2020

Content, Creative & Execution

Carmen Simon

Corporate Visions

Lisa Maxwell

Mastercard

Profile
2020 Innovator Of The Year
Profile

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Carmen Simon

Dr. Carmen Simon is Chief Science Officer at Corporate Visions, Inc. A Silicon Valley entrepreneur, cognitive neuroscientist and highly sought-after keynote speaker, Dr. Simon pioneered a groundbreaking approach to creating memorable messages that are easy to process, hard to forget, and impossible to ignore ― using the latest in brain science. She works with some of America’s most recognized brands to help them use science-based principles to develop the best type of content marketing: Content that audiences actually remember.

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role? 

In my current role as a cognitive neuroscientist and Chief Science Officer at Corporate Visions, I help our clients and internal teams use neuroscience tools and guidelines to create memorable messages. I specialize in the study of memory, using mainly electroencephalogram (EEG) technology, because memory is at the root of all decision making. In business, this is critical because customers make decisions based on what they remember, not on what they forget.

I am currently most proud of achievements that include using science to debunk myths related to creating corporate communication. For example, a popular belief is that complexity should be simplified in marketing and sales materials because it’s too overwhelming. “Less is more” has become a popular adage among content creators. However, this statement does not hold true when creating content that builds lasting memories. For instance, in a recent EEG study, I invited participants to view simple and complex marketing materials, and the results showed that participants (sales reps) had better recall for the more complex content, not the simple one. We have also debunked the myth that attention span is shorter: The brain is in fact capable of paying attention for a prolonged amount of time if it is stimulated properly. It is not true that human beings have the attention span of a goldfish, as popular articles claim.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How have you maintained your collaboration and innovation despite the current WFH reality? 

At Corporate Visions, we constantly drive innovation by using neuroscience to create memorable sales and marketing materials that our corporate clients need in order to attract new customers or expand on existing customers. Other science-based methods, such as case studies, focus groups, one-on-one interviews, online surveys or behavioral studies can capture people’s opinion or observe behavior in terms of what customers want. But neuroscience tools take a peek under the human skull to reveal what may have otherwise been hidden.

For example, emotions and thoughts are fast and fleeting. It is difficult to capture customers’ emotions and thoughts using traditional research methods. With EEG technology, it’s easier to capture reactions when they happen and capture reactions that evolve across time.

This situation applies to internal business communication as well. For instance, last year, I conducted an EEG study where employees were listening to their CMO during a sales kick-off. At the end of the speech, participants who wore the EEG equipment filled out a survey that asked: “How engaged were you during that presentation?” and “How much attention did you pay during the presentation?” Considering this was a speech from an executive, participants offered high scores for engagement and attention. But their brainwaves showed the opposite: lack of engagement and attention.

In the midst of Covid-19, what are some lessons you’ve learned that will impact or influence the future of your work?  

During the past seven months, I’ve learned that even though the world may seem like it’s come to a standstill, science keeps us moving. My experiments imply that people arrive at a physical location and are willing to wear equipment that is close to their body: the EEG cap is placed on the scalp, there is an ECG cable (electrocardiogram) that is placed on the chest, eye tracking devices are positioned on the nose, a GSR device (Galvanic Skin Response) is wrapped around the wrist and fingers. When quarantine was first imposed, I knew I had to switch gears, reverting to behavioral research conducted online. But it was through this type of research that I validated several principles I had been speaking about in relation to the need for memorable content, such as people forget more than 90% of business content after 48 hours, aesthetics is critical to motivation and decision making, dumbing content down does not lead to persuasion, and emotion is mandatory for memory.

What sources for inspiration help you stay excited and invigorated in your work?   

After seven months of behavioral research, I was starting to miss the neuroscience research. Given the high-touch (literally) nature of neuroscience research, I was initially afraid to ask people to participate. But then I thought, “What’s the worst that can happen?” People will just not show up. I recruited 100 participants for two EEG studies and was so pleasantly surprised when 92 showed up, at a physical location, willing to wear the equipment. Their presence inspired me so much to the point where each day when leaving the lab (the experiment spanned across seven days), I felt like banging on my chest, galvanized by their energy.

These 92 people are my inspiration for many months to come, reminding me that there are people out there who believe in science and evolving our ways.

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Lisa Maxwell

Lisa Maxwell pioneered and designed Mastercard’s Case Studies Discipline about a year ago. These case studies are used to validate the products and benefits that Mastercard offers and can provide valuable data and insights in a digestible format to customers and partners. In developing this Discipline, Lisa formed a team and spearheaded the creation of long-form and short-form templates, a best-practices guide for implementing these case studies, and a foundational intake brief to consolidate the formatting and content of case studies across Mastercard’s business units and regions. Today, these materials are being used across Mastercard including teams in Loyalty & Engagement, Cyber & Intelligence, Data & Services, Core, Digital Commerce and more.

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role?  

Telling stories that compel action is my passion and I was most proud this year that my team maintained our relentless focus on evolving customer needs as we all went remote. I took on a new and expanded role only three weeks into quarantine as the lead of integrated B2B marketing campaigns for Mastercard Data & Services. I architected a new, high-performing Data & Services campaign development team of associates from two acquisitions and internal teams who sit across the country. Together, this team quickly developed hundreds of sales enablement tools highlighting the pivot of our solutions to address changing customer needs due to the pandemic — generating 100,000+ views and downloads. I have been particularly proud of the team’s quick study of our customers to form effective end-to-end campaigns tailored for industries, including travel, retail and financial services. I also spearheaded the content design and assets of a Data & Services Virtual Series, tagged #MastercardSmarterBetter.

I continue to beam with pride at spearheading the case study discipline, which has been adopted across Mastercard. Each case study is crafted using the SMART principle — Specific scenario, Measurable outcomes, Actionable steps taken, Results achieved and highlighting the Time of the given actions.  Our case study library has swelled to hundreds across multiple media (written, video, animated), a testament to the power of compelling stories.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How have you maintained your collaboration and innovation despite the current WFH reality?  

My team innovated by doing fewer, bigger things with less resources and leveraging existing tools in a new way. I spent energy with my new team taking an inventory of the hidden skills and talents of each team member and connecting those skillsets to tackle the swelling number of projects and tasks at hand. We took advantage of every opportunity to learn from one another and placed an emphasis on telling our Mastercard stories in new ways. And because working from home often could create feelings of isolation, I assured each assignment was done in pairs or trios to form connections and foster collaboration.

Alongside this, we are optimizing the way we tell the story of Mastercard’s shift to digital, revamping our Data & Services website with a fresh design and a solution-based focus on how Mastercard is driving value to our customers. The team is also constantly finding new ways to tell our stories, from demos to interactive infographics to internally developed videos. Our #MastercardSmarterBetter virtual series placed a special emphasis on innovation and featured industry-leading speakers who have successfully tackled the shift to digital during the pandemic. Finally, we emphasize keeping every marketing associate engaged and excited to be a part of the team, even during this very difficult time — introducing virtual kickboxing classes, volunteer events, trivia games and even taking advantage of Mastercard’s Priceless Experiences to surprise and delight the team.

In the midst of Covid-19, what are some lessons you’ve learned that will impact or influence the future of your work?  

Covid-19 has retaught me to adapt, to reconnect, to slow down and to reimagine — all lessons I knew but took for granted as I got swept into the current of life. Adaptation has been one of the biggest keys to professionally surviving the pandemic: For me, it was adapting not only to remote work but to a whole new team, different marketing needs and entirely new stories to tell. I now slow down and reconnect with those around me more in the midst of chaos because I have found it helps us pivot effectively at a moment’s notice. As the pandemic and remote work stretched on, all of us have begun to lean on one another more as co-workers. I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting most members of my new team in person, and yet I feel as though I have known them for years because of how we have prioritized connection and how we have reimagined collaboration. It has been a joy to learn about and from one another, discover each other’s strengths and weaknesses, bounce ideas off one another and grow together as a new team and I believe that even after the pandemic, we will be a stronger team because of it.

What sources for inspiration help you stay excited and invigorated in your work?   

I dedicate my energy outside of work helping to build a pipeline of Black girl leaders with GrassROOTS Community Foundation. This work came into sharper focus as we began to collectively question the structures of inequities that permeate our systems across the globe. At GrassROOTS, we educate girls on ways to become healthy: physically, emotionally and mentally. As such, we provide girls with resources so they can be competent and efficacious leaders. We help them identify their frustrations and passions and help them use their skills and talents to tackle key social justice issues.

To date, we have trained 60+ girls and impacted 100,000+ people around the globe. This work is important to me because as a mother to a black girl, I see the systemic hurdles to building a diverse workforce. Too often in my career, I have been ‘the only’ — the only woman, the only black woman and the only immigrant woman. Luckily, I have firsthand knowledge of how positive mentorship can provide access to valuable resources, teach the unwritten rules of business and open doors to success and professional mobility.

Mastercard volunteer days enabled me to travel with the GrassROOTS SuperGirls as they grant wishes to 200+ orphaned youth and students in Haiti; donate menstrual supplies to 5,000+ girls in Jamaica, Ghana and Newark, NJ, and give thousands of women and children in Atlanta, Newark and Harlem Thanksgiving meals. Further, Mastercard match has enabled me to double my financial impact. While there is still much work to be done to ensure equity for women and girls in the world, I am grateful that Mastercard supports me to do well by doing good.

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