The Numbers.

Exploration. Engagement. Connection. It takes curiosity, creativity and inspiration to reach these goals. But even these are not enough. If you don’t have passion—blood, sweat and often even tears—you have nothing. Passion is the magic ingredient. Bring it.


—  Team OT19


—  Twelve: 12 months, 12 terrific interviews, 12 of the greatest thought leaders shaping and changing the modern world (and tomorrow's world, too). From these visionaries, who hail from 11 countries and five continents, we learned something new, something insightful, something that made our eyes pop open as “YES!” screamed across our synapses. To honor them, and you, our readers, we recently debuted “The Sound of OPEN Topics,” a Spotify collection of motivating musical moments from our contributors and team. Following up that popular playlist feature, we invite you to explore our interactive map above and peruse the numbers of 2018 below, for some of our favorite insights from around the globe.


The number of global thought leaders we had the pleasure of interviewing.

Our goal was to always be as relevant and current as our global thought leaders and readers. Thus our topics have included: Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, Women’s Voices, Green Energy (focus on blockchain), Virtual Reality, Happiness, Experience Design, Future Home, Preservation, Social Activism, Fintech and Audio Marketing.


The number of key organizations that our global thought leaders were or currently are affiliated with — yes, they are all movers and shakers!

IBM (Elizabeth Kiehner)
University of Paderborn
(Prof. Axel Ngonga)
Leipzig University
(Prof. Axel Ngonga)
(Alessandar Lariu)
Digital Enlightenment Capital
(Cao Yin)
Digital Renaissance
(Cao Yin)
Energy Blockchain Labs an IBM Partner
(Cao Yin)
(Resh Sidhu)
Framestore (Resh Sidhu)
University of the Arts London
(Resh Sidhu)
(Mo Gawdat)
(Chi Ryan)
(Simon Gosling)
(Jamie DiVenere)
(Jason Murphy)
Banco Santander
(Bradley Leimer)
Unconventional Ventures
(Bradley Leimer)
(Belinda Lopez)

case by case nyc OPEN-Topics-2018-Simon-Gosling-Unruly-Future-Home-3-Photos-21-Aug(G).jpg


The number of countries reached by OPEN Topics 2018.

We emphasize a global perspective in everything we do, so we’re thrilled that readers from so many places tuned in to OPEN Topics 2018. The top 19 countries are:

Hong Kong/Sweden


The number of our continually growing impressions.

Our LinkedIn page alone, one of our favorite channels for sharing with readers, had more than 30K impressions. Our ambitious readership is composed of a large number of founders, CEOs, business, marketing and media professionals, from many of the most forward-thinking organizations. Follow us on LinkedIn now



The numbers that equal happiness. Mo Gawdat invited us to his beautiful and peaceful loft to share why we should prioritize happiness in work and life. Read excerpt below:

The “six” refers to our grand illusions. Control is an example of one. We actually believe that we can control everything. But we can’t control our spouse, we can’t control the train, we can’t control our employees. The search for control is totally a production of the modern world of living, this life where every advertiser is telling you that you can actually achieve that balanced life, while the reality is chaos theory, entropy, butterfly effects, black swans. Every bit of scientific evidence will tell you that you have zero control. If you go through life with control as an illusion, your expectations are set so unrealistically that almost every single event will miss them, right? Every single event that you expect to stay within control will always go out of control or require a tremendous amount of effort on your side to keep it within control. And so you’re unhappy either way, right? There are six of these grand images.

Continue reading our interview with Mo Gawdat, formerly of Google [X] and international bestselling author of ‘Solve for Happy,’ on “How can happiness add value to work?” Read now


Bust your six illusions
(thought, self, knowledge, time, control, and fear)
Fix your seven blind spots
(filters, assumptions, predictions, memories, labels, emotions, and exaggeration)
Hang on to your five ultimate truths
(now, change, love, death, and design)



The number of minutes in our inspiring thought leader playlist The Sound of OPEN Topics 2018.

As a thank you to our global thought leaders and readers, we enlisted Matt Rockman, resident DJ at downtown Manhattan’s legendary Botanica Bar, to create an eclectic motivational playlist based on each thought leader’s and team member’s most inspiring song. Listen here



The number of words used during our OPEN Topics 2018 interviews.

Collectively, our contributors tended to focus on The Human Experience (“People” was referenced 135 times, and “Experience,” 88); and it shouldn’t be surprising that these thought leaders referenced “Think” 101 times. But we were pleased to see “Happy” get 79 references! Discover more in our interactive word map

People 135
Think 101
Experience 88
Happy 79


The chance that creatives will become obsolete once Artificial Intelligence becomes a bigger player in our industry, according to Elizabeth, our AI expert at IBM.

Read our interview with Elizabeth Kiehner, IBM’s Global Design Practice Director, on “Are you obsolete, already?” Read now


The number of prog rock bands that Prof. Axel Ngonga and Andy Sobel referenced before getting into a deep dialogue on machines and humans finding a lingua franca and the meaning of data breeding.

Andy: “What kind of music do you like?”
Axel: “All kinds of music. But I really like progressive metal. Do you know Dream Theater?”
Andy: “No.”
Axel: “They’re really cool.”

Andy: “Do you know The War on Drugs?”
Axel: “Is that a band?”
Andy: “Yeah, check them out.”

Continue reading our interview with Prof. Axel Ngonga, data scientist at University of Paderborn and Quartz Magazine’s African Innovator 2016, on “Is your data ready to breed?” Read now


The number signifying the amount of lost wages by women per year in the USA, due to the pay gap.*

Read our interview with Alessandra Lariu, SheSays Co-Founder and brand innovator, on “Is the next #MeToo about #money?” Read now

*Source: USA Today, October 23, 2018.

Herrency by Bowery Studio

Herrency by Bowery Studio


The number of hours that separate New York City and Singapore — meaning, while Cao Yin was enjoying breakfast in his hotel we were in our Chinatown studio enjoying some late night Dim Sum as we waited to Skype.

Read our interview with Cao Yin, Blockchain Evangelist, E-Citizen, Digital Nomad and Energy Blockchain Labs Founder, on “How green is your blockchain?” Read now


The number of minutes of our longest on-site interview at AKQA with Resh Sidhu, where she introduced us to her favorite VR experiences, including her award-winning Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Experience based on J.K. Rowling’s tale.

Read our interview with Resh Sidhu, AKQA’s Creative Director and honorary Doctor of the University of the Arts London, on “Is your virtual my reality?” Read now

Case-by-Case-NYC-OPEN-Topics-2018-Andy Sobel at AKQA with Resh Sidhi


The number of views of our most viewed video on our LinkedIn page: of Mo Gawdat’s Happiness Tip.

Read our interview with Mo Gawdat, formerly of Google [X] and international bestselling author of ‘Solve for Happy,’ on “How can happiness add value to work?” Read now


The number of dogs actively involved during an OPEN Topics 2018 interview.

We chuckled when editor Andy Sobel recounted his experience of being showered with affection by Chi Ryan’s faithful assistant, Ridley. Especially, as Andy was not known as a dog person — until Ridley came along.

Read the interview with Chi Ryan, Director of Experience Design at Idean/Capgemini, on “Who’s at the center of your designs?” Read now


“There’s nothing like having a dog lick you for the entire length of a 45-minute interview — when you’re not per se a ‘dog person.’ I considered it an honor.”

Case by Case NYC OPEN Topics 2018 Andy-Sobel-and-Ridley-Chi Ryan Idean).jpg


The number of brands mentioned by Simon Gosling in his video on how to wrangle your smart devices in your future home.

Read the interview with Futurist Simon Gosling on “Which brands will rule your future home?” Read now


The number of Fintech trends that Bradley says you must look out for.

Read the interview with Bradley Leimer, formerly Head of Innovation at Banco Santander, currently Founder of Unconventional Ventures on “Will Fintech fix the future?” Read now

Take Note

Bradley’s top 5 Fintech trends that you must look out for:

—  Trend 1  |  Digital Experiences
Banking activities from payments to credit to wealth management will become more embedded inside other digital experiences—we are already seeing this in China in the creation of superapps WeChat and AliPay.

—  Trend 2  |  Open Banking
We are moving to more open banking business models that will allow consumers and businesses to choose financial services a la carte off a menu from thousands of providers—likely to succeed first in Europe and different parts of Asia before the U.S.

—  Trend 3  |  Challenging Profitability Models
Fintech startups have changed financial services for the better by challenging profitability models and who pays for services in exchange for new types of value—they’ve helped reduce fees and added transparency to nearly every aspect of global banking—this will only continue as these startups gain scale and investment exceeds $35 billion in 2018 alone.

—  Trend 4  |  Improved Access to Money Movement
Financial services is helping to reduce the 1.7 billion people globally that are unbanked through providing improved access to money movement, savings and wealth creation, and micro credit; the number of people living in poverty is continuing to improve.

—  Trend 5  |  Personalized Service for Everyone
Customers over the age of 50 are the fastest growing and most profitable segment in financial services. Thus, we must build technology and financial products and services that serve everyone through more personalized service, not just targeting segments like millennials.


The number of minutes of music our editor Andy Sobel listened to on his Spotify account in 2018, according to his personalized 2018 Wrapped experience.

Read our interview with Belinda Lopez, Integrated Production Director at Spotify, on “What is the sound of your success?” Read now


The year that David Bowie called out MTV Networks for not playing videos by black artists.

Read our interview with Jamie DiVenere, Media Archivist, Curator, Metadata Manager and Digital Strategist for Viacom’s The MTV Vault, project on “Are we losing non-digital history?” Read now


The year Nike’s Dream Crazy campaign features Colin Kaepernick. (Two years too late?)

Read our interview with Jason Murphy, Speaker, Lecturer, Entrepreneur and Brand Design Director formerly at Nike, on “Can a brand be ‘woke’ better?” Read now


What will you create this year?

Get inspired by the three words our global thought leaders and team used to describe their vision for 2019. Read now

Take Note

Have a topic you’d like us to cover with breadth and depth? We’d love to dig in — give us a call or send us a line. OPEN Topics. Always OPEN. Always on Topic.


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