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Conversation Starters With The Experts at Content Marketing World

Content Marketing World in Cleveland, OH is where content marketers from across America—and the world—learn, schmooze, and reassure themselves that everyone else is also struggling to implement the latest buzzword acronym (lookin’ at you ABM).

It’s a world class speaking lineup with many, if not most of the biggest names in content marketing. But what do you do if, at some apres-conference soiree, you find yourself face to face with one of these charming and erudite speakers, bereft of conversation starters?

At Content Marketing World, as in life, offering to buy someone a drink is always a good start. Then it comes down to finding something in common to talk about. To that end, Curata spoke with some of the headline speakers to find out a few interesting details about them. Discover the banjo player, the romantic novelist, the tequila collector and the breakdancer. Read on to find out who’s who!

Chad PollittChad Pollitt

Co-founder & VP of Audience at Relevance, Marketing Adjunct Professor, Author, International Speaker and former US Army Commander

Lesser known fact:

“I once played in the International Foosball Championships in Las Vegas and actually placed second in one of the events back in 2002. That’s the only thing I think I learned in college. Check out the one minute mark in this video for the infamous “AERIAL Trick Shot.””

Well known facts: Chad is a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Army Commander. He is VP of Audience and Co-founder of Relevance, a digital magazine, agency, and events company dedicated to content strategy, promotion, and marketing.

A member of a Forbes Top 100 list, Chad authored The Native Advertising Manifesto, The Content Promotion Manifesto, and 51 Things Your Mother Taught You About Inbound Marketing. He is a regular contributor to industry media outlets, including the Huffington Post, Guardian and Social Media Today.

@ChadPollitt | LinkedIn

DougKesslerDoug Kessler

Creative Director, Co-Founder, Velocity Partners Ltd (UK)

Lesser known fact:

“Most people don’t know that I play the banjo. Most people are lucky that way.

Those who do know wish they didn’t.”

Well known facts: Awarded Launch of the Year 2015 by the Content Marketing Institute in October 2015 for Sprint Business launch, Doug is a displaced Yank who started his career at Ogilvy & Mather, New York. Soap and fabric softener bored him rigid so he jumped ship to specialize in B2B. Doug is a content marketing junkie. He’s a copywriter at heart but with a secret jones for analytics. And Lagavulin.

@dougkessler | LinkedIn

Arnie Kuenn

CEO at Vertical Measures, international speaker, & author of Content Marketing Works: 8 Steps to Transform Your Business

Lesser known fact:

“I am actually really into boating. And I have never even owned one. I have been on the water in almost every type of boat imaginable. I have trained and earned a powerboat certification and read countless books on the subject. My goal is to buy a trawler someday and either cruise it from the west coast to the east coast or possibly buy it on the east coast and cruise the great loop. Right now I am trying to find a yachting manufacturer or large broker who wants to hire a content marketing agency!”

Well known facts: Arnie Kuenn is the author of the award winning content marketing book Accelerate! Arnie is also an instructor for the Online Marketing Institute and the Content Marketing Institute. Arnie served on the 2008 Arizona Super Bowl Marketing Committee. He is a founder and past president of the Arizona Interactive Marketing Association (AZIMA). In 2014, he was voted the Interactive Person of the Year at the AZIMA TIM Awards.

@ArnieK | LinkedIn

Carla JohnsonCarla Johnson

Marketing and Customer Experience Strategist | Author | Speaker | Storyteller

Lesser known fact:

“I’m a classical pianist and started studying when I was eight. My mom made me take lessons and I didn’t like it in the beginning because I was an outside girl growing up. But then I realized that if I practiced, I got out of chores around the house and my older sister had to do my share. That motivated my practicing and then I fell in love with playing the piano. I studied for 13 years and still play today.”

Well known facts: Carla is recognized as one of the top influencers in content marketing. Her book, Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing, teaches marketers how to develop, manage and lead the creation of valuable experiences in their organizations. Carla serves as Vice Chair on the Executive Board of the Business Marketing Association (a division of the ANA). She was previously the Vice President of Thought Leadership. Carla is an instructor for Rutgers University mini-MBA program, the Content Marketing Institute, the ANA, and the Online Marketing Institute. A frequent speaker at events such as Content Marketing World, Carla also contributes to industry wide news outlets, forums and conferences.

@CarlaJohnson | LinkedIn

Ardath AlbeeArdath Albee

SEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions | B2B Marketing Strategist | Speaker | Author of 2 Books

Lesser known fact:

“People may not know that I’m a long-time member of Romance Writers of America and love writing women’s fiction. I’ve written five novels so far—none actually published… yet. When I say I’m a storyteller, I really mean it—whether in fiction or in business. Actually, even more interesting is that a lot of the strategy and skills needed to write compelling long-form fiction cross over into the development of B2B personas and content marketing strategy.”

Well known facts: Ardath grew up in Southern California. She is the author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, (McGraw Hill), and Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results (Palgrave Macmillan). Her mom says her hunger to write started with her fourth grade teacher. “I’ll take her word for it, as I don’t remember when, exactly, I knew I had to write.”

Ardath runs her own firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She helps B2B companies generate more sales-ready leads with e-marketing and content strategies. She has a B.A. in English Literature from San Francisco State University. Ardath was a finalist in the Golden Heart writing contest for unpublished romance writers through RWA in 2005.

@ardath421 | LinkedIn

RandFishkinRand Fishkin

Wizard of Moz

Lesser known fact:

“In January 2007, I filmed a 30-second ad for a major retailer (in which I proposed to my then girlfriend, now wife, Geraldine) that was set to air during the Super Bowl. Thankfully, the retailer pulled out a week before the game, or I’d have gone down as a pop culture footnote. Phew! I proposed during a homemade TV ad on her favorite show a few days later, and she said yes while watching in our living room!”

Well known facts:

Education: Attended University of Washington, Seattle 1997-2001 | Dropped out to start Moz
Interests: Travel, Science, NFL Football, Food, Beer, Scotch, the Internet, Adventure Time

Over six years as founder and CEO, Rand grew Moz from seven employees to 134, revenues from $800,000 to $29.3 million, and traffic from 1 million to 30 million annual visitors. He raised two rounds of funding ($1.1 million in 2007 and $18.1 million in 2012) and led three acquisitions. In 2013, rebranded the company from SEOmoz to Moz, shifting focus from exclusively SEO tools to broader web marketing software.

Rand stepped down as CEO in February of 2014, promoting longtime Chief Operations Officer Sarah Bird to the position. He moved into an individual contributor role and retains the title “Wizard of Moz,” as well as the stuffier, less-fun title “Chairman of the Board of Directors.”

Rand has co-contributed to two books: Art of SEO, and Inbound Marketing & SEO.

@randfish | LinkedIn

Gini DietrichGini Dietrich

Founder and CEO, Arment Dietrich, and Spin Sucks Pro

Lesser known fact:

“In 2014, I was about two months away from having my own cookbook and cooking show on television! Then a couple of things happened: 1) It was the year Spin Sucks came out so I had my hands full; and 2) As it turns out, cookbooks are rarely your own recipes and I couldn’t bring myself to write about how much spin sucks every day and then release a cookbook that wasn’t full of recipes passed down through generations.”

Gini Dietrich Cookbook

Well known facts: Gini’s blog Spin Sucks is on the AdAge top 150 list. It’s a top 10 online destination for PR and marketing tips, tools, and techniques. An award-winning communicator, her clients have included Abbott, Sprint, Ocean Spray, Bayer, BASF, The Catfish Institute, Central Garden & Pet, and Denny’s. Gini speaks in venues ranging from trade organizations and international social media and communication forums to Vistage International and PRSA.

@ginidietrich | LinkedIn

JayBaerJay Baer

Marketing and customer experience consultant, NY Times best-selling author, keynote speaker and emcee, investor

Lesser known fact:

“I am a tequila collector and a certified BBQ judge. My very favorite tequila is Casa Dragones, which tastes like angel tears. It’s super expensive though, so definitely a special occasion sipper. On a more regular basis I like Corzo reposado, Avion silver, and a shout-out to Roca Patron Anejo and my friend Adrian Parker, who has the best job in the world (head of digital for Patron).”

“I had to go to BBQ judging school in Illinois to become certified, so I can tell you a lot of strange and boring details about competitive BBQ. But if you really want to compare and contrast, pork ribs are the way to go. You can tell a lot about a cook by how they do their ribs. Personally, I prefer Kansas City style BBQ, with Texas style brisket and beef ribs a very close second, and Santa Maria style third.”

Well known facts: Jay Baer is the author of Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers. He has advised more than 700 companies since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, Allstate, The United Nations and 32 of the FORTUNE 500.

Jay is the founder of Convince & Convert, a strategy consulting firm that helps prominent companies gain and keep more customers through the smart intersection of technology, social media, and customer service. His Convince & Convert Media division owns the world’s #1 content marketing blog, the world’s top marketing podcast, and many other education resources for business owners and executives.

@jaybaer | LinkedIn

Content Marketing World Joe PulliziJoe Pulizzi

Founder, Content Marketing Institute

Lesser known fact: “Most people don’t know that I grew up watching my father cook at the restaurant my parents owned, and then worked with my grandfather and uncle at their funeral home before college. It’s probably one of the main reasons why I ended up being an entrepreneur… watching my family run companies.”

Well known facts: Joe Pulizzi is an entrepreneur, speaker, author, podcaster, father, and lover of all things orange. He’s the founder of multiple startups, including the Content Marketing Institute (CMI)—and the Content Marketing World conference. CMI also offers advisory services for organizations such as HP, AT&T, Petco, LinkedIn, SAP, the Gates Foundation and many others.

Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s third book, Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of the Year” by Fortune Magazine. His fourth book, Content Inc., was released September 2015. Joe has also co-authored two other books, Get Content Get Customers and Managing Content Marketing.

Joe also writes a column for and is a LinkedIn Influencer. You can hear Joe on his podcasts, “This Old Marketing” and “Content Inc.” If you happen to bump into him at Content Marketing World, he’ll be wearing orange.

@JoePulizzi | LinkedIn

IanClearyIan Cleary

Founder and CEO of RazorSocial

Lesser known fact:

“I always wanted to do break dancing so about two years ago I started taking lessons. I was, by far, the oldest in the class with most of the class under the age of 15. But that wasn’t going to stop me. At a conference last year in Chicago the organizers asked me to do something fun during my speaking event so I did some break dancing! It’s a good way of ensuring that everyone remembers you at a conference!”

Ian Cleary-BreakDancing
Ian Cleary, poppin’ & lockin’

“I didn’t always work in marketing. A couple of years after leaving school I went to Australia and got a job as a laborer in an underwater tunnel they were building out beneath the sea in Sydney. I had no experience whatsoever in construction but I was told by my Irish friend to say yes to everything at the interview… it worked! I guess I was doing some marketing of my ability…”

Well known facts: After being a shareholder of several tech companies that floated on Nasdaq or got acquired, Ian Cleary thought, “Why not build a global company?” So he hustled, flew all over the world, bought beers and dinners, offered free advice and developed key relationships. This led to him becoming one of the Top 50 Content Marketers in the world, a regular speaker at conferences such as Content Marketing World, and a globally recognized influencer. Ian also contributes to VentureBeat,, Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, and the Huffington Post.

@IanCleary | LinkedIn

Mark HamillContent Marketing World Keynote Speaker Mark Hamill

Actor, Voice Actor, Writer

Lesser known fact:

Luke Skywalker is gay. Or at least, in an interview with Britain’s The Sun, Hamill leaves Skywalker’s sexual orientation open to interpretation: “… fans are writing and ask all these questions, ‘I’m bullied in school… I’m afraid to come out’. They say to me, ‘Could Luke be gay?’ I’d say it is meant to be interpreted by the viewer… If you think Luke is gay, of course he is. You should not be ashamed of it. Judge Luke by his character, not by who he loves.” Then again, the only character Luke openly displayed any affection for in the original trilogy of films was his sister Leia. (He did have a rural upbringing.)

Well known facts: Hamill is world famous for his depiction of the character Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of The Jedi, and The Force Awakens. He made his acting debut on The Bill Cosby Show in 1970. He starred in action comedy Corvette Summer and war movie The Big Red One in 1978 and 1980 respectively. Hamill then tried to avoid being typecast as a heartthrob and worked primarily on Broadway, as a voice actor, and other lower profile movies. Hamill is also the co-creator of the comic book miniseries The Black Pearl. He has written several stories for Simpsons Comics. Unknown: what Hamill will talk about in his Content Marketing World keynote address.


Mitchell Hall

Mitchell Hall is Curata’s Content Marketing Director. Online since 1991, he has been writing for magazines and newspapers since 1997, and editing and managing websites since 2006. Mitchell has a BA in Political Science, Philosophy, and English. A generalist, his most covered topics are business and technology. Follow Mitchell on Twitter for links to unique and insightful stories: @mitchellhall

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