While attending Rollins College, anthropology really sparked my interest. I learned all the bones in the body, excavated on the St. Johns River, and traveled to see Margaret Mead, a keynote speaker and the national anthropology conference. As a brand strategist today, the cultural side of my anthropology experience is still amazingly helpful. I love putting myself in learning and observation mode in a community with which I’m not familiar.
A couple of years ago I was hired to do a brand strategy for a startup in the art work. I didn’t know buhp (pronounced like book, but with a “p”) about art. The assignment was to help create a site where artists, collectors and galleries (gallerists, actually) could come together to transact business. My learning was therefore three-fold as it related to the targets. The world of art was foreign to me — scary and thrilling at the same time.
As soon as I opened my mouth, it was obvious I wasn’t from the art world. So I worked that angle. People are forgiving, given the time. If they love what they do they’ll open up. Like a good therapist, my job was to draw out insights, water and feed them. Observe. Enjoy the learn. Bring an outsiders view and enable tutoring. Slyly learn. Notice patterns. Share observations for feedback. Always in learn mode. It is most effective to be truly interested, amazed and lively.