To create a fantastic work culture find moments, however small, for human connection — in person, on the phone, or in an email. Jeff Raz
“Finding moments, however small, for human connection — in person, on the phone, in an email. I call these “micro-connections,” the opposite of micro-aggressions. As a “healthcare clown,” working in a big San Francisco hospital, I would pass many people in the hallways — patients, family members, EMTs, doctors, nurses. My job was to instantly get a sense of what they needed from me in our few seconds of connection – “hello,” a quick hat twizzle, a smile, a mini-performance in the hallway. Usually I had to get all my information from how they were walking and the look on their face. Then I would make an offer without expecting anything in return. Not easy to give without expecting something back. Try walking down the street and saying “hello” to someone without expecting them to reply with “hello.” You might realize that most of what passes for human connection is really an emotional transaction — I’ll trade my “hello” for your “hello.”
As a part of my series about how leaders can create a “fantastic work culture,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Raz, Cirque du Soleil star, actor, playwright, educator, author, arts leader, speaker/trainer and global communications consultant. Jeff has performed nationally and internationally for decades, starring in circuses (Cirque du Soleil, Pickle Family Circus and more) and plays, including Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors” on Broadway. Raz’s first book, “The Secret Life of Clowns: A backstage tour of Cirque du Soleil and the Clown Conservatory,” was launched at the Smithsonian in 2017. His second book, “The Snow Clown: Cartwheels on Borders from Alaska to Nebraska” was published in September 2018. A graduate of Dell’Arte International, Raz has written 15 plays and directed dozens of circus, puppet and theater productions. He founded Vaudeville Nouveau in 1982, the S.F. New Vaudeville Festival in 1985, The New Pickle Family Circus in 1993, The Clown Conservatory in 2000, and The Medical Clown Project in 2010 and led these organizations through key periods of development and growth. In recent years, Jeff has taken his extensive performing and arts management experience to the corporate world, to help leaders and their teams strengthen their communications practices and build more enriching, positive corporate cultures.