We invite the world's leading creative visionaries to share pragmatic, real-world insights on how you can put your ideas into action.
A.J. Jacobs is the author of four New York Times bestsellers, including The Year of Living Biblically (about his quest to follow every rule of the Bible as literally as possible); The Know-It-All (which chronicles the year he spent reading all 33 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica); and Drop Dead Healthy (about his attempt to become the healthiest person alive). He is the editor at large at Esquire magazine. He has appeared on The Colbert Report, The Today Show, Good Morning America, and Oprah, among others, and is a contributor to NPR. He lives in New York with his wife and sons.
Could self-delusion be the best invention ever? If it makes you take action on your idea, the answer just might be yes.
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.
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).
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.
Benjamin Shaffer is a designer/innovator who lives and works in Portland. As the designer and creative lead of Nike Flyknit he is orchestrating the growth of a new paradigm shift in footwear manufacturing that was introduced in the 2012 Olympics on the feet of the some of the world's fastest athletes. Now as a Studio Director, his passion for new materials and processes of making and a keen eye for aesthetic relevance has positioned him nicely at the incubation of Nike's future product within the Innovation Kitchen.
In a journey that began 12 years ago with Nike, Shaffer has designed products from a variety of categories ranging from Yoga, Dance, and Running, as well as contributing to the conceptualization of Nike Plus. Six years in, he joined the Innovation Kitchen assisting the Women's Training team with their Diamond Flex technologies, Free, and performance calibration as their Innovation Lead. From there he transitioned to be the Innovation Lead of Sportswear where he was charged with designing, developing, and introducing technologies such as Nike's Hyperfuse into Sportswear.
You can’t get to the really brilliant ideas without first building off of the really awful ones. In the Nike Kitchen, the shoe company’s innovation lab responsible for the genre-busting Nike Flyknit (as seen in the 2012 Olympics and 2014 World Cup), the company focuses on building a safe space for failure to help push the envelope and develop completely new products. “By having an area where we can incubate and build, and not necessarily always worry about what a failure it is, we understand that we can learn from it. It really allows us to amplify and create new seedlings, off which we can build more crops,” explains Shaffer.
Gretchen Rubin is the author of the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project; accounts of her experiences test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. On her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness.
Gretchen is an enthusiastic proponent of using technology to engage with readers about ideas, and she has a wide, active following on social media. Not only that, The Happiness Project was even an answer on the game-show Jeopardy!
When it comes to adopting new habits, are you a Rebel, Upholder, Obliger, or a Questioner?
Heather Payne is an entrepreneur based in Toronto, Canada. She's the founder of Ladies Learning Code, a Toronto-based not-for-profit startup that runs popular workshops for women (and men) who want to learn computer programming and other technical skills in a social and collaborative way.
Ladies Learning Code now has chapters in Vancouver, Ottawa, Halifax, London and Calgary, a permanent workshop space in Toronto, and a thriving girls' program called Girls Learning Code. In 2012, she founded HackerYou as a way to bring more intensive technology learning experiences to Toronto and beyond. Recently she spent a year working on a project for the Mozilla Foundation: her job was to build a community of people and organizations in Toronto who care about raising youth as creators - not just consumers - of technology and the web. In December 2012, the project was granted $365,000 in funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Heather was an early investor in ShopLocket, and in a former life, she helped startups like Pinpoint Social and Shopcastr to acquire their first users. In her spare time, she enjoys building websites and furthering her knowledge of Ruby on Rails.
How do we leverage our passion projects into something more? Ladies Learning Code founder Heather Payne demonstrates how unabashedly sharing her vision led to a team she loves and a rapidly-growing organization.
Hosain Rahman is the CEO and founder of Jawbone, a groundbreaking developer of popular products and services for the mobile lifestyle. Hosain is passionate about bringing innovative, intuitive, and elegantly designed products to market that let consumers get the most out of their mobile experience. Jawbone is one of the largest venture capital-backed consumer electronics companies in the world.
Jawbone is a 2010 IDSA Design of the Decade winner. Jawbone introduced the BIG JAMBOX recently, and the Jawbone JAMBOX, the first intelligent wireless speaker and speakerphone, is now the best-selling speaker in the US. Jawbone also invented NoiseAssassin® technology, the only military-grade noise-eliminating technology that's built into its Bluetooth headsets like the Jawbone ERA and Jawbone ICON.
Hosain was named as one of Fortune's 40 Under 40 in 2012 and has spoken at several leading industry events, including D! and D! Mobile and has guest lectured at Columbia Business School.
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 thought, "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. 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.
Jeff Sheng is a photographer, artist and sociologist, whose artwork has been internationally exhibited, and has taught as a visiting professor of photography and visual studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and most recently at Harvard University in 2011. He is currently a doctoral Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Stanford University.
Sheng first became known for his photographic series Fearless, a project on "out" lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes on high school and college sports teams, and since 2003, has photographed and interviewed over 150 individuals for this series. This project was recently nominated for a GLAAD award through a feature article by ESPN.
Between 2009-2011, his other photography series Don't Ask, Don't Tell on over 80 closeted service members affected by the government policy known by that same name, was instrumental in providing a face to the issue as part of the repeal debate, as the photographs were seen and published in Time Magazine, Newsweek, the New York Times, CNN, NPR, the BBC, and ABC World News Tonight. A graduate of Harvard University, Jeff also holds an MFA (master of Fine Arts) in studio art from the University of California, Irvine.
For the past ten years, photographer Jeff Sheng has made it his mission to shine a light on issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans through his work. In this 99U presentation, Jeff shares Fearless, a project that highlighted out athletes on high school and college sports teams as well as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a series that profiled closeted members of the armed services while maintaining their anonymity.
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.
Josh's career has spanned marketing analytics and quantitative finance, including running a data mining consulting firm, a quantitative strategy group at a $10b fund, and core components at the mortgage lead market, Root Exchange. Three years ago, Josh founded Simple, formerly BankSimple, a company that is working to radically redesign banking by using modern technology to help people worry less about money. Josh has a BSc. in mathematics and statistics from the University of Melbourne, most of a medical degree, and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.
Simple co-founder and CEO Josh Reich shows us how his team wrangles with banking bureaucracy to create a product people love.
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.
A vision for revolutionizing the way people work led Leah Busque to pioneer the concept of "service networking." Her passion for product innovation and devotion to user experience have propelled TaskRabbit into a leading role in the collaborative consumption movement. Since bootstrapping TaskRabbit in 2008, Leah has expanded the company nationally, grown the team to more than 60 employees, raised nearly $40 million in venture funding, and inspired legions of startups to launch in the collaborative and service networking space. Fast Company named her one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business," and her achievements have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Wired, and Time.
“Share your idea with everyone” and 4 other lessons Leah Busque learned from building TaskRabbit.
Nikhil Arora is the co-founder of Back to the Roots, an urban mushroom farm in Oakland, California. He and co-founder Alejandro Velez created the company during their senior year at the University of California, Berkeley from a belief that business can be used for good. After graduating summa cum laude in 2009, they founded the mushroom farm that now makes grow-your-own Mushroom Gardens using entirely recycled coffee grounds as the soil - an idea upon which he and Alejandro came across in a business ethics lecture.
Arora was always interested in sustainability and job creation, and during college worked in Ghana for six months to implement a profitable recycling program at the 30,000+ student University of Ghana campus. He has been named one of Inc's 2012 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs, a CNN Generation Next Entrepreneur to Watch, Forbes' 30 Under 30, and one of BusinessWeek's Top 25 Social Entrepreneurs. The company has grown from a handful of employees to 31 employees, and was honored in Fall 2012 with an Empact100 award from the White House, recognizing Back to the Roots as one of the top 100 entrepreneurial companies in the US.
In this high-energy talk, Back to the Roots co-founder Nikhil Arora shares his unconventional methods for launching his company from a college experiment to a fully functioning social enterprise. Arora shares how candid transparency (and pictures of ugly fungi) helped his company’s mushroom growing kits become a hit among children and on Facebook. For each kit sold, Back to the Roots also donates one to an elementary school. The good will and social media generated sold more kits, which resulted in more donations.
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.
As creatives, we often believe that as our talents improve, our salary will increase. However, your skills alone will not necessarily lead to more income. To really maximize your talents, identify the psychological reasons why clients do or don’t decide to use your services.
Tina Seelig is the executive director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and the director of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) at Stanford University's School of Engineering. She teaches courses on creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the department of Management Science and Engineering, and within the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford. She received the 2009 Gordon Prize from the National Academy of Engineering, recognizing her as a national leader in engineering education.
Seelig earned her PhD in 1985 from Stanford University School of Medicine, where she studied Neuroscience. She has been a management consultant, multimedia producer, and an entrepreneur. Seelig has also written 16 popular science books and educational games. Her newest books are Wish I Knew When I Was 20 (HarperCollins 2009) and inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity (HarperCollins 2012).
In this compelling 99U talk, Stanford professor Tina Seelig shows us how the top organizations in the world foster a creative environment.
Tony Schwartz is Founder and CEO of The Energy Project, a company that helps individuals and organizations fuel energy, engagement, focus and productivity by harnessing the science of high performance. Tony's most recent book, Be Excellent At Anything: The Four Keys to Transforming the Way We Work and Live, was published in May 2010 and became an immediate New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. His previous book, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy Not Time, co- authored with Jim Loehr, spent four months on the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into 28 languages.
Tony is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, and is one of HBR.org's most popular bloggers. His most recent HBR article, The Paradox of Productivity: How Sony Pictures Gets More Out of Employees By Demanding Less was published in May, 2010. He also writes for numerous other publications, including the New York Times.
Are you over-worked and under-energized? Energy expert Tony Schwartz breaks down our productivity myths and shows us how to get back on track.
Cal Newport is an author and a professor computer science at Georgetown University. His writing focuses on unconventional advice for life in school and after graduation. His most recent book, So Good They Can't Ignore You, argues that "follow your passion" is bad advice. Newport's writing and ideas regularly appear in major publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Post, and Inc. Magazine.
In this 99U Talk, best-selling author Cal Newport asks how do people end up enjoying what they do for a living?
Sebastian Thrun is CEO of Udacity, a start-up focused on democratizing higher education. He is also a part-time Google Fellow and Research Professor at Stanford University. Thrun is known for his work at Google X, home to the Google Self Driving Car. He was elected into the National Academy of Engineering at Age 39, and started and sold two companies, after winning the DARPA Grand Challenge, a historical robot race. Fast Magazine named him the fifth smartest person in business; he's on Vanity Fair's list of the New Establishment; his inventions have been featured as the best 50 inventions by Time Magazine, and one of his robots was named the top robot of all times by Wired Magazine.
Google X mastermind and ALVA Award-winner Sebastian Thrun shares insights on how to build groundbreaking products that will change the world.
During our 75-minute master classes, top creative minds share best practices for making ideas happen and take questions in a smaller, more interactive setting.
Our off-site studio sessions explore the inner-workings of leading creative companies and allow attendees to meet in an intimate, informal setting.