Top 4 Brainstorming Pitfalls and How to Tackle Them

February 6, 2019Experience, Industry, Listening, Marketing

I used to react to an invitation to a brainstorm like an invitation to a party. Yes, of course I’ll take a break from my real projects and go play with my creative teammates for an hour. Over time, though, I learned that not all brainstorms are created equal. Some are unfocused and confusing, some are stifled and boring. Some are downright aggravating. Here …

Caught in a Mentor Sandwich

February 4, 2019Culture, Experience, Listening

So, just a couple of days ago and I’m standing in a classroom inside the McCombs Business School at The University of Texas sharing an example of how much our lives have changed since the early, heady days of the interwebs, when Gopher was a viable contender to HTTP and the geeks were still yet to inherit the earth. In front of me are 35 UT undergrads leaning in and looking pretty engaged. On my left is one the most important mentors in my life and professor of the class, Bob Pearson. I take pause to drink in what was happening. Here I am guest lecturing at one of the top business schools in the US, dropping knowledge and experience on eager …

From Behind the Glass

February 1, 2019Experience, Industry, Listening, Marketing

With some of our clients gearing up to launch new campaigns, I’ve had the opportunity recently to spend time listening in on a few market research interviews. It’s probably one of my favorite parts of the process. I may be alone in that feeling. For those of you who have never been to or participated …

The Importance of Mentoring: To the Women That Showed Me the Way

January 25, 2019Culture, Listening

“If you cannot see where you are going, ask someone who has been there before.” – J Loren Norris One of our most talented up-and-comers, Taylor Watson, had a brilliant idea. To bring this month’s agency fundamental “Be a Mentor” to life, she suggested we have a “thank a mentor” party at the agency. We get together as a group in both offices to write a thank-you note to the people who have helped us get to where we are today. First of all, a written note in today’s world is akin to a Bigfoot sighting. The time it takes to write with an actual pen requires thought to what you want to say. And let’s face it, receiving a handwritten note from someone just feels good. Its says, “I took the …

Can Old Sharks Teach Us New Tricks?

January 11, 2019Culture, Experience, Listening

Ever since I was a young boy I have always been fascinated with sharks. Maybe fascinated isn’t the word. Passionate. Is that the right word? Obsessed is probably more accurate. No, it wasn’t because of Jaws but rather all those Jacques Cousteau PBS specials I watched with my dad during my formative years. As I grew older, more mature and braver (maybe not so much wiser), I became a scuba diver and have continued to hone …

How We Made Proton Therapy Definable Through Listening

December 17, 2018Experience, Healthcare, Listening

When it comes to a patient’s understanding of proton therapy, it is crucial to listen to concerns to truly gauge knowledge or gaps in comprehension. In other words, what do patients need to know to make an informed decision when they’ve just received the diagnosis “You have cancer”? And how do they go forward with prescribed protocols like proton therapy with confidence? We recently collaborated with Texas Center for Proton Therapy and conducted an online social listening exercise to gather an understanding of what caregivers and patients know about proton therapy. What we learned was astonishing: Less than 85% know about this alternative to traditional radiation therapy. A recent study found that patients, on average, are given only 11 seconds to be heard. When we truly listen, we discover that patient concerns and gaps in understanding of most therapies — like proton therapy — are never …

Five Listening Tips I Learned from My Hair Stylist

December 5, 2018Experience, Healthcare, Listening, Marketing

Highlights, lowlights, babylights, splashlights. Painting. Gloss. Ombre, sombre, balayage. As my stylist likes to say, when it comes to hair color, “There are a lot of ways to get to France.” Ok, I get it: I come to my stylist with a look — or an outcome — in mind. My stylist, equipped with a myriad of techniques and skillsets, has to figure out the best way to achieve the look. Or even harder, to diplomatically redirect my hair hopes and dreams when my platinum aspirations are in direct contrast to well, having hair. Much like in the healthcare advertising world, stylists must have a deep knowledge of biology, chemistry, math, art, and psychology. These are table stakes. Taken alone, they do …

How to Make a Cross-Cultural Global Team Succeed? Communication.

October 9, 2018Culture, Experience, Listening, Technology

Before I came to work as the CFO of HCB Health, I was the Global Controller of a very large design firm. My finance team was in the U.S., EMEA and APAC, and we shared treasury and tax with our holding company in India. I learned that working with a global team presents many challenges that managers often overlook, and, if ignored, they can slowly degrade the overall team dynamics. It seems obvious that regular and frequent communication is the key to success. Duh? Sounds so easy. However, it’s not so easy when you are speaking to team members for whom English is not their first …

Curiosity Didn’t Kill the Cat. It Was Ignorance. (Curiosity Was Framed.)

October 4, 2018Culture, Listening, Marketing

The world’s greatest inventions, discoveries, innovations, products, services and companies all have one thing in common. They all blossomed from the seed of curiosity. When curiosity is nurtured and pursued, anything can come from it. But it can’t be passive or accidental. It must be as natural and active as our beating heart in order to see its fruits. At HCB, we’ve made it one of our core values because we believe curiosity is how we got here. It’s why our clients have stuck with us for so long. And it’s what keeps us growing in new and vibrant directions. Let me be clear that the act of questioning, prodding, wondering and seeking can be a messy one. Curiosity is the spark that can set an idea on fire or it can be a wet towel that sends you in a new …

Yes, My Degree in Bass Performance Really Does Apply to My Job in Advertising

September 21, 2018Culture, Experience, Listening, Marketing

And a one … and a two … and a one, two, three, go! I guess by now I shouldn’t be surprised at how many musicians there are in advertising — hell, I’m one of them. Everywhere I’ve worked, there have been guitarists, drummers, singers, pianists … and, perhaps most importantly, bassists. (Can you guess what I play?) My degree is in Popular Music Performance. It’s an unusual degree, I’ll grant you, and it never fails to come up in job interviews. So, after 11 years as a writer, I’ve had a lot of time to …