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Last week I introduced the first half of our amazing speakers from our Movers & Shapers event. This is my final blog post in this series — please enjoy learning from the second half of our phenomenal speakers!

  • Kyle Flaherty, VP, Solutions Marketing, Rapid7
    Kyle used his time to talk about The New World Order and focused on the threat landscape from a marketer’s point of view. Marketers now represent one of the most visible threat landscapes on the horizon. He kicked things off on a bit of an ominous note: while technology has enabled all of us to work faster and smarter and has brought so many benefits to all of us, the downside the security risks it creates. Kyle reminded us that the bad guys outnumber us, are much better funded, are better trained and are way more motivated to get at your data than security companies are to protect your data. That reality impacts billions of dollars for companies and can sometimes cost lives.  Based on Rapid7’s research, most of the hacks we read about against today’s corporations boil down to one thing: compromised credentials. In other words, we have your user name and password. How do the bad guys get it? through social engineering. Kyle spent a minute talking about the pride that some of us take in our marketing (technology) stack for good reason: according to Gartner, by 2017, marketers will have more budget to spend on technology than CIOs. Crazy when you think about it… But with more technology comes more potential vulnerabilities. Kyle then showed an example of how attackers used technology to attack a published marketing stack along with a little business research to create a fake LinkedIn account for the company’s CEO to ultimately gain access to the company’s website.  So, what can marketers do? 1) Ditch PassWORDS for PassPHRASES. 2) Enable two-factor authentication everywhere you can. 3) Use tools like TinEye for reverse image searches via your browser. 4) To check about the safety of an attachment or URL, check out VirusTotal. 5) Use a tool like Okta for single sign on…  You can check out Kyle’s session right at the the 2 hour 26 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.

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  • Josh Kampel, President, Techonomy
    Josh joined us to talk about the Techonomic Future of Business. The whole idea behind Techonomy as an organization is to understand technology’s broader impact on business and the world in general. To understand that, Josh and others on the team (like Founder and CEO David Kirkpatrick) travel the world to interview business executives about technology’s impact on society. Before joining the Techonomy team, Josh had business experience with two industries facing disruption: first the music business in 1999. Napster began the disruption in 2001, he stayed in the industry until 2004 when he made the move to another industry about to be under siege at the time: newspaper publishing. 6 months after starting, Craigslist burst onto the scene, decimating newspaper classified ads… one of their most important revenue streams. His real-world experience of living through disruption has positioned him well to look at innovation within companies and recognizing disruptive forces and how companies can change to be part of it instead of a business casualty. Josh then walked the audience through examples of disruption where upstart companies forced big, established players to change business models. You can check out Josh’s session right at the the 2 hour 38 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.

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  • Chuck Hemann, Director, Digital Analytics at Intel
    Chuck is another person I have an immense of respect for. He led much of W2O’s analytics efforts when I joined the company almost three years ago. Fast forward to today, and he’s been heading Intel’s analytics’s efforts for the last 18 months. He sat down with our own Aaron Strout to discuss the topic Global Data Supply Chain and its impact on Intel. Regarding Intel’s journey, one of the first steps Chuck took to help move Intel forward was to invest heavily in their marketing stack. The goal for them was simple: to assemble a set of technology tools so they could put marketing metrics into the hands of marketers to let them draw insights from the data for their area of the business. In making that transition, Regarding their marketing stack, Chuck said it’s not the Field of Dreams. For Intel, it was a case of if you build it, they don’t necessarily come. What they quickly realized is how sophisticated the technology is doesn’t really matter. People are the engine that really make things run. To execute on their analytics vision, Intel asked the questions, “Are we measuring the right things? Do we have the right frameworks in place, do we have the right teams in place? Can we do this outside the United States? That led them to remaking many of their analytics’s frameworks, hiring more people with diverse skill sets, standardizing all their reporting and establishing reporting cadences so marketers knew when they would receive insights on a regular basis.  Now, 18 months later, having that infrastructure in place helps Chuck’s team provide marketers with insights information on complex campaigns around the world (like like Gaga’s recent moving tribute to David Bowie during the Grammys). When Aaron asked Chuck to talk more about the importance of people in the midst of so many data measurement tools, he had this to say…  data is only going to get more plentiful, it’s only going to get cleaner and more  accessible. As that technical reality happens, the importance of people in the equation is only going to grow. To that end, Chuck liken’s his team as insights consultants who sit in between the technology and the marketers trying to make sense of all the data. That person’s role is to be the himan face of that data. You can check out Chuck and Aaron’s discussion session just before the the 2 hour 59 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.

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  • Kip Knight – President, H&R Block
    Keep didn’t join us as the president of US retail operations at H&R Block. Instead, he discussed US Marketing and Communications College (USMCC) Real World Case Study that he helped implement for the US government. In other words, he shared details about his efforts and role as a professor in the US State Department. Kip has been a marketer at big companies for more than 30 years. He believes marketing is one of the strongest disciplines we have. And it’s something we’ve seen can be used for good or evil. In 2008, Kip got a call from the Whit House. He was asked to meet with the National Security Council to look at ways to improve the US’s image abroad. He along with two other marketers presented to members of the National Security Council.  At the end of that initial meeting. Kip made it clear that he didn’t think anything they discussed would have any impact on things moving forward. When he was asked for a proposal, Kip recommended assembling a group of marketers from other US businesses with the goal of helping the National Security Council better understand how to communicate with key audiences. They agreed, and that’s when Kip worked to pull together a team to help establish a curriculum that ultimately became the foundation for the US Marketing Communication College. The goal was to assemble a team that reflected world-class marketing thinking made up from professionals from leading American companies to teach US government agencies in a way that would enable diplomats to tackle 21st-century communications challenges. They started the effort by introducing the ABCDE Communication model as a framework for the curriculum they established. A) Audience B) Behavioral Objectives C) Content D) Delivery E) Evaluation. Ultimately, the group established a 1 week curriculum that is among the highest rating series of classes in the State Department. Since 2008, they’ve used 10 US Marketing College Sessions to train over 500 diplomats. Kip then shifted to discuss what he called the ultimate communications challenge: How do you market against ISIS? The team is set to meet to discuss approaches to tackle that difficult challenge. Initial State Department efforts like #ThinkAgainTurnAway have received lots of criticism from the media. It’s not easy. It will take a collective effort from the best minds in the space. Kip asked Bob Pearson on stage. Bob mentioned the upcoming meeting later this week with the US Institute for Peace.  Bob put the call out to US marketers and social media teams.,,, if your company wants to help or even if you as an individual are interested in joining the coalition to assist with these anti-ISIS efforts, reach out to Bob via Twitter (@bobpearson1845) to discuss. You can check out Kip’s session right at the the 3 hour 46 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
  • Jesse Knish Photography Jesse Knish PhotographySanjay Dholakia, CMO, Marketo
    Sanjay joined us to discuss Marketing Automation and the New Era of Engagement. He’s had tons of business experience along his career: from consultant to CEO of a public company to CMO. He loves his current role—as CMO of a company with lots of clients, he gets to talk to many smart marketers with the goal of working to help them make sense of the data streams from their marketing stacks. He learns more from the marketing folks working through that transition. All this data has changed all our expectations as consumers. He referenced Amazon as an example of a company that has moved things forward in a big way. Why? Because they’re the ones who’ve figured out how to use data in a way that serves us as customers. We all know Amazon goes way beyond basic demographic data that some marketers still use today. Example: when Sanjay goes to Amazon.com, his home page is filled with women’s clothing. Why? Because he inly goes there to buy gifts for his wife. Amazon knows that and adjusts his experience accordingly. They could try to sell him millions of SKUs based on demographic data, but they don’t. Bottom line, Sanjay argued that he buys a lot from Amazon.com because they’ve figured out how to become useful. Being useful  or helpful is the new baseline in terms of customer expectations. That’s why it’s something all marketers should strive to do. You can check out Sanjay’s session right at the the 4 hour  mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
  • Jesse Knish Photography Jesse Knish PhotographyBrian Solis, Author and Principal, The Altimeter Group
    Christopher Wilder sat down to interview Brian about his new book, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design. Chris asked him first what he means by “user experience.” According to Brian, a lot of things we do in business today are based on philosophies from the 60s or 70s. And many times we’re measured against those old standards. Brian says experience is human, it’s emotional. An example of getting at user experience: Asking a fellow attendee, “How’s your SXSW going?” When Brian set out to write his book he sought to answer the question: What is an experience between a company and a customer?  While there’s no single answer, Brian defines an experience as a human reaction to any moment. Companies have lots of ways to create moments with a potential customer: marketing information, buying an item in a retail store, contacting customer service, etc. For customers, the experience is really the sum of all of those individual moments. Besides some of those methods being used to create those moments are based on outdated philosophies, the other problem is that all of those moments on the company side are managed by different parts of the business that most like don’t talk to each other. All the tools are there for companies to start to fix that. You can check out Chuck’s session a little over the 4 hour 35 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.

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Matthew Zito, Chief Strategy Officer, Synthesio; Joshua March, CEO, Conversocial

Matthew and Joshua discussed the 4 Stages of the Customer Buying Cycle along with what brands can do from in terms of social engagement along all of those stages. Here are the stages they discussed:

1) Research – Information gathering stage.. may ask friends for recommendations, read Yelp reviews, a person may do basic Google searches.

2) Interaction – This is typically the stage where a customer reaches out to a brand, a merchant, or other customers seeking more detailed information.

3) Purchase – This is the point where a customer actually buys a product from a brand, merchant or reseller. It’s at this point that brands receive the most data about their customer, basic demographic data, etc.

4) Perception – This is the what do you think of the product? phase. It’s where the customer has gone through the purchase, setup or installation process, has formed opinions after some amount of using the product, and may begin to share more detailed opinions online.

Joshua made the point with today’s social tools, brands have the opportunity for social engagement during any of the four buying stages. Matthew reiterated that 80% of the customers who have solid social levels of engagement with that brand or more loyal to that brand. The other bonus for brands is that customers are sharing more buying intent kinds of conversations via social, and many of those updates are public data. Joshua mentioned the trend of public social engagement extending to the private side, where Facebook recently allows customers to reach out to brands privately through Facebook Messenger. Both Matthew and Joshua highlighted Facebook’s now enabling transaction purchase receipts inside Messenger, so customers can now have lots of information at their fingertips when they may need it down the road. According to Joshua it doesn’t matter where a customer buys a product, since they are more than likely social and mobile. That means they are taps away from tweeting a question, able to post reviews, etc. Both Matthew and Joshua recognized the increasing importance of prompt responses when customers do reach out for help. Matthew cited a recent study that shows brands who responded promptly and helpfully consistently had the highest Net Promoter Score (NPS) ratings when they responded to customers within 30 minutes. NPS scores trailed off pretty dramatically the longer customers have to wait. Both also agreed that that 30 minute response expectation from customers is getting shorter and shorter. You can check out the joint discussion session just before the 4 hour 16 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream

 

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We kicked off our 2nd annual Movers & Shapers event (last year known as Geekfest) on Saturday here during SXSW. This one featured several people I’m lucky to call friends. As Bob Pearson mentioned, we chose this list of speakers because many of them are shaping the future of business in this digital age.

Thanks to our clients, partners and sponsors and W2O employees who made today (and our other #SXW2O events) possible. Below are a few highlights from each of the speakers.

  • Javier Boix, Senior Director, StoryLab, AbbVie
    Javier discussed activating a storyline paradigm (see his pre-interview here). When he and the team thought about how to move AbbVie in the storytelling realm, they knew they had to approach things differently. That’s why they created StoryLab.  For AbbVie, StoryLab = Content Development + Media Relations + Digital + Measurement. Tune into the Movers & Shapers livestream at just over the 9 minute mark to see Javier’s session.

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  • Michael Jarjour, CEO, ODH, Inc
    Michael joined us to talk about how Data is Improving Mental Health. He sat down with our own Bob Pearson to discuss Michael’s passion, how we transform behavioral and health. Key challenges in behavioral health are resource constraints and highly fragmented data. Mentrics is a tool that combines ODH’s risk assessment data along with data of the complex care patients to find out which patients are most at risk.  From a data perspective, payers are the most important component. How does the risk stratification process work? Michael explained that the ODH team had worked on the solution for four years. It identifies the high-cost patient population to track cost drivers over a year. The goal is to help health care providers figure out which patients are at risk and provide insights into the kind of treatment that can best affect outcomes. It’s about identifying 1) which patients need the most help 2) what kind of help do they need? 3) How can we help? Tune into the Movers & Shapers livestream at about the 23 minute mark to see their discussion.

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  • Amber Naslund, SVP Marketing, Sysomos
    I’ve known Amber a long time. She’s someone I’ve always had a great deal of respect for. Now even more so after hearing her talk about embracing imperfection. Everyone talks about transparency and authenticity. Amber nails both. She lives and breathes social engagement and analytics. Much of her talk centered around Impostor Syndrome. It refers to “high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as “fraud.” In 2011, she was riding high when Radian6 was purchased by Salesforce, she had a successful book and was well-known for the social engagement work that she was a part of. During her next step is when she starting struggling those negative feelings of self-doubt. Especially as so many of her peers in the social space appeared to be at the top of their game. That period led her to do research on the topic. She quickly found in her interviews that Impostor’s Syndrome affects everyone… men, women, all ages, etc. Even extremely successful people like best-selling author Stephen King. Bottom line, Amber’s currently focused on making this topic as her next book. I hope she’s successful on that front and applaud her for having the courage to share with the folks here at our event.  You can check out Amber’s session at about the 39 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
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  • Ray Kerins, SVP Head of Communications & Government Relations, Bayer
    Ray’s topic of discussion was the Criticality of Intellectual Property. Ray did something I wasn’t expecting. He made a talk about IP pretty lively and engaging. He started his session by acknowledging that most people’s eyes glaze over when they hear about patents and IP. He defined IP as the set of laws that protect individuals and companies who have created a unique product or thing. It’s important to all of us because it protects innovation. Ray cited one of the most difficult aspects of IP is the un-evenness of laws around the world. While those in the United States are decent, several countries outside the US have very weak laws, and in some cases, those laws can be difficult to enforce. Ray is a board member of the US Chamber of Commerce and he’s also a member of the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC). GIPC’s sole responsibility is to make sure the IP laws around the world help protect innovation created in America. According to Ray, IP creates job. He referenced several reports compiled by GIPC. One such report is the International IP Index, which ranks the world’s countries in terms of levle of IP protection. In other words, to track the places where counterfeiting is the biggest problem. Surprises? Venezuela is the country that currently ranks the highest on that list. India is #2. Another surprise? China currently ranks  17th on the list. Ray attributed China’s going down on the list (improving) to the Chinese government’s active efforts to strengthen their IP laws and enforcing those laws. You can check out Ray’s session just about the 50 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
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  • Michele Skelding, SVP Global Technology and Innovation, Austin Chamber of Commerce
    Michele’s topic was The Next Big Thing? Disruptive Innovation in ATX. Michele has lived in Austin for the last 20 years and has worked in technology for most of that time. She joined the Austin Chamber of Commerce about three years ago with the goal of bringing her tech expertise to the city. Michele mentioned that the average age in Austin was 33. The city has a population of about 1.9 million people, of which 415,000 are students. What’s one of the most important things the city can do to keep those students here? Create jobs that they’ll want to stay here for. As a city, that means we have to be on target with our business benefits. Add it all up and Austin is expected to be one of the fastest growing cities until 2025. Michele ended with a plea for those of us in Austin to get engaged in terms of the future of the city. Along those lines, she mentioned recent headlines where Austin proposed city ordinances are creating barriers for companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in this city. One more thing: Thanks to Michele for making the introduction to Hugh Forrest and making that PreCommerce fireside chat possible. You can check out Ray’s session just about the 1 hour 27 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.

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  • Robert Scoble, Entrepreneur in Residence, UploadVR
    Robert is another person I’m fortunate to know pretty well. Robert’s book Naked Conversations (that he co-authored Shel Israel) had a big impact on me when I was gearing up to take the reins at Direct2Dell back in 2006. Robert’s one of the best in the business about what’s next in technology. Look at his other books as an example. Age of Context focused on how sensors and big data will continue to impact business. He and Shel are currently working on their third book called Beyond Mobile. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is not surprisingly one of the main topics that book will cover. Fresh off the news that he’s joining UploadVR as their Entrepreneur in Residence, Robert dove right into the topic of virtual reality and augmented reality. He discussed companies like Magic Leap and Meta that will play a part in the future, as well as other established tech companies like Facebook, Microsoft and Google. This technology is already showing up in our world… self-driving cars use sensors and tons of data to map the world around them. Heavy machinery company Caterpillar is already using AR to help train mechanics on repairs. According to Robert, augmented reality (where we interact with virtual objects superimposed on top of real-world objects) is going to have the biggest impact. We’re still 3 – 5 years away from the truly ground-breaking stuff that will occur has hardware gets smaller, faster and cheaper. It’s coming though, and in my opinion, there’s much to look forward to. You can check out Robert’s session at about the 1 hour 38 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
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  • Patrick Moorhead, President and Principal Analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy
    Patrick’s topic was The Future of Healthcare is Closer Than it May Appear. Before becoming an industry analyst, he spent over 20 years in the tech business, focused on things like product management, product marketing and strategy. For 15 years he served on the board of St. Davids’s Medical Center and the Austin Heart Hospital (where he also chaired the board for five years). Besides sing the bureaucracy first hand, he was struck by the number of people so passionate about helping others. He mentioned that we spend over $3 trillion dollars in Healthcare annually. An estimated 90% of that goes toward chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. And an estimated 80% of those could be prevented with better healthcare along with personal responsibility. He also said the biggest issue in healthcare is the disconnect between payment and service. During the session, he called out that Moor Insights was welcoming Yuri Teshler to lead the Healthcare vertical  You can check out Patrick’s session at just over the 1 hour 58 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
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  • Natanya Anderson, Sr. Marketing Director, 365 by Whole Foods Market
    Natanya talked about the Mandate to Innovate, which is a good topic for her given how much she has done inside the walls of Whole Foods before taking on the charter to expand their 365 effort. She touched on disruption and called out Whole Foods’ recent investment in Instacart as an example of how Whole Foods is working with innovative companies instead of against them. Figuring how to innovate inside a big brand was something she struggled with at first. Her light bulb moment came when she spoke at the Foresight & Trends Conference about 18 months ago. She spoke to many people there who were part of innovation groups, or in some cases, even innovation business units. Many of them spent time analyzing trends to help figure out what areas lend themselves to innovation within their respective companies. That’s when it hit her. Instead of thinking, “How do I get that (innovation) job?” She realized the better question was, “How do I make innovation part of my job?” She started by establishing a mandate to innovate for herself. That’s when she starting actively looking for places where Whole Foods could innovate. Then she extended the that intention to innovate to her entire team. She found that some people on her team were more receptive to it than others. The tipping point was when she tied innovation to the team’s goals overall and they worked as a group to figure out how to measure the innovation part of their efforts. Hint: It wasn’t ROI. You can check out Natanya’s session at just over the 2 hour 14 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
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Check back soon to learn more from other speakers and what amazing insights they offered at Movers & Shapers!

 

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Lionel Menchaca currently serves as Director of Corporate & Strategy at W2O Group. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or reach out to him on Twitter at @LionelGeek!


 

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As I mentioned in my kickoff post, we are hosting a series of blog interviews pre and post SXSW with speakers from our PreCommerce Summit (March 10) and Movers & Shapers Summit (March 12). Today’s interview is with the Kyle Flaherty, VP of Solutions Marketing at security company, Rapid7. Kyle spoke yesterday on the topic why marketers are easy targets for cyber security breaches. To say that it was eye-opening would be an understatement.a - KyleFlaherty

Before we jump into our interview, here’s a little bit more about Kyle. According to LinkedIn, Kyle is a “technology marketing executive [who has] worked with early-stage startups to $1 billion+ high-growth companies changing the worlds of big data, IoT, BYOD, SaaS, open source software, network security, fraud detection, data analytics, marketing automation, and network management. Known for launching high profile technology startups, with four successful exits, [his] passion is to not only message technology and brand an organization, but build award-winning marketing teams that work in lock-step to rapidly produce marketing campaigns that drive measurable results to impact the bottom line.

Now on to the interview:

  1. Aaron: How do you define innovation?
    Kyle: The word innovation is so overused it’s makes me nauseous to even think about the definition. Honestly we must start to think way beyond innovation and start thinking about technology aiding human life; what I call human-driven alteration (well I didn’t invent the words, just the use). For two decades we’ve seen a rise in ‘innovation for innovation’, with technology being spit out that does pointless things like order us more Amazon boxes via a mysterious cylinder cone in the corner of our house. That’s not what I call innovation, it’s laziness masked as technology. The next few years will see a good healthy dose of closure around pointless and directionless innovation, instead a focus will be held on pragmatic uses for technology that will actually make us more secure, our earth cleaner, and our bodies more healthy. That’s what I call alteration.
  2. Aaron: What are you or your organization doing to drive innovation?
    Kyle: Working in security the past two decades I’ve seen my fair share of “innovative” introductions and great new technologies. Yet we are now in an era where we are more insecure than ever. We have all been hit by data breaches, and if you think you haven’t it’s simply because you don’t know yet. One of the reasons is that our industry often times focused from the outside in, building a stronger or smarter firewall, rather than helping to amplify the talents of security pros to make them smarter or more talented — because we all know the attackers can get past the preventive security solutions. I recently joined Rapid7 because they have a vision of creating products that have the human-being in mind, not simply the bits and bytes. Our entire mission is to build technology that restores confidence and control back to the security team, and ultimately back to the business.
  3. Aaron: Who is someone in your industry (or outside) that you admire? Why?
    Kyle: Jennifer Leggio, a mutual friend of ours. Fortunately I met “Mediaphyter” many moons ago when she just happened to sit in on a webcast I was doing for a PR agency about this new-fangled technology called Twitter. Ever since that time we’ve crossed paths and have even been able to do some work together in the security industry. Jen is a rock star in our community and has taught me that it’s not enough to just know marketing, you have to understand the community that makes up security because not only is it truly unique, it will feed your soul. I consider myself blessed to have her as a contemporary and a friend.
  4. Aaron: Where do you see your industry being in 3 years? 5? 10?
    Kyle: In the next few years the security industry will begin to understand that we can no longer prevent attacks, and thus the era of rapid detection, fed by user behavior analytics, will take hold. As we move into the 5 to 10 year frame we will actually see the security teams begin to better mesh with their contemporaries in IT as they understand their shared resource of the data that courses thorough their company and the ability to harness it so that security becomes only necessary for incident response, and IT is now handling the rest. That would be a monumental achievement if it can happen.
  5. What book are you reading right now? How did you choose it?
    Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders. I’m trying to better understand the effect different foods have in my body, not only so that I’m not a big lard ass, but also how it changes my moods, triggers my Psoriasis and arthritis, and more. It’s a fascinating, and often times disgusting, read.
  6. For fun: what three things would you make sure you brought with you in a zombie apocalypse?
    Kyle: Chuck Hemann, Pops, and a bottle of great bourbon.

Thank you Kyle. Good choices for the zombie apocalypse. I’ve heard that that Pops is a really zombie killer.

This is a guest post by my Live from Stubbs co-host, Kyle Flaherty.

One of the falsest of statements put out by the media is the idea of an ‘overnight sensation’, and this is particularly idiotic in both business and music. There is no such thing in either world and when you sit down with an up and coming act like The Reliques you quickly understand why artists, like great business leaders, put in so many hard hours working their craft; a singularity of mission.

Singularity of a mission is a driving force behind many, if not all, great entrepreneurs. Zuckerberg, Whitman, Benioff, Meyer, Ellison, Gates… the list goes on and on. And one clear connections between them all is their ability to have a singular vision (even when that vision leads astray). In many ways it is this unwavering push towards a singular mission, and the scrappy entrepreneurial spirit to make it work anyway possible, that can also be attributed to great music acts over the years.

Walking into the room to interview The Reliques you are immediately welcomed by two women filled with energy and joy, waiting to share their gift of strong songwriting and angelic melodies. The Sarah’s (Dossey and Walters to be exact) have been making music together since their time at the University of Texas where it became clear that the duo enjoyed making music together, even when it becomes an individual enterprise. And here is where you realize that musicians in a band are part of a team, like any department in a company or squad taking it to the field.

I feel like writing a song is very individualistic… usually it works best for us to write a song on our own and then bring it to the other one and ask how does this work.
–Sarah Dossey

And with any team The Reliques must also rely on each other to be honest and transparent in their feedback to one another. If one doesn’t like the melody it’s something to discuss, not something to hide. In the end the result is strong songwriting and music, as evidenced on their latest album “Leaving Montgomery”. It is with this album that you also understand the true start-up nature of today’s music industry, since the duo actually funded the production using Kickstarter. Not only did they surpass their goal, they broadened their horizons.

…probably about 25% of our supporters were outside of the U.S., that was cool to see.
–Sarah Walters

Music is a sum of parts, not only the working function of the band mates like the Sarah’s, but also in their fans throughout the world. The beauty of the entrepreneurial spirit, whether in business or music, is the fact that there is the one constant of plain old hard work. Talking with The Reliques for Live From Stubb’s was a fantastic reminder to appreciate those around us who are the creators.

Listen to more from The Reliques in our interview or their live acoustic songs, Hold me Down and Leaving Montgomery that we recorded with them live at Stubb’s.

With the 2013 version of SxSW Interactive in the books, it’s time for a look back on highlights, key trends (or lack of) and links to some of the awesome content we collected during the several events that we hosted during the event.

For starters, there really weren’t any big technologies that shined through at this SXSW like we’ve had at past events. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but likely more of an indication that it’s becoming harder and harder to break through all the noise at SXSW Interactive. There was a larger corporate presence than ever this year and that will likely be a continuing theme over the next few years as companies continue to embrace, grow and operationalize social, digital and mobile into their corporate DNA.

Social Commerce Summit

For W2O Group in particular, we had a very successful set of of events that kicked off with our Social Commerce Summit on Thursday, March 7. During this six hour event, we had 19 speakers each give 10 minute TED-like talks. The talks covered a range of topics including love, marriage and creating brand passion. We know it’s a lot of content but we hope you’ll take the time to watch the video (or at least read the highlights in the blog posts) from the speakers below.

We also had a few nice write ups from the event by former PR Week/current Holmes Report writer, Aarti Shah (here) and friend of W2O, Lisa Grimm (here).

In particular, we would like to thank our sponsors, Sysomos and BazaarVoice, for making all of our events during SXSW possible. They were (and are) great partners.

 

W2O Group Open House/Live from Stubbs Video Podcasts

While there weren’t any breakthrough companies this year at SXSW, we did have a number of themes crop up during our Social Commerce Summit and then again during our Live from Stubbs podcast tapings during our open house on Friday, March 8. In particular we heard a lot about big data, mobile, analytics and the operationalization of digital across the organization from many of our speakers/guests. There was also a significant amount of interest in our partner, SnapTrends, technology that provides for location-based analytics, a topic that W2O is quite bullish on.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be embedding the Live from Stubbs videos in blog posts on our Common Sense blog. In the meantime, you can check out all of the videos on our Youtube channel here. You can also read my Live from Stubbs co-host, Kyle Flaherty’s summary of our interview with Youtube’s Jeben Berg, here. When Kyle is not podcasting he is the VP of marketing at local analytics firm, 21CT who was kind enough to sponsor our Live from Stubbs videos. I would also like to thank local video production and strategy company, UPG for all of their brilliant work with both the Live from Stubbs videos as well as recording/editing all of our Social Commerce videos.

Geek-a-cue

Of course SXSW wouldn’t be what it is without a party. And party we did at our 4th annual Geek-a-cue on Saturday night at Franklin BBQ (ranked best BBQ in the U.S. by Bon Appetit Magazine). Fortunately the rain held off this year allowing us to eat fantastic BBQ, enjoy the brilliant music of local favorite, Monte Montgomery, share a few beverages, take funny photos in our photo booth and play a little Corn Hole out behind the tent.

This short video shot and produced by UPG does a wonderful job of summing up this fabulous event.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_TYROYXApk[/youtube]

We also need to thank Natalee Norwood and Spoiled Doves for producing our Geek-a-cue. Without all her creativity, foresight and elbow grease, this event wouldn’t be what it was. Thank you to Aaron and Stacy Franklin and the Franklin staff for use of their venue and all the mouth watering BBQ they served up with smiles on their faces.

Digital Brunch

Capping off the week, we hosted a digital brunch at our East Austin offices. In spite of threats of rain, the springing ahead of the clocks and a lot of hung over SXSW attendees, we still enjoyed over 125 visitors to our new offices. The petting zoo, chair massages, drinks (alcoholic and caffeinated) and gourmet brunch courtesy of local restaurant/catering company, Dai Due, probably didn’t hurt.

Biggest thanks of all go to the dream team at W2O Group of Erin Disney, Stephanie Layton, Blaire Borochoff and Katrina Hallowell for their months of hard work putting these events together. Huge props also go to our CEO, Jim Weiss and President, Bob Pearson for making these events possible. Last but not least, a shout out to all of our W2O Group employees who volunteered/attended as well as our clients for being an integral part of our SXSW experience. Thank you!

Last but not least, we also had a little fun with our #sxswpickuplines this year. Details are here. Video that put the cherry on the cake is below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR6kVwM2Gp8[/youtube]