It’s brave to go back to basics - New York Braver Conference 2018

It’s brave to go back to basics

At this year’s Marketing Society Braver Conference in New York, I wanted to see what I could learn about different kinds of bravery. Inspired by the society’s ‘What’s Your Brave’ partnership with Kantar and Thomas Barta - that seeks to highlight and explore different kinds of brave leadership - I listened out for examples of bravery that go beyond traditional stereotypes.

Here’s what’s I learnt:

It’s brave to go back to basics. Chris McDonough from LL Bean talked powerfully about how the brand’s successful reinvigoration came from going right back to basics. He proudly described the 500 hours of research completed to uncover the heart of the brand as ‘marketing 101’ and went on to say that ‘marketing 101 on a 106-year old brand is brave’. In a world of influencer marketing and programmatic advertising, a timely reminder of the importance of traditional principles of great marketing.

Chris also talked about the importance of respecting the history and heritage of a brand, which linked to another bravery Kimberly Davis from the NHL highlighted - it’s brave to respect yourself & others. She talked about the importance of being brave enough to show up authentically at work, quoting Dr. Seuss – “why fit in, when you were born to stand out”. Wise words! And in a comment that clearly resonated with many attendees, she talked about a key lesson in her career - understanding that everyone brings their bravery in different ways, and as a leader it’s crucial to allow others to be brave in their way and not try to mold them to yours.

It’s brave to take the first step. Andy Ellwood from Basket disagreed with the observation that the only difference between bravery and stupidity is the outcome, feeling that bravery is in making the first move and accepting that everything after that is just learning. His comments on archetypes were also thought-provoking when it comes to different types of bravery, does the Maverick focus more on self, whilst the Rebel bucks convention for the good of others?

And with her amazing story, Fereshteh Forough, the inspiring founder of Code to Inspire, Afghanistan’s first coding school for women and girls, showed us that’s it’s brave to build something from nothing. She reminded us of a line from Rumi, “where there is ruin, there is hope for a great treasure” – a good maxim for the days when it’s hard to be brave.

So, this year’s New York Braver Conference reminded us that bravery is much more than the classic leading from the front and diving in. It’s nuanced, personal and sensitive to others - find your type of brave at

Written by Fiona Lovatt, Strategy Director at Mash Strategy Studio New York


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