“Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.” —Thomas Edison
The goal of the 99U Conference is to shift the focus from idea generation to idea execution. Providing road-tested insights on how to make your ideas happen. We bring together some of the world's most productive creative visionaries & leading researchers to share pragmatic insights on how ideas are brought to life.
Over the past 25 years, Tobias Frere-Jones has established himself as one of the world’s leading typeface designers, creating some of the most widely-used typefaces, including Interstate, Poynter Oldstyle, Whitney, Gotham, Surveyor, Tungsten, and Retina.
Tobias received a BFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1992. He joined the faculty of the Yale University School of Art in 1996 and has lectured throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. His work is in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2006, The Royal Academy of Visual Arts in The Hague awarded him the Gerrit Noordzij Prijs for his contributions to typographic design, writing, and education. In 2013 he received the AIGA Medal in recognition of exceptional achievements in the field of design.
Los Angeles-based producer Effie Brown received a degree in Film Production and Theater from Loyola Marymount University before going on to participate in Film Independent's Project Involve, an intensive fellowship for people seeking a career in the film industry. She started her career at Tim Burton Productions as Director of Development. After producing several feature films at various production levels, Brown founded the production company Duly Noted, Inc. It is the force behind such critically-acclaimed HBO films as Stranger Inside, Real Women Have Curves, and Everyday People. Real Women Have Curves won the 2001 Sundance Film Festival Dramatic Audience Award and the Special Jury Prize for Ensemble. Working in association with Sony Screen Gems and Pathe International, Brown also executive produced In The Cut directed by Jane Campion. Brown's film Rocket Science, won the Sundance 2007 Grand Jury Prize for Directing and was also nominated for Best Feature, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress by the Independent Spirit Awards.
With a love of multiple platforms, she focused on digital episodic content and produced over 130 episodes of WIGS, an award-winning, original content channel funded by Google/YouTube. Currently, the number one scripted channel on YouTube, WIGS has recently been picked up for wider distribution via Hulu.
Her latest film Dear White People won the Special Jury Prize for Breakthrough Talent at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically in the fall of the same year. Most recently, Brown joined the Matt Damon and Ben Affleck reboot of Project Greenlight, which aired on HBO in the fall of 2015.
Tristan is Founder and CEO of Walker & Co. Brands, a company that makes health and beauty simple for people of color. Its flagship brand, Bevel, is the first and only shaving system clinically proven to reduce and prevent razor bumps and irritation. Tristan is also the Founder and Chairman of CODE2040, a program that matches high performing black and latino undergraduate and graduate coders and software engineering students with Silicon Valley start-ups for summer internships.
Tristan has been named a USA Today Person of the Year in 2014, Ebony Magazine's 100 Most Powerful People, Vanity Fair's "Next Establishment," Fortune Magazine's 40 Under 40, AdAge Creative 50, and Black Enterprise's 40 Next. Prior to founding Walker & Co. Brands, Tristan was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Andreessen Horowitz. Before that he served as the Director of Business Development for foursquare, where he oversaw strategic partnerships and monetization. Tristan holds a bachelor's degree in economics from Stony Brook University, where he graduated as valedictorian, and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He currently lives with his wife and son in Palo Alto, California.
Jason Fried is the Founder and CEO of Basecamp, a privately-held, Chicago-based company committed to building the best web-based tools possible with the least number of features necessary.
Prior to shifting its focus solely to Basecamp, the company was known as 37Signals and was responsible for launching a range of products including Highrise, Backpack, and Campfire. 37Signals also developed and open-sourced the Ruby on Rails programming framework. The company's weblog, Signal vs. Noise, is read by over 100,000 people every day.
Jason believes there is real value and beauty in the basics. Elegance, respect for people's desire to simply get stuff done, and honest ease of use are the hallmarks of Basecamp's products.
Yuko Shimizu is an award-winning Japanese illustrator based in New York. Her work has appeared on the pages of the New York Times, TIME, and Newsweek, on the covers of DC Comics, Penguin, Abrams and Random House books, on the Gap and Nike T-shirts, and on Pepsi cans.
Her monograph Living with Yuko Shimizu will be published this spring. A Wild Swan, her collaboration with Pulitzer-winning author Michael Cunningham, came out in 2015. She was chosen as Newsweek Japan's "100 Japanese People World Respects" in 2009.
Kristy Tillman currently serves as the Design Director for Society of Grownups, a Boston-based start-up whose mission is to democratize financial literacy for the young adult set. There she leads design teams dedicated to crafting exceptional experiences across both digital and physical platforms.
Prior to Society of Grownups, Kristy was a designer at IDEO, an award-winning global design consultancy where she helped solve design problems across a variety of industries including consumer product goods, finance, education, and healthcare. She also did a tour through the footwear industry as a product graphic designer at PUMA and Reebok.
Kristy believes in a future where design is a tool that aids underserved communities in solving sociocultural problems. As the former co-founder of the Detroit Water Project and founder of Tomorrow Looks Bright, Kristy has a strong commitment to furthering the accessibility of design.
She is an alumna of Florida A&M University.
Dan Mall is a creative director and advisor from Philly. He is the director of SuperFriendly, a design collaborative that brings exquisite creative direction and design to the world’s most important and interesting organizations. Dan is a husband and dad and co-founder of Typedia (an encyclopedia for typefaces) and Businessology (a podcast and workshop series teaching designers how to run better businesses). He writes about design and other issues on Twitter and on his industry-recognized site, danielmall.com.
Scott Belsky believes that the greatest breakthroughs across all industries are a result of creative people and teams that are especially productive. 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.
Ryan Holiday is a writer and strategist. After dropping out of college at age 19 to apprentice under Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, he went on to advise many best-selling authors and musicians. He served as director of marketing at American Apparel for many years, where his campaigns have been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube, and Google and written about in AdAge, the New York Times, and Fast Company.
His first book, Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator—which the Financial Times called an “astonishing, disturbing book”—was a debut best-seller and is now taught in colleges around the world. He is also the author of Growth Hacker Marketing and the forthcoming Ego is the Enemy. He lives in Austin, Texas, and writes for Thought Catalog and the New York Observer.
Cap Watkins is a product designer living and working in Brooklyn. He is currently the VP of Design at BuzzFeed, as well as a blogger, podcast guest, conference speaker, and lover of start-ups and technology. Cap believes in thoughtful, holistic design solutions that get out of the way and empower people to accomplish more. His past work includes Etsy, Zoosk, Formspring, and hush-hush stuff at Amazon.
Jennifer Daniel is a graphics editor at the New York Times. Her picture book, Space! is an exploration of science through information graphics and is pretty good. Buy it. If your kid likes it maybe you’ll like her new book, The Origin of Almost Everything coming out in the Fall of 2016.
Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of Pursuit, The $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do.
Maria Konnikova is the author, most recently, of The Confidence Game. Her first book, the New York Times best-seller Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, was a nominee for the Agatha Award and the Anthony Award for Best Non-fiction and a Goodreads People's Choice Semifinalist for 2013. She is a contributing writer for The New Yorker, where she writes a regular column with a focus on psychology and culture, and her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Scientific American MIND, WIRED, The New Republic, and The Smithsonian, among numerous other publications. Maria graduated from Harvard University and received her Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University. She is currently a Schachter Writing Fellow at Columbia University's Motivation Science Center and lives in New York City.
Ryan is the CEO and Co-Founder of Treehouse, an online technology school, with over 50,000 students worldwide, that teaches you how to code, make apps and build websites. Treehouse has over 100 employees and has raised $13m. Ryan earned a computer science degree from Colorado State University, but recognized a disconnect with traditional universities who were very expensive yet unable to keep their curriculum up to date with current in-demand job skills. Given skyrocketing college costs and escalating student loans, Ryan launched Treehouse to provide affordable technology education to take students from zero to job ready in just 12 months. Ryan is married to his lovely wife Gillian and has two rad boys. He and his family now live in Portland Oregon.
Claire Lew is the CEO of Know Your Company, a software tool that helps business owners with 25 to 75 employees overcome company growing pains. The software was originally built by Basecamp. Since then, Know Your Company has helped over 10,000 people at companies like Airbnb, Kickstarter, Medium, and TechStars in more than 15 different countries all over the world. Claire's mission in life is to help people become happier at work. Previously, she helped co-found The Starter League, a beginner-focused software school in Chicago, and founded ClarityBox, a consulting practice for CEOs. Claire is also a proud Northwestern University alum. You can say hi to Claire on Twitter at @cjlew23.
Jeff Sheldon is the founder and designer of Ugmonk, a brand focused on creating high quality, well-designed products. What started as a small side project to create and sell simple T-shirts has grown into a full-blown lifestyle brand, which he now runs full time. Ugmonk has shipped products to over 65 countries around the world and has been featured on Uncrate, SwissMiss, Computer Arts, and HOW Magazine. When not designing, Jeff is hanging out with his wife and Boston terrier in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.
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.
Brennan Dunn is the founder of Double Your Freelancing and helps teach freelancers and consultants how to earn more money and work with better clients. He is the creator of Double Your Freelancing Rate and Double Your Freelancing Clients, and the host of the Business of Freelancing podcast.
William Deresiewicz is an award-winning essayist and critic, a frequent college speaker, and the best-selling author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. He taught English at Yale for ten years and at Columbia for five.
Bill is a Contributing Writer for The Nation and a Contributing Editor for The American Scholar. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Harper's, and elsewhere. Bill has won the Hiett Prize in the Humanities and the Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing and is a three-time National Magazine Award nominee. His work has been translated into 15 languages and anthologized in more than 25 college readers. He has spoken at over 40 colleges, high schools, and educational groups.
Bill is currently working on a book about creative careers in the new economy.
Michael Bungay Stanier is the Senior Partner of Box of Crayons, a company that helps organizations do less Good Work and more Great Work. Box of Crayons is best known for its coaching programs, which give busy managers practical tools to coach in 10 minutes or less. On the way to founding Box of Crayons in 2002, Michael lived in Australia, England, the United States and Canada (his current home), where he worked in the fields of innovation and change management. He’s written a number of books, the best known of which is Do More Great Work, with almost 100,000 copies sold. He’s proudest of End Malaria, a collection of essays about Great Work by thought leaders that has raised $400,000 for Malaria No More. His latest book, The Coaching Habit, is already being called a modern classic.
Get fired up to make sh*t happen with a series of 12+ main stage talks from the world's leading creative visionaries. They'll offer pragmatic, real-world insights on how you can put your ideas into action.
Dive deep into the mechanics of idea execution with our 75-minute master classes, where top creative minds share best practices on everything from branding your startup to building an incredible creative career.
Explore the inner-workings of NYC's leading creative companies, and meet fellow attendees in an intimate, interactive setting. Past studio sessions have been hosted by Spotify, Quirky, MoMA, IDEO, and many more. Stay tuned for a brand new slate of sessions in late February.
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 idea execution muscles early with a kick off party packed to the gills with hands-on demos, killer games, networking opportunities, and, of course, free beer. Come to pick up your badge, stay to meet the rest of the 99U community.
No conference does parties like we do. This year's grand finale will take place at MoMA. Yes, THAT MoMa.
Leave with a gorgeously designed schwag bag, packed with cool (and useful!) stuff. Plus, incredible giveaways, art exhibitions, and other surprises throughout the event. 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.
With its stripped-down chic, the Ace Hotel provides the perfect home away from home for 99U attendees.
We close out the Conference with a bang at The Museum of Modern Art, one of the premier cultural institutions in New York and the world.
For our pre-conference networking shindig, we'll be taking over the beautiful Vine event space.
Tired of attending conferences that taught us how to “dream” big but not how to “do” big, we at Behance set out to create something different in 2009. Thus the 99U Conference — a one-of-a-kind live experience fully devoted to exploring the mechanics of idea execution—was born.
We ask leading creative minds to share road-tested insights on making ideas happen. The results are short, actionable talks that will help you kick your ideas into gear.