At my all-staff retreat earlier this week, we did an exercise designed to help people share “what makes you be you”. In advance, participants were asked to secretly bring two items that represented things that were important to them, but weren’t totally obvious to others that they were theirs. The items had to fit into a regular brown lunch bag. (Example: don’t include a picture of your dog; do include a dog biscuit to represent your dog.)
Bags were collected in advance and then anonymously distributed as people came into the retreat. We went one-by-one with someone opening a bag, trying to guess who brought the items and then hearing from the actual owner as to why the items were chosen.
It isn’t as easy as it sounds to narrow it down to two things to put into the bag. But rest assured that all the items generated rich stories and fostered connections — among people that had never met and among those who had known each other for years.
On the surface, everyone looks alike. To potential customers, to new employees or to strangers at a cocktail party, everyone looks like the same brown paper bag. Your job is to not only describe the items that are in the bag to distinguish yourself/your organization from the others, but also to articulate the stories and meaning behind “what makes you be you.”
Think about what you would include in your bag for yourself or for a group you represent. What two things are different than what is in your peer’s or competitor’s bag? How do you share the story about them? Don’t be content being a generic member of the masses — appearing the same as everyone else. Open your bag and articulate what is inside.
— beth triplett