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9:30am - 11:00am
Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
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5:30pm - 7:30pm
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9:45am - 11:00am
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When you think of the creative economy, you probably think of small businesses and companies engaged in the business of creative products—art, design, music, and fashion. While that is certainly true, Sharona Sternberg, Partner at Sunstein LLP calls out the “false divide” between creative work and STEM, citing that “creative people can be found in every aspect of every job.” She was one of the panelists at the Women’s Network: Creative Workforce Innovation event that examined the creative economy from the lens of three executives that work with creative people, but have roles themselves that would be considered on the periphery of creative work.
The panel, which kicked off MadeINcubator, Inc.’s Living Art Boston Week and Women’s History Month, was a partnership between the Boston Chamber of Commerce and MadeINcubator. It provided meaningful examples of the creative economy in Boston—from job creation to business and policy. It was moderated by Katrina Kincade, News Reporter at WBZ/CBS Boston.
Here’s how each of the panelists find themselves at cornerstones of the creative economy and how they stay creative in their own roles:
Panelists also shared some key takeaways about how to motivate creative people, how to protect creative brand assets, and initiatives companies can put in place to help small businesses thrive in the creative economy:
“Talk to people as early as possible to shore up protection and be clear that you are not using someone else’s trademark—something that is extremely expensive down the line.” – Sharona Sternberg
Sharona Sternberg noted that a business’ key value is their IP, brand, patents, or their “secret sauce”—what is proprietary to them. So many companies fall in love with and commit to a brand name or tagline and find out someone else is already using it. This is an important consideration as a creative. While simple patent searches on the US Patent and Trademark Office website offer baseline information the average person can digest, it is important to know when you should engage a lawyer, and when you’ll need to pay for protection. Nike, for example, protects the designs of their shoes. There are so many protection mechanisms that can be put in place, a brand name or design are just a couple of simple examples. There are also pro-bono lawyers that will work with folks in the arts, so getting legal counsel doesn’t always have to break the bank.
“Create an environment where people feel inspired and can bring their whole creative self to work.” – Lori Magno
Lori Magno gave advice around how to motivate talent to stay creative and innovative. She noted that the most important part of any organization is their talent. Folks need an environment where they can bounce ideas off people, even in different departments, which can spark a lot of valuable, client-facing ideas.
“Surround yourself with people who act, and think, and look nothing like you.” – Sujata Yadav
Sujata Yadav shared how banks need to challenge the status quo. One example she gave is with FICO, which she noted can make it challenging for businesses to get the capital they need and “does not have to be the status quo standard of lending.”
In order to help combat the status quo, Eastern Bank launched the Foundation of Business Equity five years ago. The $10 million initiative was put in place to help businesses expand their creative horizon, scale, and grow. The Foundation invests in businesses with Black and Latinx founders to help them map out their plan of attack to scale their businesses. It’s working. For the businesses the foundation has helped scale, they have gone on to earn $120 million in incremental revenue. Sujata encourages creatives and entrepreneurs to “tap into whatever help is possible, and never be afraid to ask for help.”
All the panelists cited Boston as a hotbed of talent where the creative economy is thriving and healthy. A lot of creative inspiration for folks working in the creative economy comes from outside of working hours. All the panelists encouraged finding hobbies outside of work that can foster creativity, as well as taking time for reflection—where a lot of creative ideas stem from. Lori shares that Digitas celebrates people’s lives outside work and knows that “everything you do creatively on your own will help you sparkle and connect at work.”
Boston is unique in a lot of aspects, and as Sharona shared, the support for entrepreneurs is strong here: “Boston has so many startups, creative hubs/meeting places, and legal support.” Not only is this an inspiration to those based here, but it makes it very easy to support local businesses as well.