Chief Culture Officer: The Boot Camp

February 14, 2010

I’ve found a man who understands me.  It sounds impossible, I know.  But Grant McCracken has figured me out.

Grant has been in my life for about two months, and it’s been a culturally-charged lovefest ever since (Even his wife, Pam, is gorgeous — such a charmed life, Mr. McCracken!). I crossed his path (the intersection of anthropology and economics — yes, economics. I know I just lost half of you) when I stumbled upon the new Masters of Branding program at the School of Visual Arts.  Listed as one of the guest speakers, I learned about Grant as I researched the program in detail (an excellent program — very exciting in the world of branding!).

Chief Culture Officer was released a few months ago.  The book is a celebration for us ‘both/and-ers’ in this world.
Many of us are creatives, but have an extraordinary aptitude for business.  For us, going to business school would be akin to a lobotomy.  Some of us are more structured business-types, but have an incredible interest and curiosity in culture and its influence on business.

I read it in one (lengthy) all-nighter.  I can’t use life-changing or inspiring to describe it, because that would suggest a new way of seeing the world.  Grant’s discourse on the significance of cultural reference and understanding on the future of business IS the way I see the world. Validating and optimistic is Chief Culture Officer. And yesterday was further evidence of this.  But more on that in a minute. First, a little more about Chief Culture Officer…this is the necessary future of business as Grant sees it:

  • Reform the corporation (and capitalism)
  • Beat a path to the C-Suite (that’s the CEO, CFO, CIO, CMO…get it?)
  • Reinvent the Business school
  • Create a new career destination for Humanities and Social Sciences grads
  • Enlist members of Gen X & Gen Y who couldn’t see a place for themselves in business
  • Enlist boomers who were losing their place in popular culture
  • Make commerce that inhales and exhales culture
  • Make culture that inhales and exhales commerce
  • Make a living, breathing corporation

Yesterday, I had the opportunity (gift, really) to attend Grant’s first Chief Culture Officer Boot Camp in NYC.  It was a flurry of over 320 slides of information (could have easily been a 2-day event!) in a room full of some of the most incredible (and credible) de facto Chief Culture Officers in their fields — from design to HR. Google, PepsiCo, and Harvard Business School were all representing, as well as a few of my favorite rockstars in new media/cultural aggregation, Piers Fawkes of PSFK and Bud Caddell of What Consumes Me.

I’ve attended many so-called “boot camps” for information and instruction over the years.  This one was different than most.  Not only did the day go by in a flash because the entire room was engaged in the conversation (and trying to keep up with Grant’s pace of the day), many of us kept the conversation going over beers and an overwhelming interest in each other and the world around us.

I’d like to believe that I’m already at the level of a Chief Culture Officer, but after yesterday, I recognize the brilliance in the field.  So, I will happily consider myself a “CCO-in-training” and absorb as much information from my new mentors and associates. Afterall, if there is one thing we all know as culture junkies, if you’re the coolest one in the room, it’s time to find a new room.  I’m thrilled that I’ve found a room with so many cool people who all bring such diverse examples of cool.  So much to learn.  So much to enjoy.

Thanks Grant!


2 Responses to “Chief Culture Officer: The Boot Camp”

  1. […] I had already been following him by the time I had the opportunity to chat with him in person at Grant McCracken’s Chief Culture Officer Boot Camp. Bud’s a wicked-smart, culturally-aware, and downright talented man who authors one of my […]

  2. […] he had me at, “standards of granularity.” Of course, as you may already know from my previous lauding, this is because Grant McCracken is the only man on the planet who gets me.  I’ll admit that […]

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