Einstein, Experience Matters

The Value of Experience
by Lisa Holland

Experience is the most valuable and least tangible asset we have. As Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience.” Experience is comprised of the hundreds and thousands of hours spent focused on carrying out both the work of our career and our day-to-day life. Successes and missteps both equally share the credit for providing instruction in this ongoing adult education class.

I was recently reminded of this lesson when a client brought us on to reinvent one of their most important annual communication activities: a global company-wide meeting. This year, the client decided it would be held outside the U.S. for the first time. We relished the challenge and came up with a compelling theme that would work across multiple cultures. We constructed a creative approach for execution that could be replicated in their multiple locations, and began working on a plan for production. “Thank you very much,” the client said. “The theme is great, the approach for execution is excellent, but no need to call in your technical directors, project managers, and crew. We’d like to leverage your experience; it’s why we hired you and what makes you so valuable. Experience is what I want to provide to my team, and you’re here to guide them when they need it. Tell us what we don’t know, but we’ll take it from here.”

At that moment, I recognized not just a good client or a good manager, but a great leader. It would have been easier and safer to pay us to take care of all those production details. They chose instead to take the more difficult path of providing the team with an opportunity to stretch, shine, and potentially stumble. However, they also created a chance for their team to gain that most valuable asset – experience.

And so we shared our experience but stood back, offering direction and assistance as needed. That team was great; they rose to the occasion, performed beautifully, and the event surpassed expectations. ROI metrics were met, audience survey results were glowing, and the entire team was elevated by their success. Most importantly, we all learned an important lesson about the value of experience.