Interview with 8BIT & Tentblogger Founder, John Saddington

On this episode, we chat with 8BIT, Tentblogger.com, and Action & Influence (co)founder, John Saddington.  Along with being a husband, father, and friend….John’s become one of my mentors and one of the main reasons for starting this entire site.

In this talk, John continues to expand the limits of entrepreneurship. We share about building your personal brand, why it’s so important, and some things he’s learned along the way.

Interview with John Saddington, 8BIT & Tentblogger.com Founder

Key Points:

  • What are the three questions every entrepreneur should ask?
  • What does your personal brand look like?
  • How did John get started building a brand utilizing blogging and social media?
  • And more!

What about you?  Did you enjoy the interview?  What was your biggest take-away?

Interview with World Gym Millsboro Owner, Pam Trader

 

When I first joined World Gym right after it opened, I got to meet a bright-eyed excited gal who found joy in helping people get fit.  Four years later, she’s still very much walking in step with her original passion, as World Gym is seeing more success than ever.  We got to hang with Pam Trader, World Gym Millsboro’s owner, and ask her a few questions about what it’s like to run a business:

1. First of all, tell us how you got started!  You didn’t take the traditional path in business, did you?

Well, I was driven by a very strong desire to get out of the insurance business and into a career I knew I would love.  The gym to me was always the place where I left my stress behind and felt renewed.  I found myself wanting to share that passion with others, getting more excited talking to my policyholders about fitness than insurance.  Needless to say, with Steve’s support and lots of cheerleaders (especially my parents, and my prior employer) I took the plunge and left my 16 year job to open a gym.  As for taking the traditional path, I’d have to say “no”.  There really isn’t one in this business; there’s no protocol when you build a business your way.  The good side of that is there is very little regulation; we were free to build and create our own model based on our own years of experiences ‘from a member’s perspective’.  The bad side: not much sleep, very hard work and very little expert guidance.  It took a year of long hours every day from the time of franchise exploration to open for business.

2. What thing are you most passionate about when it comes to running the gym?

That’s easy.  When I get to be ‘me’. In my insurance job, regulations were in place. I could be nice but was often the bearer of bad news to good people. (My boss would jokingly say “you’ve got to stop trying to give away my shop”.)  Now, I get to take the many valuable lessons I learned in business and add in my own flair.  Probably my best quality is people relations, because I listen!  I also love the freedom to be creative – to have random contests, or take little green weights right out of a woman’s hands and replace them with bigger iron ones because I know she has it in her!  I love hearing reports from members about weight loss and ‘no more meds’.  I have even personally inspired some members to get their hip replacements over with, after sharing my journals and success story with them. I could go on and on.

3. What’s been the most unexpected thing about having your own franchised gym?

Well, I certainly didn’t expect to have to sleep here so many nights.  LOL.  The operating expenses, of course were underestimated.  But the hours and sheer demands of this business; totally unexpected.  I have a standing joke with my old boss.  When I told Chris I was leaving to open a gym, he replied “You have no freakin’ clue what you’re getting into.”  I replied “How hard could it be to run a gym?  You talk to people about fitness all day, get to workout all the time, clean machines and do some office work”.

…The first time I had to leave my piles of paperwork to tend to a member’s disaster, lock myself in the bathroom with a bottle of bleach and rubber gloves, sleep deprived and crying, the words echoed “how hard could it be to run a gym”.  People think it’s a gravy job because they, too, see the gym as a wonderful place of refuge.  Only a gym owner can understand and appreciate what really goes on in this business.

4. What one thing do you wish your customers knew about running a gym?

That they just might be the 30th person to pee on the toilet seat that day, or leave trash on the floor, abuse a piece of equipment, complain about the music, forget to wipe their feet or re-rack their weights, or interrupt my workout.  LOL

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70PPkCJD-Ws]

5. If you’re at liberty to share, where would you like to see World Gym Millsboro be in 5 – 7 years?

Well, we are four years in and already planning our expansion.  In response to demand for additional amenities, we need to grow to accommodate Group X, Functional Fitness, Child Care and MORE.  My dream is in 5-7 years to see even more and more success in this town.  The state of Delaware ranks #2 in the country for obesity!  We are constantly throwing “walk a little faster, eat healthier” dialog out into the Millsboro community because WE KNOW the number of people that come into the gym with obesity-related high risk factors (Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, etc.).  I want to see less people slouched over, walking slowly and using scooters and walkers in our stores. And we will do this!!

6. What piece of advice do you have for someone just starting their own franchise? What do you wish you knew when you first started?

My advice is simply “Do your homework” and talk to professionals (Bill Pfaff of the Delaware SBA was a huge help to us!) When you research franchises, you’re given a template from which to develop your business plan. There’s an estimation of start up fees and operations expenses one can expect to incur.  Plan on it being severely underestimated.  And, plan on the income estimation provided by the franchise being overestimated.  The reality is, you will work many more hours than they say, for less money and much higher overhead.  There are taxes (payroll, property, franchise, unemployment, etc.) and many, many bills and fees that are not included in the estimation.  And the true costs for repairs and maintenance and never-ending need to meet customers’ demands; these are expenses that can’t be pre-determined.

What do I wish I knew when we first started?  I want to say ‘all of the above’, but then again, I am grateful we had to learn it all on our own.  It is more rewarding to have learned from our mistakes, to have been the developers of our business from the formation of the LLC, to lease negotiations, our business plan, financing, vendor research, technical research, layout planning and carryout of our gym membership and operations structures.  I am grateful for these experiences.

BONUS FUN! – You’re on a desert island, and you can only bring one piece of workout equipment with you, what do you bring?

I had to think hard about this one.  The truth is – I probably wouldn’t care so much about working out if I was alone on an island.  I’m a people person, remember? But assuming I wanted to be fit while all alone there, and could only take one thing, it would have to be the 45lb Olympic Bar.  It would last forever, is portable and easy to grip.  I could rig it up in the trees for pull-ups; use it for squats, lifts, presses, curls, rows.  Between the bar, the ground, the sand and the water, I’d be set -one fit and lonely gal!

What about you?  Are you interested in starting your own business?  Do you have any questions for Pam?

Interview with Chief Apple Evangelist, Guy Kawasaki

On this episode, former chief product evangelist of Apple, Guy Kawasaki, chats with us and shares how he makes key life decisions.  We also learn about his newest book recently released called “Enchantment.”

(If you like Enchantment, Guy hooked us up with a promo link where you can get a free copy of “Presentation Zen” with your book order.)

 

Interview with Guy Kawasaki, Former Chief Product Evangelist of Apple

 

Or, if you want, you can download the interview here.

Key Points:

  • What it takes to be enchanting?
  • What advice & wisdom Guy has for those just starting out in tech.
  • Technology has made it MUCH easier to get your idea out there…
  • And more!

Side note:  My twitter name is now AndrewJMason.  I’m no longer on the 8BIT team (but you should check ’em out, because they rock). 

What about you?  Did you enjoy the interview?  What was your biggest take-away?

Interview with 88.7 The Bridge Founder, Bill Sammons

Bill Sammons is a husband, father, and the founder of radio station 88.7 The Bridge.  He’s a business starter (and we’re privileged to call him friend & mentor, as well).    We got to sit take a few minutes and pick Bill’s brain on the radio station and what he’s learned along the way.

5 Questions for Bill Sammons of 88.7 The Bridge

1.    If you had one piece of advice for anyone getting into broadcasting or videography, what would it be?  What do you wish someone told you when you were just starting out?

Get experience.  Build a resume and a reel.  Volunteer with production companies, intern with TV stations, serve on your church video team, enter 24 hour film festivals, network like crazy, and shoot everything that moves.  People that hire you are more interested in your demo reel than your degree.

2.  What’s the most satisfying thing about launching a new endeavor like “The Bridge”?

The feedback we get almost every day from listeners that the radio station is helping them.  Those comments range from ‘you made me smile’ to ‘you literally saved my life’…and everything in between.

3.  What’s the hardest thing about launching a new endeavor?

Getting the people with money to see your vision before it becomes reality.

4. Where do you see the Bridge headed in the next year (as much or little as you want to share)?

Hopefully we are moving into new studios this fall.  We also have a couple of interesting opportunities to grow geographically that we are exploring.  From a ministry outreach standpoint, I am excited about being able to move into the next phase of our vision – which is moving beyond the terrestrial radio model into a multi-platform content creation model in the new couple of years.  Video…meet radio.

5.  What’s the best book you’ve read, talk you’ve listened to, or piece of advice you’ve gotten in the last year? 

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller.  It’s a sequel to Blue Like Jazz…which literally changed my life.  We’re all writing our Story.  Miller encouraged me to get off the couch and start writing some new chapters.

BONUS FUN: Let’s say you’re headed to a dessert island for life, and can only bring one electronic device.  What do you bring & why?

It’s a deserted island.  Dessert is what you eat after dinner.  And the desert does not have islands.  (I was an editor in a previous life)   I’d bring my 17″ Macbook Pro.  I hate talking on the phone and voicemail – so it’s easy to leave behind my iPhone.   I can do just about anything I need to do with the Macbook.

Awesome Interview.  What about you?  Do you have any life experience or suggestions to add to Bill’s?

URGENT Quick Fixes!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmwwrGV_aiE]

The Problem:

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m starting to see a pattern in our culture today.  We’re no longer in the information age.  We have way too much information available to us.

In fact, we have so much information now that finding the right information is quickly becoming more important.  Not just information, but info that matters.  The scales have tipped, and our most limited resource is now our attention.

The presence of blogs, 24 hour news networks, twitter, Facebook, more ads than we can handle all combine to vie for our attention.  “Quick fixes”, “This Just In” and “Seven Easy Steps to the life you love” all try to seduce us with two myths:

  • The Urgent – The promise that what your about to watch, read, or devote your attention to will be worth it, because it’s important information you NEED to know RIGHT NOW!  You may regret not watching it!
  • The Easy – The promise that if you just pay attention for a little bit, we can make your life a lot easier.  You’ll be *so* glad you gave us your attention.

The Solution:

If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves living a life of reaction without ever charting out a focused direction for ourselves.  The only solution is something Michael Hyatt & Stephen Covey both allude to in their work:

The only way to avoid a life lived in reaction to quick fixes and urgent headlines is to spend time daily conciously focusing on where you want to be.

How much time do we spend consciously focusing on where we want to be, as opposed to living a life in reaction to headlines and twitter links?  Do you spend any time daily purposely reading or thinking about the future?  Did you know that exercise can greatly improve your odds of ending up somewhere you want to be in life?

What about you?  Do you ever sit down to read an article or go online or watch the news and feel like you’ve been fed a “six easy steps?”

Interview with Youtube Gamer Mogul, Bryan Simon

With almost 120K Youtube Subscriptions, Bryan Simon‘s shown it is possible to make a living doing what you love.  In his case?  Playing video games.  Bryan’s story is even more incredible, because he continuously stretches his creativity to come up with new content.  He’s a father, husband, and although he publiclly touts Halo & MW, he holds a special place in his heart for Q*Bert (Don’t let him tell you any differently.)

Interview with Bryan Simon, Youtube Mogul

 

Or, if you want, you can download the interview here.

Key Points:

  • Bryan’s financial success followed his love for creativity something, and sharing it with everyone.
  • How do you stay creative, even when you hit a snag?
  • What do you want to be remembered for in 40 years?
  • What’s the hardest part of songwriting?

Side note:  We recorded this interview originally as a paid content format.  My twitter name is now AndrewJMason.  I’m no longer on the 8BIT team (but you should check ’em out, because they rock).  And because we’re offering the content here now for free, there’ll be no donations made on behalf of Charity Water.  But, they’re an amazing organization, and if you enjoy this…give ’em a look.

What about you?  Did you enjoy the interview?  What was your biggest take-away?

One Question with Michael Hyatt

Last week, Michael Hyatt,  former CEO & Chairman of Thomas Nelson publishers and expert on social media put out a call for our questions.  Since we just finished Platform (great book!), we knew we had to join in.  The topic was, “What is the internet doing to our brains?” and so we submitted:

“Where’s the line with internet, social media, and our attention spans?  We go online to check Facebook, twitter, email,wordpress comments, only to repeat the cycle after I’ve finished.  You look up, and ‘Oh shoot, there went 15 minutes!'”

We’re so stoked that he picked us, and Michael, in essence, answers:

  • The internet is all-consuming. – You have to draw the lines in the sand, or it will take as MUCH time from you as you give it.
  • Put first things first.  (Sound familiar?) – Make sure that you do the important stuff that *is* self leadership before you respond to demands of the moment.  Slay Your Dragons Before Breakfast.
  • Dial it back.  If you EVER find yourself sacrificing the truly important for the urgent of the internet and social media?  It’s time to dial back.

It’s an excellent podcast, and #2 right now in iTunes business, so you should give it a listen!  Our question comes in at approx. 26:00.

What about you?  How much time do *you* use Facebook, Twitter, Email, etc?  Leave a comment below.  We’d love to hear from you!

 

Interview with Motion Gfx Designer, Geoff Schultz

Geoff Schultz is an awesome person.  He’s a photographer, animator, and mograph guy for Elevation Church.  He’s had enough experience to know the details of the “business” of animation.

I got to interview Geoff a few months back, and he’s some great fast tips that I know you’ll enjoy!

Interview with Geoff Schultz, Motion Graphics Designer

 

Or, if you want, you can download the interview here.

Side note:  We recorded this interview originally as a paid content format.  I’m no longer on the 8BIT team (but you should check ’em out, because they rock).  And because we’re offering the content here now for free, there’ll be no donations made on behalf of Charity Water.  But, they’re an amazing organization, and if you enjoy this…give ’em a look.

Key Points:

  • Geoff talks about some of the more detailed elements of animation
  • How does he stay productive?  What do you do when you’re consistently expected to creatively deliver?
  • What’s are some of the tools in your creative arsenal?

What about you?  Did you enjoy the interview?  What was your biggest take-away?

Interview with Ken Wilson of Newspring Church

Ken Wilson is the AV Director of Newspring Church.  He’s also a father, husband, and one heck of an iphone app junkie.  Through the magic of the internets, Ken was gracious enough to let us pick his brain, and ask him what makes one of NewSpring’s creatives tick.

5 Questions for Ken Wilson of NewSpring Church

1.  Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew going into your job?

It would have been nice to have learned some actual knowledge of, oh, video, design, Photoshop, After Effects, or using a camera.  I was fortunate to come on staff where it was expected that I would learn.

 

2.  You serve with a team insanely creative people.  What books, talks, ideas or people have been instrumental in helping you reach your current level of leadership?

First and foremost the Bible is the major influence over my life. Speaking strictly from a leadership standpoint it governs how I lead my team, my family, and how I interact with everyone on a daily basis. There is no subject, conflict, authority, etc., that isn’t covered.

Beyond that, there have been a few books/talks that have been monumental for me.  Jim Collin’s Good to Great is phenominal.

I loved Gordon McKenzie’s Orbiting the Giant Hairball; it offers great insight on how to lead creatives.

I heard Mark Miller give a talk on creativity one year at the Willow Creek Arts Conference that I still recall. Hearing his thoughts on creativity and brainstorming, and how to guide those effectively, was pivotal for me.

3.  How do you keep fresh eyes?  What do you do for inspiration?

I keep a fully stocked RSS reader which I scan daily, and have learned to also keep an active notebook to capture ideas.To keep fresh ideas it’s important to beg God for them. He is the author of creativity.  I am able to be creative because He gifts that to me.

Beyond that I’ve found it important to learn to keep myself open to reading a lot, watching a lot of movies, and being willing to venture into things that don’t exactly fit my personal preferences.

Also, it’s good not to get too tired, or at least to allow myself to rest.  Better ideas flow when you’re fresher (that’s not always the case, but tends to hold true).

4.  How does a typical brainstorming session look for your team?  (Who’s involved, How long does it last, etc.)

It varies. For our main services my boss, the creative arts pastor, puts together a team of 8-12 to go through the pastor’s message. Our pastor prepares a manuscript for us to review the day before, about 1-2 pages, and includes questions to help him drill down on points in the message. We go through that for an hour, helping him fill in the gaps. After that we talk through any additional creative elements.

Occasionally out of that meeting I’ll initiate another brainstorm with some of our creative artists where we’ll dig deeper into a piece requested (sometimes they have specific parameters, sometimes they’re more open) and we’ll think through the best way to execute. Usually this involves a whiteboard.  If it seems pretty fluid ….that’s because it is.

Sometimes brainstorms are formal.   Sometimes they’re much more loose.

 

5.  What advice would you have for churches just starting to incorporate media / visual arts in their services?

Remember that most of what you see (movies, TV, etc) is created by large teams with many resources. Be realistic.  But, don’t let that become an excuse.

In the end, I’ll take a good idea (which starts on a piece of paper or a whiteboard) over slick execution any day. Don’t let lack of resources (time, etc) limit your creativity. Remember where the creativity comes from.  Also, keep your audience in mind.

What may work for one church may not be what God wants you to do for your church. Seek Him, and He will guide your creativity.  And don’t be scared to work hard.

BONUS FUN:Let’s say you’re headed to a desert island for life, and can only bring one electronic device.  What do you bring & why?

Assuming I have a place to charge the battery… I’m bringing my iPhone. It’d be a toss up between that and the MacBook Pro, but the iPhone can cover a majority of the tasks (Bible app with offline translations, plenty of games, Evernote for capturing my thoughts on the island, a slew of podcasts so I can expand my brain, Stanza ebook reader, and the ever important camera so I can document the adventure).

Also, since the iPhone is smaller than the MacBook I’d probably stand a better chance of not losing it as I climbed a tree escaping wild boar.

 

Three Resources to Help You Be More Responsible

Driving to work yesterday morning, I got caught behind a semi truck.  It was a particularly well-known brewing company.  Still wiping some sleep from my eyes, I noticed a statement in the bottom left corner of the back of the truck……that caught me off-guard.  It said:

Responsibility Matters.

Now, I understand that they were probably referring to “responsibly enjoying” their product.  But, I had a thought: what about in our lives?  Our businesses?  Our marriages?

Does “responsibility matter”?

Maybe you’ve heard that before…..but really think about it for a second:

  • Response-Able – Able to respond.  My dad and I were having lunch yesterday, and we were commenting about the great business success stories of our time.  How they weren’t people who expected everything to be given to them.  They took initiative, decided they weren’t victims, and “got it done.”
  • Responsibility is Opportunity  – Some people think “burden” when they think of responsibility, because they think “blame” is associated with taking responsibility.  But, that’s so limited and incomplete.  It’s a gift.  If you’re faithful with a little bit, you’ll be faithful with much.  That’s how we grow!
  • Blaming is Draining – When we focus our energy on blaming, that’s energy we could’ve spent on just getting things done.  Blaming is the problem, be a part of the solution….take responsibility!
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEpMR1LG9iA]

Some great resources that may help bring some more clarity to this whole subject:

  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – Fantastic book that starts at ground zero and teaches personal responsibility
  • QBQ!  – The “Question Behind the Question” – Shows the second layer of conversation at play when we don’t assume responsibility
  • Dave Ramsey’s “EntreLeadership” book and Podcast – Great nuggets on taking responsibility & growing your influence

 

I believe those that take initiative, claim responsibility, and are proactive are the ones that see success in their lives.  But, what about you?  What do you think?  Does responsibility matter?