This week, I spent a lot of time talking to brands and organizations about how to engage younger, more diverse audiences. I spoke on panels, gave keynotes with fancy decks, and had several in depth, 1-on-1 conversations, all within the span of a few days. 

Over and over again, I found myself coming back to one key lesson. Sure there are a lot of tricks to the trade that I've developed over the years. And as a creative, I had countless ideas and strategies that could help people do the work that they so deeply want to do with the audiences that they so deeply what to do it with. But ultimately, the foundation of all of my knowledge begin with a simple principle: 


Listen to the people that you are trying to reach. Don't just listen to what others say about them, or 5 year old data that someone else collected, or even what you think you know from a previous experience. If you are truly committed to connecting with people you must be just as committed to listening to them (and acting on what you hear). 

If you're not willing to do that, no amount of strategy or big ideas will magically produce the kind of authentic relationship that you are yearning for. Because at the end of the day, markets and audiences and constituents and demographic groups and [insert other jargony word] are really just people. And the only way to truly have real people open their hearts to you is to make them feel heard, to understand their passions and motivations and fears. It's basic inter-personal relationship advice and it translates to good business, campaign and organizational advice as well. 

If you're willing to do that, then we can talk.