I’ve had the amazing opportunity to attend the Collision Conference in New Orleans this week. As with many events, it was chock full of inspiration, conversation and a little bit of self-realization. I’m leaving NOLA with a renewed sense of mission, purpose and excitement for our industry and what we all get to do every day. There are tremendous opportunities ahead of us as long as we keep pushing each other to come to each day with open minds, collaboration and imagination. I’m inspired to go back and take a fresh look at our business to help capitalize on these opportunities while continuing to make a difference in our collective existence. Here are some quick themes from the thoughts that I scribbled in Evernote throughout the week.


For a tech-forward conference, I didn’t feel overwhelmed with new technologies that I’ve never heard of, rather there was an interesting trend that emerged throughout the conference. One around the holistic consumer experience and how to leverage technology have it come to life. Howard Pyle, CX & Design lead of MetLife put it perfectly when he said “The brand is the sum of all its interactions.” The future is about the value of time and the reward you receive for giving your time to a brand relationship. Having a holistic consumer experience allows a brand to truly realize how they use their consumer’s time wisely either by spending it or saving it (as Scott Belsky put it). But not only that, we need to focus on the individual relationships within this holistic experience. eBay’s CMO Suzy Deering says that “93% of shoppers want things that reflect the real them,” so you’d better get to know the real them to build a connection. The real challenge that I see here, is that our organizations are built on specialized systems focusing on an incentive that drives very focused results. What we need now is an owner of the holistic experience to guide the specialized departments with a more focused view of how they effect the entire experience.


As with most conferences in the past couple years, authenticity, empathy and transparency were front and center in the conversation with brands. The big discussion was around how company’s can foster these characteristics not only from their brand perspective but within their leadership. The discussion always comes back to the almighty dollar and growth. If we continue to reward our leadership and shareholders with the only incentive of money and return we will continue to build perceived soulless corporations with short term views. We need to change the incentive in how we lead, how we invest, and what we expect for “return.” By changing this incentive, we’re able to establish more emotive values like empathy and equality, while all working towards making a difference in the world. I think this is something that we’ll see some shifts in the marketplace as investors start investing consciously to “do well, by doing good.”


There was a lot of discussion around a few different verticals that are experiencing their models change from ownership to access. The multiple auto / mobility presentations discussed a future that we are just embarking. One where infrastructure, vehicles, consumers, and cities all work together to provide on-demand transportation with the right ride for the right situation. There is something about the access economy where the experiences are becoming more valuable than the things. With other technologies like VR and AR, our realties can be mixed with other realities or we can experience (or access) a world that we would most likely never visit. This type of access can be a huge driving force in getting people out of their bubble and building empathy for others in an immersive way. This access economy allows us to build the life we want as we evolve our personalities and human values.


LOTS of discussion around the future of AI, robots and humanity. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the words dystopian and utopian more in a three-day period. But it was a great discussion with more optimism than pessimism. However, there are definitely some warning signs on this future that we’re getting into. A world where there might not be enough jobs for humans, where the idea of being human can drastically change. We have built our societies on commerce, structure, and necessities. That may all change in the next 20 years. The one thing that everyone agreed on was, that our society is about to go through a massive transformation, but it’s up to us, as humans, to define those rules.


The powerful message that I heard repeatedly from Chris Sacca to Alexis Ohanian to Robert Scoble to Naveen Jain, is that the great thing about tech and about the world that it has created is that everyone has a voice and can make a difference. With an internet connection and a purpose, we can all make change individually, we can build a movement, we can start the next big company, we can effect billions of others. All we have to do is act and don’t be afraid to connect with people. Through the connections that happen across the internet, we can find other like-minded people to help change together. This is probably the most inspiring and humbling trends that I found. It is true, though. We are extremely lucky to have access to the rocket fuel of change, people and passion. And technology offers that to us.