Quitters never win.  Winners never quit.  What a load of crap.  Sure, if you're running a race and you quit in the middle of it, you're not going to win.  But some people subscribe to the notion that quitting is a bad thing, in all situations.  "You can't just jump ship when things get tough or don't go the way you want."  Of course you can.  And thankfully, studies are now showing that you SHOULD.

"Learn to appreciate the upside of quitting.  Because you can't solve tomorrow's problem if you're not willing to abandon today's dud." - Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in Think Like a Freak

Now I'm not advocating that anyone quit on something at the first sign of dissatisfaction.  That would be counterproductive.  But I do believe (and the people at Freakonomics agree) that we should all be more willing to pull the metaphorical plug a little earlier on things when we know we're unhappy.  There's this notion of "sunk cost" that keeps us fighting losing battles which ultimately end up causing even greater dissatisfaction and 6 months down the road, you wish you had just quit 6 months ago.  When we have sunk time, energy, money, etc. into something, we hold onto it hoping things will turn around.  And we SHOULD... to an extent.  But there's a point at which we know that we need to just call it quits but we continue with it because we've already invested so much time in it.

I've always subscribed to the philosophy that when faced with a decision, you should do what you'll regret the least... not necessarily what you want the most.  So before you go off and quit something, the first thing you wanna do is make sure you're not going to regret it later. So I'm definitely not advocating quitting something without giving it a LOT of thought and consideration.  But once you've figured out in your head that your future is not in that job, relationship, situation, etc., end it immediately.  You'll be glad you did.

Disagree?

When was the last time you quit something that didn't end up being a good decision?  If it's happened a lot, then maybe you're one of those people that makes decisions like this without giving it enough thought.  For me, I can't think of a single time that I quit anything where I regretted it for a single second.  Are there things I miss?  Sure.  Would I have loved to stay in that situation if it had been salvageable?  You bet your hiney.

When I was in eighth grade, I hated school.  Absolutely despised it.  And a lot of it had to do with the school I was in.  That school was fine for some people but for me, it was pure hell.  So I quit going there.  I transferred to a different school where I had a great experience, met lifelong friends and met the eventual mother of my children.

When I worked for the OU Athletics Department, I eventually got to the point where I knew I had reached my potential there.  I was not happy.  People told me I was absolutely NUTS for wanting to quit.  I had a good, reliable job working for a university, doing what I loved and getting to go on free Bowl trips every year.  But I quit.  And it was one of the best decisions I've ever made.  I now own the nation's premiere sports creative agency and am infinitely more satisfied with my career.  And when the time comes when I'm not, I'll probably quit this too.

I've quit other things, too.  Personal relationships... Professional relationships... I quit holding on to the idea that I can grow a nice head of hair and just decided to buzz it all off.  Point is, not only do I not regret anything I've ever quit, I'm much happier because of those things.

Think Like A Freak

Still don't believe me?  That's okay.  But you should read the latest book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubnar, Think Like a Freak.  They spend an entire chapter on this and do it way more justice than I have.  The point they make (and the one I'm trying to make), is that quitting is okay.  And for the most part, it leads to greater satisfaction in life. 

Dear Old Hat Staff: Please don't quit.

I sincerely hope that this blog hasn't inspired anyone on my staff to quit.  That would suck.  But only because my assumption is that if I've inspired them to quit, they have to have been unhappy here for some time.  And THAT is what would bother me.  All I want for any of my staff is that they are as happy as they can possibly be.  And if quitting their job would lead to greater happiness, I would encourage them to rip the band-aid off and move on to the next phase of their lives.  

Sincerely,

Zac

P.S. But seriously, Old Hatters... don't quit your jobs.  This philosophy applies to everyone but you. 

 

It's my final day in the office before we depart (Sunday) for Orlando for what will be our 10th NACMA.  The photo above is from our first ever NACMA when I was the only employee at Old Hat and we only had about 4 clients.  I always get nostalgiac around NACMA time because I think back to where we started and how far we've come.  That first booth was a pop-up that took about 10 minutes to assemble.  It was made of carpet and I velcroed just about every decent project I had ever designed to it. I had to ask a friend of mine to come with me to Orlando to help out as I had no employees.  I didn't even pay him, I don't think.  Just offered him a free trip to Orlando.  Thanks Cory!  Now, we more than 25 employees and every year I have to decide who gets to/has to go.

That first booth and all our materials fit into two plastic cases on rollers.  Cory and I checked them on our flight and rolled them through the airports, onto the car rental shuttle and into the exhibit hall to set them up.  The booth space was 10' by 10' which was more than enough room to showcase our company.  Today, our booth is 20' by 20' and it takes a U-Haul to get it there.  It will take us a few hours to assemble it all and we spent months in preparation for it.

In year one, Old Hat Design Company was a print design shop.  We did posters, brochures, schedule cards... And I designed ever single thing we produced.  Today we have six divisions that will be marketed at NACMA.  Print Design, Interactive, Productions, Consulting, Branding and Capture.  And I don't design anything that any of those divisions produce.

NACMA is always a reminder of what we have accomplished in the past ten years and it's quite humbling to think about.  To say that I couldn't have done it alone is the understatement of the century.  The people, both internally and externally, that got us to where we are are too numerous to count.  But they know who they are and I offer a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you.  

Please stop by and say hello at the booth next week.  And take a mental picture of what it looks like.  If we do as well the next 10 years as we did in the first 10, we might be occupying the entire exhibit hall.

Do you watch the NFL draft?  I will be honest and say that I never do.  I follow the NFL from a distance and will watch the occasional game, but the draft?  I just cannot get into watching the spectacle.  

This year, several Aggies will most likely be drafted in the first round.  I do care where they end up and will check online to find out, but there is no way I am going to sit down and watch two hours of commercials to see 32 names called.  

What does interest me about the draft is how brands try to maximize their presence.  I know there will be commercials and the NFL will have most ambush marketing on lock down, but when brands know people are watching, how will they try to take advantage?  Will we see a suit designer tweeting out every time one of their suits walks across the stage?  Will Under Armour or Adidas ask an athlete to get a face tattoo?  If that happens, what do you think the going rate is for an athlete to brand themselves?  I would think the face is prime real-estate and probably draws a higher price.  What about a giant swoosh in the side of someone’s hair?

This is what interests me about the draft.  It is an unveiling of the people who different companies will use for the next 3-7 years to try to sell us products.  Are they making the right choice by investing in Johnathon Manziel or should they have investing in Jadeveon Clowney? Only time can really answer that question. 

The one thing I do know is that there will be more than one hug from an NFL executive that resembles this….

My wife's car has been in the shop for the past few days.  A few weeks ago the entire suspension system had to be replaced.  That was awesome.  Problem is, the computer component that regulates said suspension system was bad and that's what was causing the suspension problems to begin with.  So a month later, it had to be replaced again.  Under warranty... no big deal.  BUT, that computer component had to be replaced as well so that was another sum of money I hadn't really planned on forking over.  Anyway, the fella at the auto shop told me that the dealership had to reprogram the thing.  They installed it and were to take it over to the dealership first thing Monday for reprogramming.  I'd have it back by end of day Monday.

So Monday comes and I hear nothing from them.  End of day Monday comes and I finally call to see what's up.  No one answers.  So I literally run to the place from work (as I have no automobile) to try to get there before they close.  I arrive and find the guy leaving the place.  I flag him down and give him some version of, "WTF, mate?"  He says, "Oh, man... I totally forgot to call the dealership."  Too late to get the car by this point, I'm another day without the car.  I've already been without it for 5 days and have made due.  But based on his promise that I'd have it back Monday, I made plans for Tuesday that required me AND my wife to have our own automobiles.  And all those plans were shot because dude "forgot" to call the dealership.  It's not like he just couldn't get the job done or that a new problem came up and the project was delayed.  He forgot.

And that made me mad.

Old Hat has many core principles and a brand promise that I've blogged about.  But man... none of that matters if you don't follow the one rule that should be common sense.  Do what you say you're going to do.  And if for some reason you can't, do anything you can do to make it right.  And that's another area that my auto shop failed.  He didn't do what he promised.  And made no attempt to make it right.

I run into so many businesses that stay afloat despite their inability to follow this rule.  They might not be Fortune 500 companies but they've been in business for many years.  But time and time again, they don't do what they say they're going to do. And it boggles my mind that they are still around.  But what that tells me is that if these people can stay in business, think about how successful they could be if they just did what they said they'd do.  

This blog seems like more than a rant than anything offering any real direction.  But I guess what I'm saying is that if you own a business... if you work in a business... if you want to be succesful in whatever it is you're doing... Do what you say you're going to do and your path to success will be a lot smoother.

Do you recognize the image above?

I'd bet even if you've never seen HBO's Game of Thrones you know that uncomfortable-looking sword chair.

That's right, it's the Iron Throne—a major icon for the series. Obviously, it sticks out because of its unique appearance, but HBO also takes pictures of their stars in the chair for Internet fanboys and fangirls to see. The icon spreads, people get familiar with what it is/means, and, boom, you've got yourself an audience that recognizes the brand.

Branding is cool and today I wanted to share some examples from two juggernaut TV shows. I'll just link the articles because the main authors have said it way better than I can. 

A few paragraphs down, this article speaks about the branding of Game of Thrones. It's interesting to think about how the show brands itself and makes its product (the experience of watching and knowing the show).  It's also interesting to know how HBO add it's marketing abilities to the show, creating a campaign the size of the Wall itself. So, yeah, read that article.

Another great study comes from AMC's Breaking Bad. Walter White creates a type of methanphetamine that needs to break into the market. How does he do it? Read this article. It describes three good points on brand recognition.

If there is a particular show you enjoy watching, I bet you can find great examples of marketing and branding within. They reach millions of people, so they've gotta be doing something right, right? Right.

Until then, hop on the spoiler train for Game of Thrones because I've read all the books and this season we're still going to see [REDACTED] die during [REDACTED]'s escape and then [REDACTED] dies and he was always a nice guy and then [REDACTED] dies after [REDACTED] kicks her out the one place and, yeah, prepare for maybe 5 more main characters to die.

Stevie, brace yourself.

At Old Hat, we post a lot of videos of us doing stupid things around the office.  It's an expression of our personality.  We're stupid... or at least we like to do stupid things.  The funny thing though is that because of this outward display, people get the impression that the offices of Old Hat are a laugh-a-minute.  And as much as I'd like for us all to get paid to do stupid things all day, I haven't figured out a way to monetize our stupidity.  But I think people get the impression that when they come to work at Old Hat or come to visit us, it's going to be like a scene from Animal House.  When they actually see us at work though, the comment I get over and over is, "It's like a library in here!  I'm afraid to speak!"  That's because for the vast majority of every day, our staff is hard at work coming up with the most amazing creative in the sports marketing realm.  In order to do this, they have to CONCENTRATE.  So they put their headphones in, tune out the world and work.

Don't get me wrong.  We have fun here.  We have donuts and play a game every Monday morning.  The beer flows from the taps in our office bar every Friday at 4p.  We take breaks mid-day to take silly photos or shoot a video.  But for about 7.5 hours out of every day, it's like a library in here.  Our product... the thing we sell... is our time.  And we can only sell our time if that time is spent sitting at a computer editing, programming, animating, designing, etc.  But it would be really boring if we posted photos or videos of that.  To prove my point, here's a sample video of what we do most of the time:

 

See?  Boring. 

Old Hat is a really fun place to work.  And we hope you'll come visit us sometime.  Just please don't make any noise if you do.

Happy Monday!!! Hey, how's your bracket doing?? 

Yeah, me too. It's not looking good, but congrats to our clients in the Sweet Sixteen! We're quite proud of your accomplishment! As we continue on this week a good majority of schools are returning from Spring Break. It's obvious that that's the case here in Norman because the traffic has increased considerably. Gotta love those student drivers!

Anywho, I'm one of those weirdos who misses school. I don't miss the 20+page grad school research papers, but I do miss the learning. I've always said if I go back for a PhD someday it would be for the cool title (to make people call me Dr.), but in all honesty I dig the challenge of a classroom. I recently discovered an incredibly cool YouTube Channel called "Crash Course." It's an educational channel that covers History, Biology, Chemistry, Literature, Ecology and Psychology. The videos are totally engaging and informative. I'm a big fan of their humor and fantastic animations as well.

Now, I don't think you can learn everything about a subject in a ten-minute video, but that's not the point of these videos. I think it creates a foundation of interest in the subject matter and that's thanks in large part to the presentation of the material. I really got into history at K-State because of the faculty who presented their subjects with passion and unique and engaging presentations. To this day I still love history and enjoy reading and watching all things about that subject. On the other end of the learning spectrum, I absolutely disliked my trigonometry class because the professor was abysmal at presenting the information to the students. To this day I throw up a little when I hear anything about sines, cosines and tangents. 

That same basic principle can be applied to sports marketing campaigns and in-game entertainment. You want to create an interest in your team/school and the best way to do that is with a creative presentation of your team/school. Presenters (teachers, marketers) play a big role in how the fan/student connect to a subject and how you will continue to connect in the future. Anybody can throw some highlights in a timeline and set it to some epic music and have a video. Anybody can talk about an historic event and throw around dates and names and teach a class. But those things don't make a good video or a good teacher. I like to think that's why schools, teams and organizations come to Old Hat. We get that a poster is more that just photos, fonts and photoshop. We get that a website is more that just text, photos and clicks. We get that a video is more than just clips cut to music. We get that videography and photography is more that just pointing and shooting a camera. And we get that good customer service is more that just answering phone calls and emails. I think when you start to devalue these things you're devaluing your message or your product and you're devaluing your fans.

Now please excuse me as I learn about Taxes and Smuggling:

 

Every time my turn to blog comes up, I struggle to find something to write about.  I have no problem just sitting down and writing when I want to, but for some reason when I have that “assignment”, I struggle.  When I can’t think of anything, I start asking people for ideas.  

Today Kelby told me I could write about the Southland Conference.  Unfortunately, I have not worked on many of their projects and don’t have a great depth of knowledge about the conference.  This led me to Robert’s office to ask him about the work we did for them.  Robert asked why I was going to blog about Southland and that led to a conversation about why we have a blog. 

Old Hat had a blog before I got here.  It was something I inherited and was told to manage but it was not something that I brought to the table.  So why do we blog?  

If you look at Robert’s blogs you might think his purpose to blog is to show you what artistic project he has been working on over the weekends.  If you look at Zac’s blogs you think we blog so he can talk about how he has developed his management philosophy over the years.  If you look at my blogs you probably think our blogs are made for some one to aimlessly ramble.   

The more I think about this, the more I think that is the point.  We are Old Hat Creative.  We are a full service marketing agency.  We have six divisions and we have some personality.  That is the point of our blog.  We want you to get to know us.  We want you to trust us and we want you to understand the company that produces all of the work that we do.  Robert may blog about his kids, but that is who he is and who he is, is a VITAL part of Old Hat Creative.  Deb may only blog about video work we do, but that video work is one of the biggest reasons Old Hat is known in the industry.  

When you read our blog, I hope you enjoy it.  I hope it shows you the amazing work we do and the amazing people we have who produce that work.  

Think we should blog about something else? Let me know @kk13cball

Fortunately, it's not just in my MIND that I'm going to Carolina.  I'm actually going there.  I'm going there in my mind too.  I mean, my mind will be with me while I'm there.  But so will my body.  And my wife's body.  And her mind.  So just to recap, both the minds AND the bodies of Zac and Holli Logsdon are going to Carolina.

Now that we've established that, let's talk about why.  One thing I've learned in my time on this planet is that people in the Carolinas are more educated than anyone else in the country.  If you're not from this area, don't be insulted.  I'm not from North or South Carolina either.  And I've conducted no scientific study upon which to base this opinion.  This statement is based purely on the fact that there seem to be more major universities in this area than anywhere else in the country.  Again, ZERO research went into this but the fact is, I'm heading out to Charlotte, NC in a couple of weeks and I'm going to be able to visit 12 of our clients' campuses in a 7-span.

One of the great pleasures of having the job that I do is that I get to visit college campuses.  I absolutely love getting to meet the people we work with, see their campuses and facilities and also see the work we've done for them displayed around their offices.  It's rare that we actually get to see the billboards, posters, intro videos, etc. printed, hung and shown.  Over the past many years, Old Hat has just kept adding and adding clients from North and South Carolina.  With the latest additions of Clemson and ECU, my wife and I decided that it was time we get out there and see how many of them we could visit.

Here's the list of campuses we plan to hit during the trip, in the order we're going to visit them.  Make sure to follow me on twitter @zaclogsdon to see lots of photos from our #OHCarolina Tour.

1. UNC-Charlotte

2. Clemson

3. Presbyterian College

4. South Carolina

5. College of Charleston

6. UNC-Greensboro

7. Wake Forest

8. High Point

9. UNC

10. NC State

11. East Carolina

12. Duke

I was really hoping to be able to get up to App State as well but I don't think it's going to work out.  Still, 12 clients in 7 days is a lot.  Really looking forward to meeting the clients I've never met in person and seeing those that I've know for a long time.

If you saw my posting on Twitter or Facebook yesterday, you know that yesterday (February 16, 2004) was Old Hat's official 10-Year Anniversary.  We had our party a couple weeks ago but yesterday was the official date.  Ten years ago yesterday, yours truly was sitting alone in a tiny office at 763 Asp Avenue on Campus Corner in Norman wondering what the hell he had gotten himself into.  I remember spending about $150 on office supplies and worrying that I couldn't afford it.  I remember negotiating my $350/month rent and being sick to my stomach that I wouldn't be able to pay it.  And I remember having a LOT of free time.

It seems like forever ago and it seems like just yesterday.  We occupied about 100 square feet back then and now our office space is about 5,000 square feet.  One employee and now 28.  One Apple computer and now more than 30.  One client and now more than 90.  The only thing that has decreased in the past 10 years is the number of hairs on my head.  In celebration of our 10 years in business, I have decided to make a list of the Top Ten things I have learned over the past 10 years (about running a business, that is).

10. Don't be a flake - I feel like one of the primary reasons we have had success is because we actually do what we say we'll do.  So many creative agencies are known for missing deadlines, being unavaible, etc.  But our focus has always been on giving our clients what they want as quickly as possible.  

9. Always say yes - Sometimes a "yes" should be followed by a "but"... but we always try to start with "yes."  Yes, we can turn that project around in a less than desirable time, BUT here are the restrictions and/or it's going to cost more.  Yes, we know how to do a website that does that.  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

8. Slow and steady wins the race - I think that some companies simply grow too fast and don't take the time to build a proper foundation that can handle their success.  Old Hat has definitely grown rapidly but we've always limited our growth to what we felt like we could handle without sacrificing the quality of our work and of our customer service.  

7. Give back - Take some time to do something to give back to the community that allowed you to prosper.  We have done an annual fundraiser every year for the past 5 years and it's not only the right thing to do, it's a great team-builder and gives your staff something to rally around.

6. Say Thank You - To everyone that does anything for you, say thank you.  Over and over and over again.  Thank your clients.  Thank your staff.  Thank your janitor.  Be grateful for what you have and you will have more of it.

5. Have fun - It's hard enought to get through a workday without also feeling like you can't have any fun.  Take some time out and do something fun during the day. I don't think we do this enough but we should.

4. Red and Black - If you're running a business, learn how to manage finances.  I've blogged about this before but I can't stress the importance of this enough.  For 7 years, I really didn't have anything to do with our day-to-day finances.  But I was finally forced to learn it and the past 3 years have been by far our most successful because of it.

3. Rotten Apples- The single most important factor in the success of any company is the people it employs.  Find good ones and do everything you can to keep them.  Identify the bad ones and allow them to find a different opportunity outside the company.  One bad apple can definitely spoil the bunch.

2. Read y'all - Another thing I've blogged a lot about.  Read!  Learn from other people that have been successful.  Learn from their mistakes.  There are hundreds and hundreds of books out there that tell you how to effectively run a business.  If you don't read them, you have no excuse for failure.

1. Be Ridiculous - Less than 4% of small businesses ever make it to 10 years.  That's because in order to succeed you have to be absolutely ridiculous about making yourself succeed.  Be ridiculous about customer service.  Be ridiculous about over-delivering on promises.  Be ridiculous about providing the best of whatever it is you sell.  Be ridiculous about how you market yourself.  For 10 years, Old Hat has been ridiculous.  And our goal for the next 10 is to make the first 10 look like child's play.  We were just getting warmed up for those first 10 years.  The next 10 are going to be ABSURD.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to all of you that have made the past 10 years possible.  I'd list out everyone that has contributed to our success but there are too many to name.  You know who you are.  And know that I'm looking at you when I say:

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