BB Bickel

This early riser is unstoppable despite 30 surgeries. Running? Swimming? PR spin? Incisive writing? “Never give up” defines her.

Storyteller | LinkedIn
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Olivia sees the big picture in consulting

By BB Bickel

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Image by Emily Zheng

Being an anthropologist makes for a great consultant. What’s that again? Yes, when it comes to Olivia Witt, 2A consultant extraordinaire, her years spent learning why people are the way they are now helps her wow 2A clients. Adding to her expertise on the science of humanity, her previous tenure at boutique marketing and advertising agencies revealed her love for producing content that best reflects a brand’s vision.

While studying anthropology, Olivia became a real coffee nerd. During college she helped the Husky Grind, the school’s only student-led specialty coffee shop. For three years she worked with farmers and roasters all over the world to learn about the roasting process, ordered coffees for the shop, and attended cuppings (coffee tastings). Ask her what a double espresso with three ounces of seltzer water—a drink known as espressoda—tastes like, and she’ll swoon!

Olivia is also a photography buff, a passion that stemmed from an anthropology course taught by a National Geographic photographer. She got the picture-taking bug so intensely that when she traveled to India for her honors thesis, half of the 90-page paper featured her ethnographic photos, which captured the textile industry in South India. During her senior year in college, Olivia served as a photography intern at the Seattle Met, honing her skills on depicting people in their everyday lives. Because Olivia finds snapping shots of people in their own element fascinating, she always wears her Nikon camera around her neck when she is out and about—she never knows when she’ll see the perfect human tableau.

One thing that likely no one else but Olivia can say is that they have 16 pets, which includes two dogs, a bearded dragon, and a giant green iguana. Yes, they all live inside and yes, she loves them all equally.

Olivia, who firmly believes that 2A is the unicorn of all companies, adds to its uniqueness with her ability to be a welcoming resource from coffee to copy—and we know clients will appreciate her distinct perspective on every project.

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Three stand-out technology trends for 2023

By BB Bickel, Richa Dubey, Mai Sennaar

image of a paper calendar. The 2022 page is being removed, showing just the 2023 page

Image by Thad Allen

A new year always presages new trends and developments in the constantly fluctuating world of technology. Since technology is part of 2A’s DNA, it’s only natural that we’d pick out a few trends to highlight. Three notable movements stand out to us, which were backed up by their featured prominence at the latest AWS re:Invent conference. They are:

  • Innovation can be experimental and disruptive
  • Responsibility and bias mitigation in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)
  • Sustainable and renewable technologies

Solutions arise from falling in love with the problem, not the product

Technology companies are making high-quality, high-velocity decisions. The outstanding ones remain stubborn on vision and flexible on details. Those that focus on building features customers will love, whether or not it’s the easiest feature to make, will succeed. Experimentation is the holy grail this year, with the goal of being bold and disruptive while innovating. True innovation is agreeing first on what the customer would love, and then developing a product to address that desire (or need), not the other way around.

Innovation also involves a bias for action, with blessings to move ahead with 70 percent of the data. This goes back to the roots of AWS. As Jeff Bezos said in his 2015 letter to shareholders, “…failure and invention are inseparable twins…Given a ten percent chance of a 100 times payoff, you should take that bet every time. But you’re still going to be wrong nine times out of ten…Big winners pay for so many experiments.”

Thus, if technology companies are going to win big, they’re going to fail big too. They will walk through the door and close it behind them. It’s all part of the process. They will constantly reinvent themselves by keeping the dynamism of Day 1 and consider a Day 2 mentality as stasis.

Responsibility in AI and ML

Diversity brings more perspectives to the table and is therefore critical to building responsible and inclusive AI and ML. Only with truly diverse teams can a company mitigate bias in their algorithms. People are at the center of these technologies and drive the decisions; machines only make recommendations.

People-centric design has become a different model for AI, as it considers others and seeks out not only explicit but implicit bias. Today, leadership places emphasis on helping engineers develop the right skills so that fairness, integrity, and dignity become part of AI’s DNA. In fact, in December, Amazon’s Machine Learning University launched a new course, “Responsible AI—Bias Mitigation & Fairness Criteria.” It is an entry-level course for technical individuals and explains where bias in AI systems comes from, how to measure it, and ultimately how to mitigate bias as much as possible. Since AI and machine learning touch so many aspects of peoples’ lives, it’s crucial to build trust and prevent disadvantages among subgroups of customers.


Sustainability could conceivably be the most important word in our world today. The statistics on climate change are horrific and only a focus on sustainability and renewable energy will make a dent. Thankfully, wind and solar energy technologies are growing at an unprecedented rate, and there is a greater interdependence between gas and electricity. According to Gartner, 80 percent of CEOs who plan to invest in new or improved products in the coming year cited environmental sustainability as the third largest driver, making it a competitive differentiator.

Among the cloud providers, AWS has done the lion’s share of work toward sustainability. The company’s mandate is to achieve net zero carbon by 2040, ten years ahead of the Paris Climate Accords, and it is working toward 80 percent renewable energy by 2024. Amazon buys more renewable energy than any other corporate buyer on the planet. In addition, Amazon has already invested $2 billion in clean technology.

As we kick off the third year of what has been the most unpredictable decade of the 21st century, here’s to making disruption work for us—and our planet.

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Yes, freelance writers, there is a perfect full-time job…at 2A 

By BB Bickel

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Image by Suzanne Calkins

“Would you consider working full time?” I never thought I’d jump at those words, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be the happy 2Aer I am today.

I was a freelance business writer for nearly 30 years and worked for big-name clients, like Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Pfizer, Motorola, KPMG, Novartis, Sun Microsystems (pre-Oracle buy out), …the list goes on. I did great work, clients loved me, and I made my own schedule. Get my nails done at 2 pm on Wednesday? Sure. Go clothes shopping at the mall all day? No problem. Play at the beach in the morning? Of course. I live in Fort Lauderdale, hence the beach.

There was a critical drawback though. Cashflow. I didn’t always have steady work and would have to chase down clients for payments. I couldn’t go on vacations—if I didn’t work, I didn’t get paid.

After nearly three decades of freelancing, thoughts of a full-time job started to dance in my head.

One day I saw a posting for a role at 2A Consulting, and I applied because it was 20 hours a week, remote, and it would be a steady gig. So off went my application. In time, I had my first video interview with Katy Nally, who headed up the storytelling team.

After we had talked for a while, she asked me, “Would you consider working full time?” My professionalism went out the window. I burst out, “I would love it! That’s what I’m really looking for!”

I then did tons of research on 2A and discovered I wanted to work there. After some interviews and writing tests, Katy scheduled another video call to talk about next steps. More writing? More interviews?

Nope. Katy started the video call by saying, “We really like you and we really like your writing. We’d like to offer you the job of storyteller.” I actually screamed! Yes, yes, yes!

Then I find myself ensconced in 2A. Moving from my own extremely flexible lifestyle to being at my desk eight hours a day, five days a week, had me in shellshock. Their onboarding process was intense but thorough. But 2A smoothed the way. They assigned me a buddy, Forsyth Alexander, for the first six months who I could go to with any sort of question. Since everyone works remotely, they offer random coffee chat pairings where you get to meet someone you don’t know. They also allow for incredibly flexible schedules so people can take care of their children or elderly parents or go to medical appointments or work in India for a while. But best of all, everyone, absolutely everyone, was so nice and so helpful.

The hard part—and this will sound odd—was being surrounded by other writers. After all, for nearly 30 years, I was the expert, the excellent writer that a company hired to write what someone couldn’t. Clients looked to me to sculpt their vision. I never compared myself to anyone. But now I was…and it made me question myself.

Then I had a talk with Kimberly Mass, a senior storyteller, who also had freelanced for years before coming to 2A. She’d gone through the exact same doubting experience I had. She taught me something very valuable. “Don’t compare. Look at the others as your support team. We all help each other.”

And that, my friends, is what 2A is all about. Helping each other. As I write this, I’ve been here six months. Still a newbie. But I feel completely included and so grateful that of all the companies I landed at, I have a place here. So, to other freelance writers, yes, there is a life that’s better than freelancing…it’s 2A.