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Paying it Forward: A Recap of Prophet’s Impact Auction

From weekend getaways to treasured family recipes, Prophet’s Impact Auction raised over $45k in donations to Partners In Health.

For seasoned Propheteers and our newest employees alike, the bi-annual Prophet Impact Auction generates unparalleled excitement. The Prophet Impact Auction is a global fundraising effort to rally behind a cause as we seek to use our expertise and creativity to spark meaningful change. Since 2010, Prophet has supported a variety of causes, from building sanitation facilities in Uganda, to funding girls’ education in Tanzania, to raising $50K to support local Covid relief efforts in 2020. This year marked our 7th auction and Propheteers upheld the beloved tradition by generously giving their time, talents and treasures, donating a variety of goods, services, and experiences to be bid on by colleagues.

Supporting Justice in Healthcare 

Through a firm-wide vote, Partners In Health was selected as our 2022 auction benefactor for its mission to provide high-quality healthcare to those who need it most. Partners In Health believes that every person has the same inalienable right to be healthy and achieve their full potential, regardless of their circumstances or where they are born.  

The money raised by Prophet was donated to Partners In Health’s global child malnutrition programs, which focus on providing lifesaving treatment to children in Malawi, Haiti and beyond. A single child’s nutritional support costs around $60 for six weeks of treatment. With $45K raised, we are grateful to contribute lifesaving nutritional support to at least 750 children. 

“Our deepest gratitude for your generous support of PIH’s child malnutrition treatment programs in Haiti and Malawi. Our teams are working hard to continue to deliver care amidst challenging circumstances, fighting cholera, and dealing with rising food insecurity. Your support helps them keep that important work going. We know that structural problems require sustained responses, which is why we are proud to partner with local governments and invest in systems, to continue to push for increased access to health care.” 

Patrick Ulysse, Partner in Health Chief Operations Officer

The Power of Propheteers  

With almost 70% firm participation, our employees donated 539 items valued anywhere between $10 to more than $1,000. Propheteers eagerly bid for these unique offerings that ranged from extravagant weekend getaways, such as a trip to a Mallorca townhouse, to sharing treasured family recipes, and hand-painted cookies. 

Check out some of the fun items that were donated: 

  • A dozen homemade Swedish cinnamon buns baked by Senior Partner Tobias Baerschneider  
  • A rap song and music video written for Prophet, created by our creative Associate Anton Gutierrez  
  • A personalized cross-stitched art crafted by Prophet’s Senior Engagement Manager Reem El Sayed  
  • A Manhattan Chinatown food tour with our Associate Kristen Wong  
  • An oil portrait beautifully painted by our Asia Marketing Manager Charlotte Zhang  
  • Weekly French lessons with our Prophet Francophiles 
  • Wine and fries with Prophet President Chiaki Nishino  

Through this auction, it was clear that Propheteers were ready to fully embrace the firm’s new values. Prophet’s “Give and Grow” value especially came to life as the entire firm offered talents, time and money in support of Partners In Health. Item exchanges traversed continents, bidding wars sparked conversation on hidden abilities and our value of “Share Joy” emanated across global offices as we came together and celebrated one another’s creativity and artistry.    


FINAL THOUGHTS

The Prophet Impact Auction is one of the ways we live our purpose to move society forward and create impact for our local and global communities. We find the best way to tackle societal, economic and environmental challenges is by coming together. Learn more about our other Prophet Impact programs here

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Leaning Into Leadership: A Conversation with John Ellett 

John recently transitioned from CEO of Springbox, Prophet’s demand generation and digital experience agency, to a senior partner with a focus on building the firm’s reputation among the CMO community. You may recognize his byline from a regular column he contributes to the Forbes CMO Network. John has a wealth of relevant experience that he’s always willing to share, and I always enjoy talking to and learning from him. I hope you glean as much from this interview as I did! 

Amanda Nizzere: What do you do at Prophet and in what circumstances would I come to you for something? 

John Ellett: As a former CMO myself, I have an ability to connect with “my tribe” at Prophet about the myriad of issues they face, especially those new to their roles. I’ve interviewed hundreds of marketing leaders to get insights for my book, Forbes column and the CMO solution guides I’ve written. I’ve learned something from each of these experiences. Whether it’s advising clients on developing brand and demand strategies, structuring their teams or launching a new company, I can bring an empathetic point of view to any Prophet or client team. 

AN: Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work? 

JE: I had the good fortune of working for Michael Dell for seven years and helped Dell grow from $60 million to $3 billion during that timeframe. I took two things from that experience that have shaped how I work. First is a strong sense of optimism. Anything is possible with a sound plan, a good team and persistence to overcome obstacles. We were a blip on the industry’s radar when I started, but we were focused on becoming the #1 PC company on the planet and then did it. I continue to believe that things will turn out well, even if we’re in the midst of significant challenges (like a global pandemic). 

The second is based on something Michael used to say, “If you are the smartest person in the room, you have the wrong people in the room.” I love to include diverse perspectives in problem solving and my role tends to be to ask questions, get divergent points of view and then synthesize those into a plan that the team can support. I may not be the smartest person in the room, but I may be the most curious. 

AN: What was your first job? 

JE: My first job was as a swim team coach during the summers when I was in college. My time swimming competitively was over, but I learned that I got more satisfaction out of helping others succeed than I did from winning my own medals. Whether it was seeing a 6-year-old boy finish his first lap in a meet or his big sister win a city championship, I felt joy from seeing them accomplish more than they initially believed they could. I think that early insight has shaped me as a leader. 

AN: What energizes you at work? 

JE: I get energy wrestling with challenging topics alongside my colleagues, especially when it involves an opportunity with a new or potential client. Seeing the positive reactions and impact from our work with clients gives me an extra boost. 

AN: What’s one thing that surprised you about working at Prophet? 

JE: What didn’t surprise me was how smart and collaborative everyone is. What did surprise me was how entrepreneurial the culture is. If you have an idea to try something new, you’ll have an opportunity to make your case. So much of what the firm today is because multiple people stepped forward and said, “I think we should do this,” and it got done. It is a very organic approach to corporate innovation. 

AN: What’s one thing you’re currently trying to make a habit of? 

JE: I am trying to make it a habit to reach out each day to several connections that I’ve done a poor job of keeping in touch with historically. I’m loving the LinkedIn Sales Navigator system to help enable my evolving habit! 

AN: If you had to pick one age to be permanently, which age would you choose? 

JE: Whatever age I am at the time. I’ve enjoyed every stage of my life and never try to hold on to the past or get too excited about the future. I’ve tried to enjoy every day and every year as it comes. I could easily freeze this period in time since I’m blessed with a wonderful and adventurous family and the health and wealth to be able to support our collective wanderlust! Life is good! 

AN: If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose? 

JE: Scotty Scheffler, a University of Texas graduate who won the Masters Tournament this spring. That way I could play Augusta National whenever I wanted. As an avid golfer, I’ve never been able to play that course. Maybe someday. After all, I am an optimist! 

About the Series 

Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help each of us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders ourselves. Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences, and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues, and industry peers—which led me to create this interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may just want to add to your own leadership toolbox.  


FINAL THOUGHTS

As senior partner, John helps senior leaders develop transformative ideas that unlock uncommon growth. He frequently advises CMOs on their transformation agendas, including brand revitalization, demand acceleration and marketing organization design. Over the years, John has partnered with marketing leaders at AMD, Caesars Entertainment, Comerica Bank, Hershey, Microsoft, NEC Displays, Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba. John is also author of “The CMO Manifesto,” a contributor to Forbes CMO Network and host of the Valiente Awards that recognizes courageous marketing leaders annually at SXSW. Have a CMO or marketing-related question for John? Reach out here

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Prophet 2022 Gift Guide: 12 Sustainable Ideas

‘Tis the season for gift giving. This year, with Prophet’s focus on ESG, we’ve sourced ideas for the best sustainable presents.

December has finally arrived, bringing along cooler temperatures, festive lights and the season of giving. Black Friday and Cyber Monday may have ended, but the holiday spirit has only begun. At Prophet, we believe that ESG is core to a business’ sustainable growth. Our ESG team has honed the firm’s efforts this year by supporting 18 ESG pursuits, publishing six ESG-influenced articles and sharing two research reports highlighting ESG themes. That’s why in this year’s gift guide, we have decided to show our support for these ESG-driven initiatives again and address the 37% of surveyed consumers that said sustainability will significantly affect their holiday shopping decisions.  

The holiday season frenzy brings the climate risks of consumption to an all-time high, from plastics and packaging to tons of wasted resources. Amidst this time of increased consumer demand, there’s an ethical concern if the individuals working in many production factories are receiving fair compensation and having their well-being prioritized. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can all help create a new future of sustainable and ethical shopping from brands that are doing their part and going above and beyond to make a positive change for our world. 

By reaching climate neutrality, using recycled materials, and contributing to sustainability and social initiatives around the world, we’ve pulled together a collection of noteworthy brands that can be the next stop on your holiday shopping list this year. 

For the Always Active Consultant with a Penchant for Nature and Traveling   

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Cotopaxi offers outdoor gear and apparel for the adventurous-hearted. As a Climate Neutral Certified organization, the brand incorporates repurposed, recycled and responsible materials in 94% of its products. It also plans to increase this number to 100% by 2025. On designated Giving Tuesdays, Cotopaxi donates 100% of purchase profits to fight poverty through its own foundation. The brand prioritizes ethical sourcing through rigorous codes of conduct and audits, as well as offering a (Re)Purpose Collection that uses leftover fabrics from other companies. Our new Prophet hip packs came from this same collection! 

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Noso patches offer an alternative, sustainable solution for repairing your favorite gear. They have designed (stylish) stick-on patches that can be used to repair tears and holes on outdoor apparel such as jackets and pants that tend to get damaged. This prolongs the lifecycle of the products and keeps them out of landfills, a win-win for sustainability. Noso recently adopted a new carbon credits program that allows customers to calculate the cost to compensate for the carbon emissions associated with their purchase, and the extra fee goes towards certified climate investment partners. 

For the Activewear Enthusiasts Who Like to Hit the Gym in Style   

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Fox & Robin is an activewear brand and Certified B Corp, with sustainability initiatives such as donating 1% of all sales to environmental NGOs and using plastic-free packaging. To prioritize responsible production, quality products, and reasonable pricing, the organization has chosen to mitigate costs by spending next to nothing on paid ads and relying on organic advertising. The company is also the first and only activewear brand to disclose its factory workers’ wages to promote greater compensation transparency. 

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Allbirds is known for its comfortable and stylish footwear, but it also sells a variety of other apparel. The shoe brand is committed to reducing its carbon footprint to nearly zero by 2030 through initiatives such as renewable materials, regenerative agriculture and responsible energy. Allbirds tracks progress to its goals by measuring emissions through materials, manufacturing, transportation, product use and end of life. When shopping on its website, you can see a detailed sustainability breakdown for each product. 

For the Content Creator Preparing for Their Next Gram-Worthy Picture 

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Everlane is a modern clothing and essentials brand that describes itself as embodying “Radical Transparency”. The brand only works with factories that score 90 or above on factors such as fair wages, reasonable hours, and environment, and even reveals the true costs behind its products to customers. Everlane has committed to science-based targets to reach net-zero emissions before 2050 and includes a strategic breakdown on mitigating Scope 1-3 greenhouse gas emissions on its website. Each of its product listings also includes a sustainability breakdown of its materials and construction. 

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Thousand Fell specializes in comfortable, everyday sneakers made from sustainable materials. The company strives towards a zero-waste closed-loop future by recycling its old sneakers to make new ones, and it has spent over three years designing a supply chain that allows the brand to make a circular lifecycle for sneakers a reality. Thousand Fell also offers its customers shopping credits for sending in old clothing so that it can be recycled and stay out of landfills. 

For the Wellness Seeker in Need of a Caffeine Kick or Relaxing Cup of Tea 

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Pukka Herbs creates organic herbal teas and supplements for a variety of associated health benefits such as digestion and immunity. The company has built itself upon the values of organic farming, fair trade and conservation through commerce. Pukka is Fair for Life certified, donates 1% of revenue to environmental and social causes and has been climate neutral since 2019. 

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Grosche offers drinkware products for coffee, tea and water while using proceeds to fund its safe water project. Through this project, every product sold by Grosche funds 50+ days of safe water for those in need. Among its many initiatives, the company diverts 91% of its waste away from landfills, operates on 100% green renewable energy and has had a negative carbon footprint since 2010. 

For the Remote Worker Looking to Level up Their Household Items 

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Full Circle Home creates sustainable and stylish home care products. The company is climate neutral and now has hopes of becoming plastic neutral. Full Circle aims to be 100% plastic-free packaging by the end of the year and use only recycled plastics in its products by 2050. 

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Made Trade is a women-owned and family-run business that offers a variety of home goods, furniture, clothing and accessory. The company prides itself on verifying and vetting each of its products to ensure it meets its core values of equity, sustainability and transparency. Made Trade is Climate Neutral Certified and allows customers to filter product searches by specific criteria such as sustainable, vegan and fair trade. 

For the Employee Always Working Overtime    

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Yolélé strives to create economic opportunity for smallholder farming communities while also sharing ingredients sourced from Africa with the world. The company offers Fonio chips made out of ancient West African grains, as well as spice rubs and pilafs. By using these ancient grains in its product offerings, Yolélé connects small farming communities with local and global markets, allowing the farms to support themselves from agriculture and increase food sovereignty in the region. 

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Misadventure takes a new take on vodka by offering the world’s first-ever carbon-negative consumer good. The company fights against the growing food waste problem by taking food waste–specifically from baked goods– and using the starches to create its alcohol. Misadventure’s mantra is centered around “hedonistic sustainability”, the idea that you don’t have to punish yourself to do good and it has done a great job. 

Don’t see anything that catches your eye? No problem – check out this website to search through thousands of Certified B Corporations that are committed to doing their best for the environment, for employees and for the community. 

While we hope this guide serves as inspiration; sustainable gift-giving can go beyond what money can buy. The ultimate sustainable gift can be the one you make yourself or a special experience you share with others. Our recent Prophet Impact Auction showed the breadth of limitless creativity– from painting lessons and crocheted items to professional coaching and Pickleball games– the possibilities of giving sustainable (and deeply appreciated) gifts are endless! 


FINAL THOUGHTS

Whether you are buying a gift for a coworker, a friend or your family the hunt for the perfect gift can be a challenge. Hopefully, our list spurs some environmentally friendly ideas and provides some inspiration during the season of giving. Afterall, we all have the power to #givesomethinggreater this holiday season. Happy holidays from our Prophet family to yours! 

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Walking the Culture Talk: How We Developed Our New Values and EVP

We’ve updated our company’s values and Employee Value Proposition (EVP) –and learned plenty in the process.

At the core of an organization sits its DNA, which includes its purpose, values and Employee Value Proposition (EVP). A strong DNA can inspire, provide clarity and accelerate growth. And for the last decade, our purpose, values and EVP have done just that for our organization.   

But the world has changed– and so has Prophet. More than 60% of our colleagues started during the global pandemic. We’ve evolved from a brand strategy firm into a growth and transformation consulting firm, with a newly defined purpose. And, the needs of our clients have rapidly changed, which is why we recently redefined our values and EVP.   

Our new cultural touchstones are more modern, inclusive and transparent and directly connect to our aspiration as a firm. And while our values are not the right ones for every organization, we are proud of how we lived them out through the process of defining them. We believe there are valuable lessons for others looking to reinvigorate their organization through this kind of work.   

Four Best Practices for Creating Strong Values, as Shaped by Prophet’s New Values

Create with Courage

When something could be better, we don’t settle– we create. Pushing boundaries. Tackling the biggest challenges that grow our clients and move society. We put our heart into our work while applying our intellect, creativity and rigor to execute.

To power your talent strategy and drive top line growth, you need to be bold about your values. Ask yourself: “what are the mindsets and behaviors we need to connect our teams and power our business?” Create with Courage, Open minds, Give and Grow, Share Joy. 

At Prophet, our mission is to help our clients unlock uncommon growth. So, we challenged ourselves to not just evolve our values but to also step back and connect each value to that growth. Specifically our new value, Create with Courage, was created to help give every Propheteer the common language and inspiration to push boundaries and tackle the biggest challenges that face our clients and society.   

That courage also takes dedication. We expanded Prophet’s visual identity to create an “uncommon visual system”. We are measuring their presence to ensure we deliver our new values. We have updated our quarterly employee engagement survey to measure the impact our new values and EVP have on our employees. We will also be updating our external client survey to see how they are impacting the work and being experienced by our clients.  

Open Minds 

We’re united, but different, which allows us and our clients to achieve more together. It’s in our nature to seek diverse voices and embrace all backgrounds and lived experiences. By showing up honestly and openly, we discover new paths for connection and creativity. 

Values can’t be written in a boardroom. If everyone at the organization truly owns them, then your people’s voices need to play an important role in shaping them. This can be more difficult as your organization becomes more digital, global and hopefully diverse. 

We took a highly inclusive approach to develop our new values. We wanted to make sure we heard not only the distinct perspectives of our organization but also the new ways we work together. We used both synchronous and asynchronous input mechanisms and leveraged co-creative digital tools to maximize reach and input opportunities across our new hybrid organization. 

Our value, Open Minds, takes the traditional adjective of being open-minded and makes it a verb, encouraging each of us to actively open the minds of others and elevate voices that need to be heard.  Working with our head of DEI, we brought that lens to our full set of values to make sure they resonated and created psychological safety for our community.  

We also worked with our global leaders to ensure our values and EVP reflected our global organization. To do so, we collaborated with our international colleagues to translate our values into Mandarin Chinese and German to ensure the translation reflected the true meaning of our values. 

Give and Grow 

There’s no shortage of generosity here. We invest in the personal and professional growth of our people and our clients, by being a coach, a sounding board or a cheering section. We all have unique needs and goals, but we’re in this together- and by offering our time, empathy and brainpower to support the collective potential of our teams, clients and communities, we all flourish together. 

Introducing and living new values and EVP is a long-term journey, which is why they need to be aspirational but clearly define the path forward.  

Our value, Give and Grow, is anchored in the truth of our business. How we drive uncommon growth is through our people. And our people require support in their growth pathways to continue living out our purpose. Prioritizing the investment we make in each other and celebrating that outcome is critical to our success. When asked what makes Prophet different, this willingness to support each other, our clients and our communities sings loud.  

But we’re not done, and we have room to grow across all of our values. Through our research, we have identified which parts of our business resonate with each value most to guide how we invest in creating new tools and guidance in strengthening our connection.  

One immediate change we made was connecting our new values directly with our kudos system. Within days, we saw everyone take ownership of the values and recognize each other for living their values. We were able to transform our kudos system on our company intranet into a self-sustaining storytelling system. 

Share Joy 

Joy is vital– to our relationships, our work and our well-being. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, enjoying the ride, while making time for what brings us joy. Protecting it. Sharing it. It feeds our spirits, and keeps us connected to what, and who, really matters to us. By building in more space for rest, community and fun, our humanity shines a little brighter. 

Values and EVP should be fun!  Joy is vital to work and what keeps people energized for whatever is to come. Of course, it’s important to prioritize clarity over cleverness, but having values that reflect your organization’s culture is paramount.   

We had quite a bit of fun making our values. Of course, the core team that built them enjoyed many puns, a mid-workstream magic show, moments of in-person collaboration and the rush of creativity in delivering exciting work.   

But we made sure to share that joy with the rest of the organization. Leading up to the launch, we offered a “tease” previewing fake values, including values that we would never have used like, “likability.” At the launch, we made light of some old habits from our previous values and encouraged “uncommon” attire that worked perfectly for one office’s Halloween party.  

We also gave out individually uncommon hip packs made from sustainable materials filled with custom decks of cards that reflected the unique shuffles we made as a team. The kick-off was a communal, celebratory and exciting moment for our team.   

Check out our new values.  


FINAL THOUGHTS

While Prophet’s new values and EVP are specific to our culture, any organization can benefit from the experience of updating its values and EVP. Make a start by securing the support of top leadership, then build cross-functional teams who vow to become expert listeners. From there, construct the values and EVP that will attract the people best suited to bring your purpose to life. But it doesn’t stop there – like anything living, your DNA needs to be fueled to fuel your business so find ways to embed it across all parts of your culture.   

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Leaning Into Leadership: A Q&A with Hanif Perry  

Hanif Perry is a partner in Prophet’s New York office. He thrives in an environment that’s deeply collaborative and excels in delivering work that results in better brand experiences, increased customer engagement and overall growth for our clients. While we aren’t in the same office, Hanif and I have both been at Prophet for a long time, and I always enjoy catching up with him at the infamous lunch table in New York or during a quick chat before or after partner meetings. His curiosity in life, both professionally and personally, is infectious. As a lifelong learner myself, I hope this interview helps you learn a few things along the way as well! 

Amanda Nizzere: What do you do at Prophet and in what circumstances would I come to you for something? 

Hanif Perry: I am a partner in our New York office and work across a range of brand, growth and transformation challenges. I have been at the firm for 11 years and have been a part of its incredible growth journey. I help clients across a variety of industries including financial services, technology, retail and consumer products.  

AN: What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on? 

HP: I’m trying to talk less, listen more and be more intentional about when and where I insert my voice into conversations. 

AN: What is your preferred way of working?  

HP: Not multitasking as much as I can and being present in the moment. I also typically work better when I can ruminate on a problem, especially when I don’t know the answer to something. I like to spend time really diving into something – learning it, reading about it and then letting my brain process it. If it’s something in the creative realm, then I’ve learned that I really need to step away and think and digest. I find that specifically with things that don’t have a finite answer, stepping away allows me to have a more thoughtful response.  

AN: Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work? 

HP: While this may feel like a “canned” answer, many of the leaders I’ve worked with at Prophet have helped push me in various, positive ways. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a diverse set of partners, so there’s always something to learn from and adapt to from a peer and leader set. Everyone I’ve worked with has some quality or characteristic I’ve tried to adopt in my personal or professional life. 

AN: How do you prefer to end your day? 

HP: I am a strong believer in eliminating electronics after 8 p.m. and getting away from screens. I do try to listen to podcasts or Audible books to calm down and end my day learning something new. One recent enjoyable listen on Audible was “The $12 Million Dollar Stuffed Shark,” a story about how branding works in the contemporary art market. Also, on Audible, I just finished “To Fall in Love, Drink This,” which is a memoir by James Beard-winning wine writer Alice Feiring. Every chapter ends with some wine recommendations from great producers in more up-and-coming wine regions, including Vermont of all places.  

AN: What’s the worst job you’ve ever had, and what did you learn from it? 

HP: I took a job during my MBA internship as a summer brand manager. I loved the people, and they made meaningful products, but the fit was off. It felt very “corporate” and hierarchical: everything from wearing a suit daily to needing an MBA to manage a brand. Growth was single-digit and promotions were communicated as “being in lockstep.”  

I knew in one week that it was not a good fit. I made the most of it while I was there and meet some really good friends and people. However, from that experience, I learned that you have to trust your instincts and judgment over what is appealing. I learned how important it is to have the confidence to do what’s right for you versus what others perceive as a good path. On paper, if you want to do marketing, a brand manager role might feel like the way to go, but realistically for me, it wasn’t. That path got me to where I am today, and I couldn’t be happier.   

AN: What’s a mistake you made early on in your career, and what did you learn from it? 

HP: I was a new senior associate at Prophet and was analyzing data for a client. I built a presentation for a meeting and handed it over not realizing some of the critical data was wrong. A partner took it into a meeting, and it didn’t go well. Needless to say, I learned a lot from that experience, specifically about the importance of owning your work, not just doing it. I always try to remind my teams to view their work as something to own versus something to just hand off to the manager, the partner or the client.  

AN: What energizes you at work? 

HP: People that are excited to do meaningful, impactful work. They set aside team dynamics and client dynamics and focus on the problem, opportunities and outcomes.  

AN: What’s one thing that surprised you about working at Prophet? 

HP: The thoughtfulness, empathy and humanity of our leadership. The leadership team here has had to navigate our continued growth and more than a decade of different difficult transitions that I have personally had the privilege to witness (economic, pandemic, etc.). It’s been interesting to watch and learn from their response to adversity with creative solutions.  

At Prophet, our business is people and renting our time and expertise. During the pandemic, we had to do that during a period when people were dealing with a lot. Our leadership team made investments in areas that mattered to our people and culture, like giving everyone the last Friday of every month off (which was counterintuitive to how we make money but helped preserve our strong talent base). That is just one of many surprising ways that our leadership team shows up and responds to new circumstances in creative ways, preserving the integrity of our people and business.

Image: Hanif Perry, Partner, New York Office

AN: If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be? 

HP: I get moved and motivated by people who are creative, so it would be something involving art or music. I would love to be an expert in creating something new that provokes emotion out of nowhere. 

AN: What’s one thing you’re currently trying to make a habit of? 

HP: I try hard not to look at my phone first thing in the morning and instead get one non-digital/non-screen thing done. It could be a house chore, meal prep, a workout or anything that doesn’t enable me to get distracted by my screen immediately.  

AN: If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose? 

HP: I would be a hockey player in the moment right before they are about to win the Stanley Cup. I know this seems random, but I’ve been playing since I was a kid and continue to play today. Humans are wired for “play,” and I really enjoy it.  

AN: If you had to pick one age to be permanent, which age would you choose? 

HP: It would be the early-to-mid-30s. The reason being, to me, that feels like the age where you have a lot more confidence in who you are. You’re likely in the best physical condition you’ll be in, and you don’t have too many gray hairs (hopefully).  

About the Series 

Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help each of us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders ourselves. Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues and industry peers—which led me to create this interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may just want to add to your own leadership toolbox. 


FINAL THOUGHTS

Hanif is a partner in Prophet’s New York office and specializes in developing growth strategies that are powered by better brand experiences, increased customer engagement and digital selling. He’s developed powerful brand capabilities for companies as diverse as Nationwide, Dell, eBay, AT&T, Maserati, Pfizer, SAP and Cigna. Before joining Prophet, Hanif worked at CEB (now a part of Gartner), where he built member-based advisory insights and platform-based solutions for a network of leading executives. Want to learn more about Hanif or have a question? Reach him here

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Leaning Into Leadership: A Conversation with Helen Rosethorn 

Helen is a senior partner at Prophet and has spent seven years focused on growing our Organization & Culture practice. Not only is Helen whip-smart, leading one of Prophet’s highest-growing practice areas for several years, but she is also humble, genuine and kind. There’s something about her that makes you want to grab a cup of hot tea and sit and talk for hours. I was happy and honored to be able to do just that during this interview. I look forward to the day I can do so in person.  

Amanda Nizzere: What do you do at Prophet and what journey led you here?  

Helen Rosethorn: I am a senior partner at Prophet and co-lead our Organization & Culture (O&C) platform. I am incredibly proud of the impact we’ve had on the firm’s growth. On top of that, it has been a privilege to work alongside many wonderful colleagues who are helping to build our uncommon growth journey. It’s a team that combines some of the best thinkers and practitioners in our space, which is a real competitive advantage for Prophet.  

I’ve been on a journey throughout my career. I started in science and switched to art when I became fascinated by human and social dynamics. I made the choice to do my MBA thesis on the case for the strategic management of corporate culture, and that’s when it became my passion.  

I then led an organization within Omnicom Group for 14 years. The thread through communications, change and engagement was a big part of that, where it became clear we needed to avoid commoditization and create truly “fit for purpose” solutions for clients. That’s where the consulting side of me emerged. This belief that humans make the business difference has been a constant drumbeat for me. It’s brought me to the seven rich years I have enjoyed so much at Prophet.  

Image: Helen Rosethorn, Senior Partner, London Office

AN: What’s your go-to productivity hack? 

HR: I learned from a former Prophet colleague Kevin O’Donnell to color code my diary. I color code things that are nice to-dos versus essential to-dos. Nice to-dos are red so you can “shout if your diary is bleeding.” In a world where we face an endless battle against time, this works brilliantly for me.  

AN: Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work? 

HR: There are so many people, to be honest. I am wired to find value in all humans and believe every conversation is a learning opportunity. But if I must pick, I find myself thinking about inspirational female leaders. I am working with two right now at Anglo American on its General Management Committee (its top team). And there is one female leader who I have known for many years: Dame Carolyn McCall is a role model for me as well.   

AN: What’s a mistake you made early on in your career, and what did you learn from it? 

HR: I like to make things happen. I’m not a theorist—I like to turn thought leadership into action. Someone gave me feedback in hindsight that I have since turned into actionable feedback. I can be so ready for the next thing, ready to make things happen and be better, that I often forget to pause and reflect on how well things go.  

In my late 20s, I was leading a team, and I hadn’t quite gotten their full motivation on the project we were working on. I was working so hard toward the finish line—so busy driving forward—that we never stopped to look back and reflect on our wins along the way. Feedback from leaders and members of the team was to pause, stop and reflect. I have turned that weakness into a strength, and I’ve really learned from that. I may not always get it right, and I still have to remind myself, but I do now pause to reflect and celebrate progress as well as outcomes with my teams.  

AN: What energizes you at work? 

HR: The power of people, and the power of people coming together. There’s a moment in all the work we do at Prophet where we bring people power to the delivery of solution(s). Whether it’s at the inception (insights, hypothesis, insights) or at the end (activation, alignment, capability building). And that’s not just unique to O&C—it’s across the entire organization.  

AN: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? 

HR: I went into labor with my first child, a daughter, in the last row of a lecture theatre whilst studying for my MBA. No one knew. I drove myself home and Harriet arrived the next day—on her due date of course!  

AN: If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose? 

HR: I would split the day into two half days with each of my daughters. One is an IP lawyer and the other is in VC and private equity as an investment manager. I would love to see them in action as young female leaders and maybe try my hand at what they do. I attempted to explain to my parents what my job was on various occasions, and they never understood—I absolutely don’t want to end up in that place! Maybe we need a “take your mother to work” day? 

About the Series 

Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help each of us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders ourselves. Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues and industry peers—which led me to create this interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may just want to add to your own leadership toolbox. 


FINAL THOUGHTS

Helen is a senior partner based in Prophet’s London office. She brings over 20 years of experience working with clients locally and globally on organizational transformation, culture and the engagement of talent. She co-leads Prophet’s Organization & Culture practice focused on harnessing an organization’s people power to achieve growth. Helen speaks and writes extensively on all aspects of culture and change and authored the book “The Employer Brand – Keeping Faith with the Deal,” which is recommended reading for HR and organizational change students worldwide. Want to learn more Helen or have a cup of tea via Zoom? Reach out directly here

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Leaning Into Leadership: A Discussion with Jacqueline Alexis Thng

Jacqueline Alexis Thng

Jacqueline is a partner in Prophet’s Singapore office and one of the reasons the firm has been so successful in Asia. She has a diverse way of thinking, making great use of the right and left sides of the brain. She’s an artist and designer as well as an expert strategy consultant. More importantly, she does it all in a very human and approachable way that is uniquely hers. I always enjoy my time with Jacqueline and appreciate her taking a moment to share stories, which ranged from her days launching her own fashion brand to what brings her excitement after nearly 30 years in the consulting industry. 

Amanda Nizzere: What do you do at Prophet and in what circumstances would I come to you for something? 

Jacqueline Alexis Thng: There are a couple of primary things I do in my day-to-day at Prophet that people come to me specifically for outside of client work. First, the team comes to me to unlock commercial opportunities. I have a way of approaching commercial pitches uniquely each time. I try to read each situation differently with each potential client and really try to understand how to help them solve their issue(s) in thoughtful ways. The second area is personal branding and reputation building. I really enjoy public speaking. It’s a big passion area of mine, and I’m working to share this skill and its importance with the rest of the team in Asia.  

AN: Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work? 

JAT: Early in my career, I worked with a global creative director named Michael Wolff (Co-founder of Wolff Olins). He was influential in how I think about my work every day. Specifically, he worked to understand the full context of the marketplace, put himself in the shoes of customers and was truly empathetic in how he approached branding. I have taken each of those approaches and tried to adopt them in my work and how I listen to and tackle problems. At Prophet, this works nicely as this is core to how we approach our work with clients. We always try to put ourselves in our clients’ shoes and truly listen. Same with problem-solving: I believe problem-solving should be approached with empathy. When you approach it in that way, it’s more effective and authentic.  

AN: What’s a mistake you made early on in your career, and what did you learn from it? 

JAT: I would have created more work-life balance early in my career and learned to enjoy the ride, rather than be so work-obsessed. In my 20s, I was a consultant by day and running a business at night (more on that later!), which effectively meant zero work-life balance. I delayed starting a family until I was in my 30s. If I could turn back the clock, I should have slowed down more on the work part and focused on family earlier. From that, I learned there’s no end to chasing that career “high” if ever there was one. I realized that work-life balance has helped me produce some of the best work while truly enjoying the journey.  

AN: What led you to this career? 

JAT: I have always been incredibly passionate about art, drawing and design. While I was a science then later a business major, I was also trained in fine arts painting (with a Cambridge distinction no less). So naturally, when I graduated from business school, I thought I would go into advertising. I didn’t even know a career in branding was an option. It was actually my husband who handed me a brochure about a company that did brand strategy (it was at that company where I met Michael Wolff). I was immediately interested, as I thought it would be more exciting and cutting-edge than advertising. I started my career in brand strategy and never left. It’s been 30 years. 

AN: What energizes you at work? 

JAT: I continue doing this work because it’s special. I am lucky to have landed at Prophet. The fact that Prophet continues to evolve and transform with time is really important to me. I wouldn’t be able to stay anywhere that just stays still. And it’s not just about forward momentum but real transformation. Prophet is really focused on continuing to transform in new and different ways.  

As soon as something isn’t interesting or I don’t have the energy to do it anymore, I will stop. But every day I wake up and think, “I am so excited about this big problem I get to help someone solve” or “I get to learn something and do something interesting.” It’s a pretty great way to spend your days.  

AN: What’s one thing that surprised you about working at Prophet? 

JAT: Having worked across many so-called “global” companies before, I was surprised at how truly global Prophet is. We operate with one global P&L, and our teams collaborate as a global team. I talk to many Propheteers across the globe on a daily basis—some I’ve never met in person—that I feel are my best friends. I never thought that was possible, but at Prophet it is. They’ve made it easy to collaborate, and it’s part of the company’s DNA. There is no “me vs. you,” it’s “How can I help you?” and that applies both internally and with clients. 

AN: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you? 

JAT: I owned a fashion business. Even as I started my consulting career, I was a consultant by day and I developed a fashion line and brand at night. Over 13 years, it grew into a business, and I was even invited to sell to Barney’s New York. This was pre-Internet, so I had no idea who Barney’s was. When they asked me to include a winter line, it was then that I decided I wasn’t a fashion designer. What I really wanted to do was build a brand. My brand was featured in Australia fashion week, and my last show was London fashion week in 1999.  

AN: If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose? 

JAT: My father. He died young at age 60 and grew up extremely poor, but he found positivity and happiness in his life. He worked as a street hawker, selling food to factory workers. Even when the cost of food was rising for him, he never raised the prices for the workers. I remember my granny yelling at him to increase his price as he was losing money. He argued that the workers needed to eat better, they needed healthy ingredients, and they needed energy. His values were strong: he was charitable, helpful and didn’t profit off others “just because.”  

AN: If you had to pick one age to be permanently, which age would you choose? 

JAT: I can’t pick one. I enjoy them all. I think every moment, every age and every stage is enjoyable. I am an extremely positive and optimistic person. Each day is a day to learn something new. I also don’t believe in regrets. Every decision made is what you thought was best at the time. You learn from your mistakes, and you continue to get better.  

About the Series 

Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help each of us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders ourselves. 

Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues and industry peers—which led me to create the Leaning into Leadership interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may just want to add to your own leadership toolbox. 


FINAL THOUGHTS

Jacqueline is a partner at Prophet. She has over 20 years of strategic consulting experience helping companies develop and implement brand and business strategies. In 2015, she was bestowed as one of the World’s Most Influential Marketing Leaders by the World Marketing Congress. 

Jacqueline is a specialist who combines in-depth analytics and brand to activate strategic growth opportunities. She helps clients with brand development and repositioning, product and service innovation, value proposition, customer segmentation, brand portfolio strategy, customer experience and transformation of the business model in the new digital economy. Have a question for her? Reach out here directly.

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Powering Positive Impact: A Recap of Prophet Impact Day 2022 

Reflecting on our firm’s annual volunteer day and our goal to drive positive impact in our societies. 

On Friday, July 15, over 435 Prophet employees around the globe gave back to their local communities as part of Prophet Impact Day—an annual event where our entire firm pauses and focuses on elevating the work of organizations that are making a positive impact in our societies. 

The last few years have presented significant societal, economic and environmental challenges and, of course, a global pandemic. While we have reinvented what Prophet Impact Day (previously known as P4NP) means for us as individuals and as a firm, we remain committed to taking on these challenges head-on and doing our part to amplify the work of nonprofit organizations where we live and work. In broadening the scope of this volunteer day, we have a renewed focus on addressing the causes that our employees are most passionate about: sustainability, equality and social mobility. 

This year, on our 8th annual Prophet Impact Day, we partnered with over 25 organizations and dedicated over 1400 hours to create an impact in our communities.  

Propheteers engaged in a wide array of activities this year supporting a diverse range of causes: 

  • Sorting donations and preparing meals to help underserved communities in Atlanta, Richmond, New York, Chicago and Hong Kong  
  • Remodeling temporary shelters for Ukrainian refugees arriving in Berlin
  • Getting our hands dirty in efforts to help community farms and keep parks and beaches clean in London, Singapore, Zurich and San Francisco 
  • Empowering the next generation of young leaders in Austin and Shanghai  
  • Using our business expertise to consult local nonprofits–including Florham Park Educational Fund, Charlotte Rescue Mission, Alaina’s Voice and Austin Pets Alive– to help them grow and achieve their missions.  

Whether our employees were in-person, virtual, working in groups or independently, Propheteers across the firm had flexible opportunities to support the causes they’re passionate about. Prophet Impact Day also provided a chance for our teams to connect with colleagues outside of the regular day-to-day, building new relationships and nurturing old ones.  

“It was so energizing to see the photos and hear a bit about the experiences that were shared around the globe. It’s this type of leadership, sense of understanding, empathy and excellence in our work that makes me extremely proud of our firm and what we can accomplish together.”

Michael Dunn

FINAL THOUGHTS

With our ever-growing headcount, we continue to find ways to build participation in our offices and give our teams the opportunity to make their own impact. With the world more in need than ever before, we continue to look for more ways to make a difference in our local communities through our Prophet Impact initiatives including volunteer time off, our pro-bono program and beyond. Together with our partners, we strive to build a healthier, more compassionate, more just world. 

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A Consultant’s Guide to Summer Reading 2022

Summer is here, let the reading begin. 

Summer is in full swing, and everyone is excited to bathe in the summer sun, relax in the heat with a refreshing drink and, of course, finally read the book(s) that have been collecting dust on the shelf. Every year, we ask Propheteers to create a book guide of their favorite reads for their clients, peers and those who are consulting curious! So, if you’re not on #BookTok or are unsure which tales are worth your time, take a dive into our compilation. You may find your next favorite here. 

Our Consultant-Curated Summer Reading List:

The romance book that goes beyond the cliché

“Olga Dies Dreaming”

by Xóchitl González

This tells the tale of a status-driven wedding planner grappling with her social ambitions, absent mother and Puerto Rican roots, all in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Set against the backdrop of New York City in the months surrounding the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, “Olga Dies Dreaming” is a story that examines political corruption, familial strife and the very notion of the American dream–all while asking what it really means to weather a storm. 

The mystery book you will not be able to put down

“Piranesi”

by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building. It has infinite rooms, endless corridors and walls lined with thousands of statues. There is only one other person in the house – a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into a great and secret knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known. 

The fantasy book that will enchant you

“The Midnight Library”

by Matt Haig

This novel tells the story of a library between life and death. It is a library with boundless shelves and books that provides another chance to live a different life. In Matt Haig’s enchanting novel, “The Midnight Library”, Nora Seed is confronted with the possibility of changing her life for a new one. As she travels through the Midnight Library to find solutions, she must decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place. 

The coming-of-age novel that will evoke your own self-discovery

“The Girl with the Louding Voice”

by Abi Daré

Based in a rural Nigerian village, “The Girl with the Louding Voice” is an unforgettable, story of a teenage girl who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice”. This moving novel is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams. 

The sci-fi short story collection that takes you to a dystopian world

“Bloodchild and Other Stories”

by Octavia E. Butler

Like all of Octavia Butler’s best writing, these works are parables of the contemporary world. In her short stories, Butler proves constant in her vigil–an unblinking pessimist hoping to be proven wrong, and one of contemporary literature’s strongest voices.

The poetry collection that will tug your heartstrings

“Love and Other Poems”

by Alex Dimitrov

Author Dimitrov believes that of humankind’s greatest achievements, the best invention is love. As he navigates darkness, fear, loneliness and guilt, Dimitrov doesn’t resist joy even in despair. This poetry collection depicts who we are as people and how we view even the terrible and fraught through the eyes of a curious individual. 

The memoir that has gripped our hearts

“Crying in H Mart”

by Michelle Zauner

This unflinching, powerful memoir tells the life story of Michelle Zauner. Growing up Korean American, losing her mother and forging her own identity hasn’t made Zauner’s journey an easy one. Zauner’s experiences radiantly shine through her vivacious and honest writing. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely and complete with family photos, “Crying in H Mart” is a book to cherish, share, and reread. 

The science book that Prophet’s healthcare practice couldn’t stop talking about

“The Premonition: A Pandemic Story”

by Michael Lewis

This nonfiction thriller depicts the difficulties medical leaders faced in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Michael Lewis is not shy about calling these people heroes for following the data instead of directives. The characters you will meet within these pages are as fascinating as they are unexpected.  

The true-crime book of the century

“Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty”

by Patrick Radden Keefe

Sackler name adorns the walls of many storied institutions: Harvard, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Oxford, the Louvre. Though the family is one of the richest in the world, the source of the family fortune was vague. That is until it emerged that the Sacklers were responsible for making and marketing OxyContin, a blockbuster painkiller that was a catalyst for the opioid crisis. “Empire of Pain” details the Sackler family’s heinous crimes in this well-documented and compelling nonfiction book. 

The Pride book that not only tells you but shows you its history

“Queer X Design: 50 Years of Signs, Symbols, Banners, Logos, and Graphic Art of LGBTQ”

by Andy Campbell

Featured in Prophet’s Pride Month DEI Dialogues, this book is the first-ever illustrated history of the iconic designs, symbols and graphic art representing more than five decades of LGBTQ pride and activism, ranging from the years before the Stonewall uprising to the new millennium. Queer X Design celebrates the inventive and subversive designs that have powered the resilient and ever-evolving LGBTQ movement. 

The marketing book that bewitched our consultants

“Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life”

by Rory Sutherland

How does magic happen? This revolutionary book by Ogilvy advertising legend Rory Sutherland decodes human behavior based on 30 years of fieldwork inside the largest human behavior experiment in history. Rich with deep psychological insight and entertaining storytelling, this book will enchant you with more marketing knowledge than you have known.

The essay-turned-book about how humanity has shaped today’s world

“Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency”

by John Green

The Anthropocene is the current geological age, in which human activity has profoundly shaped the planet and its biodiversity. Adapted from his ground-breaking, critically acclaimed podcast, John Green’s symphony of essays review different facets of the human-centered planet– from the QWERTY keyboard and Halley’s Comet to Penguins of Madagascar– on a five-star scale. Green’s gift for storytelling shines throughout this artfully curated collection about the shared human experience.


FINAL THOUGHTS

With so many compelling stories and narratives out there, it can be hard to determine which content to consume. Luckily, our Prophet consultants have good taste and love sharing their favorites. From fiction to nonfiction, we have you covered for the season. Which books would you add to this list this year?

If you haven’t already, check out our past guides from the previous years here.

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How Attending Cannes Changed My Perspective on Brands: 6 Takeaways  

A Young Lion shares lessons from attending Cannes, including how young talent can change marketing.

As I left New York City for Cannes, I was both nervous and excited, unsure of what to expect for the week ahead. I was proud to be selected as one of 30 global participants under 30 for the Cannes Lions Brand Marketers Academy– a weeklong program for rising stars in marketing to come together and learn from leading CMOs and CEOs. I was looking forward to meeting some amazing people from many different industries and brands. Nothing, though, prepared me for such a mind-blowing experience–personally, professionally and as a global citizen. 

Of course, I have plenty to dish about. To name a few, I finagled my way into Spotify’s private Dua Lipa concert; I bumped smack-dab into Ryan Reynolds; I heard Paris Hilton speak articulately about Web3; and when human-rights activist Malala took the microphone, I admit, I cried. 

As I sort through my notes and memories, still reminiscing about an incredible farm-to-table dinner from my stopover in Paris, I know at least seven Cannes-backed ideas are going to shape my career and fuel the work I do for brands. 

1. Be a Climber, Not a Camper 

Many speakers, including marketing execs from Procter & Gamble, GSK, Google, Meta, Mastercard and Activision Blizzard, talked about the importance of developing a growth mindset, embracing ambiguity and always looking to learn. In fact, the best advice that all these industry titans kept sharing was: The second you get bored in a role, you know it is time to switch and take on a new challenge to learn.  

Climbers are always growing and must ensure their personal and professional brands are solid before reaching the top of the mountain. But these world-class marketers use that philosophy in a more generous way, helping others shine. While you will encounter campers throughout your career, and not all feedback is good feedback, it is clear that these leaders see building ladders and bridges for others as a critical part of the growth process – as demonstrated by the time they spent in our classroom during the week. 

2. Creativity + Empathy = Business Impact 

Marketing results run on great campaigns and solid brand building, and Cannes Lions exists to celebrate them. Yet these CMOs hammered home that true creativity cannot connect with people unless it is rooted in empathy – real “I see you” levels of compassion. 

Empathy requires active listening to consumers and coworkers. Marketing is not a democracy, of course. But great leaders must provide safe spaces for diverse thoughts, disagreement and debate. 

And I will never forget this advice as the most important way to evaluate new creatives: You only see work for the first time once. What do you see? Is it different? Is it expressing the brand in a new way? How does it make you feel? 

3. When It Comes to DEI and ESG, Gen Z Has X-ray Vision 

People get tired of members of Gen Z painting themselves as great truth-tellers. But in this area, we are already experts at spotting the malarkey. Much research confirms that Gen Z is more alert to all manners of green, pink and rainbow washing. And as I sat with the other global academy students, listening to frequent diversity, inclusion and sustainability pitches, I’m happy to report young marketers are even more attuned. I came home 300% convinced: If brands and companies cannot pursue these essential goals in transparent and authentic ways, they shouldn’t bother. Gen Z (and others) will see right through them.  

4. The Marketing World Needs More Ikigai 

For all the talk about brand purpose, I didn’t know of the centuries-old idea of “ikigai” until Jim Stengel, a consultant and former CMO of P&G, preached this. It means “reason for living”–the purpose we feel we are here to fulfill. It is easy to get sidetracked by what others want from us or expect us to be, personally and professionally. His challenge to all marketers is to discover what we are passionate about, what we love doing. What is your superpower? What are people giving you feedback on? Know your own brand and strengths. Whose life do you admire? Design your own ikigai to fit this purpose. 

5. Push Deeper Into Authentic, Human-Centric Brand Insights to Unlock Value  

Most of us believe we understand the brands we work on. But with no linear path to purchase or an expanding customer ecosystem, the definition of what is on or off for a brand is constantly being tested. The brand experience must be consistent and authentic – across real-life and metaverse touchpoints. When companies genuinely understand what a brand is good at, we can find new ways to add value to consumers. We can navigate between the virtual and real worlds with that human-centric truth. 

6. Embrace the Next Big Thing 

Every speaker stressed how important it is to give up the idea of being right or perfect. Throughout my time at Cannes, the importance and power of embracing mistakes were emphasized.  

One thing that is not okay according to these presenters? Marketers not being at least a little curious about new trends and technology, even if it turns out to be an inconsequential fad. Curiosity and knowledge are essential tools. Lose it, and you become irrelevant–no matter how tenured you are in the business.  

Marc Pritchard, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer, epitomizes that next, new thing with passion, essentially firing himself every 18 months from a category within the business. With each reinvention, he is looking to learn more about disruption– from gaming, tech titans and yes, the metaverse– and is committed to infusing sustainability and DEI standards across all touchpoints. I especially love his confession that he doubts himself daily. As a result, he says he never “wings” anything and always prepares, meticulously. 


FINAL THOUGHTS

After several pandemic years of so few in-person professional conferences, a week at the Cannes Lions Brand Marketers Academy reminded me why I started in this industry. To keep growing–and to develop more effective growth strategies for clients–young female marketers like me need more exposure. Especially in these times of economic turbulence, new ideas, perspectives and approaches are key to maximum business impact. 

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Lean Into Leadership: Amy Silverstein

Since joining the firm as chief financial officer two years ago, Amy has played a critical role in Prophet’s growth trajectory. I’ve been fortunate to develop a great partnership with her— partially because we work hard to show the ROI of our marketing efforts, but if I’m being honest, it’s really because Amy is a leader that cares deeply about the firm and its people. She’s a wonderful mentor— always willing to listen, share ideas, guidance and advice. Numbers fill her day, but she spends a lot of her time on people, empathy and leadership. I cannot imagine Prophet without her. 

Amanda Nizzere: What’s your go-to productivity hack?  

Amy Silverstein: It’s very simple. Most of my day is dedicated to my family and to work; and in all honesty, I feel very blessed to have both and wouldn’t have it any other way. To kick start my day, I try to carve out 30 minutes each morning for a quick workout—a run outside or some yoga. A little “me” time before getting the kids up and off to school changes my entire outlook and enables me to focus and bring my most productive self to the job. 

AN: Who has influenced you most when it comes to how you approach your work?  

AS: Earlier in my career, I struggled with maintaining boundaries and balance between work and family. Everything felt urgent, everything felt critical and everything required perfect execution and delivery. To say I was tough on myself is an understatement.  

But a dear colleague of mine shared one simple truth. He said, “We make cornflakes here. We aren’t saving lives.” He wasn’t diminishing the importance of our work; in fact, he too was very hardworking and gave much of himself to his career and the success of our firm. But he went on to explain that while we should take pride in the work we do, we need to also take pride in what we contribute to our personal lives, to our family lives. We need to make sure that we give the best of ourselves to those who depend on us and love us at home, just as we try to bring the best of ourselves to work, too. I keep the word “cornflakes” close to mind always now, and while I may not always get the balance right, I am always trying.  

“We need to make sure that we give the best of ourselves to those who depend on us and love us at home, just as we try to bring the best of ourselves to work, too.”

AN: What’s the worst job you’ve ever had, and what did you learn from it?  

AS: I was working at a not-to-be-mentioned investment banking firm very early in my career and had been pulling all-nighters for 2-3 days prepping for a board presentation with a key client. I was sick as a dog, but I somehow managed to get the presentation done.  

When I walked into the office of my managing director to deliver the final deck, he looked at me and said, “Don’t you dare come into my office. I don’t want to catch whatever it is you have. Drop it at the door.” It was at that moment I learned the importance of prioritizing a supportive and positive culture when choosing a job. I left shortly after that interaction.  

AN: What’s a mistake you made early on in your career, and what did you learn from it?  

AS: When I first started in investment banking, I didn’t have the same depth of accounting acumen that some of my colleagues had. The mistake I made was allowing myself to lean into Imposter Syndrome. It delayed my ability to own my role, learn what I needed to and shine.  

Luckily, I had strong mentors who saw what I brought to the table. They taught me that it was ok to not have all the answers and to not be able to do everything right out of the box. They taught me to not be afraid to ask questions or ask for guidance, and to recognize that we all, even at the most senior levels, have things to learn, areas to improve to grow ourselves and our contributions.   

AN: What energizes you at work?  

AS: There are two things that energize me every day at work. First, I love that I am learning and growing every day, that I am challenged with complex problems to solve and able to contribute value on a regular basis.  

Second, I love the amazing team I work with. They are bright and talented and bring incredible expertise, intelligence and thoughtfulness to their work. Not only are they curious people who are always looking for new ways to learn and grow, but they are also exceptional human beings—kind, compassionate and a joy to spend time with. Can you tell I feel very lucky?   

AN: If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?  

AS: I would love to be a sommelier. I have a deep passion for great food and wine, and over the years have become a pretty good cook. But other than knowing what wines I enjoy, I really do not have much knowledge about wine—what vintages and regions produce the best of certain types, etc. And I don’t know how to best pair wine with food. I would love to be an expert in that! 

AN: If you could write a book about your life, what would the title be and why? 

AS: It would be titled, “To be Content.” I spent my young adult years and through my 30s always striving for more and more. I never took a step back to realize how blessed I truly was with all I had, and rather was always focusing on what I didn’t have, what I still wanted (whether it was children, further advancement with my work, wealth, etc.). As many people will tell you, the “Aha” moment does present as you get older, and I have found my last decade or so truly fulfilling as I have come to appreciate the smallest to biggest joys in my life. I am content and so genuinely appreciative of all I have.  

“I spent my young adult years and through my 30s always striving for more and more. I never took a step back to realize how blessed I truly was with all I had.”

AN: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?  

AS: Before I had my children, I was incredibly adventurous. I have flown a few Cessnas, sky-dived in Rotorua New Zealand, whitewater rafted level 5-6 rapids in the Victoria Falls in South Africa, to name a few. I was fearless and willing to try any adventure (except bungee jumping) that came before me. Once I had kids, however, my courageous side faded away. I’m sadly now so afraid of heights I can barely walk to the top of a lighthouse without grasping onto the handrails for dear life. My children do not believe my tales of adventure!   

About the Series 

Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help each of us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders ourselves. Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues and industry peers—which led me to create this interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may just want to add to your own leadership toolbox. 


FINAL THOUGHTS

Amy is Prophet’s chief financial officer and a member of its executive committee, with a tenured career running financial departments at large agencies. People go to her to discuss ideas and strategies as wide-ranging as how to advance the growth trajectory of the organization, how to analyze and assess the ROI of potential investment opportunities, how to secure necessary funding for new growth investment ideas and how to negotiate the gnarliest of contracts, among other things. Want to learn more about Amy or have another question? Reach out directly here

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Leaning Into Leadership: A Conversation with Melissa Goldner

Melissa has been with Prophet for a little over a year and has driven immense impact across our Organization & Culture practice. Her passion for our clients and our people is infectious. I’ve learned well before this conversation (and during, it was cemented) that we are incredibly similar and like-minded. I am happy that Melissa is part of the Prophet community and cannot wait to find ways to collaborate with her in the future. 

Amanda Nizzere: What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on?  

Melissa Goldner: Intentionality. Since joining Prophet, I’ve worked hard to build relationships with my clients. Before I head out on maternity leave in July, I’m being intentional about meeting with our talent team to identify any “unsung heroes” that I can introduce to my clients. This will provide them with an opportunity and visibility to oversee my work while I’m away. Additionally, my goal is to provide an opportunity they might not have had prior to my being out. I have the influence to help drive that type of impact, and I’m going to use it.  

AN: What’s your go-to productivity hack?  

MG: If I don’t write things down, they don’t exist. And when I write things down, it’s done in an incredibly organized way. I have a color-coded notebook based on topic, client, whether the initiative is internal or external, etc. As you might imagine, outside of work, my closets and kitchen cabinets are organized in a similar fashion. Being well-planned and schedule-oriented is my hack. 

AN: What’s a mistake you made early on in your career, and what did you learn from it?  

MG: My first job out of college was “accidentally” running HR for a 400-person IT and business consulting company. I say “accidentally” because, at that time, I was going to school to get my master’s degree and was one of the youngest employees at the company. I moved up quickly and within five years I was on the executive leadership team.  

However, my metrics for success were blinded by title and being in a position of power. I forgot about the core – people. I had an AHA! moment one day when managing an employee issue. While trying to solve the problem – in this scenario, instead of listening to what some of the execs wanted – I realized that I should be pushing for the employees and their points of view and needs. It was at that moment I realized that some of the executive’s organizational vision was not aligned with my values, and I redefined what success meant.  

My definition of success now is the dash between when I’m born and when I die and what’s on my tombstone. It’s about the impact I have on the people I work with, my family, my friends and the world. I’m no longer driven by influence or title.   

“My definition of success now is the dash between when I’m born and when I die and what’s on my tombstone.“

Melissa Goldner, Partner

AN: What energizes you at work?  

MG: I firmly believe that I am a work in progress and always will be. I also believe in continuous learning – the moment you stop learning is the moment you stop growing. I love creating things that don’t exist today, future-proofing organizations and redesigning broken systems to embed something more equitable. 

Image: Melissa Goldner, Partner, New York Office

AN: What drains you personally and/or at work?  

MG: Disrespect or unfair treatment of others.  

AN: If you could write a book about your life, what would the title be and why?  

MG: “How Nice Girls Do Corporate America.” I have not grown in my career by taking the traditional route of progression throughout an organization. I progress because I adhere to my values. Whether you’re a famous rock star or are homeless, I will treat you with respect and integrity. In my career, I’ve built deep connections because I genuinely care for people. I challenge myself to do the right thing even when no one is watching and when it may be the harder thing to do. If I am facing a difficult situation, I make sure I ask myself, “Will you be proud of yourself if you die tomorrow?”  

“I progress because I adhere to my values. Whether you’re a famous rock star or are homeless, I will treat you with respect and integrity.”

AN: What’s one thing you’re currently trying to make a habit of?  

MG: Forgiveness of self. I put myself at a high standard which is the reason I’m so motivated. Now that I have a daughter, I recognize that I have to treat myself with a lot more self-love. I’m working on it and am trying to lead by example. 

AN: If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose?  

MG: My 18-month-old daughter. I think it would be so cool to explore and experience the world through such a sense of wonder.  

AN: If you had to pick one age to be permanently, which age would you choose?  

MG: I want to be the senior citizen who just doesn’t care anymore. She is who she is. She’s the cool grandma who shares her wisdom, humor and stories of the various things she has overcome. And of course, she always has candy.  

About the Series

Throughout my career, I have been fascinated with the building blocks of leadership, from motivation, coaching and communication to mentorship, empathy, inspiration and more. Unraveling and understanding what makes a strong and impactful leader tick can help each of us implement new strategies to grow as individuals and leaders ourselves.

Over the years, I’ve listened to podcasts, read books, attended conferences and listened to TED Talks about various leadership topics, but some of the most impactful lessons and pieces of advice I’ve learned have been from those around me—my mentors, colleagues and industry peers—which led me to create this interview series. I invite you to join me as I interview various leaders in my network to share new tools and wise advice from them that you may just want to add to your own leadership toolbox.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Melissa is a partner in the New York office in Prophet’s Organization & Culture practice. She specializes in change management, especially with companies that are going through large-scale transformations. She is an expert in the adoption and scale of that change.  

Melissa’s expertise is vast, ranging from transformation vision, to change management strategy, to employee engagement, to DE&I learning and development, to executive leadership and coaching. Want to learn more? Reach out to Melissa directly here

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