I got my start reading memos as I filed them sitting on the floor of a Warner Bros. studio office. Twenty years later, I still read everything that comes across my desk. While I’m not an intern anymore, I still approach every day with the hunger, drive, and insatiable information consumption that I felt then.
Since that fortuitous start at the foot—quite literally—of some of Hollywood’s biggest names, I’ve spent over two decades relentlessly focused on two things: 1) what is winter in Los Angeles and 2) what does it mean to find and engage a consumer, for almost any product. It comes down to making what I call the “Safest Boldest Decision.” The key?
With this approach, I’ve won my clients a dozen Oscar nominations and wins, including the late Kobe Bryant. I’ve debuted the first brand-funded content at the Cannes Film Festival. I’ve taken a top 3 media company and earned them the title “media brand of the year” even after layoffs and write-downs. And I’ve done a whole lot of other things I wish I could put here. For the stuff I can talk about, check out the work.
I’ve been privileged to build relationships and advise dozens of startups and Fortune 100 companies. I’ve been blessed to work with and learn from some of the brightest people on the planet, from assistants to CEOs. And through it all, I’ve passionately pursued the philosophy that you must not only do good work, you must be a good person. Want to learn more?
And by the way, if you ever find out the answer to that question about winter in Los Angeles, dinner’s on me.
Craig Greiwe was most recently the Chief Strategy Officer of Rogers & Cowan PMK, a marketing and cultural business strategy agency. In that role, he oversaw every aspect of client marketing efforts, including content, brand, digital, social, research, insights, media, and creative. He also built a ground-up management consultancy, leading clients with over $200 billion in revenue into bold, next generation strategy and evolutions. His difference is not just his expertise in marrying marketing and business to drive results, it’s developing solutions for seemingly impossible problems, driving innovative change, restoring lost value, and doing so while still hewing to a brand and client's core values. Greiwe left his position at R&CPMK to run an insurgent campaign for Los Angeles Mayor to bring common sense and business-driven solutions to LA’s most impossible problems, and has now returned to the private sector as an expert marketer and problem-solver. Prior to his time at R&C PMK, Greiwe had his own consulting firm, as well as worked at Warner Bros., Disney, MGM, and DreamWorks. He is a graduate of USC and Columbia Law School. Along with his long list of professional accomplishments, Greiwe is emphatically focused on social good, believing that being a good person is as important as doing good work.
Make the safest, boldest decision
You need the right balance of information, viewpoint, intuition, bias, risk, and caution. Game out every conceivable alternative, and then make the boldest decision possible when maximizing possible return against opportunity cost.
Diversify your information flow
Consume everything from everywhere. If you’re doing a targeted study, you need to focus your efforts; not all real data is good data. But if you’re building your knowledge base, the opposite is true: the more facts you can get your hands on, the better. I’m the only person I know who reads the General Social Survey (or even knows it exists), although it’s the most comprehensive assessment of American consumer behavior for the last 60 years. Try the most unbiased sources you can find, and the information you’d never normally think to read. (I like the Pew Research Center and the New York Times.)
This is not a crisis-driven world
These days, it can feel like there’s a new crisis every month. But it doesn’t have to. Building a framework for connecting to and digesting cultural relevance will provide the foundation you need to make the right decisions based on the right values. Stability returns to your operations, and everyone is happier—and more successful.
Control the narrative
If you’re reacting to the news cycle, you’re already too late. While you’re gaming out every alternative (see above), game out every reaction, too. Just assume everyone is always going to talk about you—so give them something to say, and know how to get them to say it.
Give me something new
"First ever" and "Never before" aren't just options or nice adjectives, they’re requirements. It’s a variation on the old adage: if you can’t think of anything new to say, don’t say anything at all. And in my case, take what everyone else says, listen carefully, take the best ideas, and then weave it all together in a brand new construct.
Listen to the assistants
Sometimes the smartest, cleverest, and most creative people in the room are the people closest to the creation of culture, the people who engage in its most frivolous enterprises, and those who have not been jaded by time or limited by experience of what will and won’t work. That means the assistants, and anyone like them. Infuse your life with youth and balance it later with experience and expertise.