Creative Approach to Storytelling



I have had numerous people ask me, what is your approach to your business…your creative approach. Well, I could talk or even lecture about my approach. It comes from years and years of experience, training, education, and teaching. So…here it is in two paragraphs.

Bobby Rettew, llc – Creative Approach to Storytelling
Storytelling has been and will always be the major focus of how we work with our clients. Every organization has a story to tell, so it is up to us practitioners to find and tell that story. We work with organizations to identify the audience, the purpose, and the delivery of each and every message. Then we create a plan that best identifies the message within the organization, and work with the organization to deliver that message.

We bring a documentary approach to production, looking within and allowing the individuals within the organization to become the voice of the message.  We have the ability to write and craft a traditional-style message, but we find that if the organization and its members are a part of the message, then the audience connects with the organization. We use the storytelling approach to building relationships.

teaching entrepreneurship…defining entrepreneurship



Teaching entrepreneurship is one of the biggest challenges I have under-taken in a while…but here I am teaching at the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurship. Little ole me with my little business teaching tomorrow’s knowledge economy. Sometimes it is kind-of frightening, but more so enlightening.

The one thing I am rustling with internally…whether entrepreneurship is a learned concept or is it embedded in our “DNA”? I worked for a great entrepreneur a few years ago who hit it big during the telecom days. He used to tell me that entrepreneurship is exercising and unleashing your God given, natural talent. He did not try to explain how to take an idea, leverage your resources, and bringing that idea to market. No…he talked about having passion for an idea and bring it to fruition.

Entrepreneurship to me is more about language and culture. Was I born with the innate ability to become an entrepreneur? Or was it a series of life experiences and connections that led to that point in time when I worked for an entrepreneur, and he unlocked the urge to seek entrepreneurship. Did he teach me entrepreneurship or surround me with that language, showing the opportunities when seeking out my own marketable interests?

The culture or entrepreneurship for me is about passion. What is the one thing that you love to do, the thing that gets you up in the morning and makes you tick. What would be the one thing you would want to do if the world was going to end tomorrow. What is your life passion? For serial entrepreneurs, they have evolving interests. They have numerous passions, one that leads to the next. But it is more than just language and culture, it is identifying that desire to bring an idea to market and acting on those impulses…taking the leap.

4G LTE Technology: The Good, the Bad, and the Hospitals.

4G LTE Demonstration Let’s just say I was amazed by the Verizon 4G LTE demonstration today at Verizon’s Corporate Office here in Greenville, SC. As I watching them describe and demonstrate the capability…I was thinking, man this is going to change the way we do business.

The 700 Mhz is where the LTE network will exist, the part of the spectrum that will penetrate walls and buildings further than any other part of the spectrum currently in use. Also, the speed of the 4G LTE network is just as fast as my home connection, if not faster than my Charter home network of 8 Mb/s download and 3 Mb/s. Yes…over a wireless connection! The demonstration test using Speedtest.net showed the speed of the 4G LTE card in the laptop was running 14 Mb/s download and 8 Mb/s upload speed…THAT IS FREAKING FAST! Fast enough to do full 720p video calls over the wireless, mobile network…with plenty left over for the video grid demonstration.

My iPhone4 phone with 3G probably is running at roughly 2 Mb/s download speed and 0.3 Mb/s upload speed. So, in the next few months, the Greenville/Spartanburg area will see this new network released with a whole new set of devices tapping into this speed. Many of the major metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Charlotte, LA, New York already have access. 38 markets and 60 airports currently have this network. So what does any of this have to do with healthcare?

First…more connectivity to the grid. Devices will be a part of everyday life in healthcare.  From tablets in emergency departments to ambulances with streaming content/video back and forth, assessment of patient care during transport. This is just one of the areas healthcare will see this change. But here is another, hospital administrators will have a harder time restricting access to the Internet and social platforms.

Yes, many hospitals have been debating whether to “open up the pipes” to employees, allowing them access to Internet sites and social outlets. Two major concerns, bandwidth and employee performance. Well guess what…the hospital’s Internet and  Social Media policy just became harder to write and enforce. LTE technology not only provides speed but also hospital building penetration with the 700 Mhz spot on the spectrum. Yes…it can get through more think walls.

These devices are going to become even more necessary, as a part of the connected network for making diagnoses. Also, who is going to provide these devices to healthcare professionals? Will the hospitals pay part of the bill, splitting it with the professional. Then which part of the content created on the device is owned by the hospital? Then, can the other part can be used for personal reasons?

But let’s put aside the concern over hospital employee productivity. How about the patients and patient families. They will have access to the these devices, speed, network, and the spectrum. Now, they can get online, post pics, maybe do some video over Skype. But with this upgrade to LTE technology…more pictures, videos, and information will be shared inside the walls of the hospital. How about patient privacy? How about the media outlet that dresses up in street clothes, walks into a hospital, and streams video content from inside the walls of the hospital. Now, these are extreme cases to consider…but access to the network and speed will no longer be an issue. And hospitals are not the only major organizations facing this change in accessibility and connectivity.

Yes…LTE technology is going to force us to rethink…A LOT! I know I am going to re-think my current AT&T plan, but it looks like they will be releasing their own LTE network. How about our home Internet providers? Especially given the comparable speeds. And many business will be rethinking their internal policies, what employees can do while at work and what devices they can use.

This is my craft…



I was talking with a close colleague and friend tonight as we were working on a project, and we were trying to articulate the craft of visual storytelling. I was telling him that I have a friend here in Anderson, SC who is constantly introducing me to new people, and he uses my tag line, “This is my friend Bobby Rettew and he is a storyteller.” Then he follows-up with the phrase, “I am still trying to figure out how a storyteller makes money.” Well, Cordes Seabrook…this post is for you.

The craft of visual storytelling is tough to define…it is years and years of experience telling rich stories for broadcast television outlets across the country. It is years and years of judging and critiquing products for the National Academy of Television, Arts, and Sciences; Associated Press, National Press Photographers Association; and other local, regional, and national organizations. It is years and years of producing and leading teams of storytellers to produce shows, long format production, and numerous commercial spots for television and online distribution. But most of all…it is all about letting our stories tell themselves.

Telling compelling stories is not only understanding the mission of the project, but completely understanding the audiences you hope the message will compel to make action. It is understanding that the beginning, middle, and end is just the frame work for connecting the message to the audience; but weaving layers or messages tied together with a single red string.

The search for the red string is one of the hardest parts of the process…but once found, it makes the production to create the final product move increasingly faster. I was having dinner with Bob Dotson of NBC one night in Charlotte, and he explained to me that anyone can tell a story. But those who tell compelling, rich stories tell ones with layers and layers of messages…each connected with a single red string that crescendo at the right time, allowing the audience to full see the message through the subject(s) eyes and ears.

The approach I use aims to stay away from writing voice-over or track for someone to speak. Voice-over that connects all the sound-bites. The craft starts from the very beginning, with the interviews. The construction starts and continues during the shooting and interview process. This is the time to collect sound, great interviews. These interviews are collected in a way that tell the whole story from beginning to end. Each person interviewed has their own story to tell, adding to the the bigger picture of the final product. So it is the burden of the storyteller to guide each subject through an interview, so each person tells each piece of the puzzle. During this process, finding that one theme, idea, moral, ethic…the red string that connects all the pieces is crucial. Then while writing, we connect all the pieces using the red-string…to connect all the dots.

The red-string can be a person’s story, a subject each person reveals, an event that takes place…whatever is chosen, it has to make sense for the audience to grasp. Then using all the other elements, interviews, broll, natural sound, and music to fill in the gaps…guiding the audience through this visual timeline.

Visual storytelling is a craft…it is one that is hard to teach, articulate, and reproduce. This craft is also fraternal, you know when you meet another person that shares this same passion. We believe in the ethics of this moral enterprise, protecting the voice of the subjects that we so carefully provide as a platform to deliver a message. We are advocates for the people(s) voice…the voice of those who know the story the best. It is our ethic to properly represent that voice and bridge the gap between message, audience, and the subjects’ voice. If we are not careful, our writing sometimes de-humanizes the words they speak.

The business of this craft…to find those who believe in the craft and final value in advocating for the subjects voice. This visual storytelling enterprise closely represents that mission of word-of-mouth marketing, but we just provide a visual medium to communicate their message. We advocate for their message…because deep down inside, the audience wants to hear a story from those they relate. The audience relates to people that they can identify with, those whom they could see themselves replaced in the monitor or television screen. If that is achieved, and we can make the audience see themselves in the screen saying the powerful words…then we have achieved the goal of the craft. Visual storytelling is a craft…it is my passion.

More about the Samsung Galaxy Tab – The Apps

So…I had a chance to look further into the Samsung Galaxy Tab and I think it is more than just the technology (hardware), it is about the OS and the applications. One of the first things I did was download the applications that I use regularly on my iPad…and see how they compared.

The applications I am most interested in my daily routine are Maps (navigation), Calendar, Mail, NYTimes, HuffingtonPost, Twitter, Facebook, iBooks, and the Weather Channel. If you watch in the video, I look at most of the applications listed and how I found the user interaction compared to the iPad.

Take a look and enjoy…just a few thoughts. Once again, I have a disclaimer…I own an iPad and love the Apple products. This tablet is great, but know I do have a bit of a bias. Also, Verizon and JDPR provided this Samsung Galaxy Tab for me to play with, so a big ole THANKS! They are not reimbursing me in any way for this post.

Big ole thanks for this daily motivational from LMI

I a few months ago, I took a course from Nancy Eichstadt of Leadership Management Institute. She has helped me to become better organized and focused in my business and commitments. Each day she sends out a daily motivational. Some skip over my daily beat, but today this hits home.

I normally do not like to post content from other individuals, but today is a bit different. She sends out these notes via email, so I could not post a link to this note on Twitter or Facebook for my friends to enjoy. So here is to you  Nancy Eichstadt and thanks for giving me a breath of fresh air today, enjoy friends!

YOUR DAILY MOTIVATION
Wednesday, January 19, 2011

YOU CLIMB A MOUNTAIN ONE STEP AT A TIME
Everyone who got where they are, had to begin where they were.
Your opportunity for success is right in front of you.

To attain success or to reach your goal,
don’t worry about having all the answers in advance.
You just need to have a clear idea of your goal and move toward it.

Don’t procrastinate when faced with a difficult problem.
Break your problems into parts and handle one part at a time.

Develop a tendency toward action.
You can make something happen today.
Break your big plan for success into small steps
and take the first step right away.

Success starts with beginning.

Hanging out with a Samsung Galaxy Tab

So I had a chance to hang out with a Samsung Galaxy Tab…thanks to my friends at JDPR and Verizon Wireless. No…they are not paying me for my words, but wanting to know my thoughts! So if you watch the video below…here are my first impressions.

As you know I am a big fan of the iPad and iPhone. I have both and found the Galaxy an interesting change from the beaten path. I am wondering if I would purchase one, but here are some honest thoughts based on my initial impression.

As you notice, to me it feels like a larger DroidX without the phone built in. It does have a microphone, so I am sure it can be “rooted” and converted into a phone device. But, bottomline I am wondering about the price point. I have checked online and it looks like the Tablet is $499.99 and is just a bit larger than the DroidX, which is $199.99 with a two year contract. Both run on the same Android OS offering the same mobile apps. I am wondering if people would be willing to make the $300.00 price jump for a little larger device that is not a phone? Now I know the same has been said about the iPhone and iPad, but there is a sizable difference in screen size.

Now…I realize I have some biases given that I am an Apple person. But here are some of the reason I like the Samsung Galaxy Tab:

1 – The size! Yes, I like the fact it rests in my palm. Bigger than a phone and smaller than the iPad.
2 – The Mobile 3G Hotspot! Nuff Said!
3 – It is a cool gadget.
4 – Opportunity to play with a different OS.
5 – Supports Flash Content via the browser.
6 – The front and back cameras.

Now…I did notice the browser was sketchy at times, lagging in load times with faced paced surfing. I also noticed that the Android Marketplace is still not full with as many apps as Apple’s App store, but time will change that. Also, waiting for Skype to support the cameras on the Galaxy.

Just a few initial thoughts. I will be having another post come with more impressions! Enjoy!

Here are a few reviews by some other folks that have a little more credibility than I do!
1 – Engadget’s Review – CLICK HERE
2 – Gizmodo Review – CLICK HERE
3 – ZDnet Review – CLICK HERE
4 – PCWorld Review – CLICK HERE

To listen to the “truth” … whose truth?



Storytelling is probably the oldest craft alive: the ability to tell stories so others can see a point-of-view and repeat for others to enjoy. Journalism is one facet of storytelling, being able to provide an objective: an un-biased point-of-view of “news” for others to consume.

I have been closely watching the incidents, like the rest of the free world, in Tucson, AZ that began with the shooting of many innocent American’s on January 8th. This story has been the epicenter of local, regional, and national topics from gun control, free-speech, political transparency, and even defining what it means to be American.

As Sarah and I were having lunch, she asked me…”Why do you think so much focus has been on Gabrielle Gifford’s story and not as much on those who have been wounded and died, including the little girl” Well, it is my belief that the story of Congresswoman Gifford is the true pinnacle of this whole incident. As stated by the surgeon’s, this is a case of miracles.

From HuffingtonPost.com article on Friday, January 14, 2010:

It was the first time Giffords had opened her eye since the shooting. Kelly told Giffords to give him a thumbs-up if she could hear him. Instead, she slowly raised her left arm.

“The doctor said this is amazing what she’s doing right now and beyond our greatest hopes,” Gillibrand said.

“It felt like we were watching a miracle,” Wasserman Schultz said. “The strength that you could see flowing out of her, it was like she was trying to will her eyes open.”

On ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday, Gillibrand added, “Everything that we love about Gabby was all there at that moment.”

Kelly told the president and first lady about the development as they drove from the hospital to the University of Arizona’s McKale Center, where Obama would speak at a memorial service. Kelly gave the president permission to tell the crowd about his wife’s progress.

“Gabby opened her eyes,” Obama told the cheering crowd. “So I can tell you: She knows we are here, she knows we love her, and she knows that we are rooting for her through what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult journey.”

This miracle has broken down so many conventions and pre-dispositions, bridging gaps of communities and bringing together an American story right before our eyes.

Yet, there are so many stories that are untold, those left for us to understand. We are still trying to understand why a young man would use a gun to shoot so many a point blank range. In some of the pictures, he looks like just another person, another American, someone that could be buying groceries in the next aisle. We are trying to understand why, understand his fundamental Truth that made him make the decisions he made that day.

We are also trying to understand a small church in Topeka, Kansas and their motives for protesting during funeral services of those who perished during this event. Life Magazine did a photoessay of this group, and if you look at their faces and remove the picket signs…they look like you and I. Who are they and what are their truths? What provides them the voice to shout so loudly that it is necessary to bring another opposing view-point to this volatile discussion. I do not have the answers…but I have some thoughts.

Dr. Johnny McKinney of Boulevard Baptist Church has been guiding us through a discussion and examination of the Book of Genesis, a interesting text with many points-of-view. So literalist look at this text as the true faith based creation, and others look at it as a metaphor for how to live a good christian life. We all have a point-of-view. During the discussion, he told a story of the holocaust and the trial of the architect of the holocaust in the 1960’s.

Dr. McKinney tells us that during the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, as one of the holocaust survivors walked in to testify, that person collapsed upon seeing Eichmann for the first time. He did not collapse because he was so mad or overwhelmed with emotion from the events of the holocaust, or even what they had to go through in the concentration camps; but that Adolf Eichmann looked just like you and I. He looked “human.” This man thought the Jews were an evil group of people, and wanted to separate them from the rest of the human race.

So here is my question, why are we trying to protest the evil ones? Who are the evil ones? Did Jared Laughner see Gabrielle Gifford as evil? Does Westboro Baptist Church see those who they are protesting as evil? What is their poinit-of-view and what drives them to passionately advocate for their message. Or maybe they are driven by fear as well, not willing to take part in mutual discourse. Maybe their message is a one-way avenue to impose their truth. I am in search to understand and see their point-of-view, not to accept…but to understand. To take part in mutual discourse, open conversation, one of understanding.

As I was sitting and listening to Dr. McKinney speaking, I wrote the following. It was in response to this past week and the words of his talk this morning.

To understand ones truth does not mean you accept ones truth.

Examining and exploring another truth is a path to understanding, to see and hear another point of view.

Our truth is our reference point, our ethos. It is the foundation that makes cry, scream, laugh…our lens.

When we listen to other truths….it sometime takes out of our comfort zone both intellectually and emotionally.

When we begin to understand another truth, we put away our emotions and allow our logic step ahead and process anothers’ point-of-view.

We can dissect another’s truth and allow our emotions to express our acceptance or rejection.

We choose to not hear another point of view or truth because of fear of the unknown. Fear of what we are not certain how our logic will interpret and how our emotions can to take control.

Fear sometime drives the resistance to understand and listen to truth.

Our truth is powerful.

As storytellers, it is important to seek and understand the other point-of-view. It does not mean we must agree, but to seek and understand is the path to quality discourse that bridges gaps. As humans…quality discourse leads to healthy conversations.

Why do I write about something this political and personal on this blog, because our stories are stories of truths. We tell stories from many different points-of-view. They are full of messages and ideologies that shape the way audiences perceive a message and form the truths that shape their lives, and the lives they influence. We must be cognizant of our messages…and understand the opposing point-of-view and the people it will influence. Mutual discourse is a beautiful thing.

Do you have thoughts? I invite you to let me know! I am open for thoughts and discussion.

What is IT-oLogy? Hmm…

Welcome my friends! Welcome to your new name and your new place.

For most of my friends out there, over the last year I have been working with an organization called the Consortium for Enterprise Systems Management in Columbia, SC. You say who??? Yes, it is a long name for a big initiative.

A few years ago, Lonnie Emard of BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) of South Carolina recognized the need to energize and empower the next wave of IT talent. He inspired Steve Wiggins the CIO of BCBS of South Carolina to perform a comprehensive study of the needs of the future IT Workforce not only internally, but across the industry. What they found was alarming and instrumental in today’s initiative now call IT-oLogy.

Did you know BCBS of South Carolina is more than just and insurance provider, they are data management/transaction group. Yes, in-order to allow insurance claims to happen…it takes servers exchanging lots of data. These servers require people to manage not only the hardware but the software that supports these transactions. Cobol is is the software that runs these servers and it takes people that know this software to support the servers and the infrastructure to facilitate these transactions. BCBS of South Carolina began realizing that the people who are managing this infrastructure were retiring and not many people to replace them. Many of the universities and higher education institutions were not teaching Cobol and the server knowledge to run the systems at BCBS. Houston…we have a problem.

So…with this problem, Lonnie Emard had the vision to bring together a “Consortium” of partners to find a solution. The solution: begin educating and empowering students in K-12 about the value of IT as a career path. Currently, to tell people the world is like telling kids it is ok to be a “geek.” IT is in everything we do, from turning on a light switch to connecting to a Wifi hotspot. It is everything we do. We have become a connected society and surrounded in world of IT….Information Technology.

So….why and I telling you this? This initiative came to fruition over a year ago with a legal name “Consortium for Enterprise Systems Management”. Well…they have re-branded their name to IT-oLogy. Yes…at little more edgy and appropriate given the audiences….young students and young professionals. Congratulations IT-oLogy…you have come so far. You have a new name and a new building. Lonnie Emard, the Executive Director of IT-oLogy, does not look at as a new building but more of a hub, a community, a place to join forces. The University of South Carolina will be teaching classes in this new facility, there will be an Open-Source Lab, a 200 person auditorium, tons of meeting space…all right across the street from the State House in Columbia, SC.

Pretty cool..huh? Well I think so!

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