The Frontier Project's event design practice. This is our storyboard.

Stevie Toepke’s Three C’s

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She’s one of our favorite facilitators out there. She’s an awesome moderator, always knowing how to ask the right questions to get to the really interesting answers. She’s our culture guru at The Frontier Project. Get to know Stevie in the Q&A below, borrowed from our friends at The Creative Change Center in Richmond

How do you CREATE?
ST: I’m a four-time marathon runner, which sounds impressive, until you realize that running is just putting one foot in front of the other…over and over again. The accomplishment is simply in the stick-to-it-ness. Creating isn’t that different. You just try things and do it as an activity or discipline rather than an act of inspiration. Sometimes the result is crap. But if you do it enough, you’re bound to get something great every once and awhile. AND you learn to love the act of creating for the act itself. It becomes very gratifying, when the product isn’t exactly art.

How do you CONNECT?
ST: My uber young and hip colleagues accuse me of being a technical luddite because I do not tweet, instagram, flikr or post to Facebook like they think I should; however, I choose not to engage in those channels quite intentionally. I believe we have mistaken reach and platform for connection. True connection is personal and two-way and usually doesn’t doesn’t happen when we are all busy projecting the image of perfection we want others to have of us. Instead, I am a fan of meeting over coffee, connecting through volunteer opportunities, discovering connections over a glass of wine, or learning about our shared interests while we huff and puff on a run. Those are the spaces that allow us to express our hopes and fears that truly help us to connect with one another.

How do you COLLABORATE?
ST: I’m not gonna lie - this is hard for me. I am opinionated AND bossy. I get an idea in my head and I am ready to run with it and will wage serious campaigning tactics to get others on my side. Of course, that isn’t collaboration so much as it is influence or persuasion. I heard a great interview with John Cleese (for you youngsters, he was a founding member of Monty Python, which I hope to God still means something). In an interview with HBR, he was once asked to explain as a comic, how he collaborated with others. He referenced his movie, The Life of Brian (again, if you don’t know what I am talking about, for the love of God, please consult Netflix). In producing a movie about religion, he knew that if they tried to collaborate and agree on what religion IS, they’d never get anywhere. BUT, if they started with what religion ISN’T, they’d have a chance in hell of getting someplace. I follow that cue and start with agreeing on what something isn’t or what we don’t want and then suddenly it becomes easier to narrow in on the right direction.

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Everlane's weekender bag

We recently stumbled upon one of our favorite brands, Everlane, occupying a pop-up retail space in downtown NYC. Inside was a beautifully crafted lifestyle store that housed pretty much everything you could want - from clothing to housewares, iced coffee for the super hot day, grooming tools, outdoor gear, and more. Except none of it was for sale. 

The point of the pop-up was to drive home Everlane’s philosophy of transparency: that you should know exactly where the products you buy are made, and why they cost what they do. To wit, Everlane calls it “Radical Transparency - know your factories, know your costs, always ask why.”

A powerful way to drive your brand message home, activate advocacy, and gain customers.

- KC, in NYC

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By 2020 there will be 1.4 million jobs in computing fields — what a recent NYC report called the “tech ecosystem.” Women are on pace to fill only 3% of those jobs.

What is to blame for the lack of women who take positions in the technology ecosystem?

Well, we cannot point to just one thing, but one part of the complicated problem was floated by Girls Who Code founder Reshma Suajani (check out her book) this morning at Grindspaces’ monthly ReThink event. She asserted that it is over-commercialization and micro-targeting that has created a world where a singular focus on demographics and gender has begun to seep into our lives — even as the lines seem to be blurring in everyday life, our corporate culture continues to gender us into pieces.

In the race to develop the technologists (read: problem solvers) of the future she also shared that, “Niger, India, China, and Cambodia” she emphasized, “are ahead of the United States in teaching their youth to code.”

The problem is a microcosm of the overall inability of homogenous cultures to trumpet difference and diversity. Girls Who Code is part of a larger movement to democratize the inner-workings of technology. And, in my hope, help develop healthier interactions between humans and technology.

The business case is clear. Women are the dominant group of consumers and they will soon dominate the workforce. Getting more girls involved in tech is crucial to the success of any company.

I walked away with one question. Why is it that entrepreneurs (social and business) always lead the way to the future? What about the Big Boys — those Fortune 50, 100, and 500’s?

Let’s get to answering that question.

Diversify or Die.

- Ibrahim

Meeting culture has gotten a little out of hand. As a society, we’re increasingly spending more time around conference tables and on phone calls rather than simply rolling up our sleeves and getting our work done.

Here’s a little throwback Tuesday to Jason Fried’s TED talk on why work doesn’t happen at work (too many meetings, too many distractions). If you can find 15 minutes between your next two meetings, it’s worth the time.

We understand that some meetings are inevitable. But, the next time you find yourself scheduling a meeting, stop and ask yourself these questions to make sure you are spending the time efficiently.

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