#79: Build to a Moment

One Idea. One Challenge. Once a Week.

“A speech belongs half to the speaker and half to the listener.” 
~ Michel de Montaigne, Essays

What was your first day of work like?  

Think about your current or most recent job. Or any other job you’ve had. Did your first day stand out?  

A good friend of mine began his first day by walking straight into a glass door. In front of his entire office. It was loud and everyone turned and stared. 

Your first day probably wasn’t that awkward. Or memorable. For many people it’s a boring day of logistics. Flipping through onboarding manuals and waiting at an empty desk for a computer to show up. 

Imagine your first day went like this: 

You get a friendly email a few days in advance. A woman named Rosita congratulates you and says she’ll answer any questions you have. She tells you where to park and that she’ll be waiting for you at the front desk. 

When you arrive she’s already there. She smiles and hands you a fresh coffee. There’s a big TV monitor on the wall that says, Welcome Fran!  (Let’s assume your name is Fran.) She walks you over to your desk. There’s a gift there with your name on it. You unwrap it and smile. Your computer is already set up. Your first email is a welcome video from the president. 

Rosita takes you to lunch with a handful of colleagues. They listen well and are friendly, inviting you to an upcoming event. In the afternoon your boss stops by your desk. She asks how things are going and makes plans to get lunch together within the week. Your boss’s boss does the same. 

You leave the office excited to come back tomorrow. 

How does that compare with your actual first day?  

I didn’t make my example up. Lani Lorenz Fry did. She’s a brand expert that designed the First Day Experience for John Deere’s Asia Offices. After rollout it was such a success that employees asked if they could quit and get re-hired. 

First days can be amazing experiences. All it takes is a little effort and attention. Fry understood this. Quality moments stick with us. They’re memorable and meaningful. 

There are a few moments that define us and may even stop time. When we score the winning goal, give our wedding vows, and hold our newborn baby.  

Many others are powerful and help shape our path: we graduate, move away from home, read a quake book, have an epiphany, get a promotion, start a company, travel to the country of our dreams. Some are smaller yet still poignant: a phone call from an old friend, a night out with a lover, an unexpected gratitude letter. 

The brothers Chip and Dan Heath explain in their book The Power of Moments that quality moments share certain ingredients. By understanding these ingredients, we can bake more quality moments into our lives. And the lives of others. 

The ingredients are elevation, pride, insight, and connection. Some moments contain just one or two. Others have all four. 

Elevation: We feel special. The experience lifts us above our baseline. Elevated moments often “break the script” from what is expected. And they may enhance our sensory pleasures, or push us to rise to a challenge. 

Pride: We feel important. Our achievements are recognized in a genuine way. We can reframe certain experiences to multiply moments of pride. For instance, celebrate milestone steps along the way to an important destination.

Insight: We feel wise. Our eyes have been opened. We see ourselves or the world in a new light. We may be transformed by the experience. 

Connection: We feel loved. Moments of connection bind us together. We belong. We may be a part of a group that works hard to achieve a difficult goal. Or enjoy a friend that listens to us without judgment and responds with warmth. 

The John Deere Experience creates a sense of elevation by breaking the script on what’s expected. It fosters connection by making new employees feel like part of the team. They may experience pride in seeing their name on the entrance monitor and receiving a gift. And the welcome video from the president and conversations with colleagues may offer insights into the company mission, vision, and culture. 

At the Ewing School, we build public speaking cohorts for our clients. Colleagues work together over several months to transform their clarity and confidence. The cohort culminates with an event we call Build to a Moment. 

Each participant takes the stage, one at a time. They deliver their best presentation possible. We invite lots of people to watch. The audience claps and cheers after each speech. They write down useful feedback for each speaker. They vote on their favorites. We give out various prizes, including a plaque for first place. 

We held a Build to a Moment event last month with a client in Washington D.C.  Afterwards, two of the speakers came up to me individually and said they are already preparing for next year. They’re going to work even harder so they can win first place. 

We’ve discussed in earlier pieces how good public speakers fill their talks with vivid moments that create simulations for their audiences.  

How else can we better incorporate quality moments into our conversations and presentations? How can we elevate our audiences? And help them experience insights, pride, and connection? Perhaps even alter the direction of their lives? 

We’ll continue exploring these ideas in upcoming pieces. 

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IDEA

Create powerful moments for yourself and others.

CHALLENGE

What is one way you can “break the script” this weekend to create an elevated moment for a loved one? 

Consider something unexpected that makes them feel special – and perhaps adds a little pride, insight, or connection as well. 

For ideas, check out the Heath Brothers’ resources page for The Power of Moments

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