The true spirit of Valentine’s: Genuine Human Connection

The true spirit of Valentine's

Valentine’s Day is upon us. And with it comes the age-old debate: Is it lame or romantic? Does it ostracize single people or give couples a chance to celebrate their relationship? Is it just a Hallmark holiday meant to cash in on Americans’ rampant consumerism, or is it something more meaningful?

We’re not here to offer much of an opinion on that debate. While the rest of the world may fight over the meaning of the day as it relates to romantic relationships, we would like to pose a different question:


How can businesses celebrate the true spirit of Valentine’s Day?

When Vivisum was first founded, we quickly realized that the existence of our eccentric little company was driven by a set of core values, one of which we termed “Genuine Human Connection.” Implicit in this value is the portion of our mission in which we commit to “exploring the role of business in driving social progress.”

Lofty, right? Yeah, we know. =)


When we brainstormed how to put this part of our mission into practice, naturally we focused on philanthropic efforts. We provided financial support and pro bono consulting hours to local nonprofits. We implemented quarterly group volunteering outings in the community. But we also tried to think about what Genuine Human Connection means for our work with our clients. We started asking ourselves: how can the work that we do make a difference, from one on one interactions all the way to larger scale social issues?

Fast forward to today: we’re about to come into our 8th year of exploring the idea of Genuine Human Connection and driving social progress, and we want to share a couple of things that we’ve learned:

  1. It starts with mindfulness: We’ve come to realize that in order to live this core value, we must be thoughtful about our impact on the world in everything we do, from larger grant programs for nonprofits to choosing printer paper. We try to challenge ourselves in proactively making a positive difference. And for each individual at Vivisum, that definition of “positive difference” may vary. For some, it may be helping our clients shine within their organizations. For others, it may be working hard to help clients advance progress through a new treatment for a rare disease. We may not always achieve that positive impact, but we always want to be thinking about opportunities to do so.
  2. It’s all about relationships: Our most rewarding interactions have been ones in which we had the chance to build relationships with local organizations and businesses. It’s even more special when we can engage others in our mission and philosophy. Historically, Vivisum has been somewhat quiet and reserved about this mission of exploring our role in social progress. Going forward, we want to speak up about it more. Hopefully, if our Genuine Human Connection model is effective, other organizations can adopt it as well. And the best way to spread the message, we’ve found, is through those small-scale intimate partnerships in which we strive to make a difference in our communities.


We’re still figuring it out. Astute readers will notice that our mission is not to achieve social progress, but to explore what our role could be in driving it. We certainly don’t have all the answers, but we are excited to continue asking the questions.


And so we humbly continue that exploration into the future, and we will do so with love in our hearts for each other, our clients, our partners, and our community.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ellen Hart is a Director at Vivisum Partners. She specializes in in-depth qualitative research in healthcare and nonprofit fields. Email Ellen at ellen.hart@vivisumpartners.com