This week marks my 10th anniversary at The History Factory. Ten years is a long time to stay at one place, especially since it seems that today’s young professionals are likely to have several different careers over a 30-year span, let alone work for multiple companies in the same industry.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a variety of opportunities within the same company, and over the last decade both The History Factory and I have grown up quite a bit. We have both matured from energetic 20-somethings to more measured 30-somethings who have circled the block a few times and have learned from our history.
The world around us has also changed in innumerable ways. One of the most striking I’ve seen has been a demand for more meaningful interaction and two-way communication between companies and their constituencies. We see it all the time with our clients. The information era has created a world of communication so much more sophisticated and crowded, that people are far more skeptical than ever before. Authenticity, transparency, and dialogue are required to earn any credibility (much less trust and loyalty) from employees, customers, and shareholders.
For example, notice how many companies now have features like “submit your story” on their Web site. I think the reason for this is twofold. 1) Obviously, these companies are looking for some gems with which to engage consumers; 2) These companies also recognize that in today’s world there is inherent value in just letting people know they want to hear from them.
You can point to any number of trends and milestones from the past 10 years to support the notion that society wants more involvement with and more truth from business, government, even entertainment (think corporate scandals of the early 2000s, the emergence of reality TV, and the Web-driven explosion of social networking and mass media to name a few). But the standards for how companies communicate to their constituencies—and the firms who specialize in supporting their strategies—have been raised. B.S. detectors are highly calibrated.
I suspect that the current economic environment only heightens this phenomenon, as both consumers and businesses are that much more careful about how they spend every dollar. But even when the economy comes back, the world of communication has already been revolutionized and will continue to evolve.
At The History Factory, we work with our clients by adapting. Many of the deliverables that we’ve been creating since The History Factory’s beginning are becoming less effective given our clients’ changing needs. Of course we’ve always improved and added new offerings, but we recognize that we have to create completely new offerings in order to be relevant over the next 10 years.
When you read about what’s on the horizon in terms of new technologies and the impact they will have, it is equally exciting and terrifying. As a new dad with a young son at home, thinking about the future tends to freak me out a little. I joke with my wife that we’re not actually saving for college, we’re just saving for the software application that our son will upload into his data port.
But at work, I’m comfortable with this change. Because even if we have to completely overhaul the how, what we do for our clients— and the value proposition of capturing and using their experience—is more relevant than ever as they seek meaningful ways to connect. It’s why after 10 years I’m still here and as energetic as a 20-something.