Actively addressing the current challenges that creatives are encountering in their careers, Glei oversees the Webby Award-winning 99U.com website, leads the curation and execution of the popular annual 99U Conference in New York City, and is the editor of 99U's book series, which includes the recently released Maximize Your Potential.
In this interview with Glei, we converse regarding 99U's mission to help creatives succeed in being proactive:
L.C. Can you describe the evolving creative workforce and the role of 99U in supporting it?
J.G. 99U first started out as a conference. It was sort of a reaction to all of these creative conferences that are about inspiration and about idea generation. We would go to these events, and we would see really incredible people talk, but they would focus more on inspiration. They wouldn't really get into the nitty-gritty of how they were making ideas happen, building their businesses, or building their careers, and so forth.
The name actually comes from the Thomas Edison quotation "genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." So, our mission was really to focus on that 99% perspiration. We came from the perspective that the problem that creatives have is not that they don't have enough ideas. The problem is that we're not always executing on those ideas. Rather than focusing on idea generation, let's focus on idea execution. That's the mission of the conference, all of the editorial on the website, and then subsequently the book series as well.
I think what we really do is demystify the creative process by talking to people who have really created incredible products or built amazing businesses - to have them talk in a very real, pragmatic way about how they've done what they've done.
I think there is a second piece to what we do, which is about just really helping people understand how to work smartly and manage their workflow in a world where the pace of technological change is happening so rapidly.