It is really hard to relax, I will relax when I retire. For now the only real way to relax is to be busy on something awesome.
Please give us a brief bio of yourself.
Over the years I have worn many different hats. I started my career as an art director and then made my way into technology. I have gone from owning my own small digital agency to working for some of the best digital agencies in the world and even dipping my toe into the start up world. I am now the SVP, Director of Creative Technology at RAPP, I find it incredibly rewarding to be able to work at an agency that embraces my years of experience and that challenges me with the ability to be able to contribute on so many different levels.
I would say that now I am a true creative technologist which is someone who can bridge the intersections of digital strategy, user experience design, digital creative and the technology that enables it all. My main focus is in digital marketing, social, mobile and CRM and experience design.
I am responsible for pushing the limits of where creativity and technology meet creating robust experiences that solve complex business challenges. Years of experience have allowed me to be fortunate enough to touch many amazing brands such as Humana, Time Warner Cable, J&J, Toyota, Clorox, Brita, Mattel, Disney Channel, Nestle, Gerber, Pfizer, Viagra, Novartis, Bayer, Google, Lifescan, StartupNY, Converse, Herman Miller, Sony Music, NBC Universal, Penguin Publishing, Newell Rubbermaid, Daffy's, Hershey’s, Microsoft, Intel, Fila, AXE, Perdue, Apple, HP and Samsung.
What do you do for inspiration?Inspiration is one of those funny things that tends to find you more than you finding it. I live in NYC, I also grew up here, and have always been inspired by the incredible amount of culture and life teeming in every corner of this place. It is one of the few places where you are equally challenged and inspired at once.
Inspiration introduces itself in all forms, I am constantly seeking it out mostly by observing how people interact with each other and the things around them. It is fascinating how we now live in a culture where technology can be something designed and crafted for all kinds of enhancement towards culture, utility and productivity. New tools and services invented each and every day. The velocity of innovation and invention is what inspires me most. To be a contributing part of that is what inspires everything I do.
Please list 3 of your favourite sites.
A few years ago I would have easily listed my 3 favorite sites but today that list changes daily. As I write this I would say the 3 things I am favoriting right now is the Human API https://developer.humanapi.co/login - this Beats by Dre spot http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_i3Lcjli84 and Twitter.
What do you regard as being your biggest achievement?
There are way too many to mention, I don’t think I can single out any one particular thing. My career is and continues to be a culmination of everything I have worked on over the years. My single greatest accomplishment hopefully will be my positive influence on my kids.
How many hours do you work each week?
Based on my time sheets I typically put in anywhere from 50-80 hours a week.
How do you relax or unwind?
It is really hard to relax, I will relax when I retire. For now the only real way to relax is to be busy on something awesome.
If you weren't working on the internet what would you be doing?
I would be a chef.
What's your favourite part of your job? What's the hardest part of your job? What do you do when you get stuck?
The best part of my job is watching ideas come to life. The toughest part is bringing them to life. You don’t get stuck, part of the job is to find ways to keep going.
What's the longest you've ever stayed up working on a project?
Hackathons aside, I once put in 72 hours straight.
What software could you not live without?
I cannot live without my iPhone.
How many projects does your company juggle at any one time?
A lot. Cant even count. There must be at least a fifty to a hundred projects going on at any given time.
In terms of software, is there anything new you have been playing with lately or that has impressed you?
I am constantly playing with new software. Right now I am really getting into Neo4j and Cypher, it allows me to better understand and get creative with graph databases and how deeply and creatively they can be queried. I am going to try and learn Swift this summer. Also really digging CodePen right now as well http://codepen.io/
Who do you rate as being the top 3 design companies?
This changes so often but if I had to choose right now I would have to say that I am truly humbled with what Fuseproject does. I am constantly impressed with Uber, not only in how they have designed their business model but how it extends to so many other verticals, it has become a channel unto itself. Quirky is really carving a nice niche for themselves. These are companies that truly embody design throughout the entire culture of the organization. They are redefining things in very exciting ways.
Has winning FWA awards helped you in any way?
Have you written any books, if not do you plan to?
I have not written any books but I have a ton of material that will materialize as something, I have had the honor to be included in some design books but I am still undecided as to how I will impart my wisdom to the next generation. Maybe a holobook or a robot who will interpretive dance my story. The future will tell.
Are there things you do OUTSIDE of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?
The things I do outside of work directly impacts everything I do at work. My family and the things we do keep me in the right mindset to stay creative and to constantly look in unexpected places for insight and ideas. Life lived reveals so much to work with.
What was the last digital effort you saw (or were a part of) that used social media in a way that really made sense. Why?
I will be totally biased here. We at RAPP recently executed a social campaign for HP that involved using the hashtag #72hoursofyes on Twitter https://twitter.com/72hoursofyes - We rolled out #72HoursofYes out over Las Vegas and the EMC World conference. EMC World attendees were invited to make a request via Twitter using our hashtag. Anything from a helicopter ride to spa treatment or a tattoo to show tickets and…you get the idea. The Yes Team received the requests and got to work on fulfilling them (ones that are within reason). Since the clock began ticking for the allotted 72 hours, the requests had been coming in fast and furiously. It was executed flawlessly.
The web is getting out of the web. Do you find that thinking in digital solutions alone hinders you? Do you feel the urge to solve the problem using all mediums necessary?
Every problem I take on considers any and all mediums necessary. Digital is no longer a singular discipline and has become so much deeper than it once was. I am thinking about mobile, social, experiential and any other medium that makes sense. Digital was once relegated to websites on desktops, now it permeates every aspect of our lives.
Looking 10 years in to the future, how far can websites go?
In ten years websites will seem antiquated. Mobile cards will seem old school, apps will be simply be dashboards and controls for the internet around us. The website as we know it will be a very different thing in 10 years.
Of all the websites you/your company have produced, which one are you most proud of?
We produce so much work, if i had to single out a few websites or apps I would have to say Gerber.com (and its soon to launch companion app) and the Brita+ app https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/brita+/id691029209?mt=8 there are a lot of sites I am extremely proud of but these two were massive undertakings that really allowed us to flex our creativity and technological aptitude.
What was the toughest thing you ever did with Flash? How long did you spend on it? Is it still online?
Do you think Flash is here to stay?
Flash? Feels like a lifetime ago.
There is perhaps a shift in web use these days. We are seeing a decline in the purely experiential sites in flash with huge production efforts, to a relationship with clients based on tools and services, that many times have simples interfaces. How do you see that trend developing? Will Flash suffer?
Flash experiences had its time in the sun. We were all part of a very special and fun chapter in the history of the internet that has sadly faded away. More adaptive, reactive, responsive and contextual data driven experiences have taken the throne and will continue to get better and better with every new bar raised.
What are your views on design/graphic school. Do you think someone can get into the field without educational experience in a school environment?
It may sound strange from someone who teaches at Miami Ad School but I absolutely don’t think it is entirely necessary to attend school to make it in this business. However I cannot deny the fact that the mentorship and experience that students can get from good teachers who want to pass on their expertise can be invaluable. I think that strategy and business skills are a great thing to learn and that it really depends on the person as to if they need the kind of experience an educational environment can give them in preparation for entering this industry.
How difficult do you find employing the right people in a world where everyone calls themselves a web designer?
It is extremely difficult to employ the right people. Especially in NYC where there are so many amazing companies all fighting for the best talent. In my experience it is much better to grow and cultivate talent and to give them the tools, mentorship and opportunity to succeed in a place that they truly want to make better.
What would be your ultimate vehicle to travel in?
The ultimate vehicle to travel in would probably be something Elon Musk invented.
How have you learned so many Flash/design skills and techniques and can you offer any advice for newbies?
My advice for newbies is to stay focused on any and all tools that will enable and support creativity. I have seen so many designers and developers age themselves out of jobs. A person must be constantly growing and improving their ability to make things no matter what the language, software or way of working.
How do you keep your finger on the pulse of the latest web trends?
I am constantly consuming the Interwebs. Twitter is a great way to stay abreast on the latest and the greatest but there are other places that do an amazing job in identifying those trends and methods that haven’t yet fully emerged but will certainly gain traction soon. I can’t reveal all my secrets but there is no shortage of ways to stay on top of latest trends.
What country excites you the most in terms of innovation?
Israel is dripping with innovation right now it is not as brash as the US but it is quietly making huge strides. We can’t deny the fact that the good ol’ US of A is doing a pretty good job as well.
There must be a project that you have always dreamed of doing, what is it?
I have always dreamed of working on a project that completely reinvents a societal norm. We all work on a lot of smaller things but it is truly all of our desire to touch something that completely changes the way people live their lives.
What does the future hold for your company, or you as a person?
What does the future hold? We at RAPP are at a very exciting time right now where we as an agency are really starting to produce the kinds of ideas, projects, executions and products that exemplify the way brands need to interact with the world today. Much of what we do solves complex business challenges through a variety of innovative ways and it is the totality of what RAPP does day in and day out that makes me confident that the future is exciting. There are few agencies out there positioned for success around what has been happening and what is about to happen in our industry, RAPP is definitely one of them. As a person I just want to continue doing great work and working with great people.
Any parting shots or pearls of wisdom?
We are so fortunate to be living in an age when creativity and innovation are at the center of cultural growth. We are the ones who are driving this machine and are ultimately responsible and accountable for how far the next generation will be when we turn off our phones. While we are all having fun, working hard and enjoying birthing ideas and making things for a living we must all remember how important it is to constantly raise the bar with every new thing we do. Always embrace risk and constraint to nurture innovation, seek out problems to answer.
It has been a privilege, thanks very much
It truly has been a privilege.