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.

Business Artistry

Warhol Passes Baton to Haring To Further Inspire Age of Business Artistry

As we all know, the sharing or “WE” economy, is a socio-economic ecosystem built around the sharing of human, physical and intellectual resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people and organizations and is heavily reliant upon a few core principles: collaboration, creativity, and a celebration of the type of business artistryinvented by Warhol.

In our current world of WE, creative industries like fashion, art, and music drive the economy as much as—if not more than—finance, real estate, and law. And according to author Elizabeth Currid in her visionary book “The Warhol Way,” these creative industries have been fueled by the societal happenings that whirl around the clubs, galleries, music venues, and fashion shows where creative people meet, network, exchange ideas, pass judgments, and set the trends that shape popular culture.

These counter-intuitive ideas continue to drive our economy forward, and can without question be traced back to the days of Warhol, where the key tenet of culture driven commerce, sparked by collaboration was born. In the days of Andy Warhol’s FACTORY, boundless collaboration became integral to innovation, the worlds of art and business fused together, the POP Art movement consequently arrived…and the seeds of today’s sharing economy were planted.

It is therefore no coincidence, as the era of collaborative creativity has come to take center stage, that the works of Warhol have had a massive resurgence in recent times. Last year, Warhol was the second highest revenue generating artist, behind only Pablo Picasso, with sales totaling $416.5 million.

We have also witnessed an indelible Warhol imprint on culture driven commerce. There was the Perrier Warhol campaign, the Dom Perignon Warhol campaign, and the Absolut Warhol campaign alone in the last few years. And that’s just the beverage industry. NARS cosmetics had a Warhol inspired make up line, and just this past summer, Gucci launched a “meeting Warhol’s ghost in a public toilet” campaign with an eye on revitalizing its brand and making it more accessible. Perhaps they were following suit to their former creative director Tom Ford, who also launched a Warhol inspired campaign for his line three years ago.

And it didn’t stop there. Brands across the land also took a less literal interpretation to fusing the Warholian lens of collaboration and craftsmanship to invite consumer engagement and to spotlight his idea of everyone having a chance to be famous for 15 minutes.

There was the Lincoln rebrand around artisan automobiles and the Lays consumer innovation driven DO ME A FLAVOR campaign. There was also the explosion of Factory-esque sharing platforms in the workplace like We-Works, Office Nomads and Icehouse.

As I said in my book We-Commerce, we have entered a Warholian age of creative commerce driven by culture, where we are consequently being pushed to emerge as “artists of business” if we are to stand out and succeed. We without question live in a world which increasingly rewards collaborating around the idea of art + commerce = innovation, and are being forced to agilely adapt as a result.

In my book, there is a chapter entitled “Become An Artist of Business” where I explore these ideas and mention that other disciples (past and present) of the “Warhol Way” will soon begin to flood the landscape as proof of this concept and as the age of all things Andy reaches a critical saturation point.

One of the artists I flag that this would most likely happen with was Keith Haring, and as 2016 comes to a close, the era of sharing or “Haring” could not be more evident.

Haring took the idea of art + commerce equaling innovation to the next level honing in on the notions of accessibility and purpose. He opened the first ever Pop Shop in the 1980s in Soho to make his drawings available to everyone. Pop up shops by leading brands as disparate as e-Bay and Warby Parker have flooded the landscape for the last several years and show no sign of abating anytime soon, as winning brands seek to make their offerings available to all through one of a kind experiences that “pop.”

Haring also pre-dated acclaimed graffiti bandit Banksy with his underground subway scrawlings, seeking to make his art accessible, but to also showcase the power of visual imagery in conveying influential messages. In a world where images clearly trump words everywhere we look from Instagram to Emojis, Haring’s influence is palpable. Snapchat, perhaps the king of visual imagery, which recently rebranded itself as just Snap, even just released its Spectacles glasses product designed solely to help consumers capture and share unique visual imagery.

Haring used his one of a kind visual communication to imbue a sense of activism around critical societal issues like drugs and AIDS. There was the infamous Crack is Wack series and the memorable Stop Aids collection.

As I highlight in We-Commerce, this influence can be seen taking shape in the new age of business, with companies of all shapes and size, and across all industries, demonstrating the need to act with a sense of purpose each and every day, not just around sustainability or philanthropy efforts. Using commerce to instill purpose and not just profit is ubiquitous today and clearly mimics Haring’s use of art to activate meaningful change.

Pepsi pioneered this idea over a decade ago with its critically acclaimed Refresh platform, and we see these concepts at work everywhere today from GM partnering with Lyft to advance the age of autonomous vehicles, to brands like Tom’s Shoes and Salesforce innovating and disrupting around the 1:1 give back model, where portions of profits are immediately put back into the world to do good.

Keith Haring’s art was auctioned for a record price this year, hitting the $4.2 million mark for one piece at a Sotheby’s event this summer. If we continue to play out the Warhol influence paradigm, perhaps this is a clear indication that our world of creativity, collaboration and purpose has only just begun.

Business Artistry

cc – proudlyyours

I for one hope it is a clear harbinger of the era of “artists of business“ meaningfully  taking hold. An era of commerce where creativity, sharing and a sense of worthwhile contribution, set the bar on what true innovation, profitability and leadership could, and should, really look like.

As Keith once famously said, “The public needs art – and it is the responsibility of a ‘self-proclaimed artist’ to realize that the public needs art, and not to make bourgeois art for a few and ignore the masses.”

Today maybe, just maybe, we can all continue to extend that notion to business and entrepreneurialism, using the age of sharing or “Haring,” and the artistry of business driving it, to realize the vision of us all being better in the service of the collective we over the singular me.

Read an excerpt from We-Commerce on “Becoming an Artist of Business” in Time magazine’s Motto here: http://time.com/author/billee-howard/

Billee Howard is Founder + Chief Engagement Officer of Brandthropologie, a cutting edge communications collective specializing in identifying the most powerful collision point of culture and commerce for each client to create captivating stories that are consumed, shared and drive meaningful and measurable engagement. 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 The Brandthropologist (http://brandthropologie.com/the-brandthropologist/blog) dedicated to curating the trends driving our economy forward. She is also a regular contributor to Forbes and HuffPo on the topics of marketing, storytelling and the collaborative economy.

[Infographic] 11 Business Trends Entrepreneurs Need To Be Aware Of

As 2017 approaches, it has become apparent that the collaborative economy is not a blip or fad, or something that is related to just Uber or Airbnb, but rather a vital engine powering the future of global business and entrepreneurialism.

Following are some key issues and business trends to take note of as our world of We-Commerce, and palpable shift from the me to the we, continues to evolve:

Business Trends

 

[Infographic] Turn Your Brand Into An Award Winning Entertainment Studio

By placing a collaborative approach to innovation, marketing and communications at the beginning of the supply chain of invention, successful brands can effectively leverage cultures of collaboration to positively impact both commerce as well as meaningful communication.

The studio model, which focuses on the phases of development, production and distribution, all with an eye on building an audience that can be monetized both immediately as well as overtime, is a forward thinking approach any CMO should consider in today’s ultra competitive landscape.

Following are 3 easy steps that will help CEO’s and CMO’s “executive produce” their brands in ways that both “push” and “pull” information and content, as well as drive audience reach and measurable engagement:

Build Your Brand

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Billee Howard WeCommerce

Top 5 Reasons Why I Wrote We-Commerce

We-Commerce is about the idea of identifying and highlighting the one critical thing driving us all forward today- – profiting for the we instead of the me. Our world hit a massive reset button after the 2008 global financial meltdown, and in the aftermath, a whole new world has flourished with levels of transformative innovation that we haven’t seen since the industrial Revolution. My book offers business people everywhere the insight and advice that they need to navigate this entirely new business terrain and realize a new definition of success for the many, not just for the few.

My book introduces the idea of a new age dominated by“artists of business” who are driving disruption and innovation today and into the future. The book was launched last week (Dec 1st, 2015) and is available in major outlets like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many more. Here are top 5 reason why I wrote the book We-Commerce.

  1. I have a crush on Nostradamus and wanted to predict the future.

Sharing Economy Future

  1. I wanted to help give voice to the new generation of sharing we are living in today.

via GIPHY

  1. There has never been a time of more transformative action taking place in society daily since the Industrial Revolution, and I felt a map was needed for our new cultural and economic topography.
  1. I have always wanted to be an author and I felt that the recent daily collision of my two cornerstones of passion, art + commerce, was a sign that my time to write was now.
  1. Because the movement from me to we is palpable and things as we know them will never be the same!

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 due out in Fall 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