Introducing Jannik

Meet Jannik, one of our two trainees in Social Media Strategy, in cooperation with VCCP.

Jannik Schäfer has been working part-time at ad agency VCCP and part-time with us for almost two months. Now that he’s properly settled in, it’s time to make a formal introduction.

Where are you from, and what made you want to move to Berlin?
I was born and raised on the outskirts of Cologne, Germany and grew up always wanting to leave the countryside. While the beauty and calm of nature might be very enjoyable on occasion, the vibrant life of a big city does have its advantages for an energetic youngster. I left Cologne, as soon as I could, to study at a Business School in Frankfurt and found that it was not just any other city that would do the trick. I spent about a year abroad in Paris and have seen quite a few cities around Europe, but upon graduation was pretty firm on the idea that it would have to be Berlin next. The city combines many of the most important elements that make a great home for me. There are creative, intelligent, inspiring and crazy people, there is (still) affordable space and a hugely energetic subculture. Who would want to miss out on that?

What drew you into the world of social media strategy?
I have always had quite a good time on the internet. I started spending time online from about twelve onwards and never stopped exploring and trying to figure out the mechanics of it. When the topic of social media started popping up in mainstream media outlets, I was already sure that communication online was going to be the next big thing. I wrote my bachelor thesis on evaluating Facebook pages and social media strategy in general and discovered that classical scientific research hadn’t really caught up with reality yet. I have always, amongst other things, been interested in brand strategy and good advertising campaigns and so when I was offered the opportunity to learn and work with Third Wave and VCCP, it seemed like a great next step to me. It is probably not a shame to admit that I have spent a few hours on the social networks and the underlying mechanics of it all has often left me fascinated and thrilled in the light of untapped possibilities.

What would you most like to dig into during your traineeship?
I always had a gut feeling about what worked out online and what didn’t. I could pick campaigns or newborn web trends that would make it and ones that would fail but I never really had the knowledge to back up my assumptions. Besides the usual blogs there was never really an interesting source of knowledge I could turn to and so I was very glad to find that I had come to a place where people actually have a working concept. I wish to learn what it takes from all perspectives to make a good strategic plan come true. From the creative, strategic planning through to the real world implementation and execution. There is a lot more to be known about online strategy than what it says in the latest Top 5 list of social media trends.

What takes up most of your free time?
That is a difficult question for me to answer. I would say that as of now it is a very wild mix of things, as I have just changed cities twice within a few months and have a lot of settling-in to do. I would assume most of my time goes into enjoying friends, music, films and shows, (mostly) non-fictional reading, enjoying cold beverages with other humans and apart from that quoting The Big Lebowski. I’ll make sure to update you as soon as the self-tracking delivers new insights!

Give us a couple links that will helps us to get to know you better.
I made you a Top 5 (wink-wink):

Introducing Doro

An interview with Doro Halewska, our new trainee in Social Media Strategy with VCCP. Welcome, Doro!

Dorota Halewska, aka Doro, has been with us for a couple weeks now. She’s doing a six-month traineeship in Social Media Strategy with us and VCCP. This may be slightly belated, but nevertheless, we would like to officially introduce her with this little interview. Welcome, Doro!

Where are you from, and how did you come to be in Berlin?
I’m from a town called Stargard in northwestern Poland, not far away from the German border. As a teenager, I came to Berlin on a school trip and remember saying out loud: “I will live in Berlin one day.” Several years have passed, things have changed, but my wish stayed the same. So last year, after receiving my MA in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Warsaw, I packed my bags and well, here I am!

What would you most like to try your hand at during your six months with us and VCCP?
I was really excited about getting into this traineeship with VCCP and Third Wave. I would love to get more insights into the creative and strategic side of the game, lay the foundations in both strategic planning and consulting. Apart from that, my goal is to become a fully fledged social media strategist, team up with an open-minded client and create a great social media campaign that will change the course of the digital advertising history. (Ideally.) I love playing with languages; I happen to know three of them at the moment. I’ve always wanted to do some copywriting work so maybe I’ll be lucky enough to sit at that table, too.

Since you’re now working in social media and advertising, what’s your favorite social media campaign?
My favorite ad campaign on social media so far was created for a Polish pharmaceutical company selling… you’ll learn that at the end of my answer. It was a viral campaign, launched on social media (as a Facebook fan page) and in the form of traditional printed media. The title of the fan page was “Nie biegam” (the literal translation would be “I don’t run”). This was the slogan on every poster in the biggest cities in Poland. Couch potatoes all over the country liked it on Facebook, believing it was just another common interest fan page for expressing their distaste for jogging as a form of exercise. In a very short time, the campaign managed to attract a very – no, let me rephrase that – VERY significant number of fans. After some time, the responsible advertising agency made its next move… and updated the FB fan page title: “Nie biegam do toalety. Mam Stoperan” (or “I don’t run to the bathroom. I have Stoperan” – Stoperan is an antidiarrhoeal product in Poland). I just love how the creatives played a trick on so many people who actually fell into this trap.

What do you get up to outside of work?
Generally put, I am an art person. I am a photographer, so I try to regularly come up with new projects. In my free time, I like to grab my camera and let my ideas leak right out into the lens. For the past 3 or 4 years, I’ve managed a photo blog, where I upload sneak-peaks from my running projects or simply beautiful snapshots that move me. As befits an art person, I like going to galleries and museums, just to feed my brain and get inspired. I like it when an exhibition works as a great mind opener. One thing which really gets in the way of doing all of the above is my (not-so-healthy) affinity for spending long hours in front of the computer, for which I get told off every day.

What are your favorite places to visit on the web?
Continuing the answer from the previous question, I could spend hours and hours on watching videos like this one by Christien Meindertsma on TED. I also enjoy looking at memes, reading articles and reportages on different international media platforms like The New Yorker or looking at private blogs/websites of people who work in advertising, e.g. Tom Fishburne. I also enjoy looking at well-made humorous cartoons. More favorite places on the web? Well, YouTube for the music, FB for the gossip and many more I simply can’t think of right now.

Meet Jasmine

Meet Jasmine Probst, who has recently joined us for an internship. We’re excited to have her with us.

As of June 1st, we’ve had a new face in the office: Jasmine Probst. She’s come to Berlin for two months from a somewhat sunnier California, and is doing an internship with us as part of her Masters program, an MBA in Design Strategy. We’re excited to work with and learn from her over the coming weeks. Welcome, Jasmine!

What got you interested in coming to Berlin?
Something just sort of drew me here. I don’t have an extremely specific answer, to be honest.

My father is from Freiburg and my mother is English but grew up in Switzerland. I was born in the US with dual EU/US citizenship and always wanted to live in Europe for a bit. With a break between school semesters and the time to do an internship, I found my opportunity.

So why Berlin? I had never been to the city before but heard many wonderful things about the creativity going on here. Also, one of my undergraduate seminars was on the Pink Triangle and that had sparked my historical cultural curiosity. Over the years, various people and interests all started aligning and pointing this way. I’m following the path as it unfolds.

How did you get into the field of business and design?
Design has always been something I’ve been exposed to and interested in — I grew up in a design family; both of my parents are graphic designers and design educators. My own undergraduate degree is in electronic media and journalism. After college, I moved to New York City and started working at a communication/branding design firm, where I found a niche as a content person and writer. That realm has been my bread and butter for the past six years.

Traditionally, design and business are understood and taught as exclusive disciplines. In practice, however, they (can/should) work hand in hand. Working at the interface of creative and analytical thinking: that’s where I want to be.

When I started to get serious about graduate school, I looked into a few traditional MBA programs to “balance” my Bachelor of Fine Arts. Instead, I was quickly drawn in by the new-ish hybrid programs that foster a whole-brain approach. In May I completed my first year in the MBA in Design Strategy program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco; I’m getting a lot out of the integrated, holistic curriculum.

I think there’s an exciting and rewarding future for organizations and individuals that are agile in understanding diverse perspectives and adapting to different scenarios and collaborators.

Anything you’re particularly eager to learn about or work on while you’re here?
I’m enthusiastic about being involved in the multidisciplinary strategy work and discourse at Third Wave. It is great to connect topics I’m studying in school to real-world projects, while absorbing the flow and insights here in the office — I’m impressed and refreshed by the intellectual curiosity and productivity.

I’m also happy to apply my own experience dealing with content to help crystallize some of Third Wave’s communication materials about process, etc. It’s a nice bridge between the kind of work I have done and the kind of work I’m transitioning into.

What are you reading about these days?
I’m addicted to The New Yorker, so anything that shows up in that publication usually passes through my eyes. For daily news, I check The New York Times.

I did a ton of reading for school this past year — many, many, many articles and books about innovation, business models, design strategy, marketing, communication, economics, leadership…for example, Business Model Generation, Switch, and Designing for Growth.

The next book I plan to crack is The Information. Also, my husband recently picked up a copy of the Spring 2012, Means of Communication issue of Lapham’s Quarterly for me, which I’m excited about.

Could you give us a few links to help us get to know you better?

  • My professional website is a good place to get a glimpse of the branding work I’ve done. It needs to be updated with samples of research and strategy projects I did in school — a potential side project if I find the time this summer (not very likely since I expect to be out exploring when not in the Third Wave office).
  • To learn more about my graduate program, check out the CCA MBA in Design Strategy description and student blog.
  • When I need to shake things up mentally during the work day, I like trolling FastCompany’s blogs.
  • If I flip on the radio, it’s for NPR. If I turn on the TV, I tune to PBS.
  • In my daily personal life, I enjoy yoga and good food. One of my favorite places to find recipes is 101 Cookbooks. While I’m in Germany, I’m trying a membership with YogaVibes, a website where one of my favorite teachers from the studio I went to in Venice, CA, has some videos.
  • I spend so much time online these days that, when I get the chance, I really love to disconnect.

Welcome once again, Maddie!

Starting this week, Madeline Maher joined the team once again, this time as a full-time strategist and researcher. Welcome!

Almost exactly half a year ago, Maddie joined us as a trainee. Starting this week, she’s joined us again, as a full-time strategist/researcher, and officially our first team member outside our merry crew of three founders. This is awesome, and so on behalf of the three of us I’d like to say once more:

Welcome to the team, Maddie!

So now with a half year to look back on and compare to, let’s revisit some of those questions you answered last time as well as a couple new ones.

What are the websites or feeds without which a day just isn’t complete these days?
This Is My Jam, as ever, though I have been a bit remiss in posting lately. I also just started trying out Prismatic, which is kind of like Google Reader, but it tries to learn what articles and topics you like and don’t like, and pulls quite interesting things from your Twitter feed that you may otherwise have missed. It allows me to sort by topic rather than by source, which seems more natural and logical. Also, Aleks Krotoski has been running a seven-part show called The Digital Human on BBC Radio 4 that I’ve been downloading and listening to every week as the episodes come out.

After working “in the field” for six months, where do you see the biggest challenges for digital strategy?
Digital strategy can only be effectively applied on top of working interpersonal communication within an organization. The more people work in an organization, the more the system tends to behave like a game of Broken Telephone – unless ideas and goals are communicated clearly to everyone, these messages will get distorted as they’re passed from one person to the other. Communication with the public can’t work properly unless communication within the organization works properly, too. I think one of the bigger challenges is overcoming the common misconception that internal issues can be safely ignored while developing a digital strategy.

What are the bigger issues you are thinking about these days, the problems you’d like to tackle?
I’d still like to find ways of using digital strategy to fix things that are very broken in secondary and post-secondary education systems. Perhaps we could find a way to team up with organizations like the Science Gallery in Dublin or the Hive Learning Network to work on these things.

What’s your coffee setup at home?
Ah, about that. I have beans, and I have a percolator. I don’t have a grinder. So for now there’s only tea. I tend to get most of my non-office coffee from Café CK around the corner on Oranienstraße and KaffeeBar on Graefestraße.

Where can folks find more of your stuff online?
My blog has grown a very little bit in the last six months. I collect images and assorted other things I like on Gimmebar. Things I’m reading or would like to read are either on Pinboard or QuoteFM.

Welcome to the team, Maddie!

As of this week, Madeline Maher joined the team, training to become a digital strategist. Welcome!

As of this week, Madeline Maher joined the team. Maddie will be working half and half with us and VCCP, training to become a digital strategist.

Maddie, what brought you to Berlin?
I suppose Twitter brought me to Berlin. I found an internship with your loftmates, Gidsy, through #jobfairy, an immensely helpful Irish hashtag. After that, I decided to stay. Too many great things happening in this city to pass up, really.

How did you get interested in digital strategy?
Listening to the three of you talk at various office get-togethers (and eavesdropping), as well as coming across new services and tools almost daily that make my brain spin with all the ways in which they might be applied. Digital strategy appeals to both the people-person and the nerd in me. Because the field is evolving rapidly and constantly, it’s a bronco of a learning curve, and that is exciting.

What are some things you think about that you’re planning to dig into over the next six months?
What interests me most is connecting things that weren’t connected before, or thinking up new uses for existing tools. I’d like to get a better understanding of what makes a tool, site or service exciting or unexciting, and how sharing content in new ways could be used to make our lives easier and more fun. I’m also interested in the intersection of the digital world and the education system, and how it might be expanded in unconventional and creative ways.

What are the websites or feeds without which a day just isn’t complete?
My current favorites are three sites that show me new, interesting material every day. (Unlike the news, these don’t make me want to curl up armadillo-style and hide from the world.) They are:

  1. Quote.fm, a brilliant site for finding and sharing articles and inspiring ideas.
  2. This Is My Jam, which is Quote.fm’s musical equivalent, letting you upload and share your song of the moment.
  3. Brainpickings.org, Maria Popova’s all-things-interesting blog. Stylish, but with a lot of nerd appeal.

 

To get to know you better, give us a few links.
My Tumblelog has been snoozing a lot lately. It’s where I go when I can’t fit what I want to say into 140 characters, and when I don’t want to direct my thoughts at anyone in particular. An older collection of observations, rants and anecdotes can be found on Blogger. Follow me on Quote.fm to see where my webcrawling takes me.

Week 52 – One Year of Third Wave

Third Wave turns one today. This is one of those blog posts that makes all three of us look back, scratch our heads and wonder where time went. Instead of pathos, let me throw out a few numbers and lists and thoughts, a couple of shout outs, and ideas for the next year.

Third Wave turns 1 today. This is one of those blog posts that makes all three of us look back, scratch our heads and wonder where time went. But we’re not big on pathos, so I won’t go that route. (Even if it’s tempting.) Instead, let me throw out a few numbers and lists and thoughts, a couple of shout outs, and ideas for the next year.

(Fuzzy) travel stats

Half a year ago, Igor put together a whole slew of statistics about our first six months. I’m not going to expand much on the travel stats, but: we’ve worked with some 30 clients altogether ranging from big media outlet to startup to agency to bank. Within the last half year alone, we had some 25 projects, which (according to Dopplr) between the three of us brought us to Amsterdam, Bonn, Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne, London, Hamburg, Vienna, New York, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, Zürich and Caputh (it’s a real town, look it up). Already lined up are trips to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London, Bonn, New York and San Francisco.

We like conferences

For us, conferences & other meetups are more than just duty. They’re an important part of our lives in many ways, and we’ve always been involved in events even before we founded our company. So we’re all quite happy we got the chance to be involved at a number of great conferences besides our own, including SxSW, PICNIC, Next (disclosure: clients of ours), TEDxKreuzberg, re:publica, SIGINT, as well as a number of smaller ones. What’s more, we were kindly invited to join a number of advisory boards and juries, and we’re all glad we get a chance to give something back (or rather pay it forward) that way.

It’s not as easy as we thought

Along the way, we hit speed bumps and made mistakes. Some would have been easy to avoid, others we had to make ourselves to really learn the lessons. In many, many case we were able to avoid mistakes thanks to our fantastic friends and colleagues. Thank you. (You know who you are.)

It’s easier than we thought

Other things worked out much easier than expected. Take group dynamics for example – even under pressure, things between the three of us have been working out well, and we still push each other to the next level. We managed to establish a stable client base and feel lucky to work with a bunch of really smart people every day.

In the only pitch we did under our own name (ie not for a client), we set for the tough and risky road and proposed what we thought was the right thing to do – some heavy lifting and internal changes – and beat some of the biggest agencies in the country. This came as a delightful shock to us, particularly since initially we almost decided to not even take part.

We don’t know what we do, but we know what we’re doing

Ok, that sounds a bit silly. But as avid readers of this blog you know we’ve always struggled a bit in describing what exactly it is we’re doing – or rather: slapping a label on our work. We managed to break our activities down in several formats, or lenses, that depending on your viewpoint describe what it is that we do. To name a few of them: Third Wave in 7 Slides, Reclaiming Social Media, our services in detail, Translation Layers.

So, we might not know what it is we do; but we really know what we’re doing.

What’s next?

As if we knew! The near future looks as exciting to us as it does to you. There are a few fix points: Some major new client projects are coming up, we have invitations for a few very cool conferences, and we have a few trips lined up. We’ve been looking closely at a few emerging topics we’ll be exploring further. And if things work out, we’ll have a couple great collaborations coming up.

But most importantly, we’ll keep exploring new paths of all sorts, and embrace serendipity.

Thank you all for your support & for the great ride.

Mrs Landingham! What’s next?

On the road: NYC, SXSW

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be on the road to meet folks and go to SXSW. March 5-10 we’ll be in NYC, from March 11-15 at Austin for SXSW. If you want to meet up, ping us!

Dopplr Travel Plan

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be on the road to meet folks and to attend SXSW. Here’s our rough schedule to make it easier to meet up.

March 5 – 10 we’ll be NYC. Sunday we’ll be at Transportation Camp East. The rest of the week we’re going to be around to meet and talk. Brownie points for proposing a meetup in a great coffee shop.

March 11-15 we’ll be headed for Austin to attend SXSW, where Igor hosts a panel (“How does SciFi influence our future cities“) with Harvard professor Jo Guldi and Adam Greenfield of Urbanscale.

Afterwards we’ll be back in Berlin at least for a little while. If you’d like to meet up, get in touch!

Cognitive Cities is a wrap!

As we wind down from the Cognitive Cities weekend, we’re rubbing our tired eyes and asking each other “Did this really happen? Did it really exceed all our expectations?” The answer is – Yes, indeed, it did. Thank you.

As we wind down from the Cognitive Cities weekend, we’re rubbing our tired eyes and asking each other “Did this really happen? Did it really exceed all our expectations?” The answer is – Yes, indeed, it did. We had an absolute blast having you all as our guests. We’re super grateful for your participation, your enthusiasm and your feedback.

How we got here

When we started the Cognitive Cities blog, it was just a place of a few friends to share their findings about this emerging topic around cities and technology with each other. We are all geeks and were thrilled about the new possibilities of using our smartphones and other gadgets to interact with our urban surroundings.

The more we dived into the field, the more excited we became by the opportunities of all kinds of disciplines involved like architecture, design, mobile, city planning, politics, gardening and technology in general. Finally, being interested in everything made sense. Unfortunately, almost nobody else in Germany seemed to know about this field. So we decided that the best way for us to push it forward was to organize a conference.

Photos, videos, slides

We’re now trying to connect all the conference documentation and artifacts to make sure that the content and conversations continue and expand. While we’re compiling a comprehensive list of the coverage as well as our own videos (soon on the CoCities website and Twitter), here’s a first glimpse of what has been popping up on the interwebs.

There’s a Flickr group where you can add your photos from this weekend here:

Some of the presentations are on Slideshare already (more soon):

KS12 also did an interview with our lovely moderator Ben Hammersley:

Future Perspectives TN2020: Ben Hammersley from KS12 on Vimeo.

Connect

The conversations started at CoCities shouldn’t fade anytime soon. Make sure to connect to the other attendees. A good place to start are the Facebook event page and Lanyrd.

Thanks!

There are so many people we want to thank for making this possible, we can only highlight some of you. First of all, our speakers: thank you so, so much for agreeing to pitch in on this one. We really appreciate it. Second, a big thumbs up to all of you who attended and participated, either live at one of the conference days or by contributing online. Third, a big thank you to our sponsor smart, without whom CoCities wouldn’t have been possible and our media partners. And last but not least the whole team, all of whom put in tremendous efforts without any financial rewards – CoCities was truly a work of passion: Yourneighbours, Martin Spindler, Fabian MürmannMarkus Reuter, Axel Quack, Wiebke Herger and our lovely volunteers.

Feedback

We don’t want to miss the chance to hear from you about what worked and what we could do better next time. We’ve created a short survey with just four questions. It would be great help if you could take a couple of minutes and let us know what you think.

Our consulting work

One of the challenges we face as a young company that works on cutting edge things is how to describe what we do – simply because it doesn’t fit the well-established boxes and terminology. So we often get asked: “We want to work with you. How do you work?”

One of the challenges we face as a young company that works on cutting edge things is how to describe what we do – simply because it doesn’t fit the well-established boxes and terminology.

So we often get asked: “We want to work with you. How do you work, how can we book you?” There are the general descriptions of what we do, but by nature this kind of list tends to be a bit on the vague side.

It’s actually really simple, though, if you break it down into some of the different scenarios we tend to work in:

1) Agency Incubators

We regularly work with marketing/PR/ad agencies, mostly in the role of an incubator: We do whatever it takes to accelerate the development of inhouse skills and structures to compete in the digital sphere. This work can take many shapes, the most typical ones being workshops, ideation, feedback and moderation, or knowledge transfer.

If an agency works on a major client project, we often come in at the beginning for an initial kick-off to plan the overall strategy and roadmap as well as teams. Then, while the agency implements and executes inhouse, we’re there to give feedback, and in the end we go into a sparring with the agency to make sure that everything is going to work out.

Needless to say, we understand that agency work requires discretion. That’s why we don’t disclose our agency clients’ names if they prefer it that way.

2) Strategy & Sparring

Every organization and brand is going to be affected by the changes in digital communication. We watch these changes, both on the technological and the user behavior side, and can help to adapt. Working closely with our clients, we help align their strategy with those new, emerging demands. We help put together the best team for the job. And we’re happy to go into a sparring with our clients to make sure they are as well-prepared as possible for whatever the future might hold for them. Typical formats and outcomes are workshops, top-level strategy papers, meetings (face to face and via phone) as well as feedback loops.

3) Conference Curation & Consulting

We’re trying to be on top of all things digital. It’s our job to not just read what’s going on on the interwebs, but to know the guys behind it, and to estimate what impact things will have for our clients in the conference business. This gives us the overview and network to help them put together the best conference they can. We don’t do event management – there are many able companies out there to help with that – but chances are we have a few suggestions on how you can improve your event and who to invite.

4) Long-term partnership

The best results can be achieved when we’re working with our clients on a long-term, integrated basis. That’s why we prefer not to just jump into a project and then leave things behind, but to enter long-term partnerships. This requires trust, but it also builds the trust that is needed to have an honest conversation when needed. We’re no Yes Men – if something’s wrong, we want to give it to you straight. Long-term partnerships help both sides to build cool stuff & grow together. Also, it’s much easier for all to schedule, plan and budget, and you’ll never be without help if you need it.

We will keep refining this description (you’ll find bits and pieces of it popping up on our services page). But this may answer a few of the questions we’ve been asked. If you’re still not sure but would like to work with us, get in touch. We’re happy to bounce ideas.

We’re on the road…

…want to meet up? Our headquarters are in Berlin, but we travel a fair bit. And that’s always a good occasion to meet up and bounce some ideas. So when’s the next chance to have a face-to-face chat?

…want to meet up? Our headquarters are in Berlin, but we travel a fair bit. And that’s always a good occasion to meet up and bounce some ideas. So when’s the next chance to have a face-to-face chat?

Johannes is in Amsterdam right now, and he’ll stay until 8 Feb, before heading over to London for another week. Igor will be in Paris on 10/11 Feb for a talk. I’ll be in Frankfurt at the same time. And all three of us will have a few days of stopover in New York (5-11 March) before heading over to Austin for SXSW Interactive (11-15 March). More trips might come up on short notice, but those are some fixed landmarks.

If you’d like to chat, get in touch!

ps. We’re also delighted to welcome a big crowd of great participants at Cognitive Cities Conference in Berlin on Feb 26/27, so if you’re around, why don’t you swing by?