experiences

Take a Mental Health Day. Or Three.

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We're deep in the throes of programming Techonomy '18, the flagship conference for Techonomy Media. It will be 3 days of intense discussions about the impact of technology on business and society and given the current state of things, some of the conversations are taking a dystopian turn. But that keeps it interesting, right?

Techonomy founder and host David Kirkpatrick  has been writing about some of the things you can expect while you're there and the variety of voices you will hear. I'm excited that Manoush will be joining the program to talk about her revolutionary journalism experiment (if you haven't started listening to her new podcast ZigZag, you should probably go ahead and catch up now). We've also got Marissa Mayer joining us - can't wait to hear what she's working on these days; and, Tim Berners-Lee, who will shed some light on what the internet has become. There will be a live debate, hosted by the Intelligence Squared folks (and the topic they're developing is super provocative) and a live musical performance by a special guest (we're debating internally - so many bands!). 

And, it will be at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, CA. Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in the country (see photo!). So, yea -- you should probably find a way to join the program. Your brain and your body will thank you for it. (and if you want to learn more about how to participate, email me)

 

 

 

A New Vision for Ford and the city of Detroit

This week, the Techonomy team and I went to Detroit to meet with Ford to learn about their vision for the future. Part of that future includes bringing the company back downtown. They've purchased the Michigan Central Station, the iconic building that has been vacant since 1988. Ford will take on the massive task of renovating the building to create a new workspace in Corktown. 

We also hosted a community event at Gold Cash Gold, a fantastic local restaurant in a former pawn shop. Chef Brendon Edwards is a super cool, low-key guy who made his famous fried chicken for us (even though it wasn't on the menu) and spent time chatting with everyone who attended.  

Here's Techonomy founder David Kirkpatrick's report from the trip

I've been to Detroit regularly over the last few years (as I've written about before) and each time, it's striking to see the change happening in the city. See below -- two photos of the same house, taken 5 years apart.

 Photo taken in 2013

Photo taken in 2013

 Undergoing renovations in 2018

Undergoing renovations in 2018

Techonomy New York

This week, the Techonomy team hits New York in what promises to be a provocative, informative, action-packed conference. Former WPP CEO Martin Sorrell will open and iconic NY chef Eric Ripert will close day one, May 8; and celebrated environmentalist Jeffrey Sachs gets things going on day two, May 9 - which wraps up with discussions about AI, robots, blockchain, and inevitably, Facebook (co-founder Chris Hughes is our final speaker). 

If you're interested in attending, head over to our events page

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For Women Only (a new event series)

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Long before #metoo and the recent awareness about women's issues, I was having conversations about how to create something for women - an event, a media platform, a company. A platform for diverse female voices to talk about real issues, solve problems, and just have a comfortable place to hang out with like-minded women. 

As an event producer and programmer, I find the lack of female representation at conferences appalling, and have worked to correct it where possible. It is more difficult than it should be to get a company to put forward a female speaker. I've heard many ridiculous excuses and have often been ignored when requesting a female speaker, even when pressing to hit a 50/50 gender balanced stage. The recent call out of lack of female presenters at CES by the Advertising industry is a step in the right direction, for sure; but we still have a long way to go. 

In response, I'm starting an event series for women. It's not the most original idea, of course, but I have been thinking about doing it for a long time. There's no reason to wait. I have two amazing partners in this effort - Manoush Zomorodi, who is a co-founder and host; and, Amee Mungo, a digital strategist and entrepreneur who has been scheming with me for years. 

Our first event is on January 25 in NYC. Our mission is to build a strong, vibrant community of women who don't need anyone's permission or promotion to speak. We will cover issues that we grapple with every day, and provide an open, supportive network from which to pull inspiration, ideas, and energy. Away from the internet, IRL. 

Details: 

Thursday, January 25
5:30PM at
Norwood Club

Our first event features Manoush in conversation with Azita Ardakani about how our unconscious world shapes our career more than we know; and that by having a relationship with our inner world, we can empower what we create in our outer world.

If you're interested in learning more, please get in touch

 

Edits from The Edit

There's an internal debate going on at Studio Kairos about which medium is most valuable when sharing news and content - a blog, a newsletter, or social? Social trumps all, I think, so really the question is what complements that effort? To find out, we've been off the blog for a few weeks to work on our version of a newsletter. It's called The Edit and we launched it this week. Here are a few stories that were in the newsletter - and, a few that weren't. 

If you're interested in receiving The Edit in your Inbox once a month, let us know!

September is Productivity Month

Dan Costa interviews NerdWallet founder & CEO Tim Chen about the future of finance. 

Dan Costa, Editor-In-Chief of PCMag.com, was recently in San Francisco to interview several tech company founders about productivity, including Tim Chen (above), the CEO of NerdWallet. Tim thinks of NerdWallet as a "book of maps" for personal finance, orienting people so they can make the best financial decisions for every stage of life. He and Dan covered a lot of ground in their conversation - how NerdWallet is applying social to a FinTech product, Millennial consumers, Artificial Intelligence, Bitcoin, and why Tim tries to "be more analog", only checking into Twitter every 3 months. Listen to the interview with Tim on the Fast Forward podcast

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Can your office furniture impact your productivity? Sophia Stuart recently visited the Herman Miller showroom in Culver City, CA, for a look at Live OS, the company’s new sensor equipped desks.  

Ryan Anderson, head of commercialization for Herman Miller's IoT Solutions, spoke with Stuart about the concept behind the furniture. Anderson commented, "We asked ourselves, what would it look like to have sensor-enabled furniture? In a mobile-first workplace, what are the new patterns of behavior?" To find out the answers, read Sophia’s article.

 Cocktail hour at Lazy Bear, San Francisco

Cocktail hour at Lazy Bear, San Francisco

Fine Dining, Disrupted

Inside a nondescript, dodgy-looking building in the Mission is one of San Francisco’s most innovative dining experiences: Lazy Bear, a “modern American dinner party”. Once an exclusive supper club started by lawyer-turned-chef David Barzelay, Lazy Bear has become one of the hottest dining events in the city.

You arrive, your coat is whisked into a closet, and a handsome host sweeps you into the cocktail lounge, where you're handed a welcome drink from the communal punchbowl. You dine on cocktail "snacks" like whipped scrambled eggs and soft-shell crab while getting to know fellow guests before dinner begins.

Each seating at Lazy Bear is limited to 40 people, split between two communal dining tables in a gorgeous, dramatically lit room. Dishes are presented individually, passionately introduced by a chef as servers deliver them to the table. It's an evening designed for interaction - conversation is encouraged, and diners are invited into the kitchen, which is open to the dining room, to chat with the chefs as they cook. 

Creating scarcity: "Each month’s tickets go on sale all at once, usually at noon on a Wednesday in the middle of the previous month." And they are sold out every month. October reservations are on sale now.
Lazy Bear, 3416 19th St, San Francisco, CA

 L.A. band Warpaint at Outside Lands.

L.A. band Warpaint at Outside Lands.

And finally, we spent the last few weeks of summer cooling off in the bay area and hit Outside Lands, the music festival held every August in Golden Gate Park.

Artists we loved:
Royal Blood - what Mike Kerr can do with a bass guitar is nothing short of extraordinary.

Maggie Rogers - to understand the buzz, watch her blow away Pharrell Williams during her final masterclass at NYU (and you can hear more about her process for writing that song, "Alaska", on Song Exploder)

Sleigh Bells, a band we've been following since 2008. The difference in their performance between those early days and now is astonishing. Alexis Krauss is a force, reminding us to practice, practice, practice.

To hear music from this year's festival, hit the playlist button below.

The Future lives at Moogfest

The future of music festivals and tech conferences is embodied in Moogfest. It's taken awhile for people to catch up, but each year the festival goes on, another round of people head to Durham to celebrate their interest in music along with a fascination - and concern - about our collective future. It's a wonderfully diverse, edgy, and true to it's mission, future forward experience. 

"At Moogfest, the technology, in turn, pointed toward ideas about what happens at the human-machine interface: scientific, spiritual, pleasurable, dystopian. It celebrated not only the gizmos that humans invent to play music, but also the ways that music plays the brain." - NY Times

City Brilliance: New Orleans

After many years of traveling the world to meet with clients and work on projects (plus, I just like to travel) you might think that my favorite places are far-flung locations that require an overnight flight and subscription to Duolingo. It's partially true - there's nothing quite like landing in a city or country where you don't speak the language, can't make sense of the landscape, and need to adapt quickly to new cultural norms. (Jan Chipchase recently wrote a great post about this) But guess what? That can happen in this country, too.

  The iconic Blue Dog by artist George Rodrigue.

The iconic Blue Dog by artist George Rodrigue.

New Orleans is America's most exotic city. Put simply, it's not like anywhere else and arriving there can be a shock to the system. The accent is southern but different somehow, and often difficult to understand. The streets feel more European than American. Mother Nature plays all her keys here -- a damp chill in winter, unbearable heat in the summer, and when it rains, it feels like the world is about to end.

To people who don't venture far outside the French Quarter, I suppose it feels like a Hollywood studio or Epcot - not real, just an escape from reality where the world is made of beignets, Hurricane cocktails, pretty plantation homes and jazz music. That's certainly part of it. But to me, New Orleans is as real as it gets. The city has a deep and complicated history, and there is a true sense of place. The best way to visit New Orleans is to see it all, even if you've only got a day or two. It's one of the world's most enriching destinations.

So, when I had a client project that was focused on improving storytelling capabilities (read: rethink their marketing message, give better presentations, increase engagement), simply running a workshop in a meeting room was not going to do it. They needed to get out in the world and find some stories of their own so they could get some fresh perspective and get back into practice. The obvious solution: an off-site, immersive working session in New Orleans. 

 The famous above-ground tombstones.

The famous above-ground tombstones.

From Tennessee Williams to Anne Rice to Louis Armstrong and Lucinda Williams, New Orleans-born and bred writers, artists, and musicians have been telling their stories to the world throughout history. So, we spent our days with storytellers. We began by grounding ourselves in the place itself via a walking tour with the charming Dr Gumbo. "The Cure for the Common Tour" was a walk along the riverfront, through the colorful history of the city, finishing up - as you do - in a bar, cocktail in hand. We spent an afternoon inside The Cabildo talking about writing and storytelling with Tom Piazza, one of the lead writers on HBO's "Treme". We had lunch at the Contemporary Arts Center with a jazz band, learning about the importance of improvisation in music and art (and, innovation) in between musical interludes. 

We worked into the evening, albeit around the dinner table or at the bar, learning about the history of cocktails from one of the city's best bartenders (because bartenders = good storytellers) or doing a whisky flight with a meal to connect the flavors of food with drink. After dinner, we found our way to Frenchman Street, where I let everyone go off to find their own adventures (totally awesome and potentially dangerous).

They all made it back in one piece and the next morning, they all had stories. 

 Inside Preservation Hall

Inside Preservation Hall

You don't have to go far to change your perspective or inject some adventure into your life, professional or otherwise. New Orleans is a great place to get it done. Here are a few places to add to your itinerary:

STAY in the Warehouse District or Garden District, not the French Quarter. I like Old 77 and the Henry Howard

IF YOU MEET for business, don't meet in the hotel - book a space at one of the city's amazing museums, like CACNO

DO see some music. It spills out from everywhere so it's an easy to-do, but make sure to hit Frenchman Street and Preservation Hall. Add Tipitina'sMaple Leaf, and Candlelight Lounge.

It may seem weird to visit this museum, which is located in a residential neighborhood in a former funeral home -- but, if you want to go deep into New Orleans culture in an easy and interesting way, this is a cool experience. Backstreet Cultural Museum in Treme.

EAT everywhere. The food scene is outrageous, as you can imagine. I'd have to write an entire post dedicated to my favorite places in order to include them all. Here are two that I visit every time I'm in NOLA: Herbsaint and La Petite Grocery.

DRINK same as above: everywhere. Some of my favorites: Bouligny Tavern in the Garden district. French 75 in the French Quarter. Addiction Coffee. Catahoula for coffee and cocktails.

For more ideas, feel free to drop me a note.

Building Emotional Machines

In another conversation from SXSW, Dan talks to Sophie Kleber, Executive Director of Product and Innovation at HUGE, about building emotional machines. AI was a major topic at SXSW this year, from concerns about machines taking jobs from humans to the amazing things that machines will be able to do for us in the future. Sophie talks about what emotional computing is and gives some examples, along with why designers (and product developers) need to start designing for emotional intelligence now.

Shot at the HUGE Speakeasy in Austin at SXSW.

Spring 2017: Updates from the Network

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The year is heating up for Manoush Zomorodi, who is in Oxford this week speaking at the Skoll Foundation World Forum. She heads to Vancouver mid-month to speak at this year's TED conference. And this fall, her book "Bored and Brilliant: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Spacing Out" will be released on St Martin's Press. (pre-order it here)

We're super excited to announce the addition of a new speaker - Matthew Brimer, co founder of global learning experience General Assembly and the awesome morning dance party Daybreaker. I first saw Matt speak in this video (HustleCon 2015), loved his story as well as his businesses, which are designed to build communities. His thinking on the future of work and education is especially timely now, as people seek to update their skills to move forward in their careers or start on a new journey personally and professionally.

Finally, we made it back from SXSW in one piece, with a ton of new content for Fast Forward, Dan Costa's interview show about living in the future. If you've never been to SXSW, his series from Austin will give you a snapshot of what you'll see and hear while there; and if you have been, you know how overwhelming the festival can be -- think of this as a curated program from 2017. The interviews will be posted each week, starting with his interview with VP of Product for Pandora. Pandora launched a new premium service at SXSW, one that rivals Spotify and delivers a "unique set of playlist features tailored to each person's distinct preferences".  

Fast Forward with Dan Costa: Interview with Chris Becherer, VP of Product, Pandora

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Become a Pilot. (or maybe just visit an airplane factory)

So many things in this piece about being a Pilot, from where one might get a job (in case coal mining doesn't make a comeback) to reminding ourselves of why we should travel (especially now, against the frenzy over travel bans and nationalism). If nothing else, just a beautiful essay on the life of a Pilot. Worth reading.

Also: time to plan a trip to an airplane factory.

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