My work is creating content that drives change. Mostly for businesses. But I have always shared my perspective through content: journalism, blogs, podcasts -- even just journaling. I had to balance the "best practices" of regularity in my podcast publishing schedule, with bigger things in mind. The crisis in America. I only had Tuesday available to record for this week, which was #BlackOutTuesday. And, on top of that, today - the Thursday I publish - is also the memorial for a martyr to racism, George Floyd.
If you - as most listeners to this podcast - work in media, marketing or advertising, chances are you know of Minjae Ormes. Most recently global head of partnerships for YouTube, and for the past couple of years chief marketing officer of disruptive phone service from Verizon, Visible. She personally has been visible for her innovative, and appropriately "disruptive" approaches to marketing the new service, but more recently she's been seen in various trades and on panels describing how they've embraced broadcast TV campaigns for the first time. That said, Minjae is also widely respected as a mentor to women in business, and a role model as leader.
E.B. and Minjae Ormes after our first interview in 2019
Her thoughtful comments - both in this interview as well as in sharing more of her personal journey the first time I interviewed her in March of 2019 -- on learning to adapt to new cultures and countries are as insightful as her marketing approaches are. So, since she made the time for me on her actual birthday this week, we made sure to discuss not just her shift from event marketing to mass media, etc., but -- like in my last episode with Sree Sreenivasan -- the absolute need to embrace empathy in our professional and personal paths.
I think you'll get her tone from this quote: "How do we first and foremost create the kinds of experiences that people expect now across the industry? Just the simplicity, the seamlessness, but also the humanity with which you show up as a brand and a business."
She also explains their pandemic pivot: "going into April, our traffic and some of the KPIs were actually picking right back up, which told us that phone services are one of those things that people rely on, no matter what happens, if not more so now. It's been an interesting exercise, both in listening, but also... as all of us as marketers can't really do create a production the way we used to it created spaces for us to think about what's old is new and new is old again, and different ways to ultimately listen to consumers and what they're telling us implicitly and explicitly for us to follow their lead."
Another visible difference in Minjae's approach? Making a difference in people's lives. Literally. Hear her description of their pro-social campaign, #VisibleActsofKindness, and the story of one customer that moved her most, plus how they supported volunteers forced to immediately return from Peace Corps volunteering.
A final note, while Visible's difference is that it has no brick and mortar locations, many of its parent company retail stores were looted and stripped bare during protests this week. Verizon also just donated $10 million to social justice organizations, including the Urban League and NAACP. So to honor the legacy of necessary change that we will hopefully learn from the death of Floyd, I am publishing on his memorial date so these words might inspire some to consider how they listen, and how they market to all people, with respect.