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Founder of The Great Fail,
Mel curated a unique touch point for us at such an unprecendeted time. The inaugural Futurum Forum accomplished what was needed most — thoughtful, insightful, and compelling conversations and connections with thought leaders. Excited to attend the next one!
Creating Through Adversity
LEAD WITH ACTION
Stories of success against all odds can serve as a Northstar to guide us in making key business decisions, from brand and product development, to building a world-class team, to setting and articulating our strategic priorities and ways of engaging customers, proactively, consistently, and authentically. We want to know how leaders stay focused on their purpose amidst all the noise and chaos. How do they create a sustainable framework that will allow them and their team to thrive and succeed? At this Summit, we will be exploring the following focus points, all the way from the essential whys to the tactical hows:
Building A Purpose-Driven Brand
Consciously Building Diverse & Inclusive Teams
Defining Ethical Leadership
4 Panelists + 1 Moderator
45-Min Executive Roundtable
100 Leaders, CEOs, Thinkers, Creators
CEO of Power Flower
Build With Purpose
On launching a brand during Covid: "In many ways, there is no better time to start a brand focused on health and wellness then right now." - Michael Swartz (Power Flower). With people stuck in their homes, lack of gym visits, doing things that keep them fit, it's all causing emotional distress; from children to college students to singles wanting to date, etc. Michael finds strength in realizing that what Power Flower is doing is helping people physically and emotionally, and the timing is right.
On creating the right inclusion narrative for a brand: Power Flower wants to build a culture of inclusion from the start. D&I are critical to a brand's success and you must build a deep, authentic connection with customers out of the gate. Everyone benefits from different voices, ages, ethnicities, gender identities brought into the conversation, so it has to reflect in hiring practices.
Iraqi War Veteran, Retail Guru
Co-Founder of Brown Girl Disrupt
Build Diverse & Inclusive Teams
On Diversity & Inclusion/Brown Girl Disrupt (new venture co-founded by Mel and Tracey): Corporations large and small need to understand the importance of creating environments that are inclusive. Diverse in culture, not just sight - are people respected? Do they have a voice?
On social injustice/BLM and corporate approach: Capitalist society is built on winners and losers. Companies have to win so you're hearing a lot of noise. Consumers must distinguish what is true. Companies reflecting great values (building good internal culture) VS. companies that are executing great brand activism (marketing). Most consumers want to spend money on brands that have a mission or purpose, so you're seeing that reflected in marketing. Peel back the layers - are they walking the talk? Are they really going to do better?
On corporate responsibility: From a corporate standpoint: "Don't just make it look pretty from a social standpoint. Really look within the organization and live out those behaviors you're portraying on social media" - Tracey Lloyd (BGD).
Chief Human Resources Officer of Varonis (NASDAQ: VRNS)
Lead With Action
On Giving Back programs: "Volunteer programs are great, but not enough. Must do more to impact in a consistent way and transform people's lives and opportunities. Create opportunities in communities around you. Partner with organizations that work with inner-city communities." - Dana Shahar. Varonis strives to compliment the gap. They want to ensure that mentees have a true opportunity to participate in the workplace. Their Giving Back program is based on real mentorship and goes above and beyond the typical giving back programs. They teach practical work and life skills, and their involvement goes beyond the few weeks of the program. The relationship is maintained well after - they check in with alumni consistently so they have an anchor.
Education is the great equalizer. If you have an education, you have an opportunity to live out the American Dream. People of color are disproportionately affected. Access, experience issues etc. They have a ceiling where they can't reach their potential. Barriers exist. So it's imperative that companies have a diverse candidate flow; look at talent in the pipeline. Varonis and BGD aim to change this. "Get them early" - reach out to school age kids (high school and college), and groom them for the corporate environment. "End-to-End" spectrum.
"Starts at the top" - Dana (Varonis). Leadership has to buy-in. At Varonis, high level execs actively sit in sessions. It's an organizational effort and leadership understands the importance of having the social impact. Implementing a giving back program is very easy when it comes from the top. And they've taken the same intensity to run anything else in the business, and rolled it over into the program. Monitor SAT performance, measure trends, impact, etc.
Chief Marketing Officer of
Varonis (NASDAQ: VRNS)
Define Ethical Leadership
On getting corporate to "buy-in" to giving back and D&I initiatives: "Culture of Intensity" - David Gibson (Varonis). Varonis culture has become a "habit of intensity". Early on, the company established big goals and knew they had to fight really hard everyday to reach them. From a product standpoint, they make sure that their product (software) does what it's supposed to do works and clients are satisfied. They used the same approach for product development and sales, and applied that to the Giving Back program. When building the program, they asked what works. "Let's start from the end - what does success look like?" - David. Are these people getting the help they need, are they getting an opportunity - college jobs, etc?
I was so glad to be part of the Futurum Forum networking and discussions. This time can feel isolating and exhausting but I left feeling empowered, energized, and inspired to keep pivoting, and if that doesn't work—rest and pivot again!