The influence was powerful. Of course I wasn’t fully aware of what impact it would have on me until years later, thanks to the indulgence of reflection…
Actually it was more than just remembering “that time” which prompted me to think about what shapes us. It was because of something that happened.
Someone I had worked with in my first real Marketing management role more than 20 years ago reconnected and so we had lunch. Was that a risk? Agreeing to meet someone for more than a coffee after all that time having not spoken or seen each other. What if it was awkward? A waste of my precious time. What if we had changed? What if we hadn’t changed!
She came marching over to the table I had booked for lunch and it was an instant familiarity and genuine mutual appreciation of this catch up opportunity. The risk was immediately worth it.
Of course many things had changed after 20 years – we were now proud mothers of adult children, we had held a number of different jobs in different places and industries, we had established as well as offloaded various professional and personal relationships, we had learned a lot – we shared our difficult times and we laughed a lot about the funny times. And we both wholeheartedly agreed we were wiser for our many experiences.
What things had remained? She was still the kind, generous, interesting and interested person I remembered 22 years ago. She was strong, smart and still working hard at delivering impressive results for others. Her style and the way she presented herself continued to be immaculate. We both concurred the place we worked for and the people we worked with all those years ago taught us a lot more than we realised, it shaped the direction we went in as well as encouraged the way we treated others. We were the recipients of impressive leadership and therefore a culture that was quite unique for its time.
The moral of all this? Age doesn’t need to weary us, it should energise us. Think of the workplaces and people who have shaped you. Think of how far you’ve come. Reach out to someone you always thought was worthwhile who you haven’t seen or spoken with in a long time and ask them to lunch. And then share stories about “remember when..” because it will make you smile, it will make you more conscious of what you have achieved, more aware of what you learned and went on to continue learning. But most of all it will remind you there is nothing more influential or important than human connection.
Oscar Wilde once observed that “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about.” The same is true of our industry marketing. It may be a serious business, but much more importantly it’s a human business.