Love and the Meeting: Guest Blogger Charlie Elberson

Well Red Booters.  We finally met one.  A corporate Red Booter!

And the truth is, there are lots of corporate Red Booters...who are, understandably so, at times a bit reluctant to admit they are.  That powerful love of which Red Booters speak so easily, is often times not as warmly welcomed in the corporate setting as it might be in the classroom, our homes and/or the social services arenas.

Charlie, has tossed that reluctance to the wind.  Heck, he's flying it high on a bright colored kite for all to see.   You see, he is a living-the-red-boot lifestyle out loud kind of guy.  You just have to spend a few minutes...heck a coupla figure that out.  With eyes a lot like Santa's, Charlie lights up the room with his easy-going, friendly, "wassup" way of being.


Charlie's day job is cultivating a creative space where businesses can really dig into their purpose.  He works at Wray Ward, in Charlotte, North Carolina, a Communications and Marketing Firm where he has been developing, building and stewarding brands for 25 years.

Charlie has also been heavily involved in the Charlotte community, serving on boards including the Afro-American Cultural Center, Council for Children, LifeSpan, Museum of the New South, Nevins and United Way of the Central Carolinas. He also serves as the primary trustee and advisor for the Reemprise Fund within the Foundation for the Carolinas. we all know...Red Booters magically find each other and Charlie found us.  He was so in love with the notion of a Red Boot (R)evolution he wrote a little something for it and here it is!

AND, based on Charlie's enthusiasm for the project, we are thrilled to share that he will be joining in from time to time with other fantastic stories, allegories and thought-provoking pieces.

So here goes, Ya'll.

Love and the Meeting

Red boots moments happen in the most unexpected situations. Like marketing planning meetings.

We’d been in the room for three hours, trying to come up with new marketing ideas. The group hadn’t come up with anything new, just the same old approaches to the same old problems. The session was lead by the department head, and she was furious. She said she wanted new ideas and she wanted them now!

That's when I said, "Maybe love is the answer..."

Nobody looked at me – except her.

"What," she said, "is that supposed to mean? Seriously. We need answers! We need breakthrough thinking, bold action. Not some kind of airy-fairy, touchy-feely trust exercise bullshit!"

OK, time to buckle up my red boots.

I replied, "Yes, that's exactly right. We've got to do something different, something bold, something meaningful, something so relevant and impactful people can't help but notice. If we don't do that – we're dead."

"Right," she said. "So why the hell are you talking about love? Love is just a feeling! We need action!"

"Absolutely we need action." I said. "And we've been trying to come up with actions that will have real influence and create a real groundswell. We’re talking about major impact. Halfway measures won’t cut it and every idea so far is just some marginal variation on stuff we’ve already tried.”

“We need to do different or we're toast,” I said. “Bold. Impactful. So what's more bold, meaningful, relevant, and impactful than love? Listen, just stay with me and let’s think it through. If love guided our actions how would we act differently? What we do for customers if we loved them? If we actually cared about them like care about ourselves or our families? I'm serious, what actions would we take if we loved them like that?"

A guy at the end of the table cleared his throat. "Well, um. I guess we'd pay them a lot of attention."

"Good," I said, "What else?" A couple of chairs shifted.

Someone said, "We'd ask them what they thought."

And another, "We'd try to get to know more about them."

"We'd give them something before we ask for their money."

"We'd try to make sure they had a home and were making a living before we started pitching our stuff."

It was coming faster. The ideas flowed. We agreed creating opportunities to surprise and delight customers would be love-inspired AND market-differentiating. Eventually we narrowed it down to the best five ideas. People were still talking as they departed the conference room, leaving me alone with the department head.

She looked at me and said, "I was wrong to tear into you like that. I thought you’d gotten all warm and fuzzy and didn't see the point you were making about love."

I said, "Sure, no problem. Love just gave us a different of way of viewing it."

glasses with hearts

“It was more than just that,” she said. “Love opened everybody up. They thought more creatively. I saw love as just a feeling, an unproductive emotion. Instead, love pointed to actions we can do that will create feelings in our customers and those feelings are going to result in actions that are going to favor us and ultimately everybody else. Love gave us the answers we couldn't get to on our own."

She stopped talking and looked straight at me. I didn’t know what to say. Finally, I said, "Yep. That's what love is."

And thought about how nice she’d look in a pair of red boots.