Tag Archives: Austin

A New Office and More

ToniPano

Well folks, in June The MAD House packed up all of its stuff and bid Austin, Texas farewell. We landed in a little slice of paradise on the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast, or as the marketing pieces call it, The Forgotten Coast.  So, our address says Carrabelle, but we’re not actually in Carrabelle. That’s where our PO Box is. Many reasons for the move, mostly personal. Let’s just say it was time and we’re glad to be here.

Cow abunga
Cow abunga

We miss Austin and all of its cool. We miss our friends, Barton Springs, the music, Maudie’s, Bert’s BBQ, Gueros, Gourmands and too many other favorite restaurants, and the crazy-good craft beer scene – all of the things that will make it fun to visit Austin. We don’t miss the trying-too-hard-to-be-hipness, the insane traffic, the overtaxed (literally) and underperforming infrastructure, the 100-plus degree days, and the influx of outworlders – all things that will make it easy to come back home to Florida after visiting Austin.

Life moves a different pace here. Many restaurants in the area are only open Thursday through Sunday when the tourists flock to the area for fishing, beaching, birding, golfing and exploring. I found a few places with craft beer. There’s even a craft brewery (Oyster City Brewing) over in Apalachicola and another in Tallahassee (Proof). Beer festivals are in full swing right now with fests within easy “driving-to” range – though, a hotel in lieu of the “driving-back” is probably a good idea. For a fairly rural area, Florida’s law enforcement agencies give this area of the state plenty of attention. Following the rules of the road makes for a happy trip.

DSC_1051

We find that extra planning goes into our travels to nearby bergs. You know, while in Crawfordville (30 miles away) visiting the screen printer, be sure to stop at WalMart for bacon (because name-brand bacon costs twice as much at the local IGA, and I needs my bacon). Or, if I’m heading to Tallahassee (50 miles away) to go to the airport or, say, meet with that beer prospect, better hit Costco for gas, bottled water and K-cups. Then swing by Whole Foods for produce (making sure to take the ice chest so I can keep things cool and fresh until I get home), and grab shrimp at that seafood place in Panacea because the seafood place in Carrabelle is closed today. These little things can have an impact if not carefully planned. Can’t just run over to the HEB for dinner fixings or grab a T-Man from Bert’s for lunch anymore.

MeandMrsMADHouse

 

Yep, it’s a bit different here. That’s what we fell in love with when we first visited a couple of years ago. Work is still the same for us both. We both are able to work from our home offices like we did in Austin. As long as we have cell coverage and internet, we’re in good shape. The airport’s an hour away when we need to travel. And work, we do. It can be quite consuming. Sometimes, even though we’re in the same house, we don’t see each other the entire day.

And that’s O.K. Because, on a Friday afternoon, we can knock off a little early and head for the beach. In the evening, I can take Mrs. MADHouseLarry to our favorite spot on “the island” for hot shrimp, redneck caviar and cold craft beers while the blazing orange sun sets into the bay. We like this place. It’s a delightful blend of locals and tourists all ready to put the week behind them and slide into island time for the next two days. Everyone is happy. Everyone is friendly. No one is trying-too-hard-to-be-hip.

Sunset following a summer storm over Appalacicola Bay

Ahhhh.

Next time:  Some new stuff The MAD Freaks have been working on.

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Mooning

News flash: There was an eclipse last week … or was it the week before? Whatever. The lunar eclipse provided an opportunity for more photography abuse. I’ve mentioned before how I really like the idea of photography, how I can see the photo in my twisted brain, and how that vision rarely makes it to final image. So with a new tripod and Old Man Moon putting on a show, it seemed appropriate to try, yet again.

Doing a little research, I saw some HDR composites of eclipses and moonrises and thought I’d give that technique a shot. I wasn’t overly disappointed with the results. Usually, when my name is mentioned in the same sentence with the moon, it’s in a story from high school – where the full moon made numerous unscheduled appearances – from the oddest of locations. Butt that’s another story.

Here are a few results from my more recent moon experience.

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The Cafe and Brand Consistency

cafe

I have a “virtual” office. Sure, I have an office with a desk and a phone and a stapler and a computer. But, like many folks out there, I’m able to work from pretty much anywhere. Earlier in the Summer, my wife and I took a week off to hit the Gulf Coast. We both worked a little every day from the hotel room, or the coffee joint, or the bar at the beach. All it takes is a good Wi-Fi connection. Right?

When it comes to Wi-Fi connections at my local cafe, it’s always a toss-up whether there will be a connection or not. Which is a shame, because I like the food and the place is close to the office. The folks are friendly and the atmosphere is pleasant and unobtrusive. I can get cup of coffee, a muffin, and get a lot done … that is, when there is a good connection.

Seems Murphy’s Law is the rule here. If I don’t have any pressing business to knock out, and just want to surf the net, or catch up on articles or emails, there is no problem. Everything works fine. On the other hand, say I’m trying to get approvals on a file, or need to communicate with one of my creatives on a deadline intensive project, the connection will poot out right in the middle of things. The establishment’s owner will reset the router and we’ll be back on for a few minutes. Then, poof, gone again. He’s been through various modems and routers trying to solve the issue. His provider has rewired the place. Still, roll the dice.

I’ve learned my lesson (mostly) and make sure the important stuff happens from the office computer. I save the off-line work for my coffee and muffin break. I say mostly because I came in today with the intention of writing a blog piece and posting it from here. Of course, poot.

So, today’s post was going to be a quick piece on consistency’s effect on the “brand experience”.

And it still is.

The inconsistency of a product, albeit free in this case, has caused me to alter my view of the brand experience I am receiving from this cafe. Love the food. People are great. Convenient location. Atmosphere works.  Internet doesn’t.

It’s not a deal killer, but I certainly don’t spend as much time here as I used to. I’ve found other, less convenient, spots with good coffee, good people and kick ass internet connections. These are the spots at which I’ll meet clients and co-workers for concept sessions or project briefing sessions. Meetings that require a good connection to the webbed world. Yeah, a bit out of the way, but the consistency of the other features makes up the difference.

Back at the local cafe, I see people come in, order coffee and a breakfast taco, and then sit down to their laptops. A few minutes later they are looking around to see if anyone else is on a computer. Then the questions: Hey, are you on the internet? What’s the secret to getting on the WI-Fi? Is there a password? Then they are slamming shut the computers, woofing down the taco and making tracks for the next place that can offer a connection. They will not be back.

And so the lesson for the local place, if having people use your internet is an important feature you are offering, make dang sure it works correctly consistently, as in, all the time.  For many, who only have a few minutes between appointments to slurp a coffee and jump online, poor Wi-Fi is a deal breaker.

I guess I could rig my cell phone to act as a “hot spot”. Wonder how long my “unlimited data” plan would last if I did that …

What Did You Expect?

ToW2

By Bryan M. White

Expectations and communication are the pillars of life and business.  Keep that in mind next time you want to schedule a mancation on short notice.  Doesn’t matter if your business is mowin’ lawns or splittin’ atoms.  Likewise, doesn’t matter how great your service, how best in class your product or how seemingly innocent and PG-13 your itinerary – if you do not communicate clearly or you fail to effectively set and manage expectations you are destined for failure.  Enjoy your weekends, honey-do handymen.

Given my propensity to fail here in the past, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned.  Here are four important things to keep in mind as you communicate expectations.

  • Understanding your audience – who and how many are they and what do they care about?  Don’t even attempt to set expectations with anyone without first understanding who you’re talking to and what is important/unimportant to them.  Trying to do so is sure to cost you the deal and/or reserve you place on the couch near the fitting room at the mall.  Ask questions, let them do the talking – the more you gain here the better.  If there are multiple decision makers involved don’t assume they are aligned with each other (if they aren’t this may spell out advantage you).
  • Defining requirements.  Now that you’ve gotten to know the players you’re ready to play the game.  With your objectives in mind (in mind is key – what you want/need doesn’t matter yet) go about understanding what they want or need.  Sounds easy – you know what you can/can’t do (insert want as needed here), right?  Not so fast friend – this may be the single most overlooked or rushed item on our list – don’t assume what you can do is what they want or need.  As before – ask questions.  What is truly REQUIRED and what is icing on that cake?
  • Be prepared to negotiate.  In business, you’re at the table because you have something or can do something they can’t.  You are, in some way, ‘the expert’.  Play that card here and control the conversation.  Set the expectation or ensure the expectation they have is realistic.  WARNING: the ‘expert’ play doesn’t work in your domestic boardroom (unless she’s into that). Chances are you are far better off not playing that card.  At home, defer.  Playing that expert card is only gonna set her off and put you in the express lane to your local home improvement outlet (not the tools section either Tim – Uuuuhhhh aarrruuuu? ).  That said, there is some parallel to the conversations – “if I…would you….”.
  • Give a little get a little.  Over the course of your negotiation you may need to sacrifice something, especially at home.  Come with a list of items you are prepared to forfeit to get what you want.  If the beer at that ball game isn’t worth folding a few fitted sheets then it’s not that important to you – set your DVR.

Feeling empowered?  You are just as likely to be scoffing and rolling your eyes (if you’re still reading).  This isn’t splitting atoms – it’s interpersonal communication 101; but you might be surprised how many people fail here and fail again and again.  Remember – it’s not about you, people like to talk about themselves, the more you give the more you get, do as you say and don’t over promise.  Enjoy the fishing trip, Jeremy Wade – watch out for river monsters.

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BW2-HS-2Bryan White is an experienced talent acquisition professional passionate about search strategy, candidate sourcing and recruiting technology.   He leads ReachingTalent, a division of Novotus – an Austin based recruitment process outsourcing company.  When Bryan isn’t geeking out on recruiting and search technology he enjoys traveling, running, riding and the ‘occasional’ craft beer.

Find Bryan on Twitter at -> @bmwatx @reachingtalent

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Are you having trouble communicating with your customers. Let’s talk it out.

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The MAD House accepts no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided, unless that information is subsequently confirmed in writing. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the The MAD House, its staff or its owners. Enjoy!

Printing is Dead! Or so they say …

EarthColor’s Jon Landua  chimes in on the state of the printing industry in today’s Professionally Speaking. I’ve know Jon for about five years, since he helped us with our award winning Christian Heretic project. His knowledge, attention to detail and professional demeanor make working with him a pleasure.

Photo: http://today.ucla.edu
Photo: http://today.ucla.edu

Printing is Dead!  Or so they say …

By Jon Landua

“… drupa 2012 is sending out key impulses for the worldwide print and media industry. The most important signal: print has potential and the sector is investing heavily in its future… 314,500 experts from more than 130 countries came to drupa…”

More than a quarter of a million people attended a print show!  This wasn’t the unveiling of the latest iteration of the iPhone or Facebook’s newest application.  It was / is an event that is centered around putting ink on paper.  The printing industry has certainly taken a back seat to “new” media over the last decade, but drupa is proof that it might not be ready to pick out a burial plot.

Roughly 7,700 print companies closed from 2000 – 2011.  That’s a big number, but as a result the market is filled with stronger organizations that are investing in technology and new equipment to gain a competitive edge over what’s now an even more competitive market.

The star of drupa was the announcement of Benny Landa’s Nanographic Printing Press.  “These presses use water-based inks comprised of pigment particles only tens of nanometers in size. These nano-pigments are reportedly extremely light absorbent and the new process used to print with them—Nanography™—boasts high uniformity, high gloss fidelity, and a broad CMYK color gamut. And here’s the hook that’s getting everyone excited: Nanography is a digital printing process with offset speed.”

Landa S10
Landa S10

Digital printing has provided a great lift to the industry since the 90s.  The quality is improving with every new product release.  Targeted communications are used in a myriad of print collateral, which are directly tied into other mediums to help improve response and ROI.  And now the man behind the Indigo has essentially reinvented the wheel.

Landa’s press will require one operator.  The nano dots will provide a much higher digital print quality that what we have today.  Landa’s presses will be more environmentally friendly than a traditional (or even UV) offset press.   And as mentioned previously, these presses will be 40” and print with the speed of a 40” press, but each and every image can be different.  The possibilities are endless and believers include; Heidelberg, Mitsubishi, Komori, and many other major players who have invested over $1 billion (that’s billion with a “B”) in Landa’s new print technology.   Traditional offset printing has certainly changed over the last 100 years.  Digital printing has added to our footprint, but in many ways been considered the great for “some” products, although not good for all.  Landa’s Nano technology stands to revolutionize how we think about printing.  He’s combining the old with the new and making both better at a time where our industry needs an innovative and impactful “something” to change the landscape.  Landa did it first with the Indigo and now he’s back with what many feel is his greatest achievement yet.  Beta testing should begin late 2013 or at the beginning of 2014.

I don’t know if this will stop the industry from contracting, but its certainly building excitement.  Printing is nowhere near dead.  It may be aging and in need of a facelift, but its here to stay, at least as long as we have innovators like Benny Landa around.

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LandauPicJon Landua is a National Account Rep for EarthColor.  He has been in the printing industry for the last 10 years, the first 5 of which was spent with RR Donnelley after graduating from Texas A&M University.  He has been with EarthColor for the last 5 years developing long-term relationships and partnering with hundreds of organizations across dozens of industries.  He whole-heatedly believes that the printing industry is here to stay and looks forward to what the future holds.  He lives with his wife Jessa and 19 month old son Preston in Austin, TX.

Established in 1982, EarthColor is one of the largest privately held printers in the U.S.  The company has a reputation of high quality production and superior customer service.  Locations include; 7 manufacturing facilities and a vast array of digital, sheetfed, and web equipment.  But more importantly, EarthColor has been recognized as the “Most Environmentally Conscious Printer” in the country.

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Do you have a critical printing project? Let’s talk about it.

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The MAD House accepts no liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided, unless that information is subsequently confirmed in writing. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the The MAD House, its staff or its owners. Enjoy!