Thursday, September 11, 2014

My personal Robin Williams story: September 11th thirteen years ago

Mork from Ork, still one of Williams most enduring and endearing characters.

I don’t usually go in for the whole celebrity-eulogizing but I was watching the “Pioneers in Television: Remembrance of Robin Williams” and it reminded me of what a singular talent he was.  From his early standup through his academy award winning performances to his humanitarian work Robin Williams one of the truly wonderful souls. Many of us know of his trips to Afganistan and ALL of us remember Comic Relief, but it is one little known thing that I want to mention here.

My brief encounter with Robin happened at a traffic light on Van Ness Blvd. I was driving north when I stopped at a red light in my Jeep with the top down. There was a loud kerfuffle behind me with shouting and someone was getting out of their car in traffic.  A quick glance in the rear view showed someone running up beside me. Now I admit my first thought was carjacking but the guy was not on the right side for that. It was then I notice in the car next to me, smiling his crooked smile, and shaking hands with the rogue pedestrian was Mr. Williams himself. I looked at him with dawning recognition. He just nodded at me, shrugged to say "Yup it's me", and waved. However that is not what I to talk about.

The under publicized event that I want to talk about happened on September 11th 13 years ago. After the tragic events of that day a lot of people wanted to do… something, anything. Even as far removed as San Francisco CA we wanted to help. For many, as it turned out a great many, that desire to help culminated in a desire to donate blood. Now I handled it by organizing a mobile blood truck to come out to my work site. But for Robin Williams he showed up to the San Francisco Red Cross where he found thousands of people had arrived ahead of him. For most this would have meant standing on line or going home. Robin could have used his name to jump the line, do what he’d come to do and go home. He chose to exercise another option, and fall back on what he does best. For the next 20 hours Robin William proceeded to entertain those giving souls on that line at that donation center. Long beyond the point of his voice giving out he “riffed” and improvised like crazy bringing a little light to a few solid citizens on a very dark day indeed.


Few, but those who were there, know this story and I thought that today would be a good day to share this with those of us that morn the loss of a true comic genius and a great human being.


Now, if you have the time, here is one of the greatest episodes of "Inside the Actors Studio" of all time.
 

Monday, September 8, 2014

All the Pretty Little Horses

"I and the Village"
by
Marc Chagall 1911

So the time-honored wisdom of babes has taught me one good lesson. That is to stick with what works. My young daughter does not like her naps. So when little Miss Cranky Pants has budgeted a little too much time for fussing, I know that it is time to take her upstairs, dim the lights and hum softly till she goes to sleep. This works great, except that I love to sing. I love a variety of songs even the ones I make up as I go. But she will have none of it, Brahms, not “Rockabye”, not even “Golden Slumbers” The only one that works for her is “All the Pretty Little Horses” and only when I hum. No singing, no extra verses and no sour notes. 
So I sit there, and over and over again, …when you wake you will find all the pretty little horse. And it got me to thinking that this is what works in many situations. We all have our favorite restaurants, our repeat vacation spots, even our go to verbiage for our marketing content. (Read through your work, I am sure you will find a pattern.) Which brings me around to creativity. Is this repetitiveness indicative of a stifled or stunted creativity? Or is it a tool we can use to free us up our higher minds for something greater? It is said that Einstein had a closet full of nothing but brown suits, the same outfit for every day of the week.
He said that it was to simplify his morning routine, he need not occupy his mind with the chore of pick out what to wear he simply picked the next clean one and this freed his mind to think about other things. So, are we thinking 2,3,4 moves ahead while we write that redundant line of text? Are we more creative? Or are we just being driven like cattle through the Starbucks line and ordering the same old thing because we can think of nothing else to get?

So I stick with what works and give the people what they want. But I try to do it will a level of authenticity that allows me to be, if not like Einstein, at least a little be clever.

Here is a little light music while you ponder.
 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What has worked for you on Social Media


As seen this morning, original post by Thomas Marzano, and it made me curious. How have any of these rules help you in your business or with you clients? Does anyone have anything to add? Subtract? Give me something that has worked for you in Social Media. And there is no limit on how many words you can use.



As seen this morning, original post by Thomas Marzano, and it made me curious. How have any of these rules help you in your business or with you clients? Does any one have anything to add? Subtract? Give me something that has worked for you in Social Media. And there is no limit on how many words you can use.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Making a Break Through

Michael Blaustein Making it work
I CREATE! 
I would like this to serve as an example of the broad scope of my skills, and my willingness to put myself out there, to break through, if you will. I will bring creativity, agility, and innovation to the position of Digital Strategist and given the diversity of my background I will quickly become a great asset to BCS Interactive. Allow me to lead off with a short video that are my "Thoughts on the Evolution" of advertising and marketing in the digital age.

Thought on Evolution
Thought on Evolution

Now on the surface of it you might say, creepy cell phone video, and you would be right. But if you think for a moment about the necessity for moving quickly and staying agile I feel it is a strong example of my willingness to embrace the current with and eye toward the future. If the two watch words at Ketchum are "Break Through" I might interpret that as "Serge Forward" or be willing to move quickly and act on / interact with the fast moving digital universe. "Stay Agile" may well become my personal watch words. Now I also mention Oreo and Orabrush, did I just pick two words that sound the same?
No, and here is a little more.

Agility in the Digital Age
Agility in the Digital Age

Oreo proved a willingness to engage in and react to a fast moving environment and I believe to achieve a "Break Through", this type of attitude is essential. Being willing to act first and fix mistakes later.

I would encourage you to start from the beginning of my blog to learn more of my thoughts on creativity. And here is the link to my creative portfolio which you can find on Coroflot. My creativity and long experience makes me a strong candidate for this position. The diversity of my background and an allignment with your mission makes me unique among applicants. I look forward to developing new concepts in marketing for the digital age.
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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Fostering Creativity Where-ever, When-ever.

#Creativity,
bold ideas, the muse that
drives innovation.

But wait, this is not a true Haiku. A haiku by definition is not just a collection of syllables but also a requisite theme. That theme…is nature the Japanese revere it, and often juxtaposing two ideas or images.

Maybe this one is more traditional:

Shadows dance with light
Wind makes music in the leaves
Rolling down the road

If you look at the rest of this blog you will see that I am making an attempt to explore creativity and inspiration (spotty though my efforts may be) I do believe that the first Haiku distills it admirably.

Now I went ahead and created a fresh video post in answer to your request and I believe it also help to illuminate the theme of this blog while showcasing my unique suitability for a position with 87AM, heck even my usename m8qlaff (google it I dare you) has a certain resemblance to your firms name.


   

I am also including a video I created a few years ago that I feel gives insight to my design process. This is a furniture piece that I conceived, designed and built.


   

 The third video I am including here is something that I had nothing to do with other than a little encouragement and technical support of the young filmmaker that I believe is really going places. It is a compelling short that is worth the 10 minutes it takes to watch. Enjoy


   

If you would like to learn more, please check out my online portfolio where you will see my advertising and graphic design, my dabbling in animation and a whole lot more furniture.
www.coroflot.com/m8qlaff 

Ok now allow me just a little cover letter style plug (old habits die hard) My creativity, a proven track record building businesses and training teams, coupled with stellar experience developing client relationships and managing client expectations in all aspects of sales, advertising, and marketing makes me a strong candidate for this senior position. The diversity of my background and an affinity for emerging technology makes me unique among applicants. 

@m8qlaff 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Using Social and Mobile

I was asked to consider how we could use social media better and maximize the growing benefits at our shows. First, I think “doing social” goes beyond live tweeting at a shows and rolling content from some third party to the facebook page. “Being social” is a corporate culture shift that must be embraced. Truly social businesses are already reaping the benefits: http://bit.ly/1bBmj73 Sixty-two percent of CMO respondents said their social efforts have led to better access to strategic marketing data, and 54 percent said they’re seeing a faster time to innovation as a result of using social technology.
For our purposes, what we could be doing and what we should be doing are similar. But there are some absolute shoulds that we could start with. First, I think we ought to take charge of the media and the message by promoting and “owning” a hashtag. Using either one for each show or one for all. I suggest #MFVExpo because A. it is our web domain, B. it is simple and C. it conveys the message of who we are.  Also, I think everyone should do it. Perhaps not all the time but certainly while at the shows, this creates a document of our show experiences.
I.e. “look at this cool ____ at the #MFVexpo” include a pic
Or a short video clip of someone enjoying a good sample of something at a food franchise
Or a short video clip of someone taking part in seminar
Or a 6 second “How is the show going” man in the street type interview
All this and more can be done with the device in most of our pockets. This is going to provoke more interaction with the attendees which will prompt them to engage with other perspective attendees, generating some of the elusive free buzz we all crave and provoking a positive reaction at the show.
We should also be encouraging our exhibitors to participate as well, promoting their presentations with advance twitter buzz using the hashtag from the show. They should also use this to pump up the interest by “broadcasting” images and video of their booth as things are happening, when the booth is particularly full, etc.
And we should be paying it forward after the show as well by trickling out photos from the show, and keeping the “buzz” around the hashtag vibrant in-between the events.
It also seems that crowd sourcing ideas and themes for the symposia and seminar topics would be a novel way to keep the participants engaged as well as keep the subject matter topical and current. Obviously outsourcing these duties is not conducive to an attentive adaptive social media presence. By soliciting ideas from the attendees and the exhibitors it will be possible to determine what topics are most appealing and marketable. In this way we may achieve greater attendance and reap higher admission fees.
Notes for improving performance and return on our Email campaigns; study’s have shown that maximizing open rates could be as easy as managing the schedule. More emails are opened between 3pm and 8pm on a business day that at other busier times of day.  Also it is proven that a higher percentage of messages from the educational services sector are opened than almost any other business type. The business products and services sector rank among the lowest in open rate. Adding a strong call to action in the subject line increases the likelihood of opening by a significant amount. Now, given that 44% of emails are viewed on a mobile device optimizing for this type of viewing seems key to success. In addition, based on personal experience I can say that I am far more likely to open an email that comes from a named individual before I will open one from a business name. So finding a way to personalize messages may contribute to an increased open rate. The higher the open percentage the greater of click through.
The above are the shoulds and are some things that strike me as easy to accomplish with minimal expense. Below are the coulds and are a few ideas that might be considered a bit more extravagant.
First I think we could be utilizing some of the great new mobile technology by offering an app that places the attendee’s location in the event center. This offers exhibitors the ability to push messages to attendees that have opted in by downloading the app. It also allows exhibitors the ability to zero in on the attendees that are interested in their type of franchise and help the attendee narrow their focus (thus streamlining their visit to the show and generating a positive experience) if the app requires input from the downloader.
Adding an element of gamification is a great way to engage attendees and offer another way for exhibitors to reach out to them in novel ways. Gamification techniques strive to leverage people's natural desires for competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, and closure. A core gamification strategy is rewards for players who accomplish desired tasks. Types of rewards include points, achievement badges or levels, the filling of a progress bar, and providing the user with virtual currency. But studys have shown that simply providing access as a reward work quite and more than 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies plan to use gamification for the purposes of marketing and customer retention. Making use of the promotional programs already available could be repurposed for gamification. For example, the footprints, if they were printed to include certain QR codes an attendee could “collect” the codes thus making a game of the “hunt”. Rewards could be as easy as granting “VIP” access to a given seminar.
There are many many existing and emerging technologies that could and should be used by MFV to augment the reality of the Expos and bolster the experience for the attendees and exhibitors. Add these ideas to the pantheon of available promotions offered at the shows and it will increase the attendance, garner more participation, and increase MFV’s bottom line.
Making use of programs that incorporate geo-fencing allow an administrator to set up triggers so when a device enters (or exits) the boundaries defined by the administrator, a text message or email alert is sent. We could geo-fence certain areas within the expo floor, which would allow exhibitors to pull message an attendee when they are in proximity of the booth. Picture this: Attendee comes to the show, downloads the app and “opts-in” for interest in “yogurt franchises” Exhibitor Yogurt Zone purchases geo-fencing promotion package and when said attendee passes within proximity of Yogurt Zone booth is alerted with a pull notification “you are near Yogurt Zone stop in for you free promotional give away, or sample, or swag, or what have you” At the same time the staff at the booth get an alert that “John C Do’h is within 15 feet of the booth, has X level of interest in yogurt franchises, his personal information is as follows…” At that point the staff can put out the proverbial red carpet for Mr. Do’h and offer “premier VIP treatment” being ready for him before he even walks in. This is a win win because Mr Do’h feels extra special and Yogurt Zone just strengthened their chances of securing the prospective franchisee. And both of them love MFV for providing a top level experience and both will communicate that experience to others. WIN WIN WIN WIN
Another “could” may include the use the latest augmented reality technology I have included a video that shows how the technology is being used to “collect” virtual butterflies. The user chases them around town, “captures” them and stores them for later use as a coupon in the local retail establishments. This is a great way to add an element of fun to the clipping of coupons. Adding an element of gamification is a great way to engage attendees and offer another way for exhibitors to reach out to them in novel ways. Gamification techniques strive to leverage people's natural desires for competition, achievement, status, self-expression, altruism, and closure. A core gamification strategy is rewards for players who accomplish desired tasks. Types of rewards include points, achievement badges or levels, the filling of a progress bar, and providing the user with virtual currency. But study’s have shown that simply providing access as a reward work quite and more than 70% of Forbes Global 2000 companies plan to use gamification for the purposes of marketing and customer retention.
iButterfly


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Creative Cabinet Design for a Special Needs Couple

Well, not long ago an interesting couple asked me to help them sort out their audio video equipment. Now to be sure the need of this couple was very special. You see the couple is blind and wanted to have their audio equipment easily accessible, they wanted a lot of storage (well organized) for their CDs and they wanted to be able to manage it all by feel.

Fox cabinet with access for the blind

So I put my creative prowess to work. I came up with a two-piece design that allowed the cabinets to be easily managed and moved around. The lowers have three drawers each holding 67 CDs apiece. One side has a specifically designed unit for accommodating the stereo components. It was important to provide open access to the back of the equipment. Being blind they wanted to be able to reach inside and feel the hook ups and wiring. So I left the back open and put the whole thing on roller bearings so that the whole thing could rotate.
Also, for my conservation and sustainability friends, I used reclaimed locally sourced pine, water borne low VOC stain and gloss top coat. So it was sustainably produce and specifically designed to meet the special needs of a blind couple.

cabinet for audio enjoyment

creative design for the blind


furniture design that solves a special need
























Overall the execution proved a little problematic, but the functionality suited the needs of this couple quite well.