The Soul of a Company is Creativity and Innovation...this is my core philosophy in life, always has been always will be, even if this is a cited quote from Bob Iger, the current CEO of the Walt Disney Company.
To that end, I'm happy to report most of my career, some 40 years of it, has been spent with highly driven, intuitive, creative people either as my bosses, my clients, or my partners & colleagues. It's been the ride of a lifetime too and there's little I'd change about it even though not everything turned out as wonderful as I or we thought it would. Given I'd spend most of my career as a consultant, there wasn't much I could change about outcomes. At some point I had to walk away from these endeavors and leave it to the original owners. I can say though without equivocation, what I did do with and for people and organizations had a 100% success rate while I was working with them. Still, it was shepherding their product into the marketplace be they start-ups, medium sized firms or Fortune 500 companies, that was my primary position within their organizations and no matter how much I led the way on any of the projects I undertook, it was still their product, and still their design work and their companies. We partnered, plain and simple. They always, without exception, took back over the reigns which was how it was meant to be and I have always been paid what was agreed upon in the first place.
My early days, straight out of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York were spent as a costume designer/dresser for experimental theatre in Chicago, In the mid to late 70's those were heady days there for theater believe it or not. Saturday Night Live for one thing was just getting started up, SteppinWolf Theater had just begun. Goodman Theater was coming into its own, and one suburban theatrical performance, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, eventually found its way to Broadway in NYC. & marked the beginnings of a number of professional actors famous today. I ran into most all of it during my creative early days but sadly made no money at it.
Once I made that decision, to make money, I decided to change careers and made my way into sales as a manufacturer's rep but for designer goods. The category was housewares which was just getting started with busy Gourmet Shops around the country and a Macy's Celler becoming the place to shop around the world. My career zoomed ahead. Eventually I started my own agency, the kimbro agency, consulting to those wishing to hit the majors, wirting trend reports for them (still do) and/or working with their design and development teams to roll out their new product launches.
Wow though! Haven't times changed!? And I along with it. We've come almost full circle or I have anyway by championing the small biz shop owner (even if only digital) again and the maker ones at that. Plus I've now joined them as one.
There are pluses and minuses to being around this long in an industry. I don't dwell on the minuses much lest they stop me in my tracks, but one of the pluses is that & with my special skillset of having future sight, I can place my bets on where the winning will be (though I am not a gambler per se). I worked with some techies here for a bit in St. Louis, mostly on community oriented social enterprise activities, but found most to be bruhs and not the kind of company I wanted to be around. The giants and I've worked with them too, such as Wal-Mart and Target to name just two, are so big, Wal-Mart in particular, the joy of shopping is no longer there much less working with them. Thankfully those aforementioned bruhs (still talented) have helped to create spaces and places where we don't have to shop there anymore either unless its online. Amazon, who had heard of them in the 90's at all, to now being the largest company in the world overtaking Wal-Mart and the oil industry behemoths. Crazy, but also, pretty lopsided. These are my views, which are admittedly dour when it comes to the world of large commerce but I do not apologize for them.
IMHO, you want to see creative, unique, inspired innovation look no further than to the makers of the world. That's where today you will find me, this time as one of them, not this time as their shepherd, the only thing I would've changed from my former heyday of a captain of industry (well that and not push so much plastic into the world).
I've strapped on my seatbelt once again, cause you just know, it's gonna be a bumpy ride!!
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