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The world of advertising is constantly evolving. From print to digital, the space has adapted and grown exponentially since it’s inception.

This week’s guest of What2Know had a nontraditional path toward advertising and becoming the CEO of his company. He dropped out of high school at 17 to join Yahoo! Mobile as an automation engineer and two years later dropped out of UC Berkeley to join AOL Corp Devt. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sahil Jain to discuss his journey in the world of advertising.

Sahil has a keen understanding of the advertising space. During our discussion we discussed where advertising has been, the state of the industry currently and where the future of advertising is headed. Plus, we discussed karaoke and Marvin Gaye. Take a listen below.

As someone that started podcasting over 10 years ago, it’s amazing to look at how this medium has evolved over the years. Left for dead back just a few years back, podcasts have made a major resurgence thanks to the popularity of shows like Serial, Crimetown and Presidential.

Back in February, we at W2O launched our own new audio series called the What2Know Podcast. The show focuses on learning about best practices, insights and innovation from a variety of industry experts. And while the show caters to leaders in the marketing and communications space, we work hard to make these entertaining (and valuable) for anyone that chooses to listen.

Now that we are 32 episodes in, it felt like the right time to take a look back at some highlights from our guests who have included some incredibly talented people ranging from celebrity chef, Tyler Florence, to Founder of the LAGRANT Foundation, Kim Hunter. Our topics have ranged from using social media to creating amazing fan experiences to escaping from Vietnam with a broken back and dysentery.

Here are a few of my self-created awards from yours truly:

  • “Dumbest moment” Award — Normally, I try and do a fair amount of research before each of my interviews but this process sometimes gets short-circuited when serendipity strikes. Just such a moment happened at the NewCo Shift Summit back in February when I bumped into Grammy-nominated singer/SuperPhone CEO, Ryan Leslie, in the hallway. I hadn’t had Mr. Leslie on my list of interview targets but after hearing his keynote presentation, I realized he was a “must get.” Luckily, I was able to do some crash research on him and had enough material to go on. So we sit down and before I hit the “record” button, I address him as Leslie Ryan. Duh. This turned into a laughable moment soon thereafter when we started the interview and Mr. Leslie waves his conference badge at me as I introduce him so I won’t mix up his name again.
  • “Most enjoyable” Award — While I’ve really enjoyed doing many of these interviews, I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable my interview with Stephanie Cathcart, global head of external affairs for GE Oil and Gas, went. Following Stephanie’s talk at the National StratComms Summit, I knew we were like-minded but five minutes into our conversation, there was just this incredible chemistry. She is a total digital nerd and understands the importance of great content.
  • “Best music connection” Award — I had met Comcast’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Satchell, several months before at a VIP party hosted by Comcast in support of the Olympics. Our mutual friend, Brian Solis, introduced us and we chatted for a good 30-40 minutes on at a rooftop bar in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco. The interview itself was a lot of fun because Chris is an absolutely brilliant technologist but at the end when I asked Chris about the “one album” he would chose to listen to on a deserted island, he shared his top three. And of the three: 1) Achtung Baby, U2, 2) Dirt, Alice in Chains and 3) American Idiot, Green Day, I could have easily chosen any of them for my “deserted island” album. I knew at that point that Chris and I would become good friends.
  • “Sweating bullets” Award — Similar to my “Dumbest moment” Award, I had the luck of sitting down with Mark McKinnon, the Executive Producer/co-host of Showtime’s, The Circus (also the campaign strategist for President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain and former Texas Governor, Anne Richards). I hadn’t expected that I would be able to interview Mark so when he agreed, I was on cloud nine. Unfortunately, the podcast unit I normally used was back in San Francisco so I had our second unit shipped from Austin. Three minutes into the interview, the batteries died and the bag the unit came in didn’t have backup batteries. Needless to say, I spent the next 10 minutes apologizing profusely to Mark while my colleague, Ally Masi, ran around like crazy looking for four AA batteries. Fortunately, the batteries were found and the show continued. And Mark was the consummate guest.
  • “Holy crap I can’t believe I’m talking to this person” Award — I’ve been a huge fan of the musician, ZZ Ward, for five years now. I’ve easily listened to her album, Til the Casket Drops a few hundred times and was quite impressed by how engaging yet approachable she was on social media. As luck would have it my friend (and President of Techonomy), Josh Kampel, knew her manager. Several weeks after I first connected with ZZ’s people, I was able to land an interview with Ms. Ward. It was one of the few I’ve had to do over the phone but it was still one of my all time favorites.

It’s been an awesome 32 weeks ride with some amazing guests. I look forward to the next 32. A big shoutout to all you listeners. And a special thank you to Blaire Clause for producing the show and Maya Ollie for creating the accompanying blogs and social posts.

You can listen to an abbreviated audio recap of the show below. Subscribe for our weekly updates!

Like many industries, the marcoms field suffers from a lack of diversity. Whether it’s age, ethnicity, physical abilities, or gender, we as a collective have been missing the mark. This week’s guest Kim L. Hunter noticed this issue and decided to provide a solution.

Kim wears many hats. He is the founder & managing Partner of KLH & Associates, president & CEO of LAGRANT COMMUNICATIONS and founder & CEO of The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF). Despite his multiple ventures, he ensures that diversity is the cornerstone of each. Our firm has had the pleasure of working closely with TLF. Last year we teamed up with TLF to create a first-of-its-kind fellowship targeting ethnic minorities pursuing careers in healthcare communications and the experience has been incredible. Kim’s passion to make the industry more representative of the evolving world around us is inspiring.

We discussed why diversity matters to your company and clients, plus we dig into some of his Motown favorites. Take a listen below.

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Our digital world is forcing every industry to adapt, change and innovate like never before. From automotive to music, corporations are being challenged to allow new ideas to come from everywhere and to align their business models to fit digital. In short, operationalizing innovation is a necessity.

This week I had the pleasure of chatting with long time friend and industry mentor, Jeremiah Owyang, Founder of Crowd Companies. I admire Jeremiah’s passion not only for research, but also his commitment to crowdsourcing knowledge. During our time we discussed what it means to learn collaboratively, how top organizations are operationalizing innovation and what steps companies need to take in order to ensure they are not left behind.

Plus, hear who’s influencing Jeremiah and about the time we went to a jazz club in The Village. Take a listen below.

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For more than a 100 years, The American Cancer Society (ACS) has been leading the fight to end cancer. One of the ways ACS is able to continue such important work is their Discovery Gala, an event dedicated to saving lives and celebrating life. There is still time to purchase tickets for this year’s gala which will feature distinguished honorees and guests including ACS CEO Gary Reed. On this week’s episode of the What 2 Know podcast I had the pleasure of chatting with John Hinshaw (former Chair, ACS) and John A. Orwin (current Chair, ACS)  about the upcoming event and how data, tech and life sciences are combating cancer.

John Hinshaw served as the former EVP and Chief Customer Officer at HPE, which allowed us to discuss the role technology plays in healthcare. John A. Orwin served as the former president and CEO at Relypsa Pharmaceuticals, which allowed us to discuss how healthcare must integrate with life sciences and data in order to continue evolving. Both of these guys are incredibly passionate about the fight to end cancer and have a wealth of information on the tools necessary to continue to fight for a cure. Take a listen below.

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The future of healthcare is closely related to data. This week’s guest recognizes how using data in the right way will be essential to medicine as it evolves.

I sat down with Chief Medical Officer of Verily (Google’s Life Sciences arm), Jessica Mega, M.D., M.P.H. to discuss this topic further. During W2OatSXSW we had the pleasure of inviting Dr. Mega to chat with our Chief Innovation Officer, Bob Pearson, about creating empathy when developing healthcare products, as well as bringing moon shots to Earth… and to health consumers. It’s that kind of innovation and brilliant thinking that made me excited to speak with her.

Without question, Dr. Mega grasps the expansive depth of the healthcare industry, and I learned a lot from her during our quick chat. We discussed what it means to shape the future of medicine, how the industry can remove barriers for patients, and the role passive approaches can play in healthcare. Plus, I learned that she is a dancing machine! Take a listen below.

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In today’s day and age, when crisis strikes there are a myriad of places we run to for information. From social media, to the news, or word of mouth, there is no shortage of sources available to us, especially when a situation is dangerous. This week I had the opportunity to speak with a group of people who have first-hand experience in navigating crisis communications. Karen Boyd, Communications Director of City of Oakland, helped manage communications during the Ghost Ship Warehouse fire. Sgt. Wanda Miglio and Michelle Guido are both public information officers (PIO) for the Orlando Police Dept., and were on scene in the wake of the Pulse Night Club shooting. Karen Terrill joined us to round out the group. She runs an organization that focuses on equipping PIO teams on how to communicate during a crisis as president of Media Survival Group.

There were several takeaways on crisis communications, but mainly all of the insights stemmed from the same core principle: empathy and strategy go hand-in-hand when it comes to crisis management. Although their roles require them to get information out quickly, at end of the day, they remind themselves that they still have to be human when doing so. I commend all of this week’s guests for their willingness to do such important work. Take a listen below.

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If you were to pursue your wildest dream, what would it be? When you think of pursuing it, does it seem achievable? This week’s guest not only dreamt big, but also pursued and accomplished his ultimate dream. I had a great time chatting with the winner of Survivor (season 33), Adam Klein.

Adam has an incredibly infectious personality, just by being in the room with him you feel like you can do anything. It’s that exact spirit and attitude that led him to compete and ultimately win Survivor. We discussed the importance of recognizing your dreams, the tenacity required to achieve your dreams, and a cause that is near to his heart, #LiveLikeSusie. #LiveLikeSusie is a campaign to honor Adam’s mother, Susie, who passed away from lung cancer. He’s using the same tenacity, passion, and discipline to bring awareness surrounding the stigma of lung cancer and to fund research toward a cure.

W2O Group is proud to sponsor an upcoming event where Adam will be speaking, the American Cancer Society’s Discovery Gala, on September 16th in San Francisco. Consider attending an amazing event for a worthy cause.

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If you know me you know that I am huge fan of music. I could discuss a myriad of albums, across genres and decades for hours. Like many industries, the business of creating music has evolved due to social media. This week I had the opportunity to sit down and discuss how social media has evolved the music industry with one of my favorite artists, ZZ Ward. She’s got an incredibly unique sound and has worked with some of the industry’s best, including Gary Clark Jr. and Kendrick Lamar. Aside from her amazing talent, she has a deep understanding of how to leverage social media to connect with her fans in an authentic way.

Naturally we discuss music, her influences and what it’s like being a touring artist, but she also shares how she is able to directly and authentically communicate to her fans via social media. Specifically, we discuss how she uses her Instagram to give her fans direct access (even if that means they see she is not a morning person) and this level of access has helped shape her relationship with her fans. Take a listen below and if you haven’t subscribed be sure you do!