One of John’s greatest accomplishments came when he was honored as one of Northwestern Michigan College’s Outstanding Alumni of the Year for 2014. This came on the heels of another major honor when the college’s director of development, who also served on the committee for the Traverse City TEDx, asked if he would like to be considered as a potential TEDx speaker. Having earned an associate degree in commercial art from NMC—the start that ultimately lead to his current position directing the Google ZOO—John jumped at the opportunity. Those in the TEDx audience were glad he did. Rather than talk about working at Google, John decided to focus on the idea of community and how it will play a game-changing role in the future of the industry.
Sharing his insight and experiences, he expressed that interactive marketing and advertising will no longer be driven by the typical lone wolf, fighter pilot, male creative director type. “No, today it will take a village, or community, of diverse contributors who apply creative thinking to bring digital ideas to reality. Yes, there still needs to be one driver, one passionate leader with the vision needed to get others onboard. But today, more and more people with different skill sets are needed to lose their egos and come together to solve a problem.” John ends the talk by having everyone in the audience including himself wear a red nose. This immediately breaks down personal barriers, destroys egos, creates a strong sense of community and without question, changes the game.