Britta Schell – Insights, Strategy & Innovation Consultant

[quote style=”boxed”]Start sooner! I wish I had gone independent far earlier than I did, but risk aversion and getting too comfortable held me back.[/quote]

Britta brings nearly a decade of insights, strategy, brands and advertising to the table, as well as a lifetime of being a digital native. Passionate about developing and implementing great strategy and innovative insights to help brands and business achieve, Britta also has a special expertise in the digital and social space, as well as the millennial demographic.

Britta has worked on digital, brand and innovation insights and strategy as well as creative campaigns and a few launches for a diverse group of brands including YouTube, Coca-Cola, American Express, MTV, HBO, eos, P&G, Virgin America, Agent Provocateur, Jawbone, and the nonprofit Nanhi Kali. Most recently serving as Director, Digital Strategic Insights at MTV, Britta has also worked at Anomaly, StrawberryFrog and Digitas.

Britta also loves to ski, bike, travel far from Manhattan, eat well, connect people, and be outside. Some other interests: zoology, history, small countries, art history, good design, and other people’s business models.

What are you working on right now?

Right this minute I’m just beginning a new brand strategy project for a nonprofit, one of several projects I have cooking at the moment. I typically work with for-profit companies and brands, so I’m excited to apply my skills to the nonprofit space.

Where did the idea for your brand strategy and consumer insights consultancy come from?

After years at agencies and large companies, I wanted to continue working on brand strategy and consumer insights, but with more freedom and a wider variety of projects. I also wanted to scratch the entrepreneurial itch I’ve had for a while. Working for myself is extremely rewarding; I’d recommend anyone with even a passing interest give it a try.

How do you make money?

I calculate project fees based on time and effort required for me to meet the agreed goal or deliverables. For small or quick engagements, I occasionally will employ an hourly rate. I prefer flat project fees because it ensures that all parties can be entirely focused on reaching the project’s goals.

What does your typical day look like?

I front load most of my heavy-lifting work into the morning because that’s when my brain is most alert and creative. I try to meet with new contacts, clients, or friends for lunch when I can. I also go on hikes with my dog almost every day, and spend at least 30 minutes digesting the day’s culture and news specific to my space (typically consumer digital culture, youth and tech trends, etc) . I leave most correspondence for the evening since it’s typically logistics and doesn’t require as much of my brain.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I’m pretty low-fi; I have a stack of blank sheets of paper and draw and sketch ideas out until they take form. Then I leave them for at least a day, and try not to actively think about them at all. Revisiting them becomes more productive and objective this way. Then I refine and pressure test.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

3D printers! Cannot wait!

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

Like many teens, in high school I worked holiday retail. It was a demanding job, an unfamiliar work culture, and generally stressful. Diplomacy and kindness to everyone I interact with, as well as a taste of purchase psychology, were my big takeaways.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Start sooner! I wish I had gone independent far earlier than I did, but risk aversion and getting too comfortable held me back.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Say no. It feels strange to turn down business at first, but after accepting a few engagements that I didn’t feel right about and having to deal with the consequences, I’ve learned to trust my gut when it feels like “no, not for me” is the answer.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

When I first began, I had trouble articulating my offering. I’d stumble, unprepared, and may have lost a few opportunities because I hadn’t refined my elevator pitch. Once I had that in place, it not only became easier to communicate with prospects, but it also helped me really focus on where I add the most value.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

There are so many rough edges in terms of the day to day consumer experience that haven’t been smoothed out by technology yet. I saw a great new company called KeyMe which digitizes the annoying process of losing and replacing keys, for example. Whenever something annoying happens to me, I jot it down, and in free or especially creative moments come back to that list to think about what could have made things smoother.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

While I support larger change and advocate for a variety of issues, I try to help right small injustices when I see them.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I wanted to be an archaeologist at one point, and lived for a brief period on a tribal reservation in New Mexico to test it out. My curiosity about people and culture continues…

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Feedly – for my research, I consume at least 1K news/culture items a day. Feedly makes it manageable and ensures everything is one place. – a nice, clean profile page that serves as a digital calling card without the fuss.

LetsLunch – great way to meet new people professionally that you may not have come in contact with; all you need is an hour to spare.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I’m not big on business books. They feel out of touch from what’s happening right now, online. I guess I’m very millennial in that way. I love fiction and histories, and typically time with either helps me see what I’m working on differently. I recently read The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England; a book that asks the reader to imagine medieval England as a place that exists today; a destination. While this may seem esoteric I encourage a peruse; I found myself seeing my own surroundings, projects, and ideas in new light and felt freer and more open to thinking about alternative solutions. I didn’t see my day to day in such black and white. For something more about today, I would also recommend any of Douglass Rushkoff’s books.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

@buzzfeed to keep pulse on culture and not get too far into your own head

@bakadesuyo writer Eric Barker focuses on connecting data and research to everyday life.

@MargRev Marginal Revolution collects fascinating economic, social and cultural news with a great lens

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

Today; my dog started mimicking some stretches I was doing with great accuracy.

Who is your hero?

Don’t really think this way; I’m more interested in the whole human picture, flaws and all.

What are some creative business development ideas?

I like to look at what sorts of jobs companies I’d like to work with are listing. This gives me a sense of what there needs are, and where they may need a lot of help.

Favorite guilty pleasure app?

Catan for Android


Email: [email protected]
Britta Schell on Twitter: @schellular
Britta Schell on