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  • Two words.

  • These two words can change your mood,

  • they can change your mind,

  • they can change your heart.

  • I'm gonna make the case today,

  • that these two words can change lives and change the world,

  • if we understand them and we leverage them in the right way.

  • This is not an ego thing. This is a DNA thing.

  • We were created for significance.

  • And one of the most dangerous things that can happen to us

  • as individuals, as organizations, as a community,

  • is the feeling that we don't matter.

  • On Tuesday of this week, I was 14 hours with these significant people.

  • I was stranded at the airport in Milwaukee,

  • and we weren't feeling very significant that day.

  • The looks on our face, were just craziness, because we had spent

  • 14 hours, not knowing if we were going to get home,

  • there was a huge storm, there were no cars, there were no hotel rooms,

  • there was something that this world series - kind of thing -

  • going on in the world, something unimportant and insignificant

  • and we were desperate.

  • Not simply desperate to get home, which we were,

  • but desperate for a human being to look us in the eye,

  • and say to us, "You matter."

  • I see you as a human being.

  • Think about the last time you heard those words, as a human being,

  • "You matter."

  • "You were indispensable."

  • "You were a genius."

  • "I couldn't have done it without you."

  • "I couldn't have made it without you. "

  • "I'll do whatever it takes, because you are that important."

  • Those are life changing words, and for us,

  • those were the words we were hanging on.

  • We were desperate. It was nearly midnight.

  • We were going to have to sleep on the floor of the airport,

  • until we met Annie.

  • And Annie finally looked us in the eye

  • and saw a single mom with two kids,

  • and she saw a family of five with a baby that hadn't eaten for hours,

  • and she saw two college students,

  • and a honeymoon couple and she saw me,

  • desperate to get to home, to get here.

  • And she said, "I see you. I'll do whatever it takes."

  • Now, she couldn't work the world,

  • she couldn't stop the rain from coming,

  • and she couldn't make a hotel room appear,

  • but she noticed us and she said we are going to help you.

  • And after she got everyone settled, I found Annie

  • right before she was gonna leave,

  • and I grabbed her and I said, "Annie,

  • thank you so much for making us feel significant.

  • You noticed we were in the incumbent area of the airport,

  • I don't know what that is, but it's not a good place to be.

  • It's not where significant cargo goes."

  • And she started crying,

  • and I'm like we are all crying because we hadn't slept or eaten --

  • I said, "I wanna call your supervisor.

  • I want to write in and I want to do something,

  • I want to tell them what you did today really mattered to us."

  • And she said, "It's not gonna matter.

  • I am the supervisor. Nobody cares what I do."

  • In fact, she said, "I don't know the last time that

  • I've heard someone say they cared about what I did."

  • She said, "I actually want to thank you."

  • And I walked away and I got home

  • and I got settled in and I could't get Annie out of my mind.

  • I can't put her picture in because

  • apparently that's against TSA regulations,

  • I tried to. (Laughter)

  • She's like, "No, no , I'll get fired."

  • So just imagine Annie because

  • Annie is every single person in this room.

  • Annie is the person at your work.

  • Annie is the person in your neighborhood.

  • Annie could be you,

  • sitting there wondering, working and living and learning

  • in a place where they do not feel significant,

  • where they do not feel like "No matter what I do,

  • no matter how hard I work,

  • no matter what I accomplish,

  • is there anybody in the world that is going to notice me

  • and is going to care that I got up and I showed up today?"

  • That is a tragedy.

  • Because we, as human beings,

  • have the power to change that.

  • It is an incredible, significant power that we choose

  • not to act upon in the busyness of our lives.

  • We forget these two simple words

  • and omit them from our conversation and from our priority.

  • I want us to change that.

  • Because people that matter

  • know that when they are noticed,

  • when they are valued, and they are depended on.

  • Those are three lessons that have been the foundation

  • of my work as an educator for 22 years.

  • No student ever would leave my classroom

  • I would not be doing my job,

  • if they didn't know they were noticed.

  • If they didn't understand why they were such a value

  • to my classroom and to other students and

  • that I could trust and depend on them.

  • These are not lessons that are just simply reserved for the classroom.

  • These are lessons that every single one of us must take

  • and have the opportunity and obligation

  • to take into your classroom,

  • your boardroom or your community, your neighborhood.

  • I'm going to show you what those look like

  • and sound like as you navigate through the world.

  • As a writer, noticing is a big part of my job,

  • so I never go anywhere without my writer's notebook

  • I'm constantly writing.

  • I spend a lot of time in weird places, like airports,

  • and I'm writing all the stories the people I meet,

  • the incredible lessons I get just by waking up in the morning.

  • I keep track of them and I fill notebook after notebook after notebook.

  • I got the chance to be in a school,

  • it was an outside school from kindergarten

  • through eighth grade and of course I had my notebook

  • and it didn't take the students very long to notice

  • after every classroom that I was walking through,

  • they were like coming up to me.

  • "What did you write in notebook today?"

  • "What did you write in notebook today?"

  • I said, "Oh, I witnessed a genius.

  • I absolutely witnessed something indispensable to your learning.

  • So I would write it down."

  • And they are like "Really?", and then I put names in it.

  • "Oh my gosh, I know that person."

  • And then the next day, I got to be there for two weeks,

  • so the next day they come up and

  • they start handing me post-it notes.

  • "Here, while I was out, I noticed you might want to put this in your notebook."

  • And I thought "wow" and after a couple of days I thought,

  • "Well, this is silly, I got this gold in my notebook."

  • I asked the superintendent if I could spend the first two minutes

  • going into every grade level,

  • in every classroom just for two minutes today.

  • Just give me two minutes a day.

  • And all I'm going to do is go and read my notebook

  • with the morning messages.

  • "Today boys and girls, this is what your assignment is,

  • oh by the way, I have to tell you what I noticed yesterday.

  • Alicia did something amazing.

  • When I saw her working on her writing dada dada da --

  • "Oh my gosh, you guys, you would not believe this.

  • I noticed a third grader doing this yesterday --"

  • And I might be saying that to a seventh grade classroom.

  • Three days, kids were carrying notebooks.

  • They were writing down things,

  • they were meeting me,

  • they were helping each other.

  • I could not believe the power of noticing

  • and sharing what you noticed.

  • So I was just about to get on the plane,

  • again in the airport, to leave,

  • and a fourth grade class,

  • had an emergency message over the intercom

  • they are like, "Mrs Maiers, Mrs Maiers,

  • I need you to come down to the fourth grade classroom."

  • I'm like, "What did I forget in there."

  • They sat me down in a chair, very serious looking.

  • and they are like, "You have a problem."

  • I'm like "I know this." (Laughter)

  • "You have a problem."

  • They are like, "Your notebook is almost full

  • and you are losing stuff all over, you are a mess."

  • So they went together and they bought me this.

  • A new journal.

  • And what is powerful about this is

  • that they gave me every number imaginable

  • because in case I needed a break,

  • because noticing is a lot of work,

  • they are gonna take over for me and they each have a notebook

  • and they send me and there's a little "Ask Angela" button on my blog

  • and they blogged me "This is what I noticed."

  • And they are my noticing ambassadors.

  • So, "Here's my mom's number," "Here's my cellphone number, "

  • "Here's my emergency phone number,"

  • "Just in case you see something

  • or we see something while we are out and about.

  • It has to go into your notebook."

  • Because they know I'm going to write about it, talk about it.

  • Phenomenal.

  • What if you carried a notebook?

  • What if you made it a point to go back to

  • your place of work or to your neighborhood

  • or at the grocery store today

  • and you make note of what you noticed.

  • How indispensable it was.

  • How genius it was.

  • How significant it was.

  • It changes people.

  • And what I found at the school,

  • it changes a culture, by just simply noticing,

  • 30 seconds a day.

  • Kids aren't the only ones

  • who struggle and who strive to be noticed.

  • Big people, spend a lot of time trying to get noticed as well.

  • This is a real time counter on the web.

  • Just look at it for five seconds.

  • Five seconds, in real time of the world, right now,

  • here as we speak, what are they trying to do?

  • They are trying to be noticed.

  • The web is not a data stream.

  • The web is a life stream,

  • and the significance of our life is dependant on

  • how other people see us.

  • We have a chance to tell people:

  • "I'm so glad you got up this morning. I noticed you."

  • It changes everything.

  • My second lesson.

  • Noticing something that is significant is important

  • but being able to articulate --

  • and that's the power of the notebook --

  • Being able to articulate to someone exactly what you noticed

  • and why that quality was indispensable

  • or why that attribute was significant.

  • That's what really comes down deep.

  • The need to know you are a value,

  • is about as deep as they come.

  • So, I thought, "Well, I'm going to take this a step further.

  • I'm going to see what would happen if I added a sentence."

  • Not just "Oh, I noticed you Mike" but

  • "Mike, I noticed and here's what I noticed.

  • Everytime I see you, you make me smarter."

  • Because I know Mike, so I can say this.

  • "Because you ask the best questions.

  • You are one of the most curious human beings

  • and I prepare myself with a good question, everytime I see your face.

  • That is significant, in your life but it makes me smarter."

  • If I help them understand that their contribution is

  • what the world needs and what I need at that moment.

  • So I started beginning my lessons with this statement

  • that I borrowed from Seth Godin.

  • This is from his book, "Linchpin"

  • and I wanted to see what effect it would have

  • and I could see just how much the words I noticed meant.

  • But what if I started the day, every lesson,

  • every audience, every speech that I give this is the first slide.

  • "You are a genius

  • and the world needs your contribution."

  • Blank.

  • And I tell them what their contribution is.

  • This is not just a compliment. This is a call to action.

  • Because guess what Mike?

  • I just raised the bar,

  • so if Mike comes to me and he doesn't have some

  • brilliant question on his mind, he's gonna step it up.