This Thursday night I went to see Matisyahu at the Congress Theatre. It was the best concert I’ve been to. He was brilliant. He had a profound way of flowing musically and physically that made everyone in the room flow with him. This was particularly beautiful to experience because the crowd was the absolute most diverse group of people I have ever seen.
Whether they relate to his background, style, voice or values, people of all walks of life like this young artist. A Hasidic Jew who is not only musically talented, Matisyahu is hot, young, a father, a family man, religious, real, deep, cross-genre, and to boot, has a positive message. This unexpected combination allows an enormous spectrum of people to connect to him. Case in point, any variation or combination of any demographic that you can think of – age, race, ethnicity, style, class and color – was represented in the crowd that night. It was refreshing. It was inspiring. It was real.
Classic ideas about diversity will soon be irrelevant. As immigration, shared economies and technology tear down physical borders, major cities the world over are becoming increasingly diverse. This has begun to spawn a new generation of children who are so intermixed that the traditional ideas of diversity (i.e. black, Chinese, Latino) lack meaning. Take my new son, for instance. He is Serbian-Herzigovian-Cuban-Dominican-American. What kind of ad do you think he will connect to?
The lesson to businesses and organizations? If you want to connect to today’s audience in a credible way, you must forego the shortsighted act of nurturing cultural differences in favor of developing a message or value that all people can connect to. (i.e. We ALL want to be loved, have peace, be better, etc.).
At the concert I had a vision of the future. Our tomorrow will not be defined by our differences but instead by our common ground. Like Matisyahu the people, companies, organizations and leaders that define our future will not herald diversity as a cultural imperative – they’ll be a living representation of it. You will recognize them in that they will call us to a higher state of existence – one that can only be experienced when we look beyond diversity and accept a grander view of the world.