Thomas Kolster: “It’s about time that we understand this is about building bridges, not about building walls”

Thomas Kolster is a marketing activist on a mission to make business put people and planet first. As a seasoned branding and sustainability professional of more than 18 years’ standing, he’s advised Fortune 500 companies, small start-ups, governments, agencies and non-profits. He’s the founder of the global Goodvertising movement that’s inspired a shift for the better in advertising. He’s also the author of two books: Goodvertising (2012) and The Hero Trap (2020).

This is the second part of the interview I had with him this time around, following this longer first one.

an interview by Romanita Oprea #reinventyourself #reinventyourbusiness

Tell us more about „The Hero Trap”, please. The concept, the ideas, etc.

Naming this book was like naming a child. Honestly, just take a look at this long list of almost-there, could-be, maybes before I finally settled on one title. Guess that’s part of the lifelong struggle of creating anything. Embrace trying.

Change in a heartbeat; No lip service; Superbrand is dead; Buying means less, being is everything; From living bigger to living better; A war on self-actualisation; Dear brand, challenge me; Pass the recipe; Pass the starter pistol; Brand catalysts; Butterfly brands give people wings.

It’s people’s business; Honestly, this is for my own sake; From reaching people where they are to reaching who they are; The untold story of what truly motivates us; The untold carrot story; To the best I can be; Brands do not matter, people matter; If not you, who?; Nothing beats

the finish line; Nothing beats, I did it; Done is best; In your customers’ shoes; Walking in your customers’ mind; The catalyst; The power of clay elephants; The great human potential; Finding your own stick and carrot; Empowerability; The perfect human being; Flawless being; Possible being; Change starts with who?; Caterpillar brands; Butterfly brands; The butterfly trigger; Life triggers; Breaking better; The personal code; The change diary; Ask who; Pass the steering wheel; and Post-purpose.

What are your expectations for it?

There’s a tool for leaders, conversations and brands to build and find meaningful ways to play in people’s lives. Ask yourself this question: how many brands and leaders have shaped and changed your life for the better? Sure there are a few, but that is essentially the issue. With this new approach there are so many roles for brands and leaders to play, to help us, to coach us, to help us achieve things and essentially make us better people.

I see it as an evolution for the people from the place of buying benefits to today helping people see who they might become. It’s a transformational difference. My expectations are to create a book that can help leaders and organizations make real change.

What are the countries where you have your biggest groups of fans and how different do you believe to be one country from another (from a marcomm standpoint? 

Obviously some countries have just started to scratch the concept of goodvertising because in terms of development of those countries they are dealing with poverty, unemployment, etc, therefore for them it’s about delivering enough products to a big enough group of people. And that being said, I think that this approach really works in no matter what market you are in, in the sense that this is about finding the true meaning of your brand. Find that pivotal, meaningful role and apply it to people’s lives and that can as well mean help people that live in places like Nigeria, to bring them enough food, to help them get the education they need, to bring help to those communities.

I’ve travelled a lot and I appreciate each and every country around the world, I am a necropolis and I believe in the humanity, the more we understand each other, the more we appreciate each other’s cultures and the more we appreciate each other’s humanity, the better the world we can create. I believe it’s about time that we understand this is about building bridges, not about building walls. I think the actions in the creative industries drive creativity in general and diversity. Nothing good comes out of all of us going to the same school, reading the same magazines and books. I suggest we embrace diversity as much as possible.  

How do you promote your brand and how much of your time is dedicated for that?

Thank you for asking that. I’ve taken a very collaborative approach for this book, I talk a lot about how brands should make you part of whatever they do. I reached out to every network across the globe and asked them to help out spread the noise and I am super thankful for all the people that have accepted this challenge or saw the benefit in doing that.

In terms of time, you know, you always promote the book (I’ve spent 8 years promoting Goodvertising), I am living the mission, giving keynotes, it’s really hard work.

If you could give a piece of advice to the Romanian marcomm industry right now what would that be and why?

I enjoy each time I am in Romania, I’ve been there five or six times, if not even more, and I do think that your country has a lot o great talent and I think that is shown itself to be playing globally at awards shows and doing a great job. I think is really about creativity, being a mix of cultures and embracing it. From my point of view, I think you have every possibility to set a mark in this wonderful creative industry of ours. Keep up the hard work, be curious, always thrive to be a catalyst and bring a good change, always thrive to be better! I think smaller countries have a lot of possibilities to move faster than the bigger countries or the bigger markets. Use that as your potential, as a way to punch above your weight, to be a David against Goliath!