What a blast! This year’s Seattle Interactive Conference was on fire, with one amazing speaker after another sharing their thoughts on all things related to the creative industry: content strategy, UX, design, brand, DEI, AI—you name it. Not only was I inspired by everything I heard, but I was also honored to share a stage with these great minds.

Here are some top-level takeaways that have inspired lots of good conversation for the Phinney Bischoff team:

  • Yep, purpose is still a thing. Spoiler alert! As consumers are faced with more choices, their desire to connect with something real will only get stronger. And as more companies get exposed for bad behavior, trust will become the ultimate differentiator.
  • Systems thinking is the future. It’s not enough anymore to solve problems in isolation. To really create impact, we need to be looking at everything—no matter how seemingly insignificant—from a root cause perspective. And we have more tools and knowledge than ever to make this happen, from rapid learning to neuroscience to data visualization.
  • Who runs the world? People. Of all kinds. The conversation around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is gathering momentum every day and it’s our duty as creators to evolve with it. But many sessions also pointed out the need for internal cultures to step up. Truly embracing DEI has to come from the top down and the bottom up. It has to be woven into the day-to-day. And most of all, it has to be done with empathy and intention.
  • AI is here. Now what? So much unpacking! So much speculation! The many talks on this topic tell me that we have a long way to go in figuring out how to best apply these learnings, but that’s also what makes it exciting. And fortunately, at least according to one speaker, creatives shouldn’t fret over their jobs. In fact, it might be a new source of creativity as we think about how to humanize this technology.
  • Healthy brands need healthy environments. Ok, I’m cheating here because this one’s from my talk. But it’s important! I’ve observed that too often in our industry, the literature is focused on the “what” and not the “how” of brand development. But even the most compelling brand story will fall apart in the face of big egos, personal agendas, and siloed behavior. It’s important to spot these patterns (which often hide in plain sight for years!) before they become detrimental to a brand’s lifespan.

There’s more than enough content here to chew on until next year. In the meantime, big thanks to the conference organizers and to the many attendees who showed up hungry to learn.