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Across the street from my apartment is a barber shop owned and operated by a Mexican family.

It is a place where people from all over the neighborhood, including children, come to talk and hang out. I see the roots of business in that barber shop. It is a place where conversations happen. It is a place where things are learned. Perhaps they are not learning about collateralized debt obligations, but they arelearning things. It's a community center.

Offering people a place to speak

The company where I work specializes in creating neutral conference platforms for financial executives. I recently started two blogs for two different industries in which I work, and I did so in order to make sure that the community had a place to speak, or retrieve information. What was needed was a place where the constantly evolving conversation of the finance world had a place that was attached to the brand and that was influenced by the brand, and the people, me and the marketing team, who make the brand.

I knew that my company's old way of doing things was so rooted in a traditional view of content as delivered singularly along one channel, that there would be great resistance to it. This impulse came from my experience in Asia.

In Hong Kong, when someone wants to launch a business idea, they don't do it on the phone or in a single power point presentation at a big board meeting. The seeds of the new idea are planted so much earlier, in word-of-mouth conversations held strategically with the most effective players in a future plan. Business stems from conversation. Ideas stem from conversation. New opportunities stem from conversation.


The business climate is nurtured by ideas that are unique to conversations. If we are a company creating a product that is a conversation, then we need to be the leaders in conversation. We need to do more to be a conversation. Blogs do this better than anything. Because blogs are not a unidirectional brand identity. Blogs are the result of a back and forth between brand makers and brand identifiers (the people who connect to the brand).

One of the blogs has gained over 1,500 page views, and it's only one month old. Without spending any money, we have already exposed the brand to a potentially bigger universe — given time of campaign in theory— than we would using traditional means. The old routine was to compile information, use resources and produce a one-time product. Now the product is long-lasting, continual and permeated by other people's ideas.

It is exactly what a conference is, but it is being a conference before the conference starts. It is a part of the warp and weft of the community and it is now a piece of the industry. Whatever stems from this will feed the conference that is presented next year.

And afterwards, the knowledge that goes into that conference will add to the blog from now on.

Douglas Crets is the director of two financial conferences with blogs and a third, the InBuilding Wireless Solutions conference, which does not yet have a blog. It will.