Clare Munn, Founder The Communication Group on working with Patricia Arquette

Clare Munn is Founder and CEO of The Communication Group, a new media company founded in 2004 which focuses on effective communication and strategies.

A leader in the branding, communication, social media and collaborative learning & technology space, Clare was instrumental in raising over $25 million for Playback Media and Employment Law Training Inc. – the first multidimensional, online site for compliance in 1997 still being used today.

After growing up in Zimbabwe, Clare traversed the world of design and technology, and is now leveraging her know-how into CQ™, a personal theory to help express and receive amongst different communication styles.

Clare is a frequent speaker at events such as Fashion Forward, Adtech, Aol TEDWomen, West Coast Green.

We spoke to Clare about her tips for entrepreneurs; the startup she most admires; and her new communication model which bridges IQ and Emotional Intelligence.

TNW: How did you come up with the idea for TCG, SocMe, CQ and then arrive at the decision to turn your idea into a reality?

CM: I use both sides of my head; always have. When working on a new or existing project, I think creatively and then I need to see a structure for it to be produced. So it is a vision and then I see a product. With The Communication Group in 2004, I was not clear on what the next technology product should be, so I used the creative side of what I do, had an opportunity to pitch an idea to a large company and the next minute we had agency. Our agency concentrates on three main components: strategy, branding, and technology, plus digital campaigns and what we now call social media. Because I am a technologist, applying this to website development and having intelligent backends such as a content management system — is about efficiency, simplicity and seamless productivity.

With regards to CQ (Communication Quotient), I don’t believe you can do anything effectively without first knowing what you want to say and considering one’s intention. Once you understand what you’re trying to say and understand who is going to receive that information, you can drive any project very effectively. I believe that this can also apply to your personal life.  I saw CQ very clearly about four years ago as a bridge between your IQ  and EQ . With CQ, you funnel what you are trying to say and what you are accountable for. I believe some people have very low levels of CQ and others very high levels. I seem to be above average in my CQ for business but often times, I find that an emotional situation can trigger a low level of CQ in me.  The good news is that unlike IQ, there are ways to improve our CQs. 

SocMe is short for social media. We have been requested on numerous occasions to train people in this area. We put them not only through social media training but equip them with brand strategy, brand effectiveness, and understanding project management.

I see these three as all products and services we offer that feed and rely on each other.  TCG is the creative branding assets of what we do. Then there is CQ, which is effective communication and finally, SocMe the education competent.

The short answer to your question is that The Communication Group was not an idea born over night; it has been an organic process where I have listened to what people wanted and tried to create answers. I believe people want to be recognized, to be heard and to be set up in a way that includes reputation management; that includes both integrity and relevancy. I feel happy, proud and pleased that to have created a basket of ingredients and recipes to do this.

TNW: What makes your company different from your competitors?

CM: I would say everything that I have said to question one. It is our passion for teaching, publishing, and curiosity that makes The Communication Group different.  We have a variety of ingredients and recipes that we offer clients. We also like to think of solutions that can be simplified so our clients can feel empowered to make their own decisions and develop their own strategies. We use a common sense process that we call 0-10 Approach that begins with understanding the intention of our client.

TNW: What is your business model?

CM: The Communication Group is a holding company for 4 separate divisions: TCG is the agency for branding and works with massive commerce sites; 7 Media House creates both photo and video shoots for clients; Social Presence was developed for emerging markets and a solution to jump start companies; SocMe is a tool that we have developed to train individuals in social media that empowers them to have their own online conversations. Lastly, CQ was developed with partner Patricia Arquette and as we speak, we are refining the model. CQ aims to help people quickly and clearly improve their own communication intelligence.  

TNW: When you built your team, what are the key qualities you looked for to ensure the success of your business?

CM: I look for individuals who have a global curiosity; an immediate understanding between venting and gossiping; exemplify resourceful behavior; and display compassion and consideration of others – community service or helping one another.

Intelligence is of course important but I believe you become intelligent if you have the previous list of components. Anyone can learn if they are open to learning. Anyone can be curious if they already know to ask a question. 

TNW: Who were your first customers and how hard was it to attract them?

CM: I have an eclectic network.  First customer Maxstor was sold to Seagate, and that happened over a simple conversation. It is about reputation and network, and most of our customers have been very happy. But when we do not manage expectations that is when we lose control of how they feel about us.

TNW: Who are your customers and partners now?

CM: There are over 600 million websites today and business owners are constantly looking for ways to make people aware of their websites. Those are our customers. Our customers are fashion, wellness, campaigns, entertainment, technology and leaders or public figures. It doesn’t matter if we are selling shoes or reports we use same 0-10 Approach.

TNW: What is your marketing strategy and what has been the most effective source of new customers so far?

CM: Our marketing strategy is organic; it is who we meet or who refers us. We are currently refining by getting back into speaking engagements and our own social media campaigns. Then we have to walk our talk with 0-10 Approach.

TNW: What is next for your company?

CM: We are launching new brand identities and putting a sales strategy in place.

TNW: Have you come across any other exciting start-ups recently and what is it about them that appeals to you?

I love the passion and sweat and tears put into entrepreneurship but I love Sonja Nunttall’s – a new up-cycling model for jewelry and watches made of recycled materials. 

There is no shortage of amazing ideas; it's about the process of bringing into fruition.

TNW: What are the advantages of gender diversity in a start-up? Are there any disadvantages?

CM: I am gender blind, color blind, age blind, preference blind, but having said that I have been fortunate to have been in denial that I am a women with an attitude of confidence. It makes me wild when I see a glass ceiling. That advantage of a diverse team is huge. I look at attitudes verses gender.  One reason why I look to mentor women is because we are not at the point of equality yet. If we don’t have the balance of attitudes and respect in a team, things will go haywire.  

TNW: What lessons have you taken from your successes &/or failures?

Focus is a very big lesson. When you know what it is that you want to do and you have this ability to be talented in various areas you can be pulled in different directions.

I have mastered the concept of focus but it is a difficult skill, so it greatly that helps to surround yourself with team who is proactive and prepared. My failures have been because of what I just said; I have the ability to come up with a million ideas at once. When I haven’t surrounded myself with a team to execute, I fail.  In order to create success or failure you need communication. You will fail if your communication isn’t effective, you will succeed if you communication is effective.

TNW: Do you have any tips or any advice for women who are thinking about becoming entrepreneurs?

CM: I advise entrepreneurs to know what it is they want to do, to keep their soft side, and to believe in themselves. Don’t get annoyed or bitter in the workplace. Be smarter than everyone in the room by doing your research.

Delegate well. Document when you are not happy, keep learning, and ask questions. And always be kind and gentle with yourself. 

"I am gender blind, color blind, age blind, preference blind" This type of attitude is one we should all carry.

Clare's interview read to be a inspiring, positive and optimistic insight into life, society and communication. The idea behind CQ is profound, I wonder why it has taken this long for someone to realise it. Clare is modest about her own levels of CQ but it is easy to see that she is leaps and bounds ahead of many of us. Rather than incubate this Clare has managed to realise it into all aspects of her daily and working life. A great read and I'll be looking forward to hearing more in the future.

I'm confused. She talks about being a mentor (i.e. a leader), but says her failures come from not "delegating well" and to always "document when you're not happy"? I'm sorry, but that that sounds more like how to avoid responsiblity, not how to be a positive role model for women

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