A man sat in a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During the rush hour, it was estimated that more than 2,000 people passed him, most on their way to work.
Three minutes after he started playing, a middle-aged man noticed the musician. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, then hurried on. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip. The woman threw the money in the hat without stopping and continued on her way. A few minutes later, a man leaned against the wall to listen, but then glanced at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The person who paid the most attention to the musician was a three year-old boy. His mother was rushing him along, but the child stopped to look at the violinist. So the mother nudged the child forward and the child continued to walk – turning his head back toward the musician along the way. This scenario was repeated by again and again by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced their children to keep walking, hurry up and move on.
In the 45 minutes the musician played only six people stopped and stayed for a while. About twenty gave him money, but continued walking on. The musician collected $32 in total. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
The violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most renowned musicians in the world. Two days before the subway serenade, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston at a seat price of $100 per ticket. That morning in the subway station, Bell had played one of the most intricate pieces ever written on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Joshua Bell’s incognito performance in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. They sought to answer several questions. Mainly, in a Ã‚Â commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour do we perceive beauty? Will we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
If people do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?
In a busy world, message matters. It is estimated that on any given day we are exposed to 3,500 to 5,000 marketing messages. Is your brand Joshua Bell playing for a sold out crowd? Or are you just a guy in the metro playing a violin?
In order to thrive YOU MUST BE REMARKABLE. In order to be remarkable, YOU MUST CREATE REMARKABLE EXPERIENCES FOR OTHERS. You must have passion and a point of view. You must elevate people, invite them to the table and empower them to share your story – by making your story their story, too.