My W2O Group Journey: Transition from Intern to Full-Time Employee

Posted by: in Culture, employee archetype, Employee Interviews, Inside WCG, Intern/Internship, Interns/Internship, w20 group on February 8, 2016

Even though I can only assume, I think it is safe to say that most people with college degrees can relate at least a little to the job search conundrum facing recent graduates. Just six months ago, I was in that position myself. I had applied to many different internships and jobs over the course of a few months, but had not gained much traction. I was beginning to get a little nervous about my options after graduation, and then I found W2O Group. W2O Group was willing to take a chance interviewing an internship candidate without a degree in communications, but instead in Spanish Literature. Although I cannot deny my love of Garcia Marquez and Cervantes, something told me that I would not go on to write the next great Spanish novel. So I dove head first into the interview process, fully embracing the chance to work at an innovative company like W2O.

Andrew Echeguren and his rock-star team

Andrew Echeguren and his rock-star team

After the hiring process, I moved back home to San Francisco and walked excitedly through the doors of 60 Francisco St. thinking that I was about to embark on a two and a half month PR journey. I was wrong on multiple accounts. Instead of focusing solely on PR, my internship at W2O Group engaged me in many roles within the company. During the internship, I was able to combine account management experiences with media relations work, all while collaborating with my fellow interns to complete a challenging yet rewarding intern project.

All these experiences made a lasting impression on me, and I made it clear to my supervisors that I loved working at W2O Group. At this point, I knew my destiny of becoming the next Garcia Marquez was not in the cards just yet, and that instead I wanted to become a full-time employee of W2O Group. Thus, in addition to clearly communicating my aspirations to my colleagues and mentors, I worked hard to establish myself as an important member of my teams. All the hard work I put forth paid off, and I still clearly remember the day when I accepted an offer to become an Account Associate in the Tech Practice here. One of my coworkers even organized a welcoming party for me, which is when the thought crossed my mind, “This is the place for me, because they value what I can contribute to the company, but also, more importantly, who I am”.

After completing my internship, I transitioned into a more account management focused role, and I feel like I have grown tremendously, both professionally and personally, in these first few months. Truthfully, if someone had asked me six months ago if I had planned on doing what I do now, I would not have even understood my current job title. That just goes to show how much one can learn with hard work and support from the right people. After these first six months working here, I can safely say that this beats reading and writing about Don Quixote’s adventures in Spain (despite how awesome they are), and that I am even more excited about the next six months here at W2O Group than I was on my very first day.

Andrew Echeguren is now an Account Associate at the W2O Group office in San Francisco. Learn more about him on LinkedIn and at @therealbigech .

Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

Millennials Unplugged: The Super Bowl Edition

Posted by: in Millennials Unplugged, Social Media Insights & Trends, Storytizing, Thought Leadership on February 6, 2016

We conducted a survey of 37 Millennials this week to learn more about the relevance of the Super Bowl in their lives.  Some pretty cool insights.  Here’s what we learned.

Commercials Only vs. Game Only — if Millennials have to choose between just watching commercials or just watching the game, they are evenly divided.  Either way, they are entertained.

When We Watch Ads – if you are a millennial in college, you start watching super bowl videos and available ads the week before the game.  If you are working post-college, there is a strong preference to watch videos and ads the week after the game.  Very interesting.  Basically, if you are in school, you have more time on your hands and you walk by a lot of pre-game promotion within the University, so you’re more active pre-game.  If you are working for a living, you don’t have as much free time anymore, so it’s perfectly cool to let the marketplace decide who the winners and losers are…..and then they benefit from this crowdsourcing.

Make Me Laugh….or I Don’t Care As Muchthe Super Bowl is an evening of entertainment.  In that spirit, millennials overwhelmingly want commercials that are funny.  Commercials that are emotional or educational are not their choice.  And if you make millennials laugh, you then earn the right to add in some education or emotion.   Brittany literally laughed at this insight as she said “If I’m with my friends, I want to hear a beer commercial that is funny.  I don’t want to hear about all of the side effects of a new drug during the Super Bowl.”

Rethink What $5MM Can Do in the World – we always say that millennials are growing up to be aware and concerned citizens of the world.  Slightly more than 50% said they thought $5MM for a 30 second commercial is not worth it.  So we asked them to make a choice on what they would do with this money.  Overwhelmingly, they said they would choose to build 714 water wells in Malawi and Mozambique at $7,000 per well or pay the utility bill for 20,000 families in February ($250 per family) rather than create a commercial.  This shows what an enormous opportunity there is for a company to have the courage to NOT create a commercial next year and, instead, help the world….and then let us know of this choice the week before the Super Bowl.  Someone will do this right in the future.

Olympics More Relevant than the Super Bowl –given a choice, millennials view the Olympics as a sporting event that gets their attention whether or not they like sports.

Ads Do Work – About 80% of millennials said they take action on an ad now and then.  Nothing controversial here.  Ads can work and always have if done well.

Broncos Favored Just Barely – by a vote of 19-18, the Broncos are the favorite.  That’s surprising to us since the quarterback for Carolina is a Millennial and the quarterback for Denver is Gen X.  But, of course, if Cam Newton scores a few times and does the Dab, Brittany and her fellow millennials will be pulling for the Panthers.  Bob will continue to pull for Peyton and will not understand that he just saw a Dab, since he can only remember “a little dab’ll do ya” Brylcreem commercials.

Now time to prepare the Nachos…….enjoy the game.

 

Brittany and Bob

 

 

By: Bob Pearson

Bob is the President of W2O Group, an independent network of digital communications and marketing companies. He is an author, frequent speaker and instructor for Rutgers center for management development. After the success of his book Pre-Commerce, Bob is currently working on a new book on the future of media titled Storytizing that will be available in 2014. Prior to W2O Group, Bob worked as VP of Communities and Conversations at Dell to develop the Fortune 500’s first global social media function -- an industry-leading approach to the use of social media, as highlighted in the best seller, GroundSwell. Before Dell, Bob was Head of Global Corporate Communications and Head of Global Pharma Communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. He also serves on a variety of Boards in health and technology. Highlights include serving as an original member of the P&G digital advisory board and being appointed by the Governor of Texas to serve as chair and vice chair of the emerging technology fund for the State of Texas.

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Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

From IoT to IoS (Internet of Signals) – The Promise of Radically Positive Impact

Posted by: in CMO, Pre-Commerce, Social Commerce, Thought Leadership on February 1, 2016

This post, written, by Dr. Augustine Fou (@acfou), Chief Marketing Science Officer for The Advertising Research Foundation is part of our CES-Inspired blog series.  This topic is our second — IoT, Internet of Things.  My related post is here.

ces #1

Source:  April 2015 http://www.slideshare.net/augustinefou/web-40-and-information-velocity-by-augustine-fou

What?  The Amount and Variety of Data Being Put Online Continues to Skyrocket

We are now 20 years into the Internet Age, the period of the most profound and rapid change in data and information in human history. The sum total of human knowledge is being put online and then made accessible to all through communications technologies. New information and data is also being created directly “in the cloud.” This process is not only continuing to accelerate, it is also being further automated to the point that getting information on the Internet is virtually effortless. This means the amount and variety of information will grow exponentially, unabated.

Over the years, it has become so easy to share text, pictures, and videos online via blogs, sharing sites, and social networks that the mainstream public is doing these activities daily. As mobile devices, especially smartphones, have hit majority among mainstream consumers, other forms of data such as geolocation is also being collected and used online for things like Google Maps, but also for targeting advertising. In recent years, as voice command assistants like Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft), Alexa (Amazon) and OK Google! become more mainstream, voices and spoken human commands are new data sets being used in the cloud. And as more consumers use wearables such as Fitbit, Apple Watch, Samsung Gear, and Google Fit, biometric data gets uploaded to the cloud automatically. Finally, more internet-connected, smart “things” like lightbulbs (Philips Hue), thermostats (Nest), and “nanny-cams” will bring new sets of “ambient data” online automatically.

So What?  The Signals from This Internet of Sensors Could Have Radically Positive Impact

This means that the flow of information TO the Internet and FROM the internet will be constantly growing, and the distinction between offline and online will continue to blur. The Internet of Things can be thought of as an Internet of Sensors that bring new and different kinds of data online. But what is more important, according to David Kirkpatrick @davidkirkpatric ) futurist at Techonomy and longtime technology journalist at Fortune, are the “signals” that these sensors collect. These signals can be used at scale to create additional value and efficiencies. For example, a network of connected thermostats can monitor ambient temperature, energy consumption, and whether anyone is at home — and with this data make adjustments to temperature settings and turn air conditioners on and off to optimize for energy efficiency at municipal scale.

Beyond the simple conveniences of connected fridges helping consumers order more milk when they run low or washer and dryers that know when to order more laundry detergent, the Internet of sensors will produce signals that can improve the overall health of a population or detect the spread of infectious diseases, automatically. For example, lead-adopter humans measure their own fitness with biometric sensors; they share this data anonymously to fitness-oriented communities online like Nike+ so they can compare their stats and achievements against other community members. And when there is a surge of people searching for keywords related to the symptoms of the flu, in the same city or region, it is likely that an outbreak is just starting. All of these signals are automatically detectable and usable, without the consumers having to take additional steps, like calling a disease hotline to report it.

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Now What?  Companies Must Find Ways to Create Lasting Network Value Without Walled Gardens

At CES 2016 in the first week of January 2016, we saw the beginnings of the “mainstreaming” of the Internet of Things, from smart refrigerators, to smart toasters, to smart clothing, etc. Many of these technologies remain in their own walled gardens because the manufacturers that make them are attempting to establish an ecosystem which they can own and control, and therefore best monetize. However, just like the Internet itself has proven so far, open source and open network — i.e. interoperability — is a key to unlocking much larger network effects or network benefits. So it may actually take a few more years of “thing proliferation” among lead adopters to reach a critical mass of connected things.

Once this happens, there will be a drive towards interoperability in order to increase the value that can be derived from the network. Once interoperability is achieved, then the proprietary value of individual networks gets diminished and waves of consolidation will follow. Before these future scenarios occur, companies can and should focus on the signals that are available already and run small experiments around creating value that lasts; in other words, for IoT/IoS to continue to proliferate, it must deliver more than simple conveniences. It must deliver value at the network scale, with the assumption that walled gardens are not sustainable long term and that complete interoperability is required to achieve the maximum network effect.

The question is exactly parallel to “How do you make money, when you don’t own the Internet and everything is free [to consumers.]”

By: Bob Pearson

Bob is the President of W2O Group, an independent network of digital communications and marketing companies. He is an author, frequent speaker and instructor for Rutgers center for management development. After the success of his book Pre-Commerce, Bob is currently working on a new book on the future of media titled Storytizing that will be available in 2014. Prior to W2O Group, Bob worked as VP of Communities and Conversations at Dell to develop the Fortune 500’s first global social media function -- an industry-leading approach to the use of social media, as highlighted in the best seller, GroundSwell. Before Dell, Bob was Head of Global Corporate Communications and Head of Global Pharma Communications at Novartis Pharmaceuticals in Basel, Switzerland, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. He also serves on a variety of Boards in health and technology. Highlights include serving as an original member of the P&G digital advisory board and being appointed by the Governor of Texas to serve as chair and vice chair of the emerging technology fund for the State of Texas.

Find me on: Twitter Facebook
Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

Digital Health Drives Conversation and Executive Engagement at #JPM16

Posted by: in Digital Health, executive insights, Healthcare Insights, Healthcare Technology, Innovation, Insights, Medical Communications, Social Media Insights & Trends, w20 group, W2O Group on January 29, 2016

From health information exchange and data blocking, to patient data access and industry collaboration, the key themes discussed at W2O Group’s 2nd Annual VIP Digital Health Luncheon–which took place alongside the 2016 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco–kicked off the event with a bang. With participation from some of today’s most prolific health IT thought leaders and digital health executives, both the onsite and online discussion reaffirmed the industry’s laser focus on achieving interoperability, fostering collaboration and enabling data exchange to improve patient care.

photo 1 JPM blog

https://twitter.com/robcroninNY/status/686667087016669184

From left to right: Jonathan Bush, athenahealth; Dr. Michael Blum, UCSF; Paul Markovich, Blue Shield of CA; Susannah Fox, HHS; Aman Bhandari, Merck

Historically known as biotech’s baby, this year’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference conversation was largely focused on digital health; CMS head Andy Slavitt’s announcement about the future of meaningful use notwithstanding. But just how much of the conversation was focused on healthcare technology versus biotech? As W2O’s technology practice leader, Rob Cronin, anticipated, this was the year that digital health surpassed the biotech conversation on social media—Twitter, specifically.

In looking at keywords related to the topics of digital health and biotech as part of the #JPM16 Twitter conversation, not only did the digital health conversation grow from 2015 to 2016, it nearly doubled. Additionally, it surpassed the biotech-specific conversation.

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Similarly, when looking just at hashtag use, #DigitalHealth surpassed #Biotech in relation to the #JPM16 conversation–two times over!

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Driving advancement across the digital health spectrum was the key focus of the panel discussion at W2O’s VIP Digital Health Luncheon as well, where Department of Health and Human Services chief technology officer, Susannah Fox, noted that, “if anyone has any big data sets, please come to Washington.” Fox added that she’d love to see if the investor community approaching integrated big data as the government has. “If you haven’t heard about OpenNotes, you should Google it,” she said.

As the executive director of data science and insights at Merck, and former senior advisor to the White House’s chief technology officer, Aman Bhandari spoke to the increasing demand for industry collaboration, specifically highlighting the need for organizations to rethink how they approach working together. “Collaboration in the form of strategic partnerships is key to driving innovation,” said Bhandari, and yet a majority of healthcare companies are still operating in silos.

W2O_AmanQuote_640x420

This disconnected approach is not sustainable, nor in the best interest of patients and companies alike, noted Bhandari, who highlighted that a partnership-driven approach to collaboration is especially critical given today’s increasingly value-based environment.  Fox agreed, saying that we have to be diligent in identifying new and different partnership opportunities. “Some of the best ideas are going to come from unexpected partners,” said Fox.

Assessing how far we’ve come–or have yet to go–in terms of health information exchange, Dr. Michael Blum, chief medical information officer at UCSF, spoke to HIEs as being “a necessary step in the right direction.” However, he also noted that a lot of the focus on HIEs’ successes is to make up for the lack of a unique patient identifier, a hot button—yet federally untouchable—issue in the industry. “I love it when I can now see a patient’s records. But the actual ability to move that data from record to record doesn’t exist yet,” he said.

photo 2 JPM blog

https://twitter.com/W2OGroup/status/686667618984435712

Blum also commented on what he called a “crisis” in terms of physician satisfaction under the industry’s new technology normal. “Physicians feel like they’re carrying the burden of the technology movement, and physician satisfaction is at the lowest it has been in a while. We absolutely have a crisis on our hands,” he said.

W2O’s panel moderator–athenahealth co-founder and CEO, Jonathan Bush—referred to the state of healthcare today as a “conundrum,” prompting the panelists to cite what they felt were the biggest opportunities and weaknesses. Sharing his own perspectives on the current challenges with data integration, Bush asked “where are the payers in this journey?”

photo 3 jpm blog

Photo Credit: Rasu Shrestha, @RasuShrestha

Blue Shield of California president and CEO, Paul Markovich, discussed the need for the digital health community at large to help drive standards development.  “It’s going to take a lot of collaboration from [payers] to do the not so sexy stuff, and help from you to drive standards,” he said.

photo 4 jpm blog

https://twitter.com/W2OGroup/status/686669210290798592

When it comes to data sharing, Markovich believes that “some folks just don’t want to give it up. Others want to but, have legitimate concerns, including data breaches. Our weakest link is whatever vendor happens to have that data. And it’s a point of sensitivity,” Markovich said, while noting that the ability to dramatically accelerate health plans’ willingness to share data hinges on the availability of truly secure third party organizations with which to store the data.

Fox agreed, while giving shout outs to the many others in the data exchange equation. “Payers need to get in on data sharing; in addition to regulators, in addition to EHR vendors,” she said, while also pointing out that the prevalent cultural issues surrounding data exchange should not to be ignored either. “I want to be in the pocket of the ‘we are not waiting” movement.”

As HHS’ CTO, Fox is charged with running the nation’s innovation lab and is currently focused on the Blue Button on FHIR, which she affectionately refers to as the cat door of big data. “If you can open a little spigot, open a little cat door and make a little change in the bureaucracy, it can make all the difference,” she said.

photo 5 jpm blog

https://twitter.com/W2OGroup/status/686670824275746816

Made crystal clear by the panel—and echoed by the rise of digital health in the #JPM16 social conversation–the ability for health data access and exchange to improve care and drive quality is great, but the industry has only scratched the surface. At W2O, we look forward to seeing all that’s to come. And if this past year’s digital health luncheon panel discussion was any indication, next year, we’re going to need a bigger venue—and twice the session time.

photo 6 jpm blog

https://twitter.com/W2OGroup/status/686733006061436928

Thank you again to each of our esteemed panelists – we’ll see you next year!

*Based on Twitter conversation analysis.

Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

Going. Ahead. With Gage: Interview with Colin Foster

Posted by: in Communication, Communication Strategy, Culture, Employee Interviews, executive insights, Going. Ahead. With Gage, Innovation, Insights, Thought Leadership, W2O Group on January 27, 2016

Colin FosterWelcome to another Going. Ahead. With Gage interview! I had the privilege of interviewing Colin Foster, Managing Director at Twist, A W2O Company, who shared insight on being a leader and how his teams operate. I hope you all gain some valuable insights and enjoy the read!

What are you doing to ensure that W2O Group is at the cutting edge?

I think the most important thing I’m doing is reinvigorating Austin. Austin has been the engine of innovation, change, new ideas, new models and new functions for the firm since it was founded. For example, Analytics was born here and has since scaled to virtually all W2O Group offices. Not only that, it has become one of the most critical assets for our clients and us as a firm. MDigitalLife was born here and is infusing itself into our offering. Right now, it’s focused mostly on healthcare, but we are quickly evolving the approach to help clients in other verticals.

My hope is that stepping up to lead Austin will accelerate our innovation engine and help keep us out front for years to come. The Austin “mindset” helps, as does the talent that’s on the ground, and I believe that we can incubate a lot here, scaling what works for the whole firm.

In a few words, describe what your team does for the company.

We have a highly diversified, matrixed company and I think my team is like a microcosm of that reality. I guess I like to think of my team as a geographically dispersed, super swat team of change agents.

In my “direct” team, I’ve got a healthcare engagement guru thought leader, a digital swiss army knife, an events magician and a digital strategy master wrangler. But to me, the idea of a team is actually really flexible. Building solutions for our clients require all kinds of people with all kinds of knowledge and experience. The way I see it, I have access to a whole firm full of people with super powers from offices around the world. Depending on the solution we are designing, I’m either leading or being led. I like the multifaceted approach to teams that we have in the firm; it keeps us nimble and innovative.

Thinking of your most successful current employees, what characteristics do they share?

They are highly accountable self-starter problem-solvers. Each one really owns what they say they are going to own, delivers on it, communicates and enrolls others in it and then moves on to the next thing. They are quick to share the good, the bad and the ugly so we can all learn in real time.

But there are so many layers under that:

There’s the willingness to take risks, the tenacity and persistence to get it done. There’s the pushing through hurdles and the energy to enroll others because nobody does anything alone in this company – there are too many great minds to tap! It’s this holistic approach that brings relationships and accounts to the next level. It’s why we keep growing faster than most other companies in our space.

How do you empower your employees to do their best possible work?

I give my team…my teams :)…a lot of room to succeed or fail. If you don’t fail you don’t learn what success really means.

I don’t like to micromanage or sit on their shoulders and direct their movements; be the master puppeteer. I learned my lesson on that many years ago. Doing that fosters an environment of complacency and reliance on me to make all the decisions. Wrong way to go.

If I see something veering too far off course and I feel compelled to step in, then I will. I think it’s key to establish that as part of the contract with the people I work with. It gives us space to diagnose the challenge and put it back on course together. But, I can’t always see things going off course. I work hard to build trust with my team so they pull me in and ask for help.

It’s also important for my team to establish stretch goals that push them outside of their comfort zones. It helps them learn and grow in new ways that they wouldn’t expect. I see this all as part of our contract and promise to each other.

How do you encourage creative/innovative thinking within Twist? 

It’s about setting a vision, showing my personal passion behind that vision, putting a structure in place to help us go in the direction of the vision and then getting hand-raisers to own and drive it. The key is not to over design the initial structure, instead give lots of leeway to the team so they can define it and make it happen.

A good example is my thinking about Austin. The office was in a place that it shouldn’t have been in and passion took over. I realized that I needed to harness my frustration and turn it into a solution. I noodled on that for a few days and came back to the office with a rough vision of four pillars to help get us on track. These four pillars evolved as soon as I enrolled the team and we got into a deeper discussion. People saw what I was getting at and coalesced around it, and then quickly started to own and shape it for themselves. Now the team is running with it.

Key lesson: you can’t just put a bunch of people in a room and say: “be creative, solve the problem.” It doesn’t work that way. You have to lay out a vision, set a good context and communicate a sense of urgency so we can figure out how to make it happen together.

What is the most difficult leadership decision you’ve had to make in the recent past?

Stepping up to lead Austin is probably my most recent difficult decision. I moved to Austin six years ago and I’ve had a pretty big hand in helping build it. But, my job keeps me on the road quite a bit, and I’ve used that as my excuse not to step in and step up. When I sat down to make my “list,” I realized that traveling was the only thing in the “don’t do it” column and the “do it” column was so much longer…

What did you learn from that experience?

Actually, I’ve learned that I’m in a constant state of learning. Kind of meta, I know, but as I gain experience I feel more and more confident as a leader. I may not show it, but I still second-guess myself, especially when I venture into the unknown. This applies especially to my global role, which is another hat I wear. Given my experience living in several countries working in global roles over the years, I know what I know about the global environment and I’m passionate about driving global business, but it’s a huge place and there are a lot more unknowns there.

As we look to evolve the firm into unchartered waters, I’m finding myself being stretched in totally different and unique ways. And now that I think if it, I guess I need to apply the learnings from my Austin leadership experience to help energize my global leadership role. Can’t stop here. I guess it’s in my genes to keep raising the bar, reaching it, then raising it again :)

As seen on LinkedIn

To read more Going. Ahead with Gage Interviews, click here!

By: Gage Grammer

Content and Community Specialist at W2O Group. Background in Strategic Communications (PR and Advertising) and Writing. I have a rockin' French Bulldog named Phantom!

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.