The Blog

The Surprising Secret of Success

Despite conventional wisdom, blurring the lines between business and friendship can drive success. Grow’s co-founders sat down with Women’s Health to share some of the ways they champion each other, both personally and professionally.



Ted 2014: An Experience Worth Sharing

TED is an experiential marketer’s dream.  Everything about the thought-leader conference is centered around storytelling, engagement and challenging conventional perceptions.  And they combine all of the elements in a way that draws your attention to each so nothing is missed.  Even the setting, which provided a breathtaking view of Vancouver’s bay and surrounding mountains, the seaplanes coming and going with the frequency of new ideas being tossed around, served as a moment of respite to clear your mind before heading to the next session.

Vancouver as Viewed at TED 2014

Vancouver as Viewed at TED 2014

Here are some of our favorite highlights from Day 4:

The Weirdest Athlete Wins

There’s a reason why Michael Phelps is a better swimmer than you are, and life-long training is only one part of the equation.  While 17 American men in history have run a marathon in under 2 hours and 10 minutes, 32 Kalenjin men (a tribe in Kenya) did so last October.  Know a man over 7 feet tall?  There’s 17% chance he plays in the NBA. David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene, gave a fascinating talk in which he challenged our thinking about why athletes have gotten so much better, stronger and faster over the last 100 years — and why we’re still far from reaching our limits (not yet live on the TED site but captured in this blog post).

Who’s In Charge?

Why would a mouse seek out a cat, or a seemingly mad caterpillar protect the offspring of its killer? Science writer Ed Yong took us on a fascinating journey of how parasites engage in a sophisticated level of mind-control over their hosts that causes self destructive and annihilating behaviors designed to propagate the parasite’s existence.  He ended by introducing us to toxo, a parasite that lives in a third of the human population. Are we being controlled as well? Read a summary of Yong’s humorous, illuminating and deliciously creepy talk here.

From Blind to Brave

Mellody Hobson, an African American woman and president of Ariel Investments, acknowledged that she has succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. Although she is one of only two publicly traded companies chaired by a black woman, in 2006 she was mistaken for the help at a high powered media luncheon in D.C. that she had helped to orchestrate.  Without an open dialogue on race — a topic she compared to the third rail — change will continue to remain elusive.   “It’s time,” says Hobson, “for us to be comfortable with the uncomfortable conversation about race. If we truly believe in equal rights and equal opportunity in America, we need to have real conversations about this issue. We can’t be color blind, we have to be color brave.”  Read her story and challenge to the TED community here.

Honey, I Laid Off The Kids

We also had the honor of attending a luncheon featuring Day 5 TED speaker Simon Sinek, leadership expert and author of Start With Why? in conversation with Thomas Goetz.  Sinek began the lunch with the provocative question of if we believed we were good parents.  He later used the metaphor to discuss how companies can create long-term success by using the family model, something that was the norm until the layoffs of the 80’s, to create an environment of safety and allowing for the failures that are the necessary precursors to real innovation.

And of course we explored the social spaces during the breaks and checked out the different and interesting ways brands chose to show up at TED.  From a pop-up eyeglass shop from do-good brand Tom’s to a journey to find your social soulmate courtesy of Delta to a live tweet art install and handwriting analysis from Target (one of us was deemed a Visionary, the other an Individualist), we fueled up on the plethora of healthy snacks and artful cappuccinos, which took us into the closing party where literally everyone was the most interesting person in the room.

Live Tweet Art Installation

Delta's Social Soul Experience

Target Handwriting Analysis

Tom's Eyeglass Pop-up Shop

Thank you to the TED team for another amazing and thought provoking event. We can’t wait for what comes next!

sxsw look back: 3 strategies to make your brand pop

This past weekend, we had the amazing opportunity to head down to Austin, TX, for SXSW Interactive and after 3 days of session hopping, countless breakfast tacos and a dozen photo booths, we’re back at Grow smarter, inspired and excited to share our thoughts on the smartest activations at the conference.

As marketers who develop unique branded experience for clients, we kept our eyes peeled for the most innovative and interesting event happenings at SXSW – and we weren’t disappointed. Though we tired quickly of countless free t-shirt after free t-shirt, several brands found ways to engage consumers in a new way. We found that those that stood out most used three strategies:

Stealing the Buzz: Taking Advantage of Existing Fads

At SXSW, we saw multiple brands capitalize on a piece of pop culture that’s already cherished by the Internet world and found a way to make it their own. By incorporating a pre-existing “fad” into their event, these smart marketers drew an already engaged audience — guaranteeing crowds huddled around their event.

Mashable’s creation was one of the best examples of this, as it continued its tradition of being one of the most buzzed about brands at SXSWi. With over 579 million views on YouTube and endless parody videos, Mashable capitalized on Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking ball video by replicating the set.  As hoards of Miley fans took their own tongue-out photos on the wrecking ball, posts were automatically streamed to a social-media wall showing all snaps with #MashSXSW. Billy Rae would be proud.


Unless you’ve ignored the Internet for 2 years, 3D printing is the hot topic that still amazes us all — and brands took note. OREO tapped into this realm with its “Trending Vending Lounge”, using 3D printing technology to give out cookies with custom cream designs equalling over 4,000 different possible combinations. Deloitte also dabbled 3D printing by scanning guests to receive digital 3D-rendering versions of themselves and creating actual edible candies made by 3D printers — yum!


Making your brand purpose bigger than your product

Sometimes brands forget that it’s not all about them and their products, and we as consumers forget that technology can do so much more than entertain us and fill our phones with apps. There were several brands at SXSW that reminded us that sometimes a product exists for a bigger purpose.

AT&T Digital Life popped up a fully-functional home exhibit to allow consumers to experience the ease and convenience of managing their home security, locks, electricity and water all from the Digital Life app on their phone. Marching to the same beat, Nest introduced their smoke and carbon monoxide alarm with a retrofitted fire truck and lounge to drive home the message to let technology help you stay safe.


The 3M Idea Generator lounge reminded us that 3M doesn’t just create tape and post-it’s. Attendees walked away from the lounge buzzing about 3M’s contributions to the tech and design world including futuristic outerwear prototypes that revolutionizes reflective materials and insulation, amazing chemicals that provide fire protection and cool data centers, and an enhancement film to make LED screens brilliant with color.

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 5.03.36 PM

Launching big with an immersive experience

To launch a brand new music streaming service Milk Music, Samsung made a SXSW splash in a big way. The beautifully designed Samsung “Galaxy Experience” lounge took over a gorgeous space and featured a juice bar, custom-printed swag bar, taco stands, lounge space, Milk Music demo stations and a photo area that curated photos from your personal phone using WiFi to create a photo montage commemorating your SXSW experience. On top of all of that, buzz flooded the streets about their on-demand battery delivery service to whoever tweeted #PowerOn – ensuring their customers stay charged throughout the festival immersive experience.


Take the time to engage your audience in a thoughtful way. We’re not telling you to recreate Miley Cyrus videos for every event, but the devil’s in the details and you get one chance to make an impression.


TEDxBerkeley: Social Engagement – It’s Contagious!

Here at Grow, we are constantly thinking of ways to marry amplification with our real-world engagement strategies – from a simple hashtag to building an online community of loyalists to help spread the word. As the strength of brands’ and individuals’ social networks gain more and more cultural importance – especially with sites such as Klout that rank social influence – it’s not just about the number of followers or likes you have, but how you activate your network to effect change.

We were fortunate enough to attend TEDxBerkeley this past weekend and want to share a few basic guidelines to follow when building engagement:

Zellerbach Hall_Berkeley_Lobby

Find the few who fuel the many

Turning the word contagion on its head, Leslie Lang and Microclinic International have helped prevent and manage deadly disease in various communities by creating a network led by a few people who share access to education, technology and social support. Whether combating the obesity epidemic in Southern Kentucky or educating people on the effects of diabetes in the West Bank, Microclinic relies on people and their own networks to create a robust information dissemination system that can, ultimately, change behavior and social norms – as Leslie put it, creating a form of positive “social contagion.”

Leslie Lang

Tap into and reward the target’s natural behavior

Find out what the target likes to do and incentivize them. Tim Shields’ talk was a brilliant example of how an organization can tap into fundamental human behavior to ignite engagement. Challenged with making environmentalism fun rather than a guilt-ridden task, Tim used and mobilized our playful human spirit and competitive instinct, blending it with tech and social, to create the first ever crowd-sourced conservation game, Raven Repel. Gamifying his conservation efforts, he was able to get the audience to participate in the mobile game together, deflecting ravens from attacking endangered desert tortoises in real-time.

Tim Shields

Create meaning to catalyze change

Too often, individuals and organizations define themselves by what they do, rather than the value they provide. To truly make an impact on the world, it’s critical to identify – and clearly communicate to those you are seeking to influence – the meaning behind a product, company or cause. Veteran evangelist Guy Kawasaki offered his top tips for innovation and, as a member of the team that marketed the Macintosh in 1984, shared the inspiring example of how Apple created meaning for consumers through their desire to democratize the computer.

Guy Kawasaki

Whether you are a brand or an individual – think about the networks that you have cultivated online and offline. How will you captivate your social circles to spark conversation and influence change?