As part of our interview series with Digital Thought Leaders, we talked to AdExcite's John Tierney, who has over 25 years of business development, marketing and product management experience with technology and internet services companies. We talked to Tierney about our initiatives in Afghanistan, the education and the economy in the country, and creating business opportunities for Afghan veterans.
Film Annex: What do you think of Film Annex's initiatives in Afghanistan?
John Tierney: This initiative is innovative on so many levels from the use of digital media tools to the sharing of information, from helping the Afghan economy to helping out military veterans.
F.A. Digital and social media have changed the political scenarios of several countries in the last two years. Can they also affect the educational and financial landscape? If yes, how so?
J.T. Indeed they can. Let’s not forget that the internet’s origins included helping researchers share and exchange ideas to build on the body of knowledge.
F.A. Is digital media the most efficient source that can educate the Afghan youth?
J.T. Can’t think of a better one. When information is digital (i.e. in “bit” format) it is cheaply replicated and easily shared, thus planting the seeds for access to knowledge and the exchange of ideas.
F.A. Can digital media and advertising sustain financially upcoming countries like Afghanistan and their educational system?
J.T. Not familiar with the economics and costs of the Afghan education system (I would guess there is a “cost per student” number) but indeed it could be supplemented by advertising and e-commerce.
F.A. How can digital media serve the emancipation of women and provide them with an independent education, connectivity, and financial freedom?
J.T. We’ve seen examples in our countries how digital media and the internet has empowered women to speak up and out. Again, not personally familiar with the exact situation in Afghanistan but “digits” have no boundaries or borders, so give anyone the tools to share information, and the walls will eventually come down.
F.A. What is your opinion on investing in the education of the Afghan youth and women by building schools in Afghanistan?
J.T. For all the power of the internet and digital media to connect individuals, there is still nothing like a physical place to maintain the “human” element that is basic to our hierarchy of needs. The internet provides the information and ideas around the world, but there is nothing like being in the proximity of others who share your passion to learn and grow.
F.A. Our goal is to increase the average yearly income in Afghanistan from $900 to $8000. How long do you think this will take?
J.T. Don’t personally have the expertise to answer this, but what I do like is that this is a tangible goal connecting the classroom to the outcome of growing the economy. There are probably many variables that would impact this goal however.
F.A. Veterans have a prominent role in the Film Annex initiatives in Afghanistan. What is your opinion on (G.I.V.E.) - Global Initiative for Veteran Entrepreneurship and building veteran business opportunities?
J.T. Few outside of the country would understand the Afghan people more than those who served there. This could bring their experience “full circle” – by starting new businesses, they can see the end result of their efforts to free people. Secondly, while we often hear about how we need to help our veterans “get a job” when their service is complete – which is true – more generally we should be giving them the tools to fulfill their dreams. This does that. Order me pizza from Herat!
More about John Tierney: John P Tierney has over 25 years of business development, marketing and product management experience with technology and internet services companies. He has worked at America Online, iLinc Communications (web conferencing), iCrossing (search engine optimization) and Bell Atlantic (now Verizon). More recently, he has been involved in higher education, serving as Director of Corporate Relations at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University from 2005-2008. Among his current clients are LikeLive, Inc (www.likelive.com) which enables college applicants to submit a video statement as part of the application process and AdExcite (www.adexcite.com) which specializes in "non-standard" online video advertising formats. John has a Master’s degree from the University of Maryland, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky.