Yesterday at our mid-year Staff Infection, Zac asked us to pick a project from 2014 we worked on or worked with that we really liked. This list could really go on and on as there are hundreds to pick from. A few projects mentioned yesterday are still being finalized and are almost ready for release - stay tuned as more great stuff is always coming out of this place! And like a parent with their children, it's hard to pick a favorite. But here are some of the highlights…

 

Zac, Kevin and Ashley - Fangage quizzes

These were designed for Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas A&M and Baylor plus one for Old Hat

 

Tanner - Varsity O Club website

 

Dustin and Stevie - Cincinnati video shoot 

Kelby - Exposure stories on our video shoots

Hannah - Various video shoots and visiting clients including traveling to some new places this year such as Wyoming or Central Arkansas

Deb and Robert - UNT Derby

A close second for Deb was the Wyoming football intro with time lapse of the Wyoming landscape

Jessica - Duke men's basketball floor projection

and here's a clip of the animation in action.

Huff -Texas Tech Fearless Fan campaign

Geoff - Georgetown men's basketball poster

Jared - Frisco College Baseball Classic logo

Tricia - Old Hat 10th Anniversary posters

Douglas - Utah Gymnastics campaign

Justin (me) - Florida State men's basketball media guide

Today we have our mid-year Staff Infection.  We will sit down as a company and talk about what we plan to do in 2015 and how we plan to accomplish it.  While this meeting always takes away an afternoon or two of work, I look forward to this day.  It is a unique opportunity that Zac gives his employees and something that helps us understand where Old Hat Creative is heading.  

In meetings like this we may have to deal with difficult decisions.  We may make them as a whole company or provide our input so Zac can feed off of that to make his decisions.  This can be difficult for anyone.  

I have found that most people have their own process when it comes to making big decisions.  I have also found that most people are willing to tell you about how they make difficult or important decisions.  To be honest, I do not think I have found a tried-and-true method for efficiently coming to conclusion on the larger matters in life.  If I had to explain it, it would probably be something like this: 

Step 1) Don’t get a full nights rest the entire time you are struggling with said decision.

Step 2) At least five times, think you have made your mind up only to have something remind you about why you should change your mind. 

Step 3) Stare blankly at a wall or a sunset or a tree or your dog until he comes over and hits you with his paw. 

Step 4) Ask lots of peoples advice but don’t really respond to what they say because you are deep in thought and make them feel like you are not listening. 

Step 5) Get mad at yourself for taking so long to make a decision and force yourself to finally decide. 

Step 6) Repeat all above steps in any order you want.

I am pretty sure that is not an efficient way to come to a conclusion, but it is what I find myself doing most of the time.  I probably change the order up quite drastically, but I am sure I cover each step in some form or fashion.  And that is a big reason as to why I enjoy Staff Infection.  We are able to get the people who care the most about our company in a room and hear what they have to say.  I do not have to go through my usual steps.  The thoughts and opinions that come out of these meetings are from people who have a vested interest in the future of Old Hat and we are able to do it in a setting where people are comfortable enough to speak their mind.  

Feel free to borrow or steal my awesome decision making steps above and be thinking about all of us Old Hatters as we get infected this afternoon. 

With the start of the new year there is always some time spent going over what happened in the last year.  Whether going over financials or marketing plans or the whole year in general the beginning of a new year can end up with a lot of talk about the previous one.  Even if you look through our blog over the last week there are quite a few mentions of 2014 and probably more than 2015.  

However, there is one thing that we did early in 2015 that is completely about this year.  We launched superfan5k.org and released the information for this year’s Super Fan 5k.  There will be a few changes this year and a few new additions but it will still be the same enjoyable time as years past.  

Check out SuperFan5k.org and get registered for this years race. 

On Thursday, I am headed to El Dorado (like tornado), Arkansas to visit my sister and her family.  My nephew turns five today and his birthday party is on Saturday.  I am a bit embarrassed to say that this is the first birthday of his I have attended.  He made sure to lock down my commitment early last year as he had already decided he wanted a soccer party.  It turns out his fondness of soccer comes down to my obsession with the sport. 

I love soccer and have since I was four.  The only reason I started playing the sport is because a doctor thought it might help with my asthma.  Then it turned into a way to keep me exercising between baseball seasons.   Add in the ‘94 World Cup and Fox replaying F.A. Cup games at random times, and I was hooked.  

My nephew has asthma but has not had soccer recommended to him to help.  His parents, both great athletes in their own right, couldn't care less about the sport, so I took it upon myself to make sure he was introduced.  He has owned Manchester United gear from the get-go and one of my first gifts to him was a blow up soccer goal and ball.  He loves kicking the ball around enough that I get a regular flow of soccer related videos that could make even the most ardent hater of soccer smile.  

Which brings me to a slightly relevant point for this blog.  How did you find your fanhood?   Or more importantly, how did your fans find theirs?  I find it interesting how I became a Manchester United fan.  Marketing.  I have supported them since I was nine or ten years old and came to support them with no family influence.  Around that time, United was at the beginning of a twenty-year period of dominance of England, and at times, Europe.  They amped up their marketing and distribution of television rights to all areas of the world.  On a Saturday morning in south Texas, I was able to stumble upon a replay of United playing in the F.A. Cup.  I recognized the club name from one of the teams on a video game and started watching.  A year later, I saw this goal and wanted to be Cantona.  Twenty years later, I spend money buying gear, follow the team on Twitter, pay to see them whenever I can, and deck my nephew out in everything United.  

It all started with a replay of an old game and some marketing.  I am a lifelong fan.  I am up early every weekend watching and I am going to give my nephew every opportunity to do the same.  

How are you reaching out to new fans?  How are you setting up the newest members of your community and making sure the seats will be filled in twenty years?  

A lot of this comes from your existing community.  Fans bringing fans.  That comes from the community you establish and the feeling of belonging that your fans bring to the table.  

At Old Hat, we Amplify the Sports Experience.  That is our standard line and that is what we pride ourselves in doing.  If you ask Zac why he does this, he will share a story or two about going to Oklahoma football games with his father.  Every sports fan has stories like this, some explanation of how they got to where they are in supporting THEIR team.  We want to help you create those stories.  We want to make sure there are fans with amazing memories creating even better memories in your stadium for the next 20 years.  We want to help you Amplify the Sports Experience.

 

 

Oh and Happy Birthday!

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 few goofy things 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. 

Writing is hard. 

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.

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. 

 

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!

 

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