I've been interviewed a lot lately! Happily, they've all focused on the topics I love sharing about: my new book, Rethink: Smashing the Myths of Women in Business, the challenges women and minorities face in the workplace, Blue Ocean Strategy, female entrepreneurs, the Simon Initiative, culture change, and of course, anthropology. So is there an underlying theme to these articles, which I share below? Yes. I would have to say that it is time to make change your friend. We've been through a pandemic. Millions have lost their jobs and businesses and are now trying to imagine what's next. Women are fed up with bumping into old myths that tell them what they can and can't do. New markets are being opened up by clever entrepreneurs looking for unmet needs. In short, change is all around us, and it's not slowing down. Time to embrace it, not flee from it!
Anthropologists seem convinced that no one wants to hire them. With very low unemployment and almost 6 million jobs going unfilled in the U.S. today, shouldn’t highly-skilled, well-trained and capable anthropologists be able to find work of some kind that’s related to their education and interests?
As many of you know, I love talking about anthropology—specifically, how corporate leaders can apply its tools and methodology to bring about culture change, greater success and bigger profits. But, change is hard. In many cases, change is literally pain. The brain actually fights it, which is why real, lasting change is so difficult to come by. As a culture change expert, I see this all the time with clients. But the good news is that yes, change can happen! And with a little guidance, you can actually make it stick. Yes, indeed you can drive change.
In my recent interview with Thomas Fox, these concepts are exactly what we talked about—anthropology and culture change and how each influences the other. As I explained to him, in a corporate setting, leaders espouse values, beliefs and expectations so people know what to do and how to get it done. Everything is fine until something begins to change and then that culture must change, too.
But knowing how to "do" culture change can be tricky. To help businesses achieve success, I offered the following six steps (abbreviated here):
6 steps for achieving successful culture change
Now that “On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights,” my award-winning book on how corporate anthropology can help businesses grow, is being read by CEOS, business leaders, entrepreneurs and even anthropology students, I'm frequently being asked, "What is this thing called 'anthropology' or 'business anthropology' and why should I know about it, much less use it to help grow my business?"
In addition, I cannot tell you how many parents have contacted me about their son or daughter who is in love with business anthropology in college or with just anthropology itself. What kind of jobs are out there for an anthropology major?, they want to know. As an anthropologist myself, what I don't want to tell them is that only a few years ago, Forbes and Kiplinger ranked anthropology as the worst major for finding a job after college.
Maybe it is time to change that!
There is now a very big role for anthropology and anthropologists in business.
Given the business trends I am seeing as I travel around the country working with clients or leading workshops, I am convinced that now is the time to make anthropology less academic and more easily understood and applicable, particularly in the business world. Indeed, the tools and methods of anthropology are what can help your business or organization sustain growth during these rapidly changing times.
So what is this thing called "Corporate Anthropology?"
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by Jodi Flynn for her podcast Women Taking the Lead. When I learned that the goal of her organization is to inspire women to overcome self-doubt so they can lead with confidence, integrity and a sense of humor, I leapt at it. Right up my alley!
Over the course of our conversation, Jodi asked some very interesting questions which allowed me to discusst what I'm passionate about, such as corporate anthropology, culture change, women CEOs and especially inbound marketing. This question really made me think: What would I say to my younger self? My answer: Be an adventurer, stay curious. Don't worry about failing. Pivot and just keep tinkering and trying stuff and sooner or later, you'll hit upon your a-ha moment.
To get ideas for helping your company adapt to change in this fast-changing world, I invite you to take a listen.
To listen to the podcast, click here:
A few days ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Eric Dye, professional blogger and founder of EPN (Entrepreneur Podcast Network). He wanted my perspective on a wide range of topics, from corporate anthropology to Blue Ocean Strategy® to culture change to the rise of women CEOs. He was also very interested in my book, "On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights" and its stories of companies that have achieved meaningful breakthroughs and growth by applying corporate anthropology to their businesses.
What exactly is corporate anthropology?
During the course of our conversation, Eric asked me the following very interesting questions about how anthropoloy applies to the business world:
- Influential companies like Microsoft and Intel are hiring corporate anthropologists, believing that understanding and molding corporate culture is a worthwhile investment. Your research and career is dedicated to this field. Why do you think anthropology is important to a company?
- How can smaller companies put these concepts to use?
- What is one of the guiding principles of your work?
- What are you working on now?
- If you were to give a business owner only one piece of advice, what would it be?
To listen to the podcast, click here:
If you've read any of my blogs lately, you may have picked up on the fact that I get really energized by talking about how corporate anthropology can help businesses see themselves with fresh eyes, identify areas where they are "stuck," and put in motion new processes in order to successfully get going again.
So as you can imagine, I was thrilled to speak about this very topic in a recent interview with best-selling author, international keynote speaker and senior executive coach John Mattone. Specifically, John wanted to know about corporate culture from an anthropological perspective and how this knowledge can be used to help facilitate organizational change. My specialty!
To hopefully help you as you look for ways to get your company "unstuck" and growing again, I offer here a synopsis of our conversation. You can access the entire interview here.
What exactly is a corporate anthropologist and how can this type of expert help companies?
Work Pause Thrive,” has some answers. 5 million empty jobs in the U.S. waiting to be filled? And even though 47% of the workforce are women, if businesses don’t enable them to enter that workforce, then re-enter it after pausing to raise children, who is going to fill those empty jobs—657,000 of which are in IT? Perhaps Lisen Stromberg’s new book, “
Work, pause, thrive. Not just a nice idea—more like a recipe for success
As I describe in a recent article I wrote for The Huffington Post (which you can read here), having a career and having a family might be a little easier than it was, say, 30 years ago, but not all that much. At least, this was Stromberg's experience. She found it quite hard to pursue a career in advertising and marketing while raising children so she paused, pivoted and became an award-winning journalist. Along the way, she realized that other women were struggling with the same choices, which caused her to ask, is pursuing a career and having children an either/or for women? And if so, does it have to be this way or could things change?
Like a true entrepreneur, Stromberg got to work seeking ways to solve the conundrum. First, she conducted research, surveying 1476 women (and a handful of men) and personally interviewing 186 women, trying to discover how well (or not well) women are managing to balance their working lives and mommy lives. What she found was that irrefutably, the U.S. has become a nation of women breadwinners (almost half of all American workers are women) and with numbers come power—in this case, the power to change.
To change the workplace, change the workplace's culture
Stromberg believes that for the workforce to be transformed into one where women and men can perform across all their roles—home, work and family—the workplace culture needs to change, focusing less on work/family needs as a problem to solve and more on creating a better work environment for both genders.
It's so refreshing to speak with someone who is truly eager to learn about corporate anthropology and how it can help businesses better understand their customers and see their culture with fresh eyes. One of those someones is Roger Dooley—speaker, author, blogger, founder of the marketing consultancy Dooley Direct and co-founder of College Confidential.
Roger recently interviewed me for his podcast The Brainfluence, and there were so many things he wanted to know about what I do, such as why observing customers is an effective way to find out what they really want. I shared some success stories from my book, "On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights," of seven companies that were literally "on the brink" but using the tools and methods of anthropology, were able to turn their businesses around. We also discussed the importance of culture—those ties that bind people together through shared values, beliefs and behaviors—and how strongly it influences a company's productivity.
Roger is terrific and I urge you to take a listen. Just click on the link below.
What you'll learn from this podcastFor a delightful half hour, we talked about:
- Why tech and manufacturing companies are turning to anthropologists for help communicating with their customers and employees.
- How people’s habits and mental shortcuts likely affect their voting habits, and how this held true in the recent U.S. election.
- Why you must observe your customers first in order to understand them.
- Why you should be asking employees and customers for their stories, not just facts.
- Some of the digital observation tools that we use at SAMC to understand customers’ habits.
- How to affect cultural change within your organization, and what you should do as a leader to facilitate it.
Not long ago I wrote about a recurring theme we were seeing among our clients and blog comments: With all the changes in the business environment, who is going to be our customer in five years? Now the question is even more urgent: What about right now?
As a corporate anthropologist working with our clients, we continue to see possibilities for growth -- those new customers -- that our clients don't seem to see. Often new customers are in plain sight. It isn't personal. It is just your brain. It sees what fits your mind map and perceptions. Not your fault but what can you do to open your mind to what is all around you?
Is that you?
Here are 5 ways that you can overcome the resistance your brain has to see things in new ways, to fight change and deny those possibilities.