Outspoken Speakers Take On SXSW 2019

The SXSW Conference & Festival happened March 8-17 in Austin, TX and was once again an event not to be missed. There was no shortage of influential thought-leaders on hand, including these five Outspoken Agency speakers who shared their expertise and passion.

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Sam Polk
Everytable, Co-Founder & CEO

Sam Polk’s story is an inspiring journey from the go-go-go mentality of Wall Street to the grab-and-go restaurant business. But he didn’t walk away from life as hedge-fund trader to open just any ol’ restaurant. His mission is bigger than that.

Sam first started his nonprofit, FEAST, as a way to promote wellness through healthy foods with a human connection. But his passion didn’t stop there. He opened a fast-food style restaurant that offers fresh, made-from-scratch meals at affordable prices – we’re talking $5 in LA’s underserved communities.

Everytable’s mission is to change the fast food landscape just like McDonald’s was able to do so many years ago. However, this time it’s all about providing easy access to healthy foods for people who need it most.

His session at SXSW focused on solving the food desert dilemma in America’s low-income neighborhoods. Together with other social entrepreneurs, Sam discussed creative pricing strategies and educational programs designed to educate and empower residents of underserved communities about food decisions.

Amanda Parkes
Future Tech Lab, Chief Innovation Officer

Fashion and tech? These may not be two industries that you’d typically pair, but don’t tell that to Amanda Parkes. She’s a fashion technologist who excels at wearable tech, smart materials, and dreaming up other ways high-tech textiles can be used in fashion applications.

Amanda founded Skinteractive Studios in Brooklyn and she served as CTO of Manufacture NY, another Brooklyn-based business which is an incubator and production space for fashion brands and designers. Her newest venture is chief innovation officer at Fashion Tech Lab helping fashion and apparel start-ups and new technologies collide.

At SXSW, Amanda participated on a panel called “Blueprint: Finding Sonic Voice with Social Sound.” The session was light on fashion, but really heavy on tech, especially scaling social sound and pervasive tech for storytelling purposes. Music has always been a rich storytelling experience, but there’s a new ecosystem for social audio that’s changing how we produce and share music.

Jesse Israel
The Big Quiet, Founder

Imagine being in a space with tens of thousands of other people. Constant networking. Constant learning. You’d need a break, right? That’s just what Jesse Israel brought to the attendees of SXSW and it’s something he has done in the world’s most iconic locations.  

Jesse is the founder of The Big Quiet, which hosts mass meditations in cities across the world as well as large events. He’s led moments of peace at both One World Trade and numerous corporate events.

At SXSW, The Big Quiet led Pure Golden Hour, a sunset mass meditation with special musical guests Miguel, Bishop Briggs, Cautious Clay, and DJ Captain Planet. It was the first mass meditation at SXSW and thousands of people paused together for a quiet moment at one of the world’s busiest festivals. The event was sponsored by Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold.

Josh Levine
Culture LabX, Founder 

Josh Levine is on a mission to help companies create a culture advantage. That’s the topic of his new book, “Great Mondays: How to Design a Company Culture Employees Love.” It’s also the mission of his organization, Culture LabX, which helps companies reconnect with employees through great culture.

His book hinges on the thought that culture can create change in a business, a community, and even the world. Doesn’t a fulfilling and productive job sound more like a passion?

That’s what Josh lived out at his recent book signing at SXSW. He gathered with conference attendees to chat about innovative was to amp up company culture and field questions about exercises and tactics to take home.

Kimberly Bryant
Black Girls CODE, Founder & CEO 

Kimberly’s nonprofit, Black Girls CODE, introduces young ladies of color to computer programming and entrepreneurship in order to set them up for success at an early age. Kimberly founded the organization in 2011 and has seen it flourish from a Bay Area operation to an international success.

At SXSW, Kimberly’s featured session focused on securing the future for black women and girls in tech. The discussion was on technology and social activism, specifically related to women of color in STEM.

The presenters were a mix of current Black Girls CODE students, alumni, and other role models. Together with the audience, the group conversed on creating more opportunities and careers in STEM fields as well as how technology can power social change.

#ICYMI: Josh Levine's upcoming book "Great Mondays" Excerpt

The 6 Components of Company Culture

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of GREAT MONDAYS: How to design a company culture employees love.

What will it take to be a place people not only want to work, but love to work? A persistent and consistent commitment to designing culture. *Persistent* because culture is a core business capability. Don’t think of it as this year’s priority; it will certainly be usurped by the next shiny business imperative that comes along. *Consistent* because the best solutions come from constraints. Design is messy. Imagining, creating, and implementing something new is hard, particularly in business. (Just ask any executive who attempted to build an innovation team.) But by having a system in which to work, the tasks become much more understandable. And do-able.

The six-part framework in this book can enable leaders at all levels in all types of organizations to imagine, create, and implement a work-life that supports employees, customers, and business. It is a process that builds on its own momentum to become a self-reinforcing system. An upward cycle that will draw in the people who want to help an organization reach its purpose.

The first three components are about creating the vision for the culture, while the second three are about bringing the culture to life. Together all six create a system for taking an active role in the outcome of how people feel and are engaged in the organization. A system for designing a culture employees love.

Read more here.

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