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’s 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.
eBay & KPCB
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.
Julie Zhuo leads the design team focused on engagement and core experiences at Facebook, including News Feed, content discovery, and Facebook’s mobile apps. She has been at Facebook since 2006 helping the service grow from 8 million users to over 1 billion. She designed much of the original Facebook platform and the Like button you see embedded on sites across the web. Prior to Facebook, Julie graduated from Stanford with a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science, where she was a Mayfield Fellow and coordinated the well-known CS198 program of student Computer Science instructors. In her spare time, she likes writing about design, playing video games, and exploring SF’s delectable food scene.
Author & Entrepreneur
Seth Godin is the author of 17 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. You might be familiar with his books Linchpin, Tribes, The Dip, and Purple Cow. In addition to his writing and speaking, Seth is founder of squidoo.com, a fast growing, easy to use website. His blog (which you can find by typing “seth” into Google) is one of the most popular in the world. Before his work as a writer and blogger, Godin was Vice President of Direct Marketing at Yahoo!, a job he got after selling them his pioneering 1990s online startup, Yoyodyne. In 2013, Godin was inducted into the Direct Marketing Hall of Fame, one of three chosen for this honor.
Recently, Godin once again set the book publishing world on its ear by launching a series of four books via Kickstarter. The campaign reached its goal after three hours and ended up becoming the most successful book project ever done this way. His latest, The Icarus Deception, argues that we’ve been brainwashed by industrial propaganda, and pushes us to stand out, not to fit in.
Bestselling author Seth Godin argues that we must quiet our fearful “lizard brains” to avoid sabotaging projects just before we finally finish them.
Susan Gregg Koger is the co-founder and chief creative officer of ModCloth, an online retailer known for its innovative social shopping experience, unique apparel and décor, and wide range of styles sourced from independent designers around the world. As ModCloth’s CCO, Susan employs her creative edge and love for vintage to inform all things ModCloth; from its careful curation of remarkable goods, to the look and feel of the site and mobile apps. In 2013, ModCloth was recognized as one of Fast Company‘s “Most Innovative Companies,” and Susan was listed in Forbes‘ “30 Under 30″ and Refinery29‘s “30 Under 30: San Francisco.”
Marc Eckō Enterprises
Once a graffiti artist with no connections or fashion pedigree, Marc Eckō left the safety net of pharmacy school to start his own company. Armed only with hustle, sweat equity, and creativity, he flipped a $5,000 bag of cash into a global corporation now worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Eckō is an American fashion designer, entrepreneur, investor and artist. He is the founder of Marc Eckō Enterprises, a global fashion and lifestyle company. He is also the founder and chairman of Complex Media, the world’s leading provider of fashion, entertainment, lifestyle, and product trends to young male tastemakers. Complex Media Network includes 110+ websites that generate more than 700 million page views and 70 million unique visitors per month. Eckō serves as an emeritus board member to the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Big Picture Learning, Tikva Children’s Home & Everloop. Marc lives in NJ with his wife and three kids.
Robert Brunner founded San Francisco-based design studio Ammunition in 2007 to communicate ideas through products, brands, and their surrounding experiences. His work as an industrial designer has spawned numerous brand-defining designs over the past three decades. Prior to founding Ammunition, Robert was a partner at Pentagram and led strategic brand consulting and industrial design programs for Fortune 500 companies. Previously, he was the Director of Industrial Design for Apple, where he established its pioneering internal corporate design organization, Apple IDg. Before joining Apple, Robert co-founded design consultancy Lunar.
Named one of Fast Company‘s “Most Creative People in Business,” Robert’s work is included in the permanent design collections of the MoMA in both New York and San Francisco. He is the co-author of the book Do You Matter? How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company.
Tattly & CreativeMornings
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.
Scott Heiferman is Co-Founder & CEO of Meetup. Each week, 50,000 Meetups are self-organized by millions of people “using the internet to get off the internet.” The company is pursuing a long-range goal of a “Meetup Everywhere about Most Everything” — so that everyone has access to local community about what’s important to them. Scott lives in NYC and graduated from The University of Iowa. He was named the 2004 MIT Tech Review “Innovator of the year” and is focused for the long-haul on Meetup revolutionizing local community everywhere. He’s @heif.
Author & Cultural Historian
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.
Shantanu Starick is an international photographer challenging the way creative professionals work in a modern environment.
In 2012 he started The Pixel Trade project, a photographic journey to all seven continents of the globe. In exchange for life’s basic necessities Starick trades his skills as a professional photographer, reintroducing the bartering system into day-to-day life. No currency, no contracts, only his camera and an eager smile.
Halfway through the second year of the project Starick has set foot on four continents capturing leading designers and chefs in New York City, chewed on mangrove worms with Indigenous communities in rural Australia, traversed Irish farmlands with an injured ankle and came face to face with Atlas Mountain goats, who strongly suggested they share his fruit salad.
The lens is an equalizer that knows no race, class or background. And for Starick, those are the stories he wants to be part of.
Krista Donaldson is the CEO of D-Rev and has worked in international development, product design and engineering for more than 15 years. As D-Rev’s CEO, Krista has led the design and scaling in emerging markets of Brilliance, radically affordable treatment for babies with jaundice, and the ReMotion prosthetic knee, now worn by over 5,500 amputees. She has been recognized by Fast Company as one of the 50 designers shaping the future and the World Economic Forum as a Technology Pioneer.
Prior to D-Rev, Krista was an economic officer at the US Department of State where she worked on economic policy and the reconstruction of Iraq’s electricity sector, and as a design engineer at KickStart in Nairobi, Kenya.
A native of Nova Scotia, Krista holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.
Author, The Antidote
Oliver Burkeman is a British author and journalist living in Brooklyn. His most recent book is The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking (2012), which looks at the upsides of uncertainty, failure and imperfection, exploring unconventional approaches to flourishing everywhere from the barrios of Mexico City to the world’s largest collection of failed consumer products. He writes a popular weekly column for The Guardian on social psychology, productivity and the science of happiness, which formed the basis of his 2011 book, Help! How To Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Esquire and Slate.
As an interaction designer, Josh Rubin is always looking for both creative inspiration and an understanding of the way people do things. In 2003 he decided to start a catalog of what he found and haphazardly named it Cool Hunting, a phrase synonymous with finding inspiration. Some people think this site is about trends, but it is more about cataloging the best in creativity and innovation.
In addition to editing Cool Hunting, Josh consults for select clients on strategy, content and design for digital products, services and publications. His clients have included Apple, Adobe, Vodafone, Nike, Google, and MTV among many others.
Angel Investor & Blogger
Joanne has had several careers starting out as a buyer at Macys to running a company in the rag trade eventually leading to spearheading sales for a start-up magazine/e-zine/events company called Silicon Alley Reporter. On to the non-profit world where she chaired MOUSE (Making Opportunities in Upgrading Schools in Education) an organization focused on technology in inner-city schools. She has sat on a number of profit and non-profit boards and has been involved with a variety of real estate transactions from beginning to end.
Joanne has been blogging since 1994 under the name Gotham Gal. She is involved with the start-up community as an angel investor and adviser. She has been a champion of women in tech by starting and co-chairing the Women’s Entrepreneurial Festival with the ITP division of NYU. Many of the companies she is working with are owned or started by women. The tech companies are Food52, Edison Jr., Catchafire, Dailyworth, The Sweeten, NGAdventage, Windowfarms, Venuebook, Scoot, Talk Market, 3rd Ward, Editd, Blue Bottle Coffee, Lover.ly, Mouth Foods, How Good, , Little Borrowed Dress, Vengo, Willa Skincare, Kitchensurfing, littleBits, Nest.io, Red Stamp, VenueBook, Architizer, Capture Proof, Have to Have, Mercaris, Le Tote, Curbed (Eater/Racked) as well as Ricks Picks, several restaurants and The Moon Group. She is the Chairperson of Hot Bread Kitchen and sits on the board of the Highline.
Her most successful venture is being married to her best friend, Fred and raising her three kids, Jessica, Emily and Josh.
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.
Hacker & Author
Joshua Klein is an internationally known technology expert who studies systems, from computer networks and institutions to consumer hardware. His recent projects have included an acclaimed new television series on the history of innovation on the National Geographic Channel, called The Link, one of the most watched TED videos of all time (about a vending machine that train crows to exchange found coins for peanuts), and the development of a cell phone application to create a virtuous cycle of education and employment in South Africa. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, O Magazine, and The Harvard Business Review. He has made appearances on MSNBC, NPR, and has spoken at conferences from TED to Davos, and presented in front of organizations ranging from the State Department to the Young Presidents Organization Global Leadership Congress, to Microsoft to Amazon. He lives in New York City.
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.
Hank Willis Thomas is a photo conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to identity, history and popular culture. He received a BFA in Photography and Africana studies from New York University and his MFA/MA in Photography and Visual Criticism from the California College of Arts. Thomas’ monograph, Pitch Blackness, was published by Aperture in 2008. He has exhibited throughout the U.S. and abroad including, Galerie Anne De Villepoix in Paris, Annarumma 404 in Milan, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, among others. Thomas’ work is in numerous public collections including The Museum of Modern Art New York, The Guggenheim Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Brooklyn Museum, The High Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
His collaborative projects have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival and installed publicly at the Oakland International Airport, The Birmingham International Airport, The Oakland Museum of California and the University of California, San Francisco. Recent notable exhibitions include Hank Willis Thomas at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Strange Fruit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Picture Windows: Hank Willis Thomas in collaboration with Sanford Biggers at the International Center for Photography, and the Istanbul Biennial. Thomas is represented by Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City and Goodman Gallery in South Africa.
Illustrator & Graphic Journalist
Wendy MacNaughton is an illustrator and graphic journalist whose books include Meanwhile in San Francisco, The City in Its Own Words; Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology; The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming A Wine Expert; and the forthcoming Pen & Ink, Tattoos and The Stories Behind Them. Her work appears in places like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Print Magazine. She lives in San Francisco with two cats, one dog and her partner, writer Caroline Paul.
Author, Die Empty
Todd is the founder of Accidental Creative, a consultancy that helps people and teams to be prolific, brilliant, and healthy. He teaches companies how to be creative under pressure, collaborate more effectively, and align their activities around the work that matters most. He’s also the author of two books: The Accidental Creative, and Die Empty, which was named as one of Amazon.com’s “Best Books of 2013.”
The Detroit Bus Company
Andy Didorosi is a 27-year old entrepreneur and Detroit native. As a college dropout with only a high school diploma, he became the founder of The Detroit Bus Company, Eight & Sand, Paper Street, Thunderdrome! racing series, and a handful of other successful small businesses. He currently lives in Detroit in the Boston Edison neighborhood. The Detroit Bus Company is an innovative transit company based in Detroit.
Founded in 2011, they employ web-based technological solutions and unparalleled customer service to create efficient solutions to public transportation challenges in Metropolitan Detroit. With a unique fleet of custom-painted bio-diesel busses, the Detroit Bus Company also programs a full roster of public shuttles, tours and day trips to help metro Detroiters and out-of-town visitors gain familiarity with the rich, vibrant personality of our city. Their primary project right now is their Youth Transit Alliance which gives kids in Detroit access to development programs and summer activities free of charge.
Aaron Dignan dressed up like a super hero for 180 straight days of the first grade, which marked the beginning of his life as an iconoclast, observer, theorist, and performer. Now, as a founding partner of the digital strategy firm Undercurrent and based in New York, he advises global brands and complex organizations like GE, American Express, Hyatt, and Ford on their future in an increasingly technophilic world. Aaron’s first book, Game Frame: Using Games as a Strategy for Success, was released in 2011.
Real life isn’t always satisfying, but games are almost always are. So how can we take the principles that make Angry Birds so addictive and apply them to work?
UX Instigator & Yoga Teacher
Irene Au is dedicated to raising the strategic value of design and user research within software companies through better methods and practices, processes, leadership, and quality. Irene led User Experience at Google for six years, where her team was responsible for design and user research for all of Google’s products worldwide. Prior to Google, Irene established and led the User Experience and Design team at Yahoo! for eight years. She now advises and consults for companies on all matters UX and teaches yoga and meditation.
VP Products - Community, Adobe
UX Instigator & Yoga Teacher
Birsel + Seck LLC
“Don’t round out your edges and don’t assign power to third party gatekeepers.”
“Putting something out in the world, requires a temporary removal from it.”
“Networking” in an authentic way requires guts, time, and, well, being human.
Tina Roth Eisenberg, also known as Swissmiss, shares how she turned several side projects into full time labors of love.