WCD speaks to Frank Fredericks, CEO at Mean Communications, USA and Founder of World Faith.

World Company Day (WCD): What do you do as a company?

Frank Fredericks (FF): Mean communications assists startups, nonprofits, and corporations to articulate their purpose through engaging storytelling, the latest social media, and the most compelling narrative.

World Company Day (WCD): What is your purpose as a company and why is it important?

Frank Fredericks (FF): When I was three years old, I couldn’t speak. My parents were worried, because although I wasn’t mute, I was completely fluent in my own brand of gibberish. Little did my parents know that I was suffering a long-term effect of a milk allergy, giving me earache after earache. Essentially, underneath those tufts of curly brown hair were ears with water sloshing behind my eardrums. It was only after they discovered my allergy to milk and I underwent a series of tubes in my ears that I began to hear normally and thus began the journey of learning to speak at the ripe age of four. It seems that my first great challenge in life was learning how to communicate.

Today, we at Mean Communications realise that not only is it difficult to know how to navigate the constantly shifting tides of communications platforms, it’s also tough to find a message that cuts through the noise and resonates with your audience. Sometimes, it feels like you’re hearing everything under water and everything coming out of your organisation is being heard as gibberish. We try to help clients get the water out of their ears, find their voice, and shine.

Mean Communications volunteers ample time to support the work of World Faith, a global development and peace-building organisation.

World Company Day (WCD): Can you share a story that best describe the culture of your company?

Frank Fredericks (FF): While I don’t have a specific story to tell, I will say that our cultural differentiation is pretty clear. We only work from the office 1-3 days a week, opting for telecommuting at least as much as we’re in the office. Our office is in a shared space with many people working on issues facing religious youth, nonprofits and social change, on the vibrant and forward-thinking campus of New York University, my alma mater. We value being professional without necessarily being formal and being aggressive in our work while playful in our daily interactions with one another, the clients and those working in the space with us.

World Company Day (WCD): Share an example of how you are working with suppliers and partners to improve the state of the industry or the world?

Frank Fredericks (FF): The vast majority of our clients are nonprofits, government agencies or socially responsible startups. We are passionate about social innovation and believe that all organisations, profitable or not, have a responsibility to contribute to a better world. Similarly, one of our core brand values is “social good”. Every enterprise is about change: systemic change, behavioral change and thought change. However, not all change is for the better. If a potential client hurts consumers, laborers or the environment, we tell them that they should find another communications firm.

World Company Day (WCD): Tell us a special moment when a customer gave you a feedback that helped you.

Frank Fredericks (FF): I’ve been working with Faith House Manhattan, a client, for over two years now, and have known the organisation for years before that.  We really took some aggressive steps to help pivot the organisation in a way that increases impact and makes it more financially sustainable. A move that includes risk and requires a great amount of faith. Samir Selmanovic, the founder, really gave us the space to do our work and in a review he gave us, wrote:

“Frank’s work has been superb and timely, but there was much more to it.  He would open new worlds for us.  With Frank, there was never fear that the best practices, cutting edge technology, and latest media advancement would leave us behind.  He sifts through everything, both in terms of what we really need and what is possible.  He learns from us and then teaches. We always emerged from working with him with more team capabilities.” (full text here)

His kind words really inspired us to continue being fearless in taking on complex challenges and building creative solutions.

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Mean Communications conducted an organisation immersion for Faith House Manhattan with a group of students from Sweden, seen here in discussion with Imam Khalid Latif.

World Company Day (WCD): What does your company believe in and why?

Frank Fredericks (FF): We believe that communicating purpose should be a creative, playful and collaborative process of telling your story. This is critical because we believe that the future of communications will be about cultivating powerful communicators, rather than simply clever campaigns.

World Company Day (WCD): Why is world company day important?

Frank Fredericks (FF): In our generation there has been a fairly prominent idea perpetuated that juxtaposes nonprofits to corporations or profitable ventures. I believe this is a false narrative that pits two sectors against each other that have the most to gain by collaboration. While there is a huge surge forward in social business and social enterprising, I believe it is just at its infancy and I believe that World Company Day can play a vital role in moving it forward.

Another volunteer event with the Mean Communications team, this time for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Another volunteer event with the Mean Communications team, this time for the victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

World Company Day (WCD): At the end of the day, how do you know if your company has contributed towards shaping a better world?

Frank Fredericks (FF): We’re metrics-focused, so I think the impact can be found in the numbers. However, outputs are not outcomes, so if we’re effective in helping our clients fulfill their missions, then our success is tied to their impact, whether it’s in education, poverty alleviation, peace-building or other important causes.

World Company Day is officially launched on 15th of August in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam as a world-wide initiative by Shape the World Conference.

Today, companies shape every aspect of our lives. From creating opportunities, influencing choices, managing resources of the earth, the way business is conducted can and should be for the greater good. This is why it is important to have an annual day to celebrate the good that companies are doing all around the world and encourage others to do the same. We invite all companies to join us and henceforth commit to building companies that will shape a better world and to advocate the United Nations to set aside 15th of August as World Company Day. More details and pledge here: www.worldcompanyday.org