LRN’s Inspiring Journey at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival

November 4, 2016 Jen Farthing

This week I had the pleasure of hosting a number of our Partners as we took part in the LRN journey of Fast Company’s Innovation Festival, a two-day track of captivating talks and exclusive visits to innovative workspaces and cultures in New York City.

The festival’s theme—Find Your Mission, Deepen Your Purpose—is also an underlying principle at LRN and closely aligns with our own philosophy. That’s why we seized this opportunity to bring this experience to our Partners – to help them tie in what they do every day in the world of compliance to the broader themes of innovation, culture, and purpose.

We kicked off the journey by visiting the offices of creative agency RG/A for a chat with CEO Bob Greenberg. This included a tour of their new global headquarters, which is a state-of-the-art, connected space that inspires creativity and collaboration while helping to retain talent. It was inspiring to see Greenberg’s vision of integrating the digital landscape into the physical one, then come to life as it filled with employees. We observed their innovative use of an app that improves global interoffice connectivity, and saw in it similarities with the way LRN’s Augmented Reality app, Catalyst AR, helps our Partners’ employees connect to their ethics and compliance coursework and company artifacts.

After that, we headed to NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts to learn from Warby Parker Co-Founder and Co-CEO Neil Blumenthal and Restauranteur Danny Meyer, founder of Shake Shack and several of my favorite NYC restaurants. The Q&A focused on company culture and core values, including passion and integrity. “Integrity is doing the right thing, and doing what you do as well as you can do it,” said Meyer.

Both Meyer and Blumenthal talked about personalized customer experience, something we are highly focused on at LRN when it comes to delivering authentic, realistic learning materials and advisory services. “There is nothing better than a customized experience,” Blumenthal said.

We broke for lunch and distilled, with our Fast Company Innovation guide, what we had learned thus far. Then we were in for a treat with Indra Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, and Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer Mehmood Khan. Together, they described an approach to sustainability and to delivering what they call “Performance with Purpose,” which represents “our fundamental belief that in the 21st century, a good company must also be a good citizen,” according to Nooyi, and that “we have an opportunity and a responsibility to make a profit but also to do something that makes a difference.”

Day One concluded with a fascinating look at the “Industrial” Internet of Things and how it’s changing not only the way we work, but the way we all will live. Day Two dug even deeper into mission and purpose with insights from luminaries such as AOL’s Tim Armstrong and his co-collaborator Sarah Jessica Parker, who together discussed risk-taking and curiosity. Later in the afternoon, Cher helped us understand the true meaning of authenticity. A visit to food company Sir Kensington’s offices immersed us in an extraordinary culture built around integrity. An interactive session with the CEO that included writing, thinking, and sharing helped us each identify a purpose around which our teams could rally. And what better way to enjoy an exchange of ideas than with ketchup’s closest friend: the french fry. It was memorable.

I hope all festival attendees came away with a recognition that culture and purpose are truly at the core of every successful enterprise—and that behavior, as we believe at LRN, is the greatest source of competitive advantage. In the coming months, we will be following up with our Partners to gauge their progress with, and help hold them accountable for, the individual, tactical action plans each left the conference with to advance their missions and boost their cultures, and in so doing, foster employee retention and principled performance.

About the Author

Jen Farthing

Chief Learning Officer at LRN

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