Defeating the Enemy of Wellness — You

Guest post by Jacob Braude, VP of Planning at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness

Wellness has an enemy, and despite what you may have been told, it’s not Voldemort – it’s you. And me. It’s all of us. When it comes to wellness, we are often our own greatest adversaries. But don’t get down on yourself, because it isn’t really your fault. The fault lies in your unconscious – or rather in the way your brain has evolved to divvy up responsibilities between your conscious awareness and your unconscious. First, let’s recap some of the more staggering evidence that you are the enemy of your wellness. Then we’ll talk about how your brain gets you into this mess, and we’ll introduce some of the new research and technologies that are making it easier for you to get out.

We already know that poor choices in what you eat and how often you get some exercise has led to a staggering rise in obesity – and all of the health risks and costs that come along with being overweight. But beyond that oversaturated story, we are learning that even something as widely consumed as sugar may have dramatic negative effects on our wellness – regardless of our weight. According to this lengthy and terrifying piece in the NY Times, some research indicates that sugar (which is in pretty much all processed foods these days) may be the poison that has been behind the rapid rise of heart disease, hypertension, and even cancer. In the article, they claim that sugar and high fructose corn syrup, could account for up to 80% of all cancers. There’s way too much science for me to explain that claim here, so go read it for yourself – it’s worth it (and yes, I still eat a ton of sugar).

Now that you’re sufficiently freaked out, let’s talk about your brain. The human brain is the most complex structure in the known universe. There are more connections in your brain than there are atoms in the universe. And all of that magnificent processing power runs on approximately 20 watts of electricity. Compare that to the 85,000 watts required to run IBM’s Watson (the super computer they built that recently dominated past Jeopardy champions), and you get a sense of just how remarkable your brain is. One of the most important ways your brain conserves power is to automate as much of your behavior as possible by shifting it into your unconscious. It takes a lot of energy to make a conscious decision – to sort through all of the options and make a choice. It takes very little energy to follow a pre-programmed script.

Here’s a good example: have you ever gotten in your car with the intention of going someplace, then you zoned out and realized that you had driven yourself somewhere else? Driving is a decision-intensive activity. You have to take in a lot of sensory data and make a lot of choices. How much gas, when to break, where to turn – but almost all of us can make these decisions while thinking about something completely unrelated, because these behaviors have become automated and are handled by our unconscious.

Wellness behaviors are handled the same way. What you eat. When you exercise. How you handle stress. All of these behaviors are largely automated, and once they are programmed into your unconscious, it’s ridiculously hard to re-program them. It requires persistence, effort and repeated failure. It requires willpower.

Luckily for us we live in an era where we are not just becoming aware of how our own automated behaviors are sabotaging our personal wellness, we have new technologies (like the passive monitoring FitBit or UP) and insights to help us be more successful at reprogramming ourselves. I’m going to talk about three of the big ones at Social Media Week and run a live experiment to help you understand this, on Friday 2/17 at 11am. If you can’t make it, I’ll follow up this post with more info on what I spoke about. The three I will tackle are:

Willpower. We now know from a number of experiments, that willpower is a real thing, and that it functions under similar rules as your muscles. It is fueled by glucose, it gets stronger with training and it has a finite amount of strength – meaning every conscious decision you make will make the next choice harder.

Social influence. Lots of research has begun to unearth how the people around you influence your programmed behaviors – often without you even knowing it is happening. This has big consequences for the role of social media in health and wellness.

Feedback loops. The proliferation of devices that measure our behavior, and the use of data visualization to reflect that behavior back at us in totally new ways, has rapidly accelerated our ability to deliberately reprogram our behaviors.

I’m going to wrap all this info inside an experiment to test one of the key hypotheses: that socially-enabled feedback loops can strengthen your willpower. Remember to register to attend and look out for an announcement for the beginning of the experiment. We won’t have any idea before the talk whether it will work or not, so it should be fun to see the results live.

In the mean time, please visit our Quora board on willpower and feedback loops to learn more and contribute to the conversation.

Hope to see you there.

Advisory Board Member Christian Borges: Social Media has revolutionized Back-to-School; Most brands miss the boat.

Christian Borges
is the VP of Marketing at Mr. Youth, the agency known for its innovation, fresh thinking, and awesome atmosphere. He’s spent a good chunk of his career immersed in the world of communications and experiential marketing, creating cutting-edge strategies that engage consumes both online and in the physical world. His resume boasts names such as Deep FocusWeber Shandwick, Ogilvy PR, and Fleishman-Hillard, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have him as part of our SMW NYC Advisory Board.

During SMW12, Christian and his colleague David Yarus, Marketing Manager, are hosting The New College Orientation: How Social Media Has Revolutionized Back-to-School. This not-to-be-missed event at IAB‘s NYC Headquarters will take participants back to their glory days, leading them through the world of those first magical days of university life. Their format is such an interesting take on the freshman experience, we had to learn more.

Tell us more about your event!

We’ve been studying the impact of Social Media on the college consumer for years, and this year we’re revealing some of our most powerful findings to date. Essentially, back-to-school and the college orientation experience has changed dramatically as a result of social media. As soon as students receive acceptance letters in March, they immediately turn to Facebook and create online communities with their incoming class. These hyper-active communities are transforming what was once a week-long orientation in August into an extended journey, where students connect with one another and gather important information online.

By studying the conversations and overall activity across two hundred of the largest Class-of-2015 Facebook communities, we have decoded the back-to-school experience post-by-post. Our analysis reveals an unprecedented understanding of the journey through the lens, lives, and keystrokes of the students themselves. Our event features an immersive sensory experience and in-depth conversation around the findings of this study.

What inspired you?

We wanted to  move away from the typical panel and create something exciting for SMW NYC attendees. We challenged ourselves to break out of the mold and change the game. By collaborating with the IAB and students from around the world, we’ve developed an even that brings the modern back-to-school journey to life.

How many students helped you with your concept?

Ten students from around the globe met weekly for the past month through Google+ Hangouts to collaborate and concept the various builds. There are eight core conversations woven through the six month journey and our team of student creatives developed each conversation into an installation piece. That said, since this data was collected from over 54,000 threads written by over 50,000 students, we’d like to think they helped develop the concept as well.

How has school orientation changed?

Graduating high school represents one of the most formative moments of these students lives. After living under the authority of their parents, students are finally the drivers of their own car: decisions, lifestyle, and their future is up to them. When transitioning to college, students are given the opportunity to redefine who they are and can reshape the identity and reputation they’ve previously developed.

Whether this is for the better or worse is hard to say, but one thing is for certain, as soon as they arrive at school these students are free to make entirely independent purchasing decisions. They form buying patterns and brand loyalties they’ll take with them throughout life. This presents brand marketers an incredible opportunity to add value to the back-to-school journey and maintain relevance to students at the most important time in their lives.

How is the modern high school graduate student unique?

These students grew up on Facebook (since Grade 7)! They tweet, type, and text in the blink of an eye. The world has always been at their fingertips. They don’t want your logo plastered across their chest, they pride themselves on individuality. They demand authenticity and they’re immune to ad-speak. They do their homework while watching TV, chatting online, texting, and playing Words With Friends — all at the same time. Social media is part of their DNA. The question isn’t how is the modern high school student unique, but rather what elements of our own “outdated high school experience” is still applicable today?

Register online for The New College Orientation: How Social Media Has Revolutionized Back-to-School, or send a tweet to Christian or David for more information.

Spotlight: Advisory Board Member Peter Himler

Peter Himler, twitter: @peterhimler

Esteemed SMW NYC Advisory Board member Peter Himler has served as Senior Media Strategist for several of the world’s top PR firms (think Edelman, Burson-Marsteller, Hill + Knowlton, and Cohn & Wolfe) before forming his own Flatiron Communications, LLC.

Peter is a master of teaching communications professionals techniques and trends that will serve them best. Not only does Peter advise companies on how to best take advantage of the latest tools, he also leads the Publicity Club of New York, at which he’s organized SMW12 event The Socialization of News.

An avid social media user and author of award-winning weblog The Flack, Peter is more than qualified to moderate a discussion on the way in which news content is shared and marketed. Leaders from Bloomberg News, CNN U.S., NBC News, The New York Times and Thomson Reuters will be joining him.

Peter’s also responsible for The Dawn of Companion TV, to be held at Art & Culture Content Hub at Hearst Magazines. Recognizing that the TV industry has been changed by social TV and the “second screen,” Peter has created a conversation that will dive into the phenomenon of check-ins, content, and conversations with leading personalities from Bluefin Labs, Bravo (NBC Universal), Get Glue, HBO and Umami TV.

With so much going on in Peter’s world, we asked him for a few quick thoughts, hoping to get his advice on what —and who— we should be paying attention to.

How do you stay current on what’s popular?

I enjoy the app on my iPad, which captures the articles linked to by those I’ve chosen to follow on Twitter. I also find inspiration in LongReads, the TED videos in the iTunes Store, and the current crop of non-fiction books about media and technology.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I love working with uber-smart entrepreneurs who’ve developed or are in the process of creating pathbreaking technology, apps and products. I appreciate people who recognize and understand the value communications professionals can add. It is especially gratifying to see the media engagement strategy you’ve developed yield notable, meaningful results.

You’re certainly an expert at organizing panels! Who’d be a part of your Dream Panel?

Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Tim Cook. David Carr and Nick Bilton as moderators.

You can pick one person to have coffee with. Who would it be?

Buzzfeed co-founder Jonah Peretti. I caught him at Business Insider‘s Ignition conference and was impressed by his uncanny ability (and track record) in both starting and fueling memes.

What do you do to recharge?

My wife and I live vicariously through our three sons’ lives, and most recently, our third son’s exploits as a Princeton University varsity lacrosse player. We also love to go to the Metropolitan Museum on Sundays when it first opens, grab headphones, and explore different wings. We’re out of there by noon when the crowds arrive.

If you could have any client in the world, who would you help?

I suppose it would be fun assisting Andreesen Horowitz or Kleiner Perkins discover the “next big thing.”

If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?

Discovering new tunes on or Spotify.

What advice would you have given to yourself 5 years ago?

To have attended SXSW in its early days!

Look for Peter during Social Media Week and share with him your thoughts on TV programmers, advertisers, and audience engagement. You can also follow him on twitter @peterhimler.

Our Advisory Board is Rock Solid. Meet Steven Rosenbaum.

With over 500 speakers, almost 300 events, over 120 event partners, and more than 60 locations (including our Content Hubs), SMW12 is promising to be nothing short of spectacular. Our Advisory Board has shown enthusiam and guidance throughout the planning process, sharing their time, ideas, and tweets to create the best Social Media Week yet. Drawing upon their colleagues and companies, they’re producing events such as:

BigScreen LittleScreen: Web Video Content Screenings and Discussion

Deep Focus Presents: An Evening of “Connectedness

Reflecting on 2012 Grammys Digital Partnerships, Social Media and Innovation

The Dawn of Companion TV

Get “Schooled” by the Class of 2015: The New College Orientation – Powered by Students, Enabled by Social 

…and more!

Needless to say, our Advisory Board members are some of the most talented, brightest people we know.

We caught up with one of our fiercest Advisory Board advocates, Steven RosenbaumCEO of, author of Curation Nation and entrepreneur-at-large with New York City Economic Development Corporation for some of his wisdom.

What do you read for inspiration?

Well, that’s changed a lot in the past few years. It used to be books, magazines, and newsletters. But now,  it isn’t “what do I read” but “who I follow” on twitter. And that’s what is exciting! I follow over 3,000 people from a wide range of disciplines: some folks from digital and social media, some from film, others from book publishing and magazines, a bunch of startups I’m watching, and some VC’s and folks from the NY tech and economic development world.  It’s a wide array, and I like it that way. They help me curate my content and provide me with a diverse mix of voices and perspectives.

What advice would you have given to yourself 5 years ago?

Five years ago, I thought I had to move to Silicon Valley to build a tech company. I ignored the “Go West, Young Man” meme, deciding that NY was the place to build my next company. I can’t tell you how happy I am I made that choice. Today, I think the Valley is great if you need to write a lot of code, but if you’re building a company that is what I call a “hyphen tech company’,” for example Fashion-Tech or Media-Tech or Advertising-Tech, then New York has critically important ingredients you can’t find elsewhere. The vibrancy of our arts, fashion, food, and finance creates a buzz on the street that can be the secret sauce for startups.

What is your favorite aspect of your work? is literally unlocking the frozen knowledge many of our partners have in their organizations. Putting powerful curation tools in the hands of publishers, brands, and organizations is making web video better. And not just a little better. TONS better. If you want to learn about what’s hot in NY, the video on New York Magazine is awesome. We power that. If you want to explore ideas worth sharing, TEDx has a collection of 10,000 incredible videos, and is the curation magic behind those pages. If you’re a brand that has something to say (like Patagonia‘s passion for the environment), video is what they’re going to use to share what they love. Plus, they’re amazing partners. For me, it isn’t about making content as much as it is about unlocking content — and making the world a better place by doing it.

What is the most challenging part of your job? 

I think that many people still think of video as the stuff they grew up on that their parents called “the boob tube.”  And I mean that in the most family-friendly way possible. They think it’s bubblegum or a time waster. But I think video has the power to transmit knowledge, share ideas, and cross boundaries and borders. It’s about breaking out of old ideas about what TV was and getting connected with all the things video can be. To share. To illuminate. To inform. That’s the coming revolution in web video, and the connection to the living room flatscreen.

So, tell us. What’s your dream job?

Easy: I’ve got it right now.


Look for other Advisory Board members throughout Social Media Week at the following events:

140 Characters Project: Lives Forever Transformed by Social Media

Socializing the NewsNGOs, Causes and the Original Interest Graphs – Interactive Panel Discussion

Getting to the Meat of the Tweet Redux (The Meatier and Tweetier Sequel): Applying Big Data Analytics to Social Media Data, Hosted by Opera Solutions

The Mobile-Social Living Room: How Emerging Media is Reviving the Live Television Experience

Creating Music for the Social Web 

Corporate Responsibility + Social Media – Are They Aligned in Your Organization

Is Social Media The New Mothers’ Group?

Is Social Media The New Mothers’ Group?

Guest post by Meg Akabas

I recently ventured into the world of Twitter with the encouragement of friends, colleagues, and my kids who convinced me it was an important medium to help link me to people who might benefit from my new iphone app ParentSmart. I was told Twitter is the way to find people who want my parenting expertise.

A few weeks into my Twitter journey, I’ve seen a whole new community of parents and discovered that while one might assume parents, especially those of young children, might be too darn busy for social media, moms and dads alike are thriving online.

As a parenting educator, I wanted to understand why so many parents are gravitating towards social media. I examined the content and found four main areas of attraction for parents on both Facebook and Twitter:

1. Community

Taking care of a newborn or young child can be an isolating endeavor. No longer! Parents need not rely solely on meeting other new parents at the playground or through mothers groups to stay connected. They can immediately tap into a community of parents on Facebook by joining groups, on Twitter by following other parents or parenting experts, and on any one of the thousands of mommy blogs by joining and participating in discussions. Social media provides an accessible forum for discussion with other moms and dads about public policy concerning families. This is the stuff we used to talk about at our weekly mothers group while our babies crawled around on the floor and spit-up on our shoulders.

2. Product Recommendations

When I was popping out babies (four of them), in order to get a full picture of what was available in stores or to compare products, I had to load the stroller/baby carrier/bags/etc. and visit the baby supply or toy store. Now, parents can quickly compare and review all possible infant seat models AND get recommendations from other parents through social media channels. Twitter parties and give-aways abound as a way for marketers to reach an audience eager for products and services that make life easier. On, recommendations are linked to thoughtful reviews and product details fly fast and furious from their twitter feed.

In addition, product recall information hits social media sites quickly, giving new parents piece of mind that they are aware of any safety hazards that arise.

3. Health Information

Linking with other families or professionals who can share tips on almost any health issue saves worry and time.  It’s one thing to look up symptoms in one’s dog-eared copy of Dr. Spock, but quite another to get the benefit of hundreds of other parents first-hand experience with curing a nasty diaper rash. When my son recently ran into trouble trying to take his first un-chewable pill without gagging, a swift online connection with parents who had faced this problem resulted in a perfect solution…feed him the pill in a spoonful of applesauce or pudding; it worked like a charm.

4. Parenting Advice and Inspiration 

Because babies don’t come with a “how to” guide, one is constantly trying to figure things out. When I was a new parent, I read lots of books and relied on guidance from my own parents. Social media provides much easier access to a wealth of parenting advice, and it has completely crumbled the barrier of shame or embarrassment that formerly plagued parents who thought they were the only ones struggling. Sorting through so much advice, much of it conflicting, can be difficult, but mothers and fathers are finding experts or other parents whose strategies ring true for them, and they are developing a trust in those sources.

In addition, life as a parent of a baby can be extremely tiring and often feels tedious. Now, parents are just a smartphone away from ideas for activities, recipes, positive thoughts and humor. Social media enables moms and dads to tap into the larger community, helping them to ”know better,” “do better” and “feel better” in their parenting role, which represents an opportunity for those with products or messages aimed at helping them achieve those goals. This is good news for parents, good news for me — the parenting educator — and excellent news for anyone who wants to reach this eternal market.

I just hope that all this connecting through social media isn’t distracting parents from interacting and being present with their children! (For my thoughts on that issue, click here).


Meg Akabas is a mother of four, a parenting educator, and the founder of Parenting Solutions. Meg specializes in working with parents of children up to age 10 both individually and in workshops. She helps parents tackle non-medical issues such as communication, discipline, learning, sibling rivalry, separation, and sleep problems. Download her ParentSmart app on itunes and follow her on twitter.

Spotlight: Advisory Board Member Adam Mirabella

Adam Mirabella, twitter @AdamMirabella

Adam Mirabella is Nokia’s Global Director of Digital Marketing. He manages Social Network Marketing, Digital Marketing, and key relationships with powerhouses such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and Foursquare. His mission? Leveraging Nokia’s digital marketing worldwide to deliver a crisp, relevant message for the people Nokia serves.

Nokia‘s focus? Helping people connect. Whether through devices, services, social networks, or new products, Nokia is always on the lookout for tools to make connection easier. And with Adam’s friendly nature, it’s no wonder he’s helped them achieve success.

Before claiming his current title, Adam directed Nokia’s Ovi Music Services. Commanding worldwide music retail sales and operations (including Ovi Music Unlimited, also known as Comes With Music) was no easy task, yet Adam did so with grace and dexterity. Thanks to his efforts, unlimited music download service is now available in over thirty markets, and digital music stores can be found worldwide.

A member of Nokia’s global music management team, Adam’s love of music has become a unifying force throughout his career. Collecting top-ranking positions in places like Sony Music, Atlantic Records, and the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, we naturally wanted to learn more about the Advisory Board member who truly rocks.

What do you read for inspiration?

Books about great creative people. At the moment, I’m finishing Steve Jobs’ Biography.

What is the best part of the work you do?

The prospect of creating something that has never been done before.

And the most challenging?

The prospect of creating something that had never been done before.

What do you do to recharge?

Play guitar.

You can pick one person to have coffee with. Who would it be?

Toby Daniels. He is hard to tie down!

$1 million dollars lands in your hands. What do you do with it? 

Go for ice cream. Every day.

You can find both Adam and Nokia at Social Media Week. As Global Sponsor, Nokia’s technology will be incorporated throughout the week through real-time conversation, location check-in experiences, and mobile devices. As rock star Advisory Board member, you’ll see Adam frequenting places like Hearst and Big Fuel for healthy doses of all things music and global.




Spotlight: Advisory Board Member Susan McPherson

Susan McPherson, twitter: @susanmcp1

Susan McPherson is Senior Vice President at Fenton, the nation’s leading public interest communications firm. Her focus? Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Prior to joining the Fenton team, Susan was Vice President of CSR services at PR Newswire. She helped companies communicate their CSR activities, sparked new business relationships, and managed partnerships with companies such as TechWeb, CMP Medica, and UBM International. She assisted in the launch of MediaSense, a media measurement tool, and has spent time in the editorial and marketing departments of USA Today.

An avid runner (six time marathoner!) with a kind heart for all, we asked Susan to share some of the secrets she’s learned throughout her impressive career.


What do you read for inspiration?
Nick Kristof, Seth Godin, Beth Kanter, The Guardian, The Economist and Harvard Business Review and of course, the Sunday New York Times.

What advice would you have given to yourself 5 years ago?
Don’t give up hope. Something great is around the corner.

What is your favorite part about your work with Fenton?
Everything we do is through the lens of social good. I’m inspired each and every day by the incredible colleagues I’m surrounded by (not to mention our clients as well).

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Finding time to continue to engage with all those important to me while still completing deliverables on time.

What’s your dream job?
I’m doing it!

If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?
I would let all all those who I love know it — every single day.

With over twenty years experience in marketing, public relations, communications and business development, Susan brings a wealth of  knowledge to Social Media Week. In addition to participating on our Advisory Board, Susan serves on the board of Bpeace, an organization dedicated to assisting women in regions of conflict start businesses. She is a member of Echoing Green’s Social Investment Council and the New York Leadership team for 85Broads, and advises both Plant A Fish and The OpEd Project. When she’s not advising, creating, writing, speaking, or planning, you can find her tackling the step mill at Equinox or spending time with her loved ones.

The Slacker’s Guide to Creativity

Social Media Week’s submission deadline is approaching fast, and once holiday festivities have ceased, February will be lurking around the corner. With so many tasks at hand and extra obligations piled upon typical routines, it can be difficult to set aside time to “get creative” and develop something awe-inspiring. Take the pressure off and choose one of these tactics to turn your brainrain into a brainstorm with minimal effort. AWAY

Get your heart pumping, increase blood flow and circulation, create distance between you and your project through movement. Run, skip, walk backwards, do some jumping jacks. You may find that a flash of inspiration strikes you as you loop around the block or stroll through the park.



Assume a different persona. Notice how you see the world and respond differently. Think about your audience. What do they want? Are their needs different from your own? When you’ve slipped on someone else’s shoes, what do you crave?



Ask questions. Lots of them. It doesn’t matter if you know the answer or if it’s something that can’t be solved. Come up with as many questions as you can and write them all. By the time you jot down one hundred, you may be surprised where your mind has led you.



Change your environment. Wander in a new part of town. Move your desk around so when you automatically reach for your red stapler, it isn’t there. Something as simple as adding a new photo to your desktop may cue your mind in a new way.



Give yourself a set amount of time to think about anything except the task at hand. Do NOT do what you should be doing. You may be surprised that this self-permission frees your mind in other ways. Play with putty. Make a paperclip sculpture. After fifteen minutes of slackerdom, revisit your project and watch where this sense of freedom has led you.


If you’re feeling extra inspired, submit your event ideas. Even if they are not completely refined, we’ll help you organize your thoughts and create an experience that adds to Social Media Week 2012.


Flickr Photo credits: Maurice Melchers, plasticrevolver, Rev Stan, Eleaf, ockenden

Spotlight: Advisory Board Member Paul Kontonis

With almost two decades of digital media experience, Paul has become a force to be reckoned with throughout the online video industry.

Under his watchful eye, over twenty-five original web series (including successful online branded entertainment for Warner Bros, Armor All, Experian, Holiday Inn Express, Phillips Van Heusen, IZOD IndyCar and Samsung) have been produced. He’s written numerous articles on online video and is frequently seen speaking at industry conferences and annual seminars. His leadership and strategic insight have manifested in pioneer movements such as the inaugural IAWTV Awards. He’s Chairman of the International Academy of Web Television, a non-profit organization founded to promote web video excellence. And as Vice President and Group Director of Brand Content for Digitas’ The Third Act, he leads the creation of digital brand content entertainment offerings.

Paul Kontonis, twitter: @kontonis

Having been exposed to so many creative minds and efforts, we wanted to learn more.

You are constantly creating. How do you stay inspired?

I listen to music for inspiration instead of reading: Metallica, Iron Maiden, Nine Inch Nails, System of a Down, Pantera and Muse.

What keeps you motivated at work?

Discovering incredible web series that are being created by independent creators every day.

What advice would you have given to yourself five years ago?

Never stop raising money.

If you had to pick one superpower, what would it be?


Your dream job, anywhere. Take your pick.

Owner of a top-flight professional soccer team.

Paul has helped The Third Act drive business results through digital content strategy, development, content creator partnerships, and a colorful assortment of offerings. In addition to housing a collection of creative, media, and client front-runners, The Third Act organizes Digital Content NewFront, an annual event that puts content creators, distributors, talent, and brands in the same space so that creative media prowess can be harnessed, and original online video and brand content can emerge.

Funnel competition into creativity

Tag. A coloring contest. Dodgeball. Class rankings. What begins in grade school as a simple mission to earn more points than the opposing team or be the last one standing will eventually permeate your world (whether you want it to or not).


It’s a word that fuels action. Competition for dollars, for time, for attention, for buzz. In business, in life, throughout social media channels and beyond, competition has becomes a ferocious intent, driving strategy and routing corresponding decisions.

Yet those precious moments still exist in which people can set aside this drive and come together for something more. Instead of finding inspiration from one-upping another, an outside mission brings them together. Such as Social Media Week.

The occasion offers an opportunity to unite, create, and discover. It’s a blank slate, an open stage for any and all to command. It is a rare position in which invitations are extended to simply participate. A white canvas waiting for paint.

Those willing to dare to venture into that unknown have the opportunity to develop and create experiences people care about. To build something that unites people in ways previously unconsidered. To start conversations that incorporate audiences, luring them in as participants as opposed to limiting them to outside observers.

This realm of possibility, while knowing few restraints and bounds, can seem paralyzing. To help you get started, think about the person, or groups of people, you’d like to converse with. What would you want to say? If you had one theme to pass out in goodie bags, what would attendees walk away with? This idea should permeate your every action – from the invitations you send to participants to the tweets you write to promote your event. What is the message you are trying to convey?

Don’t be afraid to grab the microphone. There’s no judge, no points to earn, no game to lose.

Advisory Board Meeting: Behind the Scenes

Ever wanted to know what goes on during our Advisory Board meetings? We’ll tell you.

This past Monday, we dove into the challenges of defining unconferences with the help of Matt and Mark from We Make Cool We’re always looking for new ways to encourage event partners to push beyond typical panel formats and create something collaborative, engaging, and meaningful. Matt and Mark shared some great ideas to inspire us to empower people to create experiences. Check out their own work organizing the Lost Horizon Night Market trucks and bringing Wi-Fi to the masses on MTA’s L-train.

A sample of questions that emerged from our discussion:

•    Can automated processes be blended with art? How can we ensure high quality content in efficient, streamlined processes?
•    How can collaborative experiences be fostered among audiences, panels, and moderators?
•    Can audiences successfully drive content through social media channels?
•    Should exceptional content be rewarded? How else can “out of the panel-box” thinking be encouraged?

If you’re not an Advisory Board member, you can still add your voice to the mix. Whether volunteering, blogging, or organizing an event of your own, don’t miss your opportunity to get involved.

Spotlight: Advisory Board Member David Berkowitz

David Berkowitz (@dberkowitz) is Vice President of Emerging Media for 360i, the digital marketing agency labeled one of the Best Places to Work by Advertising Age (2011) and Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Advertising Companies. David is partially responsible for these accolades. His weekly breakfast brainstorms, fondly referred to as “Bagels with Berky,” provide common ground for employees to collaborate and discuss the latest trends. David, like 360i, is committed to staying a step ahead of the digital era and helping leading brands gain competitive edge through social media and mobile marketing programs.

Not only does he inspire colleagues to search for the latest and greatest, he openly shares his knowledge through regular contributions to 360i’s own blog Digital Connections and Advertising Age’s DigitalNext. His personal marketing blog, Marketers Studio, is filled with witty observations and cutting opinions, serving up a refreshingly honest take on all things digital, trending, and social. David’s writings are respected, mentioned frequently in places like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and Mashable. With numerous published columns in MediaPost’s Social Media Insider and speaking engagements at places like SXSW, Web 2.0 Expo, Blog World Expo, ThinkMobile, MIT Sloan School of Business, and the Yale School of Management, we had to ask David how it’s done.

You are so busy! What is your secret to keeping it together?

I read a ton, travel when I can, and work out with the Kinect.

What do you love most about your work?

It may sound hokey, but I learn so much from the clients I get to work with. I love being able to converse with them to make sense of all the changes unleashed by digital media.

What do you read for inspiration?

I like reading books relating to places I’m about to travel. For instance, when I went to Africa this year, I read about thirty books relating to the continent, including a number focused on South Africa and Zanzibar, both areas I visited. [You can find his complete reading list here.] Topics ranged from Nelson Mandela’s autobiography to Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s dark modern fiction “Petals of Blood.” I read relatively few business books, but I have recently discovered some classics like “Good to Great” and “Influence.”

You can invite one person to coffee. Who is it?

Salman Rushdie

Assemble a Dream Panel. Any topic. Go.

Topic: “What excites you today?”

Panelists: NYT’s David Pogue, Kraft SVP Marketing Dana Anderson, Ashton Kutcher, Tom Colicchio

Moderator: James Earl Jones

Suddenly you find yourself with an extra $1 million in the bank. How do you spend it?

Donate part of it. Save a chunk. Travel the world. And finally buy from that squatter.


Spotlight: Advisory Board Member Ashley Pinakiewicz

Ashley Pinakiewicz, twitter: @AshleyPina

Meet Ashley.

Ashley is the New Business and Client Relationship Manager in Clear‘s New York office. She devotes her energy to expanding Clear’s U.S. business through compelling, strategic projects and attentive client relationships.

No stranger to to creativity and innovation, Ashley worked in Business Development at IDEO before joining her current team. While at IDEO, she negotiated between clients and design teams, facilitated business leads, and assisted global marketing in strengthening the company’s New York presence.

Beyond excelling in her work, Ashley is an active volunteer for community development and youth programs. She is an avid traveler and reader who has spent many hours performing as a jazz and hip-hop dancer. She graduated from Georgetown University with a BA in English Literature and Art History.

Ashley took time out of her busy schedule so that we could get to know her better.

What is your favorite part about the work you do?  
Getting people excited. My job as a Business Developer is to get potential clients excited about my company, get our internal teams excited about new clients and projects, and get our group excited about our growth vision. I love catalyzing people and building enthusiasm – the best reward is watching people light up, generate momentum, and take off.

What’s your dream job?
I absolutely love what I’m doing now, and hope to be doing it for quite some time. If I were ever to shift completely (and had the funding to do it), I would run a non-profit focused on redesigning the educational experience in America, doing everything from teacher training to curriculum design to funding new school models.

If you had an extra hour each day, how would you spend it?
Reading for pleasure. I love to soak up information but wish I had more mental energy for reading the novels that I love so much.

You are gifted $1 million dollars. What do you do with it?
Donate some to an educational cause I love (New School Ventures, perhaps?), buy my parents a pied a terre in wine country, and buy myself a one-year trip around the world. I suppose I should invest some of it, too?


Clear is a brand consultancy that uses the crisp power of simplicity to advise brands and businesses with qualitative and quantitative insight, innovation, and strategy. Founded in 2002, the agency has rapidly grown and is now part of the M&C Saatchi group. The Clear team is diverse in skills and personalities, blending insight and research to address clients in industries ranging from food and drink to pharmaceutical and personal care.