Story In A Bottle Podcast

Lockhart Steele has spent his life taking a revolutionary approach to publishing. Even as an eight year old, his passion was well established as he spent his free time breaking local school news stories (by way of a typewriter and photocopier) with two of his friends. However, without many options to explore an academic career in journalism, he majored in history at Brown University, but quickly found his way back to writing when he accepted a position writing for a trade magazine in New York City. From there, the rest is history.

According to him, his career path was not very cohesive, but as we discussed over chilled rose (a bold move for the cooler season), we realized that all of his experiences culminate in such a way which has lead to the success he celebrates today. From breaking boundaries and formats at Gawker, a successful self-published-turned-professionally-published book about jam band Phish (the Pharmer’s Almanac), attempting & failing at his own startup, and ultimately committing to his vision with Curbed - he’s continued to exceed the limitations of the status quo in business, publishing, and writing. Today, after a successful acquisition of his company by Vox, he continues to press his team onward, encouraging them to do the same as the Editorial Director. After all, he attributes much of his progress to the people - the investors, mentors, partners, and teams - who have steered him in key moments of his career and ultimately, whose collaboration have created that “secret sauce” which is so important to the evolutions of innovative products.

Check out @lock and to follow what he’s working on next.

Direct download: SIAB_LSteele_v3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:10am EST

Katie Welch is the Executive Vice President of Global Brands at Weber Shandwick which is a hefty title and even more hefty responsibility. As a self-described steward of brands, she is responsible for how major companies communicate with their customers on a daily basis. This role requires both a strategic and creative mind, as well as a sound awareness of all of the intricacies of consumer engagement in this fast-evolving space; skills Katie has sharpened over her years of experience both in and outside of the Public Relations field.

Over Absolut Elyx, she shared her path to getting here: beginning with an English degree from Denison University and a passion for fashion & beauty leading to a stint as an intern in the publishing world at Hearst’s Marie Claire. It was this foundation which inspired her to ultimately throw the Hail Mary pass to try to make it in New York and the PR world. However, after many challenges and strategic career moves, time in Chicago and back in New York, and at companies like Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, and Bliss Spas before returning for her third (yes, third) role at Weber Shandwick -- she learned and continues to remind herself of the importance of the details and her advice that is invaluable to anyone in the product world.

For more from Katie, tweet at @KatieWelch.

Direct download: SIAB_KWelch_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:38am EST

While it creates exceptional opportunities for growth, one of the biggest challenges in tech is helping older media embrace them, especially TV. Enter Gavin Purcell. As Producer of the Emmy-winning team behind the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, and before that, Late Night, bringing innovation and maintaining relevance across platforms is a charge he continues to lead. In fact, he and Jimmy have created their own company to ensure that they are able to create digital products - websites and apps - which help bring the show to the forefront of viewers, beyond its nightly airing.


This is certainly not bad for someone who never planned on getting into TV, or tech for that matter, and started his career as a production assistant at the National Enquirer. Over Greenhook Gin from Brooklyn, Gavin shares his incredible story; growing up in Seattle as a “fat kid” who loved video games, he attributes his success to a series of hits and misses - spending time teaching English in Korea, being rejected from grad school, becoming a PA in Hollywood, all the while maintaining the importance of initiative and hard work (even when it comes to cleaning a television studio’s fridge). It’s because of this work ethic, forward-thinking and creative edge, that he has become a pioneer for the integration of tech in the TV world (and vice versa), realizing his “dream job” at G4's Attack of the Show and now at NBC's Tonight Show. Bravo!


For more of his musings, check out @gavinpurcell on Twitter and, of course, see the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon weeknights (or, y’know, the internet for the epic clips).

Direct download: SIAB_GPurcel_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:16am EST

Lara Crystal is a founder amongst founders, and frankly, our hero. As one of the brains behind Minibar, she is bridging the gap of all things hot in tech startups at the moment -- mobile, on demand services ... and alcohol. That’s right, Minibar is a platform she developed alongside her partner, another former Wharton grad, to help connect users with their local liquor stores to help solve for the intimidating experience of going in person and the convenience of having booze delivered to your doorstep in under an hour. At just over a year old, Laura is utilizing app data and her previous experience in marketing and fashion to help take the company to the next level.


Over a couple glasses of sauvignon blanc, we learned how her path, while in seemingly  unrelated fields, has positioned her for this leap into the industry. As an undergrad at Cornell University majoring in business, she had no sights on tech, but instead began her career where most people would like to end it, focusing on retirement (as an Actuary, at least). Fortunately for us, this path was short lived and inspired her to make an about-face to pursue a path of building and making things for herself. From there, she spent many years in the fashion industry, working with brands like Coach, Chanel and Cole Haan (with a brief stint at business school), but ultimately landed as one of the first hires at Rent the Runway. It was there that she learned while building her first product just how much she could accomplish, and eventually inspired her take her own advice to budding entrepreneurs with an idea: “believe in it and believe it’s gonna work.”

We’ll drink to that.

Direct download: SIAB_LCrystal_v2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:39am EST

Rafat Ali is best known for his coverage of the New York tech scene -- which he’d done since the dot-com boom went bust. However, what’s amazing is that he began his working life as a computer engineer, pre-internet in India and found his way into the industry at large by way of a Masters Degree from Indiana University and a personal blog. It’s because of these experiences that he found himself humbly rising the ranks during a tumultuous time at the frenzied start up, and finally made his way to covering the industry itself with Jason Calacanis's Silicon Alley Reporter (just as it's own print publication went bust). Eventually, and seemingly accidentally, he turned his side project, (terrible name and all), into a must-have for media professionals before even more accidentally turning that into a surprising and swift exit. His experience sums up the evolution of New York new media.


Now as the CEO & Found of his latest project, Skift, Rafat is using the knowledge he's gained along the way to create a truly profitable journalism product that covers the biggest industry in the world - travel - from a b2b perspective. We’ve learned that years in, Skift is in the black and has three equal revenue streams that give Rafat and his team the runway to build the company that works the way they want it to in a way that benefits both users and advertisers alike. Cheers!

For more from him, follow @Rafat.

Direct download: SIAB_RAli_final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:21am EST