Saturday, February 15, 2014

When Less Is More

A few years ago, Tony Kaye was invited to San Francisco to be the keynote speaker at a conference for the advertising community.

The topic:  What is the secret to a good-working relationship between an ad agency and a production company?

Although his work was brilliant, Mr Kaye had a reputation as being a difficult director to work with.  So his insights as to the how to create a good-working relationship were being greeted with both enthusiasm and skepticism.

Mr Kaye was flown over first class.  A suite at the best hotel in San Francisco was reserved for him.  The auditorium was packed on the day of his presentation.

When he walked out, the crowd hushed.  Reverence could be felt.

Standing at the podium, he adjusted the microphone, leaned forward and spoke.

“Trust."

With that, Mr Kaye turned around, exited the stage, flagged down his limo and flew back home. 

First class.

But what happened in the audience, besides thinking the whole spectacle was incredulous, was conversation.

That one word created a flow of others, as we debated among ourselves whether ‘trust’ is indeed the secret or not.

Obviously, it is.

Would the conversation have been so heated if, while coming to the same conclusion, Mr Kaye had spent an hour explaining it?

Doubtful.

Did the organizers feel slighted?  First class travel and accommodations for a one-word speech.

Probably.

But they had no reason to.  For, in many ways, that one-word speech, was worth every penny.

For it got people talking.

And isn’t that the real purpose of any speech?  Not so much to hear the speaker speak, but to have the audience respond.

The saying ‘less is more’ was made famous by Mies van der Rohe.

It’s been executed brilliantly in different venues around the world.

And, once in San Francisco, by Mr Kaye.

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