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.

trump for business

Finding A Silver Lining In The Trump Presidency: America Is the World’s Newest Emerging Market

Twenty-two years ago, I graduated from college into a world vastly dissimilar to the one that faces us today. The 90s were quite a different time with a different Clinton in the White House. The excess of the go-go 80’s had paved the way for more purposeful ideas, and America was still viewed as a bright and thriving nation and economic powerhouse.  A country of grace and elegance and ease. Jobs were plentiful, daily terrorist threats were not a reality, and while people swept up in the “grunge” of the times, exhibited a bit of the artist worthy angst that helped define the era, an overall sense of contentment and pride swaddled the nation.

It was at this time that I took my first job at a boutique government public relations firm who’s sole mission was to represent the Philippines, and its new democratic President, as great havens for overseas U.S investment dollars in the burgeoning Pacific Rim region.

President Fidel Ramos, my client, had been elected following the coup by Corazon Aquino, the country’s and Asia’s first female President, of billionaire dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and his notorious shoe loving wife Imelda. The country had a reason to swell with pride and the fledgling emerging market nation wanted the world to know about it.

This was not surprising as the Southeast Asian region, particularly hotbeds of growth like Singapore and Indonesia, began to assert themselves as viable and vital economic engines. Before BRIC there was the ASEAN list of third world nations poised for rampant growth and development as technology first reared its head as the great equalizer. The era of the mighty and transformation driven emerging market was born, and today, twenty years later, it is these very nations that stand out as the world’s most innovative and vibrant economies.

What makes me think of that time in my life at this moment is the amazing similarities that are evident in our country today. We too had a mighty woman fighting to overturn the establishment and break new boundaries. The only difference lies in the fact that she did not win her fight, and instead of us moving forward with a great new Democrat, we are moving in reverse with a Marcosian Republican who has his very own gold encrusted palace, replete with designer shoes, and matching bejeweled wife.

While this all sounds like extremely horrific news, what if it wasn’t? What if our nation’s massive regression actually was seen as the greatest act of creative destruction of all time? What if tearing down everything to the core, instead of building upon band-aids and broken promises, will actually enable the world’s greatest emerging market ever to emerge in its place?

With a Trump presidency, fail as it may, won’t a new America in some way most certainly arrive? An America that has a big “Open for Business” sign on it announcing to the world that while we are no longer the home of industrial manufacturing, we are still the place that produces the greatest ideas and innovations the world as ever seen ? The country known for rising from the ashes like a Phoenix in its most dire hour? The phrase darkest before the dawn was born in the USA after all wasn’t it?

Amidst all of Trump’s buffoonery and blustering over non-actionable ideas, (i.e. shutting down the FDA and EPA??) there are few infrastructure driven ones that seem plausible and practical given his background, and in the best interest of our nation.

It’s not hard to imagine Trump improving our country’s energy grid, transportation systems or technological backbone, which will ultimately make us more successful, competitive and might even return a bit of our luster on the global stage.

It’s not hard either to imagine well placed brilliant business people stepping into vitally important roles as part of the new Administration. Jamie Dimon helming the Treasury doesn’t give me pause. It gives me great hope for resumed prosperity. Peter Thiel in charge of innovation, technology and entrepreneurial growth and development, would also offer me a bright light at the end of what currently feels like an extraordinarily long and dark tunnel.

innovation

A new made in the U.S.A. movement has been quietly taking shape across our great nation for the past several years, with old industrial regions being remade into hotbeds of innovation. Think of the new Silicon movement. Dallas is no longer just known for oil, but is regarded as Silicon Prairie, home of gaming technology and disruption. Venice Beach is still about brawn, but not for Muscle Beach, but rather the legion of revolutionary tech start-ups dominating its streets, earning it the title of Silicon Beach. SnapChat, BuzzFeed, Google and Parkme all have footholds in the new thriving center of creativity and disruption.

There is also Silicon Bayou, (New Orleans), Silicon Forest, (Oregon) Silicon Hills (Austin), Silicon Hill (D.C), Silicon Anchor (Virginia) Silicon Desert (Arizona) and so on and so on. And these just aren’t bright shiny new names. They are real monikers for hubs of new high-tech industries ranging from semiconductors, to biotech, to financial services, to healthcare, putting good and hard working Americans, regardless of race, creed or color, back to work.

There are also towns with former factory driven economies long gone, with new vibrant economic ecosystems arriving in their place. Detroit, Michigan and Braddock, Pennsylvania just to name a few. Both rebuilt anew after being torn down. Started completely from scratch out of a place of darkness, but fueled by the courage to imagine a brighter and better tomorrow.

While a Trump presidency seems like the end…The end of rational thought, empowerment, idealism, equality and all other things a thriving democracy is supposed to be associated with….Maybe, just maybe, if we try hard enough, not in the best interest of our new President, but ourselves as Americans, we can see it as the beginning. The beginning of a new day in America, where we are in fact great again, not because of the division Trump has ignited, but rather for the spirit of collaboration, ingenuity, resilience, intellect and hope our great nation was founded upon, and that only recovery from great failure can kindle.

Billee Howard is the Founder of Brandthropologie where she helps CMOs and CEOs executive produce their brands. Schedule a 15min call with Billee right here.

Note – This article first published on Billee’s Huffpost blog right here

Sharing Economy, We-Commerce And The Future Of Business

Billee Howard’s book, WE-Commerce: How to Create, Collaborate and Succeed in the Sharing Economy, highlights a world in which culture and commerce collide in ways that are considered unprecedented and an economy driven by entrepreneurialism and creativity. Howard talks about how the sharing economy ushered a variety of micro-economies that enable people to come together and experience luxuries they’ve never experienced before. She makes the argument that millennials, and Gen Z behind them, aren’t interested in owning possessions, but in sharing, borrowing, and using technology to come together and help make the world a better place.

 

Note – This Interview was originally published at > http://www.c-suitetv.com/video/best-seller-tv-billee-howard-commerce/

[Infographic] How To Executive Produce Your Brand In 3 Steps

As the line between journalism and entertainment content continues to blur, brands have the opportunity to step up as purveyors of not just winning products, but producers of content that can drive both engagement as well as specific business outcomes that directly correlate to improved business performance. Following are 3 easy steps that will help 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:

Step 1) Development: Think of a Brand Story as a Movie that is Being Written & Cast

Step 2Production: Think of Your Content Platform As Your Movie Set

Step 3) Distribution: Imagine All The Ways In Which You Can Sell Tickets to Your Show

Build A Brand

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.