Keynotes

Bob Garfield

Day One, April 5th | 8:30 AM – 9:45 AM

The dashing, arthritic co-host of WNYC’s On the Media, is a columnist, critic, essayist, pundit, international lecturer and caster both broad and pod. Beyond OTM, he created Audible’s podcast series The Genius Dialogues. To do that, he ditched the wildly popular Lexicon Valley podcast which he co-hosted for Slate. It was a money thing, really.

For a dozen years, Garfield was a commentator/correspondent for NPR‘s All Things Considered. Dubbed by The New York Times “the Charles Kuralt of Bizarro World,” he specialized in quirky Americana. A 1997 collection of his roving weirdness, Waking Up Screaming from the American Dream, was favorably reviewed and quickly forgotten. But it is being partially resurrected in his current nationally touring one-man-show Ruggedly Jewish.

For 25 years, he wrote the AdReview column in Advertising Age, which generated fear and influenced careers and business decisions, but never fixed what ails the creative process. Garfield was a longtime analyst for ABC News. He’s been a regular on Financial News Network, CNBC’s Power Lunch and Adam Smith’s Money Game on PBS. He also served as a political-advertising analyst for CBS, before being bounced in 1992 following an unfortunate Green Room incident. It was his most traumatic TV experience since Oprah in 1991, when he was humiliated by Mr. Whipple before a live studio audience.

He’s been a contributing editor for the Washington Post Magazine, Civilization and the op-ed page of USA Today. He has also written for The New York Times, The Guardian, Playboy, Atlantic, Sports Illustrated, Wired, the Mainichi Simbun and many other publications.

As a lecturer, panelist and emcee, he has appeared in 37 countries on six continents, including such venues as the Kennedy Center, the U.S. Capitol, the Rainbow Room, Broadway’s Hudson Theater, the Smithsonian, Circus Circus casino, Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium (Grand Ole Opry), the United Nations, Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Princeton universities and, memorably, a Thai Kickboxing ring in Cape Town, South Africa. He’s been a visiting lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication and is a senior fellow at SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management at Penn’s Wharton School.

He is founding director, in association with Wharton, of the annual Media Future Summit.

Garfield’s 2003 manifesto on advertising, And Now a Few Words from Me, is published in nine languages (although, admittedly, one is Bulgarian). His 2009 book, The Chaos Scenario, accurately predicted the agonizing death of the very industries that constitute his livelihood. His prescription for salvation, Can’t Buy Me Like, was published by Penguin Portfolio in 2013. His first novel, Bedfellows was published in the fall of 2012. Garfield co-wrote “Tag, You’re It,” a snappy country song performed by Willie Nelson, and wrote an episode of the short-lived NBC sitcom Sweet Surrender. It sucked.

David Sax

Day Two, April 6th | 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Digital was supposed to change the world. But the need for real things is greater than ever. This is the business story—and cultural shift—that DAVID SAX broke in The Revenge of Analog, which shows how retailers and tech giants are fusing screens with analog processes to boost creativity and outsmart the competition. It’s time for a sense of balance, Sax says—for wellbeing, as well as the bottom line.

Digital promised to upend every industry—from retail to manufacturing, education to design. And yet, analog goods and experiences—tactile, lasting, human—are on the rise. David Sax has been the chief chronicler of this resounding shift both on stage and in his acclaimed book, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter—named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times’ Chief Book Critic, Michiko Kakutani. With common sense and charm, Sax shows how digital’s one-size-fits-all promise is being complemented, enhanced, by a fusion of tangible, analog processes—and that this blend is most popular among digital giants: companies that live and die by innovation. Analog’s resurgence isn’t a throwback, Sax proves, or all about nostalgia. It’s about finding balance—both in how we work, and in our personal lives.

The Revenge of Analog has been long-listed for an Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and garnered enthusiastic praise for its blend of psychology, business sense, and old-fashioned reportage. Publishers Weekly calls it a book with “a calming effect, telling readers, one analog page at a time, that tangible goods, in all their reassuring solidity, are back and are not going anywhere.” Douglas Rushkoff argues that it “makes a compelling case for the reclamation of terra firma and all that comes with it.”

“Sax is great company, a writer of real and lasting charm.”

— The New York Times

A sophisticated analyst of major trends for consumers—and wider culture—Sax is also the author of two other fascinating accounts of pop culture and business. In The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes But Fed Up with Fondue, he argues that food trends are not only a collection of photos on Instagram—they have an everlasting effect on our culture, workforce, economy, health, and day-to-day lives. The New York Times calls it “a romp” through the food industry that will “leave readers wondering about how susceptible we are to the charms of any new food.” His first book, Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen, won the James Beard Award for Writing and Literature. His other writing appears regularly in The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, The New Yorker’s business blog, and LA Times, and he is a regular feature on CBC Radio and NPR.

Pioneers in Skirts Panel Discussion

Day Two, April 6th | 1:10 PM – 2:40 PM

Pioneers in Skirts is an uplifting film with a purpose, and the exclusive insights we will have from the filmmakers will help us all make an impact in today’s evolving culture.

Premiering in 2018, Pioneers in Skirts is a feature documentary following filmmaker Ashley Maria as she takes us on a nationwide journey to reveal the biases and obstacles women face as they pioneer their career paths, what can realistically be done about them, and how to dramatically change the outcome for the next generation.

Women start off with pioneering ambitions; but, after only two years into their careers, their confidence and ambition dramatically plummets as a result of inequalities among women and men in today’s workplace culture. We ALL can play a role in identifying, confronting and resolving the sexism and bias that women experience in their lifetime – for this generation and the next.

Ashley Maria

Pioneers in Skirts Director, Producer, Co-Writer

Ashley Maria is a filmmaker known for her work as a Writer and Director for feature and short films, including the Directors Guild of America (DGA) award winning Friday Night Fright™. After years of studio production experience, in 2014, the DGA featured Ashley as a Director who represents “the future of women in film.”

Ashley has her MFA from the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. Ashley’s career shifted to documentary when she noticed her male peers were hired all around her for directing jobs, while she was still considered “an inexperienced woman-director.” Her female colleagues shared similar stories, sparking Ashley to pick up her camera and do something about it. “Pioneers in Skirts” is a feature documentary investigating the gender bias and sexism that runs rampant in today’s workplace and the solutions we can implement now to move beyond them. The film is set to premiere in 2018.

Find out more about Ashley at ashley-maria.com, and check out her filmmaking credits by visiting her IMDb page.

Lea-Ann W. Berst

Pioneers in Skirts Producer, Co-Writer, Outreach Marketer

Lea-Ann W. Berst is a seasoned marketing leader with an established track record of significant accomplishments in business and community service. From Olympic sponsorship activation to competitive positioning, she has spent the last 20 years bringing zen to the chaos of marketing for global corporate and non-profit organizations.

In 2011, Lea-Ann discovered she had a talent for producing and marketing documentaries. Tapping into her creative and project management skills, she dedicates time to positively impacting women and girls through the medium of film. Her second film with Director Ashley Maria, Lea-Ann is the Producer and Co-Writer of Pioneers in Skirts – due to premiere in 2018.

Find out more about Lea-Ann at her business website (sleddogg.com), and peruse her filmmaking credits by visiting her IMDb page.

Avis Yates Rivers

CEO, Technology Concepts Group International

Avis Yates Rivers is the President and CEO of Technology Concepts Group International, LLC. (TCGi), a global asset, expense and procurement management firm. She possesses more than 35 years of general management experience in the information technology industry and has been a successful tech entrepreneur for over 30 years.

Prior to establishing her first company in 1985, Ms. Yates Rivers enjoyed an 11-year career at Exxon Corporation. When Exxon sold the Office Systems Division, Avis decided to branch out on her own, which led to the founding of her first company. With its innovative supply chain solutions, TCGi specializes in reducing the cost of IT Asset, Procurement and Tail Spend Management. In May, the company was thrilled to be ranked the 3rd fastest growing women-owned/led companies in the country.

A strong believer in the late Shirley Chisholm’s ideal that “service is the rent you pay for the privilege of living on this earth,” Avis subscribes to both the principles and the practice of being ‘in service.’ She is a long-time advocate for the increased participation of girls, women and people of color in technology, and has served in many leadership positions for national non-profit organizations over the years.

She is a nationally recognized thought-leader and in-demand global speaker. Her first book, ‘Necessary Inclusion,’ was released in January 2017. For more information, please visit www.avisyatesrivers.com.

Her many accolades include Entrepreneur of the Year, Woman of Distinction, the Shirley Chisholm Award for Business, Top 10 Women in Technology and Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs & Business Owners, along with her White House Champion of Change in STEM honor awarded by President Barack Obama.