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GREAT IDEAS: Inspired Inc. by Lisa MacCallum and Emily Brew {Interview}

Lessons from the book, and our interview with Lisa MacCallum

A former Nike Vice President, Lisa MacCallum is co-author of the book Inspired INC. and Founder of Inspired Companies.
Here, she discusses how customers, employees, and a range of other stakeholders now have unprecedented power to make or break businesses. 

It’s the end of an uninspired era. To compete today, companies must stand for ideas bigger than profit.

Any company can rally the world to get behind their idea. The future belongs to companies that stand for big ideas with many winners.

The “new C.E.O.s” are Consumers, Employees, and Outsiders. They now have the tools, motivation, and power to make or break your business faster than ever.

70% of customers will go to Facebook or Twitter to get your attention, not your customer service department. 90% will read reviews before they purchase from you.
Employees are the most important stakeholders. 50% of people will go to a site like Glassdoor, (where employees’ experiences aren’t a secret, and neither are their opinions of their employer) before they apply for a job or do business with a company.  

“Outsiders” include policymakers and regulators, who answer to digitally savvy and increasingly influential watchdogs, activists, and ordinary consumers – not just public affairs departments.

Inspired mission: Stand for a big idea. A promise with many winners. Articulate your company's reason for being. Richard Branson has joked that “Screw it, Let’s Do It” should be Virgin’s, but it’s actually “To embrace the human spirit and let it fly.”

Inspired Action: Anyone can put lofty words on paper. The real work comes in aligning an organisation, its everyday actions and decisions.

Inspired Profit: The crowd defends your company when you need them, and refers it to their friends when they trust and believe in it. More revenue, better margins, lower transaction costs can result.

Have the courage to break norms. Bring the crowd inside your business, to help with innovation, brand communications (and anything else they're usually shut out of).

Uninspired employers pay a talent tax: It’s not that companies with bad reputations aren’t able to attract talent. They can. It just costs a lot more – salaries run about 53 percent more for men and 60 percent more for women.

Companies without purpose make less: A recent study found 42 percent of purpose-starved companies saw a decline in growth. Another study found that disengaged teams sacrifice about 17.4 cents on the dollar in profit.

Amsterdam chocolate company Tony Chocolonely is an example of an inspiring company, with its  mission to make chocolate 100% slave free. It’s shaming big corporates who, it says, profit from keeping the price of cocoa as low as possible.


Lisa’s GREAT EIGHT, answers to eight getting to know you questions we ask all our authors:


Recommended book: Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne and Creating a World without Poverty by Muhammad Yunus.

If you could co-author with anyone who would it be, and what’s the book title? Muhammad Yunus and Lady Gaga, A New Star in the Corporate Sector is Born.

Great piece of advice? We have to wake up in the corporate sector, the game’s totally changed. It’s a super exciting time to be in business, we just need to rewire our companies to handle the power shift.

What’s been your lowest moment, and how did you recover? I had five years leading the Nike Foundation (to end poverty). I became a student of that issue and as part of that success I was taken off the programme to run that model inside the company. It was like being broken up with your family. The lessons I learned on how to make friends… I was able to bring into the business context.

How do you relax? I have a 7-year-old and he’s magic. We’re at the beach and in the surf as much as possible.

What’s a fun fact about you that’s not widely known? Most people at Nike, for some bizarre reason, never thought that I would be a mother, and I always intended to become a mother!
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What’s the secret of success? The greatest, most treasured source of power is to believe in big ideas, and have imagination.

What’s a prediction for 2025? How companies are measured and ultimately rewarded with capital flows will continue to change dramatically. Companies will have to start measuring culture, how well they innovate, how they hold on to their best talent. 


If you’re a member, log in and watch the full interview with Lisa MacCallum, author of Inspired INC. click here. 

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