Nerd Profile: Jocelyn Lai


What’s your title or role at GSD&M?

21st Century hunter and gatherer of advertising talent, tech, fashion and tacos.

How have you used new tech to benefit GSD&M / How does new tech affect your role / What are you doing with new tech to better GSD&M?

In my role, it is important for me to be present when and where the talent is present so that I can meet them and start a relationship. However, I can’t be in two places at once. Unless, I’m digital. When I’m digital, using new technologies, I can be in 20 places at once. I am always interested in new tech developments and how we can use them to better our agency, starting from the people we hire. Hunting and gathering advertising talent with digital tools requires more than just a device though – it takes the same amount of research, strategy, and creative that we invest into our clients’ campaigns.

What’s the next big push in social media, user engagement and brand integration?

As technology continues to empower consumers with new abilities and information, the next push will be user-centric design – whether it is a website, product, or even a sidewalk. What is intuitive to our consumers? And, with that, we will need to begin thinking more about product design. How do we move away from making shopping entertaining, and make entertainment shoppable? I feel that in the past few years, we (as an industry) got so caught up in the race of being the first to spit out a new idea, and in that, we assumed the consumer would chase our dreams. When, really it is our job to chase our consumers’ dreams. And, the way we do that is through user-centric design: adapting to and becoming part of the consumer’s behavior – rather than inventing new behavior.

How are new technologies bleeding over into music culture, food culture and the arts?

Beauty and truth are in the eye of the beholder, and new technology is absolutely changing the way we comprehend and define both beauty and truth. Pixels, formerly considered an ugly arrangement of colored boxes, are now suddenly so beautiful that people are getting them tattooed onto their bodies. Clothing. A Michael Kors watch may be cool and trendy, but a watch that can control the volume of your speakers … now that’s beauty. The guy rapping in the subway – when captured and shared on Vine, has a story attached to it. And, that story carries beauty and truth, neither of which would have been acknowledged and defined without digital and social technology.

New technology is redefining our reality to experience the world as if we were bots. The digital is now audible, wearable, visual, edible, breathable. We are beginning to see, hear, taste, feel, create the world the way bots would.

How important is it for fresh talent out of school to understand new technology?

Very. But, even more important to understand how that can be used as part of a larger idea. Technology is great, but it needs to be more than just a magic trick. It needs to be part of a larger performance and production.

What is it about tacos that gets you so excited?

I don’t wanna taco bout it… It’s a beautiful example of how laziness can inspire some of the most innovative things (the remote control being another one). It’s basically an entrée folded into an edible plate that also doubles up as an edible napkin. And, you can take it on the go. I highly doubt this is how/why tacos were invented, but it is exactly why I fell in love with them: extreme laziness, mixed with extreme hunger. I also have an undying love for stadium nachos. Orange cheese, yellow corn chips. That one, I can’t explain.

Tell us something.

When job-hunting, it is important to find a place whose organizational values match your personal values, because their decisions affect your life, and your decisions affect the organization’s life.

Follow @jocelynslai on Twitter.

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