Monday, July 13, 2009

Oh, hello.

Yes, it has been a while since I have written - and a lot has happened. Iran had a "legit" presidential election, The King of Pop died (and millions of people became obsessed with following every second of the story on every digital medium imaginable) and Jon and Kate both need a date (groan, I know).

Yet, the most important thing that has happened (in my eyes at least) in the re-branding of my company, CCI Studios.

On May 30th, CCI Celebrated its 6th Birthday. Being that we were about to enter our 7th year of operations, we felt it was time to show the world who we are and why...well...we are awesome.

Part of our new feel is the tagline "Website Design. Marketing Stuff. Good Times".

The first two parts of that tag line are fairly self-explanatory, but it is the third part - the "Good Times" part that I want to make sure people understand.

In our ads, Good Times is defined as being fun, professional, laid back, top-quality, creative, old school and, of course, "not against taking Friday afternoons off to golfing".

Good Times is not just a marketing ploy - it is a way of life. Not just for CCI Studios, but for myself and for our Staff and clients.

In a day and age when ponzi schemes are running rampant, you can face litigation for not looking at someone the proper way, accountability has gone the way of horse and buggy and "successfully" completing a project is when you are beyond deadline and over budget, Good Times is itself a mentality. It is a way of doing business...good business. VERY good business.

To be my Uncle Frank, I am pissed off at the laziness and arrogance with which companies today operate. Too often it takes days to get a response from a business (if I get one at all), or people are rude, disrespectful, condescending and narcissistic. Businesses believe that the clients exist for them - rather than the business existing for the client. Good Times is not some simpleton slang term, it is a dedication to doing business that will make our clients happy. We will not JUST provide phenomenal products, but we will do so with service that is top-notch and an attention to detail not seen since before we all forgot how important the small things were (i.e. pre-computer).

Don't get me wrong - the client does not get off easy. We have expectations of our clients - that they will treat us with respect and will work within the process we have established so as to keep everyone on the same page. Yes, we will charge money for the services we provide and we expect prompt payment, but those charges will be fair and equal for the job being done.

Good Times can be any number of things - but it is a philosophy.

Good Times is...

...Staff discussions about the better TV show - LOST or 24?
...Answering the telephone with a smile so our clients can sense our attitude.
...Responding to emails and phone calls within a maximum of 24 hours.
...Being honest with our clients.
...Holding ourselves accountable for the quality of our work.
...Expecting the best from ourselves before we expect anything of anyone else.
...Casual Fridays.
...Having integrity in everything we do.
...Working at being the best damn company to work with on the planet. Period.

It is time to break the mold of doing business the way everyone else does it - because in all honestly - too often businesses do garbage business.

We will lead if others will follow. Let's all expect a little more from ourselves and, in turn, produce better results from that which we get - and that which we give.

THAT is Good Times.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So, my nephew was baptized a week ago.

It was a great family event - with my sister Marlo and my Brother-in-Law Dean being phenomenal hosts (yet again).

Despite the great after-party and celebration, the best part of the day was when I was able to hold my nephew (who I was honoured to be asked to be Godfather to) when he was being anointed. Now, having three nieces, I have become quite comfortable with kids and holding them and whatnot. Yet, being able to hold my nephew during this was something that filled with me with an immense amount of pride. There was a time four years ago, when I was asked to be my niece Hannah's Godfather, that I held a child like an ancient Roman would hold a cell phone - I didn't hate it, but I just didn't get it. Many visits, time spent doing puzzles, playing hide-and-seek, watching Thomas the Tank Engine DVDs and visits to Walmart have happened since that time that allowed me to play a better role in this Baptism.

Granted, the little guy slept through the ENTIRE thing (with the exception of a brief, almost-annoyed, expression when the water was poured over his noodle), but it was an experience that left me on a mini-high and is something I will always take from the day.

In addition to the reward of being physically involved in the ceremony, this event gave me a greater sense of responsibility towards my nieces and nephews. Experiencing an event when the entire family is present, as part of a greater community, reminds me of how the the village truly raises the child. This gives me a greater motivation to be a better example, to live a little bit better and to always be an uncle my nieces and nephews can be proud of. I do not want to inadvertently say or do something that they may pick up on. I want to be aware of my actions and words - so that I can positive shape their future. It is obviously not my entire responsibility to shape the moral foundation of my nieces and nephews, but I can do my part - and last week reminded me that I can always do it a little bit better.

So, all-in-all, it was a great day - and I was proud to have been a part of it. Here are some pics:


Friday, April 3, 2009

When was the last time you greeted someone without a handshake?

Maybe it was when you were out for a walk yesterday. Maybe it was on our way to work this morning. Maybe it was while thanking the person behind the counter who carefully prepared your latte. Regardless of who it was - it happened.

Nodding is a major part of what we do - and we don't even give it enough thought.

Right now you are most likely asking yourself "Why in the world would this guy write about a gesture as simple as a nod?

Good question.

But...not really.

See, day in and day out, we do things - tiny, little, seemingly insignificant, miniscule things - that actually do affect people in ways we never see.

The nod is one of them.

Think about it - the nod represents countless sentiments and emotions. It is most universally known as an affirmation. The physical gesture representing three simple letters, "yes". It never even crosses our mind - but the nod is the most basic motion we make with the most vital part of our bodies - our noodle. It houses our most important component, and serves as the home base of our senses and is the focal point for some of the best things we do in a day - hearing one of our favourite songs, smelling one of our favourite smells and even kissing one of our favourite people. So, nodding may just be one of the most underrated actions we perform.

But, when we do nod, it has the ability to serve as a catalyst for a wide-range of emotions in the person receiving the gesture. The two most fundamental nods are the Up-First and the Down-Then-Up. The Up-First is a subtle movement...almost as if to say, I recognize the person/situation I am nodding at - but it may not be worthy of any great exertion of effort. The Down-Then-Up is a full-fledged gesture that is an overt understanding of the person/situation that calls for it. Each of these sends out varying signals - one more positive than the other.

For one of the most classic examples of Up-First and Down-Then-Up nodding, check out this clip of the final scene in The Karate Kid. Mr. Miyagi (arguable the hardest "mentor" character in film history) gives us a taste of both. Fast forward to 3:50 to see the Up-First Nod. Daniel has just finished getting his ass handed to him and it's time to make a move. The proud, righteous, self-respecting Miyags won't back down from anyone and he goes Up-First to let the Cobras know he won't back down - but he's a bit nervous. Then, at 4:10, Miyags gives us the Down-Then-Up because he knows the Crane Kick is in full effect. This is a confident, definitive affirmation that the Cobra is about to get beat by the skinniest white-boy in history. Check it out:

The point here is that the Up-First can be a confrontational, disrespectful, sometimes even boastful and arrogant nod. Now, in Miyags case, he had to stand up for his pupil - so it was called for - but that does not change the tone. When he goes for the Down-Then-Up, it's a definitively confident gesture that shows faith, support, affirmation and belief.

To further my point, use the following as a litmus test:

Next time you are out somewhere and you get introduced to someone see how they react. Someone who really doesn't give a rip to meet you and/or remember you, will give you an Up-First and probably not extend their hand. Oppositely, someone who is engaging and is interested to meet you, will give you the Down-Then-Up and even extend their hand and be grateful to meet a new acquaintance.

You do not even know it, but you have definitely found yourself in a position where you subconsciously had to choose between the two. Maybe you saw someone you are not all that fond of - you definitely gave the Up-First. You're still a wicked person, don't worry, we're all guilty of it. On the contrary, think about the last time you ran into a neighbour or an acquaintance of had good service, you inevitably gave that person the Down-Then-Up and, without even knowing it, made them feel good in the process.

Like anything in life, once you know, you can't not know.

So, think about how you use your nods. We make the gesture all the time - but don't realize the impact on others.

Give it some thought, Down-Then-Up and maybe even add a smile.

Works wonders.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Here's the thing - when was the last time you saw a GOOD movie?

No, I'm not talking about The Watchmen or The Dark Knight or anything else that was chalk-full of massive explosions and mind blowing special effects.

I am talking about a really good film...a film that when it was over, had you walking out of the theater or getting off your couch and feeling some emotion that was not there 100 minutes prior.

One of the best films I've ever watched is Dead Poets Society with Robin Williams. Maybe you have seen it, maybe you haven't. If you haven't, the next clip will not mean the slightest thing to you - but if you have seen it, this final scene is the type of ending that serves as a catalyst for emotion translating from screen to self:

The whole purpose of the film is to talk about seizing the day - Carpe Diem - and living for the things that matter. THAT is the premise of a good film.

Yet, these types of films rarely exist anymore. Or, the studios who have the opportunities to make them choose not to because you can't make an English teacher action figure as part of a Happy Meal at McDonalds.

Maybe part of the reason is that we, as the audience, have stopped asking for these types of films. We do not demand responsibility from the studios who feed us these films - so they are making exactly what we are asking for. Then why don't we ask for something better? Are we so detached, so digitized, so Facebook-ed that we need to have EVERYTHING spoon fed to us because we have become too lazy to think for ourselves and actually spend time watching something that may have an emotional impact on us?

Now, I'm not saying that entertainment does not have its value, but with our and Hollywood's overindulgence in bigger, faster, louder over the past 20 it possible that we are just making ourselves slightly more detached? Sure, everyone loves to read a book or watch a movie to "escape" for a little bit - but when those escapes are over, reality inevitably is waiting outside the doors of the cinema.

So, why would we not crave a better connection between the two? Why would we not want to experience a film that does not get left on the screen after the final credit rolls? Should the cinematic medium serve more as a means for social responsibility than simply a fix of visually stimulative gluttony? I can't transform like Optimus Prime and I do not have a secret lair like Batman. But, I do live, laugh, love, hurt, work, learn and bleed like a real human being. Why have we become so scared of ourselves that we depend on these made-up realities as opposed to indulging in something that matters - and telling stories with lessons?

Maybe, just maybe, there are a few good films still out there - and we shall see them one day soon. And, hey, with a little luck, their message will not lost in the brightened lights and on the popcorn littered floors of the theater.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Well...we have a new Palko.

That is right, Charlie John Joseph Taylor was born yesterday, February 25th, 2009 at 5:21pm, weighing in at 8lbs 13oz.

He is a charming, intelligent, thoughtful, chivalrous and considerate young lad. Or, at least I am pretty sure those traits can be seen in his little tiny eyes.

What can I say?! I'm a very proud uncle and am completely abusing this blog to swell with pride over my nephew. I have three incredible nieces (Hi Hannah, Emily and Keelan!)...but this is my first nephew, so it means that I can take a break from Dora the Explorer toys and buy him a Nerf Football.

And a little mini tux. Why does a little kid need a tux? I have no idea, but he's getting one because little guys in tuxes is funny.

So, in case any of you would like to see some pics of Charlie - here are a few hot off the press:

Now, does that not look like a future Notre Dame quarterback?!

Ok, pressure on the poor little guy, but I'm just sayin'.

So, here it is. In the spirit of countless other people who have ever done this for their own children/nieces/nephews/grandchildren/etc. I would like to take a second to offer you, Charlie, a few insights that hopefully one day will provide the slightest ray of clarity, when needed:

(in no particular order):

- Hold doors open for people
- Pray
- Keep your word
- Play sports
- Don't play so many video games
- Call your Mom...she's already worried about you
- Unless you're in one of your Uncles
- Don't get put in jail
- Be protective of your older sister because even though she won't show it all the time, she's always looking out for you
- No matter how much time you spend on Facebook, your cell phone, the internet, etc...learn how to speak with people. Technology makes people lonely - people make people feel accepted.
- Play an instrument
- Never hit your mother. Ever.
- Be good with yourself...the rest will follow
- Do what you love
- You are one piece of this planet and you can do ANYTHING. But, the world does not revolve around you, so you have to look out for others.
- Travel
- Be honest
- Go to Church
- Tell your Mom and Dad and Sister you love them. Because, they love you.

Welcome to the family, Charlie. It's great to have you.

Uncle Flow

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I haven't seen my backyard since the end of October.

I mean, I look out my window and there is a space - a solid, earth-filled, lot-size calculable yard. But, for the past four months it hasn't been itself. Like Oreos with strawberry filling, Hendrix on the accordion, or the Godfather Part III - the heart of the natural genius still exists, but it is alive in a form that is just a bit off.

In this case, my backyard has been the Snow-zen Tundra of Brights Grove for too long and it is time that Mr. Sun wakes the hell up, melts my fine friend 'Frozen Precipitation' away and lets my backyard return to me again.

This past Sunday was the Super Bowl - and what do guys do on Super Bowl? They eat. I mean, sure we intake sustenance on a daily basis, but on this annual event, we REALLY eat. Chili, pizza, dogs and sweets are our temporary four food groups from 2pm until after the game. That being said - and considering I was hosting a few good buddies for the big game - what better idea could I have than to crack open the barbecue and surprise these gents with some middle-of-the-summer, open-flame, goodness?

Then it hit me - I also have not seen my barbecue since October. That poor, suffering, phenomenal tool of deliciousness has been engulfed by the same snow that I enjoyed the novelty of in November, became annoyed at December, cursed at in January, and to which I'm now admitting defeat in February. No, barbecued meat was not be had for the Super Bowl this year because getting to the most important cooking utensil of all would have required a week's worth of training and having a rescue team on standby should I fail in my attempt.

The silver lining is that February is, indeed, here. That means the days do get slightly longer - and I can actually see my shell of a backyard until later in the evening. I can peer out the windows staring at the place I used to sit on the patio, enjoying a drink with friends after an ultra-low round of golf - all for an extra hour because it is not pitch black at 5pm anymore. The tide is turning our way and shortly, our land will once again be reclaimed. Sure, that little Groundhog SOB predicted six more weeks of winter, but hey, if I knew I could jump back into a cozy little abode and get forty-or-so more days of shuteye, I'd make that declaration, too. But, such is not the case for us humans - we have to break out our shovels, scrape our windshields, knock the excess off our shoes and hope that tomorrow will bring brighter hopes and suns rays.

So, to all of you who miss your backyards - I say this: Keep your heads high, your feet warm and your BBQ lighters ready...Oreos were never meant to be pink forever and your backyard shall be yours again.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009 came and it went.

The primaries, the conventions, the nominations, the campaigning, the election - and yesterday - the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America - Barack Obama.

I have no idea if you like President Obama or not. You may disagree with some of his politics, or his faith views, or anything, thankfully, this post is not about him as a member of government.

No, today's post is simple - I will support him because he hopes. Not only does he hope, but he realizes that action is the heat necessary to bake that hope into golden brown change. An idealist? Maybe he is. Yet, I believe his actions will speak volumes as I feel he has no laurels to be rested on and no desire to back-slap beyond the last dance at the last ball yesterday evening.

Did you see the Inauguration? Did you see the people? 2 million. And...not a SINGLE arrest. As CCI Programmer, Jon Bennett, said "all they had to clean up was the garbage". Seriously - TWO MILLION people?! And, when you really think about it - the vast majority of them traveled from all over the country just to catch a glimpse of their new President - ON A SCREEN.

THAT kind of active participation in government...and in the something the world should welcome. The presence of a man who seemingly wants to choose good. Will he always make the right decisions? Maybe not. Will he falter? It would be hard for anyone to meet the expectations placed on him. Yet, that has not stopped him from wanting to make changes and creating a US its citizens can be proud of - and the world can be honoured to call an ally.

The presence of this type of hope - the type that inspires people of all walks of life to believe in the goodness in the world - is something I will cheer vigorously for.

I can use all of the words I want to try to explain why I believe in this man, but I think he did it best in his Inaugural Address, yesterday (in two parts):

I have no idea if President Obama will follow through on his promises. No one knows if he will even be a good Commander in Chief. But, people believe in him. They believe in his goals, in his conviction, in his character, and in his hopes.

It might take a long time to bake...but I can only imagine what that hope - in the US and around the world - will smell like once it comes out of that oven, as change.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy Twenty-Oh-Nine as my best friend Scotty says.

That's right - the month of January is upon us, which means the sunlight begins to linger a touch longer and the waistlines start to shrink in recovery from the Holidays and preparation for the coming Summer.

Being that we are seven cards into the deck of 365 that make up this year, I figure it is the ideal time to talk about one thing - opportunity. No, I'm not about to go on some long diatribe about how to be better and how to do things better and how to make 2009 the greatest year ever. Those are things I say to myself when I am looking in the mirror in the morning.

Technically speaking, January 1st is simply a day. A 24 hour period of time that brings lists, tasks, actions, inaction, and any number of other 'things'. Yet, on this particular day, of this particular month, every 365 days or so, we all get an undefined fresh start.

It's the cycle beginning anew. A new set of months, a new set of seasons, even a new set of holidays. It's our one opportunity to look at all that has been in the recent past and see if we can make better (or worse if really really want to) during the year-long hand you are about to play.

The irony is - we are given this very cycle every single day - a new set of hours, a new sunrise and sunset, a chance to be better - but the January cycle strikes as being more significant because it represents a chunk of our life. Everything is measured in years - our age, our classification in life (newborn, child, adolescent, teenager, young adult, adult), our seniority, our sports seasons - even the make of our cars. So, when you reflect on the collective experience of one of these cycles - you view the big picture of the entire year.

So, after that clock strikes midnight on January 1 every year, each of us knows, deep down, that we have a brand new opportunity in front of us. Forget that diet you didn't follow last year or the friend you never called. Don't lose sleep over the hobby you gave up after a week or the trip you promised yourself you would take but have not booked. January 1st IS the next opportunity. It is a 1st down in football, the start of a new inning in baseball, the beginning of a new political term or outset of a road trip. What was done previously cannot be changed - the only certainty is the new opportunity you have and that it is your responsibility to make the most of it. You are not really sure what is going to happen - but you know it could be awesome.

So, get to it. Yes, this means you. There is no time like the now. And you know what the best part will be? When you exploit your opportunity for the entire year. You play the game - and you take down the house by spending next December 31st looking at what you did during your fresh set of downs. That is not reflecting on broken promises or unkept goals...that is making the next go 'round even better than the last.

So stop reading this - and go do it...whatever 'it' is.

Hurry up...and don't let years also be the measure for opportunities lost.

Happy New Year.