“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back.”
It was this Plato quote that Jonathan MacDonald, co-founder of This Fluid World and strategist for some of the world’s largest brands, chose to kick-start his keynote with at TNW Conference Europe last month.
MacDonald delivered an impassioned talk that focused on the human element in 21st century digital business, and how the modern world has changed how people behave. Or, at least, how they should behave.
“In the business world, we were able to put things out into the public and hope that they resonated, but internally we may not necessarily have believed them,” he says. “What we did outside was a dirty little secret, and on the inside we were thinking something totally different. If we didn’t talk about it too loud, we could get away with for a long time. Now, it’s really hard to do so, because all of a sudden, if a Chief Executive of a company says, ‘you know, it’s all about renewable fuel so we’re gonna make sustainable energy cars’, then drives away in a gas-guzzling Bentley, people find out about that.”
Similarly, if you’re a celebrity who publicly backs an anti-drugs charity while simultaneously living a life of hedonism in ‘private’, there’s every chance this will be revealed.
In other words, how we behave should reflect how we feel on the inside. From a business perspective, this is imperative for having an engaged workforce. “It’s about denoising down to what really matters to you,” he says. “And finding people that share that belief, and producing what that belief manifests itself like externally.”
Ultimately, MacDonald argues, this will lead to a better-engaged workforce. “74% of employees across the top 500 companies were actively disengaged…didn’t want to be there,” said MacDonald, citing a recent study. “In real terms, that’s $350Bn lost within the US economy simply down to people not caring.”
You can watch MacDonald’s keynote in full in the video below.