Stacy Seegars Loves What He Does…Building Docks

I am not sure if many of you remember Stacy Seegars from the early 90’s? I had a WOW moment when I learned he was one of the inductees for the 2012 Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame. Well…I was just plain excited.

I just so happened to cross paths with Stacy when I was an undergrad at Clemson. We weren’t really fist bump tight…but I think we crossed paths a few times.

I worked for Clemson Athletics as a student. Starting my Freshman year…I worked in the Video Services Department helping shoot/edit practice and game-day video for football. I was out there for every practice, every game, every down for five years. Yes, I was on the five year plan.

I was a freshman in 1992 and Stacy was in his final seasons as an upperclassman. He played offensive line and he was an All-American and a heck of a football player.

As a young freshman, he scared me. Yep…I am not afraid to admit it. I was this little 135 pound freshman and here was this huge offensive lineman that looked like he could crush me with his pinky finger.

So when I drove to Ridgeland, SC to meet with him…I was a bit anxious. But once I pulled up and shook his hand, I thought what a great guy. Why did I not get to know him while were at Clemson in the early 90’s.

Here is a guy that still looks like he can play. His arms looked bigger than my whole head and very much in shape. Why…this All American is living the American Dream.

He lives on a lake and he has practically built everyone of the docks on this lake. Yes, he is a dock builder and loves everyday of it. He had a chance to play for the Seattle Seahawks…but after a week of training camp, he knew his place was somewhere else. And as he states in the video, “It is so much easier to go to work, when you love what you do everyday.” I agree!

Remembering Gaines Adams

I have a helmet on my shelf that was signed by Gaines Adams. Each time I look at it…I think about that amazing play he made against Wake Forest in 2006.

Clemson was trailing 17-3 at the end of the third quarter. Wake Forest was attempting a field goal to take a 20-3 lead, but let time run out in the third quarter before taking the snap.

After changing sides of the field, the botched snap was knocked in the air by Gaines Adams, who snagged the ball and ran it 66 yards for a TD. This sparked Clemson’s offense, scoring two more touchdowns and a field goal in the 4th quarter to tbeat the Demon Deacons 27-17.

That play was named one of the top four game-changing plays of 2006 by ESPN.

Clemson is playing Wake Forest this Thursday night in Winston Salem. I think many Clemson fans are thinking about that amazing play and remembering the life of Gaines Adams.

Gaines passed away tragically after going into cardiac arrest in January 2010. It shocked his family, the Clemson family, the Chicago Bears family, and so many people that knew and loved Gaines. I wish I was one of the fortunate ones to meet Gaines. My mother knew Gaines and had the helmet signed for me as Christmas gift.

This year, I was fortunate to work on a project for Clemson Letterwinners Association. Gaines was one of ten Clemson athletes to be inducted into this year’s Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame. When I learned Gaines was going to be one of the inductees, I spent lots of time thinking how could we tell his story.

Many times we try to tackle something from a 30,000 foot perspective, covering all aspects of a person’s life. Gaines was so gifted, with so many accolades both athletically and as a person…I knew it would be hard to fit it all into one 4 minute story.

So we decided to go micro, tell the one story very few people knew and one that really illustrated how one person could impact so many others.

Gaines’s high school coach was Steve Taneyhill. Yes, Steve Taneyhill! The last memory I have of Steve was when he was quarterback for the Gamecocks and he tore up the turf at Death Valley after beating us.

Steve and Gaines had a special relationship, a special friendship, and a special commitment to what they loved…they game of football. Steve is probably the reason why he chose Clemson. In the video above, Steve tells his story of watching Gaines play against the Gamecocks. Steve shares the internal debate he was having, trying to restrain his joy as he watched Gaines sack the Gamecock quarterback numerous times.

I hope you enjoy this story and I hope you will always remember Gaines for being Gaines.

I cherish the signed helmet on my mantel.

If you would like to watch all the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame Stories from this year’s ceremony, CLICK HERE.

Links used as reference for this blog post:
http://espn.go.com/blog/acc/post/_/id/8881/clemson-mourns-loss-of-adams 

Jump like Felix and take a Red Bull Stratos risk!

We must take a chance…we must try something new.

We must take that risk and create content that has the social share impact. What do I mean…find ways to create and share content that connects with people at their core.

We are so worried about creating messages based on branded research, focus groups, and a lot of high dollar initiatives…when sometime we should let our gut lead us.

Janean Chun of Huffington Post writes, “The Austria-based company, founded by Dietrich Mateschitz in 1984, sold more than 4.6 billion cans of Red Bull worldwide in 2011.”

So what makes a brand like Red Bull financially back an initiative that takes a man into space to jump?

“…power of this marketing event lies in the synergy between the extreme event and the company’s existing marketing message. The jump ‘hits the brand message spot on, which is that Red Bull gives you wings.'”

Catharine Smith of Huffington Post writes“YouTube’s live stream of the event racked up over 8 million viewers just before Baumgartner took his death-defying plunge.”

According to AllThingsD, “The previous record for a single Web video service: Around 500,000 concurrent streams, which Google served up during the Olympics this summer.”

According to ABC News, “Besides YouTube, the jump was shown by more than 40 TV stations and 130 digital outlets. Red Bull’s Facebook post-jump photo of Baumgartner gained almost 216,000 likes, 10,000 comments and over 29,000 shares within 40 minutes, and half the worldwide trending topics on Twitter were related to Red Bull Stratos.”

I do know about you…but I shed tears when he jumped. Why? I was standing there with him…LIVE. I felt the same emotion I felt when I was watching the landing of Curiosity on Mars. Remember when the whole Mission Control Room cheered out-of-control when they learned Curiosity was safe on the red planet.

Not only could I watch live, but I could interact with my friends and this extreme sports fan base in real time via the #JumpLive hashtag.

It was actually funny…my laptop battery was running down close to the time of the jump, and I was trying to find another television in the house that I could stream YouTube. Rose (my little girl) was watching cartoons in the den where YouTube could stream via my AppleTV. Finally found my back-up laptop charger so I could watch the jump.

As I watched him fall, I wondered…is he alive? No matter if he broke the sound barrier (traveling at a peak of 833.9 mph), I was relieved when I he replyed to mission control while he was free falling.

And when he landed…WE ALL CHEERED WITH FELIX.

Yes, we all jumped up and cheered with Felix when he touched down raised his arms in excitement.

How can we create content, experiences, situations with our audiences that inspire such emotion…and break away from just marketing a message.

Sometimes we just have to jump and take a risk…Felix and Red Bull did.

***Images from HuffingtonPost.com

Too much creative can make you cry!

Yes…sometimes I feel just like Rose in the picture above. After weeks and weeks of intensive work…I am mentally exhausted. I pour myself into my projects many times working late into the night.

Being creative can sometimes be exhausting and overwhelming, yet extremely rewarding. Last Friday night, I was able to sit in a packed theater style auditorium and observe the audience watch what I created. I was able to watch them laugh and smile, get sad and cry…all at the right times…all at the right moments. Crafting stories is becoming a part of the story, so that you feel the emotion with the individuals inside the story.

The emotional roller-coaster of this creative exercise can be draining and mentally exhausting. Some of my best creative moments are in the middle of the night…and when I am in the zone, I will spend many nights working.

After projects are finished…I feel just like Rose.

REST IS A GOOD THING.

Today, I was chatting it up with some of my friends who are also clients. I was telling them I was loading family in the car, heading off for a few days in the mountains. Yep…little time to unplug. They said, “you just spent most of your summer on vacation.” Yes…I believe in working hard and playing hard. Our creative brains need to get away. We need to unplug. We need to make our little ones smile.

So…it is time to turn that sad face into a happy face.

We creatives need a creative break so we can continue to be creative. We have more stories to tell.

Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame – Telling Stories with Layers

A few months ago, Clemson Athletics came to me in the hopes to find a new way to share the successes of those being inducted into 2012 Hall of Fame. They wanted to find stories that would allow the audience to see these individuals in a new way, from a new perspective.

Here was the challenge, three of the ten individuals were no longer alive and one of the individuals was currently living overseas. Yet, we were still in search of special stories of each person. It was a two and half month journey that yielded ten stories that shared more than accolades and impressive statistics, it shared their path to success.

It was a pleasure to work with John Seketa of Clemson Athletics who had the vision to make these stories the focus of this years Hall of Fame Ceremony at the Brooks Theater on Clemson’s Campus.

The videos above are in the following order…I hope you take time to enjoy!

Gaines Adams
His high school football coach was Steve Taneyhill, former quarterback for South Carolina. Coach Taneyhill tells the story of their close relationship.

Deliah Arrington
She was part of the team that won the first ACC Championship for Women’s Soccer *and* her father was on the 1981 National Championship Football Team. They shared their story of a championship legacy including pictures of Deliah as a child with her father when he was in his football uniform back in 1981.

Julie Coin
Her story is pretty simple, as an amateur she beat the #1 player in the world during the quarterfinals of the 2008 US Open. We found the NYTimes writer who witnessed the defeat and shared his perspective of this tremendous upset.

Sarah Cooper
Sarah was not a rower until she came to Clemson. She was recruited out of West Oak High School where she played basketball and volleyball. She went on to lead her the rowing team to break numerous records. She takes us on the water to recount those memories.

Karen Ann Jenkins
Karen Ann could not afford to go to college, but her talents attracted the heart of Coach Annie Tribble who brought her to Clemson to lead a Women’s Basketball Team. What they found was similar to a mother/daughter relationship, one they shared with us together.

Wojtek Krakowiak
Here is a guy who was on the St. Johns National Championship Soccer Team and chose to come to Clemson. When he came, he won the Herman Trophy (soccer’s version of the Hsisman Trophy) and went on to the coaching profession. We get to witness a camp as he shares his tricks of the trade.

Billy McMillon
Billy was from a small town in South Carolina who was supposed to go play baseball at Presbyterian College. Coach Bill Wilhelm found him, brought him to Clemson where he WOW’d the professional scouts, then went on to play for the Florida Marlins. He pays tribute to his coach who he is being inducted alongside.

Stacey Seegars
Stacy was an All-American Offensive Lineman who could of played in the NFL. His heart led him back home to carry on his father’s profession in small town South Carolina. He literally took us on the water to share his passion.

Coach Bill Wilhelm
The legend lives on and we get to share thoughts from his former players including his 1958 team that went to the College World Series. We also hear from Billy McMillon who was humbled to be inducted along side the coach that recruited him to Clemson.

Warren Wilson
Warren was a boxer who came to Clemson in the late 1930’s to box for Clemson. We hear his story, tales of a match where a Virginia Tech boxer forfeits because of fear to meet him in the ring, and how Jack Dempsy wrote him a letter about his talents.

I hope you enjoy these stories of these accomplished Clemson Athletes.

Telling stories in annual reports…stories take the main stage.

This is a project I have enjoyed working on this past summer. This year, The Duke Endowment released their annual report using storytelling as the main communication initiative. I worked with them to find and tell stories inside each of the grants they support, exposing the audience to true core of this initiative.

I love how they used an integrated communications approach on so many facets:

1) They use artwork to paint the picture of the initiatives. As you look through the report, everything appears to be painted on a canvas.

2) The report has an online version inside their website with video as a major component. Each video is a story from inside the grant The Duke Endowment supports. I love this approach, because it paints a visual picture how the grant truly impacts individuals.  This done by allowing the person to tell their story using their own personal narrative.

3) Love the printed report that is colorful and integrates QR codes linking the audience from the printed story to the video.

4) Finally, they distributed through their network using an email blast along with making the videos unlisted on their YouTube account. This is done so they can effectively track the analytics. They know that the views on the videos will be coming directly from the email blast via the annual report online.

5) I love commitment to video specifically the use short documentary storytelling. I work closely with their communications team to find, create, and produce the video content. They were very committed to telling rich stories, allowing each video to maintain their voice using the subject’s own personal narrative.

Quick Links to learn more:
1) The Duke Endowment’s Online Annual Report – CLICK HERE
2) The Duke Endowment’s Printed Annual Report – CLICK HERE
3) The Duke Endowment’s YouTube Account – CLICK HERE

Are you a storyteller? A practitioner or a technician?

So as I was sitting in the morning church service, there was a piano selection performed right at the beginning. As I was sitting there listening to this beautiful melody coming out of this grand piano; I thought this grand piano has been sitting at the front for a long time but I have yet to notice how beautiful it sounds. The soloist was playing this instrument in a way that brought out the tremendous musical range. The soloist was completely engaged with the piano, focused on the song, the notes, the stanzas. Why have I never noticed this piano before?

The audience was completely engaged in the music, tied to every note, anticipating the next stanza, watching as the soloist’s hands interacted with the keys, playing notes with methodical movements from one to the next. The piano has the potential to play that well…but it is the soloists interpretation of the music selection as she used this instrument to bring the story of the song to the ears of the audience.

About a week ago, I had someone question me whether the advent of Flip Video devices would create a drastic reduction in online video production industry? A great question. But as I listened to this soloist interact with this grand piano, I began to think about this question even more. My first response to this individual was simply whether I am using a Flip Video device, a high definition pro-sumer camera, or a $70K Sony HDCAM….it is not the device that tells the story…it is the practitioner who interprets the technology to create and deliver the story.

True practitioners, real storytellers know how to evolve with technology and maximize it’s potential to meet the needs of an audience. I think of a story I produced a few years ago about an Opera Singer on his way to re-merge as an Opera Sinder, my friend Ron Gattis.

When I first started working in video production (broadcast video production), I used what was called BetaCAM video devices. The camera weighed 30lbs and was the size of medium size briefcase positioned on my shoulder or on a tripod heavier than the camera itself. We would take the results of the video taping and use two large BetaCAM decks (Two large VCR’s) to edit between in a linear mode. One mistake and there was no going back…time to re-edit. Using that set-up, I won six Emmy Awards and numerous other AP awards for Television Excellence.

I tell this story…and many journalists before me endured broadcast video camera larger than this where the camera was split into two pieces.

Now, I work with a camera less than half the size, half the price, and edit on a laptop. I can deliver my stories to audiences broader than the DMA I was working in during my broadcast television days. I put the video into the laptop and can move the video around, manipulate it in ways that would take a major post-production house of 10 years ago tons of money and weeks of production.

The technology is changing, but I still have to use it appropriately to deliver a high quality story in a manner that allows the audience forget they are watching this story on a screen, remove their peripheral vision. Whether it is a theatre or a computer screen…I want to create that story within an interface that is interactive. You know what I mean, that moment when you are sitting in a movie and you are so involved with the story-line, you forget you are in a theatre. It is all about being in the “Zone” from both an audience perspective and a practitioner perspective.

Do you think that if the soloist was given a keyboard device that was no bigger than a laptop, she could render a melody worth sitting and listening too? Do you think Ansel Adams could render a beautiful landscape using a pin-hole camera that was created from a Quaker Oats cylinder? The ability for a practitioner to tell a story is embedded in our DNA, whether it is a Flip Video Camera or beautiful state of the art Grand Piano.

So next time you hear that beautiful melody/harmony coming from a Grand Piano…think for a minute, is it the Grand Piano rendering those beautiful notes….or is the vision of the soloist interpreting the potential of those keys and bringing you the audience into “their” world. I love telling visual stories!

When does creativity strike…forcing ourselves into the box.

When do you find yourself creating your craft or your works of art? I find myself completely in my creative zone in the middle of the night. I do my best work probably around 11pm. I have even found myself getting out of bed at 3am to execute a creative idea in the edit bay.

I am a procrastinator…yes, when the pressure is on – I perform my best. I wonder if it comes from days as a journalist? Each day I had two or three hard deadlines where I had to deliver final products from a story we found that day. I wonder if it is because I have to force myself into the creative box. Yes…when I cannot figure out how to create and execute…just force myself into the creative situation.

I found the video above and it spoke to me. Creativity sometimes has to be forced. We sometimes wait and expect inspiration to mystically appear with some pixie dust or an epiphany. When I need creative inspiration, I find myself jumping in the car, rolling down the windows, and blasting Elton John, Adele, or Billy Joel as I scream down the interstate. Some people ask, what happens when it rains? I just roll up the windows and sing louder.

I like the rush of creating under pressure, delivering when no one else can deliver. Sometimes we hope that inspiration will find us, but in the business world…sometimes we have to force ourselves back into the box!

Passbook & NFC: Social Commerce in small town South Carolina

So Wednesday morning, I received my new iPhone 5 in the mail. I am a gadget freak and yes I upgraded from the iPhone 4s. One of the new features released with the new iPhone (iOS6) is the the Passbook application. This allows you to find businesses that offer incentives to use your iPhone as your wallet.

So I downloaded the Starbucks application and immediately created an account and loaded $25.00, sort of like buying a pre-paid credit card, except using your iPhone. Off I went to carry out my morning errands, and as I passed Starbucks in Anderson…I thought I might have to give this little application a try.

So I walked in and ordered me a Pumpkin Spice Latte with no whipped cream, hmm! It feels like fall outside. When it was time to pay, I asked the cashier, “How do I use the Starbucks application on my iPhone to pay?” She told me to open the application, push the button to pay, and a barcode appeared on the screen. She then used her scanner next to the cash register to scan the barcode on my screen, and POOF…transaction complete.

It deducted the $4.91 from my phone and off I was on my merry way with a Pumpkin Spice Latte. I was so excited, I opened Facebook and checked into Starbucks by writing this status update:

I immediately called my wife to share my experience. After she listened to my gadget success story for the morning, she scolded me and said…”You need to buy local. Stop going to Starbucks and walk across the street from your office downtown and go to Figs. Figs is the new coffee, ice-cream, soda shop downtown Anderson owned locally.

The Digital Divide
Hmm…I wonder, do they have a little application for the phone so I can pay? Do they have a check-in option on Facebook so I can share my love for their store? Hmm…let me go see. So off I went to Figs, and noticed a few things. Great food, great shop, nice ownership…limited social interaction. Well, they are new…but this leads me to my though process. Buying local in socially connected community has a HUGE barrier to cross when competing against big box groups. You are probably thinking…well, tell me something you do not already know.

Ok, back-up…notice what happened Starbucks. They have an app that allows me to use technology to not only purchase with my phone, but they made it easy to take part in the social share. The check-in location rapidly appeared in Facebook allowing me to share my little success with technology.

The digital wallet leading to the social share…big business leads the way in social commerce. So how do the little guys compete? What is going remind me about Figs over Starbucks for coffee (other than my wife screaming buy local)? Figs is kind-of a outlier, they have only been in business for a few months. They are still trying to establish their digital footprint.

So, I took a walk through downtown Anderson and spent some time using my Facebook and Foursquare apps to see if retailers had check-in points established. Most were established including having those check-in points connected to a social outlet like a Facebook page.

But the part that is missing for most of these small retailers is the digital tool for commerce.

Passbook and NFC
Passbook on the iPhone is a brand new concept and Starbucks was one of the first to take part in this concept. Passbook was Apple’s alternative to NFC (near-field communication).

Wired.com states, “NFC chips in smartphones let you pay by waving your device over a scanner at the store. The chip is tied to an app that is tied to your bank account and credit card. Volià, no more cash, no more wallet.”

“Passbook lets you keep in your iPhone virtual versions of some items you might normally carry in your analog wallet or bag: boarding passes, movie and sports tickets, coupons, and gift cards. Passbook stores these items as barcodes, but some wondered if Apple would tie NFC to Passbook to make direct payments possible.”

Matt on the Nerd Wallet blog shares his thoughts:

“While loyalty programs are popular amongst customers and merchants alike – the number of loyalty memberships in the U.S. exceeds 2.1 billion – it’s not clear how effective these programs are. According to a white paper published by COLLOQUY, 17% of U.S. consumers felt that loyalty programs were a “very influential” factor in their purchasing decisions and an even smaller 12% said they “strongly agree” when asked whether it pays to be loyal to a favorite brand.”

So is NFC and Passbook just another coupon”ing” option or loyalty program? Or is the combination of NFC/Passbook concept on your smart phone as a one-stop shop for your to purchase and share with your friends. Connivence makes us happy and we love to share within our social outlets when something makes us happy.

Social Commerce & Economic Development
So how does a small coffee shop in little ole Anderson, SC compete with a Starbucks and their Passbook app? Well…first of all, building these applications are expensive and you have to find a a company that has the experience to build these types of mobile commerce tools. I am not sure if Figs would have the budget to have one of these applications built, and it probably makes no sense for them to do so…especially given small town word-of-mouth always prevails.

BUT…from a digital concept, local business should team up and build one mobile application for those local retailers that can add to the pot. Imagine an initiative in Anderson, SC where a group of local retailers teamed up with the Chamber of Commerce and local Economic Development groups like Innovate Anderson or Upstate SC Alliance to find the funding to build a one-size fits all.

Yes…this would be an economic development tool for small town Anderson, SC. Access to digital tools that not only power commerce but power the idea of the social share, building online reputation for a town trying to attract more growing businesses.

For those who want to read more about developing apps for Apple’s Passbook –> CLICK HERE

The #DomesticViolence Story – We must share to become aware!

The domestic violence story is all around us. We don’t realize it, but we know someone who has been impacted directly by domestic violence. 1 in 4 people have been directly impacted by domestic violence…YES, 1 in 4.

If you listen above, Michael Cogdill helps us define domestic violence. How does he know, well let me count the ways. Not only did his father beat his mother, but he bears the burden of sharing the numerous stories everyday how domestic violence invades our living rooms.

It was just a few months ago, Marge Putnam from Seneca was killed by her husband. This story has impacted so many of us in the Upstate of SC. She was engrained in the Clemson University community and loved by so many friends and her family.

So sharing Marge’s story, Michael story, and the stories of so many others is so important…it helps us become aware. It helps us learn that it is not okay to hurt and abuse those we love inside our homes. We must share so that when we understand what it means, we will feel empowered to speak up and call the authorities.

As a legislator said this morning during the #DomesticViolence Awareness Month kick-off Press Conference, this is a community effort. Yes…we must share to become aware.

To learn more about #DomesticViolence and it’s impact on the community, go to SafeHarbor.org’s blog to read more.