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Best of 2023 featuring Lynette Jackson, Kathy Risch, and Kasey Lobaugh


Clips from interviews featuring Lynette Jackson, Kathy Risch, and Kasey Lobaugh.

A compilation of some of our best organizational thought leadership guests in 2023.

Clips from interviews featuring Lynette Jackson, Kathy Risch, and Kasey Lobaugh.

In today’s episode, we showcase some of the best guests from our Organizational Thought Leadership series. We think their insights will be as useful this year as it was last!

Lynette Jackson is the Head of Communications at Siemens. She shares how thought leadership can act as an umbrella for your brand, bringing all the various disciplines of communication together under it, enabling them to move in the same direction with purpose!

Kathy Risch is Senior Vice President, Shopper Insights & Thought Leadership at Acosta. She takes us inside what it takes to understand how and why people buy. She shares how it goes beyond the usefulness of a product and dives into the impact the emotion a product or service can tap into while speaking to an underlying need or frustration in the consumer’s life.

Kasey Lobaugh is the Chief Futurist for the Consumer Industry and Principal at Deloitte Consulting, LLP. He shares how the research they did over a year is more than a white paper, it’s a platform! Kasey explains how they can shape the thinking of the future of not only Deloitte but their entire industry by engaging with hundreds of people inside and outside the company. He shares how they approached people from diverse backgrounds to get a better picture of the future by seeing it through many unique perspectives.

Three Key Takeaways

  • Having the ability to create content that speaks to an audience on their level, be it introductory or expert is the key to reaching a wider audience.
  • Connecting your product or service with the consumer’s insights is how you hit the sweet spot.
  • When engaging others on large scale research you need to allow them to engage with and shape the content.

If you need a strategy to bring your thought leadership to market, Thought Leadership Leverage can assist you! Contact us for more information. In addition, we can help you implement marketing, research, and sales. Let us help you so you can devote yourself to what you do best.



Bill Sherman I recently sat down with Lynette Jackson. She’s the head of communications for Siemens. I’m looking forward to this conversation. You and I have gone back and forth, and I think there’s a lot of interesting topics that you and I can explore together. And the first is your title as head of communications for Siemens. You have many things going on of which thought leadership is one element, and I want to get into that. But let’s start with fault leadership. You’ve talked about thought leadership at the enterprise level being an umbrella for the brands of the organization. What do you mean by that?

Lynette Jackson Yeah. I’m such a big fan of thought leadership, which is why I was really happy to be here, because I feel like it’s a way of being clear across many different disciplines of communications and marketing communications. It’s the voice of the company. So when you when there’s something that Jeff Bezos said is a brand, is what people say about you when you are not in the room. And then I would add that thought leadership is this notion of it’s the ideas that sparked from what people think about you when you leave the room. So I think it’s a critical element of communications and as an umbrella, it’s the thought leadership. There’s that word leadership and leading. So where do you want your brand to go? I think you can use so many words that takes where you want your brand to go. And so there’s much more than in a brand campaign. There’s so many more words. Then you get a much bigger umbrella than you do with a simple brand positioning campaign.

Bill Sherman The other piece that I like about the metaphor of the umbrella is I think about, you know, when a sudden rainstorm comes, people, if there’s only one umbrella, will cluster underneath it and find some shelter together. And I think that metaphor of being together in a defined space where they can actually be together makes sense to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Lynette Jackson Thank you, Bill. I’m going to use that. Do you think. I’ll be I’ll be open with you. I used to talk about air cover. Mm hmm. And then with, I mean, nearly a year ago, with the Ukraine war, I just really. I hated that notion of air cover. And so then I like that notion of being protected. But what’s super important is, is what are you the umbrella for? And it is this idea that we have from a brand level. We’re providing shelter and connections to the outside world. But then you’re joining together with what the businesses need from you, and that’s the power of it. Because then then if you do it right, then you can have a framework where you’re connecting from the brand through to demand, as you say, or from the corporates. That nasty corporate work that I’m responsible to the businesses, to the regions and say, Look, you’re creating that shelter.

Bill Sherman And I think the other thing that I like about the umbrella metaphor, too, is there’s usually a sense of motion with an umbrella. Yeah, you may be out standing in the rain waiting for a bus or whatever, but most of the time you’re walking from A to B, you’ve got a point of purpose and a direction that you’re going. And so you can say either two internal entities come with me or you can say it to clients, customers, vendors, the whole ecosystem. We’re on a journey.

Lynette Jackson You’re giving me all these images in my head. You know the tools they have when there’s the tool leader, they’ve got their umbrella.

Bill Sherman Oh, right, right, right. Yeah.

Lynette Jackson That’s my head of thought leadership. And so then corporate level, then I want that to be the guide to say to the organization, these are the key topics that we want to talk about and lead the conversation in a way that’s relevant and interesting for all of our stakeholders and then the organization, the many communications professionals and ambassadors and thought leaders across the company, they can follow that nice talk to a leader umbrella.

Bill Sherman Well, and then it becomes the question of giving that visual cue of where are we going? And I love the idea of the tour leader holding up the umbrella or the sign, and it’s a little bit of a follow me. Otherwise, you know, if you just unleash, you know, a bunch of people on Go Explore the City, then the tour just goes three different places, right?

Lynette Jackson And that’s where we were, to be honest. I think what I love about Simmons is we’re very democratic with our communications, super Democratic. And I love it because I’ve worked for other companies and I will not mention the names where there’s been much more control and to the point where it’s it probably stifles creativity. But we’re very, very democratic. But one of the things that you strive for is brand coherence. And so what you can do by creating a structure and a framework is you can build into that coherence and really ensure that you’re supporting what you want the conversation to be about, but that you’re also leading it and saying new things. And that’s one of the one of the ways that we do that is we talk about the Credibility Foundation layer. And so what do we what do we mean by credibility? We’re really strong on these brilliant, clever things, digital twins. So basically you’re able to have a digital version of pretty much anything, so a factory, a building, and then you’ll be able to optimize it and then.

Bill Sherman Run simulations and then make the improvement in the real world. Yeah.

Lynette Jackson And so a digital twins, that’s something where we really good and we’ve got credibility. But with thought leadership, you want to be visionary. And so then you talk about the future, which is the industrial metaverse. And so that’s the that’s a good example of the credibility is we want to talk about digital twins. The visionary is we want to talk about the future, which is the industrial metaverse, which is very, very advanced, these fancy digital twins. And now I’m sorry to all of my engineering colleagues, but just the industrial metaverse in such a simplistic way.

Bill Sherman Well, and I think that’s a point that’s worth unpacking. Right. So you and I can talk about industrial metaverse. And then if you have an engineering colleague who’s talking on a much deeper level, those can both be forms of thought leadership. You can do it as a sort of 1 to 1 entry level into the world of what is the industrial metaverse. If somebody hasn’t heard that term, followed by you have PhDs and experts who can run right to the bleeding edge of the technology and say, Here’s what I think is coming next.

Lynette Jackson No. And that’s what that’s what I really like. And then you. Because when I think about thought leadership and we had this exchange before, I want the content that’s being created for Simmons to be the stuff that I would want to read on the weekend and that that our customers and stakeholders would want to read in the weekend. So for me, I would want that. What on earth is this industrial metaverse? And so when I’m browsing on a on a Saturday morning in between the Times and The Economist and and whatever novel I’m reading, I would love to, to have something that informs, educates me and helps me, really helps me understand the industrial metaverse. But my chief technology officer, he wouldn’t want to read what I want to read. He would want that deeper level of content. But it’s it for me is creating that content that is valuable enough that you want to read it in your free time because it serves you in whatever your requirement is learning more, understanding more quality of content as a communicator. I mean, that’s what I think is the science and the art of thought leadership.

Bill Sherman In today’s conversation. I invited Kathy Risch. She’s the SVP of Shopper Insights and Thought Leadership at a Costa. One of the places that I want to begin an exploration is you’ve spent a lot of time looking at why people buy and how people buy. In fact, your title being Shopper Insights is very much related to that tied with thought leadership. And I was thinking about the relationship between why people buy things in retail versus how they buy an idea. So let’s start with the first question, which is why do people buy in the world of retail?

Kathy Risch Yeah, what’s interesting, I’ve been working in the field of consumer insights my whole career, and the reason I got into it actually is I was really good in math and science, and that’s even going to go into engineering. If I went past my dad, who wanted me to, but I had more, I learned more about kind of psychology, consumer behavior and the field of marketing and started to think about how data is so black and white, but people are not and how they think and behave. And that’s kind of it led me to this whole career understanding how people think and how it impacts what they buy. And it really is not about the very obvious reason for a product and what it is in their face. It’s all the emotions and needs behind that. And understanding that takes a lot of hard work, honestly, to really understand how people feel, what they need in their life, how a product revolves around everything in their life. And so that’s really the field of shopper insights and consumer insights. For me, that goes beyond the things they’re buying, the services they’re buying, but more the why.

Bill Sherman And so that process of digging deeper into the why. I think makes a fantastic transition into the world of thought leadership. Individuals and organizations can have ideas, but why should anyone pay attention? You know, you can’t just put the idea out there and hope everybody will go, Oh, this is brilliant. Right.

Kathy Risch It’s interesting because when you actually discover an insight, it’s all very automatic and natural. For instance, if you’re selling a product and you’re trying to talk about the features or the benefits, the reality is if you actually just speak to an underlying need or challenge or frustration the consumer is having, it becomes automatic that it belongs in their life and fits into their life. So it doesn’t even become a selling process. And that’s the part of thought leadership that surrounds the field of consumer insights and just consumer research in general is it just happens naturally, bringing the underlying whys and thoughts that are thought leadership.

Bill Sherman And getting them to the right individuals. Right. So you’re working on behalf of manufacturers and they want to know, okay, if we launch this product or we have this product in the market, what our consumer behaviors, what our customers thinking and what’s important. Right. And so they’re trying to close that gap between the idea that started the product and how people are using it.

Kathy Risch Yes. And it’s funny because. I’ve never even thought of all of that. We’re talking about really identifying consumer insights and providing you leveraging those insights in the process of marketing and selling products like the field of thought leadership. I’ve been doing thought leadership my entire career without ever labeling it thought leadership. And so having this dialog today around it, it’s so interesting that this area I’ve been passionate in my whole career truly is thought leadership because it’s connecting the dots. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite books that I have has been my favorite for decades, I just realized, is sitting here under my laptop as we talk. It’s called hitting the sweet spot. And it goes back to a very simple principle of when you understand the consumer, particularly the target consumer, and you’re trying to connect your product or your service with the consumer hitting their sweet spot, if you truly think of the center of a target or the sweet spot of a tennis racket or a baseball bat, that when you truly connect your brand and product inside with the consumers inside, that’s hitting the sweet spot. And that’s as simple as it is very hard to do. But the concept is very simple. And I feel like the thought leadership that we’re doing throughout the whole industry of consumer insights is about making those connections and connecting the dots to a higher level, a higher order of things.

Bill Sherman So you talk about the sweet spot, and I think that’s a metaphor we can carry into thought leadership as well in that. Good thought. Leadership looks almost effortless, right? And that’s not true because there’s a lot of planning, research, focusing, choosing a modality that you’re going to get the idea out, and then someone looks at it. And if you’ve done your work well in thought leadership, someone looks at that and says, Oh yeah, I agree. That makes total sense. Thank you. And they don’t see the sweat and the tears, whether it’s the athlete like the tennis player, you know, who’s doing a fantastic serve or the ice skater who lands an amazing jump. You don’t see all of the training hours that go into that to hit the sweet spot. It just is. You see the result?

Kathy Risch Well, then I can take a long time to your point. It can take years if you think about I mean, I even think back to some of my previous days, whether I was in the beauty care business or some of my clients in the food and beverage business today, it can be years that an idea is brewing. And when you truly hit that sweet spot, it becomes so obvious when the solution or the product comes out thinking, Why was this here before? It may seem obvious, but it can take years. Sometimes you have to argue it internally and stand behind the idea if you truly believe there’s a big opportunity. We’ve all been I’ve certainly been shut down many times with my ideas, and sometimes I do shy away from them. But if I truly believe that we’re on to something, I’ll stick with it. It just does. It takes a lot of time and courage to stay with it. If you think you’ve really found that sort of sweet spot of opportunity.

Bill Sherman And you bring a point out that is worth underlining in that ideas sometimes have a time or a season to them, and you may be ahead when you first see that insight of when the time in the season that others would be ready to accept it. Right. And so I’ve worked with individuals who have said, yeah, I’ve spent a good chunk of time, years or even sometimes a large part of their career arguing for one big idea that they knew had power. But it wasn’t time yet. Right.

Kathy Risch Absolutely. Yeah, and you do? You just have to. You know, one thing is, is to be repetitive, and that’s okay to continue to say it over again and never be afraid that you’re repeating. I mean, some people some people will receive it differently on a different day, or maybe just saying it in a different way might actually be received better, or you might have a slightly different audience on a particular day. So it does take courage and confidence. I look back at earlier in my career where I did let other people convince me I was I was wrong. So I walk away from an idea and then later see someone else do it really well. And you just kind of learn over time, too, to stick with it. And it’s okay to be wrong too. That’s important.

Bill Sherman Absolutely thought leadership does not have to be 100% accuracy. And if we hold ourselves to that standard, it is very likely that the good ideas will never get traction and miss that window that we were talking about of when they were needed.

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Bill Sherman Kasey Lobaugh is both a chief futurist for the consumer industry and a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP. So you and I were having a conversation a couple of weeks ago and you said something that stuck with me and I want to start this conversation that you were referring to a project that you had just completed and taking out into the world, and you said it’s not a white paper, it’s a platform. So what is that project and what did you mean by that when you said it.

Kasey Lobaugh Yeah, okay, I like that one, because that was when I’m saying quite often these days, because we did recently published a report that we call Buying into Better the Future of the Consumer Industry, and that that report was the culmination of a year’s worth of work where we engaged with over 800 people from across the industry internal to Deloitte, external Deloitte, a lot of different titles, a lot of different expertise that we brought together. And we did that in order to really shape our thinking about the forces that were coming together that would shape the next decade of our industry. Now we did that for on behalf of our clients, but we also did that on behalf of all of us so that we could have a deep understanding and shape our own strategy around this. Now, yes, you heard me mention I did. We have published a paper and it’s available. However, that’s an asset, that’s a derivative of the platform. And what I mean by the platform is that this idea about buying in the better is an objective. The objective is to help the industry begin to shape itself and to influence it, to make the right choices, to shape the future that we want more broadly, but also to do the same for us at Deloitte, shape our own practice, shape our own industry, shape our own priorities. And the platform, you know, we believe will have, you know, it will be long lived. We will have a whole series of research that we continue to do. We continue to refresh, we continue to update. I’m confident we’ll have a whole series of papers that get published on the backs of that research. But the real thing that I try and impress upon people is that what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to move the market. We’re trying to move our own firm. And that’s the objective. And the platform is dedicated to that. So what I try and do is say, it’s not a paper, we do have a paper, but that’s a derivative. But the real platform is this long lived capability, this long lived investment, and this long lived objective that we’re organized around. So hopefully that makes sense of the difference between the two. I think it does. And the risk of a white paper or a report is it gets attached, maybe shared a little bit, but it doesn’t necessarily fuel the conversation in the same way. Right. And so you need people to embrace the ideas for them to come to life, both, as you said, internally within Deloitte as well as and to clients so they can start thinking ahead. So with that, you did a lot of research and you said a year’s worth, but you talked to a lot of people. Let’s break down some of those conversations as to who did you talk to and how many conversations. Yeah, of course, a part of impacting change is actually engaging a lot of people in the process. So part of the reason why we’ve engaged so many people was for that reason we wanted to engage people deeply, let them swim in the content, let them help shape the content. So of the 800 or so people that we’ve engaged with, I’ll give you some categories. We certainly had quite a few people within Deloitte senior people that have expertise in the various industries that make up for us, the consumer industry. So this is every, you know, everybody our industries such as hotels and auto restaurants, retail, consumer products, but even companies like telco or even life sciences that are increasingly focused on. A relationship with the consumer. So we had that expertise that was participating with us, but we also had external expertise, meaning clients that were involved. We had academia, multiple institutions that participated. We engaged with think tanks, Wall Street stock analysts that have different perspectives than others. Right. And we also engaged with deep expertise, some of which was in the firm and outside the firm around things like economics or sociology or government policy. There’s people that have deep expertise in those topics, and those topics matter. However, they’re only a piece of the puzzle. And so that’s the kind of any one of the things I’m proud of. I think Deloitte may be one of the few organizations that can organize the kind of group that we were able to bring together for this conversation. And so, as you mentioned, part of it was I want great input because no one person amongst those people had a complete view of all the topics that mattered. Only when you convene the right richness of group did you understand that. Second of all, the diversity of, you know, along a lot of dimensions, you just get a lot of different perspectives. So we included some of the youngest people at Deloitte in the conversation because they brought very unique perspectives about the consumer industry, about that the state of the world, the planet where things were heading. And we also included, of course, very senior people at Deloitte who participated. We also used our what we called the state of the global consumer Tracker, Deloitte’s version, which really looks at monthly. We’re surveying consumers for input on intentions and changing perspectives, etc.. So very rich input. But part of that was by design so that you get the answer right, or at least you’re in the right direction, but also because you want people to be part of the conversation. If you really want this to be a platform and not just a paper.

Bill Sherman I love a couple of things that you say there, and I want to draw a line underneath some of them. The building of the list as to who will we talk to and what categories and perspectives do we need is often one of the most important tasks to be able to get that environmental scan, to be able to look out and make sure you’re getting a good view of the landscape. Because if you don’t do that right, your synthesis falls apart, right? Because you’ve only got a limited view. I also love the fact that you said, okay, we went to some of the most junior people at Deloitte and I can imagine the junior analyst looking up and going, You want to talk to me? Wait a minute. This is different. Most organizations have expertise that’s latent, which is not often thought of and pulled into a conversation when they can add value.

Kasey Lobaugh One of the best questions to ask is Who else should I talk to? That’s one of the most profound questions because you’ll discover, like, I never thought of that. That’s a great you know, that’s a great idea. Or sometimes they’ll say, somebody you’ve already talked to, that’s fine. But just asking that question expands the aperture. And obviously, part of my part of my approach was I didn’t say no to anybody. Anybody that was willing to talk to me. You know, to us, we would spend time talking to. In fact, I put a request out on my LinkedIn because, you know, I’ve been in the industry now for 27 years, so I’ve built up my own personal network and I put the request out. Here’s what I’m talking about. Who wants to participate in the conversation? And surprise to me, I got at least four or five competitors that raised their hand and said, I’ll talk to you. And so not only amongst that group did we have our own expertise. We actually had other organizations that were, you know, people from those other organizations that were willing to participate in the conversation, too.

Bill Sherman Well, and when you’re talking about as broad of a topic of trends within consumer behavior in the retail industry and you’re looking for out, you can’t narrow it down. So I love this idea of saying I am open to conversations wherever the conversations lead me and that great open ended question of who should I talk to? And then here’s a topic I’m willing to talk about. Anyone want to join a conversation with me.

Kasey Lobaugh And presentations. you’d be surprised how many people. I was surprised just how many people that showed up, that had perspectives that were unique and different and diverse. And it just was a very personally fulfilling process to go through. And it was humbling, too, because as I mentioned, I’ve been in the industry a long time. I thought I thought I kind of had it. And only through this process can I look back and go, Wow, I’ve learned so much. And many of the things I thought that I thought I understood, I did not understand only because this group helped to educate me.

Bill Sherman I’ve often referred to that process as thinking in public and being willing to say, Here’s what I’m thinking about. I don’t have all the answers, but I’d love. To hear your thoughts as a way to open up the conversation then certainly, like you said, to learn, Right. Because it forces the person opening the conversation to approach it with a little bit of humility, because you are admitting right off the top, I don’t have the answers. I want to hear your perspective.

Kasey Lobaugh So I agree with that. But there’s also an evolution where at the beginning of the process, we’re very much like, we don’t even know where to start.

Bill Sherman So. Right, Right.

Kasey Lobaugh And towards the end of the process, we’re actually starting to test some ideas because at this point you’ve started to hear enough commonality and some things start to emerge. And so at the end, you’re asking some questions, but really, you’re testing ideas to see if they resonate or if they agree.

Bill Sherman Well, and that ability to sift information as you go through the process and you talked about doing interviews over the course of a year, you see the themes that emerge. You can do some hypothesis testing and see, okay, is this a pattern that just because I talked to three people, it’s really a pattern, or was that a unusual selection and sample of those people?

Kasey Lobaugh That’s right. That’s right.

Bill Sherman If you’re interested in organizational thought leadership, then I invite you to subscribe to the OrgTL newsletter. Each month we talk about the people who create, curate and deploy thought leadership on behalf of their organizations. Go to the website. and choose ‘join our newsletter’. I’ll leave a link to the website as well as my LinkedIn profile in the show notes. Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing what you thought of the show.

Bill Sherman works with thought leaders to launch big ideas within well-known brands. He is the COO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Bill on Twitter

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