A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste
How do you make products and experiences irresistible? To Bianca Bosker—a journalist who’s written extensively on customer obsession—the key lies in sensefulness. In other words, smart companies use all five senses to captivate consumers. And in Cork Dork, her bestselling exposé of the world of wine, she goes even deeper: showing us how to deliver products customers not only crave, but can’t live without.
“I loved this book. It’s not just about wine. It’s about learning how to listen to your senses, to more deeply experience and appreciate the world around you, and everyone could use another glass of that.”— Mary Roach, Author of Gulp
In 2015, Bianca Bosker quit as Executive Tech Editor at The Huffington Post to immerse herself in the flavorful world of wine. The result is Cork Dork: A Wine-Fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste. It’s an instant New York Times-bestseller that tracks how regular people can become enthralled by experiences. Now, in keynotes, she shares how a glass of wine is the perfect lens through which to explore broader ideas around customer obsession—how, and why, we obsess over products and experiences—and why harnessing the power of the senses (sensefulness) can not only transform how we appreciate the world, but can also lead to higher profits.
Bosker co-founded The Huffington Post’s tech section and served as the site’s Executive Tech Editor until 2014. She has written about food, wine, architecture, and technology for The New Yorker online, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, and The New Republic, among numerous other publications. Her writing has been recognized with multiple awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, as well as the Society of Professional Journalists.
Bosker previously authored Original Copies, an account of China’s “duplitecture” movement and a critically acclaimed exploration of China’s copy culture. Described as “fascinating” by The New York Review of Books, Original Copies continues to be featured in leading publications and was named one of Gizmodo’s Best Books of the Year. She is also the co-author of a cultural history of bowling, Bowled Over: A Roll Down Memory Lane.
She grew up in Portland, Oregon, graduated from Princeton University, and currently lives in New York City.
In her NYT bestseller Cork Dork, Bianca Bosker explored the fascinating world of oenophiles—those who treat wine as a way of life, and for which they’re willing to undergo a shocking amount of sacrifice and pain. In short, they are obsessives par excellence. But for Bosker, this made perfect sense: she’s hooked on studying obsessives and the things (or people) they obsess over. She’s explored the drivers of human behavior to provide insight into why we become obsessed, what unites the things that obsess us, how obsession spreads, and the surprising feats we undertake in its name.
Now, in this keynote, Bosker speaks to the process by which we get hooked, as well as the common attributes defining the people, things, and passions that possess us—be it bottles of Burgundy or bloggers—so that we open our hearts, minds, and wallets, and even evangelize to get others on board, too. Perfect for marketers and retailers (or anyone who sells), this talk will help inform strategies, products, and user experiences that inspire customer obsession. Of course, this is uniquely different—and more valuable—than simply being “viral,” or engaging large numbers of people passively and fleetingly. Obsession fuels deeper, more lasting relationships that people actively nurture. From personal experience, Bosker explains what fuels this behavior (and how to be mindful that obsession doesn’t tilt over into addiction), while also showing how healthy obsession can be a path to personal success. With her help, you’ll learn the ways your business or organization can, and should, harness the life-altering power of obsession.
While researching Cork Dorks, Bianca Bosker discovered a realm of people who orient their lives around taste. And by immersing herself in their world, she went from a life of sensory deprivation to one of cultivation, developing her own senses well beyond previous limitations. In the process, she realized most of us settle for “secondhand sensing”—letting price, labels, and other information substitute for our own experience.
Today, neuroscience reveals that not only can we all train our senses, but also why we should bother to do so: when we attune ourselves to flavor, we engage our more critical, analytical, and higher-order parts of our brain. We’ve all heard of mindfulness. But Bosker came to embrace what she calls “sensefulness”—the idea that it is by tuning into our senses that we truly learn to make sense of the world.
In this talk, Bosker examines what we can learn by cultivating and stimulating the senses—in business and in life, as companies and as individuals. A return to physicality, through a mindset that caters to all five senses, can create analog competitive advantages in how we create products, design experiences, appeal to customers, and behave as humans and employees. We tend to focus narrowly on the things we can hear and see. But appealing to touch, smell, and taste provides a means to persuade, charm, solidify messages, and excel. Smell, for example, is an overlooked vehicle for communication—we subconsciously exchange social cues through odors, such that we can “smell” illness, old age, relatives, even women’s tears, the scent of which alters men’s moods. Colors can alter our perception of a food’s flavor; smells can solidify memories. Sensefulness provides a tool and discipline to tap into our emotions more directly, completely, and effectively, while creating powerful experiences that make us better people, and bring others to our cause.