Spread across venues throughout the city, the week was filled with talks, workshops, demonstrations, networking events, and sponsored activations for thousands of forward-thinking creators, makers, emerging leaders and design enthusiasts to experience.
We kicked off day one with Kerry Washington’s opening keynote address where she discussed why she keeps returning to the stage: the unique allure of a live audience. We listened to Jennifer Salk, head of Amazon Studios, and Jason Blum, founder of Blumhouse Productions, discuss how they are rewriting the rules of media, and heard Daniella Vitale, CEO of Barney’s New York, share how their recent partnership with Live Nation has cemented experiential activations as the new form of currency among young consumers.
As the conference progressed, we participated in workshops that emphasized branded content needs to be adaptive and visible everywhere. With every brand and personality vying for attention, high-quality content is only as powerful as the way it reaches its audience: social media, online consumer experiences, live pop-up activation etc. 20th Century Fox, HBO and the NBA spoke about how their approach to content is being reshaped by changing consumption habits and increasingly specific audience interests.
In a session entitled “View from the Top”, Sara Blakely, CEO of Spanx, and Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, discussed the nature of leadership and values in uncertain, rapidly changing and quickly evolving times.
While it was amazing to see the likes of Pharrell Williams, Jennifer Garner, and Dan Barber grace the festival stage, our team enjoyed the unexpected and creative moments the mos. “Teamwork In Action”, a workshop presented by Post-it with Amy Edmonson, Harvard Business School professor/author, and Jennifer Suki, design principal of AL practices and leadership, IBM was transformational and showed our team a new way to generate a high volume of strategic ideas in a short amount of time. Nick Jammet, co-founder and CEO of Sweetgreen’s discussion on the future of food and flavour was enlightening as he walked us through his companies vision to expand into new markets. We had a picnic, went on a walk, and discussed the various ways brands can effectively support green spaces within their cities with one of Central Parks Arborists.
A fantastic week rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s most creative thinkers, dreamers, and innovators was capped off with a brilliant event at Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side. Built from the ground up, this incredible real estate project is an absolute triumph of culture, commerce and cuisine. The event was complete with a previewed tasting of Rhubarb, the first international opening of a UK hospitality group, where we experienced Chef Dan Doherty dishes.
Lead with purpose, Make time for play, Cultivate Vulnerability, Mine for Conflict, Measure Differently and Choreography Misfits. All of these messages were weaved throughout each talk, workshop, and discussion at this year’s Fast Company Innovation Festival and we cannot wait to test out the lessons learned!