Now that I’m able to focus on projects that fit my idea of fun, my website is mostly for fun. But the skills I learned as an anthropologist, writer and communications strategist continue to inform my work.
Anthropologists observe and ask questions. I ask: “Who are you talking to? What do you want them to do when you’re done? What’s the elephant in the room; that, if you don’t address it, they won’t hear a word you say?” Then I talk with listeners, to see the world from their points of view.
When I opened my consulting practice in 2000 I wrote speeches for senior leaders at Emerson, Pfizer, Thomsen Consumer Electrics (RCA brand) and Procter & Gamble. These were the days of live meetings, when hundreds or thousands of employees and customers gathered as my clients read scripted speeches on tele-prompters.
Soon computers were everywhere. People got information in new ways. Companies sent important announcements by video. They shared strategies via meeting-in-a-box. They held televised town halls, where executives fielded questions from all over the globe.
As communication became less formal, listeners expected a new authenticity. Scripted speeches no longer severed. I still wrote about strategic change, but I began crafting messages for leaders to deliver without a script, often in face-to-face settings.
As my relationship with Procter & Gamble grew; I worked with chief officers and lead teams in the Sales, Marketing and Product Supply organizations, and in nearly every business. I added “anthropologist” to my resume after a client brought me in to explore the role P&G’s corporate culture played in the failure of a multimillion dollar initiative. I also studied the impact of culture in helping P&G leaders understand why other multimillion dollar initiatives succeeded. I created white papers and documentary films about P&G successes and failures around the globe.
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Over the years, the issues that keep executives up at night change. But at any given time, most businesses, large and small, drink from the same well of challenges and opportunities.
At the start of the 21st century everyone grappled with technology. Next, companies needed to reinvent themselves to think and talk in terms of the customer’s what’s-in-it-for-me. I helped my clients differentiate themselves from the competition, and then, create partnerships with their competitors. They talked about building efficient supply chains and operating globally. On it goes.
Today, clients talk about new business models and dynamic strategic plans. They they talk to people who came to the workforce well after “change is constant” was a new idea.
The vast majority of my clients have a pretty good idea what to say. They know their ability to say in a clear, compelling way has a huge impact on what happens next. I help them get there faster.
As a long time partner with the Cincinnati chapter of Social Venture Partners, I recently became lead trainer for SVP’s Fast Pitch, a competition in which local non-profit leaders compete to see who can deliver the most compelling three-minute pitch about what they do and why it matters.
After creating messages – doing the fishing – for my clients, I now also teach ’em how to fish.