Articles by Teri A. Schindler
Last month I was invited to speak to a diverse group of professional women. I explored the idea of “women and ownership” from both a literal, economic standpoint (think: real estate), as well as experiential, personal and emotional standpoints (think: accepting opportunity and the consequences of our decisions). How, I asked the group, can we truly own our lives, embrace our choices, create opportunities and drive change? Moreover, how do we own change itself?
While the Penn State scandal and abdication of leadership is deplorable and unfortunately merits its sad attention, what happened at the venerable University of Virginia this spring is, in another way, astounding. It laid bare the unrelenting business assault roiling educational institutions, their custodians and their brands.
There is certainly humor to be had watching, sprawled out in the comfort of another century, the way previous generations handled – or didn’t – destabilizing changes that we now take for granted. We are now obligated to live in a culture of conversation with its simultaneous flattening of things like expert culture and its ever-expanding choice of content providers and options.
How can a business respond to both the radical changes in the market as well as the human challenges in the wind? Without a doubt, the blue ocean opportunity of the moment is trust.
“Building community.” It’s become a mantra. You can’t go a day of digitally deposited trade reading without gurus across the board - from HBR to Ad Age - opining on how brand building is linked to community building. The devil, of course, is in the details.
Davis Brand Capital friend and collaborator Kevin Slavin spoke at TED Global this month about how algorithms are increasingly shaping our world. Think that doesn't concern you, your business or your life? Think again.
Starbucks earned the “Best Gift to American Workers” award this holiday season. And we’re not talking caffeine or gift cards. While corporate America grinched out, laying off staff, refusing to tackle the ballooning unemployment rate and hoarding cash like Ebenezer Scrooge, Starbucks was there: a 21st century Statue of Liberty, opening its arms to the tired, huddled and suddenly office-less masses and their laptops. Day after day it was hard to find a seat in many Starbucks cafes, co-opted as they were by new, uncertain entrepreneurs trying to get a gig off the ground or scanning the Help Wanted listings.
There may be more bears in publishing than there are on Wall St. This isn’t new to the current recession; as Ken Auletta recently noted in the New Yorker, “publishing exists in a continual state of forecasting its own demise.” Now add to that traditional gloomy propensity today’s market conditions - a period when most industries are wrestling with digital disintermediation and even wholesale redefinitions of function. You get a complete meltdown.
This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal included a neatly illustrated article by Joe Queenan on the dearth of imagination in Hollywood in 2010. The Worst Movie Year Ever? lamented recent storytelling efforts in Tinstletown, painting a picture of movie theaters around the country where audiences sit “listlessly through a series of lame, mechanical trailers for upcoming films that look exactly like the DOA movies audiences avoided last week.” I’m familiar with the feeling that the popcorn is the only thing to be happy about in theaters this summer. But as I was thinking about it, I started to wonder: is Queenan simply describing the state of entertainment, or is he actually providing a metaphor for the state of business lately?
The kid owned it. At a cultural moment when no one owns anything -- from BP execs to Wall Street banking honchos to members of Congress to sad little Lindsay Lohan -- this twenty-something kid sat down one-on-one, took a deep breath, and owned his decision. He's not responsible for the recession, for Cleveland's identity crisis, for salivating and hyperventilating media. He didn't hide behind a lawyer or an uber-agent/agency. He made a controversial decision about his life, and he announced it personally. Criticism comes with the territory, but he didn't hide.