PSFK Conference New York Speaker: Robbie Vitrano

PSFK Conference New York Speaker: Robbie Vitrano
Larissa Hayden
  • 16 march 2009

We’re looking forward to having Robbie Vitrano, co-founder and CEO of Trumpet, join us at PSFK Conference New York on April 2. Robbie will be part of our panel discussion about the pursuit of intellectual property and how it’s changing the way agencies and new businesses operate, along with Bart Haney (fuseproject), Carl Johnson (Anomaly), Ben Malbon (BBH Labs), and Danielle Sacks (Fast Company).

First, who are you and what do you do?

I’m something of a denter. Perpetually. Kissing cousin of over-earnest and pedantic. I have a goal: to someday be referred to as possessing “divine discontent.” Good luck. I bring this to my marriage of 21 years, my children of 16 and 20, the 30-something people I work with and the poor bastards who tolerate me in their boardrooms and businesses (and occasionally in public).

I’m this way because I started with an infatuation with art and innovation and none of the necessary perspective, wisdom or tools. So you keep asking “why?,” staying curious and eventually gaining just enough knowledge to torture everyone else. Your EURKEA (!) moments are EVERYONE’S EUREKA(!) moments. I am the oblivious ten-year-old who just got his first drum kit.

I’ve got a lot to work with these days. You’ve likely met someone with a deep, dysfunctional love/hate relationship with their native or adopted New Orleans. Those of us with the affliction have found ourselves on the front line of an unknowable battle. Head and heart all jumbled together. Ego and inspiration pushing and pulling. We sort of think it is now our destiny to save New Orleans, save the world.

I create ideas to help business and organizational ideas gain cultural influence. That used to be more about selling burritos, cars, or financial services. Today it’s about applying those “talents,” an understanding and respect for business, and amazing, embarrassing, access to global creative resources in a way that is considerably more socially responsible. It all needs to work. Creative people need to get more involved and lead. So that’s what I try to do.

You’ll be sharing your ideas on our “New Ideas Agencies” panel. In one paragraph, can you explain what themes and ideas you hope to touch upon during the discussion?

The applications and opportunities of creative destruction. In particular, New Orleans as a microcosm of a world in a state of economic, political, social and environmental re-evaluation. A city as laboratory, encompassing all of the societal systems, that three years ago was virtually (80%) destroyed by the failure of federal levee systems forced to reconcile institutional failure across the board. In many ways, New Orleans got a three year head start on the global recession, experiencing a wave of entrepreneurial activity, citizen/political engagement, grand cultural events (Prospect.1) and as such, has become a talent magnet, with foundations, think tanks, corporate social responsibility teams (, etc.) and B-schools from around the world coming to the city to learn and apply. Today, the city has been largely insulated from the downturn, being one of the only cities to show job increases, relatively active seed-stage business investments and business starts. As a creative person with an embarrassment of talent and resources available, I’ve jumped into that head first. Other creative people will be called on to do the same – to get more deeply involved, far beyond consultation, beyond “business,” to lead and invent in this time of re-evaluation.

5 hyperlinks to sites that provide you with inspiration:

Thanks, Robbie!

To hear more from Robbie, get your ticket for PSFK Conference New York now.

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