The 2015 SXSWedu Conference and Festival is underway in Austin, Texas. SmartBrief Education editors are on the ground, bringing readers coverage of the discussions and happenings at this year’s show.

Can companies honor mission and purpose in light of fiduciary responsibilities of making a profit? What does purpose or mission mean in industry — and what are the costs? A panel discussion of women leaders, led by EdSurge CEO Betsy Corcoran, aimed to answer these questions Monday at SXSWedu’s session “Women Disruptors 2.0.”

The future of profit is purpose, according to panelist Lynda Weinman, co-founder and executive chair of online learning provider Lynda.com. She cites her company as an example. Lynda.com existed as a profitable organization for several years before taking on investors. She attributes this success to the company’s commitment to its core mission: to create a product that truly supported higher education and lifelong learning.

“We were purpose-driven,” she said. (read more…)

Allowing people room to conceive and try things. Bringing in “troublemakers and tinkerers.” Encouraging ideas from everyone, then allowing “people to collide and generate ideas.”

These traits are part of the process that allows companies to adapt to change, to disrupt themselves and fend off competitors, and improve without losing sight of what they are. But it wasn’t just speaker Dirk Beveridge of 4th Generation Systems saying this — it was a CEO of a $50 million company and a corporate sales manager of a $1.6 billion operation. They model these traits as part of their vision, instill them in the culture, and ultimately inspire companies that iterate, think and adapt with guidance, but not micromanagement, from their leaders.

All this matters because, as Scott McKain said later on Thursday at the NAW 2015 Executive Summit, “Great isn’t good enough to grow a business in today’s economy.” If you are doing great work but can’t say what makes you different than your competitors, than your marketplace, then you aren’t differentiated or truly focused on customers. (read more…)

“The question is not whether AmazonSupply will be a threat,” says Richard Balaban, who has studied the site for management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. “Rather it is which customers, purchase occasions and categories will be attacked first.” ~ Forbes magazine, May 26, 2014

The goal of Amazon, in a way, has always been to become The Everything Store, the title of Businessweek senior writer Brad Stone’s 2013 book about the company and its founder, Jeff Bezos.

But does “everything” include the world of industrial supplies? That was one question Stone attempted to answer, with the help of knowledgeable insiders and the audience, at the NAW 2015 Executive Summit on Wednesday.

Amazon was first known as an online seller of books, then of retail, then of devices like the Kindle. Since then, it’s also become a producer of Golden Globe-winning television, tried its hand at a phone (and, so far, has failed), and has its hand in same-day delivery, grocery delivery, drones, and more. (read more…)

SmartBrief, as part of its Advertising Leadership Series, is interviewing top executives at the 4A’s, IAB, MMA and ANA.

In the fourth post of the series, Duke Fanelli, chief marketing officer at the Association of National Advertisers, talks about the rapidly changing marketing industry, the ANA’s expansion through deals with the Brand Activation Association and the Business Marketing Association, and collaborative efforts to transform digital media measurement.

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The ANA held its Masters of Marketing conference this past month — what were some of the main takeaways from the speakers and panels?

This year’s Masters of Marketing was the most successful to date. We had more than 2,800 marketers register for the conference. The feedback on the speakers, programs and events has been very positive.

Each year, several themes emerge, and this year was no different. (read more…)

Even in retail, an industry that might more often be associated with women rather than men, women executives are hard to come by. But Kim Strong has navigated her way to the top, becoming Target’s first vice president with diversity inclusion in the title.

Strong stopped by SmartBrief’s offices this week to talk about her experiences as a woman in an executive leadership position. She recounted her career and the challenges she has faced along the way during, talking about her professional life and personal life and how they did (and sometimes did not) mesh.

Strong has been with Target for her whole career, starting out in operations and human resources for former Target division Marshall Field’s and eventually moving up to become director of human resources for Mervyn’s, another former Target division, vice president of human resources for Target’s southern stores and vice president of diversity and inclusion for all of Target, the position she currently holds. (read more…)