What it means to belong

John ChenTwo words that no one would ever use to describe me would be sports fan. Yet I’ve been moved by my friend John Chen‘s epic adventure into high-end Super Bowl madness this week. Which brings me to what Seth Godin writes today on the eve of the game itself:

“…every year, the [Super Bowl] commercials disappoint, while the game includes eleven minutes of action over the course of four hours of not so much.And yet we do it  again and again. Because the corporate hoopla is beside the real point, which is a chance for all of us to talk about the same thing at the same time. This is part of what it means to belong.

…these occurrences happen often in much smaller tribes as well. The buzz about Fashion Week or CES or the latest from Sundance are micro varieties of the same desire to be in sync. Your customers and your employees want to feel what it feels to do what other people are doing. Not everyone, just the people they identify with.

It’s easy to be persuaded that this event is somehow about the game, or the coverage or the hype, but it’s not. Like Groundhog day, it’s a pointless thing we do over and over again, because hanging out with people you care about…is almost always worth doing.”
—Seth Godin, Groundhog day and the Super Bowl

This is the opportunity and the promise of participant-driven and participation-rich conferences, with the additional benefit of coming together around not just a “pointless thing” but a topic, an industry, a cause that we all care about.

Photo attribution: John Chen’s current profile picture on Facebook