7 Things Every Business Can Learn from Burning Man
Burning Man is an amazing phenomenon. It’s the kind of event that you have to witness to understand. It’s Disneyland for adults. A mix of Moulin Rouge and Mad Max. It’s incredible and inspiring. It’s crazy. It’s a wild dream. And in the chaos of it all, there is clarity. And there’s sense. Organization. Amazing logistics to make it all happen. In this post, I’ll start a discussion about what every business can learn from Burning Man. Let me know what you think. What else can every person learn? What did you learn that you want to share?
1. Community – it takes a community to make Burning Man special. From its inception in Stinson Beach, it took creativity, imagination and pushing the norm to create, continue and grow this event. It took different organizations getting involved. Various volunteers helping out and donating their time. It took passion and devotion.Individuality and cohesion. Synergy. Can your business say it has loyal followers who would devote hours to making this event happen? In the world of social media, community is vital to the survival of any business. Burning Man has managed to create a vibrant community with loyal followers. Just take a look at their Facebook page. Can you say that your business Facebook page gets so many posts and involvement from your customers?
2. Creativity – There is amazing imagination and creativity in this event. From organization and annual themes (this year the theme was “Evolution”, next year is “Metropolis”) to the amazing art that people dream up and build in the Nevada desert, from clothes and costumes to theme camps, creativity abounds. Burning Man gathers people from all disciplines and professions who love, breathe and live art. It offers plenty of wide open spaces where the craziest contraptions can be built only for one week of enjoyment. Creativity keeps this event vibrant and people return for more each year. Participation is key. Individuality can be seen in every person. As a business, remember that one size does not fit all. People want to be different. They want to stand out and be themselves.
3. Passion – people have passion for this event. They talk all year about it and get ready for it. They stand by online when ticket sales first open to be the first to grab tickets and confirm their participation. They shop for clothes, accessories and supplies for Burning Man. They talk to their friends about it. Post photos and videos online. Share content. Spread the word. Meet other “burners” and feel immediate connection with them.
4. Loyalty – I met people at Burning Man who have been going to it for 16+ years. Every year, the week before Labor Day, they pack their camps, food, water and drinks and any art cars or art they’ve dreamed up and head out to the middle of nowhere – Gerlach, Nevada to be in the cruel, harsh desert for a week where it’s incredibly hot during the day and cold at night. And they love doing it, year after year, because they have loyalty to Burning Man. They volunteer to do things for this community all for the same goal. How many businesses in real life can claim the same loyalty from their customers.
5. Word-of Mouth – I’m starting to repeat myself but burners love to share their experience – offline and online. There are 471,792 photos on Flickr for “Burning Man”. They have 47,576 Facebook Fans. There are millions of conversation happening on Twitter, in blogs, on websites and forums. Word-of-mouth will make or brake a business. Have you been able to embrace, create and share word-of-mouth yet for your business?
6. Self survival and self sufficiency – Burning Man prepares you and teaches you to be self reliant. You are completely on your own (unless you have very good neighbors) when it comes to your survival. You need to bring all your water, food, gasoline, shelter, clothes. The only things you can purchase at Black Rock City are ice and coffee. On top of everything, the event is a Leave No Trace event. Pack it in and pack it out. And when everyone leaves, there is nothing left at the Playa but dust. As a business, these values should be incorporated in your business plan. People should protect our only planet. Eco – awareness and working together as a community to create a city in a week can be a valuable skill. Just take a look at what happened with Katrina. Surviving in harsh environment is a necessary skill for every person and for every business that is feeling the recession.
7. Communication – Burning Man does a really good job at preparing everyone for the event. From their website and newsletter to handing out brochures at the gate containing all the information you need, it really makes things easier for newcomers as well as old time burners. The logisitcs for this event are absolutely amazing and the event seems to go without a glitch. The volunteer rangers help control the peace and everyone seems to get along fine. That’s 48,000 people living together peacefully for a week!
And finally, direct from Larry Harvey, the organizer of Burning Man an interview on 5 things cities can learn from Black Rock City.
Let me know what you want to add to this list. There are many lessons every business and every person can take away from this amazing event. What do you think? Let’s create a list of what every business can learn from Burning Man.