This is a guest post by my Live from Stubbs co-host, Kyle Flaherty.
Let’s start with a bit of physics. In the theory of relativity there is something called “time dilation”, which is a difference of elapsed time between two events as measured by observers when they are moving relative to each other. This happened to me during our Live From Stubb’s taping with Amber Naslund of Sysomos.
The first time I ‘met’ Amber Naslund was August of 2008 when we struck up a Twitter conversation about Aaron Rodgers. We then met in person at SXSW 2009 and since then I’ve watched Amber from afar as she wrote and published a best-selling book, The NOW Revolution, and continued her successful career in marketing. When you read Amber, whether her book or blog, you get a no-filter, no-nonsense take on what is happening in the marketing world. I’ve always respected her thoughts, even when we disagreed, because I value honesty and authenticity above everything else.
Amber has marketing in her DNA. Watching her speak at the W2O Pre-Commerce Summit I was truly struck by her intelligence and storytelling abilities. And this is a critical component for all of us in marketing today as we are overcome by media channels, brands, and poor strategic choices. Thinking back, this is why I enjoyed talking with her in 2008, in between, and then reconnecting in 2015. Even before our Live From Stubb’s interview we were joking about how we have all been pushing the boundaries of marketing for decades now, yet some folks think many of us have ‘disappeared’ (watch the interview to see why).
Sitting with Amber in 2015 and talking about the current marketing landscape it felt both as if 2008 was yesterday and nearly a decade ago. Time moves, marketing evolves, but for me, I try to make genuine humans like Amber a constant.
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.
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.
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.
There are three certainties in life… death, taxes and the fact that our company, W2O Group, will once again be hosting some awesome events during SXSW Interactive. Unless you live under a rock, you know this is one of the largest interactive conferences on this planet. Over 100,000 of the top digital, social and mobile minds from around the world haling from companies large and small, agencies, startups, etc. come to Austin, TX to network, attend panels and catch up on the latest trends. Many of these attendees are influential bloggers, senior marketing and communications professionals and journalists who report back on who is doing what in the interactive space.
Because a significant number of our clients at W2O Group (WCG, Twist and BrewLife) are now involved with SXSW Interactive, over the last six years we have developed a series of events during SXSW that complement all of the activities that go on during that time. Our signature event, the PreCommerce Summit, takes place on March 12 (Thursday) from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and is packed with speakers from well-known brands like H&R Block, Google, Twitter, Verizon, Intel and Bayer. We will also have thought leaders from companies like Techonomy, NBC and Bloomberg providing industry insights. Did we mention that we are honored to have none other than Al Roker, co-anchor of the Today Show, and a special fireside chat between Tech moguls, David Kirkpatrick (author of The Facebook Effect) and Vyomesh “VJ” Joshi (former EVP of printing at Hewlett Packard)?
Jon Harris (former head of comms at Hillshire Brands and media personality), will be interviewing Al at our event. You can hear more in our Live from Stubbs interview with Jon here on what he and Al will cover.
This event will be attended by about 400 plus customers and other industry thought leaders. A cocktail reception will follow. The event is complementary, but invite only. If you are interested in attending, please email us at email@example.com. In that email, be sure to provide name, title and company. We will also be live streaming the event via UStream if you can’t physically be there. Registration is open to the public (RSVP here).
We will also host a digital brunch at our (not so) new office located in East Austin. If you like food trucks (hint: Gordoughs will be one), music, cocktails and lost of interesting people, you will enjoy this.
Every SXSW, we do our best to cover “what’s next” in digital. This year, we’re planning to host our first GeekFest on Saturday at The Austonian between 10am – 2pm. We have 12 speakers including Becky Brown, VP of media at Intel and TK Keanini, CTO of Lancope to give 15 minute talks with some time for Q&A every 3-4 talks. We will have no more than 70 people in attendance. This event is being sponsored by Synthesio.
In addition to ourPreCommerce Summit (selected talks from last year’s event), Digital Brunch and Geekfest, we will also host our sixth annual Geek-a-Cue Saturday night at the historic Charles Johnson House (on the Colorado River). This is the house MTV uses to host its SXSW Music parties so you know it’s good. We were sad to not host our Geek-a-cue for a fourth time at world famous Franklin’s BBQ, but with their new expansion we simply ran out of room. Not to worry, however, because we are pleased to bring you one of Austin’s newest gems, Terry Blacks. While we won’t pretend anyone can cook brisket like Aaron Franklin… the Black brothers (their grandfather is Terry Black who opened Blacks in Lockhart 83 years ago) come pretty damn close.
Oh, did we mention that we have two AMAZING bands this year as well? For openers, we’ll have Austin favorite, Monte Montgomery. And then for our main act, we are featuring Black Joe Lewis (yes, that Black Joe Lewis that has appeared on Letterman and countless music festivals).
Check out my 2014 wrap up post to get a better flavor of the awesomeness you will experience this year.
Here are eventbrite links/descriptions of the events:
Thursday, March 12th: Fifth Annual PreCommerce Summit – It will be a series of 10 minute TED-style talks, panels, and fire side chats. Speakers below
As you can imagine, space is limited at these events so please make sure to RSVP soon. And if you do RSVP and decide after that you can’t make it, please be courteous and let us/me know that your slot is available.
For any of you that have seen our Live from Stubbs video podcast series, you are familiar with our format. Our guests include CMOs, book authors, innovators and other movers and shakers in digital. We ask them about business, music and BBQ. Our original vision for the show was to also include musicians as part of the series. Well, that day has finally arrived and we are honored that legend in the making, Lord Huron, was our special guest.
BUT… this time around, we decided to focus on the music in the video formats and kept the interview in text format for you all to read. We do have video of the original if you would like us to share it with you privately but in the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy the interview and more importantly, four songs that the band played for a small audience at historic music venue, Stubbs BBQ here in the live music capitol of the world, Austin, TX.
Aaron Strout: Hello, welcome to a very special edition of Live from Stubbs, we are here at Stubbs at the inside stage today and were really excited to be here with the band, Lord Huron. We have Ben Schneider who is the lead singer, founder of the band and guitarist. We also have Mark Barry who is the percussionist and producer and then I am joined by special guest today, Jim Rudden, CMO of Austin-based Spredfast. I am Aaron Strout of W2O Group and we’re going to have fun today talking to these guys about their music, some BBQ, and what they’re doing these days to engage their fans.
Jim Rudden: I’d actually like to start with the art… I read online that a good way to think about Lord Huron is as a visual art project supported by music. Would you agree with that characterization or how do you all think about it?
Ben Schneider: If you want to enjoy the music, that’s cool. But there are all these other elements that you can kind of dig deeper and get into if you’re so inclined. Beyond music, there’s art to look at, there’s videos to watch, there’s other ways to engage and live inside universe if you can.
Aaron: Mark, you joined the band about three years ago. What did you think when this guy said… ”Here’s my vision”
Mark Barry: We grew up together in Michigan and I’ve always known him to be such a creative guy and he put the first EP together and played it for me while I was in Nashville. I thought it was crazy amazing so I called him up on the phone.
Ben: Yeah, he was session musician in Nashville and luckily had a pretty flexible schedule. I had been offered a couple of shows but didn’t know any musicians in Los Angeles really because I wasn’t in that world; I was more in the art side of things, at first. So he was the only guy I knew to call… the only one I knew that had the skill to help me get this thing going. He helped me get the band together and found some really great musicians right off the bat, thanks to him, and we’ve been at it ever since.
Jim: I want to go back to the experience you mentioned. You know Aaron and I come from a digital media/ social media world so we’re fascinated by some of the things you guys are doing. In particular, the post cards, can you talk a little bit about the genesis of that idea and how it’s played out… maybe what’s next there.
Ben: Yeah, you know a lot of people started to lament the loss of physical copies of music. You know a lot of people think that’s gone because nobody buys albums anymore in that way. The reality of it is now there’s a whole other sort of playing field we can use which is the internet. For me, it’s just another way to expand the universe that we’re trying to create. Every little bit of content that we can get out there and express our point of view and our aesthetic and hopefully get people excited about it… we take that opportunity.
Aaron: You’ve opened for Dave Matthews Band, you’re opening for Alt-J now, you were on the Leno Show, and we heard that your song was on the show Nashville’s premiere the other night. This has got to feel pretty exciting. How do you guys take that in? What do you make of it and how do you keep grounded in all this coolness?
Ben: We’re just moving so fast that its hard to really gauge. All that stuff you’re talking about is great but we don’t even think about it that much because we just keep going.
Mark: Since we’ve been playing music together since we were 12 or 13, it’s what we’ve always wanted to do and now it’s happening…so we’re just riding with it.
Jim: So have you evolved a specific song-writing process?
Ben: We’re still sorting it out to be honest, since it started with just me, I tend to be the one that starts all the songs and gets them sort of into shape at first and then I share it with the guys. Mark helps me arrange stuff and all the guys contribute different parts so it’s really just a work in progress. We did that one record and before that it was just me doing the EPs by myself so we’re kind of just letting it grow naturally and be what it wants to be. There’s no set prescription for how any of it works, at this point.
Aaron: That’s cool. Inevitable there’s always a favorite song and then there’s the song that you really feel passionate about. Is there a song that you guys have written recently that either may be popular or not that really speaks to you?
Ben: A song like “She Lit a Fire” which wasn’t a single at first but we noticed people at shows were really responding to it. That was a cool feeling. That was one of the first times where I saw someone singing the lyrics in the audience. That’s a surreal feeling- first time you see that it’s very odd.
Aaron: What do you guys listen to? What’s on your iPhone or your MP3 player these days?
Ben: There are definitely some common influences for us. I think all of us are pretty big Paul Simon fans… you know the classic American stuff like Bob Dylan. Everyone listens to a lot of country and we let that all in but world music is big too. I know Miguel is really into Indian music and I’m into African and Middle Eastern stuff. I think what’s been cool about this project in particular is I haven’t allowed myself to deny any of my even somewhat guilty pleasures. I just let all of the stuff that I like influence the music so I think that’s been one of the reasons why its been success. We’ve just accepted all of that, not trying to be cool or anything just try to make music that we like.
Aaron: Well and I think you’re being somewhat timeless if you’re able to do that, right. You’re not pinned to a particular “oh this is what was hot in 2013”…
Ben: Hopefully not. And we occasionally get lumped in certain genres that are happening right now that in some ways I see the connection and some ways I think wow “we seem totally different from that” in my mind. In an ideal world, people are listening to music without any pre-conceived notions at all but I understand those things help us. I’m sure they’ve hurt us in some ways but getting anyone to listen to the music is really all we want people to do.
Jim: We’re here at Stubb’s BBQ, one of the capitols of BBQ in Austin, TX. You guys have been out on tour there’s St. Louis BBQ, then there’s Memphis BBQ, then there’s Texas BBQ…. do you have any favorites?
Ben: I’ll take it any way I can get it to be honest. I do like Texas BBQ… every now and then I feel like a dry rub or St. Louis stuff too… but I think Texas is my favorite.
Aaron: Want to thank you guys both for being here today. We have Mark Berry and Ben Schneider of the band Lord Huron, we have Jim Rudden who’s the CMO of Spredfast, Aaron Strout of W2O Group. This has been a blast and I look forward to keeping an eye on you guys.
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).
Bob Pearson, President W2O Group and Auhor, Pre-Commerce
Andy Sernovitz, CEO SocialMedia.org and Author of Word of Mouth Marketing
Mason Nelder, Director of Social Media & Digital Strategy at Verizon
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.
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.
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.
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.
As many of you reading this blog know, SXSW Interactive has evolved into one of the largest interactive conferences/gatherings in the world. As such, over 100,000 digitally minded folks from Fortune 500 companies, agencies, startups, etc. come to Austin, TX from all over to network, attend panels and catch up on the latest trends. Many of these attendees are influential bloggers, heads of social media and journalists who report back on who is doing what in the interactive space.
Because a significant number of our clients at WCG are now involved with SXSW Interactive, over the last five years we have developed a series of events during SXSW that complement all of the activities that go on during that time. Our signature event, the Social Commerce Summit, takes place on March 7 (Thursday) from noon to 5 PM and is packed with speakers from well-known brands like Verizon, Intel, 3M, Susan G. Komen and Hersheys. We will also have thought leaders from companies like SocialMedia.org, Waze, BazaarVoice and ThomVest Ventures providing industry insights. This event will be attended by about 200 customers and other industry thought leaders. A cocktail reception will follow.
In addition to our Social Commerce Summit, we will have three other events including our Geek-a-Cue on Saturday night at Franklin BBQ (rated best BBQ in America last year by Bon Appetite Magazine). The attendees of this party will be similar to that of the Social Commerce Summit. The final two events are open houses at WCG’s downtown and digital offices.
Here are eventbrite links/descriptions of the events:
Thursday, March 7th: 12-6:30pm
Social Commerce Summit, Stephen F Austin Intercontinental Hotel (701 Congress Avenue); Summit from 12-5pm, Cocktail hour from 5-6:30pm
E-mail me at astrout @ wcgworld . com to request a pass (limited availability)
Friday, March 8th: 10am-12pm
Open House, downtown office (101 W. 6th Street, 3rd Floor) — The exciting draw here in addition to hanging out with some of your favorite WCG-ers will be ongoing Live from Stubbs podcasts with thought leaders in the space and a book signing with author (and client), Ekaterina Walter. We will be giving away 50 copies of Ekaterina’s New York Time’s Best Seller, Think Like Zuck to the first 50 attendees.
4th Annual Geek-A-Cue at Franklin’s Barbecue (900 E. 11th Street)
E-mail me at astrout @ wcgworld . com to request an invite (limited availability)
Sunday, March 10th: 10am-12pm
Digital Brunch, W2O Digital office (3000 E. Cesar Chavez) — We will have an espresso bar, adult beverages, massage chairs and most importantly, digital brunch being served by rising star, Chef Jesse Griffiths, owner of Dai Due. We will also be giving away chapters of Chuck Hemann and Ken Burbary’s new book, Digital Marketing Analytics.
As you can imagine, space is limited at these events so please make sure to RSVP soon. And if you do RSVP and decide after that you can’t make it, please be courteous and let us/me know that your slot is available.
p.s. We’ll ultimately have 3-4 sponsors but so far, we are excited to have Sysomos and BazaarVoice as our first two. We greatly appreciate their support.
Among the many amazing conversations that we had during SxSW this year, the one that Kyle Flaherty and I had with Sanofi’s Michele Polz stands out for a number of reasons.
First, the work that’s been done by her Patient Solutions team in Sanofi’s US Diabetes franchise (WCG Client) is truly remarkable. More on that in a moment. The second is that they were able to build a highly visible innovation challenge, in partnership with Todd Park and the Department of Health and Human Services. In six weeks.
The idea behind the first Data Design Diabetes Challenge, now in its second year, was born at SxSW in 2011. The program was formally launched in June of that year at the Health Data Initiative Forum. I’ve known global corporations that couldn’t get a twitter account started in six weeks time – much less an innovation competition that had over 100 entries, and is now supported by its own blog, twitter account and facebook page. AND, if you really want to know more, you can sign up to watch Demo Day live on May 16th.
According to Michele, the main enabler of their success was that there was an incredibly focused cross-functional team behind her, including all of the right players from their legal, regulatory and compliance teams. The winner of that competition, ginger.io, is now being considered as a potential partner while other entrants have successfully started their own businesses. The 2012 competition is now in full swing – you can learn more about it on the Data Design Diabetes web site. Or,
As you know, we always close these LiveFromStubbs conversations with a conversation about music and barbecue. Michele’s shouldn’t be missed. TEASER: Michele’s story involves Katy Perry and a law enforcement officer. But you have to watch the video to fid out the rest. 😉
What business does a 160 year old company like Aetna have in sending employees to a cutting edge event like South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive? Hint: it has a little something to do with the insurance giant’s willingness to do more to engage its customers using proven strategies and tactics of some of today’s younger and hipper consumer/tech companies.
During this video, Dan Brostek, head of member and consumer engagement at Aetna, takes time to tackle that question along with others such as “how can companies work better with compliance/legal?” or “how is it possible to get CEO buy in when it comes to new technology and social media?” If you are a company — in a regulated industry or not — it is worth your time listening in to Dan’s explanation of how Aetna is reshaping itself to be more in tune with its customers’ needs.
Once a year, the digital hurricane known as South by Southwest (SXSW) hits Austin, TX. It’s a great place for content and conversations — particularly when it comes to getting a finger on the pulse of the latest trends in social, mobile and local — for companies big and small.
One of our company’s focuses this year at SXSW is creating great video content. In particular, we are leveraging a video podcast show we started last year called Live from Stubbs which is normally recorded over on the historic stage at Stubbs BBQ (acts such as Willy Nelson, Bob Dylan, Metallica and such have played there). Each show is comprised of two episodes, the first focusing on digital and social business trends, the second is a little more light-hearted and talks about music and BBQ. Guests have included word of mouth expert, Andy Sernovitz, Livestrong CEO, Doug Ulman and Pre-Commerce author, Bob Pearson among others.
To that end, WCG is proud to announce a special series of Live from Stubbs during this year’s SXSW that are sponsored by digital security leader, Gemalto. The interviews will take place from their lounge located at the Hilton Hotel in Gemalto Idea Next Lounge (6th Floor). Anyone is welcome as long as you have a SXSWi badge.
Friday, March 9 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Nick Holland, Yankee Group
Paul Bradley and Billy Tran, Gemalto
Saturday, March 10 from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
David Messenger, American Express
David Berkowitz, 360i
Jack Jania, Gemalto
Nan Edwards, Isis
Sunday, March 11 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Bart Bohn, ATI
John Moorhead, FISERV
Darren Kitchen, Hak5
Monday, March 12 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Guests:
Wade Holmes, VMWare
Neville Pattinson, TBC
Joe Ross, CSID
Michael Bruemmer, Experian
If you want to come by and watch live, we’ll have live audio. If you prefer to watch live, we will also be Ustreaming the event [link coming shortly]. We hope you’ll join us!
In our first interview (episode 5) with author and WCG president, Bob Pearson, we talked about Bob’s book, Pre-Commerce, bringing digital and social to the corporate world (he is considered a grand daddy in the corporate social media space for his work at Dell Inc.) and how to think differently about sales and marketing. While Bob is a colleague (and boss) to both Greg Matthews and me, we both agreed that we could talk to Bob for hours. Fortunately for you all, we kept it to 10 minutes but for anyone interested in how to do communications and social media right in the corporate world, this is a MUST SEE interview.
While we normally keep to the format of one episode per post, today you’re getting a “two-fer” as Bob’s views on music (he’s a huge audiophile) and BBQ are just as interesting and thought ful as those on new media.
View the LiveFromStubbs interview with Doug Ulman here.
The 3rd edition of the LiveFromStubbs podcast was a special one for me for more than one reason. First, it was my first on-camera episode – and I’m always happy to share a stage with regular hostsAaron Strout and Kyle Flaherty. But more importantly, the subject of our interview was Doug Ulman, the CEO of the Livestrong Foundation. This is a big deal for me not only because of who Doug is – the CEO of one of America’s most remarkable and forward-thinking non-profits, and the man Fast Company has called “The Most Savvy Health Care Leader in Social Media” – but also because of how we came to be where he is.
A 3-time cancer survivor, Doug was forced to a difficult realization at a young age:
“[After being diagnosed with cancer,] All I wanted to do was connect with other individuals who’d been down the same path … I could not find them. I thought I was the only one. I felt all alone. I knew all the statistics but I could not easily access other people.”
Livestrong has dedicated itself to improving the lives of people affected by cancer worldwide. And a big part of their strategy involves connecting cancer patients and their families with the resources they need … which often means helping to connect them to people like themselves – people who “have been down that road before,” as Doug puts it. Over the last two years, Facebook and twitter have become the largest source of referrals of survivors to Livestrong.
One of the really unique ways that Livestrong helps people who approach them is to offer the services of a “Navigator” – a person who can help point them directly to the resources they need (and 90% of whom use twitter to interact with participants). Increasingly, those resources either leverage the principles of social media (the groundswell vs. top-down, corporate hierarchy) or are literally built on social media platforms. LiveStrong has positioned itself not as a be-all, end-all source for information or a lone behemoth, but as a “catalyst and convener” of all those who share an interest in living with (and ultimately beating) cancer. Just a few weeks before our interview, Doug and his team hosted an event in Austin called the LiveStrong Young Adult Alliance – more than 200 organizations focused on helping young adults dealing with cancer. That kind of crowdsourcing is a natural way to ensure that the best ideas bubble to the top, and that the right people are in the right place to make those ideas real. And it’s use of Facebook has been particularly remarkable – operating separate communities that focus not only on different geographic regions, but also different types of cancer … whatever can deliver the most value to the audience it’s there to serve.
With that kind of thinking, it’s easy to see why Livestrong has made the transition from being a cause into a movement. Enjoy the video, follow Doug on Twitter, and be sure to check out the great work that Livestrong continues to do. For more LiveFromStubbs podcasts, click here and subscribe!
What better way to celebrate the Movember movement (guys growing mustaches to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men) than with an interview with Livestrong CEO, Doug Ulman. In addition to being a great guy, and savvy CEO, Doug is also a three time cancer survivor. During his nine year tenure at Livestrong, Doug has also helped create international awareness for an organization that is committed to providing support to guide people through the cancer experience and bringing them together to fight cancer.
During the third episode of Live from Stubbs co-host, Greg Matthews and I talk with Doug about Livestrong’s involvement in Movember, Livestrong’s mission and the way it assists its customers and finally how Doug is using social media effectively to engage with key constituents.
To see find out more about future (and past episodes) of Live from Stubbs, follow the Twitter account. You can also see all the episodes on Youtube here. Special thanks to our producer, Brad Mays, and Naimul Huq for his editing prowess!