What is it with couples that can’t be couples?

If you move in more than one social or business circle you’ll probably know exactly what I mean. You enjoy spending time in one circle and you enjoy spending time with another. You identify with both, have a great time and you’re fully present and engaged in both. But, guess what? You simply don’t meet the same people. You’re the only one who belongs in both circles. You like both of them, so why can’t they like each other?

Let me share a recent experience that brings the problem into sharp, but frankly distressing, focus.

At the end of May, along with two senior people from our agency, I spent three days in Chicago at the National Conference of the Business Marketing Association (BMA). As pure-play B2B marketing practitioners we felt like we’d gone to heaven and the gates had been flung wide open. It was all about our world, all the time and nothing but.

Without coming home to Toronto, I got on a plane to San Diego and after a refreshing 72-hour break was enjoying myself at Sustainable Brands 2014. Yes, it was another pure-play event—all sustainability, all the time and nothing but. And yes, our b2b world is deeply immersed in the world of B2B sustainability (try Googling it!) so it was indeed another slice of heaven.

I returned home with a suspicious feeling in my gut. Why didn’t I meet the same people at both events? I was at both—where were my friends? I knew that there were brands in Chicago that can make extremely justifiable claims to be sustainability practitioners at the top of the game (GE is a shining example). I knew that many of the ‘sustainable brands’ in San Diego are significant B2B players (BASF and Arrow Electronics are virtually 100% b2b brands).

It was time for some serious investigation. I word-searched the agendas, presentation summaries and attendee lists (as available) of both events.

The answer was dismayingly predictable. The Chicago searched turned up zero results for the word sustainability and the San Diego event turned up zero results for business-to-business or B2B—the latter with one insignificant exception, which was an attendee listing showing those three letters as the last letters in our company name!

The Venn Diagram tells me that something is awry in the Land of Oz. And I’m happy that so many of my friends are in that tiny middle bit, even though I didn’t run into them on my travels.

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