menu

Cultural Chameleon: How Army Rebels Inspire Creative Co-working [PSFK 2014]

Cultural Chameleon: How Army Rebels Inspire Creative Co-working [PSFK 2014]
Design

In this video we learn how physicality stimulates creativity and innovation by blurring the lines between work, life and play at Brooklyn Boulders.

Nestor Bailly, PSFK
  • 26 may 2014

Jesse Levin, Senior Cultural Chameleon at Brooklyn Boulders, spoke at PSFK CONFERENCE 2014 on what he’s learned from disaster response and special ops veterans on how to build community and culture in startups.

He began by telling the audience about his experiences in Panama as a cultural mediator in a remote part of the country. The FARC militia, anti-narcotics police, the indigenous population and a Canadian mining company were all operating in that same area and it was his job to get them working together. With radically divergent interests, each group was suspicious of the other until a flood paralyzed the region. Levin took this as an opportunity to coordinate the strengths of each group to mount an effective relief effort that ended with all the stakeholders in the region seeing eye to eye.

psfk-conference-levin2

He continued his efforts in Haiti after the earthquake to assist in recovery and rebuilding, but was frustrated by the inertia that big organizations had to overcome. He joined up with a small group of aid workers that were much more nimble and responsive, and worked to empower the Haitians to direct the relief efforts themselves. He learned that you can’t have any preconceived notions about a place, and that making friends will always get things done faster and better than being suspicious of others.

While working with military special operations veterans across his relief effort experiences Levin realized that when it comes to getting things done in the real world, there’s nothing better than an actual physical platform for people to gather around. Digital initiatives, apps and whatnot just don’t cut it. Realizing this, he put real CEOs through outdoor training sessions with the special ops veterans to help everyone understand how they all had valuable skill sets for each other.

psfk-conference-levin3

He tied all these experiences together at Brooklyn Boulders under the rubric that physicality stimulates creativity and innovation by blurring the lines between work, life and play. Starting with a new space near Boston, Levin and the Brooklyn Boulders team looked to design a space that forced communal interaction, the bringing together of people who would never otherwise have contact with one another. Levin then applied the lessons he learned in Panama and Haiti towards building community in a raw warehouse with ‘hardhat dinners’ of diverse individuals, and asked them what their community needed and how the space could fulfill that.

By uniting local creatives and innovators Levin built a proto-community of influencers without traditional advertising that not only informed the final form of the warehouse space but also laid the foundation of the space’s culture. With active collaborative workspaces integrated seamlessly into the gym’s workout facilities, they created a new paradigm for coworking where 30 minutes of desk space costs 5 pull-ups or 5 sit-ups. The startups that work in this space take regular breaks for climbing, workouts, sauna or fitness classes, and they emerge more creative and do better work as a result.

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 4.46.43 PM

Levin reviewed how the Brooklyn Boulders sales funnel is reversed, with minimal input at the top and a series of ‘force multipliers’ to achieve maximum output. They think about their asset, a new campaign or physical location, as a nugget that will have waves of impacts in certain communities and how their message can resonate with the people in those groups they want to reach.

You can watch Levin’s full talk in the video below.

Brooklyn Boulders // @BKBoulders

PSFK CONFERENCE 2014

Click here to get updates on future PSFK conferences and salons.

Trending

Genetics Startup Is Working To Create A Completely Personalized, DNA-Based Range Of Products

Health
Retail Yesterday

Store Technology Expert: Why Retailers Must Invest In Store Associates

Jan Kotowski, Head of Product at Tulip Retail, shares his thoughts on how retailers should be preparing for the future

Travel Yesterday

United Airlines Launches An Updated Business Class Program

The new Polaris product prioritizes customer service and updated modern amenities

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Design & Architecture Yesterday

Video Explores Complex Museum Architecture

A mini video gives a quick overview of the most beautiful cultural buildings built

Sustainability Yesterday

Smog Vacuum Turns Pollution Particulates Into Unique Jewelry

A large device was installed in Beijing that sucks up smog and compresses it into small centerpieces atop jewelry

Related Expert

Marc Kushner

Revisionary Placemaker

Experiential Marketing Yesterday

PSA Fashion Line Shines A Light On Victim Blaming

YWCA Canada is using fashion and sexist tweets to highlight how often we as a society blame the victim in cases of abuse

Syndicated Yesterday

What PSX 2016 Tells Us About The Modern Games Industry

Nostalgia and big brands are defining how the console market is being shaped

Mobile Yesterday

VP: Why Messaging Apps Are Issuing In A New Era Of Commerce

Matt Johnson discusses how mobile messaging commerce is creating a different modality for interaction between retailers and consumers

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Retail 2017
Transformation Strategies For Customer-First Business
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed december 2, 2016

Customer Service Expert: Why Offline Retail Has Better Data Than Online Retail

Healey Cypher, Founder and CEO of Oak Labs, shares why we should be thinking about the physical store as an e-commerce site

PSFK Labs december 1, 2016

Retail Spotlight: Home Depot Reimagines How Employees Conduct Tasks

The home improvement retailer puts the customer first by initiating local fulfillment centers and simplifying freight-to-shelf inventory management

Technology Yesterday

The PSFK Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Based on a year of research by PSFK Labs, we curated a list of innovative and unique holiday gifts

Food Yesterday

Minute Maid Opens A Store That Sells Nothing

The beverage company opened a pop-up shop that encourages customers to write letters to their parents instead of buying a gift

Entertainment Yesterday

Samsung And Viceland Partner For A Virtual Reality Documentary On The Syrian War

The White Helmets film uses VR to immerse viewers in the everyday conditions of the war-torn country

Design & Architecture Yesterday

These Designs Bring Modern Architecture To The Humble Birdhouse

Artist Douglas Barnhard has imagined a series of designs emulating the work of architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Joseph Eichler

AI Yesterday

Nine Technologies To Invest In When It Comes To Retail [Future Of Retail]

Retailers are leveraging assistive technology to help employees in their daily tasks and customers on the sales floor

PSFK EVENT

FUTURE OF RETAIL 2017
Conference Built Around Our Report Launch
BUY TICKETS

Travel Yesterday

Acura Cockpit Envisions The Future Of Autonomous Travel

The car brand has built a proof that offers a sneak peek of the self-driving vehicle experience

Retail Yesterday

How Artificial Intelligence Is Enabling Anytime Shopping & On-Demand Support

Retailers are leveraging advanced technology to relieve associates from mundane tasks, while better assisting customers

Cities Yesterday

NYC Map Calculates Economic Benefits Of Every Tree

TreesCount! maps all the greenery in the five boroughs and even figures out how much money it saves the city

No search results found.