Highlights from DDN’s Third Annual NYC Conference
Inclusion, Collaboration & Engagement Drive Conference AgendaApproximately 150 professionals were in attendance for Digital Diversity Network’s (DDN) third annual New York City conference on Thursday, November 6th at the Bloomberg L.P. headquarters in Manhattan. Also co-sponsored by Bloomberg, the event was themed, Convergence NYC: Inclusion, Collaboration & Engagement, and featured a speaker line-up of 30 diverse industry thought leaders from the realms of advertising, media, entertainment, travel, education, government, non-profit, finance, mobile, social justice and private equity. Following a warm welcome from Justin B. Smith, CEO, Bloomberg Media, the full-day agenda got underway with panel discussions, one-on-one “Tech Talk” conversations, and a luncheon keynoter. Panelists provided insights into: (a) workforce and talent pipeline development; (b) the New York City start-up scene; (c) mobile content strategy; and (d) leveraging digital media and technology to advance the public good. The Tech Talk conversations featured Stephen Ozoigbo, CEO, African Technology Foundation; Tiffany Pham, Founder & CEO, Mogul; and Jamal Simmons, TV Political Analyst & Co-founder, FLYCLIQUE. They shared, respectively, how they are using technology to stimulate economic growth in Africa; empower women; and motivate young people in underrepresented communities to pursue careers in technology. In her luncheon address, Eunique Jones Gibson, Artist & Creator of the Because of Them We Can™ Campaign campaign, shared how she has turned a passion into profit. Launched in February 2013 as a Black History month project, Because of Them We Can, features videos and photos of children as iconic African-Americans. It has become the most successful viral Black History Month campaign ever, and has morphed into a full-time year round project that now also includes historic Latinos and women of all ethnicities. The intimate event setting provided opportunities for attendees—entrepreneurs and corporate professionals–to exchange ideas and information and to make meaningful business connections. Representatives from ABC Disney, CBS, CNN, Code for Progress, Comcast Ventures, Galvanize Ventures, General Assembly, Google, IBM, MyFabFinance, NBCUniversal, New York City Housing Authority, Red Cross, Saatchi & Saatchi, Scripps Networks Interactive, Silicon Harlem, Syncom Venture Partners, Time Warner, Travel Noire, Uber, Vaudeville Ventures, Viacom and XO Group were among those in attendance and on the speaker line-up. In addition to Bloomberg, event sponsors included DDN’s founding partners: Time Warner, The New York Times, The Walt Disney Company; and Warner Bros. Entertainment; as well as annual corporate sponsors: Comcast/NBC Universal, Saatchi & Saatchi, and Viacom. Photos from the event are in the gallery
“No one cares about your career, but you.” With this statement, Ken Coleman, Chairman, Saama Technologies, admonished attendees of DDN’s “Succeeding in Silicon Valley” event to “take charge of their own careers by asking the tough questions (e.g., “Why was I not considered?”); and making it easy for your boss to give you negative feedback. You need to hear it in order to be promoted and to be successful. Your only job security is your reputation and your skills.” More than 150 people from companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, PayPal Salesforce.com, Wells Fargo, and the Black Chamber of Silicon Valley–as well as a host of entrepreneurs–were on hand for the networking reception and conversations on Thursday, October 9 at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California. Given the recent spate of media attention to the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley, the DDN event was focused on providing solutions and a view from diverse leaders who have cracked the Silicon ceiling and/or are opening the pipeline for people of color and women. They shared insights from their personal career experiences and offered advice for getting in, getting connected and getting ahead in Silicon Valley. Coleman, an iconic advisor and mentor in Silicon Valley, was featured in a one-on-one conversation with Michelle Fisher, Founder & CEO, Blaze Mobile and a DDN board director, during the opening segment of the event program, which also included a panel discussion with diverse tech executives who are leaders within their organizations. Prior to founding Saama Technologies, a pure-play data and analytics services and solutions company focused on solving the business insight challenges of the world’s leading brands, Coleman’s storied career in Silicon Valley included stints with ITM Software, Silicon Graphics (SGI), Activision and Hewlett Packard. He also currently serves as a special advisor to Andreessen Horowitz and advises Pinterest. Ken is a member of the board of directors of AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah Insurance Exchange, City National Bank, United Online and Entertainment Partners. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Ohio State University Business School. While maintaining that “there is a little bit of crazy in shifting to entrepreneurship”, he advised those who are starting their own businesses to “remember who pays the bills. It’s the customers. Above all else, you have to take care of the customers.” The panel discussion was moderated by Mark Horn, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Telecom, Media & Technology (TMT) Practice, and included: Laura Gomez, Co-founder, Vyv; Monica Pool Knox, Sr. Director, HR, CBS Interactive; Brian Patterson, Partner, Business Attorney, Gunderson Dettmer, LLP; Tyler Scriven, Chief of Staff & Head of Corporate Development, Palantir Technologies; Laurence “Lo” Toney, Partner, Comcast Ventures; and Robin Washington, EVP &CFO, Gilead Sciences, Inc. Following a brief overview of some of the recently released Silicon Valley workforce demographic data, the panel cited some of the reasons for the lack of tech industry diversity and made suggestions for addressing the issue . Among them were:
Insights from Digital Diversity Network’s Night at the Tech Museum
- A lot of tech companies think they are diverse because they are global. If you peel back the onion on some of the recently released diversity numbers and look at job levels and functions, the numbers are probably even more startling.
- The tech industry had been given a pass on diversity until someone (i.e., Jesse Jackson) shone a media spotlight on the issue.
- Having a better understanding of the customer will be the impetus for driving tech diversity.
- Adversarial approaches to driving diversity will not motivate a community of innovators.
- Be a continuous learner. Take a risk and try something different. Ask for help. Manage your brand.” — Robin Washington
- “Use your social capital. Network! Other entrepreneurs are your best allies.” — Laura Gomez
- “If you are interested in working for a company, use their product. Companies like to know that you use the product.” — Laurence “Lo” Toney
- “Believe in yourself, regardless of what is going on around you. Find your path within the organization.” — Brian Patterson
- “Seek the truth in yourself and your work environment.” – Tyler Scriven
- “Use your difference to your advantage. You might be the only one, but you will stand out.” — Monica Pool Knox
Complete Gallery HERE!Additional photos may be found on Instagram and Facbeook.
This observation from panelist Mina Seetharaman, Global Director of Content Strategy & Global Integrated Solutions, The Economist Group, underscored the consumer engagement proposition and was one of the key takeaways at Digital Diversity Network’s (DDN) Content Strategy Salon, presented in partnership with Viacom, on Thursday, May 8th in New York City. “Storytelling,” added Seetharaman, “is essential in order to inform, educate, inspire and connect a brand to a specific consumer.”
Much like storytelling, the Content Strategy Salon was designed to inform, educate and inspire diverse professionals in the digital media sector. More than 100 attendees, described by one of our Tweeters as a “great and powerful crowd”, were on hand at Viacom’s headquarters to establish connections –both live and on social media–and glean thought-provoking business insights from a panel of distinguished industry experts. The conversation extended beyond the walls of The Lodge at Viacom with more than 70,000 impressions on Twitter.
Digital Diversity Network board directors Richard Gay, EVP, Strategy & Operations, Viacom Music Group; and Dhanusha Sivajee, CMO, AOL Brands, kicked off the event with a welcome on behalf of our hosts, Viacom, and DDN, respectively. Kedma Brown, VP, Director of Integrated Production, Saatchi & Saatchi (and also a DDN board director) led the panel discussion on building buzz; viral and social traffic; and increased ROI for brands across multiple platforms.
Featured speakers included: Rosa Alonso, Creator & CEO, MiVidaTec.com and VP, Group Account Director, IMM; Michelle Lee, Chief Content Officer, Magnified Media; Karim Mawji, SVP, Digital Platform, Music & Entertainment Ad Sales, Viacom; and Mina Seetharaman.
Other key observations from our panelists included:
- Content strategy is about fan engagement.
- Buying “likes” is a double-edged sword. Consumer engagement, rather than the number of (meaningless) likes, is more critical to success.
- Know your brand and your audience. Avoid simply duplicating someone else’s strategy.
- Know your data.
- Latinos, compared to other demographic groups, don’t consume as much video on mobile devices so, depending upon your audience, a “mobile-first” strategy might not be optimal.
A highlights video from the conversation is forthcoming. Photos from the event are in the gallery below. Additional photos may be found on Instagram and Facbeook. Click on the photos below to expand and see captions.
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Complete Gallery Here
Video Highlights from the Content Strategy Salon