Category Archives: inspiration

Lessons from Startup Culture: Redefining Failure

In our recent blog, Lessons from Startup Culture: Learning from a Minimum Viable Product, we examined how “the creation of an MVP itself isn’t the revelation – it’s the ability to learn and adjust based on the customer response that results.” One of startup culture’s strengths has always been the ability to take a big idea and pursue it, iterate it, or change it completely in the search for an end product that resonates with consumers.

In this way, successful startups have redefined failure as a pivot point instead of an end point. For larger, more “traditional” businesses seeking agility, there’s a valuable lesson to be learned.
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How Can Our Corporate Sustainability Efforts Do Better?

The New Year is a time to reflect over the progress we’ve made in the last year and prepare ourselves for the opportunities and challenges of the year ahead. With all of the uncertainty and volatility in our news cycle, it can be tough to narrow our focus. I find that setting simple, achievable goals helps make even the most “unsolvable” problems seem within reach.

With that in mind, I’d like to close out the past year and begin the new with a simple question: How can we do better in our sustainability efforts?
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Lessons from Startup Culture: Learning from a Minimum Viable Product

In our first installment of Lessons from Startup Culture, we examined the importance of building a solution, not a product. What’s the difference? Many smart people have exciting ideas for new products but fail to consider whether there is a market need for that idea. In fact, 42% of startups fail because of a lack of market need for their flagship product, CB Insights reports.

A solution, on the other hand, is created based on need: entrepreneurs identify a problem that real people have and build a solution that those people will pay to implement. Here is where one of the most brilliant facets of startup culture comes into play. With limited funding and a short runway to validate their ideas, many companies begin their journey by creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
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Radical Honesty: Nebraska’s New Tourism Slogan Challenges Convention

The Nebraska Tourism Commission recently unveiled a surprising new slogan: “Honestly, It’s Not for Everyone.” Unsurprisingly, it has garnered considerable national press for making this bold move. Conventional tourism campaigns rely on extolling the positives of a given location; European slogans include Germany’s “Simply Inspiring” and Norway’s “Powered by Nature,” while in the United States we have Utah’s “Life Elevated” and West Virginia’s “Wild and Wonderful.”

Nebraska’s new slogan takes a different approach, acknowledging that the state doesn’t get attention as a leisure destination or even a significant natural beauty. By turning conventional wisdom on its head, the Nebraska Tourism Commission is attracting attention of a different kind and ultimately achieving its goal.
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Stories with Staying Power: A Star is Born

This past weekend, a modern remake of the classic film A Star is Born opened in theaters across the country, earning deserved critical acclaim, powerful box office numbers, and praise for its stars Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga. Some audiences may remember the Judy Garland (1954) or Barbara Streisand (1976) versions, or even the first A Star is Born featuring Janet Gaynor (1937). What many may not know is that Gaynor’s movie was an adaptation of the 1932 film What Price Hollywood?, making this the fifth time audiences have enjoyed this particular story.

In this era of reboots and remakes, what makes a storyline so compelling that a movie can be remade generation after generation? What in the American psyche keeps bringing us back to this theme?
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Lenses of Interpretation: Hermeneutics in Branding

The concept of hermeneutics – introduced to me by the remarkably intelligent Rodger Nishioka – is that we all have various “lenses” through which we interpret the world around us. These may be immutable characteristics such as age and race, or changeable ones such as level of education, location, or job status. The unique way we each process information is related to the combination of lenses through which we receive it.

We recently explored the potential behind a hermeneutics-inspired approach to consumer segmentation in marketing and advertising. These lenses of interpretation are a kind of inverse of the typical approach to consumer segmentation – separating people into various demographic groups (from the outside in) and targeting them with messages that are calculated to resonate. The hermeneutic approach suggests an internal lens, allowing us to attempt to see through a consumer’s eyes by understanding the factors that influence their perception.

How might this concept help us create brands that attract a wide audience and inspire ongoing relationships?
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Following Your Passion, or Finding Your Fit?

In our most recent blog, we examined the problems and oversimplifications that stem from the advice to “follow your passion.” While pursuing our passions is certainly an important part of making our lives meaningful, this advice, especially when applied to building a career, falls short of truly inspiring. Instead of empowering us, it often does the opposite and causes us to ping-pong from endeavor to endeavor instead of working hard to make the best of our circumstances.

If passion is prone to fading, Angela Duckworth offers the antidote in her bestselling book Grit, positing that “a special blend of passion and persistence” is the key to creating something worthwhile and sustainable. Whether it’s a lifelong hobby to excel at or a career that provides a foundation for building a life, persistence is the missing ingredient that “follow your passion” overlooks.
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