Triple Bottom Line

Ideation for the Triple Bottom Line

October 19, 2022 Taylor Martin / Robin Landa
Triple Bottom Line
Ideation for the Triple Bottom Line
Show Notes Transcript

Robin Landa, distinguished professor, author of 25 branding and marketing books, and an ideation expert. What is ideation? It's the process of generating ideas. It describes the sequence of thoughts, from an original concept to actual implementation of that concept. Listen in to see how Robin breaks down this process, and ultimately helps businesses make a difference, improve brand image, and increase profits.  https://www.robinlanda.com
 

AD: Learn CryptoBot Investing Techniques
See our private video lessons, join our mastermind and see how our bots profit in bull/bear markets.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Triple Bottom Line | Episode 38 | Robin Landa

[Upbeat theme music plays] 
Female Voice Over 
[00:03] Welcome to the Triple Bottom Line, where we reveal how today’s business leaders are reaching a new level of success with a people-planet-profit approach. And here is your host, Taylor Martin!

Taylor Martin 
[00:17] Welcome, everyone. Today, we have Robin Landa on the show. She is a distinguished professor, an author of 25 books, yes, that’s two-five books, and she’s an ideation expert, which is very fascinating to me because I deal in that world a lot. What ideation is, for those that don’t know, it’s basically a process or a formula for developing and convening an idea to others. I would say it’s more like a sequence of thoughts from an original concept to the actual implementation of that concept. Robin, did I do it justice or is there anything you want to add to that?

Robin Landa
[00:55] I’ll talk about it as we go, but my whole thinking that I wanted to share with the world is how to get worthwhile ideas. Not just any old idea, but worthwhile ideas, ideas that benefit individuals, society, creatures, and the planet, and business, of course, because we have to keep going, but really thinking about people, culture, society, and the planet in the process.

Taylor Martin
[01:26] Amen to that. You’ve written, like I said, 25 books. Can you tell us a little bit about all these different books that you’ve written?

Robin Landa
[01:34] Sure, thank you so much for asking, Taylor. I mostly write about creativity and ideas. In my field, it’s advertising and branding, graphic design, social media. I’ve also written about painting and drawing. I’ve always really based it and aimed at an art-based audience, a visual arts-based audience and an advertising-based audience, branding. As I was teaching, I kept running into the issue with students that the existing methods for coming up with ideas weren’t working. I thought, I have to codify that. That’s why I wrote the most current book. Right before that, I also consult with chief marketing officers and CEOs. I realized that they really don’t know what they need to get from their creative vendors or the creative teams or the in-house creatives that there’s a kind of piece missing in [inaudible] programs that doesn’t really delve into the creative side of advertising, branding, and design. Also, I really wanted to emphasize to everyone, as you do, to think about that triple bottom line because a lot of things aren’t working right now. It’s really up to this coming – well, Gen X and Millennials and Gen A to really think about what they can do for renewing energy, for renewing the planet, for diversion, equity, and inclusion. My whole point in a lot of the books is about sustainability, renewable energy, diversity, equity, and inclusion. It’s just critical to think about right now.

Taylor Martin
[03:25] I agree. I’m so glad to have you on the show because I think everything you and I conversed with – and thank you for sending me that advanced copy of your new book coming out. That was a pleasure to read. What are things that executives can do to fill these blind spots that they have?

Robin Landa
[03:42] There’s so much that they really need to understand. One of the main things they really need to understand is that the biggest risk they take is going with pedestrian work, is going with what they think is safe work. Because with what’s going on 24/7, people are involved in social media. They’re online. They’re watching YouTube. They’re on Be Real. They’re on TikTok. They’re everywhere. You have to grab their attention. If it’s pedestrian, no one is going to notice. It’s not going to cut through to anyone. There’s your money, there’s your messaging dollars falling flat. The biggest risk you can take is not being creative and not being strategically creative, meaning thinking about your audience, anticipating issues, being empathetic with your audience, understanding what they want, what they need, what they hope for, what they desire. I always talk about there’s a Calvin and Hobbs cartoon where the little boy answers the phone. The caller says, “May I speak to your father?” and he says, “He’s not home.” The caller says, “Well, would you take a message?” and Calvin says, “What’s in it for me?” That’s what the audience is thinking. What’s in it for me? It could be entertainment. It could be information. If it’s not strategically creative, thinking about the audience, thinking about what the brand offers the audience or the social cause or the organization or whatever, what people want and need and feel, what they’re thinking, it’s going to miss.

Taylor Martin
[05:19] What you’re just discussing and talking about there, it reminds me of this book I’m halfway through right now called Compassionomics. Have you ever heard of that?

Robin Landa
[05:26] No, but it’s a great title.

Taylor Martin
[05:29] Yeah, the title is what got me. Someone mentioned it to me. I looked it up. I was like, okay, this is interesting. This is exactly what they’re talking about is having that empathy and trying to forecast what the needs are of your customers. What do you think are some things that people could actually do, step by step processes that they could implement to start moving in that direction?

Robin Landa
[05:52] They have to have insights. Insights are critical. They’re hard to find, right? You’re always looking for a behavior or something that people are doing. One way that I tell my students because they don’t have research companies behind them to help them find insights is to go onto social media and do listening and do social listening. Hashtag a brand or a product or a commodity or a service and see what people are saying, see what they like, see what they don’t like, see what their pain points are. That’s really critical. One thing I always tell my clients is to come up with the wrong solution. Come up with a solution that –  

Taylor Martin
[06:32] Oh, that’s awesome.

Robin Landa
[06:33] Come up with a solution that will make everybody not buy your product, not patronize you, and then you know what you shouldn’t be doing. Then you can really think about a good solution. People don’t always ask the right questions. They don’t always see it from another point of view. Very importantly, they don’t always give enough of a diverse audience a seat at the table to conceptualize. You really need to be inclusive. How can you think about designing something for people living with disabilities without people living with disabilities on the team? It’s just – really, we need to think about diversity and think about – I know I keep saying this, but it’s really very, very important. You have to take multiple perspectives. Perspective taking is crucial to understand what a lot of people are thinking. The old walk in somebody else’s shoes, try to understand established dialogue rather than debate so that you really are listening and talking to each other, but finding that insight is really, really important because that’s when you know you’ve hit the audience and it will resonate.

Taylor Martin
[07:47] We just did a podcast on DEI and I found that to be incredibly fascinating. We are designers. We design for web accessibility for all people regardless of their disability. We have found out time and time again, this is a broken record for people that are always listening to my podcast, is that I always say this is that when you solve the problem with people with disabilities, everybody wins because it enhances the user engagement and so much more comes from it. I just want to underscore because that is what you’re talking about. Things like this when you’re going out there and you’re doing the research. You’re saying go out there, observe the research, observe the hashtags, watch what people are doing, get that research data, bring it back, and then contemplate and think about what are their pain points, what are the solutions we need to solve and then focus on that.

Robin Landa
[08:35] Right, and it’s customer pain points and the business pain points, right? It’s really thinking about both, but so often we’re not really seeing it from the audience’s point of view. Sometimes it’s easy for CEOs and CMOs to see a fault in another company because they’re the client. They’re the patron. It’s not so easy when you’re that close to your own. The other thing, I’m quoting Rob Reilly who is one of the greatest minds today in advertising. He’s the global chief creative officer. I don’t know. It’s a huge title at WPP. He used to be the global chief creative officer at McCann. He moved over to WPP, the head of everything. He says, “Use the press release process.” When you creative advertising or branding, how will it land in the media? What will the press write about it? If the press isn’t going to write about it, you haven’t done anything interesting.

Taylor Martin
[09:32] Nice, I like that. I know some people in the ad space that would love that, that actually basically could follow that now that I think about it.

Robin Landa
[09:39] The example he always gives, which is a great example, came out of McCann New York when he was there and it’s Fearless Girl. I’m sure most of your listeners know that’s the statue of the girl facing down the bull on Wall Street. That was for a global state street advisor. It was for a financial firm and they were trying to communicate the idea of having more women in leadership. It’s a statue that’s an ad. Not only did it hit and he solved his press release process but it’s now permanently installed in New York facing the stock exchange because it was so popular. Tourists came and photographed themselves with it. I mean, there was some controversies around it related to the bull and other issues, but what an extraordinary way of thinking. If you told that to most clients, they’d say, “What do you mean the ad is a statue?” Taking this risk really paid off.

Taylor Martin
[10:40] Instead of looking at the tool, the mechanism in which you’re serving it, and just focus solely on the outcome because that’s what they were doing. They were looking at the outcome. What is the outcome? What can we do to change the outcome, the perception, the understanding?

Robin Landa
[10:54] Change people’s minds or even change the conversation. If you go back to Dove, when they first started their Real Beauty campaign, somebody on that team, and it was a really integrated team, noticed that women were trash talking about themselves on social media. That insight into what women were saying about themselves led to the Real Beauty campaign. They didn’t want to change the conversation. They were doing some good. It wasn’t only profit. It was about people, too.

Taylor Martin
[11:28] Yeah, the human approach, the human touch. I kind of want to go back to these books because it’s not very often I get to see and meet somebody that has written 25 books alone, and then 25 books on design, marketing, and branding. You’ve written all these books. I haven’t read all of them. I’ll tell you that right now. The last one, of course, was so in lined with me, I just had to have you on the show because you’ve written all these books about marketing, design, branding, and now you’re really focusing on the triple bottom line as like a business message and communications. What was the final thing that finally brought you to write that book?

Robin Landa
[12:03] Teaching Gen Z and having a Gen Z daughter and seeing what’s happening with the planet and government is not doing enough. They’re doing more now under Biden, but mostly government is not doing enough. Some brands are trying to step up. Think about somebody like the owner – the CEO of Patagonia. My Gen Zers, their main issue when you talk about what do you care about, they talk about climate change. They’re afraid. It’s their planet. It’s not my planet anymore. It’s my daughter’s. It’s our children’s. It’s these young beautiful people that I’m teaching. I just felt that the idea generation process has to include something about what the benefit for the planet, for creatures, and for people, and neglected people, overlooked people, neglected people, ignored people, I just had to make sure that somebody was thinking about that as they were generating ideas. Because if you think about it, a lot of the ideas that have come out, some of them were fraudulent, some of them were evil, some of them are killing the planet. I just felt like I had to codify a way of coming up with ideas that are worth pursuing that benefit people.

Taylor Martin
[13:27] That is the whole purpose of this podcast. This is why I started it. I wanted to get people like you a higher level voice to get you in front of people that are making business decisions. I commend you for doing that.

Robin Landa
[13:39] Thank you so much. Thank you. I commend you for the podcast. What a great podcast subject.

Taylor Martin
[13:47] I love it. I just graciously read about it. I just love business. I think that it’s just smart business. Any way you look at it, from a marketing angle or a business dollars and cents angle or a people angle, it’s just the triple bottom line it makes sense. I think of it as the three-legged stool. If you don’t have one leg, it’s not going to work.

Robin Landa
[14:05] Yes, and Gen Z actually won’t patronize – I mean, I’m generalizing, of course, but Gen Z won’t patronize companies that don’t have good values, whose values they don’t align with. I’m telling you climate is the Number 1 for them, and then of course, identity and body image and LGBTQIA+ rights, but they won’t – you can’t pull anything over on them.

Taylor Martin
[14:32] You can add me to that list, too, because I feel the same way. I’m a Gen Xer, of course, but I’m the same way. If they’re not going something for the planet or something like that or have an inclusion amount, I’m gone.

Robin Landa
[14:43] Yeah, same here.

Taylor Martin
[14:45] I want to talk about one thing that I found in your book that I thought would be really interesting to hear your take on was the three Gs, the gain, gap, and goal.

Robin Landa
[14:52] Thank you. That’s my process. It’s really easy to remember. You can have a goal. You look for the gap. Most people, let me just backtrack a little, a goal, most people think a goal is an idea. It’s not. It’s just what you want to achieve. It’s the start. Where you and I align are in the next two steps which is the gap and the gain. The gap is really critical because there are so many gaps. What’s the missing piece in research? Is there a product or service that’s missing? Is there a crack in the research? Is there a method that could use renewable energy rather than fossil fuels? Is there a more sustainable method? Is there an overlooked audience? Is there a method of drug delivery we haven’t thought about? Is there underfunded research? Is there an idea that hasn’t been adequately interpreted? How do we solve chronic issues of people who are unsheltered, homelessness, world hunger, clean water for all, extreme weather, affordable housing, curbing carbon emissions? How do we solve that? These are chronic problems that need attention. Then finally, the way you assess the goal and the gap is by thinking about the gain. What’s in it for individual, society, creatures, or the planet? To be worthwhile, in my estimation, there has to be a benefit for people or the planet. I mean, obviously, for business has to go on, but that’s not enough. Profit is not enough.

Taylor Martin
[16:34] Yeah, this is a change that’s happening right before our eyes. I remember back in the ‘90s working and designing. It was all about the profit and the goal. Then when I learned about the triple bottom line, it opened my eyes. I was like, oh, I never thought about it that way, but the more I investigated about it, the more it made sense. Here we are at the crossroads where we really need to make a decision. Are you going to jump on this bandwagon or are you not? I feel like that is the new normal.

Robin Landa
[17:04] Absolutely, and I think people like you and my students and my daughter are forcing companies to do that because they feel like the government may not be doing enough. It’s getting a little better but it has to be worldwide and it has to be continuing. It can’t stop and start with different administrations, right? People, consumers are pressuring brands to step up. They’re expecting it from companies where they see things lacking.

Taylor Martin
[17:36] Yeah, agreed. You’re voting with your dollars. We are all voting with our dollars every day. Whatever we choose to buy, we are saying more of, please.

Robin Landa
[17:45] Right, and if I see that a brand is doing something, whether it’s Nike standing with Colin Kaepernick, I’ll put my money in athletic shoes. I’ll put my money where I think somebody is doing some good.

Taylor Martin
[18:00] Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree with you there. I really like the case studies because I feel like our listeners can get their hands wrapped around it, especially if they’ve engaged in that brand. Do you have other examples where companies or corporations have been successful this way?

Robin Landa
[18:17] Yes, I have some lesser known examples for you. Kat Nouri was standing in the kitchen and she was making lunch for her three children. She was putting the sandwiches in plastic disposable sandwich bags. She happened to be in the materials business and she thought why not make a more durable food storage bag that could be used thousands of times instead of just once. She set her goal by noticing this gap in the food storage industry. She created it. She created a product called Stasher. Some of your listeners might own it. It’s a silicon bag that you can use thousands of times to put your lunch in. It was so popular that SC Johnson bought it from her. The gain is less landfill.

Another great example for less landfill is somebody at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, a health advertising agency, was looking at this pill bottle in the morning and thinking what happens to this little plastic pill bottle. I think a lot of people don’t know that they are not recycled. Plastic pill bottles are too small for companies to recycle. He realized that there would be a gain and less toxic landfill is pill bottles were made out of paper. He contacted TOM, it’s an Israeli company, and they’ve now created a 100% compostable paper pill bottle. Particularly love the solution because one of my former students was, Lilliana Vasquez, was on that creative team who came up with that.

Taylor Martin
[20:01] Oh, that’s awesome.

Robin Landa
[20:02] I know. I could go on and on. There are so many wonderful – and if you want to think about a big brand, Microsoft, Matt Hite, a Microsoft engineer was on Twitter. He was scrolling through and he happened to see a photograph of an adaptive controller that was created by one man, by Ken Jones, whose organization is Warfighter Engaged. What Ken Jones does is adapts gaming controllers for wounded veterans who’ve sustained so much injury that they have limited mobility and can’t use a regular gaming controller. Did you know that there are 46 million gamers in the US alone living with limited mobility and living with disability? Matt Hite saw this and he contacted Ken Jones. Matt Hite wanted to do something, too. He loved what Ken Jones was doing and he brought it back to Microsoft. When they had a Sustainable Summit, he put a team together and they worked on creating an adaptive controller that could be mass manufactured. He had to get a lot of people on board at Microsoft because there isn’t that much profit in a product like this. It took years in development and testing in development but Microsoft was the first company to actually mass manufacture an adaptive controller for people with limited mobility.

Taylor Martin
[21:29] That’s awesome. I can imagine that they probably learned a lot of lessons along the way that probably have incalculable improvements for their businesses.

Robin Landa
[21:38] They had an inclusive team. They had able gamers on board, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, [inaudible] and Warfighter Engaged.

Taylor Martin
[21:47] That’s awesome. What’s the Number 1 thing that companies can do to better develop ideas and to come up with better solutions for ideation? Because I feel like a lot of people are listening to this and they’re like, yeah, that’s a great idea. That was a great success story. They’re probably going back to their boardroom and thinking, how do we change the way we do things? How do we think differently to get into this space and to broaden our horizons here?

Robin Landa
[22:11] I’ll be self-referential and say they should use the three Gs. It’s really easy to use. It’s really the first ideation system since 1953 since Alex Osborn introduced brainstorming. Brainstorming, if that works for you, that’s great, but it doesn’t really talk about equality and gain for people. I keep saying the same thing, but for me, you have to be filling a gap and there has to be a gain for individuals, society, or the planet. Otherwise, to me, it’s not worthwhile.

Taylor Martin
[22:45] Yeah, I feel like that’s the why. You know how Simon Sinek talks about your why, why do you do the things you do. They buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Robin Landa
[22:55] Yes, and really, when you assess by thinking about what’s the void, who are we serving better, what’s missing? If you think about messenger RNA, that was a new method of delivery for medicine. She, Dr. Kariko, actually, and Dr. Weissman, actually went against the star chamber. Nobody used that method of delivery for medicine. Had they not persisted, we wouldn’t have had the COVID vaccines as quickly as we did and as effectively as we did. You really have to think about gap, what’s not being done and not just doing the same old, same old because we’re at a critical point.

Taylor Martin
[23:41] What’s not being done? That’s good. That’s good right there. Put that on a bumper sticker, please. Looking out into the future, because again, I’m talking with somebody who’s written so many books, I don’t want to say how do you see the future coming, but how do you want to see the future coming?

Robin Landa
[23:59] I really want people to understand the importance of multiple perspective taking and seeing things from other people’s points of view and from the planet’s point of view and from creatures’ points of view. It’s not just your own viewpoint. Your own viewpoint, your own education, your experiences, your friend groups, that’s what makes you unique, but it also is just one lens of seeing the world. Unless you listen to a lot of other people, you’re engaging in either just your own thinking or group think. Group think is terrible and your own lens can be special and creative, but to really understand what others need, I think we need to do active perspective taking where dialogue is involved and not debate.

Taylor Martin
[24:52] I concur. Yeah, I agree. What is the title of your new book coming out? When does it come out?

Robin Landa
[24:58] Thank you for asking. It’s called The New Art of Ideas: Unlock Your Creative Potential. I think the subtitle is a little misleading because it’s not just about creativity but it’s about how to get worthwhile ideas. The systems that are in place don’t address things that I address. Thank you for asking. It comes out November 8th. If you preorder the book, I’m giving that money that I get, not what the publisher gets but what I get from the book to humanitarian relief. It’s a short book. It’s really easy to read. It’s very friendly. A lot of great case studies in it. I think so far in advance I’ve gotten wonderful reviews, which is lovely. If you watch Manifest or The Americans, Holly Taylor, who played the daughter on The Americans and she’s in Manifest, she plays Angelina Meyer in Manifest, she designed the cover and she did the illustration. If you’re a fan of Holly’s, another reason. Holly was my student.

Taylor Martin
[25:58] You’ve got a lot of students. Tell me about the giving, that part of giving away some of your profit. That’s interesting. I like that.

Robin Landa
[26:08] Thank you. As an educator, we don’t get paid that much. Since I used to consult a lot and I used that money to donate to different causes, but as an educator, I really saw first generation college students struggling to pay for college, as President Biden has understood. It’s really difficult. For all these years, I’ve been given a large portion of my royalties to fund student scholarships for students in need and studies who are meritorious. With everything that’s going on in the world right now, I’m also giving as much as I can to disaster relief and humanitarian relief. I really feel that I have to do my part.

Taylor Martin
[26:56] You know what I love about that? It’s that you’re seeing something that needs to be fixed and it goes back to the gap here. You’re seeing students that need help and you’re there and you’re making the help. I commend you for that.

Robin Landa
[27:09] Thank you. I think a lot of people don’t realize that state universities still cost money. These students are working. They’re working their way through. A lot of students who go to private universities aren’t working their way through. Some are, but mine are all working their way through.

Taylor Martin
[27:28] Yeah, and they might be the first one in their generation – in their family to go to college.

Robin Landa
[27:33] Yes, absolutely.

Taylor Martin
[27:36] That’s awesome. Robin, how can our listeners reach out to you, either follow you on LinkedIn or any other social channels?

Robin Landa
[27:42] Thank you. Yes, please connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m on every channel. I’m on Instagram. I’m even on TikTok. I’m not on Be Real yet, but I’m on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Please connect. You can get some free information and free quick start guides on my website robinlanda.com so you can get a lot of free stuff.

Taylor Martin
[28:04] That’s great. Robin, thank you so much for being on today’s show and thank you for doing everything that you’re doing. I really, once again, have to commend you for all the hard work that you put into everything.

Robin Landa
[28:15] Thank you. Right back at you, Taylor. Thank you.

Taylor Martin
[28:17] I appreciate it. All right, everybody. That’s the book, The New Art of Ideas. You can get it in Amazon coming soon. Over and out, everyone. 

[Upbeat theme music plays]
Female Voice Over 
[28:27] Thanks for tuning into the Triple Bottom Line. Your host, Taylor Martin, is founder and Chief Creative of Design Positive, a strategic branding and accessibility agency. Interested in being interviewed on our podcast? Then visit designpositive.co and fill out our contact form. If you enjoyed today’s podcast, we would appreciate a review on Apple podcasts or whatever provider you are logging in from. This podcast is prepared by Design Positive and is not associated with any other entity. We look forward to having you back for another installment of the Triple Bottom Line.

[Upbeat theme music fades out]