Engaging the Future Faster:
If You Have a Passion for What You Don’t Know, Start Here

Blockchain and new cloud platform nodes are revolutionizing interactions and transactions. Entrepreneurs and developers of today’s technologies are rapidly and drastically disrupting industries, society, and daily life.

Today’s corporate entrepreneurs and entrepreneur/developers’ greatest challenges include defining competitive strategies, driving innovations, and pivoting rapidly to market.

Today, my clients’ businesses are either disrupting markets or initiating a stealth state of preparedness for disruptive competition.

How do we challenge ourselves to discover what we don’t know? How do we identify the right tools to expand our knowledge, innovate, and create new value today? How do we prepare clients for the steep learning curve to survive the future faster? Some answers include taking a power-packed Fintech course at MIT for enlightenment about future commerce and innovation, reading voraciously, and valuing collaborations above all. My personal pursuit of an elastic mind includes all of the above.

I will write further about my MIT Fintech–Future Commerce Capstone Project, and how our team’s business plan for a world class Fintech Cloud Platform and marketing innovation soared. Moreover, later look for my creative exploration of the elastic mind.

For starters, I strongly recommended 7-books from my most favorite authors today:


ValueWeb: How Fintech Firms are Using Bitcoin Blockchain and Mobile Technologies to Create the Internet of Value

My friend and brilliant colleague, Mini Suri initially suggested Chris Skinner’s book to me. ValueWeb is one of the most important business books I have ever read. Skinner states, “The next generation Internet, the Internet of Things, cannot work without an Internet of Value. The Internet of Value ― or ValueWeb, for short ― allows machines to trade with machines and people with people, anywhere on this planet in real-time and for free. The problem is that our old system cannot work that way, as it takes days to process and costs a fortune. By using a combination of technologies from mobile devices, wearables, and the bitcoin blockchain, fintech firms are building the ValueWeb regardless. What does that mean for financial institutions, governments, and citizens?” This book provides the answers.

The Industries of the Future

In The Industries of the Future, Alec Ross shows us what changes are coming in the next ten years, highlighting the best opportunities for progress and explaining why countries thrive or sputter. He examines the specific fields that will most shape our economic future, including robotics, cybersecurity, the commercialization of genomics, the next step for big data, and the immediate impact of digital technology on money and markets.

The Social Organism: A Radical Understanding of Social Media to Transform Your Business and Life

Full disclosure – Michael J. Casey is one of my all-time favorite writers.

In The Social Organism, Oliver Luckett and Michael J. Casey offer a revolutionary theory: that social networks — to an astonishing degree — mimic the rules and functions of biological life. Memes are the basic building blocks of our culture, our social DNA. To master social media — and to make online content that impacts the world — you must start with the Social Organism.

Whiplash: How to Survive Our Future Faster

The future will run on an entirely new operating system. It is a major upgrade, but it comes with a steep learning curve. The logic of a faster future overturns the received wisdom of the past, and the people who succeed will be the ones who learn to think differently.

In WHIPLASH, Joi Ito and Jeff Howe distil that logic into nine organizing principles for navigating and surviving this tumultuous period. From strategically embracing risks rather than mitigating them (or preferring “risk over safety”) to drawing inspiration and innovative ideas from your existing networks (or supporting “pull over push”), this dynamic blueprint can help you rethink your approach to all facets of your organization.

Filled with incredible case studies and leading-edge research and philosophies from the MIT Media Lab and beyond, WHIPLASH will help you adapt and succeed in this unpredictable world.

Frontiers of Financial Technology: Expeditions in Future commerce, from Blockchain and Digital Banking

David Shrier, Managing Director of MIT Connection Science and others answer questions like, How can you capitalize on the disruption that blockchain is introducing into the global financial system? What are the risks and opportunities that this new technology represents? What roles can government, academia, and private industry play in shaping the future that blockchain can enable?

Shrier’s book is the precursor to the MIT certification course, FINTECH: Future Commerce.

Good Is the New Cool: Market Like You Give a Damn

Afdhel Aziz’s book is the social conscience blueprint for every new marketing endeavor. No new business plan is complete without a focus on best serving and sustaining the world through our work.

Aziz advises, “We are at a crossroads: Either we can try to prop up the old, broken marketing model, or we can create a new paradigm, one that evolves from a business mission statement that shows you can market like you give a damn.”

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Jonah Berger’s Contagious provides a set of specific, actionable techniques for helping information spread—for designing messages, advertisements, and content that people will share. Whether you are a manager at a big company, a small business owner trying to boost awareness, a politician running for office, or a health official trying to get the word out, Contagious will show you how to make your product or idea catch on.


I recently completed the MIT certificate course, FINTECH: Future Commerce to pivot my design and strategic communications company to support collaborative Fintech breakthroughs, build new brands, introduce new narratives, and help establish new markets. We are the first agency of its kind to be Fintech certified.

Our advisory of strategists, designers, and developers understands the language of Fintech, complete with today’s toolsets to evolve your new strategic mission and speed you to market.



Here at Mary Olson Brand Intelligence, we are privileged to work with remarkable companies that strive to reduce suffering, improve life, and make the world stronger and better, every day. Sometimes, our work addresses crises that impact the general population. For one company, we just completed and launched a video about containing the Zika virus—and we’re thrilled to tell you about it.

The video suggests a new operational solution for the Zika virus. It raises global public awareness—and lowers the sense of overwhelming mystery surrounding this outbreak. Real case studies exist for controlling the two responsible mosquito species (pictured below)—but few people know about them. We wanted to spread the word to health officials, the media, and the concerned public.

Let me back up. 60 years ago, 2/3 of the world’s population lived in rural areas. By 2050, 2/3 will be living in cities. That’s a dramatic shift involving billions of people—and the rapid growth of these urban environments create fertile breeding grounds for mosquitoes. While Zika is just the latest in a long line of devastating mosquito-borne illnesses, today’s dense cities make it even easier for the virus to spread.

But the world has seen illness like this before. It’s experienced Dengue fever—and overcome it by direct application to the carries where they breed. These culprits are Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus and are the very same mosquitoes that carry Zika. They can be conquered, too.

The video conveys a sense of drama—weaving a relatable storyline into this most serious issue. It provides a solid foundation for understanding the mosquitoes, the illness they carry, and the techniques that worked so well in Asia and Africa. Our clients know their subject matter well—and we gave it the best story arc we could.

If you are concerned about the global spread of the Zika virus and want to help dramatically limit the transmission, please forward this link to your elected representative or public health official:


Feel free to get in touch with Mary for further information.

We build relevant brand identities and customer experiences, spark digital transformation and create strategies that accelerate growth.

Email: maryolson@maryolson.biz
Blog: maryolson.biz/blog
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/maryolsonbiz
Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryolsonbiz


Multilingual, multi-cultural builder of international brands, Jorge Gotuzzo has digitally transformed Pace International—and offers his insights to avert the food crises in 2050.

A thought leader and innovator, our colleague, Jorge Gotuzzo embraces technology in an industry that’s been slow to digitize: produce. He’s traveled extensively, lived in multiple countries, and managed diverse food-related brands around the globe, always focused on sustainability and shared responsibility. Since 2014, he has been applying his skills as Global Marketing Director at Pace International, the world’s leader in post-harvest produce solutions, in order to do his part to help prevent a global food shortage.

Pace International is a subsidiary of Valent BioSciences Corporation (of Sumitomo Chemical Company) and the leading provider of postharvest solutions for produce, Pace International works to improve the quality of fruits and vegetables through innovative solutions and services.

I recently connected with Jorge to discuss food production in today’s world, and how we can avoid world hunger in 2050.

Mary Olson

You’ve said that the world is in danger of running out of food, and I believe you, since you understand today’s food production systems better than anyone I know. I wanted to dive into root causes.

For example, we Americans have been conditioned to select fruits and vegetables that appear cosmetically perfect. How might that impact us in the decades to come?

Jorge Gotuzzo

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), when you measure all produce from harvest to consumer usage, more than 45% of all fruits and vegetables go unused. That is almost half our global production!

7 billion people are alive today. By 2050, that number is expected to reach 9 billion. The question isn’t just how we produce more food to feed the growing population, but how we reduce overall waste. The looming crisis requires both food production innovations and changes in consumer behavior.

We must do much better. Imagine if the discarded product can get distributed to food programs in poor communities, rather than going straight to landfill? Imagine replacing processed snacks at schools with healthy and nutritious food, made from fruits and vegetables that would otherwise be thrown out. Just these things alone would be game changing.

Earthquake devastation in Haiti. Alltech 2010

Mary Olson

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. It was devastated by a 2010 earthquake, which killed more than 160,000 and displaced 1.6 million people.

At the time, you were with Alltech—and living in Port-au-Prince. For a decade, you managed marketing initiatives in dairy, beef, and aquaculture on behalf of this global biotech company working to boost the health of plants and animals using nature and science.

After the earthquake, you led the Sustainable Haiti Project, and Alltech adopted a small school. What can you tell us about your experience there? How did the widespread devastation affect your views on humanity, corporate philanthropy, and the need for sustainability?

Gotuzzo, speaking of his mission in founding the Sustainable Haiti Project.

Jorge Gotuzzo:

While at Alltech, I was able to spend three months working with Haitian children and helped develop a sustainable coffee project. After the earthquake, Alltech adopted a small school to resume education—in spite of the widespread devastation. All of these experiences were life altering for me.

At that time, the company was the title sponsor of the World Equestrian Games (WEG2010) and our dream was to put together a children’s choir and to bring it to the U.S. for the opening ceremony performance. We wanted to show Haiti to the world through these beautiful little voices—and raise awareness about the recovery efforts.

Three months later, in time for start of the games, I found myself in Lexington, Kentucky with 26 children, two teachers, and one Catholic nun. That experience changed my life forever and helped me understand how lucky we are and how grateful we should be every day we’re alive.

Mary Olson

That’s beautiful, and very inspiring.

Data allows us to listen, engage, communicate, and act faster—and with greater accuracy. But the food industry’s been slow to adopt it—and embrace the digital advances available today.

You recently led a holistic online rebranding effort—and introduced an innovative digital product catalog that stands out as a “first” among all Sumitomo Chemical companies. How did you help Pace International break the mold of slow adoption?

Jorge Gotuzzo

Culturally, Pace International is all about innovation and technology. We are always looking for new ways of supporting our customers, their consumers, and the industry overall.

But there was a disconnect between our digital efforts and the day-to-day business. The digital experience we offered the customer was falling behind—and causing the company as a whole to miss out on our best opportunity to engage. To stay current, we had to step up our game and create a digital face-lift. We committed to this—and elevated the entire brand experience.

I enjoy operating in an ever-increasing complex digital realm. I look forward to putting my energies toward innovations that sustain the world and meet people’s needs. It’s a win for me, a win for my company, and a win for society. I hope.

Feel free to connect with Mary Olson or Jorge Gotuzzo for further information.

Mary Olson
Email: maryolson@maryolson.biz
Phone: 917.656.1856
Blog: maryolson.biz/blog
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/maryolsonbiz
Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryolsonbiz

Jorge Gotuzzo
Email: jgotuzzo@gmail.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jorgegotuzzo
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Gotu10

Pace International Website
Wikipedia – Haiti Earthquake
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


Harish Pant is a business visionary with a fascinating—and unusual—spiritual outlook. A thought leader, columnist, and public speaker, his worldview makes him a global treasure. Millions agree: Harish is among the Top 1% most followed connections in LinkedIn.

Among his other accolades: aerospace, automotive and steel executive; poet; founding member of Make-in-India National Committee (MINCO); distinguished alumna and fellow of Institution of Engineers (FIE); member of the Advisory Committee AIMA Bangalore; council member of the Indian Institution of Industrial Engineers (IIIE); member of the Aeronautical Society of India and SAE; member of the LASSIB Society; recipient of Immai Operational Excellence Award and the Mother Teresa Excellence Award and Award for Industrial Development; corporate member of the Society of Indian Aerospace Technologies, UK Trade and Investment and Executive Board of Indian Society for Advancement of Materials.

I recently asked Harish about transcending today’s world of digitally driven accelerated growth models versus creating steady, sustainable business value. His insights were transformative.

MARY OLSON: Harish, your poetry is illuminating. It is unusual that a business executive produces such vibrant clarity of thought to transcend business-speak into something universal and unforgettable.

HARISH PANT: We are human beings, personal beings, social beings and professional beings.

Without human values, all the riches of the world come to naught! As humans, we are endowed with a unique consciousness, which can flow to merge with super-consciousness, or make us aware of our intellectual, emotional, and physical beings.

The personal realm is “Me,” the microcosmic world where we play. It encompasses the immediate vicinity of your life envelope time and space.

The social milieu is “We” and Us”. It’s broader: say, your extended family. Imagine expanding that to your country, and even to all of Planet Earth.

Finally, there’s your professional world, where skills, capabilities and work give you an opportunity to create value for yourself and others. In exchange, this world provides an opportunity to engage others to create value for you!

At times, we float with curiosity and creativity and in another, we cling to our existential being—especially when life becomes challenging. In our most vibrant being, our soul, we experience life’s true amplitude!

“Soul” manifests through the eyes and ears of consciousness. A resonance creates a sound, leading to words and thoughts, which in turn may find expression in the form of a poem. That’s the natural way a poet can shine through.

At every level of human existence, we find people who rise in their evolutionary journeys and also have the grit and tenacity to transform themselves and others. We have potential to transcend, or levitate from one level to another. Notes of all four beings—the human, personal, social and professional—can produce a blissful life’s lyrics, once imbued in self awareness, without tradeoffs whatsoever!

Curiosity and learning pursuits have ushered me to many molding processes, helped gain wisdom in enlightening events and also connected me to wonderful people around the world. Life lessons and challenges have led me to be “Poetic” at times and an Astute professional in others.

NOAA Colorized Satellite Map of India

MARY OLSON: You are India’s thought leader inasmuch as you write about reinventing India’s supply chain, the cloud, and GST for a changing world. What is the state of business in India today, and how do you envision the future of business there?

HARISH PANT: India has barely 2.4% of land area but hosts 17.84% of the world’s population, securing third place in the world’s economy (based on PPP) and seventh place (based on nominal GDP). Multi-faceted in every way imaginable, and rooted in ancient cultures, our diversity and unique demographic makes for a bizarre concoction of humanity.

The economy pouring out of this hotpot puts everything to the test: if you can carry it out here, you can take it anywhere! A critical geopolitical position and vast coastline offer a unique payout for every world economic player, making us a phenomenal trade center for the world.

The world of “Nothingness” and the world of “Everything” coexist in India and these two world forces make any linear move both revolving and rotational. The value proposition in India has to either pass through the grail of “Nothingness” (Value for Money) or “Everything” (Aspirational). With advent of right technology and it’s maturation, evolution explodes when these worlds meet (Aspiration x Value for Money), and growth becomes exponential.

Further complicating the landscape are socio-economic factors like corruption, money laundering, and economic disparity etc., to name a few which will dissipate with a holistic growth framework of services consisting of product and services, ecosystem services, and social services.

The world’s economy reveals its “stretched-borrowed” capital and abusive timelines. We experience over-consumption and related macroeconomic problems; and including sustainability, global warming, terrorism and the nuisance of power games and military might. All are looking towards India to partner for business growth.

DY Photography 2015

In the above context, the country’s position is notably unmatched. Some unusual contrasts promote it as a desirable multi-national partner. To name a few:

  • It wants to lead the world—but not by might. For example, it remains devoid of territorial or military ambitions.
  • It aspires to be an economic superpower, but does not have a political or societal mandate for an unchecked, single-minded pursuit, like, say, China.
  • It has deep-rooted religious and social moorings, stemming from ancient wisdoms. It also has the bandwidth to absorb its many religions and cultures into “One India.”
  • It aspires for Everything material, but finds peace in the immaterial.

Now, with this positioning, India is at an inflection point on the world stage. Although the global economy struggles, India’s growth potential remains consistently immense.

Digitization, IT, and telecommunication will unleash more innovation, entrepreneurship, and expansion in India in the coming years. E-commerce, GST rollout, and infrastructure development will also help eliminate meddling, for disruptive changes in supply chain management.

India does not have any choice but to leapfrog from “Nowhere” to the center of the world stage, where new games and new rules will be written by new world players.

Falling oil prices, an impetus on solar energy, innovative mobility solutions, better infrastructure and connected smart cities and villages would certainly help in dramatically reducing the import bill and help India with much-needed funds and time to reorient itself on a development path. New economic structure sprouting out of startup, skill development and similar government initiatives bode well for the growth of the nation.

While the strategic investment in defense and aerospace would mark India in the top three, Make-in-India’s drive would have India competing with China. Alternative medicine, life wellness through yoga, social enterprises and education would provide low-cost life support while other growth areas like agriculture and associated industries would provide sustenance.

India is having its moment ripe for world engagement, but with approaches that will create a new world order.

MARY OLSON: You write about business excellence, curiosity, creativity and commitment in an ever-changing volatile world.

With rare exception, every traditional business has been digitally disrupted by what most of us now call the digital economy.

Douglas Rushkoff writes that business disruption is not the “fault” of digital technology. It is the fault of a digitally charged business model that stresses efficiency and corporate growth at the expense of the human beings they should be serving. Somehow, growth has become an end in itself, with human beings its impediments.

If you could change the rules of business today and mobilize everybody you know, how would you implore your colleagues to create ongoing value for owners, employees, and customers? Or, rather than living and dying by business growth rates, how can business value be made truly sustainable?

HARISH PANT: Every human evolution necessitates even greater value and commitment. Now, even a small act has far-reaching implications. We see the travesty of:

  • Relentless greed that cannot be checked by high taxation and mandated Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives.
  • The possession of discretionary funds creates many personal, social and health problems.
  • The principle of “might is right” does not bring peace, or solve world’s problems.
  • That it’s “not my problem” is a problem! We live in an integrated world.

The ever-expanding gap between scarcity and abundance, resulting from advancing technology, has created an uncertain, volatile, chaotic and ambiguous world. We want to truncate the world, abstracting value to make money—and keep feeding relentless human desires.

As the world (and humanity) matures, we are creating and expanding many economic, social, technological and personal platforms that connect the whole world. It’s time we integrate ourselves: not through a single currency of money—but a green currency of ecosystem services and a currency of social services. Donations and philanthropy cannot solve the world’s problems! Attitudes have to change. Also, government and business need to stop working with contrary and disjointed sets of objectives.

Each economic act has to create wealth in all three of these currencies, and one cannot be earned at the expense of the other. For example, if there is a massive job redundancy due to digitization, then the organization should be required to provide for social impacts, and prove its business sustainable. The point isn’t to create a socialistic society. Instead, human evolution demands a wholesome approach than the singular pursuit of greed. To be able to refrain from creating hell on earth is not enough, we need to structure it anew for generating a holistic wealth positively impacting economy, society and our ecosystem.

We must dramatically change the rule of the game, adopting a circle of human values that can provide endless opportunity to contribute and make the world better. For example, we can invite main stakeholders to be share holders in an enterprise through a new equity structure framework and a minimum debt is financed through green commitment towards ecosystem services and social good.

Welcome to the new world order where the wealth of all three currencies would rule… not money alone!

The next technological challenge is to create an algorithm that relates money, green, and social good, or alternatively take a few best ancient religious books and follows a common wisdom. Or, it can be to be simply human!

What’s your choice?! Let’s pause to understand consequences of our choices and actions not only rationally but relationally as well.

Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is a Sanskrit phrase found in Hindu texts such as the Maha Upanishad, which means “The world is one family”.

The World is One Family

One is a relative, the other stranger,
say the small minded.
The entire world is a family,
live the magnanimous.

Be detached,
be magnanimous,
lift up your mind, enjoy
the fruit of Brahmanic freedom.

—This verse of Maha Upanishad is engraved in the entrance hall of the Parliament of India. 6.71-75

“Our creations must take people to that wordless world which is the real essence on which the small physical world floats!”

Harish Pant

Feel free to connect with Mary Olson or Harish Pant for further information.

Mary Olson
Email: maryolson@maryolson.biz
Phone: 917.656.1856
Blog: maryolson.biz/blog
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/maryolsonbiz
Twitter: @maryolsonbiz

Harish Pant
Email: harish.pant@hotmail.com
LinkedIn: https://in.linkedin.com/in/harishpant
Twitter: @h_pant


Frank Rose is simply the most extraordinary expert in the entertainment and marketing fields and my most favorite thought leader on new forms of narrative.

Rose, a Senior Fellow at Columbia University School of the Arts, a member of the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab, and faculty co-leader of its executive education seminar on digital storytelling strategy is also a longtime writer for Wired, strategy+business and author of The Art of Immersion.

Rose allows that every new digital medium has disrupted the grammar of narrative.

Frank’s seminal work on immersive storytelling and his new focus on The Science of Story, unlock the future for every brand to deliver today’s business value.

Follow FR if you want to know where your brand narrative should be heading, assuming you are leading your company toward transformational innovation and engaging people in these digitally disruptive times.

MARY OLSON: I often wonder where your appetite for new knowledge has taken you since 2012. What are your thoughts as you look back on the four years since publishing The Art of Immersion? How have your views changed?

FRANK ROSE: Well, obviously many of the TV shows I wrote about—Lost and The Office and Mad Men, among others—are no longer on the air, although their impact is still felt and their place in pop culture is pretty well assured.

Entertainment and marketing are if anything even more game-like and participatory than when I wrote the book.

Social media is more important than ever.

The big change is virtual reality and the incredible excitement it’s generated, even though most people still don’t even know it exists. Newspapers are jumping in— The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today.

Advertisers are jumping in. And it seems to be generating, even more, excitement for its storytelling possibilities than for games.

Obviously, VR is extremely immersive—that’s its appeal. But in other ways, it runs entirely against the grain of digital media as we’ve known it to date.

Yes, you can tweet about it, but there’s nothing inherently social about having your head encased in goggles. And unlike conventional video, it breaks completely with the grammar of cinema that was developed at the dawn of the motion picture industry. Cuts, pans, fades—none of these work in 360 videos.

There are some great pioneers at work—people like Eugene Chung at Penrose and Edward Saatchi at Oculus. I suspect it’ll be awhile—and to the extent that it’s adopted, will take us in a direction most people haven’t thought about.

MO: Your chapter, How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart includes philosophical and Zen-like views. Social culture and media narratives seem more and more delusional these days. How do you feel about the way the world is emerging?

FR: When I wrote that, I imagined the world of Disney and the world of Philip K. Dick [the American science fiction writer whose novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was the basis for Blade Runner] as opposites, in style if not necessarily in substance.

But the Walt Disney Company has evolved far beyond Walt himself, and the world is growing closer and closer to the highly disconcerting visions of PKD. A crypto-fascist reality TV star for president.

I suspect the purchase of Lucasfilm and the revival of the Star Wars franchise are going to bring these two closer together than ever. The differences in style will be minimized. And digital technology and the thirst for immersive experiences are only going to accelerate the process.

As I wrote in the book, digital technology blurs dividing lines that were considered sacrosanct in the industrial era—between author and audience, story and game, content and advertising, fiction and reality.

Who can tell the difference any more? That’s why we hunger for authenticity.

MO: The way businesses need to communicate is changing. Where is your journey taking you next?

FR: I’m very excited about my projects at the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab — both the semi-annual executive education seminar Digital Storytelling Strategy, coming up on April 21, and the first annual Digital Dozen: Breakthroughs in Storytelling, which we announced in late January and followed up with a live event at Lincoln Center last month.

There’s also my blog, Deep Media, which chronicles new developments in storytelling, including some of my projects. Next up will be the DSS seminar focusing on “The Science of Story”. The first segment is titled, “Why Stories? Why Now?” and explains how stories are changing in response to digital technology and how immersion is more sought-after than ever.

“The Science of Story” follows up with an account of recent neuroscience and cognitive psychology research that demonstrates how compelling stories are at changing people’s beliefs and explains why that might be.

MO: Thank you, Frank. Your insights inform not only corporate strategists but watchful adopters, too. We all benefit from your futurist insights about how authentic stories transform people’s behaviors and inform digital marketing and transformative business models.

# # #

Download a PDF of The Power of Immersive Media
The most successful advertising today convincingly takes on the qualities of real experience. By Frank Rose. Publisher: strategy + business on February 9, 2015.

Feel free to get in touch with Mary Olson or Frank Rose for further information.

Mary Olson
Email: maryolson@maryolson.biz
Phone: 917.656.1856
Blog: maryolson.biz/blog
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/maryolsonbiz
Twitter: @maryolsonbiz

Frank Rose
Email: frank@frankrose.com
Twitter: @frankrose
Website: The Art of Immersion – artofimmersion.com/
Blog: deepmediaonline.com/
Member: Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab
Digital Dozen: Breakthroughs in Storytelling
Senior Fellow: Columbia University School of the Arts
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/frankrose


It is my great pleasure to celebrate The Forgotten International’s tenth year anniversary with a reprint of Jennifer Zahgkuni’s interview. As you may recall, Jennifer received the Remarkable People 2015 tribute for her work with The Forgotten International. TFI is an important non-profit foundation working to alleviate extreme poverty especially among women and children who live at the edge of life and death.

It goes without saying that TFI will appreciate your donation (click here to donate). Enjoy Jennifer Zahgkuni’s interview below and read TFI’s 2015 Year In Review:

Jennifer inherited a passion for doing the right thing. She has a legal mindset, is a professional administrator, a developer of Foundation and Fellowship Programs, a relationship builder, and an astute and compassionate humanitarian. She is a worldview treasure.

2015 Photo by Thomas Nazario, San Francisco, CA. USA.

Jennifer believes that lasting change can be achieved if everybody acknowledges a responsibility to repay a communal debt or pay one forward. She says, “You never know when you will be the one who needs help! It shouldn’t be from a place of guilt or obligation, but rather from a collective sense that we are all one; that we are all connected.”

“Life often isn’t fair, and terrible things happen to good people, so we must ensure a balance whenever we can.”

Source: Postcard from the Near East Foundation Archive
View more images

A lineage of compassion…
Jennifer shines a familial light on such kindness that came in 1915. The Near East Foundation was created to address the extreme refugee crisis in Armenia during the First World War. Their model of “citizen philanthropy” allowed everyday people to get involved in the relief effort, and in the coming years, they saved over one million lives that otherwise would have perished.

Jennifer’s grandfather was one of tens of thousands of orphans from that still unrecognized genocide.

That was then…
Caption: 1915, Armenian deportees – women, children and elderly men. Woman in forground is carrying a child in her arms, shielding it from the sun with a shawl; man on left is carrying bedding; no other belongings or food noticable amoung effects being carried. All are walking in the sun and on an unpaved road with no means of shelter from the elements. Location: Ottoman empire, region Syria.

© Armenian National Institute, Inc. courtesy of Sybil Stevens

Jennifer said, “While a century has passed, and much is forgotten, the outpouring of compassion should not be lost in the chronicles of the historical record and should remain alive in every new generation. I very much believe that I am here today because a hundred years ago complete strangers helped my family simply because it was the right thing to do. It is always the right thing to do.”

And now…

Source: Yannis Behrakis, REUTERS

A Syrian refugee kissing his daughter while walking toward Greece’s border with Macedonia. Today’s refugees are flooding into Europe for safety from violence and persecution… eerily similar to Jennifer’s grandfather’s flight from the Armenian genocide exactly 100 years ago.

“Of course, it is distressing to see humanitarian disasters on the news day after day; nevertheless, I hope our shared response to suffering will always place compassion and kindness first.”

MARY OLSON: What kind of work were you doing before you joined The Forgotten International?

JENNIFER ZAHGKUNI: I worked for TFI on a volunteer basis when we were first starting the organization in 2007. Now that I think back on that period, I don’t quite know how I managed it while engaged full time elsewhere. I worked in educational administration for over 12 years before being able to devote myself fully to our nonprofit.

I met Tom Nazario, the founder of TFI, at the University of San Francisco School of Law. He had just returned from his first trip to India and what would be a life-altering meeting with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. One of the first big projects we worked on together was helping to coordinate a visit to USF by His Holiness to receive an Honorary Degree from the University in 2003.

Source: The Chauntra School. Tibetan students in India with Jennifer Zahgkuni

The following summer I left USF to live and work in Dharamsala, India, as a volunteer English teacher at one of the Tibetan schools established by the Tibetan Government in Exile. We didn’t know it at the time, but this is how TFI’s Fellowship Program began, and we continue to send skilled volunteers abroad each year to Dharamsala and four other sites around the world.

It was also the beginning of our work with the Tibetan community. We have been fortunate to have several opportunities since to host His Holiness at various events in the Bay Area and even more fortunate to be able to help Tibetan organizations in the U.S. and abroad.

2014. Tom Nazario, HHDL and Debra Fischer, Los Angeles, CA. USA.
Presenting Tom Nazario’s book, Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of The World’s Poor, to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for which he penned the introduction.

MO: How would you characterize TFI when you first started working with the Foundation?

JZ: When Tom [Nazario] envisioned TFI, it was always with the intention of helping those in need that were underserved and otherwise forgotten (hence our name, The Forgotten International).

We used our early years to learn how to build and deliver truly invaluable programs and manage our commitments to the very first NGOs. Listening to those in need has made all the difference in our work abroad and at home. What has changed over time is the “how” of what we do.

Our personal connection to the programs now facilitates closer relationships with our donors who feel more involved with the projects they support. They also know that we give 100% of donors’ funds to their designated programs or projects.

© 2010 Renée C. Byer, Pulitzer Prize Winning Photojournalist, Sacramento, CA.
In Agbogbloshie, Accra, the capital city of Ghana, Fati, 8, works along with other children who live on the edge of life and death in a toxic eWaste dumpsite. Her condition was recently remedied by the TFI Children’s Fund that introduced a better life including food, a bed and school.

MO: You touch every aspect of the Foundation in one way or another. What facets offer the most creativity…the places where you add your imprint?

JZ: I enjoy wearing many hats at TFI as it gives me the opportunity to see how all the pieces fit together and what is needed where. It also makes clear the realities of running a business and the importance of being as resourceful and efficient as possible. The most satisfying part, without question, is the giving.

Whenever we make a gift of any amount, even to an organization we have supported for years, it is the most joyful feeling, even addicting, I would say. Whenever anyone has the opportunity to give, they should jump on it. Nothing feels better. If you give, either a gift of time or money, to a person or an organization that really needs this help, you see the impact, I predict you won’t be able to do it just once.

Our Fellows learn this when they go abroad to volunteer with our programs. They all tell us how enriching the experience was personally and professionally, and when we follow up with them even years later, they say their time abroad through TFI remains on of their most treasured and unforgettable life experiences.

Jennifer Zahgkuni and Tom Nazario with Dawa Dorjee USF Graduate.
Celebrating the USF graduation of a Tibetan student from India who was chosen to come to the University of San Francisco on a scholarship program Tom Nazario had started as part of the visit by His Holiness to the University.

I, for one, would never give up the two months I spent teaching in India for anything. I carry the memories of that experience with me still, and it influences all aspects of how I do my work.

MO: What do you envision for the Foundation going forward? What opportunities do you see for yourself going forward?

JZ: With TFI closing in on eight years of operations this year, my hope for the organization is that by being diligent, we have earned a reliable reputation for service to the poor. I would like to see these efforts bear fruit in increased collaborations with larger foundations and corporations that want a trusted organization to partner with so that together we can create a greater impact on our shared mission of helping more people rise up out of crushing poverty.

I would like to see my role gradually expand to be more involved in the field. With current technologies making it possible to work from anywhere, I feel more confident about stepping away from my desk from time to time whenever it makes sense for me to do so. I look forward to visiting more of the programs TFI supports and meeting the people we work with around the world. It makes all the difference to be able to spend time with the communities we try to serve and strengthen the relationships between our organization and the NGOs we work with abroad.

Download PDF version of this blog.

Contact The Forgotten International:
Email Jennifer Zahgkuni
Visit Website


I have been truly privileged to know Matt Parker, the tenor and soprano saxophone virtuoso and visionary composer for the past decade.

I am overjoyed at Matt’s release of Present Time, his second album.

The past, present, and future of jazz brilliantly coexist on “Present Time”. Parker and his powerhouse travelers – bassist Alan Hampton, and drummer Reggie Quinerly, constantly shift the listener’s awareness of time through music, from the march rhythms of New Orleans to the stark freedom of group improvisation.

You can order a limited edition copy of the new release today. If you are in NYC, don’t hesitate to join us for the Album Release Show on Thursday, February 11th at 7 pm.

The Midwest Record posted this rave review on January 21st:

“It’s the tone that grabs you right away on the sax man’s second outing. Circling the wagons only to include old classmates of 20 years standing, it’s a shame Parker came along around the time the major’s stopped supporting creative, high-octane outings like this.”

The review continued: “Playing like he has the knowledge of the history of jazz sax at his fingertips, there’s no way you’re not going to be taken with this polished, soulful outing that’s more of a thrill ride than any Great America roller coaster. Killer stuff.”

Share this link to the trailer for Present Time.

Album Release Show

Anna Clyne Presents:
Thursday, February 11th 7 pm
With special guests Michael Arthur, live drawings, and Emily Braden, vocals

80 North 6th St. Brooklyn, NY 11249

Tickets: http://nationalsawdust.org/event/anna-clyne-presents-matt-parker-present-time/

Thanks for coming out and making a huge impact on the success of this new release.

Would you like to know more about the new album?
Check out Matt Parker’s Press Release


Special guests include Michael Arthur, live drawings, and Emily Braden, vocals.


As Nicholas Ind, Oriol Iglesias, and Majken Schultz wrote in strategy + business, Adi Dassler, a cobbler by training and a keen sportsman observed athletes, talked to them about their needs and then experimented with novel ways of solving their problems. Dassler engaged an iterative process that relied on prototyping and testing and evolving production innovations.

Dassler acquired his first patent on a pair of running shoes in 1925, and three years later, a runner wearing his shoes won an Olympic gold. In 1936, Jesse Owens won four gold medals in Dassler’s shoes.

During Adi Dassler’s lifetime, his company, adidas continued to expand and develop new markets and sports. But the company always united by Adi’s belief in “only the best for the athlete” and his philosophy of industrialized craftsmanship created a stream of innovative products.

Today, the value of authenticity and a deep understanding of the brand also extend into innovative partnerships. adidas selects partners largely by their potential for alignment with the values and philosophy of the company.

Radical designs have opened new audiences and sales channels while encouraging adidas’s designers to be more adventurous.

Credit: Zak Noyle/A-Frame/Parley for the Oceans

As Steve Vincent, Senior Vice President of adidas future, says, “That’s the challenge—to do completely disruptive things that no one ‘s ever seen or expected but still feel like they should come from this brand.”

Along comes PARLEY FOR THE OCEANS, an organization dedicated to reducing plastic waste in oceans. Parley’s collaboration with adidas designers led to a 3D-printed concept shoe made out of recycled ocean plastic.

“The new shoe design rethinks the environmental impact of materials to help stop ocean plastic pollution,” according to adidas.

Among others, this collaboration will accelerate the integration of materials made of ocean plastic waste into adidas products as of 2016.

The true impact of a sustainable future for the adidas brand comes from a long-held mindset of product innovation, a strong embrace of innovative partnerships, and today, helping marine life and showing the world how to shed its throwaway mentality.

Adi Dassler would be pleased that the adidas brand is leading the reduction of plastic pollution in the ocean with a genuine partnership while serving the most competitive athletes in the world.

However a compelling story, adidas misses an opportunity to effect greater brand distinction and engagement.

Jim Signorelli, president at Story-Lab U.S. observes, “adidas is making great strides towards becoming a StoryBrand. However, they need to link together the chapters of their story so that a single-minded truth becomes more evident.”

He adds, “Their latest commercial, featuring James Harden, makes a strong and compelling case for the notion that “Creators Never Follow.” However, a story’s theme is proven through its plot. We need to see that adidas is walking its talk. Every brand in the sportswear category innovates. But innovating in ways that support the sustainability of marine life? That’s the kind of stand-out proof that tells the adidas story convincingly.”

Jim Signorelli and I hope our message resonates with adidas. We want to help adidas enter a higher sphere of storybranding and brand advocacy. We think more athletes would engage the adidas/PARLEY solution if they knew what we know.

References: Strategy + Business writers, Nicholas Ind, Oslo School of Management, Oriol Inglesas, associate professor at ESADE, Business School in Barcelona and director of the ESADE Brand Institute, and Majken Schultz, professor at Copenhagen Business School. adidas Partners to Help End Ocean Destruction, Releases Sustainability Progress Report, by Sustainable Brands. adidas and Parley Oceans Partnership Aims end Plastic Pollution Oceans. NYC NEWS.

Note:The adidas brand name in lower case was used correctly throughout the blog.


Mary Olson
Email: maryolson@maryolson.biz
Phone: 917.656.1856
Blog: maryolson.biz/blog
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryolsonbiz
Twitter: @maryolsonbiz

Jim Signorelli
Email: jims@story-lab.net
Phone: 312.762.7400
Blog: http://www.story-lab.net
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimsignorelli
Twitter: @jimsignorelli


I recently met with Mariana Antinori to learn how the most prescient leader of Italian fashion on Madison Avenue established her remarkable design niche. I also wanted to know how she evolved her beautiful reputation and the strong bonds and relationships that her friends and customers value.

Please accept my invitation to stop in and visit with Mariana Antinori. When you visit her shop, you will find a warm welcome and see that every exquisite hand-selected piece is unique.

The story about how Mariana’s reputation came about is remarkable. She descended from a great Florentine family where cultural and familial bonds have always been strong among Italy’s oldest families. As a family insider, Mariana has access to private network of elite designers and craftspeople, long proven elusive to outsiders. As a result, her exclusivity, insights and discerning taste became the cornerstones of her legendary name.

Photo by Raoul Didisheim, 2013

Mariana knows the alchemy of luxury and understands that real luxury trades on two attributes, speciality and exclusivity.

In 2012, Mariana introduced New Yorkers to the most stunning new generation of Italian jewelry and accessory designers virtually unknown in America.

She is one of a kind. She has the finest eye for style and design in Manhattan, sources the most exclusive fashion accessories, is a trusted advisor, and an ultimate storyteller. Her collections are a direct reflection of her design philosophy.

Mariana Antinori is fashion’s best friend to women who value discerning uniqueness and are looking for sophistication for special lifestyle moments.

Mary Olson: What do you recommend for women who would treasure something uniquely special for the holidays?

Mariana Antinori: Well, the mission of our shop is about speciality, but some interesting items that are new for the holidays include woven leather evening clutches with semi-precious stones from Capri. We also have some wonderful new collections of fine and costume jewelry pieces that I’m excited about.

OLSON: How do you see your collections evolving for the spring of 2016?

ANTINORI: I will continue to support Italian design by bringing smaller yet exclusive merchandise and evoking a highly personal shopping experience, but will expand the fine and costume jewelry. I think this is a special niche that is lacking in the market.

OLSON: Your trunk shows are important events. What are your thoughts as you build your following?

ANTINORI: I carry items that can’t be found elsewhere, and the trunk shows augment that. They allow designers the opportunity to expose their creations and give my customers a chance to see new things that they are not going to find in other stores. There is a great wealth of talent that I have access to, and I enjoy being able to share it.

OLSON: How important is understated luxury to you?

ANTINORI: To me, understated luxury means quality of life. It refers to beauty and style, original design and patterns, fabrics and the right proportions. It’s not about brands. That’s what my customers understand.


Mariana Antinori
1242 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10128 USA

Email: info@marianaantinori.com
Website: http://marianaantinori.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mariana.Antinori.Inc/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marianaantinori/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marianaantinori/

Interview by Mary Olson
Email: maryolson@maryolson.biz
Phone: 917.656.1856
Blog: maryolson.biz/blog
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryolsonbiz


My interview series, REMARKABLE PEOPLE 2015 includes experts in technology, the arts, transformative business innovation, and social good. It is an exciting group of creative thought leaders and enlightened personalities. Some are extraordinary examples of humanity and social responsibility; others are creating game-changing paradigm shifts in their respective fields.

Nancy Cohen has an MFA from Columbia University. Over the past twenty-five years, Nancy Cohen has explored sculptural formations and created installations, glass drawings and works on paper. She has established a compelling body of work from small sculptures to large installations. The range and application of materials are explored here. She is also a collaborator, most recently with environmentalists, and lectures widely.

The following interview with Nancy Cohen is available as a multi-channel user experience. The format for your exploration and engagement is entirely up to you.

Nancy Cohen, Hackensack Dreaming, Traveling Exhibition, 2015-2016

PDF Version: Remarkable People 2015 – Nancy Cohen
Recent Digital Catalog: Hackensack Dreaming

Mary Olson: How has your work emerged?

Nancy Cohen: "Over the years my work has emerged in two parallel directions and through two rather distinct approaches to creating art.

This first one is very personal, and I think of as being related to the body – to how I/we as human beings exist and survive in the world. In the 80’s I was making an abstract sculpture that I thought of almost as characters in a short story – engaging with each other in various situations. Those pieces were juxtapositions of opposing materials, textures, forms, etc."

The next group of work was more evocative of particular aspects of the body – internal organs – cellular or breast forms. About 15 years ago I began making work that I thought of as containers or some kinds of support systems for the body. I began with a Chariot form and then moved on to Hammocks, Wheel Chairs, Gurneys, Chaise Lounges, Cradles, Scooters, and Crutches and am now working on Walkers.