I’m in midtown Manhattan… on my way to a roundtable discussion about innovation. I pick up an espresso at a local coffee place, which I pay for with Apple-pay on my phone. I order a car with my Uber app and check my email during the ride.
After a 15 minute drive I exit the car and check the address of my meeting again on Google maps. “347 Madison Avenue…” This avenue has some of the world’s most upscale boutiques… and is of course famous because of the American television series about the advertisement industry. The phrase “Mad Men” is a slang term coined in the 1950s by advertisers working on Madison Avenue to refer to themselves.
While crossing the street, Igor Beuker comes to mind… with his presentation ‘From Mad Men to Math Men’.
I recently learned that his talk has transformed into a TV show, with Igor as the host. Add to that that he writes for Business Insider and that he regularly sees trends that he ‘spotted’, become real.
“Why don’t I give him a call,” I think to myself, “maybe he can give me some insights.”
Google Hangouts puts me in direct contact with Igor.
“Great to hear from you, I’m actually invited to speak at a marketing conference in New York next month,” Igor says, “so, what’s up?”
“Well, I’m on my way to attend a discussion about innovation in business, and I would like your view on some statements. Do you have a few minutes?”
“Sure, sounds like fun, shoot!” Igor replies.
“Okay here we go,” I say, “let’s start with one of your own phrases, just to get you going. Mad Men vs Math Men… what can you say about that?”
“Here is the short version,” Igor starts. “Mad Men are the people who have become world players based on advertising and old business models. The Math Men are strategic thinkers and entrepreneurs who believe innovation is the way to survival and growth. They believe in the power of digital transformation, which will create new opportunities for your business.”
“Great…,” I say, “and what about Digital Darwinism?”
“Survival of the fittest… adapt or die!” Igor exclaims. “Large companies underestimate the impact and pace with which this digital revolution is taking place. The companies that think that a new commercial or a new website will do the job, will not survive.
“Interesting, here’s another one: The fourth industrial revolution.”
Igor waits a few seconds before answering. “We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another,” he says with a serious voice. “In its scale, scope and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before.
“I see it as my duty to challenge companies, provide them with a forecast of where their company will be in 5 years from now, a realistic scenario. The first reaction is disbelief and denial. But after I show them numbers, facts and examples of their peers….they slowly get on board and realize the sense of urgency.”
“Do you see yourself as a ‘Rebel with a Cause’?”
“My way of working is challenging,” Igor replies, “confronting – saving nothing and nobody. I share my knowledge and experience to help companies to prevent them from catastrophe. To achieve this goal, I can not be Mr. Nice Guy. I have to be bold and direct.
”The main message I want to convey is that ‘everyone wants to innovate , but nobody wants to change’.
“We all know that human beings are change averse. However, in this time of the 4th industrial revolution, there simply is no way to avoid change. And if you keep resisting, you resist progress, innovation and hence you endanger your own survival.”
“Now taking a helicopter view, why are you doing all this? You have made your success, you have earned your stripes, what drives you?“
“Great question, thought you’d never ask,” Igor says with a big smile. “Actually, everything I have done and will do, finds its origin in my deeply rooted belief in the power of education. I believe that education breeds progress.
People like Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai inspire me to do my part, to learn and share what I’ve learned. That’s what will bring the world to the next level.”
“Cool,” I say, “thanks for sharing these insights and your purpose with me. If you don’t mind, I’ll use the insights in my next meeting.”
Not too long ago, I had just arrived from abroad and wanted to share some time with Christa Dowling. We were sitting in a Café overlooking the Hudson River; it was a cold but sunny day. The air was crystal clear and the waves were bobbing up and down in the chilly wind. We were comfortable inside.
Christa had just remarked “borders are in our head.”
I asked her “what do you mean? “
“You travel much and see the world. In many ways we create our own reality yet it seems through our advanced technology we are forced to reach out to the world all the time, saying we have hundreds of friends, yet if we are fortunate we might have five or six.”
“Yes, but this does not answer my question.”
“No it does not; I am just setting the stage. Defining my answer I would need to go a bit further. Making friends takes time, effort and thoughtfulness. Yet, all the people I have ever been lucky enough to meet have much in common. Let us start with respect for one another; it matters not what nationality, creed or religion. The other important part is education and the curiosity to learn. Life is learning about all these great gifts … gifts we were born with.”
“You mean to say life is a patchwork…like a quilt.”
“Yes, indeed it is how we weave this patchwork of experience into a whole picture. As life demands we need to be authentic, true to oneself…to make sense of reality.”
“What has influenced you to have come to this insight?”
“Oh, I do not mean to sound pretentious, just contemplative. One was the encouragement by my parents…to learn…to know what you know…no one can take it away. I have also been fortunate to have been exposed to some great learned people. My assignments as a writer or editor-in-chief has given me the chance to experience many parts of the world. These assignments in Germany, Italy , Africa, Israel , Egypt or Brazil have always mirrored this feeling of ‘there are no borders’.”
“How do you see these experiences today?’
“In ways these many experiences have also helped to formulate a work ethics which I am talking about today. My purpose is building bridges for a better understanding between people…in art and commerce. For example it takes funding to present music or art, in any form. The thought is that art, in dance, in music enriches people’s lives. Music has a language of its own …and no borders. “
“Tolerance would be part of this thinking?”
“Yes, very much so. It comes with the territory! I remember being in Gambia, West Africa…and was watching people drumming their drums in a musical discord to my ears. Small ones and very large ones…and all of a sudden their drumming rhythm fell into a harmonious sound. It was as if the language they used…from different parts of the African continent… had one sound of joy and finding ways to speak in a common language of music. The language of human need for love, shelter. It was very moving.”
“Now …I feel to understand your remark, your contemplation. Thank you for sharing it.”
We’re on our way to the New York Stock Exchange, undisputed financial heart of the world, to meet Merrie Frankel. More than just a trading floor, the iconic building on Wall Street represents a rich heritage, celebrates the will to achieve and pursue opportunities.
The location couldn’t be more fitting: Merrie’s financial expertise spans six careers: she has worked as a tax attorney, investment banker and REIT analyst for companies ranging from Salomon Brothers to Moody’s. She now serves as a board director for Agree Realty. Quite an impressive line-up, testimony to her unique approach not only in the financial sector, but the business arena in general.
We decide to get some coffee first, so that we can learn more about her, and how she came to be where she is today.
” You should never stop learning: all the knowledge you acquire is valuable, you just have to learn to use it correctly and apply it to each situation. ”
She has vast experience in a wide range of fields, having been involved in many projects and industries. Merrie explains: “Everything I’ve done has brought me new insights, new expertise. So when I’m faced with a new issue or project, I move from the general to the specific. I sort through what I know, filter what I need for the specific task at hand, and find solutions that are prompted by a diverse background. I get things into the funnel and make them work.”
She speaks with enthusiasm and fire, expresses herself easily but thoughtfully.
“I’m eager to learn, but I’m also eager to share. This is a connected world, one of intertwining circles. Many people have the tendency to silo themselves off, but I’m thoroughly convinced that communication is key. Interaction enriches.”
With Merrie, it doesn’t seem to be a matter of either/or: her approach is direct and goal-oriented, but she also takes the time to gather information and form a balanced opinion. She gathers information and shares it, but also integrates it into a fact pattern.
“It’s like a puzzle – ultimately it’s about putting the pieces together. Professionally, it’s no different. You have to enjoy what you do, be good at what you do, combine the pieces, and bring things to a resolution.”
As we walk to the steps, she smiles and says, “I just thought of something. You asked me about the beginning of my career. When I was a kid, I had an ice-cream business by the Atlantic City shore with three carts, selling ice-cream sandwiches and other goodies for a quarter each. I think that sparked the flame.”
Janice has been an advocate of Women on Boards for many years. We’re discussing with her why this is not a ‘nice to have’, but a ‘need to have’.
“Janice, Chadick Ellig strongly values gender parity – especially in the boardroom. Besides talking and writing about it, you’re actually doing something to change it.”
“Absolutely! Women constitute half of the global population and in the U.S. influence over 80% of purchasing decisions. Yet less than 20% of the approximately 4,500 S&P 500 board seats are currently held by women. Furthermore, ‘less than 3%’ – i.e. 30 companies of the Fortune 1000 – have 40% or more women on their boards. That is a dismal statistic. That is why, as founder and chair of the Corporate Board Initiative for the Women’s Forum of New York, we proposed a goal of reaching gender parity on S&P 500 boards by 2025. That is my personal mission and I am honored to work with many CEOs to make that goal a reality.
“When I was President of the Women’s Forum of New York, I started the Corporate Board Initiative and our signature event, the biennial Breakfast of Corporate Champions in 2011, where we honored those companies with 20% or more women on boards. With an outstanding panel of CEOs – who spoke about the strategic business imperative to achieve gender parity on boards – momentum began to build. These CEOs sponsored board-ready women for the Women’s Forum Database to build the pipeline and help accelerate the number of women on boards. Enlightened CEOs and their boards know gender parity – a more balanced board – means better corporate governance, better decision-making. They know more women in the boardroom, and the C-Suite speaks to their key stakeholders – employees, customers, shareholders and communities.
“Given the global landscape and need to remain competitively relevant, corporate CEOs and boards cannot afford to ignore half the population – especially with the rich pipeline of highly qualified women available for board positions.
“Research studies done by Catalyst, Credit Suisse Research Institute, Deloitte, McKinsey and most recently, EY/Peterson Institute, show a strong correlation between significantly higher financial performance with more women on the board. Putting women in the boardroom and C-suite is not just ‘a nice thing to do’, it is good for business and shareholder value!
“Yet, while we hear a lot about the benefits of having more women on corporate boards, the majority of boards, 97%, do not have parity. Focused and committed board leadership can make parity a reality within the decade. And compared to many countries, the U.S. is lagging – tied in 10th place with Australia – for the percentage of women on boards. We are the United States of America: a world power. We should not be trailing – we should be trailblazing.”
One of my favorite quotes: “We put a man on the moon… we should be able to put women on boards.” – Deanna Mulligan, CEO, Guardian (November 2013 Breakfast of Corporate Champions, sponsored by the Women’s Forum of New York)
We’re in New York, talking to Susan Chadick about changes in the search industry. Technology is one of the big changes, so we’re asking Susan where she thinks her industry is heading towards.
How do you see the role of technology in your industry?
Technology is an important tool, but the human angle is key. Although technology has certainly made our work easier and has leveled the playing field between the big and boutique firms, it is still just a tool.
When it comes to assessing candidates in light of our client’s needs and culture, the human angle is key. Technology allows us to gain more information and have deeper reach than ever before, but it can’t discern ‘chemistry’ and the magic that occurs when an individual is the right fit for a company.
Dating sites, for example, employ smart algorithms to produce a 100% match online. But this does not guarantee that the parties will actually fall in love.
We start with the raw data and match requirements with candidate experience, but go beyond these basics to broader traits to ascertain what these candidates bring to our client and whether or not they have the right profile, in terms of leadership, energy, communication style and interpersonal skills to be successful.
Technology can match basic skills and qualifications but is not yet a substitute for the time we spend and depth of conversation we have with candidates. Our skill is in assessing the individual, and then evaluating their potential to add value to our client and fit with their culture.
Technology has created a scenario where candidates, too, are inundated with a tremendous amount of information. Our role is to share our client’s story, understand their strategy and be their champion in the marketplace. We go beyond the data broadly available, to an honest portrait of what a candidate can expect in our client’s environment, and what our client is hoping to achieve by making this critical hire.
The strong synergy that happens between people and companies that allows for both corporate and personal growth is what we do best. So far, technology has not been able to match our capabilities.
Tags: Susan Chadick, Susan, Chadick, Susan L Chadick, WBE, Women’s Business Enterprise, executive search, executive search firm New York, IIC Partners, #SusanChadick, Technology, CoolBrands Women, Chadick Advisors
Having landed in Paris, I stroll through the vibrant 6th arrondissement towards the atelier of Candida Romero – artist, restoration expert, convent owner and creator of the fragrance Eau de Couvent. Once there, surrounded by huge artworks, I drink coffee with this inspiring artist and entrepreneur, curious to know more about what has become her mission: ‘Couvent San Francescu’. By restoring the ruins of this enormous convent on the French island of Corsica, Candida has created an extraordinary destination for art and culture aficionados. She enthuses: “I restored the convent with all my heart, and now I am ready to start sharing it with like-minded people. I believe that, together, we can create more beautiful things and develop projects that change the way we see things. Everything I stand for converges in the concept I have devised for the convent. In short: The beauty of the soul.”
‘I want San Francescu Convent to become a sanctuary for artists, musicians, actors, dancers and creative minds from all over the world’ – Candida Romero
GROWING UP IN THE BEEHIVE
Tell us a little about your background…
I have a rather unusual background – mostly thanks to my parents, who were both artists, and the upbringing and values they gave me. My father is American but comes from Puerto Rico and is a borrinque (Indian Carribe/Taïno) . My mother is a Parisian with roots from Gasconny the southwest of France and is a bourgeoise.
You also grew up in a rather extraordinary place…
Yes, La Ruche, an artists’ residence in the Montparnasse district, which is still in existence today. ‘The Beehive’, as it’s known in English, was originally built as a temporary wine rotunda for the Exposition Universelle of 1900. But it ended up becoming a haven for some of the great 20th-century artists: Marc Chagall, Chaim Soutine, Brancusi,Fernand Léger, Brancusi, the poets Blaise Cendrars (there is a poeme he wrote called La Ruche) and Max Jacob– to name but a few – either lived or worked there. It was an incredible place to grow up in, amongst all these artists and free spirits. That explains my bohemian nature. I’m sure that my youth in La Ruche inspired me to develop the community concept that I’m now creating in the Convent.
THE ARTIST ON A MISSION
You do so many different things. Is there a common thread between them all?
Yes, it’s actually very clear to me. In the deepest depths of my soul, I’m an artist. Everything I do is an expression of who I am: I live and breathe art. And because I’m a free spirit who isn’t constrained by conventions, I encounter opportunities in life. Everything comes naturally…
Tell us more about your art…
Art is like religion to me. It also needs an environment that is calm and peaceful. And from within that space, I create what I call ‘love stories’. They are based on things that have either happened to me, that I’ve been told about by someone close, or that I’ve read. Creativity is everything. It keeps you alive. It saves you from being sick – or sad. And it stops you from falling into despair.
I’m catching up with food design expert and CEO of Foodlosofia Diego Ruzzarin who is busy preparing his contribution to the Milan World Expo 2015. Currently running in the northern Italian city until 31 October, its theme is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’. Something close to Diego’s heart. At the expo, Diego is sharing his vision at the Mexican pavilion which has the theme ‘Mexico. The Seed for the New World: Food, Diversity and Heritage’. I’m curious to find out more.
A NEW HERITAGE FOR MEXICO
Firstly, what exactly is the Milan World Expo?
Expo Milano 2015 focuses on two aspects of food production: the traditional and the use of new technologies. While both may seem opposing, they’re very much interconnected. The expo provides a great opportunity for industry players to meet and exchange ideas. It’s also part of a cultural journey that aims to highlight the critical changes to our planet that are impacting the entire population.
What’s your mission there?
We’re launching our new book Mexico Food and Design which uniquely establishes a link between eating habits and creative disciplines. It’s best described as a ‘house of mirrors’ in which 20 different subjects about food are explored from different angles: not only from the perspective of food itself, but also architecture, sculpture, music and other creative disciplines. Our aim is to show the world that there’s more to Mexico than just culinary culture: we hope to achieve this by examining non-stereotypical thinking and by creating new archetypes.
Yes, this is something we need to promote. Mexico is famous for several reasons, food being an important one. Mention Mexico and people automatically think of corn, tacos and tequila… However, this ‘postcard’ image is no longer reflective of the true culture. In a way, the country has dug its own grave by keeping this image alive for so long, purely to attract tourists. Mexico has become a victim of the ‘single story’ phenomenon; something that is true for many countries, by the way. We want our book to be the start of creating a new heritage for the country; to show the modern creative Mexico.
Creating new archetypes?
We’ve developed new archetypes like the taco, aka ‘the new burger’. The world is changing from macroplastic (think: McDonald’s burgers) to micro-craft (think: hand-made, no plastic, no cutlery, you eat everything with your hands). This is because it’s no longer only about food: it’s also about respecting the planet. By eating everything and doing away with cutlery and packaging, there’s no waste. These days, people care more and more about how food is made, what ingredients are used and how – or if – it’s packaged.
Mexico is great for street food.
Yes, food culture in Mexico goes way beyond gastronomy. While there’s poverty in Mexico – and also obesity – there’s also an incredible culture and heritage of street food. In fact, Mexico is a reference for street food and later, food trucks. A trend that has since been picked up in other Central and Latin American countries and is now becoming increasingly popular in the US and Europe. Chefs are taking the pleasure of eating back onto the streets.
Mexico is good at developing new concepts, I believe.
Yes, Mexicans are especially ingenious when it comes to food, design and entrepreneurship. If we combine the right ideas with the right people and communicate in a new way, we can show the world how rich the food culture is – and how it offers so much more than gastronomy. In fact, food plays an integral part in every aspect of Mexican culture: food is Mexico’s ambassador.
Tags: Meeting Diego Bolson Ruzzarin, #DiegoRuzzarin, #Foodlosofia, Foodlosofia, Milan Expo 2015, design thinking, design thinker, food design, food design thinker, food design thinking, CoolBrands People, #CoolBrandsPeople, Diego, Diego B. Ruzzarin, Diego Bolson, food design center, food innovation, human centered design
After studying five languages and political science, with ambitions to be an interpreter for the UN, Portuguese-born Aldina Duarte Ramos’ career took a sharp turn. For more than 15 years, Aldina has inhabited the wellness industry.
First working for Le Bristol Paris, then Anne Semonin, and then Sofitel Luxury Hotels – creating and implementing spa concepts worldwide en route. Now director of Global WellBeing Product Luxury & Upscale Brands at AccorHotels and president of the French federation of wellness professionals SPA-A, Aldina has become a respected thought leader on wellness. She feels the industry has reached a critical time as new wellness trends emerge to counteract the stress of digital life. And she’s on a mission: the democratisation of wellness. She believes, everyone – no matter how rich or poor – has a right to a healthy life. I meet this inspiring change maker at the Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg, in the heart of the city, to learn about her mission. And find out more about her adrenaline-fuelled personal motto: doing and sharing.
‘In an increasingly stressful society, wellness is the way forward’ – Aldina Duarte Ramos
Why democratise wellness?
Democratising wellness is crucial. It should be accessible for everyone – not just high-end consumers. Everybody has a right to a healthy life.
However, the responsibility for implementing this vision is also everybody’s. That means lobbying governments, tackling issues like Monsanto and the meat industry and so forth, as well as making good food available – and affordable – for everyone. And this needs to happen now. We can’t postpone it any longer.
How are you working towards this vision?
In my role as president of SPA-A and chair of ISO ST02 Wellness Tourism in France, I’m busy sharing my knowledge, research and vision on how we can all best work towards a new balance, taking the 4 wellness pillars into account. And of course, at ground-level by working with chefs and nutritionists in our hotels who all play a part in creating a holistic approach towards wellness. Hopefully speaking opportunities will also afford me the chance to connect with the all-important younger generations. They’re the real change makers.
Tags: Aldina, Aldina Duarte Ramos, President SPA-A, Sofitel, SPA-A, Thalassa Sea&Spa, thought leader in wellness, wellness, wellness vision, wellness expert, CoolBrands People, #CoolBrandsPeople, CoolBrands Women, #CoolBrandsWomen, CoolBrands, #CoolBrands
I’m catching up with Helen Kupfer-Haas in Le Marais, her favorite part of Paris.
Last time we met, we talked about her role as a bridge between Brazil and France.
Most of her projects so far were focused on the ‘offline’ world. Helen has always been keen on sharing her best experiences in Paris with people in her Brazilian network.
However, today we are talking about a new concept, that will yet build another bridge, between online and offline, as well as of course between the two countries.
“You know how important the bridging role is to me. Now I was looking for a concept that will be like a resume of my career. Sharing experiences, helping people to have the best experience possible. And, this being a new element for me, sharing beyond my direct network, I want more people to enjoy my knowledge and expertise.”
ParisMania had a soft launch in August and the official launch will be in Paris in December 2015.
How did the idea come to life?
Remember you met Isabel Brossolette Branco last time you were here? She has a strong background and reputation as a blogger and builder of a feminine social network in the early days. She predicted back in 2004 that social networks would be the future. She was ahead of her time then.
I connected with her earlier this year because I had this idea that the time for our collaboration had come.
So we sat together and that is how ParisMania was born.
ParisMania – a platform with content AND audience gathered from the best Brazilian bloggers in Paris.
There are many Brazilians in Paris who have started a blog, to share their best experiences, tips and ideas with their Brazilian audiences.
Both the content and the audiences are interesting, however the bloggers don’t have the time or the knowledge to create a viable business model for themselves.
And that is where ParisMania comes in.
We function as curators, selecting the blogs that add to the platform, making sure we represent different subjects, different ages of bloggers and their target groups, etc.
This is how it works. We have our team of bloggers, who are real ‘insiders’ based in Paris, they will take care of you.
You will start by filling in a questionnaire with your wishes, ideas and preferences. Then our bloggers will create the perfect program for you, which can range from a cultural exploration to a unique shopping experience and even a special trip to the Provence.
We share content and audiences, making it a true platform that is accessible to all Brazilians who are interested in coming to Paris.
How does that work for me, as a visitor of ParisMania?
Imagine you live in Brazil and want to spend some time in Paris.
Where to start, where to go, what to do, see, eat, etc?
At ParisMania you can start creating your trip. See what your favorite bloggers recommend, get in touch and start making your program.
We organise and facilitate your trip in any way imaginable.
We organise access and give you benefits that you can’t arrange on your own not get anywhere else. And we know how fond Brazilians are of surprises and how they go for privileges.
‘You come to Paris, we’ll create your experience.’
Once in Paris, we’ll make sure your trip becomes the best memory ever.
A good example of what we organise for you is ‘Fashion Day’. Our fashion blogger will take you shopping for the day. But not without first visiting the make-up artist, hairdresser, stylist, etc. So you’ll look amazing.
Then the fun continues; we create a story around you shopping with our blogger in Paris, followed around by cameras.
So at the end of the day, you had a great day of shopping, a super experience and at the same time, we created a lasting memory for you, either in pictures, video or both.
Or…We can organise unique visits to museums, art galleries, luxury cosmetics brands flagshipstores. Visit exclusive parts that are normally closed for public…
We have a strong local network that can organise any concierge services you might consider possible, and our aim is to make your stay unforgettable and provide you with the best experience and memory of your stay in Paris.
And how does the business model work?
Because we aggregate the audiences of all of our bloggers, we have an interesting offer for brands.
We work on several levels here.
First, we work with branded content from different bloggers. Think about certain fashion blogs, they could work with specific brands to make their content more relevant. Talk about or show branded products in the context of their blog.
Second, we have special offers from brands, like the ones I mentioned from Louis Vuitton or Sephora. But this could also be experience offers, like staying at a certain hotel, visit an art gallery….
And third, the e-commerce of services, which will be a significant part of the platform. This is where online will become ‘offline’ again. Think of the example of ‘Fashion Day’. Assembled online in Brazil, executed in the real world in Paris.
And what if I have a fashion brand in Brazil and want to be associated with France?
Good question, this is another service we provide. We can create a specific campaign for your brand and promote it on ParisMania, where you immediately reach an important part of your new target group.
Tags: Helen Kupfer-Haas, meeting Helen Kupfer-Haas, #HelenKupferHaas, beauty, beauty and lifestyle consultant, parismania, Brazil, France, Brigding between brazil and france, Gastronomy, Gastronomy and Lifestyle Consultant, Haas, Helen, Kupfer, Kupfer-Haas, Le Bon Marche, Natura, Sol de Janeiro, Le Brésil’ at Le Bon Marché, Le Brésil’ at Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche, CoolBrands People, CoolBrands Women, #CoolBrandsPeople, #CoolBrandsWomen, ParisMania, #ParisMania, Isabel Brossolette Branco
I’m talking with Shelley Zalis about the Girls Lounge. Its purpose, what is has become over the past few years and where it is heading. “The Girls Lounge has become a destination for women at industry conferences. We share knowledge, experience and activate change.”