We believe in the power of double and public listening. And we would love to listen to you.
— In a pandemic year, one has only one sure thing to do: help others. I’ve found it by creating a listening program for those that needed help in their careers or businesses. I’ve also seen many exciting learnings along the journey, which I will share here, so more people can also help and contribute to a better world. —
I called the listening program Heart& Mind& You, coming from the understanding that the hearts were broken and the minds were lost and, in the end, it was about listening to ourselves.
I invited a close and dear friend — Mau Curi (Comover.se) — very experienced in mentorship and advisory processes, to join forces at HeartMind& You. We both shared the same understanding: we all talk too much and listen too little, and listening, which ends up being listening to ourselves, is a potent tool, which we don’t use enough.
With that in mind, we’ve built a website and offered two types of products: individual private listening sessions and also group sessions. And we went live to explain what we were offering and to spread the word for those in need.
Even before the live, just by sharing the website on our social networks, we had many people in the line for our listening sessions. We were right about the demand for help, although we have to consider that both Mau and I had a favorable past of this practice.
But our first inauguration live was so powerful, so enlightening, and so well received that we decided to do a second one, this time with a crazy idea: do a public listening session with someone that wanted to share his/her doubts, challenges, problems, and fears.
And we did it, and it was empowering, transformational.
Our first live listening session was with a 30ish years old father with a newborn baby of a few months, on April 26th of 2020, a bit more than a month after the beginning of the lockdown in Brazil.
Since this one, 35 weeks later, we have done 16 live listening sessions and more than 20 private ones, practically one per week. We did not run — just because we did not feel like we should — any group session, although we have more than ten people on our “waiting” list. We still have to deal with them!
A few days after this first live listening session, a friend of mine sends me a message: “my wife and I loved your live last Sunday, we enjoyed so much you both talking with us, about us…”.
I reached to Mau, shared my friend’s comments, and we were astonished by it. My friend was in a similar life situation then Vitor, our first invitee to our live listening session. He was also 30ish, the father of a new baby, facing challenges at work and understanding his purpose in life — and that made him have a full identification with the conversation on the live.
“Mau, did you realize the power of what we have created, just by accident?!” was my comment to Mau a few days later. “Yes, Bob, I suspected that, when I suggested it.”
With that unexpected impact, we decided to do more sessions, to find more people open and easy-going enough to expose themselves live and in public. And we found another 15 people that offered their vulnerability with full generosity. So Heart& Mind& You was live every other week. Every program was more interesting than the other. Every participant more generous and open than the other. And us, every time more fulfilled by the experience, the impact on people and ourselves. Heart& Mind& You accomplished its purpose: help people.
And, on the journey, Mau and I received all the positive energy back while we were facing our challenges in pandemic times. It worked for everyone!
But, more than helping 30+ people, one idea started to hit me. What if we could impact many more people, worldwide, in any language, with scale?
What if we could be exponential, not depend on our schedule or network? What if we could teach people to do what we were doing and create a kind of framework? A framework of doing good, an open platform where people could learn, practice, and make their own Heart& Mind& You programs? What if?
That thought hit me strongly.
Yes, we can impact many more people, I thought.
And my attention moved from the “what if” to the “how might I.” And it did not take me long to understand it. Share the learnings and create a network was the first path to follow. Simple.
With that in mind, I started to organize my thoughts, draw charts on my iPad in early mornings, and think about the how’s in my early beach walks — yes, pandemic times made me move to Ilhabela — and structure it all.
So, here I am to share it all with you.
I will discuss later on this text the network aspects and what will happen with Heart& Mind& You. Join me.
My first question: what we did that was so powerful?
Before we go there, naturally, we all know and agree with the power of listening, and as an inspiration, I always revisit a few authors I love.
William Ury, The Power of Listening, is the perfect TEDx for a good break here, a refreshing moment. Make the break and watch (or rewatch it).
So, the first thing I believe we did right was that Mau and I practiced real and profound deep listening in our sessions. We were fully present (although all the sessions were remote — I have written about how empathy happens online — There is Real Empathy Online (here), we paid full attention. We were open to empathize with all guests, independent of the age, story, gender, and the issues they brought to us. We also were nonjudgemental (we tried our best) about the questions and opinions brought to us and, about ideas and thoughts, we also tried our best to leave our ideas and thoughts at home.
Finally, I believe we had the courage to play with the unknown, with the unexpected directions our sessions could take because we understood they were not about ourselves, and we were entirely ok with this. Mau and I are both in our fifties, have done many exciting things in our lives, and are fulfilled by our trajectories, and have no need to focus the sessions on us. Not sure how it can play with less mature and experienced people, though.
Not that this initial part is trivial, it’s not.
We know how difficult it is for people to practice listening — we are so used to talking, interrupting, objecting, answering, trying to come up with a smart way to continue the conversation instead of truly listening. And even more challenging to practice deep listening — when we need to abstract ourselves — but until this point, we did not do anything new, different. We just did it right.
So, I was digging more and more into the so powerful impacts we had and observed two essential aspects of our sessions, kind of particular ones: 1 — they were all made in double, with two listeners (Mau and I), and 2 — they were open and live, consequently, open to the public (on the internet). Important to say that those conversations were mainly about people’s professional issues.
Starting with the listening sessions being in double, from the perspective of who listened (Mau and I in this case), a few aspects came to my conclusions: it decreased our individualism, our points of view, our paradigms, and our world vision. It also gave us time to listen to think, reflect, and, eventually, not to say anything. It also allowed us to observe a different perspective from ours to what was presented to us and complement or change what we would say. It also gave a more holistic listening approach, a more neutral and impersonal one. It would be fair to think that the more different the pair of listeners, the higher the possibility of a neutral session.
Double listening is exponentially more potent than individual listening.
On public listening, also a few crucial aspects related to who talks came to my thoughts. Although it’s common sense that a conversation’s privacy makes it more profound, we observed that a public session makes us more conscious of what we share. It makes us drop some over personal BS and ego trips. It makes us more open to self-criticism and also less auto referential and less self drama focused. When someone accepted our invitation to expose himself or herself, we observed a pre-thinking process and pre-organization of what he/she would bring — which was beautiful — that created a vital self-care of what was relevant to bring.
To listen to yourself publicly can be as strong as to do it protected by privacy.
Thinking about our sessions, those two aspects — Double & Public — made it also a more profound experience for those that were watching it, either live, with the opportunity to comment and contribute, or on-demand later. One of our invitees watched a few sessions before and made outstanding contributions to them — an experience that was a bit less of a particular-over-specific-to-one-person session. My friend’s comments that I mention above about us talking for him, about him, probably came from these factors.
By then, Mau made a critical remark: “the power of storytelling is very key in this whole process, Bob, don’t forget it.”
Yes, in fact. When we are invited to tell our own story, we organize it; we prioritize it, we select a narrative.
And then, when we listen to our own story, in a way, we revisit it.
And by reviewing it, we end up redesigning it and, as a consequence, we change it!
Yes, it can look odd, but when we have a new view, a new understanding — profound and real — of something of our past, by reinterpreting it, we change it.
And, naturally, when we change our past knowledge, we change our understanding of ourselves, and, ultimately, we change our future.
Storytelling our own story is a simple and very powerful tool for self-knowledge. Listen to our story is an enhancer. Listen to it in public is a multiplier.
Before we jump to the next step here, there is another interesting TED Talk, worth watching.
Double and public listening to people’s stories has been such an incredible tool for us in those more than 15 conversations that we asked ourselves: is there more to it that we are not seeing, is there a secret sauce, so secret that we can’t get it? I don’t think so.
In a conversation with Mau, he said: “the moment of the world is also working in our favor, Bob.” And he explained it “we are living a transition moment, not only because of Covid but also as the closing of a cycle.”
Yes, he is right.
Either from a spiritual and holistic point of view or a vert pragmatic down to earth one, we live in a time of change. We live in a time of change in professions. We live in a time of change of paradigms. We live in a time of change of models.
We live at the end of the industrial revolution era, entering a new era of information.
We are, as a civilization, in a profound and accelerated change moment. It may take years, maybe decades, but it’s hard not to see it happening.
And this moment we are was a considerable facilitator to the impact of the conversations we’ve organized, for sure.
Satish Kumar, the Schumacher School founder, provides us a good reflection about this in the TED Talk. Another worth break here.
It all makes a lot of sense, right?
Our sessions were so intense, so life-changing, so real, and so profound. And the reactions so powerful, not only from the invitees but also from the audience. And even from us.
It’s very counter-intuitive, I think. One could believe that a one-to-one, live, private listening session would be the only powerful format. I would probably agree with this before we started Heart& Mind& You.
Not that we had the vision or the wisdom of what we were about to create and discover. We did not. We just did it following our sentiments, without overthinking it, and also accepting the “invitations” of the pandemic moment, just aiming to help people.
It ended up being transformative. The one-to-one, live, private listening session is also great, don’t get me wrong, we are not questioning it, but discussing an alternate format, robust, scalable, and impactful.
That all said, I believe the real power exists when we share our learnings and amplify it so everyone can use it and, maybe, eventually create his/her practices of Double & Public Listening to help more people. So, here it is — all open, all shared, free to anyone to make fair use of it.
But, what if people want more support to create their practice? First, I would be happy to talk, discuss, support anyone that wants to build an initiative on Double & Public Listening to help others. Just reach me.
But I also thought that Heart& Mind You could scale itself, becoming a network of listeners worldwide and, therefore, much more impactful and transformative and, for that to become a reality, it would have to evolve and grow. From an initiative of two friends to a global, digital platform that supports everyone that wants to implement the Double & Public Listening method, openly and freely?
What to do?
A business? No. It is not about profits, P&Ls, and Business Plans.
For me, it’s about scaling the contribution to a better world, to a place where people listen more to each other and, consequently, empathize more. A more human sentiment can spread out powerfully. And make a change.
What about a movement? That might be better than just spread the learnings around. But still, it can be seen as a fluffy thing, nice to talk about but not so strong because of the lack of a “walk the talk”.
It must be something that people embrace, transform into their life project, and lead it forward.
What if we build something without owners, bosses, founders, and hierarchy? It could be a platform, a compound of tools that can enable anyone that wants to use the learning to create his/her practice, cause, institution, movement, or what makes sense?
What if we create a digital platform that supports the growth of this concept? An NGO? Not a formal one, not to get stuck into the bureaucracy of a not-for-profit business.
An adhocratic digital platform, just sparked by us but embraced by people around the world that share the vision, the objective of doing something, and believes in the power of listening?
What if we have chapters around the world, lead by people that want to run the Double & Public Listening method in their communities, towns, schools, businesses?
Is it a too ambitious concept? Am I dreaming it awaken? Am I crazy? Maybe, but as Steve Jobs used to advertise, “the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward…”. I am not saying I am a genius or this concept is genius. I am just saying I believe that are lots of crazy people out there to do something to help civilization.
It can start small but I feel bold ambitions. It can organize and structure all the learnings, the methods, a think tank, forums, education/training programs, around a global community on Double & Public Listening?
What if we call it The Listening Org?
Want to be part of it? Want to co-create it? Want to be another crazy one that wants to change the world? Or, do you think of a different approach, ideas, concepts?
The pandemic year gave me lots of concerns — who is not concerned about life, our future, and the future of human civilization? — but also gave me a vital necessity to contribute to the world, and Heart& Mind& You is playing a beautiful role in it.
What if we gather a larger crowd to make it much more impactful and relevant? Do you feel like doing it also?