SLO Happy Innovative Brain

Your_message_hereBy: Tina C. Davidson


Last night, I was back at college and a DJ saved my life…

Ok, not really, but that line got your attention, right?

What really happened last night, is that I met in a physical room at the Cal Poly PAC with a bunch of people (in person!) and learned some stuff about branding a business in a digital world.  All thanks to the event, “Entrepreneurship in the Rise of New Media,” sponsored by the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE).

As an informed citizen (who has never attended a CIE event before), I’m sure you are well aware that people are really good at being able to call out other people’s “bull-sh*t” (or “cow dung” as I’ll refer to it from now on) on social media.

So, if you wanna get the “likes” and the “followers,” you’re gonna need to be authentic.

Your success in marketing all boils down to your brand’s “authenticity.”


What is authenticity? How do you define it?

Well, one person dared to ask this question to the CIE’s two panelists and media experts, Sandy Grushow and Jason Neubauer.  These guys were tasked with tackling questions from the audience for an hour regarding “new media.”

Until yesterday, I had never heard of or paid much attention to these gentlemen (Sorry, guys! Let’s be friends, ok?). They were not my “influencers”… until now.

Since I’m old school, I took notes with a pen on the back of the play-script I’m performing in a couple of weeks (insert shameless plug for Small Town Players Spring Drama Night).

Below is my take-away from this CIE event in concise Tina-filtered fashion:

(Yeah, I’ll have a brand of tennis shoes to sell you later that will compete with Bobby Flay’s some day… just look for my ad on Facebook… or not).


  1. Beware of FANG!! No, FANG is not some new Beowulf-like graphic novel. FANG is an acronym that stands for the key players in marketing:
    1. Facebook
    2. Amazon (Some folks may throw in another A for Apple… Sorry, Microsoft- you are out!)
    3. Netflix
    4. Google
  2. The age of the 30 second commercial spot is over (and possibly the blog post over 30 words). Everyone’s got super-short attention spans… OH NO! I’M BEING EATEN BY WORMS… (not really, but stay with me as we trudge through this). Content creators should be aware of where people are spending their time and it isn’t on the couch watching TV (old media). Now people are on their phones (new media)–all the time. (Yo, put down the cell and listen to me!! If only I could promise you some crypto-currency… the future is watching/reading stuff and getting paid to do it.  One word- TRON.)TRON_Movie_is_now_a_foundation
  3. INCENTIVIZE recommends Neubauer.  Make consumers feel like they are getting something. Create relationships.
  4. The audience still awaits an exact definition of authenticity from the panelists, but according to Grushow, you’ll know it when you see it, like corn (or that other thing that rhymes with it).
  5. The quality of content is important. The world still likes “low brow” dungy stuff but value-based content is starting to win out. We all just wanna be “friends.”
  6. Picture_Perfect_Wedding_Day_Sunny_San_Celmente_California
    Nothing but picture perfect posts.

    Not all of today’s “stars” have talent and we are living in a Kardashian world.

  7. The new American dream is to be a social media star.
  8. Digital media has “democratized” communication. It is available to anybody. Grushow plugged TubiTV– movies on demand.
  9. In regards to a question on peak content, it seems there is no shared experience any more and the water cooler effect is gone. The world. is. fragmented.  It is challenging to create big hits.Something_Big_is_coming_in_five_years
  10. SOMETHING BIG IS COMING… but we don’t know what it is (it is not on our radar) and it is probably five years out.  (Amazon is still taking over the world, despite whatever this big something is…)
  11. There is resistance to ads on Facebook. Facebook is cutting down on the amount of ads and seems to be listening to feedback, but someone in the audience asked, “Can a platform walk that back?” (What do you think?)
  12. Let’s not leave artificial intelligence (AI) out of the equation. In the future it might be possible to find out what “Greg” is interested in. (Hi, Greg!).Shout_out_to_entreprenuers
  13. There is no single music platform. It is now about driving the streaming of music. People want more than a music video, so create all kinds of content. It is all about story-telling and connecting with the audience. Grushow plugged Winston House. Apparently Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran played there?  (Once again, not on my influencer radar. I’m more of a Van Halen not Van Hagar, girl).
  14. Some lengthy discussion occurred about fitness influencers. It is tougher to convince people about a nutrition product working as compared to an outfit looking good on someone. You can see the picture of the outfit and judge for yourself.  You don’t know whether to believe if the nutrition product changed a person’s body to look that way.  Successful marketing can be done in terms of brand recognition for nutritional products. Neubauer plugged bpi Sports (never heard of them before. Apparently their goal is to break the internet with protein? What the what? Who’d want the internet broken? Now that I’ve googled them I’m sure I’ll be seeing more ads about them. At least they post pictures of bacon).Insert_your_ad_here_include_bacon
  15. We are living in scary times. Our country has a lot to grapple with in terms of social media.
  16. A brand can be created from your personal story.
  17. We are better off when our nose is out of our phone… sentiments by Grushow (not Dr. Seuss, but maybe a new children’s book in the works here? Are you seeing the potential?).See_Spot_Phone
  18. Grushow hopes there will always be an element of magic in creating content and was unsure if that can be reproduced by AI.

Thanks, Cal Poly, and thanks to Grushow and Neubauer for keeping it real.

My mind is out for now (I’ve been checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and ordering pizza on Amazon all while watching Netflix—The future is now). Stay tuned for the next installment of SLO Happy Innovative Brains and the CIE.

Until then, never underestimate the power of the DJ or other authentic creatives.Living_in_a_digital_world

About the author:

jill hewston photography permission to print 2017_-22
This girl ain’t lion. Photo Credit: Jill Hewston Photography

Tina drives a seventeen year old mini-van with a cracked windshield. Her unique driving perspective allows her to write about the world from a first and third person viewpoint. Unfortunately for her gas budget, her car’s wheels work overtime as she transports her sons around SLO County.  Fortunately, this gives Tina time to spin the wheels of her mind.  As a Cal Poly alum, she’s still learning by doing and, occasionally, you’ll find her mini-van parked at the Grand Ave. parking structure on Level 2 as she attends events at the PAC that stimulate thought and creativity.  She thanks God for creativity and this keeps her rockin’ in a free world to the tunes of Neil Young and others.  Tina does her best to avoid cow dung, unlike her mother.