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International Entrepreneur Brian Linden Speaks to MSLCE Students on Developing Cultural Enterprises

By Chad Hewitt

Personally, one of my favorite aspects of the MSLCE program is the manner in which each course within the curriculum builds upon and interacts with each other. For example, while learning about the cultural wealth and economic development of various cities around the world is interesting in and of itself, the material in our Culture and Globalization class takes on new meaning and significance in the context of our Marketing for Creative Enterprises course. we Were recently given a valuable, integrated lesson in developing and branding cultural enterprises when Brian Linden of the Linden Centre visited our Marketing course to tell us how he built a sustainable and profitable organization focused on giving back to the community.
At its core, the Linden Centre is a boutique hotel and cultural exchange center. Centered in XizhouYunnan in Southwest China, the property is situated within a nationally protected heritage site of a Bai style home which Linden and his wife began renovating in 2007. Unlike many other boutique hotels, the Linden Centre focuses on heritage protection and cultural sustainability in order to enrich the surrounding community of Xizhou. Guests of the Linden Centre are encouraged to engage in deep exploration and interaction with the center’s staff and nearby villagers in order to, as Linden puts it, “leave the area with a much deeper and more empathetic understanding of China.”

Linden’s original vision for his company was founded on the idea that a “country can achieve diplomatic goals through culture and that its culture can have an impact on its diplomatic goals.” This is especially relevant to the students in the Culture and Globalization course as we learn about promoting the cultural wealth and soft power of global cities. Linden’s talk with the students was especially valuable because we were given insight into Linden’s branding strategy: building a hotel experience centered on community and education versus a simple gimmick, which as we have learning in Marketing is never sustainable.

As we begin to prepare for our final projects and summer internships, it is important for us to remember that all of the indispensable strategies and perspectives we have learned over the last year can be combined to build something culturally enriching and financially viable. Guests speakers like Mr. Linden prove how effectively it can be accomplished.

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