The Big Leap – Entrepreneurship

So you have taken the big leap to entrepreneurship. Whether you have had enough of the corporate world, found a good product or service to create or provide, been laid off and want to take control of your life, or just all of the above; you have taken the big step. Here are some thoughts about that big step…a few thoughts for success. These are not concrete, but have helped me in my journey!

1) Surrounded yourself with individuals that have the same passion and willingness to succeed!
2) Find a business mentor, that one person that has been successful and you can look to for guidance. (Success is not measured by how many companies they have created and made tons of money, but by the way they grew their business).
3) READ A LOT! Take time to find books that challenge you everyday; to inspire and motivate your ass to get up in the morning!
4) Set goals – create a set of goals for both short term and long term. This will give you something to work towards.
5) Engage with the community. Find groups that you can network with and share business. Not just networking groups, but places you can serve the greater good. I take time to engage with the Anderson Area Chamber and Clemson Business School Student Organizations. I donate my time and find this as a useful tool to keep myself in-touch with the community I am trying to serve.

Business in 2010

Well the new year has kicked off with a big ole bang and I am ready to hit it full force. Lots of changes in my world, leaving a partnership and venturing out on my own. So it is going to be the purpose of this bog to follow this path of business for the next year. It is going to be a path of doing business entrepreneurial style, defining for the community at-large (and myself) what BobbyRettew,llc is all about. But the conversation is going to center around my life doing business for myself and my family, building a solid customer base, building a community around vision, life as a college instructor at Clemson, and how Anderson, SC can build a bigger and brighter entrepreneurial community.

In December of 2009, I formed BobbyRettew,llc as a company to do a few things:

  • Tell lots of stories for my clients
  • Produce lots of videos that wrap around those stories
  • Help companies evaluate and build new media strategies
  • Dissect social media and the relevant business application
  • Build a community of conversation around new media and entrepreneurship in Anderson, SC
  • Provide for my family a comfortable living with a flexible schedule

Is that too much to ask for? 2009 was wrapped around public perception and spin that there was and still is an economic downturn in this ever changing economy. It is my goal to make 2010 (I am saying it Twenty-Ten) to put the word “Innovation” back in the spin. Anderson, Greenville, and Clemson are lively, vibrant areas with lots of Innovation and Thought Leadership and there is a true buzz of entrepreneurship in this community. I want to be a part of that conversation. It is time to take to “Potential” and turn into “Kinetic”.

As I sit looking out my window, the largest employer in Anderson County is a stone throw away: AnMed. Don’t you think they have a vested interest to ensure that the small business community is successful and the human growth potential in entrepreneurship brings value to the  tables of every household in this county. I would think so, they wrote off $77 Million Dollars last year. It is in their best interest for entrepreneurship to be alive and the small business community is successful; that turns into paid health care. So if the largest employer in Anderson County finds value in the small business community…that tells me there is a tremendous opportunity for success. So how many other AnMed’s are out there that have a vested self interest to ensure that small business community is successful?

After walking away from the a Business Advancement Committee meeting this morning at the Anderson Area Chamber, I thought to myself…it is time to surround myself around entrepreneurs and small business owners that want the same things. I want to make the next 360 days of this year to be centered around tapping that potential, building good business, find entrepreneurs who have that same drive, and building strong relationships that lead to long term business.

Here’s to Twenty-Ten!

Building your “Tribe” through Digital Literacy

As I sit here in my ENGL 304 Business Writing Class at Clemson…I watch the Team (well students) take their first test. It is 43 multiple choice answers with a discussion answer. I am thinking about how I tried to make this more of a team exercise. Well…I tried something different (at-least to me).

I had already pre-written the test and took all the questions and framed them into study questions. After doing so, I uploaded the study questions onto Google Docs where all of the class documents live. I then invited all of the team members in the class to look at the document giving them access as editors.

When we came into the class previous from the test, we had a collaborative study session. I asked them to divide into groups where each group handled one chapter from the book. I then asked them for one of the group members to use their laptops to access the study guide I invited them into, then work together to answer the questions in Google Docs with the ability to use their book and each others knowledge.

This is what is cool about Google Docs, it allows multiple individuals to access a document from different geographic locations and edit the document in real time. Each member that is online working in the document can watch other editors write in the document. This is a powerful collaborative learning tool.

As each member of each group in the class was looking for answers and updating the document, they were not only collaborating online but also verbally within a group but also between groups. Then after the class was over, they had one document that they could refer to as a study guide for the test. Over the next day, I noticed that different individuals were going into the document, refining the answers, and updating information.

WOW – DIGITAL LITERACY! Using technology to collaborate and educate not only themselves but each other. I was inspired by their buy-in. They all came into class empowered to take the test.

Now, here is the bigger picture. I love this part…they were building relationships with their team members. They were breaking down barriers and working with other people in the class they normally would not associate and building trust, building relationships. Imagine if one day these team members, these students might actually do business together outside of the educational setting. Imagine if two students in this class came together one day and were leaders in a community. These team members are our tomorrow. They will be deciding how my children (and their children) will be effected by healthcare, the economy, etc., etc., etc. Digital Literacy, Collaboration, Open Source Technology – it Empowers Our Tomorrow!

Empowering our tomorrow!

I was asked to speak to the Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity this past Wednesday and was I amazed by the turnout.

Last Spring I spoke to the group and there were only about 15 students that attended the meeting. But when I showed up on Wednesday night, I was overwhelmed by the turnout. I would say close to 60 students were in attendance to one of many Delta Sigma Pi recruiting events.

These aspiring, young entrepreneurs were dressed to impress. Not only did they have their business digs on…they had their conversation caps ready. The conversation for the night was networking, entrepreneurship, and leaving a lasting legacy.

They are our future. These students are the ones that will take care of my children. They will be the business leaders of tomorrow making decisions about my “Social Security”, my healthcare, my children’s tomorrow. Education is more than just education…it is about EMPOWERING our tomorrow. Empowering them to make their mark and create a lasting legacy.

I was thinking about legacy and what it means to leave your footprint. I gradated from Clemson twice, first in 1997 with a BS in Mathematics and then in 2003 with a MA in Professional Communications. As I was walking to my Business Writing Class…I found this…my name in the sidewalk here on Clemson’s Campus.

Building Communities – Anderson Area Chamber Style

About a week ago…I get a call from the Anderson Area Chamber to help take part in their yearly membership drive. At first, I was kind of perplexed about this request, but I believe in the life of the chamber so I was happy to jump on board. Plus, I have never taken part in a membership drive so I was interested to check out the process and maybe build some relationships along the way.

To the pleasant voice on the other side of the phone, I happily agreed to show up for a training this morning. So 8am this morning, I made my way into a conference room at the Area Chamber of Commerce where the room was full and the coffee was brewing. JAVA – Good!

What I walked away from this hour and half experience is that the Anderson Area Chamber is building communities, raising awareness, and not just making simple cold calls asking for membership dues.

The Anderson Area Chamber brought in a Membership Campaign Consultant to help the 25 plus members (that agreed to take part in this effort) come together as a group and use their sphere of influence to ask non-chamber members to consider joining their “Tribe”…their “Ecosystem”…their “Sphere of Influence.” Sheryl Ross is her name and empowering communities is her game.

This is here membership game:
Communities —> Awareness —> Membership

As I looked around the room, there was a wide representation of membership taking part in this event. Each one was hand selected, each one has a sphere of influence, each one is passionate about small business development, each one consistently understands the meaning of leveraging relationships. Sheryl Ross was brought in to empower the membership represented in the room about the benefits of a chamber membership; and to empower this membership to expand the “Sphere of Influence” by tapping into their personal/business address books.

What is the point of joining a Chamber of Commerce, especially one that has a broad “Sphere of Influence”? How about to have a voice, generate revenue, and save money. That is the bottom-line. The Anderson Area Chamber is building their “Tribe”, expanding their sphere of influence, and gaining momentum for the following:

Empowering Membership —> Empowering Awareness —> Empowering Business

This is a training session that I enjoyed…I guess I drank the kool-aid. But whatever the reason, I want to be a part of this “Tribe”. I want to grow my “Sphere of Influence.” That is the benefit for each member that showed up for this training session. An opportunity to grow their “Tribe” by networking and engaging in fluid conversation with others in the room, those potential “Tribe” members that will be recruited, and ultimately to feel like they are a part of a “Tribe”. While the chamber is leveraging their membership in the room as means to grow and find new members, the membership in the room is recruiting new members and growing their sphere of influence…this is a mutually beneficial relationship. Business and engaging/building/leveraging relationships is fun. I want some more kool-aid….actually some more coffee.

trust & technology – a story about AT&T

Did you ever think what it takes to turn on a light in your house? You walk into a room, flip the light switch and magically the light in the center of the room comes on…WOW. Think about the centuries of innovation and the many miles of connectivity from the house to the grid. How does this happen? How long did it take for us to trust the fact that flipping a switch in a wall will turn a light on about the room.

This morning, I woke up and walked to the front porch where the wife was on the phone with her sister in Charleston. I noticed she was irritated and as soon as I open the front glass door…I learned every quickly. Her cell phone conversation had stopped, and started over and over because of some dropped calls.

It was time to get on the phone with AT&T. So I went to get my iPhone and noticed that my visual voicemail was not working. I dialed the phone number for AT&T and after navigating thru the menu system, I am speaking with a very nice lady. I was actually thinking, this lady has a nice pleasant voice…then halfway thru explaining my issue, the phone call dropped. BLAH

Now it is time to go grab the land line to call AT&T. Note…we just added this land line a month ago after being completely dependent on mobile service for three years. So I call the 1800 number and reached another nice, pleasant voice with AT&T. Pleasant helpful voices are nice. After explaining my issue…I was off to be transferred to a technical support representative.

****I realize this is a timeline of events…I will get to the point of this post****

My new technical support friend told me of some Voice Network Issues in SC & NC. He also told me that they (AT&T) are in the process of upgrading the 3G service in Clemson and Anderson, to expand the service beyond the Clemson area. He also explained that the voice service works off of a completely different tower than the data service. WOW. It take multiple towers to provide one phone multiple services in just one location, we have not even began to talk about moving from one location to the next.

As my AT&T technical friend was sifting thru my account, where our phones are connected, and diagnosing our tower issues…he made a statement that made me think. He told me that we really TRUST technology to do what it is supposed to do, that when we flip the light switch we TRUST that it will turn on. We do not think about the technology necessary to turn that light on to brighten a room. Think about the amount of TRUST we have when we dial a phone call while driving down the road on a cell phone. The technology to connect that one phone, in a car, while driving down the road at 65 mph to someone in a completely different zip-code. We really TRUST technology.

Has our TRUST continuum for technology shortened each time we accept a new technology? Or do we even realize that we might not trust a technology…we merely do not recognize a technology is not working and check later when it is back up and running again. How long did it take for us as a society to trust that electricity is going to provide the energy necessary to luminate a room. How long did it take for us as a society to trust cell phone calling as a technology as motorola made the first successful call in the late 60’s. How long did it take for us to trust that we could connect to the Internet via a mobile device? Is there really a situation that makes us distrust a service provider like AT&T, that makes us switch providers to experience the same issues with the next provider because the technology is just technology.

HMM…well, I know this: I may pay a lot of money each month to AT&T to provide a service, but I am still amazed that I can talk to my mom while driving down the road at 85 mph in SC and she is driving down the road at 85 mph in another state. Technology is kind of cool.

Digital Literacy – A New World Order

I met with a very cool guy this afternoon as he was working with our group to do some updates on his site: – his name is Bill Sheskey of Sheskey Learning Solutions.

We started talking about social media, finding new ways to build a tribe/ecosystem around your “cause”. What I found it that he is just as passionate about how we empower and educate “our future” with the skills necessary to be competitive in tomorrow’s workforce…to become the leaders of our tomorrow.

It is more than just writing a book report, a paper, or even a proposal. It has become, how do we use digital literacy to tell stories through visual communication, digital communication, sounds, etc.

I had a breakfast meeting this morning with Dr. Victor Vitanza who heads up the PhD Program at Clemson for Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design. He was talking about some of the PhD Candidates are creating dissertations that bring writing, art, video, and design in one paradigm to illustrate points and build a argument.

I teach a Business Writing Class at Clemson (ENGL 304) and I teach it from an entrepreneurial spin using digital communication tools. The new professional that will come out of the K-12 and collegiate education tracks are embarking on a whole new journey with a set of skills that are far more advanced when it comes to communication.

I think about my sister-in-law who is a student at the College of Charleston, and I sit and watch here multi-task in-front of her laptop. She is surfing the web, watching video on YouTube, listening to music, updating Facebook, while writing a paper for class. The new student is a multitasking student with digital skills that far surpass where I was when I was her age.

Has digital literacy brought to the surface attention span issues that were normally suppressed before this brave new Internet World? What does this mean…or are we having to evolve with the communication strategies of tomorrow?

It is the new world order…how can we continue to empower our students for tomorrows careers, today? How can we continue to reform our educational system to push digital literacy to the next frontier? I don’t know…I guess I am asking myself?

Video and Online Rich Media is GROWING FAST!

“Video is a rapidly growing space. I think this year will see hockey-stick growth in IPTV for several reasons. Broadband Internet and 3G mobile networks are expanding rapidly around the world, especially in emerging markets like China, India, Latin America, and the Middle East.
– Kalell Isaza Tuzman of (2/11/09)

“The Internet remains a place of continuing innovation, with users finding new ways to integrate online usage into their daily lives,” said Charles Buchwalter, SVP of research and analytics at Nielsen Online. “In recent years, the Internet has changed dramatically as people seek more personalized relationships online,” said Buchwalter. “In particular, time spent on social networks and video sites has increased astronomically.”
– Gavin O’Malley of (4/24/09)

The number of U.S. consumers who frequent online video destinations has climbed 339% since 2003, while time spent on video sites has shot up almost 2,000% over the same period. In the last year alone, unique viewers of online video grew 10%, while the number of streams grew 41%, the streams per user grew 27%, and the total minutes engaged with online video grew 71%.
– Gavin O’Malley of (4/24/09)

Average Online Video Viewer Watches 5 Hours A Month.
Notable findings about online video viewership from February 2009 include:

* 75.5% of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video
* The average online video viewer watched 312 minutes of video (more than 5 hours)
* 98.8 million viewers watched 5.3 billion videos on (53.8 videos per viewer)
* 41.2 million viewers watched 384 million videos on (8.5 videos per viewer)
* The duration of the average online video was 3.5 minutes.
– Jack Loechner of (4/1/09)

Many companies are looking in so many different arenas to invest their marketing, training, and operational dollars…especially when trying to reach so many different audiences. Groups I work with are obviously going to find ways to sell our services when it comes to delivering rich media online (whether public or private), but consider this statement:

The number of U.S. consumers who frequent online video destinations has climbed 339% since 2003, while time spent on video sites has shot up almost 2,000% over the same period. In the last year alone, unique viewers of online video grew 10%, while the number of streams grew 41%, the streams per user grew 27%, and the total minutes engaged with online video grew 71%.
– Gavin O’Malley of (4/24/09)

WOW…that is all I have to say is WOW. Consumers of information are looking to rich media like video and the multitude of messages it provides when surfing, researching, goofing off…but bottomline, consumers are watching video.

So what does that mean for those trying to reach those audiences…video may be one of the solutions but not the complete package. It doesn’t mean that you should go out and overload your online properties with video, but identify your audiences and provide the rich media that makes sense.

“The Internet remains a place of continuing innovation, with users finding new ways to integrate online usage into their daily lives,” said Charles Buchwalter, SVP of research and analytics at Nielsen Online. “In recent years, the Internet has changed dramatically as people seek more personalized relationships online,” said Buchwalter. “In particular, time spent on social networks and video sites has increased astronomically.”
– Gavin O’Malley of (4/24/09)

Video innovation is is going to contiually grow in ways beyond imagination, especially with the advent of Interactive Television and the convergence of mediums (broadband video and high definition television delivery). But other innovations is finding new ways to deliver this content to audiences. Social Media outlets are the new distribution point of information whether simple mundane thoughts or marketing campaigns. I am using Social Media properties in-coordination with web-based properties to deliver content in an expedient and efficient fashion.

Twitter is a distribution point as a workflow delivering targeted video messages to audiences that can work in coordination with email distribution and online properties. Imagine you are hosting an event and you want to send a personal video message as an invitation to a group of audiences. You know you have an email distribution list and this list can be tracked when the message is delivered. But what if this not the only audience you want to reach in a geographical area. What if you have built a following on Twitter with that was based on geography…now you have a targeted group of followers who might want to know about your event. And now with places like (LOVE IT), you can track clicks that are direct links to your video message.

“There are 87% more online social media users now than in 2003, with 883% more time devoted to those sites. In the last year alone, time spent on social networking sites has surged 73%, while in February, social network usage exceeded Web-based e-mail usage for the first time. ”
– Gavin O’Malley of (4/24/09)

Let’s look at some numbers from online video viewership from February 2009:
* 75.5% of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video
* The average online video viewer watched 312 minutes of video (more than 5 hours)
* The duration of the average online video was 3.5 minutes.
– Jack Loechner of (4/1/09)

What does that tell you…well it tells me that companies that are utilizing targeted messaging using rich media have many audience(s) to reach…so you better do it in less than 3.5 minutes. What do I mean targeted video messaging….well, know your audience, know your purpose, and keep it simple and straight to the point.

Online video “users” are multi-taskers; they have email open, two or three windows open surfing the web, chatting (using some program like iChat, AIM, Jabber, etc.)…so your message better be targeted and capture the attention of the users. It is now beyond the hip concept of just shoot something and put it up because people will watch. YouTube has transformed that landscape like cable television has done to network television…provided a plethora video of people just putting some video out there just because they can. It is now about quality and targeted messaging…Efficient and Effective messages.

Bottomline…rich media (video) is a widely growing area for marketers and organizations to display thier message. But it is time to start thinking: What is your message? Who is your audience? How are you going to deliver your message? How are you going to track that messages’ effectiveness? Should it be professionally produced, Do you want it to be public or private? Who is going to help you with your message?

So what is InnoVenture Southeast 2009

Well…according to John Warner on, it is defined as:

“In the annual InnoVenture conference’s sixth year, the economic storm is raging all around us, wrecking havoc with organizations trying to reinvent themselves and launching out very talented people looking to create new ones. In addition to the Innovation Hall with dozens of exhibits by major corporations and universities, and fifteen entrepreneurs making elevator pitches, InnoVenture also features an awesome line-up of global thought leaders.”

Wow…now that is a loaded answer. It is true, the economic storm is raging all around us, and yes organizations are trying to reinvent themselves. How about organizations, entrepreneurs inventing themselves…Innovating and collaborating in one forum, one place, one hall, with many conversations.

How does that conversation happen, well for every action there must be a reaction. How about Dissoi Logoi (a Sophistic writing by an unknown author) – the words are “Greek words for ‘different words.’ The phrase really carries the meaning of contrasting words, and it refers to the ancient rhetorical practice of arguing both sides of an issue. ”

This leads me to think about the first part of InnoVenture…Inno for Innovation. There will be people from all walks of business talking innovation in their contexts. Whether it is Sustainability, Advanced Materials, Entreprised Systems Management…or digital media, social media, logistics, medical devices, or just being an entrepreneur. Different people from different disciplines, different walks of life coming together with their own “rhetorical argument” seeking conversation of opposing thoughts.

We are all a part of innovation by merely walking through the doors at the Carolina First Center in Greenville, SC. Why? Well, it is like being a part of a fraternity, people that you can connect with who understand what it means to push the boundaries, broaden the mind, and engage in a conversation. A concersation that might lead to an idea that has not been considered…listening to those “different words”, words of innovation.

We are “people looking to create new ones”, new ideas, new thoughts, new conversations…we are looking to innovate. I know I am! I hope to engage!

Final Cut or Avid Media Composer…which one will I choose???

I get the question all the time, what do you use to edit video for your projects. That is actually a good question, one that is constantly discussed in our office. The quick and dirty answer is we use Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer on a Mac OS platform. Both are considered industry standard Non-Linear Editors or NLE’s.

Now what does that mean to the average customer, well it depends on your knowledge and experience. But from a final product standpoint, you will not see a difference in the final product. It is purely an individual editor’s preference. But this is how I try to help people understand…from my perspective.

I produce most web based video content using Final Cut Pro Studio. This is for many reasons, but mainly for workflow. I am extremely fluent with this software and their are many times that one person might be working on a project and a few months down the road, need to re-open the project for some reason. Another computer might need access to the project, so I can open from any of our Mac Computers.

Another reason for FInal Cut Pro Studio is that it integrates well with our web delivery workflow. It works in a Quicktime based file format; so when ever we encode (dump video into the software), Final Cut creates a native Quicktime that can viewed without the use of Final Cut software. That might be confusing to some…but makes life easy.

Final Cut Studio Pro is extremely intuitive so that a novice video editor can jump in and figure out how to use the software…especially if you have any video editing background.

Now…I am a trained/certified Avid Video Editor. I have been using Avid products since 1995 from the early days of the Avid NewsCutter Software. I started my career editing video using two video decks (essentially two Beta Decks side-by-side), editing from one tape to the next. This is considered editing in a Linear Method. Avid’s software (in my humble opinion) was design for those experienced editing using a Linear Method. I edit video using that mentality…and Avid Software fits me well.

Most experienced television video editors & producers have knowledge of Avid Software, so when I work with higher end production using workflow to deliver Standard Definition/High Definition content for television distribution…I use Avid Media Composer. It has all the 3D graphic editors and animation built into the system and works well with High Definition content. If I was to do the same with Final Cut Studio Pro, I would have to use After Effects and other 3rd Party Applications to execute what I can do in Avid Media Composer.

So, this discussion has some bottom-line thoughts.

1) Both Final Cut Studio Pro and Avid Media Composer software are professional grade video editing software.

2) It all depends of the Video Editing Professional and the project, this helps me decide which software I will use to best meet the demands of the workflow and final delivery of the project.

3) Both deliver a high quality final product, whether it is for the web, television, or other video delivery method.

4) I just like having gadgets….the more I have, the more fun it is for me to do our job!