When I was in school we had classes that “taught” us how to brainstorm and come up with ideas. For some reason that firmly placed in my mind the idea that good ideas came to you like a bolt of lightning.  All of sudden you had this amazing idea, like a lightning bolt in the night.   

Turns out, my young mind could not be more inaccurate to what I experience now. 

Most of the time a good idea takes time.  It involves back and forth between people and getting through a lot of bad ideas.  It is definitely a process and it is a process that is almost always going on at Old Hat in one way or another.  

It is interesting to me that my mood can dictate the best way for me to come up with ideas at the time.  There are three ways I typically brainstorm.  Each produces results, but which prefer varies. 

  1. The normal method of getting a group together and discussing it.  This is probably my favorite and one that I think produces some of the best results.  I am very fortunate to be surrounded by so many creative and talented people.  Surrounding myself with those same people while brainstorming can be incredibly beneficial.  It allows me to borrow some of their genius and feed off of the creativity they bring to the table.  It produces results and can be fun. 
  2. Another method I use a lot is more isolated.  I will meet with the involved parties and get an idea for what they are looking to accomplish.  If there is copy that needs to be written or a template, I make sure to get that information.  Then I typically lock myself to my desk, put the head phones in, and start typing.  I type a lot of crap, but eventually I find my way to something that is worth sharing with others.  This method works great if you work alone and then take your findings to a group like above. 
  3. This is probably the most natural brainstorming for me and it is pretty much in complete isolation.  It is not something that I view as direct brainstorming, but it works.  In fact, this is probably more inspiration than it is brainstorming.  Sometimes ideas come that can be built upon and this results in brainstorming.  For me, I need to be completely relaxed and not thinking about a problem.  That is when good ideas tend to come.  Interestingly enough this never happens for me at a convenient time.  In the shower. Fishing. Hiking. Working in the garden.  On vacation.  It seems that I have better (or more useful) ideas the more relaxed I am.   

    All of these instances are places when good ideas come, but not a place where it is easy to record the notes.  My girlfriend hates when she sees me walk off talking to my phone when we are on vacation, but I have to record my thoughts.  Siri is a great help for this and while I may seem like a crazy person, I usually have her take my notes.  I have also been given some waterproof writing pads.  I can take these in the shower or out in the rain and write anything without worry about the water.  

Brainstorming can be hard.  Coming up with new ideas is hard.  However, I have found that the more I learn about myself the easier it becomes.  Finding that right balance of focus and relaxation is key for me.  


How do you brainstorm?

Lately I've been thinking about writing a blog, separate from the Old Hat Blog. I'm not sure what about though, which would be an issue because after all, content is king. I've thought about baking. I'm not great at it, but I do enjoy it when I have the time.

Well, last week I received an email from Jones Design Company. If you like nice prints/illustrations, stationary, or anything paper, check out her website. I've printed some of her pieces to frame and have given as gifts. But back to the email. In it was an article titled The Big Collection of 50+ Blog Post Ideas. I won't list them all, but you can view the complete list here. I wanted to pull out 10 post ideas that I thought would be useful. 

1. Create a list - Gather a list of reasons, resources, links, quotes, tools, books, or anything in a common category and compile them into a post. 

2. Post a How-To - The How-To blog post is often something that draws readers in especially if it's about a challenging topic or skill.

3. Craft a Checklist - Checklists are some of the most highly shared posts on the internet. 

4. Host a Q&A - Have your readers ask questions in the comments section of your blog. You can reply directly in the comments, or compile the questions to answer in a later post. 

5. Show Your Process - Show the process of a specific product/project you've completed.

6. Compile Helpful Resources - Compile a list of tools or resources for a particular subject or topic. 

7. Tell Stories - Personal stories make the best entertainment especially if there's a life lesson, main point, or punchline at the end. 

8. Share Favorites - Roundup a collection of your favorite pins or Instagram photos and share them.

9. Before & After - Print magazines have been using before and after photos for years to draw in readers. 

10. Conduct a Survey & Share Results - Use a short survey to poll readers. This is a great way to gain insight into what your readers think and possible product or service ideas. Use Google forms or Survey Monkey to create an easy survey. 

Sunday I met up with a group of friends at Whiskey Cake in Oklahoma City. I had never been before, but was wanting to try it. It's a farm-to-table restaurant, meaning no freezers and no microwaves, everything is made from scratch daily. I love eating at unique restaurants in every city I live in and visit. If you're heading to Louisville (KY), Murray (KY), Normal (IL), or Norman or Oklahoma City anytime soon, let me know and I can tell you some great places to eat!

It was brunch time, so mimosas and bloody marys were on our menu for us, as well as an assortment of other unique food items including deviled eggs with cole slaw, french toast with mint whip cream and Oreos, and candy bacon that was marinated for two hours before it was cooked! It was all delcious. At the end, our waiter talked us into trying their famous Whiskey Cake. He sold us when he said people traveled outside of the state for their Whiskey Cake. We decided to give it a try and split one piece among the whole table. It was to die for! 

Later that night I decided to search on Pinterest for a whiskey cake recipe. I found a few and think each would be pretty amazing. Click the images to view the recipe and let me know if you get a chance to try it! 

And just for fun, if you're looking for a really easy and delicious blackberry cobbler, try this recipe! It's yummy. 

If you haven't seen it yet, Twitter now allows its users to retweet tweets to appear as Twitter cards. Instead of modifying retweets to fit in a handful of words, users now have 116 characters remaining for their own comment. With the new feature, businesses have the opportunity to build their brand by increasing conversation with more thorough comments. To learn more, check out these articles below:

Mashable - Twitter officially lets you retweet with comments now

Forbes - How Twitter's New Potential 'Retweet With Comment' Feature Could Help Business

Great staff photo, huh? Only, that's not us. And that will never be us. We don't wear power suits or ties. We wear jeans, t-shirts, ballcaps, athletic shorts... pretty much whatever we want. 

I was looking at our "About Us" page the other day and I couldn't believe how corporate looking I had allowed it to become. All our staff photos looked like we belonged in a photo like the one above. But that's not us. So I decided to spend my morning getting US back into our about us page. There are no major changes here but it's a much better representation of who we are than it was before. This page doesn't include our entire staff, by the way. Just the people you're likely to come into contact with when you deal with us. Though after spending some time working on this page, I think we probably need to get our entire staff on here.

Anyway, take a look at the revised About Us page.

Earlier this week, Ashley and I adventured to Kansas City to attend the 2nd Annual Sports Fan Engagement Forum.  Despite what it sounds like, this was not a forum where attendees return engaged to be married…sorry Mom.  Instead, attendees learn about engaging with fans in the stadium during games and at home during the offseason through various technological channels.

Although we might not directly deal with these topics and issues being discussed, our clients do.  It was very interesting to hear what these teams go through no matter if they are college, minor league, or major league teams.  I think learning more about what our clients are dealing with will help us create better solutions for them.

While in town, we were provided the opportunity to tour Sporting Kansas City’s soccer stadium.  What a place!  It was so nice, and every last detail was taken into consideration.  The carpet and interior in the suite level is black and white to represent the soccer ball.  The lower level – field level – has brown and green wall accents to pay tribute to the field.  Even parts of the ceiling/lights are hexagons to reflect the soccer ball.  

We also got to see the team’s locker room, which is fully equipped with Ferarri racing chairs for every player.  This chair is $4,000!!!

Overall, I’m glad that Ashley and I attended this forum.  We learned some new things, made new friends, connected with old ones, and had a lovely time. 

Here's a couple more pictures...

My obligatory #HandstandsWithHannah

Even Zac made an appearance to moderate a panel!

Last month I downloaded a new app to my phone.  I had always heard and read many funny stories about the conversations people have on this app.  So I go to sign up.  First thing it does is ask for permission to access my Facebook.  I absolutely hate when things ask for my Facebook info.  This normally means that they are seeking to sell your private information to a third party, but then I read that it only needs access to my public profile.  I was like cool I'm okay with that, but then the app goes back and keeps asking for more and more permissions.  This erks me to say the least.  Anyways due to boredom, I go ahead and give them access so I can see what everyone is talking about.

I start reading people's profiles, and something starts to become a reoccurring theme.  In their profiles, people keep saying that they are a different age than what it shows.  I start thinking, why are they doing this?  Then I realize they are pulling the information from Facebook.  To protect their identities and personal information, people commonly lie when filling out their Facebook profiles.  I checked my profile to see what it said, and I was 19 years old according to the app, which made the app completely worthless to me at this point.  I updated my Facebook birthday to something a little closer, but now Facebook gives a warning that you are no longer allowed to change my birthday after this last time... So what did I do?  Yea it's still not the correct birthday.  A lot of this has to do with Facebook's actions in the past which has caused the majority of people to mistrust Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook as a whole.  So this app now is trusting false data for its functionality, leading to bad user experiences.

So what info from Facebook can be trusted?  Well mainly people's likes and shares tell the most about them.  Most people don't sit around liking and sharing stories they don't like.  Where as they commonly have fake birthdays and a lot of girls I know find it funny to change their names on Facebook, especially when using apps like this that require their name to work.

So why is this all important to you?  Well a lot of people believe that Facebook is the best way to collect information from their clientele for contests and such, but as commonly known to developers, the more information you ask for from the person, the less likely they are to tell you, and probably the less likely they are to tell you the truth.  You are better off finding fun more innovative ways like the 12th Man Challenge campaign to gather info from your prospects than Facebook, if accurate data is required.

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. 

A lot of our readers or followers out there recently got a gift from Old Hat, Limited Edition Gold Pack Select Old Hat Playing Cards.  For me, it is a bit weird to be on a playing card, but it turns out they are pretty popular, well at least with my nephew.  Last week, I got a video of my nephew asking if his father had any more Uncle Kevins.  Weird at first, but then it made me laugh. 

So in effort to help Zac learn more card games and to teach our readers out there a valuable lesson, I present, Old Hat Go Fish…

Rules (guidelines or things that most people try to break when playing cards):

Five Old Hatters are dealt from the Limited Edition Gold Pack Select Old Hat Playing Cards.  You can choose to deal seven Old Hatters if you choose, but usually having that many Old Hatters in one hand can get a little awkward.  The rest of the neglected Old Hatters are placed in a pile in the center.  In Old Hat Go Fish you refer to this as the “Puddle." 

The person who goes first (Duey), looks at another player (Gnorman), stares at them a bit, and then asks for a specific Old Hatter.  The person (Duey) asking must have at least one Old Hatter in their hand to ask for that specific Old Hatter.  If Gnorman does not control any Old Hatters at the moment, he tells Duey to “go jump in a lake”, signifying that Duey can now steal an Old Hatter from the puddle or choose to jump in a lake.   At this point, everyone must stand up and turn around twice.  If the Old Hatter that Duey stole from the puddle is the same Old Hatter that he requested from Gnorman, only Gnorman has to turn around twice and Duey gets another turn.

Once the turning has been completed, the next person repeats the process.  If at any time, one player has managed to kidnap four of the same Old Hatters, then that Old Hatter is laid on the table in front of the kidnapper.  

The game ends when Robert gets frustrated and starts throwing cards or all of the Old Hatters have been kidnapped.  

I hope you enjoy playing Old Hat Go Fish but don’t worry the fun doesn’t stop there.  Check out the other games you can play with the Limited Edition Gold Pack Select Old Hat Playing Cards like “Try, try, to Slice My Eye” or the always classic “Lick Your Cards.” 

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. 


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