STOP PROTECTING THE PAST; CREATE THE FUTURE Innovation, reinvention and transformation are the business survival skills of our time. In this edition of DN Conversations, I talk with GEOFF COLVIN of Fortune who gets to explore how top companies and business leaders are managing the daunting job of adapting to nonstop disruption coming from every direction.
CLOSEST THING TO AN ECONOMIC CRYSTAL BALL What’s in store for the economy and business environment in the year ahead?
THUNDERBIRD PILOT NICOLE MALACHOWSKI TALKS ABOUT TRUST AND FLYING 400 MPH AND 3 FEET APART Trust: It’s the fuel that feeds high-performing organizations. 21-year Air Force veteran Colonel NICOLE MALACHOWSKI, USAF (Ret.), the first-ever woman USAF Thunderbird pilot, is frequently asked to talk on the subject. Her story about making the transition from fighter pilot to Thunderbird pilot is filled with valuable lessons for organizations looking to elevate their performance.
DIGITAL CHAOS AND THE QUEST FOR TRUE HUMAN CONNECTION Bestselling author DAVID MEERMAN SCOTT has been the leading voice in real-time business strategies since identifying the phenomenon over a decade ago. He wrote the definitive book on the subject - The New Rules of Marketing & PR - which has sold over 400,000 copies. His newest book, FANOCRACY, just out this week, furthers his dominance in the field, with insight on growing the relationship between company and customer into something more meaningful. David co-authored Fanocracy with his Millennial daughter Reiko. They were fascinated by each other's fandoms and began to research the science behind the phenomena. The true human connection that comes with fandom is, as it turns out, a refreshing antidote to the loneliness and digital fatigue people are feeling in a sea of digital chaos and overwhelm. In their book, they cite powerful examples of forward-thinking companies who have recognized the value of this innovation, creating a fanocracy to build connection and community that turns customers into fans and fans into customers. Tony D’Amelio connected with David to explore the idea of business fandom and learn more about how Fanocracy speech attendees are responding.
A GUTSY MOVE KATTY KAY made a brave career decision in 2019. She took time off from broadcasting – taking a work sabbatical from the BBC and MSNBC. Katty's husband Tom, who runs the Washington, D.C. office for Africaworks, was setting up a non-profit in Senegal and it represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go and help out and also do research for her next book. Katty also brought her 13-year-old daughter Poppy, who attended school there. “She had an amazing cultural experience...and I think we’ve given our daughter the best education we could give her,” Katty said.
TAKING A STAND Have you noticed how more and more business leaders are becoming outspoken advocates on important topics? And - they’re making business decisions based on their convictions. The company that first got my attention on this was CVS which banned tobacco products from their stores in 2014, the first national retail chain to do so. They couldn’t reconcile being a health-focused company and selling a product proven to compromise their customer’s health. CVS has prospered in the aftermath. Since then, there’s been a trend of stakeholders holding companies accountable – asking them to stand for something more than just profits. These are the times we live in – and navigating that is tricky stuff for any business leader. Just ask Ed Stack, CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods who banned assault-style rifles and raised the age to purchase guns to 21 after finding out his store sold the Parkland High School shooter a shotgun. That gun wasn’t used, but he felt the company needed to do something. They turned $5 million in assault rifles into scrap metal. Actions like that have a profound impact on the corporate culture of an organization as well as how the company is perceived by the public.
WINNING BIG BY MAKING BUSINESS PERSONAL Why do some brands, even in supposedly mundane categories like car insurance, retail hardware, and enterprise software, attract not just customers, or even loyal customers, but passionate fans? These brands have learned to provide the human connection people are now longing for to drive business growth. DAVID MEERMAN SCOTT calls it a Fanocracy. Over the past three years, David’s research has uncovered that creating fandom isn’t just for actors, athletes, musicians, and authors. Fandom can be rocket fuel for any company or organization that chooses to focus on inspiring and nurturing true fans.
NAVIGATING DISRUPTIVE CHANGE As a leader, you and your organization confront the unexpected every single day. In an environment of constant disruption, the survival skill of our times is the ability to adapt on-the-fly. The foundation of that competency is a culture that is resilient, innovative, and constantly experimenting. In formulating a response to disruption, leaders must recognize - first and foremost - that all change goes against the rules. Polly LaBarre has devoted her career to uncovering the best examples of leaders and organizations that are succeeding by thinking differently about the forces driving change inside and outside their organizations. Polly is co-author of Mavericks at Work - Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win and also founding writer of Fast Company magazine. As co-founder of Management Lab, the think-and-do tank that provides counsel to top companies all over the globe, Polly tackles real-world obstacles to organizational competitiveness by helping clients create cultures that can adapt to change almost as fast as change itself. I asked Polly for her best advice for leaders who are navigating today’s unpredictable business environment. Here are highlights.
NATIONAL WOMEN'S HALL OF FAME INDUCTS NICOLE MALACHOWSKI They all came! For some reason, I didn’t think they all would – I imagined someone would have had an overriding obligation of some sort. But no: Every living inductee into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for 2019 was there. The inductees included women I instantly recognized: Jane Fonda, Sonia Sotomayor, Angela Davis, Diane von Furstenberg, and Gloria Allred. Then there were others who, though I didn't recognize them, were equally exceptional and accomplished women. And then there was my friend, COL. NICOLE MALACHOWSKI, USAF (Ret.)
It was a beautiful Tuesday morning. Before I left for work, I remember marveling with my wife Joanna about the amazing blue sky and crisp fall air – the muggy Washington, D.C. summer seemed finally behind us. We talked about it being a “perfect morning” as I got into my car and headed for work on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.