I say it all the time: communication is a dying art. Communication is becoming more and more watered-down because human interaction is becoming so limited. As generations progress, we, the human creature, develop a greater need for space. It’s no wonder that people are more bulletproof, ideaproof, and recluse than ever before! We’ve become desensitized to just about everything, mostly because of the fears we’ve been instilled with by the mass media and the fact that, those we were raised around, never really learned the power of warm connections.
Along comes the Free Hugs Campaign to chop away at those barriers that many of us have erected. I firmly believe that we could all use a hug in this day and age. Some cultures are strict about physical contact and, in some places, government forbid many types of public displays of affection – it’s really a shame! Naturally, one must know their limits when matters of touch are concerned. Just like any marketing or communication in general, it is important to obtain the permission first. Once that door is open, let the warmth pour in!
We may not all have the tenacity and energy to go out there and hug random strangers, especially if you live in a generally-rude city, but why not give someone a hug today? Heck, even the walls need hugs…
I already know that some of us jaded, cynical folks may be thinking that this is just another viral marketing “scam” or some sappy, hippie publicity stunt. Believe me, it is not. I think there are many sourpusses in the world that could use a big hug right now; heck, we can all use a free hug! Just check out the Juan Mann Free Hugs video, the one that started it all, and tell me that your heart is not tugged on. I know I put a big smile and even got a little misty-eyed because it’s good to see that, even as the world becomes a bit numb, there are still people that see the power in warm connections.
On Juan Mann’s official free hugs site you may notice that there are some items for sale. The interesting phenomenom that takes place when someone attaches a monetized component to a good cause is that people begin to acknowledge the movement as a “sell out” and they lose all of their belief factor. Sadly, I think people do not understand that, when someone dedicates themselves to a greater cause, bills still need to be paid so why not get behind something that is truly worthwhile? I believe that someone’s passion should always bolster the belief of themselves and others around them. It is that passion that becomes a viral message in itself and helps AMPLIFY any message thereof.
The Free Hugs Campaign is awesome on many levels. It is a beautiful cause that can very well make a difference in the lives of many. Right now, there is someone that YOU know looking for a hug or some sort of attention, some affection without any conditions or pressure. I had a good buddy of mine, Luke, commit suicide recently so, when I saw just how many people got behind this Free Hugs movement, including my newest buddy, Ange, I couldn’t help but get a bit sentimental. No one ever sees suicide coming but, if you ask me, we all have a breaking point and, without the warmth of real human interaction, that breaking point can be reached quite easily, resulting in suicide and other tragedies.
This is one of those rare cases where viral and buzz marketing are amplifying a message that everyone needs to hear. The buzz surrounding this campaign is very much justified. Usually, I try to avoid bandwagon trends but I had to share my thoughts on this, especially for those that may not be receiving this idea with an open mind. I don’t believe in idolizing people per se but I definitely admire Juan Mann for what he has started here. I know that, for me, being able to help people through my articles, books, blogs, podcasts, and other creative works makes it all worthwhile, no matter how tough it gets. I know there are many people out there that are trying to share their powerful messages and perhaps it is getting tough because the financial needs come into play, causing the rules of interaction to shift.
For marketers and business people all around the world, the lesson here is simple: if you want to be noticed, try being human. What makes us human is the capacity to love the way no other creature on our planet loves, to act of free will, and to share expressions that are unique to our species. Why is it that, with so many ways to express ourselves, we limit human communication to the superficial, cliche methods? Juan Mann’s campaign tells everyone to break out of their shell and just go for it because, no matter how many people will reject, there will be those that will welcome you, literally, with open arms!
If you’re into personal development I’d say that watching the Juan Mann Free Hugs video regularly will help you hone in on the one thing we could probably all stand to become better at: showing warmth to those we interact with every day. I tell you, a simple pat on the back or a hand on the shoulder goes a long way, just like a warm, genuine smile coupled with a firm, enthusiastic hand shake can literally turn someone’s life around 180 degrees. Just look at the classic story of a marketer and sales person gone from rags to riches: Mary Kay. Here is a woman that could not afford the food at her company’s business convention yet she made the effort to mingle and really connect with people. When she shaked her company president’s hand and said “next year, I will be your #1 salesperson”, he didn’t shrug her off and laugh to himself like many would have; instead, he empowered her by returning the eye contact, the firm handshake, the smile, the warmth of her communication.
The president of Mary Kay’s company at the time gave her the power she needed to go on. His belief sparked her passion, which is why belief and passion are a powerful kinetic force when combined. Belief and passion harness the energy of warm connections and unleash it as compelling balls of inspiration and productivity! We spend so much time seeking fulfillment and true happiness yet it is as simple as following your heart and doing what makes you truly passionate, while touching those around you and helping them do the same.
Few things are as viral as the warmth of a passionate person. This is why the personal development industry has become bigger than ever. In the mid-80s, we only saw about 300 books in the “self-help” industry published, at least insofar as the business context is concernd but, only years later, that amount multiplied five to seven times over. Today, there are tons of workshops, seminars, books, blogs, and other great resources that all say the same thing in the end: be real, be warm, and just go out there doing the little things that really connect you with others!
Juan Mann may not have intended to start a huge trend but he did, simply by being passionate and authentic in all his marketing methods. Viral messages are powerful because they become their own amplifier. Here is a simple message: free hug. You get a free hug, you love it, you pass it along to others that will do the same. Pure brilliance.
I tell you: after many business events, especially the huge national conventions that all sales and marketing teams seem to have, I’ve learned to pick out the real winners just by how they shake hands and hug. The greater the warmth and the more natural (less forced, staged, or insincere) it is, the greater the impact and longevity of the connection is. I can remember all my best hugs but hand shakes, speeches, and even some kisses are long forgotten. The reason for this is that actions that are “self-contained” carry greater authenticity. Many human actions lead to other things, are bundled with other actions, or are just done as part of a hidden agenda, ulterior motives being the driving force and not the action itself.
Juan Mann came back to his homeland after having his life go into shambles. Something inside him clicked and made him think “I can use a hug and I am sure there are others that can as well – I must find them!” This is at the heart of truly-effective marketing: you identify an existing group, rather than loosely-define or try to create one, and you go out there and try to connect!
Business lessons aside, this is an inspiring day in human history. As we all know, tomorrow, September 11th is the day we remember our fallen heroes, friends, and family. I believe that, instead of wallowing in sorrow, we should appreciate those with us right now and make the best out of this lifetime, starting this very moment. Whatever troubles you, forget it for a moment. We all have problems and they will always be there – that’s what keeps life interesting – but warmth is something we cannot go on without. It’s built into our genetic code and spirits. Showing someone you care about them, even with something as simple as a hug, is a way of validating them and saying “You matter in the world.” Sometimes, that is what we all need to realize our full potential.
I hope that, after checking out the many blogs and videos revolving around Free Hugs Day, you may participate today or at least remember to share a little warmth every now and then. You never know who’s life you may save (it may be your own). Hugging can save businesses, families, dates, and so much, as far-fetched as that may seem to some. It was the hugging initiative that gave Juan Mann new hope when he had no one or nothing else to turn to. Imagine returning home, only to be a stranger lost in the masses. He persevered and is now happier than ever. We may not all be able to turn our need and love for affection into a business but that doesn’t make it any less important. I, for one, am of the belief that, if you make friends wherever you go, your life will always be significant and success will come naturally to you. As popular Anime character Naruto would say at this point… Believe it, dattebayo!
BTW, Ange, thanks for sharing your wonderful blog with me. I feel blessed to have met you! You’re awesome! You guys should check out her blog, Buzzing With Ange, for her assorted flavors of deep thoughts, business advice, inner beauty, and warmth. It’s a great blog, folks! You can also find us both on StumbleUpon so be sure to join in on the fun!
Free Huggers Around The World:
- Tatiana – Everyone Could Use A FREE Hug!
- Ange – Free Hugging In Melbourne, Australia
- Me (Yogizilla) – Free Hugs & Miscellaneous Warm Communications
Hug Me In Cyberspace:
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