Shawn Parr – Founder of Bulldog Drummond

[quote style=”boxed”]When I arrived in this country at 25, I would have taken a year to tour the entire country on a bike–and I would have learned to surf the minute I got here.[/quote]

Shawn Parr is a brand builder, strategist, collaborator and entrepreneur.  Parr brings 22 years of strategic marketing, branding and entrepreneurial business building experience to companies that run the gamut from small startups to Fortune 500s. As the Guvner and CEO of design and innovation firm Bulldog Drummond, he has built a nationally recognized consultancy specializing in go-to-market strategy and brand building. At the core of his entrepreneurial success is something that Shawn calls “uncommon sense,” which is a term he uses to describe that the biggest opportunities can be realized and the most complex challenges can be solved by using a powerful combination of simplicity, common sense and determination.

Both entrepreneurial startups and globally recognized brands seek out Shawn’s expertise in creating and refreshing brands, uncovering the purpose and passion of people and companies, products and strategic business solutions, as well as his collaborative and transformational approach to identifying new business opportunities. In addition to leading and facilitating innovation workshops, Shawn shares his expertise with companies and universities on how to identify and transform insights, designs, technologies and capabilities into innovative solutions for sustainable growth and value-creation.

Parr also contributes regularly to Fast Company and PSFK.

What are you working on right now?

  • Exploring a new model for education
  • A series of what next projects for major international brands
  • A project that looks at the future of the natural products industry
  • A project that looks at the future of retail
  • A project that looks at how global trends affect mobile devices
  • A project that maps the digital experience for a major research foundation
  • A project on what’s next for a global software brand
  • A project to make it easier for college students to collaborate around social activism
  • A project that looks at where wellness and fitness collide
  • A project that looks at licensing as an innovation element
  • A project that looks at the future of car buying
  • A book, blogging and planning what’s next

Where did the idea for Bulldog Drummond come from?

Bulldog Drummond is a design and innovation consultancy that works in the “what next” space for businesses. We put the truth in the middle of every project and every problem and then use that truth to inform our design solutions. Bulldog Drummond is a fictional detective, the lead character in a series of books and movies “The Adventures of Bulldog Drummond,” who solved mysteries and had a damn good time doing so. That was the inspiration behind our name, and solving mysteries is at the heart of what we do.

What does your typical day look like?

I’m very fortunate, as I never have a typical day; everyday is different. Because we work across a wide range of industries and for a wide range of clients, the people, the projects and the passion points are always different, fueling our curiosity and creativity.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Whether our ideas are ultimately expressed in written, visual, movie or book form, they start in passionate conversation, are heavily debated and become stories that ignite the imagination of those we work with. Then we express the essence of the idea in a few short, compelling sentence so they clearly address the problem and inform the reader.

3 trends that excite you?

  • Everything is a game: this can and will apply to so many areas of our lives where the established protocols (like education, health, fitness, entertainment, etc.) are dull and one-way. Gamification will inject inspiration, enjoyment and engagement like never before into education, healthcare, movies, finance.
  • It’s getting really, really personal:  As devices start to anticipate our needs and expectations, very interesting things will happen with our productivity, time and focus; the idea of singularity is not far off.
  • Local love: After going global, we are rapidly returning to the people and things in our own backyards with a renewed commitment to supporting the communities that exist around us. There’s an ever-growing realization that if we take care of the spaces around us, those spaces will take care of us in return.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Delivering fresh meat, fish and produce to Chinese restaurants in London. I learned:

1. Make sure you look in the kitchen of the restaurants you frequent.

2. The quality of what you sell drives your reputation, loyalty and what you make.

3. I didn’t want to get up at 3:30 AM every day of the week to make a living.

4. Brains beat brawn every time.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

When I arrived in this country at 25, I would have taken a year to tour the entire country on a bike–and I would have learned to surf the minute I got here.

What is the one thing you did/do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?

Don’t try to please all of the people all of the time. Have a clear point of view for your business, for your brand and for yourself!

Tell us a secret…

I have 50 pairs of Paul Smith socks……… and I’m not done.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

It’s the old 80/20 rule: take amazing care of your loyal customers and they’ll take care of you.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

[amazon_link id=”B005X48XN4″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Onward[/amazon_link] by Howard Schultz. It gives great insight into a brand that lost its way and how it got its magic back.

If you weren’t working on Bulldog Drummond, what would you be doing?

I’d be restoring an old farmhouse in Tuscany, writing every day and learning to speak Italian.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

I laugh out loud almost every day. My children and my wife make me laugh about the everyday adventures of life.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Sir Ken Robinson, an author, speaker and international advisor to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies.

Why are people so afraid of saying they don’t know the answer?

We live in a business world where it’s so important to show those around you that you’re smart, knowledgeable and have it all together. People go through meetings obviously not knowing answers to problems, not having read the report or the book and hoping no one calls them out. The fear of being seen as the dumb one in the room holds so many back from asking the right questions or admitting a lack of knowledge and ultimately stunts personal and professional growth. What was the question?

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?

Passed gas loudly while talking seriously and then laughing with clients.


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