Thursday, March 22, 2007

Dr. Maya Angelou - 2007 LMA Conference Kickoff Keynote

It is not often in our careers that the job we do is presented to us as something much nobler than just the daily tasks we accomplish. After hearing Dr. Angelou speak I am certain I need to change the title on my business card from CMO to "Composer". It has a great ring to it. Kudos to the LMA for putting such a person on stage for us to hear.

Dr. Angelou talked about her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas, of her Uncle Willie and the lessons she learned from his life. She spoke of her amazing journey and the many "composers" that guided her path. Through all of it she kept getting back to us, the people in her audience, and relating her experiences to the importance we play to the people we work with, for, and around. She spoke for an hour and a half -- I could have listened for days more.

Some things she said that I wrote to remember included:
  • In asking her sister (a lawyer) about the work of law firm marketers: "Oh, I get it. They compose peoples lives. They put peoples lives together. They help make some of the rocky path level, straighten the crooked road.
  • Our lives will have influence we might never know
  • Our work is a calling... much more than a career that cannot be measured but has immeasurable effect on the people around us.
  • "I don't trust people that don't laugh. Be careful when a naked person offers you his shirt.
Other great and fun facts from the beginning of this conference:
  • 1043 in attendance... the largest ever. 83 marketers from California -- I found that pretty cool. 200 and some CMOs and directors, also pretty cool.
  • The opening satirical video (YouTube link) was excellent at presenting a lot of the tongue-in-cheek hard parts of the evolution of bringing marketing to an industry where change has been difficult to be sure. In fact, it has been hard and I congratulate the leadership of this year's conference put the silliest parts on-screen. The title "Napkin Folder" has finally been said out loud to great laughter.