Feb. 10, 2019

Art of Gathering by Priya Parker: Bringing meaning back to meetings


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About the Author

Priya Parker is the founder of Thrive Labs, at which she helps activists, elected officials, corporate executives, educators, and philanthropists create transformative gatherings. She works with teams and leaders across technology, business, the arts, fashion, and politics to clarify their vision for the future and build meaningful, purpose-driven communities.

Her clients have included the Museum of Modern Art, LVMH, the World Economic Forum, meetup.com, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, the Union for Concerned Scientists, and Civitas Public Affairs.  Trained in the field of conflict resolution, Parker has worked on race relations on American college campuses and on peace processes in the Arab world, southern Africa, and India.

She is a founding member of the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network. She has been appointed a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Values Council and the New Models of Leadership Council. She is also a senior expert at Mobius Executive Leadership.

(Source: https://www.priyaparker.com/bio-1/ )

 

About the Book

The Art of Gathering is about bringing meaning back to when we meet. So often when we bring people together it lacks purpose and interest; regardless of whether it’s Sunday brunch with friends or a weekly team meeting.

This book was the one that had the biggest impact on me in 2018, it hit me hard and I think about it and its messages regularly. It made me excited about engaging in more challenging (read: controversial) topics at dinner, bringing people together in all formats and applying the lessons to my friends, family, colleagues and clients.

 

BIG IDEA 1 (2:18) - Purpose first. You must know why you are bringing people together. Knowing the purpose determines the who, what, when and where of the gathering.  A great example in the book is a baby shower. Generally this involves women coming together exchanging gifts and playing games to welcome and celebrate a new baby.  This tradition perpetuates the outdated notion that childcare/child rearing is the domain of women.

 

By coming back to why you are holding a baby shower (to welcome a new life / mark the passing of the parent(s) into the next phase of their life / show comradery / share advice from different parenting perspectives and generations) you would consider a wider, more diverse invitation list (men of different generations, those with and without children who can bring different perspectives and offer different support).  It would also shape more meaningful activities and conversations that better align to the purpose and a more meaningful gathering.



BIG IDEA 2 (5:47) - Rules can rule. Rules can help you create a temporary alternative world. Rules in advance or during an event can help it come together; it helps people get back to the purpose and connect through meaningful conversations. One example could be - no technology.

The idea of temporary world is that you can stop doing what you usually do and have an idea of environment that you can create and connection with people you are with.

 

BIG IDEA 3 (7:55) - Have meaningful conversations. One of the examples that Priya shares is the concept of 15 toasts. She set a dinner with some important people and they all toasted to a particular question. One of the questions you may set is - how would you define a great career or how would you define a life well lived? Each person has to share their idea of it and then toasts to it. It allows people to connect as humans rather than just job titles.

Another idea about creating meaningful conversations is the idea of logistics and downplaying them. Whatever event you’re in logistics is an important part of it but don’t squander the opportunity for a powerful opening and closing statement that doesn’t involve car parking!

 

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