Sunday, January 22, 2017

Amazon's Post-Holiday Party

Amazon's Post-Holiday Party was last Friday, held at Century Link field in Seattle. Over 22,000 people attended the event, which featured artists Robert DeLong, the music group DNCE, aerial acrobatics, moving orbs of light, an ice sculpture of a couch for posed pictures...The list goes on. It was overwhelming, to be sure. With so much to look at, I mostly just wandered through, and bust out a random dance move here and there.

My favorite part of Amazon's party was the diversity of the people. In a sea of unfamiliar faces, all smiling and having a good time, the people watching was an event itself. Everywhere I turned, I saw something different. A man with a beard and long, flowing red hair. A woman with ear gauges and spiky black boots. Women in jeans and hoodies. Women in evening gowns. Men with ties and colorful suits. Men with baseball caps and sunglasses. People of every size, shape, color, persuasion, background, and all the other labels--joining in, being part of something crazy huge, something exciting.

The Amazon post-holiday party didn't have to strive to be inclusive; it just was. It was a reflection of the work we do, where everyone has something to contribute, and where your race or your style or your gender doesn't matter. The output, the collaboration, the creativity that you bring to the party--that's what matters.

It's natural to want to belong and sadly, that often leads us to strive to be the same as others, to dress the same, to laugh the same, to mock the same things. Any deviance from this 'ideal' state can lead to being shunned, an outcome to avoid at all costs.

The post-holiday party was a microcosm, a peek into a utopia where people get along, where we don't have borders and boundaries between us. For me, the takeaway from the evening was loud and clear: you don't have to be the same as someone else to fit in. You can be yourself. In fact, when we're all here together, being ourselves, it's a much better party than one where we're forced to be something we're not.

This is a great big company in a great big world filled with billions of people, each unique but needing human connection, to belong, to be accepted, to be loved. At the party, I caught a glimpse of what the world could be like if we were just people instead of labels.

It was a beautiful thing.