We’ve just wrapped up our second annual (and first virtual) Pros & Content conference. Over the past two days CEOs, CMOs, content leaders, founders, small business owners, athletes, entertainment executives, and activists have logged on from all over the world to share their thoughts and ideas on how we can meet the challenges our world faces today and fight for a better tomorrow.
Here are some of the many highlights from Day 2 of the conference.
Uncomfortable Conversations Are Necessary
A running theme during Pros & Content Connect was social justice and the steps we can all take to foster greater equality. Our panelists had many ideas on what could be done, including a simple act that could get the ball rolling:
“The first action leaders need to take is listening and understanding,” said Tariq Hassan, CMO of Petco, in our “How Marketing Can Make a Difference” panel. “As leaders, we have to be comfortable having these uncomfortable conversations.”
Educating yourself through conversations with marginalized individuals helps leaders understand what steps they must take to foster a more inclusive workplace. But it also has other benefits, as Baron Davis, former NBA player and Founder of Baron Davis Enterprises, explained on our “Storytelling as a Platform for Change Panel.”
“Uncomfortable conversations help you find the humanity in whatever content you’re creating,” Davis said. “It allows you to learn and connect the dots.”
Diversity Needs to be a Business Goal
Uncomfortable conversations can help foster a more inclusive workplace, but the only way for it to stick is if Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is baked into the core goals of a business.
Brandon Bryant, a Partner at Harlem Capital, reinforced this sentiment on our “State of Minority Entrepreneurship” panel:
"I want corporate America to provide a clear pathway for people of color and women to understand how they can come in on Day 1 and grow into a decision-making role in your company,” Bryant said.
Travis Montaque, Founder and CEO of Holler, said on the same panel that this can only happen is there’s a fundamental shift in the business community.
"It's not about establishing a DEI program, it's about re-architecting corporate culture,” Montaque said.
Marketers Need to be “Horizontal”
Vineet Mehra, CMO of the Walgreens Boots Alliance, offered some practical tips for marketers looking to grow their careers on our panel “5 Mantras of the Modern CMO.”
“Careers today are built horizontally,” Mehra said, referring to the idea that marketers need to cultivate a variety of skills. “You need to know the full marketing tech stack. It’s through horizontal growth that you see vertical progress.”
Mehra also reinforced the idea of making career choices that allow you to grow horizontally, even if it’s not the most lucrative option.
"If you chase experience, you're going to progress. If you chase money, you risk stifling your growth” Mehra said.
He coined a phrase to summarize his philosophy on career growth: “Bloom where you’re planted, and pick lots of different pots to bloom in.”
Marketing Is Not What it Used to Be
A common refrain we heard from marketers during Day 2 is that the job of the marketer is vastly different than it was even a handful of years ago.
“The word ‘marketing’ itself needs a marketing campaign, because it no longer encompasses everything needed to build brands and revenue,” Mehra told us. He argued that the goal of a CMO today should be to unite the C-Suite behind the customer.
Others said marketers have an important role to play in fostering a more inclusive workplace through the content they produce.
“If stories aren’t told, we make the mistake of believing those stories don’t exist,” Rosanna Durruthy, VP of Global Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at LinkedIn, told us on our panel “The Role of Brands and Content in DEI.” “The power of content marketing is that you get to tell that story.”
The Athlete as Influencer & Activist
Among our panelists today were two active National Basketball Association (NBA) players, and they both shared their perspectives on what it’s like to be an athlete in the age of social media.
“The evolution of social media enhances the ability for the people to relate to us,” said Josh Okogie, a Shooting Guard on the Minnesota Timberwolves, during our “Rewriting the Sports Playbook” panel.
Danny Green, a Shooting Guard on the Los Angeles Lakers, explained that the transience of NBA players also helps them foster large followings.
“Players usually play in multiple markets during their career,” Green told us on the same panel. “When they leave that market, they still keep those fans.”
Green and Okogie also commented on whether the NBA should return amid the current national climate, and how NBA players can use their platform to drive change.
“We don’t have to stop playing in order to get our words or perspective out there,” Green told us. “The NBA can actually leverage our return to raise awareness for the issues we care about.”
“We have to keep the conversation going and hold each other accountable,” Okogie added in relation to the nationwide protests. “If we continue to ignore these issues they become the standard.”
Trust is Foundational
Our last takeaway comes from Marc Benioff, Chair & CEO of Salesforce, who spoke on the importance of trust during our “2020 Leadership Challenge” panel.
“If you’re not committed to truth and trust in today’s world, I don’t know what you’re committed to,” Benioff said. He went on to explain that the principle of trust, which is foundational to Salesforce, should apply to all institutions.
“We run a company on transparency, data, and reporting,” Benioff explained. “Those are the same things we need from our police in order to foster trust.”
Knotch is humbled to have been able to provide a platform for so many great leaders to come together to have open and honest conversations about marketing, leadership, and the current state of our world. We hope that our attendees were able to walk away with new ideas on how to be better marketers, leaders, and citizens.
Thank you to all of our speakers and attendees. We’ll see you next time :)