At a recent client lunch, I found myself deep in a conversation about meditation and meaning, spirituality and purpose. In order to grow what you do, you need the clarity to see a true vision – not one tied to emotion and desire. That’s one benefit of inviting outside talent to your team. What can they see that you can’t? And will you listen when they offer feedback?
The client had recently taken a week to attend a silent retreat, during which he was completely disconnected from the outside world. He sat in talks with a Buddhist monk, sat in meditation at least three times every day, took walks in nature, wrote in his journal.
The client is a university president, so a week away from campus was quite a sacrifice – not only for him, but for his team. Still, he felt it was important for both sides that he step out of the bustle of everyday life and stress, to focus on getting quiet.
I did that many years ago, with a client, ironically. A yoga studio owner who was a client for five years took me on a retreat to India. My role was to chronicle the journey through blogs and photography. Other than that, I was to immerse in the experience to write authentic stories and generate interest among readers who might want to join her for the next retreat.
I awoke in the still-night and walked down a damp alley to the first yoga practice of the day. One teacher asked us to be in downward facing dog for 11 minutes – not an easy feat, especially on an empty stomach! Every day at 9 a.m., we practiced yoga with a celebrated teacher in a covered, open-air pavilion. Off to one side, the Ganges River gurgled past.
After classes and lectures, we ate at our hotel or the one other Western-friendly restaurant in this Himalayan foothills town. We shopped. We napped. We journaled. We pondered. There was meditation at dawn and later each afternoon. We got quiet. We got loud. We felt everything and reconsidered our roles in this life.
That’s the benefit of stepping away from the fast pace of your regular life – you get clear on what matters, and what doesn’t.
It’s been five and a half years since I took those two weeks to travel to India. I’ve traveled plenty since then, but never in the context of being truly disconnected from my work life. (Truth be told, even in India, I checked emails. But the benefit of a 12-hour time difference is that when I was awake, everyone back home was asleep. Nothing could be urgent.)
What would it take to step away from all you know to gain clarity? Could you do it? Would you want to? And if you did, how do you think it would benefit what you do every day?
I’ve always connected with clients on a soul level, cultivating a team that does the same, which is why so many stay with us for years on end. Once we step behind the curtain and see how the process runs, we become part of it. We gain insight, cadence. We join the rhythm of their efforts while retaining the beneficial outsider perspective.
I attribute any success or growth we’ve had to maintaining the perspective that people do business with people. We must see each other, heart and soul, as true humans with desires, emotions, and talents, if we are to connect and help one another. That’s the way we approach public relations and marketing. Human to human, heart to heart.
It’s not just to earn another dollar or win another client. It’s to further an important message that will make the world better. It’s to share heartfelt stories of how people are dedicated, through their work, to improve the condition of another – or of a community.
Caring is contagious. It’s also good business. At least, as long as it’s genuine.
Lynne Golodner is Chief Creative Officer and Owner of Your People LLC.