Sitting in the Front Row

A few years ago when I was working for IBM we conducted our annual Retail Sales meeting in a former Broadway Theater in NYC that had been converted to be used for conferences and events.  For sure it was a peculiar setting given that the theater was unchanged in its design and layout.  What this translated too was the attendees sat in the orchestra section and the presenters where on the stage giving their presentations.  And while you might consider being on stage as your big Broadway debut it really was not that.  Talking about technology just has a way of ruining the bit Broadway moment.  But rather than blabber on about my Broadway opening, I think it interesting to share the most striking observation I made while there… No, it was not that we used the refreshment stand for coffee and Danish, and no it was not the lack of need of microphones for the presenters (the acoustics were awesome) – what really struck me was the choice that the attendees made in their seat selection.  Now for those of you who have bought Broadway tickets know, front row seats command a premium price in comparison to the seats way in the back (or the middle back for that matter).  Further, it is actually rare that you can even get front row orchestra seats even if you want to pay the premium.  And so there we are, in a true Broadway theater, and there is not one single attendee sitting in the front row.  As a matter of fact the closest anyone got was the sixth row (not sure why it started there).  Front row seats, no premium price, and content that arguably was more important to the attendees life than any Broadway play could be and yet, there is not a person who chooses to sit in front. 

Thinking, pondering, and wondering about this phenomena led me to realize that this was not an aberration, rather a most common form of passive disengagement.  A true affront to THPL.  To live THPL, you have to be front and center.  You have to be up close so that you feel what is going on. You have to be seen and heard.  Engagement is essential.  There is no passive version of THPL.   Interestingly even with prodding, joking, and pleading, no one would move up front.  I of course, after my presentation sat in the front row and enjoyed the opportunity to get that seat that I always wanted  - the one closest to the action, yes indeed. 

And from that moment on I realized that most everyone you meet chooses to stay back in life, they do not get on the field.  They do not engage even when there is no price to pay.  They hide in the relative obscurity of the crowd – they do so because they feel risk, have a lack of interest, or just want to disengage.  It is true that you could expend energy working them into THPL, and I do this from time to time.  But my simple recommendation is that you grab the front seats before they realize that is where the action is.  Take and seize your opportunity and make the most of it.  THPL wants you to dream of being in the front row, wants you to plan what to do when you get there, has you practicing by asking questions and leaves you ready to be on stage when your name is called.  Being up close is the only place to be and the only way to live THPL. 

Sally, oh Sally what do you do to me..3:26 + 25 seconds, +214 on the 4:17 song.

Loving life from the front row……