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Grant McCracken    

Author, Chief Culture Officer

Trained as an anthropologist (Ph.D. University of Chicago), Grant McCracken has studied American culture and business for 25 years.

He has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and worked for many organizations including Timberland, New York Historical Society, Diageo, IKEA, Sesame Street, Nike and Kimberly Clark.

He started the Institute of Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum, where he did the first museum exhibit on youth cultures.

He has taught at the University of Cambridge, MIT and the Harvard Business School.

He is a long time student of culture and commerce. Many academics prefer to look askance at interactions of culture and commerce. He has explored this theme in two books: Culture and Consumption I, and Culture and Consumption II.

He has also looked at how Americans invent and reinvent themselves. He had explored this theme in two more books: Big Hair and Transformations: identity construction in a contemporary culture.

He is the student of American culture. Plenitude published in 1997 looked at the new explosive growth of contemporary culture. In Flock and Flow, he shows how contemporary culture and commerce change.

Two years ago, he published a book called Chief Culture Officer with Basic Books that argues that culture now creates so much opportunity and danger for the organization that need senior managers who focus on it full time. He is hoping this will create a new occupational destination for graduates in the arts and humanities.

This spring McCracken is publishing a book called Culturematic with the Harvard Business Review Press.

Speech Topics


Chief Culture Officer

This talk comes from Grant McCracken's award winning book of the same title. The ability to understand and act on culture is becoming the corporation's new competitive advantage. Some corporations do it well: Nike, Apple, Starbucks. Others have done it badly. It is time for the corporation to improve its game, to get as good at culture as it is at management, finance, human capital and technology. Culture is our "last mile," the core competence the corporation must master now to flourish in the world. This talk is filled with many great examples and how tos.

10 Tools: How to Build Brands in a Digital World

The digital revolution is changing what the consumer wants from the brand. We are beginning to see that brands and consumers can work together, in the creation of new content and value, in new acts of collaboration. It's time for brands to dive into the digital revolution. The opportunities are astounding.

Financial Marketing: Climbing the Value Hierarchy

Looks at the big problems that interfere with marketing for capital markets. Specifically, it looks at three generations of this marketing: 1) the early days, 2) best practice right now and 3) what the future holds. Financial services have been perhaps the most challenging area of marketing. Consumers are often confused, innumerate and frightened. But this means there are tremendous opportunities for those prepared to break with the old paradigm and embrace a cultural approach.

How I Almost Lost Control of my Bladder on the Oprah Winfrey Show

American culture is more and more a celebrity culture. But we don't really understand why celebrities matter so much to us, and this means that the corporation has much to learn here. (The art of celebrity endorsement is particularly terrible.) This talk is about what our love of celebrities says about us as a culture, and how we can turn this knowledge to our advantage in the marketplace.

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