#IntroFriday Will Change Your Life, And Someone Else’s Too


Perhaps it’s because I can toss a business card across the table with the accuracy of Peyton Manning that I often get asked to speak about the idea of “networking” or how to become a “super-connector.”  That said, the word “networking” often connotes the transactional, disingenuous side of relationship building. At the end of the day, one of the best ways to build & strengthen relationships is to provide selfless value to others. Here’s what you’re doing wrong and what you should be doing instead:

You are Doing it Wrong:  im-late-for-business-roller-blades The business card collecting, name-dropping, sales-driven types might be good at filling out a rolodex, but they’re too quick to ask for value (or simply to try and sell you something) instead of seeking to provide value (an idea, a connection, an opportunity, etc.). Too often are they demanding value in an email exchange (like calendar spamming), rather than simply creating it.

The Right Way: Many have written up great advice on this front, from the likes of Steve Blank on “How To Get Meetings With People Too Busy To See You” , and some even offer actionable recommendations and exercises such as James Altucher — who has a simple list of skills required to become a superconnector. The main message is to  provide real value to build real relationships. Here’s a dead simple way to get started: introduce two people you know to each other via email (two people who you know would both enjoy or find value in connecting with one another). Instead of #FollowFriday, let’s call this approach #IntroFriday.  Here’s an example:


If you’re 100% confident that both parties will indeed be interested in meeting the other, then go ahead and let it rip. If you’re not, send them  individual notes to see if they would in fact be interested in the connection. Through practice, you will sharpen your radar and develop better intuition for future intros.

If you don’t have an intro to make, email someone you know and ask what types of intros would be beneficial to them (an investor? a designer? a plumber?), and remember it for the future. That’s it. I guarantee if you practice this, something positive will come from it… and sooner than you might think.

If it doesn’t, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.  :)

The Challenge Festival Arrives!


What happens when you bring tens of thousands of people together in Washington, D.C. to fuse creativity, technology, art, entrepreneurship, and innovation?

DCWEEK (Digital Capital Week) was a weeklong festival — produced by iStrategyLabs and Tech Cocktail with support from hundreds of other organizations & people — which focused on bringing together designers, developers, entrepreneurs, and social innovators of all kinds from every sector. In short, it was a movement to boost the creative economy, bring innovative minds together and shine a spotlight on our nation’s capital in a new way.


DCWEEK was structured as a series of distributed events—powered by the community—and anchored by a core conference, huge parties, and a variety of unique projects. From the first opening party in 2010 to the final closing party 3 years later, DCWEEK connected and united thousands from D.C. and around the world. Although many compared it to an early-SXSW (and we were always hesitant to agree), one of our primary drivers was certainly to create a “moment” for people and organizations to convene and to create things together.

That said, DCWEEK was so much more than panels, workshops, and parties. We helped connect small businesses and nonprofits with strategists, designers, and developers who helped them upgrade their digital presences. We helped early-stage startups raise seed capital. We showcased artists, and got local talent up on stage at a sold-out 9:30 Club. We brought .com, .org, .gov and .edu together on a series of special projects with a mission: making D.C. a better place to live and work.

We also didn’t sleep very much.


Before DCWEEK, there were certainly events, meetups, and happy hours, but most were industry or community specific. Early on at iStrategyLabs, one of our first big events focused on bringing together the technology and art communities for a Halloween throwdown. It generated the type of creative friction that comes from mashing up talented folks from different worlds.

Today, #DCtech has become a dynamic ecosystem of diverse talent, measured by so much more than venture-capital dollars raised. We have one of the biggest tech meetups in the world, a healthy flow of talent from local universities, more global brand headquarters than many realize—and of course, the Fortune 1, the Federal Government.  While it’s not all puppies and rainbows (and speaking of VC cash, Q1 2014 wasn’t as strong as many had hoped), D.C. also offers unique value in the international connections, networks, people, companies, ideas, and venues via the Embassies right in our backyard, built into the fabric of the city itself.

That’s what’s so exciting about the Challenge Festival – it has the power to highlight the burgeoning creative economy on a global scale. We always knew that the next iteration of DCWEEK would have an international focus, and the timing couldn’t be better for Challenge Festival to be exactly that. With a heavy overlap in mission and purpose, Challenge Festival the ideal torchbearer for what DCWEEK started, and will truly become a new “moment” for D.C. to shine. See you out there!


We’re Looking For An Apprentice To Help Launch Something Big


Hi there. We’ve been supporting our friends at Enstitute since they launched last year, as we truly believe that the best way to learn is to ‘learn by doing’. We’re looking for a 2014 apprentice to work closely with our executive and (newly formed) product team, to help build something special and bring something new into the world.


Although we’ve been talking on interns and the occasional design/dev apprentice for years, we’re now on the hunt for something/someone a little different. This guy/gal is wicked smart, eats web/mobile trends for breakfast, understands why/how hardware and software are coming together, and most importantly is hungry for a big challenge. Ideally, they have some background in programming, or at the very least have a deep understanding of the contemporary tech landscape.

The current deadline for application closes on 2/16, so this week is your week to apply. Read all about Enstitute, and help us find our next apprentice!

3 Million Teens Leave Facebook In 3 Years: The 2014 Facebook Demographic Report


3 years ago, we published a report on 2011 Facebook Demographics & Statistics that covered gender, location, education, and more (US only). Recently we dove into Facebook’s Social Advertising platform to get a refreshed snapshot of the same data points to see what exactly has happened over time and to look at the numbers behind many recent claims: teenagers are leaving by the millions. Enjoy!

FB 2014

Top Insights:

1) Teens (13-17) on Facebook have declined -25.3% over the last 3 years.

2) Over the same period of time, 55+ has exploded with +80.4% growth in the last 3 years.

3) Of the major metropolitan areas, San Francisco saw the highest growth with +148.6%, a stark contrast with Houston which saw +23.8% growth.

We also took a closer look at the Teens (13-17 year olds) and the Folks (55+) to get a better understanding of their current representation on Facebook. Here you go:

FB 2014.1

UPDATE — Thanks for all the feedback and comments on this post, here’s a quick clarification:

Many have commented on the fact that “Teens” (age 13-17 in this post) as we recorded in 2011 have now grown into the 18-24 year old demographic. While that’s true, the primary point of this post was simply to draw attention to the fact that Facebook’s Social Advertising platform shows 3 million fewer addressable 13-17 year olds today compared to 2011.

Unleash Your Inner James Bond: Pull A Book To Open A Safe

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 4.55.03 PM

While you may not have a Walther PPK, a laser watch, or an Aston Martin, you’ve always kind of wanted to be James Bond. We’ve been using a lot of hardware/software combos recently, from Arduinos and Raspberry Pi’s to motors, magnets and actuators… and decided to create something in our office to offer a taste of the 00-agent life: A safe that only opens up if you pull a specific book back off the shelf.

iSL Experiment #47: The Bookshelf Safe from iStrategyLabs on Vimeo.

The first step in building our custom safe was taking apart the safe’s door and understanding the basic mechanics

We stripped out the standard dial locking mechanism and attached a DC motor to the dial, and used our 3D printer to mount the motor to the safe door.


We then added a small linear actuator to the safe lock so we could unlock and lock the safe. The DC motor and the linear actuator were connected to an Arduino mounted inside of the safe.


Externally, a magnetic switch was attached to a book and the bookshelf. When the book is pulled from the shelf, a signal is sent to the Arduino telling it to unlock the safe.



Stay tuned for our next experiment — we’re just getting started.