It’s 8:00 pm on a Wednesday night at a Silicon Valley law firm. 70 accomplished medtech executives sit in a conference room, doing meditative deep breathing, with their eyes closed. Wait, what? Strange scene? Yes. Did this actually happen? Yes – at MedtechWomen Bay Area’s March event “The Impact of Chronic Stress on Women’s Health,” …

It’s 8:00 pm on a Wednesday night at a Silicon Valley law firm. 70 accomplished medtech executives sit in a conference room, doing meditative deep breathing, with their eyes closed. Wait, what?

Strange scene? Yes. Did this actually happen? Yes – at MedtechWomen Bay Area’s March event “The Impact of Chronic Stress on Women’s Health,” part of the organization’s women’s health series. During the evening, we listened to four impressive panelists, led by moderator Donna Petkanics from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, as they talked about how chronic stress affects women’s long term health and how we can more effectively handle the stress that comes our way.

As someone who’s always lived a very full life (rigorous MBA program while working full time? Bring it on!) I’ve always written off stress as a necessary evil of trying to pack as much action as possible into my days. Since I became a parent in 2015, however, I’ve been more acutely aware of the impact living at such a breakneck pace can have on both me and my family. So I was excited to attend this event – and left with three main takeaways:

  1. Stress is necessary – From my perspective, Panelist Rachel Abrams, MD, MHS, ABIHM, from Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine hit the nail on the head when she said “How can we be inside our busy lives in a way that’s joyful?” In fact, stress is a necessary part of living life. Stress that’s “good” can keep us focused and energetic, and may be the push we need to go that extra mile personally and professionally. “Bad” stress, however, can lead to breakdowns and burnout. The blog Precision Nutrition has a link to a great chart on this topic.We need to find the right amount of stress – one that will inspire us, not leave us feeling overwhelmed. For more information on finding your own personal stress “sweet spot,” see the full infographic from Precision Medicine.
  2. Stress can have serious health consequences – Panelist Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., President and CEO of Heartmath, Inc. cited a startling statistic from JAMA Internal Medicine: 60-80% of primary care doctor visits are related to stress, yet only 3% of patients receive stress management help.[i] So stress is a common cause of emotional and physical symptoms – from the obvious like anxiety, headaches and muscle tension to the less apparent, like digestive disorders and heart disease.[ii] And there’s evidence that women are affected more seriously by stress than men (I’ve got an infographic on that one too – enjoy.)[iii] Thus, learning how to manage stress – not ignoring it or pushing it down to deal with later – is really important to a healthy lifestyle.
  3. We can change how we think about stress – A big topic of conversation throughout the night was around changing our stress response mindset. Perhaps our natural inclination is to panic, and all the associated physiological symptoms get triggered. Or, can pause, regroup (because really, is the world ending?), take some deep breaths and try to calm ourselves down. Both Dr. Rozman and panelist Manuela M. Kogan, MD and Clinical Associate Professor at the Stanford Center for Integrative Medicine led the group through some simple breathing exercises that frankly could be done at your desk, on the train, or in a meeting without your boss taking notice.
  4.  During the Q&A session, at the end of the workshop, someone asked the panelists what they would do if they only had a few minutes a day to try to manage stress better. Dr. Abrams commented that every morning, before she gets out of bed, she takes a couple deep breaths, says a few gratitudes and then sets one intention for every day. It helps her feel more prepared for what life throws her. I love this idea, and feels “right sized” for my chaotic life. I’m adding this to my daily routine.

For more information on MedTechWomen, visit



[1] JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(1):76-77.



Read More
From speaker videos to event photos our recap page of W2O at SXSW has it all! Each year, our handpicked Center for Social Commerce Student Ambassadors are given the opportunity to attend W2O Group’s events at SXSW, where they are added into the thick of things the first day, assisting with live social media efforts across W2O …

From speaker videos to event photos our recap page of W2O at SXSW has it all!

Each year, our handpicked Center for Social Commerce Student Ambassadors are given the opportunity to attend W2O Group’s events at SXSW, where they are added into the thick of things the first day, assisting with live social media efforts across W2O Group’s events. Our 2017 Student Ambassadors, Janine Bogris and Amanda Dominguez, both juniors at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, have shared takeaways from their SXSW experience below. We’re looking forward to Janine and Amanda joining us as interns in our NYC office this summer.

A special thank you on behalf of the Ambassadors and the Center for Social Commerce team for the generosity of Jim and Audra Weiss and W2O Group for sustaining their commitment to an invaluable program that bridges the gap between the classroom and the industry. The annual trip to SXSW is an incredible way for students to gain exposure to leading industry ideas and meet with executives who are shaping the future.


The Center for Social Commerce team taking a quick break for a photo at SXSW. 
Ambassadors Amanda Dominguez and Janine Bogris speak with guests and W2O Group team members at the Movers & Shapers event.

Janine Bogris

I was so excited when I learned I was selected as a 2017 Student Ambassador for the Center for Social Commerce. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off my Ambassadorship than with a trip to W2O Group’s SXSW events in Austin, TX. I worked in collaboration with my co-Ambassador Amanda and intern Brittany Pearson to coordinate behind-the-scenes social media at the events via several platforms, including Snapchat, Periscope, Twitter and Instagram.

We began our adventure in Austin at the PreCommerce Summit, which featured a full day of speakers from various industries. One speaker who stood out to me was Mary Ellen Dugan of WP Engine. She spoke about diversity, specifically at the C-Suite level. Dugan concluded her speech with a powerful idea: “I hope in five years diversity is no longer on the agenda to talk about, it is just something we have.”

The Movers & Shapers event also featured an incredible lineup of speakers. One of the highlights for me was Dr. Jessica Mega, Chief Medical Officer at Verily, who spoke about how technological innovations continue to improve the healthcare field. We now live in a world where glucose-sensing contact lenses allow diabetic patients and their healthcare providers to obtain accurate blood sugar data in real-time.

During our backstage interviews, one speaker suggested the best way to make the most of your time at SXSW is to meet with as many people as possible. I certainly took that advice to heart, grabbing the rewarding opportunity to speak with our diverse guests, sponsors and W2O Group subject matter experts. I can’t wait for my next adventure with the Center for Social Commerce.

Amanda Dominguez

Attending W2O Group’s SXSW events was an incredible way to begin my Ambassadorship. I was very impressed with the dozens of inspiring leaders who participated and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet many of them behind-the-scenes during the events.

At the PreCommerce Summit, Rohit Bhargava, CEO and Founder of Influential Marketing Group, started things off strong by providing insights into how to predict trends across industries. To use his own words, “The signs of the future are already here, you just need to see the trends.” Another highlight for me was a talk by Ray Kerins, Head of Communications and Government Relations at Bayer. I had the opportunity to capture an interview with him for W2O Group’s Periscope account, during which he underscored the importance of corporate social responsibility. His willingness to take a moment to share his guidance with a college student reinforced the ideas he spoke about.

At Movers and Shapers, I enjoyed meeting two entrepreneurs who appeared on one of my favorite shows, NBC’s “Shark Tank.”  Bryan Thomas and Amelia Cosgrove co-founded PopUp Play, a company that allows children to custom-design their own toys. They talked about the idea that providing the opportunity to customize a product or experience signifies that a brand is attuned to their customers’ unique interests and needs.

Throughout both events, each speaker shared a distinct perspective, yet one common theme resonated throughout: Advances in technology, data and analytics will continue to have an enormous impact on the way we do business, consume information and relate to the world around us.

Read More
Bonin Bough kicked off the second half of our 2017 Movers & Shapers conversations with a bang. You can check out my part 1 recap post here if you happened to miss it. Topic: Keynote Discussion with Bonin Bough Bonin Bough, Host – CNBC’s Cleveland Hustles; Follow Bonin Bough on Twitter @boughb Key Takeaways: Bonin …

Bonin Bough kicked off the second half of our 2017 Movers & Shapers conversations with a bang. You can check out my part 1 recap post here if you happened to miss it.

Topic: Keynote Discussion with Bonin Bough

Bonin Bough, Host – CNBC’s Cleveland Hustles; Follow Bonin Bough on Twitter @boughb

Key Takeaways:

  • Bonin has tons of digital and e-commerce in his background—he took Mondelez’s e-commerce revenue from $65 million to $285 million in the 18 months he ran it. To do that, he started looking at the fundamental aspects of the business, supply chain, product group, insights group, etc. Many of those functions used old technology and were built for success in a world that has long since changed.
  • By working with teams, Bonin was able to shorten product development cycles from 9 – 18 months down to 6 weeks
  • Large companies tend to be data poor. Newer startups like Dollar Shave Club and Nature Box are built on data and algorithms. That’s why companies pay a 10x premium vs. revenue to buy them.
  • Bonin sees the concept of Chief Growth Officer, those people who can mine for gold in new places as something that will be much more important for companies in the future. In other words, those people don’t believe the company today will be the same company in the future.
  • Bonin explained the Naturebox model and how they use customer purchase and subscription data in 8-week cycles to predict product sales in food service and big box retail
  • Growth comes down to answering this question: how can we digitize the nuts and bolts that drive these businesses?
  • Bonin believes messaging will be much bigger wave than social media; Per Facebook, 1 out of 5 minutes is spent in the Newsfeed compared to 4 out of 5 in Facebook Messenger; Messaging is where all the discussion we care about is happening.
  • Messaging as a trend: In 2011, Skype was the only messaging app in the top 10 downloaded apps. Today, 7 out of 10 of the most popular apps are messaging ones. 4 billion people use messaging apps.
  • Since messaging is where customer’s attention is today, brands must figure out how to be there.
  • Bonin believes every piece of ad tech that exists for social media today will exist for messaging tomorrow.
  • Chatbots have the hype. But in Bonin’s view, humanation is the key. Humanation = bringing the promise of social media (direct engagement with customers) together with the promise of A.I and machine learning. It’s a combination of automation augmented with human interaction.

Bonin’s session starts at 44:52 in this video.

Topic: Women Founders & Entrepreneurship

Jan Ryan, Partner – Capital Factory; Follow Jan Ryan on Twitter @janryan

Jory Des Jardins, Co-Founder – BlogHer and Virago; Follow Jory Des Jardins on Twitter @JoryDJ

Key Takeaways:

  • Jory has been advising startups since com acquired BlogHer in 2014.
  • Women entrepreneurs struggle to raise capital. Jory wanted to dig into that to find out why, which led her to co-found Virago
  • Virago hosted the inaugural version of The Scale Collective event in late 2016. Purpose was to allow 250 women founders to meet up with investors and advisors to give them opportunities to talk and understand each other better.
  • Both Jory and Jan agree there’s a need to understand how female founders think vs. how (largely male) venture capitalists think to close the gap to see more funding for women-founded companies.
  • Besides her work at Capital Factory, Jan also started a group called Women@Austin, which is now 700 members strong.
  • Per Jan, though women run 38 – 40% of startups, only 2% of venture capital funds are invested in those companies.
  • 3 discrepancies between female founders and investors: 1) women tend to lead with passion vs. numbers; 2) women should seek feedback earlier in the process; 3) It’s important for women to think bigger in terms of scaling their ideas.
  • Women tend to lead with passion vs. numbers. VCs almost exclusively focus on return on investment, so numbers are primarily important.
  • Jory agreed with that, and made the point that VCs also care about underlying technology, as well as numbers.
  • Per Jan, male entrepreneurs tend to seek feedback earlier in the process compared to women. By contrast, women tend to work in silos spending more time to perfect their products or ideas. In essence, male entrepreneurs seek feedback early on from VCs and advisers, where female entrepreneurs go to those meetings seeking funding. Jory made the point that women founders tend to think they need to be 90% there in terms of business performance before seeking funding. That
  • Per Jan, funding is a 95% relationship game. That’s why it’s important for women to build those relationships earlier than they tend to.
  • Per Jan, it’s important for women entrepreneurs to think bigger. Many times, the ideas that women entrepreneurs start with their families or at a local level. Many of those ideas can scale to a much larger business need. Discussions with mentors can help broaden the thinking.
  • Per Jory: It’s a fine line between being honest, yet being open to possibility.

This co-talk starts at 1:11:21 in this video.

Fireside Chat Topic: Adaptive Thinking

Chris Preuss, SVP, Marketing & Communications – Delphi; Follow Chris Preuss on Twitter @CPreussCarWild

Jeff Haydock, VP, Communications – Best Buy; Follow Best Buy on Twitter @BestBuy

Gary Grates, Principal – W2O Group; Follow Gary Grates on Twitter @GaryGrates

Our own Gary Grates sat down with Chris Preuss from Delphi and Jeff Haydcock from Best Buy to talk about how to navigate businesses through massive change. A pertinent topic to two leaders from industries dealing with massive change: automotive and retail businesses.

Key Takeaways:

  • Per Chris: The automotive industry is undergoing massive change. There’s been more change in the automotive industry in the last five years vs. the last 50 years.
  • In that last 5 years, Delphi has added about 20,000 software engineer employees as they transition the business from high-capital manufacturing to software and sensor technology that is the backbone of autonomous driving.
  • Per Jeff, when he started in 2003, running the business was easy: was a “stack ‘em high and let ‘em fly” strategy. In the last five years they had to rethink how we work with customers, how we think about and communicate the technology our customers buy.
  • Asked about how they work with leadership to navigate change, Chris said discussions with leadership is where he spends a lot of his time. The narrative is not just about a value proposition for customers. It’s also key to helping us attract the right talent through this transformation. Leadership has to balance the short-term pressures of being a public company with longer-term investments necessary for the future.
  • Both companies have to communicate to a diverse set of employees. For Delphi, it means everyone from migrant workers in manufacturing plants in places like Africa and Mexico. For Best Buy it means reaching 125,000 employees, only which about 5,000 are in the corporate office with access to e-mail and computers. It’s critical that Best Buy conveys their value proposition to retail employees, since they are the most effective ambassadors to their customer base.
  • Delphi faces a similar situation: Out of 170,000 global employees, only about 30,000 have access to computers or e-mail. That’s why mobile and face-to-face communication are both critical.
  • For both companies, what happens externally increasingly informs what they communicate internally.
  • In terms of employees what are you focusing on communicating? Chris: We spend a lot of time talking about the company’s core values, since that is the thing that binds employees at all levels together. Building employee pride is a focus area as well. At Delphi, he uses the external activity to motivate employees internally. Chris mentioned Delphi being the first company to complete a coast-to-coast autonomous drive became a huge rallying cry for the company’s employees as an example.
  • Communicating company strategy can be boring. For Best Buy, they try to inject charm or humor into shorter communications, taking a page from how employees get news and communicate using social media vs. long emails or 30-page documents from the past.
  • Experimentation: Per Chris, Delphi spends a lot of time understanding technology and how employees consume information in the workplace. Even with an increasingly younger workforce and lots of different tools, survey and employee feedback emphasize the importance of interpersonal communications between managers and staff. That means arming leaders and managers with consistent information they communicate to their teams. Traditional things like employee town halls continue to be important.
  • Best Buy uses a lot of live events to communicate to employees. They also regularly bring in employees from the field to talk to corporate employees and leadership.

This session starts at 1:31:40 in this video.

Topic: Talking to Your Home Isn’t As Crazy As It Sounds

Dan Herscovici, GM, SVP, Xfinity HomeComcast; Follow Dan Herscovici on Twitter @DanHerscovici

Stacey Higginbotham, Founder – SKT Labs/Internet of Things Podcast; Follow Stacey Higginbotham on Twitter @gigastacey

Key Takeaways:

  • When asked about the state of voice control, Dan believes progress on the underlying platform front (provided by companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Comcast and others) are making it easier for customers to bring smart technology into their homes. That means consumers no longer need to use 17 different apps to control devices.
  • While these platforms and devices are still in early stages, it’s starting to come together.
  • Comcast has had voice capability in homes for the last 2.5 years. That means more than million voice remotes in consumer households which have resulted in over 5 billion voice commands. Though the majority are used in conjunction with the Xfinity X1 TV experience, they are beginning to see more activations geared toward home automation requests (security, temperature, lighting, etc.)
  • Voice is an interface, it’s not THE interface. There’s benefits to using television, smartphone apps, etc. Voice is good for some functions.
  • Top Alexa commands? 1) Set kitchen timer 2) Play music 3) Turn on the lights. After that, even commands like what’s the weather barely even register.
  • By contrast, a voice-capable remote is more useful in conjunction with a TV screen. Example: If the answer is a list, then show the list items on screen and allow users to select preferred option via voice.
  • Is Dan worried that other voice-capable options like Google Chromecast or Amazon’s Fire TV gets more traction than Comcast’s solution? No, our job is to create a superior experience for our customers. If we aren’t successful in that effort, customers will choose other options.
  • What’s next for voice? Per Dan: as voice evolves, it will become more contextual and conversational. We’re still in early stages of that happening.

This session starts at 1:53:40 in this video.

Topic: Measure Once, Cut Twice: Why Your Current Approach to Analytics Will Get You Fired

Mark Stouse, CEO – Proof; Follow Mark Stouse on Twitter @markstouse

David Berkowitz, Chief Strategy Officer – Sysomos; Follow David Berkowitz on Twitter @dberkowitz

Chuck Hemann, Chief of Staff/Technical Assistant to the VP of Regional marketing – Intel; Follow Chuck Hemann on Twitter @chuckhemann

Key Takeaways:

  • What’s wrong with current approaches? From Mark’s perspective: Too many efforts are implemented after the campaign is in motion versus starting with the business goal and deconstructing how to best get to that point. Per David: so many of us in the marketing space have gotten away with bad behavior, or taking the easy way out. As long as people continue to not get fired for taking the easy way out, complacency is an issue.
  • David: I find the term data-driven culture terrifying. We are steeped in data. That’s why I don’t like using the term. We need more people who can ask the right questions. It’s more about a question-driven culture. That’s what lead companies to more insights.
  • Mark agreed: Learning to ask the right questions is profoundly liberating. Knowing from the data that your efforts generated a specific portion of revenue over time is empowering.
  • How do we get more employees to be data advocates rather than consumers of data? From Mark’s perspective, it’s about taking departmental KPIs that already exist and figuring out ways to tie those directly to business results. But being too automated is a risk. Employees need to interact with data a bit to feel the cause and effect. From there, they can build more of an emotional connection and make better decisions.
  • Per David, it’s important that insights from data come up more regularly in meetings, performance reviews and other traditional business conversations.
  • Per Mark: the language of business is numbers and analytics. You must be able to speak that language convincingly before you’ll have any chance of success.
  • Per David: One of the only things that’s consistent in both the agency and the brand side—I want to work with the smartest customers possible. That pushes us on the partner side to ask the toughest questions.
  • Per Mark: People, processes and technology are always important in terms of analytics. Technology can be a catalyst, but all three are important. The economic alignment piece won’t happen until all three come together.

This session starts at 2:14:13 in this video.

And that about wraps it up. Thanks to all our speakers who made our 2017 events some of the strongest I can remember. If you want to check out more of the related discussions that took place on Twitter, take a look at the hashtag #W2OatSXSW.

Read More
From speaker videos to event photos our recap page of W2O at SXSW has it all! Each year, leading up to and following our live events in Austin, we host a series of blog interviews with the speakers from our PreCommerce Summit and Movers & Shapers talks. This year, we are continuing the conversation after the events because there was …

From speaker videos to event photos our recap page of W2O at SXSW has it all!

Each year, leading up to and following our live events in Austin, we host a series of blog interviews with the speakers from our PreCommerce Summit and Movers & Shapers talks. This year, we are continuing the conversation after the events because there was so much good content. Our next featured speaker is author, entrepreneur and nice guy, Rohit Bhargava.

According to Rohit’s LinkedIn profile, he is a trend curator, author of five best selling books (including the Wall Street Journal bestseller Non-Obvious) and founder of the Influential Marketing Group. He advises global brands on communications strategy and storytelling. His signature annual “Non-Obvious Trend Report” has been viewed and shared more than half a million times and his thinking has been featured in global media, including the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, NPR and the New York Times. Now onto the questions:

Aaron – You have written a lot of books. Where do you find the inspiration?

Rohit – Inspiration is actually the easy part. Like many writers, I end up with far too many ideas for me to ever properly explore in depth through something like a book. The harder thing is figuring out what is the biggest and most impactful idea that I could write about and share with the world. Something that I would be happy to spend almost two years of my life researching and writing about, and then another several years talking about on stage at events around the world. Writing a book feels like a big commitment and so I end up with many more concepts than what I will eventually follow through on. Actually, that was the reason I started blogging … so I had an outlet for sharing those ideas that didn’t involve such a big time commitment!

Aaron – How do you define innovation?

Rohit – My favorite way of describing it is with a quote I once read which was actually referring to discovery — but I think it applies to innovation as well. It is “seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought.” To me, there can be no greater way to think about innovation than that. We sometimes think that the most innovative ideas or products come from inventions that are created by inspired people. Those are new ideas, sure, but they are reactions to the same world that you and I live in. Someone has to observe something in reality and then think of an idea for a better way to do something. I love that because it’s empowering. It means that invention and innovation and creativity are within the grasp of all of us, if we can just train ourselves to be more observant about the world around us.

Aaron – What do you get out of teaching at Georgetown? What is your favorite/least favorite thing?

Rohit – Teaching makes me better, and that’s probably the most selfish reason why I do it. My current class is all about storytelling and speaking and I find that the more I teach students about what it is like to effectively command a room and speak clearly on a topic, the more I am forced to relearn the fundamentals and make sure I’m as good of a speaker as I could be. My favorite thing about it is how it helps me to improve because I see the challenge of communication through the eyes of my students. My least favorite thing about it how minimal the time is that I get to spend with my students. I am an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown which means my classes meet once a week and I’m never on campus except to teach my class. What that usually means is that for the majority of students I will only ever see them in class and sometimes that’s just not enough time to really make a meaningful difference in how they communicate. And I’m upfront about the fact that I probably don’t have that much more time to offer them in the midst of all the other things I’m doing running three companies and traveling around the world as a speaker. I suppose that’s the tradeoff for me to even be able to teach, though I aspire one day in the future to be able to slow down some of the other things I do and really spend more time being a better and more present teacher for my students.

Aaron – Who is someone in your industry (or outside) that you admire?

Rohit – I would say that I admire stand up comedians as an entire group and particularly those like Russell Peters who primarily base their comedy on observing the differences among people and reacting to an audience. I look at what they do with a mixture of awe and envy. That’s how I aspire to be when it comes to interacting with audiences. It’s not about wanting to be funnier. It is about having the sense of timing, and vulnerability and personality to be able to relate to people immediately in that way that puts them at ease and helps them to get outside themselves and just enjoy the show.

Aaron – Where do you see book publishing being in 3 years? 5? 10

Rohit – It is my hope that the world of publishing starts becoming more author-centric because it never really has been. The end result has been that authors get squeezed, are treated with minimal respect unless they are the top 1%, and most despise their publishers. When I started my publishing company, my simple goal was to build a publisher that authors would actually want to work with twice … which didn’t seem to exist. In the coming years, I hope this model of serving the author instead of the bottom line becomes more common and I have hope that it will because more and more of the top tier authors who have all the alternatives and the ones that the big publishers desperately want are the ones who will start to move away from those publishers because they will see how little value they add. Only the best publishers who do it well (and there are still a few of the big ones who do) will survive. The rest will, thankfully, become defunct.

Aaron – What book(s) are you reading right now? What is one of the key take-aways/themes (sort of a meta question for someone that writes so many books)?

Rohit – The book I most recently read was called Story Genius. It is all about what it takes to write a riveting novel.  I’m not a novelist and definitely not thinking about writing one … but the storytelling lessons from the book were really useful as I think about how I translate them into my own writing for business books. I think a lot of times we see business books that just focus on the idea with minimal story. I hope to do better than that as I write, and this book was really helpful to do that. Perhaps the biggest takeaway I got from the book was how scenes are often written in layers – and you need to be able to peel them back and do plenty of rewriting before you get to the best version of a story.

Aaron – For fun: you are stranded on a desert island and can only listen to one album into perpetuity. What is that album and why?

Rohit – Ok, first of all – that doesn’t sound like fun at all! 🙂  If I were stranded, though, I would pick pretty much any album from Latin artist Fanny Lu. You can’t listen to her music without feeling just a bit happier … and I think I’d probably need that if I were stranded on an island!

Thank you Rohit. As expected, you didn’t disappoint! And now you’ve got me curious about both Story Genius and Fanny Lu! Thanks again for bringing so much creativity and inspiration to our PreCommerce Summit… and now to our blog!

Read More
From speaker videos to event photos our recap page of W2O at SXSW has it all! W2O Group did an incredible job of bringing top talent speakers during SXSW. Not only for our PreCommerce Summit, but for our Movers & Shapers event as well. This a fast-paced half day event featured top innovators who will discuss what’s …

From speaker videos to event photos our recap page of W2O at SXSW has it all!

W2O Group did an incredible job of bringing top talent speakers during SXSW. Not only for our PreCommerce Summit, but for our Movers & Shapers event as well. This a fast-paced half day event featured top innovators who will discuss what’s next in business and technology. Topics ranged from the latest in software, IoT, insights and measurement to topics such as how tech is changing healthcare. Check out the first half of my recap below.

Topic: The AI Revolution: How Big Data And Science Will Unleash Revenue Growth

Michael Plante, VP Demand Generation – Inside Sales; Follow Michael Plante on Twitter @InsideSales

Key Takeaways:

  • As a company, Inside Sales brings artificial intelligence (A.I.) to the Sales function of organizations. After spending time gathering insights for sales, it’s clear that A.I. can bring benefits to other groups beyond the sales function.
  • Michael thinks The Age of Intelligence marks another transformative time for businesses. Businesses that don’t embrace AI will be left behind.
  • Millennials: According to a study from Dell and Intel: 81% of Millennials said tech influences their job choice; 42% would quit over substandard tech; 70% expect AI to make their jobs easier,
  • Why does any of this matter? By 2020, millennials will make up 52% of the workforce.
  • We’re already using AI everyday when we use products or services like Nest thermostats, Fitbit fitness trackers, Pandora song recommendations, Google Maps/ Waze for directions, and Amazon or Netflix recommendations.
  • Elements of a winning A.I. solution: Conversations around 1) Math 2) Data and 3 ) The application of the output from the machine (App)
  • The math element has been around for over 60 years. These days, it’s table stakes. The real business impact is coming from the Data and Application components.

Michael’s session starts at 38:43 in this video.

Topic: Autonomous Freight: Bringing the Future to the Present

Stephen S. Roop, PhD, Chairman/President – Freight Shuttle International

Key Takeaways:

  • Freight Shuttle International focuses on how to fix the growing inefficiency moving freight.
  • Their proposed solution: using a freight shuttle system (elevated structure that integrates into existing highway infrastructure and uses autonomous electric vehicles to move freight.
  • Based on a conveyor belt model from getting freight from point A to point B
  • This offers numerous benefits: relieves highway congestion by getting trucks off the road; it helps minimize infrastructure damage on highways; construction of these elevated structures can be privately funded; this new infrastructure will generate revenue like any other business.

Stephen’s session starts at 50:50 in this video.

Fireside Chat Topic: Verily: To the Moon and Back

Jessica Mega, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer – Verily (Google’s Life Sciences division)

Our own Bob Pearson facilitated this fireside chat with Jessica.

Key Takeaways:

  • Jessica is a cardiologist, and senior investigator with the TIMI Study Group.
  • Jessica got a call from Google X (the special projects org) when Google’s Healthcare team was small. Jessica wanted to be part of next generation of tools to collect, organize and activate information.
  • Verily is working to instrument tools used in everyday life and adding data collection so it requires less from users.
  • Example of projects Verily is working on: developing one of the smallest continual glucose monitors to help diabetes patients understand a continuous flow of data regarding their blood sugar. Continuous data helps patients make better decisions. Ultimately, continuous data can lead to change in behavior.
  • Verily’s approach: 1) We create new tools to collect information and use it 2) We use the A.I. layer 3) The then apply it whether its therapeutic or diagnostic.

Jessica’s fireside chat with Bob starts at 1:02:00 in this video.

Topic: Innovation in the Harshest Conditions in the World

Ellen Jackowski, Environmental Sustainability Strategy & Futures Planning – HP

Key Takeaways:

  • Sustainability encompasses things like how to feed ourselves on an ongoing basis, how to cloth ourselves using less resources, and how we can transport items from one location to another.
  • Closed loop recycling: HP offers a number of ways for consumers to send used cartridges back to HP. HP takes shreds the plastic from those used cartridges along with shredded plastic water bottles and plastic hangers to create new ink cartridge containers.
  • HP has sold about 3 billion recycled cartridges made from this process.
  • HP uses about 1 million water bottles a day. HP had been sourcing water bottles primarily from the United States and Canada. HP worked with other organizations like the Clinton Global Initiative and Timberland to start sourcing water bottles from Haiti.
  • Haiti is using that money to send young kids who used to work in the landfill to school where they can get a proper education.
  • Lessons: 1) Rethink your traditional supply relationships 2) Don’t be afraid to be radically transparent 3) Protect and trust what you build.

Ellen’s session starts at 1:24:02 in this video.

Topic: Joyology

Amy Lukken, Chief Joyologist – Tito’s Handmade Vodka; Follow Tito’s on Twitter @TitosVodka

Key Takeaways:

  • Joy = that of great pleasure or great delight; Joyology = study of joy.
  • Positive development of human beings
  • When people hear she’s a joyologist, next question is what does a joyologist do? She focuses on employee well being.
  • Joy is where the heart meets the head.
  • Early on, when Tito Beveridge had no marketing budget, he volunteered to bartend at charity events where he’d give bottles of his product away. It got his name and product noticed. 20 years later, they still do lots of charity events in the same way.
  • Last year, Tito’s Vodka supported over 4,500 charity events. Giving to the community generates deep roots. That’s why we empower our employees to give back.

Amy’s session starts at 1:34:05 in this video.

Topic: The Future of Medicine: How Physicians Choose to Learn

Asif Qasim, Founder & CEO – MedShr; Follow Asif Qasim on Twitter @DrAsifQasim

Key Takeaways:

  • Clinical case discussions are what engages dialog between doctors, medical student and healthcare professionals.
  • MedShr exists to connect doctors so they can talk about cases. That’s the way they learn, it’s what they’re tested on, it’s how they share knowledge.
  • MedShr’s mission: Why: Goal is to Improve healthcare, save lives; How: Through peer-to-peer learning and knowledge; What: Through a mobile app and web platform used by a global network of medical specialists.
  • All images and data or anonymized and fully encrypted. Patients are the ones who decide which doctors and groups can see their information.
  • Since starting in October 2015, MedShr grew to 10,000 members in March 2016; 1 year later, they expect to hit 200,000 users, growing at 20K per month: MedShr won Facebook’s award for Start Social Good App of the Year in 2016.
  • MedShr operates in 180 countries, with representation from all major medical fields.

Asif’s session starts at 1:44:13 in this video.

Topic: Consumers, Customization and Changing Preferences: PopUp Play on Shark Tank

Amelia Cosgrove, Co-Founder – PopUp Play; Follow PopUp Play on Twitter @PopUpPlayToy

Bryan Thomas, CEO & Co-Founder – PopUp Play; Follow PopUp Play on Twitter @PopUpPlayToy

Key Takeaways:

  • Amelia and Bryan co-founded PopUp Play to help bridge the analog and digital worlds of play through on-demand custom toy creation.
  • A major car manufacturer reached out to PopUp Play. Through a partnership, kids will soon be able to design their own cars and get to play with their creation while their parents are completing a new car purchase.
  • Amelia had worked in on-demand manufacturing when she thought of the idea that launched Pop Up Play.
  • Next-generation retail experience: Big brands noticed two big retail trends: 1) Erosion of brand loyalty 2) If retail is now about pushing a button to get what we want, what gets a customer to go into a store?
  • In his view, Bryan sees that retail challenge as an experiential problem to solve for. Brands are interesting to work with PopUp Play because they allow customers to create unique things that can’t be duplicated. That’s a key differentiator to help drive loyaly today.
  • For PopUp Play, no meeting lasts more than 30 minutes. They just don’t have more time to spare.

Amelia and Bryan’s session starts at 1:53:30 in this video.

Fireside Chat Topic: How Technology and Digital will Evolve Healthcare Outcomes

Nick van Terheyden, Chief Medical Officer – NTT DATA, Inc; Follow Nick van Terheyden on Twitter @drnic1

Mark Bennett, Director, Head of Digital Communications – Bayer; Follow Mark Bennett on Twitter @mcbennett6

Joe McKenna, Head of Business Development – Proteus Digital Health; Follow Proteus Digital Health on Twitter @ProteusDH

Greg Matthews, Managing Director, MDigitalLifeW2O Group; Follow Greg Matthews on Twitter @chimoose

Key Takeaways:

  • Mark Bennett: Sometimes, technology advances happen out of necessity. Recently, Mark’s dad was diagnosed with cancer. During that short time, his mom went from being a flip phone user who only used it to make calls to a pretty sophisticated iPhone user who regularly texts friends and faily with updates; His sister-in-law, who is a nurse, couldn’t be there for a doctor visit. The oncologist recommended a FaceTime discussion.
  • Proteus Digital Health: Developed an FDA fully-approved ingestible sensor in 2012. Live in 8 markets around the country; It’s now combined with medication so that the sensor can send back real-time data to help physicians monitor patients taking critical drugs.
  • Nicl van Terheyden: As a clinician, having access to this level of data. It wasn’t that long ago that doctors handwrote prescriptions. On average only 50% of patient even filled those prescriptions, and even fewer actually took the medication on time and in the right doses. Proteus is taking that feedback loop to another level.
  • Per Nick, visual technology like FaceTime gives you so much context
  • One of the challenges in healthcare: we don’t give patients enough feedback on their journey.
  • Nick told a story of being on a plane where a patent needed help. He used a simple device called a pulse oximeter which quickly confirmed that the patient was hypoxic. Side note: just about everyone is hypoxic (at about 94%) when you’re on a plane.
  • Healthcare folks are competing with digital experiences set by Netflix and Uber, not your competitors or the hospital down the street.

This panel starts at 12:50 in this video.

Stay tuned for the second half of my recap for Movers & Shapers!

Read More
From speaker videos to event photos our recap page of W2O at SXSW has it all! The second half of the 2017 PreCommerce Summit continued the momentum that I blogged about in the part 1 highlights. And it’s not just folks like me who recognized the quality of the speakers. #W2OatSXSW Precommerce Summit is one of …

From speaker videos to event photos our recap page of W2O at SXSW has it all!

The second half of the 2017 PreCommerce Summit continued the momentum that I blogged about in the part 1 highlights. And it’s not just folks like me who recognized the quality of the speakers.

Topic: Hashtagging he Mona Lisa: Navigating the Visual Search Gap

David Berkowitz: Chief Strategy Officer – Sysomos; Follow David on Twitter @dberkowitz

Key Takeaways:

  • Did you know that Jennifer Lopez’s dress from the 2000 Grammys is what inspired Google Image Search?
  • Pinterest is one of the world’s biggest search engines with 2 billion searches per month. 97% of those searches are unbranded.
  • 74% of consumers say text-based keyword searches are inefficient for helping them find the right products; 67% say quality of product images are a very important factor when purchasing products.

You can view the full version of his annotated presentation by visiting: 

Topic: The CMOs Greatest Enemy

Mark Stouse, CEO – Proof Analytics; Follow Mark on Twitter @markstouse

Key Takeaways:

  • A record number of CMOs lost their jobs in 2016; average time period is around 2 years
  • According to CMO Council survey of Fortune 1000 business leaders, #1 reason was a failure to prove a business impact.
  • Out of more than 10,000 board seats in Fortune 1000 companies, more than 3.500 board members come from sales organization; only 78 board seats are held by marketers, primarily because sales has a direct connection to revenue and economic impact.
  • The CMOs greatest enemy is time to impact. In almost all cases, marketing campaigns don’t have immediate impact. The benefits take time to materialize. Many CMOs are fired right about the time the positive revenue impact occurs.

The discussion with Mark begins close to the 19-minute mark of this video.

Topic: Not so Quiet on the Internet Front

TK Keanini, Principal Engineer – Cisco; Follow TK on Twitter @tkeanini

Key Takeaways:

  • Cisco has a team of over 250 people dedicated to understanding what the bad hackers are doing
  • They work to prevent 20 billion threats every day
  • Cybercrime is a huge problem because it is so profitable for the bad guys
  • TK estimates that a 1 – 2 person team can earn ~ $34 million through simple ransomware exploits. Will continue to be a problem until we make it more expensive for them.

TK’s session starts at just over the 33-minute mark in this video.

Fireside Chat Topic: Brand and Influencer Partnerships

Ali Grace Marquart, Co-Founder – Mavvy; Follow Ali on Twitter @model_esq

Nick Bateman, Model/Actor/Influencer; Follow Nick on Twitter @ItsNickBateman

Key Takeaways:

  • Nick was on Instagram early. He started growing his followers when he made it to the Popular page on the network.
  • Nicks content strategy: pay attention to what content works; keep publishing more of the kind of content that resonates with your audience.
  • Being authentic is Nick’s approach. H only works with brands whose products he personally uses.
  • Per Ali, it’s important that brands collaborate with influencers to help them retain an authentic voice. Doing so allows you to fully leverage influencers’ in an authentic way.
  • Per Ali, legal contracts around owning and distributing content through influencers continues to evolve.

Fireside Chat Topic: Unconscious Bias and Gender Discrimination

Robin Hauser, Director/Producer – Bias Documentary; Follow Robin on Twitter @Rubie226

Judith Williams, Global Head of Diversity – Dropbox; Follow Judith on Twitter @judithmwilliams

Key Takeaways:

  • Besides being the right thing to do, diversity makes business sense too. Research shows that diverse teams are more productive and more creative too.
  • Unconscious bias are errors in perception that occur because of the ways our brains process data.
  • Per Judith, don’t hire for culture fit. Hire for culture contribution.
  • From Robin: A good business reason for thinking about unconscious bias? Think of all the potential business opportunities you miss when you don’t pay attention to them.
  • Companies miss opportunities by not having a variety of options at the table.
  • Example of unconscious bias: when Google rolled out the first YouTube app for the iPhone that allowed users to upload videos from their phones, many uploaded videos were presented upside down because the engineering team did not have a single left-handed programmer.
  • Solution to unconscious bias in the workplace? Short-term: find or develop an active ally. Long-term: wake up!

The fireside chat with Robin and Judith starts at about the 1 hour, 7.5-minute mark in this video.

Topic: Elevating Diversity Through Marketing

Mary Ellen Dugan, CMO – WP Engine; Follow Mary Ellen on Twitter @maryedugan

Key Takeaways:

  • Diversity is something that should be intentionally embraced.
  • 65% of WP Engine’s executives are women
  • 30% of the company’s employees do not have college degrees
  • To ensure the company thinks about the customer, WP Engine’s conference rooms have one orange chair. Whoever sits in that chair must represent the voice of the customer. Lots of positive feedback from the Twitter stream on this idea!

Mary Ellen’s session starts at about the 1 hour, 38-minute mark in this video.

Topic: Building Trust Through Authentic Workplace Communication

Jim Larrison, President & Co-Founder – Dynamic Signal; Follow Jim on Twitter @JLarrison

Key Takeaways:

  • According to research, 75% of company employees miss news and other important information
  • 86% want and expect information mobile first
  • 90% of employees say company intranet is not useful
  • Keep communications simple. Remember everything is not urgent, and reach employees where they are.
  • Engage employees like customers. If it’s boring, they won’t read it!

Jim’s session starts at about the 1 hour, 49-minute in this video.

Topic: The Human Firewall: Breaking Through the Content Clutter

Bryan Kramer, CEO – PureMatter; Follow Bryan on Twitter @bryankramer

Key Takeaways:

  • Stop thinking of things in terms of B2B or B2C. H2H is what matters: Human to Human.
  • Bryan discussed his 90 Days to Ellen campaign, which was a 90-day experiment to have lunch with Ellen DeGeneres and to raise money for Feeding America. Ultimately, the campaign failed because they did not create enough of a shared interest.
  • A basic need is connection. Connection is why we share on social media.
  • Bonus: There are 6 types of sharers. Want to see what kind of sharer you are? Take Bryan’s quiz at com/w20

Bryan’s session starts just before the 2 hour, 1-minute mark in this video.

Fireside Chat Topic: Are You Using the Wrong Data?

Mike Clark, Head of Analytics & Research – Google; Follow Mike on Twitter @michaelhclarke

Brett Hurt, CEO & Co-Founder –; Follow Brett on Twitter @databrett

Carla Piñeyro Sublett, SVP & CMO – Rackspace; Follow Carla on Twitter @pineyro

Key Takeaways:

  • Per Carla, ROI is a CMO’s ultimate dilemma. And it’s compounded by volume—we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day.
  • Data is the new crude oil—it’s crude, hard to find and buried away somewhere.
  • We are still in the early stage of data. Brett referred to them as the dinosaur days to put it in perspective.

The data fireside chat session starts just before the 2 hour, 13-minute mark in this video.

Topic: Corporate Reputation in the Age of Distrust

Torod Neptune, Corporate Vice President, Communications – Verizon; Follow Torod on Twitter @TorodNeptune

Our own Gary Grates sat down with Torod Neptune, who has been leading the communications team for Verizon Corporate for quite a while. They discussed reputation and

Key Takeaways:

  • Trust in corporations is at an all-time low for 2 reasons: short-term quarterly view 2) too much focus on self-interest.
  • It’s most important to think about what would get customers to root for us and to want us to be successful in society in general. That’s how we get to understanding out soul as a company
  • Much of that mistrust comes from a disconnect between how we aspire to be seen and how we behave or the way we operate as a company.
  • You can’t manage the future with a mindset of the past. Reputation looks at what a company has done. Relevance looks at what a company is doing.
  • While access to data is a good thing, volume of data is a challenge—especially when much of it doesn’t seem to be actionable. That’s part of the reason we default to what we know.
  • Insights from data are key because if organizations can’t digest the data, if practitioners can’t use it, it doesn’t help anyone.
  • Storytelling: You have to find ways to produce content that matters to customers and while providing insight into the soul of our company. Not an easy task…

Gary’s fireside chat with Torod starts at just past the 2 hour 39-minute mark in this video.

Topic: The Corporate Innovation Imperative

Jeremiah Owyang, Founder – Crowd Companies; Follow Jeremiah on Twitter @jowyang

Key Takeaways:

  • With so much disruption happening, companies are struggling to figure out who they are competing with.
  • Culture is one of the strongest barriers to innovation. The resistance is coming from the frozen middle tundra trying to stop progress and innovation.
  • Innovation = Doing something new that solves customer needs.
  • Innovation programs within companies are mistakenly measuring revenue instead of growth.
  • Innovation for companies is tough, because it often conflicts with traditional sources of revenue.
  • Best practice: tie innovation groups to the rest of the business.
  • Employees who are part of the innovation teams Jeremiah talked to tend to bank on their employability instead of their employment.
  • Jeremiah highlighted Adobe Kickbox as an example. It’s a little red box given to employees who attend a and innovation with $1,000 of seed money and other tools designed to help employees take their ideas and turn them into products. To date, Adobe has supplied employees with over 1,000 red boxes that have translated into internal and external ideas that generate real revenue for the company.

Jeremiah’s session starts right about the 3-hour mark in this video.

Thanks to all the great speakers for making this 2017 PreCommerce Summit such a success!

Read More
The 2000s were the big bang of social media, heralded by the rapid expansion of new channels through which a brand can reach a customer.  Silicon Valley sent marketers on a meandering hunt as new variations of content and character length occupied their time. With content production still (as always) largely restricted to visual media, audio and copy, no matter what …

The 2000s were the big bang of social media, heralded by the rapid expansion of new channels through which a brand can reach a customer.  Silicon Valley sent marketers on a meandering hunt as new variations of content and character length occupied their time. With content production still (as always) largely restricted to visual media, audio and copy, no matter what the platform, the universe of digital media has started to cool and form into stable elements.

At SXSW in 2017 W2O Group hosted its 7th Precommerce Summit, an annual gathering of marketing’s best thinkers for a day of exploration and consideration.  Each year, as speakers from around the country describe their keenest insights, a variety of themes naturally emerge in reflection of marketplace trends.  Like any good trend they stand out on their own accord.  We will be producing a substantial amount of content in our effort to showcase the great ideas we encountered this year at SXSW, but the first idea we wanted to highlight was Customer Experience.

A lot has been written about customer experience lately. In this post we’ll focus on what we discussed at PreCommerce this year.

We are a product of our experiences

At the highest level, a customer comes to your brand expecting the experience they expect.  Sounds tautological right?  It is, and that is meaningful because it often overlooked.  As Brian Solis said on Friday, to many consumers, a magazine is a broken iPad.  All of their preconceived notions about how your products should function are the result of their previous experiences with similar or earlier products. In the next 10 years a generation who has consumed media exclusively through screens will graduate to the consumer economy.  Kids who have only ever read books on kindles, watched videos on pocket screens, and pinched to zoom are starting summer IT support jobs, saving birthday Venmo deposits and cashing out their WoW inventories to buy, well, everything.  How can a brick and mortar brand hope to get those customers to visit them instead of Amazon?  By creating compelling experiences customers can’t get anywhere else.

As Jeff Haydock from Best Buy explained, Best Buy turned around their business by focusing on the customer experience in store and online.  The sales floor has been carved up and staffed with expert representatives from Magnolia, Oculus, and Maytag to bring the products to life for shoppers. The brand matches online prices, easing the friction of getting out the house and reducing the practice of “showrooming” where consumers will test in store and purchase online. A purchase online is easily picked up in store, with inventory listed so customers can plan ahead and get their product before even the fastest UPS driver can deliver. The customer experience has improved and the payoff is measurable.

Meet your customers

W2OatSXSW Sponsor Bayer has seen the fastest growing brand reputation in the Fortune 100. Unranked just a few years ago, they have shot up the list, an outcome they’ve attributed to their focus on customer experience. Longtime friend of W2O and Bayer Comms leader Ray Kerins described one initiative geared towards timely customer experience in his talk on “Engagement through Unexpected Marketing Innovation.” Many people don’t know that Bayer has a large Crop Science division with global reach. Most of the time customer experience with Bayer is limited to purchase of Alka-Seltzer, Coppertone Sunscreen, or Claritin.  But America’s breadbasket is dependent on the innovation agricultural researchers bring to market that expand and sustain our food production capacity.  For weeks a team of communications and marketing professionals left the glass and metal of Bayer’s US HQ to visit the green pastures and open sky of America’s farms, hosting country music superstar Luke Bryan’s Farm Tour.  One farm after another, they connected with a community that is often overlooked by costal companies, providing them with insight into the future of farming and an all-American, family friendly night of entertainment.  They met the need of their customers to engage with a brand that serves an important role in their livelihood. Millions of social media impressions and personal interaction later, the positive impact on overall brand reputation can be directly related to this custom experience.

At W2O we’re convinced that relevance is the new reputation.  The old models of reputation measurement and management are, frankly, obsolete.  They don’t account for the democratization of voice or the increasing ownership of brand identity in the hands of consumers. They don’t incorporate measurement of volunteered online customer opinion and feedback; they don’t move quickly enough to match consumer attention.  Brands are stranded in the era of the style guide, expression as a proxy for experience. Where are the brand experience guides?  Where are the plans that capitalize on what people love about your brand’s journey?

Topicality does not sacrifice authenticity

As I tweeted about this emergent phenomenon one of my followers asked me if I thought this new system of audience engagement was reflective of the way we see Jimmy Fallon getting more political as Colbert’s numbers rise. He questioned whether authenticity of voice was possible in Fallon’s abandonment of his recurrent (silly) tropes. In my opinion authenticity can be expressed in your values, your language, and the expression of your mission, but the topics you apply that persistent voice to are variable. If they are relevant you have a winning recipe and the foundation of a positive customer experience.

As Bryan Kramer reminded us, “Communication shouldn’t be complicated. It should just be genuine and simple, with the humility and understanding that we’re all multi-dimensional humans, everyone of which has spent time in both the dark and delightful parts of life. That’s human to human.” Understanding this fundamental quality of your relationship with your customer is the first step to crafting compelling brand experiences.

So how have you started thinking about the role of customer experience in your marketing?  Have you observed the same trend toward deeper, more personal experiences? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet me @naimul.

Read More
From speaker videos to event photos our recap page of W2O at SXSW has it all! I’ve been part of our PreCommerce events for years, even before I started working for W2O Group 4 years ago. In that time I’ve come to expect great insights from a stellar list of speakers and 2017 marks our 7th …

From speaker videos to event photos our recap page of W2O at SXSW has it all!

I’ve been part of our PreCommerce events for years, even before I started working for W2O Group 4 years ago. In that time I’ve come to expect great insights from a stellar list of speakers and 2017 marks our 7th event. In my opinion, this was one of the best if not the best.

PreCommerce has always been focused on providing insights into what’s next. We hosted the event to a packed house at the AT&T Executive Education Center and streamed the whole event via Facebook Live for the first time this year.

There’s a lot of speakers to get through here. So I’ll try to keep these entries short to give you an idea of the key points discussed.

Bob Pearson, Chief Innovation Officer – W2O Group; Follow Bob on Twitter @bobpearson1845

Topic: Moneyball 2.0

Key Takeaways:

  • Polling is outdated. We don’t tell the truth when we’re highly emotional or in a partisan state.
  • Tracking the language of the neighborhood gives you broader insights into silence, apathy and noise vs. a true movement.
  • Storytelling is more than words. Think about telling stories with images. One example: Kyle McLachlan’s story of Dune in emojis tweet (Brilliant!) and the other: a 2000-year old white shaman mural discovered by Texas archaeologists.
  • Relevance is the updated version of corporate reputation, and relevance is the new black.

Rohit Bharghava, Founder – Influential Marketing Group; Follow Rohit in Twitter @rohitbhargava

Topic: How to (Actually) Predict the Future

Key Takeaways:

  • If as a futurist, someone asks if your prediction has happened, there are only two possible answers: yes, and not yet.
  • The time we live in is not one of information overload, it is noise overload. The secret of moving from noise to meaning is learning to curate your ideas.
  • 3 habits to predict the future: 1) Buy unfamiliar magazines 2) Don’t lose your best ideas 3) Focus in intersections
  • Predicting the future is about spotting the patterns and connections of the present.
  • Rohit elaborates on these habits and more in 2017 Non -Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict the Future. He re-examines parts of the book every year and republishes in December to rate his predictions.

Arra G. Yerganian, Chief Marketing & Branding Officer – Sutter Health; Follow Arra in Twitter @tonkazona

Topic: The Future of Health

Key Takeaways:

Our own Greg Matthews sat down with Arra Yerganian to discuss the future of health. Arra was recently received a prestigious Officers Award from the CMO Club for bringing a brand beyond the typical scope of marketing.

  • Greg started the conversation by comparing the current state of healthcare marketing is pushing a huge stone up a hill. Arra acknowledged that characterization. At his core, Arra sees himself as a customer experience evangelist. He sees customer experience as a pivot point for healthcare.
  • Arra hates the term “patient.” He prefers the term “people,” and pointed out the term patient comes from the Latin word that means state of suffering.
  • Sutter Health is the largest not-for-profit community-based hospital in the United States.
  • Quality of care should be table stakes in healthcare. Healthcare marketing needs to talk about something else.

Brian Solis, Principal Analyst – Altimeter Group; Follow Brian on Twitter @briansolis

Topic: The Experience When Business Meets Design

Key Takeaways:

  • Customer Experience = The sum of all engagements a customer has with you during the customer lifecycle.
  • Experience is human. It is evolving. How we design it needs to evolve.
  • Experience happens whether you design it or not.
  • Using Kodak as an example, the new “Kodak moment” is when you realize that your customers evolved so dramatically from your assumptions and it’s too late to change.
  • Bryan’s description of the storytelling arc for brands today: HEEYY!!!… and now we’re out of money.
  • Our job is to engage every person in this picture. Who are you designing experiences for? See picture below.

Ray Kerins, SVP Head of Communications and Government Relations – Bayer; Follow Ray on Twitter @RayKerins

Topic: Bayer Partnerships: Unexpected Marketing Innovation

Key Takeaways:

  • People want to engage with companies that make a difference.
  • Employees want to work for companies that are engaged and that do things that impact and benefit the communities they are part of.
  • Every Bayer employee gets 2 days off a year to volunteer. There was a clear consensus in the Twitterfeed that this is a great idea that other companies should emulate.
  • Partnerships are deeper than sponsorships. Don’t just slap a logo on the side of a building.
  • Supporting efforts to feed the world is a key part of Bayer’s mission. And farmers play a key role here. That’s why Bayer partnered with Luke Bryan Farm Tour.
  • Teams of Bayer employees supported the tour at multiple stops throughout the United States. 100,000 consumers engaged onsite during the tour. Bayer estimates it reached 23 million people in social media. Effort earned a 97% positive approval rating (Bayer average is around 74%. Bayer donated 500,000 meals through #Thankful4Ag. Goal for next year is 1 million.

Matt Dickman, Executive Director, Head of Digital Communications – Comcast; Follow Matt on Twitter @MattDickman

Topic: A View from the Inside

Key Takeaways:

  • Practice what you preach. Corporate brands in digital should understand how brand interactions happen. Being active in Twitter is one way to do this.
  • NBC’s $500 million investment in Snap is really a commitment to the future of digital.

Kara Bartone, PhD; Scientific Scouting & Portfolio Management– Johnson & Johnson, JLABS; Follow JLABS on Twitter @JLABS

Topic: Teachifying Life Science Innovation

Key Takeaways:

  • JLABS provides infrastructure and technology so small companies can focus on important healthcare discoveries.
  • Rely on internal experts to build a strong company brand.
  • Innovation comes from creating strong networks of people.
  • Find intersections. Make them where they don’t exist, and capitalize on them.

Robert Hastings Jr., EVP Strategic Communications, Chief of Staff – Bell Helicopter; Follow Robert on Twitter @RTHastingsJr

Topic: Lead Like a Warrior

Key Takeaways:

  • Most important guiding principle of leadership: People first, mission always.
  • People are the best and most important resource any leader has.
  • You have to build a high-performance culture. It doesn’t happen by itself.
  • A high-performance team is made of courage, candor, commitment and competence.
  • Three components of leading like a warrior: 1) Build high-performance culture 2) Build a shared purpose 3) Build trust
  • Shared purpose is the glue. It comes from shared risk and shared reward.

Haroon Ullah, Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff – U.S. Department of State; Follow Haroon on Twitter @haroonullah

Reva Goujon, VP of Global Analysis – Stratfor; Follow Reva on Twitter @RevaGoujon

Fireside Chat Topic: 5 Global Trends Impacting Business

Key Takeaways:

  • Myth 1: Technology is the way to defeat extremism; extremists have already co-opted technology to advance its efforts.
  • Myth 2: Extremist groups are selling a dark narrative; Not for those who join; According to Haroon, 80% of the ISIS narrative is positive. ISIS sells hope. Top languages they use to communicate? 1) Arabic 2) Russian 3) French. English is not in the top 5.
  • Myth 3: Integration beats nationalism; Not necessarily…
  • Myth 4: Recruiting methods are simplistic; the reality is that ISIS uses gaming and videos for recruiting. The average Saudi teen watches 5.5 hours of YouTube videos per day.
  • Myth 5: Poverty drives militancy; Most militants come from the middle class. It’s really about identity grievances.

Katrine Bosley, CEO – Editas Medicine; Follow Katrine on Twitter @ksbosley

Fireside Chat Topic: Innovation in Gene Editing

Our own Mike Huckman facilitated the fireside chat with Katrine, the CEO of Editas Medicine, a company focused on making the science of repairing broken genes a reality. Gene editing is a nascent field that many agree holds staggering potential.

Key Takeaways:

  • CRISPR is an acronym that stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat. It is a dynamic versatile molecular tool that allows geneticists to target nearly any genomic location to potentially repair broken genes.
  • Editas has grown from about 20 employees to over 100 employees in the past three years. That growth has allowed the company to make progress against their goals faster, but it creates challenges from a culture perspective.
  • When the company moved into a new building, Katrine opted for an office in the middle of the building vs. a corner office with a window. She did this because her office has a huge whiteboard wall that she uses frequently, but she also thinks those kinds of gestures matter from a cultural perspective.
  • In biotechnology companies, women are outnumbered 10 – 1 in board of directors; only one in five senior managers of the top biotech companies are women.
  • Katrine has a degree in Cornell University, but she does not have an advanced degree. She started her career in biotech as an administrative assistant. She used some of her time on that job to educate herself about the biotech industry.

Lorie Fiber, Global Communications Lead – IBM Watson Health; Follow Lorie on Twitter @loriefiber

Francesca DeMartino, VP Communications – Medtronic Diabetes; Follow Francesca @GetFrescaFresh

Fireside Chat Topic: Adding Patient Value Through Partnerships

Key Takeaways:

  • Lorie and Francesca’s collaborative relationship is at the heart of the partnership between IBM Watson Health and Medtronic Diabetes.
  • Over 415 million people are affected with diabetes
  • Over the course of 3 months, about 90% of the day-to-day management of diabetes falls on patients.
  • Since diabetes is such a data-driven disease, the two companies are have developed an app called Sugar.IQ that is currently in beta testing with users. They are co-creating it with users.
  • This work they are doing has potential to help people with Type 1 and 2 diabetes.

Dan Bartlett, EVP Public Affairs – Walmart;

Topic: Walmart: The Journey to Become a Digital Enterprise

Key Takeaways:

  • Walmart has 11,000 stores in 28 countries and 2.5 million employees; 60% of the U.S. population visits a Walmart store at least once a month.
  • Bet you didn’t know that com is the second-largest e-commerce site on the Internet, behind Amazon. It’s a $14 billion business for the company.
  • The digital transformation is forcing Walmart to rethink how they can best serve their customers. Dan sees this ultimately being a blended experience that includes both retail and digital.
  • Walmart is partnering with a venture capital firm to build bots they use to predict potential issues.
  • They are working with IBM Watson to power an internal app that does a tone sentiment analysis of Walmart senior executive communications compared to hundreds of CEOs.

The discussion with Dan Bartlett starts about the 1 hour 12-minute mark in this video

Stay tuned for the second half of my recap!

Read More
From speaker videos to event photos our recap page of W2O at SXSW has it all! Each year, leading up to and following our live events in Austin, we host a series of blog interviews with the speakers from our PreCommerce Summit and Movers & Shapers talks. To kick things off this year, I interviewed Carla Pineyro Sublett who …

From speaker videos to event photos our recap page of W2O at SXSW has it all!

Each year, leading up to and following our live events in Austin, we host a series of blog interviews with the speakers from our PreCommerce Summit and Movers & Shapers talks. To kick things off this year, I interviewed Carla Pineyro Sublett who is moderating our fireside chat with CEO, Brett Hurt and Google’s Head of Brand Measurement and Analytics, Mike Clarke.

According to Carla’s bio, she is the SVP and CMO of Rackspace, a cloud services company, offering cloud management on the world’s leading public and private clouds. She has responsibility for all facets of marketing globally  from brand to demand generation. Prior to Rackspace, Carla was an executive at Dell where she ran marketing for Latin America and the Caribbean. Carla also has extensive sales experience and has worked across all customer types from consumers to Global enterprises.

Now onto the questions:

  • Aaron – What led you down the path of marketing in B2B Tech?
  • Carla – It picked me! I grew up in sales at Dell, doing or leading just about every type of sales role across the consumer to large enterprise spectrum. It culminated with my leading inside sales for the Americas, where I built a strong partnership with my marketing counterpart. Together we built a robust demand generation machine that caught the attention of our CMO, Karen Quintos. She recruited me to marketing, despite my trying to convince her otherwise. She challenged me and said: You are a marketer; you just don’t know it yet. She took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to lead marketing for Dell for Latin America. In effect, it was a divisional CMO job – running every aspect of marketing for the region. She docked me under one of her strongest marketers who really put me through the paces. It was a crash course. In the end, it was an amazing learning experience and I discovered a strength that I didn’t even know that I had. All these years later, I am the CMO of Rackspace and I have a crew of amazing marketers/phone-a-friends to thank for it.
  • Aaron – How do you define innovation? 
  • Carla – Creative ideas that improve or solve.
  • Aaron – What are you or your organization doing to drive innovation?
  • Carla – It is something that I am trying to drive right now. We are stealing an idea from our developer brethren and standing up a marketing hack-a-thon – where we bring together cross-functional marketers to solve for challenges and bring new ideas forward. When I was in architecture school, this was called en charrette – we were given a design problem to solve inside of a 24 hour period and we had to work on teams to come up with the answer. It was tough but made for bonding and drove great creativity.
  • Who is someone in your industry (or outside) that you admire?
  • Currently I am so inspired by and full of admiration for my class of Henry Crown Fellows. They are an amazing group of diverse leaders, setting out to leave the world a better place.
  • Where do you see your industry being in 3 years? 5? 10?
  • Given the pace of change in marketing, I don’t know that I could even process what it could look like 10 years from now. Part of me wonders if we have gone too far down the path of technology and forgotten that marketing, in the end, is really about enabling relationships. I want to drive a back to basics, low tech movement that takes the best from old school and leverages the intelligence of new school.
  • What book(s) are you reading right now? What is one of the key take aways/themes?
  • Word of Mouth Marketing, by Andy Sernovitz. My main take away is that we as marketers like to over complicate our plans. There is something to be said for a simple play.
  • For fun: you are stranded on a desert island and can only listen to one album into perpetuity. What is that album and why?
  • How do I answer this? Shall I be clever? Christopher Cross.  Try hard to be cool? Chance the Rapper’s, Coloring Book. Or honest? My idea of torture is listening to one album, given how eclectic my music taste is. Thank goodness for Spotify. For what it is worth, I am on a Tom Mish radio kick. However, I could never pick just 1 love when it comes to music.

Great answers and who knew you liked such cool music! Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us. We are looking forward to an awesome session with you, Brett and Mike!

Read More