Guest post by Aliza Freud
On Tuesday night I attended one of the most thought provoking events I’ve been to in a long while. The 360 Summit, hosted at the New York Stock Exchange, was filled with an interesting and diverse crowd. More importantly, the conference organizers clearly understood their audience, and developed a unique format that worked very well. Instead of the usual parade of presentations, the evening organized around a series of "What If" questions posed by business leaders, and then discussion by the audience. Some were pre-taped and included a talking bear, courtesy of Maxine Clark, CEO of Build-A-Bear. Others were live and included the provocative, "What if businesses docked the pay of the obese?" The questions fueled lively and intriguing conversations about solutions to actual problems, and had fare more depth of interaction and quality of debate than the typical business conference.It’s no surprise that the evening's orchestrator and MC was Susan Willett Bird, author of "The ABC's of Authentic Conversation". From the guru of authentic conversation came an event that delivered on the same.
The notion of authentic conversation is the backbone of my own business, SheSpeaks. We have grown our community membership based on consumers’ desire to have a real conversation and provide feedback to brands. Why do consumers want to do this (for no pay, I might add)? After running countless communities for brands, I have come to conclusion that consumers – people- are genuinely interested in being part of the solution. They want to help. If that means that they spend a couple of hours of their time evaluating products and services and providing their feedback, free of charge, then they are willing to do so. In fact, they clamor for it. Our most demanding members are those who have had the opportunity participate and have seen their feedback in action.
So, here is my what if. What if, we could create a stage on which people could tap into their desire to have a say and direct this at galvanizing resources to help those in need or raising charitable funds? That would be a pretty powerful stage. Don’t you think? Would anyone join me in this effort?If so, perhaps by next year’s event, we could not only raise the questions but also show some proof of our collective power to solve.