Every time I get out of the office, I’m reminded how much more I need to get out of the office.
Don’t get me wrong–I am fortunate to have a terrific work environment. It’s just that attending carefully curated conferences are the equivalent of superhero transfusions: You walk in feeling like Clark Kent and leave ready to leap tall problems in a single bound.
This is not a zero-sum game situation in which time out of the office means playing catch up; rather, this is additive. Perhaps it’s because your to-do list looks easier or less important. Perhaps it’s because you’re fresh with stimulating ideas from inspiring speakers. In truth, it’s all of the above and more–and that’s the “Audacious AND” in action. The Audacious AND turns “that’ll never work” into “let’s do this.”
Here are a few of the Audacious ANDs I thought would be stimulating to CMOs, all gained at the recent PSFK “live–work–play–better” confab.
• Success AND Humility: KIND Snacks founder Daniel Lubetzky spoke to a receptive crowd just a few days after its first formidable PR crisis and the release of his new book. Lubetzky was remarkably honest and admitted to a labeling mistake, at least according to current FDA guidelines. And while this may prove to be a textbook case on crisis management, it was clear that KIND would weather the storm thanks to a deep-rooted commitment to doing well by doing good and turning the notion of kindness into a genuine movement.
• Delicious AND Nutritious: Lubetzky credited much of KIND’s success to a focus on replacing ORs with ANDs. By combining supposed contradictions, such as delicious AND nutritious, profit AND social responsibility, and whole ingredients AND mass production, KIND not only created unique products but also a clear AND compelling culture that helps drive its ongoing growth. For Jim Collins fans, this is another reminder of the “tyranny of the OR.”
• Fashion AND Technology: One of the more eye-opening speakers was Amanda Parkes, chief of technology and research for Manufacturer NY. Parkes spoke of her new organization’s commitment to developing a warehouse space that will support R&D at the vortex of technology, fashion, AND textiles, AND will rekindle manufacturing in New York City. Parkes is a stickler for developing truly fashionable wearable tech; after announcing she’d never own an Apple Watch, she described a new fiber that could provide battery power AND be recharged via machine washing.
• Furnishing AND Decluttering: Convinced that my wife sent Becky LaFranchi, communication and interior design manager of IKEA, an unsubtle reminder to make the bed, I was almost relieved when the fire alarm interrupted her talk on why “clutter kills.” When she resumed, a friendly audience warmed to the notion that cleanliness may indeed be next to godliness, AND I marveled at a talk that never really mentioned furniture but nonetheless inspired goodwill toward LaFranchi and IKEA. Perhaps the real AND here is “enlighten AND they will buy.”
• Green AND Underground: From the city that turned an elevated eyesore into the lovely Highline, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that similar plans are in the works for The Lowline, a community green space in development at Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Daniel Barasch, the project’s co-founder and executive director, described this as a labor of love involving public AND private funds, as well as technology AND social good. Using a new type of solar technology, The Lowline will be the world’s first underground park.
• Great Sound AND Perfect Fit: As devoted as I am to “The Great Courses” audio series that accompany me on my daily subway rides, I am also dogged by the constant need to reinsert a fallen earbud. Turns out, ear-hole sizes deviate by more than 20%, a problem noticed AND addressed by startup Normal, which measures your ears via a phone app and then 3D-prints form-fitting, high-quality earbuds in 48 hours. This is Stan Davis’ 2001 promise of mass customization writ large AND just right.
Each of the innovations above started with the recognition of potentially contradictory needs, such as good taste AND nutrition or earbuds AND custom fit. The question for you to ponder (perhaps in a walk outside the office) is, what pressing contradiction could you resolve with an Audacious AND?