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 is a marketing and strategy expert in Los Angeles, California, with a deep expertise in private enterprise and public policy that are focused on driving cultural and business change for social good. Greiwe currently serves as the Chief Strategy Officer and Global President of Marketing for multi-national conglomerate Go Digital Media Group, which includes one of the largest independent music labell in America, Cinq Music; nationally renowned fitness brand YogaWorks; the largest outlet for Latinos in America, NGL mitu; and legendary retail brands Eastern Mountain Sports and Bob’s Store’s. He is also the former Chief Strategy Officer of the largest cultural and entertainment marketing firm in America, Rogers & Cowan PMK, where 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, including Verizon, Yahoo, Facebook, and the late Kobe Bryant. Greiwe’s expertise in the business world is matched by his deep work in the public and charitable sectors. He started the fastest-growing grassroots non-profit in Los Angeles, Rise Together, which is focused on restoring common sense and common ground in today’s hyper-partisan environment. He also recently ran an insurgent campaign for Mayor of Los Angeles, where his centrist policies were celebrated and adopted by multiple candidates across races, and are currently being implemented city-wide. He sits on the board of the groundbreaking non-profit Dignity Moves, which is solving homelessness across California in a first-ever public-private arrangement; Jhpiego, the renowned global health organization responsible for setting the standard that where you live should not determine if you live; and the American Dance Movement, the oldest and most-respected dance-focused organization in the country. He regularly consults for and advises public officials and organizations in his passions of economic growth, effective homelessness solutions, affordability, and solving intractable social problems through fresh solutions and bold change built on common ground. Greiwe’s focus is not just on marrying public policy, marketing and strategy to drive results, it’s developing solutions for seemingly impossible problems, driving innovative change, restoring lost value, and doing so while still hewing to social good and shared societal values. He is a graduate of DePauw University, the University of Southern California, and Columbia Law School, and resides in Los Angeles.
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.