What's The One Thing?

I've always considered myself a competent writer. Generally speaking, the process of stringing together coherent thoughts has never been something that has given me great difficulty. Heck, I've got a degree in journalism and have been writing over the course of my entire professional career.

But today, I'm stuck.

I've found it absolutely impossible to adequately reflect on the results of the presidential election from a societal, cultural or political perspective. There are many more people who will address the 2008 election more eloquently and insightfully than I could ever dream to, so I won't even attempt it.

Suffice it to say, I am proud of my country for many reasons, and last night amplified my hope for the future. But the lens I will use as I try to cobble together my thoughts is one focused on ideas, communications and business.

To me, last night was the manifestation of Web 2.0.

The power of the collective one.

The collapse of the Berlin Wall and communism both occurred during my adult life, but I didn't feel personally attached to these world events. Don't get me wrong, I remember processing the significance of the pictures on my television, but there remained a disconnect.

Right or wrong, as far as I was concerned, these seismic shifts in world order happened because of government intervention and global pressures. Big entities clashing. The movement of the many, reacting to pressure from the top down. (Glossing over subtleties? Without question. But, that was my state of mind in the early 90s.)

Last night, as the tide of history washed in to shore, and the pictures of both celebrations and concessions came in from around the world, I was struck by how personally involved I felt.

This was not just the movement of many.

It was the power of the collective one.

How could a moment of initial curiosity about this first-term Senator from Illinois move from an innocent Google search to the perception that I made a difference? Not only was I witnessing the epic event in Grant Park, but I was also sharing the success of a candidate with whom I had developed a multi-faceted relationship.

A seemingly insignificant donation, made in response to an email request, became enveloped in emotion. Like a child bringing a box of coins to Sunday school with wide-eyed hope, mine was a contribution that, in campaigns past, would have not even been felt (or sought) by political elders.

Certainly he received contributions from many wealthy donors giving large sums, but by building and nurturing relationships on an individual level -- something unattainable or untried in the last couple of national elections -- Obama was the first that I know of to authentically harness the power of citizens to act.

A clear, compelling position, communicated across media, that started contextually relevant conversations. It demanded participation and collaboration. It allowed me to have a unique relationship with a concept and to see the importance of my story in that of the masses.

I am but one voice. Yet I feel it has risen above the din. I don't believe there is a more powerful example of the way to make a brand work in the world today.

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