The end of the year teaches us about letting go and renewal, if we let it.

55th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, my favorite block in Midtown during the winter

As a child, I thought December was winter, and that winter meant the end of the year. Having grown up in the suburbs of Chicago, I knew gray Januaries and bleak Februaries that felt like the longest, rather than the shortest, months, and I guess if anyone asked me what season we were in before the Vernal Equinox I would have known to say winter.

But for much of my childhood, “winter” really meant Christmas, my birthday, my dad’s birthday, my foster-brother’s birthday, my best friend’s birthday, the first snow days off from school — and all of that happened…

A call to make our appreciation for our own good fortune more actionable for others.

Atlas masked, at Rockefeller Center

Most people think of Thanksgiving as the high holiday of gratitude in the calendar year, but for me it tends to be the last few weeks of December. The more time I spend reflecting on the year about to end and making plans and strategies for the year ahead, the more opportunity I find to appreciate what went well, and what could have gone worse.

In a year it was easy to hate, there is still so much to be grateful for.

This year, amid the covid-19 pandemic, it’s easy to list what went wrong, but my lifelong inclination has…

There is a popular tendency, amplified perhaps by social media, to catalog all current events by the year in which they are happening, and when these current events are what we might call ”bad,“ to then blame the year itself for being a bad year. 2020, by this reckoning, feels like the worst year of our lifetimes.

But you and I, brilliant creatures that we are, both know that events aren’t dictated by the earth’s rotation of the sun, and we know that the human concept of time is arbitrary. Right? Rationally, we know this. We don’t have bad years…

While business tends to focus on the future of work and humans tend to focus on the future of jobs, the real potential for the future is in aligning them.

a baby interacting with Pepper the robot, taken from
a baby interacting with Pepper the robot, taken from
A baby interacting with Pepper the robot, taken from (CC BY 2.0)

When I speak with groups of executives about emerging technology, digital transformation, and the future of human experiences, every group eventually tends to ask the same questions about the future of work. They wonder what work as an organizational force looks like in the future, how workforces will function across distributed locations and with increasingly automated components, and so on. …

The Adobe Summit has been taking place in Las Vegas this week, and having attended as part of the Adobe Insiders influencers program, I’ve come away not only with a striking sleep deficit, but also with a wonderful sense of satisfaction that the world is adapting to share my beliefs that when it comes to digital transformation and being ready for the future, what matters most are purpose and experience.

As an experience strategist who advises leaders on digital transformation, it was encouraging to me that so many of the leaders on stage spoke to themes I’ve been advocating for…

With humans and automation sharing many customer care responsibilities, the answer’s not totally straightforward

CC BY-SA 2.0 James Royal-Lawson via Flickr

Note: A modified version of this piece is included in the new book Tech Humanist.

Let’s say you have a question regarding your bank account, so you visit your bank’s website to find a phone number to call them. While you’re looking for that, a chat box pops up in the corner of the window, asking if you’d like to chat live with an agent for help. “Why not?” you think to yourself, and click to start the conversation.

So far so good, but let’s say your question is how you can protect your account from your ex who may…

I would never claim to know more about love than most people. All humans — and maybe non-human animals too — probably come equipped with a fairly intuitive understanding of it. But as a widow, having seen the one I then loved most in the world die, my view of what love is and what it does and what it means is perhaps unusually clear. And since I’m now remarried, I can test myself every day on how practical what I see is.

I’ve written a lot about love over the years, and I think there’s something to it:


I know things don’t always work out.

I know life doesn’t last. Life is finite.

I know love survives death.

But I also know sometimes love doesn’t work out, doesn’t last, doesn’t live up to all of its promises.

I know bad things happen to good people.

I know all of this.

And yet I know this, too:

I know it’s still possible to be happy.

I know it’s still possible to throw yourself wholeheartedly into love, even when you know you could end up hurt, because what else are you going to do, avoid it?

I know people matter to other people.

I know kindness matters.

I know love is worth it. Every time.

We need to encode technology with the best of our humanity.

Note: this manifesto generated so much interest and such encouraging feedback that it grew into a book published in 2018: Tech Humanist. Please buy, read, review, share, and keep spreading the word.

After twenty-plus years of working in web technology, digital strategy, marketing, and operations, with job titles like “intranet developer,” “content manager,” “head of customer experience,” and even “search monkey,” and after writing a book on the integration of physical and digital experiences and now working on a book on automation and artificial intelligence, I have a difficult time describing to people what I do. …

I’m an American, for whatever that represents in the world, and in the spirit of the quote sometimes attributed to Thackeray: whatever I am, I’d like to be a good one.

I’m also a strategy speaker and consultant, helping companies and organizations think through the human experience of interacting with them in online and offline environments particularly through technology and data.

In other words, I’m well versed in the disconnects between ideas and experiences, and I’ve given a lot of thought to how to better connect them.

As ideas go, the American idea — that aggregate of democracy, freedom, equal…

Kate O'Neill

Speaker, author, expert on better tech for business & people, & transformation—digital & otherwise. @kateo.

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