Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders

Ethan Braden - Long Life Learning

August 16, 2022 Scott J. Allen Season 1 Episode 136
Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders
Ethan Braden - Long Life Learning
Show Notes Transcript

R. Ethan Braden serves as Executive Vice President and the chief marketing and communications officer at Purdue University and Purdue Global. Ranked as one of the Top Ten Most Innovative Schools in America by US News and World Report for four consecutive years, Ethan leads the system in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap by passionately positioning, promoting, and protecting the Purdue brand and portfolio worldwide.

In October 2021, Fast Company Magazine selected Purdue University as one of its inaugural “Brands That Matter,” a list honoring companies and organizations that authentically communicate their mission and ideals and give people compelling reasons to care about them according to Fast Company editors. The only university and the only Indiana entity named a Brand That Matters, Purdue was selected alongside Nike, 3M, McDonald’s, Ford, Yeti, and other large multinational conglomerates, small companies, and nonprofits.

In 2020, the American Marketing Association recognized Ethan as ‘Marketer of the Year,’ and Purdue University’s central marketing and communications team as ‘Team of the Year,' both for higher education.

He has appeared in Fast Company magazine, the Washington Post, AdAge, The Hechinger Report, and The Morning Brew. Ethan has spoken at Google Marketing Live and Salesforce’s Dreamforce, as well as appeared on numerous podcasts related to brand management, marketing, and higher education. Ethan teaches personal branding to student-athletes in Purdue University’s Optimizing Personal Brand and Image class, an innovative partnership between Purdue’s School of Management and Purdue Athletics prompted by NIL.

Previous to Purdue, Ethan worked for Eli Lilly & Company for over a decade, where he served in a variety of senior marketing and sales leadership roles in the U.S. and globally, building, launching, and managing some of Lilly’s and the pharmaceutical industry’s most successful and life-changing, billion-dollar brands.

Ethan earned his MBA from the University of Notre Dame and his bachelor’s degree from Willamette University (Salem, Oregon). Ethan lives in West Lafayette, Indiana, with his wife, Betsy, their son, Benjamin, and their daughter, Margaret.

Two Quotes From This Episode

  • "When we read together, and we consume together, it creates common knowledge. And it creates a common language...there's a common language that pervades the community of employees as a result of referring to the same texts."
  • "The transition that we've made in our industry over time went from marketing, to brand, to now storytelling. And I don't care what you're in, great stories beat great spreadsheets."


Resources Mentioned in This Episode


About The International Leadership Association (ILA)

  • The ILA was created in 1999 to bring together professionals interested in the study, practice, and teaching of leadership. Plan for ILA's 24th Global Conference online on October 6 & 7, 2022, and/or onsite in Washington, D.C., October 13-16, 2022. Register for the 24th Global Conference here!


My Approach to Hosting

  • The views of my guests do not constitute "truth." Nor do they reflect my personal views in some instances. However, they are important views to be aware of. Nothing can replace your own research and exploration.


Connect with Scott Allen

Note: Voice-to-text transcriptions are about 90% accurate and conversations-to-text do not always translate perfectly. I include it to provide you with the spirit of the conversation.

Scott Allen  0:00 
Okay, everybody, welcome. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening wherever you are in the world. Thanks for being with us. Thanks for checking in to Phronesis today I have a longtime friend, and I'm excited about this conversation. I have Ethan Braden, and He is the Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communication officer at Purdue University and Purdue global, ranked as one of the top 10 most innovative schools in America by US News and World Report for four consecutive years. Ethan leads the system in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap by passionately positioning, promoting, and protecting the Purdue brand and portfolio worldwide. In October 2021, Fast Company Magazine selected Purdue University as one of its inaugural brands that matter, a list honoring companies and organizations that authentically communicate their mission and ideals and give people compelling reasons to care about them. According to Fast Company editors, the only university in the only Indiana entity named a brand that matters, Purdue was selected alongside Nike, 3Mm McDonald's, Ford, Yeti, and other large multinational conglomerates, small companies, and nonprofits. In 2020, the American Marketing Association recognized Ethan as a marketer of the year and Purdue University's central marketing and communications team as a team of the year, both for higher education. He has appeared in Fast Company Magazine, The Washington Post's adage, the Hechinger Report, and the morning brew. Ethan has spoken at Google Marketing live, and Salesforce is Dreamforce as well as appeared on numerous podcasts related to brand management, marketing, and higher education. Ethan teaches personal branding to student-athletes and Purdue University's optimizing personal brand, and image class, an innovative partnership between produce School of Management and Purdue athletics prompted by an AI l previous to Purdue Ethan worked for Eli Lilly and Company for a decade, where he served in a variety of senior marketing and sales leadership roles in the United States and globally building, launching and managing some of Lily's and the pharmaceutical industry's most successful and life-changing billion-dollar brands. Ethan earned his MBA from the University of Notre Dame and his bachelor's degree from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. Ethan lives in West Lafayette, Indiana, with his wife, Betsy, their son, Benjamin, and their daughter, Margaret. Ethan, sir, what else do people need to know about you? What's not on? What's not in that bio that we just said? Well,

Ethan Braden  2:36 
I'm not sure anything. I'm just a big admirer of Professor Allen, and I'm happy to be here. Thank you. Well,

Scott Allen  2:45 
Ethan, I'm so excited about this conversation. And really, when it kind of sparked me, I was like, wow, I need to get, I need to get Ethan on the podcast. Because when and I said this to you in that call that we had a few weeks ago, kind of prepping this discussion. When I think of you, I just the words lifelong learning, just really, it's like a billboard. I just so appreciate how you're consistently posting on LinkedIn, how you're consistently sharing with others, and what you're learning. And so when we talked about, okay, where do we take the conversation today? I mean, obviously, we could go in the direction of marketing and some of your day job. But really, I want to focus on this learning piece; you have an undergraduate degree, you have a graduate degree, but you are a voracious consumer; maybe we start there; I want to eventually get to kind of what are some resources that you found really, really valuable. But let's talk about your passion for learning and how you think about learning.

Ethan Braden  3:43 
You know, Scott, I think they're intertwined. The marketing piece of it is just what I've become super interested in over time. But it's the study of people and psychology and behavior change and choice. Yeah, so for me, it's that combo of just curiosity, hopefully, humility, and a commitment to being a lifelong learner. There's a wonderful book out, maybe in the last two years; it's not lifelong learning. It's Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs that Don't Even Exist Yet and she just makes some incredible points there of, you know, the first person to live to 150 is likely born. And we can be talking about at career at your careers at this point. And so when you what you learn at 22 versus what you need to know at 42 Especially in marketing but in any other space you want to talk about versus what I'll need at 62 versus you know, what you might be doing an ad to along the way, you know, in the average individual who has five to seven careers, if you will, in a lifetime you know, the idea now is with the free agency, etc. It could be 20 to 30 and so on ramps and off ramps and making that frictionless to continue to upskill and reskill and learn and gain the knowledge you need to be successful. It's just been a really interesting and important space for me.

Scott Allen  4:54 
It has been I mean, I couldn't agree with you more a couple of years ago, I wrote an article called you know On the Cutting Edge of the Chopping Block. For each one of us in academia, at least, there's kind of this impression that, as a professor, you are the person at the front of the room who's professing. And I started this class at my institution a few years ago now, where it's all about technologies enabling disruption. And it really in this instance, I'm kind of facilitating the learning, I'm learning alongside the students. I'm just ensuring that we get to a good year to learn about how they're thinking about innovation, or that we get to the Cleveland Clinic so that we can learn from them how they're thinking about innovation, or Sherwin Williams or progressive, because a lot of that expertise is in those individuals and in those organizations, and I can help facilitate that learning. But even as I look at higher ed, and as you look at the landscape of higher ed, both of that that space that we are both in, it's shifting, I mean, Metaversities, I have a podcast coming up with a gentleman who is starting all of these Metaversities, or what's happening at Purdue University Global. I mean, you better be eyes wide open. Because it's shifting quickly.

Ethan Braden  6:08 
It's unbelievable. Like Vala Afshar at Salesforce, I think they call him the chief digital evangelist if I'm not mistaken, but you know, he talks a ton about the number of roles that didn't exist ten years ago and the number of roles that you know, people will be doing ten years from now that haven't been invented today. So you know, what was a social media manager ten years ago, or 15 years ago, what was a UX designer 10 or 15 years ago, what was a Tick-Tock star, you know, what the hell was Tick Tock 10 years ago, et cetera? And so, no, I think that the keen interest in having the curiosity of being humble enough to know that you don't know it all and staying not just intense but consistent in the space is so key. And as I think about my staff, you know, I can, we can talk marketing all day long. But if there's one thing I can inspire them, and continue to coach and lead them to do, is just keep learning and make us better through their individual contributions through their team contributions and spaces where, you know, they're going to be far better than I am today, you know, their proficiency, whether it's in Google Analytics, or it's in Tik Tok, or whatever, you know, whatever, you want to look at social listening, etc. But I don't know it; they know it. And collectively, we're contributing to the realization of the mission of our group. So it's so key, Scotty, it's so much fun to write like, yeah, you could sit there and crush Better Call Saul or, or whatever it is you want on television. But you know, James Clear and Tim Ferriss, and, you know, people that sort I just love consuming their stuff and sharing their stuff.

Scott Allen  7:31 
Well, let's talk a little bit about something you just said because I do want to touch we're going to take a little bit of a detour right now, I do want to touch a little bit on leadership. And I think you said something just really, really profound there. You have this humble curiosity that looks, I don't know at all. I can't know it. All things are shifting so quickly, I have to remain humble, I have to remain curious. Probably one of the best things I can do for my team. The people that I'm leading are encouraging their learning and encouraging, they are in that same mindset. Talk a little bit more about that. How does that show up on a day-to-day basis? Because I think it's brilliant.

Ethan Braden  8:09 
I mean, I'm, I'm not blowing smoke when I say I think I learned it from you and others that Beta Theta Pi back in the day, which was an early and avid and genuine commitment to professional and personal development. So we were reading Good to Great when I was 22. Right? We were talking about Built To Last, The Nordstrom Way, Be Our Guest from Disney, and Ritz Carlton, etc. At that point in time, trying to consume at that point, great customer service, customer experience learnings. You know, there was a commitment to helping folks take that next step in their life. So for us, whether it was MBAs or law degrees, et cetera, we were helping folks prepare for those next steps in their educational journey. And I've tried to not only bring that to Purdue, but I live that at Lilly as well. I mean, the professional development, Eli Lilly and Company, the training ground in marketing, and insights and in management that was there at Lilly was P&Gish. I mean, it just taught me so much. And so I've tried to bring that to Purdue. And we're just about making experiences and learnings. And now, podcasts and tweets and anything else that can be shared for our people, believing the compound interest of what they bring, the compound interest of what they contribute is what's making us so successful. So Moreover, I think it's an incredible retention tactic. You know, I think, what is it Daniel Pink talks around purpose, mastery, and autonomy, being three of the contributors to really fulfilling work, and part of that is making sure people feel really equipped and empowered to do their jobs really, really well. Yeah, and staying fresh on that is key.

Scott Allen  9:35 
So talk a little bit more, Ethan, about how that's actually operationalized in the day-to-day at Purdue, is it are we do we have you know, I always talk about how the reason I'm doing what I'm doing was that Bob cultural took us through the leadership challenge, and we read that book as a team Thursday mornings, I think it was 7 am. And we talked about it, and that really sparked my passion for leadership. And you're right, whether it was what books by Wooden or Nordstrom or Ritz Carlton. We were consuming voraciously a lot of that content to help us develop and grow. How does it operationalize? In your leadership right now in your team? Is it? are we reading books together? Is it just that there's a budget for people to tap in? Is it just you're promoting it? Is it all of those? How does it play out?

Ethan Braden  10:20 
Yeah, it's all of those. I mean, I think, to a couple of things early on. And we had the same thing on our staff, if you remember, Scotty, but I remember taking a large number of our employees, 20 plus, to the American Marketing Association in 2019. And when we walked through, you know, we were a novelty because there were so many of us at that time, but I wanted our staff to have that experience. And I wanted our staff to have that experience together. Yes. And then COVID hit, right? And so professional development budgets really went to basically zero or there was really no way to spin them other than on the things that you could consume at home. So it was online opportunities, etc. But the lion's share, for me, was buying books. So there's a lot of organic learning. And I think it's Chip Wilson, if I remember correctly, at Lululemon, who talked about really sort of indoctrinating his staff with his leadership team on four or five key books that, over time, two or 3000 of their employees read together. And we've tried to do that same thing with our staff. So whether it's Turning the Flywheel by Jim Collins, whether it's Good to Great in the Social Sectors,  by Jim Collins, or whether it's Phil Dusenberry his book, One Great Insight is Worth 1000 Great Ideas. We have sort of hand-selected books in the marketing discipline David Aakers's 20 Principles on Branding, Creating Signature Stories by David Aaker as well. We've tried to go out and find texts that, when we read together and we consume together, create common knowledge. And it creates a common language, which is something I learned at Eli Lily when we say an insight at Lily, you know that there was a certain definition for that word, there was a common language that pervaded you know, that community of employees as a result of referring to the same texts. So we do a fair amount in that space as well. And then I think it's just a healthy sort of giving and take curious learning environment of, hey, I read this and thought to you today, I listened to this podcast, I got one today, sent to me by somebody else, it's just that sharing of some of those common fishing holes for incredible learnings, credible quotations, credible analogies that we try to share actively, and like, you know, sharpen iron on iron here. You know, when we talk about positioning, or we talk about an insight when you talk about a big idea, or you talk about a creative brief, you can get 20 different definitions. And at Lilly, for the most part, they said, Well, this is the one we adopt. This is the one we utilize for these reasons. And we've tried to do the same thing at Purdue have a common understanding and a common language, which also is a shortcut to efficiency. When I say insight, I don't have to say that, you know, another 200 words on that topic. Do you know what I mean by that?

Scott Allen  12:45 
Well, and that creates, that creates a synergy. And like you said, it creates a shared understanding about what it is we're trying to accomplish where we're going, and it's working. I mean, Ethan, I have not yet told you this. I'm telling you this life in our conversation right now. I was in Denali two weeks ago and not in Denali. I was at the National Park. It was, I got to clarify where I was, but we're staying in this lodge. And there's this young woman at the lodge. She's wearing a Purdue t-shirt. She's there with her family, she just graduated. And I said, Purdue. I said my good friend works at Purdue. And I said You know what, they've been doing some just incredible things. And she said, "Oh, our social media is incredible! It's just amazing." And I thought of you I'm thinking, wow, I am in Alaska. Here's someone with a Purdue t-shirt on. I mentioned to you that you're in marketing. And she identifies very, very quickly with this pride around that social media. It's awesome. I mean, it has to feel wonderful. What you all with that common understanding, that common language, what you're building, and the momentum that's being gained, right?

Ethan Braden  13:59 
Exactly. No, we're having a blast. You know, I think it was David Novak, if I'm correct - who said everyone's got a mission statement, but uniquely, only some places have people on a mission. Yeah. And we've just built a culture of people in their individual functions on their teams, etc., that are uncertain missions. And our social media team has just been on fire for the last two and a half years. I'll give you one example that I love. So when we all went home in March of 2020, you know, as quickly realized that instead of campus visits, instead of having people you know experience the campus, etc. We're all on our couch now. And from March of 2020 to August of 2020. So many universities were just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks as they were trying to essentially close that final freshman class for that freshman or for that August, right? Yep. So we really stuck to our brand, and we stuck to the platform that we had just launched six weeks before that. Our brand platform, but probably the most important thing we did was we really rethought our YouTube strategy. And we really rethought and unearth all the greatest videos We had we rebranded it, and we put it back out somatically, in addition to anything we were creating, and the reason I tell you that is during that period, we upped engagement by 150% versus the previous period. But more importantly, we had more views on our content than five benchmarked peers during that period combined, which we then replicated again in 21. And we just replicated it again in the first half of 22. And I say that to say that, you know, it used to be a nine to five job for some, and social media now, it's darn near 24 hours. Yeah, and a lot of companies I saw this put out the other day, that said, you know, a lot of companies have forgotten the social and social media. And that's the truth, we're moving, really, from the quantitative metrics of views and impressions these days to the quality measures, the quality metrics of engagement; it's one thing if you click on my video on YouTube, but I and you know, I want you to spend time with it, I want you to complete it, I want you to take action based on it. So all of that is key to us. But also one other thing on this point. And that is, you know, at Notre Dame, which I loved, and I'm devout in the respect of having gone to school there. for graduate school, you see lots of people with sweatshirts on that don't have a whole lot of tie to it other than their affinity, you see somebody with a previous sweatshirt on, they probably went there had somebody go there. So it's a little smaller, but boy, it's tight-knit. And they are they just have a great affinity for the experience they had and what produce stands for well, and

Scott Allen  16:19 
I just love the connection back to Neil Armstrong and the Next Giant Leap. I mean, I think that's just a beautiful platform from which to look forward. Right. And it's something that's so easily understood and valued. And I can get behind it very, very quickly. Because there's just a strong visual image associated with that. And I love the mindset of, okay, things have shifted. But what can we do to capitalize and benefit from this challenging situation that we're in? But how can we make the best of it? And there's a mindset there, there's just absolutely a mindset, right?

Ethan Braden  17:00 
There is, you know, we've studied it deeply. And I often say, you know, the student at Purdue is not the student at Pomona. So there is a segmentation, there is psychographic segmentation, I think for the schools. But yeah, so you note Neil and 26, astronauts from Purdue, that have since split flown in space. Since then, 1/3 of all US space flights have had a Purdue grad on them. Wow, we have the most astronauts of any nonmilitary academy in the United States. And so we have a lineage, and we have a history of putting people in the space and that, and that's very ownable. Yeah. And so you want to own that. And you want to own what that's about. Yeah, right. And so we talk about not only the giant leaps but also talk about the small steps that help get students there. We heard some of that when we rolled that campaign out the first time it said, somebody said, Hey, for some, it's great. But for others, it might actually be alienating. Yeah, because for me, I don't know that I'm capable of a giant leap. I'm more about the small step, or my giant leap was just getting into Purdue. And so we've made sure that there's a spectrum there for people to find a place under a very large umbrella. Yeah, of the small steps and the giant leaps that are possible when you are persistent, when you are innovative, and when you are collaborative. So we wanted to do something very ownable and tell the world what we stand for in a way that's unique and compelling.

Scott Allen  18:14 
Well, it's working, I was proved, that was proven when I was in. When I was in Denali, that was just so much fun to have that experience. So let's talk about you. Let's talk about your learning. How is it that obviously you're in a very senior level role at a very large institution, it's an executive position, a very, very busy family? There's a lot going on. Yet there's this intense commitment to learning. How have you systematized your learning takes listeners through what it is you do and how you consume. And given that schedule, given everything you have going on? What's your tactic take us through a day or two of your learning in your cycle.

Ethan Braden  19:00 
There are a few things I think I can share. And some of them are tactics, and some of them are actually products. One thing that comes to mind right off the bat is I start my days with Readwise (the app). And the reason I love that is I get eight quick reminders of things I've highlighted, whether those are PDFs, books, articles, whatever it may be, it serves up to me eight reminders of those. And oftentimes, I'm screenshotting and sharing them with a teammate, or I'm going back in and seeing the original article and reposting it to LinkedIn because it's something I want to share or something that's timely etc. So read wise is one of my favorite resources to catalog those quotations, largely those highlights largely that if I was doing manually in a book, or I was writing in a notebook, etc., would be pretty laborious. So I start the day usually with those.

Scott Allen  19:47 
Tell me a little bit more about Readwise. What is it? I've never heard of it as a resource.

Ethan Braden  19:51 
It's just a beautiful app that collates the highlights that I have importing from texts from PDFs from any digital book and can Kindle or your iBooks, etc. Anything that's digital that I have highlighted it's cataloging those and then randomly serving those back up to me, also allowing me to favorite them as well. I can share on like a screenshot I'm I can format them for social, whatever it may be. But a couple that with one other and that's pocket. Okay, so yes, I'm reading and Kindle Yes, I'm reading my iBooks on the iPhone, etc. But Pocket (the app) has been my solution to instead of free previously emailing myself articles yeah, now all I have to do is say, "save and pocket." It's sitting there waiting for me to read; I go back and do it, I read it, I highlight what I want. And those highlights get served up into Readwise. So now I've got a catalog of everything I'm reading; I can tag it all. So I can go in and say I want things on persistence, or I want things on higher education, or I want things on family. And it's going to serve up to me those articles and those highlights across everything I've read in Pocket to see those. And then my nice reminder and Readwise is being able to see those served up to me each day as a reminder and something to share. So those are the two I love I love Readwise, and I love Pocket together as a learning and sort of cataloging efficiency.

Scott Allen  21:06 
Okay, so two awesome resources right there. What else?

Ethan Braden  21:10 
I think the other part, we talked about this a little bit, that phone call is just, there's so I mean, it's so easy, and it's so frictionless, and there's just so many ways to consume now. And so having to have some frameworks or criteria to whittle that down some, and I've done that a lot through people, you think about who shapes your worldview? And it has to do with thinking with Twitter or bigger than that, and that and that being is who do you follow? And so I'm avid about, you know, I want to see, you know, what Jim Collins has to say, or Tim Ferriss has to say, or Arthur Brooks has to say, or Naval Ravikant has to say, or Shane Parrish at the knowledge project. So I'm curating the kind of who I'm learning from what I'm reading based often on the person or what their services, so Tim Ferriss has Five Bullet Fridays (), James Clear (3-2-1 Thursday) Thursdays, Shane Parrish's Knowledge Project on Sundays. Polina Pompliano has a profile on Sundays. All of these are just serving the incredible info, but I could name your five or ten others, right? So I've had to do some of the callings just by who I respect, who I want to learn from, and who collectively is sort of shaping my learning and my worldview.

Scott Allen  22:20 
Okay. And then those resources, the James clear, or Tim Ferriss, then, you know, you sent me a book, I'm halfway through it. Now, by the way, you sent me a book the other day, and so you might then be listening to Tim Ferriss, and then that might kind of turn you on to some other author or resource that then you choose to follow or not 100% I

Ethan Braden  22:41 
didn't mention the podcast, but you know, Ferris, and Shane Parrish, his Knowledge Project. I mean, I just, Rich Roll, I love their podcasts. And I guess there are two other points on that. At least one, and that is, at this point, I've decided that if I hear of a book I'm interested in, I buy it. I'm at that point in my life; I've got a professional development budget. And even if I didn't, the value of a $20 or $25 book is just amazing. So my wife is probably a little tired of them piling up in our bedroom and in our office, etc. But I've just made it again, frictionless and easy. You here have an incredible book, like the one I sent you, Boyd Varty's book here, that I just immediately go to Amazon and order it. Yeah. And it's, again, a system for me to accumulate the things that I want to read from the people I hear about or want to learn from, and giving myself the green light and the privilege to say if I heard about it and it was interesting, I'll buy it,

Scott Allen  23:33 
What other resources have been helpful for you? So I'm hearing we've got some newsletters from some people you very, very much respect, who then also, like knowledge project, has a podcast associated with it. Tim Ferriss has the newsletter, but then also the podcast. So there are things like that. Is there any other resources that you found just incredibly beneficial from a learning standpoint?

Ethan Braden  23:56 
Again, I go back to the podcasts, and I don't subscribe to all of them. Nor do I pay for all of them necessarily the way you could. There are so so many. But again, going back to those personalities, Tim Ferriss, Rich Roll, Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History, Shane Parrish, you know, just being able to consume those on your time on your schedule. And then again, having ways to remember them. And I know that doesn't sound necessarily profound, but no, it's about serving it back up to me that I find is so important. And so the man, you know, instead of manually writing in a notebook, if I can do something on the iPhone, that I can either easily access or it serves as a backup for a reminder to me to learn and saturate and bring it back to the front of mine and share. That's just so key these days. And so I've tried to optimize, you know, who I follow on Twitter, and how I curate and collate that information for future use.

Scott Allen  24:46 
When are you consuming the podcasts?

Ethan Braden  24:49 
Sometimes on walks, so I do like a morning walk with nothing. So I've been walking up late with no music or podcasts, just taking in the mornings. So the podcasts for me largely are in the car or in the evening, or if it's a longer exercise period, whether it's a run or it's on the bike, if I'm not on the peloton, I'll do podcasts that way. But most of the cars, I mean, you can just Yes, the commute is less these days, but there's still one. And if I go to Chicago or go to Indy, you know, you can clip off quite a bit of podcast or otherwise, just by doing that, instead of listening to, you know, Sirius or listening to music. So I do pretty well on podcasts and car.

Scott Allen  25:25 
Yeah, you know, I have. I've really fallen in love with audiobooks, I would get into bed at night and open up a book, and I'd fall asleep pretty readily and just not get through. And so I've had just this really, really kind of wonderful streak with and it makes my drive time feel a little more purposeful, and add some purpose to some of my walks as well, where I'll be listening to an audiobook, and just really kind of consuming it and just staying with it. And because at times it would be that I would tell myself the story, at least of all, my mind wanders, and I don't hear it. Well, that actually happens when I'm reading too. So, so using some of that time, especially drive time where it used to just be music, that's been so helpful.

Ethan Braden  26:10 
Yeah, the other one for me, and it's still there a bit. I mean, maybe it's not as much for people these days as his flights too. So just, you know, long, long periods where I'm stationary, and I have a chance to focus, I'm using that somewhat productively, has been really beneficial.

Scott Allen  26:25 
How often is it that you're consuming something that has nothing to do with marketing, but it hits you as completely irrelevant? Are you experiencing that?

Ethan Braden  26:34 
Yeah, a couple of thoughts on that; I think one I've given myself license to, most times read or consume, whatever, at that moment seems interesting or valuable, or additives. So it might be on parenting, it might be on happiness, it might be on our land grant universities in the last 160 years of those nationwide. If it's especially from someone I trust, I've given myself license to say, I'll consume I love I think it's  Naval Ravikant. He said, basically, if you want to instill in your kids a love for reading, get them reading anything they want in the beginning, whenever they want common books, whatever. Because it's going to instill in them, he said, you know, kind of like, let them read the junk before they'll read the great stuff. And I've kind of given myself a later in life license to do that. You didn't ask the question this way. But I think it's interesting. And you and I talked about it a little bit. The other one that I've let myself off the hook on is, I think you see a lot of folks at the end of the year who will show their LinkedIn photo of their 40, or their 50, or their 20, or whatever books that they read. And oftentimes, that means finishing stuff you don't want to finish, or sticking to a book, or sticking to books when there are other things you can consume. So I've kind of given myself also the green light to consume whatever it is, whether it's in Pocket, or it's on Twitter, or it's The Atlantic, or HBR, or Wired or Fast Company, even in times when it's in lieu of the 20 books that are sitting on my right at the bed. So just giving myself the green light to be a consumer to be a learner. And to your point, not always about marketing. But the other things that you know capture my heart and my mind.

Scott Allen  28:08 
And just modeling that for your children modeling the fact that you're consuming this, you're curious that you're interested modeling that for your team that you are curious, you're interested, you're learning, you're humble about the fact that we can't know it all. I think just that role modeling is really, really fun. My daughter is 12 - Kate, and she started off with these. They're almost like comic book books. There's a name for him. I'm forgetting the name of it right now. But she started off with these books where we were wondering are you ever going to move to a book without a bunch of pictures and little boxes and caricatures? But all of a sudden, she got a passion for those books. And then, she got a passion for reading. And now she is crushing 300 Page novels in a series of, you know, six, seven books. She started with Harry Potter. That was the first one that really brought her in. And then now she is just voracious; we have to ask her to turn the light off at night. Well, what

Ethan Braden  29:10 
a good problem to have.

Scott Allen  29:11 
Yeah, I mean by modeling that, right? I mean, I just think it's invaluable. I really do and as a leader, modeling that it's invaluable.

Ethan Braden  29:20 
Well, I love that idea. So with my family, so I've got a six-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter, and there are two instances, and I'll sit with my son, where it has, it's not what you say it's what you do. And so one when I go to the basement, and I get on the peloton, or I do my future workout or whatever my son likes to come down now. And he likes to get on the rower, and it's just amazing to see him model my behavior model a healthy behavior of coming down and working out well dad does we'll go upstairs, and they'll have something to eat, and it'll ask me Dad is this healthy? Right? So it's, it's influencing that. My other favorite one and I've got to if you ever borrow a book after me; I apologize for this factor, but my son will actually get in the bed next to me, and he'll see me Highlighting, and he'll want to do the same. So I'll give him a book, and I'll give him a pin. And he'll do his own version of highlighting because he wants to be like dad. But again, what an incredible and positive signal he's giving me, Dad; I'm watching what you're doing. Yeah. And I want to be like that. I know Seth Godin on Tim Ferriss talked about, he said, If you want to raise fundamentally different children, he said, spend two hours with them each night. And he said, I really focus on two areas; I focus on leadership. But he said the one the bigger one is just helping them solve interesting questions. And so he talks about how he and his kids cook together every night. Well, I just love that idea of I just, it doesn't have to be profound. It doesn't have to be the museum. But it is come home at 515 and be with them till they go to bed. And what is that instilling in the doing, not just the same?

Scott Allen  30:47 
Again, modeling for them? I had mentioned we were just in Alaska; we were there for ten days, traveling, traveling mistake. And there are all kinds of instances where they would look to us and say, Well, what should we do? And we look at them and say, We don't know, we haven't been here before. What do you think? Right? And I mean, you have helped us engage in that problem-solving at the moment, or them having a part of that solution to the real world, man, you know?

Ethan Braden  31:17 
No, you're so right. I love you taught us many of the Jedi mind tricks of consulting here, but being able to say to my son, well, what do you think? Or what do you think it is? Or where do you think it is? Or how would you go about this? Yeah. And just seeing that first moment of response and reaction of, I'm gonna have to do the hard work and then have to do it. Right. How do you get the cap off that bottle? Or how do you open that piece of mail? It's just great to build that muscle. Yep.

Scott Allen  31:44 
Ethan, as we wind down for today, would you share some resources that have caught your eye? I mean, you've mentioned a number, but maybe are there a couple of books that you just continue to come back to, or you would want individuals who are consumers of this podcast, which is a podcast all about leadership, there are a couple of resources that you would mention for people to check out. And I'm going to have, this is probably going to be the Reese the most resource-intensive show notes I've ever developed because I'm going to try and put all of them into the show notes. So people have access to the different individuals that you've highlighted, but then also some of these resources you've highlighted.

Ethan Braden  32:24 
When I think about books of late Boyd Vardy's, "Lion Trackers's Guide to Life" really comes to mind. When I think about leadership, I think I do think about Jim Collins a lot. And the application of not just good to great, but the application of Good to Great in the Social Sectors, Turning the Flywheel. That's been a huge and wonderful monograph for me, especially as he summarizes basically all of his work in the last 20 minutes of it. And how do you get the momentum going? And how do we get the systems and the thinking there, that's so important, so I give it away a lot. In higher ed, now I'm giving away Long Life Learning a lot. I'm giving away Walker's book on marketing and branding, as well as Creating Signature Stories alot. And I guess that leads me to the last one, I think no matter what you're in, you know, the transition that we've made in our industry over time, I think went from marketing, to brand, to now storytelling, and I don't care what you're in great stories beat great spreadsheets. And so, I think everyone building some muscle in storytelling and storytelling that allows people to recall it and feel something and take action. Based on it is powerful, no matter your job, no matter your vocation, no matter where you are in life. And so I think the great storytellers are so we're studying and emulating and learning from and, and sharing.

Scott Allen  33:40 
You know, I was, I was reminded that I started a presentation the other day, and I haven't built this muscle the way I want to. And it was an important presentation with an important organization I chose to begin with a story. And, and again, it's not it hasn't necessarily been my go-to way of starting a presentation. But the reaction I got from that Ethan was just so powerful. It was a lot of fun. And it was actually a lot of fun to connect to the story and then show up incredibly authentic for this audience. It and it just hit, and so I couldn't agree with you more and talk about connecting, you know, marketing and branding, and to leadership. I mean, you know, great leaders are also great storytellers. They are helping others envision a future or envision a path, or envision an opportunity, even if they don't have all the answers. But here's the opportunity. How do we get there? I love it. I absolutely love

Ethan Braden  34:39 
it. I think that one's just so key in the brand we often talk about, whether it's Purdue or it's Honda or craftsman, right? I can say a word. And it saves me from having to say 1000. And I think the same is true of storytelling when you're like, you know, tell me about that. And so I'll tell you a really quick story. We're associated with the organization here in Indiana called Little Red Door, and for now, 50 years, they've been serving the underserved and the underinsured cancer patients of the state, but they have a camp, and they have a camp for kids with cancer. And I volunteered at it a couple of years ago. And so somebody says to me, Hey, I know we're, you know, we're playing golf these next couple days and raising money for Campbell, red door, can you tell me about the camp, I could tell them all about it, and all the things they offer, all the people that come and the camp counselors and the facilities, etc. And I always say, let me just tell you a quick story. I was serving as a camp counselor one summer, and we were in charge of the five to seven years old making a video. And so we had them all lined up. And we said to the kids, what, what kind of video, what kind of story do you want to tell in this video that we're going to shoot, and one kid says, "I want to tell a story about an astronaut. "So that's cool. And another story, another kid, "so I really want to tell a story and do a video on dinosaurs." And so that's, that's, that's interesting, cool. And then this little girl, six years old, bald, big scar across her head, raised her hand and a faint voice. She said, "I'd really like to make a video about a kid with cancer." We all kind of looked at each other, already teary-eyed in that regard, and said, tell us more. "Why would you like to make a story about a kid with cancer?" Six years old, big scar on her head. She said "I'd like to make this video about a kid with cancer. And then I'd like to show it on the first day of school. So I could convince my friends that cancer is not contagious." Oh my god, right? So you know, get your checkbook out and come play golf with me because we're going to go raise the 150 Grand next summer that gets her to go have that camp experience and feel normal. When it's six years old, she's going to kindergarten and seeing her friends. And they think that she might give them her cancer, right? So I go back to this idea of AI; we are very focused at Purdue now. Yes, and brand and yes, and the fundamentals and the disciplines of marketing. But there's a reason why we've been so invested in stories.purdue.edu Over the last two years, and that is of a campus of 50,000, of 600,000 alums of 153 years of history. What binds us together? And what gives us the most emotive experiences are these amazing stories, and everyone has them. And so I really focus these days on learning, you know, the great stories and how they're comprised and learning from the great storytellers like Steve Jobs, and others, but that's a place I'm really interested in reading a lot.

Scott Allen  37:28 
Well, sir, I know you have a kindergarten orientation to get to come and do feeling anxious. Are you feeling nervous?

Ethan Braden  37:37 
My son is gonna tell him you don't have to.

Scott Allen  37:42 
So this is another we're gonna turn this into a parenting podcast. Yes, it's kind of where we are. So it's interesting. In the last, I don't know, four or five months, I have had a couple, quote-unquote, failures. Maybe a paper wasn't accepted at a journal, great thing to model for your children. For this presentation, I was mentioning a couple of moments ago, I did feel a little bit anxious, and a word we have in our household for one of those times where we're doing something new, and we don't totally know how it's gonna go is nervous sighted. The kids came with the word nervous and excited. And they put them together. And they're feeling a little "nervousited." So even the other night, I felt a little "nervousited." And I tell told the kids that, hey, it's normal. It's all good. This is part of how you know you're going somewhere new and developing and trying new things. You're going to feel "nervousited." And that's normal. And that's cool. Isn't that a cool way that they frame that?

Ethan Braden  38:41 
It is so good, isn't it? Yes, I really liked that I think our son is he's going to be nervous, and excited to go to kindergarten. I think my wife rightfully is more excited than nervous to ship them off than she should be. And he'll do great. And she'll do great. And we're just really, really happy for him, or we're all at a really neat point in our lives.

Scott Allen  39:02 
Well, sir, I'm so thankful for you spending some time with me today. And I know listeners are gonna love that conversation, a number of just wonderful resources to tap into lifelong learning, and then the phrasing you used from this book. I haven't heard of this book, I'm gonna have to check it out.

Ethan Braden  39:18 
This book is called Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs that Don't Even Exist Yet. And it - I love the first third in particular because it really does talk about the adult learner. It talks about the learning that we need to do from 60 or, excuse me, from 20. To on Yes, and it talks about disrupting higher education because after 22, The winners will be those that provide the many off ramps for Long Life Learning in a frictionless fashion the way Google or Coursera or John Carroll or Purdue hopefully will do, and it's just a fascinating thing about you know, at 22 or 42 or 62. What do you need to know, and where are you going to get that to your point to stay on the cutting edge and preferably not on the chopping block

Scott Allen  40:00  
Yes, yes, yes, yes. Okay, sir. Be well, thank you. 

Ethan Braden  41:25  
Thanks, Scotty. Bye bye, 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai