Organizations around the world were already undergoing disruption prior to the crisis of COVID-19. With the unprecedented events of 2020, the business world was introduced to more chaos, making it important for the leaders to adapt to the change if they wished for their teams and businesses to survive and thrive. Leadership has played a vital role in steering the company through challenges. The crisis has proven that the leader’s mindset is one of the pillars on which the success of the company is based. Lori Hamilton (Founder and President of Prosperity Productions), was one of the few leaders who managed to adapt to the new normal and also thrive in uncertain circumstances.
Lori worked as a VP of Marketing at a major regional bank. Her routine included working 90 hours a week, winning awards, etc. However, along the journey she noticed that she liked project management but preferered the team collaboration and creativity to the whole detailed process of project management. Lori learned to focus instead on what she does like doing.
In the process, she discovered that she is passionate about uncovering the deep insights of people, listening to stories and finding the best in others—both clients and their customers—and putting those two groups together in ways that increase the sense of prosperity for everyone.
“When you hear someone sing, your vocal cords unconsciously mimic what that singer is doing. Thus, leadership is all about deep listening, meeting people where they are. Some companies see employees as assets that you invest in. Other companies see employees as an expense that you need to control and (often) find fault with. I’ve always found that seeking out the best in people and focusing on their success leads to my success and a happier, more productive work environment,” shares Lori. Leveraging her experience and keen acumen, Lori ventured into entrepreneurship and founded Prosperity Productions.
In conversation with Lori Hamilton, we uncovered her journey and how she honed her leadership throughout. Also, how she managed the disruption caused by the pandemic.
If Henry Ford had asked what customers wanted, they may simply have said faster or more reliable horses. That’s because customers can only describe the problems and needs they face—they can’t develop the solutions. At Prosperity Productions, we bridge the gap between consumer desires and brand innovation. We get inside the data, going beyond the obvious to help you make informed decisions that connect with consumers, build brand reputation, and boost engagement.
Our insights work can:
Extremely important because innovation is not just technological advancement or big picture thinking, it’s any time your customer experiences more value from you. Often, that increased sense of value comes from tapping into a deeper understanding of how what you do connects to the core emotional drivers of your audience.
Innovation is born of deep insights on both sides of the equation. We do as much homework on our internal clients as we do on our external clients. Insights work is all about creating engagement – not just with customers, but in the enthusiastic embracing of those ideas by internal clients and stakeholders. Most innovation programs focus on massive technology changes – which sometimes don’t create value for customers. We have a client that created windows that clean themselves with rainwater, but it’s not seen as an innovation because there’s no indicator on the windows to show that the windows have been clean. Similarly, they worked on a smartphone program to open and close windows without asking “how often do homeowners open all their windows?” The answer is 2-4 times a year.
There are three types of innovation, and ALL are equally valuable. That’s what clients get wrong—missing chances for your customer to experience innovation, even if the “new thing” isn’t that exciting for you. The three major types of innovation are Experiential innovation—taking what you have already and serving it up with more effective communications; Incremental innovation—taking what you already have to the next level by addressing customer needs and creating a sense of value; Game-changing innovation—taking what you have and revolutionizing the category using customer insights to create massive new value.
Covid has changed everything in good ways and bad. What I see most is that people are permitting themselves to discard old ideas, to let go of things that seemed “necessary,” but in fact, were just habits. We look at our clients and our team as individuals, so I’ve focused on really listening, permitting people to be human (AKA not perfect), and managing projects and teams that allow everyone to succeed, with time to breathe as we need it.
I think the jury is still out on that. I just wrote a long article about that very thing https://prosperityproductionsinc.com/covid-19-what-comes-next/. We don’t know what will happen, but we do know what to look for, such as changes with women, changes in our relationship with work and employees, impact on children and communities of color. I think right now Covid is like when you’re in a car accident. While you’re at the scene, you stay calm: “I’m fine.” It’s only when you get home and feel safe that you fall apart. The same will be true here. The real impact of Covid will be felt AFTER the danger has passed, and I believe that’s several months away.
We tell stories. Your brain doesn’t distinguish between a highly imagined experience and a real one. As we all get data fatigue, our work is following along the lines of Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, and Oliver Sacks—great minds that took complex ideas and turned them into stories. We are using film, facilitated sessions, audience engagement workshops, and other interactive tools to bring ideas to life. The more people who learn how to look deeply at the world, the more we will bring compassion and understanding to the world.
I’m doing a lot more teaching, facilitating, writing, and blogging. I’m looking for ways to connect with people remotely now that we are all used to that. Public speaking and teaching allow me to supercharge others to uncover deeper insights, change the world in positive ways and increase our compassion and understanding of one another.
Quote: “We go beyond the boundaries of traditional research, combining ethnography, ecosystems and video diaries with more traditional methods such as focus groups and quantitative research.”
Founder and President of Prosperity Productions, she has worked as a marketing strategist, researcher, and creative consultant for more than two decades. Her work has generated over $3 billion in incremental business for clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to startups. She has personally interviewed over 25,000 people from Global CEOs to people living in trailer parks and everything in between. Her firm has researched 23 countries around the world. Lori has taught Insights and Innovation at Columbia University’s Master’s Degree Program in Strategic Communications, NYU Business School, and Pace University.
Lori holds a B.A. in Linguistics from UCLA and has won 59 awards for creative and marketing excellence, including five Best of Shows and a Clio. She also uses her Juilliard and other professional theatrical training to create customized workshops that generate hundreds of ideas in a matter of hours.
Lori speaks three languages semi-fluently, can do 32+ accents, and knows how to caramelize sugar with a blow torch. And, if you ask nicely, she’ll make her face look like a Pez dispenser.