Getting WIRED: Keep Falling

WIRED It wasn’t any ordinary Tuesday. Word on the street scoped May 12th to be a scorcher – destined to hit ninety degrees in the afternoon sun. Fortunately I got to spend most of the day in an overly air conditioned conference space with hundreds of tech innovators, journalists, start up groupies, founders and other proud techstars. Yes, the 2015 WIRED Business Conference was all that – and way less nerdy than I expected. Tech is so chic these days, all the cool kids agree.

I was invited to attend on behalf of one of my favorite nonprofits, United Women in Business (UWIB), a start-up foundation in its own right dedicated to fostering education and community among female entrepreneurs and changemakers. The day’s content was truly diverse, covering everything from cannabis capitalism, gender diversity in tech, and street skateboarding as environmental hacking, to crowdfunded social architectural design, Instagram’s backstory, the future of finance, and how to go pro without losing your soul.

Watch/listen to the whole conference here but first, here are my top highlights:

  1. The head of engineering for Pinterest is a total #GirlBoss – Tracy Chou.
  2. DJ Patil (not a DJ name, it’s real) is the US Government’s Chief Data Scientist (we have one!), working on new ways to leverage data for improved healthcare and personalized medicine. One day we could be using bioinformatic data to create custom individualized treatments for conditions and injuries based on genetics.
  3. Mike Krieger, co-founder of Instagram, taught us that #DogMom was trending on Mother’s Day while #OnFleek is also on the rise. He’s all about the power of UGC – citing Instagram’s 300 million users each month who upload 70 million photos a day. He’s passionate about how a photo can start on Instagram and make it’s way to the cover of TIME. Krieger’s biggest hope is that the platform will create more empathy across the world and strengthen human connection, citing the #NepalPhotoProject as a prime example. What’s next? Private messaging will become easier to use, and a new feature will send notifications when your favorite accounts make updates to keep you in the loop.
  4. Did you know Anna Todd wrote One Direction fan fiction on Instagram while working at an Austin make-up counter? Her work has since developed into a NYT Bestselling novel after finalizing her writing on Wattpad, the YouTube of ebooks. She used Wattpad to crowdsource pieces of the plot and even her book’s cover art.
  5. Financial advising startup Wealthfront predicts that all of us will utilize an automated financial service within the next 5 years and cites 20-30 year olds as the most financially empowered generation.
  6. I met the VP of Product at Frankly – which offers What’s App-type tech for any kind of custom, branded app experience you can imagine! Check out what they did for Victoria’s Secret.
  7. Defy Ventures was the stand-out session with a surprise intro by legendary Seth Godin. Catherine and three EITs captivated the entire audience, likely enlisting a whole new cohort of volunteer coaches. Much deserved, MDC Partners presented Defy with their 2015 Humanitarian Award. Plus, I may or may not be in Coss Marte’s documentary (they have my release form).
  8. BIG – (super) cool architectural firm based out of Copenhagen presented on crowdsourced social design and groundbreaking projects they’re leading around the world. Have you heard of a court scraper? It’s a combo of a courtyard and skyscraper – currently underway on the Westside highwayin Manhattan behind Hell’s Kitchen. Get ready. What about building a 10 mile dryline (watch this, seriously), protective wall around downtown Manhattan to protect the city in the event of another hurricane?
  9. Brendan Kennedy of Privateer Holdings spoke to the continuously surprising nature of working in the retail cannabis industry (you can imagine). He says the end of prohibition is inevitable, and that there will be global cannabis brands within the next 5 years with federal prohibition ending in the US within the year. Keep an eye on Tilray, Marley Natural (yes, THAT Marley), and Leafly – all Privateer subsidiaries.
  10. Chad Dickerson, Etsy CEO, spoke to going pro without losing soul and how the company is approaching it’s 10th birthday fresh on the heels of its recent IPO. He plugged the benefits of being a B Corp, and how their team is SO Brooklyn that employees volunteer each week to bike-deliver the company’s compost out to a farm in Red Hook. Did you know Etsy sellers can opt into wholesale deals with Whole Foods and Nordstroms? Plus 86% of Etsy sellers are women – go girls! Think on this: if you come up with an original creative concept but use a 3D printer to create it, can your item still be considered hand-made?
  11. Pro-skater Rodney Mullen’s final words of wisdom sum up entrepreneurship best: “Most of what we do is fall – the best skaters are the best fallers” and “Whatever you do, don’t think about it too much.”

I schmoozed up a storm (without losing my voice, yay!) and plugged Praytell as much as humanly possible. All in all, the day was inspiring and knowledge-filled. It was amazing to rub elbows with the future of tech. It felt like being in the right place at the right time. After all, I was happily representing the future of PR.

WIRED

Savvy Girls Know Their Personal Brand

UWIB BoardAt least I think I do! But there’s always room for improvement. Already lots of fun things happening on the UWIB NYC front this year, excited to be a part of such an amazing 2015 board making bold moves.

This evening’s content focuses on personal branding, finding your unique voice and navigating career challenges. We’ll welcome a presentation by personal branding expert The Lovely It Girl and then participate in small breakout sessions focused on developing your own personal brand. Come prepared to learn about the keys to living the personal and professional life you love (from the inside out!).

WHAT YOU’LL GET:

  • Actionable steps toward building your personal brand
  • Quality networking time with other UWIB NYC members and the new 2015 Board of Directors
  • Delightful snacks and drinks from our sponsors

DATE & TIME: Wednesday, February 25, 2014 at 6:30 p.m

LOCATION: WeWork Charging Bull, 25 Broadway, New York, NY 10004

Expecting a wonderful crowd. Will post learnings as a follow up. #FUN

Is Mindfulness The New Black?

Thrive LadiesLast Friday April  25th I was fortunate to attend Ariana Huffington’s Thrive Conference in Midtown NYC with United Women in Business (UWIB). The day hosted a packed program geared towards women seeking new ways to align with something called the “third metric.” This metric is a play on words wherein the first two metrics are what we, particularly in American culture, traditionally use to measure success: money and power. The third metric measures balance, happiness, health and fulfillment and is a mainstay topic throughout HuffPo’s women’s health blog.

I don’t know about you but I’m no stranger to striving for new ways to balance priorities and take better care of myself. New York City of all places has really schooled me in the importance of seemingly simple concepts like sleep, eating right and nurturing healthy relationships. Living here has also taught me what feels like a lifetime’s worth of lessons, the most important being that the amount of money I have does not at all equate to my true level of happiness.

The conference mantra centered on “Thrive” and all the ways various ways guests and participants find they can best tune into their true passions and find value in doing what they love. Finding small ways to give back, connecting with community and with yourself through meditation were discussion focal points. It’s interesting to see how mindfulness and spirituality are cracking into the mainstream at this very moment. Some conference attendees seemed to be absorbing these concepts for the first time although the practices shared derive from philosophies much older than any of us can imagine.

Blame it on amnesia or my all too overly exercised ADD. My memory is short and my attention span really stays in the day and little elsewhere. Funny how mindfulness and meditation seek to remedy exactly these attention deficit related issues, definitely felt by many but particularly stunted within my namesake demographic: #millenials. I think I speak for many when I say I am too comfortable with multi-tasking and being overstimulated to the max. Mindfulness is a nice compliment to my extraordinarily sped up style, and it might just be the key to slowing down and connecting with what it means to truly thrive.

Awolnation