If you actually listen, it's amazing what you hear.

Don't think about the next thing you're going to say. Don't think about what you're having for lunch. Don't try to remember that funny thing you read on Twitter.


I spent the morning yesterday at Hyper Island's annual Industry Forum, my second year. It's a few hours filled with bright minds from marketing, advertising, design and other related fields. Attendees work at major international brands or for themselves - and everything in between.

From the start, we were pushed to think, and then, to listen. We were given several sets of choices - do we care more about Human Impact or Environmental Impact? Is privacy or convenience more of a luxury? We took a stand (literally moving to the side of the room assigned to our choice, and we told the person next to us why we were there. And then they told us.

And we listened.

We worked together in groups to examine trends in tech, business, talent and behavior that were identified in the two previous years. We sorted them according to what's old news, what's still new, and what's in between. Then we argued for our points as to why something belonged where we'd put it on the spectrum.

And we listened. And sometimes changed our minds.

Then we broke into small groups where we had to drill deep down on a trend of our choosing, taking turns as interviewer, interviewee, and observer. The observer did not speak; just took notes silently.

Each time, the observer pulled out insights we almost didn't realize were there, enabling us to turn our completely different stories into a coherent narrative.

Because we listened.

At day's end, we were asked to write down what we'd done for the past few hours, what we learned, what insights we gained, and one action item. One thing that we could do starting now, because of the work we'd been doing all morning.

I have that Post-It note right next to my computer as I type this.

Listen more;
Speak less

Find value in others' experiences.

In business and in life -- it makes us more valuable to our employers, our employees, our customers, our families and ourselves.