Special Guest: Brittany Crockett | Content Machine Ep. #23

Welcome to the Content Machine Podcast. This week, we are joined by Brittany Crockett, a member of the team at Adelsberger Marketing. She does a lot of our writing, and so we’re going to talk about a few things, trends in the writing space. Brittany, thanks for joining us.

Thanks for having me.

So, why is writing concisely or succinctly, depending on which synonym that you use there, why is that important?

Well, as humans, we tend to scan things. When we’re online, we just go as quickly as we can to find the information we want. The shorter it is, the better. Also with humans that are reading things, the vast majority of people are going to be at about a sixth to an eighth grade level reading. You have to write to that generality. You have to use… Don’t use a $10 word when you have a $1 word that works just fine. The shorter we can get things and the more simple we can get things, the better. Aside from that, before it ever gets to a human’s eye and to their mind, we’re writing to AI at this point because we have to get through the machines, through the SEO for it to ever make it to the person that we want to read what we’re writing. And so, for that AI to read that, it needs to be simple. It needs to be easy to read. And the more complex it is, the harder it is for the machines to read it.

And the easier it is for that machine to read it; the quicker Google is going to be able to see that that’s what people are looking for. So that’s a great point. A lot of people don’t think about… A lot of people think about the customers that are reading things, maybe not the machines that are reading things. Now, a lot of times when we have a website project, which is a lot of the writing that you do, you get tons of information from customers. So how do you turn that into something that’s usable?

Well, most people are writing a topic of their own, and so they have something they decide to write on, and it can be decently easy to keep that on track. With a lot of the things that I’m doing and that we’re doing is we have a lot of information that we’re distilling down. So, one of the things that I’ve learned to do is take all of that information and first thing I do is scan all of it and see what stands out immediately. What are the big points that like, this is interesting. I liked reading this. Somebody else might like it, too. Then I always start with more than I need. If I think I have enough information, I typically go back and say, I think I need a little bit more because you’re not going to use everything that you have. So, I go ahead and have more than I need so that I can cut out the things they might think are important but that aren’t or that I didn’t know were going to be important and needed. And then also, you have to learn to distill information, which is writing and rewriting and rewriting again, taking it down and realizing that when you have this big long paragraph, do you really need all of it? Are these five sentences, can you really say it in two? Usually, I take that and keep going down and down until I can get it as small as possible because it can almost always be said in a much simpler way. You hear less is more, and it really is true with writing because everybody’s busy. You don’t want to make people dig for information. You want to make it so simple that when they got through that website, they say, I wish everything was as easy to find as what I just read. Because when people are coming to a website or a social media page, anything, they’re trying to find something, and you want to make it as easy as possible for people to find that information they’re looking for. You don’t want to make them dig because you’ll lose them.

And you said something earlier about something that they’re wanting to tell versus what people are looking for. And I think that’s an important part to think about is, and you do this all the time for websites, is thinking about who is the person reading the website? Not just what the customer wants to say, what the website wants to say, but what are people actually looking for and then making sure that’s in the writing.

Right. Because sometimes those match up, but sometimes they don’t.

And sometimes we have to argue with clients about that, too. And so now, most people write from their perspective. So, when I’m writing these shows or I’m writing something, I’m writing usually from my own perspective because it’s my name on the door. So, the company’s voice is very similar to my voice. But you write for different companies, different accounts all the time. How do you manage switching that voice in and out?

Yeah. So, every company, person, client that we have is different, and we have a different relationship with each one of those clients. Each of those clients has a different relationship with their client. That’s going to show up in how we write for them and how their voice comes out because some of them are going to be super professional and formal. Some are going to be super casual. Some are going to be focused on being funny. It’s just how it reads. Sometimes there isn’t really even a word for exactly how they want to come across online in a written word, but you think about how you want to write for them as how you would be having a conversation with them in real life. I have to figure out how to translate that into a written format. For me, that involves looking at things that they’ve looked at in the past, so things they’ve liked and disliked, like websites, other social media accounts, and also participating in in person meetings and just hearing how they talk, hearing how they talk to us, hearing how they talk about their customers, and getting feedback early as well, because in those first weeks of a relationship with a client, those first weeks and months, we’re getting feedback on almost everything and making sure that what we’re saying is how they want it to be said. The longer that we have with a relationship with a client, we really learn how they like things said and how they want it to be said, depending on the situation, whether it’s talking about an event or just information or about a story, because even those things within a certain client looks different. We learn and relearn and add on to what we’re starting to say for that client and learn how to say it for them, the more we work with them.

So, if someone’s thinking about building their copy writing skill set or doing some copy writing, and I also think there is a difference between maybe technical writing or informational writing and copy writing, because copy writing is usually headlines and stuff like that, but they cross over. You’re going to end up doing both if you’re doing writing somewhere. Are there any resources that you can recommend for people?

Sure. So, one of the things that we’ve really implemented recently is Smart Brevity by Axios. In this book, it basically talks about the importance of being concise and brief, and it has a layout of how to write things. We’ve implemented some of that, but I think the concepts of it are really great. It’s a really good resource for how to think about writing those headlines and those short attention-grabbing lines. Another book that I know some of us have read was How to Write Copy That Sells. It’s by Ray Edwards. And though it does have a lot of typos in it, the actual information in the book is great. And it does have some good information about writing good informational copy. Another thing that we’ve really used at Adelsberger Marketing in the past few years is Story Brand by Donald Miller. We walk through that with most of our clients. And walking through that with clients, we have to do that internally and not just walk them through it. And by doing that, it helps us think about what story are we trying to tell for them. And so that is a great one to get you thinking about how to say things in a good way.

And a practical thing for me is having the Grammarly extension in Chrome. I’m a pretty good speller and I’m pretty good with grammar, but it keeps me making sure that everything’s done. It makes me think about, am I saying this the best way? Am I writing this in the very best way possible? And sometimes I overrule what it tells me to do, but it makes me question it and decide if I’m making the right decisions. And I think it’s a great thing for anybody, even if you’re not writing day to day, it’s still a great thing to have.

Well, Brittany, thank you so much for sharing your insight. And thank you all for checking out the Content Machine Podcast. Every week we try to provide you an episode that will add value to your business or to your leadership style. And so, subscribe to us. And if this episode is helpful, text it to a friend. Thank you for listening.

Scott Williams of Discovery Park of America Part 2 | Content Machine Ep. #22

Welcome to the Content Machine Podcast. We are listening to the second part of our interview with Scott Williams today. If you haven’t heard the first half, go back in your podcast feed and listen to the first half.

We do a lot of marketing here, and that’s the main focus of this channel. When you think about your general philosophy of marketing for a museum, which you’ve had the opportunity to be involved in at a couple of different locations now, what is that? You had students come and be like, “How do we sell a museum?” Where are you going to start?

Yeah, you know what? It’s really no different than selling anything else. You have to have everybody who’s working on the project and or the product know who is the target audience, number one. What is your objective? What strategies are you going to use? And then what tactics are you going to agree to use? And then how are you going to measure those so you can evaluate through time? You and I have both been associated with organizations or with individual campaigns where it’s just all over the place, where you start off, maybe everybody starts off, but so easy to veer off target and end up just checking off boxes and doing things, posting on Facebook because you’re supposed to. But are you measuring the effectiveness of that? Now more than ever, we can’t afford to have people just randomly out there flailing posting things. We got to be targeted on all the things that we do during the day. Is this contributing to the plan we’ve agreed on? Now, you got to be flexible and be willing to change the plan, but verbally change the plan or in writing change the plan. That’s probably the biggest challenge for me, especially. If you throw a stick, I am excited to go chase it for you. And I get that constantly. People will throw sticks and say, Oh, look, here’s another fun, shiny, pretty stick. And so I have to really watch myself and keep myself real then because I’m leading a whole team. So it’s easy for me to say, “Hey, everybody, let’s all go get the stick.” Now, a lot of my direct reports will tell you that I still struggle with that very mightily. So anyways, it’s pretty much just like the other aspect of this that’s probably different than other projects or other products is that we have to be very much aligned in tourism with our state tourism departments. If there’s a local convention and visitors bureau, it’s very smart to take advantage of every opportunity to partner with those folks who are also trying to do the same thing you’re trying to do, but oftentimes with bigger budgets. They’re trying to get visitors into the state or into the city. And so it’s really important to support them, buy the ads if they need you to do whatever you got to do to support them and help them be successful at what they’re doing because it’ll just pay off for you.

All right. So that’s like a 50,000 foot view. What do you specifically do to get people in the door at Discovery Park? What has worked for you guys?

I think the challenge of Discovery Park is the value proposition is a little different for everybody. So it’s making sure that people understand the value proposition. We had an incident Friday night where somebody was here. I happened to be here for an event that we were having here, but somebody just came into the front door and she said, “We’re staying at the hotel next door. What is this place?” And so I was able to explain it. She was from Chicago and her and her mom and dad were here for UT Martin’s graduation. And so I thought, Well, this is an interesting experience. I need to be able to do this exact thing on a broad scale every day. And so seeing who she was and I gage, where are you from? And found out who she was, where she was from, figured out about how old she was. And I was able to tell her about how much fun Discovery Park is and focus on some of the areas she was interested in history. I was able to say, here are some of the things that we have here. So we really have to be able to be very flexible in how we present Discovery Park because you are going to want to bring your kids here because you want to give them an incredible experience that will help further their education and help further their impression of the world. But if you and your wife were in your mid 60s and your kids have moved away, you want a different experience. You want to know that you can come here and it’s not a children’s museum. So we have to be very careful that we don’t over emphasize some of the things we have for younger people. We want you to be able to come here. And then by the time you get in your 80s, you might not want to have to walk around a lot. So you want to know that there’s enough in just the building that we wouldn’t focus on the 50 acres to you. We want to focus just on the building. With teachers, we promote the fact, well, first of all, there’s the Kirkland Scholarship Fund. So if you’re a teacher and you want to bring your class here, but you know you can’t afford it, your school can’t afford field trips, Discovery Park of America pays the tickets of schools who 50 % or more are on the free or reduced lunch program. So you would probably fall into that category if you were worried about expenses. And so we would promote that. First of all, it’s free. And second of all, it’s legitimately changing lives. And so we would make sure you understand that as a teacher who cares about these students, bringing them here could literally put them on a different course. And we have lots of research at this point that we share of students who have written us back and said, Hey, that discovery part changed my life, and here’s how. And so each of those different target audiences, we know what the value proposition is, what they’re looking for, what are the hot points, and we make sure we focus on that when we promote. One size does not fit all.

And then same thing with our development initiative. So we have to raise money. As a 501 nonprofit, we do make money off of ticket sales and restaurant sales and merchandise. But that only covers about half of our expenses. And so we have to fundraise. And so you, as a person who’s a philanthropist who’s looking for places where you might want to support, if you’re from California, you’re probably not super passionate about supporting West Tennessee, Kentucky. But there are a lot of philanthropists who are. And so we try to get in front of them and show them, look, we’re making a huge difference. If you join us and come alongside us, we can make an even bigger difference. So we have people who love to support educational facilities, and they come to us and say, here’s what I’m passionate about. Here’s what I want to try to do at your facility. And we work with them to develop a program where their funds can also be applied to do things like what we do here.

That multifaceted approach, is that a lot different than maybe the Museum or Graceland? Or is it the nature of the Discovery Park that it is so diverse that it’s a different animal?

It’s very similar to the Museum, but it’s very different than Graceland because Graceland was not a 501 nonprofit. So the difference between working for a nonprofit Museum and a for profit Museum is in a for profit Museum, if it doesn’t work on the Excel spreadsheet, you probably aren’t going to keep doing it. You need to make a profit. You need to pay for things and then make a profit. In the nonprofit world, things, of course, need to return on the investment, but oftentimes at a deficit. And that’s okay because people want to fund initiatives. And for example, our exhibit on innovation in agriculture, it would not be as fantastic as it is without the contribution of our partners like Simmons Bank, Nutri and Ag Solutions. There’s a lot of folks that contributed. Same thing with our Waterfall exhibit. We have many, many financial supporters who are, because they’re giving us the money, we’re able to do this incredible exhibit. We would do an exhibit, but it would not be as mind blowing as this one’s going to be. And so that’s a very different model between the two.

What are some of the challenges? I particularly think about the rural nature of Union City. How does that affect what the Discovery Park is doing?

Yeah. Obviously, a town of 10,000 is not going to support 100,000 square foot museum on a 50 acre heritage park. So it’s really crucial. A lot of museums will look at their community, their town. If we were in Chicago, we would be looking at Chicago as the community we serve. For us, the community we serve has to be has to be much, much broader. So we’re serving Nashville, Memphis, Jackson, Paducah, in some cases, St. Louis, and even Louisville. So our backyard is much bigger and much broader. So we have to really focus much differently on those areas. And then I would say probably our number one biggest challenge is we don’t have a gigantic employment pool to draw from in the first place. And then when you’re in an era like we’re in now, where everybody’s struggling to fill positions, we struggle even more. So filling positions, I think, is one of our big challenges now. We’re very fortunate that we have UT Martin. It’s 20 minutes away and we really position ourselves. And it is true that we are a place where people who are either students or just graduated can see what work is like. And so my direct reports and myself, we really try to make this be a place where young people can see what work is like, where we can model good leadership and we can model what they can expect. I give a little speech at every one of our orientations where I say, look, if you’re a young person and this is your first job, it is sometimes difficult to know what is normal because you don’t have a bar. And so we work really hard to set that bar high and teach young people this is what’s acceptable, this is what’s not acceptable. And we say if you don’t know, ask us. If you want to ask me or you want to ask our HR director, or you want to ask your manager, that made me feel uncomfortable. Is that normal? And also there are situations where I or one of the managers will ask somebody to do something and the person pushes back a little bit. They didn’t understand the difference between college and work. And they don’t understand the difference between us as professionals and hopefully mentors and professors. We’re not professors. We’re wanting engagement. We’re wanting them to give us their opinion. We’re wanting them to almost be peers and to approach it that way. So while it’s challenging trying to find positions, trying to find people to fill positions, it’s also created a great opportunity for us to really be almost like College 2.0 for a lot of people. And then also we have some incredible retirees who say, you know what? I have worked now. I just want a place to come every day and be fulfilled. We have a lot of retirees who come and work here and they love working with the young people. So it’s created an opportunity where there’s also a bit of a challenge.

How is more abundant web experiences like YouTube and VR going to affect museums in the future, you think?

So of course, I am curious with AI and how all that all of the technology. For us in the museum business, I think we’re going to look at how technology can help us solve problems, which is how can we better tell stories or communicate information? Just a few minutes ago before I got on this phone with you, I was looking at a technological experience that one of the museum companies is offering for rent or for sale. And while it looked compelling and it looked interesting, it’s only something that could be done one at a time. And so it was one piece of equipment and one individual could do it. But I thought that’s not going to solve any… That’s just going to create problems for us because the museum business is always feast or famine. You’ll have 600 people one day and 60 people the next day and 6 the next. So we have to be able to accommodate any of those. And I’m afraid too many people would be extremely disappointed if they came and stood in line and never got a chance to actually do the thing. And then they spent all their time here. So technology and both online and in person, it’s just another tool. There’s a tendency for me to want to be in every single thing all at once and to do everything and to be great at everything as an organization. But I do think we’re entering an era where I think I would rather be good, really great at less and so maybe not be everywhere. So I don’t know exactly yet which areas we might shave off, but in some cases, we’re just going through the motions. And that’s what I think we want to shave that off. And we want to be really excellent. We have a great opportunity because I’ve got a building full of people who are experts in a variety of sectors. And so whether it’s biology or history, I’ve got people that are passionate and they love to talk about those things. So I have content that no one else has. And so it’s how do we best use that, that then results in somebody buying a ticket to Discovery Park of America. At the end of the day, that is my objective is to get people through that turnstile. Now, if I inspire children and adults to see Beyond online and they never have to visit Discovery Park, that’s great. But I really need to get them through that turnstile.

Yeah, for sure. Well, speaking of content, the Real Footforward podcast is a podcast that you guys produce there at the Discovery Park. Can you talk about the what and the why behind that?

Yeah, sure. As we mentioned, Discovery Park is in a town of 10,000, and so our backyard was very small. We saw Real Footforward, a West Tennessee podcast, as an opportunity to broaden that to get people in Jackson, Memphis, not quite as far as Nashville, but we stay focused on West Tennessee. There are people out there that are doing incredible things that line up with our mission to inspire children and adults to see beyond. So it was an opportunity to get those individuals, spend a little bit of time, get to know them, have our listeners get to know them. And we’re getting in the neighborhood of 3,000 listeners to each podcast, which is solid for us. I’d love it if it was 30,000. But I’m happy with that. It also helps introduce us to people that don’t know about Discovery Park, and I still get that. People from Memphis or Nashville or Jackson, I still get now, Who are you? Now, what are you? Are you a water park? There are still people who don’t get what we’re about. But if I invite you to be on our podcast, which I did, you’re going to, first of all, even if it’s at the last minute, you’re going to Google it real quick and make sure you understand now who am I going to be with here? You’re going to make sure you know who we are. And then once you’ve been on the podcast and had a positive experience and you’ve listened to it, you made sure it sounds good, you’re going to then share it on social media. You’re going to let all your friends know about it. And then that way we can take advantage of your social network and just get it one more circle out in circulation. Now, the hardest thing, as you know, is to stay consistent. It is so easy to run out of guests and be too focused on other things to get some more in the can. We really have had to make sure it’s a priority. A while back, we said, Well, let’s just do it every other week. And we did that. And then we said, No, let’s just re commit. Let’s do it every week. And it’s given us a return on the investment of my time and of our financial resources to put it together. And once we get it down, it’s easy to produce and it’s fun to listen to. And I’ve had a lot of people who have said to me, I listen every week. I love the guests you have. Because sometimes I’m in the middle of one and I’m like thinking, Is anybody going to think this is interesting? I hope so. I will because I think everything’s interesting. And so I think, Oh, my gosh, I hope people are into this. And so far, they always seem to be. And we seem to have a good listenership. And we have a lot of people who email us and ask questions about the guest or whatever. So it’s become a little promotional tool that we started off not knowing if it was going to work or not. And so now, I think we’re like three years going strong.

It’s a Lot of time to produce podcast. Most don’t make it that far. Well, speaking of longevity, if you were to paint a picture of the future of the Discovery Park, what would you be looking at?

I think that it’s time for me to do a new three year strategic plan for Discovery Park. And so we’re looking at that. Obviously, with… Well, not obviously. If you haven’t been here, you wouldn’t realize that we have 50 acres. And so we have enough here for people to literally spend three days doing. So we don’t want to necessarily expand outwards and add a thousand different things. We want to vary with a lot of strategy, enhance and improve the experience and make it… We have traveling exhibits that come every year. And so we want to make sure the quality of those stays significant. During COVID, a lot of companies that developed traveling exhibits put everything on hold. So the American Association of Museums conference is coming up in a couple of weeks. And so we’re going to go to that and try to find some really fantastic bodies and Titanic level exhibits that we can bring in in 2025. So I think it’s just continuing what we’ve learned and building upon that, making sure that we’re here for the people of this region to bring their kids. And we have a joke the other day, we have had a lot of people who met here, and then they had their wedding here, and then they have their kids’ first birthday parties here. And so I joke that maybe we need to have a cemetery so that we could literally be creolous grave here at Discovery Park. So we want to continue this great relationship we have with the people of this region and continue to serve.

Well, Halloween would be a lot easier than two play off each other really nicely. Well, Scott, I want to say thank you for your time. Appreciate you coming on and appreciate what you’re doing at the Discovery Park. It should be an anchor of West Tennessee for years to come, and leadership is going to be required for it to do that. Appreciate what you’re doing up there. If you guys are interested in the Discovery Park, where should they go to find out more?
Discoveryparkofamerica.com. And then go buy a ticket.

Absolutely. And you know what? I’m up there all the time. I’d love to say hello. So ask for Scott Williams and I’ll give you the little welcome spiel.

All right. Well, thank you, Scott, and we’ll talk to you later.

Our Mission | Content Machine Ep. #21

A few weeks ago, we talked about how company identity can build a competitive advantage and how culture eats strategy for breakfast. I wanted to take an episode to talk about our mission here at Adelsberger Marketing. The mission of Adelsberger Marketing is to make creative work that grows our clients businesses in a culture that values our team and community. So let’s break that down piece by piece here.

One, our mission. Our mission is our overarching component of what we do. And ideally, this is a statement that will never change. It’s an ongoing pursuit with no end date in mind. So we use this as a test to see if we are on track. At our annual meeting to review the year, I use these elements to help us show how our work is fitting into this, or it’s not. The first component there is is, “to make creative work”. Our goal is to make creative work here at Adelsberger Marketing. Not just any work, but creative work. As we move into a new world with artificial intelligence, true creativity will be the last bastion for creative services. But also in our industry, it can be tempting to make work that lacks creativity just to get a sign off from the client. But we believe that good ideas win the day. So we push ourselves and our clients to take the creative approach.

The next part is that, “it grows our clients businesses”. Creative work alone can be helpful or not helpful to a business. We want to channel our creativity in a way that benefits the businesses of our clients. If we are not good at helping build our clients businesses, we are not being useful to them, and that is not a good business strategy. In a culture, I chose to speak about culture in the mission statement because I know how important it is to our team and how important it is to making good work. We want to be the best place to work in West Tennessee, and a huge component of that is building a culture that people are attracted to. I love my team. I want to make their lives better. We respect each other’s time off. We respect each other’s input. We respect each other, period. And sometimes we lose together, but always we win together. I believe it is our people that give us the advantage over other agencies and other businesses in the area.So we wanted this mission statement to make it clear that that is a focus of ours.

We also included the community in the mission statement. I am not from West Tennessee. I am a transplant from Illinois. The community of West Tennessee has been so very welcoming to me, and has allowed me and my family to build a life here. I will always be grateful for that. And part of our mission is to value our community because we see that as core to our identity. We see being involved here, if that’s investment in boards, nonprofits, or our availability for job shadowing and internships, we seek to give back. And besides, because of the gratefulness of the welcoming community, I see that as part of my responsibility as a Christian. We have worked to make this mission statement sticky. It’s on the back of hoodies. It’s on stickers. We use it at our annual meeting. We cover it in onboarding. We want everyone on the team to understand it and work from it. I believe a few things about it. One, it’s the right thing to do. I think we have a moral prerogative to build this type of business. Two, it’s true of our company. I am fortunate that our mission statement lines up with who we are as a company, and it’s part of my job every day to make sure that that remains true. And it will give us a competitive advantage. A solid mission statement that is true and leads to a great culture is going to be a competitive advantage every day, all day.

So do you have a defined mission statement? Do you make it available to your team? Do you make that idea sticky? Do you help them learn it and live it out? Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Where is your culture flowing from? Thank you for watching this episode of the Content Machine Podcast. If you found it helpful, please text this episode to a friend, and we look forward to seeing you on the next episode.

Scott Williams of Discovery Park of America | Content Machine Ep. #20

Welcome to the Content Machine Podcast. Today, we have part one of a two part interview with Scott Williams from the Discovery Park of America. Our guest today is Scott Williams. He’s the President and CEO of the Discovery Park of America. Scott, thanks for joining us.

Hey, thank you, Kevin. It’s exciting to be on this end of the podcast recording.

Absolutely. I was a guest on Scott’s a few months ago and enjoyed reading one of your books and enjoyed coming to the Museum whenever I get the chance. So why don’t you give us a little overview about you, Scott?

Yeah, sure. So I am, I guess, on my LinkedIn, I think it says I am a museum professional. I see myself as being in the museum business. Although when you work for a museum, you’re also in the tour and travel and destination business. I originally majored in advertising with a concentration in journalism. I’ve got that backwards, journalism with a concentration in advertising from the University of Memphis and then worked for ad agencies and different companies in the in the marketing arena. Landed at Elvis Presley enterprises, where I was first really introduced to both the tour and travel business and running a historic destination. Fell in love with both of those two businesses and the way they intersect and ended up moving to Washington, DC, where I got to apply both of those two skills at the Museum, which was the Museum of the News and the First Amendment in Washington, DC. Got to work with some incredible people and learned a ton. But I never really got over being homesick for West Tennessee, which is where my people are from, as they say. Discovery Park of America’s President, Jim Ruppey, was about to retire and they were looking for somebody to run this incredible place.

One thing led to another, and I got the job and have been here now for five years.

Wow. Okay, so five years. And then you’ve written some books, so I want to give you a chance to plug your books real quick.

Yeah, thank you. Just as a hobby, I love to write. Several years ago when the internet was new and I was trying to learn it just like everybody else was, I saw genealogy research as a way for me to practice writing and practice using the internet and using the new tools that were out there for us as communicators to use. I was one of the first people on Blogger, which was how we blogged back in the day. And so I had a genealogy blog and ended up getting a website. And one thing led to another from that. And I ended up publishing a book about Richard Halliburton, who was an explorer, who was from West Tennessee. He was from the same town my people were from, which is Brownsville. And that led to several other books. And so my most recent book is about David Crockett. So anybody who’s interested about David Crockett can Google Scott Williams and David Crockett on Amazon, and my book will come up to the top. So it’s really added the whole opportunity to be able to self publish and to be able to not have to submit your work and go through a publisher and wait for approval and all that.

To be able to have the ability to publish a book that I think needs to be out there has really added a lot to both my life and career that I would encourage others who are listening, if they’ve got that book inside them, don’t wait for somebody else to do it, they can jump in and do it.

I read the Hal Berton book and it was fascinating and a part of history of Weston City that I have never come across. So that was very cool. Now I noticed I’ve always referred to him as Davy Crockett, but you very intentionally called him David Crockett. What’s the difference there?

Back then in real time, Davy Crockett was really an insult. He went by David Crockett. He was a congressman. And that was a way that people would minimize his opinions. So they would call him Davey as a a childlike reference to his name. But he never went by Davey. He always went by David Crockett. And of course, it was Disney who brought the Davey back up. And I guess Davey had a better ring to it. So it’s Disney’s fault that everybody now knows he’s Davey, Davey Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.

Yeah. Well, when the mouse says something, everybody listens generally, right? That’s right. All right. So how do you get to be a museum director? Because that seems like there’s a lot of different career trajectories in life, but a lot of people don’t grow up being like, I can’t wait to be a museum director when I’m.

Growing up. Right. And what I found is almost 100 % of the jobs out there, very few people ever wanted to be that when they started out. And everybody’s path is completely different. In the museum world, typically, your executive directors are academics. Usually, they are typically going to be academics in the area that that particular institution represents. So if it’s the whaling Museum, the chances are good that the executive director is going to be a person who has a degree in whaling biology and has a PhD. In an art museum, it’s going to be somebody who has an art history, Masters, and then a PhD. So it’s usually very academic. My path was a little bit different in that, as I mentioned, I started off in marketing and PR and sales. My focus is usually everywhere I’ve worked, trying to get people to do what we need them to do, and that is to visit our institutions. So whether it’s Graceland or the Museum or Discovery Park, I have an emphasis on trying to get people here and trying to get people through the door because we can’t implement our mission unless we get people through the door.

So that usually takes up a lot of my day is implementing things that does that. So I think everybody’s career path is going to be a little bit different. And that’s what intrigued me about Discovery Park is if I wanted to work in a museum, the chances are because I don’t have an academic background in a particular area, I knew I was going to have to go to a museum that was unique. Now, the thing about Discovery Park that makes it so unique, and for people who’ve been here, they will understand this, but for people who are just hearing about it, when you work in the museum business, you often have to fill out forms and applications for grants and things like that. And they’ll want to know, what museum are you? And there will be a series of boxes, science, technology, art, history, transportation. The interesting thing about Discovery Park is there’s never been a box that I haven’t had.

To check. It’s all those things.

We are all those things. So it’s a children’s museum, an adult museum. And so it would have been impossible to find an academic who had an expertise in all those areas. So it just so happened that my eclectic background worked out well for this particular museum. But I’m not somebody who is going to be the executive director of the shed Aquarium in Chicago. That’s not going to make sense. Now, there is a part of this job that also relates to finances. You have to make sure that you’re running it responsibly and that you’re economically viable for long term growth. And so there’s part of that that I bring to the table. And then there’s also just the basic leadership. You’ve got a group of people who are trying to accomplish a common task. You just have to make sure that everybody’s rowing in the same direction. And then there’s problem solving and the things that anybody in charge of any business has to be responsible for.

Absolutely. Well, why don’t you tell us about the Discovery Park then? You mentioned the mission just a second ago. Maybe lead off with that.

Yeah. Another thing that sets us aside from most museums is our Genesis story. Robert Kirkland was a philanthropist here in Union City. A lot of people have heard of Kirkland’s stores. He and his cousin opened Kirkland stores. Robert Kirkland had a knack for being able to travel around the country and see a gigol and say, I bet I could reproduce this. A what? A gigol. Have you ever heard that word? No. It just means a product of some kind. So he could go and see a Vase and he could say, You know what? I bet I could have this Vase reproduced for two dollars, and then I could sell it for five. So he would import, have it manufactured overseas, import it, put it for sale. And he just had a knack for that because he got to travel around the world. He saw a lot of things. It really shaped who he became and how he approached the world. And so he was sad that there would be a lot of people in northwest Tennessee. And honestly, he was thinking more closer to home in Union City in Obion County. He knew there would be a lot of people who wouldn’t be able to travel around the world.

So they wouldn’t have those experiences that he had. They wouldn’t get to see some of the things that he had seen and the things that had meant so much to his life. So he was also a big jokester. He once wrote an article and had it put in the paper that he was working on a plan to move real foot Lake closer to Union City for economic purposes. And there were some people that believed him. So anyway, when he put an ad in the paper that said, I’m going to build a center for education in Northwest Tennessee, and I want you to help me, meet me at the library at this date and this time, and we’ll do it together. Well, a lot of people were like thinking, Is this another practical joke or is this legit? So surprisingly, for people who don’t know, Union City is a town of about 10,000. And O’Brien County has about 30,000 residents. Well, so that night at the library, more than 250 people showed up, which was really mind blowing when it’s hard to get 250 people to go to anything. That’s right.

Unless it’s a Taylor Swift concert.

Unless it’s a Taylor Swift concert. Right. So he divided the library into rooms and sections, and he put a piece of paper on the table that said transportation, science, history, drama, music, and marketing. And he said, go to the table that you’re the most interested in that subject. So people broke up and they went to their table and he said, You are now the committees. I want you all to work together and bring to me your recommendations for what you would put in a center of education in Union City. And so those people all worked together. Some committees worked more diligently than others, but everybody brought back the stuff. And then he took all of that to the museum professionals who then turned around and came back and made presentations to the group. Here’s what we would recommend. Here’s what we would do. His original budget was $30 million. There was a pause in the production when they had a changeover in architects. And so he took the money that he was investing and that he was going to put into Discovery Park, he invested it well. And by the time he was able to push the go button again, his investments had paid off and some other things had happened and he could invest $100 million.

So by the time it was done, he spent $100 million on Discovery Park and he was very specific. He wanted the best of every single thing, every aspect. He spared no expense. He wanted it to be the most incredible experience anybody could have. And as he said on opening day, and as I said, he was a jokester, but he said on opening day in front of everybody, he said, I hope this is the most fun that any of you all can ever have with your clothes on. So he absolutely made that happen. He was sick when they opened the doors when he cut the ribbon. He had cancer. And then he was able, however, to be there at the front door as the first busses of school groups came and kids piled out. He got to actually see Discovery Park being used and changing lives. So it’s a remarkable place with a remarkable story. I think one of my favorite things about Discovery Park is to stand up near the escalators because a lot of kids show up here from some of our more rural areas and have never seen an escalator. It’s their first time to see it.

It’s their first time to ride on one. And so that really shows you who we’re touching and how we’re helping. The escalators and the elevators and everything are in glass so that you can see how they work. So maybe we’re inspiring an engineer or two.

That’s awesome. And so what’s your favorite exhibit there?

I would have to say currently, my favorite exhibit is the one that we kicked off at this point. It’s been two years ago on innovation in agriculture because we did the same thing over again that Robert Kirkland did. And we put the word out, we’re going to create an exhibit on agriculture. What does it need to be? And we had a lot of focus groups with farmers, with Ag scientists, with Ag professors at UT Martin. We had one where we had all kids. We had a focus group where we just interviewed kids and said, What do you know about agriculture? And we just researched. And then we applied all that learning to the exhibit. And it was a million dollar exhibit. And it really, still today, is doing a great job of helping people understand why innovation in agriculture is so important. And it also gives you a real fun hands on experience, which is what we in the museum business, we want to inspire, but we want to do it in a fun, entertaining way. So now we are currently working on one called duck duck goose Waterfowl of the Mississippi Flyway. And that may become my favorite exhibit because we’re following the same pattern.

And it is so applicable, just like agriculture was very applicable to what we do here in Northwest Tennessee. Waterfowl of the Mississippi Flyway, one of the first things I did when I moved here five years ago is I’m seeing all these people putting sticks in their boats. And I’m like thinking sticks and leaves and stuff. And of course, now I know they’re disguising their boats so they can go duck hunting. But at the time, I thought it was such an odd thing to see. So it’s really going to be an exhibit that I think is going to help support everything that goes on here in visitors who come here to go duck hunting, I think you’re going to enjoy seeing it. But also just the spirit behind it has been really enjoyable to work with all the people who are excited. We’re partnering with Ducks Unlimited, and of course, there’s no better conservation organization than Ducks Unlimited. So it’s been a lot of fun. So I suspect that one opens in November. So I think it’s probably going to end up being my favorite.

Are you going to have Duck Hunter in there?

Are we going to have a duck hunter?

The game, the video game Duck Hunter.

You know what? We’ve actually talked about that. We’ve actually talked about that.

I know that’s in program one with West Tennessee fowl in it.

That’d be awesome. Right. We are going to have a real foot Lake style duck blind on our water here at Discovery Park. And people who have not duck hunted, which until recently that was me. But there’s a different style of duck hunting that is done on Realfoot Lake than what is done down in Arkansas or what is done up at the beginning of the Mississippi Fly away. So we’re really going to talk about the different styles that take place around the country and give people a chance to go actually sit in a duck blind and see what it feels like and see what it’s like. Here at Realfoot Lake, a lot of the duck blinds have refrigerators and stoves and they cook big breakfasts. And we’re probably going to have that. We’re not going to cook people big breakfasts. But people can get a sense for what happens in those blinds. And then also, the other confusing thing that we’re going to have people explore is the intersection between duck hunting and conservation. My wife is like, How does that make sense? They’re shooting the ducks out of the sky. How is that conservation? And so this exhibit is going to explore that.

How, if there weren’t duck hunters, there would probably be very few ducks remaining today as there are. So I’ve learned a lot during this process. And I think visitors are going to be like me and come in knowing nothing really about the whole topic and really learning a lot about it.

Very cool. Very cool. That concludes the first half of our interview with Scott Williams. Stay tuned in a few weeks, we’ll release the second half.

Identity For Success| Content Machine Ep. #19

In a world of jobs, a workplace with purpose will count for more. Is there purpose in your workplace? I think this is something that will become more and more relevant to job seekers as the years go on. People want more than just a job. They want a place where they can thrive and align with the mission of the organization. A strong company has an identity, and a strong company with an identity is a competitive advantage. Why? Well, culture flows from identity. Who the company is, what it stands for is the start of a healthy company culture. Now, that’s not certainly all that there is to it, but it lays the foundation for where you want to go. And it’s famously said by Peter Drcker, Culture eats strategy for breakfast. The second reason why it’s important is identity will give someone something to attach to more than just a job. A company with a strong identity will attract people who seek purpose in their work. People who seek purpose in what they do are usually the best folks to have around. So if identity builds culture and helps attract and retain talent, what is it? Identity starts usually from the founder, but is frequently distilled into a few components, the mission, the vision, and core values.

The mission statement is what the company is here to do, not necessarily the how because the how can change, but the what and the why. These statements, if made properly, are short, memorable, will last decades. It’s not something you want to change every couple of years and will be something that you can work into all phases of an employment attention, training, onboarding, and really offboarding too. Vision is what the world will look like if your mission is successful. It is the future state that you might not ever get to, but it gives you a long term goal to look to. Core values are key components to building a workplace that is fulfilling the mission. This list of values can help you set your company apart and add to the character of your organization by encouraging certain behaviors among the team. So how do you go about implementing mission vision and core values? One, define them. If you’re the leader, this is your responsibility, but I encourage you to get feedback from your team and once they are solidified, write them down and make them available to others. Repeat it and make the idea sticky. Finding opportunities to repeat the mission statement, the vision statement, the core values will help it sink into the minds of those that are listening.

Repetition is important. And then make the idea sticky with graphics or mugs, shirts, hoodies. Making the idea sticky can help people remember what the statement is and help them reference it as they’re going through their working life. Make it part of the organization’s accountability. Use it as a structure for your annual report. Show the company how you use the mission statement to fulfill its goals this year. Allow your people to call you out for not following the core values. Reward those who do embody the core values. Make it a big deal. What’s measured is improved. Think about core values, mission, and vision this way. In an upcoming episode, we’re going to look at our company’s mission, vision, and core values. And if you want to talk about creating your company’s identity or making the ideas more sticky, shoot me an email. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Content Machine Podcast. If you found it helpful or interesting, please text it to a friend.

90 Day Content Plan| Content Machine Ep. #18

Love making content around here for our clients and for ourselves at Adelsberg Marketing. Today, we want to think about how to generate that content. We also like to think about things in 90 days or one quarter timelines to work towards success. So let’s talk about how to make a plan for 90 days worth of content. So where do we start? Three keys to being successful. One, someone specifically assigned the responsibility of generating and distributing the content. How do having accountability for these things matters? Number two, a plan to succeed made ahead of time so that you can be ahead of the curve when you’re trying to make things. And then three, making it a priority by putting things on the schedule, on the calendar, to take time to make things and make reminders to post those things as well. So for this podcast, every Monday afternoon, I have a dedicated time set out to come in and recording this podcast. When we think about the particular pieces of content, we’re going to talk through the process that we would want you to think about when you’re making one piece of content. And you can repeat that process many times in almost like a Mad Lib type format.

The first step to think about is what makes you or your business unique. We love Post it Note exercises, and if you’re familiar with those, this is a great time to use one. But if not, think about the following. Number one, what competitive advantages do you have over others? For example, do you have access to certain products that other people don’t? Or do you have a specific expertise? Number two, does any of our people have a great personality online? So is there someone in your company who is super comfortable being online? And maybe it’s funny, which is obviously not the case with me. And then three, do you have any processes that are interesting to the general public? We have video shoots all the time, and behind the scenes shots are generally interesting to people. So this is also a great time to think about your brand personality. Is your brand very professional? Then setting a funny guy loose without any restrictions might be a problem. So keep that in mind as we move further down the path. Using notes from that list above, we can then start to look at how that interacts with our customers’ wants and needs.

So one, what do your customers care about? It’s that old sizzle or stake situation. Are the customers really buying this from you or are they wanting something else? Are they wanting the sizzle or are they wanting the stake? What do your customers need to know? What information do you want them to know about your business? So you have to balance both of those factors. And then three, what’s the customer’s level of awareness about your business? Do they know that you exist and they know that you need your product and they just need a reminder? Or they are at the very top of the funnel and they don’t know that you exist and they don’t know that they need your product. This will help determine what type of content you create. Because if someone doesn’t know anything about you, you have to take a different approach to it than if they are already familiar with your customer. This will help determine what type of content you create. This will help determine what type of content you create. If a customer doesn’t know who you are, they require a different set of information if they’re already familiar with you.

Now, let’s combine some of these things. Let’s take one, what makes us special, and one, our customer needs, and one, our customer awareness level. And then let’s add some content structures to make the ideas work. What emotions are we wanting to evoke? Happy, sad, angry, cool, shocked, or intrigued? And then maybe pick a content structure. So, like, announcement, community generated content, expert opinion, get to know you content, guides, holiday relevant things, how to, listicles. A listicle is a list plus an article. Memes, polls, questions to the community, quizzes, specials or discounts, or testimonials. So then let’s pick a content medium. So maybe it’s animation, maybe it’s audio, maybe it’s a PDF document that they can download, or a graphic, some interactive device or quiz, live video, photography, stories, text, or video. So combining the types of information we want to convey with different types of structures and mediums, we can create an amalgamation that will help our customers be more aware of us. Now, do this a bunch of times. I would recommend two to three times a week to get started and have that ready. Have a list of those, so let’s say 30 of them over a 90 day time period.

And then here’s where it gets really challenging is plot these out on a calendar. To help you be successful, plot these out starting far enough out that you have time to make the first couple before the deadline arrives. When you’re ahead of the gun on this, when you’re ahead of the curve on this, it’s going to allow you to actually be successful in doing this and helping you stay ahead of what you need to be doing. Now, this is totally an exercise you can do on yourself. But if you’re a larger organization, we can be hired to come in and do a content idea generation session with our entire team. So feel free to reach out if you’re interested in that. If you found this helpful or you might have a friend who would find this helpful, shoot them a text, let them know about it. It helps us get the word out and helps us make more episodes. So thank you for your time. I hope you enjoyed the Content Machine podcast. We’ll be back very soon with more awesome content.

Book Review; Extreme Ownership| Content Machine Ep. #17

Jocko Willinik must be one of the baddest dudes alive. He became a Navy Seal, and then later led his own unit of Seals, and then became a Seal instructor. He served in the Navy for 20 years. Then he became a black belt in Jutsu. Then he also started his own consulting company, Echelon Front, and now has manufacturing operations in Maine, making clothing, boots, merch, and he has his own energy drink. Jaco has an amazing track record of success and all of that with an English degree. So shout out to all of our friends with English degrees. So when Jaco talks about leadership, I think it’s worth listening to. I remember years ago hearing Jaco at a leader cast event and have been seeing him in various places since then, including a great episode of the Case of the C Neistat V log. My friends know how much I love Casey Neistat. My f andom for Jaco took another step, however, when I read the Extreme Ownership Book. It’s a fantastic book. What I love about this book is that it explains each point three times. One, as a concept from leadership, just a generic concept. Two, as a story from the battlefield from Jacko’s experiences.

And one is a story from the corporate world. This combines the repetition of a good leader, but then also with a storytelling element that makes it easier to remember and more relevant to the leader. So a couple of points that I think are worth mentioning when you think about extreme ownership. Extreme ownership is the concept that as a leader, you are responsible for everything. Blaming other people is not helpful. You are responsible for success or failure, and the desire to blame others must be deterred. When you are responsible for the outcome, act like you are responsible for the outcome. You will need to work harder and double check things, but you also want to instill the same sense of responsibility throughout your team. So the second concept is leading up and down the chain of command. Leadership doesn’t just flow down the chain of command, but up as well. This is not something people usually think about. They usually think about leading top down. But in the midst of piles of paperwork in the fog of war, Leif Babin, the Echelon Front co founder and co writer of Extreme Ownership, is having a conversation with Jocko.

And Jaco points out that Leif has the opportunity to lead those above him in the organizational chain. Instead of just complaining about the leadership requirements coming in from above, reshape the thinking of those above and think about, Well, what do we need to do better? What can we do better to help them make those decisions or endorse our decisions? It takes a lot of respect for those above you and motivation internally to approach things that way. Leading down can be simply done through the power of your position. We all know that, but that’s not the best way to accomplish things. Leadership is more than just positional authority. Being able to lead up the chain of command requires you to build trust in your abilities and those above you, and working to understand what your immediate supervisor is looking for or has to show to their superiors. Then also having the humility to understand that they might have different priorities than you do to push you in another direction and then being able to accept that. Can you enable leaders to take a different approach? These two concepts can be really valuable across many aspects of our lives, from work to home to church to civic groups that you engage in.

Understanding how to take ownership can affect a positive change in your world. So I would encourage you to read about that in Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willingham, but thank you for listening to the Content Machine podcast. Subscribe to get more episodes in your podcast player. The only one that I really was messed.

Remarkable Product Review| Content Machine Ep. #16

So at Adels Burger Marketing, we love new technology that makes our lives better. And I’ve been using a remarkable tablet for over two years now, and I wanted to share some of my observations about the technology. Why did I get one? I had noticed some bad habits that I’d been unable to kick. In meetings, I would go in and use my laptop for taking notes. And while there’s some efficiency here, so my notes would be easy to copy and paste, or me and my team could be in the same notes document at the same time, there were some drawbacks for me. However, I am easily distractible. Maybe I would have forgotten to close Slack before I started the meeting and notifications were continuing to stream in, or I would flip over to email real quick and get sucked into a thread that looked like I needed to respond to it. In short, it was controlling my focus too much. Alternatively, I had tried to use paper notebooks for all of my active clients. Paper eliminated many of the distractions, but there were also some problems. There was a major redundancy issue. If I were to misplace one of those notebooks, I would be in trouble.

Or if I got confused on which notebook to bring to a meeting, I would also be in trouble. Also, what happens to my old notes when I fill a notebook? They get stacked on a shelf and now I have a finding old info problem and a storage problem. I wanted a solution that would combine the two things. I had seen ads for remarkable, but it seemed a bit too good to be true to me. I think this is a product you have to try it to see how good it really is. Because I’d tried writing on an iPad before and that experience was terrible. So it seemed unrealistic to me that this was going to be that great of experience. Fortunately, it turned out that Alex Russell and our team had one of the first generation remarkables and allowed me to try it out. The handwriting was amazing. And that was the final test, the final straw. I knew that I needed to go buy one. So here’s what I love about the remarkable. One, it’s great for note taking. The handwriting is amazingly fast and accurate, and it feels very similar to paper when you’re writing on it.

And unlike an iPad, it’s super responsive. I can put my hand on it and write just like paper. And it was super fast. There was almost no discernible time delay from writing it to it being on the screen. The second thing, there’s no distractions. The remarkable is limited in its abilities. You can’t surf the internet. You can’t go watch YouTube. But I love its lack of abilities. It gives me no reason to get distracted from the task at hand. But it also has the storage tools and redundancy tools. So unlike my paper notebooks, the remarkable backs itself up to the cloud so that if I were to break one or lose one, which I have a history of, the data would be backed up and reloaded onto a new remarkable or available from download on the app. I can upload my own templates, so I was able to put together my daily micro scheduling page that I had on paper into a PDF and upload it, and I use that every day on my remarkable. I have significantly cut the cost of and wasted amount of paper in my life because of the remarkable. Screen sharing on the remarkable plus Zoom allows me to show my team ideas in real time and keep a copy of them in the remarkable.

I can live write on a document that is broadcast on my computer screen that I can then share through Zoom. It’s a pretty neat capability. So a few tips if you’re going to get started with remarkable. Number one, organize your files from the start. With its file structure being like a computer with folders and hierarchy like that, and it not being possible to search through handwriting like text for a searchable database, file structure is key to finding things in the long run. So start with good file structure. Buy the nicer pen. It’s a couple of extra dollars more, but it has an eraser on the top, and having an eraser on the top feels like it would feel like if you were writing with paper. And it helps you stay in the workflow and keeps you from having to switch your pen to the eraser tool on the sidebar. And then buy a nice case. The design of the remarkable is really solid, feels really good in your hands, except for one point. It’s very weak around where the button is that turns the device on and off. I dropped one in its case that came from the company and the button jammed and the device was bricked.

So my advice is to get a good case. I’ve dropped my remarkable times after that and had no other issues except for this one time. I actually commissioned one from Ricky Santos on our team who does amazing leather work. So go check him out on Instagram, Ricky Santos. He does great leather work. The remarkable has been a great addition to my workflow. If you have any questions about the remarkable, let me know. But thank you for listening to another episode of the Content Machine Podcast. Subscribe and let us know what you thought about this episode.

Nick Hall Interview Pt. II| Content Machine Ep. #15

Here’s part two of our interview with nick Hall, the general manager of the Fredericksburg Nationals baseball team. So have you had things that you’ve seen that maybe bring the attendance above what your average attendance would be for that night? What are some of the things that have just been super home runs that have really bucked any attendance trends?

I mean, it’s definitely, and this is not a secret in the minor League baseball world. It’s fireworks. Fireworks. People come out for fireworks from all over. That’s not necessarily a secret. If you go to any market that has a minor League baseball team, there is one night a week that odds are they’re shooting fireworks. I would be willing to bet that’s their highest attended game for that week. That’s for sure. I think that was the same back in Jackson. That wasn’t Jackson inventing the wheel or anything like that. That is just the nature of it. We are human and we love to watch stuff blow up. It’s just you know.

No argument here. You mentioned your mascot a minute ago. I did want to bring him up because it’s an oddball mascot. I don’t know if does he predate Gritty?

He does, statistically, yeah. Our mascot is Gus. Gus is George Washington’s childhood imaginary friend. Gus has been here the whole time. When George went off to fight for our independence in the Revolutionary War, he did bring Gus with him. Gus was there the whole time. If you zoom in enough at the painting of George Washington sailing across the Delaware and you hold it up, you know, like national treasure, you’re not going to need the lemon, all that stuff, and you do all of that, you’re going to see Gus standing right there behind him. Gus was there. Gus, naturally, naturally. Gus was there the whole time. Gus was there the whole time.

We’ll put a picture of Gus up on the screen here or something because Gus is an odd looking character. Gus is what.

We call in the industry nightmare fuel.

Well, I originally wrote in this question your horrifying mascot, but I changed it to oddball mascot. And my kids walked in when I was getting prepped for this episode, and I had a picture of Gritty on the screen. And Gritty from the Philadelphia Flyers is obviously… They’re in the same mold together.

It would be going away from Gus’s back story. Gritty is a huge part of the inspiration of Gus. There’s no doubt about that.

And it’s just so stereotype shattering. What was the thought process? And then how do you guys use Gus in a regular basis to help promote the team?

For sure. The thought process of Gus was twofold. For the longest amount of time, everybody figured that George Washington was going to be our mascot for obvious reasons, George is from here. But let me tell you, when we really did a deep dive on this, this was brought up to me and I just sat there and I was like, We’re flirting with disaster by doing that. Because let me point out some things. What are the funniest things that a mascot does? One of them is dancing.

Yeah, they’re self deprecating generally.

Yeah, self deprecating. What would we have done when George Washington got up and shook his booty at the crowd?

Yeah. You had a George Washington mascot twerking.

Yes, it’s over.

Like you might be on the front page of Fox News.

100 % because people around here, everybody knows George Washington. People out around here eat, breathe, and sleep George Washington, though. He means so much to this community. It’s the branded throughout this community. So if we do one thing that’s not… I mean, not even talking inappropriate. Well, let’s go one thing that’s not historically accurate that George Washington himself wouldn’t have done. You’re talking about knocking over a kid’s Pop corn. Well, not George Washington. He would never stoop that low. You see what I’m saying? That was the first thing, this realization that, Hey, the most obvious thing is probably our absolute worst thing that we could do for this community is make George Washington an actual character that’s out here. Now, he is a character that’s out here because him and his mother, both being from this area, we do a race every single day, every single game, and it is a mother son race, relay race. They come out for that, and then they send autographs, and then George is put away. For the exact reasons that I just mentioned, you have to be careful with that image. The next thing is, well, what are we going to do?

We looked around all of sports to find the perfect mascot, and gritty was a big part of that, and so was Blue from the Indianapolis Colts.

If you ever get a chance to look at him. He’s a horse, though.

Blue’s a horse. He’s a horse. And for a while, when we first came up with the idea, it was going to be George Washington’s horse. Until we found out the literal mascot that we thought up is currently being used by the Indianapolis Colts. So that also brought on another layer. Gus gets the cut of his shirt from Winnie the Pooh. We thought it was funny to make the mascot show off that belly even more. The tail of Gus, if you notice, looks like a little dinosaur tail. The reason for that, which you might not know, is about 30 minutes from here, the largest dinosaur fossil in the United States was found. Kind of neat. So we’re like, Yeah, let’s make him a dinosaur. But then we realized, He’s got to have a bullet. Why? Well, that actually has no significance to the area. We just feel as though Gus would want a bullet. It’s awesome stuff like that to be able to help us out and make that work. After going through the process, we ended up with Gus. There was some definite hesitation, but the great thing about him being so crazy is that everybody immediately was like, Okay, that’s pretty awesome.

Because the other thing, when opening up, one of the criticisms that we got as an organization is the creativity that went into the naming of the team. And what I mean by that is, minor league baseball is known for zany names. I came from Amarillo, just talked about Amarillo. We’re the sod poodles.

I drove past the trash Panda stadium on Friday.

Trash pandas. Absolutely. Akron is the rubber ducks. So when you have these great, great brand names that are like off the wall. But yet we went with the Fredericksburg Nationals. That is two full 45 minutes away from Washington. That means a lot to our fans. There’s so much pride in being an affiliate of the Nationals. When we first opened, we were coming off of a World Series victory. So there was so much pride in that. It was so important to keep that branding. So we had to set ourselves up for, if you will, that weird and zaniness. We had to bring that in other ways other than with the actual baseline brand. And so we were able to do that with Gus. And honestly, it’s been such a tremendous success. He is definitely the wild card of the stadium.

Well, if you do rebrand, the Fredericksburg Imaginary Friends sounds like a pretty fun minor League team name.

I love that.

I love that. So let’s talk about marketing and sales real quick. So a lot of your career has been built on selling sponsorships and partnerships. C an you talk about your thought process when you come to that?

Yeah, for sure. So I think when we talk about partnerships, talk about corporate sponsorships, we are talking about marketing inside of a baseball stadium. The number one thing that I love to talk about is sponsoring and partnering with live events. I could talk for hours about what it could do for your business, but when it boils down to it, you have a captive audience. You have them for three hours, hopefully now two and a half, shout out to the pitch clock, but you have a captive audience for two and a half hours. There is no muting, there’s no rewinding, fast forwarding, there’s no pausing. That message is there. It’s so important, though, you can’t have a commercial. You have to find a way to creatively brand what we are doing from an entertainment standpoint so that you link that brand subconsciously. You’re linking your brand with having a good time. If we were to just run commercials, it’s just going to fade into the background. But it’s important to be able to link something so important to a community, to link a having a great time and link your brand and your messaging all together. You mix those three things together, your brand’s image throughout a community or wherever that may be is immediately changing in a positive way.

And so that is essentially my entire career up until this point is based off of those partnerships and creating those subconscious links to a brand and what we do and how we are able to serve.

Our communities. Can you talk about some of the hottest partnerships that you’ve done? W hat’s something that’s turned out just a weird connection or a weird thing that they wanted to sponsor?

Oh, I have so many. And yeah, there’s been a lot, and there’s some that I’ve had to say that I have had to turn down as well. For instance, you do have to remember there’s still baseball going on. So depending on what’s going on, there are some lines that can’t be toed, such as, I have had people want to sponsor the other team when they get hit by a pitch. I can’t handle that. The injury lawyer. And although funny and great, there is a chance when that happens, somebody could get hurt.

On the field.

And that now makes you the bad guy. So you know what I’m saying? So you have to be able to think about those things. That is one of the ones that I think… That was one of my favorites. One of my favorites that I have done I’m going to go all the way back to Jackson. And it was Bird & Bird Associates, a law firm in Tennessee. We did a Bird Mobile water delivery to umpires once a game. We got an intern to dress as a giant chicken and drive out in a little VW remote control child’s car. This chicken is three times the size of this car. He just rode this little bird and we call it the Bird Mobile. The Bird Mobile would ride out to an umpire and he’d handle a bottle of water and then he’d ride off on this little bird. It was just hysterical. There was quite literally one time that it did… I mean, it was probably rated for what, 50, 75 pounds, something like that. And this 150 pound gentleman was riding in this thing, and there was one time that it just broke on the way back, and we did not know what to do.

And four of the promotional squad folks sprinted out there, and this was not scripted, and it was the funniest thing I’ve ever been a part of. And each of them picked up both the bird and the Mobile at the same time and carted it off like it was a stretcher. It’s that stuff. It’s trying to find, can you find a way to link your brand in a way that furthers the entertainment that the stadium is providing? I could probably talk for an hour on some of the weirdest things that we’ve done. I’ve had a funeral home sponsor the visiting team’s lineup announcement. The catchphrase was, The Fred Nats will beat them and we’ll bury them. It’s funny stuff like that. It’s coming up with that creativity to link the two. It just becomes everybody’s favorite.

Now, you’re in a leadership role. You’ve been in a leadership role for a long time. Can you talk about the process of going from selling those things directly to having a team of people selling those things directly?

I can’t lie and say that that was the hardest part because when you are concentrated in one avenue, it becomes your baby. It becomes your baby. So to give up control over that is a difficult avenue to be in. But at the same time, then you have everybody else’s department is now starting to come to you. There’s just this realization that you’re just not going to be able to hyperfocus on that one thing. It would be a lie to say, Oh, you know, that’s just the hat that you put on, and it’s an easy transition. It takes some time to be able to really be able to do that. I will definitely say that there’s plenty of times where I miss just being able to concentrate on one avenue. Oh, my goodness, there’s so many times that I would love to give up 90 % of what I do and just go back to that for a whole week. But I would be lying to say that it was easy to do to make that transition, but it is a transition that if you’re able to do, it’s so positive. It’s so very positive. Part of that is having trust in the person you’re giving it up to.

That’s a huge piece of it. You have to make sure that you have the right person in place to be able to take the reins from whatever that was.

Thinking about that thought continued is like, how do you approach leading that organization then?

You’re talking about leading it from the whole organization standpoint? Yeah. For me, I like to think this, too, because one cool thing about working for so many different managers is that you learn what you’d like to work for, but you probably also had a few times where you learned… I’m going to vow if I’m ever in that spot not to do that one thing. Sure. It’s all obvious things, but when you’re at the other end of it, sometimes you really learn like, Hey, that really does make you feel bad. The intent wasn’t there to make you feel bad. I can almost guarantee the intent wasn’t malicious, but that doesn’t feel great doing that. One thing that I like to do is, for better or for worse, I know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I pretty much tell people, Look, if you are coming to me with an issue and don’t have a solution, I want you to know that to me means you are handing your problem over to me wholly, or communicate it that you need a little bit of help or whatever that may be. I love when somebody comes to me, they’ll describe an entire problem, and a lot of times I’ll just say it and be like, Hey, okay, great.

Present a solution to me by tomorrow at five o’clock and let’s make a decision. They just look at you and I’m like, I can’t solve that for you right now, but you can. I think that is my biggest strength, I think, is that I really love to be able to give people the ability to come up with their own solutions and execute those solutions. I think a big reason for that is one of the calling cards of a successful organization, and this is not just baseball or sports, this is anything, is buy in. Buy in towards the vision. One way to get that buy in is to actually give your staff the ability and the feel that this is theirs, that this is fully theirs. That to me was the thing that I learned when I was given that and I wasn’t in the leadership role yet. It moved the needle for me in my career when I felt as though, Oh, man, I have to make this work because they let me do it exactly how I wanted to do it. So I can’t let it fail now. Yeah, it’s on me. I get it because now it’s on me.

I don’t have anybody else to blame, so therefore, I can’t let this fail. When I realized that and then got into management role, I was like, You know what? I didn’t know if they meant to do that, but that was genius. And so that’s one of the things that I like to do is if you have a department under me, I’m going to ask you, Okay, well, how do you want to do it? I know what I want the results to be, but how do you want to get there? I like to think that that’s a strength of mine that I let everybody come up with their own plans and present them.

All right. Well, nick, thank you so much for joining us. If someone is in the Virginia DC area, your season runs along with MLB season?

Exactly with it. Our opening day is April seventh. Okay.

Well, thank you for taking the time, nick. It’s nice to talk to you again. And good luck with this season of The Nationals.

Absolutely. Thank you, Kevin, so much. Thank you for having me.

Thank you all for checking out the Content Machine podcast. If you found this helpful, please be sure to subscribe. And if you are a baseball fan, make your way to Fredericksburg to check out a game at the Fredericksburg Nationals.

Deep Work | Content Machine Ep. #14

There have only been a few books that have a big direct impact in my world as I am reading them. Deep Work by Cal Newport is one of them. 

I can sometimes struggle with focus. This is a trait that I have always had but that can be worsened by the environment created in running a small business. My phone rings regularly, friends, family, and customers try to reach out to me through text messages, my email box is constantly adding new messages, slack is loud and demands my attention, not to mention the pull of social media to catch up on what is happening in the world. I simultaneously have to do work and have to give my team members feedback so they can keep moving forward on project. 

I noticed this was taking a toll on me even more as my work has moved to from more action based work (i.e. edit this video, design this graphic) to more thought based work and planning (i.e. where are we going as a company, how do we grow well). So at the beginning of this year I set out to read Deep Work by Cal Newport. The general point of this book is that distractions are killing our ability to do good work. 

Here is the Thesis as Newport writes it: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.

Embracing these thoughts, Cal has put out a prodigious amount of research. This book explores the why and how he has gone so counter cultural here. 

But here is how it has worked out here: 

Since this book here are some changes I have made: 

  1. I have given my team and myself to close Slack for a bit of time while working on a project. This helps keep the noise down but then gives us the chance to check back in and see how we can help. 
  2. I have severely restricted my social media access. I’ll check it briefly in the morning to make sure I am up to date, and again late in the afternoon. At first this was difficult, but now I have trained my mind to not need it as much. 
  3. When in work cycles, I keep my phone away from me. My phone is largely on so it does not disturb me except for close family and my team, but even then, my urge to pick it up and stare at it is strong. I will check every hour or two to make sure I have not missed anything urgent. 
  4. I have hidden, as best I can, the unread numbers on my email inbox, and hidden my inbox till I’m ready to work on it. In gmail you can do this with the Unread first format for inboxes. There is also a plugin I tried out called: Inbox when ready, but I worked around the need to subscribe with other crutches. 
  5. I work to block time together to work on the schedule so I have time to do the deep work I need to be successful. 

This has not been easy. It requires a bit of training for your brain to be ok without seeing your inbox all the time, you never know what fires have been started. But I would say my quality of work, thought, and life have improved since getting these things more in control.