Social Commerce and Waze

Before I share all of the big ideas that I had the chance to glean from this year's SXSW, I wanted to post a recent speech I gave for the W20 Social Commerce Summit. It was a honor to speech to such a fantastic group of big thinkers, brand marketers, and digital innovators. I shared some of the initiatives that we're pursuing with Waze and how our partners are leveraging the Proximity Incentive Graph our platform is being built on. I even snuck in a couple pocket square and breakfast taco references. What do you think?

(Here are the slides so you can follow along)

Outsmarting Traffic Together

This morning I had the chance to join the morning show on KVUE in Austin to talk about Waze. We launched as their traffic partner less than a month ago and have been seeing a great response from their viewers and our Wazers.  We also dove into the feature on Waze that allows you to find the cheapest gas in the area. (If you don't have Waze yet, go get it HERE)

Also, have to say, happy that the camera guy kept my pocket square visible for this segment.

World Records

Growing up reading the Guiness Book of World Records,"I currently hold two world records" is a phrase I never thought I'd be able to say. But, as of last week and the official verification from judges at RecordSetter, it's true. I now hold two world records, both having to do with Pocket Squares. The very kind folks at Eton of Sweden were nice enough to let me use their gorgeous boutique at 58th and Madison for these record setting attempts as well as supply the Pocket Squares (my favorite place to add to my Pocket Square collection. Eton has some amazing new things coming this spring and fall.) Being surrounded by that much classy fashion, there was no way I could fail.

The first record: Most Pocket Squares Worn in 30 Seconds

The second record: Most Pocket Squares Worn At Once

Now that I've taken the plunge and have two of my very own world records (until someone breaks them), my mind has started to race with other records I can create/set/break.

What about you? Was set/break world record on your 2012 resolution list? Is it now?

Infinite Pathways to Creative Success

On one of my favorite trips so far this year, I headed down under to Sydney and had the incredibly unique experience to speak at the Sydney Opera House as a part of XMediaLab Global Ideas conference. It was a wonderful experience and some of the most fun I've ever had giving a speech. Afterwards, I sat down with author Brad Howarth to talk creativity, success, and Gowalla. I cover a lot of different ways that Gowalla has worked with brands and where we see the location based world going. Would love to hear your thoughts our conversation.

Part One (8:04)

Part Two (5:22)

Really? There is a debate about this?

I reserve my political and religious rants for those that I have an established rapport with and in settings that are conducive to conversation and respectful debate.  Usually.  But, this is a rant on a subject that hits too close to home for me, both in geography and in ideology, to wait for that kind of setting.

There is a group of Americans, New Yorkers, that purchased a building in Lower Manhattan over a year ago.  The building has been vacant for years and sold for an amazingly low price.  It is in a very slow part of the city without much action.  You have to be intentionally walking down that side street to even see the building.  These Americans want to renovate the building and make it a good spot for the neighborhood and a place that can revitalize this old building and this slow block in the city.

But, these Americans are Muslims.

So therefore it is an issue.

The absolute travesty of the "debate around the Ground Zero Mosque" is we even need to have this 'debate.' The fact that there are other Americans that feel that this is a contentious subject of conversation makes me extremely sad and extremely angry.  Sad that this isn't an announcement in the local paper but a debate that the citizens of the freest country in the world feel the need to have.  Angry at the misinformation and sheep-like behavior of its opponents who obviously haven't spent any time looking at the facts of the situation. The intentional ignorance and suspicions espoused by those saying that these Americans shouldn't have the same rights as any other American based on their faith is ludicrous.

The Park51 project is going to be a community center run by one of the most publically moderate iman's in the world.   Since the horrific acts of September 11, 2001, Mr. Abdul Rauf has decried the extremists in Al Qaeda and has been one of their most vocal opponents in the Muslim world.  The community center that will be housed at Park51 will be open to men and women, will have basketball courts and a cooking institute, and will also be a meeting place for the leaders of several interfaith communities that Mr. Abdul Rauf has been a leader of for years.

If could be said, that for those reasons, women and non-Muslims being allowed inside, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich share the same perspective on the project as Osama bin Laden.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was spot on when he spoke to the issue in early August: "If we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists - and we should not stand for that."

The best perspective I've heard on this ridiculousness of this controversy comes from the media personality I dislike more than any other.  But, on this subject, and perhaps only this subject, Keith Olbermann and I agree. (Seriously, I really dislike this guy, but this is worth taking the 12 minutes to watch)

But, as a skeptic of the media in general, I went down to Park51 this weekend to see what all the fuss was about. What I found was what I had hoped (and known) I would find: New Yorkers of all walks of life going about their day to day, enjoying the freedom that we all have here in America.  The freedom that was, is, and always will be worth fighting for.

Freedom of Religion from Andy Ellwood on Vimeo.

Being Drawn

As I have began to hint at, I am a fan of the bold and crazy.  And specifically, the talented, or at least very brave, few that call themselves Street Performers. So, when walking through the Washington Square Arch this past weekend, and seeing a large sign reading "FREE," I had to stop and ask the guy what his story was. About 15 minutes later, Jared from The California Boys, had recounted the story that had lead he and his fellow caricaturist buddy to pack up and move to New York City a month ago.  They are making their way and making a name for themselves on the streets and at private parties for their great caricatures and "California Boys" style (even though they're from Hershey, PA.)  They figure if a guy can make a name for himself by singing in his underwear around Times Square, they can make a name for themselves drawing really good caricatures for free. I asked how the other caricature artists felt about them working for free and leaving it up to the person getting their portrait done whether or not to tip them.  He confirmed a suspicion that I have had for years: All those caricature "artists" in Times Square and Central Park: scam artists! Those "examples" they have posted up on their booth? Probably downloaded from the website of a world famous caricaturist.

As the signed said, "Tips greatly appreciated. Seriously, thank you. I'm one cup of noodles away from falling into the 'starving artist' category."  And for that I admire the hustle and the drive to get out their and create the next New York City street performer success story.  All in all, a great experience "being drawn" and a chance to hear another fantastic "we just knew we had to get to New York City" story.

California Boys - Caricature Entertainment from Andy Ellwood on Vimeo.