I just got back from my first trip since February 2020 (which was to see Ben Folds play with Toledo Symphony thanks to my little bro, Zak, who runs the symphony...which was also going to be my last concert for a while).
This time I went to San Francisco to visit my daughter, Franny, who just moved out there...San Fran Franny.
When I first got to the airport I was a little overwhelmed...it might as well have been the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The place was packed and I realized I hadn't been around that many people for a while. And once I caught my breath, I remembered that I'm an off the charts extrovert and I was literally struck dazzled by the energy of everyone there and I was practically prancing through the concourse singing,
PEOPLE! PEOPLE! PEOPLE!
When I was a corporate gal, I traveled about 60% of the time. I loved it – I got to go to really cool cities, tour the most beautiful real estate, eat delicious meals, binge on Forensic Files in my hotel room. The dream life!
What I loved most, though, were all the people I've met along the way.
Especially the people who I sat next to on my flight to wherever I was going. I would have the most profound conversations, the kind you can only have with a stranger who is almost sitting in your lap for a few hours, who you know you'll never see again.
I called these folks my Middle Seat friends (because I was always on the aisle...business traveler!). Some of these Middle Seaters have stayed with me for years. They include:
- A woman my mom's age whose husband died and who was going back home for the first time after the funeral.
- A man who told me cheating on his wife who acted like a grumpy toddler when he asked if he was an a-hole and I said, "Yes...you're cheating on your wife!"
- A 19-year old guy who was thrown out of the cult he was born into and raised in and was going to some sort of halfway house to figure out his next steps.
- A woman who was meeting her online love for the first time in person and who was so nervous, I went with her to meet the guy at baggage claim...and he was really alright!
- Two guys who just finished filming their first documentary.
- A newlywed couple who were starting a church in Denver.
- A really cute guy who just graduated with a civil engineering degree but loved outfitting vans and buses for tiny living.
- Ralph Nader.
And what makes these middle seat stories so fantastic is because we're strangers, we can be more open and more authentic with each other (we're not afraid of judgment). And we can share a story that draws the other person in and engage in a really great conversation with there's no agenda. Just a beautiful giving and receiving where we're both focused on each other.
And here's the correlation to marketing:
What makes these people and stories so memorable is that we started off open and authentic, curious to learn about the other person and connect our experience with them. Because it feels good to connect with people like that. And at the end of the day, isn't that what marketing is all about...make it easy for people to connect with what you're all about?
Here's what I know. Everyone has a story. Everyone. Even you. And I promise you it's a good one.
I'm rooting for you!