We live in a time of extreme polarization. Some of the first people to agree to that sentiment at #PageAnnual were former Senator Barbara Boxer, D-CA, and Ari Fleischer, former White House Press Secretary to President George W. Bush, as they addressed the challenges the United States faces in maintaining a sense of “community” on a national scale. However, they believe that there’s more than unites us than what divides us.

This was evident during difficult times when the only things that mattered were the true needs of the people. It even meant befriending one’s political enemies to get things done. They encouraged the audience not to let the speed of media and external forces force their hand and make them do something they’re not ready to do. As communicators, the rush to comment, express and share can be tempting, but being cool, collected and thoughtful helps make better decisions about communicating and connecting with all audiences.

Award-winning journalist and author, Sebastian Junger emphasized that are we stronger when we come together. He believes there's a very close proximity between conflict and fraternity. For thousands of years, human beings have wanted and needed to be in a community in order to survive, but they have often been lured by conflict. However, it is in times of crisis and conflict when people act their best, because “when you don't think about your own survival, you're more likely to survive.”

Retired Navy SEAL Captain Bob Schultz and Executive Director of Call of Duty Endowment Dan Goldenberg reinforced the power of shared sacrifice and building community around a mission though the unique lenses of the armed forces. For servicemen, building community means having a shared purpose and vision in order to survive and succeed, which leads to better performance in times of chaos. But in order for SEALs to be truly effective in their mission, they need to be good operators, good teammates and have strong character. The focus and alignment in values that these characteristics bring help build productive and progressive teams.

Evernote CEO Chris O’Neill then went on to speak about how technology is shaping our world, our workplace and the ability of creating and maintaining communities. In a time of information overload, never-ending to-do lists, projects that don’t get completed, and problems that don’t get solved, we need to use technologies and tools to help complement the human brain, not distract it. The need and means to collaborate are plenty, but it is also important to take a time-out to think for oneself instead of immersing oneself in a device. Several Page members shared their own stories about leveraging technology to build employee communities on stage as well as on Facebook Live.

We also heard from others who have had considerable experience in building a community of brand advocates. Bill Shumard and Dustin Plunkett of the Special Olympics Southern California and Chris Klein of the LA Galaxy soccer team spoke about the importance of creating genuine emotional relationships and honest and transparent opportunities for people to connect with their brand. You can watch the full session here.

Further, our members were challenged by The Power of Moments author Chip Heath to not just fix problems but to build peak moments of connection, value and purpose. These moments are the tools that help any individual or organization to make a better return on investment.

The last panel of the conference contextualized everything that had been discussed for the entirety of the event, as Page members showed how major brands such as Harley-Davidson, REI and Golin are attracting and engaging communities around their brands. They shared some very powerful examples and even though they come from very different industries, there was a common thread: powerful communities are built on a brand’s character and purpose. And it is the role of the CCO to maintain the authenticity of a brand and to align its values and purpose with those of its stakeholders and partners.