Travel consideration provided by Ford. #FurtherWithFord  Read more about the 2014 Go Further with Ford Trends Conference
Kenneth Cole

One of the neat things about the 2014 Go Further with Ford Trends Conference is the fact that they bring out a diverse array of speakers to give their insights on business, technology, and what consumers want. One such speaker was none other than fashion icon Kenneth Cole, who took the stage with innovation expert Clayton Christensen to share insights and anecdotes.

Although clothes and cars may seem like very different markets on the surface, there is a lot of common ground where the two can relate. “What drives sales? Not demographics – it’s solutions to jobs needed to be done,” Christensen told the audience. He related a very funny story about studying customers who would buy a milkshake every morning to drink in the car on their way to work. As he put it, these individuals were “Hiring” a milkshake to fill a certain role for them, so he sought to find out why they hired a milkshake over, say, a banana!

Christensen and Cole discussed their backgrounds, what’s made them successful, and what they feel is important for a business to thrive and grow. Cole discussed his early days in the fashion world and what he did to build his brand, noting that business growth doesn’t always come from large capital: “The solution is rarely the most expensive, but the most creative.”

“If you can’t feed your family or pay your bills, fashion is irrelevant.” – Kenneth Cole

Cole also discussed his work as Chairman of the Board of amfAR, a nonprofit dedicated to funding innovative research for HIV and AIDS treatments. He noted that amfAR had a connection with all the cases where HIV was effectively cured, and said that one of the keys to their successful research has been eliminating “Proprietary cures”. 4 years ago, amfAR instituted a rule that all findings which it funded must be shared; now, cures are coming out. He believes this collaborative effort is critical in order to come up with innovative solutions.

Of course, Christensen is well known for his book The Innovator’s Dilemma, so he knows just how important it is to leave room for radical growth, stating: “If you think you can be innovative in a monolith, you’re wrong.”

Beeb meets Kenneth Cole

Beeb meets Kenneth Cole

It was a fascinating talk presented in a very engaging and entertaining way. Afterwards, I had the pleasure of meeting Kenneth Cole, which was a great way to wrap up the evening’s activities!

“Fashion has become ubiquitous.” – Kenneth Cole

Read more about the 2014 Go Further with Ford Trends Conference