We invite the world's leading creative visionaries to share pragmatic, real-world insights on how you can put your ideas into action.
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.
As one of the world’s leading typeface designers, and this year’s 99U Alva Award winner, Tobias Frere-Jones believes that the best way to learn a new skill is to “break things down deliberately” to understand how it’s really done.
In this talk, we learn to see the beauty in taking risks. Frere-Jones explains that in order to do our best creative work, we must not just permit moments of confusion, but actually go chase them. “When trying to figure out a problem, pause for minute, and see if you can make it worse,” he says. “A structure can really describe itself as it falls apart.”
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.
Los Angeles-based producer Effie Brown started her career at Tim Burton Productions as Director of Development. After producing several feature films, 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. Her 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.
When film producer Effie Brown (‘Dear White People’, ‘In the Cut’) found herself managing teams of up to 100 people, a jarring reality hovered over her head – she didn’t really want to be a leader. In this talk, Brown teaches us how to embrace being an outsider in our leadership roles.
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.”
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.
When your week is over, why do you so often feel like you’ve put in the hours and still didn’t accomplish everything you set out to achieve? In this 99U talk, Ryan Carson, founder and CEO of Treehouse, charges us to hyper-focus, so we can spend less time working and still finish our biggest projects.
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.
Social media puts an impossibly glossy shine on design, careers, and life in general. But let’s be real about that perfectly-put together construction of ourselves we’ve curated online, says New York Times graphics editor Jennifer Daniel. In this talk, Daniel address the pressure of trying to be a great parent, while also putting in the hours required to be a great designer: “Are people afraid that we can’t do it all?” Because the truth is, “Well, we can’t do it all.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the creative world, you go to school and learn your craft then enter the field to do your work. However, this straight edge process has left out a middle phase for the educated people that need to learn by doing (because the jobs they want are only available for the already qualified candidate). Superfriendly Director, Dan Mall proposes an apprenticeship as that middle phase – a nine-month program dedicated to teaching the young and talented designer to inevitably be that qualified candidate. The trade: Mall gets loyalty from the apprentice while spending less on talent, while the apprentice walks away with a new skill for work and life.
Dedicated to helping "Non-Conformists" like himself, no one understands the new creative and business landscape better than Chris.
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.
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.
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.
As creatives, we’re often put to the test of making tough decisions and sacrifices for our work. According to illustrator Yuko Shimizu, our biggest decision needs to happen at the beginning of our career asking ourselves, “What kind of artist do we want to be?”.
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.
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.
We’re entering a new age of creativity where we have more chances to get attention, but also less money flowing into the arts. According to Excellent Sheep author William Deresiewicz, “as our lives migrate online, it seems reasonable to assume so will our art,” he says. “The future will favor the art more susceptible to digitization.” In this talk, William challenges us to look at the history of the art and creative industry as well as its future.
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.
Offsites are a 2016 Conference new addition where we send you to beautiful event spaces all throughout midtown Manhattan for an intensive career-focused workshop. Whether you're a freelancer, manager, or just starting out you'll be sure to find something actionable.