President and CEO, Visit Fairfax
1. In your opinion, what makes a company innovative?
Innovative companies typically exhibit two characteristics. Firstly, their leaders are often risk-takers. In order to develop outstanding creative ideas, the team has to be ready and have the ability to take a few risks even if it means stepping a bit out of their comfort zone. Consumers are inundated with thousands of marketing messages every single day, and only the most compelling or memorable messages break through all of that clutter. Secondly, innovative companies encourage an environment that allows a passionate team to shine and explore new ideas. A corporate culture that supports creativity is far more likely to see innovative ideas from its team members.
2. What makes your company innovative?
For Visit Fairfax, the single most important factor for innovation is the team – the creative, bright, smart, committed, dedicated, passionate, skilled, and knowledgeable team. We think of the companies that work with us in our marketing efforts, WHITE64 and eBrains, Inc., as an extension of our team. These talented individuals, along with a corporate culture that supports new ideas, result in some truly innovative work.
3. What or who are some innovative companies or people that inspire you and your team?
Matt White with WHITE64 and Ralph Thompson with eBrains are two of the most innovative people with whom I have personally worked. They are not only incredibly talented individuals but they set the stage for innovative work within their own teams, leading by example and always prioritizing the work above all else.
4. What are some publications, print or digital, you read daily or have read that help you stay on top of your game? These could be books, magazines, blogs, e-newsletters, etc.
I am an avid reader and try to keep my ear to the ground when it comes to the industry and best practices. There are so many e-newsletters that I read on a daily basis, that it would be impossible to name only a few. That said, in this day of continuously evolving technology, it is incredibly important for companies to keep up with the lightening-speed changes in the industry.
5. What advice would you give to up-and-coming leaders striving to be innovative in today’s business environment?
Allow your team to do what they do best, and never micromanage. Be willing to take risks and encourage your team to do the same. Create a fun and relaxed work environment; people work harder and are more successful when they’re having fun. Listen and don’t criticize; be open to an opinion that may differ from your own.