George Hemingway’s advice for miners: ‘Find your why’
In a keynote address at Canadian Mining Journal’s Reimagine Mining Symposium focused on society’s perception of mining, George Hemingway, managing partner and head of the innovation practice at Stratalis, discussed the importance of trust for business.
“Trust is the new competitive advantage,” he said in a conversation with Canadian Mining Journal publisher Robert Seagraves. “And for mining companies, the rules of the game – the things that matter to investors, to society, to the public – have changed.”
Hemingway, a leading futurist in the mining industry who has advised clients such as BHP, Anglo American and Vale, said that people are feeling very uncertain, and looking for answers and scapegoats.
“Big businesses like banking like pharmaceuticals, like aviation, like natural resources, I think are still very much in the crosshairs,” he added.
“The big question is how do you build trust in a world that is increasingly focused on canceling anything it doesn’t like?”
Companies must go beyond traditional marketing by big industry bodies, which won’t drive change quickly enough or resonate with people in an authentic way, Hemingway said.
Citing Tesla and Apple as two companies that have been successful in building trust, he said: “They made something that was on the verge of being a commodity seem interesting, virtuous, almost as if they were doing something better for humanity and managed to insulate their brands at the same time.”
What they have tried to do is build goodwill and trust by broadcasting a higher purpose – one that appeals to people on a personal level, Hemingway said. “When it works, it works because they don’t advocate for themselves. There is no greater advocate for Tesla or Apple than the general public… If you want to build trust, you need to connect on a deeply personal level.”
To do that, Hemingway advised that people who work in the industry rather than the industry as a whole need to connect with the purpose of their work.
“I would ask everyone that’s listening to ask yourself this question: ‘What is my why? Why do I get up in the morning? Why do I work in mining? And I think more importantly, why does what I do matter to the grandmother down the street or the kids playing in the yard or a fisherman on the east coast?
Hemingway added that people should focus on how their work helps others.
“I think this is the next really key point is that we as an industry and the companies we work for need to figure out how to make happen, then share it. Because that’s how trust is built, by sharing our deeper personal purposes with the world.”