My Favorites of August: Learning Culture, Assisted Shaving & Harbin Opera House

Harbin is a small city (10 million inhabitants…) in North-East China, just above North Korea. What is worthwhile about Harbin is neither its size nor its situation, but its brandnew Opera House. Below I share a video from an ArchDaily journalist visiting this incredible building, designed in China, for China. Also shared: an interview of Facebook’s HR head, an article about the network’s innovation benchmarks, a beautiful Gillette-ad & more. 

We’re a learning culture, and Mark (Zuckerberg) is of course the chief learner. He’s constantly learning new things, whether it’s Mandarin or […] meeting lots of people he’d never normally meet. That sense of learning infiltrates the whole company,” Facebook’s global HR head Lori Goler, who worked at eBay in a marketing role before joining Facebook, explains. What’s key in their recruiting? “We’re still looking for builders, people who will look at something and think that works pretty well but it could be better, and then set about making it better.

This article isn’t really a “case study” in the academic point of view. Not only because of the methodology – the term “blog post” would be better suited – but also because it’s more of a self-promotional article in which a head designer outlines all the things he has done to create, scale and activate its brand. It could almost be a résumé. But it is stil a good read about brand building and marketing execution. This is why I’d recommend this read… even if it’s all but a “case study.”

“While it’s as easy as ever to start a company, it is getting harder to grow fast [and] big enough to avoid getting either acquired or squashed by one of the behemoths,” Betsy Morris and Deepa Seetharaman write in this great WSJ article. It explains how the deep pockets of giants such as Facebook, Alphabet (Google), Apple and Amazon make it increasingly difficult for startups, like Houseparty, to compete and stay independent. A strategy & innovation read.

“Handle With Care,” by Grey NYC for Gillette, showcases the touching tale of a New Jersey man tasked with caring for his elderly father, a former boat captain who suffered a stroke rendering him unable to complete the most basic daily tasks—like shaving. The ad is actually “a three-minute tribute to the connection between three generations of Rex men including Kristian, his father and his own son,” AdWeek writes. Not sure whether Gillette’s TREO razor will sell, and the view numbers are not staggering (138K as I write this) but in terms of communication, it’s a hit. Watch it.

Kimberly A. Whitler, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business (and 3-time CMO) and Neil Morgan, PetSmart Distinguished Chair in Marketing at Indiana University, share some results of their research about Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). “THE TROUBLE WITH CMOs” is a lengthy article that tackles the top marketing job’s job design flaws, diverging expectations and varying responsibilities across organizations. Really interesting.

Harbin, a provincial capital city in the north-east of China, is mostly known for large-scale ice sculptures. In the past 2 years, this has changed, ArchDaily writes, “at least for the architecture geeks.” That term doesn’t qualify to me, but if you watch the video you will see that the Harbin Opera House is breathtaking! I’ve seen the Sydney Opera House and the Louis Vuitton Foundation – architecturally similar buildings – but this is a masterpiece both inside and outside. Who said that Asians are not creative?

Thanks for reading!

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