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Recapping Prosek Summer 2023 Offsite: Better than Barbenheimer

Winston Chang  Follow

Here’s how the biggest on-screen events of July stack up:




Prosek Summer 2023 offsite


July 21, in theaters everywhere

July 21, in theaters everywhere

July 27, broadcast virtually in Prosek’s eight offices around the world


1 hour, 54 minutes

3 hours

7 hours


$64.99 Barbie-themed popcorn

Just regular movie theater popcorn, probably

Catered meals and snacks during, happy hour afterward


  • Jen Prosek’s State of the Agency address
  • Four guest speakers (detailed below)
  • “Pro-voices”—personal, authentic stories from three Prosekians: Ambika Gogna, Aiden Woglom, Grant Waldvogel

Takeaways for marketing and communications

  • Leverage existing brand equity
  • Spend more on marketing than you do on making the product
  • Never pass on an opportunity to poke fun at yourself via Will Ferrell

Too many to list here; also detailed below


When I was growing up, family dinner was a Big Deal. I was one of four kids, all with separate schools, team practices, and music lessons that always seemed to be taking place on opposite ends of the city at the same exact time. But at dinner, we were together. No exceptions. As a group grows, so does the importance of dedicated, concentrated time together.

Last Thursday, Prosek held its biannual company-wide offsite. “Offsite” is a throwback to the days when the company was small and local enough to get everyone together out to a beachfront lobster bake. Nowadays, those kinds of offsites have to happen with individual teams and offices, unless one of you has a few miles of private beach and a few tons of lobster lying around. For last Thursday’s event, we gathered locally in our eight offices around the world to watch the broadcast—and depending on the time zone, share breakfast, lunch, and/or a drink afterward.

Look. I know that, besides the most ostraconophobic among us, we’d all prefer the cookout on the shore to being on Zoom for a whole day. But for me, this offsite was another reminder that the medium is secondary to the content and the people. And in those two categories, I couldn’t have asked for more.

What we learned and discussed was informative and entertaining; the individuals who spoke were smart, authentic, and passionate. That’s what really mattered. Look no further than how much Teams chats were popping off all day. Out of curiosity, I went back and added up all the messages and reactions in one of the groups I was in: 572 in two hours. That’s one every 13 seconds. If “quantity and quality of memes sent around by employees in Teams during the event” was the KPI Prosek was optimizing for, I can assure you, this was a wild success.

As effective as adjectives like “informative/entertaining” and “smart/authentic/passionate” are at conveying how great this offsite was, here’s a bit more about who our guest speakers were and what we learned from them:

Arielle Patrick, Chief Communications Officer of Ariel Investments

  • Arielle is, as they say, goals. She rose at a blistering, give-you-second-degree-burns kind of speed through the ranks at Weber Shandwick and Edelman to her current post as CCO at massive and iconic $17.1B asset manager Ariel.
  • The big question Arielle answered for me: How do you get better at client services? In her words, “agency teams burn a lot of calories on the wrong things” (ain’t that the truth!). Instead, put yourself in the client’s shoes. Examine a client team’s org chart to see where you can fill in gaps, proactively equip clients with insights about real-time industry developments as quickly as you can, and be fanatically obsessive about the details.

Laura Dave, New York Times bestselling author  

  • You know Laura from the hit Apple TV+ show featuring Jennifer Garner, The Last Thing He Told Me, an adaptation of one of the six novels she has authored.
  • The big question Laura answered for me: How do you develop creativity? Habits, habits, habits. Laura writes at the same time every day and listens to one song, on endless repeat, per book (for The Last Thing He Told Me, it was Bruce Springsteen’s If I Should Fall Behind live at Madison Square Garden). She also concisely, excellently explained why regularly or profusely using adverbs is something we should adamantly, consistently oppose when we’re writing.

Scott Galloway, Professor of Marketing at NYU Stern

  • Prof G is one of those people you don’t know how to sum up in a single line, since he’s also a serial entrepreneur, New York Times bestselling author, and podcaster (Pivot, which he co-hosts with Kara Swisher and The Prof G Pod).
  • The big question Scott answered for me: How badly do you want it? Like Scott’s résumé, this conversation is difficult to summarize; we covered everything from AI and crypto to progressive tax and how ad-supported media brands usually fail unless they’re one of the few in the topmost tier or extremely specialized. But if you follow him on Twitter—sorry, I mean X, and Scott had a lot to say about that rebrand, too—you know that core to his philosophy and ethos is hard, hard work. There is no shortcut.

Ben Lamm, Founder and CEO of Colossal

  • After founding multiple startups that exited to companies like Accenture and Zynga, Ben launched Colossal, a bioscience and genetic engineering company working on de-extinction, protecting endangered species, and repopulating ecosystems… popularly known as the company that’s bringing back the woolly mammoth.
  • The big question Ben answered for me: How does an entrepreneur change the world? Ben talked about the importance of investors and advisors—and how the line between the two is often blurred. Networks and support systems are multipliers for anybody, especially startup founders. He also talked about what it means to actually make a difference. Ben has proven he can build successful software companies. But if Colossal brings species back from extinction, the world will never be the same.

We also had three of our own—Ambika Gogna, Grant Waldvogel, and Aiden Woglom—present in “pro-voices,” a crowd favorite at every offsite that features colleagues sharing about their own personal journeys.

The common thread in their stories: learning to thrive in new and unfamiliar places. Growing up as a third-culture kid (TCK) from India in Indonesia and Singapore en route to Boston for college. Spending time as a (very much not Korean) professor in South Korea. Moving from Oklahoma to New York.

Our three colleagues’ stories taught us about owning and bringing our unique perspectives to the table—and welcoming and embracing others’.

So yes, it was on a screen. But we were enriched by content you can’t get anywhere else, future Oscar nominees included. More importantly, we were enriched together—and for a company that’s growing fast in a disjointed world where remote/hybrid work and education are here to stay, that’s more than Kenough.

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