Earlier this summer I co-hosted DreamChange, Inc.’s inaugural Love Summit – an unconventional business conference created to show how using love in the workplace can improve operations, increase sales, and ultimately help solve the underlying cause of the wide range of problems we face in the world today.
The Love Summit debuted at Wieden+Kennedy headquarters; the largest independently owned advertising agency in the world. They’re the guys that came up with Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign, and the creative work for many other world-changing brands such as Dodge, Chrysler, Verizon, Procter & Gamble, and Coca Cola.
It was a big deal for a small nonprofit like DreamChange to have the support of Dan Wieden, co-founder of Wieden+Kennedy. Despite Dan’s initial reservations about calling a business conference “The Love Summit”, he courageously hopped on board with his friend John Perkins, NY Times bestselling author and founder of DreamChange.
Dan’s reservations first surfaced when I met him in his office one morning to discuss plans for the event. He was worried that using the word “love” in the title of a business conference wouldn’t get us the audience we desired. Dan knew I wasn’t interested in preaching to the choir; I wanted to reach top business executives. But would those executives, who were primarily men, laugh off the idea of a Love Summit business conference? Women might be more open, but only 14.6% of executive officers are females.
It quickly became apparent that I had taken on a huge, daunting task. The doubtful look in Dan’s eyes told me that he wondered whether it was actually possible for love and business to go together. I was determined to help him see why this wasn’t only possible, but critical to the future of business and humanity.
From that point forward, every time I would meet Dan I would bring along a portfolio of research to help him understand my case. I could see that I was slowly beginning to sway his opinion, thanks to provocative articles by trendy magazines such Forbes, which posed questions like: “Is Love the Next Buzz Word in Business?”, and studies featured in places like Harvard Business Review, which found that “Employees Who Feel Love Perform Better”.
I recognized that The Love Summit was not business as usual or business as most of us knew it, and was fully prepared to use concrete reasoning to neutralize the preconceived notions that come with using the word “love” in business. In fact, it was rewarding to find the hard-evidence and objective reasoning (that especially men craved) to back up my case. This helped a lot of people, who initially resisted the concept of love in business, to begin to understand why The Love Summit was so important.
But at the end of the day, it wasn’t my portfolio of research that changed Dan’s mind; it was a personal experience he had with his own employees. In the weeks leading up to The Love Summit, Dan began to prepare for his talk and decided to interview some of his staff. The interview question he chose to ask was whether his employees felt love played a role in the workplace at Wieden+Kennedy. Their unvarnished answers were then turned into a (hilarious), mind-bending short video, which Dan presented during his Love Summit speech.
To Dan’s surprise, each one of his employees answered that love was not just a prominent force at Wieden+Kennedy, but that it was what made their work so enjoyable. Despite the fact that Dan already prided himself on the fact that Wieden+Kennedy was totally unique to other advertising agencies, he never realized that what set it apart from the others and made them so successful was love.
You can watch Dan Wieden’s talk here (if you only have a few minutes, fast forward to 16:38 for the video of his employees). And be sure to check out the 7-minute Love Summit highlight video for some serious inspiration. As you’ll see, some incredibly influential men, from Dan Wieden to Dan Price to the Mayor of Portland, have already begun to embrace love in business. Won’t you hop on board?
*DreamChange is scouting corporate venues in Europe and the United States as plans are being developed for Love Summit business conferences in 2016. If you would like to join the DreamChange millennial fundraising team and/or the movement of individual and corporate sponsors who help make The Love Summit a reality, please contact Samantha@dreamchange.org.