This week, we interview Anna Schneider-Mayerson, Innovation Director at Fahrenheit 212.
What do you do at Fahrenheit 212?
I am a Director on the Idea Development team here at F212. I craft new products, services, and experiences across categories from hospitality to retail to art to packaged goods. My role is to bring ‘magic’ in the form of inspiration, creativity, nuance, insight, emotion and strategic laser-beams to elevate my teammates, advance our work — and grow our business.
Where do you feel most creative?
I get fed creatively by connecting, listening to my rhythms, and following my intuition. I need alone time to sharpen my thoughts, but I’m at peak ASM when I am jamming in an open-air space with someone who replenishes my creative reservoirs, and looks for me to do the same. It doesn’t work when it only flows one way.
Do you have any rituals for the innovation process?
I like to capture my instincts before the project starts, so I can return to an outsider’s perspective when we get too in the weeds. I talk to creative, perceptive friends to understand the cultural associations and consumer barriers we’re tackling. I take in art that has something to say about related themes. I read – widely, weirdly, and deeply – and I walk, without music or podcasts. I try to build in room to step away. And then I love coming back and shutting everything else out, to focus, digest and marinate. My friends call it ‘Schneibernation.’
Where do you call home?
I live in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, but downtown Manhattan, where I was born and raised, sets the beat of my heart. While so many of the businesses in Soho and Greenwich Village have changed, the familiarity of the landscape gives me a sense of history and belonging.
What do you never leave home without?
Pen and notebook – once a reporter, always a reporter. You know when you hear a great quote and the exact articulation escapes you for all of eternity? I try to avoid that.
When did you first get into the field of innovation?
In one of my earliest journalism jobs, I created a new way to cover the legal industry – with more of an emphasis on what the culture of that field revealed about New York City, versus chronicling formal developments in cases. Other papers copied my approach. I also worked on a lady popcorn project that crystallized how much I like tangible things that bring to life new ideas and paradigms in culture.
What innovation are you most proud of?
A top secret handheld breakfast item!
What is your go-to reading source?
My first stop on a project is usually The New Yorker archives. There’s nothing like long form to get into all of the richness of what we will eventually need to structure and simplify. But I love all written forms, from subway poetry to dystopian novels to hairspray packaging to magazine infographics to graffiti. I find great inspiration in language and creative detail, especially when it wasn’t intended to be used by us sneaky consultants.
What is your favorite innovation from the last decade?
Tostitos Scoops – great problem solved through form, nice straightforward name. I also think SoulCycle is pretty genius – from the unbundled business model to the recognition that the craving for a dance party can be a spiritual thing to the tribal branding – it hits on the cultural moment from a lot of different angles, which is what I try to do with my ideas.
Do you have any side projects, hobbies, or a previous life you would like to share?
I was a journalist in my past life – I love the little details that add up to a powerful experience. While I used to write about them, now I get to create them.
What is your greatest life hack?
Fancy Hands! It’s a digital assistant service introduced to me by my colleague (the incomparable Christina Ducruet) that I use to book my spinning bikes at unholy hours, snag reservations, and wait on hold for insurance claims follow-ups. I get such a thrill out of the Internet working for me, while I’m working for F212.
What are your go-to podcasts?
Dharma Punx. Buddhist teacher Josh Korda thoughtfully melds psychology and spiritual philosophies, but his talks are equally filled with practical advice on how to live authentically in the day-to-day.
What is your must-read book?
A Little Life transformed how I think about friendship, relationships, and resilience.
What is your favorite place in New York?
I love places where the scale of the environment makes me feel small (Dumbo), where urbanity and nature come into contrast (Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Highline) and gritty industrial streetscapes (far out Bushwick).
What is your favorite place you have ever traveled?
Immersed in the sleepy tropical backwaters, taking in the novel The God of Small Things set in the surrounding area, years before it made the NY Times travel section, I spent a week traveling through Kerala, India. A transformative experience and a turning point for me as it was the first time I adventured solo.
What is the first thing you sign up do when you find a free hour on a Saturday?
An indulgently long combination of yoga and spinning on Saturdays always feels really good. Or if I have an hour to kill, a massage! It’s an act of self-care.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Scoop of ginger, scoop of vanilla. Classic, clean and simple with a refined zing.
Where is your favorite place to get inspired?