[33] Connecting the Dots: Event Networking

by Megan Burns, Director - Catalyst

Megan Burns, on stage at VOICE22

One of my favorite Commencement speeches is Steve Jobs' in 2005 to Stanford Grads.


It's about connecting the dots: the dots of intelligence, wisdom, desire and ability that are innate to people. It's about having the intuition not only to know that they exist but also to know what to do with them to continuously cultivate innovation and initiatives.


You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. Trust the dots will connect. This concept applies to when we meet people. Especially at events. When we are open, without an agenda, authentic connection happens. We may connect the dots later to find out why.


Since returning from Summer School: Catalyst heads to Europe, much of August was spent preparing for what many were calling ‘back to school’. Fall Catalyst strategy included preparing to attend a flurry of September and October events bolstering Azafran’s ever growing global network.


First up! Brandweek. On 12-16 September, Miami. Brandweek is Adweek’s premiere event, bringing together the leading creative and strategies ic minds in brand marketing to solve problems, discuss projects and map out a future that’s ahead of the trends.


Adweek partnered with The CMO Club and Salesforce where CMO Club members were invited to attend Brandweek as well as have access to the private CMO Club lounge. Here they hosted intimate conversations filled with impactful content followed by engaging networking. A special thank you to CMO Club’s SVPJon Suarex-Davis, CMO Engagement Lead Matt Porter and the entire team for welcoming me as a former colleague.


Speakers and attendees at Brandweek saw top brands including GM, Google, ESPN, IBM, J&J, Johnson Controls, Logitech, Mastercard health, NBC Universal, Piedmont Health, Samsung, SAS, Veritone, and Vizio.

Brandweek concluded with a full day focused on the metaverse. More than 50 million people around the world now consider themselves part of the creator economy, giving it a global market size valuation of $13.8 billion, according to Statista. Brands face an important inflection point where culture is originating from the ground up and creators have an increasing amount of power.

Highlights of this forward thinking metaverse content packed day included Pepsi’s Chief Marketing Officer Todd Kaplan. He explored the company’s recent plays in the NFT space including Pepsi’s “Mic Drop Genesis NFT Collection” and “Strength of a Woman”. These educational insights for navigating the evolving creator economy, and actionable tips for maintaining relevance and authenticity as we enter the next era of the Internet.

Verizon also shared it was a player in the metaverse before it even had a name - experimenting with customer experiences. Why? Because it's a boundary-busting, inclusive-first space which brings people together, enables community and allows for innovative creative exploration.

Verizon's Chief Creative Officer Andrew McKechnie shared their history of creating groundbreaking consumer touchpoints and illuminating human stories that bridge differences, from the early days of the metaverse to now.

Ken Sutton, CEO and Co-Founder of Azafran Fund I Company, Yobe, on Stage at VOICE22

This metaverse rich content aligns with Azafran’s portfolio company, tagSpace who are preparing to re-launch their mixed reality metaverse platform to include support for B2C as well as their existing B2B2C business. Check out their B2B demo here or sign up for their B2C Beta


A special invitation from Azafran’s Catalyst partner Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney allowed me to experience a full day at their Product Portfolio Optimization Summit. Friend of Azafran and Entrepreneur, MIchael Daley, joined a distinguished panel: Leveraging Your Pharmaceutical Product Portfolio: Driving M&A and Target Identification.


Michael, having recently sold his company OrthogenRX and the expert panelists, shared insightful takeaways and considerations in M&A strategy including patent strategy and defense, product vs tech strategy, risk profile, IP, FDA and commercialization strategy, NDA competence and compliance strategy.

In Philadelphia, I co-hosted, with Ai expert Joti Balani an intimate gathering to discuss Conversational Voice AI, sponsored by Modev and Veritone. A highlight was the insights shared by Srivatsan Nagraj, Healthcare-Chief Digital Officer @ IQVIA, from his recent article Deep Fakes: Are They Good or Bad for the Healthcare Industry?

Last week, we attended Voice Summit in Arlington VA where speakers and attendees from brands including General Motors. The Target Corporation, Walmart, IBM, Veritone, IHG Hotels & Resorts, Prudential, PBS, NVIDIA, National Geographic, Ericsson Digital Human, Best Buy, Instacart, Avaya, Intuit, SoundHound, AWS Professional Services, IBM, Google, Amazon, Samsung, Deloitte, Amazon Alexa, and Salesforce will all be on hand. For more information, see the comprehensive Agenda.

As Steve Jobs encourages us to do, I will continue to enhance the Catalyst network by attending events and networking. Always remembering to connect the dots.