About GigiSocio-technologist, tech satirist, teacher, action researcher, creator in the world
Gigi Louisa Johnson, EdD, MBA
Center for Creative Futures, Maremel Institute / Faculty, UCLA Alpert School of Music / President, Rethink Next
Dr. Johnson speaks, researches, and creates experiences on transformation and creative technologies. Through Maremel, she creates programs, events, and classes on where creative work and systems are going — locally and globally — in an AI- and digitally accelerated age. Through Maremel, she has advised leaders in start-ups, nonprofits, and other organizations in media, music, and education. Through the non-profit Rethink Next, she also is launching collaborations on the futures of creative work in local communities. Dr. Johnson speaks around the world on digital transformations — both of the past and in the extended future.
Teaching on cutting-edge issues has been part of her DNA. UCLA has been part of her home for 20 years, where she has taught undergraduates, MBAs, and executives about digital disruption in creative industries. She has taught Music Industry courses at UCLA Alpert for more than 10 years, and for four years produced and hosted the UCLA podcast “Innovating Music.” Gigi was the Founding Executive Director of the UCLA Center for Music Innovation for five years. She previously had run centers and taught courses and executive programs on digital disruption and creative systems change at UCLA Anderson for 14 years. She also has taught at universities and spoken at major conferences in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East in digital transformation and disruption.
Creatively, she has produced and hosted three early web series on digital tech learning, produced and performed in eight years of kids’ concerts, produced four online courses in creative tech and marketing, produced two kids’ albums, and designed a large number of live thought-leadership events with various partners.
Her corporate background includes ten years of financing media acquisitions at Bank of America, as well as work in educational media, public relations, and advertising. She received her doctorate in educational leadership for change from Fielding Graduate University, her MBA from UCLA Anderson, and her bachelor’s degree from USC Cinematic Arts in TV production.
Our Adventures in Our Daily Lives
“Thank you for making me think.”
— a note from our breakfast server
I nudge people to see opportunities daily. Some of this nudging is in my interactions as a keynote speaker or teacher. Some is in conversations with a barista or on public transportation.
Most of my work and energy — speaking, researching, teaching, and connecting — repeatedly wraps back around to how we grow our daily lives despite the defaults and perceived limits in this tech-framed world.
I push against the easy button of smartphone- and search-led algorithmic discovery. We make so many daily decisions now withiut seeing those tethers to curated choice.
For example, that curation is deep into plans and stories about future autonomous car systems. At a CES 2019 side event on automotive artificial intelligence (!!), we could have had a drinking game around the word “Frictionless” as a goal. That stated goal in many company presentations for “frictionless” consumer decisionmaking creates a foggy mist around how instead we can take positive, intentional action.
With my work, I shine light into that mist of tech-connected phones and tools that impact how we work, live, create, share, and collaborate. I mix those ideas with insights from 9 careers, including corporate banking, media distribution, music performance and marketing, higher education, and teaching technology. I also have raised three young adults who are making their way in this digital world.
I love to help people break out of the default space of their lives. I bring insights, advice, and humor to help groups and individuals thrive in digital water.
We are digital fish, swimming in a big tank that we cannot see well. . . or at all. The world and the way we engage in it is dramatically shifting with embedded, perpetual connected technologies. How can we swim differently? How does our digital water affect how we live, work, share, love, create, collaborate, and plan our lives together?
My Three Energy Focuses
I love to work across spaces, so am working on several ventures/adventures. I co-created Maremel in 2001 to have a great place to research, publish, create events, speak, teach, and produce projects with partners. I designed and launched the Center for Music Innovation in 2014 within the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music as a conversation about the dramatic changes in what technology is doing to creation and connected communities that celebrate music and life. Most recently, I launched Rethink Next, a 501c3 corporation, to create new learning programs around helping you and your groups become better futurists and future builders.