By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
Ryan Berman is passionate about courage. He’s traveled all over the country speaking to companies like Google, Snapchat, and charity: water on the topic, and even named the consultancy firm he cofounded Courageous. He also wrote a bestselling book, Return on Courage: A Business Playbook for Courageous Change, and on Jan. 22, he’ll give a keynote presentation on “Developing a Courageous Brand” at HSMAI’s Marketing Strategy Conference in New York City. HSMAI recently sat down with Berman to learn more about his upcoming presentation.
How do you define courage?
My definition of courage is knowledge plus faith plus action. You have to have all three in order for it to be courageous. If you don’t have all three, then you end up with different outcomes: paralysis, with no action; recklessness, with no knowledge; or status quo, with no faith. Courage is the thing that’s missing in many organizations that is necessary to instigate reinvention.
What makes up the basis of your presentation?
Without a courageous leader, it’s hard to empower a culture that enables experimentation and innovation. It takes a bold leader to tell the difference between a careless move and a courageous one. When you get it right, you can inspire and transform a company into a Courage Brand.
I usually break down my presentations into two parts — the 1) “why now” and 2) “the how”. Courage is a missing ingredient absent from a lot of current organizations that need to reinvent themselves. Much of the research I’ll cover in the keynote take a deeper look at some of the staggering realities and statistics of stuck businesses. The second half of the presentation will present “how” a willing leader or team can begin to put a plan together for the purposes of change.
What do you want the audience to get out of the presentation?
I want the audience to understand that they need to take a hard look about where their business truly is today. Are they really presenting a relevant brand and value proposition? Or are they now in the shadows of relevance? I want to help companies truly face and address their largest business fears so we can nudge them toward more necessary but courageous decisions.
How have your life experiences led you to this point?
When you write a book about courage you have to also live the premise. In 2017, after running agencies for 13 years, I knew I had to also face my business fears for the purposes of staying relevant. I was fortunate to take a three-year journey around the country, talking to what I call leaders of “Courage Brands”. I was fortunate to be invited into the lives of Astronauts, Navy SEALs, Tornado Chasers as well as bullish leaders at Apple, Amazon, Google, Live Nation and many others. I got the chance to take note of what they were doing and connected the dots on how they successfully galvanized their people while transforming their businesses. Those learnings are not only the main stories that make up my book Return On Courage but are also the guiding principals that drive every business decision we make at my new company Courageous— which helps willing companies unlock courageous ideas, courageous cultures and courageous business. It’s been an awesome learning experience for us in year one as we’ve been fortunate to help Johnson & Johnson, Caesars Entertainment and Gibson Guitars. We see ourselves as a new model, modern day “special forces’ consultancy that’s truly living the premise of the courage platform.