About ten years ago I was working in marketing for a firm that had just bought another firm, making it a compilation of three asset management entities. The CEO wanted my group to come up with a brochure that touted the “power of the combination.” Naturally, there was much less power ensuing from the combination as there were power plays between the hot shots at each of these firms. But, I knew what he wanted: a glossy piece that talked about all the benefits of having three distinct managers under one umbrella.
We’d had these CEO exercises before and we knew that the odds of us coming up with something that met his goals were 1000 to 1. But the team caucused and tossed out ideas. I don’t remember the exact ideas, but it is a fairly safe bet that some involved chess pieces or bridges spanning wide bodies of water. I remember wondering, “Uh…isn’t there some German or Swiss or Hungarian word that we’re dancing around?” Team looked at me blankly.
“Gestalt!” I exclaimed. “That’s it! Gestalt! The sum is greater than the parts. You know, together we are better, bigger, stronger, smarter than we are individually. That has to be the theme!”
I was convinced. The team, less so.
“Uh, Zoe, I’m not sure, but don’t you think Gestalt sounds like an anti-phlegm syrup?” one quipped. “Something your German grandma might toss down your kid’s throat for croup?”
“Oh, Zoe, brilliant as always, but will the audience know what it means – and it is catchy enough?” a more politically astute (if not sycophant) teammate offered.
Needless to say,we went with something that had a bunch of pebbles and stones near a bubbling brook, the CEO rejected it, and we slinked away never discussing the marketing piece again. Truth is, there really was no gestalt. There was no benefit to an investor and only a marginal benefit to an advisor. The real benefit was to us: we could merge sales teams, streamline marketing, and save bucks selling more stuff.
So I found myself thinking about gestalt the other day when I was having a chit chat with a new friend who is working on his Master’s degree on luxury. Well, not luxury exactly, but what it means to be rich today and how affluence plays out on a global scale.
This is probably sounding a bit disjointed and convoluted so let me try to pull it together. This graduate student was razor sharp smart and he was married to someone so brilliant she is regularly awarded speaking roles and honorary trophies for her work on depression and suicide. He, meanwhile, is working on master’s degree number three.
So, I wondered, how would he put together these three degrees – one on luxury, one on globalization and one on business? What will he accomplish that no doubt draws on each of these pedigrees – and that together results in something way better than any one of them alone.
Then I thought about my blog and how it isn’t really about female corporate travel exclusively. It has become an amalgamation of travel tales, diatribes on academia, and short lessons from real and figurative journeys. And I wonder – is it time to redefine – maybe calling the blog “Point of Departure: Tips and Tales from Real and Imagined Journeys?”
Can there be a better blog that effectively embodies gestalt?
Write and tell me if it’s time to open the blog to more topics or go back to my “real” travel roots.
November 14, 2014
I’m a guy. More pointedly, in light of decreasingly hetero-centric world, I am a male reader of your blog. I vote for gestalt. Travel schmavel.
November 15, 2014
Gary, Thanks for your vote and for your readership. You’re not the only guy reading this blog, i can assure you! But it takes an enlightened and soulful one for sure. I will work on getting transubstantiation into a blog one of these days in honor of you and all you’ve taught me. Stay well, Zoe
November 16, 2014
From one broad to another – broader is better. Time to expand!!