Let’s Do Business…

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Let’s Do Business…

We met a banker from Bank of America yesterday while waiting to be seated for The Executives’ Club of Chicago Global Leaders Luncheon. Bank of America was out in force to hear and support the speaker, their boss, Ken Lewis, chairman and CEO of the bank.We spoke with the banker about the downturn in the economy, in anticipation of hearing Mr. Lewis’s perspective on what worked and what didn’t work during these past weeks of financial meltdown. “Mr. Lewis talked to all of us earlier,” the banker said, “and gave us the charge to go out and talk to our clients. Get out there and do business.”We couldn’t agree more. (For the record, Mr. Lewis is “optimistic” that the immediate problems underlying the financial crisis are past while warning that 2009 will be a “tough year,” especially for consumer credit. Read the more optimistic story in a Reuters wire report and the more pessimistic view in a Chicago Tribune column.)Creative ExperimentationIt reminded us of a conversation on the creativity it takes to survive and even thrive in tough financial times, from a meeting of our regular Entrepreneurs group this week. “After a forest fire, nature regenerates,” noted Bob Wright, CEO and executive coach at the Wright Business Institute. “Nature experiments.”Not all experiments make it, but it’s the organizations that get creative and experiment in providing greater service that make it.It may be more difficult to find the good business, but there are industries that do well during recessions. New businesses start. That’s the charge Mr. Lewis gave his bankers and Mr. Wright gave our Entrepreneurs.The Media EvolutionAt the Executives’ Club luncheon, we sat next to Bruce Montgomery, Executive Producer and Host, Technology Access Television. The three of us started talking about the media business, how it’s changing, and opportunities media organizations have and generally don’t see. The content that doesn’t make it in the newspaper and on TV has huge value on the web, Mr. Montgomery suggested. It’s valuable, relevant fodder for the web audiences that can be developed into viable business.Many in the media industry complain about the difficulty of monetization and lack of viable business models. Without experimentation, they won’t emerge.The Chicago RevolutionWe ran into Mr. Montgomery again at an event for the Chicago Convergence. The group helped bring the Microsoft PhizzPop Challenge to the city and is dedicated to making Chicago the world’s center for digital media and communication.We were in a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd at the Chicago Cultural Center to watch four local agencies present their strategies for how the Chicago 2016 Olympic Committee can use digital communications to engage a young audience in support of the city’s Olympic bid. All showed cutting-edge, innovative marketing and technological strategies. (Watch our blog for more on the event and winning solutions.)“Innovative” is the key word. A number of speakers and winners at the Chicago Innovation Awards, held Oct. 28, made the point that it’s especially critical for companies and individuals to focus on innovation. “Try as many things as possible, in as short a time as possible, using as minimal resources as possible,” said keynote speaker Barry Moltz.Remember, too, that with the success of the Obama election celebration and the campaign’s digital media strategy, Chicago is on top of the world. “Chicago is cool,” Garrison Keillor writes. The New York Times agrees, in “A New Wind is Blowing in Chicago.”But we digress in our own civic pride and anticipation…Look at your clients. See who you can serve in more creative ways than you have in the past and how you can help move their firms forward. No matter what the headlines say, do business.-Collin and Christina