Written by Jan Jaben-Eilon Tuesday, May 01 2012
Farnaz Wallace, author
Farnaz Wallace is a thought leader, author, speaker, and strategic consultant focused on helping leaders and companies capitalize on cultural macro trends and define their brand’s value proposition and sustainable revenue models in today’s fast-changing marketplace. She is an evangelist for three major macro trends: the shifting roles of women at home and at work; the new values and ideological power of youth culture; and the growth and influence of multicultural consumers and societies. She coined the phrase, “New World Marketplace,” to help decision-makers in businesses, community leaders and the media embrace how women, youth and multiculturalism are shaping our future, and has published a book by that name that is available on her website now and will be available in bookstores as of May 22.
A former executive vice president and chief marketing officer with Church’s Chicken, Wallace served as the chief brand protector and accelerator of performance. She led the brand in five years of consecutive same store sales growth, outpacing the entire category, which resulted in a successful company acquisition process and ownership change. She contributes her success to her passion for these three macro trends and building a winning diverse team in a collaborative team environment. Prior to Church’s Chicken, she held marketing positions at KFC and account management positions at several advertising agencies.
A woman of Iranian background who immigrated with her family to Louisiana at the age 15, Wallace’s whole life has been a multicultural experience. She has served on the board of Atlanta Woman Magazine and volunteers working with refugee women and teenage girls. Wallace has a bachelor of science degree from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, La., a graduate marketing certificate from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and an executive management certificate from Stanford University in Calif.
Womenetics: In your book, you said the key to any brand strategy is to avoid stereotypes, but wasn’t that the strategy because it was easier?
Farnaz Wallace: I think stereotypes and doing segmentation analysis was one way to understand diversity. How do you group consumer behavior? But it is no longer working. The culture is shifting so rapidly. I can’t say I never did segmentation analysis; of course I did. But now companies are looking more toward consumers’ beliefs. This is smarter.
Womenetics:The way you describe Generation Y and its multiculturalism, it sounds like this generation will integrate globally better than previous generations. Is that what you think?
Wallace: Of course. Technology has already changed that landscape. But I stress that the word multiculturalism doesn’t exclude whites. It’s saying there are a variety of cultures. Due to technology, everyone has access to everything they didn’t have before. There’s a new world marketplace, a phrase I coined. The “we” is fundamentally different; it’s becoming much trickier to define. It’s no longer just race, ethnicity, gender or age. Companies have to learn how to tap into the emotional lever. They must market to customers’ insides, such as values and needs, not the outside.
Womenetics: Why don’t we know that countries like Cuba, China, Iraq and Afghanistan have more women in the government than the US, as you mentioned in your book?
Wallace: I ask myself that. Our beautiful country is challenged by media representation of women. We have challenges of how we evaluate women in power. I still haven’t figured out why this country hasn’t gotten to where many third world countries are with females in government. But we will see a big shift by 2020, just by default.
I’m looking at the trends -- as Baby Boomers retire and at the talent pool and percentage of women enrolling and graduating from college. There will be a rapid cultural shift. I have focused on the velocity of this transformation. Management will be dealing with this velocity of transformation. By 2025 to 2050, there will be a completely different picture of women representation.
Womenetics: How did you grow up to be such a strong-minded maverick?
Wallace: This was the life path I chose. I always had this personality. I never saw myself as a wife or making someone else successful. I respect families and women who do both, but I see women’s lives as a mosaic of personal choices. Usually you can tell a person’s strengths and passions at a young age; I see this in my nieces. I always wanted to be an agent of archetypal changes. I had an unconventional identity as an Iranian woman. We should each find the richest expression of our authentic selves.
Womenetics: When you worked in corporate America, you marketed food, or specifically chicken and its sides. Is your marketing advice the same for services?
Wallace: Yes, the strategic frameworks are the same. I embraced the three macrotrends and now I’m seeing big agencies have multicultural platforms. This is the new normal.
Womenetics: Who is your target market for your book?
Wallace: The book is being marketed both as a business book and as a consumer behavior and social psychology book. I want to reach social and business leaders.
Womenetics: Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
Wallace: Extraordinary people in ordinary places. There are so many men and women I respect. My inspiration comes from everything and everyone around me. I have also been lucky to have good mentors. Womenetics: Is there anything that you’ve done that you wished you’d done differently?
Wallace: There are times I look back and I think I would have been a good mom. The one thing I wished I’d have is kids, not so much a husband or marriage. I have a deep sense of loss, but I’ve been happy being single and not being a mother. I just never experienced procreation. But this got me to where I am and where I’m going. Every decision I make is a trade-off.
Womenetics: What keeps you up at night?
Wallace: Not much. I’ve been a devotee of yoga for nearly two decades, so that quiets my mind. The only thing is the emotional part, if I worry about my mom or sisters. Sure I worry about the economy and war, but the lifestyle I’ve chosen helps me a lot.
Womenetics: What are your hobbies?
Wallace: Yoga, gardening, arts and culture. That keeps me centered. I am celebrating my 50th birthday this year and at this stage of my life, it’s all about purpose and what makes you happy. At the end of the day, what do I want to be remembered for? I hope that I can create new business and social models.
Want more insights on the shifting marketplace?
As our collective eco-consciousness grows, so does the demand for "green collar jobs," which focus on sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices.
Sara Meyers-Davis argues that diversity and women's inclusion need to be approached with the same metrics and financial measures as any other business imperative.
Not only does the presence of women on executive boards increase company revenue, it also correlates to a higher percentage of philanthropic giving.
Jan Jaben-Eilon was a founding staff writer of the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Since then, she has been the international editor of Advertising Age magazine and has written for such publications as The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Washington Journalism Review, and Consumer Reports. She is the author of soon-to-be-published (There is) Life After Cancer. Jan and her husband have homes in Atlanta and Jerusalem.