Episode 34: Tech Maven Robert Bogue

Heather Newman:  Hello everyone. We are here for another episode of Mavens Do It Better. I am here with the awesome, wonderful Robert Bogue.

Robert Bogue:  I'll be my own fan club today.

Heather Newman:  Dear friend and colleague and we are catching up, where are we? San Diego!

Robert Bogue:  Yes, we are.

Heather Newman:  Yes. And we just saw each other in Seattle. That's kind of a back to back and then we haven't seen each other in a really long time.

Robert Bogue:  Right.

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. So, yeah, we're at the AIIM Conference, so it's kind of fun. So, I wanted to have Rob on, as you all know, these interviews are about extraordinary experts who bring a light to our world and I definitely think that about Rob in many, many realms. Definitely in technology and he's got all kinds of really cool things that he does outside of that as well that we're going to talk about today. So, but let's start off with your moniker in the technology, in the SharePoint community that you've had a long time.

Robert Bogue:  You mean the SharePoint shepherd?

Heather Newman:  Yes.

Robert Bogue:  Or the guy that carries the big stick.

Heather Newman:  Yes.

Robert Bogue:  It's actually a crook.

Heather Newman:  Yes, he carries a crook around y'all. So where did that come from and how did that start?

Robert Bogue:  Honestly, I needed an alliteration. I needed something that would be funny and I'm like S's and Sherpa was taken and so then it became shepherd. And then, so I do travel with the staff. And I often get asked how I do that. I have a trick staff. It breaks down into three pieces.

Heather Newman:  Oh, my goodness.

Robert Bogue:  And so, I'm always worried that TSA is going to stop me, because I have like a quarter staff in my bag.

Heather Newman:  Oh, sure. Cause it's still pretty big, right?

Robert Bogue:  Well, you know, you think you assemble them, so they don't know the difference between a quarter staff and a shepherd's crook. So, but that's how that started. We initially published the SharePoint Shepherd's Guide for End Users in 2008.

Heather Newman:  Wow.

Robert Bogue:  On the 2007 version then we did 2010, 2013, 2016. And now, we're kind of in this continuous integration for Office 365.

Heather Newman:  Right. And it started out as a book?

Robert Bogue:  So, it was always a book that wasn't supposed to be a book. So I 'd been doing publishing for a really long time. And so I knew how to do that, I knew how to make books. But it was always intended to be tasks that you put into SharePoint that were searchable. And so we do the book, I call the book, that's our promo materials. And so we've been doing that for a long time and it's super cool. I love the ability to customize so our customers can change the content. And even as we're doing updates, we leave their content intact. They can add new content and it's super searchable because we actually deploy into their environments.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. I was just going to say, tell everybody how you deploy.

Robert Bogue:  It's a push and you don't have to have super permissions. You start the program and it pushes all the content in and so that, that then makes it a part of your search index. So you do that, and you do a little keyword action word for help and somebody can type in "help column" and it'll give them all the results for columns. We also do for, for the customers who have multiple versions of SharePoint, like we've all kind of, you know, it's kind of like we've collected dishes over the years, right? And they don't exactly match. And so there's actually a version selector. So if you are saying, oh, how do I add a column in Office 365 and you're like, how was this done back in the dark ages of 2007, you literally click on a selector and it shows you the way it was done in 2007. So, it's super fun to walk down memory lane.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, no kidding. That's awesome. And with that there are, tell everybody about, because I know because I, we, so Rob and I talk on Skype sometimes on video and so like he can see like my office and I can see his studio and all of that. And I know that you have a really fancy studio at your place with a green screen and all that kind of jazz. So, like you are also making videos all the time that are part of this is as well.

Robert Bogue:  Yeah, absolutely. So, the Shepherd's Guide comes with videos. So every task comes with videos. But then we also do other course productions. So, for instance, AIIM, the conference we're at now, that organization, I built their Implementing Information Management on SharePoint and Office 365 course that they sell. And the funny thing about a video studio is, the video is the easy part. The audio is really super hard and so I have more invested in the audio in my studio than I have in the video. Getting all the sound suppression panels and covering every panel. And the audio gear and all that stuff to make it sound beautiful. Super expensive.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. No, I, yes, it's not cheap. That is for sure.

Robert Bogue:  So, that's what, for me, that's been the thing that the video we produce is beautiful. It's pictures beautiful, but it is rock solid on the audio side. And so I just love that about having a studio.

Heather Newman:  That's awesome. Yeah. I think that, you know, even with podcasts and stuff like these little zoom, like we're, I'm using an H4N Pro Zoom, you know, and this has a pretty good microphone and stuff, but when you start doing it when we're not in person. Oh my goodness. You know, it's like if you're using bad equipment, it sounds terrible. And someone was like, I think it's in this ear and not that ear and when it plays in my car. And you're just like, holy cats. Like it was just a lot to think about making content with this sort of thing. So, yeah. So you are also an awesome book reviewer. So if you don't know this, I post a lot of Rob's book reviews. Like I'll post them up on my Creative Maven site cause I think they're awesome. And what's great about them is that they're like my own personal sort of Cliff Notes.

Robert Bogue:  Yeah. I don't have to read the whole book. I can just read Rob's thing, it takes me a couple minutes and I'm good.

Heather Newman:  It's great. Or giving me a flavor if I want to read something or not. But so, talk about how you got into doing that. I mean, obviously you're a reader, so

Robert Bogue:  So, I started five or six years ago, and it was this part of my life that, it was a period of time in my life where I needed to grow. I was going, I went through a divorce and got remarried and I started thinking like, you know, the thing I'm going to do for me, the thing I'm going to do to grow and become a better me is I'm going to read a book a week. And that was really easy when you didn't have other people you need to worry about. But I kept it up. And though most people think my reading list is boring because it's, it's marketing, it's psychology, it's leadership, it's business, it's all this stuff. But none of it is like fiction or you know. Um, so every single week I will read a book and then I post the review Monday morning at eight o'clock eastern time. The only other interesting thing, because you said it's a good summary, but the thing I enjoy most about it is linking topics together. So for me it's, oh this and marketing, and this and psychology, and this and business, and this and leadership and, and connecting all those things. That for me is the part that is allowing me to keep doing it.

Heather Newman:  Right. Yeah. Everyone, we'll put a link to his stuff in the show notes, but it's really, it's cool. I like that, well I like your brain. So like, I like the way that you do those connections and, and link other books, you know, that you've read into sort of how you think about stuff. So you've been in the Microsoft ecosystem for how long?

Robert Bogue:  Well, first the earth cooled, then the dinosaurs came. So, I've been in it for a really, really long time, a couple of decades. MVP for 15 years now. Just super fun. Lots of great people. And we've been a partner for a long time too, but that's, yeah, that's just kind of what you have to do.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And tell everybody where you live and where are you from and all that.

Robert Bogue:  Yeah. So live in Indianapolis been there for a long time. We have seven kids, two dogs, and it's just a great place to be. Not so great in the winters, but you know, I'm kind of digging this San Diego weather.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Not so bad. I'm from, you know, I'm from Michigan and I lived in Zionsville right there. So I'm an Indiana gal myself for some years growing up. Yeah, it's a good place to be.

Robert Bogue:  It's good people.

Heather Newman:  For sure. Yeah, I know, I like that too. And with, you know, seven kids, I know your wife who's lovely, who's visited me in California before and you two have really cool things that you collaborate on together as well. Will you talk about some of your collaborations?

Robert Bogue:  So, there's a couple of things that we did. So back in 2015, one of the things that we did was we created a set of child safety cards. So, Terri was supporting the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and noticing that parents and kids weren't really talking to each other. And so we created cards to get them to talk to each other. And then we added safety sayings from the CDC or the American Academy of Pediatrics. We had a dice replacement. And so that's in our Kin 2 Kid brand.

Heather Newman:  Say it again?

Robert Bogue:  Kin 2 Kid. K I N , the number two, K I D. So we do that. We have a book coming out in May. The Society for Human Resource Management is going to publish, Extinguish Burnout: A Practical Guide to Prevention and Recovery. And then we're going to be speaking at the national conference, which is super fun. And it's, it's about how do you not get burnout in what you do. And nursing has this, healthcare has this, IT has this. Everybody has this. Right. And you can get burnt out in life as you know.

Heather Newman:  What do you mean "as I know", what are you talking about?

Robert Bogue:  Uh, I don't know? I think we've all been there.

Heather Newman:  Yes, we have. And we've talked about it extensively. So anyway,

Robert Bogue:  Yeah, so we've got that going on. We had a patent issued last month, so in February we had a patent issued for an IV dressing innovation. The short of it is, dressings need to be clean, dry, and intact to prevent bacteria from getting in your bloodstream and killing you. And it's hard to assess dryness cause you always have gloves on. So, super, super simple, and we're super looking forward to that getting out in the market. Hundred thousand people, roughly, die every year from healthcare associated infections. So we're trying to like save lives. I mean it makes the SharePoint thing seem really boring, but I love the community there too.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. That's so, yeah. You two collaborate a lot together, which is really exciting. And then you are doing things, I don't know, like how does, do they just come up because of something you're passionate about or is it?

Robert Bogue:  Like how did it come about?

Heather Newman:  Yeah, yeah. How'd it happen?

Robert Bogue:  So, the cards started on a conversation back from a SharePoint Saturday in Atlanta. And we were frustrated because parents and kids weren't talking. And we're like, well how do we get them to do that? And then it was cards and then, and it just snowballed, right. The dressing, we were on our way to our son in Connecticut and we're driving through the middle of Pennsylvania at 1:30 in the morning. By the way, there is nothing in the middle of Pennsylvania, much less at 1:30 in the morning, it was dark. And, Terri was whining a little bit about this kid who got sick from a bug that is a gut bug. It's a normal thing you have in your, in your gut. But he was in serious condition. And so it's 1:30 morning, I'm making random connections. I said, well, dog vomit fluoresces and maybe human vomit does too. Now why I knew that dog vomit fluoresces, I have no idea. So then we, so from my mobile phone, mobile hotspot, we ordered from Amazon five lights, and the nurses test the fluorescent lights with kids, and human vomit does not.

Heather Newman:  Okay, good to know.

Robert Bogue:  Yeah, I mean if you ever need it, but Scorpion, anything from a Scorpion including your urine does fluoresce as well. So there's your Trivial Pursuit fact for the day. And then I'm like, well, maybe we could feed them green fluorescent protein. So when they do vomit it will fluoresce and we decided that was probably not going to go over really well. But then we settled on, you know what? Any liquid is a problem. It just happens that someone vomiting on their dressing is super bad cause you get bugs already in it. But any liquid is bad. And so that's where we came up with, we'll just make a moisture indicating dressing. Yeah. So they're all, they're all some problem we bumped into and then we just go, well, what can we do to fix it?

Heather Newman:  Well, yeah, I mean there's so many people that talk about all kinds of ideas and things all the time, but then they never take action.

Robert Bogue:  Yeah. Yeah. It's hard taking action. So we're working right now on, so if any of the listeners work at a hospital and know Environmental Services, they only clean half the stuff they're supposed to. And that's research, I'm not trying to pick on anybody. It's just research. We've got a way to improve their cleaning rate. And if I can get them from 50% to 75% of the objects that they're supposed to be cleaning. And notice my target is not 90 or 100, 75. I can reduce hospital associated infections by about, it's about, well, it's about 20%, which works out to be about one to two infections per employee per year.

Heather Newman:  Wow.

Robert Bogue:  So, we're super excited about the ability to work on that and to, that one actually brings a little bit more of my technology background into it, but it's how do we keep people from getting hurt and getting sick and dying?

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. Well, and isn't that kind of, you know, some of the most important things?

Robert Bogue:  Yeah. Well, so in that one, I'll tell you the story behind that one was Terri was in the hospital for something and she's fine now, but she's in the hospital and saw the Environmental Services cleaning and oh my gosh, I can't believe it. And I'm like, I can fix that. And she's like, you can't fix that. That's humans, you can't. I'm like, nope, I've got 20 years of training. I know how to fix that problem.

Heather Newman:  Is that coming soon.?Dot. Dot. Dot.

Robert Bogue:  I need, I

Heather Newman:  You're working on it.

Robert Bogue:  Yeah, I'm working on it. Really the problem is the savings, which is in infection control and the cost is all in environmental services and they're so far apart in the organization. So I'm going to try and find a company that, a healthcare organization that really gets it, as like not only do we want to save millions upon millions of dollars every year, but we also don't want people getting sick. And when I find that client, we'll roll through production and

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. Are you going to take the cards in places outside the US? Is that already being thought of?

Robert Bogue:  We haven't. The cards are a really interesting thing cause I carry them with me all the time and I give them to people randomly, which occasionally gets me some weird looks at airports and stuff. But mostly people are like, oh, thank you. Those are ones, they're philanthropy for us, right? We're trying to just get them in the market so that people don't accidentally hurt their kids. They just don't know. That's another case where we're actually waiting for the right partner to want to push this mission.

Heather Newman:  Right, right. So what does the optimal partner look like? Cause they might be listening.

Robert Bogue:  Honestly, it's reached to the effected market, which is people who don't have a lot of family around, so they're younger parents. The cards really talk through grade school, elementary school. And a lot of interactions, a lot of touch points with those sorts of folks. We really felt like there are lots of places where kids are at that it'd be super cool to have these, either as a giveaway or as a low cost item that they could purchase.

Heather Newman:  Give an example of like one of the cards, like something that it teaches.

Robert Bogue:  Oh, the simple stuff would be stuff like, don't let your kids play with the dog near food. Right? Like you're like, oh, well that makes sense. Dogs, food, they get protective, the kids will get hurt. There's things like, don't let your kids be outside while you're mowing. Kids take two weeks to adjust to heat. Babies respond to temperature changes quicker, so you have to be more careful with them than others. So it's, it's a variety of things. And really what we did is we took the CDC's vital statistics and they keep this and it's what people are getting injured by. And we sorted them and we took the top of the list and those made it into cards. And then the drawn art work is pretty cute because you get to see kind of what the kids thought.

Heather Newman:  Right. Right. That's so cool. I love that. So anyone listening food for thought on that one.

Robert Bogue:  Yeah. Let us know. We really do want to get them out there.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Going back to technology land, I mean, you've been in this business area for a really long time. What do you think is coming? You know, like, what's on the horizon, you know, or like the things that people say is it like AI and you know, and virtual reality.

Robert Bogue:  Yeah. Okay. Alright, so let's do AI first. So, we're sitting at the AIIM Conference and now everybody is talking about robotic process automation. Um sorry, we've been doing this for a long time. We called it business process automation. Right? But we didn't have the AI component. And you're like, oh my gosh, we've got AI now. So what does AI? Well, AI is anything we haven't figured out how to do before. Right? It's really, people are like, oh AI, AI, AI. You know what, 20 years ago OCR was AI. 20 years ago optical character recognition was super amazing and it was impossible and it was wow. Right,? And now if you talk to somebody about AI, they won't put OCR in the list. Right? So Ai is just the stuff that we want you to want to long for, hope that you get. And it's good stuff and it's magical, and boy, I love mathematicians and statisticians who can make this stuff work. But for me it's all the same. It's all, it's all what we've been doing.

Heather Newman:  I love my data man. My little, do you remember what those were? So it was like a, it wasn't a calculator it was in the shape of a robot. It was literally called Data Man. And it taught me my multiplication tables.

Robert Bogue:  Yeah. Like, like a little Alfie sort of thing?

Heather Newman:  Yes. It was a little dealio. And to me that was like the best thing I'd ever had.

Robert Bogue:  So, so future. Right? Like to answer your question. I think what I'm most excited about is that every iteration we learn a little bit more about how to make technology work for actual humans. And we're not getting it right yet. I don't want to say that we're getting it right. And the pendulum keeps swinging, right? Like so we have all this stuff on-prem and it's deployed and blah, blah, blah. And big corporations can't change it for 10 years. Right? And now we're on the other end of the spectrum where, you know, oops, I blinked and Office 365 changed and oh, I blinked again and man, now I've got Teams instead of Groups. I blink again and I, and I think we're too far on that end. But I like the idea that we're going to swing to the middle. And we're going to figure out how to help people be successful with all this technology that we keep dreaming up and implementing.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Yeah. I think that's with anything in a way, you know, it's like the pendulum, like sometimes it swings so hard one way it gets stuck and we're, I mean, I think we're all wanting things to be just balanced a bit more, you know? I thought, since we are here at the AIIM Conference, it's always interesting to see where things are moving in particular with, you know, Paper. Somebody, oh, I was dealing with an insurance issue the other day and she was like, yeah, well you can fax it. And I was like, who has a fax machine? You have a fax machine?

Robert Bogue:  I do actually have a fax machine.

Heather Newman:  Why do you have a fax machine?

Robert Bogue:  Because I have a big multifunction copier in my office and it has fax built in.

Heather Newman:  Okay, fair enough.

Robert Bogue:  Right. But the 80s have called and they want it back.

Heather Newman:  I was like, you don't have a standalone fax machine though?

Robert Bogue:  No.

Heather Newman:  Okay. All right, let's be clear. But my point is, is that I think that because you work and do a lot of things in healthcare, like healthcare anything, financial services and utility and some of our sort of, I guess, the most sort of important industries are the ones that probably still have fax machines and so many paper records and all of that stuff. And I see it moving, but I don't see it moving as fast as it could. I wonder why. I mean, I have my opinions about why, but why do you think?

Robert Bogue:  You know, it takes just a ton of energy to manage all this churn. And absolutely should we maybe get rid of fax machines? Yeah. I would agree. We need to get rid of the fax machines, but to change a business process or rather to change all of the business processes. It takes a long time.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. And people don't like change. I mean, I don't care, you know, coming to any show, any of these technology shows and talking to people, walking up to a customer, you know, you may have the best thing they've ever seen and they love it and they're like, yeah, that's great. And they're like, I don't know. Do I have to move from here to there? To do it? And you're like, and sometimes it's free. You know what I mean? Like you can't even give it away to have somebody make a change. You know? And I know you talk a lot about like adoption, user adoption and all of that stuff. Has your spiel changed or is it the same?

Robert Bogue:  It's changed. It's more informed. I spend more time, what I realize is the people I am talking to have never been trained in organizational change management. They've never been trained in psychology or communications or engagement or, or, or. And so what I realize is I'm talking to somebody who drives a car about how to repair a car. And it doesn't work. Right? And so, basically I'm teaching auto mechanics. Or I'm saying, if you will let us, we will repair your car for you.

Heather Newman:  Or we can teach you to change the oil and do like five things on this checklist that you can do yourself.

Robert Bogue:  Right. I mean, learning to cook, if you think about learning to cook, you could become an expert chef. Or I can teach you a handful of things and I can give you a box of recipes and you know what? You're going to do okay. Right? I'm not even talking about like boxed dinners kind of. okay. I'm like, you know if you learn how to scramble an egg and bake a chicken breast and a handful of things. It's all you need.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. You're going to do all right. Yeah. So, you're writing, you've written a book that's going to come out that's about burnout. How do you, not to dig too personal, but like how do you avoid that? How have you avoided that? And does that come into the book? Are there stories like about your personal life? Is it like how does,

Robert Bogue:  Yeah, there's definitely stories. They're really, they tend to be more about the kids or our friends but they're definitely the stories. I think, I don't mean to oversimplify this, cause then people won't buy the book, but, but

Heather Newman:  I don't think it matters in a way because it's like you can tell people to do x, y, and z that's going to be good for them and they still don't do it.

Robert Bogue:  Right. So here's the, we have two models in the book. One is the bathtub model and it is your personal agency is a bathtub and when the bathtub is empty, you have burnt out. All right? And that's super simple. Now what fills the bathtub are your results, your support and your self-care. So, if you keep those things flowing, then everything keeps working. Now, by the way, the drain has a valve on it so that you can manage that and those are the demands that are placed on you. And so, at a basic level, if you feel like you have the capacity to get things done, you're unlikely to be in burnout. The second model in the book is a little harder to get. You have to kind of, there's more that's needed, but I'll give you the basic framework. The basic framework is you have to feel effective. And I said personal agency, the ability to get things done. Effective is actually a past tense. You're looking backwards and you're evaluating what should I have gotten done with what I perceive I did get done. When those two things get too far out of whack, when you feel like, oh my gosh, I should have gotten way more done. You expect more of yourself, you get and you have a lower view of what results you got, you'll be in burnout. And then so you trip those over to where you feel like, you know what? I'm doing a really darn good job. I'm not perfect but I'm getting stuff done and then it will be difficult for you to fall into the trap of burnout.

Heather Newman:  Right. I like that. I think cause sometimes with, with burnout in some of these issues there's like, I don’t know, in being on different panels, you and I speak a lot on different panels and talk about that stuff. And I feel like sometimes that it's like there's like somebody who'd be like, well you know, you just have to be positive or you have to be like vocal or you have to do blah, blah blah. And I feel like sometimes we don't use good examples. It's like that seems like the bathtub system. You know what I mean? And it's a visual. And you can see it and you can be like it's lower or higher, and you turn the drain on or off. But I feel like sometimes you read books or you like listen to people talk and it's like these big sort of, I will call it like an empty slogan. You know what I mean? And I think that that's exciting. So, there's a system and then there's also examples and stories of people that you know, your family and friends about how either they've gone into it or gotten out of it. That's awesome. I can't wait to read it. Say the name of it again.

Robert Bogue:  Extinguish Burnout: A Practical Guide to Prevention and Recovery.

Heather Newman:  How many books have you written?

Robert Bogue:  Uhh, that will be 27.

Heather Newman:  Holy cats! I think I knew that. I knew it was in the 20s but I didn't know it was 27. When did you write your first book?

Robert Bogue:  In 91' I wrote a chapter in a book.

Heather Newman:  Wow.

Robert Bogue:  And so, you get, by the way, I say 27 it doesn't mean I wrote everything in all the books. You write one chapter, I author credit. Author credit on 27 when this book is published will be 27.

Heather Newman:  What is the one that, is there one that has like, I don't know, is it something about like the first or is there something about maybe this one or is there something about one that you were like, this is the most awesome thing? Is there one?

Robert Bogue:  It's this one. It's Extinguish Burnout and part of it is I got to work with Terri on it. And we get to work on it together. She and I had worked on a chapter in an information overload book by the American Nursing Association. And that was fun. But this is different. And the other books that I did prior to that stuff, it's mostly technology books. And again, I love technology and I don't want to minimize it, but this, this for us is Extinguish Burnout is going to change people's lives. Like you don't get stuck anymore. You don't develop depression. You don't like, the correlation numbers if you look at some of the research, some of the researchers are trying to say that burnout and depression are not different. I don't agree with that, but there's some really high correlations. So if I can figure out how to keep you out of burnout. And it does, by the way, the flow of information is having burnout leads to depression, right? It's a fast follower. Follows within three months. But if I can keep people out of burnout, maybe I can keep them out of depression and depression is predicted to be the largest healthcare, not mental health, healthcare issue we will have on the planet by 2020.

Heather Newman:  Well, and stress and depression and all of that stuff leads to us getting, it's disease. It's cancer. All of those things are what that is. All the things that you're like, you turn around one day and you're like, really? You know? But it's like, yeah, remember all the times you've been stressed and bananas and couldn't get things done and felt terrible about yourself and like, right? So yeah, I completely believe that as well. Wow. This is so exciting. I can't wait to read it. You also have, talk about, did we talk about your organizational and communication videos at length at all?

Robert Bogue:  No.

Heather Newman:  So, let's talk about that, cause he's got all kinds of great stuff y'all. We're bouncing around, but like I keep remembering all the cool stuff you're doing.

Robert Bogue:  I can't sleep. So, one of the common problems about technology, so we started talking about what's new in technology and all that stuff. One of the common things in technology is getting the users to adopt it. And what I find is all the folks haven't been trained, psychology, comms, all that stuff. So what I started to do was put together pieces that people can use in their communications. So if I go back to a cooking metaphor, I pre make something and then you can season it and it's yours. You made it. But all the core of it's done. And so we've got two series that are releasing publicly with, they've got bumpers on them, but they're releasing publicly. One is engagement videos. And so that sort of Where's Waldo.

Heather Newman:  And that's not engagement like getting down on one knee.

Robert Bogue:  No, we're not talking about exchanging rings. We're talking about how do you get your users excited about your technology. So that started with Where's Waldo and just teaches people how to search on their intranet. It ends with wormhole physics, which is not yet posted. Which is about how you use Teams to connect people up, Microsoft Teams, you connect people across time, space and, and the spoiler alert is, so I'm the SharePoint Shepherd, my characters are, they're like Leading Lamb, Sam Sheep, Elaine Ewe, right? Like it's kind of in that. So I made a call to the field and so I called Lola Lamb while she was in the field. But, so you'll have to, you have to see that episode and that'll post at some point. And then, so that was how do you, how do you tease that into the middle of a communication about the rollout you're doing? Or how do you get people excited once you've rolled out? And I kept doing this and what I realized was the corporate communicators, most of the time they're the admin person for the department who's generating the story about whatever. Right. They've never been taught communications, right. They don't have journalism backgrounds. They don't know about inverted pyramids. When people talk about inverted pyramid they think about the Bangles, right? Like talk like no, that's walk like an Egyptian. Sorry. But they don't know, they don't know to write emotionally. They don't know how to write a story. Oh my gosh. If you've not been in drama or journalism or whatever, you don't know how to write a story. If I said Joseph Campbell, if you've been through story stuff and writing stuff you know Joseph Campbell. It's hero story and, and you know that stuff. But if you've never done that, and the teaser for the folks who are listening, if you don't know that, it's the framework that George Lucas used for Star Wars, right? Like it's the thing. And so we have a series of those, those are 600 words, four minute videos. And those are posting every other week. So the engagement is one week and then we do communications. Folks can use those directly; the videos are up on YouTube. If they want to subscribe to a series of them, so a they get them pushed. I give them to them off my video platform with shorter bumpers. Then if they say no, this was really good I really have to have this, they can buy a license that has really no bumpers and they can either deploy internally which they can use to watch their activity and know who's watching them. Or, they're also allowed to use them off of my video hosting platform but they have no bumpers and no ads and no, like it's just the video.

Heather Newman:  Got It. The content. That's super cool. I like that methodology on, you know, in our gig economy of like using the content, how you want to use it and license it and all that stuff. That's super cool.

Robert Bogue:  Yeah. And we'll see. I mean, it's a new experiment for me. I like experiments. Most of them fail.

Heather Newman:  Oh, come on.

Robert Bogue:  Well No, they do! A friend of mine says,

Heather Newman:  No, no, I mean a thousand light bulbs or whatever.

Robert Bogue:  A friend of mine is like, Rob, I love that you never fail. And I looked at her and I'm like, what are you talking about?

Heather Newman:  Failure always leads to really good things usually. A lot of lemonade out of big lemons.

Robert Bogue:  Yeah. Yeah. I look at failure. Failure is not an option. It's the pathway.

Heather Newman:  Yes, exactly. Fail hard, fail quick, fail fast, fail a lot, move on, for sure. That's good.

Robert Bogue:  Keep failing. Just don't let it be fatal.

Heather Newman:  Yes. Well yeah, that's good. Yeah. No Darwin awards for anybody.

Robert Bogue:  Right. Hey y'all watch this!

Heather Newman:  So, we've got a new book coming out. We've got videos. Oh my goodness. You've got a patented bandage,

Robert Bogue:  IV dressing

Heather Newman:  IV dressing. I wanted to say that right. What else? Anything else?

Robert Bogue:  Gee, I hope not.

Heather Newman:  I know. Like, no burnout for you, Mister.

Robert Bogue:  Results versus expectations. My expectations are low and I'm cranking stuff out. It may not be very good, but I'm cranking it out.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, no, that's awesome. Where will we see you speaking next?

Robert Bogue:  I don't know. Well, so I don't know. See, so here's the thing, I know that I'm speaking at the SHRM conference nationally. I know I'm speaking at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control. I've got an HR conference I'm speaking at in Indianapolis. I know I've got more stuff, but the best way to see my speaking schedule is go to the website, go to Thor Projects dot com and on the lower right is the upcoming speaking schedule.

Heather Newman:  Yes, and his website is Thor, t h o r like Thor,

Robert Bogue:  The Viking God of war and thunder!

Heather Newman:  Thorprojects.com. So you can catch him there and we'll put more links up on show notes. What's your Twitter-atti handle? It's Robert Bogue, I believe.

Robert Bogue:  RobBogue, @robbogue.

Heather Newman:  Okay. And if, and if that's wrong, we'll fix it.

Robert Bogue:  Well I don't, I should know this stuff, but I don't use it actually.

Heather Newman:  I know, I tweet you all the time, but I'm like, I don't know either. But anyway, we'll put it in the show notes as well. So rob, man of many maven hats for sure. Um, and such a dear friend and thank you for catching up and being on here and telling everybody. You always have such cool things going on and I'm always just like, wow! You know, cause they're, you know, just from the heart, you know, and wanting to help.

Robert Bogue:  Look, you know, Jobs said, you know, figure out what kind of Ding you want to make in the universe. Yeah. And for Terri and I, I think I've figured it out. I think we're going to go ding this healthcare associated infections thing and I think we're going to grind it into the ground.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Thank you.

Robert Bogue:  Thank you.

Heather Newman:  I mean, that's amazing, right? And, love to Terri and thank her too, but yeah. So, so good. So thank you, rob.

Robert Bogue:  Thank you Heather.

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. Well everyone

Robert Bogue:  Be fantastic.

Heather Newman:  Okay. I'm going to work on that every day, I think hopefully, yes. Folks, catch us on iTunes and Stitcher and Spotify and all the places where you listened to your wonderful podcasts and here's to you and another beautiful day on this big blue spinning sphere. Thanks.

Episode 33: Tech Maven Karuana Gatimu

Heather Newman:  Hello everyone. Here we are again for another Mavens Do It Better podcast where we interview extraordinary mavens who bring a light to our world. Couldn't be more excited to be sitting here today in the Mixer Commons on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington with none other than Karuana Gatimu. Hello!

Karuana Gatimu:  Hello. Hello. That's a great intro.

Heather Newman:  Yes. And, Karuana and I have been catching up and I figured I'd have her on. She is a maven of many sorts technology and diversity and inclusion and adoption and is also just an awesome friend. So, wanted to get with her today and talk about all those wonderful things. So, tell everybody what you do at Microsoft.

Karuana Gatimu:  Oh, sure. I will. And thank you for having me. I think that the, uh, being here, you brought the sunshine to Redmond, Washington. It is beautiful out here today, which is, I'm finally thawing from snowmageddon. So I work in Microsoft Teams engineering and I run our customer advocacy group and we're a little bit of a unique team for Microsoft because we bring together all the adoption best practices, documentation and guidance, worldwide training, but a lot of feedback and also quality work with our tap program, our prerelease program. So it's fun to have all that together. It's like I found my tribe. And it's a pleasure to get to lead that.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. And we're here, are we allowed to say where we are?

Karuana Gatimu:  Oh yeah, you can say it.

Heather Newman:  We're at MVP Summit. So I'm a Microsoft MVP in the Office Apps and Services segment. And so I got to see Karuana speak and we'll probably see her speak a couple of times and what we do here is we get updates on things and a lot of it is under nondisclosure cause it's coming soon kind of thing. But there's lots of great things coming with Teams and we got a sneak peek for some and then a lot was released because of, was it Enterprise Connect?

Karuana Gatimu:  Enterprise Connect. Yes. That's a major conference. It happens to be the same week this year as MVP Summit. As well as things happening for any of your European listeners. We had our Amsterdam Ignite Tour this week as well. So lots of things happening around the globe and we're privileged to be such a big part of that front and center for Microsoft Strategy. Microsoft Teams is a big piece of the M365 strategy going forward. And you know, I've been lucky to get to work in these spaces. I worked in SharePoint when it was new. I worked on the Yammer acquisition, worked on the release of Power BI and now I'm here and you know, it's really exciting to be around a new product, especially one that's been as well received, as actually all of those have, but especially Teams right now is a, is a hot topic.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. I think in talking to customers and partners and in the space, we've been talking about how, you know, SharePoint has, you know, is beloved and been along for such a long time and that Microsoft Teams is really making M365 Microsoft 365 and Office 365 sticky. In a way that it's kind of pushed things to the next level I think, which is really exciting. Will you talk about sort of the adoption programs that you have around that? Cause I know you do a lot in that.

Karuana Gatimu:  Yeah, we definitely do. We do think that it makes Office 365 sticky. But what we even more hope is that it is really transforming that experience. You know, people have given us feedback and this is, I believe that Teams is a representation of the transformation of our own corporate culture. You know, with Satya here and the whole leadership team really focusing on diversity, inclusion, being open, actioning customer feedback. That's really how Teams was born. And so what it's trying to do is provide that center of gravity for that communication and collaboration. Well that's great, but it's also a big change for people and likely not the only change going on for them. So we really wanted to have an adoption

Heather Newman:  What people have lives outside of technology?

Karuana Gatimu:  They do amazing. Even I have a life, nobody knows that, of course, they think my life is Teams, but I actually do have a real life. And in my real life there's other things going on besides some new application that I'm supposed to learn. And so, you know, we have an entirely new adoption framework that we took that feedback from our customers and that, I do a lot of direct customer engagement, which for me is my bread and butter. I really like to have what I call truth from the trenches, right? What is actually happening out there in the field with our customers trying to drive adoption. And so we took all that feedback and we altered the Office 365 adoption framework and Microsoft Teams was the first group to put that into production. I was on the V team that changed the main framework and you know, we think it's going to help people, you know, find their tribe, right? Find Their tribe, tell the story and user our tools to drive adoption more easily.

Heather Newman:  Right. That's awesome. Yeah. And so when, just so folks, there's, you know, folks that are definitely in technology who listen, but like there's folks that aren't, so your title.

Karuana Gatimu:  Oh yes. So, titles inside Microsoft are like kind of super confusing when you, you know, and that's okay, but if you look on LinkedIn, a lot of us don't use our internal title on our LinkedIn profile. I happen to, but you know, that's why I say, I'm the Lead of the Customer Advocacy Group. Okay. But technically I'm a Principle PM Manager, so that's a principle program manager, manager. So I manage other PMs because I'm a lead, I have a team. But it's funny, right? But you know that principal title is basically you earn that inside of Microsoft when you get to a point where you're supposed to drive your own programs forward. Not that other people don't. But there's a greater expectation that's on you once you reach that principal level. It's considered a leadership level. So, you know, I was lucky I came into Microsoft that way because I've been a director and a GM and all sorts of other stuff elsewhere.

Heather Newman:  And you were at Sketchers as well?

Karuana Gatimu:  I was, I was, I was the Chief SharePoint Architect at Sketchers and I ran ecommerce there and digital marketing. And so, you know, that was a great job. I love Sketchers. They're a fantastic company, lot of fun. And that was at the time when, you know, back then I remember my VP of IT coming to my desk and handing me an iPad and saying, listen, make SharePoint work on this.

Heather Newman:  Okay.

Karuana Gatimu:  Right. On the first iPad. I'm like, I'll do it. I'll definitely do it. So, you know, I think that it's the same situation now. People out there, you see Teams, you want to use it. There's probably some IT person who's still trying to figure it out. And my job is to bring those two things together. What the business needs and when it pros can do and help move that ball. So, I did have a hand in designing this job. And for anybody out there who's listening from a career development perspective, I'd say, you know, you want a job, design it, own it, go after it. You know, I lobbied people for a long time to make this role. And I had different iterations of it along the last, I'd say like four or five years. So, you know, I'm really lucky now that I got, I got the Gig.

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. Yeah. You have to craft your own world. You have to craft your own path a lot of the time. So Karuana and I had the pleasure of, you know, we met officially at Ignite a couple of years ago and talked pretty much the rest of the evening into the morning I believe. And then we've been doing great just stuff together. And I have to say thank you for being such a great advocate and saying, hey Heather, do you want to do this? And I think we do that for each other and I just appreciate that. So thank you.

Karuana Gatimu:  You're welcome.

Heather Newman:  Yeah.

Karuana Gatimu:  I like to be an active myth buster. That powerful, intelligent women can't band together and work together effortlessly. I think there's still a lot of myths out there around that. I don't believe any of them. They've very rarely been my experience. Usually when I meet other really smart women, they're always excited to find out what you do and start to partner and do cool stuff. And we happen to have a lot in common. So, you know, that was, it was even easier. We just clicked like tribe members do. But you know, I also think it's important. I think it's an important example to set like, hey, we're all in this together. We have to band together to create the world we want to see.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. And so we've had the chance to do a few things together. Like you came down to SharePoint Saturday Los Angeles, and we went to the European SharePoint Conference and did workshops together. So we led workshops on the show floor, for networking and leadership and empowerment and all of that. And we have, we're about to embark on another one.

Karuana Gatimu:  Yes, I'm so excited! SharePoint Conference North America! Ahhhhh!

Heather Newman:  Yes, Las Vegas, third week of May if you haven't registered or don't know.

Karuana Gatimu:  Right, exactly. And you know what I like about the SharePoint Conference is, you know, Ignite is such a huge event and I think it's a wonderful event obviously. And you can learn everything you might ever want to know about any Microsoft product at Ignite. What I like about SharePoint Conference is it's focused on that collaboration space and so you can deep dive with other product group members and you meet other customers and hear what they're doing. You know, the attendance is such that you can actually kind of get to know people. A lot of deep dive content on a variety of subject and Teams of course has a track there in the SharePoint Conference and we're about to do our diversity, inclusion and belonging track. And what's really amazing about that is SharePoint Conference is one of the first conferences to have a dedicated track for diversity, inclusion and belonging, on at the same time as other technical content. And that's because that's how important this is, right? If we don't have better diversity, if people may be diverse but they don't feel included, and you may be included but you don't feel like you belong. We won't actually design products that work for everyone. So I, you know, I'm super excited to be involved in that.

Heather Newman:  And you know, we did it last year and it was the first time and it got a lot of, you know, talk and feedback. And that's the other thing too that I really love about our community is that, you know, it's like some stuff worked and it worked really well and it was great that we did it and there's other things that didn't. And we were like, what didn't work? Tell us, let's figure this out. And you know, we have a committee that is working on this, you know, and we did last year as well. And you know, Cathy Dew from Women in SharePoint is heading a lot of things up. And Jennifer Mason and you know, and all the folks that work on the Microsoft team. So, you know, it's not, these things aren't just in a bubble, you know, and it's great to have a bunch of different voices and also people involved in it and, you know, putting out a call for speakers and all of that. And I think we're about to do a call for meetup leads and all of those things. So, you know, the diversity, inclusion and belonging area it's a moving target and it always has been. And what I'm, you know, Jen Stirrup, was part of, and they created a diversity and inclusion advisory board this year for the MVP Summit, which I was on. And it was really amazing to, and it's got, I think, I don't know, there's probably 50 people on it and it's everyone. It's not just women, it's everyone, and everybody was contributing, you know. Did you see part of the pre day?

Karuana Gatimu:  I did. I just see part of the pre-day. And the thing, you just hit on something that's really important. Diversity, inclusion and belonging is not just about, you know, different genders and different, you know, ethnicities. It's about everyone coming together and feeling a part of something bigger than themselves. And I think, you know, as a longtime community activist in a variety of topics, technology and otherwise, one of the things that I think is most important for people who are doing community leadership is to be open and to take feedback and criticism very well and to really make other people feel like they get to have a voice and a choice in the direction of those communities, in those events and what have you. Because sometimes these things can become like some sort of a clique. And I think that that's very dangerous for our causes right now. I think it's very, very important to be open to feedback, to be open to other people shaping things. And you know, you may encounter people who have opinions that you don't agree with. That's okay, because we need, that is the essence of diversity. It's not diversity in how you look, it's also diversity in how you think, that is important to really, you know, moving us forward. And especially right now in the US right now, we need that ability to hear other people we need. We're pretty good at talking in the United States. We're not so good at listening. And one of the things that I really try to contribute, even though I am a talker, is to really help people understand listening skills and what it means to be an active listener. I think from a community standpoint, that's what I love about the SPC D&I committee. Right? We took that feedback back. You know, we were open, we were, you know, we invited that feedback, and now we're actioning it. We're making changes and people are going to be able to see themselves reflected back in the community, which is all anybody really wants. They just want to see themselves in the bigger picture. To know that they matter. I think it's really important to do that. Certainly part of a legacy I'm trying to leave. I was recently nominated to the Experiences and Devices Women's Board, which is Rajesh Jha's organization, which is all of Office. We have a women's board and you know, a senior female technical leaders from all across that group, we're coming together technical and you know, PM all disciplines are represented. And to me that's a huge honor and I really take that stuff seriously because I want to participate and leave something behind. Selfishly, I don't want any other woman to have to go through what I went through to get here in my career. And that's why I created this Service Adoption Specialist Course so that people can take and validate their skills, people who are business and technical and communication skills. There was nothing for us and I just thought that that was not okay, you know. And so it's brand new. You know, it came out in January. We've had over 5,800 people take the course and we have the second highest conversion rate to a paid certifications of any edX course ever. And that validated for me that yeah, there's a segment here in this industry that really needs this career path modeling. And I'm thrilled about that. And so many of them are women, right? Because women come from very diverse career backgrounds. We end up in tech, you know, I'm theater trained, I know you are, right. We didn't, this was not our primary place. And so, you know, I think that all of this work where there's diversity, inclusion, the adoption more, you know, everything, I'm really trying to leave this, this breadcrumb trail, this neon breadcrumb trail that's very obvious, about how you can move forward even if you don't have a traditional technology education. Cause I don't, you know, I don't have, and for a long time I wouldn't even talk about that cause I was too insecure about it.

Heather Newman:  Oh yeah. I had the imposter syndrome about it. I would say, oh well, I was just a theater major and a dear person in my life pointed that out to me. And I was like, oh my goodness. I was like, I use it every day.

Karuana Gatimu:  That we're just is, to me it's like, it's like part of the evil empire. I use it.

Heather Newman:  Kinda. Just. It's doubt language.

Karuana Gatimu:  It is, it's doubt language. That's exactly true. And it's habit. For me it's been habit and I've really tried to work on, especially when I'm speaking in public, you know, I'm still working on editing the thoughts in my own head. That's going to be a lifelong journey, I think.

Heather Newman:  I know I wish Grammarly could be stuck in there or something.

Karuana Gatimu:  I know, right? Something exactly. I wish that, you know, but at least when I speak in public, I very much try not to minimize my talent. I have talent. People pay me for it. Why am I the one that's minimizing it? That makes absolutely no sense. You know, so, but it's a journey.

Heather Newman:  Well, it's like doing it before somebody else does it to you.

Karuana Gatimu:  Right.

Heather Newman:  That's usually the thought process.

Karuana Gatimu:  Cause I'm anticipating how my career was 25 years ago that imprinted upon me. And the truth is it's not like that today. And I also have to accept that some things have changed, and for the better. So that's not always easy for me to do. I am a grown dog. I won't call myself an old dog, but I'm a grown dog and I still have to learn new tricks sometimes and let the change wash over me and be in the present era instead of the old one.

Heather Newman:  I think it's interesting in looking at, you know, you and I are in the similar, I would say, you know, grown dog bracket

Karuana Gatimu:  Hashtag grown dog. We just made a

Heather Newman:  Grown dog. And it is interesting looking at, you know, people that are, you know, a generation ahead of us and then the generation, you know, younger and you know, how they fit in the mix and how we have conversations with them and there's this sort of wave of sort of, you know, there's a push, there's a lot going on in our world right now and I really, it's interesting making sure all voices get heard.

Karuana Gatimu:  Absolutely. And some of the most valuable conversations I have, and they're not official reverse mentoring relationships, but there's a lot of young women that I know who find me through one way or another and I add them to my mentoring circle or whatever inside Microsoft. And they are so important to me. They keep me fresh, they keep me connected, they helped me understand things from a different point of view. They also help me understand the persistence of certain things. As an African American woman, you know, in a technical field, there's not that many of us. It is definitely changing for sure. But we are, you know, kind of one more step in the kind of diversity and inclusion pattern there. And so there are certain things, especially in certain parts of this country, that we haven't healed yet in terms of being nice to one another. And you know, part of me gets angry about that part of me gets frustrated and part of me just digs my heels in. I am determined not to allow limiting ideas have an impact on me or mine. And so I take that mine pretty broadly. And so, you know, I just want to do everything I can to again, make that neon path for people to expand any way they want to in an authentic way. You know?

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. And I think, you know, like, I know you do this, I do this, we both travel a lot extensively throughout the world and you know, I just got back from India and, you know, you're going to all kinds of places as well. And you know, I think that's the other thing with this, when you do this kind of work also understanding that, you know, you have to, one way to talk about diversity, inclusion and belonging here is very different in different places in the world. And we were in Puerto Rico and it was like Puerto Rico is diverse because of its history. And it's not the nicest history either. You know what I mean? So you, you have to also think about that. You can't just sort of pop in and be like, hi, la, la, la, you know?

Karuana Gatimu:  Right. Yeah.

Heather Newman:  And that's super important too.

Karuana Gatimu:  Well, and you know, to me that goes again to those listening skills. I think in the US and we're not, we're not trained in that. You know, there's a public speaking course you take in college, there's not an active listening one unless you're a psych major. So, you know, of course I was, so I did. But I think that definitely traveling has certainly informed my thinking about listening, about these topics. To your exact point, it's so different in so many other areas. And of course, I'm Kenyan American, right? My father's from Kenya and when I went and visited there, I became very clearly aware of how different my life would be had I grown up there instead of here. And I want to be really clear. I'm not saying it's better or worse, I'm just saying different, right? I mean, you know, had I lived on the farm where my grandmother lived, you know, my father's mother. There's not a lot of bandwidth there. You know, it's an agricultural community. There's not a lot of wealth there. You go into the city and of course there is, but the gap between the haves and the have nots is very, very clear. And the access to education, especially for women, young girls and women is very, you know, questionable sometimes. It's not equal amongst everyone. So, you know, given those things, I'm really clear about the opportunity that I have working here. Sometimes I pinch myself that I ended up in Microsoft, one of the best companies in the world and the kind of role that I have that I get to really have an impact. And I have absolutely zero intention of wasting that. Because I could be an awesome chicken farmer right now, you know, and that would be fine, but instead I have a different opportunity and that opportunity allows me to empower others and that's what I am all about, you know? So whether I'm doing it for Teams or whatever product I'm doing it for. What I like about the product though, I'd have to say is never before in my career has my professional life and the product I'm working on dovetailed and complimented so perfectly what I am personally passionate about. And for me that's my career success. Everything I'm personally passionate about, I get to work on as a part of my daily job and that is an earned gift, you know, and I'm very grateful for it. It's definitely something new I'd say in the last four or five years that's come together and continues to evolve. So you know, if folks out there, if you don't feel that, like go after it, figure out what it is one step at a time. Mine has continued to evolve. It wasn't like I had some perfect plan, there is no such thing as a perfect plan. Note to self for all the PM's out there, there is no perfect plan. Perfect does not exist. You have to just be nimble and like figure it out.

Heather Newman:  I was listening, I saw one of those, you know Gary B? I saw one of his, and he was talking to a 22 year old the other day and she called in and was asking questions cause she wants to be a millionaire at 25 and all of this stuff and he was like, no, you will not do that. He's like, maybe at 36. He's like, what did you do this weekend? Did you hang out? Did you go do this, do that? And she's like, I worked with my mom and dadada. And he's like, for real? She's like, yeah. And he's like, you know what I did in my twenties? Worked all the time because I want the long game. You know? And so, there's talent and there's where you're plopped into the world and then there's hustle.

Karuana Gatimu:  There's hustle. Yeah, I definitely, you know, and the other thing also is about priorities. Why? My question to that woman would have been, why do you want to be a millionaire? What do you think that's going to get you? Because I guarantee you, I feel like I have more freedom than a lot of those folks. I have freedom, I have impact, I have respect in my community. I have all of the things I ever dreamed of and a wonderful personal life, and all that stuff that goes with that. So, you know, money's not the answer. Wish for something else. Okay. Just out there, just don't wish for money. Wish for something else. Wish for freedom, wish for health, wish for something that is meaningful versus, you know, the financial reward. Look, the only reason I can say that is because all my bills are paid and my car starts, because that wasn't always the case in my life. But the truth is that that's not what I really care about now. Now that I do have a little money in the bank and my car does start every time I put my key in it, I'd come to realize that that's not what I should be wishing for.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. And the thing is about that, is that it happens to all of us and at different periods of time. You know, it's like you can be doing really well and all of a sudden the bottom falls out of things. You know, and a lot of the time, you don't always see that or hear it from people. But that happens and it happens to a lot of us and it's just, you know, I remember not too long ago when you're like, oh my goodness, this debt or this thing happened or this, you know, disease or whatever, all those things can come up. And that's the other thing about, I think the belonging piece of this. I think is so important and I know you do too, is that, it's like cultivating beautiful, deep, strong, friendships.

Karuana Gatimu:  So important because that's what's going to carry you through. And you know, I absolutely know the difference in that. When 9/11 happened, I was in the first year and a half of owning my own company and all of my customers were in New York.

Heather Newman:  Wow.

Karuana Gatimu:  And that, that destruction of my business in 30 seconds. Because nobody's, you know, I did marketing consulting and website design and event management and production. Nobody cared. Nobody is doing that. Everything came to a screeching halt in a way that no MBA program is ever going to teach you how to manage. That was the best business administration course I ever had managing through an instantaneous downturn. Right.

Heather Newman:  With one of the most tragic things.

Karuana Gatimu:  Yes, exactly. And you know, the tech bubble bursting and all these things happened and yeah, that changed my life in an instant. I had to figure out how to pivot and it was extremely difficult and very stressful and actually really contributed to the demise of my first marriage, for sure, because of that level of stress.

Heather Newman:  You drop a pebble into a lake and people think, you know, it's just that person. In my personal life too, I've had some really major traumatic things happen and you know, and that's on such a global level and some of the things happened that, well, the thing that happened this week in New Zealand, it rocks everybody in that community. It rocks the world. It rocks our global energy. Our global consciousness. It's like the lessons that you get out of those things. You're just like, what's the silver lining? And, well, there isn't a silver lining, but it's a confusing time, but it also, you have to figure it out and go to the next step of the next day. Step by step.

Karuana Gatimu:  I'm sure that the folks, you know, the two MVPs that we lost, I know we had a moment of silence for one of the gentlemen here and then I was reading online. There was a second identified. You know, I know there's no silver lining for their family, but what I will say is that the depth of depravity that we're seeing in some of these violent attacks just makes the work we're doing in diversity, inclusion and belonging and empowering everyone, all the more important. I believe that the cornerstone of a lot of this strife comes from the inequality of class that exists around the world. You know, if you were in Venezuela is another situation, people are struggling for food, right? Like, if the, you know, I stood there just the other day, standing there looking at my pantry and it is overflowing with food. And there was a beautiful Time picture of the protests that are going on down there. And I was just thinking again, it's the luck of geography, right? And, you know, born here, living here, I can go to Safeway and go to the grocery store and get whatever I want, assuming that I have a job because not everyone here does. But I really think that we have to, and in technology in particular we can use technology to democratize opportunity. And I am so dedicated to that and I'm just so happy to work in a place where I know that the leadership is also dedicated to really empowering others. That's not just some, some mission statement. It's actually a thing.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. We have got more MVPs out and about. So I want to ask you one more question. We talked, we dipped into sort of personal life a bit. And just so I know how, I know your busy schedule, I mean you and I catch up like in brief text messages and on Teams and you know, this, that, yeah. Good. Yeah. Yeah. And then luckily we get to see each other in person quite a bit, but how do you turn off? How do you get away from things and you know, just take a moment and stuff?

Karuana Gatimu:  It's really easy for me. I don't have a problem unplugging. I really never have.

Heather Newman:  I don't either, really. So I get it.

Karuana Gatimu:  You know, but a lot of people do. First off, I love what I do so it doesn't feel like work to me, number one. Number two, when I go home, my dogs and my husband, you know, they deserve my attention and I give it to them. I'm not one of those people that's in my phone 24/7. I know how to turn it off. I don't have on notifications on my phone because I'm on it all the time. And when I'm not, it's because I need to not be on it. And so nobody questions, you know, my commitment to my role and I'm not neurotic about it. You know, if my boss really needs to find me, she has my cell phone number, she'll call. So I'm not worried about that. And also I love to cook. You can't think about Microsoft Teams or SharePoint when you're chopping onions, you just can't. So I really use cooking as my thing and I love to do that. But you know, and maybe it's because of the things I've been through in the past. I'm not at all willing to sacrifice my personal life for my career. I already did that once, wasn't good. And I'm a better person in my career because of the absolute sanctity and happiness of my marriage and my home with my two dogs, which I post a lot about on Twitter. So, you know, they're really, really important to me. And they are the, you know, literally the wind beneath my wings. I would not be as successful as I am today without my husband. He is one of my chief cheerleaders and he's so supportive and so I just try to give it back, you know, when I'm there. So, yeah, I don't have problem with that, but I tell you, those notifications, everybody seems addicted to notifications on their phone. Turn them off for a week. Who cares?

Heather Newman:  It's the experiment, a great experiment to do.

Karuana Gatimu:  Experiment, because you know something, I don't know, I'm not doing brain surgery here. I'm doing Microsoft Teams adoption and yes, things are important, but nobody's going to bleed out if I don't see that issue for another 20 minutes or an hour or until the next morning. I'm entitled to get my sleep. And we are in a worldwide business and so I do have to be pretty hardcore about that. Otherwise I really could work 24/7. Because of, you know, European schedule, India, Africa, I mean, people are always up and always have questions. So I definitely do that. But let's be clear, I do work a lot of hours when I'm working. I work a lot of hours and I love it. I love what I do. I love the people. I love the challenge. To me, this is my time. And I just want to rock it. I don't want to waste this opportunity to help others. I just don't think it's going to come back like this again in this particular way. And I have a lot of energy right now, so I want to leave something behind. I'm on a bit of a mission.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, I hear ya. I know. I think about, I think I just wrote something about, you know, about International Women's Day. I was like, in 200 years, I want to be part of the brave people in the world that helped us find our equality and balance.

Karuana Gatimu:  That's exactly right. This is our chance. You know, I have the energy to still do the work, you know, maybe 50 - 60 hours a week, but I have the wisdom now of what work to do. And I don't much waste my time on stuff that isn't impactful. Politics, personal, one way or the, I just don't because life is too short. How many years do I have left? Really? I mean think about it, you know? I mean, and so, I just feel like now's the time to hit it hard and then I can look back on everything we've done and be happy about it. And you will be a big part of that by the way.

Heather Newman:  And high five. Yeah, I think that's right on. I was, I dunno, a few years ago I was in a meeting or at an event, Life is Beautiful in Vegas. It was the first one, a festival. And I was in a room and a guy started talking and he was like, well, I'm 42 years old. So it with the life expectancy of a man that means that I have about, I dunno, like say 40, 45 birthdays, Christmases, thanksgivings, blah, blah, blah, left. And I was like, I wasn't really paying attention to him cause I was literally at a bar with a friend because it was in a bar. And I was like, what? And I turned around, I was 42 at the time. And I turned around and I was like, nobody did the math for me before.

Karuana Gatimu:  I've done the math.

Heather Newman:  Well, I'm doing the math now.

Karuana Gatimu:  That's right. That's why I'm on a mission. There's not that much time. And so, you know, because the kind of changes that I want to continue to drive is not small and the things I want to leave behind, you know, and this isn't, look, maybe this stuff I'm going to leave behind in 20 years, nobody will care about. But I don't care. I care about it now. And it's not about other people's opinions, it's about my opinion of myself. And, and maybe part of it is I don't have children so the things that I do are my legacy. And of course, there's a lot of young people in my life, so they are too, but yeah, I just feel like, you know, I can sit around and watch Netflix later, you know what I mean? I can do a lot of those things later and I also want to feel like when I finally do like retire with my husband and we're traveling and what have you, I don't want to feel like I left something undone. So I'm super focused on that. And besides, you know, with everything going on in the world, now's the time to lean in. If you've got communication skills and you've got real empathy that you can action, then now's the time to bring it into the world because it's needed. There's too much of all this divisive, aggressive conversation that lacks empathy and that does nothing but divide us further. So we need to be the alternate voice. Why not?

Heather Newman:  We talked about humans in tech. You know, and just humans in the world.

Karuana Gatimu:  Yeah. Just being human and we need more examples of that. And you know, I feel like I was gifted with the gift of gab by my family. I want to turn it into a force for good cause I've certainly used my talent of her talking for not good things. So I'm making it up for that. I've weaponized my speech more than once. So I'd like to turn it into something that is more meaningful than that.

Heather Newman:  Well, I think you have, and you continue to do. So.

Karuana Gatimu:  Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I appreciate, I always appreciate, I appreciate you, I appreciate everything that you do and thank you for having me on your cast. Awesome!

Heather Newman:  This is a makeup for a session that got lost with a bad mic kit. So you know, so we're always learning.

Karuana Gatimu:  Always learning, yup.

Heather Newman:  Always learning, you know. So, alright, well Karuana thank you again.

Karuana Gatimu:  You're welcome.

Heather Newman:  So everyone, that was another Mavens Do It Better podcast and you can find us at the usual places on iTunes, on Stitcher, on Spotify and at the mavensdoitbetter.com website and we will put all of Karuana's information in the show notes so you can follow all the goodness that she is doing. Thanks everyone. And here's to another big blue, beautiful spinning sphere day. Woo-hoo.

Episode 32: Photography & Wine Maven Alan Campbell

Heather Newman:  Hello everyone. Here we are again with a another episode of Mavens Do It Better where we interview extraordinary experts who bring a light to our world. I am thrilled today to bring you a wonderful friend who I've known a long time now, Mr. Alan Campbell. Alan, say hi to everybody.

Alan Campbell:  Hello everybody.

Heather Newman:  Awesome. So Alan and I, gosh, it's been, I don't know about, is it 10 years maybe? I don't know. I think so. Something like that.

Alan Campbell:  Think so. I think we met in 2006 actually, 2006, yeah.

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. Yeah.

Alan Campbell:  It's been a long 12 years almost 13.

Heather Newman:  Yes, 12 years. That's awesome. Yeah. So everyone, Alan, is a beautiful, beautiful photographer and we used to live in the same neighborhood, in the same city. In Graton, California, in Sonoma County, Sebastopol, Graton. And so we knew each other in the neighborhood and not only is he a photographer, but he owns a winery. And we, you know, happen to go to some events out in the desert together and all of those things.

Alan Campbell:  A serendipitous meeting in the sand.

Heather Newman:  Yes. Oh, very nice. I like that. That's fantastic. So I guess tell everybody, like, I'm definitely going to make sure that everybody can see all your beautiful photography on the show notes and all of that. But, how long have you been shooting and where did you get your start in photography because you're just, it's just so just yummy what you do. So tell everybody about that will you?

Alan Campbell:  Well, it's kind of a roundabout. I did, I went to school in San Jose at San Jose State for, I started out in business school and I hated filling out scantrons, you know, that's all we did. So, I changed over to an art major, which much to the chagrin of my father. And then I was doing graphic design. I started doing photography and I kind of switched. I really liked photography when I was younger and, you know, I just kind of leaned into it in college and then I took a trip and did a semester down in Mexico City and I happened to have a camera. And I went around to the markets and to places and I fell in love with, you know, that kind of imagery. And that really kind of started it for me. And I moved back and continued school and I got my degree in art, emphasis was photography. I started working in the commercial world down there and it was more like, we called it chips and toast, but they were, you know, high tech, everything was high tech. We were doing clean room stuff, we were doing machinery and things of that nature. No food whatsoever. But I assisted for several people down there and then also in the city. And then I took a leap and I came home and said, well, I'm going to put my shingle out start. So I got some help from the parental units, which was fantastic. And I lived at home and I started shooting for clients out of my sister's bedroom. And I actually brought people to the bedrooms.

Heather Newman:  Wow, you're a bedroom-ista of a garage-ista, right?

Alan Campbell:  Yes, I am. That is right. From there it just took off. I, you know, I did some high tech up here when there was high tech up here. There's, there's not, and that started me in the mode of doing professional work. And that was in 1990 little late 90', early 91'. The high tech kind of started to dry up and change and I started to shoot more winery kind of profile stuff, a lot of portraits, a lot of winemakers. Started doing more bottle work and that led me into more complex things, you know, all across the whole wine industry. And I started doing food with wine and that led me into more food. And that's kind of where I ended up today is doing a lot of food and wine and you know, lifestyle stuff involving people, food and wine.

Heather Newman:  It just keeps evolving. Yeah, yeah. I mean the food, so shots your Instagram account. I mean, I just, I can't, it's hard to look at sometimes because it makes me so hungry. It's so gorgeous.

Alan Campbell:  Thank you very much for the kind words. For many years, you know, I was shooting the winemakers and shooting that and had interest in wine. I moved to where I currently live, which happens to be a half mile from where I grew up. And I moved there 20 years ago and a portion of my property was, basically I had, I was letting it out to some people who had horses. And so they, I went down to check on the horses one day and they were gone. People were gone, everything was gone. They just up and left and didn't pay me the rent. It was no big deal. It's just, you know, it wasn't any large thing. But at that time, which was 2006, I, that same year I met you, I just was putting in my vineyard. And so I put in four acres of Pinot Noir and it's been a journey, I'll have to say. A labor of love, that's for sure.

Heather Newman:  The wine is delicious though. So, I mean,

Alan Campbell:  Thank you. It's a very, very nice product. I partnered with a friend of mine who I'd known for quite a few years in 2012 and we put our first vintage out in 2013. So when I put the grapes in 2006, I had designed the vineyard to be one bottle of wine, but I sold the grapes for a number of years and I still do sell a portion. Now, we finally in 2013 we were able to, you know, make that bottle of wine and we've continued on each year. You know, it's been, it's very nice. It's nice to see something complete. Now the tough part, like they say, they all say it's easy to make the wine it's hard to sell it.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Right. And tell everybody the name of it.

Alan Campbell:  The name of the winery is a mash between myself and my winemaker, Craig Strehlow and Campbell, Alan Campbell. So, it's called Camlow Cellars. So that's the name of the winery, Camlow Cellars. So we have two products right now that we currently make. One's our estate Pinot Noir, and we call it The Big Pig, Magna Porcum because it has a crest on it. That's my family crest, and it's a boar.

Heather Newman:  It's the year of the boar.

Alan Campbell:  And then we make another. Yeah, the year of the boar. That's correct. And the other one we have it's called the Sus Volans, which is flying pig. And it's a rose that is made from the, you know, the same grapes. But they're usually, what happens when you're making wine is you go through and you kind of cull out grapes that aren't ripening and to let the other ones that are farther along ripen. It's a pretty common practice, but they just throw the grapes on the ground and I'm looking at it going, hey there's tons grapes on the ground. So I said, why don't you just pick them and press them? We just take them right to the press and press it and we get this just beautiful, awesome Rose. So that's been a fun project to bring around. That's our second, third year of doing that this year. It's really been exciting.

Heather Newman:  That's right. Oh my, that's so funny that that's the, it's kind of like the throwaway grapes, if you will.

Alan Campbell:  It is. And we're actually taking stuff that we would normally just throw on the ground and we're making this fantastic wine out of it. It's really cool. We're going to get you some so you can sip with some of your friends.

Heather Newman:  Yes, yes. Alan and I have been talking about how we, we'll look into having some wine from his cellar for some of our Creative Maven maybe guests and myself of course. So that sounds wonderful.

Alan Campbell:  Indeed, indeed. That's the way you do it.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. That's awesome. So that makes, that's, that's cool. I mean that must obviously keep you, I mean I know it keeps you busy between the photography and then the, gosh, the winery and I mean winery work is every day, right? Like, cause not everybody knows that, I guess. Or is it, like is it you're out there every day? Tell people about like day in the life of a winemaker.

Alan Campbell:  I'm not really the winemaker per se. I do help during harvest time. But Craig, he's the winemaker and so he has his other day job is a winemaker. So he's making wine doing stuff all the time. But I mean with our production level, you don't have to be working on it every day. You know, you hurry up and wait. The current can wait is what we call it. You know, you'll get stuff done and it sits around in a barrel or a tank or a bottle and you're waiting for it to be ready. I probably spend more time I have to deal with the vineyard. That's what I do, I'm the grower. And so I'm out in the vineyard, you know, taking care of the tractor work, mowing, helping, you know, do some of the pruning, helping do some of the, you know, leafing, things like that. Of course, I have other fellows, guys who have been with me for quite a while now who help me out in that aspect.

Heather Newman:  Right, right. So in winery terminology to be correct about it, you are the grower, you deal with the vineyard and Craig is the winemaker. I got it. Okay. That makes sense.

Alan Campbell:  Yeah, that is correct.

Heather Newman:  Okay. That's cool. Wow. And so, and how long, so it was 2006 and then when was your first bottle?

Alan Campbell:  Well, the first time we made wine was in 2013. But I sold my grapes to some other, you know, very well known a Pinot people. And we kind of said, well, let's, uh, maybe we should be foolish and try this ourselves. So,

Heather Newman:  Well, it's foolish then it paid off, for sure.

Alan Campbell:  The first thing they tell you, they said, they tell you that the only way to make it in the wine industry is that you got to start out with, you know, with a fortune. You don't get the fortune from being in the wine industry.

Heather Newman:  Right. Yeah. And that, and that's pretty typical, isn't it Alan? Of like this, and you know, I mean, I lived in Sonoma county for almost 10 years and, in Sebastopol there, so, and that's, is it green? Is it the Green Valley?

Alan Campbell:  Yeah, we're very, we're a little bit unique. We have a special kind of a classification for the Russia River. The Russian River Valley appellation is huge. It covers the whole Santa Rosa plain, a little north and south, and also goes toward the West where Graton is, where you know. Then we start to get into some rolling hills, and we start to get into different microclimates of elevation and exposure to whatever direction you're facing. And so this area is considered the Green Valley. It's called the Green Valley portion of the Russian River Valley. So we can't call it Green Valley because there's another growing region that's called Green Valley as well. So it's kind of smashed in between and kind of overlaps the Russian River Valley and the Sonoma Coast appellations. So it's, but it's one of the prime places in the world to grow Pinot Noir.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, Sonoma County is so great. I mean, and then you've got Dry Creek up there and you've got, I mean, just, it's like I love it going to restaurants all over the world and I'm always like, I know where that is. They were my neighbor at one time. That's super fun. That's so cool.

Alan Campbell:  It's definitely a blessing to live here. And, you know, I've been fortunate to grow up here. I've seen it change a lot, but you know, that's part of, that's part of existence change is inevitable.

Heather Newman:  I mean it's, and just also the fires and the flooding that just happened. I mean, it's just that area, I mean, y'all have had, just watching all of that has been so ugh, you know? But it's like everybody is so resilient and amazing there. That's the thing too,

Alan Campbell:  Yeah. We got, we got our butt kicked by Mother Nature a couple of times and fortunately people here are resilient. It's unfortunate that it's not, the quality of recovery is not across the board. So there are a lots of friends in mind that they just gave up and left, just got out or they, you know, they're struggling so much to get their houses back to where they were. But because of costs tripling by the time, you know, you're insurance is not covering everything. So it's, it's been a very difficult process for a lot of people, but people will always want to live here. It's a, the weather's beautiful. The place is beautiful and

Heather Newman:  Yeah, it's paradise in so many ways. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And you make it, like the things that come out from the winery and then your photography make it, I just am like, who wouldn't want to live there with what you're showing?

Alan Campbell:  It is, and I travel as well, and I know it's definitely neat to call a place like this home. That’s for sure.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. I loved calling it home for a while as well. So yeah. And so with, you've got some cool new things coming out. So will you talk about the cookbook a little bit and tell people about that?

Alan Campbell:  Yeah. Well, we just completed a cookbook. It was kind of something that had been toying around with the Justin Wangler and his team at Kendall Jackson Wine Company. So, we for years have been taking pictures for him and he talked about a cookbook and we talked about it cookbook. And finally all the pieces fell together last year. And we did a book called Season and it's, it's pretty monumental. I would have to say it's really, really cool. It is a four season cookbook and it has over 300 recipes. And it's got this awesome photography that covers, you know, not just that I did it, but just, it covers all aspects of season and of different foods, different, you know, stuff about ingredients, garden, people sharing. It's a really, really fun, was a fun project to be a part. Yeah, that's out now. It's, I think it's on Amazon. It's called Season, hold on one second, where's my? Hold on one second, please hold.

Heather Newman:  We'll put it in the show notes, for sure. But yeah, I had been talking about it and I was like, that sounds unbelievable. I love Kendall Jackson wine. Their, what is their one? It's like the estate or the vintner? Oh, Vintners Reserve. I love their Vintners Reserve across the board. When I'm, especially at like a party for like a lot of people when I have a few bottles of wine around for like not a high price point. Fantastic. Like I love their stuff.

Alan Campbell:  They've been making a solid product for years. I started shooting with them back in like the late nineties. I've done projects with them off and on for years. So they're, you know, it's a different organization now that Jess has passed away, but they make great wines there. They’re fun people, it was a great project working with the chef, Justin and Tracy and their pastry chef Robert Yaddo of Buttercup. And the foods were just, it was awesome. They were just fantastic stuff.

Heather Newman:  So when you're shooting and you're making these, I have your photography page up and I'm like now getting like wicked hungry, but like, do you, obviously people are making food and do you all eat it afterwards or do you like, like what's, what happens with this? Like tell us about that. Like setting up a food shot, you know?

Alan Campbell:  You know more and more that type of style of shooting, yes, the food is edible. There are other times when we're doing stuff that's much more technical where we're doing things to the food where you don't want to eat it or it's been sitting there for a long time, it's just not, not a good idea. Yeah. All the stuff that you see we ate a lot of it for lunch, you know, that was our lunch. You know, we got to take home stuff. So they were just great. There's a recipe in the book, these fried chicken tenders. Oh my God. Yeah, it was just fantastic. I'll have to send you down, when I send you some wine, I'll send you a book.

Heather Newman:  Yes please. That sounds wonderful. Yeah, no, I just, cause I was like, you've got to eat this stuff cause this just looks so good. And yeah, I was curious about like what's, cause it all looks very real. You know, like you've just served it and you know, it's got that look of like I just took this out of the oven or I just tossed this and here it is. Right?

Alan Campbell:  And that's, that's the intent. You want it to look really, you want to make it feel appetizing rather than, you know, too kind of perfect. Yeah. Some people require that though, depending on what the shoot you're doing. And you know, if you're doing something for packaging, you know, a lot of times the dishes, you know, it's much different. Half of it's filled with plastic and you know, you put the meat on top of the plastic and then you melt the cheese and it's not an edible dish. So that it's just a different type of thing depending on what your result is.

Heather Newman:  Right. I got ya. Cool. And with the photos, you also I know are doing a,, like content for folks like becoming a content provider. So will you tell everybody about that because that's super cool too. Cause it's like you can you like get Alan's wonderful shots of different things because you don't do just photography because you do video too. Tell everybody about that because it's awesome.

Alan Campbell:  Yeah, we do a lot of video now. You know, everything's gone to video. Much more video is being shot for social media, for, you know, for small ad campaigns, for website stuff, for different things of that nature. You can see it on your phone all the time on your Google everywhere. And so what we do is we formed a company up here called Big Match Media. And what Big Match does is they are a visual content creator. So you need a video of your, you know, your juice being poured into a glass. We can do that. You need stills of that, we could do that as well too. But so we're reaching out to people, you know, all over the west coast at this point to, you know, who need content creation. Because people need, this is a giant monster that needs to be fed and 15 second videos for Instagram, you know, they're just, you know, we create those, all aspects of content creation. So if you need basic little stuff, we do that as well as real complex things. I mean we just finished a whole series of recipes for a pickle company called Bubbies Pickles and 24 recipes that are all broken down into, you know, less than a minute and you take a, then we do a little highlights where those are less than 15 seconds. So all that, you know, we put it together, we do a lot of it right here in the studio and we also go out and do creations on location for different corporate stuff. And it's, yeah, it's a fun aspect. I've got a couple of the young guys working with me now. Um, they're fantastic and excited, energetic. It's, it's good to have young people around to whip you into shape.

Heather Newman:  That's for sure. Yeah. And I think, you know, from a marketing, putting my marketing hat on and, you know, yeah. I think people maybe don't realize that, you know, all those like little teeny videos and all that, or like a sequence of videos and all of that. You know, somebody does have to shoot them no matter what they are and where they are and how they are. Right. And you know, there is, I think there's the do it yourselfer kind of look and feel, but I just, you know, there's nothing like something that's done well with professionals that's in a studio, you know what I mean, with the right lighting and like,

Alan Campbell:  It's a difference. We get a lot of people who, you know, use their phone and they, uh, you know, the phone takes really cool pictures. It's great, it takes great. But a lot of times, you know, what professional, you know, kind of imagery brings to the party is the fact that it's lit well, it's thought out and in its process. It says, it tells a story that the brand, you know, the way the branding people want it to go. So you can go and use a lot of, you know, tricks and snaps and stuff like that. But, you know, when it's a well thought out campaign or, you know, executed photo shoot or video shoot, you can see the difference. The production value is there. Unfortunately, you know, having production value will cost money and you know, but you're getting a product that's going to be, hopefully better for you.

Heather Newman:  Totally worth it, I think. Yeah, absolutely. No, I believe in that and yeah, I mean, I think we have seen the shifts with, you know, YouTube and iPhones and you know, Instagram and all of that stuff. But it's kind of like, I equate it a little bit to how content, just content in general has changed, right? And what content costs and what it's worth. And all of that. And I feel like even with books, like we had this whole moment of, everybody was like, we don't buy books anymore. Everything's on the Kindle and the e-reader and everybody Audible. I feel like I've seen more people buy more books lately or they buy the book, the Kindle and the Audible edition. So they're buying three times as many things.

Alan Campbell:  Right. Depending on how people read too. I mean, for a traveler like yourself, having a Kindle is a great deal. Having an Audible, listening to podcasts. I mean all of this information that you can gather and you know, but having a book in front of you being able to sit down and read is, you know, it's still an escape.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, for sure. Yeah. And I feel that way about video and photography, I think as well, you know, I think there's been like, you can do things yourself, you know, and you can, you know, the phones are getting better and all of that kind of thing. But I do feel like I've been watching the industry and I feel like that, like, I don’t know, professional stuff is back, like, or you know what I mean? Like not that it was gone, but I just feel like people are doing more of that because they want to, like they're putting more money and time into their brands. You know?

Alan Campbell:  I think they're looking at it differently. I mean, I have seen this swath from, I started out in film and I, you know, I trudged through the whole aspect of film into the new digital age. And you know, that was a painful process, truthfully, because the quality that you got with film for years and years and years was, you know, was the peak. And then it took a while for the digital, you know, capture systems to catch up . Now that they're so convenient for people, you know, you get a lot of what we call throwaway photography and throwaway, you know, videos where people really don't care because, you know, they could just keep doing it. And so, it comes back to the fact of, you know, do you want to buy, you know, a Yugo or do you want to buy a BMW and

Heather Newman:  You just dated yourself because lots of people don't even know what Yugo is. I'll put it in the show notes.

Alan Campbell:  Note: What is a Yugo? We're just finding they'll tend to go to people who are, you know, cheaper we'll say, less expensive to get things done. But the level of quality, it can be very apparent. So we just try to steer people in a direction, say what's good for you and your budget and what is it that you want to say? And we try to give them the best, you know, guidance on how to get what they want for their money. It's a lifelong challenge. There's always going to be somebody who's, you know, in a different price range than you, or a different level of experience and you just want to make sure that it ultimately that you provide, you know, quality that does its job. So I really like to see my images working. And it's fun when you're, you know, you're doing something and you're driving down a freeway or I was flying into Dallas and I'm looking out the plane and there's one of my images on a billboard, you know. I'm like, I go, that looks pretty cool. I'm kind of happy about that. And then I fly out of Dallas and I fly into Houston a couple of days later and hey, there's another one. So it was, that's the most gratifying thing is actually getting to see your work do stuff. Because a lot of times as photographers we don't get to see the end result. We'll just kind of stumble across it. You'll walk in a store and, oh, that's.

Heather Newman:  Right, you're like, that's my photo.

Alan Campbell:  Yeah. So it's, and it's good to see that content being used in the way it's supposed to, You know, it's an ever changing adaptation. We're probably shooting, I would say, more video than ever. So that aspect has grown. And, you know, I'm still doing lots of stills, like I just completed a small campaign for a winery. And, but the fact that like we're putting out these small snippet tasting notes. 14.2 seconds long because that's the Instagram way, but what it does is it introduces you to the wine with a bottle and then you see it poured and then you see the label and then you're hearing that very small snippet within that 14 seconds about this wine and you know where to get it. And it's basically a virtual tasting note that we create, you know, just video itself and then using a voice over. So, so yeah, it's kind of a new thing that people are doing and we're just trying to make as much we can, pushing people to do good stuff , do it well, so you can hear it. You can see it.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. It's about value, you know, and like you said, like having an image work with the brand and do what they're looking for and telling a story. I mean everything we do, especially, I mean, in the marketing world and, and all of us, it's all about telling stories. Right? And if you can tell it beautiful visuals and images than like win, you know, so that's great. And I know that, so 2016 vintage is releasing, is that right?

Alan Campbell:  Correct. Yeah, we are coming up and I think it's going to be in early May or no, late April is when we're going to be releasing it. I don't have the date, but I will make sure that you get some, prior to the date so you can, you know, pop a cork and enjoy.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. I think maybe we should do some sort of a, I don't know. We'll do something around when we launch this podcast to celebrate that for sure. I have to figure it out, but yeah, that'd be fun. Yeah, no, that's awesome. And you know, I want to, so Mexico City, you were saying with your camera, was there, I'd love to know what that moment or the spark, like, can you pinpoint that moment with photography or camera, like the one photo or the one thing that was in it or something that you were like, yes. You know, like you were, it really made you go, this is what I want to do.

Alan Campbell:  There was, after I was finished in school, down there, I traveled, I went around and I took a bus and, you know, traveled down to Chiapas that area. And I was in a very small town called Palenque. And we were going there to see some ruins and waterfalls and stuff like that. And they had a market that was a Sunday market. And, we got there on Saturday night. We got up in the morning and I went to go look for, you know, just stuff and took my camera and wandered around the markets. I had been at all the other markets up in Mexico City, which is, there's a huge, beautiful market there. And I mean, just everything you could think of, you know, just in front of your eyes and the smells, the encounters, the textures, the colors. But I was sitting there and I was watching this lady on a blanket who was selling, she was just selling tomatoes and you know, she had all these beautiful tomatoes stacked up and, you know, they were sitting there and I started talking to her and, you know, asked if I could take her picture. And she finally agreed and then I just started taking pictures of, you know, her little stall. I just, you know, I sat there, as I was walking back there, I said, you know, this would be kind of interesting to be able to do all the time. And, you know, I spent the rest of my trip shooting, you know, tons of pictures of the ruins and just textures and things that, you know, compositionally I liked. And after getting back from that trip, you know, I had, you know, boxes of film, I started digging through them slowly and I saw that, you know, that I really, I liked what they, how they made me feel. I think that's ultimately when I'm doing stuff now. I look at the food and I look at the composition and I want to feel something from it, whether it's a still life that you can look at and you can interpret two to three different ways. And the light wraps around the, you know, the piece of glass and let's light go through it and it shows a sparkle and the shadow is casted and it leaves, as the shadow falls off the frame, it leaves to the imagination of where is it going. And you know, if you look at dishes, you know like food dishes where you know, you want to know how it was fixed because it has texture, it has feeling. And that's kind of what I try to evoke in my imagery. And I kind of got that from that, you know, that experience. That's where it started for me at least when I would, when I got back and I really was looking at that imagery and I was like, wow, this, I like this. I like that.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, I definitely, thank you, that was gorgeous. And yeah, I think also, you know, sometimes people gloss over food or, like you know, food porn or that kind of thing. You're photography really makes me ask two questions when I see it. One, I want to, like you just said, I want to know who fixed it. Like I'm like, who made this? Like I'm so I, I don't know why, but I always want to know, I'm like, who made this? And then I'm also like, who is going to eat this? Or where is this party? You know what I mean, like I'm kind of like,

Alan Campbell:  I'll have to give one big shout out to the stylists that I work with and they, you know, I don't prepare all the food. I work a lot with the composition aspect and I work closely with them, but the stylists prepare the food and you know, they make things, you know, we obviously light them and make them look more dramatic or, and change the way the feel is through our composition and our lighting. But you know, they bring the food out and you know, they set it up a lot of times, 90% of the time and it looks, it just looks awesome. So, you know, stylists that I work with are, you know, they're top notch. It's really great

Heather Newman:  And it's cool, I mean like people, I think photography also sometimes can be seen as like a solo thing, right? Like people, a photographer, you know, and they think of like just one person with one camera. And you know, I think that

Alan Campbell:  No way, it takes a team effort and you know, I mean, I've got assistances and digital assistances and stylists and producers and prop people. All those people, it all that all comes into factor. You know, I may be the one who ends up clicking the shutter and making, you know, that portion of the decision. But there's a lot of other stuff that goes on behind it.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, yeah. Well it's like any good art, there's all kinds of pieces that come together to make it awesome. Right? So, yeah, that's super cool. And then for the winery, I know, you know, came home with the land and the horses left and, you know, those people took off on the rent and it's like. I guess similar question as far as the winery goes, was it like, I mean, I know there's probably been moments when you were like, oh my God, I can't believe I did this. But, um,

Alan Campbell:  Every day. No, let's see, I have to say, for me there's no one bottle of wine that, you know, lit my world up and at least not prior to too putting in the vineyard. I liked the aspect of making wine. So I started making wines on my own with my father in law when he was alive in 92' and I made wines up until, you know, I think our last time we made some homemade stuff was in 2012. So we made a lot of wine, you know, you have to drink a lot of beer to make good wine. So I just, I was in a position where I was around a lot of people who were making wine, who were growing, they're all my friends. And, my friends tend to be the ones who are guys that are, you know, doing stuff they're outside or they're making wine. And so I started thinking that, well, I'm in a place, one of the places that is best for growing Pinot Noir in the whole world. The Green Valley section is one of the best. And so I said, well, I have this opportunity. I could do a small vineyard. And I decided that, well, I'll give it a try. So, I went around, and I talked to different vintners and different growers about clones and about, you know, different aspects of doing the vineyard, and picked clones that were not super popular at that time. But, my whole goal was to make a bottle of wine from the vineyard. So I comprised four clones, which are very, clones, for those who don't know, so it's just like, you know, you have a grape varietal, but a clone is an adaptation of that varietal. They're the same grape, it's Pinot Noir, but one is, you know, adapted to a different area and it's from you know, it's from like the Pommard section. So Pommard is a clone. There's one that was brought to California and it's called Mount Eden, that somebody could develop that in a different area. So that's known as the Mountain Eden clone. Different people developed different clones. So I picked four of those that I had available to me. And so that was more of the thing is how to get the vineyard up and running and how to, you know, grow it. And, wanting to make a bottle of wine myself came a little bit later. I started hanging out with some people who had good wine. They had really good wines and I had the opportunity to taste some, you know, very, very nice wine. Limited selection and stuff that, you know, kind of brought me to the point of saying, well, you know, my grapes are good enough to do this. And that was the whole idea in the beginning, so let's give that a go. But, so that's kind of where that came from. Just started as more of a project of something to hopefully bring some income in because, you know, the grapes that are out here are fairly expensive, but it also takes it, you know, you really don't realize how much time and energy it takes to, you know, take care of the vineyard. It's a lot of work. So, and I think my, I'm really surprised my wife hasn't killed me yet because not only do I have to, I have to do the vineyard, but then I took on the, you know, making the wine too. And that's been a, that's been a double headed monster and then put my business on top of that. Oh boy, let's get on the rollercoaster.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, no kidding. Well, I mean I think you, we have many different passions and that's, and they kind of, they blend in ways, you know, of course. So, I think it's super cool. I mean obviously you're a maker, you know what I mean? You make things, you are an artist, you're a creative. And so it all sort of, I mean, I understand it. I mean

Alan Campbell:  Some people can't, you know, they're so linear and, nothing against that. They have one thing they do really well then they don't, I'm kind of, I like to try a lot of things and do different stuff because I get bored easily. And so it's just, you know, it's been, it's been an interesting to try to, you know, to keep the passion up and, you know, especially when it's, when you're struggling with certain aspects of it. But, we're always ever changing and trying. Ultimately it's a fun project. It's been a very enlightening project.

Heather Newman:  Cool. Well that's super cool Alan. Yay. I just, I've always, Alan and I, we've, I've had wine with him over at my house when I lived in Sonoma County and it's always a pleasure to be around your positivity and just your gorgeous brain and just the way you look at the world. So I really, thank you for being on the podcast. Oh, say all the things again. So, the cellars are called?

Alan Campbell:  Our winery is Camlow Cellars and you can find us actually at Camlowcellers.com. So that's where we're located. My photography is Alan Campbell Photography and that's also AlanCampbellPhotography.com. You can find that there. And Big Match Media. The website is not working right now, but it's Big Match Media will be live very soon. It's going to be bigmatchmedia.com.

Heather Newman:  Match, like light the match.

Alan Campbell:  Exactly. And those are, you know, right now the three little things that are going on.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. That's awesome. Well, really I appreciate you being on and telling everybody about this. It's just a cool, like shooting food and just all of it. I love the sort of behind the scenes bird's eye view of these things. Cause you know, not everybody does this, you know, and I really have enjoyed having you teach me and listen about sort of how you do things and what you do. So I really appreciate that education it's cool.

Alan Campbell:  Well, I really appreciate the opportunity to come on and, you know, chat about my world. And, you know, what's brewing over here. It's a very neat thing to be able to tell your story. And often, you know, I don't get to do that cause I'm always making somebody else's story.

Heather Newman:  Well, awesome. Yay. Thank you so much Alan. So, and everybody, we will put show notes up and make sure you can find Alan and his beautiful photography and his delicious wine and all the good things around that. And you can find Mavens Do It Better up on iTunes, on Stitcher, on Spotify, up on our mavensdoitbetter.com website and subscribe and on Instagram and Twitter at Mavensdoitbetta. B E T T A. Alan, thank you again for being on.

Alan Campbell:  Thank you very much Heather. It's great to chat with you and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Heather Newman:  I know, I hope that, yes, yes, please. Yes, we have to do that. So, all right, everybody

Alan Campbell:  Safe travels.

Heather Newman:  Thank you. Everyone, here's to another episode and another beautiful big beautiful day on this spinning blue sphere. Thank you.

Episode 31: Broadway Maven Jim Kierstead

Heather Newman:  Hello everyone. Here we are again for another Mavens Do It Better podcast where we interview extraordinary experts who bring a spark to our world. I am sitting here in New York City, Manhattan. We're in Times Square yeah?

Jim Kierstead:  We're in Times Square. We're in the Hell's Kitchen area to be exact.

Heather Newman:  Yes. Hell's kitchen, Times Square. I am here with the lovely Jim Kierstead and I am so excited. I haven't seen you in forever.

Jim Kierstead:  I know. It's been crazy. I don't know how all this time went by.

Heather Newman:  And Jim, I'm so excited, Jim and I have known each other for a while now and we haven't seen each other in a while, but we were introduced by lovely and wonderful, talented Dan Holme, back, gosh, it's been a while now, that was for Side Show.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, it's about four years ago.

Heather Newman:  Four years ago. Yeah. So I really wanted to have Jim on because he is a producer, a theater producer and, and many other things as well. But, I was so excited and I've seen American Son. Yes?

Jim Kierstead:  Yup, we just had American Sonon Broadway.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. So I would love for you to talk about to our listeners, what does a producer do? And tell us about your life as a producer, because I know you've been doing this for a long time.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, it's going on 20 years. Well, you know, Heather, it's so funny because I think unless you're in this business, unless you're a producer or unless you're somebody who's connected, you don't really know what a producer does. You know, you look at the title page of the playbill and there's names above the title and nobody pays attention to them because they're not in the show and they didn't direct the show, and they didn't write the show. So, they just wonder who these people are. And a producer is really the person or group of people who are the business end of a show. So what they do is they find the property, they put the team together to present it, to work on it, to develop it, and then they raise the money to make it happen. And then they manage it, you know, from a marketing perspective, from a press perspective to try to keep the show going as long as possible and be lucrative for everybody, get some money back and get some, some profits hopefully, and then allow it to live, hopefully have a long life on the road and in other cities and then to get it eventually published and have the piece done all over the world. So that's kind of what a producer does.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, you're an arts VC.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah. I try. I try. Thank you.

Heather Newman:  I love it. Oh my goodness. And you, it's Broadway for you for the most part.

Jim Kierstead:  It's Broadway. Um, you know, I started about 20 years ago working to develop theater and it was because I was helping a friend, really. I was helping somebody who was a writer. She and her brother were writing a musical and super talented people and they needed somebody to give a little bit of money, but also somebody to run around and do some errands for them and be an extra set of hands and eyes and whatnot. So I learned this business just by starting helping these people out and I never necessarily thought I was going to do it again cause I come from the information technology world for many, many years and this world was very foreign to me, but I fell in love with it immediately. So I started developing work and then we got into Broadway over the years after investing in various shows. And over the last couple of years I've gotten involved with film and TV as well. So we just had a series that was on Amazon that won an Emmy award last year. So that was fun. It's called The Bay. Yeah, it was this really cool little series.

Heather Newman:  Oh wow! Congratulations.

Jim Kierstead:  Thank you so much. Thank you. So it's really fun because over all these years it used to be that theater was a little separate island and film was a separate island and TV was a separate island. And then all of a sudden as technology started catching up, it allowed all these parts, all these artistic areas to come together and cross. So a lot of people who just did one before, one of these areas, they can participate in all of them based on what the pieces is. So you can kind of choose the best medium.

Heather Newman:  Well, and you see like many Broadway actors coming into television for sure. It's like what was the, Bunheads?

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, that's right, right. Sutton Foster. She was in that one. Yeah. And a lot of the people go on to CSI. If you look, if you watch CSI or any of those kinds of shows, you'll see all the Broadway actors in there cause it's filmed in the New York area and they all go in and they actually make money doing that, which is fun.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. That's always nice, right? Oh my goodness. So, so what do you have that's on right now?

Jim Kierstead:  So, we have Kinky Bootsthat's been running for six years. So that actually concludes on Broadway on April 7th.

Heather Newman:  You know, I know Mr. Burrows.

Jim Kierstead:  Do you really?

Heather Newman:  Yes.

Jim Kierstead:  Oh, that's great.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. He was an actor at SRT.

Jim Kierstead:  Oh, fantastic!

Heather Newman:  Santa Rosa Summer Repertory Theater.

Jim Kierstead:  Oh, that's wonderful.

Heather Newman:  Yes. Shout-out, yeah! That's amazing.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah. So that concludes in April after a really great six year run. We were, you know, we had a production in London. We're in Toronto, we had an Australian tour, we had a US tour. A UK tour is going on right now. So hopefully that has a nice long life ahead of it, you know, even after Broadway is over. We have Waitressthat's still running on Broadway. It's been on a few years. Sara Bareilles wrote that of course. And that's still doing really well. We have a US tour of that, that's doing really well. And that's just starting performances in London right now. And then we have Pretty Womanwith music by Bryan Adams and that began performances this August, this past August. So that's doing pretty nicely. And we've got three new shows starting. So you mentioned American Son, that was a 16 week limited run, but that closed a couple of weeks ago and now we've got Be More Chillstarting, which we're excited about. We've got a show Ain't Too Proud, and that's basically the life of The Temptations. It's their backstory and all their music, that incredible song book. And then we have an amazing new piece called Hadestownthat's coming. And that started at the New York Theater Workshop downtown several years back. And it went on a journey of development and, you know, the amazing Rachel Chavkin is directing it. She's the one who did The Great Cometwith Josh Groban which we were part of a few years ago. And it ended up going, Hadestownended up going over to London. It was just at The National on its journey to Broadway. So that starting previews pretty soon, which they just went into rehearsals last week. So we're getting ready for that as well.

Heather Newman:  You have so much that's on Broadway right now! That's amazing!

Jim Kierstead:  It's been a lot of fun. It's been super busy. And then I've got my own shows that I'm developing. So, there's this one play that I had gone downtown with a friend a couple of years ago and we knew somebody in a cast of this one act festival. So it was three little half hour one act plays. And I wasn't holding out much hope for this little one act festival, but we figured we'd have a good time. And the first play was this play that I'm mentioning and it was only a half hour and it blew me away. I said, I need to know more about this play. I want to work on this play. So I asked my friend who I went with if she knew the writer, she did. So we went up and met him afterward and I said, if you'd like to work with me to turn this into a full length, like 90 minute play, I said, let me know. And he's like, ah, yeah, I'd love to do that. So he started meeting regularly and he started working on it and, you know, three years later we've got an amazing Broadway director who's on board, Sheryl Kaller, and we're working to cast it right now. We're going to do an industry reading at the end of March and then we're going to get it out into the world and I'm super excited about it.

Heather Newman:  Can you tell the name?

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah. It's called Sparkler.

Heather Newman:  Sparkler.

Jim Kierstead:  It's all about 1950s Hollywood and the underbelly of that, it's pretty cool and it's very sexy.

Heather Newman:  There's a lot of that for sure in Hollywood. Yeah. And having just moved to Los Angeles, I'm kind of dipping into that old Hollywood stuff and kind of learning more about that. So that's exciting.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, I'm really, really happy about that one. And then we've got another piece called Fancyand it's based on the Reba McEntire Song, “Fancy Was My Name”. So the story, it's really kind of a neat concept. These writers wrote a book for the musical based on the story of the song, from Reba McEntire's song. So that's the story. And they've adapted it to use 25 hit contemporary country music songs to tell this story. And we've been working on this for a while. So we're going to do this at a theater in the Midwest in the spring of 2020. Get this thing up on its feet and then we'll probably do another production of it in the fall of 2020 and then get this thing out on the road. And there's lots of places that I think it would play incredibly well, including like Las Vegas, some other of those types of spots.

Heather Newman:  Do you think that it's something where, because it's using contemporary songs that the, the folks who either wrote or play those songs might like dip in for a hello, like a cameo?

Jim Kierstead:  Oh, I love that you asked me that question. Yes, I do, in fact, think so.

Heather Newman:  Isn't that a good idea?

Jim Kierstead:  That's part of the plan and I love that you thought of that. Are you a producer?

Heather Newman:  Uh, maybe, a little bit, little bit.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, so we're definitely gonna do that. And they all know that the show is happening, including Reba. So we want to get her out there too, to see it because you know, it would be lovely if she'd like to be involved in some way as well, even if it's just to be a friend of the court. But yes, we're working on that now.

Heather Newman:  That's so cool.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, it's been a lot of fun.

Heather Newman:  So, what was the most, sort of like you, you had this moment where you got started with a friend and then when was sort of the next moment of like you were like, yes, I want to do this? Was it you seeking out or did somebody go, oh he just did this and maybe we should talk to him? Or like what was the next trajectory from that?

Jim Kierstead:  Well, it's funny you say that. So the first thing that got me involved with wanting to be part of theater, because it was never something that ever crossed my mind except that I was an audience member. In 1998 I went to see the original production of Side Show. And you and I met at the revival of Side Showa few years back. But when I went to see this in 1998 I walked into the theater as an audience member and I left as somebody who wanted to be part of this world. It just changed my life in such a strong way. So I got to be friends with the writers after that, just through circumstance. And I started getting a little bit more involved in the world just because they were writing new shows. So I would go to readings that they did. So I started understanding like what the process was at least on a very general level about what was involved in putting a theater piece together because you don't really know that unless you're, unless you're in the world. So that was my entree into the world a little bit. And then this whole experience with these people who are writing this musical, that was my first time really getting to be a little bit of a producer on something rather than just somebody going to see readings and whatnot. And then when that ended, it was a great experience because I got to meet a lot of exciting people in the business and we went through a whole audition process. So I understood what that was like. But right after that, I, you know, I figured it was, I figured it was done. I was going to go back to my world of information technology.

Heather Newman:  Where were you in IT?

Jim Kierstead:  I was the systems manager. No, I wasn't the systems manager. I was the information technology manager for companies. So I was there about 30 years by the time.

Heather Newman:  Wow.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah.

Heather Newman:  Okay.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, so a long time. So, I had a whole career doing that. But right after I finished up with this show that I'm telling you about, a friend of mine came to me and he said, you know, I have a piece that you might be interested in working on. And he took it off of his shelf and instead of being like a 30 character musical the size of Les Misérables, which the other one was, this was a two character musical with one piano. So it was very manageable. So we ended up doing it in a theater festival in the city in 2003. And Martin Charnin and the guy who wrote and directed Anniewas our director. So, it was exciting because honestly I thought it was just going to be six performances and done. But the show was a huge hit at the festival, we ended up doing a cast recording of it. We ended up doing it off Broadway in 2005 and to this day, that show has been published and it's had hundreds of productions in the United States. And it's been done all over the world, translated into 15 languages. It's been in Korea for 12 years now, Japan for six and China's going into its second year.

Heather Newman:  What!? What is the exact name of it?

Jim Kierstead:  It's called Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story. So, it's the story of Leopold and Loeb in a musical. But it's a chamber musical. So it's very dark and gritty and sexy also. So it's, uh, it's been very interesting experience. Yeah. It's been a real wild ride.

Heather Newman:  That's amazing. So 12 years in

Jim Kierstead:  12 years in Korea. Yup.

Heather Newman:  Wow. And that was really the first one, sort of the second one that you had your hands in.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, that was the first thing that I did on my own. The other one was I was sort of helping out those folks. So it was very, just fortunate the way it all worked out and um, you know, it's, it's been really well received everywhere it goes. It's a really tight, interesting piece. So as a result of that, I went on the board of the York Theater Company in New York City, which is where we did Thrill Mein 2005 and I started developing other work with them and we did a show called Yankin 2010 off Broadway and that got nominated for a lot of great awards. And then, um, I was working on the show Unexpected Joy, which was with Bill Russell who wrote Side Showand that's how we got to,

Heather Newman:  Who I met, who is lovely.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, he's great. Bill's terrific. Yeah, he's a very good friend. So we started working on this four woman show called Unexpected Joythat he and his writing partner, Janet Hood, had written. So we started developing that and while I was there, I'd invested in Broadway a bunch of times at that point. But while I was there,

Heather Newman:  Invested meaning? Tell everybody what that means when you say that.

Jim Kierstead:  Sure. You know, Broadway is an interesting structure. Like you have lead producers who are responsible for the show, but then what they have to do, because Broadway musicals are very expensive, you know, they could be $15 to $20 million for an average Broadway musical nowadays. And it's impossible for one person to bring in that money. And even if they could, they would want to spread that risk around. So, what they do as they bring on co-producing partners and you get billing and you get, you know, some extra, you know, financial consideration for all your work you're doing. But what you do is you take on a chunk of the fundraising. So then you, those people go out to their investors and they'll write a check to invest in this corporation. So it's like it, it's an LLC.

Heather Newman:  Give me a checky checky check.

Jim Kierstead:  That's right.

Heather Newman:  I love the producers a little bit. Yes and no.

Jim Kierstead:  Exactly. Yes, yes, yes. It's completely true. It all happens.

Heather Newman:  Hey, you know what? Investing, whether it's investing in a company or investing, you know, it's the same thing. I just, I wanted you to explain that because I don't think everybody understands sometimes that that's similar in, in theater and in, especially in something like Broadway where you do have such large amounts of money to actually get something off the ground.

Jim Kierstead:  Absolutely. Just to give you like some more information about that. You know, like most investors, um, for shows like if it's a musical, a lot of times the minimum investment to be to write, and you know, you're filling out an SEC investment paper where it's an operating agreement and subscription documents and it's a liquid investment, but it's sanctioned by the SEC. And the minimum dollar amount that you could invest usually for a Broadway musical is either $25 or $50,000. And for a play, usually it's around $25,000 and that's considered a unit in the show. And you can take multiples of those units and whatnot. And that entitles an investor to, um, you know, obviously you hope you get your money back and then you start getting profits and it gives you first right of refusal for subsequent productions. And you also get opening night tickets so you get to go and go to the red carpet. So it's, it's a lot of fun. But as a co-producer, it's up to you to raise a substantial chunk of money. So, you go to your investors who may do a unit or a couple of units and then you're responsible for your entire raise and then that's your structure.

Heather Newman:  Gotcha. Thank you for that.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, no, no, absolutely. So when I, so I had been investing as an investor, like somebody doing a unit or two units over the years in various shows. Um, but while I was there working on Unexpected Joyat the York, one of our, our director, in fact, she had gone to the reading of Kinky Bootsto the workshop of Kinky Bootsand I had been aware that was coming and I knew Cindy Lauper wrote the music and I said, I want to be a co-producer on this show and I set out to do that. And I ended up doing it and it took me a long time to raise that money cause I didn't really have people to go to and I figured it out. So we had a really fun year that year.

Heather Newman:  That's cool. When did, what year did that open?

Jim Kierstead:  It started in Chicago and out of town in a 2012 and it opened on Broadway in April of 2013.

Heather Newman:  That's right. And tell everybody what out of town means.

Jim Kierstead:  Sure. You know, you work on this show and it's, it's big, right? You’re working on a big musical and there are too many moving parts in it, when you're developing something brand new, to just come to Broadway. It's too much. It's too expensive and it's too risky. So what people do is, so they have a diff, another chance to work on it. They'll do it out of town somewhere like a theater in Chicago or at a not for profit theater or in various cities. There are theaters

Heather Newman:  Yeah, Seattle, living there a long time, the rep would do, certain, Seattle Rep would do something, a play and bring it and then bring it to Broadway.

Jim Kierstead:  Completely. So it gives the creatives a chance to get it up on its feet, to go through a full rehearsal process to make changes to it, to get out of town reviews. So you can look at those and see like maybe the critics notice something that we want to look at and address and then a number of months go by before Broadway and then it allows them to do work and then do it all over again for Broadway. Hopefully the show is even in much better shape than it was when it went out of town. So it's a way of really going and having two opportunities to make that first impression before you open on Broadway.

Heather Newman:  Less of a workshop. Right?

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah,

Heather Newman:  Cause I think sometimes people are like that, doing something out of town and then versus doing like a workshop of something.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, a workshop is usually done for the most part, I mean you could do it different ways, but usually it's done in New York City in a big rehearsal studio and it's not with fully fleshed out costumes necessarily or fully fleshed out sets. They may just build something temporarily and it's more about let's get the choreography down, let's work on the story, let's work on some new songs. It's like their specific work points that they want to do. But when you're doing it out of town in this, this tryout, that's a full production, you're up there and people are paying and they're arriving and they want the show to be in tip top shape.

Heather Newman:  Right? Yeah. Yeah. Thank you for making that distinction because I think some people are like, well, what's the difference between this and that and the other thing, you know, and it's, if you're not in the world sometimes, um, you don't know the terminology.

Jim Kierstead:  You're so right. Absolutely.

Heather Newman:  So, what's the, like big, biggest might not be the right word, but I guess I'm going to say biggest, show or like the sort of, I don’t know, cast, money or just grand. Like what's the, what's the biggest one maybe worked on or you produced?

Jim Kierstead:  The big, the biggest show that I've been a part of, was The Great Comet. There's no doubt because what that show was, I don't know if people are aware of that show, but that was the show. You know, a bunch of years ago, there's a little theater, a little not for profit theater in New York called Ars Nova. And they developed this show. They commissioned it, in fact. The writer's name is Dave Malloy. And they brought him in and they said, we'd like to write a show based on this number of pages from War and Peace. And he wrote a musical and he wrote the book and it was this immersive show in a very small theater called Ars Nova. And it got a lot of attention. And one of the board members saw it and said, you know, I, he was a Broadway producer and he said, I'd like to move this. So he moved it to a tent, he actually created a tent, set up a tent, and it was an elaborate tent, with the most incredible bathrooms. Actually. It was crazy. It was amazing. Yeah, it was just, it was noteworthy that the bathrooms were incredible at this tent. And, they served food, they actually served a dinner and the people were dancing all over and it was this really elaborate piece and it did very well down there. And then the next iteration of the project was he decided that he wanted to bring it to Broadway. And before he did, he went up to ART, up in Cambridge. And they did it for a proscenium stage for a more, for a traditional theater instead of a tent or a little tiny immersive show. And they built out some of the stage and they put the audience on the stage and then they tried it out up there and reworked it and how they would set that up and after they were successful, he said like, okay, let's go to Broadway. So they took the Imperial Theatre. They were given the Imperial Theater, which was a nice sized theater for a big Broadway. Nice sized Broadway house and they gutted the place. I mean, they completely gutted it. They set it up so there were ramps going through the theater. There were staircases going up to the mezzanine and people were sitting on the stage. There was, you know, they were serving pierogis that was kind of fun and dumb. It was just this crazy event and it cost a fortune to do it. But they got Josh Groban to star as the title character Pierre, and that came to Broadway. So I was part of that. And when I walked into that theater I was like, I've never seen anything like this before. It was really beautiful, it was a beautiful production. I think everybody involved was, you know, very proud of the artistry of it all. It was a great group of people, you know, who were putting that show together as far as the creative team is concerned.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. And I, that's, and so you know, listeners that aren't as theater-y, the proscenium stage is typically just what you think of, I think when you think of a theater. It's just you're looking into sort of a theater with a box and a stage around it.

Jim Kierstead:  Yes, exactly. Yeah, exactly right. The proscenium, is that that arch that's above most theaters that people would recognize.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. And so this production, as Jim was saying, like kind of broke, I wouldn't say broke rules, but maybe kind of broke rules of where you sit as an audience member and where things happen and so like that sort of more experiential theater piece if you will. Right?

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah. You know what I think is so interesting, and this was one of the reasons why that year in particular and ongoing, certainly, but I've really gotten excited about immersive theater and I think people like it because we live in a world now where everything, we don't want to just watch something. We want to be in something, we want to be a part of the action, you know, whether that's video games or whether that's social media. So people feel the same way. They don't want to just watch something happening on a stage, they want to be a part of it. And that's why these immersive shows have started becoming so popular. So this is an experiential show where the actors were all around you. You could sit on the stage. Um, you know, Josh Groban was right in front of you, like three feet away. So it was, it was exciting to see and it was just a neat proof of concept because I think there's going to be a big place in the world for this, you know, even more so in future years.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Was that one of the first that did that, cause I know there's been a few here, especially in New York, you get such great, some of the crazy architecture here or old buildings or you know old hotels where some of that stuff. Was that one of the first, cause there's been a few others?

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, there are others. There's, you know, the Sleep No Morethat's downtown right now. And that's in an old hotel and it's this big multi floored hotel and people wander around and they do this story in there with the masks. This is an unusual situation because it's not often that you do an immersive piece in a traditional Broadway theater. I mean, I have a hard time thinking of one. You know, they did Once On This Islandat Circle in the Square. I wouldn't exactly call it immersive, but I would call it realistic because they, you know, they made it into a, into a space that felt like there had been a hurricane wreckage there. So it was that, but it was still, you weren't really interacting with it like in this show. So for them to redo a Broadway theater like this was, was a big deal. It's very expensive.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. That's so cool. So, that fits the bill of biggest I would think or just, you know, most expensive.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, it was really, it was very, it was very, you know, like brave of them to do that. Yeah. That wasn't something for the faint of heart.

Heather Newman:  Right. Yeah. That's super cool. So I mean, you bring so much to Broadway and any way just all the time and have for so long. Is there other things that are out there besides your fabulous shows that you're excited about seeing or that you've seen that really blew you away?

Jim Kierstead:  Um, yeah. You know what I just saw, I just saw To Kill A Mockingbirdand I think it was, it was a really beautiful interpretation of that book, that very beloved book. And the cast was fantastic. It was, it's a very special story. So to be able to see it on stage at the Shubert, you know, they don't usually put plays on the stage at the Schubert. It's more of a musical house cause if its size but, but it deserves to be there. It's a great show. And you know, there's, there's a lot of new great things coming out this season as well, so it'll be, it'll be fun.

Heather Newman:  And talk to everybody about the season, like what that means, like the season. So like where it starts and where it ends. Just so folks know.

Jim Kierstead:  Sure. The, you know, the Broadway season, tends to go, the fall is first and then we go through the winter and then we have the spring season where things start to open. So the season is really, you know, kind of marked by the Tony Awards, which are in June. So the Tony Awards once the Tonys happen, right. So the cutoff for the season is in April because then you've got the voting and all of the, you know, the promotion of the shows for the awards and whatnot. So the cutoff is an April. So anything that opens after April is not eligible for that season, would be for the following season.

Heather Newman:  For the Tonys.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah. And then the Tonys are in June. Yeah. So the summer tends to be quiet or a lot of people are away. They don't really start too many new things in the summer. Although this past year we did Pretty Womanstarting in July and opening in August. But, um, that's a little bit unusual of a situation. So starting in September, then you get a big new batch of shows, right. Because things tend to close around the end of the summer or around like right after the Tonys. So you've got these theaters that have space available and then they bring in a whole bunch of new shows for the fall. And then after Christmas, which is a very busy time. Thanksgiving, Christmas time is very busy for theater cause you've got a lot of tourists in town. You have anything that's kind of struggling, they'll announce closing like right after the first of the year and then they'll start ramping up to bring new shows in for the spring into those theaters because now they've got some real estate available. So that's kind of the way the season works. Um, you know, so we always celebrate the season at the Tony time. It kind of the marks the end.

Heather Newman:  Yes, absolutely. The big hurrah. Do you find, I guess with, since you've been in the business so long and seen Broadway change so much, I don't know are there things that have really changed that you can put your finger on that you're like, Gosh, over the years trends or I don't know, like, yeah.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, there has, there have been a few things. I think the most notable trend is theater like our culture had to catch up because the audience for theater had always traditionally been a little bit older and certainly to pay Broadway prices a little bit more affluent. And what ended up happening was the audiences were getting older and young audiences were looking at theater and saying, I don't want to go see this. I don't want to go see a revival of, you know, some old show or something that feels like a clunky musical theater piece because tastes were changing. So what they ended up doing is, you know, we had a real problem in the late eighties, early nineties where theater was concerned. We had a lot of dark theaters. Now you can't get a theater. They've got like waiting lists of a hundred people, but back then they couldn't give the theaters away. There was nothing to put in them. So what ended up happening was they had to realize we have to start inventing content differently. So the first way they do that right is any time you're on a progression like that, you have to make some mistakes along the way and figure out where you're going to go wrong to get to where you need to be. So what they started doing is they did all these jukebox musicals, so everybody was doing a jukebox musical because they realize, oh, this is young and it's fresh, and people know the music already so you're not risking doing a brand new piece that nobody knows. So people at least would go and say

Heather Newman:  Like the Jersey Boyskind of thing, is that what you mean?

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, and Jersey Boyswas one of the really successful ones, right, as Mama Miawas. But there were a bunch of them. There were a whole string of jukebox musicals that were not all that successful and they just kind of did them. And they were, they were kind of cheesy stories they would throw in with the song book that you would know every song. But the story was kind of like ridiculous. So those were in favor for a while and they started to bring new audiences and, but they sort of fell out of favor very quickly. That flavor of the month sort of disappeared. Um, but what really happened after that is they said, you know, we need to be more contemporary. We need to be more pop oriented. So they started doing things that appealed to younger, cooler audiences, like Wickedfor example, like Book of Mormon, um, you know, so all these shows came out.

Heather Newman:  Like Spring Awakening.

Jim Kierstead:  Absolutely. All these,

Heather Newman:  American Idiot, like some of that stuff.

Jim Kierstead:  Absolutely. All these, all these shows, they started realizing like, hey, let's bring in younger audiences. We'll go more pop. And then they were sort of filling their theaters up again so they realize this is good. But what I'm so excited about and one of the reasons why, so this has been progressing, right? Because now you can't get a theater no matter what. It's really hard. So what I'm really excited about is the show Be More Chill. And the reason that I wanted to be a part of it is this even skews the audience younger, right? Cause like a Dear Evan Hansen, the young people really love that. And so do adults, people of all ages are flocking to that show. But this Be More Chillshow is really interesting because it's speaking to people, you know, kids in the 12 to 15, 16-year-old range. And when these kids want to go see it and they're so passionate about it, they bring their families along. You know, at least that's the hope. And so far it's been proving to be true. So, and what I love about that is when you bring in young audiences like that, it's a great way to introduce them to the theater experience and have it be something that they want to do. And after they see this show and they've had a great time, they might be more inclined to say, Hey, what can I see next? And that might be Dear Evan Hansenor Wickedor Hamiltonor one of these other great,

Heather Newman:  And the Lion KingI think has always been a big,

Jim Kierstead:  The Lion Kingis just such a, such a hit. It's such a hit. Yeah. And that's a really big hit because you can see that show and not speak a word of English and still have an amazing time. It's so visual and wonderful.

Heather Newman:  It's global. Global language for sure. Yeah. That's amazing. Oh, okay I totally want to ask you, what do you, the Hamiltonphenomenon, what do you think about that? Like just it's everybody knows all the words of the songs. Every child I know, like I can rap that, you know, you're just like, wow. Like In the Heights, you know, Into the Heights, am I saying that right?

Jim Kierstead:  In the Heights.

Heather Newman:  Like that was, I saw it, I got to see that on Broadway and then just his progression too just so interesting and just blew up.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah. Yeah. He's a genius. Like, I think it's funny when I went to see Hamilton, there was so much hype surrounding it and I'd seen at the Public before it came to Broadway. And I watched it and I was like, and it was before anybody. I mean, people, it was starting to catch on, but it was still within the New York theater community that it was popular. The world didn't know about it yet. And I'm remember going down and I was like, what is this show, it's so different? And I admired it on so many levels, but I was still trying to figure out what this show is. It was so fascinating. And then the next time I saw it, I got it and I was like, oh, this is amazing. This is a genius show. It's so special. So it was really worth the hype, which surprised me because I was almost thinking, oh, I'm going to be disappointed. You know, how can something ever live up to this? But it's pretty terrific. You know, and I think it just really captured the hearts of people because here we have this famous figure in the history of the United States and, you know, it's, it's told in such a fresh cool way. But it's, you know, it's about a person. I think that's the kind of shows that do the best, right? When you're talking about people, when you're talking about emotion. It doesn't matter what that story is, right? It's about like, how can you connect with those characters.

Heather Newman:  I think I just, when I think about you, I think about how for so long you've been able to bring empathy to a lot of people. And I think that's so cool.

Jim Kierstead:  Oh, thank you.

Heather Newman:  I mean, that's what theater is about right?

Jim Kierstead:  I love it. Makes me so happy. Well, what I do, what I like to do with theater is the, especially, you know, anything I get to be a part of, but if it's something I'm developing, you know, I want it to be something that has a positive message. I don't get involved, I always tell people, I don't really get involved with political debates. I don't want to argue politics. I don't want to talk about, you know, anything in a way other than, cause I'm not going to convince anybody. Right? And they're not going to convince me. We all have our opinions. But what I like to do is I like to put my efforts and resources behind positive pieces and put them out in the world and let people get the message that way and be entertained while getting it. And at least if they don't agree, at least they can hear something from a different point of view and maybe it'll stick with them, and maybe it will convince them to think of things, you know, outside the box.

Heather Newman:  It's like if it educates and entertains at the same time. Right. It's like magic.

Jim Kierstead:  I think so too. I think so too. It's very powerful. It's a really powerful medium. To be able to give somebody something like that to take away.

Heather Newman:  That's cool. All right, my last question. What was the first piece of theater you ever saw?

Jim Kierstead:  The very first piece of theater that I ever saw. Well, I know the first Broadway show I saw for sure. And it was Annie. I saw Annieon Broadway and it was so fun because I got to work with Martin Charnin for my first show when I did Thrill Meall those years later. So I remember that was my first Broadway show. I loved it. It was like I was probably in, I don't know, second grade or third grade and everybody was seeing that show. It was such a phenomenon.

Heather Newman:  Are you from here?

Jim Kierstead:  I'm from New Jersey. I grew up in northern New Jersey, so we, everybody would go to the city to see Broadway shows. Not all the time, but we did it relatively frequently. So I loved that. And as a kid, I probably, you know what, it wasn't a play that I saw when I was a kid that made the biggest impression on me. But when I was a little kid, I saw the movie Mary Poppinsand it was, it was back in the theaters on one of its many times back in the theaters. And I remember I couldn't get enough of that show. I got taken every week to see that show. It made me, it really made an impression on me. I'm sure it had a big impact with my love of musical theater.

Heather Newman:  That's cool. Yeah, I think I saw A Chorus Linewith my father, we would Drury Lane in Chicago and that was my first musical and didn't quite understand. I think I was maybe in middle school or something, but all I knew is I was like, those people are amazing. The dancing, the singing that everything. And I was enthralled and one of the reasons I became a theater major.

Jim Kierstead:  So great.

Heather Newman:  Now tech person. But yeah,

Jim Kierstead:  We have a lot of crossover with that.

Heather Newman:  You know, it's funny, our community, our wonderful Microsoft community has so many art people who are tech people. You know, Dan and, Dan Holme who introduced us, shout out sweet Dan.

Jim Kierstead:  Hey Dan.

Heather Newman:  Hey Dan. Um, you know, he was a theater major as well, Lucinda, who's another friend, she was a music major. Like there's tons of interesting crossover between art and technology. And I, if people sometimes are like, how is it that you're theater major? And I'm like, I use it every day.

Jim Kierstead:  Oh, I completely agree with you.

Heather Newman:  I tell stories. It's about empathy. It's about understanding. It's, you know, in sales it's about how to sell something to people and understanding human emotion and all that. We were talking about that a little bit before and, um, just basic psychology, you know? And so I think it's really interesting that you find that those things crossover a lot.

Jim Kierstead:  I think so too. You know, there's been a lot of interesting studies and articles over the years about how an acting degree can be so incredibly valuable in all facets of life. You know, even if somebody never goes on a stage, just that course of education they get is so helpful in business and just dealing with other human beings. You know, how to present yourself properly and, and whatnot. So it's valuable. And that's what disturbs me so much about any undervaluing of the arts in this country. It's so short sighted and terrible because people all have this need to be creative and if they're not allowed to be creative, I think they just are miserable. I don't know how I would live my life if I wasn't able to be creative in some way. You could see how people would suffer from that.

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. It's hard to see arts programs suffer in our education system.

Jim Kierstead:  It helps in every facet of life, you know, and people, people who think that you don't need art because you're going to go into a business are sadly mistaken.

Heather Newman:  Yup. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think and presentation skills, I mean public speaking is still one of the, like it's up there with, you know, spiders and I think I said this the other day, I was talking to someone, spiders and sharks and it is a fear that people have about getting in front of people. And so it's like theater and Improv and all of those things are so helpful for that. And that's again, like you just said, any aspect of business, you're going to have to do that.

Jim Kierstead:  Completely. Completely. And we live in a world now, you know, sadly we're, you know, it's a double edged sword, right? We have technology that's available to us and it starts to, technology can be amazing, but it can also distance us from human relationships. And if you look at the kids now, right, they're very busy on their devices and sometimes they forget how to talk to adults or talk to each other and they'll just text all day long. And I think that theater is going to be even more important because as human beings, you know, we're animals who have a need for interaction and communication and communing, doing something together rather than being isolated in their bedroom on a video game. And by being in that theater, you're with a group of people, you're watching people, you feel connected with people and that's something you can't get in any other form of entertainment.

Heather Newman:  And collective moments of awe, right? The moment when there's a moment, a friend of mine, Shannon was working with us and there was a little night music and she flew in a drop that she had painted, the production did, and everybody in the audience at the same time went (inhale sound). And to this day, it's one of my favorite things, that she did that with paint on a beautiful piece of Muslin or whatever you know, and that's, that's the stuff.

Jim Kierstead:  It's incredible.

Heather Newman:  Yeah.

Jim Kierstead:  Yeah, it's true. Yeah. It's so fun because in theater, right, you can like, you don't have to be literal. Like in a film you have to be literal. You have to create the environment exactly as it should look. But theater you can be so creative and abstract. It's really neat.

Heather Newman:  I just want to say thank you for doing what you do. I mean it's, I think it's so important and what a neat job.

Jim Kierstead:  Aw, thank you so much. It's so funny. There have been times in my life with theater where I'd get done with a project and I'd say, okay, I'm, I think I'm done for a while. And then literally the next day I was like, I can't stay away. I have to do this, I have to do this again. Like, where's the next project? So I've kind of given up on doing anything else at this point. So thank you.

Heather Newman:  Thank you for being on the show and sharing this with our listeners and, giving them a glimpse into what it is to be a producer here in New York City on Broadway. So cool.

Jim Kierstead:  Thanks Heather. Thanks everybody.

Jim Kierstead:  Absolutely. Well, everyone this was another episode of Mavens Do It Better. And, you can find us on iTunes, on Spotify, on Stitcher, on the Mavensdoitbetter.com website on all of our social and fun stuff. So check us out there and here's to another beautiful day on this big blue spinning sphere. Cheers.