Aspen reflections – an aura of ideas

aspen ideas festival

Last week, I returned from the Aspen Ideas Festival where Thomson Reuters and our Foundation showcased a number of fascinating ideas and ideals for the world we live in. Thomson Reuters was well represented in Aspen and in good company among like-minded leaders and industry icons. I tried to explain the event to my father who was seeing my various updates via social media: “Imagine a town where everyone is highly influential and relaxed,” I explained, “but open and motivated to connect to new opportunities and ideas.”

Sitting in my office overlooking the hullabaloo of Times Square, I’m thinking back to this place, which may be my new favourite place in America, and its aura of ideas. A few reflections:

On TRust…

My favorite sound bite was from Gillian Tett from the Financial Times. She was telling a group of us about a story she published recently through which she learned that the word “credit” comes from the Latin word credere which means “to trust”. A scholar overhearing our conversation leaned in and corrected her. It actually comes from the root credo which literally means “I believe”. So unfolded a narrative around trust and its significance in rebuilding the global financial community. This is a vital element that is getting so much attention and it occurs to me that we confuse trust and belief. You can’t trust if you don’t first fundamentally believe.

At a dinner I sat between the Chairman and CEO of a small Chicago based investment bank and a partner at a midsize law firm. Here again, our conversation turned to trust and other professions, such as legal, that are so rooted in trust. What struck us quickly is that the TRust Index can be turned naturally towards large law firms and other professions we serve. Thomson Reuters adds value – actionable insight is all about the outcomes – not just in financial, but in every professional field. This is really encouraging for our business; from finance to law – we have answers for both.

On our brand…

I was blown away by the power of our brand. As marketers, we have a short lease on the brand – we are custodians of the brand, here to reinforce the brand values and remind customers that ours is a brand rooted in 160 years of heritage.

We had a fantastic showing of our own panel on Trust as the Currency of the New Economy; a well attended event, a packed restaurant and an impressive panel. Over 200 people swarmed to watch the topic of trust debated and this was a direct reflection on the profound effect of our brand. This made me realize something; as marketers, we need to connect more passionately to the business.

In Aspen, I reflected on the changes in our marketing organization. We weren’t there to “paint the streets orange” – this is not what marketing is about. Marketing is the messaging and machinery to create opportunities for our business and our sales engine that remains such a vital element of our business. How we approach shifts in our market and how we react to them is a vital component of business.. It is the fabric that threads together product, proposition and sales. Just as belief is a vital component of trust.