#MediaSnack Meets

27 - Gemma Greaves, The Marketing Society

February 06, 2019
#MediaSnack Meets
27 - Gemma Greaves, The Marketing Society
Chapters
00:00:00
Introduction
00:02:17
Show notes
00:02:31
Welcome Gemma
00:03:13
About The Marketing Society
00:04:35
The problem with acronyms
00:06:44
Growth
00:19:00
Syl Saller - CMO Diageo
00:21:35
Being BRAVE
00:32:15
BRAVE improves marketing
00:40:25
Recommended resources
00:44:26
Importance of mentors
00:47:04
Future guests
#MediaSnack Meets
27 - Gemma Greaves, The Marketing Society
Feb 06, 2019
ID Comms
Interview with Gemma Greaves, Chief Executive of The Marketing Society - Episode 27
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The most important thing for successful marketers to grow is by being BRAVE, says Gemma Greaves in this wide-ranging interview in New York.

She has expanded The Marketing Society around the world and recruited some of the world's best CMO's as leadership.

We find out what motivates her, where does she find her inspiration and mentors?

Episode links:

The Marketing Society website
https://www.marketingsociety.com/

The Marketing Society twitter
https://twitter.com/themarketingsoc

Gemma Greaves twitter
https://twitter.com/gemmahgreaves





Intro:
0:02
Hello everyone. I'm Tom Denford, co-founder of ID Comms. Welcome to Episode 27 of Mediasnack Meets, recorded each week in New York, we get to meet the individuals and organizations doing great work to inspire success and drive change within the global media and marketing industry. In each episode we find out what is behind that success, what it takes to make change in the industry, and what the rest of us can learn from that experience. My guest for this episode is Gemma Greaves, the Chief Executive of The Marketing Society. Many listeners have heard of The Marketing Society, and many of you may be members, I think there are more than 3000 of you now, growing and dotted all over the world. You will know Gemma as the energetic and charismatic leader who has dragged The Marketing Society into the 21st century and she's created real momentum and inspiring marketers around the world to be braver, and I think you will hear why this is her favorite word. In 2017 she launched a multiyear initiative called Brave, with a bold ambition to expand The Marketing Society around the world in key hub cities. In 2018 this culminated with a series of conferences which took place at the same time around the world in four countries: New York, London, Dubai and Hong Kong. She is described as "curious, always up to something, a restless connector of people and ideas" and Gemma is one of the best net-workers and connectors I've ever met. She talks about how together we can make a difference, that together we are better and can have a bigger impact. She says, we're talking about what matters to us not just as marketers but as humans. When marketing professionals need a support network for advice or inspiration or confidence, they are turning to Gemma and The Marketing Society. I think that in an industry which can sometimes feel a bit robotic, endlessly measured and increasingly automated, have we forgotten the value and power of human connections of solidarity in the face of overwhelming challenge? In this episode we explore what motivates Gemma to be the marketer's marketer and what lead her to decide on the Brave platform and who it is that inspires and motivates her. We also discussed how bravery is good for business. You can check the full show notes for this episode at www.mediasnackpodcast.com/27 so let's get to it. Please enjoy this fun and revealing interview with Gemma Greaves.
Tom Denford:
2:32
Welcome to MediaSnack Meets and welcome to New York.
Gemma Greaves:
2:36
Even better to be in New York and loving it.
Tom Denford:
2:38
What brings you to New York?
Gemma Greaves:
2:40
So we have a hub here in New York as part of The Marketing Society's global community. We've been here about year and a half. We're really new, so I try and come over a few times a year to do some cool stuff with our members here.
Tom Denford:
2:55
I really want to understand a bit more about The Marketing Society because it's quite a long standing organization, but it's just been rapidly modernized under your more recent leadership. When you talk about hubs, let's dig into what that is and what that means. You obviously organized around some global cities. Tell me about The Marketing Society, it sounds like a very old esteemed austere organization. What does it come from?
Gemma Greaves:
3:22
Very good question. The Marketing Society, if you haven't heard of it, we're amazing, that's the first thing you need to know tonight. All joking aside, we're a 60 year old organization that originated in London. For 54 of those years we were very UK focused and had a community across the UK, primarily London and Scotland, but also across Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, etc. Today we are, in a nutshell, an influential global community of senior marketeers and our purpose is to inspire bold and brave marketing leadership through our incredible community of marketing leaders across brands. We run around 130 events across the world now with seven hubs. We have rapidly grown and the face of the business has somewhat changed from 10 or so years ago when I joined.
Tom Denford:
4:34
I called you CEO earlier and you corrected me, can you explain why? What's wrong with the word CEO, because people aspire to be a CEO I think, don't they?
Gemma Greaves:
4:45
A {CEO} is a very cool thing to be, and I'm very proud to be chief executive officer, but I really dislike acronyms because I think that they're overused. I think they add to the world of marketing jargon that we are very guilty of in this industry. What {acronyms} actually do is cause confusion and people would rather pretend that they do know what something means than to admit they don't know. So they sit there in ignorance and that doesn't help anyone. Our industry is incredibly guilty of that; places like the tech industry, even more so. I believe that if you simplify things, if you use language that everyone understands, then things get much better.
Tom Denford:
5:34
Are we guilty of that more so in marketing? Do you think it comes up that {marketing} has its own jargon and language and acronyms?
Gemma Greaves:
5:40
Yes, in a big way, and also in tech. I was with one of my members yesterday who works for a big bank and she was telling me that one of her agencies that's more in the tech space kept on using the acronym GTM, go to market. So she, a very senior client sat there with her agency and her team and after the third meeting where this acronym was overused, she finally said, just tell me what [GTM] is. There's no need to use [acronyms]. It causes confusion and people feel like they need to sit in ignorance as opposed to admit [they don't know]. I think that's one of the issues that we've got in our industry, we over-complicate things and we don't need to.
Tom Denford:
6:33
I think that it's a very good shout. So you are the Chief Executive, I'm a CEO but I'm going to change my business card now on the back of that. So New York is a hub, what's the idea of having a kind of hub network for The Marketing Society? What is the purpose of that?
Gemma Greaves:
6:52
The Marketing Society for many years was UK focused. Over the years, we have built a very good reputation, we've always had a great reputation, but it's changed over the years from more traditional, maybe slightly less progressive, to a much more forward thinking, on the pulse organization that's at the forefront of marketing because that's what we need to be if we're called The Marketing Society. For many years I was the marketing director of The Marketing Society and you know, you've got a title like that, you kind of have to do you and you have to put your customer at the heart of that. Going back to the hubs, for many years in the UK, we realized there was an opportunity. First of all, it was getting the business right in the UK, which took quite a few years. There was a lot that we needed to do. We were running loads of events and doing some great things and hosting amazing speakers, but the sense of community was lacking. I remember when I first joined, there was an event in London, we had 150 people [in attendance] and the most impressive speakers, but when you looked at the data, only 20-30% were members and different people would go to each event so the sense of community just wasn't there.
Gemma Greaves:
8:09
So we looked at how we could turn the business around and put the customer at the heart and practice good marketing. I remember hearing Peter Erskine, the Chief Exec of O2 at the time, speak at our conference. We've always attracted amazing people and he said that the key to marketing is putting your customer at the heart. It was time for The Marketing Society to do that, so we went for smaller events, but where it was very handpicked and curated and included the people that needed to be there, that wanted to be there, and that helped create that sense of belonging. We grew that over the years to see a 3000 strong network. We realized that there was a real opportunity because the more we were getting to know our members and really getting to understand our customers; companies like Shell, global businesses, HSBC, it's marketers, CMOS in London and Hong Kong etc, we thought: there's a real opportunity. There was also an element of my predecessor and I, Hugh Burkitt, where we of went, "we like going to Birmingham but we're up for going to Hong Kong" and it actually happened by chance. We did a lot of research, so I say that tongue in cheek because actually we really looked.
Tom Denford:
9:27
These things didn't exist in these hubs before, you don't consider yourselves a trade organism or a trade body representing lobbying or legislative. It's more of the kind of connection to the community and the learning part if I'm understanding it right. You must have had an observation where you realized that doesn't exist in New York, it doesn't exist in Dubai or Hong Kong.
Gemma Greaves:
9:51
We did a lot of research around that and there were lots and lots of organizations, but there's nothing quite like us and everywhere we went, people were saying that. So here in New York, Matt Scheckner, who's the founder of Advertising Week, said to me, "New York could be an opportunity." There's lots and lots going on and he's involved in the loads of it, but there's nothing quite like The Marketing Society. We kept on hearing that again and again. One of our members was relocating to Hong Kong and she was the Marketing Director of BT at the time and she said to myself and Hugh, "I really enjoyed the network I've built in the UK by the marketing site and the learning and the inspiration. There's nothing in Hong Kong that does that and I want a network, I want a community. I'm in a new place." We jump on opportunities, as well as the research. There was a robust strategy behind it and more and more of our members were located globally. We said to Ruth, who was the marketing director of BT, "Great, are you up for helping us create this because we're ready," we've got the UK business in place. We had to make loads of changes and we've gotten to that point where we did and it's really flourishing. It's time to go global and actually creating a globally connected community is something that's not easy, but if you can get it right, it becomes unbelievably powerful. We're still on that journey.
Tom Denford:
11:23
What does it take to be the leader of that? Because global expansion is no mean feat and to take something which is not known into new markets. As a society, you're not going to play a long game in Hong Kong for 10 years and see how it goes and hope it grows. You've got to go in and create a splash, you've got to really bring people together. You've got to get these senior marketers behind it. That takes not just good leadership skills, but also your energy and charisma bringing people together. What have you had to do to galvanize all of these people behind that vision? Because it's a really big achievement.
Gemma Greaves:
12:04
So first of all, there's a team behind it and one of the things I'm absolutely blessed to have been able to do is build an incredible team.
Tom Denford:
12:11
Spoken like a true leader.
Gemma Greaves:
12:14
But it's true, it's all about people. I've been blessed to be able to build a team from the ground up. Hugh Burkitt, my predecessor, the previous Chief Exec, was very, open to pretty much anything together. We created lots of things together and he was a brilliant leader who just kind of empowered me to get on with it. Part of that was building and hand picking a great team. So first of all, having the right people and the right structure to be able to go on that journey is absolutely the key ingredient to it all. Yes you need a lot of energy. Yes, you need a huge amount of resilience. You need to really be open to feedback because you're not going to get it right straight away and we've made loads of mistakes. I remember sitting with my UK board and actually some of the members repeat this to me now, seeing that we're now a global community and saying, I remember you and Hugh having to sit there whilst people were saying to us, "there's no way you can go global, focus on the UK. You can't do it. It's not right. It's all about value of the UK members". So you have to absolutely believe in what you're doing and Hugh and I passionately believed there was an opportunity and it would be better for our members. I think if you've got the courage of your convictions and you know what your vision is and what your ultimate goal is and what the future you want to create is, then you can do anything. You then get to galvanize a great team to make it happen and the world is, it's a cliche, but the world is your oyster. That's very much what we did, we faced a lot of no's and in my career I've faced so many no's and so many kinds of negativity and that just pushes me further to go, actually I can do it. If someone says to me, no, it means actually it's almost a great thing because I'm more determined to go for it.
Tom Denford:
14:06
I mentioned before that you have this Brave initiative and I wanted to share that because I think it's a signature platform for you and the society and it's been a really good recruitment vehicle. We talk about bravery and the importance of bravery in business, but just on the journey that you've been on, which is brave in itself, what have been the mistakes? Because I look from the outside and I go, "Well, Gemma has taken this thing global, what an amazing success." You made it look quite easy and effortless. What have been the biggest mistakes? Where has it just gone wrong? Did you try and open somewhere and it was just a complete waste of time or you lost time?
Gemma Greaves:
14:50
We spent a year looking at India first before we identified Hong Kong as a market and actually we hadn't figured out how our business model would it be shaped. As much as it's about people around and our members helping us, if you're not absolutely clear on your future and your vision and what you want to achieve, there's no way you can lead people to make something happen. In the beginning, if I'm honest, it was the blind leading the blind. There was lots of good intent, but we didn't quite know where to go. Then we found people in India that were absolutely fantastic marketers, but kind of wanted to take over and that wasn't right. So we kind of went, "We can't do this. This doesn't feel right and this isn't true to our brand." I think it's understanding what your brand is. You know the DNA of your brand, you know the purpose of it and what you want to achieve as leaders of the organization. You've got to stay true to that. I think sometimes you can veer away from that and we were veering away, so that's the first mistake we made. Also sometimes you can bring in committees for the sake of committees and we had lots of brilliant, great people helping us, but with no real direction, we were never going to make it happen. Actually the opportunity in Hong Kong came for various reasons. We'd looked at the market, we knew we wanted to be in Asia, but also we had someone that we knew on the ground and that's the key. So as much as we had energy and you know, all that kind of great stuff, it's all about the people. There was someone that wanted to help who was relocating. She wasn't expecting to become chair, which she did become and she was like, how did this happen? Well, you wanted a network, you need to help make it happen. I believe that that's what the society and membership organizations are about. The more you get involved, the more you can take part in, the more you get value from it and you can make things happen. So when we did Hong Kong, I remember a friend of mine who I'd met in Canada saying, "you need to be in Singapore" and I was like, yes, Singapore is our next place and he was like, "well let's do it now" and I remember the Hong Kong board saying "No, please. Can we spend time getting this right first?" I'm a person that can't sit still, I'm a restless person, hence why I have a separate side hustle, which is all about people that can't sit still. We started Singapore probably before we were ready to. So that was another thing, but if we hadn't, we wouldn't have the network that we have now, the community. Along the way we've learned lessons, as much as it's great to go at a fast pace, you've also got to take stock. One of the biggest things that I think we could have done better is having a more measured approach with opening our hubs. I'm realizing that there's only so fast you can go. We found ourselves with seven hubs: New York, India, Dubai, a Singapore, Hong Kong, London, Scotland, and all these brilliant regional boards around the world. I was just with them today in New York, we've got a great team here, but a team of 20 back home, we're stretched and we have been stretched.
Gemma Greaves:
18:06
I always travel to all of the hubs in the first quarter, that's really important. I spend most of my time with my boards and that's what I'm doing here in New York right now, which is just so insightful. It's time to take stock. Our vision was to have 10 hubs by 2020 and for me that's almost failure because we said that, we said it publicly, Hugh always taught me, if you want to make something happen, you create a goal, a hairy and audacious goal and then you make it public and that's what we did. So for me, we have to achieve that, but actually that wouldn't have been right for anyone. Instead of doing that, admit that that's not the right strategy and it's better to really invest in the hubs we've got and make them the best they can be before we grow the next one. We've made so many mistakes along the way, but I think the key is to be open to learning and be open to feedback and knowing that you're in a point in time.
Gemma Greaves:
19:00
My president, who's an amazing woman, the CMO of Diageo, Syl Saller.
Tom Denford:
19:05
I wanted to ask you about her, she's a fantastic leader and person to have involved. How did you land Syl as President because she's so articulate, vocal, sensible and admired.
Gemma Greaves:
19:24
So I think it comes to relationships, her and I got to know each other.
Tom Denford:
19:28
See it's you, I told you, it's all your energy and charisma. I know you're going to say the team, but you are bringing these people along with you as part of this vision.
Gemma Greaves:
19:37
I just love people and I love getting to know people and understanding them. That's what I'm doing here in New York and Syl for me was this untouchable marketer almost. She was just this person on stage that was just so impressive. So as a result, she was scary. She's not scary, she's the loveliest lady in the world who has been a huge influence on my career. I got to know her and we just liked each other and then it was kind of like, hang on a minute, you could be a great president for us and then it was like, "oh, Syl, should we have a coffee?" and before you knew it, she was on board. She did say that the reason, and it meant so much to me because it was at the time that I was becoming chief Exec as well so it was the first time when I was choosing the president or being part of leading the choice for the president. Before that that was Hugh's role and he consulted me, but I very much took a back seat. Syl said to me, "I love your purpose." She said, "I don't want to change it. It's great and I believe in you and I've realized what I can bring to the organization is helping you be even better." I was like, I don't think I've ever heard that in my career. Someone being so giving and lovely and brilliant and she stayed true to that. We feel very blessed to have her as president.
Tom Denford:
21:03
Does she remain President? Does she have a tenure or how does that work?
Gemma Greaves:
21:05
She technically has a three year tenure, but she said to me recently, "I'm loving this" so we'll see, we'll watch that space. She's a force, but at the beginning she wasn't sure if our brave agenda was right. So I had to convince her otherwise, which was a big deal for me to do because she's an impressive lady and you kind of almost want to go, "If you don't believe in it, we'll do what you want to do" and actually that's about being brave.
Tom Denford:
21:34
That's perfect because that's what I want to talk about, this brave agenda. You've given us some examples, you decided to just go and ask Syl. So why not aim high, right? Be Brave. You've taken on chief exec, you've had this bold ambition of expansion and you've gone out to these new territories and sold them on this idea.
Gemma Greaves:
21:53
Which hasn't been easy by the way. It's not without its challenges.
Tom Denford:
21:57
It's clear through this story, you're your own bravery but at what point did you go, well, this has to be the platform for [marketers], this is what they need. If I have to think of a word, that was going to bring marketers together and inspire them to do better work. What was the process, how did you figure it out?, or was it just obvious to you?
Gemma Greaves:
22:16
No, not at all and actually it kind of all happened by chance. I was MD of The Marketing Society, a very happy global MD, leading our global expansion with Hugh. I remember years ago he said to me, "would you ever consider being my successor?" and my answer was God no, I can't think of anything worse. It felt like an end of career move, not a middle of career move and I said, but you know I love being managing director and being on this journey together and that's awesome. I don't think I've ever admitted that out loud, actually but it's true. When I had my beautiful son he's now three, I was on maternity leave two months in, literally in the space of learning how to be a mum, which is really hard, you know not easy at all as we all know as parents, but brilliant of course. I was trying to juggle everything, like sleep and monkey music and all this kind of stuff. I had lunch with Hugh, thinking it was just a lovely catch up lunch and sat me down and he said, "so I'd like you to be my successor." Of course we have to go through a plan with the board and interviews and a process etc. but obviously for his succession plan, he had me in his goal and I just was ready. I was completely ready and I was like, I'm ready for this. Then I was off on maternity leave and we opened Dubai, interviews with the board, there was loads going on. Some board members thought I was too young because the previous Chief Exec, is a very different kind of character to me and age and gender you know. There was a lot of support but there was a little bit of push-back as well, which kind of almost made me go I can prove I can do this and I know I'm ready. When it was announced in Campaign, so fast forward to September, it was announced in Campaign and they did a piece about it. I then got all these messages and an unbelievable amount support from the industry. Some people saying it's about time, it was really great because you know, start worrying that people are going to go, "she's not ready, she's too young, she's too female" or whatever it might be. Also I just had a baby, you know people are like it's hard to get back into work and then there's me being announced as Chief Exec. My confidence that was, "I can do this" started to waiver because it was like, I'm really doing this now, it's out and the industry is behind it. Then I started to think, well, if I'm going to do this, do I need to be more like Hugh? Do I need to be more brilliantly polished and Hugh-like? Those who know him, know he's that person or do I be me? Through being around great people that support me and lift me up and through my own knowing, you're gut instinct, you know, it was time to really be me and if I was going to be me, I felt so unbelievably brave, so vulnerable, stepping into such big shoes in such a public way that I wanted to encourage others to be brave.
Gemma Greaves:
25:21
So I asked a couple of friends of mine who run an agency once called Hometown now called Truant, amazing guys, Simon and Dave. I said, I need to sell this idea to my board. A board where some were behind me but you know overall you're always going to have a little bit of adversity. Our purpose has always been to inspire bolder marketing leadership but it just didn't feel like enough, it felt like it was time to be brave. I was feeling so brave and so I said to the guys, can you help me? And they said, let's create a film. I went into my board meeting. [They said] "Brave is the same as bold, what's the difference?' Well, there's a massive difference and we went through all of that. Then I showed the film because I believe in great creative and in that moment in the board meeting, literally the whole board just said," okay, I get it" and we sold it in. Then it was like, okay, I really truly have to be brave. In January I start my role, I'm Chief Exec, I'm young, I've just just become a mum. There was a load going on and I thought, well, how am I going to do this? The first thing I did is I wrote to a bunch of CMOs and said, part of me being brave is asking you if you'd be up for talking about when you failed. It's all about being human. I've never had such quick responses from so many amazing people such as Peter Duffy, who at the time was CMO of Easy Jet and is now CEO of Just Eat, he said "I really love this, this is great. We don't get asked to do this often." It was so successful that we ended up doing two events 'Brave Leaders', part one and two in the UK. I was like, wow, this is great, what are we going to do next? Well let's talk about bad leadership because we are always talking about good leadership, bold leadership and inspiring leadership. But actually, we've all either had a bad leader, which really effects confidence and that's another big thing which is important to us, or we've been a bad leader. So we did an event called 'Bad Bosses', kind of like the film Bad Teachers. Then it was like, right, this is amazing where we're having all these human conversations and you know we're talking about things like impostor syndrome and confidence and you see how much this affects people. We realized this is bigger than just our industry. This is about us as humans and being the best, helping people to be the best we can be. So then from that, one of our members, brilliant Robin White, and this is where it all comes from members and conversations and that's what I love about life. Robin White said, "I don't like the way mental health is always seen as a negative. We should be talking about the positive, the way we talk about physical health" and he said, "I'm bipolar, but I feel like I've always had to hide it because it's been seen as a negative thing. It's actually the thing that has helped me be at my most creative. It's been a great thing for me and I want to turn this around." So I said to him, great, let's do an event. Back then the industry was not talking about mental health at all, that was in early 2017. So we did an event and we created a comfortable and safe space to have a very uncomfortable conversation about a taboo that shouldn't be a taboo because it effects us all.
Tom Denford:
28:31
The formats of all of your events are interesting as well because you create a dynamic because this is not always four people and a moderator just sat on a stage talking about stuff. You have these dynamic formats, right? Which can be quite confrontational and create vulnerability. I like the idea that you put people in slightly uncomfortable situations to share better.
Gemma Greaves:
28:51
We've got one tonight happening in New York, a fishbowl.
Tom Denford:
28:54
Could you tell me about that because I am coming tonight. What is a fishbowl? What am I letting myself in for?
Gemma Greaves:
29:00
A fishbowl is where you create a safe space to have a very big conversation. You all sit around in a circle and effectively the audience are the content, the audience of speakers. A lot of events are very broadcast lead, you're the audience and you're watching speakers on stage. Actually if you want to start to make change, you need to do it together and you create that space where you can start to have those conversations. You can do some great things, but it was all by chance, I think it was Sue Unerman of MediaCom who said, "I've seen this thing called a fishbowl." I was like, "Oh that sounds fun" and I think it was in a coaching environment. I thought "that could work for this mental health event" because actually I've got quite a few contributors and everyone want the main speaker platform and it wasn't about that. It was about the subject and the topic. So we all sat around in a circle and we had a couple of people open and share. That's the key, if people are open to being vulnerable and sharing their own personal experience, then it gives other people the space to say, actually I'm going to [open up as well], and one by one very senior people in our industry shared things they've never shared before. One guy shared that he had depression for 25 years and apart from his wife and his mom, no one else knew. Then another person got up and talked about the fact that their daughter self harms and it went on and on. So we're talking about big things and then it's what can we do to make a difference? What can we do today? That's what we've learned, doing our fishbowls in two parts. We share and then we go, "alright, what are the solutions that we can do as an industry because we need to do something about it?" That fishbowl was a moment for us where I knew, where we knew that you couldn't just have these conversations, just talk about it, it's time to do something. Now we've done those fishbowls all around the world. Here in New York we did one on sexual harassment at one of our first events ever and again, people hadn't heard of The Marketing Society, so you've got to stand out; so we did one sexual harassment. In India, we talked about gender stereotyping in advertising, which there is a really big challenge, so it was a big spiky topic. In Dubai, mental health. In Hong Kong, Singapore, I'm just back from taking the mental health, which is incredibly taboo there in the Chinese culture, like, you wouldn't believe. We took the mental health fishbowl there. So we've now hosted these fishbowls all around age, race, newer diversity, and it's beginning to make a difference. That was by chance. So going back to where the brave thing came from, it was because I felt personally brave, but now that brave conversation is happening all around the world, across all of our hubs and everything we do now at The Society is through a brave agenda. That means tackling taboos, pushing boundaries, and creating comfortable spaces to have uncomfortable conversations. We as an industry, we as marketeers, we don't just have an opportunity to make change, we've got a responsibility given our influence. I'll say that the influences have been the voice of the customers, the skills we have, the opportunity that we have to do some good. I firmly believe that that drives us all to make a difference and to do that for a brave lens and that is not easy.
Tom Denford:
32:15
How does that help them be better marketers? Have you seen examples, because you're coming into of two years of this, is there marketing where you can say this is one of our members being braver maybe than they would have been otherwise? Can you see it manifest itself in some kind of business outcome?
Gemma Greaves:
32:37
Yeah, I think we see it all over the industry. So, the first thing about being brave is, well people say, "well, what's being brave mean?" Brave comes in different shapes and sizes and everyone interprets it in different ways and that's I think what the beauty of it. But I think the thing that remains consistent is that it's about going outside your comfort zone. The first lesson I learned when I became Chief Exec through the brave agenda, was it's okay to be yourself, to be your true self. If you can do that and encourage cultures and spaces where other people feel they can do that too, then you can achieve great things together. One of the things that I'm so proud of, of our brave agenda is brands and companies are embracing brave and making it their theme. So, Mars, Direct Line, IBM, are just a few companies that had me in to do Brave conversations with their CMOs. They asked me to do kind of speeches to their team and I said, "actually, it's braver for you and I to talk in front of your team because you're being brave as a marketer, as a leader and encouraging the team to be able to be themselves more. So to answer your question, it's happening all over the industry. It's rippling through, you take Mars, Michele Oliver gave me a testimonial about this. She's embraced our brave agenda so much, and she said after coming to the mental health fishbowl, she thought it was just another event. She sent me a note afterwards saying, "that's the best event I've ever been to and I'm now in support and whatever you need," she's now on our Board because if someone says that to me, I'm like, right, what can I do? She's an incredible board member. She said to me, she said after going to our Brave conference, she took her team and they all had a session and figured out how they can push boundaries, how they can get outside their comfort zone and how they can see through that brave lens. She said to me, "the work speaks for itself." Look at Mars, we're not going to take credit for the Maltesers campaign, but the way they push boundaries constantly and the way the marketing team - and they've said it to me themselves, I spoke for the marketing team at Mars so when I see them at events they'll come up to me and they're like, "you need to hear this because actually this has changed in our culture" and it's the leaders within Mars like Michele who's brave and brilliant, but they've been inspired by the way that we are leading forward to have these brave conversations and show the humanity in everything that we do. So that's just some examples, but it's happening. It's happening all over. We've just relaunched our awards. I'm not going to overuse the word and I have a real thing about this as well actually, but they are called the Brave Awards. Marketing excellence, is fine, but you should be excellent. That's business as usual. So I'm hoping that we're going to see great examples of Brave work in the awards that we have this year that can even more testify to your question.
Tom Denford:
35:48
Where do you want to take this? Because you were saying it was brave, then it was braver and this year it's bravest. That suggests that somehow is coming to some sort of conclusion, or not? Or is this is the long-term platform? What's driving you here? Where do you want to take this?
Gemma Greaves:
36:10
Such a good question. So bravest is kind of the end of the three year Brave, Braver, Bravest and people said to me, what's next? I'm like we'll figure that out later but also there is a plan, which is probably reset, because there'll be a time to reset, but we've now built brave into our purpose so that will always reflect. So it's now empowering brave leaders, which actually is a first to admit that because we haven't relaunched our new brand. We've just, we've re-branded, but we can't launch until our CRM and our website and everything's together, that's another story. So that's now in our DNA and that will live on.
Gemma Greaves:
36:48
But in terms of an agenda, I think that reset would be a quite cool thing. In terms of what I want to achieve and what my team wants to achieve, through the brave lens, we've encouraged our hubs to stretch beyond what they might do ordinarily while running a marketing community. Bearing in mind, our hubs are run primarily by people that are volunteers for us, so it's advisory boards of great marketers in the industry that believe in The Marketing Society and having such a network and a community. They need to have a clear vision, they're part of an us together have that collective vision. There's a real global framework around the business and then there's local autonomy across but the one thing we cannot compromise on is being brave and it took a while for our hubs to get used to that.
Gemma Greaves:
37:36
What does brave mean? So to me, going around and talking to them all and sharing the vision for people to go, "okay, that gives us a point of differentiation." That means that we're not just going to do an event with speakers that everyone else would get with a subject that everyone else would do. We're going to do it differently. I think that's what it's all about. It's these small changes that can inspire us or push us forward and I mean that we get better marketing that achieves better results. But ultimately we've got such an influential community of the most incredible people together. We've got an opportunity to make change and there so many things we need to make change around. Mental health is something that I'm particularly passionate about. Through doing the fish bowls, the commonalities across everywhere and the companies that as much as people say they were encouraging people to be themselves, the reality is a lot or not. People are very happy to call in sick for physical reason, but to call in sick because their head's not in right place is something that is taboo. So one of the things that we've introduced at The Marketing Society is duvet days. It could be because you've had a big night, but it also could be because you're just not in that head space. It's a day where you can just say, I'm calling in and duvet days, I don't need to justify it. That's what I'm doing. I think that's what you have to do, you have to create safe spaces for people to be able to be themselves because that's when they're going to be at their best and that's where you're going to get great results. I think when you've got such a force and a community, you can't not work together to make some change when you've got things like, the Hashtag #MeToo. When we did that event here in New York, the results, the understanding of the research that 3% club did that we talked about, and Kat Gordon, who's amazing. They're disturbing, there's a massive, massive problem, but we're not talking about it. It's like, race. You know, I don't know if you saw the Liam Neeson thing, his comments, but he's talking about something that's very odd. So we might have done it in the wrong way and I don't agree at all with what he did, but he owned up to it and he said, "I did say this and I'm not racist, but that's how I felt." What he's done is he's opened up an uncomfortable conversation that is happening everywhere, but people are not prepared to talk about. If we can do that as an industry and as humans and as beyond the industry, then we can start to tackle the big things that affect everything.
Tom Denford:
40:03
It's brilliant and I can see it's inspiring for the people listening. It's inspiring to your members and you can see why they value that. Where do you get inspiration from? We always ask guests, you if you've got stuff that you would recommend that people should check out, like great books you've read or good resources to kind of find out more about the kind of things that you're passionate about. So do you ever kind of go to book or a podcast or something which you go, "this is a really good source of inspiration for me?"
Gemma Greaves:
40:34
The Tom Denford MediaSnack podcasts, first of course. Millions of things. My family, I get inspiration from Joshie and seeing his curiosity and his personality and his innocence. He's about to go into a world where you take something like the school system and creativity is suppressed, but that's another conversation. That's something I'm also passionate about and I'm helping with in the UK. I get inspired from my family, I need people around me that I love and that love me and care about me. So first of all, that's where my inspiration starts and then incredible people in the industry [inspire me] as well. I've met and I've been blessed and I do believe that, advice, books, podcasts, all those things are great, but find amazing people that can mentor you and coach you and support you along the way, and find role models. I now know that now I'm at this point in my career that it's now my responsibility to be a role model and that's quite intimidating actually because sometimes I can be quite insensible, but actually that's okay because that's me and it's okay to be yourself. It's okay not to be okay as well and I think that's massively important. So I would say for me, the number one thing is surround yourself with a support network of great people who you can truly have honesty and transparency and build trust with. So I have so many people that I am blessed to have that from, as I said, my family through to my Cabal, my club that I created of brilliant people. My 'cabalians', we all love and support each other through to unbelievable people like Chris Britt, who's the chief Exec of Chime, who's been a massive influence in my career.
Gemma Greaves:
42:29
He was the chair of The Marketing Society when I joined and became a mentor and a great person. Syl Saller, she offered to spend time with me, where she wants to help me develop and, and I think it's being open and willing to that. There's one amazing guy and he also has a book, Steve Radcliffe. He's got a book called "Leadership Plain and Simple" and he's been an absolute influence in my career and his book is brilliant because, going back to jargon and acronyms, he doesn't use what, he might use a couple of acronyms, but he just doesn't use jargon and he believes leadership stuff doesn't need to be complicated. He talks about managing your energy and your self limiting beliefs and being at your best more of the time. He's full of wisdom and he helps you be better and he's my lunch buddy, I have lunch with him a couple of times a year. Actually we kind of do the lunch where we help each other and knowing I can help him to is almost as satisfying and great. So that would be my number one thing. Of course, things like podcasts. I love Blinkist. The Blinkist App, where books are created into blinks of 18 minutes. So on a train, you can read basically the main synopsis of a book. It's the best thing ever. Malcolm Gladwell, you can have Tipping Point and read it in 18 minutes because as much as it's a brilliant book, it takes a while to read. Seven people have edited to get the best curated blinks from the book. So that I would say is a brilliant source of inspiration.
Tom Denford:
44:19
Normally when we ask these questions, people give me a list of like three or four books or a download this. It's really telling that your focus has been on really your relationship with humans and mentors. I think you don't hear people talking about mentors, like learning from humans. There's an obsession I think, maybe it's more acute in our industries, very much so in the tech industry, is that you've got to have read 50 books before you launch a company. There's all these prescriptive texts, but the idea of that there's some humans out there, that what you really need is the support to then go be yourself. I think it's a really interesting lesson.
Gemma Greaves:
44:59
Yeah, and also those people will know people that can help you. So it just opens up your network in your community to more ideas and insight and inspiration. If you show that you want the help and you want feedback, people are just so willing and so giving and so generous, most people in the world, and that can go into so many different spaces. I just get energy in a big way from people. But at the same time, there are things, you just said about people mentioning books, one of the things that's been a big inspiration to me, is Steve Jobs, Stanford speech. Maybe not delivered in the best way in terms of being a speaker, but in terms of content, he talks about three things, but the thing that really stands out for me is, he said, "you're in work so much of your life and you've got to love what you do. And it's only when you truly love what you do, that you'll be exceptional and if not, keep looking" and that for me means everything. It's not just love what you do so you can enjoy yourself, it's to achieve your best and I think that's really inspirational. That would be something that I was inspired by and also tell people about all the time.
Tom Denford:
46:10
Listen, good luck for tonight. We're going to link to all of those things. So we'll get some links and make sure that people can kind of dig into some of these resources. Congratulations on the journey that you've taken just even in two short years to kind of build out this big and growing empire of support. Good luck tonight I will see you at the fishbowl. Do I need to bring anything to a fishbowl?
Gemma Greaves:
46:28
Just bring yourself and just be open to taking part. I do genuinely mean that because people sit at events and really want to take part, but there's the "I don't know how to" and the whole point is just go for it. Just be brave and you'll get so much more from it and that's what it's all about. Together we can have a good time as well, it's not all about changing the world. It's also about having a fun time as well. That's how you change the world, by having fun along the way.
Tom Denford:
46:59
Gemma Greaves, Chief Exec of The Marketing Society. Thank you very much.
Gemma Greaves:
47:01
Thank you. It's been a pleasure. Thank you.
Outro:
47:06
Who would you like to meet on future episodes? Please let us know at www.mediasnackpodcast.com, where you will also find previous guests, including leading media executives from companies like P&G, L'Oreal, Mars, and many more. Plus some of the industry's most provocative thought leaders, people like Professor Mark Ritson and Gary Vaynerchuk. You can subscribe to get new episodes each week, and if you liked this episode and you think somebody would then please do share it. Thank you so much for listening.
Introduction
Welcome Gemma
About The Marketing Society
The problem with acronyms
Growth
Syl Saller - CMO Diageo
Being BRAVE
BRAVE improves marketing
Recommended resources
Importance of mentors
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