Four Steps to Becoming a Great Public Speaker

Chris Dessi

Merit Direct Co-Op July 11, 2013

In 2006 I spoke in front of an audience for the first time, and I was horrible.

I was sweating.

I spoke too quickly.

I didn’t consider what my audience should get from my speech.

I only thought about how I would be perceived. Cringe.

I was so self absorbed that when I heard someone in the back of the room whispering to another person it took me a good 5 minutes to get back to what I was speaking about. I’d completely lost track. I crashed and burned, but I had to start somewhere.

The one thing I did right was that I was pushing myself. I wanted to eventually get paid to speak. So I started small and began to volunteer my services. I got out there and spoke and spoke and spoke and spoke. If you want to be a great public speaker I recommend you do the same.

Here are four pointers that will help you get a better start out of the gates.

1. Prepare

I’ve been on stage in front of 500 people, and I’ve spoken to a class with 3 people. Each time I realized that fear is not real. It’s a product of our imagination. Fear is a choice. So is success. I decided that I wanted to speak publicly, and I went about working on my craft. I live and breathe digital media. I blog about it, I attend conferences, heck I even produce conferences. I’m always reading, and listening to audio-books. I’ve listened to just over 20 audio books already in 2014. I listen when I work out and while I’m commuting. I’ve created a state of constant preparation.

Books about business.

Books about public speaking.

Books about being an entrepreneur.

Books about body language.

Books about leadership.


Books about success and mindset.

Books about personal magnetism (seriously, it’s fascinating).

They all prepare me for when I hit the stage. If you’re prepared you’re fear will evaporate. So prepare, practice, & speak to someone you love and trust who will give you feedback. Did I mention practice? Practice like crazy. Practice whenever you can,for as long as you can. Practice in a mirror. If you’re just starting out ask that they record you while speaking. Make sure that you analyze the video. It’s not easy watching yourself speak, but it will pay off dividends.

2. Breathe

This is a tough one. I generally run hot, and I tend to sweat on my face, particularly on my upper lip. Not such a big deal when I’m on a stage, but horrible when I’m being broadcast nationally in HDTV. I’m also very excitable. I’m super passionate about what I do and I tend to take shallow breaths when I speak. Sometimes this is ok if you’re communicating excitement, but be aware that these non verbal cues can make you and can certainly break you. If you’re not breathing, you’re going to get anxious. If you’re anxious you won’t be able to think on your feet. If you can’t think on your feet, you could get distracted. If you get distracted you may panic. If you panic you may sweat, wring your hands etc. If you sweat, wring your hands etc, you will lose the audience. They will think you don’t know what you’re speaking about and will automatically tune you out. My friend Jack Nazarian gave me a great tip recently. He uses a breathing technique that is utilized by military sharpshooters.

Take a deep breath in.

Hold it.

Let it out s-l-o-w-l-y.

Repeat as needed.

3. S-l-o-w – d-o-w-n

Slowing down is a funny thing. I talk fast. I’m a New Yorker, it’s just the way I’m wired, so I probably shouldn’t even be giving this advice if I have trouble following it myself – but maybe that’s why it’s so important. It’s hard to slow down.

R-e-a-l-ly hard.

You have so much to say, and you want to make sure you cover it all. You want to impress. You want to flex your intellectual muscles.


The last time I spoke I stopped speaking for about 7 seconds. It felt like an eternity in my head. To the audience it drew them in. I was communicating a point. I needed there to be silence in the room to articulate a powerful moment in my life when I could not longer speak. So slow down, allow for silence throughout the course of your speech. It will only make you nervous, and it will draw the audience in.

4. Face the Audience

This may be the most obvious one, but if you’ve ever done any public speaking, you know what I mean. You need to express yourself in front of an audience,so make sure you square your shoulders and face the people you’re addressing. I learned this the hard way. I was conducted a social media seminar in a theatre in New York City. At the end of the event, the owner of the theatre let me know that he felt the content of what I was speaking about was great, but that I lost the audience when I would lose eye contact. He then proceeded to get up and imitate me, looking down at my shoes, and walking from one end of the stage to the other. Head down, shuffling my feet and speaking to the floor.


Square your shoulders, body erect, breathe, face the audience and speak! What did I miss? Add in the comments below.

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3 Steps to Taking Control of Your Life

A few weeks ago I gave a speech during Catalyst Week. My agency Silverback Social was co-curating the week’s events.

I wrote a post on Linkedin entitled “What’s the ROI of Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project & Catalyst Week?” sharing my thoughts about the amazing team at Catalyst Creativ, and the whole energy surrounding Catalyst Week. I was impressed with everything about the whole week.

Chris Dessi Catalyst Week

Chris Dessi Speaking during Catalyst Week

Today I’d like to share that speech with you here. If you don’t have time to view the video below (13:28 minutes), here is a loose outline of what I covered. This three step process has helped me in my life, I hope it helps you too.

Step 1. Admit to yourself that you’re a loser.

You will never be a winner and a chooser, until you admit to yourself that you’re a loser. I was unceremoniously fired in 2009 from my job at Buddy Media. When it happened I was so stunned I couldn’t speak.


No words.


In slow motion I gathered my things and left. The Director of HR escorted me past a gauntlet of gawking colleagues and into the elevator. I felt naked. The elevator doors closed and it dawned on me. Stunned, I turned to her and blurted out,

“My wife is pregnant, what will I do?”

I was “pushed” off the cliff but I refused to let myself fall. Reaching as far as I could, I set a new goal: I’d never let anyone else have control over my income or my future. I felt like a loser. I bet you’ve lost at some point in your life. I want you to think about the times you’ve lost. I want you to take yourself there, and I want you to get angry.

Step 2. Get Angry

Harness your anger. Throughout my entire career I’ve been told that I should never get angry. I’ve been advised that it’s a negative emotion that shouldn’t enter the workplace. However, when I look back at my biggest wins, my most impressive accomplishments have all started with the same common denominator. We all have fear. Some is innate, activating our fight or flight instincts. Some fear, however, is learned. That fear is insidious. It seeps into our unconscious paralyzing us to the point where we choose “safety” over pursuit of our passions. I believe that “learned fear” is the disease of our time. Battle it by taking baby steps. My first step was silent contemplation, and meditation. Another was obsessive note taking. The last step was challenging myself to dream as big as I possibly could, imagining that money was no object, and stepping toward that challenge. I had nothing to lose. Neither do you. Don’t ask for permission to take your life to new heights.

Step 3: If You’re on a Mission, Don’t Ask for Permission

You have the power. It’s up to you and whatever you can conceive. The Technology is free. I wanted to work in social media so I purchased the I wanted to launch the Westchester Digital Summit so I bought the URL, – I surrounded myself with the right people and made it happen. I was supposed to run the NYC ING Marathon, but Hurricane Sandy had other ideas. I was hoping to run through the streets of New York with other New York City Marathoners, and cheering fans. Instead I was running in circles on a track by myself. I had raised money for ALS research because my Father is living with the disease, and I felt obligated to fulfill my end of the deal with the friends and family who had written checks. I decided to run the marathon anyway. By the time I completed the marathon my family, along with random bystanders were on their feet cheering me on. There may have been 25 people there, but to me it felt like a stadium full of supporters.

I challenge you.

  1. Gather up your defeats, and wear them with honor. They have forged your character.
  2. Let yourself get angry about some things, or some circumstance, and focus that energy on creation.
  3. Stop asking for permission, and run anyway.

Get busy becoming yourself.

Three Reasons Why the Analysts Got it Wrong with Twitter Stock

Chris Dessi on CNBC

Chris Dessi on CNBC

On Monday I was asked to visit 30 Rock Studios and chat with the closing bell team on CNBC about Twitter’s earnings. I’m “bullish” on Twitter stock. The analyst David Seaburg of Cowen and Company is obviously a very smart guy. In his view Twitter is a “one trick pony.” I disagreed. It made for great TV, but I thought I’d articulate exactly why I’m bullish on Twitter, and why I think Wall Street Analysts like David miss the mark when looking at social media networks.

Firstly, I own Twitter stock, and I’m not an analyst. Frankly I’m about as far from a finance guy as you can get. I’m a sales and marketing guy that owns a social media agency. I’m a student of social media, but the key differentiator is that my agency is platform agnostic. We only use technology that will further the agenda of our clients. If Twitter didn’t work, we wouldn’t use it. Period.

Here are the three reasons why I believe Wall Street analysts miss the mark on Twitter.

1. Twitter generates conversions for my clients

CNBC has me on their show because unlike an analyst, I actually USE Twitter. I use it for my personal life, my business life, and on behalf of my clients. The most compelling way I use it is for said clients. When we select where we’re going to spend media dollars I’m beholden to nobody. We spend money where it will help to generate the most money for my clients. Twitter converts. Twitter cards work. Twitter has account managers that help my agency understand how to leverage their ad platform. Twitter works. Twitter works, and oh yeah, Twitter works. Phew.

2. Twitter allows for real time engagement between brands and customers

So when our client Bluerock Energy based in Syracuse NY wants to parachute into a conversation on Twitter about energy, in their local geographic area, in real time – the most efficient way to spend their media dollars is on Twitter. Bluerock can answer questions, engage and help to inform potential customers in real time.

3. Twitter should not be compared to Facebook. Ever.

The other part of the argument that always confuses me is when Wall Street Analysts decide that they want to compage Facebook with Twitter. I think it’s because they don’t understand how different these social networks are. They don’t use them, but they have to put them into a category. This is a HUGE mistake. It makes them look very silly in my opinion. It just makes it even more apparent that they don’t use the platforms, and they have no real understanding of how they make money through advertising.

So take look at the video, and let me know what you think in the comments.

Am I off my rocker?

Am I oversimplifying things, or is Wall Street overcomplicating it?

ESPN Dominates Social Media, Here’s How

Gabe Goodwin is the Coordinating Producer of Social Production for ESPN. Gabe leads SocialTV production for multiple shows, including SportsCenter, SportsNation, First Take and Numbers Never Lie as well as specialty shows for NFL, NBA & MLB.  He spoke at the Westchester Digital Summit.  I had the pleasure of chatting with him moments after he stepped off stage. He shared some incredible insights regarding how ESPN has been so successful in social media.

I asked Gabe about how much social media informs the producers about content they’ll put on air. He mentioned that there is some value in pivoting on a story based on what’s breaking in social media, but that the real news comes from the newsmakers – ie, the athletes on the field.

He shared that ESPN leverages Mass Relevance to help his team look at real time marketing and breaking content as the show airs. They use them to review a data point to see if the sentiment is in line with the production run down for that particular day. They may give some more attention to something that will show up on the report. So for example – this story line may resonate more than the lead story line. But he makes it clear that a seasoned producer will never be swayed by social media. They review data points. They add social media to the pie, but it’s only a percentage of the audience. They’re also those who choose to be vocal. Gabe explained that you want to reward clever content, but you don’t want to get away from the host of the show to feature fans on social media.

See the whole Video here:

Purchase a ticket to next year’s Westchester Digital Summit in advance.

3 Ways Heineken USA’s Newcastle Brand Wins in Social Media

Chris Dessi & Quinn Kilbury

Heineken USA’s Quinn Kilbury sits with Silverback Social CEO Chris Dessi

On May 15th, 2014 I sat with Quinn Kilbury, Brand Director Newcastle at Heineken USA just moments after he stepped off stage at the Westchester Digital Summit. Quinn sat on a panel titled “Navigating the Digital Landscape” along with colleagues from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, ESPN, and The Financial Times.

I chatted with Quinn about his role at Heineken USA’s Newcastle brand and how they have evolved to be a powerhouse brand in the world of social media. He shared three compelling points that I’d like to share with you, and I think will help your social media strategy.

1. Understand that it’s “just marketing”

Quinn made it very clear that you can have a huge audience in social media, but if the audience isn’t going to buy your product, it means nothing. He pointed out that ESPN’s content is inherently social. Heineken (Newcastle) needs to work a lot harder at that. They can’t pretend that a beer is ESPN. It’s not inherently what people want to find online. Kilbury noted that If they’re going to invest money on a social media platform, they need to have a marketing objective and plan. Quinn also pointed out that the social platform must have an age gating system.

2. Give the Internet what it wants

Quinn stressed that as a major brand, you need to know what you mean to your consumer, and you need to give your consumer what they want. The consumer certainly doesn’t want to be drinking beer through the Internet. Stressing that you need to know what you mean to your consumer. Your content can be compelling and fun, but geared toward the wrong target and that could lead to disaster.

3. There’s a time to pay and a time to not to

Everyone on the panel agreed that you need to be in social, but the rules change every day. They’re spending the most of their time figuring out how they can keep up with the changes. They’re also figuring out how to work with the large social platforms. Understanding that there is a time to pay for media, and a time not to pay and allow for your organic distribution to work for you is paramount. Quinn noted that the major social networks like Facebook and Twitter will work very closely with you to help you and your brand better understand this delicate dance. He even noted that Facebook has office hours in our office every week. Noting that “If you want to have success you can’t fight what they’re doing.” referring to Facebook & Twitter and their consistent changes to algorithms etc. He stressed to work with them. Partner with the big social platforms that you leverage.

See the full interview below:

Purchase a ticket to next year’s Westchester Digital Summit in advance.

Creating Your Own Business Playbook: How Networking Equates to Opportunity

People often ask me what my favorite part of my job is.  My answer is always quick and consistent:  it’s that I am lucky enough to meet so many brilliant, driven individuals who are continually disrupting and positively changing the world. Many of these encounters come through meetings that I take with Chris Dessi. Chris and I are similar in that smart people fascinate us. We ask a lot of questions, we get excited, and sometimes we get scared that people are functioning on such a level. Mostly, though, we get inspired.  

One of these individuals is David S. Kidder. Before I met David, Chris described him as “the smartest guy in the room in nearly all rooms.” I think Chris is brilliant, and Chris thinks David is brilliant; Chain Rule –  I knew David was brilliant.

David is the author of the Start Up Playbook. Naturally, my next move, after Chris had lunch with him, was to read it. I couldn’t put it down. It’s described as “Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Startups.” It’s a compilation of stories from over 40 CEO’s. It tells about their success but articulates the full story and not just the end result. There were bumps in the road, moments of fear and panic and valuable lessons that came out of them. The way it’s broken up allows the reader to pick it up, read an excerpt, attain valuable insight, put it down, and rinse and repeat. It’s one of the few books that I go back and re-read portions regularly. When I first started at Silverback Social, this book was literally my bible. As we experienced growing pains, I realized we were going through the same things so many others had already gone through. It became common for Chris and I to tell each other “we are doing all the right things, stay the course”.  That course was outlined in the Start Up Playbook.

John's Tweet I had the pleasure of meeting David at the Westchester Digital Summit where he gave the opening keynote (*worth noting, he was my mom’s favorite presenter. Sorry, Gary V., you won WDS1). The day was a blur for me, and I neglected to ask David one of the questions that I really wanted to – “How did you get such in depth access to so many brilliant/successful CEO’s?” Luckily Chris and I are on the same wavelength, and he had already asked it. David’s response was simple: he “met them over the years through networking, leaned on them as advisors and resources, and offered value to them when he could.” Simple, made a ton of sense, and I didn’t think too much of it.

Fast-forward to two weeks ago, Chris and I were in Downtown Vegas for Catalyst Week, in conjunction with the Downtown Project. For those not familiar, Chris does an excellent job describing it here.  For someone who likes to meet smart innovative people, this is equivalent to an 8-year-old at Disney World.  After four days of inspiration and a ton of valuable knowledge, our minds were racing on the flight back to New York. That’s when Chris mentioned to me what David had said, and the puzzle finally came together for me.

A lot of times, we get caught up in the day to day. We flow from meeting to meeting, project to project, and don’t have a minute to pull back. Last night, I was with a friend who recently started for CommonBond. When he was making the move from big corporate finance to a start-up, he asked for my opinion. I told him to do it immediately. I told him to follow David’s advice: network, ask for advice, bring value to the table, and build relationships. One day, we will both be on our second, third, fourth, or fifth project, and we will have relationships with some of the smartest entrepreneurs/CEO’s in the world. With that will come tons of opportunities, good, bad, ugly and life changing.

Whether you work for a start-up, corporation, you’re a singer or athlete, David’s message rings true. Make the time to create these relationships.

I am fortunate. The list of smart and successful people I meet could go on for days. Here are a few that will one day make my start-up playbook whom I have met in the last month. They are doing and will continue to do amazing things for a long time to come:

Michael LaiMinerva Project

Amanda Slavin and the entire Catalyst Creative Team (Danielle, Katie, Mike, etc.)

Shilpi KumarProgression Labs, Qualifyor, Venture for America

John FazzolariRevivn

Robyn Allen – Energy Entrepreneur

Idia Ogala* – NBA and hopefully back to Silverback Social one day

John GuydonThe Lassy Project

*I didn’t meet Idia in the last month but he’s impressed me too much not to mention.

Follow me on Twitter @johnzanzarella 




What’s the ROI of Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project & Catalyst Week?

Chris Dessi

Chris Dessi

I don’t normally cry in public. But there I was, under the hot lights on a stage in Las Vegas speaking at Catalyst Week and I was crying. I felt a twinge of embarrassment, but I knew that I was in a safe place, and sharing like this was encouraged. I ended my talk, felt the warm applause wash over me, and I knew I had done the right thing. I’d just shared a very personal journey that led me to where I am today.

A few weeks prior to speaking at Catalyst Week I was perplexed. My company was co-curating the week, and I still wasn’t even 100% sure what we were getting ourselves, and our colleagues into.

All I knew is that I trusted the vision of Tony Hsieh. I had enjoyed reading his bookDelivering Happiness, and I was very impressed with the team at CatalystCreativ. I trusted them. When I inquired about Catalyst Week to my colleagues who had been there, I kept hearing the same thing:

“You have to experience it.”

Ugh. All I wanted was some sort of idea about what I had committing to. But I understood that this one time, for this to work I had to let go of preconceived notions. I committed to letting go, and letting it all happen. I’m thrilled I did.

Let me explain:

Back in November of 2012, while promoting our inaugural Westchester Digital Summit, one of my star employees, Josh Fenster stumbled across Catalyst Week. We then connected with Amanda Slavin the CEO of CatalystCreativ. She found out about our summit, and we discussed that we were interested in possibly producing a Las Vegas Digital Summit. So she asked if we would be interested in co-curating a weeklong event in Downtown Las Vegas. She explained that CatalystCreativ is

… a community design firm that builds community for cities, brands and movements through educational and inspirational events”

We discussed the Downtown Project and she explained that it’s

…a group of passionate people committed to helping to transform Downtown Las Vegas into the most community-focused large city in the world.”

I was fascinated, and thrilled to be a part of something bigger than Silverback Social. This was our chance to give back, learn, and network on a deeper level than ever. We were in. But truth be told, it was a tough sell to get our network to attend. I mean, how do you explain that you’ll be the guest of a visionary billionaire who is revitalizing a forgotten part of the United States in the most unusual and compelling way?

  • That you’ll be expected to participate, engage, and experience what they affectionately refer to as “collisions” throughout your time in Las Vegas?
  • That you’ll meet people who not only impress you, but also change the way you view the world?
  • That you’ll experience a company (Zappos) that excels at shattering convention – all with a smile while truly delivering happiness to everyone they encounter?
  • That you’ll find yourself locked in such deep and meaningful conversations at such a high frequency that you find yourself texting your loved ones & colleagues “you have to experience Catalyst Week.” oh the irony!!!

You can’t explain it. You can only share what an experience like this has done to you. This isn’t a normal experience.

Nope, not normal at all. Odd in fact.

The oddest experience I’ve ever had in my career.

But let me be clear – odd is a good thing. Odd doesn’t happen enough. Oddballs are rampant in the halls of Zappos, throughout the Downtown project and certainly at CatalystCreativ, and that’s a gloriously good thing. Silverback Social is oddball central! The oddballs are welcomed there, and I dig it big time. Glorious, lovable, intelligent, engaging, and fascinating oddballs like Caleb Edison (pictured below) who gave us our tour of the Downtown Project and spoke of the initiative’s three Cs:

  1. Collision
  2. Colearning
  3. Connectedness

He also pointed out that the Downtown initiative has unintentionally taken the shape of a Llama (Tony Hsieh’s favorite animal, because…well, they’re awesome). Odd.

Caleb Edison Downtown Project


Odd stories like how Tony gave restaurateur Natalie Young her initial investment to launch her downtown restaurant called Eat. Her story is odd in the most random, and inspiring way. Hearing her story in the video below may inspire others to open restaurants in Downtown Las Vegas. That would be the true ROI of the Downtown Project. A true Ripple OImpact..

Odd encounters like colliding with John Guydon of The Lassy Project in the pool at the Ogden who explained to my CMO John Zanzarella and I that he is changing the way the world will prevent child abductions. We’ve been encouraging everyone we meet to download the APP. It will save children’s lives. Imagine the first child’s life that’s saved because of this technology. That would be the true ROI of the Downtown Project and Catalyst Week. A true Ripple OImpact.

Odd and magical stories like the one told during a Catalyst Week workshop given by Leisa Peterson of Wealthclinic. Leisa shared her moment of clarity about her life that came to her during a random shooting. Powerful, and odd, and glorious. I re-told Leisa’s story to friends over dinner this past weekend. I was encouraging our friend to take the plunge into becoming an entrepreneur. Imagine if she does because of Leisa’s story? That would be the true ROI of the Downtown Project and Catalyst Week. A true Ripple OfImpact.

Odd bursts of mutual admiration for colleagues. Like when Robyn C. Allen organized other Catalyst attendees in an effort to offer a small gift at our closing dinner to the CatalystCreativ team. Which triggered a series of heart-felt thank yous, and applause. Like the speech Katie Vander Ark gave in honor of her boss Amanda Slavin. Public praise and admiration of colleagues? Passing that along to others, bringing a deeper level of humanity to our work? That is the true ROI of the Downtown Project, and Catalyst Week. A true Ripple OImpact.

It’s a rare thing to experience something that you know will change the trajectory of your business. Even more rare still is to experience something that will change your life. The unique five-day experience they call Catalyst Week, changed me personally to my core, and has effectively changed the trajectory of my business.

ROI = Ripple of Impact.

The week has influenced the way I view my business, the way I interact with my wife, and the life I lead at home and in the office. I’m typing this now and I’m welling up with the joy of knowing I’ve made friends I’ll have for life, and that my network will be better with these people in it.

True change is elusive. Bureaucracy slows it. Indifference is the fuel of stagnation. While the Downtown Project may not be perfect, and may not be for everyone, there is m-u-c-hmore positive than negative happening in a place that was previously left for dead. American cities need more Catalyst Weeks. Our world needs more renegades like Tony and more people who dive headlong into the fray like Amanda Slavin and her team at CatalystCreativ.

I encourage you to learn more about the CatalystCreativ Team (Amanda, Danielle, Robert, Mike, Katie, Cindy, Reyna, and Nicole). Keep up with CatalystCreativ on Twitter, Instagram (@catalystcreativ) or on Facebook.

Have you been to a Catalyst Week or Creativ Week yet? The Ripple OImpact will be felt for years to come, and I’ll do everything in my power to help along the way.

CBRE is Crushing it on Instagram: Silverback Social Asked Them 8 Questions to Find Out How

Here at Silverback Social we’re students of social media. We also love to share the wealth of knowledge that we’re exposed to as a result of being at the tip of the spear in social media. Recently we stumbled across the amazing work that CBRE is doing in social media, particularly Instagram. That’s right, CBRE, the world’s leading commercial real estate service is crushing it in social media. So we thought, wouldn’t it be cool is the worlds best social media agency and the worlds leading commercial real estate service sat down for a chat to better understand just how they’re dominating Instagram.

CBRE on Instagram

CBRE on Instagram

Answers are given by Andy Garrett | Senior Director of Global Marketing and Larry Koestler | Digital Marketing Manager
CBRE | Americas

1) As the world’s leading Commercial Real Estate service and investment Company, you guys are obviously already successful. When did the need for moving to a platform, such as Instagram, emerge?

Andy Garrett: So much of our success has been about pushing into new areas and uncovering opportunities. In the world of commercial real estate and amongst B2B companies, Instagram is really still in its infancy. It’s been a platform dominated by B2C brands and power-users. But we saw an opportunity to shake things up a bit.

Instagram has presented us a unique opportunity to demonstrate the elasticity of our brand, transcending the B2B and commercial real estate space and becoming a meaningful part of the consumer conversation.

Larry Koestler: Real estate plays such a huge part in all of our lives, both professionally and personally. Instagram has really been a great way for us to celebrate this impact, focusing on the art and science of structures from around the world and the people inspired by them.

2) Has there been considerable growth in your business as a result of the company’s Instagram? What is the ultimate goal—growth or increased engagement? Do you believe these things must be mutually exclusive?

Andy Garrett: For us at CBRE, Instagram is first and foremost about inspiring our people, our stakeholders and our audience groups. The early success has been both exciting and tangible, manifesting itself in the growth and engagement of the account.

3) How do you gauge which content your audience will enjoy the most?

Larry Koestler: We’re a global company, with offices in every major market and over 44,000 employees. That provides us the benefit of curating from an amazing pool of content to feature in our posts. Whether it’s stunning views of some of the world’s most iconic structures or a behind-the-scenes look at our new Workplace 360 offices, our audiences have responded in the most positive of terms.

4) What has your most popular Instagram post been? Why do you think that this particular post was so successful?

Larry Koestler: To date, our most-engaged post has been a photo of an amazing digital signboard at the Sydney Airport created by our CBRE Sydney team.

Andy Garrett: I’m thrilled with that post. It celebrates the imagination and creativity of our teams and shows the level of camaraderie and collaboration we have here at CBRE. Our team in Sydney did an amazing job with this and it shows the power of creativity to allow ideas to spread beyond their original jurisdictions. I’m very proud of our team in Sydney.

Larry Koestler: I think people responded so well to it because of the pride it instilled with our people and for those that work with us around the world.

5) What would you say to someone that did not believe that social media was an integral part of expanding various aspects of their business?

Larry Koestler: Social media has long since shed the tag of being a trend or curiosity. Today’s modern companies must look at social media as a core component of their marketing strategy. It represents a channel where barriers have been eliminated between organizations and their audience, allowing much more relatable and accessible interactions.

6) When you first decided to “storytell” your company through Instagram, since your competitors didn’t think to use that platform before, were you hesitant or doubtful that it would have a negative effect and if so, what precautions did you take?

Andy Garrett: Great stories should be told, regardless if those around you are telling their own or not. We believe we have a really great story to tell and we feel Instagram is an amazing place to do it. The buildings, clients, cities and people we serve everyday around the world inspire our story and it’s built on a 100+ year history that is rich and varied. It’s a story we are proud of and thrilled to be able to share in an organic, exciting way.

7) What other initiatives or ideas do you plan on having in the future to make sure you stay well ahead of your competition?

Koestler: There is so much we want to do on Instagram. We have really passionate people from around our organization constantly sharing ideas. So we’ll continue to keep our eyes and ears open, acting thoughtfully and purposefully to continue innovating and reaching our audiences.

8) What are the specific goals and purposes that your company uses the Instagram platform?

Andy Garrett: Instagram has been an amazing way to tell our story and connect with our people, stakeholders and audiences around the shared passion of real estate.  We’re going to keep having fun and connecting with our audiences and continue shaking up the notion of what Instagram could be for B2B and real estate companies.

Andy Garrett | Senior Director of Global Marketing

CBRE, Inc.

200 Park Avenue | New York, NY 10166

T +1 212 984 8185 | M +1 805 895 6828

[email protected]

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Larry Koestler | Digital Marketing Manager
CBRE | Americas

CBRE, Inc.

2800 Post Oak Boulevard | Suite 2300 | Houston, TX 77056
 [email protected] |

Connect with me on LinkedIn

 If you have any additional questions for Andy and Larry, please ask them in the comments section below. 

Weddings Socialized, Part II: Apps, Registries, and Trends, Oh My!

Daniela Raciti

Daniela Raciti

In March, I wrote about finding my (soon-to-be) husband online and planning my wedding while not taking my eyes off the phone/computer screen. The more wedding planning I do (online, of course), the more websites, apps and information I come across that peak my curiosity.

Is your wedding trending?

Wedding selfies aren’t the only aspect of your wedding that should go viral. Through the end of December 2014, W Hotels in New York is offering a “social media wedding concierge” for the low price of $3k. W Hotels even goes so far as creating you a wedding blog, registry wish list, Pinterest board for your honeymoon, and putting together a Shutterfly book with wedding day highlights from all the social media platforms.

While this may seem a bit excessive (and not just financially), plastering of weddings on social is not something that is uncommon, including couples taking selfies at the altar (… that’s a bit excessive). Let’s think about it for a second. You know your guests are going to take pictures and post them whether you want them to or not, so why not add this one extra ‘vendor’ to your list to aggregate everything for you so you can enjoy the honeymoon instead of looking up your hashtag on the beach to see what people posted?

If you don’t happen to have $3,000 extra in the budget to spend, you can always see if your wedding planner would be willing to add “social media” to her list of services and create a hashtag for your day. (If you don’t have a wedding planner, create the hashtag yourself and be sure to share it with your guests.)

Wedding planning mobile apps

You don’t have to tell me that there are not enough hours in the day to plan a wedding and do everything else you have going on. For us soon-to-be brides who are always on the run and don’t want to lug a wedding binder around (you know how I feel about those), just download an app or two:

The Knot’s Ultimate Wedding Planner: When you’re engaged (well, let’s be realistic, before you get engaged), The Knot is one of the first websites you create an account on to start planning your dream wedding. In October of 2011, they launched their Ultimate Wedding Planner, an “all-inclusive wedding planning application” for iPad and iPhone for $4.99. According to the press release: “Couples can… create and update their wedding to-do list, track wedding budget expenses, browse thousands of wedding dresses and bookmark inspirational photos of cakes, wedding décor and more – all while on the go.” Soon after the launch, they added a few more features to the app including vendor and guest list managers and mobile wedding message boards.

Wedding Wire: Wedding Wire (another site you typically sign up for before/when you are engaged) actually has a family of mobile apps to make wedding planning easier: WeddingWire, WedTeam, WedSocial, and WedStyle. Each app has different functions, so if you’re looking for inspiration and you’re Pinterest-ed out, WedStyle has thousands of photos; If you want to share all the photos your guests took in one place, download WedSocial; If you have no idea where to start with vendors, WedTeam has you covered an easily searchable list by preferences and location; And lastly, if a management tool is all you really need, the WeddingWire app is all you will need to manage budgets, checklists, RSVPS and you can even participate in the forums as if you were on the website.

David Tutera Live – My Dream Wedding: Having David as your wedding planner is every girl’s dream (sorry guys, finding you was second on the list) and unfortunately for most of us, a dream is all it will ever be; But for 99 cents, you can have the next big thing: David’s wedding app! Available for iPhone and iPad, the app has a real time countdown to your wedding and anniversary, a wedding checklist, tips, videos and advice from the man himself, “accessible wedding party contact information” and “ceremony and reception location details”. I’ll take it!

Wedding video and picture apps

The wedding day is over (sad) and you’re looking for a way to combine all the photos and videos from your guests into memories you can look back on forever (if you had a social media concierge, you wouldn’t have to worry about it, but I digress). Here are some great apps that will get the job done, for far less than what your photographer and videographer charged you:

Animoto: “Animoto is a video creation service (online and mobile) that makes it easy and fun for anyone to create and share extraordinary videos using their own pictures, video clips, words and music.” Your completed video will be in HD and ready to be shared on your social media platforms and burned to a DVD.

Eversnap (formerly Wedding Snap): Simply put, “Eversnap app and website help you to collect all your guests’ photos AND videos in one online album.” Once you sign up and create an album, you’ll receive 200 “adorable instruction cards for your guests” that will allow them to upload their photos and videos all in one place. You can use a custom hashtag (ie #danielabilly2014) and the best part is your guests’ photos can be used for a slideshow during your reception! Just make sure your entertainment package includes a screen.

Wedding Party App: Wedding Party is a private app that does everything from the minute you get engaged until after you get married. Share information with your guests, invite loved ones and track RSVPS. Guests can even “share their favorite memories of your relationship and stay connected to the celebrations no matter where they are.” Once the big day is over, feel free to relive the entire journey all over again through the app.

Bridal Registry Apps

My Registry: With this app and website, you can “add gifts from any website onto one universal gift registry”. It doesn’t even have to be for a wedding, it could be a general wish list as well. If you created wedding registries at various stores, you can sync them on this site so your guests can very easily see everything you’ve requested in one place. Once completed, you can download printable announcement cards to include with the bridal shower invites.

Simple Registry: Very similar to My Registry in the sense that you can “put any item from anywhere on one wedding registry”, this app also lets guests suggest items that you may like but didn’t think of requesting with the SimpleAdder tool. Additionally, when it comes time to write thank you notes, the gifts you received were already tracked, so no need to “google” addresses and wonder if Aunt Liz was the one who gave you the Lenox vase. A full checklist with details was already built for you, so just print (if you want) and thank away!

Wedding Scan: Another app that lets you “register any product at any store by scanning a barcode or manually entering the item”, but what makes it stand out amongst the rest is that any and all items that you scann include a geo-location so your family and friends are able to view where you found the item. For instance, if a small boutique store in your town has an incredible local artisan piece that you just have to have, your guests can easily visit or call the store and buy the item for you without spoiling the surprise by asking you where it can be purchased.

Now that you have all the tools you need to pull off an incredible wedding, there is no excuse for your big day to not be trending on social! 

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What I Learned from Gary Vaynerchuk at the Westchester Digital Summit

Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk

Despite people being tired from a long days event, they sure got re-energized when Gary Vaynerchuk got on stage to close off a wonderful event filled with brilliant speakers from a diverse bunch of companies. Gary’s presence lit up the stage and his enthusiasm and spunk made everyone laugh. You could tell if you looked around that the audience got another whiff of energy and paid close attention to his insights.

Gary’s presentation included informative and insightful knowledge and advice. He was very engaging and took a poll of the audience. More than half of the crowd voted that they get annoyed when others call them and have to speak to them on the phone. Gary’s point was proven correct – people expect everyone to be on their own time. They don’t like it when others call us and interrupt our time.

Gary’s energy continued to keep everyone fully engaged in his presentation. Furthermore, he spoke about how in today’s day and age, you need to be involved in the media. Companies have to change the way they are marketing and adjust their needs and market in the age we are living in. If they can’t find that market, then they need to react to it and change to keep up with the times, especially in this constantly ever-changing world of technology.

To close off the presentation, Gary emphasized that we are all battling for attention when we sell something. We are constantly trying to sell and promote our product or brands, whether it is through a hidden message or in a more obvious way. However, technology is battling this struggle with us. With the technology and the world we are living in, Amazon will eventually take over big box stores. Gary hypothesized and believes that in the far future brands will go directly to consumers.  Smart technology will eventually take over Amazon.

Gary Vaynerchuk’s lively presentation was a perfect way to end the second Westchester Digital Summit. There were many insightful speakers and conversations that made everyone take away something from the conference.

By Talia Zapinsky

Intern, Silverback Social

Talia Zapinsky

Talia Zapinsky