We all seek elevating experiences, even if we don’t know it.
There are many elevating experiences in life – turning 21 years old, having a birthday, getting married, being part of a championship team, seeing our spouse or children succeed.
We all identify ourselves with certain organizations, teams, tribes, events, and brands.
We are elevated by the praise of others. This follows the explosion of rankings and listings that are available for almost any field.
Who is the best?
What is the best?
This also impacts where and how we invest our money.
Harvard University has the largest endowment in the world, because it is considered the best and many people want to be associated with winners.
The Mayo Clinic is the same. They value their brand as their most critical asset. Not their hospitals or doctors, but their brand.
Brands are powerful.
The West Virginia University brand is powerful in our state.
The University’s Flying WV logo is everywhere. North, south, east and west, people wear the brand on their clothing, paint it on houses and fences, fly it on flags on their cars. 
Why is that?
I think this observation informs us about a really important part of the human mind. We seek to belong to certain tribes. This effect was important for survival many years ago. Today, the vestige of this need plays out all the time in our lives.
We pay more for an elevated experience – first class seats on a plane, front row tickets, a logo shirt.
Many spend more money on a stay at a luxury hotel like a Ritz-Carlton hotel than at a Marriott hotel in the same city.
Interestingly, Marriott owns Ritz-Carlton.
These products and experiences elevate us. An once we connect with a specific brand or tribe, it is often a life-long influence.
I am a sports fan.
My favorite sports teams are the ones whose games were broadcast in Charleston, West Virginia during my youth (Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Reds), the two universities whereI studied and worked (WVU and Ohio State), the city where I lived much of my life (Columbus Blue Jackets and Columbus Crew), and a team that captured my imagination as a kid (Philadelphia 76ers).
I still follow all these teams.
This reflects the imprinting of powerful experience on our choice. It happens continuously as we live each day.
On what we see as better. On how we present ourselves. On what we see as desirable.
On what we choose.
Then, as employers, why don’t we create more of these elevating experiences for our teams and customers?
Then, as parents, why don’t we create more of these elevating experiences for our families?
Then, as people, why don’t we create more of these elevating experiences for ourselves?
Communities of people that sharing a like for these brands and experiences connect and elevate us.
Not only the experience, but the sharing of it.
It can define our tribe. It can define us as people. It can define our community.
This is the energy and frame we need to capture.
Powerful shared experience and purpose that binds us together.
This is the foundation of strong community.
As we connect with others that move us from the perception of can’t to can; from the perception of isolation to connection; and from the perception of fear to trust, we heal.
The magic of this approach is that we are just unlocking the potential that has always been within us.
Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we always had the power.
To change our mindset and perception.
From scarce to abundant. From separate to ONE. From me versus you to me and you.
From fragmented to whole.
From humans with a spiritual experience to spirits with a human experience.
From the exhaustion of constantly paddling against the current of our lives to releasing and flowing with it.
From disease to health.
Elevating experiences. Mountain mama. Mountaineers.
This is the new world being birthed in West Virginia.
Almost heaven.


  • Clay B. Marsh

    Chief Health Officer, West Virginia University

    Clay B. Marsh, MD, is West Virginia University’s chief health officer, and serves as a member of President E. Gordon Gee’s leadership team. As WVU’s vice president for health sciences, he oversees five health sciences schools and three health campuses.