There are plenty of awards out there for brands and advertisers, but the new The Legacy Lab Honors could hold a special place in the awards world. The annual peer-voted program has been launched by The Legacy Lab, Team One’s thought leadership platform and consultancy, to recognize leaders of brands that are making a lasting difference in the world.
The Legacy Lab Honors will announce its first winners in Q1 of 2017, named by a peer council rather than having an open call for submissions as many marketing award shows feature. The peer council will be comprised of visionary brand leaders, including:
- Christopher Gavigan, Cofounder of The Honest Company
- Craig Hatkoff, Cofounder of the Tribeca Film Festival & the Disruptor Foundation
- Herve Humler, Founding Member of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
- Toni Ko, Founder of NYX Cosmetics & PERVERSE Sunglasses
- Reshma Saujani, Founder of Girls Who Code
- Caley Cantrell, Strategy Chair at the VCU Brandcenter (Academic Advisor to the Peer Council)
Team One, a division of Saatchi & Saatchi North America, started The Legacy Lab in LA in 2012 as a thought-leadership platform and consulting practice exploring the dynamics of long-term brand building in a short-term world, enabling ambitious leaders — men and women who have succeeded in making their brands enduringly unique, inspiring and influential — even as the times, technology and competition change around them. The premise of the Lab is to illuminate the meaning of legacy as something priceless that is passed forward. The Legacy Lab has studied many influential brands, including The New Yorker, the Tribeca Film Festival, The Ritz-Carlton and Wimbeldon.
The concept of the awards comes at a time of great uncertainty for the country, so the timing of the first awards should help celebrate those trying to build a positive legacy.
“The commercial success enjoyed by so many brands in our Legacy Lab community is matched by equally inspiring stories of personal leadership and ambition,” said Mark Miller, founder of The Legacy Lab and chief strategy officer at Team One. “Hearing these stories gave us the idea to honor those brand leaders who inspire us with their ambition, are contributing to profound shifts in culture, and are successfully mobilizing their organization internally and externally to help create lasting change.”
The peer council will be tasked with selecting two laureates for The Legacy Lab Honors: 1) a founder of a brand that has been in business for at least three years; and 2) a “re-founder” who has been leading a more established brand for at least one year.
Laureates will be recognized in two ways. First, their accomplishments will be publicly shared through contemporary media and social channels. Second, laureates will be granted a benefit to pass forward to future leaders.
The makings of a modern legacy
Miller described a “modern legacy mindset” as “the key criteria that we see in the leaders of organizations including founders and co-founders of brands that seem to be setting themselves up for perpetual or continued and long-term success.”
He went on to talk about the criteria for this mindset. The first was that those with this outlook tend to be motivated by something very personal. He talked about a concept shared by Brent Bushnell, who co-runs a company called Two Bit Circus.
“The pedigree is that Brent Bushnell's dad, Nolan Bushnell, is the guy that founded Atari and Chuck E. Cheese. So it's a really interesting lineage of a parent who founded something exceptional in the world of high-tech and games and a son who found a way to carry it forward in his own particular manner,” said Miller.
Two Bit Circus, he explained, is really into the concept of STEAM, science, technology and engineering, arts (added to the typical STEM wording) and mathematics. Bushnell talked about a concept with four aspects that matter to an individual’s success in setting up something that will last for a long time.
“The first is you have to do something that you're personally passionate about…The second is you have to do something that you're good at. It can't just be something that you love; it has to be something that you're good at. The third is something that you can get paid money for. His point was it's reckless to go into colleges and tell kids just do something you love, one, if they're not good at it, and two, if they can't get paid for it. The fourth is that it's something the world needs more of,” Miller relayed.
Another example Miller uses is that of the Tribeca Film Festival. Miller said the world didn’t really need another film festival, but the ambition of its founders – Craig Hatkoff, Robert DeNiro and Jane Rosenthal – led to its success in the wake of the 9-11 attack.
“It could have been a bad idea, except these guys were passionate about the topic of film, they were good at it, they could find a way to monetize it…they had a wonderful partner in American Express,” said Miller, who said the festival came at a time when people needed something that could give them hope, optimism and a sense of community.
The stories continue with The Ritz-Carlton brand.
“At every Ritz Carlton, they have something called lineup. They are standing meetings that happen at the start of the day or at the start of a shift where every lady and gentleman who works for the brand get together, they have a meeting, and they talk about what the company stands for, and then they share an example of something they did very recently to live up to that value. Because their point is they don't want to be reading from history; they want to be writing history every day. They've also created what's called The Ritz Carlton Leadership Center, where brands from the outside can come in to learn The Ritz Carlton way,” he said.
The Legacy Lab has done research that has amassed hundreds of interviews covering 20 countries to get to the individual stories of leaders who possess the qualities that make a true legacy. The organization has open-source published the interviews, some of which are on The Legacy Lab website. And now they have the task of honoring those who create positive legacies.
“We thought we’d put up, effectively, poster children and applaud and recognize their behaviors to give people something to continue to aspire towards,” said Miller.
“There were three criteria (to meet). One was that these would have to be leaders of organizations who inspired us with their long-term vision, ambition and innovation. The second was they would have to be leaders who recognized or actualized opportunities to drive culture forward. The third was they would have to be leaders who mobilized communities in or around their organizations to create lasting change in the world. Every leader in our Legacy Lab community was given the opportunity to put forward nominations, and then we selected five founders of companies plus one academic advisor to judge the long list, come up with a short list and pick the founder and re-founder of the year. We’ll be publishing the names on the short list plus our two laureates in early 2017.”
Those names should yield a group to be watched for years to come, those who build true legacies, like the one The Legacy Lab is currently building by holding these awards.