Uncommon Path

October 25, 2015 / UNCOMMON PATH

Uncommon Path

October 25, 2015

Shawn Parr Guvner and CEO of Bulldog Drummond

Shawn Parr is the Guvner and CEO of Bulldog Drummond, and Co-founder and CIO of YouSchool. He writes for Fast CompanyPSFK and is a sought-after speaker.

Our lives are shaped by choices. The ones we make, the ones we don’t, and the choices others make for us. Choices for individuals are like strategies for businesses–they shape direction and determine the future. We are faced with thousands of choices every day, and the results link together to form an invisible, directional map. Our choices have both intended and unintended consequences that make life exciting, at times frustrating, and more often than not rewarding and emotionally charged.

Designing a new digital platform dedicated to Uncommon Sense prompted us to reflect on the choices Bulldog has made to get to where we are today. Here’s the short version of the story that changed our company direction–a story that involved a number of uncommon choices. In the summer of 2004, I was on a trip to South Africa and Malawi to understand the impact of HIV/AIDS. While traveling with one my best friends and business partner at the time, Neil Bellefeuille, we visited remote villages with World Vision to see poverty firsthand. My wife was three months pregnant with our third child, so needless to say timing was far from perfect. But visiting the villages in Malawi changed the way we thought about almost everything in life. It was exhausting and emotionally draining–and it might sound cliché, but it was life changing. The trip made me question what I did every day and how and why my company was doing business. It made me think about the role business could and should play in helping to change lives, and the trip became the catalyst that helped me discover my own purpose in life.

Photo: Shawn Parr

Upon returning from Africa, it became clear that it was time to really think about what business Bulldog Drummond was in. At the time, we’d been working with IDEO on a number of projects and had developed an enormous respect for their people. Their combination of real life observation, inspiration from others and innovation fueled my desire to move into a different business, one where Bulldog could add significant value to our partners, make a difference in the world and help unlock the potential of the companies we work with.


We made a series of tough choices and have never looked back.

In 2006, Bulldog shifted business models from a creative boutique to an innovation and design consultancy. Our focus became repositioning and refreshing existing brands, building new brands from the ground up, designing and creating new products, experiences and services, and helping executive teams solve some of their most significant brand challenges. We started very deliberately down that path, making a series of tough choices, and we have never looked back.

People will tell you it takes ten years to master a craft, and we think that’s just about right. We’ve worked extremely hard to become experts, to build a body of relevant experience and to deliver maximum value to our clients. We try to practice what we preach, teach what we know, and stay hungry and open to learning every day. We have had the privilege to work with some of the world’s biggest companies, the most purposeful startups and many dynamic and impact-focused social ventures.

Along the path we’ve been inspired by some of the brightest minds and most engaging teams of people, and as a result we’ve collected many stories to share. That’s why we decided to launch a new digital platform dedicated to our working partnerships and to the practice of Uncommon Sense. In it we will be sharing what we see in the world, encouraging courageous thinking and providing insights into areas of business that include innovation, building brands, and the courageous and sometimes not so smart behaviors of the people who manage them.

We hope you enjoy the carefully curated stories on our new blog. Each one is designed to deliver inspiration and valuable information to help you do the uncommon. And along the way, we hope you’ll tell us what you think. We appreciate each and every one of you for walking with us on the Uncommon Path, you help to make each day an interesting one.

Best of British,

SHAWN E. PARR
THE GUVNER

Photo: Garrett Patz

Shawn Parr Guvner and CEO of Bulldog Drummond

Shawn Parr is the Guvner and CEO of Bulldog Drummond, and Co-founder and CIO of YouSchool. He writes for Fast CompanyPSFK and is a sought-after speaker.

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