“Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.” —Thomas Edison
The 99U Conference is a one-of-a-kind live experience that inspires creative professionals to bring their ideas to life and shape the future of the industry.
Learn from the world’s top thinkers and doers in a series of main stage talks over two days. 99U speakers offer pragmatic, real-world insights that transcend creative sectors.
Expert-hosted workshops give you a chance to pick up career skills and dive into new disciplines.
Get ready to wear out your Metrocard! We’ll explore some of NYC's most innovative companies at breakout sessions across the city.
From our pre-conference kickoff to our killer closing party, 99U provides you with endless opportunities to network with fellow attendees and get exposed to new ideas.
Flex your party muscles early with a kickoff event packed to the gills with hands-on demos, games, and networking opportunities. Come to pick up your badge, stay to meet the rest of the 99U community.
No conference parties like 99U: we’ll wind down on Friday with a closing party at the Museum of Modern Art’s newly redesigned event space.
Leave with our much-coveted swag bag, packed with cool (and useful!) stuff. Plus, incredible giveaways, art exhibitions, and other surprises await you throughout the conference. We put a ton of work into creating a beautiful experience for you.
The 99U Conference unfolds at the gorgeously designed Alice Tully Hall, one of the most beautiful (and intimate) concert halls in the world.
The official 99U Closing Party returns to MoMA, one of the world's premier art institutions.
99U brings together 1,000 people across a variety of practices and professions. Who should attend? Anyone in a creative field working to: put an idea into action, get inspiration from creative leaders, connect with potential collaborators, manage an effective team, or understand the trends affecting the future of creativity.
An incredible group of visionary creatives, entrepreneurs, and researchers have joined us to pull back the curtain on their creative process and share road-tested insights.
Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.
Brené is a nationally renowned speaker and has won numerous teaching awards, including the College's Outstanding Faculty Award. Her groundbreaking work has been featured on PBS, NPR, CNN, and has appeared in The Washington Post, Psychology Today, and many other national media outlets.
Her 2010 TEDx Houston talk on the power of vulnerability is one of the most watched talks on TED.com, with over 6 million views. She gave the closing talk, Listening to Shame, at the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach.
Brené is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (2012). She is also the author of The Gifts of Imperfection (2010), and I Thought It Was Just Me (2007).
In 2007, Brené developed Connections, a psychoeducational shame resilience curriculum that is being facilitated across the nation by mental health and addiction professionals. The Connections Certification process was launched in 2012.
Brené lives in Houston with her husband, Steve, and their two children.
One of the most underrated parts of the creative process is remaining vulnerable says New York Times bestselling author Brenè Brown in this moving 99U talk.
Neil Blumenthal loves helping people see. Determined to radically transform the eyewear industry, Neil and three friends launched Warby Parker in February of 2010. Warby Parker designs and sells vintage-inspired frames and prescription lenses for $95 whereas comparable quality glasses cost $500. For every pair sold, a pair is given to someone in need. To date, Warby Parker has distributed over 100,000 pairs to those in need around the world.
Neil had been the Director of VisionSpring, a non-profit social enterprise that trains low-income women to start their own business selling affordable eyeglasses to individuals living on less than $4 per day in South Asia, Africa and Latin America. He was responsible for developing VisionSpring's award-winning strategy (Fast Company Social Capitalist Award '08, '07 and '05) and expanding VisionSpring's global presence from one to 10 countries. In 2005, Neil was named a Fellow for Emerging Leaders in Public Service at NYU Robert F. Wagner School for Public Service.
Prior to joining VisionSpring, he worked with the International Crisis Group and attended the Institute for International Mediation and Conflict Resolution in The Hague, Netherlands. Neil received his BA from Tufts University and his MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania where he was both a Social Enterprise Fellow and a Leadership Fellow. Neil and his wife, jewelry designer Rachel Leigh, live in NYC.
Everybody makes mistakes, even great businesses. Warby Parker and Rent the Runway on the unexpected benefits of transparency and vulnerability in customer service.
Paola Antonelli’s work investigates design’s influence on everyday experience, often including overlooked objects and practices, and combining design, architecture, art, science, and technology. In addition to her role as Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA, Paola was appointed director of a new Research and Development initiative in 2012. She lectures frequently at high-level global conferences and coordinates cultural discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos. A true interdisciplinary, energetic, and generous cultural thinker, Paola was recently rated as one of the top one hundred most powerful people in the world of art by Art Review.
Stewart Butterfield is the co-founder and CEO of Slack, the platform for team communication. Prior to Slack, Stewart co-founded and lead Flickr from its inception in late 2003 through its 2005 acquisition by Yahoo! and until 2008 by which point it was one of the largest web services in the world with over 50 million users and billions of photos.
In nearly two decades working on the web, Stewart has had a distinguished career as a designer, entrepreneur, and technologist. He has been named one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time Magazine, BusinessWeek's "Top 50 Leaders," and been featured in interviews and articles by hundreds of publications and broadcasters, including the Wall Street Journal, the BBC, The New York Times, CNN, the Financial Times and has appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine.
Butterfield graduated from the Universities of Victoria and Cambridge, with degrees in philosophy and retains academic interests in cognitive science, the history and philosophy of science, and economics.
For four decades Paula Scher has been at the forefront of graphic design. Iconic, smart and unabashedly populist, her images have entered into the American vernacular. Scher has been a principal in the New York office of the distinguished international design consultancy Pentagram since 1991.
She began her career as an art director in the 1970's and early 80's, when her eclectic approach to typography became highly influential. In the mid-1990s her landmark identity for The Public Theater fused high and low into a wholly new symbology for cultural institutions, and her recent architectural collaborations have re-imagined the urban landscape as a dynamic environment of dimensional graphic design. Her graphic identities for Citibank and Tiffany & Co. have become case studies for the contemporary regeneration of classic American brands.
Scher has developed identity and branding systems, promotional materials, environmental graphics, packaging and publication designs for a broad range of clients that includes, among others, Bloomberg, Bausch + Lomb, Coca-Cola, Perry Ellis, the Museum of Modern Art, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, the New York Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the New 42nd Street, the New York Botanical Garden, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Robin Hood Foundation, TheStreet, the Sundance Film Festival and The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. In 1996 Scher's widely imitated identity for the Public Theater won the coveted Beacon Award for integrated corporate design strategy. She has served on the board of The Public Theater, and is a frequent design contributor to The New York Times, GQ and other publications. In 2006 she was named to the Art Commission of the City of New York.
During the course of her career Scher has been the recipient of hundreds of industry honors and awards. In 1998 she was named to the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, and in 2000 she received the prestigious Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design. She has served on the national board of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and was president of its New York chapter from 1998 to 2000. In 2001 she received the profession's highest honor, the AIGA Medal, in recognition of her distinguished achievements and contributions to the field. In 2006 she was awarded the Type Directors Club Medal. She has been a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale since 1993 and was elected its president in 2009. Her work is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York; the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich; the Denver Art Museum; and the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Scher holds a BFA from the Tyler School of Art and honorary doctorates from the Corcoran College of Art and Design, the Maryland Institute College of Art and Moore College of Art and Design. She has lectured and exhibited all over the world, and her teaching career includes over two decades at the School of Visual Arts, along with positions at the Cooper Union, Yale University and the Tyler School of Art. She has authored numerous articles on design-related subjects for The Huffington Post, AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, Print, Graphis and other publications. She is the author of Make It Bigger (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002) and MAPS (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011).
“Once you know what you’re doing, it’s not as good,” says legendary designer Paula Scher in this talk about ignoring the brief & charting your own course.
Ramit Sethi is the author of the New York Times bestseller, I Will Teach You to Be Rich and writes for over 450,000 monthly readers on his website, where he covers psychology, personal finance, and careers.
Ramit's unusual combination of psychology, analytical testing, and irreverent style led Fortune Magazine to call him the "new finance guru on the block."
Ramit appears on ABC and PBS regularly, and periodically writes for the New York Times. He studied social influence and persuasion at Stanford, and previously co-founded PBworks, a Silicon Valley collaboration startup.
Casey Gerald is the co-founder and CEO of MBAs Across America, a national movement of MBAs and entrepreneurs working together to revitalize America. He began his career in economic policy and government innovation at the Center for American Progress, and has worked as a strategist with startup social ventures, including Reboot and The Future Project, as well as companies like The Neiman Marcus Group.
A native Texan, Casey received an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a BA in Political Science from Yale College, where he was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship. He has been featured on MSNBC, in the New York Times, Financial Times, and other media outlets.
Casey gave the commencement speech at the 2014 Harvard Business School graduation. The speech has gone viral and since then, he has been featured on the cover of Fast Company. Casey has emerged as a voice of the millennial generation for business, entrepreneurship, and finding your purpose.
Seventeen years ago, a little-known potter named Jonathan Adler was thrilled to receive his first order from Barneys New York. He couldn't have dreamed that today, in 2011, he would lead an international design company offering decorative accessories, tabletop collections, bedding, furniture, rugs, pillows, lighting, and fabrics, all featuring Jonathan's signature Modernist forms, bold colors and groovy graphics. Jonathan is obsessed with creating beautiful design mixed with impeccable craftsmanship. His motto is "If your heirs won't fight over it, we won't make it."
Jonathan Adler has fourteen stores nationwide and just opened the doors to his first international boutique located in London. Beyond a thriving website and a wholesale business boasting more than 1,000 locations around the world, Jonathan is also a highly sought-after interior designer working on luxury residential projects and commercial projects including the celebrity hot spot Parker Palm Springs Hotel.
Jonathan has partnered with many companies to design products including Lacoste, Starbucks, 7 For All Mankind, Lifeguard Stationery, Steuben, Larson Juhl, Robert Abbey Lighting, and HSN. In 2009, Jonathan was tapped to design the retro-glam interior for the "real" Malibu Dream House for Barbie's 50th Anniversary and Jonathan was the lead judge on the Bravo TV series Top Design.
In 2005, Jonathan published his first book, My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living. In 2010 Jonathan launched a new book series with two books: Jonathan Adler on Happy Chic Colors and Jonathan Adler on Happy Chic Accessorizing.
Jonathan Adler is a design company dedicated to bringing style, craft, joy to your home.
“I wanted to follow my heart and not be strategic and throw all preconceived ideas away,” says Jonathan Adler in this talk about ignoring other people’s opinions and charting your own path to creative fulfillment.
Kimberly Bryant is the Founder and Executive Director of Black Girls CODE, a non-profit organization dedicated to “changing the face of technology” by introducing girls of color (ages 7-17) to the field of technology and computer science with a concentration on entrepreneurial concepts.
Kimberly has enjoyed a successful 25+ year professional career in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries as an Engineering Manager in a series of technical leadership roles for various Fortune 100 companies such as Genentech, Merck, and Pfizer.
Since 2011 Kimberly has helped Black Girls CODE grow from a local organization serving only the Bay Area, to an international organization with seven chapters across the U.S. and in Johannesburg, South Africa. Black Girls CODE has currently reached over 3,000 students and continues to grow and thrive.
John Maeda is Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, where he works KPCB's entrepreneurs and portfolio companies to build design into their company cultures. He served as the 16th president of Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) from 2008 through 2013, during which time RISD saw increased applications, fundraising, and career placements. Prior to RISD, Maeda spent 13 years at the MIT Media Lab as a professor and head of research. His career bridging the intersections of graphic design, computer science, art, education, and leadership earned him the distinction of being named one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire.
Maeda chairs the eBay Design Advisory Council, serves on the boards of the wireless hi-fi company Sonos and the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, and is a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership. His books include The Laws of Simplicity; Creative Code; and Redesigning Leadership, which expands on his Twitter feed at @johnmaeda, one of TIME Magazine's 140 Best Twitter Feeds. He has received a variety of international awards for his creative work, including induction to the Art Director's Club Hall of Fame and the White House's National Design Award.
How do you lead a creative enterprise through crisis while trying to stay true to your core as an artist and a designer?
Tina Roth Eisenberg, a Swiss born and raised graphic designer, runs four "side-projects gone businesses" out of DUMBO, Brooklyn; a collaborative co-working space called Studiomates, a global, monthly lecture series called CreativeMornings, TeuxDeux the simple to-do app and Tattly, a design-y temporary tattoo shop. Tina is often referred to as Swissmiss after her popular design blog which is also the name of her Twitter handle.
Jad Abumrad is the host and creator of Radiolab, which reaches roughly 2 million people per month. He's been called a "master of the radio craft" for his unique ability to combine cutting edge sound-design, cinematic storytelling and a personal approach to explaining complex topics, from the stochasticity of tumor cells to the mathematics of morality. Jad studied creative writing and music composition at Oberlin College in Ohio. He composes much of the music for Radiolab, and in the past has composed music for film, theater and dance. He's currently co-producing a second child.
In 2011, Radiolab received a Peabody Award, the highest honor in broadcasting, and Jad received the prestigious MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship.
When every instinct is telling us to stop, how do we keep pushing our creativity to unknown heights?
Baratunde is a politically-active, technology-loving comedian from the future. He co-founded the black political blog, Jack & Jill Politics, serves as Director of Digital for The Onion and is a regular guest on Leo Laporte's TWiT. His book, How To Be Black, was published in February 2012 and is a New York Times best seller. Basically, he's a smart, funny, and extremely handsome dude.
The bestselling author of How To Be Black talks about making things happen with a team, despite his natural inclination to fly solo.
Joe defines the Airbnb experience. He is dedicated to creating an inspiring and effortless user experience through sharp, intuitive design, and crafts the product roadmap to make it so. Joe values products that simplify life and have a positive impact on the environment, and ensures that the company adheres to these tenets.
Prior to Airbnb, Joe was employed by Chronicle Books, co-founded Ecolet, a green design website, and developed several consumer products, including CritBuns, a product featured in the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial. An alumni of the Rhode Island School of Design, Joe earned dual degrees in Graphic Design and Industrial Design.
Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia walks us through how to shake off our reservations and take the first small step to turning our ideas into an actual experience.
Stefan Sagmeister formed the New York-based Sagmeister Inc. in 1993 and has since designed for clients as diverse as the Rolling Stones, HBO and the Guggenheim Museum. Having been nominated five times for the Grammies, he finally won one for the Talking Heads boxed set. He also earned practically every important international design award.
In 2008, a comprehensive book titled Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far was published by Abrams. Solo shows on Sagmeister Inc's work have been mounted in Zurich, Vienna, New York, Berlin, Tokyo, Osaka, Prague, Cologne, Seoul and Miami. He teaches in the graduate department of the School of Visual Art in New York and lectures extensively on all continents.
A native of Austria, he received his MFA from the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and, as a Fulbright Scholar, a master's degree from Pratt Institute in New York.
Outlining the creative process for his short films, designer Stefan Sagmeister tells us to embrace the surprises that come with executing a creative endeavor.
Joshua Davis, joshuadavis.com, is a New York based artist, designer, and technologist producing both public and private work for companies, collectors, and institutions. Currently residing at Code and Theory, codeandtheory.com, as creative director of physical installations.
Artist and technologist Joshua Davis on his multi-year dry spell and how he smashed through with a mix of help from friends and a return to tackling projects outside of his comfort zone.
Tony Fadell is the founder and CEO of Nest Labs, Inc., the company that developed the Nest Learning Thermostat. The Nest Learning Thermostat learns about you and your home to automatically turn itself down when you're away, guide you to energy-efficient temperatures when you are home, and free you from programming hassles by creating a customized temperature schedule. Nest has been dubbed the "iPhone of thermostats" by Wired, and the New York Times describes it as "gorgeous, elegant and very, very smart."
Prior to Nest, Tony served as senior vice president of Apple's iPod division, reporting to Steve Jobs. He was responsible for creating the first 18 generations of the iPod digital music player and the first three generations of the iPhone. In 2001, after eight weeks of researching and designing the iPod product solution as a contractor, he was hired to create and lead the implementation team.
Before joining Apple, Tony was a co-founder, CTO and director of engineering of the Mobile Computing group at Philips Electronics. He architected the award-winning Velo and Nino PDAs, based on the Windows CE Palm PC platform, and later became vice president of business development for Philips U.S. Strategy and Ventures, managing its digital music strategy and investments.
Earlier in his career, Tony was a hardware and software architect at General Magic working with Sony, Philips, Matsushita, Toshiba and other consumer electronics firms to develop a line of personal handheld communicators. Tony is currently an advisor to and investor in several Silicon Valley startups in the mobile-Internet and green-tech industries, helping them craft and implement their business, technical and product strategies.
In his 20-plus years of experience in the consumer electronics industry, Tony has authored more than 100 patents.
He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan in 1991 and won the College of Engineering's alumnus of the year award in 2004.
iPod godfather and ALVA Award-winner Tony Fadell shares incredible insights on how to design, build, and ship disruptive products.
For the past two decades, Keith Yamashita has worked alongside CEOs and their leadership teams to define — and then attain — greatness for their institutions. He has worked with leaders at Apple, IBM, General Electric, Johnson & Johnson, eBay, Nike, and Gap, among others.
Keith founded, and currently serves as chairman of, SYPartners — a firm steeped in the belief that transformation of individuals, teams, and institutions requires equal parts empathy, aspiration, and a bravery to act. The firm fuses systems thinking and creativity to help organizations in times of seismic change: the formulation of a new business strategy, a merger or acquisition, the rise of a new CEO, the evolution of a brand, the return-to-greatness journeys after an industry shock.
In 2011, SYPartners launched a sister company called Unstuck — dedicated to taking the 20 years of knowledge the firm has gained about transformation and bringing it to everyday people. The first offering is an iPad-based app that helps people find a way forward, when they don't know how to go forward. Slated for release in 2012, SYPartners' next offering will be a suite of collaborative tools focused on helping managers and teams perform at their best.
From 2009 to 2011, Keith served as The Charles and Ray Eames Brand Fellow at IBM — a post dedicated to driving IBM's growth and greatness as an institution and enabling IBMers to perform at their best. He is an author and essayist on leadership and design, having published in the Harvard Business Review and several journals. He has lectured at the Yale School of Management, Stanford Business School, and the Jack F. Welch Leadership Center. He holds an MA in organizational behavior and a BA in quantitative economics from Stanford University.
Great teams don’t happen by accident, they require a diligent and mindful effort to cultivate the specific habits that lead to success.
Sarah Lewis has served on President Barack Obama’s Arts Policy Committee, been selected for Oprah’s “Power List,” and is a faculty member at Yale University, School of Art in the MFA program. She received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, an M. Phil from Oxford University, and will receive her Ph.D. from Yale University in March 2014.
Her debut book, The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery will be released by Simon & Schuster U.S., HarperCollins U.K. in March 2014. The Rise is a layered, story-driven investigation of how innovation, discovery, and the creative progress are all spurred on by advantages gleaned from the improbable, the unlikely, even failure.
Her second book, based on her Yale dissertation, Black Sea, Black Atlantic: Frederick Douglass, The Circassian Beauties, and American Racial Formation in the Wake of the Civil War, for which she has received support from the Ford Foundation, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance & Abolition, is under contract with Harvard University Press for release in 2015. Her essays on contemporary art have been published widely in journals such as Callaloo, Artforum and Art in America, and in publications including Rizzoli, the Smithsonian, The Museum of Modern Art and the Studio Museum in Harlem. She has held positions at both the Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. She is currently a board member of The Andy Warhol for the Visual Arts, the CUNY Graduate Center, and The Brearley School. She lives in New York City.
Jane ni Dhulchaointigh is the Irish inventor of sugru, an innovative product that has been called 'the best invention since sellotape' and that's getting DIYers, gadget lovers and outdoors enthusiasts around the world very excited.
Jane was studying product design at the Royal College of Art in London in 2003, when she had a big idea. What if, instead of having to buy new things all the time, people could fix and improve the things they already had to work better for them?
From that initial spark of an idea, she led a long and dedicated scientific development process involving a small team of material scientists, designers and business people to develop an entirely new material that could make the idea a reality. The result after 6 years of R&D was sugru - a brand new silicone that's like play-doh or modelling clay that the user can form into whatever shape they like before it air cures into a tough, flexible, colourful silicone rubber. Used in this way, it can make all kinds of products more comfortable, safer or simply better.
Jane is passionate about promoting a culture of fixing, creativity and resourcefulness, and sees it as an antidote to the throwaway mindset. Her passion is hitting a chord with the growing number of people looking to live more sustainably and three years after launch there's already a vibrant 100,000-strong world-wide community building around the product.
And the idea is catching on: sugru (inspired by the Irish word for play) has been described as "21st Century Duct Tape" by Forbes and was named alongside the iPad by TIME magazine as one of the top 50 Inventions of 2010.
How do you get from “what if?” to “eureka”? Sugru creator Jane ni Dhulchaointigh describes her six-year journey from design student to inventor.
In 2005, studio executive Franklin Leonard surveyed almost 100 film industry development executives about their favorite scripts from that year that had not been made as feature films. The result was the first ever Black List. Since then, the voter pool has grown to about 500 film executives, and the list has become a means to catapult scripts such as Slumdog Millionaire, Argo, and Juno into produced films. Leonard is a graduate of Harvard University and resides in Los Angeles.
Get a taste of the 99U experience with a few selected talks from our main stage.