Event kick-off: ad:tech gets inspired

Posted by Lori Luechtefeld on April 11th, 2011 at 4:46 pm

This week's ad:tech San Francisco kicked off with a three-hour exploration of creativity, inspiration, and vision -- and how they pertain to digital advertising's future. Consider the motivational thoughts of the following eight speakers:

Håkan Eriksson, CTO of Ericsson, reminded us of the implications of the continuing connectivity revolution. Broadband, cloud computing, and mobility will transform our lives in a near future where more than 50 billion devices will be connected. If marketers aren't thinking of their brands in the terms of a fully connected future, they're ignoring the reality that they already live in.

Wendy Lea, CEO of Get Satisfaction, spoke on the topic of corporate leadership in our dynamic industry. She reminded attendees that business success today relies on imagination, innovation, and initiative -- not just raw work and efficiency. "As a leader in these creative times, please observe and don't judge," she advised. In addition, leaders must engage -- not demand. And they must lead with their influence.

Renny Gleeson, global director of interactive strategies at Wieden + Kennedy, encouraged marketers to embrace the brand hackers who -- initially unbeknownst to the companies themselves -- are using their brands as tools to create value in unexpected ways. "Let your brand voice be your guide," he advised when it comes to deciding who to partner with. Innovation can come from everywhere, and the best ideas for your brand are increasingly likely to spring up outside the walls of your own organization.

I See Hawks, a band from Los Angeles, was formed during the early stages of the digital music revolution. While other musicians struggled -- and failed -- to adapt to the new business reality, I See Hawks embraced social networking and the power of digital to build its fan base. The band performed at ad:tech as a reminder that the open-minded and innovative are the ones who will survive and thrive in the face of dramatic industry shifts.

Tom Deierlein, president and CEO of ThunderCat Technology, is a real-life hero. A digital marketing executive since 1996, Deierlein was called up to serve in the U.S. Army in combat. During his time overseas, he dedicated much of his time and effort to supplying local needy children and families with the supplies they need for healthy lives. After he was shot in Baghdad in September 2006, his recovery coincided with the development of the TD Foundation, which continues his work to improve the lives of Iraqi and Afghan children. He reminded ad:tech attendees about the critical differences that the digital advertising industry can and does make in the lives of needy children. Everyone can do something.

Equity analyst Michael Knolla reminded attendees that skills gained in the unlikeliest of places serve us later in life. He made a compelling argument that his childhood spent reading comic books and science fiction novels equipped him for his life as an equity analyst. After all, reading comics in a serialized form requires you to retain knowledge and draw on it for later use. It's also effective in developing the ability to separate the signal from the noise. Such is the case for all of us. We can't rely simply on our educations or professional experiences to prepare us for life in the digital marketing industry. Every aspect of our lives feeds our abilities.

Michela O'Connor Abrams, president of Dwell Media, discussed the importance of design, not just in the architectural world, but in life. "Design is not a language or profession," she said. "It's something we each have in our DNA." Think about ways in which good design can improve lives -- including those of your employees and your customers.

Mark Joyner, founder and CEO of ConstructZero.org, is looking to build "dirt cheap decentralized distribution devices" (DC3D).  Joyner believes that DC3Ds will solve most of the world's major problems -- and he expects to produce them without venture capital or any "corrupted" sources of investment. He reminded attendees about the importance of developing technology that enhances our liberties.

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