Emily Brew of the Nike Foundation: How to Build a Movement

October 1, 2012

9:00 am

Emily Brew will be a featured speaker at DCWEEK, a week-long festival co-produced by Tech Cocktail and iStrategyLabs. Get your tickets here.

Emily Brew is the former creative brand director at the Nike Foundation, which told the story of adolescent girls and helped empower them to end the cycles of poverty that afflict them. Their viral video, “The Clock Is Ticking,” has won numerous awards and is a prime example of effective, powerful communication.

Tech Cocktail: What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own world-changing movement?

Emily Brew: Start hyper-focused. Figure out your problem, your goal, and your audience. Get to know that audience really, really well, and give them the tools to carry the movement forward. If the movement spreads outside of your audience – what an awesome surprise. But world-changing movements almost never have the resources to speak effectively to everyone, so it’s a waste of resources to try. Better to connect powerfully with a few than connect weakly with the many.

Tech Cocktail: What is the best and worst thing about promoting a cause using technology/social media?

Brew: Best: affordable, fast, democratic. Worst: It’s hard to figure out what the hell’s going on out there, there’s so much noise.

Tech Cocktail: You have picked a very specific goal of 50 million girls. How important do you think it is to set attainable goals when starting a venture? 

Brew: Super important. Starting something is confusing enough. If you don’t have a concrete vision around where you’re all headed, you’re in danger of spending more time talking about what you’re supposed to be doing, than actually doing it.

Tech Cocktail: You have noted that The Girl Effect is not just one large movement, but actually comprised of many smaller movements. How important do you think collaboration, knowledge sharing, and community building are when it comes to producing memorable results?

Brew: It depends on the results you’re going for. There’s plenty of memorable (for 15 minutes anyway) content online that folks have created without anyone’s help or contributions at all (except maybe their cats). But if you are interested in building a movement to change something, then by definition it’s not just you. Collaboration is how you’ll know whether you’re up to something that anyone else is interested in; it’s also how your ideas will travel beyond your reach. Of course those ideas will get shaped and change along the way, but that’s the uncontrollable nature of it. And the fun part.

Tech Cocktail: What are your impressions of DC as a city?

Brew: The Mall is one of the coolest architectural conglomerations in the world. It’s surprisingly subtle and classy, but packs so much culture and history and power in a few tight square miles. One day I’ll actually get to go in all of those museums.

Tech Cocktail: What part of DCWEEK are you most looking forward to?

Brew: Celebrating Obama’s second term in office!

Guest author Bryce Rudow is a proud DC native and creative strategist at iStrategyLabs. 

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