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Jewel Ham: The Intern Behind Spotify’s Wrapped Story

December 11, 2020
4 Min Read
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Jewel Ham

Is it really the end of the year if you don’t share your Spotify Wrapped? The digital music service released its annual round-up of top songs for individual users last week. With the bursts of Instagram stories and tweets from Spotify users, many don’t know the idea of an interactive Spotify Wrapped Story was conceived by an intern: Jewel Ham.

To lead, create a compelling vision. Building a bold vision draws and rallies individuals behind a common goal. And the best part is anyone can do it. Harvard Business Review explains how aspiring leaders have a “number of opportunities to get hands-on experience in shaping vision.” All you have to do is seize 'em.

For Ham, seizing her opportunities meant creating a vision that tied our individual music experiences together. The truth of the matter is that a vision can cascade up. It doesn't have to be developed by CEOs or top-level leaders to matter. The beauty in shaping a vision is seeing the impact ripple through an organization.

What Makes Jewel Ham Special  

Vision: Just to be clear, Spotify Wrapped was originally presented on a mundane microsite and sent to users in an email. However, Ham re-envisioned the data as something more interactive. She was flooded with excitement, ideas, and “Ooh, wouldn't this be cool?” Her approach was to allow users to share their Spotify Wrapped on their social media accounts with just one click. After working three months on this project, Ham presented her colorful approach to Spotify Wrapped on the last day of her internship. Needless to say, it was well-received.

Influence: At the beginning of her internship, Ham was given an open-ended assignment. The goal was to “make Wrapped appeal to Gen Z.” Ultimately, Ham put in the elbow grease. She worked autonomously from start to finish without supervision. On the day of the presentation, she recalled working until 4 a.m. on crafting her design concepts. But, the crazy hours and overtime wasn’t a problem for Ham. It’s the combination of creative freedom and passion that fueled her. And it paid off. With all the Wrapped buzz, Spotify soared to #9 on the US app store.

Design Thinking: For the artist, addressing the issues with Spotify Wrapped meant tapping into what she knows best: social media. Ham noticed how the original design included only aggregated data. It was completely missing the interactive, human elements that could potentially draw in Gen Z users. Ham’s solution was to retool the Wrapped feature so that users could tag friends, follow hashtags, and repost artists to create shareable music moments. Basically, the Spotify Wrapped Story we know and love today.

Quote of the Week

“If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”Steve Jobs, former CEO and co-founder of Apple

Conversation Starters

  • Candor: Apple announced that app developers will be required to add privacy “nutrition labels” starting December 8. (Source: The Verge)
  • Inclusiveness: “My hope is that women see this and feel the confidence to take greater professional risks, while also not shelving their dreams.” (Source: Fortune)
  • Productivity: Take the lull time between assignments to shift gears and pick up projects that challenge you. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
  • Storytelling: As DoorDash begins trading, CEO and co-founder Tony Xu shares how his immigrant parents inspired him to shoot for the stars. (Source: CNBC)
  • Vision: Elon Musk says Silicon Valley has become “complacent with its innovators.” So, he packed up his bag, relocated to Texas, and took Tesla with him. (Source: Wall Street Journal)

Editor’s Corner

Question of the Week: "I had a colleague recently tell me that I don't share a lot. I was taught that I should keep my professional and personal life separate. How can I open up without oversharing?” —Chan, product manager

Editor’s Recommendation: Revealing parts of yourself is never easy, especially at work. Here’s what I recommend: Read the room, be candid, and redirect the conversation. Before you start sharing, figure out how your workplace functions. Do you think it’s appropriate for you to share certain aspects of your life? When it comes to being candid, ask yourself if you feel comfortable sharing. You have the power to pick and choose what information you give out. If the answer is no, then be straightforward and assert your boundaries. Like this, “I’m starting to feel a bit uncomfortable having this conversation.”

Lastly, if you find that sharing a piece of information about yourself has breached your privacy, try redirecting the conversation by asking your peers questions. This may seem scary but remember: Opening up happens on your terms.

Now’s Your Turn

Whichever way you decide to shape your vision, it’s definitely worth getting feedback from people around you.

​>> Go to Matter​ <<

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