Business Leaders Speak to ICP Students about Innovation

On Wednesday, October 6, Interdisciplinary Concentrations Program (ICP) students in the Arts & Innovation and Ethics, Leadership, and Justice concentrations me with Andy Brown, the CEO and founder of Sand Hill East, which provides strategic management, advice and marketing services to emerging companies. They also heard from two of Mr. Brown’s clients — Benjamin Cohen, the founder and CEO of T-REX, and Austin Rosenthal, the co-founder and COO of Lionize.

The three guests spoke about the nature of their businesses, the creative process, and how they generate new ideas and innovation. They also underscored the importance of purpose in their businesses.

“At the end of the day, purpose drives everything,” said Mr. Cohen, whose business focuses on empowering responsible finance. “If you can combine purpose, passion, and perseverance, you can’t be stopped.”

Mr. Rosenthal’s company is centered around a software platform that enables marketers to run influencer programs efficiently. He emphasized that while experience and expertise are important in business, some of the most innovative ideas can come from a young, fresh perspective.

In a Q&A with students, the guest speakers also addressed how they started their businesses, the importance of being nimble (especially in the time of COVID), how to collaborate effectively, and how diversity drives innovation.

“The more diverse backgrounds you have in the room, the more unique perspectives you have to find solutions,” said Mr. Cohen. “It’s important to be inclusive, be open to new ideas, and realize that you don’t know everything.”

“Listening is another important part of innovation,” added Mr. Brown. “The more you observe and take in with all your senses, the more likely you are to understand and innovate. The more you speak, the harder it is to hear.”


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