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Company Culture

The Human Quotient: Highlights from Advertising Week

From data analytics to digital campaigns and social media to content strategy, brand marketers today juggle so many considerations that it’s easy to get lost. But for Salesforce’s Cristina Jones, the most important one is simple: creating a human connection.

“I’m really interested in the human story. The human story is way more powerful than anything I could contrive, and it feels more authentic to its core because it is,” Jones, Salesforce’s Senior Vice President of Customer Marketing, Brand Partnerships, and C-Suite Engagement, told a capacity crowd at the Female Quotient Lounge on Monday, the opening day of Advertising Week in New York City.

With that mindset, Jones has focused on authentic storytelling in launching new content offerings such as the ‘Meditative Story’ podcast with Thrive Global founder and CEO Arianna Huffington and the team at WaitWhat. The podcast, sponsored by Salesforce, is a first-of-its-kind program that blends first-person storytelling with mindfulness prompts. With episodes hosted by the likes of author Pico Iyer, restaurateur Danny Meyer, and Huffington herself, the podcast not only features compelling narratives such as Meyer’s life-changing trip to Italy as a child, but gives listeners micro-steps to slow down, connect with themselves, and re-charge.

“That is us leveraging technology and our platform and their platform in alignment to bring people – for free – tools to help you learn how to meditate,” Jones said. “Ultimately, what is the best gift that anybody can give you except to be present in the moment?”

On Wednesday Huffington and Jones, as well as Donna Murphy of Havas, David Hoke of Walmart, and Hesham Tohamy of Procter & Gamble, discussed how innovative at leaders at major brands can drive change from the inside out. The ‘Meditative Story’ podcast was a natural fit since Salesforce has emphasized mindfulness for years, with meditation rooms on each floor of its San Francisco headquarters.

“That gives us the right to launch these programs to inspire people because it is something that we believe in wholeheartedly all the way into our DNA,” Jones said. “And the response has been incredible.”

“If you’re not a meditator,” Huffington noted, “you will be brought into it by storytelling, which is how change happens.”

Another core component for Jones and her team has been giving customers the platform to tell their own stories whenever possible.

“One of the first things I did when I joined Salesforce was say, ‘I know that we have messaging that we need to get across, but when we are telling the customer story what about if we give the customer the opportunity to tell their own story?’” Jones said Monday. “There’s no way that we can in our offices envision all of the incredible things that they do with our software, the incredible things that they are driving change with.”

That was how her team launched the Make Change program, featuring interviews with C-Suite executives. In addition, her team helped amplify the stories of nonprofits like PepUp Tech, which is focused on creating a path for underrepresented minorities to begin careers in tech and help diversify the industry.

“I’m a black woman in tech in San Francisco. Diversity is not something that clicks top of mind,” Jones said. “And so there’s a challenge when you’re trying to tell these stories. There’s a propensity to tell a rags to riches story and that’s not the case and that’s not what’s going to help change the conversation. The conversation needs to be about enablement and empowerment.”

By documenting the real change that PepUp Tech drives in various communities and the value their alumni bring to companies using Salesforce, the company’s journey resonated with a wider audience. At Dreamforce ’18 the four founders were featured in Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff’s keynote,and subsequently dozens of PepUp Tech training program graduates were hired by Salesforce customers within months of the conference.

“The power of story is incredible and when you find these passion projects lean all the way in,” Jones said. “Even if the conversation is difficult and you’re trying to drive a story that people are not comfortable with, lean in.”

If you’re trying to drive change in your work, think outside the box.

“I always like to challenge my team: what could you do should you decide to not stay in your lane?” Jones said.

And don’t be afraid to take a stand.

“It’s dangerous to not have an opinion. In this day you need to stand for something or you stand for nothing.”


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