Transform It Forward: Best of Season Two

Transform It Forward end of the year

To wrap up Season Two of Transform It Forward, I reflected on some of the most interesting, insightful, and thought-provoking interviews of the season. While I thoroughly enjoy every conversation I have on the show, there are a few discussions from the past season that have stood out.

From content marketing to the events industry, we covered a wide range of topics on season two of the podcast, throughout the lens of the cutting-edge transformations we’re seeing across the board. It’s fascinating to reflect on just how much has changed in the world, even since we first launched the podcast back in 2020.

As I close the door on 2021 and look ahead to 2022, I’m counting down some of the most memorable clips from Season Two of Transform It Forward

Data-driven investment decisions

Back in July, I sat down with the Vice President of Growth and Partnerships at Reonomy, Aviva Fink. By providing in-depth access to property details and analysis, Reonomy is revolutionizing the commercial real estate industry.

With the world changing a mile a minute, I was curious to hear Aviva’s perspective on where the real estate industry was headed post-pandemic. 

“I do think it’s becoming kind of table stakes that if you’re trying to be thoughtful and data-driven about your investment decisions, you’re going to be leveraging multiple dimensions of data to understand consumer behaviors, brand performance, and site location behaviors.”

One of the main ideas she expressed during our conversation was the notion of real estate industry professionals becoming increasingly reliant on data collection, so I asked her about the specific metrics and indicators people should be looking at going forward.

“I think some of the things that they’re looking at beyond some of those metrics I already mentioned are things like the number of graduates with degrees in STEM, number of patents filed with other things that give signal to the fact that these are markets where there will be a lot of growth because the labor force is there to support the types of jobs that are becoming increasingly popular and also pay at a specific rate where they’re going to be able to pull in talent from outside those markets.”

During our discussion, Aviva also noted that ultimately, the industry professionals that are quick to adapt to new technologies and methods such as using advanced data collection to make informed decisions will come out on top at the end of the day.

After all, this wouldn’t be Transform It Forward if we didn’t champion the idea of staying adaptable and flexible to change.

The desire to transform

In another episode, we also heard from Axway’s EVP and Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Vince Padua. Vince echoed some of the statements Aviva made, noting that all successful transformations begin with a strong desire and motivation to change.

“A desire to transform that seems a little bit flippant, but at every enterprise I’ve ever been at every company where there’s a major transformation initiative, whether that’s a technology overhaul, re-architecture, or it’s a desire to change the business model and the way that we seek to monetize the software or how we want to engage with customers and partners, it starts with really the desire to transform.”

Indeed, a strong desire to uplevel your business, and a clear vision for how to get there are two key ingredients of a successful transformation.

The changing nature of Content Marketing

In 2020, we all witnessed the major shifts happening across all industries and its primary driver, we need to move to digital. No one understands this better than Michael Brenner, the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, a globally recognized keynote speaker on leadership, culture and marketing and the author of several bestselling books. 

As a CMO, I was really interested in his take on the changing nature of content marketing, and his approach to the acceleration of the digital transformation in 2020 was in line with some of the best thinking and leadership on the topic. 

“The stat that I love the most is from McKinsey. It said that the importance of digital interactions is six to seven times greater in both some digital transformation studies that they’ve done, as well as in actual primary research they conducted that they’re seeing significantly more weight being put on the kinds of things that we’re doing digitally versus talking to a salesperson, which is a classic B2B, ‘hey, let’s take them to go see Tiger Woods swing a golf club or let’s go to a concert or a sporting event or, a steak dinner,’ classic salesperson approaches. We’re now, ‘hey, what website content do you have and can you do a webinar and let’s get on a zoom,’ so you know, those interactions that salespeople do, a very classic B2B function, almost exclusively went online.”

As Michael noted, it turns out the pandemic was an opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons, which ultimately served some brands quite well. 

Pivoting in record time

Some of the best stories of Season Two came from the entrepreneurs like Daphne Hoppenot of The Vendry. 

Daphne was in the midst of building an events platform when the unexpected happened. Although most people would have given up at that first sign of the pandemic decimating the events industry, Daphne and her team leveraged the small amount of luck that was on their side to quickly pivot the business model — all without missing a beat.

“It was a really challenging time for the industry. As we went to the whiteboard, what was abundantly clear was two things: people were losing their jobs and those that still had their jobs were trying to figure out how to pivot to virtual. We felt we had the opportunity to give the people in this industry sort of an online community and a true tech platform behind that community where they could be a resource to one another or personally build out their profile to stay relevant.”

Today, The Vendry has over 18,000 members that joined from all corners of the industry. The story of how Daphne and her team quickly changed gears to adapt to the situation at hand serves as a testament to the power of remaining flexible and open to change, despite how dire the circumstances may seem.

People, culture, and change management

On the subject of transformation overall, it’s clear that successful change consistently comes down to one common denominator: people. 

If the people that make up an organization aren’t on board with the changes, transformation becomes impossible. Jacqueline Teo, Global Chief Digital Officer at HGC Global Communications, illustrated this point succinctly in our episode on Transforming Telecom.

“I admit in everything that I’ve done, it has truly been harder to change the rest of the organization where the culture is quite set in its ways, and the people are quite set in their ways. I think our key has been whoever works with us gets that culture, so they get it from us and it’s the tone we set. I think as long as when you’re getting together to create outputs of a transformation, you’ve got that change in culture, even if it’s a temporary change to create that output, I think that’s actually a very positive outcome.”

See you in Season Three

I hope you enjoyed our Season Two wrap-up episode, and that you’ll join us for more thought-provoking conversations in season three of the show.

Thank you to everyone who has listened, engaged with, and supported the show since we began over a year ago now, and a big thank you to all our wonderful guests who have taken the time to share their thoughts and advice with our audience.

Listen to the full podcast episode here.

If you missed previous episodes, click here.

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EVP - CMO - Paul French has 20+ years of successful experience in direct sales, front-line sales & marketing management, product marketing, and business & product strategy. Success in executive management in sales, marketing and operations in roles at companies that range from angel-funded start-ups, to Global, Public Companies. Entrepreneurial, with experience with Public and Private company strategy and M&A, Innovation, Business model changes, P&L ownership, building and leading teams, and delivering measurable results.

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