“Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.”—Thomas Edison
CEO & Co-Founder, Slack
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.
Senior Curator, MoMA
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.
Founder, PUBLIC Bikes & DWR
Rob Forbes has been a ceramic artist, professor, author, publisher, photographer, and business entrepreneur. He has held executive positions at numerous retail companies including Williams Sonoma, Selfridges, and The Nature Company, but is best known as the Founder of Design Within Reach (1998) and PUBLIC Bikes (2009). DWR pioneered many changes that have become mainstream today: internet retailing of modern design, design blogging, transparent pricing policies, and a focus on designers themselves as much as on their products. PUBLIC bikes is a similar business venture but with a mission to bring design awareness to our public urban spaces and to our civic lives. Rob has received numerous awards and public recognition for his advocacy of design and urbanism and serves on numerous boards in the non-profit sector. He recently authored See for Yourself published by Chronicle Books, which includes over 500 images and asks us to look more carefully and curiously at everyday design in our man-made world.
Founder, Black Girls Code
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.
Global VP of Design, Spotify
Rochelle King is Global VP of Design and User Experience at Spotify where she manages the teams that are responsible for user research and designing the product experience at Spotify. Prior to Spotify, Rochelle was VP of User Experience and Product Services at Netflix. Rochelle has over 14 years of experience working on consumer-facing products.
Design Director, Clive Wilkinson Architects
Clive Wilkinson FAIA, RIBA is an architect and strategist working at the intersection of urban design, architecture, and interior design. His large-scale design projects for Google, Nokia, JWT, FIDM, Disney, and Macquarie Bank have established new paradigms for building creative and educational communities. While innovative in its architecture, his design process is primarily focused on the social agenda of buildings, and how people connect with each other.
Clive was born in South Africa and educated in the United Kingdom. His practice, Clive Wilkinson Architects, was established in Los Angeles in 1991 and is an acknowledged global leader in workplace design, with over 100 design awards to its credit. Clive was inducted into the Interior Design ‘Hall of Fame’ in 2005. He was nominated a ‘Master of Design’ by Fast Company magazine in 2006 and a ‘Pioneer of Design’ by IIDA in 2011. After being a finalist in the National Design Awards in 2010 and 2011, his firm won the 2012 Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum National Design Award for Excellence in Interior Design. He has served as a keynote speaker at global media, advertising and design conferences, and has contributed to radio and television shows on architecture and design affairs.
Anil Dash is co-founder and CEO of ThinkUp, a new app that offers deeper insights into our social networks. Dash is also co-founder of Activate, the consultancy which defines strategy for the most important companies in technology and media. Described as a “blogging pioneer” by the New Yorker, he has published his blog Dashes.com continuously since 1999, earning recognition as a Webby honoree. In 2013, Time named @anildash one of the best accounts on Twitter, and some of its half million followers agree.
Dash is based in New York City, where he lives with his wife Alaina Browne and their son Malcolm. Dash is the only person who is quoted in both Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail and in Toure’s Prince biography I Would Die 4 U, and has never played a round of golf, drank a cup of coffee, or graduated from college.
Founder & CEO, Black List
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.
Author, The Crossroads of Should and Must
Elle Luna paints, designs, and writes. She also runs a textile venture, the Bulan Project, a collaboration between designers and master batik artists in Bali, and has previously worked as a designer at IDEO and with startups, including Mailbox, Medium, and Uber. Her first book, The Crossroads of Should and Must, debuts in April 2015. She lives in San Francisco.
Illustrator, Artist & Author
Christoph Niemann is an illustrator, artist, and author. His work has appeared on the covers of The New Yorker, Time, Wired, The New York Times Magazine and American Illustration, and has won awards from AIGA, the Art Directors Club, and The Lead Awards. His corporate clients include Google, Amtrak, Herman Miller, and The Museum of Modern Art. He is a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale.
Since July 2008, Niemann has been writing and illustrating the whimsical Abstract City, a New York Times blog, renamed Abstract Sunday in 2011, when the blog’s home became The New York Times Magazine. For his column he draws and writes essays about politics, the economy, art, and modern life. He has drawn live from the Venice Art Biennale, the Olympic Games in London, the 2012 Republican Convention, and he has drawn the New York City Marathon — while actually running it.
Niemann is the author of many books, most recently Abstract City. His latest project is an interactive, animated app called Petting Zoo. In 2010, he was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall Of Fame. His artworks have been subject to numerous exhibitions, most recently at Gallery Max Hetzler in Berlin.
Shane Snow is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur, and the bestselling author of Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success. He is the Chief Creative Officer of Contently, which he co-founded in 2010 with the mission of “building a better media world.” Shane’s writing has appeared in Fast Company, Wired, The New Yorker, and dozens more top publications. He’s been called a “Wunderkind” by The New York Times, a “Digital Maverick” by Details, and his work “Insanely addicting” by GQ—though he wishes they had been talking about his abs.
Comic Book Writer
Kelly Sue DeConnick began her comics career writing the English adaptations of Japanese comics. After 7 years and more than 10,000 pages, she transitioned to American comics with 30 Days of Night: Eben And Stella at IDW and Osborn: Evil Incarcerated at Marvel. Today, DeConnick is well-known in the mainstream market as the force behind Carol Danvers’ reinvention as Captain Marvel (the book that gave rise to the Carol Corps) and as the first female writer of an ongoing Avengers title in Avengers Assemble.
In 2013, DeConnick debuted on the independent scene in a big way with Pretty Deadly, a brutal mythological Western co-created with Spanish artist Emma Ríos. Hot on the heels of that critical and commercial success, Image Comics announced DeConnick’s second independent venture—a riff on women in prison exploitation films of the ‘60s and ‘70s, titled Bitch Planet and co-created with Toronto-based artist Valentine De Landro. Despite the polarizing title, Bitch Planet dropped in December of 2014 to both commercial success and the best reviews of DeConnick’s career.
CEO, MBAs Across America
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.
Co-Founder, Birsel + Seck LLC
Ayse Birsel has been designing award-winning products for over twenty years. She is the co-founder of Birsel + Seck, an innovative design studio in New York that partners with leading brands and Fortune 500 companies, including Target, Herman Miller, Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Toyota and TOTO. She has also consulted GE, Hasbro, The Drucker Institute, and Bridgestone Turkey, among others, on design thinking, strategy and innovation projects. Called affectionately by the press the “Queen of Toilets” and “Queen Bee” for her bathroom designs and office systems respectively, she brings new solutions to old problems by thinking differently, using her user-centered, humanistic design approach and her unique process, Deconstruction:Reconstruction. Ayse is also known for her acclaimed workshops, Design the Life You Love for individuals and Design the Work You Love for corporations, applying her design process to help people design their life and work respectively.
Ayse is the recipient of the 2001 Young Designer Award from the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Athena Award for Excellence in Furniture Design from Rhode Island School of Design, and numerous design awards including the IDEA Gold Award and ID Magazine Award. She is a speaker at international conferences, notably the Aspen Design Conference, IDSA and AIGA Conferences, the Indaba Conference and DMI (Design Management Institute). She is a Fulbright Scholar, has a master’s degree in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute and is a graduate of Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. Her work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and Philadelphia Museum of Art. She lives between New York and Istanbul, with her husband and partner Bibi Seck and their three kids.
Founder, Gimlet Media
Alex Blumberg is an entrepreneur, radio journalist, and CEO of the podcast company Gimlet Media. He currently hosts the Startup podcast, and is a former producer at This American Life and the co-founder of the podcast Planet Money.
Blumberg has won every major award in broadcast journalism, including the Polk, the duPont-Columbia, the Peabody, and several Emmys. Blumberg’s award-winning documentary on the housing crisis, The Giant Pool of Money, which he co-reported and produced with Adam Davidson, was named one of the last decade’s top ten works of journalism by New York University. He lives with his wife and two children in Brooklyn, NY.
Director, Mindfulness Everywhere
Rohan Gunatillake leads Mindfulness Everywhere, a creative studio making products which combine meditation, technology, and design. Rohan is best known for making Buddhify, the urban mindfulness app which helps you bring awareness, calm, and kindness to even the busiest of days. Alongside his work as a meditation entrepreneur, Rohan has a specialism in digital innovation in the arts having led major programs with the Edinburgh Festivals and national arts funders in the UK. He is a trustee of the British Council and in 2014, rightly or wrongly, Wired magazine named him as one of 50 people who are about to change the world.
Author, The Upside of Stress
Kelly McGonigal, PhD, is a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University and a leading expert on the mind-body relationship. She is the author of several books, including the upcoming The Upside of Stress, the international bestseller The Willpower Instinct, and The Neuroscience of Change. She has worked with the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education since 2009, co-authoring the Stanford Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program and collaborating on scientific studies examining how compassion can promote health and happiness. She has consulted for a wide range of organizations and industries ranging from healthcare and higher education to technology and finance, helping to bring evidence-based strategies for resilience and well-being into the workplace.
Adobe & Behance
Scott Belsky believes that the greatest breakthroughs across all industries are a result of creative people and teams that are especially productive. He is Adobe’s Vice President of Community and Head of Behance, the leading online platform for creatives to showcase and discover creative work. Scott co-founded Behance in 2006, and served as CEO until Adobe acquired Behance in 2012. Millions of people use Behance to display their portfolios, as well as track and find top talent across the creative industries.
Through his work at Behance and as author of the best-selling book Making Ideas Happen, Scott has become an advocate for technology and community initiatives that empower the careers of creative professionals and help businesses leverage the creative potential of their people. He has worked with leading media and Fortune 500 companies, including GE and Facebook, and has traveled around the world to share his findings. In 2010, Scott was included in Fast Company‘s “100 Most Creative People in Business” list.
Ever find yourself jumping from idea to idea, hooked on the high of idea generation but never completing any one project? Scott Belsky breaks down road-tested methods for seeing ideas through to the finish.
Founder, Seer Interactive
In 2002, Wil founded Seer with a vision to build an agency that puts equal focus on doing great things for its clients, its team, and the community at large. From a one-man shop in his apartment to a team of over 100 on both coasts, Wil’s vision has come to life and continues to grow every day.
Wil got his start in internet marketing in ’99, when he joined a web marketing agency and began spearheading SEO strategies for Fortune 500 clients. His passion for driving traffic to sites by doing RCS, and analyzing the impact that traffic has on the company’s bottom line, has changed the face of the SEO industry and allowed him to permeate other verticals in the digital space.
Wil currently holds the role of Director of Strategy, focusing on identifying industry innovations and developing strategies across divisions to help Seer’s clients navigate the challenges their businesses face as a result of those innovations. Prior to his current role, Wil served as Seer’s Director of SEO, guiding the team and driving strategy for all SEO clients.
When he’s not working with the team or speaking at conferences, Wil donates his time as an active board member of the Covenant House, an organization serving homeless and runaway youth in the Philadelphia area.
Co-Founder, Red Antler
JB Osborne is a founding partner at Red Antler, a branding company specializing in startups and new ventures. Based in Brooklyn and San Francisco, Red Antler is a multi-disciplinary team of designers, UX/product experts, strategists, and business consultants. Under JB’s leadership, the company has worked with many top clients including Foursquare, Aloha, Birchbox, Vevo, and Casper. JB started his career in advertising at Saatchi & Saatchi, followed by opening the New York office of New Zealand-based agency Consortium. He is an advisor and board member to several startups, regularly speaks to accelerator programs and venture capital portfolios, and serves on the Entrepreneurship at Cornell Advisory Council.
Tina Roth Eisenberg, also known as Swissmiss, shares how she turned several side projects into full time labors of love.
“When we think of our work as a gift, it radically changes what we create,” says rogue designer James Victore.
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.
“We’re not good at everything, we’re not good by ourselves,” says Simon Sinek. Our ability to build trust and relationships is the key to our survival as a race, and to thriving as ideamakers.