Sharing is The Best: 5 Things I Learned at the 99u Conference

Updated: Jun 6, 2019

Toffee and Nougat are sharers. Photo credit @ryancr

They say that no man is an island. As a professional Venn diagram, sometimes it feels like that.

I work with clients from a broad cross-section of industries and disciplines. Many times, I am using both sides of my brain to get creative, think through a strategy and then get into the minutiae of how things will actually function. Rather than being a specialist in one area, I have a special skill set and a general understanding of many areas that use transferable skills. It’s like being multilingual in a sense and sometimes it can be hard to describe the challenges that arise as a result.

Last week I attended the 99u conference in New York City. It felt like the mothership had arrived and I was beamed up to a very cool lounge with interesting and smart people. I met people from Trinidad, New Zealand, Denmark (That Danish guy had an uncanny resemblance to Edward Snowden, but that’s a different story…), Sweden, Germany, South Africa, Uruguay and the United States. Their professions ranged from creative strategy, content development, product and graphic designers to digital product strategy, experience design and video production…pretty much everything under the creative sun.

We shared the challenges, dreams and triumphs that only people who work in creative spheres would understand. The discourse felt familiar yet new and I absorbed it like a sponge.

There were some practical takeaways, a lot of which had to do with being an entrepreneur. I’d like to share a few points that really resonated with me:

Prioritize. Not everything needs your attention immediately and not everything is important. Really. Buzzfeed’s scale for figuring out what’s important was awesome. I think I cried a single tear of joy when I saw it. Behold:

Cap Watkins, VP of Design at Buzzfeed

Be Patient. When you’re out there in the jungle clearing the brush, it might seem like you’re not making a lot of progress. Look around and see how much you have already done and be smart about how and what you do next.

What we don't see is the giant cookie jar on the other side of the table! Cap Watkins, VP of Design at Buzzfeed

What we don't see is the giant cookie jar on the other side of the table! Cap Watkins, VP of Design at Buzzfeed

Invite Yourself to The Table. If you have something valuable to contribute, put yourself in the conversation. Don’t wait for someone else to give you permission.

Take Risks. Like Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Enough said.

Yuko Shimizu, Illustrator and all around boss

Keep it Real. Learn the skills, find your voice and keep it. You might hear ‘no’ a million times before the first yes but that yes will be because you are unique. In a world of black and white sometimes you need a little red to get things poppin’!

I am already looking forward to next year’s 99u conference. Here's a picture of me trying to look nonchalant. But in hindsight, I think that's best left to hipster millennials. 

Until next time, 


Read more articles by Royann Dean on her LinkedIn profile.

I'm a strategic marketing communication consultant who works with premium brands to tell compelling brand stories, guide perception, drive engagement and build loyalty to win hearts and wallets. Find out more about me at, follow me on Twitter @royanndean and Linkedin.

are you curious?

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with exciting Inspired/By events &
FREE guide – 5 Brand Communication Tips to Win Hearts + Wallets.


Tel: +1 242.422.0697

  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black LinkedIn Icon

© 2018 Royann Dean Consulting Ltd. All rights reserved.