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.
Someone recently told me that coming up with new ideas all of the time is hard. Never has a truer or more obvious statement been spoken at a creative agency. I touched on this subject a few blogs ago about the importance of Feeding the Beast. I think it's an important topic that needs to be constantly hammered home especially if your job is to come up with something new very quickly. My all-time favorite movie, A League of Their Own, has the great line "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great." Yeah the great Jimmy Dugan is talking about our national pastime, but the quote is applicable to the creative industry. Our jobs are ridiculously challenging and it's to our designers, developers and editors credit that they make it look SO EASY. It's something that is taken for granted. Take Kevin Durant's 4-point play in Game 2 vs Memphis:
Man, he makes that play look soeasy. In fact, he made it look so easy that we attempted the shot ourselves.
Personally, I think our degree of difficulty was a little higher with the trash can and the ceiling. My point is KD's talent isn't all due to his natural ability. The guy is a hard worker and it wouldn't surprise me if he has actually practiced that same shot at least 1000 times. The same goes with creativity. If you're successful in this industry some of it is probably due to natural ability, but most of it is because you are a hard worker. Underachievers don't last very long. We've all seen it.
The internet says Picasso said this quote, but you know...it's the internet. Regardless, it's my new favorite quote. Watching Netflix or surfing the internet all day probably isn't going to do you any good in the creative realm. Actually it's going to make your job harder. Now don't get me wrong I am in no way not guilty of losing my creative way. We all get burnt out, but it's important to pick yourself up and get back to the grind. The last month has been a bonanza for my Pinterest Video Inspiration board. Now I don't know if any of these videos or designs will actually inspire something cool from Old Hat Productions this year, but it's got my wheels turning and makes me excited to come into work. And then when the Brad Wurthman's of the world ask us to make cool sh...er, stuff...you better believe we're ready.
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.
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:
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.
Maybe I'm just getting grumpier in my old age or maybe others are getting lazier, I don't know, but I am seeing bad websites more, more it seems these days. People cutting corners to save a buck or two may be part of it, but that is not exactly what I am referring to. So I decided I would put together a list of my top qualities of websites, that I look for. Just because a website has a lot of users, doesn't mean it is a good website.
If the website offers user logins or purchasing, it must be secure. The majority of sites with user logins don't offer a secure socket layer (SSL) [It's what puts the little lock icon in the address bar] because it costs extra money to implement and the cost versus value to them isn't worth it. I always like seeing that on a site but it's not a make or break deal to me. On the other hand, if you are taking sensitive data, such as credit card info or social security numbers, it is an absolute must. I will never use a site that wants that kind of data if it is not secure and a site I absolutely trust.
Another key thing in security I look for is whether or not the password for the user login can be retrieved. By retrieved, I mean they have the ability to show you your password, either in an email or in the browser. Passwords should never be able to be decrypted or stored in plain text. If you currently use a website that can show you your password. RUN! RUN NOW! This is a hacker's dream, especially if they also have an online store [which was a case with a site I went to last night]. Nothing better than just being able to read someone's password and then login as them to buy yourself some stuff. Not to mention, that password may give them access to you email if you used the same one. Once they have access to your email, they can get access to any other one of your secure accounts tied to that email address by resetting those passwords. Say goodbye to your credit score once they get into that American Express account.
Does the website merely say it has security for information or does it actually provide it. Most people make the mistake of thinking just because a website says your photos are secure from public view, doesn't mean they are. Most people don't know when this is happening, but a trained eye can easily spot it.
And lastly, does that site share your personal data with third parties? You may not want to play those games you thought were safe on your social site.
This simply means "Can the user accomplish his goals on your site, without having to checkout your FAQs or contact customer service." I build websites, and I cannot stand when I can't figure out how to do something on someone else's site. If I am struggling you have major User Interface (UI) issues. Don't redirect users to someplace unexpectedly when they are trying to go to watch the next video in the playlist. Don't make users do multiple actions over and over again to accomplish their goals. Make it easy and make the experience flow. Allow users to backtrace their steps whenever possible.
Another part to usability whether the site offers clean urls. By clean urls, I mean web addresses that are easy to read and remember. If I do a search and share it with someone, I want them to be able to read what I searched for (when security is not an issue). Take these two urls and decide which one would be easier for you to read and use:
If a site is programmed properly, it will make all aspects of the user's experience that much easier.
This falls to number three on my list though it's the number one thing most web goers judge a site off of. They just see something pretty and go "Ewww" and "Awe" but that design will mean nothing if the site is not easy to use and safe to do so. A good design should make for easy usability while enhancing the user's experience by being visually appealing. Your site user's should go, "Hey check this out! It looks great and is easy to use." The majority of people that use the web like large photos, but proper use of text can be just as important.
And sorry, but if you want to look like a professional business, better ditch that templated theme you just bought from your hosting provider. They look cheap and make your business look silly when others come to visit. Especially if people recognize the design being used on other sites. Web designers should never be able to correctly guess your content management system (CMS) by just looking at the design. Trust me, I can do this pretty easily on many sites. You would spend how much for a physical store front? You might think about spending a little more than $50 and "one hour" on the store front that has the potential to be viewed by millions more.
Yeah, me too. It's not looking good, but congrats to our clients in the Sweet Sixteen! We're quite proud of your accomplishment! As we continue on this week a good majority of schools are returning from Spring Break. It's obvious that that's the case here in Norman because the traffic has increased considerably. Gotta love those student drivers!
Anywho, I'm one of those weirdos who misses school. I don't miss the 20+page grad school research papers, but I do miss the learning. I've always said if I go back for a PhD someday it would be for the cool title (to make people call me Dr.), but in all honesty I dig the challenge of a classroom. I recently discovered an incredibly cool YouTube Channel called "Crash Course." It's an educational channel that covers History, Biology, Chemistry, Literature, Ecology and Psychology. The videos are totally engaging and informative. I'm a big fan of their humor and fantastic animations as well.
Now, I don't think you can learn everything about a subject in a ten-minute video, but that's not the point of these videos. I think it creates a foundation of interest in the subject matter and that's thanks in large part to the presentation of the material. I really got into history at K-State because of the faculty who presented their subjects with passion and unique and engaging presentations. To this day I still love history and enjoy reading and watching all things about that subject. On the other end of the learning spectrum, I absolutely disliked my trigonometry class because the professor was abysmal at presenting the information to the students. To this day I throw up a little when I hear anything about sines, cosines and tangents.
That same basic principle can be applied to sports marketing campaigns and in-game entertainment. You want to create an interest in your team/school and the best way to do that is with a creative presentation of your team/school.Presenters (teachers, marketers) play a big role in how the fan/student connect to a subject and how you will continue to connect in the future. Anybody can throw some highlights in a timeline and set it to some epic music and have a video. Anybody can talk about an historic event and throw around dates and names and teach a class. But those things don't make a good video or a good teacher. I like to think that's why schools, teams and organizations come to Old Hat. We get that a poster is more that just photos, fonts and photoshop. We get that a website is more that just text, photos and clicks. We get that a video is more than just clips cut to music. We get that videography and photography is more that just pointing and shooting a camera. And we get that good customer service is more that just answering phone calls and emails. I think when you start to devalue these things you're devaluing your message or your product and you're devaluing your fans.
Now please excuse me as I learn about Taxes and Smuggling:
Every time my turn to blog comes up, I struggle to find something to write about. I have no problem just sitting down and writing when I want to, but for some reason when I have that “assignment”, I struggle. When I can’t think of anything, I start asking people for ideas.
Today Kelby told me I could write about the Southland Conference. Unfortunately, I have not worked on many of their projects and don’t have a great depth of knowledge about the conference. This led me to Robert’s office to ask him about the work we did for them. Robert asked why I was going to blog about Southland and that led to a conversation about why we have a blog.
Old Hat had a blog before I got here. It was something I inherited and was told to manage but it was not something that I brought to the table. So why do we blog?
If you look at Robert’s blogs you might think his purpose to blog is to show you what artistic project he has been working on over the weekends. If you look at Zac’s blogs you think we blog so he can talk about how he has developed his management philosophy over the years. If you look at my blogs you probably think our blogs are made for some one to aimlessly ramble.
The more I think about this, the more I think that is the point. We are Old Hat Creative. We are a full service marketing agency. We have six divisions and we have some personality. That is the point of our blog. We want you to get to know us. We want you to trust us and we want you to understand the company that produces all of the work that we do. Robert may blog about his kids, but that is who he is and who he is, is a VITAL part of Old Hat Creative. Deb may only blog about video work we do, but that video work is one of the biggest reasons Old Hat is known in the industry.
When you read our blog, I hope you enjoy it. I hope it shows you the amazing work we do and the amazing people we have who produce that work.
Think we should blog about something else? Let me know @kk13cball
March Madness is right around the corner and it seems like everyone has basketball on their mind. Yes, basketball is fun and exciting and I do love watching the NCAA Tournament. I have even more to cheer about this year as both the Nebraska Women's and Men's teams look to each make the tourney. However, I find myself getting more excited about another sport....baseball!
As the weather warms up and daylight savings time makes the light last into the evening, I really get the urge to take a trip out to the ballpark. Collegiate baseball started last month and since I live in Norman, those are the games I make it to the most. I like baseball, but I'm definitely not a superfan. I don't have a favorite team and I generally don't watch games on TV. What really gets me excited is being at an actual game. The environment is second to none. The sounds, the smells, the general atmosphere all add up to a great time for me. There's nothing better than sitting down with a cheap hot dog and a drink (preferably a beer) and watching a game. I've also spent way more time than I care to admit thinking about what my "at bat" song would be if I played.
A few weeks ago, the Sooners opened the 2014 season with a series vs. Seton Hall and the weather was incredible for February. So, my husband and I packed up all of the required baby travel items and took our son to his first baseball game. We brought a blanket and sat in the outfield since we didn't know how he would respond. We were able to watch about four solid innings of baseball before he got too fussy. Soon after arriving, one of the OU outfielders blasted a three run homer right near where we were sitting. The Sooners put up 15 runs on the day for a great win and it was great to enjoy some family time at the ballpark.
Here is my son at his first game (Mommy looks a lot more excited than he is):
The Old Hat staff has recently put out some stellar baseball projects - here are a few posters that I really like:
And...Dustin recently took some great vintage baseball inspired photos for an internal Old Hat project. Here is my shot:
I'm looking forward to seeing the results of this project - stay tuned!
Fortunately, it's not just in my MIND that I'm going to Carolina. I'm actually going there. I'm going there in my mind too. I mean, my mind will be with me while I'm there. But so will my body. And my wife's body. And her mind. So just to recap, both the minds AND the bodies of Zac and Holli Logsdon are going to Carolina.
Now that we've established that, let's talk about why. One thing I've learned in my time on this planet is that people in the Carolinas are more educated than anyone else in the country. If you're not from this area, don't be insulted. I'm not from North or South Carolina either. And I've conducted no scientific study upon which to base this opinion. This statement is based purely on the fact that there seem to be more major universities in this area than anywhere else in the country. Again, ZERO research went into this but the fact is, I'm heading out to Charlotte, NC in a couple of weeks and I'm going to be able to visit 12 of our clients' campuses in a 7-span.
One of the great pleasures of having the job that I do is that I get to visit college campuses. I absolutely love getting to meet the people we work with, see their campuses and facilities and also see the work we've done for them displayed around their offices. It's rare that we actually get to see the billboards, posters, intro videos, etc. printed, hung and shown. Over the past many years, Old Hat has just kept adding and adding clients from North and South Carolina. With the latest additions of Clemson and ECU, my wife and I decided that it was time we get out there and see how many of them we could visit.
Here's the list of campuses we plan to hit during the trip, in the order we're going to visit them. Make sure to follow me on twitter @zaclogsdon to see lots of photos from our #OHCarolina Tour.
3. Presbyterian College
4. South Carolina
5. College of Charleston
7. Wake Forest
8. High Point
10. NC State
11. East Carolina
I was really hoping to be able to get up to App State as well but I don't think it's going to work out. Still, 12 clients in 7 days is a lot. Really looking forward to meeting the clients I've never met in person and seeing those that I've know for a long time.