If brands are the influencers of our decision making prowess, then Tim McCleary defines the community he’s building with The Involvement Practice. With an astute sincerity and an effortless influence that allows everyone he encounters an equal footing, McCleary understandably lives the values he brings forth within his commercial ventures and with his clients.
McCleary is an, albeit, rare example of the notion that entrepreneurship and ego are not synonymous. Opposingly, McCleary argues that it was his gratitude, transparency and sheer optimism that landed him leadership positions with some of the most important brands of our time.
If entrepreneurs must identify the stories their ventures hope to tell, then McCleary is certainly no exception to the rule. As the global brand director for GE, McCleary took the company through their entire re-branding process while infusing as much creativity as possible within the boundaries of a corporate environment. In 2007 he received an offer from another global brand in a highly coveted leadership capacity at the respected insurance brokerage, Marsh. Within months he was let go of his role, along with 150 members of the senior leadership team. The rest, as he says is serendipitous.
It’s of no surprise that this event occurred as a result of the worst recession of our lifetime, leaving an incredibly daunting impact on us all. Yet, at a time of economic uncertainty and confusion, McCleary felt he had two choices; he could ask, “What am I going to do?” Or even better, “What am I going to do next?”
Enter The Involvement Practice. It’s no surprise that McCleary utterly believes in his business model. When he speaks about the concept, the excitement and fervency about the effect he’s able to transmit across verticals, backgrounds and industries is apparent. The heart and uniqueness of the involvement practice lies in its ability to delve into a company psyche via its most important asset – the employees. Afterall, says McCleary, “Consumers want to buy from people, not brands.”
McCleary explains that the involvement practice touches a niche that no other branding firm really penetrates. In order for his team to fully assess the future of a brand, they bridge the gap between customer perception and reality to enable employees to become storytellers of the journey they know the best: the brand they live everyday. A radical concept? Perhaps. But more importantly, The Involvement Practice is a testament to celebrating the vast lack of control within online and offline channels that is only heightened as we play deeper into the digital landscape.
Understanding the complexities, nuances and various components of what makes a brand valuable are all top of mind for McCleary. He believes that you must be the “best dressed person in the room when approaching a potential client, because ultimately you are your most valued assest.” For McCleary, this approach applies broadly across varied spectrums under the focus of brand strategy, consistency and governance.
As someone who has walked in the shoes of his clients, McCleary brings with him a credibility and awareness that can’t be bought. He acts an enabler of encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit within large companies affording employees a sense of connection and ownership. Stepping away from traditional success metrics, McCleary and his team offer a spin on the conventional “Return on Investment” representation to offer a “Return on Involvement” endgame to their clients. McCleary’s unique take on ROI is measured by increased employee involvement and is directly responsive to brand image and awareness.
Accordingly, what does being your own owner of content in niches and value proposition director allow? McCleary doesn’t hesitate for a moment when answering this question: “Creativity. As an entrepreneur I am the writer of my own beginning, middle and end. I wake up knowing that being open to possibility is my most effective asset and that the networks I create on a daily basis are of the utmost genuine and authentic nature.” A telling sign, from the man who practices what he communicates in all of his varied interactions.
When I ask McCleary, after all these years, what the turning point in his story was, he tells me that the recession taught him to “relax into the future.” He doesn’t believe in a linear approach to education or success or merit. He’s comfortable being the author of his own narrative in the most refreshing and determined sense. What does the future hold for McCleary and The Involvement Practice? Evidently, time will only tell, but as demonstrated by his infectious outlook, strong sense of self and absolute authenticity McCleary’s story, is clearly, just beginning to burgeon.
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