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  • Posted by: Christina Stanfield on Tuesday, November 12 2013 06:31 PM | Comments (0)

    Gen YFrom last week’s election coverage in the US to global conversations about the economy, it feels like everyone is asking, “What does this mean in terms of Millennials?” Headlines from the last week declare Why Millennials Won’t Become Corporate Serfs, Why You Shouldn’t Ignore the Millennial Generation and 5 Reasons Millennials Are Going to Save the World (We Hope).

    It’s no surprise that with growing focus on Gen Y and its impact on shaping brands’ relationships with consumers, workplace environments and the economy, that contemporary leadership and empowering Millennials was front and center at this year’s World Business Forum. In reflecting on the event and recent headlines, it’s clear that there is a tension between traditional models and emerging trends.

    What resonates now in looking back on the two days of discussion from diverse panels of speakers with an audience of 4,000 professionals from across the globe, is that the way we frame conversations about leadership and discuss the goals of Millennials do not always feel totally compatible. And here’s why…

    To a speaker, attributes of the ideal leader centered around things like humility, long-term perspective, tenacity. Principles forged and celebrated in my grandparents’ GI Generation, aka “The Greatest Generation,” were called out again and again as the fundamental traits that make a great leader today.

    Occasionally more contemporary skills – such as collaboration or improvisation - were cited as necessary in order to deal with the turbulence that comprises our new normal:

    “The military has this term VUCA – which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity… Today’s leaders must come up with improvisational ways of achieving their missions amidst turbulence… This requires moving from information to knowledge, from knowledge to understanding, from understanding to wisdom [in order] to make smart choices and walk on the higher path.”     -Nancy Koehn, James E. Robison Professor at Harvard Business School

    But for the most part, advice and anecdotes were all about traditional values, like “we-over-me” and postponing gratification.

    WOBI Speakers

    Yet when the topic shifted to Millenials, the managerial and organizational attributes cited as necessary for attracting and retaining them took on a very different tone. Recognizing superstar performance rather than tenure, providing Millenials with new professional experiences every two years (minimum), acknowledging effort even when the result is failure were some of the policies posited as absolute necessities. Even Jack Welch, once famous for automatically chopping the bottom-performing 10 percent of a team, is singing a different tune:

    “…screw the annual review systems…give them raises anytime they do something that builds on your stated strategy. It's about creating fun places to work…creating a bubble." -Jack Welch, author and former Chairman & CEO of GE

    After two days of this back and forth - between traditional values born of war and strife years (Leaders) and the attract/reward systems being set up to retain a participation-trophy-generation (Millenials) - the cognitive dissonance became almost maddening. How would the prescribed environments ever possibly work to shape future leaders?

    The answer might lie in the other single thing every speaker mentioned: Purpose.

    Many organizations have recently come to acknowledge that they are the custodians of social welfare, be it the welfare of their communities, customers, employees, environment, etc. They’ve embraced being involved in a social contract and have decided to vocally and visibly honor that contract.

    Purpose need not be that high climb in order to have a capital “P.” Roughly defined it can be any common, publicly stated and tenaciously activated goal that involved parties acknowledge they could not achieve without each other. It’s simply about having a goal worth putting your name on and proudly saying, “I helped do that.” And that can be a traditional business goal:

    “We must remain humble… We must look around and ask, ‘Who is better than us?’ Management’s job is to identify gaps [in company performance] and identify how to close the gap… [We do this by prioritizing] alignment over consensus… and creating employees who are a long-term, five or ten year, bunch of owners versus a short-term, selfish bunch of professionals.” -Carlos Brito, CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev

    Carlos Brito

    If, as Jeb Bush shared, Purpose bigger than individual recognition, and in the interest of the greater social good, was able to bridge the ideological conflict between Tip and Ronald, perhaps it's strong enough to guide all parties within corporations over this generational chasm. At least for a long enough period of time that the younger generation can start to shape the ideal future leadership qualities, in a way that is more resonant with contemporary experiences and expectations. Qualities that might give rise to a new Greatest Generation.

    Christina Stanfield is Senior Director, Strategy for Interbrand New York.

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  • Posted by: Interbrand on Tuesday, May 29 2012 07:30 PM | Comments (0)

    Interbrand New York this year has launched Interbrand's World Changing Speakers Series, hosting industry leaders to speak at our office about their work. Inaugurated to provide a forum for knowledge sharing with practitioners working at the highest levels of their profession, to date seven speakers have joined us who represent cultural movers whose work intersected branding along non-traditional vectors.

    To announce upcoming speakers to both internal and external audiences, reflecting the ongoing nature of the series in a unique and creative way, Interbrand designed a series of six silk-screened posters that evolved over the course of the World Changing Speaker Series events. The posters served two purposes — to announce each lecture, and to be presented as limited edition gifts to each speaker.

    As a metaphor for the accumulation of knowledge, the content for each lecture poster was screened over the previous lecture poster, creating a colorful artifact of the series. The emphasis on craft and time-intensive process of creating the posters inherently communicated the importance placed on learning and knowledge sharing as an agency endeavor.

    Through the layering of simple elements it was possible to produce six different posters on a single sheet of paper, thus reducing the materials by 1/6th. This allowed each poster to have a lifespan of 5 months (as opposed to one week) and helped to drive anticipation for each new speaker. The World Changing Speaker Series posters are made from 100% post consumer waste recycled paper.

    Posters Displayed


    Joel Beckerman, Man Made Music

    Joel Beckerman is a leading sonic strategist and twenty-year veteran of music for media and sonic branding. He was the first speaker to join us at our Brain Wash World Changing Speaker Series on February 10, 2012. Joel is the Founder of Man Made Music, a full service music company dedicated to harnessing the emotional power of sound and music to tell great stories. In addition, Beckerman has collaborated in partnership with distinguished performing artists such as John Legend, Moby and Ice-T. Currently Joel is working on the sonic rebrands for AT&T and recently wrote the 2012 Super Bowl theme.

    Jake Barton, Local Projects  

     Jake Barton is the founder and principal of Local Projects, an award-winning media design firm for museums and public spaces. Jake is recognized as a leader in the field of interaction design for physical spaces, and in the creation of collaborative storytelling projects where participants generate content. Currently, Local Projects is partnered with Thinc Design as lead exhibition designers for The National September 11th Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center. Jake spoke to us on February 17, 2012.

    Jessica Resler & Ebenezer Bond, The Participation Agency

    Jessica Resler and Ebenezer Bond are the founders of The Participation Agency, an experiential marketing firm specializing in strategy and production. Their team unites cutting-edge concepts with vital resources, energies, and facilities to concept and produce events that align with a brand's overall marketing strategy. Jessica and Ebenzer spoke on March 30th, 2012.

    Kriston Rucker, Americans Elect

    Kriston Rucker is is the creative director for Americans Elect, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is changing the way political candidates are nominated — and may have a substantial effect on the Presidential election this fall. The goal of Americans Elect is to nominate a presidential ticket that answers directly to voters — not the political system. They believe a secure, online nominating process will prove that America is ready for a competitive, nonpartisan ticket. Kriston spoke to us on April 13th, 2012.

    Lauren Bush, FEED Projects

    Lauren Bush is a fashion model and the founder of FEED Projects. Lauren shared the story of how after personally witnessing the effects of hunger while traveling the globe, she was inspired to found FEED and serve as Chief FEEDer. Taking cues from the burlap bags that charities were using to distribute food, bags were designed to capture that practicality and invoke the spirit of the work being done, yet appeal to savvy, chic consumers. She said in teaming with brands such as Godiva and Bergdorf Goodman to offer unique bags, it marries luxury with charity. She noted, luxury is "moving away from shiny things to handmade goods" that tell stories and do good. Messages get out there and the products appeal to consumers. The demographics of FEED bag consumers runs the gamut of price points and age groups. Lauren said in reflecting on FEED's five year anniversary, "I'm glad I didn't know the rules of retail then. I would have been discouraged." But she has created a unique product and every FEED product sold has a corresponding, measurable donation. To date, FEED has provided nearly 60 million meals globally through the UN World Food Program. Lauren spoke to us on Wednesday, April 25, 2012.

    Elliot Cohen, CityMaps

    Elliot Cohen, founder and CEO of CityMaps, an award-winning visual map of every storefront in your city complete with all the local, real-time information you care about, spoke to us on May 4, 2012. In March 2012, CityMaps was selected to be the "Official Tourism App of New York.' CityMaps will be the cornerstone of the Department of Tourism’s mobile strategy on a go-forward basis.

    James Slezak, Purpose

    James Slezak of Purpose joined us May 18th, 2012. Purpose creates social movements by deploying the collective power of millions of citizens and consumers to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems. James and Marilia will be leading a discussion on "Building 21st century movements for social change." James addressed the idea that in creating successful campaigns for social movements they've found it important to question if the "viral and meme mentality" is "enough." He observed, "Getting people to view is nice, but does it build a commitment?" The key is to move people from passive interest in a movement to active participation, taking people from "low barrier" and "move them up the scale of action." Linking thoughtful actions to real world change is the goal. How to do it? James noted, "experimentation is the name of the game."


    We are taking a hiatus from Memorial Day, May 25th, 2012, until Labor Day, returning on September 7th, 2012. If you are interested in speaking at Interbrand’s World Changing Speaker Series please contact Interbrand New York’s Marketing Coordinator Rachel Kessman - Rachel.kessman@interbrand.com

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