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Why Mindset Matters: Using Emotional Intelligence And Leadership To Rebrand Disability (Part Two)

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Why Mindset Matters: Using Emotional Intelligence And Leadership To Rebrand Disability (Part Two)

Marketing guru and social psychologist Clotaire Rapaille wrote in his book, The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Buy and Live as They Do, that, “Emotions are the keys to learning, the keys to imprinting. The stronger the emotion, the more clearly the experience is learned.” In recent years, due to the impact of this cultural convergence of disability in relation to popular culture discussed in part one of this article, major brands have begun to embrace this attitude and taken the lead through shaping the perception of disability by both educating consumers about a whole new market segment that has a broad appeal beyond its intended target. The design and implementation of a myriad of inclusive products have a coolness factor that is making people rethink one’s attitude toward disability.

One of the more iconic brands to promote the concept of inclusive design is Nike, which was born out of necessity. Nike’s CEO Mark Parker wanted to help an employee who recently had a stroke, but it wasn’t until 2012 that Matthew Walzer, a high school student with Cerebral Palsy, wrote an open letter explaining the need for accessible supportive footwear. The letter came to the attention of Tobie Hatfield, Nike’s Senior Director of Athletic Innovation. Hatfield eventually reached out to Walzer and worked on developing a prototype that met his needs. After several iterations, the Nike FlyEase was born, which gave Walzer the independence he so desperately craved. However, Nike wasn’t done, the company had the foresight to see the long-term economic possibilities of this new market. So, they created the Nike Ease Challenge, an open competition that invites designers, engineers and other innovators to produce a more hands-free design for performance footwear and reinvent design for athletes of all abilities. Since then, inclusive design has become a critical expression of the DNA of Nike’s brand. As Parker stated, “Nike is driven by a competitive spirit that drives us to do the seemingly impossible for our athletes…. Today, we are working with others who share our passion for removing barriers through breakthrough innovation. I can’t wait to see what powerful ideas come out of this challenge.” Read more.