Lessons in Personal Communication

Welcome to day 5 (last day) of my DELAYED REACTION to the Monaco Media Forum (AKA giving myself some time to think) . This post is about a very immediate/intimate form of communication. Personal communication. How one speaks, what one says…

I don’t go to too many conferences.

I try to pick the ones that are high-level (both in terms of attendees and subject matter — i.e.  not too much detail about, say, search engine marketing or this or that or blah blah blah). This year I went to Milken Global in L.A. and Monaco Media Forum.  Another year I tried TED. Of course some of these are expensive — but I look at them as continuing education. And that’s worth a certain investment each year.

I go in part for the content. I go in part for the networking.

I ALSO go for something more subtle… I go for a very personal lesson in personal communication.

I really enjoy watching how people who operate at a certain level communicate. And I learn from them just as they must have learned from others.

For example, at Milken, I liked getting a really direct sense of how Arnold Schwarzenegger thought on the spot and answered questions — others too, but he still pops to mind after several months. Sure I was in a room watching with a couple thousand people (Monaco was much smaller) but there is something to the directness of seeing somebody live that I find helpful/educational.

I’d say two people at Monaco I gained a great deal from — in the above sense — couldn’t have been more different from one another: James Murdoch and Esther Dyson.

Murdoch was really quite brilliant. He came off in a kind of unassuming way… yet his language was some of the most active I have heard. For example, he talked about “the pace” of his businesses. With a few, unusual choices of words, he added a new dimension (to do with velocity) to a conversation about business decisions. I will certainly bring this tone into my conversations with my team and customers. He also seemed extremely centered and focused on what HE wanted to get across.. regardless of the agenda of his interviewer or questioners in the audience. He had a small notebook and he seemed to be ticking off points as he made them. Notebook or not, I liked how, one way or another, he was going to drive the conversation.

Dyson’s personal communications power comes from WHAT she says — which is very different to what most people say, even in a gathering of really smart thinkers and leaders. She’s (fearlessly) more out there… and clearly more “herself” than most. And people respond to that. I got to see her: as a panelist, as a moderator, as a very active questioner from the audience, and as somebody I chatted with in the hallway. She has a very business-oriented approach to her thinking (she is, after all, an active investor) but she has a curiosity that is somehow more socially oriented. And she expresses her curiosity and opinions. Her words kind of tweek a gathering… and give it some real texture. The lesson is — and this is not always an easy one to internalize — don’t be afraid to communicate AS YOURSELF.

Happy weekend.. it’s a long one here in Spain.

Adios.. over and out.

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