There is no force more influential on human behavior than culture. What we wear, what we watch, who we marry, how we vote, what we support, what we do, and just about every aspect of daily living is informed by—and in many ways governed by—our cultural subscription. However, our understanding of culture lacks the depth necessary to fully harness its power and integrate it into our business and leadership practices, which inhibits today’s leaders from fully leveraging its sway to get people to take action. Those who understand the dynamics of culture are more likely to have influence, while those who do not are almost always influenced by those who do. Therefore, the aim of this talk is to unpack what gets us to a level of cultural understanding that can be used to drive behavioral adoption—i.e., get people to buy, get companies to innovate, get teams to become more customer-centric, get employees to adhere to a new policy, and the like—and, subsequently, drive business success for positive leaders.
Student Watch Party: Watch this streamed session together with other students for an in-person community experience followed by a structured discussion about how to put insights from Positive Links into practice. Registration for the Student Watch Party is included as an option when registering for this session of Positive Links.
Marcus Collins is an award-winning marketer and cultural translator with one foot in the world of practice—formerly serving as the Head of Strategy at Wieden+Kennedy, New York—and one foot in the world of academia—as a marketing professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.
His deep understanding of brand strategy and consumer behavior has helped him bridge the academic-practitioner gap for blue-chip brands and startups alike. He is a recipient of Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 award and Crain’s Business’ 40 Under 40 award, and a recent inductee into the American Advertising Federation’s Advertising Hall of Achievement. Most recently, he was recognized by Thinkers50 and Deloitte among their class of 2023 Radar List of 30 thinkers with the ideas most likely to shape the future.
Before joining Wieden+Kennedy, he served as the Chief Consumer Connections Officer at Doner Advertising and led Social Engagement at Steve Stoute’s advertising agency, Translation. Over the course of his career, Marcus has developed a practice for creating culturally contagious ideas that inspire people to take action. His strategies and creative contributions have led to the launch and success of Google’s “Real Tone” technology, the “Made In America” music festival, the Brooklyn Nets, and State Farm’s “Cliff Paul” campaign – among others.
Prior to his advertising tenure, Marcus began his career in music and tech with a startup he co-founded before working on iTunes + Nike sport music initiatives at Apple and running digital strategy for Beyoncé.
Marcus’ work centers squarely on the impact of culture and the power that comes from having great cultural proximity. His best-selling book, For The Culture: The Power Behind What We Buy, What We Do, and Who We Want to Be, examines the influence of culture on consumption and unpacks how everyone from marketers to activists can leverage culture to get people to take action. Throughout the book, he relies on literature, case studies, his work with brands, and academic data to illustrate the “whys” and the “hows” so that readers will be empowered to successfully apply these learnings in their own pursuits.
Marcus holds a doctorate in marketing from Temple University where he studied cultural contagion and meaning-making. He received an MBA with an emphasis on strategic brand marketing from the University of Michigan, where he also earned his undergraduate degree in Material Science Engineering. He is a proud Detroit native, a devoted husband, and a loving father to Georgia and Ivy.
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Monica Worline, Faculty Director of Engaged Learning and Innovation, Center for Positive Organizations
Positive Links Speaker Series Sponsors
The Center for Positive Organizations thanks Sanger Leadership Center, Tauber Institute for Global Operations, and Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies for their support of the 2023-24 Positive Links Speaker Series.
Positive Links Series Promotional Partners
Additionally, we thank Ann Arbor SPARK and the Managerial and Organizational Cognition (MOC) Division of the Academy of Management for their Positive Links Speaker Series promotional partnerships.
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