In the fashion industry we think a lot about the future. The future of fashion, the store of the future, what part will technology play in the future of customer experience, and so on. Running in parallel we are also looking to understand and define what is the meaning of real luxury.
In order to answer these questions, we are continually seeking out new ways to be inspired, learn and grow. As entrepreneurs and leaders, we often look to the present to show us a way forward for the future. With busy schedules it can be hard to take time out for personal growth and professional development. We are often so focused on productivity, Return On Investment (ROI) and “business as usual” that we fail to quantify how important it is to take time to be inspired. Perhaps we need to focus less on ROI and think more about how important the role of inspiration is in relation to leadership.
In a culture obsessed with measuring talent and ability, we often overlook the important role of inspiration. Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility, and transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities. Source
Awakening our consciousness and transcending the ordinary may seem like quite out there things to be doing in the name of leadership, but it really is all connected. Now more than ever we need to look at the whole picture and think holistically to cultivate future growth.
As leaders we need to be inspired and also inspire others. We cannot afford to ignore how important our own personal and professional development is for our teams. The relationship between personal growth and corporate professional development (CPD) has increasingly blurred lines. Attending a group meditation session paid for by employer rather than employee may seem an abstract use of work time but incrementally it can make a huge difference. If we invest in ourselves we ultimately invest in our company. After all a company’s employees are what makes the company, and also makes the company attractive to work for. Cathy McCabe, Proximity Insight CEO – who was previously at Burberry – has experienced first-hand the benefits of a holistic approach to developing teams.
“Burberry were renowned for their emphasis on wellbeing and invested significantly in employee benefits such as free lunches, healthy treats, summer Fridays and insightful speakers. Many start-ups, including Proximity Insight, look to provide similar benefits and flexible ways of working in order to invest in talent and ensure the wellbeing of employees. This approach has many benefits and also helps to amplify a brands value set.” Cathy McCabe, Proximity Insight CEO
Apart from attending yoga or meditation sessions on company time how can we find inspiration in a more formalised way? The answer is through well curated events such as Decoded Future that we recently attended in London, and FashionTech Berlin. Learning from other people’s stories we can take their experience as inspiration. Their journey can connect our own experiences and by making that connection we can work out how to solve problems we face. It also gives us comfort that we are not alone in trying to make sense of the future.
Putting on, being a sponsor for, speaking at, or attending an event feels as if it’s had even more emphasis placed on it since the rise of digital communications and social media. Attending business events is not a new concept, but what has changed is that the audience is no longer contained within the room. Thanks to technology we are able to stream live and directly connect with people all over the world in real-time. The business opportunities that arise from being able to speak to a huge audience and potential customer base is extremely exciting, but what is also interesting is how much emphasis is being placed on being seen to be someone who is knowledgeable or a visionary.
Education and gaining knowledge is – and always has been – a sign of wealth. We don’t always seek to just have wealth in a monetary sense but also have mental wealth. As we increase our knowledge and elevate ourselves, we operate higher up Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. At this point we also question what is important to us, and we begin to question what is our definition of luxury. If we consider knowledge and having the time to pursue knowledge is a luxury, we can use this idea to form the basis of an approach to customer experience for example. We can also use it to convey a story about a product.
Having the knowledge to make a beautiful handbag and honouring the time it has taken to learn a craft is real luxury. The craftsman is the true definition of luxury. As a consumer understanding and appreciating craftsmanship is luxury. Elevated by craftsmanship a product is able in a physical way to embody knowledge and time, and consequently luxury. Buying an expensive handbag has always been a status symbol, but now it’s not about how much it cost, it’s about knowing everything about it that gives the owner status. Arguably those seeking elevated ideals of luxury might not buy an expensive handbag from a traditional brand. They might prefer to seek out companies who are producing small scale with transparency whilst supporting craftsmen. Furthermore they may also look to companies who are sharing profits equally amongst all employees, companies who are essentially operating with the same ideals as the consumer. Company and consumer objectives then become one. We buy more than just a product, we form a shared experience over time.
Brands are increasingly driven to produce more content and can look to knowledge sharing as a key part of a marketing strategy. We live in an era where Content is King and knowledge is wealth. By connecting with our audience, consumer and employees on a deep level we create long lasting bonds. To do this we may just need to take a step back and look at what we value.
We can all benefit from taking a little bit of time to be inspired, but if you are struggling to step away from that important meeting or piece of work, just remember, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. Benjamin Franklin
The phrase Content is King was coined by Bill Gates 3rd January 1996