Episode #44: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

If you know me, you know I love Christmas. The last couple of weeks in December are my favorite two weeks of the year. On this special holiday edition of the CXM Experience we slow down and focus on what’s really important. Because sometimes experiences can be quiet, focused, and introspective. It’s the experience of being human.

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Merry Christmas, everybody, and welcome to the CXM Experience. I am Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr, where we put the experience in CXM.

So, wow, it’s the end of 2020. Just a few more days until we make it out of this godforsaken year. And I will say I really didn’t see 2020 coming down this way. But it’s been, it’s been quite an experience, I would say in 2020.

So I thought I would spend a few minutes, maybe do a slightly shorter show today, because it’s Christmas Eve, although we do have a Christmas show tomorrow, which should be fun. And just talk a little bit about the experience of Christmas. So not everybody celebrates Christmas. So I’ll recognize that right out of the gate. In fact, this year, I also did celebrated Hanukkah, and Passover. So kind of have a multi-denominational sort of family and life now. But Christmas is still part of my traditions. Although I’m not even a Christmas Christian, which is typically referred to as people who go to church just at Christmas. There are many of those. I am an avowed atheist, so I don’t actually believe in… by the way, great stories, but I don’t believe in the fantasy, I guess. But I do love the tradition.

And so let’s talk about that for a second. So, what’s interesting is that humans do love traditions. And in fact, the Christmas holiday, which is primarily a Christian holiday, really actually came from pagan times. Because traditionally, pre religion, people celebrated the winter solstice, which is on the 21st. And sometimes there’s interesting solar events happening, like yesterday on the 21st was not only solstice, but it’s also the closest alignment of Saturn and Jupiter in hundreds of years, which people sometimes call the Christmas star, which was pretty cool to watch. So why do we love traditions?

The Christians brilliantly took the solstice celebration, and then converted it into Christmas. And that’s worked really well. And we’ve continued on and we use it as a way of thinking about the year that has passed. We use it as a way of connecting with family and friends. We use it as a way of maybe getting a bit of a break. This period of time, for me, I usually keep working. But I work a little bit differently. I usually cancel the relentless Zoom meetings, that some days go from 4:30 in the morning until 7:00 at night for me. So I get out of that hamster wheel for a little while to allow myself to do a bit more thinking, maybe a bit more writing, a bit more reflection. What did I learn this year? It was certainly a very tumultuous year for me. So it was a year of extreme learning, which was great. But how do I process that? What do I want to do differently next year.

So I think as humans, we’re programmed to want these breaks. And we’re programmed to want these moments of reflection and moments of connection. And that I think, was what these holidays help us do. And if you think about it, we’re pretty good about doing something like this about once a quarter, right? We’ve got the Christmas break, slash New Year’s, which trails off of the Thanksgiving break if you’re in the US. Then we’ve always got something in the spring, and school holidays or Easter or however you want to play that. There’s always something in the summer, July 4. Summer holidays, etc. And it’s usually something around Labor Day. We’ll do some kind of thing in Labor Day, end of summer, beginning of the fall, that kind of thing. The Canadians have built a Thanksgiving tradition in the first week of October. They’re a little bit more quarterly focused. They’ve got October for Thanksgiving, and then Christmas is in December. So they’ve got that played out a bit differently. But everyone’s got something like that. There’s a rhythm in all religions and in all societies.

And, as I think about these rhythms, I think we probably do them a little bit unconsciously because they’ve always been there. Or we’re just flying from place to place. But I think they’re there for a very specific reason. I actually think that they are there for a break.

Humans need time to reflect and process and we need a time to take our foot off the gas for a second. Think about where we’re going next, and then re engage. And where I think we can sometimes make a mistake at these times of year, is to be so drawn into delivering on experience, that we lose the ability to have a break. I know that’s happened to me in some years where I exit the holidays exhausted. And if you find yourself in that kind of situation, you’re probably doing it wrong. You probably don’t want to hear this from me on Christmas Eve, but just think about it a little bit. Are you focused on each other? Are you focused on the event?

One of my gifts that I’ve requested this year is a device-free day. That’s going to be one of my special requests. I actually haven’t made the request yet. But it’s gonna be one of the things I ask for. Because I really want to spend time one on one, in a non electronic world for a minute. Just being able to connect, and be present. And that, to me, is a lot of what this is about, which is how do we connect, and be present with each other? And how do we let that human experience seep through? How do we let the experience of being a human being real, being vulnerable, being funny, being joyful, being sad. There’s so many, many emotions that flow through. How do we let that all happen in a natural way?

And I do think this is one of the best times of the year, my favorite two weeks of the year, these two weeks. I also would observe that collectively, we all tend to be in the same zone. So if you’ll notice, the news is always very uninteresting this time of year. Very, very little happens, which is great. The other great week is the July 4 week in the US. It’s another great week, where everyone collectively is like… I need a break. And everyone just takes a moment. And there is a I think a little bit of a tendency in our society, and maybe a little bit of a… what’s the right word? I don’t want to sound too rude. But it’s just some people need to be like, showing how tough they are all the time. Which is, hey, I’m not taking any break. And this is my busiest time of year. And this is… And you might find yourself saying that right now while I’m talking. Is it? Does it need to be? Do you really need to go without a break? Do you have to be that tough? I used to be like that. It’s a big mistake.

So, Christmas Eve. Great time for reflection. Don’t forget to put out the cookies. Don’t forget to put out the milk. Carrots for the reindeer. And make sure that your flue is open so Santa can get through. And with that. This is the CXM Experience. Ho, ho, ho. I’m Grad Conn, CXO Sprinklr. See you next time.