The Unconventionals

38 EpisodesProduced by PJA RadioWebsite

These counter-intuitive business stories are the stuff of ingenuity, and they lead to innovation, change, and outsized results.

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Mind the Gaps: How Peloton, Warby Parker, Lagunitas, and Converse Asked the Big Questions that Changed their Markets

December 21st, 2017


If you’re a marketer, it’s a good time to look for gaps. We live in an age of asymmetrical advantage, and emerging companies have access to the same computing power, networks, and channels that everyone else does. 

Tune …

IBM’s Watson: the Making of an AI Brand

November 16th, 2017


Artificial Intelligence may be all the rage, but that doesn’t make it easy to market. The voices on AI range from Alexa (powered by) to Zuckerberg (defender of), which means it’s hard to get a bead on what AI means. And …

Who in the world are we? Ancestry and the DNA moment

October 10th, 2017


We are in the midst of a big cultural moment for finding our roots. The moment is enabled by science for sure. DNA tests are simple and …

Data, Secrets, and Human Performance: Why Professional Athletes Love the Whoop Strap

August 23rd, 2017


According to Whoop founder Will Ahmed, our bodies are keeping secrets. Those secrets hold the key to human performance, and the Whoop Strap unlocks …

The Crazies: How GE, Waze, and Big Ass Fans Enlist an Army of Advocates

June 26th, 2017


B2B is always about change—reframing how people buy, introducing an innovation, or getting people to think about your company in new ways. You can increase your chances of success by getting change agents on board—the …

Peloton and the Fitness Experience That Won’t Quit

May 10th, 2017


Peloton is becoming one of the hottest brands in fitness, and it all starts with an extraordinary experience. Stripped down, the company sells you a cycle in your home and spinning classes delivered through the …

Beer, Records, and Watches: What Can We Learn From the Revival of Craft?

January 11th, 2017


Digital dominates our everyday lives, and we increasingly organize our world around the software, platforms, and devices of the world's largest …

From Ann Arbor to Africa: Undergrads Team Up to Find a Sustainable Animal Protein

November 16th, 2016


Today on The Unconventionals, a special edition. Call it “Unconventionals Young Guns.” We're taking a peek into the future, and the future looks …

Google and the Future of Health Care

October 12th, 2016


Google isn’t a health care company—they don’t treat patients, fund care, or make drugs or devices. But If you want to understand where healthcare …

Breakthroughs Are Just the Beginning: How a 3D Bioprinting Pioneer Creates a Market

September 13th, 2016


Organovo’s printers create human tissue that mimic the form and function of native tissue in the body — but live outside the body. This is a big …

The Shinola Story: Making a Modern Brand in Detroit

July 20th, 2016


If you want to understand the future of luxury brands, you should take a close look at Shinola. This five year-old company chose Detroit — the …

GE and the Art of Brand Reinvention

June 22nd, 2016


GE is Thomas Edison’s company, with a heritage of industrial innovation that goes back more than 100 years. But you’d be excused for missing this during the heyday of GE Capital, when financial services delivered 50% of …

Rethink Robotics: The New Face of Industrial Robots

January 26th, 2016


Even though they’ve become a necessary part of society’s progress and have made life much easier, robots are a lot of work. They require teams of programmers in order to perform the most basic tasks, and every worker on …

Everlane: The Online Clothing Retailer With Nothing To Hide

December 20th, 2015


Think about your favorite piece of clothing. You probably know what you paid for it, but do you know how much it cost to produce it? The tag may tell you what country it was made in, but do you know exactly where? If …

Bridj: Driving a Better Commute with Pop-up Mass Transit

October 19th, 2015


The morning commute on public transportation is rarely easy. You hope for a reliable, fast and comfortable ride but probably end up with a …

From Faster Commutes To Better Communities, We’re All Working For Waze

September 16th, 2015


Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, and its 50 million users are dedicated to outsmarting traffic together. The maps are crowdsourced from roads users have driven on — so they’re …

What’s Old is New: What We Can Learn From Vinyl’s Resurgence

August 6th, 2015


Music is generally an accompaniment to life — unless you’re listening on vinyl. Records make the music an event. You engage with the music and appreciate it for the art that is it because it isn’t portable, sharable, or …

Open Airplane: Putting Private Aviation Back in the Air

June 5th, 2015


Imagine how frustrated you’d be if you had to take a driving test every time you rented a car. Well that’s what private pilots deal with when they …

Rumi Spice: Soldiers Turned Entrepreneurs Fight Opium With Saffron

May 7th, 2015


When thinking of great places for a startup, Afghanistan probably wouldn’t jump to the top of your list. But a few Army vets sensed an opportunity …

Small Is Beautiful: Why Heady Topper Probably Won’t Be Coming To A Store Near You

January 8th, 2015


If you produced what many view as the best beer in the world, with a 100% rating by Beer Advocate, you’d probably expect to be living a life of fame. But that’s not the case for John and Jen Kimmich —founders of The …

Make No Little Plans: Lagunitas and the Craft Beer Movement

December 8th, 2014


The next time you’re at your favorite bar, take a look at the beer menu and count how many craft choices are on it. Chances are the list is growing each day. So after you order a delicious brew, raise your glass in …

Fast Food and a Living Wage

November 21st, 2014


Walk into a fast food restaurant and count the number of smiling employees. With the way fast food workers are paid, chances are your count won’t be …


November 6th, 2014


When Evernote came along, it re-shaped note taking by giving us a way to use technology to remember things. Many thought the application would fail …

Five Years of Small Business Saturday with American Express

September 25th, 2014


It seems odd that a large corporation would launch a campaign that’s neither proprietary nor tightly controlled. So when American Express — a …

The Beginner's Mind: Why Naiveté is a Critical Business Asset

September 3rd, 2014


Having a sense of naïveté is never a bad thing. Because there are no risks, when there are no rules.

In the Beginner’s Mind, the most outlandish and …

Reinventing Retail, One Story at a Time

July 30th, 2014


Is it a store, an agency, or a community center? According to founder Rachel Schechtman, Story is a little bit of all three. Based in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, Story is an unconventional boutique that …

If You Can't Count It, It Doesn't Count

July 15th, 2014


Many unconventional brands are proving that you can succeed while managing around ideas that aren’t typically measurable. With the right leadership …


November 1st, 2013


Believe it or not, there can be such a thing as a “Good problem to have” in business. The highly popular fresh burger franchise b.good are finding …

Higher Ground Farm

October 8th, 2013


When you think of a busy city a few images may come to mind. Bustling streets, busy shops, bumper to bumper traffic.But one thing you probably don’t picture is a green space and 55,000 sq ft farm sitting eight stories …


September 18th, 2013


Sometimes all it takes is a simple unconventional question to change everything… Our friends at Warby Parker asked, “Why do eyeglasses have to cost …


August 8th, 2013


Pettis, CEO of the 3D printing company MakerBot. Imagine having the power to make creations in your mind's eye a reality - a reality you can hold in …

Warby Parker

July 10th, 2013


On this episode of The Unconventionals, host Mike O'Toole chats with Neil Blumenthal, cofounder of online eyewear retailer Warby Parker. Once labeled …

Intel and the Creators Project

June 5th, 2013


On this episode of The Unconventionals, host Mike O'Toole sits down with Intel's Creative Director, David Haroldsen to discuss The Creators Project: …


January 10th, 2013


On this episode of The Unconventionals, host Mike O'Toole interviews Chief Marketing Officer Geoff Cottrill from Converse, about its innovative …


December 6th, 2012


In this fourth episode of the season, host Mike O'Toole talks to Shelby Clark, Founder and Chief Community Officer of RelayRides. Based in San …

Dollar Shave Club

November 13th, 2012


In our third show of the season, host Mike O'Toole talks to Michael Dubin, CEO, Dollar Shave Club. From a baby shaving a man's head to a …


October 30th, 2012


In our second show of the season, host Mike O'Toole talks with Morgen Newman, VP, International Sales and Jeff Avallon, VP, Business Development of …

Big Ass Fans

October 16th, 2012


We're kicking off our first show with Carey Smith, CEO of Big Ass Fans, a company in Lexington, KY that makes, well, big ass industrial and residential fans. It's a company where unconventional goes much deeper than the …

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