- Conscious Capitalism 2015: Day 1 Review [Part 1]
- Conscious Capitalism 2015: Day 1 Review [Part 2]
- Conscious Capitalism 2015: Day 1 Review [Part 3]
- Conscious Capitalism 2015: Day 2 Review [Part 1]
- Conscious Capitalism 2015: Day 2 Review [Part 2]
- Conscious Capitalism 2015: Day 3 Review [Part 1]
- Conscious Capitalism 2015: Day 3 Review [Part 2]
We’re now moving into the last set of practicum sessions for Conscious Capitalism 2015‘s final day.
Purposeful Storytelling: How to Build Community, Inspire Action, and Shift Culture
This was one of the more interesting sessions I’ve attended at such an event for some time. The main reason was that Simon, a veteran in the marketing and branding industry, announced at the beginning this would be a “75-minute Hotseat”. In other words, while we were going through the session, anyone could raise their hand, ask for help with their specific problem, and get on-the-spot help from Simon. He reasoning was that we had all come for some form of help and that, “It’s hard to read the label from the inside of the jar.” An outside perspective is always helpful.
Quite a few people (including myself) took him up on this offer, and it was quite impressive as he provided insightful feedback. Needless to say, that created several tangential discussions. For the sake of continuity, I’m going to focus here just on the main discussion.
Capitalism needs to be part of social change.
~ Bill Gates
The world is changing around us. People today are far more informed of what is happening in the world than our predecessors. In fact, a paper just released from the Pew Research Center stated 73% of teenagers have access to a smartphone. It’s changing the way we interact and buy and sell services. Our businesses are going to live and die by whether or not we can effectively tell our stories through the 3″x5″ ubiquitous screens.
Information is exploding, and we aren’t moving fast enough to effectively deal with it. And, this is causing a problem. People are letting the tail wag the dog. In one sense, the data explosion doesn’t matter because we are all human beings effectively “sitting around the fire” telling stories, and it’s how one tells the story that matters.
We should be telling stories about our purpose.
Purpose is very important, and it can drive profits in the following ways:
- Purpose defines the values of the company.
- Values define how stakeholders relate to each other.
- Relationships determine the productivity, profit and impact of the brand.
In the world of today, good intentions are no longer sufficient. Also, there needs to be a shift in how marketing works. Instead of constantly broadcasting about ourselves, we need to be having conversations with the different stakeholders, who will then share their story with others.
Traditional marketing is like being on a date with someone who won’t shut up about themselves. The egotistical blowhard is not so endearing to today’s audiences.
We need to approach things differently.
Key Question: What fundamental human property does your brand own?
We all need to remember we are all human beings interacting with other human beings. We need to communicate with one another on that level. Many tech companies are a great example of what not to do in this area, as they appear to be becoming distant and self-absorbed. They need to humanize their brands and talk through the human lens.
In the end, it’s all about the customer.
To inspire participation, your customer needs to be the hero.
~ Simon Mainwaring
Somewhere along the line, the marketing complex developed an “arm’s length intimacy” approach, which is being driven by media today. Instead, we need to have real relationships, which means we not only empower our customers, but celebrate them.
Key Takeaway: A brand must be the chief celebrant, not celebrity, for its consumer community.
A great example of this is GoPro, whose product allows their customers to share the great (i.e., crazy) things they are doing. But, GoPro went beyond that, creating a community to not only support the sharing, but also to promote the great videos made by their customers (I know, I’m on the mailing list for the emails sent by GoPro to celebrate what their customers are doing).
When considering what we talk about, we need to look at the bigger picture, at the larger commitment. What is it that we truly believe and want to encourage in the world?
Key Question: What consumer benefit will your brand celebrate?
Just as the Industrial Revolution treated the employee as just another replaceable cog in the machinery of capitalism, in many markets, marketers and PR agencies have treated the consumer base simply as a number—a cipher that simply buys what they are told.
However, customers are real people, real humans with feelings and desires. When our business purpose aligns with their views, they can and will become involved.
People rise to the conversation you grow around them.
~ Simon Mainwaring
That’s why we see them getting involved with different initiatives and programs purposed and run by conscious businesses. Some may simply share on social media, while others can get much more deeply involved.
However, this level of participation requires trust, and that trust relies, in part, on transparency. Gone are the days where the walls of physical buildings shielded the actions of businesses from the prying eyes of the outside world. Whether we like it or not, radical transparency is going to be imposed on all brands in all industries.
So, we have a choice.
Key Takeaway: Be a mission with a company, not a company with a mission.
It’s no longer just about being good and nice. The market not only wants that, but is in fact demanding and attempting to enforce it. We need our story to be driven by our mission, not by our retail, which will naturally incentivize different behavior.
The goal is to transcend your products, service and category to positively shape culture.
~ Simon Mainwaring
So business can and should take up a role in the community. It already has a great impact, which needs to be recognized and owned. This brings us to our final question:
Key Question: What cultural conversation will your brand lead?
Own your story. Then you will be able to leverage the data explosion to its appropriate potential.
Remember, stories write our future.
The Vulnerability Quotient: How to Leverage Your Company’s Humanity
Truth be told, I went the wrong session, by which I mean I accidentally went to different session than the one for which I had registered. Blindly following the room listed on my schedule, I made my way into the ballroom. Ignoring the sign at the door (I know where the ballroom is, says my oft-arrogant mind), I entered, was handed a necklace and made my way to the front. It wasn’t until seated that I began to suspect something was wrong, not fully realizing my mistake until the presentation started, I didn’t care to make a scene by attempting the leave, which would have necessitated a long and obvious walk back out the ballroom.
I was stuck, and now apparently along for the ride.
And, I’m happy I did.
It wasn’t the type of session I would normally attend, as it occasionally appeared to teeter on the edge of New Age meditation and sweat lodge centering. Or, at least, that’s what my brain was telling me.
I don’t have many notes from the session, as Corey asked us to be more present by avoiding note-taking, thereby allowing for a deeper experience. So, I’ll have to summarize from memory just a few of the key points, though you really needed to experience it to get the full effect.
First of all, vulnerability breeds trust. We did several exercises aimed at helping us open up and be vulnerable with complete strangers. This included playing the “Who are you?” game, where two people look at each other, and while one continues to ask the question “Who are you?” over and over, the other is mentally forced to not only look deeper and deeper within themselves for an answer, but to share it.
Once the superficial answers are out of the way, one truly is left with only those answers that normally remain hidden from the world. Therein lay not only fears, but also great dreams and aspirations often too shy to voice themselves.
We then played the game again, but this time answering about our company instead of ourselves. Just as when it was personal, this exercise also became emotional for many. One of the most emotional that was shared with the group came from a lady who works at Monsanto, a company that through their actions have created, shall we say, a less than popular opinion about themselves in the public eye. What she shared was heartfelt and real, and I have a great deal of respect for her and her being at the conference.
We need more people working to affect change.
As I talked with the others with whom I had so quickly and abruptly become friends through vulnerability, we talked about the safe zone in which we were all at that moment. Vulnerability requires a safe zone. We wanted to be able to create these types of relationships with the others with whom we worked—real human relationships, vulnerability and all.
Yet, could we create such an environment externally. Here we all felt safe in voicing our opinions because we were sure those same beliefs were held by the others. Otherwise, why would they be at the conference to begin with? Out in the “real world” the situation would be different.
These were our fears talking.
Whether or not we can create a safe environment exactly like the one we had there isn’t the point. Regardless, we should all strive to create an environment of security, a safe zone, in our businesses. Doing that comes down to the motto stamped into the ring on the necklace we were all given at the beginning of the session and what we do with it:
Leading with Love
As we gathered for the final minutes before we’d all hurry off to lunch and then back into our daily lives, it seemed a bit sad. But, I was happy to have been in attendance with so many other great individuals. The sessions had been great, but now it was time for action—time to roll up the sleeves and get to work. There is much to do.
The conference organizer then closed it, just as she had opened it with this final thought:
The world is full of beauty, when your heart is full of love.
I hope to see you all there next year!
Photos courtesy of: