Marian Calabro is the founder and president of CorporateHistory.net, a firm that helps companies use their past to position themselves for the future. She is also the voice of YouTube’s corporate history channel
Featured on Wikipedia and a guest on The History Channel’s Modern Marvels series, Marian Calabro is recognized for work that breaks out of the traditionally ponderous format of corporate histories.
CorporateHistory.net’s books and DVDs speak to a wide range of audiences because they are story-driven, accurate, and highly visual. She makes a compelling business case for history as a memorable, cost-effective tool that conveys key marketing messages and builds employee pride.
Marian Calabro has authored and/or published books and DVDs for Fortune 500s, midsize companies, and family businesses. She’s been honored to tell the stories of Public Service Gas & Electric, The Pep Boys–Manny, Moe & Jack, Northwest Community Hospital, Clinton County ARC, Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation, Melwood, A. W. Hastings, Advanced Auto Parts, and others.
USA Today, Washington Post, BusinessWeek.com, and other media have quoted Marian on business topics; the Columbia University HR Department calls on her to lead business writing workshops with staff. She is also the author of general nonfiction books including The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party, an American Library Association Best Book that has been in print for 10+ years.
A lifelong New Jerseyan, Marian is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers College. She began her career in trade publishing in New York City, where she was promotion director for Dell and other large houses. She is active in the Authors Guild, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Small Publishers Association of North America, and USA Today¹s Entrepreneurs Panel. She is also a published poet; in her leisure time she leads creative writing workshops and studies jazz piano.
What are you working on right now?
Marian Calabro is currently researching and writing a 100-year chronicle of The Clorox Company, the folks who stand for a cleaner world and healthier homes worldwide. CorporateHistory.net is also about to publish a centennial book for a Fortune 200 energy company in the southern US.
3 Trends that excite you?
1) More ways to read and share info: ebooks, Kindle, etc. complement the traditional methods.
2) New appreciation of the workplace: nothing like a recession to drive home the value of a job. Employment is the engine that makes everything else run.
3) “Say it short and sweet”: whether it’s email or Twitter or a postcard, folks are learning to get to the point.
How do you bring ideas to life?
To bring ideas to life, listen twice as much as you talk. Example: For each corporate history project, Marian and her authors typically conduct from 30 to 75 oral history interviews. Our interviewees spill out the story in pieces; we collect it and shape it. Listening is at the heart and soul of any marketing endeavor.
What is one mistake that you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
I’ve learned not to underestimate how long a project will take. Missed a deadline once, but only once. Lesson: History isn’t made overnight, and it can’t be written overnight.
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
We believe that just as people suffer when their memory erodes, so do organizations. There are also practical benefits: Your history is a stranded asset until you put it to work. Then it becomes a powerful, cost-effective tool for marketing, community relations, and employee pride.
Every company has some skeletons in its closet–how do your clients handle that?
Naturally, no business wants to trumpet its mistakes but a good corporate history owns up to major crises and shows how the company overcame them. Trials by fire make for interesting reading and enhance the credibility of the work. They represent turning points and lessons learned.
You do creative writing and teach it. Why?
I enjoy using both sides of my writing/editing brain, and it benefits our clients as well. A creative approach means a minimum of business jargon and “insider-speak.”
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