The theme for Signal 2023, Reset the Bar, echoed throughout the stories shared by leaders, founders, and entrepreneurs on the Signal stage this past July. Innovation is core to the success of any business, and as P&G’s president and CEO Jon Moeller noted at the top of the event, “I’m excited to see what you can do next.”

Here are the highlights from Signal 2023, ways innovators can apply these insights into growing their business in the months ahead.

Keep learning.
Students learn by building new connections and gaining new insights. Accenture Chair and CEO Julie Sweet says that mindset is critical to success. She encouraged everyone at Signal 2023 to adopt that thinking throughout their career.

“Probably the most important thing that we think about when hiring, is we ask one simple question, ‘What have you learned in the last six months?’ That shows you what we’re looking for. We don’t care whether you learned how to make paella. But being a learner is the most important thing that we measure in the people we hire and that we invest in. If there’s one thing, I know we have some young people watching this, to take away is ‘be a learner.’ It is a lifetime activity.” 

Boost performance sustainably.
Performance is the cornerstone that drives growth for companies. Compromising on performance? That’s not an option, noted Jon Moeller, P&G president and CEO. But opportunities to improve sustainability — and consumer delight — continue, whether that’s doubling the use of recycled materials to construct packages, as P&G has done over the past two years, or developing a product that reduces the environmental impact of washing your clothes, like Tide Plus Coldwater Clean. 

“We have a big opportunity to reduce our footprint, we have a big opportunity to help consumers reduce their footprint, and we have a big opportunity to contribute on a global basis to a more sustainable world. I ask that you join me in that endeavor.”

Do your homework.
Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun knows the power of bringing big ideas into the world. But as powerful as a great idea may be, there needs to be insight to make it soar. He encouraged the Signal 2023 audience to take risks and think big — but to make sure decisions are grounded in company culture and fueled by data to drive their success.

“When you talk about irresistible superiority, you won’t achieve it without big ideas that are insightful, that are in culture, that are relevant to your product and services. This is at the heart of what we’re doing in the past and what we’re doing today…This is where the value is.”

Expand expectations.
Candice Matthews Brackeen knows a thing or two about expanding opportunities. As the CEO of Lightship Foundation, Brackeen has opened doors for founders traditionally left out of venture funding. She told the Signal 2023 audience to open their eyes and push the boundaries of how they see the people around them.

“I want to redefine who you keep top of mind, who is an innovator, who is a creator, who is an entrepreneur.”

Bet on AI’s potential — not its hype.
It’s hard to escape the hype of artificial intelligence and the potential the technology can deliver. But Sumit Agarwal, co-founder and CEO of Gather, encouraged the Signal audience to look beyond the hoopla to AI’s real value — giving consumers the reins to control their data. That shift will flip how customers and brands interact and open the door to new ways of connecting.

“The value of user data is priceless when it comes to establishing a relationship because it’s the basis of knowing someone and understanding someone and treating them in a way that makes them feel respected and understood….. Consumer adoption of AI in the form of personal assistants that we call genies will enable this new channel of relationship building to exist at massive scale.”

Say yes.
Staying open to new perspectives has helped McDonald’s launch product lines like the adult Happy Meal, and give customers the power to shape the brand, such as the Grimace Shake challenge. Morgan Flatley, McDonald’s Global CMO, believes saying yes to new opportunities invigorates a company. But green lights only make sense when the decision works for the brand and customers.

“It’s so easy to say no. But when you start to say, ‘Yes,’ the momentum that builds is tremendous. That is creative bravery. In the moment when you start to feel uncomfortable with an idea, how can you get to say yes? My caution is it has to still be grounded in consumer insights, it has to still be grounded in what your brand stands for and what is authentic to your brand. We can be brave but we can’t be reckless.”

Create connections.
Colin Walsh hears the chatter around artificial intelligence. But to him, the “magic superpower” he believes needs to be amplified is emotional intelligence. The CEO of Ouai, which P&G acquired in 2021, asks staff to build a user manual on how they want to work with colleagues and promote a shared understanding of their lives.

“Creating space to be seen, shared and understood is really important…. Bringing together that emotional intelligence, that awareness that people can connect, communicate and understand with who they are completely unlocks a whole ton of power.”

See yourself as the customer.
Amazon is no stranger to having access to customer data. However, the company is careful about the experience it creates around that information. Nothing is worse than causing a consumer to shut down and tune out a brand. So Jo Shoesmith, Amazon global chief creative officer suggests putting oneself in the customers space — whether inside an online shopping experience or getting an email marketing a new product.

“I do like to sit back and go, ‘How am I feeling about this as a customer?’ I troll our shopping experience. You always have to be in those experiences and look at what’s getting sent to you and how you’re feeling. That’s a pretty good reflection of how customers are feeling in the way they’re receiving that volume of messages from a digital perspective.”

Turn insights into opportunity.
To close Signal 2023, Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer for P&G, encouraged everyone to steep themselves in the insights on how to grow and transform a market. That means looking at benchmarks and then pushing through them.

“Think about the products that we have. We serve everyone. We have all potential consumers out there. But then what we do, is we get insights into each one. When we get those insights and translate those into an innovation, we have the potential to get even greater degrees of market growth.”