One Perfect Song: Have a Little Faith in Me

MI0002499541

“Have a Little Faith in Me”
Written by John Hiatt
Recorded by John Hiatt
Released May 29, 1987

It is said that the music you encounter in your late teens and early 20’s is imprinted on you for the rest of your life. This is the music you love, the music you always go back to, the music by which all other music you listen to will be judged. I first heard the music of John Hiatt when I was 21 years old.

I fell in love with the music of John Hiatt because I fell in love with the story of John Hiatt. John Hiatt was an alcoholic, troubadour Nashville songwriter. Originally from Indiana, Hiatt went to Nashville in 1972 when he was 18 years old, and became a staff songwriter for a local studio and performed with a few bands. He wrote one song for Three Dog Night, and had other songs covered by Willie Nelson, Freddy Fender and Willy DeVille.

Success was elusive. A few of his songs found their way to low chart positions, but always by other artists. He released album after album. He continued to drink. Nothing was working.

Then, in the mid-1980’s, Hiatt got sober. In February 1987, he went into the studio to record what would be his 8th album. Jim Keltner on drums. Nick Lowe on bass. Ry Cooder on guitar. Each one an amazing, experienced musician in his own right.

Money was tight, and so was time. They only had 4 days in the studio. Though the songs were carefully crafted and beautifully written, they had to be quickly recorded. Nick Lowe had only just gotten off the plane from London to Los Angeles when he was brought directly to the studio to record his bass part on “Memphis in the Meantime.” He barely knew the song, and his slightly out of sync bass line serves the song incredibly well. The musicians gelled. Hiatt was in top form. The songs were perfect.

“And after we get good and greasy
Baby we can come back home
Put the cowhorns back on the Cadillac
And change the message on the Code-a-Phone”
-“Memphis in the Meantime

“I ain’t no porcupine
Take off your kid gloves
Are you ready for the thing called love”
-“Thing Called Love”

“Yeah, you’ve seen the old man’s ghost
Come back as creamed chipped beef on toast
Now, if you don’t get your slice of the roast
You’re gonna flip your lid
Just like your dad did, just like your dad did”
-“Your Dad Did”

Bring the Family is a country-rock masterpiece album. Every song is beautifully crafted, and the lyrics are shining with anger, regret, love and hope. He sings in the first song, “but right now I need a telecaster through a vibro-lux turned up to ten.” Hiatt knows how to write a song.

Although Hiatt had the lyrics and basic music for “Have a Little Faith in Me,” he was having a hard time coming up with an arrangement for the band. Producer John Chelew encouraged Hiatt to sit down at the piano to run through the song once so everyone could hear it fresh, and contribute ideas. Unbeknownst to Hiatt, Chelew ran the tape as he sang, and the final version on the album is the recorded rehearsal.

The song is simple, yet sincere and heartfelt.

“When the road gets dark
And you can hardly see
Just let my love throw a spark
Have a little faith in me.”

Hiatt whispers, then sings in falsetto. He strains to share passion and emotion. The lyrics are not groundbreaking, but they tell a truth. He is singing to us. He is singing for us.

In time, Hiatt would record a gospel tinged version with a full band, and though he regularly performed the song solo on the piano during his shows for years, my favorite version is the more lively version with two guitars, bass and drums.

John Hiatt is one of our finest song writers, and yet it is not the craft “Have a Little Faith in Me” that makes it so special, it is the performance. Captured on tape by chance, full-throated, passionate and raw.

“When your secret heart
Cannot speak so easily
Come here darlin’
From a whisper start
To have a little faith in me.”

I first heard “Have a Little Faith in Me” when I was 21. That was 30 years ago. It’s still with me.

Yammer: Feature Rich or Distraction Heavy

Much to their credit, the developers at Yammer continue to add new functionality and features to its enterprise social network platform. Since acquired by Microsoft in 2012, it has slowly become more integrated with Office 365 functionality offering its users true collaboration functionality in a feature rich environment.

When a Word (or Excel or PowerPoint file) is viewed in Yammer, it opens in Word online. If “Edit File” is clicked, the file opens in a full browser based version of Word, offering much of the same options and features found in the desktop app, plus the ability for simultaneous editing my multiple users.

Discussion groups now offer Office 365 connectivity. Associated Sharepoint sites can be created, file folder based document libraries, OneNote and Planner files. All of these tools greatly enhance the power of Yammer to truly be a cohesive workplace tool for conversation, content creation and true collaboration.

Capture

Even when making a comment, Yammer now offers new features. Files can be added to a comment directly from a computer, from OneDrive or from a Yammer group. Very recently, Yammer has even introduced the option to upload GIF files, those animated graphics seen in many social network posts and emails.

When talking about Yammer in my organization, people often wonder aloud why we don’t just create groups in Facebook. “Everyone has a Facebook account, why not just do they work where people already are spending their time?”

I talk about how Facebook is not created for work. While trying to wrestle through challenging conversations and important work issues, users would also be seeing cat videos, advertisements, and cooking videos. We should be doing our work in a platform that not only is truly dedicated to our work, but also offers the ability to do that work in a relatively distraction free space. All of the links, all of the tools, all of the posts (for the most part) we see in our Yammer network is deeply focused on our work.

Does the addition of GIFs take away from that work focus? While GIFs are fun to look at, I have yet to see a GIF that truly adds to a conversation, contributes to our knowledge base, or helps the work move forward.

However, GIFs do grab our attention. They make us smile. They bring our eyes to a post, and maybe through that GIF, we will engage with a post in a way we may not have done otherwise. On Marketingprofs.com, Marissa Aydlett writes:

“GIFs bring the right amount of fun to your content while they enrich your messages. GIFs grab hold of readers’ attention, keeping them engaged from the first sentence of your communication to the last.

Moreover, GIFs are particularly helpful in grabbing attention in our over-stimulating digital world, where consumers are regularly drawn in a variety of different directions… and can be easily distracted.”

So, I find myself concerned and intrigued. I am concerned in the sense that for all the conversations I have encouraging people to use Yammer because it is a platform dedicated to our work, free of distractions, they will soon tell me to eat my words. Won’t a GIF take us distract us from our work?

But, I think I am a bit more intrigued than I am concerned. When driving down a long, boring road, a little bump in the road can make us a bit more alert, and look around and appreciate the scenery. Maybe, in the day to day course of our work, we will see a GIF, loosely connected to our work though it may be, and we will smile. Maybe we will engage with the information in a way we wouldn’t have otherwise. Maybe we will wake up.

Maybe, we will even do a happy dance.

giphy

 

The Power of Empathetic Leadership

On the evening of June 3, 2017, a van was driven into a crowd of people walking across London Bridge. Eight people were killed, 48 people were injured. The three men in the van were all killed.

This attack came less than two weeks after 23 people were killed and 119 people were injured at the end of an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena.

In less than 14 days, England was struck twice by terrorist attacks. A total of 31 people were killed and 167 people were injured, many of them seriously.

Less than 48 hours after the London Bridge attack, United States President Donald Trump Tweeted criticism of how the mayor of London responded to the attack:

Capture

After two brutal attacks in England, President Trump thought that more should be done to prevent further attacks, and that the citizens of London should, in fact, be alarmed. They should be doing everything they can to prevent further attacks, and the mayor was wrong (in President Trump’s opinion) to suggest anything less.

Today as I write this, it is June 14th, 2017, only 11 days after the second attack. What must it like to be in England right now? What causes alarm and concern on a crowded street? How do people react when they hear an unexpected, loud noise? How do parents talk to their children about being safe, vigilant and caring?

In the hours after the London Bridge attack when the city was still scared, still trying to figure out exactly what happened, when people may have still been trying to learn if their loved ones were alive or not, I wish President Trump had shown empathy rather than anger and indignation.

Empathy, though, can be difficult. In order to be empathetic, we need to put aside our own feelings,  interests and opinions, and imagine we in  the shoes of someone else. What are their concerns? Their interests, their fears? What do they want?

Practicing a little empathy myself, I imagine that President Trump saw what happened in London, and didn’t want the same thing happening in the United States. I imagine he wanted to assure American citizens that he would react to a similar attack with strength, power and decisiveness. I also imagine he wanted to use the events in London as an opportunity to forward his own agenda of banning citizens of Muslim countries from entering the United States.

However, if President Trump had taken the time to exercise empathy, I like to think he would have recognized that Mayor Khan, seeing his city lost in chaos and fear, realized the very best thing he could do was to help make the people of London feel a little bit safer, and little bit more calm. More police were being deployed throughout the city, and Mayor Khan wanted the people of London to know he and his government was doing everything they could do to keep everyone safe.

When we are truly being empathetic, we are taking the time to consider another person’s point of view. Whether you are Tweeting about world affairs, or making a Facebook post about a party you just attended, take a moment to ask yourself what is the situation of the other person? Are they happy? Proud? Scared? Suspicious? Eager? Though we can never guarantee to accurately guess what someone else may be thinking, we can use our experiences and what we know about the other person to make a pretty good guess.

When we are in someone else’s shoes, we are on the “other” side. We can see things we did not see before. There is newfound transparency, and we can see a perspective and truth we could have never seen before.

Maybe we even sacrifice a bit of our own interest as empathy puts the interests and concerns of another person before your own. For instance, if President Trump imagined he was in Mayor Khan’s position, he may have instead Tweeted:

Capture

Or, if President Trump still wanted to forward his own agenda while being empathetic, he could have Tweeted:

Capture

When we are empathetic, we are communicating with generosity and transparency. We break down walls because we can imagine how other people feel, and we find ourselves sharing their hopes and concerns. When our leaders are empathetic, the benefits extend to larger groups, like departments, teams, cities, states and countries.

Actions and words have real power and impact. Let those words be words of empathy.

*The first Tweet shown above was posted by Donald Trump on June 5th, 2017. The 2nd and third Tweets are fake, which I produced on https://faketrumptweet.com/. 

“One tattered copy of the ‘Working Out Loud’ book began to make its way around the office.”

“I think we should do Working Out Loud circles.”

Naturally, my boss and our Director of Human Resources wanted to know more. I told them I had recently read the book Working Out Loud (WOL) by John Stepper, and how it helps us set and achieve goals in a group support setting by learning new habits using 21st century technology.

We talked about how each group would be 4-6 people, and would meet one hour a week for 12 weeks. They expressed support for the idea, and encouraged me to move forward. I later learned they did not really understand the idea, but agreed to let me go ahead and give this a try. Pretty cool.

We announced Working Out Loud through our Enterprise Social Yammer network, and I shared some basic information about what we would be taking about in a WOL circle, and what we would be doing. Five people signed up, and we were on our way.

Some people, however, were lingerers. They were interested, but they did not express interest in time for our first group to begin, so the next month we began another group. For a number of weeks, 10 people in two WOL groups learned about being more collaborative and transparent. They pursued a goal with the support of colleagues and friends. They learned new skills and new habits. Our WOL participants went from being acquaintances to being friends.

And then, the circles came to an end.

But, WOL had made a real impact. People were sharing in ways that they hadn’t before. New relationships had been formed. WOL was referred to in meetings. “Well, as we learned in WOL, we can achieve more impact if this project is shared more widely.” One tattered copy of the Working Out Loud book began to make its way around the office.

LESSBorrowShareBook_webcolor

When time came to announce our next series of WOL circles, 20 people signed up right away, and now these 20 additional people were experiencing the process of learning new habits and achieving important goals in four new circles. Working Out Loud truly had succeeded in a meaningful way.

I believe we have had the success we have had because so much of the way WOL has spread has been organic in nature.

  1. I had an idea that I brought to my boss. My boss did not ask for case studies, and HR did not ask for outside references. We did not discuss financial models. I was not asked to submit formal proposals to be approved by various managers. They just said “Yes.”
  2. We did not, in any way, compel staff to participate in WOL. It was completely “opt-in,” and the time and work that WOL necessitates was completely supported by executive leadership.
  3. Word of mouth spread, on its own. People talked to each other about their experiences. Executives heard about WOL from their staff. People wanted to experience what their colleagues and friends had enjoyed so much.

We did not exactly know what we would be getting with Working Out Loud, and we certainly did not know how to encourage people to participate. Much to our surprise, we didn’t have to. Working Out Loud did that on its own.