“It sounds too pink.”
I had no clue what she was talking about. And it seemed completely out of context for what I was trying to communicate. What did the color pink have to do with my commitment to empower the youth of the world? Or my observation that Eastern Europe’s youth were so talented that if you paired them with a spark of entrepreneurial spirit, they could change the world?
It was not only this comment that made the whole scene surreal, it was the whole experience.
I was sitting in an office that couldn’t have been staged better by Hollywood for the making of a movie set in 1970 communist Yugoslavia, drinking what tasted like a powered cappuccino and having a conversation with the equivalent of the mayor, Robert, and his wife, Isabella. She had her two small children at home (where I was) to translate our conversation into English.
Will and I were hanging out in Stara Moravica, a small village in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, Serbia; a charming village where the past collides with the present and your chances of seeing a horse-drawn carriage are as likely as seeing a car. We were staying in a farmhouse. Andrea, who was managing the house for the British owner at that point, had connected me with the Robert when I expressed how great I thought the youth were and how this would be such an amazing place to open an office.
(What we were doing in rural Serbia is a whole other story.)
So there I sat with Robert, Isabella, their children, and a portrait of a dignified man who was obviously very significant to the history of the village. As I talked about how great I thought of the village and how I felt there was a real opportunity here, they were both kind of… blank. They said it would be good if the village had something that would attract tourists; something like a spa or thermal waters…
It was clear that we were looking at the village with different glasses on.
As you may know by now, my glasses tend to lean toward rose-colored, where everything is possible. For me, the most appealing thing about the village is the opportunity to step off the hamster wheel and get back to a simpler world – a world where watching a workman deliver wood in a cart pulled by horses is as exciting as the latest episode of my favorite reality show; the kind of place where you can buy freshly baked bread from your next-door neighbor, and eggs from your neighbor on the other side. This is the magic. This is what people are hungry for – a way to get back to our roots; to be a part of the earth and see it through the eyes of people who are never disconnected from the land.
Robert and Isabella didn’t see it this way and they weren’t buying into what I was trying to sell. They also didn’t understand why I would want to empower the youth. Just wanting to make a difference didn’t translate.
But, to be honest, this often doesn’t communicate in the U.S. either. We sent out an invitation recently to our PitchRate community for a free call where Michelle and I would answer any PR-related questions they had. I was surprised when we got a response from someone wanting to know, basically, what was the catch?
Isabella, at least, was straightforward about her skepticism. “It sounds too pink,” she said.
Me: “Too pink?”
“You know, too communistic,” she said.
Then it all made sense.
I know that when you’re committed to making a difference in the world, you might encounter some skepticism along the way. Others may not see the charming village; they see life the way it is and probably the way it’s always going to be.
It’s up to you. Are going to buy into their view? Or are you going to keep sharing your “pink” views until they see the world through your rose-colored glasses?