Yesterday Old Hat was up in Oklahoma City for a Minor League Baseball convention. It ended with a party at Bricktown Ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City RedHawks.
It was nice to be among MiLB people at the event. I spent the beginning of my career working with mostly minor league teams on their websites. It was always interesting work. Minor league teams do some incredibly unique things with their marketing and even more unique things with their gameday experience. If I had a dollar for every web page I built with some freakishly large, quadruple stacked, bacon wrapped, food creation; I would have at least $30. These teams make use of what they have and work their tails off to deliver for their fans.
I was happy to be back amongst the MiLB people, and as Old Hat gears up to do work for them, I keep thinking about the similarities we share with the teams. We do a fewgoofythings at Old Hat. Things you typically would not expect from a marketing company and we always work our tails off for our clients. I am looking forward to working with the teams. Check out some of the photos from last night at Bricktown Ballpark.
If I could get away with it, that is probably all this blog would say. Constantly creating new and relevant content is a challenge. I blog one to two times a month and still struggle to come up with ideas that actually make sense to go on Old Hat Creative’s blog. Old Hat Creative is what I do for a living and I still struggle to write coherent and entertaining sentences about what I do. Life is interesting enough that I should be able to find a few interesting things to write about.
In the past, I have blogged about writing drills that I was taught at a young age and how I use(d) those to keep my skills fresh and sharp. You know? The whole sharpen your axe speech?
Those are topics that interested me and were easy to write about. I used to drill myself all the time to make myself a better writer, but lately my axe has gotten a bit dull. I still write for Old Hat when needed, but I am not doing what I should be to make myself better. Ahh, the comfort zone…
We all know about it. Whether it is in a relationship with a significant other or the relationship to a skill you once wanted to perfect. You get comfortable. You obtain a level of proficiency that surpasses most people and you rest on your laurels. We work in the sports industry and there are countless examples of teams getting in this comfort zone. See Miami Heat 2014 NBA Finals and GO SPURS GO!
And that is the challenge. Do you have enough motivation or desire to constantly be improving yourself, your craft or just sharpening your axe in general? It is not something that is easy to do. A lot of people get into this industry because they are or were athletes and finding this motivation was always easy when playing sports. “Oh that guy, kicked me in the shin last time… I am going to tear him apart this year.” Every game presents you with an opportunity to get one years worth of motivation, but when we get to the real world and out of athletics, it can be more difficult to find that motivation.
That elusive motivation that gets us to improve ourselves in areas others may not think we need improving. For me, it is not the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning; it is the thing that keeps you awake at night. Laying there thinking about how it happened and what you wish you would have said or wrote or done… that is what motivates me.
I am lucky to work where I work. I know that and try to remember that every day. The last few months have not been easy for me outside of work and that is not how I usually want to go into our busy season. I like to be well rested and have myself fully prepared for the busy season, but that did not happen this year. However, that is where the people I work with come into play. I am lucky to work here for the all the cool stuff we do, but I am also lucky to be surrounded by such good people. The people here motivate me to sharpen my axe. It can be as simple as Kelby forcing me to blog twice in one week. Realizing that at one point I would have no issue writing two good blogs in a week because I was always practicing is a wake up call. Deb calling me out on something I said and making me prove it or at least provide reasoning. This makes me better. It reminds me of the work that went into getting here and what it will take to continually improve.
Writing is hard and so is finding motivation. You will always find yourself falling into one comfort zone or another. How you pull yourself out of those is up to you and will go a long way in determining how long you stay successful or how successful you become. You can choose the attitude you take into a situation and ONLY YOU can choose what motivates you.
At Old Hat we like to challenge ourselves. Whether building a website that will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people, doing a video shoot sixty feet underground, or creating videos/posters that no one has ever seen anything like, we like a challenge. Clients are great at challenging us and we welcome any challenge you can lay at our feet.
Good Monday morning folks! Man, is that not a SWEET title graphic?
Okay, so it's somewhat obvious that I'm NOT a graphic designer. BUT, I do work with a few of them here at the Hat, and I gotta tell ya, they've been bustin' it out this summer.
In my last blog I talked about the amount of work we've done over just the last year, and went on about how we're the experts in our field. Rest assured, none of that has changed, but it's been on my mind for a while to figure out what it is that makes some of our work better than other work. Oh sure, we can't always do the very absolute best project ever created in the history of mankind, but that's at least what we're shooting for. So why isn't everything the best?
Over my 8+ years of working at Old Hat, there have been a couple times that a client has mentioned they didn't feel they were getting the same level of design as other clients; that perhaps, because a client is a big-time university, they might be getting our best possible work while others are getting the run-of-the-mill stuff. Now I know design is very subjective, and unless you have The Design Spectrometer 400TL, it's really hard to gauge the level of design you're getting from a designer. That's why we always scan and document the results for each design using the DS400. By doing so, we can ensure that each poster gets equal amounts of athletic aptitude, branding recallability, design and structural interface integrity, and love. Yeah, you know what, I made that part up about the DS400. I thought we had started doing that but apparently not.
Okay, so seriously... why is it that some work is better? I've gotta say, I think these two graphs tell the story. Before you get upset and send me hate emails, know that I realize clients don't actually perceive things the way that I have them in the first graph. This is a dramatization intended to make a point. Or maybe some clients and others not familiar with the creative process actually DO think this is the best method. In that case, I would ask that you study the second graph.
Here's a quick breakdown of the graph below:
- The level of quality goes from low to high as the client provides input. Simple graph: more input equals better quality, regardless of how much or what type of input a client gives (content or design related). This is what I would call the "perceived" best design practice. And just to be absolutely clear, this is wrong.
The graph below is what I'm calling the actual best design practice. And here's a brief explanation:
- Quality goes up as input is received, similar to the first graph, up to a certain point. The point at which the quality starts to take a downturn is generally when clients move across that imaginary border I'd call the design line. In this graph, that's represented by the Ideal Input line. Providing all the pieces to the puzzle is great, but as the experts, we then have to take those pieces and put it together in a way that screams AWESOME!!
- The Quality level is represented by the upside-down U (downward parabola for you math folks), because having little or no info is probably not going to lead to a great result. In the same way, having too much information or design direction (after you get past that design line) is not going to lead to a great result either.
So what's the ideal amount of input? Honestly, it will probably vary from project to project and client to client. As a general rule, when we have as much content and direction necessary to effectively communicate your message, combined with the freedom to creatively enhance that message. That, my friend, is the ideal amount of input.
The US is out of the world cup. They played well enough but came up short against Belgium. It was an exciting game and Tim Howard reminded us of why he is the strongest part of the US team. The round eight begins on Friday and we are a little over a week away from the final.
In the past couple of years todays date was more significant in the college landscape with teams picking todays date to move conferences. There are a few teams making moves this year but not as many or not as big of names as in the past.
NBA free agency opened up. I know everyone was on the edge of their seats for this but the important player has announced what he is going to do.
Tomorrow we are hosting a webinar for our Trivia game. It is a great way to engage fans and collect data during the down time at your live events this fall. Check out the info here and come join us tomorrow afternoon.
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.
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.
P.S. But seriously, Old Hatters... don't quit your jobs. This philosophy applies to everyone but you.
The word "networking" just bothers me. Whether true or not, it implies a salesy, "what can you do for me?" vibe, which I strongly dislike. I think a lot of young job prospectors, company representatives, and others get wrapped up in trying to meet the RIGHT people and think less about what networking is really about...creating relationships.
Instead of "networking", I like to think about building relationships and creating meaningful connections with others. I love meeting new people and truly like to learn about them. I like to hear about their backgrounds and how they got to where they are. I like to get to know people on a personal level and learn about their families and friends. A lot of times, I find out we have mutual friends or are connected in a "six degrees of separation" kind of way. My husband used to joke with me that I talk to too many strangers. I can't help it! I chat with people in the check out line at Target and make friends in the stands at football games. It's just how I am. You never know what you can learn by listening to others. I've gotten directions, restaurant and travel recommendations, recipe ideas, tips on TV shows, movies and music…just by striking up a conversation with a random stranger or being a willing responder when others start talking with me. I also like to help people, so sometimes, I'm the one giving out the advice or recommendations.
When I think about it, every career opportunity I've had in my life has been the direct result of a relationship I've made. From my first job out of college, to grad school, various internships, my previous employer and now here at Old Hat, my experience did matter, but the relationships I built were what really got me in the door. I was fortunate enough to create real friendships with people who really went to bat for me by sharing information about opportunities, serving as a reference or making a phone call on my behalf. I've gotten to help a lot of other people in their careers as well. In fact, earlier this year, I got back in touch with one of my former interns who is now an Assistant AD for Marketing. I couldn't have been prouder to have played a small role in his success, and I'm so excited to see what's next for him.
I was a little nervous to attend my first NACMA convention as a vendor last week. I was a little worried that being on the other side, people would see me as a "salesperson" and want to avoid me. However, I found I met a lot of really cool people, attended some educational sessions that gave me good ideas about how to improve our business, and overall had a great time representing Old Hat Creative. One of the best parts for me was finally putting faces with names I'd been hearing around the office. We have awesome clients here at Old Hat, and I have gotten to meet very few of them in my short time here. So, now when Hannah talks about conceptulizing video projects with Brad from Cincinnati or having a call with Jennifer from Utah, I can picture exactly who she is referring to. I also got the chance to reconnect with former coworkers and friends across college athletics.
I'm really proud to be part of a company which values relationships and friendships and really gets to know those we work with on a personal level. Yes, we are a business and we want to promote and educate others about what we do, but we don't want to do it in a high pressure sales sort of way. We want to use our expertise to help others by fulfilling their needs and helping them brainstorm new ideas to connect with their fans. I know Zac has blogged about it before and it's really true that Old Hat was built on friendships and relationships. It's served us well the last ten years!
All of our staff is back in the office after a whirlwind week of NACMA and traveling. It is good to have the full team back in the office so we can get prepared for our busy season to get going.
Looking around the office yesterday afternoon I had to take a step back for a second. There are several new faces in the office and it has me excited for the upcoming season for Old Hat.
In January, we brought on AGK or Ashley or Ashley Gloystein-Klatt. Unfortunately, we have a habit of hiring people with the same name as people who currently work for us. Like it or not, Ashley sort of got a nickname when she first arrived. Regardless of the name, she brings a lot to the table. Her skill set is perfect for what we need in our marketing efforts and I am excited to see the results of her hard work during NACMA and beyond.
Ashley has been around for a while now but the combination of her, Douglas, and our two new interns really made me think.
Douglas is our new print designer. He is going to be spending a couple weeks down here to be turned into an Old Hatter. Then he will head back to Utah to be stationed on the University of Utah’s campus as our on campus designer. Having looked through his portfolio, I am excited about what he brings to the table. On top of that, he is a Utah native and will bring a level of knowledge about our client that will help take our work to the next level.
On top of that, we have two interns that will be helping out our print department this summer. Lauren and Tanner each bring a different skill set and will have a lot to contribute.
At Old Hat, the month of June is spent preparing. We are getting ready to produce amazing work for our clients. We are ready to do what it takes to deliver exactly what our clients need. And we are ready to help you get your message out to your fans.
I always like to think of the NACMA convention week as the calm before the storm. Typically NEXT week marks the start of "the busy season" when our clients return to their respective campuses with new ideas and a fresh outlook on their work. It's an exciting time before the fall sports season consumes us all and before we know it it's October and the winter season is upon us.
At Old Hat we use this time to reload our arsenal of creativity and provide our clients with new ways to amplify the sports experience for their fans. Personally, it's all about making cool stuff. Anything on top of that is a cherry...or whatever you find to be an extra treat on something that is already QUITE tasty.
So without further ado (<--synonyms for "ado" include: hubbub, kerfuffle, hullabaloo and foofaraw), for your viewing pleasure, Old Hat Productions' NEWEST fan entertainment game: The Lil' Duey Derby!
A brief backstory: We knew we wanted a race, but it took some time to come up with what we thought was a sellable concept that would be entertaining to fans throughout a season. So what's better than a random cartoon cup of coffee racing a cup of slush? Or a hotdog racing a bratwurst?? We think it's actual people. We took a cue from the Washington Nationals Racing Presidents. I find that race hilarious. So what if you were able to have your favorite coaches or players or team legends race each other in a silly game? Heck, you could turn this into a contest where you have fans race each other! The sky is the limit with this game. For the Lil' Duey Derby we went with pictures of Zac, Robert and a rare appearance from your fearless Director of Video Production (us production types prefer to chill behind the scenes and make everybody else look cool and/or ridiculous). We gave our animators some basic direction for design and script and they went to work. I'm always amazed how they can take bits and pieces of direction and turn it into something like this.
This is our Basic Version of the race:
- The colors, text and school logo are customizable in the introduction
- The car colors are customizable
- The faces are customizable
- There are 3 race versions with different obstacles with 3 different endings included
This is our Advanced Customization of the race and includes everything in the basic version plus:
- You can select your own music and new audio mix with voiceovers and sound effects (optional)
- There are additional sponsor integration opportunities in the form of signage around the track (rail signage, billboard, brick planters in the hills, the blimp!!, bridge signs and trophy)
Please contact your friendly Old Hat client rep or firstname.lastname@example.org for more info!
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.
I've never been much of a water drinker. In fact, I can't stand the stuff. I drink a LOT of Diet Dr. Pepper but when I go through periods of cutting back on that, I just don't drink anything. My philosophies on eating are similar to those of drinking. I'd rather not eat than eat things that taste awful. I don't eat vegetables. I don't eat healthy food, for the most part. If I'm trying to lose weight, I just have to cut way back on portions because I'd rather not eat anything than eat a quinoa burger with a side of squash. Same rules apply with drinking water. Why drink something that has no flavor? I'd rather drink nothing than drink something that has no flavor. So what's the point?
The Point Well, the point is that sometimes you gotta do things you don't want to do in order to be succesful in achieving your goals. I've been working out with a trainer for a year now. I also jog 4-5 miles at least 5 times per week. I lost 18 pounds from November to February but have since plateaued. I haven't been eating as well as I should be but I should still be dropping pounds. For a year, my trainer has been pretty much begging me to drink more water. When I told her a year ago that I drank 8-10 DDPs per day, I thought she was going to faint. Now, I've cut that down to between 1-4 DDPs per day but what I haven't done is supplemented with water. I try. But I'll sit here at my desk and get thirsty and think, "No... I'd rather drink nothing than drink water." But my trainer has been persistent. And this week I promised her that I'd drink 34 oz. (or more) of water per day. She swears that will help kickstart my weight loss. (Trying to drop another 10 pounds by NACMA.)
I don't know if drinking lots of water every day will help me reach my goal. But when what you're doing isn't working any more, you have to try new things. Even if it's as awful as drinking more water.
Doing Things You Don't Want To Do I think the same is true in operating your business. This isn't a brilliant revelation, of course. Who Moved My Cheese is a great book by Spencer Johnson that addresses this very point. A business continually has to change and adapt to the culture around it to make sure that it doesn't die or become obsolete. History is full of examples of companies that adapted and thrived. But the examples of companies that refused to adapt and therefore went belly-up are a much higher percentage. I think the point that I'm trying to make is that it's not enough to just try new things in order to achieve your success. Sometimes, you gotta go a step further and do things you've always avoided doing. Like drinking water.
Old Hat is ten years old. We've never had a single year without revenue growth. But that didn't come from doing things the way we've always done them. That came from continuously examining how we do everything and making sure that the way we do it is the most effective way. And sometimes it means doing things we don't really want to do because we know that doing them will make us healthier.
I think that sometimes the mistake people (myself included) make is they make adjustments they WANT to make... adapt the ways they WANT to adapt. They do the things that allow them to say they are implementing change, but they're sticking to the things that taste good. But I think the key to finding true success is not WANTING to do the things you know need to be done... and then doing them anyway.
I have a 20 ounce cup of water at my desk and I'm on my 3rd fill-up of the day. I don't know if it's going to help. But it sure won't hurt.