10 Questions with Savannah Peterson

Savannah Peterson is the Founder of Savvy Millenial. She will be a panelist at the PwC Herald Talks - Innovation, in Wellington on May 11 at Shed 6, and in Christchurch on May 12 at The Piano.

1.     In a nutshell, what does Savvy Millennial do?

Savvy Millennial works with companies big and small to create compelling stories that reach unique communities. We specialize in innovation development, livestreaming, go-to-market strategy and niche community outreach both in person and online.

2.     What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation to me is creating something new or developing a new solution to a familiar problem through need finding. I thrive on helping people learn from their target market to not just make a faster horse, but make the next car. Innovation is a process of experimentation and enlightenment, best executed when ideas across teams are embraced and explored. 

3.     What is your favourite thing about New Zealand business people?

It is very hard for me to pick just one thing, because I love the Kiwi culture deeply. Perhaps my favourite thing, is the vast creativity. New Zealand creatives come up with some of the most innovative ideas on earth, but are often too shy to shout it from the rooftops.

4.     You’re a Forbes 30 under 30, how cool! How did you feel when that was announced?

Have you ever had one of those moments in life when all of a sudden everything feels worth it? That was that day for me. They say it takes 10 years to become an overnight success, and I finally understand what that means. I've done a lot of skunk works for big brands, but most of my public work has been with startups. The sense of validation was overwhelming. Once you believe you can do anything, everything becomes possible. 

5.     What is your top tip to anyone looking to create a start-up company?

Stop talking and start doing. Ideas are cheap, execution is priceless. It will take more iteration, more pivots and more prototyping that you could even imagine to build the company you want. The earlier you start, and the faster you start to fail, the sooner you'll grow into a business of great value. 

6.     What was your career path to where you are now?

Admittedly, I was a natural born hustler. Like many Millennials, I have always craved creative freedom and autonomy in my schedule. My work life started in restaurants, I interned at a TV station during university and built a youth civic engagement platform. I started my first social media company at 20, and that opened doors for me I couldn't have expected. I worked in consumer electronics, crowdfunding, medical devices, 3D printing and design consulting before returning to my home state of California to build Savvy Millennial. The best part is, I still get to do TV shows and design products - being a founder/CEO doesn't mean you have to give up the things you did when you weren't. 

7.     You have a Facebook Live show, ‘Secret Sauce: Get the Recipe’. What is your favourite thing about using Facebook Live as a platform?

I love that the channel is free and audience feedback is realtime. As someone who started in television, the cost to produce a show was always prohibitive for the little guy and even big brands had to be very selective about their content. Now, we can all broadcast our stories and updates. I think Facebook Live is changing who controls the messaging in the world. Being able to interact with your audience versus talk at them is a game-changer. It humanizes the digital world in a new and exciting way. 

8.     What are you most looking forward to at PwC Herald Talks – Innovation?

The dialogue and audience at PwC Herald Talks is always exceptional. I had the honor of being the keynote speaker in Auckland last year and it was my favorite event of the year because of the people I met on and off stage. I am elated to be on the team bringing it to Wellington and Christchurch this year, and look forward to meeting everyone.

9.     If you could give your twenty-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Keep fighting the good fight. The world owes you nothing, but it is yours to mould into your own. It's easy to look at friends who get "comfortable" and "traditional" jobs early on with envy. If you have the spirit of an entrepreneur, you'll never feel satisfied in an uninspiring environment. Find companies - big, small or your own, where you can grow and express your creative ideas regardless of age.

10.  Do you have a motto that you stick to when it comes to how you do business?

You can't get what you don't ask for. If you're curious about an industry or a company, take someone there out for a drink. Listen and provide value before you pitch someone. When you have the respect and trust of your peers, there is no "wrong" question. Also, take care of yourself. You're no good to anyone when you're exhausted and cranky. Eat smart, rest, and exercise. Fueling your body will fuel your mind and business. Lastly, have fun! 

Savannah encourages people to say hi at @SavIsSavvy on Twitter/Instagram, check out Secret Sauce on YouTube and visit her website  http://SavannahPeterson.com.

To view the full list of panelists and purchase tickets for the PwC Herald Talks - Innovation series in Auckland, Wellintgon and Christchurch, please visit the website

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