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Curiouser and Curiouser: Insights from our Innovation Showcase Holiday Edition

Holidays are about coming together, creating a space, and sharing; and last week on Tuesday night, 23 of refine+focus’ friends and colleagues did exactly that. While still keeping the holiday tradition of giving, we decided to do things a little differently; rather than exchange gifts, we exchanged ideas we were passionate about. Think of it as a “Yankee Swap,” except everyone goes home with both new connections and new curiosities.

THE EVENT

This November’s event brought together brilliant artists, C-level strategic innovators, non-profit financial consultants, biomedical geniuses, and more for an evening of merriment and idea-sharing. This month’s attendees brought in their ideas in many forms, ranging from PowerPoint slides to YouTube movie trailers and even an augmented reality demonstration.

HOW IT WORKS

This month’s event followed the same format as previous months’ Curiouser evenings, with each attendee bringing an idea that excited them and sharing it with the rest of the group in three minutes or less.

WHAT WE DISCOVERED

If you’re curious about what ideas were shared that night, read on; we’ve recapped them all for you in this list:

  1. Jorge Sanabria – What if you could pay for a car with only YouTube views?
  2. Steele Divitto – A neighborhood concierge service that sparks introductions between entrepreneurs and business owners
  3. Ornella BottiAugmented reality enhanced holiday cards
  4. Toria Rainey – How can we make youth sports more inclusive and affordable?
  5. Eduardo Pujol– A new bicycle helmet for urban cyclists that deploys an airbag
  6. Michael Evans – How to use technology to incentivize participants in research experiments
  7. Babs Ryan – An app that brings together children and sports psychiatrists to keep young athletes healthy, both mentally and physically
  8. Raghu Appasani – How listening to patients with mental illnesses and learning their stories can help eliminate stigma
  9. Dhivyaa Thamil Chelvan – A smartphone app that tracks trash to help keep cities cleaner
  10. Rachel Cossar – How business professionals in all fields can learn movement efficiency from classical ballet training
  11. Caroline Suttlehan – A lovingly created, gorgeous newsletter that brings together music, literature, art, and other thinkpieces
  12. Nupura Bhise – A school in Bangalore that is breaking down discrimination by offering free tuition to children in poverty
  13. Zach Braiker – What if we could harness the power of virtual reality to create immersive experiences that support our favorite charities?
  14. Leigh Tucker – Fully customized sales training for media, trade show, SaaS, enterprise, manufacturing, startup and technology sales teams
  15. Henrik Totterman –  An interactive online group writing tool that brings together reading, writing, teaching, learning and technology both in the classroom and beyond
  16. Daniel Goez – A new nonprofit aiming to empower low-income young adults to go from poverty to professional careers in Latin America
  17. Peter Russell – The importance and entertainment of bringing friends and family together in unconventional ways (like renting out a movie theater and having a film screening!)
  18. Hakan Satiroglu – An innovation foundry that works to reframe social justice issues and generate sustainable companies
  19. Megha Dahiya – How collaborative productivity tools like Justick, Livescribe, and Microsoft Surface Hub are changing the way we work together
  20. Mike CucurulloThe Adventures of Pablo and Anna, a comic strip by a Boston illustrator based on the real lives of an adventure-loving couple

BONUS: FOOD FOR THOUGHT

We took a few minutes to recap our night, and here are some interesting questions that came up in discussion:

  • How can we maximize human connection?
  • How much of our personal memories of what we cherish are integrated with or colored by the media?
  • Where will we all be in one year?  

 

AN OPEN INVITATION

We’ll be announcing events like this one in the beginning of 2018, so keep an eye out if you’d like to be a part of these inspiring evenings. Until then, happy holidays!

Did any of the ideas you read spark a new one within you? Do you have ideas of your own you want to share? If you’re a curious person and interested in attending our future “Curiouser and Curiouser” events, feel free to send us a message at hello@refineandfocus.com.

Cove photo by rawpixel.com

United to End Gender-based Violence: refine+focus supports DAWN’s important message at Diwali Gala

As we juggle the commitments of our chaotic lives, it is often impossible to set aside time to mark special occasions – except for DAWN’s (Direct Action for Women Now) Diwali gala. Though the evening may not have been picked up by the news, it was very near and dear to many hearts as we celebrated a marvellous holiday and a great cause.

Over 100 esteemed guests, dressed elegantly in traditional Indian attire gathered in unison to support the remarkable cause of promoting gender equality on Saturday, the 4th of November at Beech Street Centre, Belmont. With the help of our very own Purnima Thakre, DAWN designed and executed the Diwali fundraising event which featured speeches about social justice awareness, a vegetarian Indian dinner, a short-film screening, a live dance performance of ‘ASMI’ by the Aakrithi ensemble, a networking dinner, and music.

The highlights of the evening included a pledged commitment by many men in the audience to confront sexual violence after an enlightening talk by Comedian activist Ben Atherton-Zemmer, and ‘ASMI’ – a graceful dance performance choreographed by Urmi Samadar – which celebrated many facets of a woman, such as her inner calm, youthful exuberance, strength and wisdom, infusing lyrical and modern dance based on the classical Indian Kathak and Odissi repertoire.



The DAWN
team members and the evening’s speakers, including Geetha Aiyer, Gauri Adelkar, and Dr. Sujatha Warrier, elucidated the organization’s approaches to addressing gender inequality by Addressing Public Attitudes, Training the healers (The HEAL program), and Engaging Men & Boys. Dr. Sujatha Warrier, the evening’s keynote speaker, addressed the essential importance of leveraging American knowledge and experience to help train India’s frontline social workers on victim-centric care and educating the broader public. “In many parts of India, talking about sex is considered taboo (…) and the topic is widely ignored,” Dr. Warrier said, adding that, “ending gender-based violence in India will require social change at the deepest level.”


DAWN recognizes that society’s perpetuation of an unequal distribution of power between men and women is the root cause of gender-based violence in India. To combat this, the organization has funded the creation of a film, ‘
Raising Men’ which highlights the work of one of their partner organizations, MAVA (Men Against Violence and Abuse) on combating sexism in Mumbai through educating young men. The trailer of the film was screened at the event and the film is being used as a teaching tool.

The event’s fundraising efforts were further enhanced by a pledge drive and volunteer sign up activities. The DAWN team gladly shared additional detail with the guests and showed ways to get involved with the organization.

The evening was a remarkable success and the event raised over $15,000. The funds from the evening will help DAWN in India train social workers and organizations that educate young men on gender inequality, as well as set up shelters and helplines for victims, train local police on how to effectively help rape victims, and other efforts to challenge harmful gender-based violence.

Purnima concluded the event by giving thanks to the DAWN board of directors and team, volunteers, the refine+focus team, and the generous contributors. The event was a testament to Diwali as it acknowledged a hope to eradicate the evil behind gender-based violence and illuminate a hopeful path to the future for many.

If you would like to be part of DAWN’s work, you can donate here or sign up to be a volunteer on DAWN’s FB page. Or simply keep in touch to know when the next event occurs!

Curiouser and Curiouser: Insights from our August 2017 Innovation Showcase

While the weather outside is getting colder, the energy in the room at August’s Curiouser and Curiouser event was warmer than ever–there were lots of smiles, laughs, excited hand gestures, and most importantly, great ideas. What better way to end summer than with a gathering of friends and colleagues to inspire one another?

THE EVENT

This month’s event brought together avid musicians, project developers, data scientists, poets, and more to share ideas that they were passionate about. From environmental successes to theme park innovation, there was never a lull in the room.

HOW IT WORKS

This month’s event followed the same format as June and July’s evenings, with each attendee bringing an idea that excited them and sharing it with the rest of the group in three minutes or less.

WHAT WE DISCOVERED

If you’re curious about what ideas were shared that night, read on; we’ve recapped them all for you in this list:

  1. Eduardo PujolThis startup that turns Ubers and Lyfts into mobile convenience stores
  2. Sadaf Atarod – A web platform that is revolutionizing the scholarship process by having students perform competitive problem-solving challenges rather than writing essays
  3. Max Osbon – How we can be more productive by focusing on the opposite of what you want to achieve
  4. Vita ShklovskyExploring the DNA of music by finding samples, remixes, and covers of songs
  5. Toria Rainey – How green spaces can benefit our happiness, health, and our economy   
  6. Raghav Balasubramanyam – A “drinkable” hardcover book with purifying paper that can kill nearly 100 percent of disease-causing bacteria
  7. Purnima Thakre – The future of theme park and resort entertainment is here with Disney’s Star Wars themed park, Galaxy’s Edge
  8. Shirin Mojarad – A web based learning software that uses artificial intelligence to prepare individualized learning plans
  9. Zach BraikerAdvanced artificial intelligence that can not only think and act like humans, but can also detect and react to human emotions
  10. Steven Biondolillo – How the advent of book-club style poetry groups can restore our culture’s diminishing empathy
  11. Jorge Sanabria – The world’s first machine learning and real time tracking solution for grocery stores to offer customers dynamic pricing based on product expiration date
  12. Mack AscanioA music app that automatically seamlessly mixes your songs the way a DJ would
  13. Crista Núñez – The surprisingly romantic beauty of underwater crop circles
  14. Joanne Markow – Digital Death: exploring ancient ruins without digging, video tombstones, QR code graves, and other interactive memorials
  15. Mayato HattoriShooting stars on demand for celebrations
  16. Daniel Goez – The new paradigm of Smart Contracts through BlockChain

BONUS:

As an added bonus, we opened the floor to Curiouser participants for a rapid-fire round of sharing things that everyone should read, watch, listen to, or do. Here are their suggestions.

Read:

Watch:

Listen:

Do:

  • Get lost in a museum
  • Eat lots of lobster
  • Give thanks to the world
  • Tell the people you love that you love them
  • Get lost in the forest
  • Go to Vegas
  • Get a helicopter license
  • Experience a Glacier
  • Wear Fivefingers shoes like Zach
  • Take the architectural foundation tour in Chicago
  • Send a handwritten note
  • Try Flyboarding
  • Try the trapeze
  • Go to Rockport before winter

AN OPEN INVITATION

We’ll be announcing next month’s event in the near future, so keep an eye out if you’d like to be a part of these inspiring evenings.

Did any of the ideas you read spark a new one within you? Do you have ideas of your own you want to share? If you’re a curious person and interested in attending our future “Curiouser and Curiouser” events, feel free to send us a message at hello@refineandfocus.com.

Cover photo credit by Hans-Peter Gauster

A Perfect Resume Won’t Be Enough For Your Next Interview

The Development of Storytelling

Storytelling has been one of the defining features of human existence. From cave paintings that date as far back as 40,800 B.C., we know that our earliest ancestors instinctually sought to communicate, share and express. We’ve advanced beyond crude drawings on rock walls, but whether the storyteller is Shakespeare or Steve Jobs, great stories continue to capture our attention and the information they convey is easily remembered as they are retold across societies and generations. So if this form of information sharing is so effective, Joanne Markow wondered, why don’t we leverage storytelling more often to make ourselves stand out and ensure others remember what we’re trying to communicate?

Build Your Brand and Tell Your Story

As a recognized career development coach with years of experience helping students achieve their career goals, Joanne cofounded career-building company GreenMason based on the idea that understanding what makes you unique and valuable and using that to craft a personal narrative will help you find the right fit in an organization and set you on a fulfilling career path. Joanne and her team designed the interactive, role-playing program StoryMason to help job candidates do just that. In an increasingly competitive job market, having a killer resume is often no longer sufficient to distinguish you from the crowd, and the challenge is magnified when the person interviewing you is not the person who decides whether to hire you. So how do you make enough of an impact on your interviewer that the hiring manager is guaranteed to hear about you? Tell a story.

StoryMason empowers job seekers to gain confidence as storytellers and prepare for interviews by developing their story arsenal and becoming comfortable tapping into it to answer any question in any kind of situation. refine+focus had the privilege of hosting Joanne so she could show our team how to play StoryMason and how to use storytelling to stand out in interviews.

The Game

The rules and gameplay of StoryMason are relatively straightforward. The deck contains 5 different types of cards—openers, interview questions, themes, disrupters and closers—that serve as cues to guide the players through the role-play scenario. Working off of the old cliché that first impressions matter, opener cards offer tips on how to start a conversation as you step into the room and establish an immediate connection with the interviewer. This phase basically forces the interviewee to practice delivering their smooth icebreakers.

The interview question cards prompt players with sample interview questions, but each card also offers a “StoryMason Translation” that decodes the question to show you what the interviewer is trying to elicit from you or evaluate. Interviewers, especially at innovative companies, are increasingly discarding the old, stale interview script and baffling job candidates with questions like ‘if you could be any kind of fruit, which would you be and why?’ Handling these questions successfully is all about leveraging your previous experiences to showcase your personality, work ethic, and skills, which are what the interviewer is trying to assess. Each interview question card also includes a “conversation catalyst”, a related question you can ask back to the interviewer. Remember, what you ask says a lot about your personality as well as your intentions.

Along with each interview question, players draw theme cards that force them to practice conveying a story in a particular manner. Adding a layer of realism, the disturber cards introduce wild card elements to practice responding to the unexpected with poise while also bringing some always-appreciated levity to the exercise.

Finally, the closer cards offer a template of how you can conclude the interview with that one succinct line that will leave a positive and impactful impression.

The Session

We began the game excited but slightly anxious—though we had all plenty of interview practice and had our routines down, none of us had really used a storytelling approach to answer interview questions before. That was clear in the beginning as interviewees struggled against their instincts to respond to questions with stories rather than with straightforward, bland answers, and it became even more difficult attempting to deliver each story in the manner prescribed by the theme cards. We started to settle in and get more comfortable with the opener exercise as we practiced breaking the awkward silence.

The interview questions ranged from common questions like ‘Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult situation?’ to less predictable ones like ‘What questions haven’t I asked you?’ After each person answered a question we provided feedback to help the interviewee not only tell a better story but also deliver it in a more compelling way. Despite the initial challenges, we saw clear improvements with each round as every player gained confidence and relaxed in the hot seat. It helped of course that we were brought to laughter—even tears of laughter at times—by the disturber cards, which called for us to distract interviewees with buzzing phones and fire alarms or feign uninterested expressions as the interviewer. After the closer, we concluded the session by discussing our impressions of the game over tacos.

The Lessons

What did we collectively take away from this?

  1. Fight against the instinct to just directly answer a question (like the typical interviewee would). Always think about how you can weave in some personal story to showcase the skills and experience you possess.
  2. Make a list of experiences and anecdotes you can draw from during interviews. Then, when you’re under pressure in an interview, all you have to do is tailor these anecdotes to the specific questions being asked. You’ll be more familiar with your stories and can deliver them with confidence.
  3. Remember that an interview isn’t just an ask-and-answer session but a conversation, and you can use external factors and unexpected occurrences to advance the conversation and forge a connection with the interviewer. Often, interviewers apply the airport test when deciding who to hire: if they were stuck at an airport waiting for a flight, would they want to spend a few hours talking to you?
  4. The content of your story is only half of the recipe; delivering your message in a compelling and memorable way is just as important.

Do you feel ready to ace that upcoming interview? Are you interested in trying a new approach and having fun while preparing for it? Check out StoryMason, build your identity, gain confidence, and create a story that your interviewer will remember.

CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER: INSIGHTS FROM OUR JULY 2017 INNOVATION SHOWCASE

Here at refine+focus, we thrive in spaces that encourage sharing and empathy. This July’s “Curiouser and Curiouser” event fostered exactly that.  

THE EVENT

This month’s event brought together political theorists, startup developers, social impact investors, and more to share ideas that were all driven by our presenters’ passions. With presentations in realms ranging from technology to social justice, the evening was marked by a list of outstanding ideas we were eager to share.

 

HOW IT WORKS

This month’s event followed the same format as May and June’s evenings, with each attendee bringing an idea that excited them and sharing it with the rest of the group in three minutes or less.

  1. Eduardo Pujol – A voice-powered ring that harnesses the power of bone conduction to turn your finger into a smartphone
  2. Daniel Goez – Science writer Ed Yong’s TedTalk reveals there may be bacteria that dictate what we eat, what we desire, and how we behave
  3. Aaron Hatley – Design thinking distilled into a toolkit with The Historical Thinking Project
  4. Aishwarya Nataraj – A San-Francisco startup protecting rainforests by allowing trees to talk

  5. Taylor Wilson – The rise of influencer marketing in the Arab world
  6. Zach Braiker – How do we use technology to recreate sacred spaces?
  7. Ethan Kopit – Machine learning and artificial intelligence combine to assist with sales
  8. Yousof Naderi – Extracting meaningful interactions through deep learning and personalized mentorship
  9. Jorge Sanabria – As 3D Interfaces are becoming more natural, how do we interact with them?
  10. Toria Rainey – Adobe’s “Playful Palette” blends together the physical and digital arts of painting
  11. Vilas Dhar – How do we empower individuals to overcome the disconnect between their needs and the services available to them?
  12. Basel Fakhoury – Integration tools like Zapier and Ifttt allow innovation to be about connecting again
  13. Eder Machado – What if there was an app that took away the frustration of grocery shopping by giving you layouts of popular grocery stores?
  14. Rebecca Redelmeier – Using hints from the classic film to allow computers to understand language with the Wizard of Oz experiment

AN OPEN INVITATION

We’ll be announcing next month’s event in the near future, so keep an eye out if you’d like to be a part of these inspiring evenings.

Did any of the ideas you read spark a new one within you? Do you have ideas of your own you want to share? If you’re a curious person and interested in attending our future “Curiouser and Curiouser” events, feel free to send us a message at hello@refineandfocus.com.

Cover photo by Jonathan Simcoe

Curiouser and Curiouser: Insights from our June 2017 Innovation Showcase

Our third iteration of the “Curiouser and Curiouser” innovation showcase was all about connections. Each attendee came with an idea, and left with new and multiple contacts.

 

THE EVENT


With perhaps our most diverse group of attendees yet, June’s “Curiouser and Curiouser” event introduced biotech entrepreneurs to professional visual artists, nonprofit leaders to business school Deans, and more. Amidst a backdrop of light jazz music, attendees were introducing themselves, conversing, and learning from one another even before the sharing officially began.

HOW IT WORKS


This month’s event followed the same format as April and May’s evenings, with each attendee bringing an idea that excited them and sharing it with the rest of the group in three minutes or less.

WHAT WE DISCOVERED


If you’re curious about what ideas were shared that night, read on; we’ve recapped them all for you in this list:

  1. Zach Braiker – Predicting the future by looking into the past
  2. Joshua Redstone – a more accurate measuring cup designed with thought and purpose
  3. Sven Karlsson – a method of manufacturing platelets from stem cells
  4. Marlon Forrester – using the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway as an active space, engaging large audiences with interactive art installations
  5. Jorge Sanabria Wireless energy is growing in commercial viability
  6. Greg Harris – Raymond Carver’s Cathedral come to life in an iPhone app that connects blind people to sighted volunteers
  7. Laura Teicher – Urban curbside compost would be worth the cost  
  8. Toria Rainey – a playground in Lexington, MA, devoid of function and dedicated to imagination
  9. Henrik Totterman – A one-stop solution for business management software
  10. Nikin Tharan – Device sensors that allow predictive actions for at-home surgical drain management
  11. Eduardo Pujol – The sport of the future doesn’t have a ball, a stick, or a field
  12. Purnima Thakre – The Airbnb of home cooking
  13. Megha Dahiya – A cutting board for perfectionist chefs of all skill levels
  14. Daniel Goez – The distributed database that lets you build smarter contracts  
  15. Sadaf Atarod Edible water bubble that eliminates plastic bottles altogether

 

BONUS CONTENT:

In addition to the idea Zach Braiker shared about predicting the future by looking to the past, he implored the room to give their own predictions about something that would be true in or by the year 2080. Here’s what we came up with:

In 2080…

  • “You’ll be able to pick your facial features.” – Zach
  • “There will be a permanent colony on mars.” – Sven
  • “You’ll be able to choose your skin color, including bioluminescent skin tones.” – Marlon
  • “The average worldwide IQ will decrease.” – Jorge
  • “The world will operate with a barter system because production of goods will become entirely automated.” – Greg
  • “Clothes will just be holograms, because they’re more sustainable to project than to make.” – Laura
  • “Coding will be taught in the American public elementary school system.” – Toria
  • “The innovation hub of the world will move to Africa.” – Nikin
  • “The edible water bubble idea will be feasible and commonplace.” – Eduardo
  • “We will be able to transport ourselves the Star-Trek way, through dematerialization and rematerialization.” – Purnima
  • “Traffic jams will be present not only on earth’s highways, but in the air and in space.” – Megha
  • “Social media won’t exist.” – Sadaf

 

AN OPEN INVITATION

We’ll be announcing next month’s event in the near future, so keep an eye out if you’d like to be a part of these inspiring evenings.

Did any of the ideas you read spark a new one within you? Do you have ideas of your own you want to share? If you’re a curious person and interested in attending our future “Curiouser and Curiouser” events, feel free to send us a message at hello@refineandfocus.com.

 

Cover photo credits: Ewan Robertson

How Not to Fear Digital Transformation

With constant and accelerated technological developments, it’s clear that digital marketing is at the forefront of the marketing industry.

While it’s definitely important to watch for the latest trends, we at refine+focus also value looking back every once in awhile to understand how we got to where we are, so we were intrigued when we found two articles on the past and present of digital marketing.

In the same divide-and-conquer fashion we used in last week’s meeting, we split up both articles and assigned each member of our team to one section. After reading and analyzing each section, we came together and shared a summary of our findings.

The first article, from Edelman, is titled “Digital Transformation Journey.” This article both chronicles technological developments that shook up the marketing industry, and gives brands the secret weapons they need to combat marketing disruptions.

To start, Daniel Goez took us through how the digital marketing transformation began. By the mid-2000s, the infrastructure of the internet was in place. That foundation was built upon by social media, which we saw through the rise of Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter. A few years later, companies realized that in order to be relevant, they must first be mobile. At the head of this realization was Mark Zuckerberg, making Facebook one of the first companies to harp on the mobile trend.

Now, there are three main disruptions forcing brands to further develop their digital transformations. First, customers today are expecting more engagement–53% of customers expect a social customer service response in one hour or less. Secondly, with media channels now fragmented and defined, they are waging a war over how much of our attention any one channel can get. Lastly is the rise of an activist economy. Activism will keep driving how and where companies invest. 

Picking up from there, Megha Dahiya explained how companies can actually digitize their transformation. There is no single quick-fix for a successful digital transformation. Rather, successful digital transformation journeys are often long-term commitments driven by the realization that people are at the core of success. When companies start with focusing on people, the transformation follows. That’s because digital transformation is everyone’s job. Success calls for evaluating roles and responsibilities, and requires both an executive champion in the organization to navigate internal dynamics and a driver who coordinates the resources to get it done.

Although every journey is specific to each unique company, Edelman does provide some common and effective methods of accelerating digital transformation. First, develop a common vision to create consensus and alignment. Second, identify, prioritize, and measure key pilots with clear outcomes that identify areas of improvement to form a strategy. Lastly, be sure to align your brand internally to avoid creating problems siloed within your organization that just don’t add up.

The second piece we focused on was a list from Convince and Convert titled “11 Companies That Are Killing It with Their Digital Marketing Campaigns.” This list breaks down the brands at the forefront of the digital marketing world right now and analyzes what’s working for them.

Toria Rainey highlighted the unique successes of the first five companies on the list. First was Zappos, a company who proves that with heavy investments in effective online marketing campaigns come measurable results, and with measurable results comes success. Next was American Express (AMEX), a company that is showing us that the creator of your content can be anyone. Through their website Open Forum, industry experts can write and share brilliant and helpful content that American Express doesn’t need to pay big bucks for.

Next on the list was Mint, a niche app for personal finances. While Mint invests quite a lot of money into quality content marketing, their commitment to excellence certainly paid off–Mint was sold to Intuit for $170 million. Following that was the Dollar Shave Club, a company using cheeky marketing and a lighthearted launch video to stand out in people’s minds. Next on the list was The Wirecutter, a genuine and trustworthy affiliate marketing site that was recently acquired by the New York Times for $30 million.

Andres Jaramillo continued going over the list, picking up again with Slack, a company who cares more about selling their customers a solution rather than a product. Following that was Airbnb, a company who has excelled in creating demand for their service by generating interest with unique, related content. Next up was JetBlue, a prime example of a company using social media to listen rather than broadcast. JetBlue’s twitter feed is remarkably interactive, allowing them to build customer rapport and confidence. Next on the list was Yelp, a company focused on building both a trustworthy brand and a trustworthy community.

Following that was Mastercard, a company who proved patience is a virtue when they perfectly timed a social media release to coincide with the Cubs winning game seven of the World Series. Lastly was Uniqlo, a Japanese company that aims to be much more than a fashionable brand. Uniqlo engaged with customers by teaching them about their new HEATTECH clothing technology with an interactive approach, proving that by taking control of your brand story, you can alter how your customers see your brand.

Eduardo Pujol finished up the article by presenting six other social media superstars. First up was Doctor Who, a British cult classic show with a bulletproof media presence on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram. Second was the Shelter Pet Project, an organization that launches cute and clever campaigns to reduce the number of animals killed in overcrowded shelters to zero. Next was Porsche, who, with six Canvas ad campaigns optimized for mobile, racked up 15 million impressions and 2 million video views.

Next was anti-tobacco organization truth’s #catmageddon, a campaign that played on American’s love for pets with a new study that found cats whose owners smoke are twice as likely to get cancer. Next on the list was Sharknado 3. No, really. This cheesy SyFy channel movie franchise effectively used Twitter to hype excitement and get people talking about the film. Rounding out this list was Taco Bell, who used their social media presence to convince Apple to roll out a new taco emoji in iOs 9.3.

BONUS CONTENT:

We couldn’t wait until June 27th for the next “Curiouser & Curiouser” event, so we decided to celebrate the end of the workweek by adding a mini “curiouser”-style conversation to the tail end of last Friday’s meeting. Here’s what we shared:

Megha Dahiya – An innovative coating that can both get all the ketchup out of the bottle and prevent buildup in oil pipelines

Daniel Goez – The intersection of gamification and philanthropy can save the world

Andres Jaramillo – DIY Virtual Reality viewer, as popularized by Google Cardboard

Toria Rainey – The world’s first fully accessible waterpark, complete with air-powered waterproof wheelchairs

Eduardo Pujol – An awards show that honors the best short-form content across the social web.

Getting Ahead: Learning 2017 Internet Trends

It’s the beginning of summer, and many professionals in the marketing industry know what that means; it’s time for Mary Meeker’s annual internet trends report.

Some skim this report, some read “best-of” articles and summaries, and some painstakingly go through the 355-slide deck in detail. At refine+focus, we decided to tackle the report a little bit differently. We divvied up the content and assigned one member of our team to each section. After reading and taking notes on our section, we came together and each shared a five-minute summary of the things that interested us the most. That’s what we’re bringing to you.

This year’s report is a 355-slide deck that covers a wide array of topics, like gaming, commerce, China’s internet trends, India’s internet trends, healthcare, and the cloud.

Slide #9 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker

Zach Braiker covered trends in online advertising. The growth rate of the internet is about 10 a year, with currently 3.6 billion users. Those 3.6 billion spend 5.6 hours a day on the internet. This shift has allowed advertising to shift from television to internet ads (especially mobile internet) in the form of contextual ads on Facebook, targeted pins on Pinterest, and product listing ads on Google.

Toria Rainey and Daniel Goez focused on gaming trends. Generation X and Millenials were born into a world with gaming technology in place. While this gaming-oriented-mindset is new, it does have its benefits; gaming foreshadows the next 3-5 years of technological advancements, helps develop valuable work ethic and skills, and primes society for human-computer interaction. In short, gaming is making us better at what we do.

Slide #114 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker

 

Eduardo Pujol spoke about trends related to the cloud. A breakdown of the labor in cloud services revealed that the number of developers remained more or less the same, if not decreasing. Designers, on the other hand, have been hired in larger volumes. This change in designer to developer ratio implies a newfound importance being placed on design.

Slide #188 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker

 

Jorge Sanabria covered the booming internet in China. Ranking first in video game revenue worldwide, China is leading the charge in focusing more on social interaction in their technology, especially in entertainment. In addition to this golden age of entertainment, China is experiencing healthy internet user growth, setting the bar high for making innovation mainstream.

Slide #206 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker

 

Purnima Thakre focused on the ever-growing internet in India. With highest young population in the world (with 250 million students enrolled in school grades K-12), India is expected to have the most citizens in the peak working age around 2020-2050. With 64% of the population and 72% of the internet users under 35, India’s internet competition continues to intensify, allowing consumers to profit.

Slide #233 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker

 

Slide #268 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker

 

Megha Dahiya spoke about healthcare and macroeconomics in the US. With the digitization of healthcare, including digital and wearable health technology, health care delivery could be changing with more consumer engagement and faster innovation cycles.

Slide #289 – Taken from the “Internet Trends 2017 – Code Conference” by Mary Meeker

 

After we covered everything in the report, we had a brief reflection that spawned some fascinating questions to consider:

  • How do we place relevant ads without them being annoying? How do we master nonintrusive marketing?
  • How will Boston, a city known for its innovations in healthcare, change the healthcare industry?
  • What implications will the rising young population in India have on innovation, both nationally and globally?
  • Are people placing more emphasis on design rather than development because we’re becoming more and more comfortable with technology?
  • How can we modify existing services in an era of building revue from gamification without making them feel like gaming incentives?

 

Access the full 355-slide report here, or watch Mary Meeker give this year’s report at the Code Conference here.

Curiouser and Curiouser: Insights from our May 2017 Innovation Showcase

We just keep getting curiouser.

THE EVENT

Following the success of our first “Curiouser and Curiouser” event, this month’s innovation showcase brought together business professionals, nonprofit leaders, problem-solvers, medical students, and scientists to bounce inspiring, innovative ideas off of one another. The night was filled with ideas, all dazzling and fast-paced. With no more than three minutes per idea, there was never a lull in the room.

HOW IT WORKED

In case you were unable to attend either April or May’s event, here’s how the evening works. Each attendee brought an idea related to innovation that they are passionate about and shared it with the rest of the group in three minutes or less.

With so much room for attendees to think about what to share, we were wowed by ideas that took many different forms, ranging from riveting articles to influential social movements, from innovative websites to fascinating concepts, and beyond. Inspired by Thursdays at Berkman, a group that met in the early 2000s at Harvard’s Berkman Center to share innovative ideas on technology and civic life, the event made for about two hours of inspiring, stimulating idea-sharing.

WHAT WE DISCOVERED:

If you’re curious, about what genius ideas were shared that night, have no fear; we’ve recapped them all for you in this list:

  1. Zach Braiker – How an Acton restaurant is allowing those with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Autism, PTSD, or anything else that may require special accommodations to have a lovely and relaxing restaurant experience
  2. Greg Harris– An on-demand vending machine for short stories
  3. Scott Whitbread – How it’s possible to deem the impossible possible again
  4. Purnima Thakre– A zero-waste supermarket born from a barter system that encourages reuse of containers and drastically cut down garbage production
  5. Steven Biondolillo – why wrestling should be mandatory and how it works as an intensely physical bonding agent for uniting young people
  6. Toria Rainey – An online digital audio workspace that allows for global collaboration and easy access to music education
  7. Victor Bogachev – What if we could analyze the speech patterns of influential radical nationalist leaders and use those methods to spread messages of positivity?
  8. Raghu Appasani – An idea for an app that serves as a platform for both sharing stories about mental health and for creating safe spaces within corporations and institutions
  9. Glenn Morgan – Doing well by doing good: University Micro Loan funding to inspire students to get managerial business basics
  10. Varun Ramdevan – Helping peers (especially college-aged students) to recognize the value of time and the importance of regimen
  11. Jorge Sanabriathe “AirBnB for logistics:” A marketplace that connects small businesses with industry leaders with extra warehouse space
  12. Sadaf Atarod – How tracking positive and negative daily experiences can inspire gratitude and multiply happiness
  13. Shirin Mojarad – Tinder for Personal Fitness—what if there was an app that allowed personal trainers to come to you?
  14. Miryana Culkin – A pair of versatile shoe soles with interchangeable styles that allows for lighter traveling without compromising your number of footwear options
  15. Joanne Markow – We have a lot to learn from Japan’s overarching commitment to public service
  16. Sushma Madanbhavibrain fingerprinting technology: an unbeatable lie detector test
  17. Megha Dahiya – Little office space? Sensitive information? Paranoia? The world’s first voice-protecting mask for mobile phones
  18. Eduardo Pujol – The world’s most stylish, leak-proof, vertical lunchbox

AN OPEN INVITATION

We are absolutely thrilled with the engagement we’ve seen—so many incredible humans bringing incredible ideas to the table. We’ll be announcing next month’s event in the near future, so keep an eye out if you’d like to be a part of these incredible evenings.

Did any of the ideas you read spark a new one within you? Do you have ideas of your own you want to share? If you’re a curious person and interested in attending our future “Curiouser and Curiouser” events, feel free to send us a message at hello@refineandfocus.com.

Cover Photo Credits: Saulo Mohana (New York)

Because #TeachMeYouDid

That’s the tenet that sparked #TeachMeYouDid, a Star Wars-influenced social campaign that helps celebrate the Yodas in our lives—the mentors and teachers who went above and beyond to take us from students to masters. Everyone can participate in this initiative by simply posting to social media on May 4th, think of your very own Jedi master—a mentor, teacher, or anyone who “awakened the force” inside of you—then share a post on social media with the hashtag #TeachMeYouDid and explain how this mentor inspired you and/or contributed to your personal or professional growth.

What makes this campaign extraordinary, though, is the way it galvanizes the passionate Star Wars fan base to participate in civic and political engagement.

HOW IT BEGAN

The brainchild of activist and innovator Andrew Slack, the campaign first started in 2016 as a marriage between International Star Wars Day (“May the 4th” be with you) and National Teacher Appreciation Week. Last year, people everywhere—from YouTube stars to Civil Rights Activists—got involved by sharing their stories about those who inspired them.

MORE THAN AN ACT OF RECOGNITION

Teachers awaken within us the possibility to better understand the world around us and our roles within it, and that’s what Slack means by “the force.” According to Slack, the force is “the larger ethos of the universe, this notion of interconnectivity linked with the mystic and the mythological.” It’s inspiration, admiration, support, and love, all wrapped up into one. It’s not something you inherently understand—you need to be taught by those who’ve mastered it. So, when we publicly thank our teachers by telling our stories and by expressing our gratitude, we’re showing the world what matters most.

STORIES COMING TO LIFE

It’s not just our personal stories that allow for a campaign like #TeachMeYouDid to be successful, however—stories like those in Star Wars, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games, to name a few, are forward-thinking tools for enacting social change. “Stories really help us,” Slack explains. “They are mirrors to who we are and they help us see the things behind us that we wouldn’t see otherwise.” By seeing ourselves reflected in the Luke Skywalkers, the Harry Potters, and the Katniss Everdeens, we’re seeing the Yodas, the Dumbledores, and the Haymitch Abernathys in our own lives—those who stand behind us to propel us forward.

A NEW REVOLUTION

In our world today, it can be difficult to find avenues to catalyze societal change, especially in the realm of the American education system, but that is exactly what the folks at Imagine Better, a network-based organization led by Slack, aim to do through #TeachMeYouDid. “We’re elevating dialogue around what public schools need and what they need to be,” says an impassioned Slack. “It’s not just a call to arms for gratitude, it’s a call to arms to hold each other up, to say we need to do better, we can do better, we will imagine better.”

Check out the #TeachMeYouDid campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, or the official #TeachMeYouDid website.

Cover Photo credits: Aaron Burden

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