from concussions to communication


The CTE Doctor and Finding Your Brand’s Voice​

You may have seen Nium's post on Facebook about attending Thrival Innovation Festival recently. Whereas there were a lot of great topics covered in panel discussions, keynotes, and demonstrations, one keynote speaker truly stood out–Dr. Bennett Omalu. Impressive, insightful, and genuine, Dr. Omalu's scientific expertise was on-mark as expected, but the unexpected impact of the night was his power to inspire the audience to be our truest selves for the greater good. Remarking that though the sun is the brightest star in the sky, all stars at all their varying intensities are required to do their job to light up the night sky. With that he eloquently connected the importance of authenticity and voice for the innovator and entrepreneur community before him. Continuing with several other anecdotes, he hammered home his belief that we are each uniquely positioned to contribute to society, and that if we allow our truest selves and gifts to be stifled, we are robbing society of what we were born to offer. Likewise, when we suppress others’ voices, we fail as a community.

As a human, I was moved by his speech and touched by his dedication and drive to do the right thing, stay his course, and be a voice for the voiceless. As a marketer, I heard an important message for brands as well– Don’t strive to be what others are or what others tell you to be. Focus on your strengths. Speak to them. Act on them. Give your best to your stakeholders, consumers, and even your competitors. Integrity and authenticity in any environment creates wins for the collective good.

As the doctor who gave a name to CTE and advocated for suffering NFL players and their families, Dr. Omalu met opposition–a lot of spirited opposition, in fact–on his journey for finding and sharing the truth. In his keynote speech at Thrival, he spoke of “conformational intelligence” as a factor that prevented other (American) doctors from making his now-famous and indisputable brain discoveries earlier. He relayed pieces of his own life story and gave accounts of the former NFL players that he researched and assisted. He acknowledged that struggle accompanies the journey of finding, maintaining, and exerting voice, all the while maintaining his own authenticity and humility with both grace and authority. All of this was so impactful to hear, both personally and professionally.

Dr. Omalu probably didn’t think of his words as being relatable to branding and marketing, but in many ways, I think advertisers can take a few pages from his playbook to continue on their journey with more clarity of purpose for the betterment of their brands.

Identify what you are good at. Find the people that need you the most. Engage with them. Understand the conformational intelligence that may interfere with your message and find a way to break through.

Thank you Dr. Omalu, for providing us with an incredible example of what it means to be authentic and true.