Some Unexpected Maintenance…

Sorry for the abrupt site design change, and for the lack of blogging for a while. My former site host accidentally deleted my site (and removed me from Google’s cache), so we’ll be hanging out here at the backup site while I get everything up and running again. In the meantime, since I need to “rebuild my personal brand,” according to some recent events, expect all sorts of new and exciting stuff here shortly! (Offer of “new” and “exciting” subject to change. Offer not valid in all 50 states)

The NFL Combine – Why Athletes Need Media Training

This weekend the city of Indianapolis once again found itself host to the annual extravaganza of athletic prowess and skill, a chance for some to move one step closer to their dreams, and others to move two steps away from it. That’s right; it was time for the 2012 NFL Combine.

I had followed some of the Combine news on my favorite sports site, Bleacher Report. Something that stood out to me, that I had never noticed before, were reports on how the top two NFL prospects (Andrew Luck and Robert Griffith III) reacted to questions from the media and that got me thinking.

One of the things that potential NFL players rarely seem to understand is the importance of interview preparation, before they ever sit down with their potential coaches, or they go in front of the podium to address the press. The hoped-for end result of each interview is the same – the desire to leave a positive impression in the minds of those they are talking with. With stories of NFL players causing problems repeatedly popping up in the headlines, teams (and let’s face it, the league) are craving those “high character” players – the ones who go out and play, maintain their composure in stressful times, and who are relaxed when they are dealing with reporters.

Successful athletes tend to be hounded by the media, after games and especially when there are changes of some kind on the team (new coach, star player is traded away, new ownership group, etc). Reporters look for people they have relatively easy access to, and those who they know will be willing to talk with them. In this 24-7 digital media age reporters don’t have time to wait around for athletes who might be interested in talking to them to make up their mind. They need someone “RIGHT NOW!”

That’s where pre-interview preparation comes into play.

When you decide you want more time in front of the camera, you need to contact your agent (or your community’s local Public Relations Society of America chapter) to start investigating who would be a good fit to prepare you, or your clients, for time in front of the blaring media lens. There are a lot of great media experts out there, but you need to find a professional who won’t put up with being “one of the boys,” and who will be willing to be firm with the athletes they work with. As a professional athlete, and a professional “brand” (for lack of a better word) which many athletes are in this day and age of free agency, it is important to not feel too comfortable with your PR professional. It’s their job to focus on the long-term success of your reputation, how you are seen by the majority of fans and front office leaders.

An Aside: Recently GQ featured a story with Terrell Owens, talking about the trials and tribulations he has recently had to deal with – from his “friends” taking his money like he was an ATM, to the children he has fathered with multiple women, to his rebuilt knee, and finally to the lack of interest he received by NFL teams across the country. Coaches and GMs discussed his “bad attitude” or some kind of “character problems” and dismissed his attempt to return to the NFL outright.

There is no way that Owens couldn’t play an important role on the majority of NFL teams in 2011 and 2012, as a secondary receiver, and a mentor to younger wide receivers. But because he, or more importantly, his agent and publicists, didn’t address the concerns his actions were raising towards his long-term reputation when they happened, he is in the situation he is now, playing minor league football in Texas to make enough money to pay his bills.

Spending some time with a media trainer can help players maintain their composure under a different kind of stressful situation. It may be easy for a star NFL quarterback to avoid a blitzing linebacker, but 60 seconds into an interview with a reporter is a type of stress they may not be ready for. It’s the job of a good public relations professional to have their client ready for these interviews. Plus being a ready interview subject, especially a professional and composed interviewee when your team loses, is a good way to get the one thing that most athletes want – extra TV time on ESPN or Fox Sports.

A quick note: Speaking of those locker room interviews…

One thing that people notice immediately is when an athlete is on “cruise control” in their interviews.  You’ve all seen it, the overly used cliches (“We gave it our all”, “They really brought their ‘A-game’ today”, “I want to thank God for this win”, etc.), the thousand-yard stare that tells us they would rather be showering than talking to a reporter. Reporters don’t look for these interviews, they plead with the gods of journalism to not have these kinds of interviews, but all too often they end up quoting someone saying “we gave it our all.”

Do you or your client want additional TV time? Do you want to start attracting the media attention that might lead to endorsements, or after-career gigs? Then start putting some time in with your PR professional, or ask your agent to hire a PR pro (we’re called “pros” for a reason) to work with you on how to answer the media’s questions. PR professionals are used to putting executives, athletes, government officials and others through what’s called “media training,” which helps you get more comfortable in front of reporters.

Take some time every few days and try to think of quick, non-cliche answers to potential game winning and game losing questions. Sit down with a PR pro and ask how they can be used to help you work with the media to cultivate your image. After a game, take a few minutes to compose yourself, keep them on note cards or someplace in your locker, look at them before you try talking to the media, then remember what you’ve been taught by your PR professional and go out there and have a kick ass interview!

Is it hard? Yes it will be at first. But if you can memorize a three-inch thick playbook, pick up a late blitzing weakside linebacker, read the quarterback’s eyes and still get into coverage for the interception, cross the middle for a first-down pass before getting knocked on your ass, or beat a triple-team block to sack the QB in the end zone then by God you can master talking with the media.

After all, this isn’t the impression any athlete wants to leave with coaches or the media:

Final Cut Pro X – Is This Finally Adobe’s Moment?

Recently, and to much early acclaim, Apple released the newest edition of their professional video editing market standard Final Cut Pro editing suite, Final Cut Pro X. A long needed update to the Final Cut product line, it was eagerly anticipated by video editors for what it might provide for the next generation of projects.

What editors got was, apparently, a steroid-ramped version of iMovie. Don’t get me wrong, iMovie is a nice little video program, and well worth the money you don’t have to spend to get it (when you get a Mac). To state that video geeks were upset is putting it mildly, with so many people complaining about the new product, and doing something really out of character for rabid Mac fans, rating the product one star on the Apple App Store. (a large number of ratings for this product are currently one star).  And no less a video blogging master, and Apple fan, than Robert Scoble has come out stating that heads need to roll for leaving out basics from Final Cut Pro X, such as removing the ability for multi-camera projects. (and the discussion on his blog has been lively, to say the least)

(As I’ve pointed out in the past, there are programs on the PC end that do what iMovie does – some take a little more work to get there, but you have a better editing experience (aka – they are a couple of steps above grandmaware). Primarily Sony’s Vegas Studio suite, and maybe Avid. But Vegas is only available on the Windows platform)

So where does Adobe fit into this?

Adobe’s Premiere Pro CS 5.5 is fairly comparable to Final Cut Pro, and has the added benefit of working on Mac and PC systems. As part of Adobe’s Production Premium Creative Suite, it comes bundled with After Effects, Adobe’s visual effects graphics program, Photoshop, a newly-revamped Adobe Audition audio editing software and many other programs.

Could Adobe fill in the gap now left open by Apple, who’s response to the Final Cut Pro X outcry has been, in typical Apple fashion, to state that

How dare you question the glowing Apple? You’ll take your Final Cut Pro X and like it, or you can stick with Final Cut Pro 7 for your old projects. For your questioning, you must purchase two Macbook Pros, an iPad and an Apple TV (for the hell of it). Now go forth and sin no more…

If Adobe’s smart, they’ll leap at the chance to point out how Premiere Pro will allow you to continue multi-camera projects and other details that Apple left out of Final Cut Pro X. Apple has left some wondering if they are willing to slow their support for the professional market, which they have done in the past, and if another company will step up to the plate and take advantage of this opening.

Corporate Mindfulness, and not Letting the Past Rule You

(From March of this year, as I migrate more content over from SquareSpace)

Don’t repeat the past, the past is there to guide the present into the future. Too many organizations are mired in “how things used to be run” and how to reexamine bringing the past back into the present. The past is in the past for a reason, to be learned from to help you achieve a tomorrow that is better than today, not for you to bring it back from the dead.

The past is in the past for a reason.  Leave it there and learn from it. We try to focus on the past for so much because we want to, for lack of a better term, “hoard” time.

Too many of us want to “turn back the clock” and go to the “good old days.” In personal lives we want to regain our lost youth, and in business we want to return to a day when there was “more” to go around (jobs, wealth, financial security, etc).

While in our society we enjoy poking fun at people who are called “hoarders,” considering ourselves to be above them – but it does not dawn on us that too often in the business world we end up “hoarding” many other things: money, power, desire, contacts, etc. Much like the person who has too much physical clutter in their homes, businesses run the risk of running into too much corporate clutter which warps our mental state as much as any physical junk pile.

Being mindful of not just your corporate needs, but the impact your corporate decisions will have on your community,  can help alleviate some of this, if you are aware of when this clutter begins to show up in your mind.  It’s hard because in order to avoid this “corporate hoarding” you might have to act in ways that are good for the “spirit” but not always the best for the shareholders’ pocketbook (in the short-term, I believe when you look at the long-term it will be better for your organization/city/neighbors/etc)

Benson’s Holiday Hooch Recipe

(We take a break from your regularly scheduled programming for an important announcement)

For the last couple of holiday season’s, my wife and I have been infusing vodka to give as presents to people.  This helped us out when we were saving money for our wedding, we were still able to give people presents and honor what they asked us to do for the holidays – which was “Save your money, you’ll need it for the wedding.” I’d like to say our vodka is known in the Rockies, and I think getting two paragraphs in the Denver Post still counts towards that end. 😉

This year’s holiday hooch was cinnamon spice-vanilla vodka.  The recipe is fairly easy to follow.

3-6 cinnamon sticks (depends on your love of cinnamon)

20-30 clove sticks

1 nutmeg, cracked in half

10-15 allspice

1 vanilla bean, cut in half and each half sliced lengthwise

1 big-ass bottle of vodka

The recipe is fairly simple – take all solid ingredients and drop into the bottle of vodka.  Wait for infusion.

The vodka infusion after the first couple of days.

Then you set the vodka in a cool, dry place for 4-6 weeks – depending on how strong you want the infusion.

Your tasty vodka as the infusion gets close to perfection

Feel free to add vodka to anything you wish to spice up, from tea to hot apple cider (a favorite) to Sprite and more!  The great thing about this recipe is you can add whatever you want, replace whatever you want – the previous year’s recipe included pumpkin and orange instead of cinnamon and allspice.

McCain Flack Compares NYT Editors to…

From Editor and Publisher:

(McCain Campaign Spokesman Michael) Goldfarb compared the editors to a blogger “sitting at home in his mother’s basement and ranting into the ether between games of Dungeons & Dragons.”

Bloggers sitting at home ranting in between Dungeons and Dragons games?

*looks around nervously*

*whispering* How did they know?