I’ve always been genuinely curious about people, business, innovation, and technology. What’s been most fulfilling is watching people connect during the experiences I have built. Nothing better than randomly hearing from people who said something I created meant so much to them. Challenges - with COVID having to tell clients: "No, there will not be events till spring/summer 2021."
"What’s been most fulfilling is watching people connect during the experiences I have built."
You’re an expert in experience design. At a moment of social distancing, how should we be re-thinking ‘experience’ – and what are brands going to be building in the future?
Prepare to be virtual and bring as many live elements where you can. That can be incorporating dance/yoga/networking breakouts to delivering the attendees dinner from a nearby restaurant. Also, tell clients to look towards the future in spring/summer 2021 – which will need to be smaller and more open.
"Prepare to be virtual and bring as many live elements where you can."
You met in person with Megan Cunningham, our founder, the same week that COVID news was surfacing in New York. In fact, she told us that the programmers who produce SXSW announced it was cancelled during your meeting, it was breaking news that impacted you both personally and professionally. Subsequently, we saw three news waves unfold: a global pandemic, a national economic crisis, and racism and diversity are gaining renewed focus after recent protests over the murder of George Floyd.
Please tell us the story of 2020, from your perspective. What role are the sharpest marketers playing in this climate? What are the skills that are most critical to master, and how are you offering your talents and perspective to apply in this unprecedented environment?
Stepping up and speaking out. I’ve always been open as a Black Woman in business; I have always tried to have my work be first and not my skin color. In this climate, we have pivoted to offer more Culture Services in our business. We have our Culture Boards product, our Unconscious Bias Training, and our Recruiting Network service. We have always been at the intersection of culture and business, and we are supercharging this because the moment calls for it.
"We have always been at the intersection of culture and business and we are supercharging this because the moment calls for it."
You were featured in ESSENCE as ”The Woman Responsible For Giving Women Of Color More Visibility On Stages Across America”, as you’ve achieved that more successfully than any other event producer. You’ve shined in an area others have historically struggled. What advice do you have for event producers and programmers? How do you utilize your network and your talent to connect the right speakers with the right events/audience?
Be nice to people, be genuinely curious, and build your network using those elements as your guide. The reason I do what I do is because of word of mouth or I met someone, built a relationship, and then gave more than I received.
"The reason I do what I do is because of word of mouth or I met someone, built a relationship, and then gave more than I received."
Brands and individual leaders are being called out on their response to #BlackLivesMatter especially when there is a large gap between their words and actions. As stories of racial injustice permeate every channel, marketers in every industry are at the front lines of crafting their own company’s responses.
Our community of marketers has always taken seriously the responsibility to tell honest and diverse stories; but now more than ever, the pressure is on to deliver. How do brands make sure that underrepresented communities are not only visible, but also heard within their communities of customers, employees, partners, and co-creators? And how should they make sure that it’s not a short-term initiative, but long-term commitments to meaningful, lasting change?
Accept that this is a movement and not a moment. It has to come from the spirit of listening, learning, and then taking meaningful lasting action to go forward. Our Culture Boards product is designed to help brands sharpen their cultural literacy and help them develop programming using their internal systems to help communities of color improve in a lasting way. Brands can’t do performative allyship because they will be called out. They have to look internally and make sure their cultures are welcome and diverse at all levels. If they are not, then they need to take immediate steps to make those changes. No one expects you to change in 24 hours, but this also isn’t a 5-year plan. Go now, pay Black women who are experts in this field to help you and empower your Black employees, but don’t give them extra work without compensation.