We invite the world's leading creative visionaries to share pragmatic, real-world insights on how you can put your ideas into action.
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.
While a common sentiment is to protect our creative routines, Basecamp CEO Jason Fried urges us to fall madly out of love with the ones we truly care about. In this talk, Jason provides a blueprint to change our work habits. “When there’s a forced change in the way you work on a regular basis, you create moments to look at something fresh,” he says. “If you begin to do that, you will see it a little bit differently and you have a chance at making a change.”
John Maeda is an American executive spearheading a new convergence across the design and technology industries. He joined Automattic in 2016 as Global Head of Computational Design + Inclusion and previously served as Design Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), a world-leading venture capital firm.
An internationally recognized speaker and author, his books include The Laws of Simplicity, Creative Code, and Redesigning Leadership. He holds degrees in Electrical Engineering + Computer Science from MIT, an MBA from Arizona State U, and a PhD from University of Tsukuba in Japan. He has appeared as a speaker all over the world, from Davos to Beijing to São Paulo to New York, and his talks for TED.com have received cumulative views of over 2 million to date.
Maeda serves on the Board of Directors for wireless hi-fi innovator Sonos and the global advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy. Prior to his work in industry, Maeda was a tenured research professor at the MIT Media Laboratory and 16th President of the Rhode Island School of Design.
The prolific John Maeda—whose career has spanned Cooper Hewitt, MIT, and KPCB—now leads computational design and inclusion at Automattic. In this conversation with Adobe VP of Design Jamie Myrold, Maeda shares his insights from a long and varied career on the history and current state of diversity and inclusion in the design industry.
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.
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.
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."
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.
“Don’t round out your edges and don’t assign power to third party gatekeepers.”
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.
What’s the secret to becoming a legendary design company like Apple or BMW? In this 99U talk, designer Robert Brunner deconstructs his creative process revealing the stories behind products like Beats by Dre headphones and the Polaroid Cube.
One of our favorite creative doers and community galvanizers, Tina returns to the 99U Conference main stage following her 2014 talk that inspired thousands to 'Create, Don't Complain'. Among her many projects, businesses, and achievements, Tina is the founder of the global lecture series CreativeMornings, ubiquitous designer temporary tattoo brand Tattly, and beloved design blog Swissmiss.
As CEO of Creative Mornings, Tattly, and the newly launched Creative Guild, Tina Roth Eisenberg oversees some highly creative teams. Rather than follow traditional leadership practices, she’s writing her own rules that prioritize joy, generosity, and confetti. In this inspiring talk, Eisenberg explains how she’s building a workplace her employees are excited to go to every day.
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.
There’s a ton of focus on growing quickly and scaling, but there’s beauty in the long, slow, sustained effort. Scott Heiferman has been running Meetup since 2002 and Jason Fried has been at the helm of Basecamp since 1999. In this 99U Interview, the two accomplished founders discuss the long haul: how do we build businesses that become our life’s work?
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.
Much of modern creativity advice focuses on “getting your work out there” and networking with others. But great work often requires that we work in isolation. When writing her book The Rise, Sarah Lewis sent an early draft to her editor where she learned this lesson the hard way. “I wasn’t ready for his critique, and it ended up costing me six months of work,” she says.
In this talk, Sarah speaks to the importance of the private domain. Many of the greats, such as Susan Sontag, Albert Einstein, or Maya Angelou, made sure they carved out a special time and place for their craft. “Putting something out in the world,” says Lewis, “requires a temporary removal from it.”
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.
Creatives are rewarded for being specialized: a wedding photographer makes more money than a just a plain photographer. So why aren’t the jack-of-all-trades rewarded? In this 99U talk, photographer Shantanu Starick shares how removing money out of the creative process led to a wider array of jobs and a much more fulfilling freelance career.
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.
Krista Donaldson uses design to fight jaundice, create prosthetic limbs, and solve some of the developing world’s most vexing problems. This is why we selected Donaldson as our 2014 ALVA Award winner, a special prize presented by Behance in partnership with GE to recognize remarkable serial inventors. In this 99U talk, she offers a peek into her team’s design process for getting complicated medical treatments to all corners of the world for a price anyone can afford. Chief among her advice? Talk to your customers. Then talk to them again. And use all that feedback to iterate and, when needed, drastically shift your design process.
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.
“Get motivated!” and “stay positive!” are common bits of self-help advice. But have we gone too far in our penchant for positivity? Leaning on research (including a story about Mount Everest climbers), reporter and author Oliver Burkeman shares the counterintuitive insight of how abandoning goals and allowing some negativity in can actually be helpful.
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.
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.
Scott Belsky is an executive, entrepreneur, author, and investor (and all-around product obsessive). He currently serves as Adobe's Chief Product Officer and Executive Vice President, Creative Cloud. Scott's passion is to make the creative world more productive, connected, and adaptive to new technologies.
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. After Behance's acquisition, Scott helped reboot Adobe's mobile product strategy and led Behance until 2016, when he spent a few years as an investor and advisor to multiple businesses. Alongside his role at Adobe, Scott is a Venture Partner at Benchmark, a venture capital firm based in San Francisco, an early-stage investor, and is co-founder and Chairman of Prefer, a referrals platform that empowers the careers of independent professionals (aka "Soloists”).
Over the years, Scott has pursued other projects to help organize and empower the careers of creative people. These include 99U, Behance's think tank and annual conference devoted to execution in the creative world; and a popular line of organizational paper products that help organize creative people and teams.
Scott is also the author of the international bestselling book Making Ideas Happen (Portfolio Imprint, Penguin Books, April, 2010).
Behance and 99U co-founder Scott Belsky is often asked about the inception and acquisition of the companies. But the biggest lessons are found in the sometimes-messy, oftentimes-exciting, and always-challenging experience between those bookend moments. In this talk, Belsky shares his perspective on:
– How to sustain momentum, and morale, during periods of uncertainty
– Why resourcefulness is the ultimate future-proof skill
– What circumstances inspire true innovation
– And how to spot the best opportunities
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.
“Networking” in an authentic way requires guts, time, and, well, being human.
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. 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.
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.
Hank Willis Thomas has made it his mission to “not make sense out of things we think make sense,” challenging our perceptions of identity, history, and symbols. In his 99U talk, Thomas shares what he’s learned from creating his provocative body of work, including the repurposing of iconic brand imagery as a commentary on race and class, particularly in regard to African-American males.
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.
There’s a prevailing myth that great works are created by lone savant-types who locks themselves in a room for days. But illustrator & graphic journalist Wendy MacNaughton believes that the best stuff comes when we get out of our own heads and look for inspiration around us, like listening to the stories of strangers.
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."
Andy Didorosi is an 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.
Founded in 2011, The Detroit Bus Company employs 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 is their Youth Transit Alliance which gives kids in Detroit access to development programs and summer activities free of charge.
Detroit’s plight has been making headlines for years, and to outside observers the situation can seem hopeless. But Andy Didorosi is one of Detroit’s many concerned citizens that have refused to wait for outside help.
In this talk, Didorosi reveals how to take matters into your own hands despite government bureaucracy, lack of funds, and other obstacles—and why difficult situations are just opportunities for great and meaningful work. He shares how he built his own bus company to augment crumbling public transportation infrastructure and why you need to call the world’s bluff when doing great things.
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?
Irene Au is design partner at Khosla Ventures, where she works with early-, mid-, and late-stage startup CEOs. Au has unprecedented experience elevating the strategic importance of design within internet companies, having built and led the entire user experience and design teams at Google (2006-2012), Yahoo! (1998-2006), and Udacity (2012-2014). She began her career as an interaction designer at Netscape Communications, where she worked on the design of the internet’s first commercial web browser.
Au also teaches yoga at Avalon Yoga Center in Palo Alto where she is part of the teacher training program faculty and is a frequent author and speaker on the relationship between mindfulness practices, design, and creativity.
Khosla Ventures design partner Irene Au learned some of her most valuable design lessons not from the companies she advises, but from a close collaboration with the residential architects who helped her family design their dream home. From how to choose your clients to anticipating their needs, mindfulness and intention rule when it comes to fruitful creative collaborations.
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.