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Every year, we geek out on digital trends for a few days during our PreCommerce and Movers & Shapers Summit…..then, we need to take a break and eat some barbecue, drink a few beers and listen to some of our favorite bands at our Saturday night Geek-a-Cue.  Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting some amazing bands, including Lord Huron, Black Pistol Fire, Monte Montgomery, These Mad Dogs of Glory, Black Joe Lewis & The Honey Bears, Whiskey Shivers, the Reliques and more.  Pretty awesome group.

It leads to some magical moments.  Last year, we witnessed Black Pistol Fire break out as a band in front of 1,000 of us.  It was one of those moments where you just say “wow, this band is going big”.

This year we continue the tradition of hosting outstanding artists at #W2OatSXSW events:

  • During our annual PreCommerce Summit, we will hear from Joe, Marc’s Brother, thanks to our partner Bayer. This is a very talented band consisting of three guys from Jersey who can go from three-part harmonies to “psychedelic freak-out” in just a few bars.  Not a bad way to end our first day.
  • On Saturday night after our Movers & Shapers Summit, we will host our GeekACue, which starts with the Eric Tessmer Band (amazing Austin-based musician), then features LOLO (recently featured on the Bachelor) and ends with Tameca Jones (powerful, soulful vocals, also from Austin) for our after party.

Every year, we create a playlist that contains our favorites for our friends.  This year, what I thought I would do is share two lists that I keep myself on Spotify.  The first is called “Austin Bands”.  In this list, I put in top songs and bands that I’m listening to at the moment.  The list changes throughout the year.  The second is called “Bob P Favorite Songs”.  You’ll hear some Black Pistol Fire, These Mad Dogs of Glory and other favorites from Zeppelin to The Stones and more.  And here is our list of favorite songs from our Austin team for W2O Group.

Have fun in ATX!  See you soon, Bob

It’s that time of the year again in NYC – Social Media Week. All of the social gurus from the greater New York City area gather their teams and rush to Midtown West to attend the weeklong event. Those who don’t tweet, amp up their Twitter game, and those who call themselves video-experts, were just hit with VR and AI…so that was a curve ball! Oh, and Snap Inc. dropped their IPO smack in the middle of SMW, not to mention their number one competitor announced Instagram “Stories” ads for all brands on the same day. Needless to say, it was an eventful week!

Who’d We See?

Many great speakers took us through the week, including Megan Summers, Global Head of Production at @Facebook, Alastair Cotterill, Global Head of Creative and Brand Strategy at @Pinterest, and even David Harbour, Tony nominated actor from popular Netflix series “Stanger Things” took the stage. Brit Morin, entrepreneur who is the Founder and CEO of Brit+Co, discussed the power of video and Henry Goldman, Head of News Video at @Buzzfeed gave his input on viral content and what it means for the future of digital marketing.

What’d We Hear?

A ton of insightful one-liners, machine based communications is the natural progression, and everything under the sun on the immersion of video! Some things we knew…most things got us thinking. As social media professionals, our goal is to strategically serve media to the right audiences by leveraging advancements in technology to share content and build experiences.

We learned a bunch from attending social media week, but four key moments stole our attention:

  1. The rise of video, particularly viewership
  2. Transitioning from an age of information to a world of experiences
  3. Reaching millennials…because they too, are the future
  4. The new future of digital: machine driven communications

#1. The Not-So Shocking Rise of Video…

…proven by the surprising number of viewers. Last year, YouTube surpassed more than one billion hours of viewership. Not hard to believe when you consider the fact that videos are our main source of information as it allows us to connect with and experience the brand from a visual and interactive perspective. Whether it’s Snapchat Discover, Instagram Live or snackable GIFS, we watch everything from recipes (looking at you Buzzfeed “Tasty”), news, and even advertisements (Instagram “Stories,” anyone?) are all better served as video content.

But, not just any video content. High quality, appropriate to the platform, video content. Over the week, we learned from an array of experts that video content should:

  • Be social, personalized, on demand, and empathetic
  • Capture attention early
  • Be designed for sound off (but delight viewers with sound)
  • Be experimental – play more
  • Fit the platform

All in all, we know video works, we know people are watching, and we’re going to keep creating video because we’re only going to get more immersive from here.

#2. Transitioning from an age of information to a world of experiences

So what does this really mean? Back when newspapers and TVs were our only source of news, everyone took their time absorbing information. Now, our rushed and busy society has waved goodbye to the days of long-form information consumption. It’s social media that has provided a large driving force behind shorter, more easily consumed content (give me a 15 second video with 140 characters or less, or I don’t have time for that!).

Of course everything ladders back to video content these days because out of a video, we gain an experience, but we can’t forget about Facebook 360 (like being put in the center of the bustling NYSE during an IPO) or carousel ads (sliding through each course of a meal, thanks to our favorite restaurant). Learning how to make DIY party favors or watching a rally LIVE – experiences. Putting on big, funny-looking goggles and waving our hands back and forth because we’ve just been jet-setted to mars – an experience.

Content is the means of saying something better than we can actually say it.  It is through this content that we have to envision experiences we want the audience to take, and how they run with it, is on them. The beauty is that even if they don’t interpret the content the way we want, they’re still building an experience, and that’s how we know we’re doing it right.

#3. A different approach to reaching millennials

Alastair Cotterill from Pinterest made a bold statement during his session at SMW stating that, “One of the biggest hurdles that marketers face today is creating content that’s personalized and inspires people to act.” He approached this by asking agencies and advertisers to bring BIG, innovative ideas to the platform that do one simple thing: improve the lives of Pinterest users.

Pinterest’s largest demographic, millennials, or the selfish generation if you will, are constantly seeking content that helps “me, me, me.” Brands can add significant value (and find great success in advertising) by creating content that provides the user with an answer or solution that improves their quality of life.

  • How-to content
  • Recipes
  • Short teaching videos
  • Quick and easy resources of information

Social media is no longer a place to just “shove” information. We must provide the user with great value. Millennials are learning as we advance and children are training for jobs that don’t exist yet. The future is here. #bots #AI #VR

#4. What’s all this talk of bots?

We will admit, a huge eye opener was gaining exposure to bots, artificial intelligence and virtual reality this year at social media week. We know that this is where immersion experiences are heading, but to hear the number of brands that are already using these tools to influence their social strategy was really amazing.

We heard from @Viacom and how they partnered with Facebook Messenger to develop their own bot for the EMAs this year. We also learned from the @New York Times that through their VR app, anyone can be a journalist. Users are taken live to the stories of top news scenes and can fully emerge themselves into the 360 video experience.

A true kicker however, was the presentation hosted by @TheEconomist on bots. Machine learning is important to the way users think and process, but in social we have to figure out their place. The challenge, as mentioned by Alan Berkson, is with customer service and managing those expectations. If we give machines control, is it less personal?

Where do we net for now? Berkson says: “The future of bots is anticipation and analyzation.”

Again we find ourselves going back to this idea of shifting to a world of experiences and how the emergence of behavior influenced by the shift in technology is changing society as we know it. We can’t wait to see how this shapes up before next year’s Social Media Week.

In a Nutshell…

We came, we saw, we networked, we engaged, and most importantly, we were exposed to new and insightful approaches to social media. Mastering the art of human connectivity in this ever changing and digitally driven world is key for brands treading through a sea of social users. Reach your audience and see real results by tapping into smart, effective, and consumable content and marketing.

Thanks to all the speakers, sponsors and those involved in making Social Media Week 2017 a success! We’ll be back.

And in case you don’t have time to read our roundup in depth, but can spare a minute to see what our team thought of #SMWNYC in 140 characters or less…

@samhershman – “#Tech hasn’t changed human behavior as much as human behavior has embraced shifting in #tech.” We did this to ourselves, now we have to keep up.

@eileenobrien: “To build a fan base follow the 3 principles of devotion: be unique, build participation & build a service.”

@laurenmoore: “Agencies should help brands advertise in a way that helps consumers live their lives and improve their quality of life.” From @acotterill, Pinterest

@breannethomlison: “Brands have to know what they stand for in today’s world, they must speak up ASAP.”

@jessicavanner: “1 minute of video equates to 1.8 million words in our brain, this is 40k pages of text.” From @mklein_NYC, Global Marketing at Facebook

@christianapascale: “Engagements on Snapchat are totally different than traditional media & much more personal. No more clicks/time on page, it’s about screenshots.”

@alyssagrates: “Make yourself useful (on social media); it’s advice from your mother that was good advice then and is good advice now.”

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This blog was co-authored by Lauren Moore. Lauren serves as a manager of Social Media and Search Marketing Strategies at W2O Group, helping clients across healthcare, pharma and tech implement and execute paid social media and search marketing campaigns.

“When it comes to building your brand, it’s simply driving the reputation you want,” said Stacy Enxing Seng. “You earn this by sharing characteristics you’re proud of.”

Stacy Enxing Seng, a Venture Partner at Lighstone Ventures, is a self-proclaimed “non-expert” in personal branding but has learned from experience that a successful and fruitful career comes with a combination of your own strength, mentorship and a drive to deliver on the results you want. In essence, “branding” yourself based on your own personal goals and experiences is the best way to differentiate yourself in your workplace.

In an industry full of medtech companies striving to stand out while delivering similar outcomes, it is becoming increasingly important for us as medtech marketers and communications to differentiate ourselves. MedtechWomen’s “Personal Branding and How to Differentiate Yourself in the Workplace” event in Minneapolis last week helped us understand how it is possible to stand out from the crowd. The panel brought more than 50+ industry colleagues together for a night of networking and the opportunity to listen to Stacy Enxing Seng speak in depth about how women can successfully differentiate themselves in the workplace.

As we listened to Enxing Seng speak about personal branding, she explained that many of her own childhood experiences served as life lessons that helped her make decisions and strive be the best she could be. She presented 10 relatable steps to how personal branding can help you accomplish your career goals and stand out from the crowd:

  1. Carpe Diem: Seize the day, and love what you do. Time is fleeting, and you never know what you have left; make it so you can wake up in the morning and feel content with all aspects of your life.
  2. Passing the Dinner Test: The people you work with need to pass the dinner test; you need to want to have dinner with them. You should enjoy the people you work with enough to spend time with them outside of your work setting.
  3. Enjoy the Now, but Know Where You Want to Go: It’s okay to have a little fun, but always keep in mind what your end goal is. It’s your responsibility to know what you want to do in the long run, whether it’s personal or career oriented.
  4. “POR,” or Press on Regardless: No matter what might block your road, it’s important to have a sense of resilience to help you moderate your highs and lows. Place accountability on yourself to make changes or alter your path when things aren’t going as planned.
  5. Performance Carries the Day: At the end of the day, companies need to deliver certain performances. Learn early on how to separate your head and your heart and to not take business decisions personally. Understand what your organization needs and why.
  6. Alignment Drives Balance: There is no such thing as work-life balance; instead there is an alignment of what is important to you. Decide what percentage of your life will be dedicated to each of your values (work, family, personal interests, etc.). If you feel out of alignment, then you’re not achieving the balance you laid out for yourself.
  7. Attitude Determines Altitude: If you can maintain a positive attitude and continue driving it, then you will soar.
  8. You Need to Ask in Order to Receive: If you want something, then ask for it; be bold enough to ask for what you are worth, because a component of why you work is to earn an income that feeds your family and fuels your dreams.
  9. Find Someone to Spend Time with who Encourages your Growth: Whether it is a mentor or a person you admire, find someone who inspires you and drives you to continue succeeding. This could be a colleague, a friend, a spouse, a parent or even a person who gave a great speech or wrote a great book.
  10. Stay Ever-Curious, and be a Continuous Learner: There is always something new to learn, so take advantage of learning opportunities you can get from leaders you’re already working with.

Enxing Seng has used these steps to help her find her way through a career that has brought a vast amount change. After undergoing two acquisitions (ev3 to Covidien to Medtronic), Enxing Seng is no newcomer to adjusting her own trajectory to accommodate for success. She believes that no matter what gets thrown at you, you should always stay in your arena and be your best woman self; whatever it is you want to do, you have the capability of doing it.

Thank you so much to Stacy Enxing Seng and the women that attended the MedTech Women event. Attending these panels help us to quench our curiosity and satisfy our need to always continue learning!

About MedtechWomen: an organization dedicated to highlighting women leaders in the medical technology industry. Its focus is on providing opportunities to come together to discuss constructive solutions to key issues facing the medtech industry today. For more information about MedTech Women, visit www.medtechwomen.org

 

When bringing new technology to market, we as medtech marketers frequently follow a product development plan, that shows a progression from understanding the market, the customers and their adoption tendencies (i.e. early to latent), and the head/tail winds that could impact market adoption and acceleration. Historically, and generally speaking, these robust development plans have had little, if any, segmentation strategies around the “target patient” much beyond said patient being the end beneficiary of the new medical technology.

Our work as medtech marketers is changing however, as technology adoption decisions expand beyond the specialized physician to a compendium of decisions makers with equal weight including: the health system, payer and now consumers who are increasingly demanding more transparency regarding costs and in turn being more thoughtful and informed about health decisions.

Given that women account for 80% of all healthcare purchases and 90% of all healthcare decisions for her and her family, it makes sense for Medtech companies to better understand this audience and segment them similarly to that of the physician customer when thinking about adoption barriers and accelerators.

At W2O Group, we are dedicated to helping medtech companies thrive in this new world order of technology and transparency through the use of targeted analytics that help us critically understand audience behavior and in turn, supports the development of targeted strategies to reach them. This fundamental belief is why it was an honor to be invited to share my perspective among an esteemed panel at MedtechWomen’s ‘The Gender Strategy: Why Understanding Women Matters,’ regional event last week that brought together more than 50+ industry colleagues and influential women leaders in the Minneapolis area for a night of conversation and networking.

As we tackled the gender topic – it was fascinating to have a panel that consisted of inputs from across the spectrum including: understanding the Market (women as healthcare consumer), the Customer (Physician) and The Care Provider (Health System).

Here are key facts and five key takeaways from the discussion:


Understanding Women and Healthcare & Market Power

  • U.S. women generate $4.3T of earned annual income
  • Patients are bearing more of the expenses + women account for 80% of all healthcare purchases
  • Nine out of 10 women are seeking healthcare information online and 72% in social media forums
  • Women account for 90% of all healthcare decisions for her and her family

#1 One size doesn’t fit all – Women are different and complex at all life stages

Understanding life stages and what is critically important to women throughout their lifetime becomes critical to targeting this audience. Once you understand their life stage and their sphere of influence during this life stage, you can then more predictably anticipate and modify behavior.

Women in their 20s-30s: Focused on their education, career, finding a life partner; Are usually caught off guard if they need surgery or have other serious health issues

Women in their 30s-40s: Focused on pregnancies; Tend to start seeking out opinions from medical providers; Starting to focus on their own health more but are typically risk adverse at this time in life

Women in their 50s-60’s: More secure with who they are; Have learned from life events and are more focused on their own health; More willing to accept guidance from medical providers

#2: Women search for their symptoms, not for medical device technology. 

Moreover, women actually search “in question.”  This is a key as you think about medtech marketing programs aimed at reaching women as consumer.  Companies that observe the language their target female patients use by watching them in their online “natural habitat” and in turn mimics that language back will win in reaching and most critically, connecting with the targeted patient. Ask yourself, not what am I selling to her, but what symptoms am I solving for her?

#3: Women are the gatekeepers to the healthcare organization. 

In their role as “Chief Medical Officer” of a household, women can bring an entire family into a health system. Therefore, capturing their business is key. As you plan an approach to your ‘health system’ customer – appealing to understand who the key decision maker (the female) in where she and her family seek healthcare will become increasingly more critical in our future state of care delivery.

Research shows that women want:

Care: women want quality care and more service offerings

Comfort: new program with comfort taken into consideration will be powerful influences in the decision tree; i.e. offering warm robes vs. paper sheets at an OBGYN visit matters!

Convenience: ways to make health delivery easier – including off-hour appointments and weekend care

Community: understanding the barriers – as an example, transportation, that you can unlock to get patients the care their need

#4: Women care most about what their friends say – regardless of what their doctor says.

Educating physicians about new medical technology will always be critical to medtech adoption  – but understanding the patient’s sphere of influence is equally critical to successful adoption as provider is no longer the only ‘voice’ in the decision tree.

#5: Stop talking and start listening to all stakeholders.

As stated in the beginning of this post, launching new and disruptive technologies has always had an adoption formula attached. Today, in a digital first, always on environment, as expenses increase both for patient and provider, and decision making expands – the complexities of how we go to market has and will continue to change. By spending more time listening to what your market needs – by listening to them – in person, and more easily, online – you may very well be surprised at the AHA moment you might find that can accelerate your success.

I’d like to extend thanks to the panelists and the women that attended the event. Being a part of the conversation among such a talented and diverse group of women was amazing. Special acknowledgement and thanks to the panelists:

Dr. Beth Elfstrand an esteemed OB/GYN who has spent the last 23 years in private practice at John A Haugen Associates in Minneapolis, Edina, and Plymouth

Andrea Winter, Senior Director, Women’s and Children’s Strategy, Park Nicollet Health Services, where she oversees strategic business development of the ObGyn department and its sub specialties focusing on enhancing the quality of care and experience for the female patients throughout the organization and our moderator;

Linnea Burman, Vice President and General Manager, Pelvic Health, Medtronic plc

About MedtechWomen: an organization dedicated to highlighting women leaders in the medical technology industry. Its focus is on providing opportunities to come together to discuss constructive solutions to key issues facing the medtech industry today. For more information about MedTech Women, visit www.medtechwomen.org

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Recently, Brittany and myself had the opportunity to address the PRSA Georgia Leader Board and the Young Professionals Special Interest Group in a dinner at South City Kitchen in Buckhead.  The subject was “Talkin Bout My Generation: Surprising Truths about Millennials”.

Brittany gave most of the insights in this presentation.  Here is a summary of what she said:

Documenting our daily lives – Although the popularity of Snapchat is constantly increasing, the question of “Why Snapchat over other social platforms?” remains. Through a millennial’s perspective, Brittany explained that Snapchat serves as the greatest hits of the day. It allows us to track everything we do throughout the day and see what our friends are doing throughout the day. From there, our favorite photos are saved and posted to other channels such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. For millennials, Snapchat is in the moment. Facebook is like a scrapbook. Brittany said millennials also use Snapchat as a quick and entertaining distraction, whether it be to post a story, read interactive articles from media outlets like CNN or ESPN, watch Snapchat live, or send a quick message to a friend. But why send messages on Snapchat when texting still seems quicker and easier? Simple. Snapchat allows for both verbal and nonverbal communication, making a text one step closer to meeting face-to-face.

The definition of a friend – Bob adheres to the notion that if we’ve met and had a conversation, we can be friends on Facebook. Brittany explained this is not the case for most millennials. The standards are the same, but how they approach it is different. Similar to how you talk to someone in person and find common interests, millennials do the same, but online. And they’re comfortable with the same result. For example, when Brittany decides to accept/decline a friend on Facebook, she will look at number of mutual friends, what their interests are, what school they go to, what they’re posting, and any other available information. In doing so, millennials have the same result as a face-to-face conversation. With so many friends, millennials have more reach and are at an advantage for larger networking.

Entertainment habits – At the end of the day when Bob wants to relax, he’ll get comfortable on the couch and watch a movie or TV show, whereas millennials watch content whenever and wherever they go. Brittany explained there’s two different things driving millennials in terms of content: mobile and the moment. Millennials are constantly on their phones and constantly have free moments. Brittany gave an example that if she were waiting at the gate for her flight, she might play angry birds, watch videos on Facebook, or watch a quick episode of Friends on Netflix. Basically if millennials have free time, they’re going to entertain themselves not wait until they get home to watch a movie. But when millennials do sit down to watch something, no matter what is on the big screen, something is competing against it for our attention on the small screen.

From “Call of Duty” to “Duty Calls” – Many of us grew up playing outside with tangible objects and couldn’t imagine growing up any other way. So Bob asked Brittany why do millennials play video games so much? Why not go outside more and shoot some baskets or throw a baseball? The answer is simple. In our world, machines are part of our life. Whether some form of robot or a machine asking us what to do, it’s not any different than how we’ve been playing video games forever. Growing up in a virtual world allows us to acquire certain skills from video games that we can apply later on. Some of Brittany’s friends love to fly drones and create videos for fun. They could soon be operating drones for a business and flying them over crops for fertilization.

Trusting Brands – Having been brought up in an era when big brands were icons, Bob still remembers the Coca-Cola ad, “I’d like to teach the world to sing…” Do millennials experience loyalty to brands? Do they trust brands? In order to please a millennial, advertisements must be real and relevant. Brittany said millennials really dislike when ads pop out at them. On the other hand, Brittany gave an example of an ad millennials do like. At the hotel that morning when Brittany was taking a Snapchat of her breakfast and swiped through the filters to find a Starbucks filter, it let her know Starbucks was one floor upstairs. Now that is relevant. With so many ads and such short attention spans, millennials are also more likely to pay attention to advertisements that pertain to them in the moment.

Entrepreneurship – Millennials were expected to start businesses at a faster rate than any previous generation…yet they haven’t. Brittany listed three reasons why.

  1. We’re smart enough to know we need experience
  2. We have more student loan debt than ever before
  3. No guarantee that when we graduate, we will have the right job…or a job

It’s not that millennials are any less entrepreneurial, but structural economic challenges are getting in the way. So, we have all this great talent inside companies today…. what if we unlocked it?  It’s a great opportunity for today’s leading brands.

Game churning is a warning to brands – When Bob was younger, if he bought a game, he would learn it, play it, and commit to it. Although with the variety of games, apps, and game consoles available today, it’s impossible to pick a game to play…so millennials usually hop on the bandwagon and play whatever their friends are playing. The actual brand name is much less important. Brittany said millennial’s loyalty is to the quality of the game, our friends, and a good experience with the game.

Giving back – As active participants in civic and philanthropic organizations, Bob claimed his generation sees much more “slacktivism” from millennials. The truth is, millennials care just as much, but are more likely to go online – not in person – to voice their support. Brittany explained millennials are actually learning about philanthropy from the time they first use a device. Maybe this will lead millennials to be more interested and involved later on in life when they actually do have the money and time to contribute.

Overall, I want to point out how wonderful it is that the PRSA Georgia Leadership team reaches out and helps to guide and nurture the careers of young professionals in Georgia.  This chapter is a national example of how to “do it right”.  Thank you to Alison Ilg, Elyse Hammett, Denise Grant and the rest of the leaders who are helping build the future leaders of communications.

Best, Bob

This past weekend, I had the privilege of presenting to a class of Masters Students at Syracuse’s Newhouse School of Public Communications. These students are completing their degree virtually which in and of itself is pretty cool but as part of their 15 month program, they need to spend two weekends on campus completing in-person course work. This weekend’s focus was on social analytics (powered by our good friends at Sysomos) and included a broad array of content including my keynote, a panel (which I moderated), a case study and some training sessions.

strout-4

The focus of the keynote and the panel I moderated was the role that social analytics and insights could and should play in driving better marketing and communications. Given the focus of our company, W2O Group (a partner of Newhouse’s, Center for Social Commerce), this is an area we are very passionate about.

During the keynote, I talked about how social listening has evolved into social intelligence over the last 10 years. This evolution took agencies and brands from listening for brand mentions to providing deep insights from the social/digital web informing all functions of business including:

  • Advertising
  • Product development
  • Customer service
  • Content creation
  • Sales
  • Crisis communications
  • Public relations (and so on).

We talked about different models like the 1-9-90 rule of influence and building conversational “mountain ranges” versus “sky scrapers” as well as W2O approaches to helping customers with affinity analyses, conversation blueprints and attribution modeling. Since everyone likes to see case studies, I made sure to include success stories from clients like McAfee, HP, Warner Brothers, Best Buy and BMC Software.

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The next morning, I was joined by Assistant Newhouse Professor, Jennifer Grygiel, CEO and founder of Delmondo, Nick Cicero, Senior Manager at Sysomos, Jason Harris and VP of Content at Syracuse University, Stephen Cvengros. As mentioned previously, we continued the conversation around social analytics driving better business outcomes. It was a lively discussion (especially for 9:00 AM on a Saturday) and touched on topics like whether it was worth the risk for brands to use platforms like Snapchat when they didn’t have robust APIs/access to data, the predictability of a video going viral and what we as professionals today would give as advice to our younger selves.

Clearly the morning was a success as we managed to trend on Twitter. We also had a ton of great questions to complement all of the amazing content provided by my fellow panelists. To be honest, we probably could have talked for another 30-45 minutes but I’m a big believer in the saying, “less is more.”

A big “thank you” to Kelly Lux (Operations Director and Adjunct Professor) and the Newhouse School for hosting me as well as Sysomos, the faculty and all the smart students I met while I was there. I look forward to staying in touch with all of my new connections and hope to be back to teach again before the end of the school year!

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Developing and maintaining thriving cultures in the workplace is a crucial component of a company’s success and one of the most important responsibilities for our leaders today. At WCG, we are dedicated to helping healthcare businesses thrive by doing our part to support diversity in the workplace. This fundamental belief is why it was an honor to sponsor MedtechWomen’sCreating Cultures that Thrive’ regional event this month. MedtechWomen is an organization dedicated to highlighting women leaders in the medical technology industry. Its focus is on providing opportunities, through conferences and other events, for leaders and innovators to come together to discuss constructive solutions to key issues facing the medtech industry today.

Echoing the high-profile women panelists, which included Luann Pendy, senior vice president global quality at Medtronic; Angie Craig, congressional candidate, senior advisor and former head of global HR at St. Jude Medical; and Cindy Kent, president and general manager at 3M Drug Delivery Systems Division, it is clear that solving gender inequality is not just about analyzing the numbers of women within an organization. It is deeper than that. As leaders, we need to look into the work our employees are doing, the realities they face and how we may improve retention and promotion within every level of an organization.


“Culture is set by tone at the top. Leaders set the tone for the company. Things do run downhill.”

Cindy Kent, President and General Manager at 3M Drug Delivery Systems Division


Aimed at connecting women in leadership in the medtech community, MedtechWomen’s event brought together industry colleagues and influential women leaders in the Minneapolis area for a night of conversation and networking. Panelists offered effective strategies to create cultures where employees are engaged and the importance of benefiting women’s careers along the way.

Below are the top three takeaways from the inspirational discussion:

#1 – Mentors, and more specifically advocates, will be critical to your success

“There’s nothing more frustrating than when women don’t help other women. We need to stop not supporting one another.”

-Angie Craig

“We need to advocate for culture too. If you see talent– talk about it. Create the kind of workplace where you talk about good talent.”

-Angie Craig

#2 – To lead you must be authentic– bring what makes you unique ‘to the table’

“You have to be authentic. Figure out what makes you ‘you’ and figure out how to be that person.”

– Luann Pendy

“We didn’t just decide to work in medtech. We worked in this industry because we wanted to make a difference in this world.”

-Angie Craig

“When I came to Medtronic, we were trying to get female employees to get something started for women. It was hard. We struggled to get things moving. Now we are saying, ‘Bring your diversity to the table.'”

-Luann Pendy

#3 Creating a thriving culture will take time, ‘Go Slow to Go Fast’  

“Pay attention to the cultural context – what gets rewarded – what doesn’t. Be a student of the culture.”

-Cindy Kent

“Intentionally I decided to glow slow to go fast.”

-Cindy Kent

“What happens to a business culture when the world around the business changes? Remember that you have to evolve your culture as the world also makes its changes.”

-Angie Craig

“We spent a lot of time thinking and talking with employees. We asked, ‘What makes your part of the organization special?’ Through the discussion we defined the company in four key behaviors. We started hiring for these traits and, when needed, training for them.”

-Angie Craig

We would like to extend thanks to the inspirational panelists and the 60 women that attended the event. Being a part of the conversation among such a talented and diverse group of women was amazing.

I started my career as a research scientist at UCLA and spent years in the lab laser-focused on repeatability between experiments, making each day EXACTLY the same as the last. As intellectually challenging as it was, it was also… boring. If variety is the spice of life, I was eating white bread every day.

This is what led me away from the lab and instead to BrewLife, and an existence fully of daily variety. Two weeks ago is a perfect example.

W2O Group, the parent company of BrewLife, hosted its 5th annual Pre-Commerce Summit to kick off SXSW Interactive on March 11th in Austin, TX. The day was full of compelling talks that made me rethink my approach to communicating, to strategy, even to thinking.

I learned that if you want to make products that resonate with your audience, you need to check your preconceptions at the door. This is exactly what didn’t happen when YouTube engineers first designed how videos reorient when you turn your phone. (All my fellow left-handers know what I mean.)

Al Roker and W2O President, Jim Weiss
Al Roker and W2O President, Jim Weiss

To communicate effectively, you not only need to put your preconceptions aside, you should also put yourself in the shoes of the person you are communicating to. A great idea can be lost simply because it wasn’t explained in a clear or inspiring way. Al Roker shared a story at the PreCommerce summit that most parents can relate to. In an attempt to get his teenage daughter to clean her room, Al resorted to yelling, which resulted in tears and accusations of “if only America could see this Al Roker.” A clean room probably would have benefited both Al and his daughter, but once communication broke down they could not reach a point where they agreed on the best outcome.

All of these Pre-Commerce Summit talks started my brain a-swirling. How do we make sure we’re taking our best ideas and communicating them in a relevant and persuasive way?

ACC logoConveniently for my mileage rewards program, I went straight from SXSW to the American College of Cardiology (ACC) Conference in San Diego. I was there to work with a client on sharing the story their data told and helping others see the value of it. Even in the world of data there is disagreement: You can’t argue with a number but you can argue about what that number means. This idea of different takeaways or reactions to the same set of information was exactly the concept that had been rattling around in my head ever since the Pre-Commerce talks. In my brain, it was like SXSW, soul patches and live music collided directly with cardiologists in suits. Two worlds that shall never meet… until they did.

I left San Diego with a greater appreciation that no matter what the topic is, from healthcare, to tech, to family discussions, we each bring our own preconceived notions to the table and, at times, struggle to get others to see our point of view. But you can’t get others to understand your point of view until you understand what they bring to the conversation.

Communication is an art, a science and definitely not a one-way street. You cannot effectively engage in discussion until you listen to what the other person is bringing to the conversation and account for that in your thinking. It may change your approach to the discussion, but more importantly, it may change your own preconceptions. Maybe you’ll consider a new treatment protocol for your patient or maybe you’ll think to make a video player that rotates for left-handed people.