Sunday, February 27, 2011

How to Start a Movement in Three Minutes

There is something powerful about collective energy. It is the reason we love to go to live concerts in the summer. The beer is awful, the sound system sucks, but the sensation of being swept away with thousands of other people to the tune of a favorite song is magical. While concerts are lovely for the soul, the raw power of revolution and collective energy is all over the news right now -- and changing the world as we know it in a matter of days instead of years.

The little spark of political uprising in Tunisia spurned the "Revolution 2.0" of Egypt, and is now raging with the current surge to bring down Gaddafi. Union workers are standing up, rallies on state capitol steps are supporting the causes from other states. Is there a call in you to join a rising tide?

What is the magic behind creating a movement? Michelle Price, a colleague of mine, shared a gem of a video that offers a graduate level course in leadership by simply observing a mundane scene from a summer day in a park. One guy starts dancing, and it becomes a lesson in how to create a movement in three minutes from start to finish -- starting with one lone nut doing a jig, and evolving into a full-fledged Woodstock style jam session.

Check out this short YouTube video below:

Essentially, a movement rerquires four distinct profiles. Let's check them out, and see if you recognize yourself in any of the categories.

The Leader has the original idea, the driving passion and the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. In this case, the leader would never have dreamed the entire park would shortly be joining him -- he just felt like dancing! If a calling is within you, dance! Not answering the call is a much greater tragedy. The world needs more "lone nuts" who dare to stand up and try something new. Of course, lone nuts have to realize that most people have no idea what they are talking about, and are not going to follow them directly -- not yet, that is.

The Lone Follower, after watching the crazy dude at the park flapping around like a chicken, is the second guy who comes along and starts dancing, too. He hears the call, gets the vision and is compelled to bring it to the world. With joy, the leader welcomes him in, and opens up space as an equal. The Lone Follower is truly the most under-appreciated role in leadership. He validates the leader's vision, and offers a bridge for the world to follow. If the leader is willing to work in partnership, magic is right around the corner.

The Second Follower is the Pied Piper of the masses, the "connector" or the "sales guy" who knows how to get the message out and make it a party! As soon as the third guy starts shaking his booty and flapping his arms, we have a "happening." The second follower officially begins the movement and is the honey for the bees. The masses want to follow a trend, not start one, and the second follower is the every day Joe. He is the one the masses trust is "just like them" and makes it safe to jump in.

Even though the lone nut leader has been flapping his arms all along, it was too risky for the masses to jump in. New followers will more readily emulate every day folk who show that there is no reason to stay on the fence any longer -- dancing is fun! Most people do not want to stand out and risk being ridiculed, and any good movement must remember this.

The Snooze-or-Lose Follower is a person who still doesn't have a cell phone, and is always the last one to climb on board a new movement or trend. Eventually, the last people at the park sitting around and watching look like wall flower dorks if they don't join the party. The snooze-or-lose followers will step in, just at the point when there is a greater risk not to participate. I am a total snooze-or-lose follower when it comes to Twitter. As I wrote in a previous post, the blogging community is a movement that rocks -- but you better have your social networking manners!

So, dear HuffPost readers, are you a lone nut, a lone follower, a second follower/connector or a snooze-or-lose follower? Each has a most important role to play. How does it feel when you are asked to play a different role than you are accustomed to? How is the collective energy of the moment affecting you? I would love to hear in the comment box below.


This coming March, a movement is happening to honor the past one hundred years of women's growth for International Women's Day on March 8th. Madeleine Marentette, founder of Grail Springs Spa and Retreat Center, decided to dance her own jig in a park and host a conference call-style event that is free to the public, called "100 Women of Destiny: From Suffragette to Social Networker." She is offering a platform to have intimate conversations with thought leaders from Marianne Williamson to London's Secret Millionaire, and a live feed with women leaders in Mombasa, Kenya.

Check it out, and I will be reflecting on the past 100 years of milestones in the next few blogs. For weekly updates of this post, click on 'Become a Fan' at the top, or follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

How to Make Valentine's Day More Authentic

One of the most obligatory holidays is upon us. Love it or hate it, St. Valentine is back in the picture.

How often does Valentine's Day truly live up to the romantic expectations? Most agree that it is the worst night to go out to dinner, with rush pre-set menus, tightly packed tables and noise. Those chocolate-covered cherries in the heart-shaped box taste more like wax than food, and Hallmark cards can set you back five bucks for something basic.

How did the holday of love become something so fake and detached, filled with societal expectations of happy couples and miserable singles? Even kids get stressed out agonizing over what card to send to the opposite sex that won't convey the wrong message.

More importantly, how can we make Valentine's Day more authentic? I spoke to Maryanne Comaroto, Beverly Hills relationship expert, author and radio host, for a little advice on getting more out of Cupid's day. Having a "heart to heart" with ourselves is a good place to start, followed by responsible communication with our loved ones.

When it comes to Valentine's Day, are you a cynic, a romantic, an overwhelmed parent, a sad single or a resentful drag? Let's check them out in detail:

The Cynics

"Often one partner is the cynic in a relationship. Men often think of Valentine's Day as obligatory, more so than women," Comaroto said. "The trick to make the day more authentic is thinking about how to turn it from a 'have to' into a 'want to.'" Comaroto suggests checking out St. Valentine, himself for a little inspiration. "If you research St. Valentine himself, it is pretty sexy stuff! Resurrect the fun around the holiday, get off the commercial aspect of it, find what's good, and celebrate that."

The Romantics

If one partner is a cynic, count on the other being a romantic! "The romantics are the ones with these gigantic expectations!" laughed Comaroto. Cupid's commercial arrow strikes, and all reason is thrown to the wind, replaced with dreamy Hollywood fantasies of the latest chocolate diamonds from Zales, armfuls of roses strewn over the bed, and a partner who is present, madly in love and ready for the best sex on earth. Then reality strikes: Valentine's Day is on a Monday, spouse is working late, and who can afford a lobster dinner in this economy?

"To get what you really want, give it to yourself," said Comaroto. "That way, anything that someone chooses to give you is a bonus, as it is nobody else's job to make us happy." Go ahead! Get some scented candles, send yourself to the spa for a massage, or throw a party -- have fun!

The Overwhelmed Parents

Those with young children may see them as SRUs -- sexual reduction units. The time for romance is out the window during these years, and couples who may once have actually enjoyed Valentine's Day are not the least bit interested in sex or romance, as they are just tapped out.

The remedy? "Take control of the day," said Comaroto. "Define what the day means to you as a couple. In two minutes of discussion, create your own rules for Valentine's and take charge of crafting it to get what you want, even if it is agreeing to simply exchange kisses and go to bed early!"

The Sad Singles

Let's face it: there is a stigma surrounding being single on Valentine's Day. But do singles have to be sad? Instead of running away or ignoring the day, why not take advantage of acknowledging what is true for you? If you are happy in your independence, send yourself a love letter! Congratulate yourself for creating a life of self-fulfillment, and do the things that make you feel restored.

If you are not happy being single and the day is an excuse to beat yourself up, what is that? "If you feel blue, know it is perfectly fine to be lonely, and to own those feelings, said Comaroto. "Perhaps it is a chance to have a little chat with yourself, and explore if you are afraid to be alone." If you loathe the holiday, instead of carrying it around as baggage for your next relationship, Comaroto suggests doing a fun ritual. "Have an 'I hate Valentine's Day' ritual in your backyard!" she laughs. It could be fun. Burn a bunch of heart shaped doilies and shoot cupid's arrows at the stars.

The Resentful Drags

"If you can't get over yourself," Comaroto says wryly, "go to a shelter or a retirement home, pass out bags of Hershey's kisses, and ask them to tell you a love story from a time gone by. Open your heart -- who knows what can happen if you do!"

So, my favorite HuffPost readers, will you be my Valentine? Come on cynics, romantics, parents, singles -- tell me a love story from a time gone by, or tell me how you have made Valentine's Day more authentic. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment box below.