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.  

Spend some time checking out what we can do for you.  OR reach out to us and lets discuss what you envision for the upcoming year.  

Oh, and go buy some lottery tickets. It’s my lucky day!

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 info@oldhatcreative.com 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.

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.

I hate changing passwords.  It used to not be that big of deal, but the longer I go working in this field, the more passwords I establish.  I make sure to have good passwords and not reuse them but that means I have way too many personal passwords to change when something goes wrong.  Add in the amount of passwords we have as a company at Old Hat and today will be spent changing passwords.  

As much as I hate to do it, it needs to be done.  Heartbleed has become a giant pain for anyone who makes a living associated with the Internet.  I will be honest, I understand the ramifications of the vulnerability better than most, but that is only at the 1,000-foot view.  The bottom line is that people can access important aspects of your infrastructure and you will never know.  That scares me… a lot.  Websites are my livelihood.  When problems like this or people in hacker groups take advantage or attack companies, it is not just the corporations and giant companies that have to deal with it.  I have to deal with it and most likely; you NEED to deal with it. 

Check out this article that lists out some of the sites that you will probably need to change or secure your information.  

Happy password day, I mean Friday!

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:

 

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