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:
It is Friday January 31st.Today, we are getting infected.
As Zac put it, he spent all day yesterday getting infected and today he is going to infect us.Staff infection is normally done sometime in May as we gear up for another busy season in college athletics.This year we are doing an extra infection as we gear up for the Duey Does a Decade party.
Are you coming to the party?
Don’t be that guy.Don’t be the one that has to hear the stories about the party and only live vicariously through our twitter feed.Come on, no one wants to be that guy.
I will be there.Duey will be there.Gnorman will be there. Nick Lachey might be there.Ashley and Jessica will ACTUALLY be here.IN PERSON.It’s a crazy world we are living in…
You do not want to miss this party.Worried that you forgot to RSVP.Don’t.Just go here
There is nothing like spending time with your entire family, cheering on your favorite sports team! (Okay I know I shouldn't have a favorite when it comes to clients, because you are all so awesome, but I have waited my entire life for OKC to have a pro sports team, so yeah I'm a little biased.) Add a come from behind win at the Peak and Kevin Durant being unstoppable and you have a night to remember! I'm a little surprised I still have a voice this morning. It's an atmosphere of excitement and celebration. No matter what, the fans stick behind the boys in blue, even when being down in the double digits for most of the game. Only thing missing was a nice spark plug from Westbrook, but he will be back real soon (I hope). And maybe Harden, he's still one of my favs, pardon his Lebron-ing (flopping) on the court.
So how have the Thunder built such a commanding atmosphere when it comes to sports. I'm not going to lie two big pieces to their success for fan-tasia here has been KD and an environment ready to shoved into the national spotlight with our first pro team. But there is much more to it than that, and it comes into play with Scott Brooks' team philosophy. The Thunder players commonly go out into the community and meet people. They offer help when they can, even sometimes wanting to remain nameless in times of need. They are our team, and they play their hearts out for us. Throw in Rumble and Thundergirls appearances and you don't have to go far to see the team's impact on your family and friends.
Now when I see colleges wanting to reach this kind of community support, I run into a problem. I don't know the players. I have no real connection to the team except my alumni, which unless you are St. Gregory's University in Shawnee, OK, you are not benefitting too much. I rarely hear about players going out into the community. I may know some of the coaches (Bob Stoops, because it's pretty hard not to know him around here and he went to the same church as me), but other than that I'm at a loss. I understand these players have busy schedules (I remember my days playing ball in college), but there are times when it can be done. People want to associate with the team. They want to know who they are cheering for. Every now and then a player comes along with a catchy nickname (Johnny Football, the Bell-Dozer) and people began to root for these players just because they begin to know them.
I think the University of Miami realized this when they had us build their basketball site in 2012 (http://miabasketball2012.oldhatarchive.com/). [The site has been archived and the videos will be there for the next few days.] Using videos [created by us I might mention. **wink** **wink** ] they wanted to introduce their players to the community. This is a great idea, but it is only part of the step needed. Think about Tim Tebow. People all over recognize him for not only his pose and the sill internet fad that followed, but for his work off the field. You would hear about him going to visit kids in the hospital and such. This makes him more than just someone people see on tv and the internet. They view him as a genuine person. And the people he meets commonly become life long fans or maybe even friends. The same can be said for KD. Yea he's brilliant on the court, but we get to see his other side from time to time.
Now you also have to be careful not to cross the line of doing things just for the publicity. If you always have cameras around every time you do something good for the community, it may come off as shallow. Yes it's ok time to time, but people know when you are doing something just because it is required, and when people truly care. And that is a challenge to all sports organizations, but accomplishing it can take your program and it's support to the next level, to the Thunderous applause and cheers of Loud City.
I was browsing Facebook the other day and noticed a “friend” who posted about a flavor of Lays chips called Pretzel Burger. Clicking on the link, I discovered a really cool promotion that Lay’s chips is running called “Do Us a Flavor”. The campaign is asking fans to help create its next chip flavor in celebration of its 75th anniversary next year.
According to their press release, the "Do Us a Flavor" contest is a first in the United States but has already been a major success around the globe, with winning flavors like Chili & Chocolate, Caesar Salad, Late Night Kebob and even Cajun Squirrel. These contests have generated more than 8 million chip flavor ideas globally.
Lays is doing some great promotions to generate buzz for the promotion. They built its first-ever Lay's popup store in the middle of New York's Time Square. They also teamed up with Facebook to help with the submission process, with Facebook changing the "Like" button to "I'd Eat That" exclusively for this contest to encourage more friend interactions and "flavor showdowns" among the contestants. Lay’s hired actress and restaurateur Eva Longoria and Iron Chef Michael Symon to further promote the contest. And even better for their marketers, Lay's will have a trove of data on what chip flavors are favored by the majority of Americans.
This contest is a great example of a company reaching out to its customers for feedback. So often, marketers are scared to ask for feedback or direction, but consumers and fans want to have their voices heard. Our clients’ fan bases are their biggest supporters and they are the ones who want to define what the brand means and where it goes in the future. Lays’ Do Us a Flavor contest offers a great example of interacting with and gaining feedback from their fans in a fun and insightful way.
And who wouldn't want to eat a bag of Lil Duey's Bring Gnome the Bacon chips, described as "A subtle hint of lawn plays up the bacon. A splash of Diet Dr. Pepper makes 'em coming back for more!"
The year 2013 has come and gone. My lucky number has been 13 since I was nine years old. I think I had it in my head that something big would happen in 2013. Not that 2013 was a bad year, it just wasn’t what my head had worked up.
This year should be interesting though. Old Hat Creative is growing and changing (in a good way). I am taking on different roles in the company and expanding my skill set. We hired AGK, aka, Ashley Gloystein-Klatt as Director of Marketing and Sales. Unfortunately for her, AGK is sticking in my mind because we already have another Ashley. Once it is your email, I tend to keep that in my mind. We are having a party at the end of this month to celebrate 10 years as a company. It could get interesting…
On a personal level 2014 will be a big year for me as well. My best friend is getting married in June. He wanted to have the ceremony in a slightly random place so I got ordained to officiate the ceremony. I am not sure my mother ever expected me to come home with a certificate showing I was ordained. Along with the wedding comes the bachelor party, which is shaping up to be an awesome trip down the Devil’s River in west Texas.
Who knows what else will happen? There are several things I have in my mind that I think will happen or that I hope to happen.
That is the funny thing about life. Whether it is your work life or personal life it is always difficult to predict. I had expectations for 2013 and very few things turned out that way. Now I am getting things set in my mind about 2014, knowing all along it will end up far from what I thought, but that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning… not knowing. I would have never thought this industry would lead me to Norman, Oklahoma. I never thought I would get to work projects like KyleField.com. I got to know about a major event for my alma mater months before the other alumni because of this industry.
That is why I enjoy what I do. Every day is different. I have no idea what kind of website we will get to do this year. Clients bring us new ideas all the time and that is what makes it fun. I love to challenge my developers to create the crazy idea I came up with the night before. It does not always turn out, but the challenge is enjoyable.
Enjoy 2014. Think of the craziest idea for a website you can and send it over. Old Hat wants the challenge. We want to do a website, poster, video, schedule card, or social contest that NO ONE HAS EVER DONE. It challenges us as a company and it challenges our team to think outside the box. Give us what you got, because I probably did not see that coming in 2014.
We are not necessarily hungry or voluntold to take part in these games but for some reason the subject continues to come up in our office. Who would win the office hunger games? Below is a first hand account of how our simulator predicted the “games”, done Mad Lib style. No Old Hatters were actually harmed for this simulation. Thanks to Tricia for completing the process.
As the tributes stand _wiggly______ and __proudly______ gaze at their competition as the announcer speaks about the _______peaceful__________ challenge that lies ahead. Tricia ____dances_______ before she _____sneaks___________ into action, much to the _____surprise________ of Deb who is just _____tripping over a fireplace____________.
Dustin starts rambling about something being “good enough for __cats__________” but quickly trails off as Stevie cuts him down with _____a video cable_________. As Stevie stands there ___laughing_________ Deb reminds her about her task list. Only to distract her long enough to __lasso her _____________ . Deb screams in triumph about being the only person left who knows how to work a ____margarita machine_________ but her victory is short lived as a malfunctioning video camera falls from the ______rainbow________ and quickly ends her victory dance.
Meanwhile, Tanner and Richard are arguing about how to pronounce animated GIF. Little did they know that Geoff was using his ___speedy__________ GIFFing skills to create a ___dancing duck_________ that takes them both out. In a ___flash__________ Geoff disappears into the ____secret cave_______.
On the other side of the stadium Ashley, Jessica, and Luke ___light sabor_______ at each other trying to ______fake________ what is going on. Luke’s evil beard possesses him causing him to _jump______ directly at Ashley. Jessica, realizing this is her opportunity to be the only _____human___ that does not work in Norman starts _____speed reading_______ RFPs at Ashley. Luke’s beard _____grows at____ the interference and _____wraps around him____________ in Jessica’s direction. All three end up in a ___furball____________ ball of hair, RFPs, and ____slime___________ that is _____rolled_________ up by a ___golden_______ gnome.
Traci immediately goes for Robert with a ____ruler_________. Distracted by his hair and a ____picture of Tom Selleck ________ he never sees her coming from _____a dog house_______, missing his chance to escape. With Robert down, Traci turns to Zac in an attempt to ____play darts___________. This ultimately fails as Zac asks her to _find him a new house___ and takes his opportunity to ___electrocute________ while she ponders the question. Zac, upon realizing what he has done, drinks a ___lemonade_______, says the Boy Scout code_________, and runs around in a ____toga__________. Confused by what Zac is doing, Justin runs into Zac causing them both to fall in a ___bear trap________, immediately _______taken to the center of the earth_________.
Kelby, standing in the center of it all trying to communicate to everyone fails to notice the giant ____snowman_________ quickly approaching her. At the last second Hannah ____does a handstand______ to get Kelby’s attention. This only causes Kelby to ____laugh___________ and greet the giant ______snowman__________ with open arms in an attempt to diffuse the situation. This fails miserably.
Hannah, distraught with __the melted snowman___________ starts performing crossfit ___punches__________ for no apparent reason. Bethany sees this and takes the opportunity to ____fly_________ up three stairs, power clean a _____bucket________, and then tosses the ___water________ directly onto Hannah.
Kevin, realizing he has to narrate this in the third person stands gazing __lovingly_________ into the _____field of dreams_________. Jared, wanting to be the only Texan left turns on _____Kenny G_____________ music that scares Kevin so much he ___prances________ while ____picking flowers_______ only to meet his demise by ______picking a poison flower__________.
Bethany, Tricia, and Jared believe they are the only __sane ones___________ left and begin to ___bake______ in celebration. Tricia thinks wobbling(well, her version of it) is _____beautiful________ which quickly causes her to wobble off a _____stage__________ doing her best impression of Ron Prince air ______victory_________ as she falls to her demise.
At this point in time Lil Duey, the Game Maker ____turns________ up a ____texas sized_______ chocolate chocolate donut, directly between Jared and Bethany. They both ___jump___________ quickly and ___swim_________ at a full sprint towards the donut. At the last second Lil Duey ____evaporates _________ confusing both and causing them to ___trip____________ to meet an untimely end.
All this time ___calm____________ Geoff has been ____rapping__________ with the tracker jackers. He has managed to become their ___bestie_____________ and they ______carry___ him to the center of the ________donut hole______________. He ____celebrates________, saying this was all one big animated Geoff.
If you would like to play our Mad Lib, check out the link below and show your results.
Hey Kevin, can we turn the Due You Know Sports game into an app? I did some designs awhile back and they should work. So… Can we do it?
It would be nice if there was a more glorious beginning to the app but that is about it. As Zac mentioned yesterday, we have our slower times of the year. During this time of year I want the web team pushing themselves to do something different and this app was the perfect project.
We had done a few apps in the past but none were this complex or this involved for our in house staff. Tanner had to learn an entire coding language just to be able to start on the app. We knew what we wanted to do but taking it from a web based version to a mobile app opens up a whole new set of problems.
Once the code was learned and the app was built we had to collect data and test.
Do you know how many NFL Hall of Famers there are? What about people inducted to Cooperstown? How about the actual name of the mascot of Florida State? You already knew those you say. Really?
I had no clue. With an app like this, the data is crucial. I also had no clue that there was NFL Hall of Famers who wore 12 different numbers during their career. Needless to say we had to adjust the programming a bit to account for a few special situations.
Data collected, it was time to test the app. We involve everyone in the office when it comes to testing. Well, in this case, everyone who owns an iPhone. Testing is fun at first and tedious in the end. The game is addicting and that helps, but when you collected the data, added it to the app, and then spend hours upon hours testing it, you get a bit sick of knowing sports. That being said, the game is fun and there are quite a few options to keep you playing. Check out the options below and download the game. Good luck!
Test your knowledge of professional sports team names. Click "Play" and the name of a state will appear and be highlighted on the map. You have limited time to enter the name of a professional sports team (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL or MLS) from that state in the space provided and hit enter. A new state will highlight(add comma) and you can repeat the process. Keep going until you fail. If a state is repeated, you MUST enter a different team than you have already entered in order to keep the game going.
Test your knowledge of Division I college football team names. Click "Play" and the name of a state will appear and be highlighted on the map. You have limited time to enter the name of a Division I college sports team from that state in the space provided and hit enter. A new state will highlight, and you can repeat the process. Keep going until you fail. If a state is repeated, you MUST enter a different team than you have already entered in order to keep the game going. For example, if Florida appears, “Hurricanes” would work, and “Sebastian” would not.
Hall of Fame:
Test your knowledge of Hall of Fame players, managers, and coaches. Click "Play" and a number will appear. You have limited time to enter the name of a Hall of Fame player from that sport who wore that number in the space provided and hit enter. A new number will appear, and you can repeat the process. Keep going until you fail. If a number is repeated, you MUST enter a different team than you have already entered in order to keep the game going. If a question mark appears, you must enter a player from the era before numbers were used. Managers and coaches may also be entered when a question mark appears. If a player wore more than one number their name can be entered for either number.
Test your knowledge of Division I college football mascot names. Click "Play" and the name of a state will appear and be highlighted on the map. You have limited time to enter the name of a Division I mascot from that state in the space provided and hit enter. A new state will highlight, and you can repeat the process. Keep going until you fail. If a state is repeated, you MUST enter a different mascot than you have already entered in order to keep the game going. For example, if Florida appears, “Sebastian” would work, and the "Hurricanes" would not.
Here at Old Hat, there are times when our designers, developers, etc. don't have a lot on their plates. Rather than spending that time posting photos of their lunch on facebook or tweeting about what they're thankful for, we ask that they spend that time working on Toy Cannon projects. I could bore you with the story behind why it's called a Toy Cannon project but that would require that I remember why it's called that. Something about how there was an old baseball player the called the Toy Cannon because he was small but hit a lot of homeruns.
I feel like it's important to encourage our staff to challenge themselves with projects outside their daily routine. We want them to learn new techniques, new skills and have as much professional development as possible. It makes them better at their jobs and hopefully more fulfilled as well. For the past year, our development team has been working on a side project to develop their skills in iPhone app development. Set to launch this week, the Due You Know Sports app (which Kevin will talk about more tomorrow) not only offers Old Hat exposure as an application development firm and provides an additional revenue stream, should people decide to download this app, it ALSO has given our development team that ability to grow in their skill set. Tanner led the programming charge and spent hours and hours and hours on this app. Richard helped with programming at times, Dustin offered design assistance and Kevin oversaw the project and tested it. Four members of our team now have valuable experience they would not otherwise have gotten. And it was all done in between other projects so it didn't cost Old Hat anything.
Many companies do similar things to the Toy Cannon, challenging their teams to come up with new products while at the same time giving those employees the ability to learn new skills. It's been something I've really enjoyed seeing our staff participate in as it gives us the chance to see what they can do if they have no limitations.
Nellie Logsdon was my grandmother. She passed away when I was 18. But one of her many philosophies was this one. Now, by no means did she intend to say that you shouldn't apologize when you screw up. What she was really saying was, "Don't screw up." She knew how badly it sucks to have to admit when you've failed someone. Looking them in the eye and admitting that you made a mistake and then apologizing for it is really hard sometimes. And she knew that the only way to avoid it was to not make mistakes.
Well, we all make mistakes. And she knew that too. I think that a subliminal part of her message was to say that when you screw up, you MUST apologize. Some people say, "Failure is not an option." But I think she'd say, "Not admitting failure is not an option." And that's the philosophy we have at Old Hat. I cannot tell you how many times we have dealt with vendors that simply will not admit with they've screwed up. And further, they won't try to fix the mistake. Nothing could be more counterproductive to building a loyal client base in my opinion.
Old Hat turns out an absurd amount of projects in a given month. Hundreds of videos/animations, numerous websites and thousands (yes, thousands) of print projects every year. And the amount of times we just completely screw up is nearly 0%. We have many systems in place to prevent such failure. The problem is, we're human and we mess up. Not often, but we mess up. Sometimes we make the most boneheaded, inexcusable mistakes. So what do we do when that happens?
I'm sure all of you have watched a basketball game at some point and seen a player commit a foul. Most of the time, the player (like most vendors) acts like he did nothing wrong. He/she look at the ref as if to say, "Are you crazy?! That was NOT my fault." But sometimes, you'll see the player just nod his head in agreement, point at himself and take responsibility for the mistake. That's Old Hat.
When you fail, you have two choices. You can either embrace it or act innocent. Either way though, the person looking at you knows you failed. Embracing that mistake shows that you are taking responsibility for it and while you may end up looking like you failed, you certainly don't look like a failure.
How to Apologize
We screwed up recently. A couple of times, actually. First step to take when you realize you've screwed up is to do anything and everything you can do to fix it. If we make a typo on a print piece, WE call the printer to see if it's too late to send a new file. We volunteer to go back to the office at 9p on a Friday to revise the file. And if it can't be fixed, just apologize. If you can't fix the problem, at least take responsibility for it. It won't change anything but it'll sure as heck make your client feel better to know you accept responsibility. And don't be afraid to accept responsibility even when it's NOT your fault. "Yes, we just copied and pasted the information you sent us but we should have caught that." Chances are at this point that tempers are high and you should just be seeking to calm things down. The client will remember that rather than being a tool about it, you admitted fault. And it's likely that 24 hours later they'll realize that it really wasn't your fault and they'll respect you even more.
Finally, and most importantly, after a few days have passed, the person responsible for the mistake (designer, client rep, etc.) will send a handwritten note to the client further apologizing for the mistake. By this time, the client is probably totally over it. Which is the perfect time for you to apologize again. Don't just tell them you're sorry. It's imperative that you also outline the steps you will take to make sure that same mistake never happens again. They care that you're sorry... but they care even more that you're not going to let it happen again. They need to be reassured that this isn't going to be a reoccurring thing.
Nellie was right
Your best bet is to follow Nellie's advice and just never screw up. But when you do, nod your head and point at yourself.
This past weekend, I was talking with my mom about my fantasy football team. It is funny how everyone loves to talk to others about their team, but no one gives a toot about anyone’s team but their own. It is like talking to people about your dreams- the only person who is the tiny bit interested is you.
Anyway, I was telling my mom about how horrible my team was (Arian Foster, ugh) and she said my aunt was upset about her team. My aunt? The one who has never watched a football game in her life? Is playing fantasy football? My mom proceeded to tell me that a group of moms asked her to play and she has been actually watching football this season. It is a holiday miracle.
Fantasy football has changed the way fans and non-fans interact with the sport of football. It isn’t just about watching, but it is about cheering and investing in players. The Fantasy Sports Trade Association says that Fantasy Sports now has a $5 billion total market impact, which includes products, services and subscriptions.
What is interesting about fantasy sports is the passion it brings out from the players involved. It gets non-fans interested in watching the games. It is way for friends and family to compete with one another. Every team has a chance to win each week, keeping people invested even when their team has a bad day. Fantasy football is easy to use and allows people to customize their team.
There is an opportunity in the market to capitalize on the success of fantasy football. While how to do this exactly hasn’t been figured out, using the basic principles that made fantasy football a success could be a good start.
The competition between friends and family is what drives fans week-to-week and year-to-year. Marketers could create a game or interaction in the stands that allows fans to compete with one another. Developing a game or interaction that makes every play count could also be an avenue. Marketers could set up a competition outside the stadium or field that has fans compete against one another. The competition could be a game involving social media as well.
Fantasy football and the logistics that have made it a success is another avenue that marketers can use to make a deeper connection to fans. Marketers have the opportunity to create that connection and find develop a more devoted fan base.