At a Glance
Aarron Spinley, Digital Anthropologist, Futurist, Speaker at SPINLEY.CO
Focus Areas: Marketing, Customer Experience, Customer Loyalty, Culture
Thinkers360 In-Depth Profile & Portfolio: Aarron Spinley
Availability: Check Aarron’s Availability for Speaking
Thought Leader Interview
Thinkers360 thought leader interviews profile prominent members of the Thinkers360 community who embody the power of ideas in their work. In this edition, we speak with Aarron Spinley, Digital Anthropologist, Futurist, Speaker at SPINLEY.CO. He is a growth strategist and futurist who observes culture, society, and digital. With a passion for designed human experience and the social sciences, he writes, consults, and speaks in the fields of business growth and customer engagement through his work at spinley.co.
Aarron is the host of interview series, EVOLVE at ‘Spinley Media’ on YouTube and ‘Evolve Audio’ on podcast services and also a featured contributing writer in a number of publications around the world, including his own column: “The I Beg to Differ Series”.
He was recently featured in the Thinkers360 articles Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on Customer Loyalty (July 2021), Top 50 Global Thought Leaders and Influencers on CRM (May 2021), and also featured in the article 50 Podcasts from Thinkers360 Thought Leaders You Should Listen To in 2021.
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Thinkers360: Tell us a bit about your background and areas of expertise
AS: I am a business anthropologist and a growth futurist that focusses mainly on the areas of marketing, customer engagement, and leadership through the lens of technological and societal evolution. I tend to draw on macro-history, experience economy principles, futures (the practice of foresight), and the wider social sciences, especially neuroscience and behavioural economics. My professional influences are diverse, from my time as a drama student studying human traits, through to applying the same theory in risk management advisory settings (MMC Group, WTI, Sense of Security), and then onto experience design at global digital product development company Tigerspike, before co-founding and leading SAP’s creative agency, “LAB72” before and ultimately taking on strategy and research roles in customer experience. In between I have been involved extensively in start-up advisory and investment (deeep Group) and served on a global post-merger integration team. Today I am privileged to continue my work at the pioneering human engagement firm, Thunderhead, where I serve as an SVP.
Thinkers360: What are your current responsibilities and what’s a typical day look like?
AS: At Thunderhead our mission is very clear. We help companies – and their marketers and CX teams – transition to genuine customer centricity, through both growth theory and the company’s Journey Orchestration platform. It is a category that the company pioneered in 2014 following extensive human behavioural research, which it continues to lead and evolve.
Every day I spend time with both Thunderhead customers, prospective organisations, and our growing partner network in the region. There aren’t too many days where I am not also working with peers in London, or at our R&D HQ in Boston, and on the ground I have a growing team as well. As I also research, write, and to speak, it is busy and fulfilling work, and hugely gratifying to see marketers start to recognise that “human centricity” isn’t just a buzzword, but can be an operational reality, with massive upside in terms of acquisition, customer sustainability and top-line economic outcomes. When all is said and done, my main responsibility is to help brands to that realisation.
Thinkers360: What’s the favorite part of your current role?
AS: Tough question! My work has always been heavily anthropological, and so to work for a firm that has the same DNA is very rewarding when translating that to the service of brands. Put me in a room with a whiteboard, sleeves rolled up, teaching folks about modern engagement theory. That’s my happy place. And watching the uber talented Thunderhead team demonstrate the operational manifestation of that, is always great fun. It’s quite rare to find such consistent quality in an organisation. But perhaps the favourite part of the role is both working from seasoned marketers, and witnessing them get truly excited about the next paradigm in their careers. That’s right up there.
Thinkers360: How do you utilize Thinkers360?
AS: Well, I’m passionate about the power of ideas. Any forum that provides a safe place for people to explore those, and to express them, is really important in what is otherwise, a quite a hyper-critical era that we live in. Social media has spawned a culture of outrage. So I use Thinkers360 to both share my ideas and to amplify them, as well as to discover the work and ideas of others. Once much of my work was being collated in a single place at Thinkers360, it was very humbling to be recognised on a number of its global leader boards for thought leadership. That has served to create a bigger audience for my work, and I often use the platform to meet other “thinkers” and to enrich my professional network
Editor’s Note: See Aarron’s Thinkers360 In-Depth Profile & Portfolio.
Thinkers360: How do you like to work with brands who wish to engage you as a thought leader?
AS: Most people that want me to speak register their interest at www.spinley.co
My approach is to really understand the event (small circle, executive offsite, industry conference etc), the audience profile, and the objective of the brand that wants to engage me. From there I tailor a presentation, always drawing on subjects like growth theory, the economic attributes of a modern engagement stack, the neuroscience of trust, the future of companies etc. My website has examples.
The good news – for some – is that now that I am part of Thunderhead, I am able to speak at all kinds of events without having to charge for it! If it’s an audience that bears some resemblance to the company’s market, I have plenty of scope to participate for free.
Thinkers360: What’s your main advice for upcoming thought leaders?
AS: Number One: Be bold. Don’t be afraid to be wrong. That’s okay. It’s also okay to change your mind later, but don’t let fear stop you from thinking, and from sharing.
Number Two. Do the work. Don’t be disrespectful of people’s time. If they’re going to follow you make sure you’ve done the background, and can stand behind your ideas.
Number Three: Never get so caught up in an idea that you become arrogant or rude. Sometimes people will disagree with you. You need to be ok with that. Lead with love.
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