Adobe Summit Day 2: Experience Makers Crack the Code on What Drives Success
Leaders from the world of sports, business, and technology share what inspired their quest for change.
What drives people to inspire change or to create amazing experiences for their customers? And, even more importantly, what lessons can we learn from them?
During the first keynote session of Adobe Summit, our annual digital marketing conference, experts discussed the technology required to create an experience business. Day 2 of Adobe Summit focused on the personal side of transformation. Entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang, NFL defensive end J.J. Watt, and others shared how they’ve transformed into experience makers both personally and professionally, sharing valuable lessons to inspire the conference’s 13,000 attendees.
And though this group has a varied background, including careers in the corporate, entrepreneurial, sports, social, and nonprofit worlds, their advice and guiding principles share similar themes.
Make a commitment to do good
When Hurricane Harvey was devastating his city of Houston, J.J. Watt wanted to get out and do something to help the flood victims. He set up an online fundraiser with an initial goal of raising $200,000. Using social media, the campaign went viral, and contributions blew past his goal and skyrocketed to $37 million.
More than 200,000 people donated to the effort, and J.J. is quick to pass the credit to them. “People wanted to be a part of something positive. Some of these people just didn’t know where to go. All I did was coordinate the effort,” he said. His effort wasn’t for personal gain, but to fulfill a need. He also shared how seeing people respond to their catastrophic circumstances with resilience and grit has helped him put his own challenges due to two years of injuries in perspective.
But being drawn to do good doesn’t just happen when a natural disaster occurs. It also happens when businesses make changes to enhance the lives of others. Sir Richard Branson embodied that approach with Virgin Atlantic. “The goal is to figure out ways to make people’s lives better,” he said. “Understanding people’s experiences lies at the heart of that process.”
Be willing to transform to respond to new opportunities
Jensen Huang recognized how two tech shifts in the industry would give NVIDIA, his gaming company, the opportunity to advance. Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning meant that Jensen could develop software that no human could write. With this pivot to focus on AI, Jensen positioned his company for the future.
“There’s no alternative to rolling up your sleeves and trying to understand the new implications of the dynamics that are going on in the industry, and to invite others to work with you to apply the technology,” Jensen said.
Have respect for the consumer
Social media can be an effective way to bring social change, but it also has received more critical attention, particularly regarding privacy. Social companies are listening and working to determine a balance between delivering on their brand promise and keeping their users’ information safe.
Melissa Selcher, LinkedIn vice president of brand marketing and corporate communications, said they focus on three Cs for privacy — clarity, choice, and control — to ensure people understand how their data is being used and that they have choice and control over how that information is shared. “It has to be the job of everyone in the company to care about the members’ experience and their privacy and security,” said Melissa.
Gene Alston, vice president of marketing partnerships at Facebook, said the brand is defined by its mission, adding, “We want to give people the power to build communities and bring the world closer together. It’s ambitious, but important.” Gene said the Facebook team is spending a lot of time creating measures to address privacy issues, be more transparent, and to listen to customer feedback.
Twitter exec, Kay Madati, global vice president and head of content partnerships, said although the company is a public platform and everything is shareable and searchable, a checks-and-balances system that relies on both people and technology still must be in place to allow Twitter to fulfill its mission.
“Our core purpose is to serve the public conversation,” he said. “When something happens in the world, the conversation happens on Twitter. Our core value proposition is trying to keep the world and our users informed, and empowering people to participate in that dialogue.”
Pay attention to details
Even as experience makers need to understand the big picture, they also must recognize small details, Sir Richard said. “Take note of the little things,” he said, adding that when he flies, he gets out of his seat and walks around to listen to passengers and crew members. He then writes down thoughts and experiences on which his airline can improve.
Looking at the process from a customer’s point of view provides a better understanding of the current customer experience. Even if an experience has been successful in the past, that can change. “As expectations change, experiences must evolve too,” he said.
Despite their unique experiences, one of the common threads in all these leaders’ stories is the importance of risk-taking.
Jensen decided to pivot his company to take advantage of new AI technology. J.J. transferred to a bigger college, hoping for the rare chance to get a scholarship as a walk-on. Both took risks, but believed in their ability to create success. For J.J., knowing he could control how hard he worked each day gave him confidence about his future. Sir Richard echoed a similar point. “There’s a tremendous satisfaction in trying to achieve something that has never been achieved before. Screw it, just get on and do it.”
While the work of these luminaries often leads to great experiences for customers and for their communities, they understand their impact is beyond a career or a business. They see the impact they can have on how people communicate, how they play, and how they help each other. They are dedicated to doing that job well.
All of these leaders are experience makers because they dare to believe that things should be better — and they roll up their sleeves and get to work to make change happen.
“Think about what change you want to drive in your organization and, more importantly, in yourself to become an experience maker,” said John Mellor, Adobe vice president of strategy, alliances, and marketing. “Unleash your inner experience maker!”