice conversation that brightens your day. When it comes down to it, we all have a story to tell and we all want to be heard. And that is the power of connections.