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99U Conference

Fake Love’s Layne Braunstein: To Survive the Future, Be Upgradable

The creative studio founder says it’s important to think of ‘innovator’ as more than just a line in your bio.

When we set the theme for our 2019 conference — The Creative Future — we imagined a future where creative skills are more pervasive and prized, and how that might reshape the world around us. As we prepare for the event in May, we’re asking our speakers to share a skill they think is important for all creatives to navigate what’s to come.


Layne Braunstein is the co-founder of Fake Love, the New York Times creative studio behind incredible multisensory experiences for clients including Samsung and Nordstrom. Braunstein will be at the 11th Annual 99U Conference taking place May 8-10 in New York City.

Q. What is a skill you believe to be futureproof?

A. I have worked in every possible industry as a creative— agency, post-production, TV network, gaming, brand side, media, and startup—so the first skill I’ve cultivated is the ability to pivot without fear. That means the ability to change an idea, a project, or even my career when it’s needed. I never pivot without looking towards the future; I gather a deep understanding of what’s next and take a giant leap forward into the void.

The second thing is to never stop learning your craft. I aggressively look for new ways to express myself and tell stories for my clients. I never pitch anything that I don’t understand how to mostly make myself. And I can’t do that with a Google search; I have to get my hands dirty. In experiential, nothing replaces hands-on knowledge of what you are proposing. Creatives with that knowledge will rise above the other creatives who are just riding this newest wave in advertising.

Q. Why will these full pivots and hands on approach be so important in the future?

A. It’s important to be a multifaceted creative in the future, because you never know what your next path will be. Don’t be a jack of all trades, master of none. At the same time, don’t just think you are going to be a UX designer and nothing else. The wave of talent coming out of art school today has that mindset. We all should, too.

Q. What’s a time in your career that you realized the power of all those pivots?

A. I realized very early after starting Fake Love, that having those skills was a huge advantage. We were basically starting a new industry that merged advertising, marketing, event production, interactive design, and tech startup into one: experiential. We were a three-person company back then, and walking into a room with deep industry experience in all those things felt very powerful. I could speak everyone’s language.

Q. What advice would you give to anyone looking to cultivate this approach?

A. If you are looking to be an innovator, don’t just list that as an adjective in your bio. Really live it. Don’t become an I do everything creative, because that is replaceable as well. Think of yourself as an upgradable creative: always willing to leap into new territories, be better, and change yourself.


Hear from Layne Braunstein and more creatives shaping the future at the 11th Annual 99U Conference, May 8-10, 2019 in New York City.

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