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In the past couple of months, I’ve had the honour of participating in, attending and Chairing some phenomenal conferences in Montreal and in Toronto. In each – and throughout all 3 – there is a clear (and loud) resounding theme. It is time for businesses to recognize the value of trust. Not only do businesses need to find ways to trust, and to generate trust from, their employees; but they must also do the same with their consumers. They need to connect with the people across all aspects of their business.

During #140Conf Montreal, where the theme was “The State of Now” – which is the theme for all #140 Conferences across North America this year – speaker after speaker presented their views, their stories, their cases demonstrating the value of a social philosophy. Some discussed tools, setting objectives and what to measure; some shared their views on what’s to come; and others shared some very personal stories on how the world of social media helped them achieve. All the stories had a thread: people. (All presentations available for your viewing pleasure if you click here.)

While attending The Art of Leadership, some of the most incredible business authors shared their perspective on the social space, the globe, and how leadership must transform itself in this bold new world. Each of the speakers, in their own way, reminded us that people are different. That methods and approaches that work for one group may not work for all, and that without the desire and ability to customize our approach with people, we fail to optimize all the strengths available to us. According to the cast of Toronto’s Art of Leadership, it is through the recognition of differences in people, and through fostering environments that allow for individuals to bring out their best, that any single business can really stand out from the rest and beat the competition. It’s a whole new way to view the USP: unique selling proposition, which used to only be reserved for product or service innovation. We’re now starting to talk about – and must embrace – people innovation. (For more about the speakers, feel free to visit their personal pages: Marcus Buckingham, Vijay Govindarajan, Chester Elton, Susan Cain, Stephen Shapiro, and Leonard Brody).

And, as a wrap up from my conferences, we just wrapped up another successful Canadian Marketing Association Social Media Conference on June 13th. How lucky were we to have a number of fantastic speakers sharing stats (Canadian ones, which are as rare as blue lobsters), case studies (from Rogers Communications, Microsoft Xbox and Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment), and amazing inspirational information on how to make business better. Again, the resonating commonality: create communities, ensure you are trust-able, and in the end: it’s always about the people.

Here’s the thing – it’s always been about the people! Nothing changed – we just forgot. Some of us still forget. But there’s a really way to remember: just look around. Businesses do not operate on automation. And, even the ones you think that do actually had someone somewhere program something. Skynet has not taken over the world yet! :-)

As business people, brand owners, marketers, managers and leaders – we must recognize the human beings in our businesses. We need to build trust, to trust them as we ask them to trust us. We need to engage, encourage, support, the individuals and their communities.

Are you building bridges to the people who run and operate your business?

The true marketing revolution will elevate the role of the business from making money to satisfying consumer needs and desires to making genuine contributions in their communities (local, national and global).