Connect the Dots with Natalie Zmuda

The only time we should ever look back is to see how far we’ve come. After living through a year like 2020, Natalie Zmuda, Head of Think with Google, believes that there are benefits to looking backward that will help to propel us forward.

NetElixir has teamed up with Natalie Zmuda to discuss how she is inspired to innovate for a better tomorrow. As we continue to connect the dots and create the future, we sat down with Natalie to get a better understanding of her experience this past year and how it has helped her and Google move forward.

Connect the dots of innovation with the Head of Think With Google, Natalie Zmuda.


Continue reading below for a full transcript of NetElixir’s chat with Natalie.

NetElixir: What’s a key driver of innovation that companies tend to overlook?

Natalie: I think we overlook our youngest employees sometimes. They think differently, they’ve had different life experiences, and they have a lot to bring to the table. We need to create more opportunities for our youngest employees to connect and share their ideas with our most senior leaders.

NetElixir: Companies are already beginning to prepare for future crises. What’s one area they should focus on?

Natalie: We have learned a tremendous amount during this pandemic. Over the last 18 months, we’ve had to react on the fly; we have had to be really, really scrappy; we’ve had to become a lot more agile than we’ve ever been before; we’ve had to streamline the way we do things, change our processes. We have just learned so much. So I think there’s a lot of documentation to do. My team is really focused on making sure that we don’t forget all of the things that we learned. We’re creating that crisis playbook so that the next time, we’re ready, we’re agile, and we’re spending our time moving forward, and not reacting and trying to figure things out.

NetElixir: What is an example of innovation you’ve seen from companies during the pandemic that has impressed you?

Natalie: It’s been really amazing to see companies shift to virtual experiences and in a way that doesn’t sacrifice customer service. There’s been plenty of experiences where going virtual for companies has actually meant that they’ve been able to deliver more convenient experiences and better customer service. So when I think about the last year, you know, I’ve done personal training, I’ve done virtual wine tastings, I’ve bought an invisible fence for our puppy on a virtual console that leveraged Google’s street view! We’ve done so much and it’s been more convenient and it’s been really, really easy. Not easy to make those transitions, not easy to make those pivots, but now that companies have, I don’t think they’ll ever look back.

Connect the Dots with Natalie Zmuda

Join NetElixir’s virtual conference, Connecting the Dots: Driving Change Through Innovation, to learn more about Natalie’s latest research and her strategies for success. During her presentation, Looking Back to Move Forward, Natalie will share insights into current consumer trends and innovative initiatives.

Looking Back to Move Forward Overview

Presented by Natalie Zmuda at Connecting the Dots: Driving Change Through Innovation on 6/10 at 11:30 AM EST

When COVID-19 became a globally shared problem in 2020, it also exposed a simple truth: there is no universal human experience. Search trends reveal people are placing more value on understanding individual needs, and they expect brands to be able to meet those needs. As innovations in one industry (on-demand taxis) can drive expectations in another (on-demand groceries), the burden is on brands, not consumers, to keep up. In this session, we’ll examine the latest shifts in consumer behavior, all backed by Google data, to better understand which will be fleeting and which are here to stay. Register now for Natalie’s live presentation.

Connecting the Dots Virtual Conference


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