Don't know about you, but we're often tapped for ideas on holiday gifting. This year, we're sharing our favorites for function, good design, ease of use, and joy. Happy gifting!
Compact, sharp, and TSA-friendly, these gadgets, wellness items, and comforts will get you through the gate and onto the bird with ease and style.
James Perse Cashmere Blanket
Aeropress Coffee Maker, when you want great coffee in inconvenient settings, and....Sudden Coffee, when you suddenly need coffee in all of those ideal places, such as flights, conference meetings, hotels, and well, the in-laws. Sudden is offering a holiday special, complete with gift set and tree ornament!
The Office Mate
Treat these gift ideas as tokens of your affection for your fellow desk mate(s), or, your version of fruitcake.
Native Union Night Cable
Kinto for Blue Bottle glass cup set, for two
In addition to fireside chats, panel discussions, and morning yoga on the mountaintop overlooking the Hudson Valley, campers called upon their inner child while zip-lining over the lake, catapulting onto the giant blob, and playing corn hole, all the while discussing the meaningful things in life.
Thoughtful discussions about chemical-free toothpaste, cocktail hours on the dock, and dining in the garden were highlights, as were the people who made for such a phenomenal weekend of conversation, curiosity, adventure, and insights.
We're already dreaming about next year...
Brand evangelism. How do you architect it? How do you ensure it?
First, let’s define it. Brand evangelism is that warm feeling you get when you‘re passionate about a brand — both what it stands for and your relationship to it. In the case of the brand you work for, it’s enthusiasm for the work you do, why you do it, and the intrinsic motivators associated with it.
So, how do you turn your team into brand evangelists? You design memorable, impactful, events that call upon intrinsic motivation, lure camaraderie building, inject about 25% vulnerability, and create cavities for connection.
Insert Thumbtack. A platform that connects people with skills with people who need them. For this quickly-growing, ambitious startup, we were enlisted to take their all-hands quarterly offsites to the next level.
To do this, we conducted a brand audit, where we invested in their mission, core values, and culture, and designed an experience to de-layer their team’s skills, and match them in a way that would bring their brand full circle. By the end, we’d woven a brand new layer of brand evangelism for the team, forging bonds with local and satellite employees, across varying levels of tenure and department, inclusive of C-suite and newest hire.
To break it down further, we were tasked with interpreting Thumbtack’s brand and homing in on their core value for Q1, Go!, and designing an impactful all-hands around that. We, quite literally, interwove the brand with each guest selecting a colored old-school thumbtack upon arrival.
Later, guests were broken up into a series of sub-groups, by color. Each color represented a rapid-prototype learning opportunity, ranging from rhythm motion dance instruction, to an improv workshop, magic, amari education, coffee cupping, muraling and more.
Because thumbtacks were chosen at random, we were able to intersperse organic diversity in the group, ranging from tenure levels, to department, role, and geography across the company. At dinner, after the workshops, attendees were invited to share dinner with no more than 2 people from the same group at each table, once more shuffling the guest interaction and mingling.
The final “experiential design” element involved filling out a form, which, earlier, had been thumbtacked by each attendee to the cork board wall, that prompted: “I can teach you how to ____” and “I would like to learn to ____.” The intention behind this closing exercise was to bring the experiential elements, culture, and brand full-circle, as well as provide an opportunity to keep the experience alive back at the office, 1–2 months down the line when the office manager would match employees with their respective skill sets.
The serendipitous bonus of this exercise was that as we began reviewing the responses, we were actually able to match most employees with skills they wanted to learn, and wanted to teach. Without this additional layer of experience design to an otherwise standard quarterly “social” offsite, it’s likely the company wouldn’t have unearthed that so many of their team organically had interests and skills the others’ wanted to learn, and could thereby, with a bit of design, strengthen the cultural fabric and retention potential of the organization.
The day after Thanksgiving I received an email from a prospective client saying, “We’re having our first sales kickoff. It’s the first week of the new year, and we’ve already booked everyone’s tickets and confirmed hotels. Everything else is yet to be done, including sourcing the venue. The event is basically a month out. Can you help?”
“Of course we can help,” I replied.
At WHISK, we receive a surprisingly large number of short-timeline requests, often for high-stake events. Even so, we believe that approaching event design and production through strategy and experience design yields a better event, and a larger return on investment (ROI) for our clients.
We recommend starting with strategy — and asking the following important questions — as a framework for designing your next milestone event:
1. What are your walk-away goals for attendees at this event?
2. Can you define your core values, your brand, and concretely describe your company culture? Great, do so.
3. What metrics are you using to measure success?
4. In the past how have you ensured that your goals pre-event are aligning with the impact you have, and what your guests are feeling, thinking, or saying when they leave the event? If you haven’t considered this before, let’s get to work.
We believe that strong events begin with a solid plan of action and foundation for the building blocks of the event. We also stand behind the power of design with creating lasting — and meaningful impact. We want our clients’ guests — be they the internal team, investors, prospective customers, or influencers — to walk away as brand evangelists. They loved your event, believe in your mission, and can’t wait to tell their friends about you.
For the sales kickoff, we started by asking the questions above, plus conducting a brand audit, and worked backwards with our client to line up the big pieces, like securing a venue, food & beverage service, audio visuals, custom-fab furniture builds, and rentals. In tandem, we concepted the guest flow pre-arrival, arrival, welcome reception, day-of, evening entertainment, and walk-away experience, focusing on designing for the micro-interactions that happen between guests.
For us, the magic lies in being able to design for the impact you want to have.
Once the structural pieces are in place, we work with clients to fine-tune the details, course correct if needed, and ensure all is aligned with brand and budget.
As a full-service creative agency, we understand the pain points of our clients. From assistance with generating brand evangelism, to attracting top talent, retention, and maintaining coherency across geography and tenure, we get it, and we know exactly how to help. We started as a company culture consultancy, and we know the power of events when they’re executed well. Together, this knowledge is value and has the power to transform brands, and their bottom line.
We work with companies who don’t have an in-house events manager andthose who do. For those who have someone in-house already, sometimes this role gets overladen with responsibilities and tasks. That was the case of the sales kickoff, as well as it being a larger event than our contact had ever been asked to produce solo.
In addition to stretching bandwidth, clients look to us because of the rich relationships (sometimes exclusive) we have with vendors in the cities in which we work. With seasoned knowledge, insights on how to stretch budgets, a fresh third-party perspective on creative ideas and ways to improve upon past events that can help shape and inform future events, and bandwidth to focus 100% on the success of your event, we provide value that impacts in ways that is unique to being brought in from outside.
At the conclusion of the sales kickoff, attendees approached us and said, “THANK you. I’m a seasoned sales manager who’s worked for some of the top sales platforms out there, and this is the best kickoff I’ve ever attended.”