We just wrapped up the 2015 FOG Innovation Summit in Stowe, Vermont, a three-day whirlwind of collaboration, camaraderie, and a creative blending of brains. If you weren’t there, you should’ve been, because we filled the room with some of the brightest, most generous people on the planet: photographers, authors, consultants, students, community-builders, Navy SEALs, all-around do-gooders, nutritionists, executives, and champion skiers. We even had a puppy!
But just as we were wrapping up, one of the attendees came up to me and offered some marketing advice.
He said, “Why call this event FOG? It implies confusion, a lack of clarity. Are you sure this is the message you want to send the world?”
I knew the answer right away.
But first, a little context.
When we held the first FOG gathering a few years ago, it was just a group of friends on a porch, talking about the things that mattered most to us. We called the gathering something really generic and boring at the time — it was so generic that I can’t even remember it now.
Someone eventually pointed out that these gatherings were just an excuse for me to get my favorite people together, and christened our little group “FOG” for “Friends of Greg.”
Yes, the first FOG gatherings were a little about leadership and growth and innovation — but mostly they were about coming together and sharing ideas with a great group of people.
Since then, we’ve grown and evolved. Our name shifted from “Friends of Greg” to “For our Growth.” But most of us still called it, simply, “FOG.”
So back to my friend’s question. Did we really want to be known as “FOG”?
I instantly knew the answer: YES.
See, one of my friends, Doug Krug, had said something really wise last week. He said, “People often forget this, but confusion is a GOOD thing! Confusion is what comes right before you experience clarity!”
The thing that makes FOG so powerful is that it actually promotes a healthy state of confusion: we leave a little room for it in everything we do, because we know that confusion is a fertile playground for creativity, collaboration, and ultimately…clarity!
The magic of FOG is that we don’t presume to know all the answers: instead, we let them evolve out of the process of talking, reflecting, and sharing together. We allow for a lot of “I don’t know”s.
Yes, we cover a lot of ground at FOG: we talk about leadership, and innovation, and the goals that matter most to each of us. But we mostly let these conversations flow where they will, and we don’t pretend to know what the outcomes will be.
The result? Every year, we’re delighted by the ingenuity, generosity, and insights that emerge from the people in the room!
By leaving a little room for “fogginess” in our agenda and our process, we actually give people back their power. We give them space to explore, follow a hunch, make mistakes, have conversations, get curious, seize the moment, and uncover unexpected insights.
By stepping into the FOG, we ultimately bring everything into focus. It’s a completely counterintuitive process —and that’s what makes it so cool.