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Leaders Of Transformation | Conscious Business | Global Transformation | Leadership Development

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Jan 2, 2019

What if you could bring value to a relatively untapped market of 2 billion people? Rich Donovan, founder of the Return on Disability Group and author of Unleash Different: Achieving Business Success Through Disability teaches companies like Google, PepsiCo and Nordstrom how to do exactly that.

Rich is a globally recognized subject matter expert on the convergence of disability and corporate profitability. The Barclays Return on Disability ETN listed on the New York Stock Exchange on September 11th, 2014 under the ticker RODI. He has been named one of the Top 50 Most Influential People with Disabilities in the world by UK-based Powerful Media and Shaw Trust in October 2016.

Rich provides corporate and government clients with insights and tools to frame disability as a global emerging market. His proprietary and proven process translates disability success factors into specific actions that create sustainable value.

In today’s conversation, Rich shares his own journey with cerebral palsy and how he came to work with the world’s top companies, offering them a unique perspective that drives bottom line profitability while creating opportunities to delight and attract people with a disability. Rich redefines consumer demand and invites us into a different worldview where disability drives innovation, and customers on the fringe become the focus of inquiry and feedback. 

There’s a reason Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft are some of the largest companies in the world right now. They’ve all figured this out. Rich explains how you can implement these same strategies in your business large or small, and why it’s imperative that you do. Consumers now expect companies to serve what we call diversity the way they serve every other customer, and those that ignore it will not be around for long.

We round out our conversation with Rich sharing his passion for people with disabilities, and emphasizing the huge cost to humanity by not valuing the intelligence and talents that they bring. The tide is shifting and the sooner we embrace this shift, the better it will be for everyone. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Approximately 25% of the global population self-declares themselves as having a disability.
  2. People with disabilities are really good at saying “OK this path is not available to me, I have to take another path. I have to do some differently that will allow me to achieve the same result as somebody else, just not in the same way.” That’s where innovation comes from – being forced to do something differently.
  3. We tend to look at diversity as a moral construct. The reality is that it’s a way of looking at demand differently.
  4. Consumer demand has changed dramatically in the last 10 years where now they expect companies to serve what we call diversity the way they serve every other customer.
  5. You’re never going to invent the next car by asking your core customer what they want. You have to go to the fringes, go to the edges, go to the extreme users and ask them, “What would make this easier for you? What would make you want to come back to my store, use my product, come to my bank?” You can learn from that use case to apply to your core customer.
  6. If I can make a car easier to drive for somebody with one arm, I can make that car easier to drive for someone with two arms.
  7. Companies don’t change if it’s not in their best interests. Rather than fight that reality, harness that reality.
  8. Don’t worry about offending people. If you’re an honest person who just wants to listen, ask a question.
  9. Society is shifting from disability being a problem to it being part of the human reality, or actually an asset.
  10. The most successful person in the world is just a person who decided to do something. They took a risk.


Unleash Different

Learn More & Connect With Rich Donovan