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How long does it take you to figure out the meaning of any given moment that strikes you as extraordinary?
It might be something you heard or witness. Perhaps an action created without fully noticing the consequences or maybe just an odd situation that keeps coming back to your mind, days, months and years later.
This week was filled with countless such moments which led me to write these words.
Everything started last week with a Walking Mentorship program about Time on the coast of Portugal and continued while making a final revision of my classes planned for next week in Barcelona.
While walking, a tide of faces and words from my past flooded my mind. The exercise we were doing, requested to think about situations where Time seemed to run extremely slow or even stopped.
While looking at the mighty Atlantic (watch the video above), I tried to select those great flashes carefully. Suddenly a conversation I had with different people about the same story emerged as a winner to focus my attention.
When I worked at Leo Burnett back in 2005 (it sounds like another life), I often heard about a speech given by the agency founder in a famous Christmas breakfast in 1967. In the beginning, I found it funny the consistent narrative of my senior colleagues, but after a while, I had to investigate.
The core of the message is timeless. But the more I revived the situation, the easier it become to understand additional meanings that I could not fully grasp the first time I heard it.
Leo Burnett was not so young anymore, and recently he started to step down as the head of the company he found back in the early thirties of the XX century. The speech revolves around his wish to leave something for posteriority, something the people could remember in the future.
What we usually recall about the talk is related to what he would do if one day he would recognize that his company went off the rails. He promised to return and take is name off the door. You can watch the famous speech here.
Curiously what struck me the most after so many years is not the epic diatribes he promises to do, but the first 3 minutes of the speech which are not so well known. What I finally learned is this :
- Leo mentions philosophy and character as the foundations of any organization that wants to be exceptional. (rings a bell, anyone?)
- He talks from the heart, which is the place where true connection takes place. (I wonder why so much of the marketing today does not work)
- When surrounded by good people, it’s easier to follow the example to become a better person. (make sure you know who they are)
- Replace the word “door” by the word heart and try to understand what is your impact on the life of other people. (Indeed, people have hearts)
- Before you even think about taking your name off a door, first, you need to place it there. (plenty of work ahead, continue)
- It is never too late to be grateful to the ones* that point you into the right direction. (A thank you goes a long way)
Do you know where you have been “placing” your name?
In case of doubt, look inside your heart and try to use every day the opportunity to make a difference. This one is on you!
That’s what stays 10, 20 and 50 years later. In the meantime, I guess I know how to speak next week when I am teaching at EADA.
If you need the space to revise your connections and redesign an action plan for your life, join me this Spring or Summer in a Walking Mentorship group program. If you prefer individual mentoring, I can walk with you towards the best version of yourself.
Keep walking with me
João Perre Viana
Founder of Walking Mentorship
*A thank you note to Richard Pinder, Ridwan Siddiqui, Nick Ahnen, Anthony Gibson, Marshall Goldman, and many other good people at Leo Burnett to show me the way to the stars 🙂