It was the oddest thing.

I was having daddy-daughter dinner downtown last night and had decided to succumb to the beauty of Florida winters and chose a sidewalk table. As dinner ended, some familiar melodies started drifting our way. We detoured on our walk home to explore and saw a couple of guys cranking out some seriously nice gypsy jazz – just a guitar and soprano saxophone playing some of my favorites. Stella By Starlight, Autumn Leaves… They were sitting in front of the local record shop, an institution with an incredibly deep commitment to local live music.

Are these guys local? They can’t be! How can there be cats like this in town that I haven’t met yet?

The guys who were playing had chops and credentials. These guys have been playing with some well-known names in the scene and were playing a free show on their way north through the state. Fusion(-y; I hate genre-boxes) originals, they told me. I made a point to come back by to catch as much as I could and told every single person I could imagine might be interested.

This music was slamming.

But here’s the kicker…This record shop’s been in town for years. I’m friendly with the owner and really like him, his family, and the commitment to local music. But I had never once been to a show there.

I knew all the names of the guys these musicians had played with. They’re incredibly well-respected and those relationships bode well for the quality of music. But knowing that these musicians had worked with some big names wasn’t enough to get me to go.

The only reason I happened into that show was because I had made a connection with the guys on stage.

The jazz standards out front established a commonality and the way they talked about music tickled some aspirational bone in my body – this is not unlike the life I went to school to experience. I didn’t just understand why they were out on the road 200+ nights a year. I felt the energy and compelling force that led them to do so.

Knowing wasn’t enough to compel me – it was the connection that changed my course.

Isn’t that how most of our clients are? They can know the details and distinguishing characteristics – the things that make us the right choice for them, but it’s got to feel right. It’s got to connect.

I’m challenged by this: how to create that connection with you. With clients. With planners and designers whose referral or call bring in fun and compelling projects. How to connect before we ever talk or meet.

This is a theme that’s been playing out a lot around me lately.

How about you? Have you experienced this in yourself or your clients?


By the way, the band was Marbin. If you get a chance, don’t even think of missing them.

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