Browsing articles from "April, 2010"

This Week’s Posts

Was this week crazy for you? If it was, you might have missed out on one or a few of our posts this week. We bundled them up real nice for you below:

Protecting the Brand (from aliens)

If one of the world’s most renowned theoretical physicists can’t keep his brand integrity in check, what chance do the rest of us have?

Please, Don’t Feed The Animals!

Close encounters with people and wildlife is dangerous in the Everglades’ Big Cypress Swamp. Watch the premier of Swamp Men on Nat Geo Wild Monday @ 10 p.m.

Authenticity Insurance Inc.

Authenticity may be costly, but it could also be what ensures keeping you from falling. An illustration with ninjas, zombies, garbage cans, and Milli Vanilli.

Do As I Say, Not As I Did

Real life scenarios as to why one should develop a social strategy before implementing tactics… online and offline.

Real Swamp Man : : An Interview with Ed Woods

More than 1,600 animals roam wild in the Everglades Swamp, and Ed Woods leads the team in charge of keeping them in check. MindoMondo had a chance to interview Ed before his show premieres on Nat Geo Wild.

A few words from a (former) intern…

I am bequeathing my blogging day to Sealii King, our beloved intern whose last day was this Thursday. She’s been a champ the whole way through so I’ll leave you with her final words and see you all next Friday!

Remember to use any of our subscription options on the upper-right if you want to make sure not to miss out ever again. If you don’t subscribe now, we will send tiny coffee-eating elves into your home. Imagine waking up to that.

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A few words from a (former) intern…

I am bequeathing my blogging day to Sealii King, our beloved intern whose last day was this Thursday. She’s been a champ the whole way through so I’ll leave you with her final words and see you all next Friday!

Let me preface this by saying that snagging my internship was no easy feat. In fact, it wasn’t until I offered to clean the office toilets that my boss, Production Manager Ryan Glidden, even responded to one of my many, many emails (this remains a fact of contention). I remember the awe and anticipation I felt visiting the studios for my interview. It’s one of those places that the second you walk through the doors, you know you want to work there. Kind of like Disney World. This may not make sense if you hate the Mouse House, but hopefully you catch my drift. Anyways, after grilling me in the conference room about my experience and plans for the future (I’m making this sound for more dramatic than it was), Ryan took me on a tour of the place. Seeing the cameras that shoot such breathtaking footage from around the world, and the edit suites that polish it, took my breath away. At the end of my interview and tour, I was told that I would start my internship in January. I walked out the door and emitted an “eeeeeeeeeeeee!!!”-type noise, a sound of elation that I believe only dogs could hear. I walk/skipped to my mom’s car parked across the street, clearly forgetting that I was but a mere mortal despite my future intern status, and nearly got hit by a car in the process. In case you’re wondering, I had my mom drive me because I was far too nervous to drive myself. I’m sure you’re getting a clear picture of the reign I have on my emotions right now.

During my internship I was assigned regular tasks such as time coding, writing video for transcripts, and recording music cues. Most of my assignments involved “Into the Wild” in one shape or another, which blew my mind because I grew up watching Jungle Jack Hanna. Let it be known that I never met Jack Hanna, and this fact has left me devastated.

I went on two shoots during my internship. My first shoot, a media day for Sesame Street Safari of Fun at Busch Gardens which consisted of two very long days (crew calls at 5 and 7 A.M.). I worked both days as a PA, assisting Ryan and other crew members with various tasks like standing in, delivering papers, and other fun things. My second shoot (this past weekend, as a matter of fact) was at Sea World for National Geographic’s new channel, NatGeoWILD. I assisted Horse, Spectrum’s supercool (not a real word but a real description) cameraman, with shooting crowd reactions following a presentation by two hosts from the network, along with animal interactions. I learned far more than I ever expected at both shoots, which surprised me due to my PA position.

Yesterday, I worked my last day as an intern, and I invited my family to take a tour of the place I spent 20 hours a week at since January. I took them upstairs to the conference room where I had my interview, through the edit suites, and finally to the camera closet. They saw the cameras that shot the scenes watched around the world. They saw why I was so excited to go there every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, despite my car getting 12 miles to the gallon. They see why now, on my first free Friday since January, I’m completely crushed as I watch cartoons at home instead of writing in music cues on spreadsheets.

On a closing note, I’d like to offer a few tips to any intern-hopefuls:

1) Do NOT wear heels. You will be out of place and Ryan will make you take the garbage to the city dump…by yourself.
2) Jump on any opportunity to go on a shoot. You will have a blast and make more connections there than anyplace else.
3) Don’t take offense if Ryan or Beti are so busy on projects they don’t have the time to throw one your way. Instead, start a project of your own. I put together my own little bottle-cap recycling campaign, where I decorated a cardboard box next to the recycle bin to catch un-recyclable plastic caps before they’re tossed out. The trick is to create a project that must be tended to regularly: now that my bottle-cap box is in place, I have no choice but to go back to Spectrum on a regular basis to retrieve my petite Polypropylene jewels.

…and weasel my way into whatever project is next up on the calendar.


Authenticity Insurance Inc.

I assure you I didn’t mean to delay publishing my post for this week. I had trouble with my car (which I named Garbage Can II… and don’t even ask what happened to the original Garbage Can), which led to a compressed bite-size amount of time to complete a super-sized serving of duties.

Being completely honest here.

I meant to follow up on my graph-laden post on the costs of being authentic with some fresh thoughts. I even put it down on my to-do list. Oh you don’t believe me? Here’s some evidence:

Everything I’ve said above is real, which plays right into what I wanted to write about: Keeping things real.

In that other post I stated the case for your being authentic possibly being the reason for your influence to be capped. What I didn’t mention was that the risk of not being authentic is a lot higher and dreadful.

Sure, you might fool people for a while. You can fake it ’till you make it, as they say. You might even shoot straight to the top without people noticing. The problem is, it takes only one person to peek behind your dirty little mask, and you could possibly blow it forever. And fast.

Go ask Milli Vanilli. Need I say more?

But you see, it’s not in your power to fool people. You can try, but there’s no way for you to ensure success, nor to maintain the façade. The only element under your control is how authentic you are.

Think about that. If authenticity has a cost (the cost of capping the growth of your influence), and being authentic protects you from the risk of really disappointing people (at least those who value sincerity), then it could almost be compared to buying home insurance.

What I mean is, your house is better off by paying a small amount each month to keep it protected. In the same way, you’re better off growing your influence slowly but steadily (i.e, paying the cost of being authentic by not growing too quickly), consistently recurring to what is absolutely true about your deep-down persona (or your brand, or your business, etc.) as a well from which to pull out actions, thoughts and ideas.

And to be completely honest, the bit about ninjas and zombies wasn’t real, of course. But if I met either, I would meet them on high-speed riding on Garbage Can II.

Ok, blog post… CHECK!


Protecting the Brand (from aliens)

This goes out to one of the world’s greatest brains.  Yes, Stephen Hawking, this is written expressly for you.

Cover of "A Brief History of Time"

Cover of A Brief History of Time

First of all, thanks for reading this blog post.  I’m really quite flattered!   Now to business-

A couple of days ago the Discovery Channel aired an interview wherein you, Mr. Hawking, not only opined that aliens most likely exist, but that said aliens are almost certainly a threat to humans.  Indeed, you cautioned, we would be ill advised to court any contact whatsoever.

This may be the case.  In fact, your warning may be for naught.  It could be that Earth broadcast transmissions have already sealed our fate, alerting intergalactic predators to some of the tastiest game this side of Asellus Primus  (For you doubters out there, I’ll have you know that is a real star.  One must know these things when addressing a top-tier theoretical physicist).   And, if alien intergalactic death saucers aren’t already heading this way, I’m sure those SETI idiots are sending out a “Come get it while it’s hot” message at this very minute.

But that’s not the point.   The point is that you, Stephen Hawking, have built up a name, nay, a one-man brand identity.  After all, who hasn’t read “A Brief History of Time”?  Okay, who hasn’t pretended to read “A Brief History of Time”?  Just by association, those of us who’ve tried to tackle your writing have felt just a touch closer to those cosmic truths that elude us.  We’re grateful for the chance to grapple with our own intellectual limitations and awed that some can make quantum leaps into the unknown.  Your name still sits on top of the global brain trust (a group getting less brainy and trusty all the time).  However, if you start going off about aliens this and aliens that, well, you’re no better than science fiction writers, or, Lou Dobbs.  Then what do we have left?

Protect the brand Mr. Hawking.  The last thing we need is another talking head.

"What's for dinner?"

(And for any hostile aliens monitoring this blog, if you’d leave a comment that would be AWESOME!)

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This Week’s Posts

Missed any posts from this week? Here they are:

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Thanks for reading, and keep sharing your thoughts!

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Magic in the Workplace

If wizards were real and magicians took day jobs I have a feeling they would look a lot like my co-worker Gary Grant.

You see, I’ve been observing Gary working on a passion project for the past few weeks and the amount of joy he brings, daring he exhibits and flexibility he retains can only be likened to magic.

He showed up at work one day with the separate pieces of a project that didn’t make a whole lot of sense on their own and he was kind enough to share with me his vision. I’ll admit, I couldn’t see it at first, but if you know Gary and that mischievous glint he gets in his eyes at times, you could tell that he could see it and that it was a very real thing, right in front of him, all he had to do was put it together. And he didn’t even mind that I wasn’t there yet, or that perhaps I’d never be, it was a reverse emperor-has-no-clothes situation. Before me soon there would be an emperor, and he was going to be wearing the finest suit in all the land, but only Gary could see it now and to help me along the way he’d let me see the craftsmanship as he put it together.

And what a delight it has been to watch because it hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but even better than watching Gary barrel forward with his vision, has been watching him adapt when obstacles have come up, because they never, ever seem to lessen his enthusiasm.

I told him that when I was younger I read storybooks that all seemed to have the message that it was ok to be different and that one day you’d be celebrated for your differences and that marching to the beat of your own drum would one-day be something everyone could dance to, which was very encouraging for a dreamer like me. Yet as I got older I realized it wasn’t necessarily true and even in some creative environments there seemed to be a limit to how much “outside of the box”, how much “off the beaten path” one could comfortably travel and gain acceptance. But then I met Gary, a true original, who told me that it’s a struggle every day to be different; and I see that he lives up to that challenge and I’m beginning to see the payoff in his project.

So it’s not some slight of hand, a dove in a top hat or the waving of a wand that I speak of, Gary and his creative verve are true magic.


cupcake sandwiches! (arrangement matters)

Cupcake Sandwiches (OH MY!)

Today, Jorge Garcia (‘Hurley‘ for you Lost-fiends out there) showed me (via his blog) the proper way to eat a cupcake. Passed down the line by folks on set, the ingenious idea is so inspired that I felt compelled to honor it with its very own post.

It leaves me with a faint flutter of jealousy, ever so slightly chastising my brain for not stumbling upon this myself. How many cupcakes through the years have I enjoyed less than optimally? Tragic.

I’ve already decided that on my next trip to the grocery store, I will be purchasing cupcakes for my fun and friendly office-mates, knowing that it’s driven largely – but not entirely – by a selfish need to try this out.

I know, I know, it seems silly, but there really is some inspiration here for me. Arrangement matters.

Jorge Garcia at Hollywood Life Magazine’s 7th ...

Image via Wikipedia

In all great design, writing, every great edited sequence I’ve watched on film, arrangement plays a key role. There are times where you can swap two shots in an edited sequence, change nothing else, and all of the sudden that story makes much more sense. This is something I encounter constantly.

Quick, simple, delicious solutions like these are something to strive for. They leave me more focused on observation, asking myself if a design, edit, or any other object might be improved by even a subtle shift of position. They will also now leave me craving cupcakes. Great.

Just a little frosted food for thought.


Space and Time!

How does team proximity affect creative thinking?

This subject interests me because recently our creative team made a collective decision to take over a back space in our office that was reserved for our under-utilized ping-pong table. The table was on its last leg (literally), and none of us were good enough to get an entertaining volley going anyway. In it’s place we created a simple gathering area with a meeting table, book shelves, lounge chairs and a projector. Nothing fancy, but informal enough where it has a comfortable feel and laid-back vibe. The idea was to encourage us to gather up as groups, small teams, or even solo. Prior to creating the space we were spread through two floors and across buildings. Most days, unless a meeting was planned or projects were in full stride, our creative team would rarely interact as a whole. I accepted it as just being the nature of the business.

When I stepped back to really look at it, it wasn’t the interaction that was the problem because we’re lucky to have a team that truly loves to exchange ideas and feed off each other, but rather it was the literal walls and spaces that didn’t promote these impromptu moments. I know the concept of a creative space is nothing new or unique, but it’s the act of actually using the space and adding it into the team culture that is the main key.

At most hours of the day you can walk into our space and see a few folks around the meeting table talking while someone sits in the background lounge with headset cranking. So why does any of this matter enough to write it down? Well, prior to this we would typically save our ideas or contain the exchange within a meeting structure. Upon completion of the sessions the team would disperse back into their rooms until a follow-up brainstorm was scheduled.

It was almost like training the brain to stop and start. Most creative folks stay in perpetual motion, sometimes in the fast lanes and other times crawling up hill, but always in motion nonetheless. The more structured the exchanges become, in my opinion, the less the brain can shift gears and the flow of ideas become almost formulaic or factory-like. Like most creative houses, some of our best group idea exchanges are shared in the hallway, the kitchen or over morning coffee. I think the group exchange is much like my colleague Brian Campbell wrote about in his earlier post about how he personally gets his ideas. They’re not typically planned or scheduled ….it’s impromptu and captured in the moment. Sharing a community space with your team allows for one big impromptu moment. Questions are asked, ideas are challenged and concepts strengthened… all of this done without the need for iCal!

Now, I’m not condoning throwing out creative sessions or brainstorm at all, it’s good to have those structured times set aside for the sake of the project flow. What I’m saying is, take a look at the use of space and time in your office. If you only see faces at lunch time and structured meetings blanket the day, a gathering spot may not be a bad idea to explore. Get out of your office, take a seat at the table and see what happens! (Depending on your co-workers and company dynamics, results may vary!)

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It’s Worth Your Time

I swore to myself that I wouldn’t miss it again this year.  Fortunately, I was able to keep the promise.  I’m talking about the Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg.  For some reason, this festival’s schedule and my own have always been out of sync.  However, last Saturday, I finally had the chance to attend.  I reveled in the opportunity to view some very nice short films plus one truly funny feature: Barry Munday.

A touching scene from Barry Munday

This comedy with hometown star Patrick Wilson is quirky, but also totally engaging and, after a recent recut, closer to the director’s original intent, it’s finally getting the hoopla it deserves.

But I digress.

In addition to a great lineup of festival-circuit shorts and features, Sunscreen also does a good job lining up thought-provoking speakers.  I’m thinking of one session in particular:  a workshop with Producer Ralph Winter and Producer / Director Phil Cooke.

Producers Ralph Winter and Phil Cooke

Both gentlemen have impressive track records in the business (X-Men, Fantastic Four).  But this isn’t about name-dropping.  It’s about passing on a simple idea.

Time is a commodity, and should be negotiable as a commodity.   Winter – Cooke cited this concept in reference to how deals are negotiated.  You might not be able to offer an A-list star big bucks for your small quirky feature. However, if you can guarantee the star that she or he will be on and off the project within record time… Hey! You just might have something.

This whole idea of the time-value equation led me to thoughts beyond the art of the deal.  It recalled an internal debate I’ve been having for some time about the imposition of our media culture on all things time-related:  the three to five-thousand media messages you’re barraged with each day (including this blog post).

I offer no great insight here.  More of a challenge really.  If you’re the one doing the communicating and you want to focus on the value proposition of your message, forget the actual message for a second.  Think about your user’s (reader, viewer, consumer) time.  If you can get them in and out of your message quickly, you’ve added value to your idea, no matter what it is.

And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

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To Sync or Not to Sync

Some people say you shouldn’t sync your Facebook updates and your Twitter tweets. Others say it’s OK to sync because it’s a convenience. Others prefer to use selective tweets to Facebook. There is only one clear answer: It depends.

If you don’t have an idea what I mean, I’m talking about apps and services that allow you to write an update on one, and makes it automagically appear on the other.

As in most subjects in Social Media, a blanket rule just doesn’t cut it. Processes and their effectiveness depend on a wide variety of factors, including update frequency, type of updates, audiences reached on each platform, and many others. Above all things, you just have to use common sense and check if your human interactions are being hindered or not.

So instead of giving you a dogmatic reason why you should or shouldn’t sync, I thought it would be much more interesting to hear from a number of folks on why they do what they do. We ran a bit of a survey accross several Twitter accounts, and the results were quite interesting. Feel free to do a little virtual-eavesdropping of our Twitter timelines.

And even a few of my Latin American peeps gave their opinions. I translate below each.

“No, because for me Twitter is more for colleagues and Facebook for friends and family. Different subjects.”

“Yes dear friend, but I use the selective hashtag #fb to select what goes to Facebook. My friends in Facebook were not understanding some of my tweets.”

“No, because a lot of times what I update on Facebook doesn’t fit in Twitter, and vice-versa. Above all things, the audiences [are different], a lot of people ask why I say what I’m doing on Facebook when it’s supposed to be a status, and on Twitter that doesn’t happen. Also, there are things that I’d rather place here [on Twitter] and not on Facebook, because it’s more precise and in some way less “gossip-ey”.

And because I do sync (and I go into my reasons below), I even got an answer on Facebook:

“Yes, through Friendfeed which syncs everything, including replies. I do it because I like to have the same conversation in as many places as possible.”

My opinion: I do find it more convenient to sync most tweets as Facebook updates. The Facebook app I use, Yakket, is “intelligent” enough to weed out tweets that are heavy on @ replies and hashtags, so my Facebook contacts don’t seem to get too annoyed.

Also, my friends and followers, in their majority, are not as active on one as on the other. Most of them see any update only once, and the ones that are active on both, usually get a second chance on one of the channels to see something they might have missed from the other.

And sort of like Anyul said above, I’ve been able to spawn much more interaction out of one sync’d update. Of course, I could copy and paste a tweet on Facebook, or post a fuller version of a tweet on Facebook, but then it comes down to a matter of time, and actually remembering to do such a thing.

Now, in no way am I prescribing what you should do. I think these are all valid reasons to consider, and each probably works within their particular contexts. I’m actually not entirely set on syncing, and may even consider switching in the near future. Who knows? Like I said, it all depends on how our social interactions are flourishing, and I don’t seem to see a problem with mine right now.

The best thing about all these responses was realizing that most people have in fact given thought to why or why not to sync, beyond the ability and the tools that enable them to do it, and have actually considered how it affects their social interactions… which is the point of it all, no?

Big thanks to @abdulsmith, @DanDOrvilliers, @ericritter, @littlebrwngirl, @jgruchacz, @mikeisonthenets, @fontografist, @imusiik, @ebretton and @anyulled for contributing with your valuable thoughts.

Want to share your opinion? Do you disagree with any of the reasons stated here? Hit us up in the comments, and let’s keep the dialog going!

Update 9/27.2010: I’ve finally decided to un-sync today. I felt I wanted to tweet with more frequency, but I didn’t like the idea of increasing that frequency as Facebook posts. I’m also trying to use the Facebook platform for all it’s worth, and the 140 characters just don’t cut it. Let’s see how everything goes!

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