Welcome to Episode 3 of The Mapendo Talks, our latest series of exclusive interviews with some extremely knowledgeable industry experts who can help shed some light on some of the most highly relevant and interesting topics in the world of digital marketing, advertising, technology, and mobile usage. These topics of focus have become even more relevant during these last few months given the profound effect that the pandemic has had in our online behaviour.
Today we welcome Pete Bombaci. Pete is frequently a keynote speaker, commentator and writer who has contributed opinion pieces for print, magazines, radio and online. His background includes senior level leadership roles across a broad experience base which has taken him from sales to marketing to CEO type roles, from for-profit to not-for-profit and from working for major corporations to having launched his own independent consulting business and a passion initiative, The GenWell Project.
Since 2016 Pete has been focused on the roll out The GenWell Project, which is a human connection movement whose mission is to make the world a happier and healthier place by reminding people about the importance of face to face human connection and inspiring them to take action. As the global pandemic continues, it is becoming clearer and clearer that their is a great need for human connection in the world and The GenWell Project is the catalyst for sharing the message and for connecting people at least a few times a year.
So without further ado. we are very excited to have Pete answer our questions and we really look forward to getting into the conversation!
Pete, thank you very much for interviewing with us! To start off, we wanted to ask you, from your personal perspective, what has been the biggest or most pervasive challenge for people trying to stay connected during the COVID 19 pandemic from your perspective?
PB: I think it is about the routines that so many of us were used to. The casual collisions that happened as we went through our days, from the barista, to colleagues at the office, to the events and activities that we attended many nights of the week and even the strangers that we would see along the way. Most of it happened unconsciously and now, in most cases, we need to proactively work to make connection and it can be a challenge. That effort can become a challenge, so The GenWell Project is always encouraging people to not leave connection to chance. Book it in your calendar, just like you booked your meetings. Make them regular occurrences, so you don’t have to depend on someone reaching out and making it happen on a regular basis.
Do you believe that the currently available technology has done a fair job at replacing in-person connection? Do we know what the psychologists say about how far this tech can go in attaining equal, or almost equal results as face-to-face interaction?
PB: Thank goodness for the technology that we have, because without it I would be even more concerned about the impact that this pandemic would have had on people. That said, connecting through technology can not replace the many benefits of face to face interactions. It’s a great supplement that we can use to maintain the relationships that keep us happier and healthier, but we need to get back to the non-verbal cues, we need the touch of another person and we benefit from the true connection that happens when we connect face to face. I believe the pandemic has raised our collective consciousness about the need for human connection in our lives and thus we will be more likely to use the digital tools that are available to us now, until we can get back to connecting face to face.
Thank you for this insight, given the psychological context, it’s definitely worth highlighting how important face to face human interaction is. It is certainly a silver lining to have a wide range of technology available to make it a little easier to stay in touch. Chat Apps like KiK, Line, Signal, professional networking Apps like 1001App, and video-conferencing Apps like GoToMeet are just some examples of what’s already out there, and this is on top of the social media app giants Like Instagram/Facebook, WhatsApp and so forth. What do you see as the next big thing in mobile device apps and technology to achieve better connectivity?
PB: I think the next couple steps involve education and reminders about the need for human connection. It has already begun, but beyond that I am interested in seeing what role VR will play in connecting people. How real can it be? Without the physical presence of a person, can it provide greater connection than a Zoom or Teams? Yet to be seen, but interesting to consider.
VR is definitely an interesting topic, especially when it comes to its potential within the realm of human interaction for sure. How do you look for the next big thing in science and technology, human betterment, social movements etc.? Where do you get your ideas and news from?
PB: This is one of the great benefits of social media during the pandemic. There is so much content and opportunity to take in information in articles, webinars, panel discussions. Even better, much of it is now free and you don’t have to fly to a destination to attend. The bigger decision is whether it will be worth your time or not, because you could fill your days just taking it all in and work and life still needs to happen.
What do you think is the most misunderstood or hidden drawback of Mobile Use?
PB: I think this is a two-sided discussion. We know that the human species cannot compete with the teams of behavioral psychologists that are working endlessly to find the ways in which they can continue to steal our attention away from finding the balance in our lives. That said, with the value that mobile technology can provide, there are tools available to help us manage our addiction and distraction, but we need to be the ones who choose to use them and take action.
What do you think will help spread the use of technology to improve mental health and social connection?
PB: It is our belief at The GenWell Project, that we have put the cart before the horse. We have quickly jumped to technology as the solution to many problems in society, but in the case of social connection, we need to step back and educate people about the benefits before they will embrace the tools. Without the knowledge and understanding about the benefits of human connection to our health, happiness and longevity, people will be less likely to engage in the proactive health step of getting connected.
From your perspective, what are the key differences between new vs. old ways to connect with people? What are the main challenges with each? Is one really better than the other? Or does it have to do with the demographics and for each demographic group one or the other might be best for them?
PB: This is such a complex question and there has been lots of research done on aspects of it, but the variables are what really matter. As I mentioned earlier, I was as guilty as most using technology to passively watch the world go by, but it took a pandemic to get us to use aspects of it in a healthier way. The GenWell Project is not an anti-technology movement, so we continue to highlight the aspects of tech that are known to make us feel happier and healthier. As for face to face, it’s quite clear. Face to face connections and the relationships that develop from them make us happier, healthier, more confident, more empathetic and compassionate and can increase our chances of living longer. So, my answer is that tech is a great way to supplement face to face connection, but it cannot replace it in the long run.
Do you think that more traditional methods of mobile app advertising will be essential in order to bring in a wider audience (such as traditional television ads) or do you believe we have already gone past that and we are evolving consistently towards a purely digital environment which all facets of society will eventually “assimilate” to?
PB: In the context that using mobile app advertising is the way to attract people to the digital tools that help get people connected, I think the answer is the same for all brands. It will take a broad marketing and communication plan that attracts or finds those who may be thinking of looking for support in better understanding or facilitating greater human connection. That said, often times the relationships that can support us through challenging times and give us the confidence to get out and meet people face to face (post pandemic) are all around us. We just need the catalyst or excuse to reach out and make it happen and that is what The GenWell Project is all about.
This wraps up another great Episode of The Mapendo Talks! Thank you so much Pete for joining us in this interview and answering all these questions so thoughtfully and providing thought-provoking insight. We are extremely glad to have you be part of our exclusive series. We hope our readers have found our chat as interesting as we did, and we certainly look forward to continuing the conversation on social media and with our networks. It has been an absolute pleasure speaking with you and your input has very much been appreciated.
Just a quick reminder to all our readers, like we mentioned in our very first interview with Michael Jessen in Episode 1, this series will feature new interviews on an ongoing basis, so if you don’t want to miss out on any of our future episodes make sure to sign up to our newsletter! You can also write to us directly for questions, comments, or suggestions. Until next time!
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