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Are You Building A Wall?

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October 30, 2019

If you haven’t been to a WALLCAST at New World Symphony, then you’re missing out on one of Miami’s best kept secrets. 

Recently, the institution celebrated it 100th WALLCAST concert, which marked  eight years of NWS presenting world’s leading classical artists, musical works, films, and cultural content for free to South Florida community via cutting-edge sound and video technology.  By redefining the classical music experience through turning the inside out, NWS has attracted over 155,000 attendees.  These participants are generally new to classical music, with 75% never attending a live, ticketed concert and 70% under the age of 65.

So this week, we’re considering the lessons learned from the NWS experiment in building a wall .  We’re asking ourselves: how might we challenge our thinking about bringing new audiences together? How might we redesign tradition experiences for all?

Start With Why

Begin with purpose.  For Priya Parker, author of the Art of Gathering, “the way we gather matters.”  Articulating a clear why and what you desire to accomplish allows a gathering to move from basic or boring to “specific, unique and disputable.” Parker advocates, “the purpose of your gathering is more than an inspiring concept. It is a tool, a filter that helps you determine all the details, grand and trivial.”  In this sense, the purpose is your barometer for decision-making.  It is indeed a wall, though one that appropriately and discriminantly excludes the elements or ideas that are wrong for the particular gathering. 

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

Similarity bias is defined as the tendency to categorize people as being similar to oneself.  Implicit bias in many forms is cited as a culprit behind the disparities we see in VC funding– from location, to familiarity, to ease of access, to other notable lines of distinction.  The reality is, all people are inherently biased and our unconscious or cognitive biases affect our decisions and perceptions.  

According to research on the venture investing space,  investment decision-making is affected by biases related to education and work experience. In this sense, entrepreneurs that have attended the same school, worked at the same company or have shared or parallel experiences as the investor,  benefit from similarity bias.

It’s quite natural to gravitate towards or feel more comfortable around people whoa re similar.  Consider the bold statement: your comfort zone will kill you.  Well, not in the litteral sense, but it will influence who, what, and how you interact with those you are not alike.  To confront the bias of similarity, dare to be different.

Redirect Your Relevance

It’s not all bad news, however.  The power of shared experience can work in your favor — in gatherings and in decision making. 

Relaxing into our biases results from intellectual indolence. It takes effort to find common ground, inquire of other’s background or empathize with their lived experience. 

Yet, the outcome is well worth the effort.  We need not recount the data on the value– both economic and moral — of diversity and inclusion.  The walls we build are rarely physical and thus are much easier to take down.

Cheers,

Leigh-Ann / Venture Cafe Miami

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