Note: Gina and I attended together, but I am not attempting to speak for her; therefore, I will use “I” instead of “we” in this post.
Last night Pecha Kucha Night, St. Louis occurred as part of St. Louis DesignWeek. The week was packed with cool events and I tried to attend as many as possible. Being a raving PK fan, I imagined Thursday was going to be a perfect storm - Design, PK, and Plush.
The vibe was strange and I left at the beer break; therefore, this is only based on my first half experience.
I am not one to cast blame or offer criticism w/o being constructive. I’ll also add this fact: I have attend about 20 Pecha Kucha Nights, in five different cities, and in various roles (host, presenter, audience member, setter-upper, and presenting someone else’s slides when they failed to show). I’ve attended three events in STL, but last night something was amiss.
Presentations: Like most PKNs, not all were polished or perfect. I like that about PK and give people props for sharing pieces of themselves with us. I learn something each PKN I attend. Maybe not from each presenter, but I do learn something.
Don’t fucking boo a presenter. What does that actually accomplish? Seriously, let’s work this out together. A presenter has put together 20 slides and 6:40 of content. Public speaking is not easy for anyone (shouting “BOO” in total darkness is damn easy, ya little dick). Do you think booing suddenly triggers a better presentation? Like an already nervous and vulnerable person will hear you and immediately abandon the safety net of their prepared remarks to make a modification that will appease you? Fuck NO! All you did was prove that you are a total tool. Yay!
Think of PKN like sex with several partners. Each encounter lasts 6:40 (some of you just set personal records, btw) and some will leave you wanting more from that person while others just leave you wanting. Okay, you weren’t satisfied. But quit being selfish. Chalk it up to virgin jitters and move on to the next one. Criticizing a partner during sex never resulted in a better orgasm...unless you are into that kind of thing.
Host/Emcee: I might make enemies here, but it’s not about the host. Consider the meaning of the term Pecha Kucha...chit chat or conversation. The emcee’s sole purpose is to maintain the fluid nature of the conversation. When talking with friends, many of us use paraphrasing to check in and show that we get it. A host can do this for the crowd. Facilitate the understanding between presenter and audience. I’d like to see the emcee make a simple connection to the presenter who just finished and transition to the next one. Set up the audience and let the presenter shine. Last night, it seemed like the time between presenters was filled with non sequitur content that proved the emcee was smart. I have no doubt that he is and would probably enjoy a PK presentation from him.
The host also needs to manage the crowd in a way that is firm and respectful. Here’s what I wrote for last night’s booing situation...set-up, the presenter was the creative director from Dr. Scholl’s and had a cool presentation. A guy boos in the middle of it and things spiral for the presenter.
Host: “Let’s give _______ a round of applause. This is never easy, but we are a community and he is part of this community. If his presentation taught us anything, it showed us that there is a lot of “sole” in shoe design...and what the gentleman in the crowd proved is that you can’t talk shoes without at least one heel.”
Maybe it isn’t perfectly funny, but the point is that the issue can be addressed and a connection can be made back to the presentation...bring it back to the presenter.
It’s not always like this, it just was last night. I attribute it to the overall vibe. I am not attacking a person. Something was just odd.
Venue: Plush is great. Gina and I eat there often and it has become our Sunday brunch place. I don’t know if they were ready for the crowd. The bartender (on the restaurant side) was feeling under the weather and grumpy. I actually said to him, “Hey, don’t yell at me.” It would have been nice to open the bar upstairs and spread the love a little. The venue also had several obstructed views. I get that. Hey, arrive early to get a good seat. But PKNSTL draws huge crowds and the choice of venue needs to be able to accommodate the crowd.
I sent some tweets and talked Gina’s ear off ranting about my frustration. But as the opening line of this post says, “creativity is messy.” I will always support, promote and attend Pecha Kucha (here and in other cities) because it is a great opportunity to showcase the beauty that can come from the mess.
To the guy who booed, seriously...NOT COOL.
I might as well add a place for my thoughts and a spot to collaborate with others. A blog is a good place for this, right? Don't all websites need blogs? I know they don't. I also know that blogs suck when they aren't updated often. But I have a writing project that I need to complete in six or seven months, so I'll work a lot of crap out here.
Note: Gina and I attended together, but I am not attempting to speak for her; therefore, I will use “I” instead of “we” in this post.
I like to think of this project as possessing Don Draper's style on Peggy Olson's budget. My lovely lady and I have been fixing up our St. Louis loft by finding items that have a distinct history and giving them a new future/purpose. It started with a card catalog we transformed into a wine rack (Gina is a librarian). The next project was to increase the capacity of our bar. I wanted to do this by converting a retro television set into a functional bar. Here anytime is prime time for a glass of whiskey.
The first TV I found was just too expensive at $145. I hoped I could find a more affordable option. A quick search of Craig's List proved unfruitful. Many of the "retro" TV's there were from the 1980's (now I feel vintage). I eventually found a 1950's Sears brand TV on the Facebook Marketplace for $10. Holy CRAP! After a quick thirty-minute drive, I picked up the perfect shell for the project.
Taking it apart was fairly easy. In less than forty-five minutes, and using a screwdriver, socket, and wire cutters, I had the entire unit gutted. SMART MOVE: I took the TV apart outside in our parking lot and then carried the empty shell upstairs. It was much lighter at that point.
I've seen a couple of other projects like this in the past and many stopped short of intalling a clean interior. I took a quick trip to Home Depot and spent $14 on two rope lights (2' each) and one power strip. I wanted the unit to have clean and balanced lighting. I constructed interior walls and shelves using foam blocks from Joann's Fabric and Crafts. I think these blocks are used for floral projects. I liked them because they were sturdy and easy to cut (this part is really the only messy part of the project). Finally, I bought three yards of fabric to cover the foam blocks. I chose a fabric that would reflect the limited light and show off the bottles. Total spent for fabric and foam was $52 (I didn't think it was going to be that much. With a little more research, I probably could have gotten that down lower).
Assembly was quick. I spent about two hours building out the shelves and wrapping them with fabric (I used a stapler to attach the fabric to the foam). The lighting took about forty-five minutes.
The finished product is bad-ass (if I say so myself). It fits perfectly in out fourth floor loft. maybe next season we'll host a Mad Men viewing party. Total Cost: $76. Even Peggy Olson can afford it.
So last year's in-progress winner for 59DaysOfCode was a little start-up named re.vu. Steve and his team built a great application that allows normal people to create a fresh infographic resume. As soon as I started playing around with it, I knew I wanted to have some fun.
I decided to build a direct mail campaign that would drive potential clients or employers to my re.vu page (re.vu/travissheridan). I will tell you right now, this ain't cheap. But, I believe it will produce the desired results.
Let me begin by telling you about the materials.
First, I wanted to mail a brick. I thought I should get that out there. So I went on a walk around St Louis and found some bricks. Did you know bricks grow on building and can be picks when they are ripe?
A few months ago I produced the collateral that contains the key messaging. It was built around the prefix "re." My goal was to write a strong piece that actually got read. That was goal #1: Get it read.
The piece needed to contain the following:
- Explanation: gotta tell them what the brick is all about (some people might just be freaked out)
- Introduction: gotta tell them what I'm all about
- Connection: used LinkedIn recommendations for the quotes
- Action: the bottom portion is a tear off they can keep for future reference
- Repetition, Alliteration & Metaphor
I boxed up the brick and the collateral and decided to send it off to a few targeted contacts. I did not include further explanation or an "actual" resume. The collateral has a direct link to my re.vu page (and a pretty QR code). I opted to do this, because I keep that page up to date. Once they have a paper resume, I am kinda screwed. Furthermore, my paper resume is available at re.vu for download if someone wants it.
I wanted to try something different because Steve and his team have created something different. At about $7 a pop I will not be sending out too many, but I am certain that each one will make an impact.
Gonna miss Fresno v8: Central Valley Business Incubator
Since tomorrow is my going away/birthday lunch, I thought I would highlight my fantastic job, CVBI. I will really miss my team.
My background in organizational development afforded many opportunities throughout my career. Most of those opportunities involved going into toxic workplaces, assessing the situation, developing a plan for improvement and then helping right the ship. Unfortunately, many of the CEOs who hired me *were* the problem. They insisted something was broken, but didn't have the insight to know that they were the most toxic part of the system. Needless to say, they really didn't like my assessment or suggestions.
Four and a half years ago, I joined the team at CVBI and instantly felt at home. Ya see, I was able to influence entrepreneurs before they had bad or toxic systems in place. Maybe it seems like a small thing, but for me it was huge. I took pride in the companies I helped start and in the ones I helped NOT start. We created stuff at CVBI. From 59DaysOfCode (props to Irma, my partner in many a crime) to trying to establish the region as the BlueTechValley. I have enjoyed how pervasive entrepreneurship is throughout the organization.
I have visited other incubators. many of them are kinda boring. CVBI is far from boring. Our clients are doing amazing things. Our staff has more private sector experience than government agency experience. Our funders realize that entrepreneurship is a key driver of economic development.
I have been at CVBI longer than any job ever. I probably won't stay at a job this long again. I don't need to. I am not wired to ever vest a 401(k), hit the highest vacation time allotment, or earn a gold watch. I am wired to be an entrepreneur. I learned that as I taught that.
I follow the successes and failure of businesses I've seen come through CVBI. I follow the career paths of the former staff. Our staff alumni include Ashley Swearengin, Craig Scharton, Anna Hadjinlian Borgeas, Kelli Strickland-Furtado, Jarah Euston and many others. As of Friday, I will wear my alumni badge with a lot of pride.
Gonna miss Fresno v7: Jeffrey Scott Agency
It was 1997 and I just returned to central California. Was driving a 1987 Ford Escort GT that required me to push start it. The car had been t-boned (not to be confused with being Tebowed) on the passenger side which meant the window was a piece of plexiglass I replaced every winter. I needed a job, so I went to Bennett Frost Personnel and they sent me to JSA for an interview. JSA needed a courier...a gopher...an errand guy.
You have to understand, I love job interviews. I generally nail them. This was a job as a courier and I wore a jacket and tie. I brought a resume that listed as my software skills: PrintShop, PrintShop Pro, PrintShop Platinum, PrintShop Deluxe. No lie. I even took "samples" of my portfolio. Do this day, I think Wendy Batti thought I was kidding.
I loved this job. I used it to become an early adopter of the Jim Rome Show. I used it to learn how to navigate and fall in love with downtown Fresno. I used it to learn about marketing and design. I used it to learn that the job of a copywriter is not to file for copyright protection for all the logos created. Unbeknownst to me, I used it to make professional connections and friendship that I count as some of the best I have.
I was not a student of marketing through traditional means. Hell, I didn't anticipate becoming a pretty good marketing guy when I was there. I just wanted to get lunch for people, help Bruce Battiavoid trips to Wal Mart, pick-up proofs from Vahe, carry Zip disks to the Bee, maybe attend one of the epic JSA Christmas parties (I still remember how hillarious Jackie Chooljian Grazier was at Harris Ranch), and maybe have some of John Ostlund's downtown/entrepreneurial passion rub of on me.
I also LOVED helping Wendy with Christmas shopping.
Today, I've added Jim Lowe, Jennifer Welch Seita, Sarah Pruner Gunlund, and others to my JSA family.
Oh yeah...you want to know what happened to the 1987 Escort GT? Well, after putting 74k miles on it in less than two years, I sold it for $150 to the manager/owner of FinePrint (a JSA vendor).