Thursday, November 29, 2007

Food For Thought

When seeking out breakthrough ideas – one obvious spot to go to is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) right? Right. Well recently I had the pleasure - OK that’s an understatement. I meant to say the giddy, I can’t believe I am here doing this cool thing, am I in a parallel universe? kind of pleasure - of spending a day at MIT in a marketing strategy session with a client, Everest, an innovative funeral planning and concierge service out of Texas. The session was hosted by the head of the MIT Age Lab, Everest Director and uber-interesting guy, Dr. Joe Coughlin. Joe simply oozes big ideas. From the moment you meet him (and that moment came for me a few years back). Honestly. He can’t get enough big ideas and he fosters them in his team in really cool ways, including all-night labs where his students are coming up with breakthrough thinking and developing prototypes in the middle of the night when the only action going on in most other college labs is the sweep of the night janitor’s broom. So while I could blog for days about various parts of that day - and I probably will but just not all at once – I wanted to highlight one breakthrough idea under development that Joe showed us and I recently read about again while on a business trip. The concept is designed to keep the ageing population healthier and smarter longer . It's a bar code label on food packaging that, when swiped by the consumer in the grocery store with a special scanner, will provide the nutritional value of the product, and other interesting tidbits like whether it’s free-range, organic conventional, fair trade and so on. And to top it off, for those who are cuisine-challenged like me, it even offers up recipes and cooking instructions. From MIT to the grocery store of tomorrow. Now that is truly food for thought!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Breaking Through <))

The inaugural breakthrough blog. This is my toe in the water. Admittedly, I am nervous. Excited too. Many members of the Veritas team blog as a regular occurrence. It’s what they do. It’s where they get their information. It’s how they communicate. I find the willingness of that demo to just “put it out there”, quite fascinating. Now it’s my turn….

The breakthrough blog moniker for this platform just seemed right for a whole host of reasons. First and foremost, breaking through is what we strive for, work hard to foster and what I witness on a regular basis around the agency. It’s also our mission: “We are Veritas. We break through minds and doors to bring a voice to the ideas and issues that shape lives”.

When that client comes along who subscribes to our breakthrough philosophy, I have witnessed the genesis of some great ideas and then watched them come to life in exciting ways. It’s exhilarating. With great collaborations we really do break through!

In the marketing and communications business I believe a truly collaborative relationship between client and agency is a critical element to breaking through. Partnership. Yes, it might be a term that is overused but it’s never overdone. Increased bandwidth comes from working together. An environment wherein ideas can originate with either party (or between them) and both parties feel safe and courageous enough to propose them is the kind of place that breeds campaigns that make a mark on the landscape and hit the mark with consumers. There are stories upon stories of success born of this formula and hopefully as this blog evolves they will appear here.

But my vision for this space is not that it will be restricted to the anecdotes and ideas that live in the PR and marketing verticals. Frankly - and with all due respect to my peers who engage in robust discourse on their own blogs about the industry - the world is saturated with a lot of PR people talking amongst ourselves. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good discussion. It just doesn’t require another venue.

So breakthrough blog is intended to prompt and host an interaction between and about individuals and ideas that have impact. These ideas live in so many places: in the busiest streets and the barest of spaces; in business magazines; political speeches; and reality TV. In artwork; the prototypes that come out of engineering departments; live theatre; college dorms (just ask Mark Zuckerberg); and, of course, in the shower.

Breakthrough blog is the place where ideas can come together from wherever they live. And hopefully the discussion that is generated from sharing these ideas will breed more breakthrough thinking.

So to kick it off I will leave you with a quote from Walt Disney that I love. “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths”.

I am curious. Are you?