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Stay Calm & Carry On

Waking up at 4:32 in the morning is never something I have planned.  In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find me waking up before 5am – ever.  Unless I’m taking a family member or a good friend to the airport, I’m not doing it.

This past Sunday was an exception.  Not only was I expecting it, I was looking forward to it.  I had a gear bag packed with swimming goggles, a towel, a bike helmet, water bottles and directions to my first triathlon…!…You read that right…

A triathlona real triathlon…no, not an ironman, but a legitimate triathlon sanctioned by the USAT and full of eager spectators, supporters and seasoned athletes.  A triathlon that I was going to participate in as an ‘athlete’ … yep…!

After months of preparation and training, I was both nervous and excited.

Truth be told, the last few weeks before the event, my nervous: excited ratio was about half-n-half.  The last few days, that ratio was closer to 80% nervous, 20% excited. 

 

What was I thinking?!…I’m in over my head…!…I need to put in more swimming time…!….relax, it’s your race – it’s just you out there…you’re not racing for a specific time…!…I haven’t done nearly enough hills! …I need to hydrate more…!…what am I doing…?!…why…!?…breathe, Nars…just breathe…!


And then, before I knew it… it all began.

That Dark Spot in the Pool (Top Portion) is Me

Endurance had an entirely new level of meaning to me.  This is a freakin’ triathlon! Even though I had drills, regimens and plans that I worked on, it was still quite hard – physically and mentally.

I’ll even go so far as to say that it was a harder ‘mental game’ for me.  Even though I put in some hours with my training, I was overwhelmed with a sensation that I don’t often experience (truly).

I was intimidated.

There were some stellar athletes there with incredible form and countless hours & races they had up on me.  I showed up with a fresh out-of-the-box helmet and a rented (and quite nice) bike.  But I remembered the advice of a good buddy a mine who’s a former marine (although they’d say there’s no such thing) – he said it came from some sort of British saying: “Stay Calm and Carry On.”

And that’s just what I did…

  • as I was killing myself in the pool
  • when I was grinding my way up those hills
  • and even after I saw a 60+ year-old athlete pass me by (this guy was in incredible shape – a true inspiration)


Crossing the Finish Line

I stayed calm and carried on.

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I’m glad I did.  Cause even though it wasn’t a ‘pretty’ race for me, I can say three big things:

  1. I finished the race
  2. I fully intend on getting a BETTER time in my next race
  3. I can now say that I am a triathlete – a rookie, but a triathlete nonetheless

Just need to stay calm and carry on.

Music…Sweet Music.

Whenever I think of chamber music, I think of Haydn, Beethoven or Mozart – beautiful stuff, but something I *really* have to be in the mood for.  Don’t get me wrong – their compositions have everything I look for in music: passion, depth and that element of surprise.  But you’ll be hard-pressed to find me say something like, “Hey, the Dallas Symphony is going to have a chamber music series this year – we should check it out!” It’s just not my vibe.

Nay Nay.

Then I ran across Project Trio.

Three guys from Brooklyn that bill themselves as “passionate, high energy chamber music ensemble.”  Since one of the guys is a Dallas native…AND…since we spent a little over seven years in Cobble Hill (yes, Brooklyn), I thought I’d give em’ a look see.

Aside from the obvious, here’s why I like em’…

  • They’ve taken their music to a whole new type of audience – the kind people that can jam with and appreciate the street musicians in New York City.
  • They’ve introduced chamber music by serving their own brand of jelly to the masses.
  • They look like the blue man group jamming when they play – especially in this video.

Moreover, their music has hit me on a personal level.  And, quite honestly, isn’t that what we want music to do?

Here’s the Thing: Business communications can do just that. Just because you sell supplemental insurance, it doesn’t mean that you have to ‘sell’ supplemental insurance.  Look at what AFLAC has done with that darn duck…what Nike does by just doing it…jeez, looks at what Apple does with……just about everything.

They’ve reached new audiences, introduced new ways of looking at their products and created an identity that is hard to forget…all because they realized that it’s not a product that they’re selling – it’s a brand.  A brand that has a sense of humor, runs, jumps & jives. A brand that represents companies full of humans – not products.

Let’s face it communicators: at the end of the day, we don’t really have to help our clients become an American Idol for the masses.  Our job is to help them deliver a great song for their audiences.


What kind of music are you making today?

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This concoction was cross-posted on Waxing Unlyrical – a blog that is owned and operated by the wonderfully savvy & smart Shonali Burke.

Soo…

 …I know it’s been awhile…I’ve been meaning to get to this…but I’ve been a little….busy these days…!

“Whatever, dude…!…how hard is it…?…really…to put out the stuff you do…?”

Well, it’s not that easy…at least not to me…some people like Mack Collier, Amber Naslund, Danny Brown, Shonali Burke, Jay Baer and Valeria Maltoni keep banging em’ out!  I have no idea how difficult or easy it is for them, but they certainly make it look easy.

I will say this, though.  I haven’t just been slacking:

  • New clients have made their way into the Big Noise Communications roster
  • Fresh streams of revenue have presented themselves with current clients
  • That whole work-life-balance thing
  • I’ve been able to lose more than 17 inches…more on that later…perhaps a new post
  • AND…I have witten at other places…like Waxing Unlyrical

 

All that aside, dust off the shelves and mop the floors!
Method + Moxie will be back in full swing!

 

Sooner than you expect…

Project Runway has got to be one of the most fun and watchable shows on television right now. 
Not only because the show puts designers in the throes of creating 1-3 looks within an obscenely short amount of time, but also because the producers have been incredibly smart about highlighting the drama that happens behind the scenes of the competition.  

But beyond that, I love the Project runway show for 3 big reasons:

  1. It gives people a much better appreciation on the amount of work that artisans (yes, artisans) put into creating something from scratch
  2. It can be the best portfolio any artist would want
  3. It can be a designers worst nightmare

 

It really begins to heat up at the 1:47 mark – it’s like a feeding frenzy of nasty little fish.

 

For the sake of my title, I’m going to focus on the last point.  Because it truly astounds me how the designers of this season’s show seem to have a total disregard for the cameras right in front of them.  This is not to say that I want the cast members to censor themselves – NAY NAY!  I just think that when you show a level of comfort in your cattiness on-camera, it makes one wonder how very nasty you can be off-camera.  You’ve given me a reason to not trust you – to watch my back and keep my guard up around you.

 

There’s one ‘designer’ (if you watch the show, you know who this person is) on the show who does nothing but make people uneasy, nervous and anxious.  And, as an artist, you CANNOT be your best when you’re playing defense.  You play it safe and tread water to stay alive. 

 

You forget that you actually know how to swim.

 

Just like the design room in Project Runway, any business environment will suffocate with this kind of poison in the mix.  People hate work, avoid teamwork and actively look for other employment.  And if you’re the person polluting the waters, you have to realize that (with or without cameras) word gets out about your behavior.  And you will get jacked!

 

Like it or lump it, karma has cameras everywhere.  And if you’re part of the problem instead of the solution, those karma cameras will be your worst enemy.

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How clean is your karma pool?  When you have some ‘poison’ at work, what do you to survive?

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

This past week, I gave a presentation to the Dallas IREM group about the importance of giving the implementation of social networking a second look.  Before I set foot at the place, I knew that the crowd I was going to speak with would be

 

  • a bit more conservative

  • a bit more skiddish about getting involved with social networking

  • a bit more unaware (than the ‘average bear’) on how this tool can potentially help them

  • a bit older than the average audience I’m used to speaking with

But I knew that they’d be open to hearing me out and taking notes……cautiously. 

 

So, I did what I knew: I told them that one of the best ways to tap into social media could be done by channeling Jimi Hendrix (you can see a copy of the unanimated version here).

 

At first glance, you’d think I was crazy for trying to do such a thing for this kind of audience.  Quite frankly, it got me a little nervous presenting this information in that kind of way.  But my experience and instincts told me 3 things:

  1. Music is a great way to help the social networking medicine go down.

  2. Using Jimi Hendrix as an example would get ME revved up.

  3. Using Jimi Hendrix would (hopefully) get THE AUDIENCE revved up.

 

And it paid off: not only was the audience engaged, but they really began to grasp what I was telling em.’  Go figure. 

 

So what does this all mean for you?  Whether you’re writing materials for a new client, gearing up for a new business pitch or hammering out some facts for a presentation to your peers…

 

Know Your Audience: the fact that they were there to hear some dude talk about social media points to the obvious fact that they are at least curious about it; so there’s room for being a little ‘different.’  I also knew that I was going to be part of one of the last presenters for the day, so I had to punch up the presentation.  Given the fact that the audience was a bit older, I bet on the idea that they would not only know who Jimi Hendrix was, but (at the very least, even if they didn’t like his music) that there was a certain amount f respect for what he did.

 

Know What Works For You: the idea of presenting to an audience about how his music inspired me  to think a little differently in business got me excited – this led to an energy and enthusiasm to ‘get it right’ in a way that naturally seeped into the slides.  I wasn’t going to talk analytics or measurement (Shonali Burke, Chuck Hemann, K.D. Paine or Don Bartholomew would be better suited for that) – I was going to hone in on showing the value of a person using ‘their own swing’ when they go up to bat in social networking.

 

Know Your Stuff: as you get ready to speak with a client; present an idea to your peers; or talk about why you believe why using something like Foursquare may be just the ticket for an event, you want to have some back-up right?  Because people are going to ask questions.  Why do you think this will benefit us?  How are other organizations using this?  Do you have any stats or research to back this up?

 

Because at the end of the day, you don’t have to be a rock star like Jimi Hendrix to have that kind of influence – even if it’s on a ‘small’ scale.

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This post was cross-posted on Waxing Unlyrical – a blog that is owned and operated by the wonderfully savvy and smart Shonali Burke.

Last week, we went to see a live show at one of our favorite spots around Dallas.  We like it because the atmosphere is a little laid back and the bands that they book are pretty solid.  This night was no exception – the music was interesting and the overall performance was enjoyable.

At least the part of the performance that we caught.

You see, the sound levels were just WAY OFF.  Even though we witnessed one of the band members ‘test’ their levels to a point that was satisfactory (to them); and even though they asked for some corrections on their levels during the show….they never quite made it work.  In fact, the more they fussed around with it all, the worse it got.

It’s not like they had their microphones on backwards (yes….backwards)…

But the sound quality was so bad, we ended up leaving after four songs…..and we weren’t the only ones leaving.

Here’s the thing, PR pros: we don’t work around with sound levels or do mic-checks before a show.  But we do serve the ‘roadie’ role from time-to-time by providing support for a ‘featured act.’  This could come in the form of

  • making copies for a client presentation
  • getting an editorial calendar for a pitch
  • physically cutting-and-pasting a news article to make it look nice for a client that may not have access to the piece itself 

These ‘little’ things go an exceedingly long way when done right.

Truly.

Because if any of those ‘little’ things come out sloppy, EVERYONE in your team (top to bottom) looks sloppy.  And you lose trust.  Rightfully so.  Would YOU trust your money; your time; your IDENTITY with a team that can’t handle being a ‘roadie’ from time to time…?

Roadies make shows happen.  Plain and simple.  Doesn’t matter how great your music is – if you don’t have someone handling your equipment, levels, lights, etc. correctly, your only prepping for a bad show.

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This post was cross-posted on Waxing Unlyrical – a blog that is owned and operated by the wonderfully savvy and smart Shonali Burke.

Bruce Lee & Water

37 years ago this week, a powerhouse of a guy died too soon.  Aside from being an awesome force in martial arts, his work in film helped cement his status as a cultural icon.  This dude was Bruce Lee.

He was altogether

  • Calm
  • Active
  • Flexible
  • Tenacious


Much Like Water…

In business, much like Bruce Lee, it pays to be fast, nimble and strong.  But you don’t always have to use force to be heard or recognized.  Do it like water:

  • Calm
  • Active
  • Flexible
  • Tenacious

 

Be Like Water, My Friends…