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May 20, 2012No Comments

Insight – Do you have one or not?

In the agency world, its a word you hear a lot.  In a consumer centric world it's what you NEED to be relevant to a collaborative audience.  For me it's a word I hear misused a lot.  

The dictionary defines it as:  penetrating mental vision or discernment; faculty of seeinginto inner character or underlying truth.

In psychological terms it is: 
an understanding of relationships that sheds light on orhelps solve a problem.

For those of us who create innovations, conversations and stories for on behalf of brands for people it means:

single human truth that motivates behavior.

In a big data world creating impact starts with synthesizing down to a single insight that inspires an idea and provokes an action.

The next time you sell an idea remember you only need truth to create an audacious provocation that could change the world.

Insight – Do you have one or not? via @jpenabickley

March 28, 2012No Comments

Writing Your Next Symphony

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Harold R. McAlindon

Over the last few days, I have sat in a number of business meetings with fortune 500 marketers who all seem to have the same problem. There is a huge data conundrum.  Everyone of them spoke of the large agency partners having either too little of an understanding of their data across all channels or that their digital &  direct agencies who were in analysis paralysis and could not produce assets that met the data and technology demands of the new mediums. (Often referred to as perishable assets.)  Now that we are in post-digital era where people and our customers leave digital finger prints behind on everything they touch, why have the people who are supposed to be experts at the customers not figured out how to deliver new value to the Post-Digital client?

One of my early mentors, Marc Beeching once said, "The best stories are like a great piece of music. They have a beginning, middle and an end.  Sometimes you have to decide which pieces go where"  I think that analogy holds true for the data conundrum brands are in.  

Much of the Industrial Age and the Information Ages required focus and specialization.  But as white collar work has gotten routed to Asia and reduced to software, there is a new premium on the opposite aptitude: putting the pieces together, or what I call a Symphony.  What is in greatest demand today isn't more analysis, but synthesis-- seeing the big picture, crossing boundaries and being able to combine disparate pieces in to an arresting new whole.

For marketing & brand leaders and digital & traditional agencies alike who do not wish to follow their competitors down a path to a commoditized value exchange -- which is the typical path that many continue to travel -- They have a choice. Live in the past or get down to imagining and forging a new trail to the profitable future.

I have quickly found that you must marry your creative skill sets to a vastly uncomfortable place to survive. Dare I say "Data Synthesis".  As a creative leader you must act like a composer or a great conductor (my favorite is Gustavo Dudamel) .  Ask yourselves which symphony will you write for your brand or clients?  Will it tell a story? Will it have empathy? What meaning will it carry?  How will it be designed?

Next time your clients or potential clients ask you to show them your value -- create a symphony.  

Your audience will listen and remember you. 

Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Writing Your Next Symphony via @jpenabickley

March 25, 2012No Comments

Act With Conviction

The notion of taking action without conviction defies the conventional wisdom to think before you act.  The truth is, creativity isn't about wild talent as much is it is about getting things done.  To find a few ideas that work you need to try a lot that don't.  I have found that waiting builds apathy and increases the likelihood that another idea will capture you clients’ energy.  

Additionally, I have also found that if you build lots of conviction after much analysis, it might leave you too deeply committed to a single plan of action and unable to change course when necessary.  Taking action helps expose whether we are on the right or wrong path more quickly and more definitely than pure contemplation ever could.

Whether you work with a team or alone I implore you to make a commitment to early action—with conviction -- that will help your ideas materialize.

Act With Conviction via @jpenabickley

March 20, 2012No Comments

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken was the inpiration behind my Making Ideas Work session.  What is the road you have taken?  While the tendency to generate ideas is rather natural, the path to making them happen is tumultous.  When was the last time you fought to create your ideas or work?

Have you taken a calcutaed risk lately?  Success comes from taking calculated risks and either achieving your goals or learning from setbacks. Risk-taking indicates that you have confidence in your ability to succeed but also accept the possibility of failure because mistakes are a fact of life. Even if you fail, risks can often be considered a “success” if you learn from the experience and resolve to do better the next time.

Coming up with an idea is not a risk -- actually making an idea it happen is. In the end, the only people who fail are those who do not try.  I challenge you to try!


I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


The Road Not Taken via @jpenabickley

September 13, 2011No Comments

24 Hours of #Reality


Al Gore, whose 2006 documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," was the first PowerPoint presentation to ever win an Academy Award, is conducting a 24-hour presentation this Thursday to do what the two-hour film could not: convince skeptics that the link between climate change and extreme weather, like Hurricane Irene, is real.  Visit www.ClimateRealityProject.org  to get the full skinny.

I hope you'll join us here on POST DIGITAL, where we will carry the broadcast. Together, we're going to focus the world's attention on the scope, scale and impact of the climate crisis.  24 Hours of Reality begins at 7 p.m. Central Time on Wednesday, September 14. Over the course of the day, there will be 24 presentations across 24 time zones in 13 languages. We need your help!  

The Climate Reality Project's online toolkit is now complete with full resources for your involvement to spread the word about climate crisis online. Below is a list of how you can use the online toolkit to help The Climate Reality Project leading up to and during 24-Hours of Reality.


  • Donate your Facebook and Twitter feeds for 72 hours.
  • Embed the 24 Hours of Reality live broadcast on your blog.
  • Donate your website's homepage.
  • Watch the ads and share them with your friends.
  • Share the Denial Hits the Fan microsite.
  • Tag yourself Five Times for Reality on your personal Facebook page.
  • 'Like' the Climate Reality page on Facebook.
  • RSVP for the 24 Hours of Reality live stream event on Facebook. 
  • Follow @ClimateReality on Twitter.
  • ReTweet our content and/or message us directly @ClimateReality.
  • Use #Reality & #[your country] when calling out evidence of climate change.
  • Host a watch party in your community for your local 24 Hours of Reality live broadcast.



  • Embed the 24 Hours of Reality live broadcast on your blog.
  • Link to the live stream.
  • ReTweet our content and/or message us directly @ClimateReality.
  • Share/tag thoughts about how climate change is affecting your area and ask others to do the same.
  • Instruct your audience to use #Reality & [your country] when calling out evidence of climate change.


Cartoon Via The New Yorker

24 Hours of #Reality via @jpenabickley

September 12, 20112 Comments

on: digital+marketing

Seven months ago I left Madison Ave.  For years, I preached and practiced, award-winning digital, social and direct methods with the biggest brands on earth.   In the early part of 2009, while working on a new business pitch I observed a disturbing truth. Madison Avenue could not figure out how to make money (profits) at developing ideas.

The combination of antiquated customer research methods, fear, “tried and true channels” and disparate media planning groups seemed to be just a few of the issues that were quickly walking business out the door of digital, direct and advertising firms up and down the street.

A sad fact is that the once great story-selling Mad Ave firms have all become  channel specialists.  They had depleted their planning departments of insightful talent and replaced them with data experts and social media ninjas.  Don’t get me wrong, data is very, very, very important – but the analysis and synthesis of the data by conceptual craftsmen who create relevant ideas is even more important and what seems to be lost art form. 

While they were flipping channels and chasing bright shiny new digital toys, they lost the importance of relevant customer and cultural insights.  Furthermore, we were now in competition with a once friendly face.  The media companies.  Content creators like MTV, Disney and AMC whose audience insights were vast. They also had begun producing brand campaigns for clients that delivered far more reach and relevance than that 30-second ad could produce on its own.

In 2010, one-by-one, the dominos began to fall.  The market changed, the service economy retracted and marketers began asking “What’s the ROI on this agency of record relationship?”. Instead of getting the basics of what made this industry great, some had specialized so much that they had become tactical units with a VERY narrow way forward.  If this scenario sounds familiar, let me know.

Over the last eight months, I have spent my time working directly with a number of big brand CMOs, big box retailers, industry journalists, VCs, data & social start-ups, media companies, politicians, employment analysts and handful of agencies that are winning new business.  There is a new need and an empty seat at the strategic and creative table. It could be yours.

When the old ways begin to give way to something yet to be imagined, we have a choice.  Live in the past or get down to the business of imaging the future.
-- John F. Kennedy

 Today there is an enormous opportunity to not just imagine the future but also take the lead in creating the Post-Digital economy. 

This blog will be dedicated to ideas, insights and people that are making artworks that address the humanization of digital technologies through interplay between digital, biological, cultural, and spiritual systems, between cyberspace and real space, between embodied media and mixed reality in social and physical communication, between high tech and high touch experiences, between visual, haptic, auditory, and kinesthetic media experiences, between virtual and augmented reality, between roots and globalization, between autoethnography and community narrative, and between web-enabled peer-produced wikiart and artworks created with alternative media through participation, interaction, and collaboration in which the role of the artist, the communicator and the agency is redefined.

There is a new exciting future on the horizon.  You just need to know your customers and accept that basic behavioral observations and insights coupled with new collective art forms.  Welcome to the post-digital era.

on: digital+marketing via @jpenabickley

March 11, 2011No Comments

on: a stand for japan

On March 11, 2011, a huge 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan, causing widespread destruction.  President Obama has already released a statement sending "deepest condolences" and promising support to the stricken country.  "The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial." Additionally, many organizations and funds have mobilized to provide relief to those affected by the disaster.




I created these images, hastag, videos and Facebook community to inspire people to #StandForJapan.
#StandForJapan drives people to support the American Red Cross effort in Japan. Please visit Redcross.org or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone.  


UPDATE: There is a FB Community page up at http://on.fb.me/goDnhh the twitter hastag for this cause is #StandForJapan


on: a stand for japan via @jpenabickley

March 9, 2011No Comments

on: #nycparentsunite

Tomorrow parents from all over NYC are uniting and marching on NYC's City Hall to fight for funding for our public schools.  


You can participate by spreading the word or attenting the event.  RSVP at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=194737723880041

The event hastag is #NYCParentsUnite.


on: #nycparentsunite via @jpenabickley

March 4, 2011No Comments

on: a national day of unplugging

Unplugging In about an hour I will be participating in a great experiment.  For 24 hours, starting at sundown Friday March 4, 2011, people across the nation will reclaim time, slow down their lives and reconnect with friends, family, the community and themselves.

 The National Day of Unplugging, from the creators of The Sabbath Manifesto, challenges us to put down our smartphones, stop checking our email, stop updating our Facebook and Twitter statuses, and take time for the things that matter.

The National Day of Unplugging is a great opportunity to give back to your community, your country and the planet by committing time to the social, civic or environmental cause you care most about. Celebrate by volunteering with an individual or organization in need, or by working on your own DIY service.

This is not just an jewish thing - it's a people thing.  Can you disconnect for 24 hours?  Let me know Sunday. 


on: a national day of unplugging via @jpenabickley

January 2, 2011No Comments

on: 2011

Happy New Year!

Screen shot 2011-01-02 at 11.35.13 PM

Thanks for all of your views, comments, retweets and support in 2010. My blog is pretty useless without the your enthusiasm, ideas, tips and exceptional work. Thanks for your support in 2010.  Here's to a very social 2011!

on: 2011 via @jpenabickley



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