Catching up with Kwittken's Shanee Goss

From working for "The Balloon Lady" to serving as managing director of an agency's New York office, Kwittken's Shanee Goss talks cultural differences, prioritizing, and guilty TV pleasures.

First website or app checked in the morning
NPR One. It allows me to multitask while tuning in to a great mix of local, national, and international news. It also gives me easy access to my favorite podcasts.

Morning ritual
Hot coffee to get the neurons firing. I take it with me on my morning walk with the dog. Unless it’s windy, we head down to the waterfront by Chelsea Piers. I try to make this part of the day "earbud-free" to be as present as possible.

Favorite commute distraction
It’s odd to talk about meditation as a "distraction," but the Headspace app is a big part of my morning commute. The app, which I learned about from our chief creative officer, Jason Schlossberg, is an online meditation guide with bite-sized sessions that can be tailored for different parts of the day – including commutes to work.

Most distinct aspect of your work office
I love the open layout and shared collaboration spaces. I rarely sit at my desk for the full day, but rather enjoy moving around and mixing it up.

Book I’m reading
I haven’t started it yet, but just downloaded "Better Living through Criticism: How to Think about Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth" by New York Times film critic AO Scott. He looks at criticism as an art form, and how it contributes to other art forms. It’s an interesting topic given the ubiquity of review sites and consumer-generated feedback.

Craziest cultural difference encountered while living overseas
Growing up, I had the opportunity to live in several countries due to my dad’s job for a multi-national medical company. Looking back, I’m more struck by the similarities – or human truths – that transcended those geographical boundaries. When Facebook came on the scene, some former classmates contacted me from New Zealand. Nuances aide – thank you, Flight of the Conchords – we all seemed to be striving for the same things.

Tip for prioritizing at work
Setting intentions at the beginning of the day, before tasks themselves dictate priority.

First PR job
If we take the broadest definition, I would say my first PR job was in high school, working for a party planner affectionately called "The Balloon Lady." She was a local darling in my hometown of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, who specialized in decorations for major parties and events. I loved how she would take something personal about the hosts and carry it through all the details in a very bespoke way. I guess you could say that was my first exposure to brand strategy.

Something people on the outside don’t realize about the agency world
Although we work across a variety of issues and companies, our people become incredibly invested in our clients and their brands. More than a communications assignment, they become part of our lives. One woman on our staff turned to our client HomeAway to book her family reunion. Another incorporated our client Pantone’s annual color forecast into the palette for her wedding. 

Guilty TV pleasure
I’m not embarrassed to say I love Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery! The final episodes aired in 2014, but the full series is available thanks to the wonders of Netflix.

If I ruled the world…
I’d be sure to surround myself with the smartest people who are least like me. At Kwittken, we talk about how creative insights come more easily to diverse teams of individuals from different backgrounds or "weak social ties." That seems like a good place to start, whatever world you’re ruling.

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