How to thrive in the digital world? The best advice may be to change the way you think about your power.
From London, where Fortune hosted a Most Powerful Women conference on Monday, to Cannes, where I'm now at the ad industry's Lions Festival of Creativity, the most fevered discussion has been about how to succeed in the digital space. Success seems to derive, ironically, from divesting your power and putting it someplace else. Three tips I've picked up along the way:
Empower your employees. As Burberry (BURBY) CEO Angela Ahrendts told the MPW audience in London, she transformed the venerable British retailer—and tripled the stock—by giving millenials the run of the fashion house. Burberry's employees--amazingly, 70% are under age 30--share information constantly. Ahrendts connects and feed them via monthly webcasts, weekly videos, and previews of ad campaigns that employees get to see before the media have their peek.
Meanwhile, at Coca-Cola (KO), digital marketing boss Wendy Clark, contends that the more collaboration inside a company, the more agile the business can be. While we used to build careers based on knowing more than the guy in the next office, power today lies in how many connections you can make. "Imagine," Clark says, "if everyone came into work everyday and shared everything they know."
Empower your customers. Coke has collected 42 million "Likes" on Facebook (FB)--more than any other consumer product--by ceding control of the page to it fans and followers. "Embrace your new sales force," Clark advises, referring to the consumers who can help build your brand.
Clark's lesson applies to more than just packaged-goods brands. Here in Cannes, during a panel discussion that I moderated yesterday, the actor Matthew Morrison talked about how the fan base of his Fox (NWSA) TV show, Glee, has maximized social media to create a multi-media hit. (And Morrison, who has over 515,000 Twitter followers, does his part too.) On the same panel with Morrison, Paul Caine, EVP and Chief Revenue Officer at Time Inc. (Fortune's parent), explained that readers today are actually driving the marketing of some magazine stories, particularly the most buzzworthy in People. "We use Twitter to break the story, Facebook to push the conversation, and Pinterest to curate," Caine said. As for the story itself, it may not hit newsstands--or your tablet--until Time Inc. and its network of consumers have generated 48 hours of buildup.
Empower yourself. "The pace of business is really fast, and you have to make decisions with less information," notes Laura Lang, Time Inc. (TWX) CEO and the former global chief of digital agency Digitas. "You have to be entrepreneurial," she adds, noting that failure is almost inevitable. "Fail fast," she advises. Another digital media maven, Arianna Huffington, joined me on stage this morning in Cannes, at a breakfast hosted by ad giant Interpublic Group (IPG). Arianna, who having sold the Huffington Post to AOL (AOL) for $315 million now has a vast digital platform, agrees: "Success in the digital space is about being willing to take risks and fail."
When I ask powerful women what made them who they are (a question I've asked constantly over the years), they often tell me about their parents and then say, "Oh, my mother...!"
So when I read one mother's take on the topic of wealth, below, it struck a familiar chord. The passage is from Unbinding the Heart, a new book by Agapi Stassinopoulos, Arianna Huffington's sister. I knew a little about MOREPatricia Sellers - Feb 22, 2012 11:44 AM ET
Chelsea Handler showed us a new side of her media brand-ness last night on the premiere of the NBC (CMCSA) sitcom Are You There, Chelsea? The standup comic/late-night TV host/best-selling author/rising-star entrepreneur plays main character Chelsea's pregnant and proper sister on the show.
Let's be clear, this is not Handler's fantasy life. At the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in October, Arianna Huffington tried her best to convince Handler of the MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 12, 2012 11:23 AM ET
Fortune's editors have chosen the 2011 Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs. From a pool of 131 applicants, we've selected (not easily) 10 extraordinary innovators, game-changers and groundbreakers whose startups generated $1 million to $25 million in annual revenue last year--but appear poised to become large and global businesses.
That is, these women could be on the Fortune Most Powerful Women in Business list someday. (This year's U.S. and international rankings will MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 13, 2011 1:28 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
Today, on National Equal Pay Day, it's worth noting that women still make only 77 cents vs. the average man's dollar.
I may catch flak for saying this, but one reason is that women aren't as good at negotiating as men are. I know this from talking with hundreds of women in the Fortune's Most Powerful Women community. And many women on our annual Most Powerful Women list have MOREPatricia Sellers - Apr 12, 2011 2:36 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
The most head-spinning thing about Arianna Huffington's deal to sell the Huffington Post to AOL (AOL)--besides the sweet $315 million price, which is 10 times HuffPo's 2010 revenues and almost all in cash--is her expanded job description.
Once the acquisition closes, Huffington will oversee all of AOL's media content including the recently purchased TechCrunch, Engadget, AOL Daily Finance, and MapQuest and Moviefone as well.
Her new purview--overseeing platforms that reached MOREPatricia Sellers - Feb 8, 2011 2:58 PM ET
Are the populists taking over the world?
One rabble-rouser, Arianna Huffington, has concocted a remarkable stunt, which she calls the Move Your Money Project, to rally consumers to transfer their deposits from big banks to small community banks across the U.S. Alas, there's no run yet on Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), or Wells Fargo (WFC). But the Move your Money campaign--which the blog queen dreamed up MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 8, 2010 12:47 PM ET
I've never been big on New Year's resolutions, but a year ago, 15 minutes before 2009, I resolved to friend--a Charlie Rose fan--at a party in D.C.: "I'm going to DVR Charlie Rose every night."
Three weeks later, I found myself sitting next to the TV interviewer at a dinner in New York. I told Rose about my New Year's resolution. "So, are you doing it?" he asked.
"Uh, no, I MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 4, 2010 1:38 PM ET
Betsy Morgan is out as CEO of HuffingtonPost.com -- and her firing came as a surprise to her, Morgan told me when we connected by phone late this afternoon.
"Bummer." That was the first word she uttered in our conversation. Morgan says she's not bitter, however. After all, what a ride Arianna's web venture has been these past 20 months. Morgan joined in October 2007 -- and I remember it well MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 16, 2009 6:11 PM ET
"Nobody expects greed to be eliminated from human nature. That's why regulation exists."
-- Arianna Huffington at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Tuesday night. CNN's Anderson Cooper hosted Huffington, Mike Huckabee and D.L. Hughley in a conversation about Free Speech and the Power of the Press.
For more on how we're now attempting to make amends for America's wayward ways, check out Fortune's profile of Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Apr 1, 2009 6:52 PM ET
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