do more do better

An Offer You Cannot Refuse:  Do More, Do Better

I know where my passion, expertise and skill set lie and the cultures in which I thrive. Working with smart people, brand marketing & partnerships, consumer insights & cultural trends that allow me to see and understand ‘what’s next’, content development & perhaps most importantly, doing something that positively impacts the world.

This probably helps explain why I have been happiest and most fulfilled in my career when I have guided brands to the future based on new technology and trends in ways that changed the way business is done, and allowed me to flex my entrepreneurial muscles in a manner that transcended mere profit to yield true purpose.

My current collaboration with Billee Howard – BRANDthropologie Media – is a creative consultancy built around purposeful inclusion that fuses all of my passions under one umbrella. What I’m most thrilled about my new role is the canvas I have to work with top brands, and the leaders who steward them, to begin to etch out what positive and meaningful change can and should look like in these polarizing times.  To provide the most value that bridges the gap between the public and private sectors and activate powerful change, we have developed a methodology that helps brands identify their purpose and then creates the content experiences that will help define distinction and positively impact the bottom line.  Think McKinsey meets NBCUniversal. McKinBC!  FINALLY, a role that gives me license to meld my business acumen with my passion for creativity and content.  FINALLY, a role that lets me unite my professional aspirations with my personal interests to effect positive transformation.

I am a risk taker, and as such, am not unfamiliar with being too early to the party with a product, idea or solution, but this feels different.  We are at a cultural flashpoint where it’s never been more important for brands to pick up the ball that the Government has so obviously fumbled.  I believe that what we have fought for so hard in the past – everything from basic civil rights to (more specific) disability and LGBTQ rights will continue to be called into question amidst this time of great uncertainty and upheaval.  As a result, we must all step up and have our voices count as the fight has just begun.  In today’s environment, the private sector can be a powerful amplifier of our voices, and our partner in not only maintaining the impactful changes of the past, but also ensuring the promise of further progress that strives to make tomorrow better than today.

My hands down favorite TED talk is Simon Sinek’s ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’.  I affectionately refer to this talk as ‘The Power of Why’.  People don’t buy what you do but why you do it. This mission of finding ways to profit with purpose will not only lead us to the protection of our rights and the continued progress we all crave, but also bring value to the brands leading this charge, setting a new standard of what business excellence should look like. Whether you are a newly-minted graduate choosing an organization to join, a community looking to partner with a brand, OR a shareholder deciding if you should increase your position in a stock, purpose will without question emerge as a critical bellwether in determining the answer to each and every one of these questions.

In our collaborative purpose-driven economy, day-to-day business practice must demonstrate that a brand cares as much about leaving the world a better place as it does about improving its own bottom-line.  I am not alone in this assertion.  Look no further than Fast Company’s ‘Find Your Purpose’ issue, The Harvard Business Review E&Y Study:  The Business Case for Purpose, Davos 2017, or even the purposeful inclusion cadence that set the rhythm for nearly every commercial at this year’s Super Bowl and last night’s Oscar Awards broadcast.  It has never been more important for brands to demonstrate that we are stronger together than we are divided.

I’ve had a personal mantra since I lost one of my dearest high school friends several years ago:  Do More, Do Better.  I pledge to live each and every day obeying that guiding mantra and I invite each and everyone of you to join me. United we stand. United we rise.

Collaborative Economy

Collaborative Economy Paves The Way To New Era of Collaborative Purpose

The sharing or collaborative economy is growing daily around the world and quickly morphing into a recognized driver of purpose as much as democratized access and convenience.

As the eras of purposeful business and sharing collide, the impact has been massive and far-reaching. By combining the core tenets of profiting with purpose with the new notions of trust and borrowing vs. ownership the collaborative economy is based upon, the global business landscape is experiencing a groundswell shift as powerful as the one felt in the days of the Industrial Revolution.

As this movement continues to evolve, we are seeing the new economy positively impact all walks of society including: innovation, economic development, equity, safety and implementation. Examples of this are rampant as both cities and emerging market regions around the world seek to harness the awesome mettle of this new economic engine to drive meaningful growth, development, transformation and collective purpose.

This is a refreshing twist as for far too long the power of collaborative consumption and its groundbreaking innovation has been relegated largely to the topics of ride and home sharing. The far greater opportunity to view the sharing economy as a massive economic shift that is positively altering the way we live work and play and impacting areas as far ranging as urbanization and sustainability, has unfortunately been mostly overlooked.

Over the last two years or so positive examples of collaborative purpose have been slowly emerging. In the United States, Etsy’s Craft Entrepreneurship programs in New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Newark and Santa Cruz give new life to public-private collaboration and allow first-hand exposure to new business models. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge is proposing to apply sharing economy principles in different ways to help imbue new energy and innovation into the region. In Asia, Seoul’s Society 3.0has supported dozens of resident-led sharing initiative with public funding and other resources, with the primary goal of boosting community connectedness trust and purposeful collaboration.

As recently as this month, the models of collaborative purpose have only become more striking and powerful. For example, the sharing economy is gradually coming to more and more aspects of African life, including home cleaning and ridesharing. Now, Ghanaian startup Swiftly is taking it into the shipping space.

sharing economy

Launched earlier this year, Swiftly matches people with goods to ship with spare space in containers, whether being sent by sea, air or land. Chief executive officer (CEO) Edem Dotse told Disrupt Africa this month that the service has benefits in terms of both the cost of shipping goods and protecting the environment.

“It is just wasteful when someone has to ship a half full container by sea, or a half full package by air, or hire a delivery truck or van without fully utilizing the space,” Dotse said.

The opportunity for purposeful collaboration in Africa, the world’s fastest growing economy is massive.  The elements highlighted by local providers – access to more work opportunities in struggling employment markets, and a pre-existing culture of sharing assets – may contribute to the fact that on-demand services have encountered limited opposition in Africa to date and will likely continue to flourish without abatement. This is a trend likely to continue in similar emerging markets around the world.

Another great recent example of purposeful sharing is UK based start up OLIO.  OLIO connects neighbors with each other and local shops so that food can be shared instead of thrown away. They are trying to reduce food waste which is a huge problem in the UK and globally (50% of the  £10 billion of good food wasted in the UK/year comes from the home). They currently have over 55,000 users, and have been used over 200,000 times to share surplus food.

In our emerging world of placing the “we” over the “me,” the collaborative purpose movement in business is just another example of the awesome power of We-Commerce and proof of the longevity and transformative power of our new economy. OLIO’s mission statement perhaps describes what our new world is about best: “Small collective actions can lead to big change.”

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications collective specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce released in December 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. She is also a regular contributor to Forbes on the topics of marketing, storytelling and the collaborative economy.

Note: This article first appeared on Billee’s Huffingtonpost page.

Collaborative Commerce

Platform Driven Companies And The Impact Of Collaborative Commerce

This month’s Harvard Business Review focuses on the rise of businesses of all sizes using platforms instead of mere products to drive company growth.

As the debate continues over the real “sharing” behind the sharing economy, the new platform strategy boom may provide real insight into the undeniable impact that collaborative economy businesses are having on the broader global economic landscape and entrepreneurialism overall.

As often is the case, many great tips on agile innovation can be seen in smaller start up businesses and applied to larger traditional companies to help foster new growth and innovation. This has been the case with the new platform centric approach to doing business, which most definitely got its sea legs with the likes of sharing economy companies like Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit.

That said, as 2016 continues to emerge as the year the collaborative economy makes a true imprint on corporate America, some key lessons can also be learned from major companies as entrepreneurs work to adjust to the new platform driven marketplace.

If we look at GE and Microsoft working to transform and grow in size and scale by switching to platform business models instead of product centric or pipeline driven ones, the impact of collaborative commerce on broader business becomes evident.

Platform businesses that bring together producers and consumers as Uber and Airbnb do are capturing increased market share and transforming how competitive edge is achieved. Yesterday it was through product differentiation. Today it is through scale and impact.

With the iOT Predix GE platform for instance, the same ecosystem concept built around the marriage of technology and knowledge or service sharing that drives many collaborative economy models can be seen.

As GE works to go back to its industrial roots, it is using their new Predix platform to shape and define the future of the Industrial Internet. The platform, which falls under GE Digital, is being built to sit at the “intersection of people, machines, big data and analytics.” This new area of GE, recently launched as part of the company’s massive transformation, is expected to bring the company $6 billion alone in 2016.

Microsoft is also using a platform instead of product approach in the huge redesign of its Outlook email program by bringing together outside partners like PayPal, Uber, Evernote and Yelp! to create not just a winning email product, but winning email ecosystem.

According to HBR “With a platform model, the critical asset is the community and resources of its members. The focus of strategy shifts from controlling resources to orchestrating them, from optimizing internal resources, to facilitating external interactions and from increasing customer value to optimizing ecosystem value.”

Doesn’t all this new innovation sound a lot like the collaborative economy? Creating ecosystems built off of technology platforms to unite people around shared ideas and the accomplishment of specific goals?

With new models of success being predicated on a company’s ability to create platform driven models, the massive impact of the collaborative economy becomes more and more visceral. Companies ranging from John Deere to Nike are quickly scrambling to get in the game.

Collaborative Commerce

As big business continues to look to smaller, entrepreneurial enterprises for cues on how to succeed and lead in the future, following are a few key points for entrepreneurs to consider as the debate over platform vs. pipeline businesses continues to unfold:

1) Products by category and price point are largely commoditized. That being the case, a company must try to drive engagement and attain customer loyalty through winning experiences. Platform models that build ecosystems can offer such seamless interfaces and are critical to attaining long-term enhanced performance and competitive advantage.

2) While small is the new beautiful, scale not size matters. Through the power of the ioT today any company can appear large enough to have a powerful and broad reach. That being said, there is a difference between being large enough to sell products globally, and being able to offer seamless and consistent products and services on a global scale. In order to achieve the latter, entrepreneurs must create winning platform models that connect consumers directly to producers wherever possible. While a bespoke approach to creativity is vital to product and service development, creating networks that allow scale to occur quickly and efficiently are an imperative.

3) A company is great. A company with an amazing brand is better. Today, anyone can leverage technology to create their own “company” few however have the rigor, discipline and creativity to imagine and actualize their own brand. The key difference between a company and a company with a brand, is the type of immersive experiences provided. Companies by and large just sell good products. Companies with amazing brands sell products AND offer one-of-a-kind experiences. By looking to create ecosystem driven platforms within your organization, a company is much likelier to be able to transcend to ‘brand” status by its ability to scale its experiences and innovations.

4) Collaboration today is the key to everything. The sharing economy has changed not only the game, but the way the game must be played. Companies today are so much better in partnership and collaboration with others, be they external partners, vendors, consumers or even their own employees. The key to victory in switching from a pipeline driven product focused company to a platform one is recognizing that while innovation, disruption, speed and resources are critical to innovation, one of the most vital ingredients is the collaborative approach to commerce that platform models provide.

It seems clear that future success is going to be driven by those wise enough to harness the power of collaboration to build winning ecosystems that drive innovation, disruption and industry leadership.

While the comparisons between huge platform companies like GE and Microsoft and smaller collaborative economy players like TaskRabbit and Postmates may possess a few disparities, the undeniable fact is that an age of doing it for the we instead of the singular me is most definitely at the heart of the future of business.

Welcome to a world where it will be collaborative driven platforms not mere products that determine victory. Hail the new age of We-Commerce.

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications collective specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce released in December 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. She is also a regular contributor to Forbes on the topics of marketing, storytelling and the collaborative economy.

Note: This article first appeared on HuffingtonPost!

Sharing Economy Wins Big In India

Sharing Economy Wins Big In India

The collaborative economy continues its aggressive global push with a plethora of news out of India last week, the latest international market to aggressively pursue sharing focused innovations to solve modern day problems.

Following suit of Ford’s announcement at Mobile Congress, the country seems riveted on leveraging sharing economy disruptions to abate its excessive traffic congestion issues. Last week alone Ola a leading ride share app spent $200 million to acquire competitor TaxiForSure, and Ubermoto a new motorbike sharing service arrived on the scene.

India is looking to abate their traffic issues with motorcycles with Ubermoto which launched in Bangalore last week. Ola, followed suit with a similar service announcement.

In a press release, Uber described uberMOTO as “another step to help cut congestion in Bangalore by getting people out of cars when they don’t need to use them, and by encouraging motorbike drivers to share their ride. … By using today’s transportation infrastructure more efficiently, Uber’s technology can help the government of Karnataka cut traffic and congestion at no extra cost to taxpayers.”

Bengaluru-based PoolCircle launched in April last year with a mission to take a million cars off the roads—“by enabling four people to ride in each car, instead of just one”, says Raghu Ramanujam, founder-CEO of the carpooling/ride-sharing network. “It’s been an exciting journey since then. We have around 4,000 users, largely in Bangalore, with nearly 40% of them being active. We have about 3,000 carpools offered/looking for on our platform on a daily basis,” he adds.

As 2016 continues to unfold, it seems clear that India is poised to be a major sharing economy player. With the government providing better access to credit through financial market reform and market incentives to attract talented staff and flexible contracting laws, key enabling factors stemming from governmental intervention and relaxed regulation will play a key role in the future success of the sharing economy in the region.

“As long as we deliver value to end users and are able to win customer affection, regulations are never going to be a challenge. Regulations will evolve. At the end of the day, sharing economy drives huge benefits not only from the economic point of view, but also from environmental and social points of view,” Ramanujam, said.

With sharing central to India’s culture as a whole, the country seems poised to be among the world’s leaders in collaborative consumption. Perhaps the country can set a model on the need to have regulation keep pace with innovation as our new and exciting world of we takes flight.

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce released in December 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. You can read more about “WE-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy” right here!

Wecommerce book Sharing Economy

cc: Ford

Mobile World Congress: Sharing Economy As A Platform For Long Term Growth

Between the Ford news at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona introducing an entirely autonomous vehicle called the Kuga SUV to better compete in the sharing economy and Tech Republic writing a feature on the new “time banking” movement which is putting peer to peer sharing at the heart of communities worldwide, it seems clear that the age of collaborative consumption shows no signs of abating any time soon as it continues to achieve a global footprint.

Don Butler, Ford’s executive director of connected vehicle and services, told the AP in reference to the Kuga “we like to think about it as the transition from just a hardware company to a software and mobility services company as well.”

“Mobility” as tied to the sharing economy was a major buzzword at the Mobile World Congress show. For Ford customers, it means a wide range of innovations from further integration of the Internet in cars, to ride-sharing and even the use of other modes of transport in conjunction with cars, like bicycles.

With ride-sharing platforms like Uber reshaping driving for many young would-be consumers, Ford is clearly looking to get a piece of the so-called sharing economy.

“Across the world when you see growth of these megacities, with 10 million or more folks, people want mobility solutions, they want options,” said Ford CEO Mark Fields. That can include car-sharing, ride-sharing or the use of multiple modes of transportation linked into one service — such as the use of a train and bike. He said Ford is testing some programs in this field, which he sees as “a big revenue opportunity.” Those projects include car-sharing in London and across Germany. Ford is also working on an experimental e-bikes program that Butler said it could one day mesh with car-sharing.

Further evidence of the weconomy’s growing influence across all aspects of business and society is the global time banking movement. Tech Republic a major media influencer did a profile on the concept this week validating the trend.

Timebanking lets you swap good deeds with neighbors and creates community by making everyone’s time worth the same amount and then swapping the value of those deeds. The phenomenon is exploding in regions across the world. In the US, St. Louis is a hotbed for this type of disruptive innovation. On the Louisville TimeBank Facebook page, a member who has come down with a cold extends a plea for homemade soup. The request is answered in minutes. “Thank you TB family!” she posted. “I’m good to go.” Other posts involve requests for plywood, borrowing a dog crate, offers to donate a propane tank and an old dryer.

Time banking is a global phenomenon that is taking shape from the US to Tokyo with the idea of peer-to-peer collaboration at its core. In fact there is even a time banking global directory. As no one makes a profit with this permutation of the sharing economy, it’s hard for skeptics to sneer at the sharing model when something of this level of authenticity serves as concrete proof of the permanence and long-term viability of collaborative consumption. Throw in one of the world’s leading companies touting the sharing economy as a platform for long term growth at Mobile World Congress and you clearly have not a fad but a phenomenon.

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals to produce innovative, creative and passionate dialogues with target communities, consumers and employees, while blazing a trail toward new models of artful, responsible, and sustainable business success. Billee is a veteran communications executive in brand development, trend forecasting, strategic media relations, and C-suite executive positioning. She has a book dedicated to the study of the sharing economy called WeCommerce released in December 2015 as well as a blog entitled the #HouseofWe dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. You can read more about “WE-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate, and Succeed in the Sharing Economy” right here!

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