Candid Conversations: Amanda Slavin

With a degree in education and a love for community-building, Amanda Slavin uses her knowledge and experiences for unconventional educational opportunities. As the curator of the founder of CatalystCreativ and Life is Beautiful Festival's IDEAS Series, Amanda knows how to cultivate learning experiences that both excite and inform through engaging speakers. As a speaker herself, Amanda understands the importance of sharing new ideas and engaging with audiences beyond her onstage appearances.

OA: What are you Outspoken about?

AS: I am outspoken about quite a few things! Mainly, I am outspoken about the fact that the advertising industry is shifting, and companies need to embrace and understand true engagement to connect with today’s consumer in an authentic way.  When it comes to internal shifts within the work place, I am outspoken about how work places and culture need to embrace femininity in order to thrive. 

OA: How has your recent work transformed the focus of your content when delivering a speech?

AS: I have always given talks about millennial trends and how that is impacting advertising, but it is much deeper than that regarding today’s consumer, in which we have segmented into millennials and the millennial minded (those who share similar values but are not the same age demographic as millennials).

The more work we do with brands, and test out the methodology of engagement I created during my Masters Year, the more we (at my company CatalystCreativ) see it truly working, and the more I want to share that knowledge with the world.  Since CatalystCreativ focuses on internal and external transformation in companies, I also have become more passionate about speaking about the importance of a feminine workplace and how by embracing femininity, work places can shift to be a space of vulnerability, creativity, and connection to develop more engaging experiences for employees and consumers.   

OA: How do speaking events help your growth?

AS: I have a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, and as a teacher, I absolutely love speaking to audiences.  It helps shape me because it allows for me to develop relationships with people I may not meet otherwise.  It also allows me to learn from audience members and what interests colleagues/potential clients based on their reactions and feedback.

OA: What would you like to see happen more often at events to engage with the audience?

AS: I would really love to see more openness around interactive talks and workshops.  My company CatalystCreativ has created a proprietary internal brand workshop called the Brand Acupuncturist Workshop.  This dives deep with brands to identify “pain points” and come up with solutions that optimize teams and develop creative campaigns, and these workshops provide opportunities for audience members to connect deeply with the facilitator, rather than sitting there passively.

OA: What has been one of the most fulfilling audience experiences at a speaking event and why?

AS: I absolutely loved speaking at The BizBash Event Conference about the work CatalystCreativ has done in regards to impactful experience and millennial trends, the audience was extremely engaged and so many people came up to me after and told me how much they learned from the presentation. 

OA: How can people become more involved with your work, whether that’s CatalystCreativ or your personal interests?

AS: CatalystCreativ has so much to offer when it comes to unique value propositions.  We would love to explore how to work with more brands starting with our internal service offerings and parlaying those offerings into external creative activations.  In terms of my personal interests, I absolutely love to write and facilitate workshops, moderate panels, and participate in conferences even in smaller ways than keynotes, as it allows for me to meet new people and share new ideas.

OA: If you could hear someone give a speech alive or dead, who would it be and why?

AS: Lin-Manuel Miranda.  After seeing him in Hamilton, and reading about him and his story, I am blown away by what he has been able to build for himself, his family, and how he has gone from a teacher in a classroom, to a teacher to the world. 

#ICYMI: Clint Smith for The Atlantic "The Lifelong Learning of Lifelong Inmates"

Lance leans over his desk, his round belly situating his body tightly between the wooden chair and plastic desk—both too small for someone with his girth. A collection of yellow notepad papers, their edges frayed after being torn from their original binding, wrestle alongside one another in his hands. It is a Saturday morning, and the classroom is small, and silent but for the friction of Lance’s papers and the grinding on the pen he bites out of nervous habit. His large fingers fiddle about the loose sheets, verifying that they’re in order as he mutters to himself, quietly reading his story aloud, restless in the anticipation of sharing with his classmates. Lance is often the first person to arrive in class, having rigorously prepared the entire week, perfecting his assignment so as to leave his peers impressed.

In this way, Lance is not so different from students I previously taught as a high-school teacher in Maryland. He is brimming with the sort of intellectual curiosity all teachers hope to see in their students. What is different is that this isn’t a high-school classroom: It’s a state prison in Massachusetts, and Lance is serving the 46th year of his sentence. Continue reading...

Check out more about Clint Smith and his works here.


Rave Reviews: Soon Yu at priMED

“Soon Yu recently spoke at our corporate Sales and Marketing retreat. His energy, enthusiasm, and love of business (and life) was contagious.  Soon immediately had the teams full focus and attention, something that is quite a feat with our team of opinioned and strong personalities.  He proceeded to take us through a fresh and innovative ideation session around our business, strengths, and signature moments which included a breakthrough ideation process. His ability to help our team take a step back from the day to day stress of a growing company and focus on the higher level value that we provide to our customers was refreshing and extremely insightful. I would highly recommend Soon to any business looking for a charismatic, energetic speaker who will energize your team while helping to bring clarity to the key differentiators that help to drive corporate success.”

- priMED Medical Products - January 2017

Visionary Videos: Gary Schwartz and The Ambient Hotel: IoT and Hospitality

How is the Internet of Things (IoT) impacting the hotel industry and how should hoteliers respond to the changing digital landscape. Gary Schwartz gives a keynote at the LA event. Gary's consumer insights related to the IoT reaches well beyond the hospitality industry, with detailed research and commentary on how any industry may continue to move forward in a connected, mobile world.

Candid Conversations: Clint Smith

As National Poetry Month comes to an end, National Poetry Slam Champion Clint Smith discusses his speaking opportunities, including the historical contexts infused into his poetry, thought-provoking audience Q&A, and the most fulfilling audience experiences.

OA: What are you Outspoken about?

CS: I want people to understand the way that history has shaped our current sociopolitical landscape, specifically with regard to racial inequality. When you understand the trajectory of American history, everything around us makes sense. The reason certain communities look one way and other communities look another way is because of decisions people enacted through public policy, and often through political or literal violence. If we fail to understand that, we fail to adequately understand our current social realities.

OA: How has your recent work [with poetry and/or your PHD studies] transformed the focus of your content when delivering a speech?

CS: My presentations move between social commentary grounded, historical narratives, and poetry. The poems often serve as the anchors throughout the speech that hold the narrative together. I don’t believe in a traditional keynote. I try to make the presentation dynamic by including art, education, research, and history lessons.

OA: How do speaking events help your growth?

CS: Every talk provides an opportunity to engage with a new audience about ideas that shape all of our lives. The poems serve as catalyst for a larger discourse that I get to have with the audience during the Q&A and from that conversation, new ideas always emerge. It’s great because, as a researcher and writer, I’m always getting the chance to hear new ideas about my work.

OA: What would you like to see happen more often at events to engage with the audience?

CS: I don’t at all mind people sharing viewpoints than are divergent from my own (as long as they are respectful) and I hope that people always feel free to ask the hard questions. It makes the event more illuminating and thought-provoking for all of us.

OA: What has been one of the most fulfilling audience experiences at speaking events and why?

CS: I love speaking to educators. I taught high school English before beginning graduate school and I know how important though often underappreciated K-12 education is. I have such profound respect for teachers and if I can help provide them with a toolkit to think more critically about the work, that’s an incredible privilege.

OA: How can people become more involved with your work?

CS: You can take a look at my website: and/or follow me on Twitter @ClintSmithIII where I’m always sharing and wrestling with ideas.

OA: If you could hear someone give a speech alive or dead, who would it be and why?

CS: I’ve watched so many videos of James Baldwin speaking, it would have been incredible to hear him in person. His ideas and writing have been transformative for me, so that would be a real treat.