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99U Conference 2014 Speakers

This year's lineup and some insights from the annual action-oriented conference's director

by David Graver in Culture on 12 February 2014

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As regular attendees (not to mention current curation partners and co-founders with Behance back in 2009) we are excited to announce this year's line up for 99U's annual conference. The two-day event always delivers on the promise of actionable insights from creatives and creators. With main stage speakers, masterclasses, cocktail receptions and even optional offsite visits, no conference imparts relevant, high-value engagement like 99U. Julie Zhou (Product Design Director at Facebook) and Jason Fried (founder of 37Signals, now CEO of Basecamp) are just two of the individuals guaranteed to shed light on the world of entrepreneurialism. We spoke with 99u.com's Editor in Chief and conference director, Jocelyn Glei, about how it all came to be.

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Beginning each year with a blank slate and limitless possibilities, a unifying idea formed in Glei's mind when going through perspective speakers for this event: "We are a good ten years into working in open-plan offices, working in a world of social media that's also become super focused on startups," Glei says. "We are now starting to see how unmanageable it all is; how busy we are, how focused we are with IPOing." With this in mind, Glei sought out people who were pushing back and recalibrating, while maintaining the conference's mission.

Glei calls out Joanne Wilson, an angel investor and speaker this year, as the perfect example. "Joanne observed this model: Let's build a business, sell it off but lose five years of our life in the process." She will address how a person can be an entrepreneur and have a life and a family. She also notes that speaker Jason Fried, "will touch on some of the thinking behind that; building simple elegant products while doing it in a way where his life and his team's lives are balanced." This has become a sub-theme present at this year's conference.

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"Our mission is baked into the brand, from end to end," she says. "I think there are other conferences that have nebulous missions about creativity, but you do not know how." 99U focuses on the very specific. "We are really all about taking people have who accomplished a lot, and sharing pragmatic lessons learned from what they've done." It's visible through who will grace the stage—including Marc Ecko Enterprises' founder Marc Ecko, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of ModCloth Susan Gregg Koger, and author Josh Klein. Many other clever and creative CEOS, founders, photographers illustrators and action-oriented doers from a wide range of disciplines will share their insights. While the speakers are inspiring, Glei also finds that the audience contributes a great deal. "They have a really high level of intention and are super action oriented, ready to soak up some new ideas." An active audience paired with another strong lineup of speakers creates a vibrant energy—for which 99U has become known.

Glei also finds 99U's regular content production another beneficial asset. "Most other conferences are stand-alone, where we have a Webby Award-winning editorial website and a book series that we are constantly producing." It's all in line with their mission and their voice. Well-defined and tightly honed, this voice will grow even stronger thanks to this year's contributors. You can see a full list of the speakers at their website.

Registration for the 99U conference is now open online.

Images courtesy of 99U

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