Born: I grew up on a ranch in Brenham, Texas, which is about 90 miles from Austin
Worked in: Austin, Houston and Chicago
Name an innovative idea or business solution for which you are most proud. I oversee our framing practice — (our term for consulting practice), as well as our proprietary toolset. Currently, we have developed and launched two tools. The first, called Socialight, provides a deep dive in the dynamics of word of mouth for a client’s brand, competitive brands and product category. It identifies conversation drivers, category influencers and brand advocates. Through the insights Socialight uncovers, it informs word of mouth strategy development. Reflecteur, our second tool, uses ethnographic techniques to uncover insights regarding digital culture — how people are engaging with, contributing to and are influenced by digital experiences.
Although Socialight was initially my idea, it could not have happened without partnership. And now we are rolling it out to 11 cities of the world.
How would you define “innovation” today? Innovation is not a solo activity. It is about finding new ways to combine. In our web 2.0 world, we have become familiar with a “mashup” or an application hybrid that combines data from several sources into one tool, like Google Maps linked to property data. This is the best model for innovation in our industry now. Innovating is now a team sport, rather than a series of individual accomplishments; our industry is now reliant on many specialized areas of marketing problem-solving that all contribute to making a single project work.
Why do people see you as an innovator? Innovation is also about the ability to reinvent, and that starts with reinventing ourselves. (I realize this is a very Eastern approach, which shows Rishad’s influence on us!) I started in media research. I moved to account planning, media planning and primary research. I then made the transition to become a supplier, and experienced a different business culture. I learned to navigate the landscape of brand equity. And now at Denou, all of those skills sets and collections of experiences are useful.
Given today’s demand for both creativity and accountability, one must be both grounded and skyward, and employ both left and right brain thinking to deliver for a client. overcome old problems to achieve results.
Other Background: The results of spending my youth with activities like worming cattle, raising fryer hens and loading hay bales was two-fold. First, I knew from an early age that I did not want my long-term career proposition to consist of manual labor in the Texas sun. Second, it forced a certain amount of ingenuity. The reality is that living on a working ranch requires adept problem-solving skills.