TEDx YorkU: The Secret to Bird Feeding

As a customer experience design theorist, I spend a lot of time studying technology, entertainment, and design. And I’m also a big fan of TED talks. So when York University’s TEDx curator Ross McMillan asked me to give a talk as part of TEDx YorkU, I jumped at the chance. You can watch my talk above or go here to find out more about TEDx YorkU.

Obviously, academic research talks are normal for me and I also frequently talk to senior managers and government people. But TED-style talks are a whole different ball game. So I did a few things differently this time.

First, I suspended my weekly House of Cards evening in favour of some archival research. One thing that came out if this exercise is that the TED universe is far more ripe with deep and critical thought than its critics would be willing to admit. And among my marketing professor colleagues, there are a number of TED pioneers such as the legendary Dan Ariely and the equally awesome Peter McGraw, Mike Norton, and Jacob Ostberg. I learned a great deal from their and other people’s entertaining and instructive TED talks.

My awesome speech coach Alessandra Fernandes and I

My awesome speech coach Alessandra Fernandes and I

Second, I worked with a TEDx YorkU speech coach, the amazing York student leader Alessandra Fernandes. Working with Alessandra alone was a real treat, a fun and confidence building exercise, and a powerful reminder of York University’s impressive student body. The same goes for the two student speakers - Juan Garrido and Talisha Ramsaroop - whose captivating talks easily put a child psychologist, a computer scientist, and me, the marketing expert, to shame.

Third, I pitched various ideas to my friends, colleagues, and students. In the end, I dropped all of it and instead talked about what I think is the most powerful idea in marketing today: moving away from actor-object orthodoxy (this back-and-forth between “understanding the customer/consumer” and "designing cool products/innovations") to designing inclusive market systems that are truly greater than the sum of their parts. To illustrate the effectiveness of this shift towards a greater sociological design focus, I began with a simple bird-feeding experiment that helped shape my perspective as a marketing scholar back at Northwestern and then went through a few of my recent studies.

Ross McMillan and his team put together another great reason to be proud of our York and Schulich community, and I am happy to have been part of it. My TEDx day was fun and I hope the resulting video shows this.

You can find the talk's synopsis and transcript at Huffington Post.

Markus Giesler

Markus Giesler draws on concepts from economics, technology studies, and sociology to inform his research in marketing. He determines how ideas and things (products, services, experiences, technological innovations, intellectual property, brands, etc.) are made valuable over time, with research focused on improving marketing strategy through an understanding of markets as evolving social systems. Giesler's research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the European Research Council (ERC) and published in top-tier academic journals such as the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Marketing. Giesler has an extensive entertainment industry background. He founded his own record label at age 17 and has worked in various production and marketing responsibilities for over a decade. He lives in Toronto, Canada.