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Powder: http://www.tvspots.tv/video/48403/BEST-BUY–AMC-THEATERS–POWDER

Cheerleader toss: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbD4B3fk3_8

Game Developers Conference Online, Austin, TX

Sept. 2012

Topic: “Creatively Bypassing the Limitations of HTML5 as a Gaming Platform”

Nerdery speakers: Kevin Moot and Scott Bromander, software developers

Slideshow: http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1016589

I worked with our two speakers to pursue this opportunity, and helped ensure they had support from our designers and marketing team. We created an opportunity for the speakers to have a practice run-through in front of a live audience, shot video of their presentation to supplement our pitch, and once accepted by the conference, ensured they had all the support they needed to be successful. In fact, they came back with lots of new business, including a household name clients we’d aspired to work with.

MobCon, Minneapolis

November 2012

Nerdery speakers: Andrew Watson and Jon Rexeisen, mobile software developers

Slideshow: http://www.slideshare.net/mobcon

Again, I worked our two speakers to pursue this opportunity, and provided marketing support in the form of following up with the event’s organizers, monitoring the speaker selection process, negotiated sponsorship opportunities, and provided support from our marketing/creative team as needed.

Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer Status

“The Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD) program is a community of best-in-class developers focused on making social marketing easier and more effective. With 260+ members in 35+ countries, PMDs are the social experts at the forefront of helping marketers and advertisers establish and grow lasting connections with customers.”

I helped gather references, project assets and company information in pursuit of this certification. At the time, it was considered a rare opportunity as it had been quite some time since Facebook had accepted applications for review.  We were thrilled upon finding out we’d made the cut.  Our listing: http://www.facebook-pmdcenter.com/profiles/view/10680

IBM DeveloperWorks

A series of seven articles written by Nerdery software engineers, published between June – September 2012

Sample article: Complement canvas with HTML markup, Part 1: Blend the canvas API and HTML/CSS model 

Additional articles: http://goo.gl/U8bZv

I and one of our software engineers identified potential writers from our staff, and then had to secure their interest and availability. I helped clear scheduling roadblocks, and worked with the engineers’ managers to get clearance for them to take time away from programming for this writing opportunity. Each engineer put an average of 18-30 hours into an article. On top of that, we had the articles proofread by other internal subject matter experts, and our chief copywriter, in order to ensure the work met our standards before handing it off to the publisher. As a project manager, I also managed timelines and milestones, and worked to keep all the stakeholders informed and on the same page throughout the project.

Webinars

I produced 19 webinars in 2012 with a team including our host, designers, copywriters and two guest speakers representing our software engineers, UX department, QA and more. After broadcast, the webinars were posted on our site, creating a great tool for our sales reps when they wanted a fresh, useful link to send to prospective clients.

Case Studies and Collateral

Oversaw quarterly updates to case studies featured on our site. The same case studies were also integrated into The Nerdery’s brag reel, pitch deck, and featured in monthly e-newsletters to clients. Example: http://nerdery.com/projects/Snapfish

Here’s a low budget video we made for a short-term promotional site at Best Buy. It’s been uploaded to YouTube from so many different sources that it’s hard to tell what the total views are. I added up three YouTube landing pages and the totals were 273, 065 as of the date of this posting.

Cheerleader through hoop stunt:

I worked on this project when I was on staff at Best Buy’s corporate headquarters in the advertising/integrated production department.

This made AdWeek’s 25 Most Epic Ads that aren’t Apple’s 1984 list.

I was a behind-the-scenes person on this production, juggling several other ads at the same time. It was my role to ensure the production, especially the freelance producer, had the resources and information needed to move forward.

Goal:  Come up with a new way to reach viewers, in light of the decrease in TV viewership in 2004/5. This was made to show in AMC movie theaters, hence, the movie trailer format.

Acting as account executive to internal clients, as well as producer, I worked with my team to generate this poster.

Coffee Drop Love Poster Spring 2012

Goal:  Spread the word internally re: the impact of a promotion.

About once a quarter, we surprise clients with a pound of Nerdified coffee. While my team had line of sight to client reactions on Twitter, some department heads began to question the efficacy of the campaign. We used client Tweets and email responses to populate the poster.

Result: Happy department heads, and the campaign will live on.

From my company’s holiday message to clients and the public.

Toys for Tots – why toys inspire us to give during the holiday.

The video was embedded here for the season.

Goal: The sales team wanted to do something more meaningful than a gift to clients this year, and felt strongly about tying in technology somehow, since that’s the core of our business.

Challenge: It’s hard to stand out via email alone. Also, our clients range from ad agencies to serious suits and scientists, making it hard to find any one common denominator that would connect and resonate.

Solution: We decided to give the gift no one can duplicate; ourselves. We held a toy drive for Toys for Tots, and interviewed Nerds on how toys influenced them as kids. (Many cited favorite toys and games as the catalyst that got them into software engineering.) Another insight: toys still help them solve challenging work problems today. We created a goofy holiday card featuring most of our Nerds with a website link printed inside and invitation to visit our site where they’d see the video. From there, of course, the page and video could be emailed and shared.

Outcome: Clients responded with enthusiasm and that meant our internal client, the sales team, was happy, too! It gave them a story to tell, and having our Nerds’ photos included in the card helped nurture relationships with clients in distant states who rarely get a chance to visit. The internal client satisfaction rating went way up from the year before (but that’s another story).

I was recently asked to put together a game plan for how a company could foster better team work between departments.  Here’s what I found out.

What Other Companies Do:

Time Warner – Share success stories at employee events.

Entrepreneur Mouli Cohen: Put aside political correctness and get at the real issues.

GE- Lengthened coffee breaks to encourage honest and casual conversation.

Zappos – All new hires spend two weeks taking customer calls in the call center.

Best Buy – Uses Marcus Buckingham’s “Now Discover Your Strengths”. The book and personality assessment gives  employees a language for personality quirks and why they’re important.

Imagination Ltd. – No idea is a bad idea.

Ideas/Execution

  • Create a physical (not computer) bulletin board where people can post articles on teamwork.
  • “Write a story” of how the team meets an outrageous goal – have each person contribute a line.  Make each line an expansive, creative idea. (No need to be practical.)
  • Have a “talent” bucket, so people can exchange teaching/learning; golf, cooking, guitar, etc.
  • Start team meetings with a 10-minute ice breaker.
  • Go through an afternoon of Improv acting training: “Yes, and,” “Elevate, explore.” (Dudley Riggs)
  • Go through 1-2 hours of “Art of Connection” training with Sage Presence.
  • Have each department create a mixed music-track for the other departments. (Each can have a different theme.)
  • Create a department “holiday” or “awards show” that showcases the year’s best accomplishments/challenges overcome.
  • Create an “impossible” hypothetical departmental challenge  that will take a quarter to solve. Have people post their ideas, no matter how unpractical. Share the ideas at a team meeting.
  • Talk about the creative process: define, design, develop, deliver.  Why is it important to go in sequence and which part does each department play?
  • Review what team “morale killers” can be and identify them as “sludge.” Let people know it’s ok to say, “No sludge!” if you hear it.
  • Have each department bring an insight into what teamwork is and how to foster it to a brainstorm session.
  • Allow “toys” at the office, like a Nerf basketball hoop.
  • Get a scooter.
  • Have people interview each other with Vanity Fair interview questions. Have the interviewer introduce the other person at a meeting.
  • Take a benchmark survey to find out whether employees think things are collaborative now.  Compare a year from now.
  • Show how each quirky personality strength helps balances someone else’s. (Some people are good big picture thinkers, others are detail oriented.) (Gallup/Buckingham Strengths Finder)

Additional Resources for Creating a Team-Oriented Work Environment:

Dudley Riggs – Teaching the Improv acting art of “yes, and” and “elevate, explore” to enhance dialogue, team interaction and thinking on your feet. http://www.bravenewworkshop.com/creativeoutreach/home.aspx

Sage Presence – Teaching the art of connection to enhance sales, public speaking, and relationships. http://www.sagepresence.com/

TED series 20 minute videos by inspiring experts on creativity, innovation, collaboration and more.

Marcus Buckingham, “Now Discover Your Strengths” (book)

Benjamin Zander: On “Giving an A” Books and videos.

Culture questions

From: About.com

  • What would you tell a friend about your organization if he or she was about to start working here?
  • What is the one thing you would most like to change about this organization?
  • Who is a hero around here? Why?
  • What is your favorite characteristic that is present in your company?
  • What kinds of people fail in your organization?
  • What is your favorite question to ask a candidate for a job in your company?
  • Are there any current barriers to collaboration? What?

Got a brainstorm session coming up? Before you start, define your parameters; deadline, cost, quality and desired outcome.  Then, and only then, will you be ready to brainstorm.

This post originally ran in May 2009.  What with the beginning of the school year, and perhaps business planning for next year, I am running it again for anyone looking ahead, pondering possibilities.

Four basic steps will help you wrap your brain around any project, whether you’re an expert, or venturing into unknown territory.

1. Define.

2.  Design

3.  Develop

4.  Deliver

Define

Every project has parameters.  Before you jump into brainstorming or negotiations, stop and capture the key info that will impact the rest of the project.  What’s the budget?  When are the key due dates?  What’s the true purpose of the project?  What would ideal results look like?  Is everyone on the same page, with the same vision?  Also, is there anything that can’t be changed?  If you’re renovating a house, are you tied to roof color?  If you’re planning an event, are you tied to a specific date or time?

Design

Now that you’ve defined the most critical parameters of the project, you are clear to brainstorm.  And you should!  Entertain options.  Ask for ideas.  Compare notes.  Sketch your designs, mock up your colors.  Compare them side by side.  Get feedback.  This stage is also known as concepting.

If there are a lot of decisions to be made, or a lot of people to please, give people a chance to start broad, then narrow down.  Your client, your team, your co-workers, what have you, will be more confident in the final choice if they’ve had a chance to see that final decisions were made via a process of elimination.

Have a semi-finals, then a quarter-finals.  Just like on American Idol, it’s hard to know who your favorite is until you’ve seen all the choices.  The better the options, the more time you need to compare.  As in, the best options are the ones that have stuck with you from the beginning.  You’ve developed a sense of familiarity with them.  You’ve realized their pros and cons, and whether you’re willing to live with them.

Hopefully, the final decision is between two excellent options.  But you want your client, friends, whomever this is for, to LOVE the end result.  They will, if they’ve had a chance to participate along the way.

Develop

At this stage, you’ve committed to a specific vision.  Now it’s time to get practical.  Check availability, negotiate.  Problem solve.  You may have to make last minute changes.  If you’ve done a good job of concepting, you’ll be able to make quick, yet informed decisions about what can and can’t be changed.  Nothing ever goes as planned, but if you’ve got a SPECIFIC, WELL DEFINED VISION, and BUY-IN, WITH COMMITMENT, then you are well on your way to making your vision a reality.  This stage is also known as pre-production.

Deliver

You’re in the kitchen now.  You’ve got the groceries, and if anything’s been forgotten or gone stale, it’s too late to send for more.  The moment is do or die, and you will DO.  If it’s party time, you’re pouring the drinks.  If it’s a building renovation, your paint brush is in the paint.  Put on the best show you can.  If you’ve done your prep work, it will be great.  This stage is also known as production.  If you’re in film, it includes post-production.

Smart strategies liberate creative thinking. The more certain you are about your strategy, the bolder you can be in your creativity.

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