You might think #NYFW is a collection of egocentric fashionistas, but New York Fashion Week represents an extremely powerful connection between brands and consumers. This semiannual spectacle, now 72 years in the making, is more than just runways and red carpets. It's collective culture incubator of tech, fashion, innovation, food, and media; and harnesses the power to make or break the biggest brands. Here's how:

It's a Media Launchpad
Move over Instagram, Periscope is the "it" app this week. Beyond fashion, #NYFW has been established the make or break forum for upcoming trends, media included. Designers and brands gravitate to the latest mediums to clinch first mover advantage and render competition as laggards. Pay attention to Periscope, it's going to dominate social in 2016.  

It's a Tech Hub
Collaboration between tech (Uber) and fashion (Givenchy) continues to eliminate the divide between style and software. Lifestyle brands are a powerful movement positioned to dominate consumer markets, and increasing accessibility to #NYFW shows for "civilians" is a result of innovation through tech.  

It's Genius Brand PR
Love them or hate them, but consumer obsession with mega-influencers like the Kardashians can't be ignored. Key influencers are vital to catalyzing awareness, demand, and brand persona ("lifestyle") to new products - more so than traditional media.  Linking personalities to brands (and runway shows) generates overnight success, and drives engagement to levels marketing pros have never seen. It's the new PR strategy, and it works. (Hint: The Kardashians launched a family of apps this week) 

It a Design & Content Curator
Curation (sorting material and presenting in a meaningful way) is a dominant tool in marketing strategy this year, and demands a source of inspiration. For the next year, clothing, houseware, tech, automotive, and countless other products will integrate designs, materials, and trends  inspired by #NYFW. Influential bloggers, product developers, and brand strategists all want to leverage the newest trend, so expect to see this week's style rippled throughout consumer brands, media, and goods as soon as next month.



In building a leadership team, most C-suite execs demand a premium blend of experience and education, with position profiles reciting an oft-anticipated recruitment laundry list:


  • "X" years of experience in [preferred skill set],
  • progressive management roles,
  • proven metrics, and
  • [Masters education] preferred

It's a safe and generally proven approach, however, over the past decade a new dialogue has catalyzed on an emerging, highly sought skill: emotional intelligence ("EQ").

The term, coined via research in 1990 and first used by Daniel Goleman in 1995, encompasses self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social aptitude - all strong indicators of effective leadership.

Sounds fluffy. Is it real? 

Absolutely. The year the term was coined, fMRI was invented and for the first time, scientists could visually capture brain activity in action - helping prove the mechanisms of charisma and when emotional reasoning trumps IQ. This is how emotional intelligence became a key leadership skill. It lends performance over and above traditional aspects of leadership (think intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision) which render insufficient in absence of emotional intelligence. This of course begs the question, is EQ more important than IQ? 

Seems so. On top of scientifically proven superiority in leadership, emotional intelligence is just plain likeable (think Buffett, Burns, Schultz, and Nooyi). While a perfect candidate excels across all "3 Es"(experience, education, emotional intelligence) these types are hardly a dime a dozen.

Then...what do you do?

The combination of brilliance, experience, and invaluable intelligence to read, understand, and motivate people is rare; and recruiters, startups, and C-suites are all seeking what's become the unicorn of executive leadership. It's an age old ring match of book smart versus street smart, but at some point a call must be made. Enter: the compromise.

With EQ hype at its peak, a trend has emerged when an offer hits the table: all other qualities considered equal, CEOs are leaning toward candidates with stronger emotional intelligence - effectively compromising a few IQ points. The widespread belief is that the right personality, work ethic, and willingness to learn are more fruitful (long term) than taking a shoe-horn approach to shiny GPAs with less social savvy.

It's hard to argue this approach when emotionally intelligent leaders have just been proven to boost financial performance. Add to that cultural norming and acceptance of startups and widespread entrepreneurship (AKA comfort with risk, growth potential, and innovation) and the perception of compromise is mitigated. 

This is not to say education is not valuable: it absolutely is. But it's not an automatic or sole indicator of success.

Some say you can't teach leadership. But when it comes to EQ, some things truly can't be taught. What are your leadership ingredients?

Read more: Learn how to determine emotional intelligence here



In a world of constant change in commerce, creative, and communication, a new principle is taking hold. When it comes to brand, a focus on value creation is being employed to deliver both relevance and operational efficiency. This in turn facilitates the ultimate intention: developing deeply loyal customer relationships. Enter Lean Branding.

Lean Branding is intended for innovative organizations; those embracing disruption and shifting energy to creating passionate customers. It's the first concept to applylean principles to brand development: to teach you how to develop meaningful relationships with your audience, based on a shared journey of value creation. Simply put, "lean" means creating more value for customers with fewer resources, and lean branding intends to do just that. It's an especially useful and effective approach for startup and growing (or changing) enterprises. 

Lean Branding starts with brand discovery and immediately hones in on most important aspects for your customers. It employs a process to keep organizations [of any size] on a disciplined trajectory to reach brand relevance and engagement - and helps eliminate "fluff" (better known as wasted time, money, and energy) along the way.

As a customer-centric approach, it facilitates sustainable, emotional, and validated customer relationships. From an organizational performance perspective, it's an efficient and innovative tool for growth strategy. While business continues operating from and placing value on metrics and big data, Lean Branding will continue building its relevant place for brand development well into the future. 

Think you could benefit from a lean branding approach? Check out the Lean Brand Book



Only three months since annual business trend forecasts rung in the New Year, and marketers, brand experts, and entrepreneurs are finding themselves in even faster consumer shifts. The second quarter kicked off competitively and it’s no surprise the most influential trends are rooted in digital space and innovation. Keep ahead of mass movements with “need to know” tech trends for Q2:


This integrated ad buying technology has taken marketing to a new level in the digital age. Near-replacing human effort, programmatic uses algorithms to target audiences where you want, when you want, as often as you want – with realtime analytics to prove it. Want to learn more?




It’s next-generation mobile engagement and consumer reward. Founded bywunderkid Brian Wong (the youngest ever to receive VC funding), it provides consumers with positive brand interactions via rewards in mobile gaming platforms.

According to Wiki, Kiip is:  "a mobile advertising network that enables brands and companies to prompt consumers for commercial offers on virtual achievements."

But according to Kiip, it’s: "mobile advertising people like."

Why the distinction matters:

Young minds don't over-complicate the sell, which translates to constant development and delivery of the most relevant, clear-cut consumer experiences. They won’t beg for brands to join up because, like their intuitive peers, they know brands who “get it” will jump on board first. No complications, no over-promising, no smoke and mirrors. Kiip simply works.

Video Dominance

Would you believe in the last year alone, you’ve watched over 24 hours worth of online video? According to Marketing Mag, Canadians are consuming video faster than ever, with a 36% jump between January and December 2014 largely driven by mobile consumption. With exponential growth in mobile device reach (over 24 million Canadian subscribers last year), online video consumptions offer direct, highly targeted, and heavily engaged audiences for brands to interact with. Further, Forrester Research projects online ad spend to reach $37.6 billion by 2019, a 90% increase from $19.8 billion in 2014. As traditional ad consumption shifts digital, it lends truth to the lyric “video killed the radio star”. High time to explore the mobile ad business.

Mobile Beacons

For retailers, adding another degree of store-level tracking offers invaluable insight to the consumer experience. Through intelligent technology, mobile beacons use LBS (location based services) to gather data on customer shopping habits to deliver predictive data on consumer behaviour. Through smartphone connection, beacons also lend higher level engagement and communication with consumers based on where they stand, literally. Apple already launched the iBeacon to leverage the soon to be multibillion-dollar retail metrics market, but the bigger challenge is waiting for marketers and retailers to catch up on the advanced technology. The majority of retailers’ readiness does not illustrate best-case scenarios for maximizing implementation and use of beacons; so first movers will readily gain advantage in this space.



"Why is there such thing as failure, and what does it really mean?”

How would you respond?

As leaders we’ve seen the notion of failure slingshot from backroom whispers to the forefront of performance reviews. Thanks to omni-changing environments in tech and startups, retail and e-comm, internet entrepreneurs, mergers and more, the topic of failure has become ubiquitous in business. What was once a largely event-based phenomenon has gained momentum to shape a culture within itself.

In fact, over the past decade, the “F” word kicked into overdrive from muted, taboo roots to prevalent, second-nature dialogue.


As a culture, we’ve come to recognize failure as a valuable skill. How one navigates and uses it to hone perspective become synonymous with resilience, introspection, and more authentic leadership. This perhaps is a compelling perspective behindCollins’ original notion of balancing personal humility with professional will.

Further, fail champions like Richard Branson assert failure and rejection are inevitable in business, and the development of coping mechanisms ultimately defines ones success. With increased dialogue, the stigma and judgment surrounding failure has changed.

Some argue leadership is inherent and not learned. Could the same be said for cagey, charismatic leaders who walk through the fail fire?

What does it even mean?

The concept is simple: risk versus reward. For those refusing to shrink from challenge, payback (regardless of form) can far surpass initial investment – but failure is a likely outcome of any risk. In the March 2015 issue of Entrepreneur, writer Tasha Eurich suggests bouncing back from failure hinges on the ability to learn. Given prevalence of startups, increasing venture capitalism, and [growing] anticipation of new venture realities, a new culture of failure has come to fruition.

While HBR attempted to redefine failure in 2010, we’ve still yet to reach consensus on what it means in business. Is there a time limit? Can it be positive, and should we gain from its concept?

Fail fast, they say.

What does it mean to you?



Started in the valley, now it's here.

Mindfulness is paving its way into the modern workplace. Several years ago, after securing influence in corner offices amongst Google, Apple, eBay, Goldman Sachs, and McKinsey, the traditional Buddhist practice shifted Eastward.

What is "Mindfulness" Anyway?

Simply put, mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness and enlightenment. At
work, this translates to brief instances of mediation to re-focus and re-centre yourself, thereby increasing self-awareness, clarity, sense of judgment, and productivity. As TIME explained, it "finds peace in a stressed-out, digitally-dependent culture."

Mindfulness is not something we should be sold on: it's inherent, but we need to learn to tap into it under pressure. It increases productivity and allows decision making based on reality, rather than wishful thinking or fear.

Before erasing yourself from the movement, consider the days you spent hours in meetings, only to later agonize in recounting details you didn't write down. Or, the days you arrive home from work, only to realize you recall nothing of the commute. Your body is present, but is your mind? Might be time to test drive mindfulness.

Quickly named by HarvardForbesFortuneThe, and HuffPost as the secret to leadership, mindfulness is proven to reduce stress, foster emotional intelligence, improve C-Suite capacity, increase complex thinking, and support self-regulation and effective decision-making - to name a few. Benefits are limitless, and transition seamlessly between professional and personal wellness.

Mindfulness has eclipsed yogas studio to become ubiquitous in board rooms. Why? Our omni-connected, hyper-communicative, over-scheduled and multi-tasking culture has eroded ability to focus. "New nature" sees us operating multiple screens, simultaneous conversations, over longer hours per day: a digitally intellectual marathon without reprieve. We skip breaks, work through lunch, and hunker down with laptops late into the evening - innocent when done sporadically, but toxic when habitual. Thoughts scatter, judgment clouds, self awareness wanes, and leadership capacity suffers.

Our brains demand calmness, space, expansion, and reflection to function at optimal levels. For leaders and employees alike, peak performance demands intellectual sharpness and agility in making tough calls. Through mindfulness, we can trigger internal reset to gain clarity and perspective on big picture decisions.

Still Not Convinced?

The belief "Mindfulness = Profitability" is widely maintained amongst North America's most notable entrepreneurs. Howard SchultzWarren BuffettChip and Shannon Wilson, and Mark Zuckerberg are just a few of those whom adopted mindfulness early and continue its practice today. They recognized impact of clarity on business decisions; from business decisions to operation; and operation to profit. Consider the proven benefits of mindfulness:

  • It reduces the tendency to overthink, allowing you to focus more on the moment instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future
  • It reduces chronic stress by providing tools to diffuse daily stressors and the clarity to navigate challenges
  • It generates wisdom and ability to leave the "me-centered" point of view, instead really listening to perspective from others
  • It allows you to find stillness, thereby improving judgment through better ability to assess current situations and enhance sense of self
  • It improves soft skill development such as attitude, confidence, work ethic, and communication (as mentioned in my recent article on growth, soft skills has become vital to development and maintaining a competitive edge)
  • It increases positive emotions, while reducing negative emotions and stress (...everyone loves a positive leader!)
  • It changes our brains, increasing density [capacity] of gray matter linked to learning, memory, emotion regulation, and empathy (also known as Emotional Intelligence)
  • It allows concentrating completely on one thing at a time, by helping tune out distraction and improve memory and attention skills
  • It facilitates response versus reaction (we become rigid when we think we know what to do - seeing situations clearly opens better paths to embracing new ideas)
  • It increases self-regulation (thereby avoiding knee jerk reactions) and the ability to make decisions objectively

With nothing to lose, it's no surprise the most inspiring and visionary leaders subscribe to a lifestyle rich in mindfulness.

Ready to strengthen your mind? Start here.