Using improvisation and comedy to unleash your company’s message and branding

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Advertising, business advice, free business advice, Hiring Consultants, Hiring Contractors, Marketing, Priorities

When Hewlett-Packard was about to launch their Windows 10 line of notebook and desktop computers they were scared. Not because they were worried about competition or the quality of their devices but, because of the horrible reaction to their prior line of computers due to Microsoft’s shockingly bad Windows 8 software. In order to create the right marketing message for their new line of computers they knew they needed serious help. This was no laughing matter. So, who did they turn to? A bunch of comedians.

HP turned to a San Francisco based creative agency called Funworks. Funworks brought in a team of comedians skilled at improvisation techniques to hold a “fun workshop” with HP’s top product managers. Founded by Paul Charney, a veteran creative agency executive and founder of the San Francisco comedy troupe Killing Lobsters, Paul and his team help companies express their issues and discover their most compelling messaging points by fostering an environment of open conversation based on improvisation techniques where ideas flow freely when everyone simply says “yes” and “and”.

In this episode of Bay Area Ventures I speak with Paul Charney and Funwork’s Creative Architect, Erica Fortescue about his company and their award winning commercials.


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We discuss the psychology of what makes a company and its products memorable and why humor is sometimes the best medicine, even when trying to convey a serious message. We learn what a fun workshop is and what takes place at one.

Paul talks about why he started Funworks and how it is different from other creative ad agencies. He talks about the challenges of moving from a practicing creative person and comedian to being the CEO of a team of other practitioners. What are the trade off and what are the rewards for being a leader.

Erica shares her knowledge on the neuropsychology of messaging and how humor can be used to convey a serious message while maintaining the prestige and authority of the company being represented in the creative message.

Of course we also hear Paul and Erica share their view on the Bay Area Way of business. In their practice they have dealt with startup to Fortune 50 enterprises in the Bay Area and across the US. In the Bay Area, in particular, they talk about how companies staffed by 20 to 30 “something” employees are sometimes more difficult to help because they just don’t understand their true identity as an organization. Often in these cases they are called in by the company’s Board of Directors to help figure it out and craft the right message and persona for the firm.

So, how did HP conquer their fear of whether or not Windows 10 would scuttle their latest offerings? By creating Circle of Trust. See it here: Funwork’s Windows 10 Launch Commercial for H-P

This episode was recorded on May 22, 2017 on Bay Area Ventures on SiriusXM Channel 111 Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School. For a list of upcoming and past guest information click on the Show link above.

How to find happiness at work

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in business advice, Foundation, free business advice, Networking, Priorities

Srikumar Rao is a noted author, lecturer, professor and founder of The Rao Institute. He is the author of the course “Creativity and Personal Mastery”, the only MBA course in the world which has its own alumni association.

Professor Rao talks about his career and how it led him to a life-long mission to help others be more happy and successful in their careers.

This is an amazing interview with a truly amazing person.

Be sure to pick up Professor Rao’s books:


  

Setting a Vision

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in COO, Priorities, Setting Goals

Setting a clear vision for an organization is perhaps the most important task for a CEO. Sharing and instilling the vision throughout the organization is perhaps the most important task for a COO. A clear vision that is understood by everyone in the organization and continually reinforced by the leaders will provide an intangible force that seems to be driving the company. Read more…

Getting Started – Setting Priorities

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in COO, Foundation, Getting Started, Priorities

My first job out of college was a corporate engineering position with a $3B multinational aluminum and chemical corporation.* My branch of engineering was highly specialized so, as a 22 year old, I was able to pick and chose which of several dozen multi-million dollar projects I wanted to work on at any of the company’s manufacturing facilities worldwide.  My list of projects was a mile long with some involving serious health and safety concerns of employees.  Every project required reconciling the production and financial needs of plant managers with the demands of corporate execs to maintain control over disparate operations.  For a foot loose young man with an unlimited travel budget, I needed to balance my responsibilities with a desire to see the world.

You see, if you’re 22 years old and can choose between working in a can factory supplying a major European brewery with access to all the beer you can drink for free, or standing next to an 1,100 degree extrusion furnace on a 107 degree July day in the panhandle of Texas which would you choose?

Well… not so fast.
Read more…