As many of you know, I dashed off to the New Forest for summer camp after last weeks singing appearance at the Social Recruiting Conference. This camp is organised by a couple of friends for around 250 friends and family. It’s an amazing, friendly, wonderful event. The only fly in the ointment is that I get asked to kick off the entertainment on the Friday night. I’ve previously found this a hugely nerve racking, almost vomit inducing fright. And as a result my nerves have affected my performances. This time – it was going to be different. I decided that if people were going to watch me I owed it to them and me to have a good time. I’d also met up with Natasha Stallard earlier in the week and she’d spoken enthusiastically to me about challenging emotions more productively. So I gave it a go.

I think I did much better this year (and before you say it yep – there is still loads of room for improvement, and I’m motivated by that) and there are a few short video clips on this post for you to look at and listen to if you like. Oh – and the picture at the top of the post is me and two good buddies in a short play called The Dukes of Has-Beens, in case y’all are interested.

I plan to use this fantastic experience to think more carefully about how we integrate a sense of community into other places too. A great example of community crossing into the workplace for me is ConnectingHR. If you have any examples of workplaces behaving like a community I’d be pleased to hear from you.

Being a part of a community is the best!


I wasn’t going to blog today and then Craig got in touch. I’ve known Craig Althof for a couple of years after connecting over at David Zinger’s excellent Employee Engagement network. Music is one of the things we have in common and I hope to meet Craig one day and share a few songs and maybe a beer too. Given I’ll be pulling on a guitar and singing for some good people very soon I think this musical perspective is very timely. Take it away Craig, and thanks so much for your timely offer:

“Engagement has everything to do with connecting. This is relevant to “the Greater Good” to which I have a deep, personal connection. I play a little music on the side, with a couple of good friends. We’ve played anywhere from horse barns to islands to state fairs. Think (very) poor man’s Crosby, Stills and Nash only a little more eclectic. We take on anything from Prine to Motown, showing each the same level of disrespect as we spin them our own way. There and Back Again. OK, I’ll admit we’re pretty good even though that’s being mildly prejudiced.

We’re thankfully past having to make a great deal of money playing music, so we do a lot of events that are along the “greater good” lines…nursing homes, benefits etc. This past Veterans Day we were part of a tribute that included some extremely engaging food. While we were enjoying our pay for the day afterwards, a Navy vet with a WW II hat came over to visit with us. One of my music partners is involved in a project for which he informally video interviews veterans, capturing their raw recounts of their experiences and their lives in general on video. He mentioned the project to our new friend, who thought a moment before replying “well, I don’t have a whole lot to talk about.” Famous First Words.

We spent the next 45 minutes connecting with this man who survived Pearl Harbor, saw several of his good friends go down, and in the process I hope we helped him connect back to his life. We were all deeply humbled at this meek man’s greatness. Same event, different story. My partner had finished a song that morning he called “I’ve Got Wheels” that he wanted to do as a tribute to vets. A quick synopsis….young boy gets his first tricyle, refrain “Look at me, dad…I’ve got wheels.” As a teenager he gets his first car, same refrain. A few years later the young man goes off to war, comes back and de-planes …his first words to his dad were, you guessed it.

I have a couple of songs that can really hit me as I’m singing them, and on occasion I’ve struggled to get through them. But my partner absolutely and completely choked up and had to stop halfway through the first verse, which was “only” the little boy taking his first spin on his new tricycle. Talking with him afterwards, he said he was so emotionally connected and the visual was so vivid he couldn’t continue. And this was not based on a personal experience, it was simply a story he wanted to tell.

This is an example of an external event or stimulus, magnified by an intense emotional connection. Maybe too intense to be relevant for workplace engagement? But how powerful would it be if we could be driven by even a small fraction of that level of connection, at work or any other activity, or in our lives?”