There is an audience for who you are
Short Order August Newsletter: Inspirations, hybrid meetings, and one very cool light meter (trust us on that)
Zach here. I hope your August is full of peace and growth and enjoyment, but before we dive into the newsletter, I wanted to share some sad news.
The world lost an incredible person a few weeks ago. A guy whose life was devoted to helping others as he’d been helped. He was our friend, neighbor, and fellow artist Michael Solomon from the Creative Vision Factory.
This loss is absolutely devastating to the community. Michael is a guy would go to the wall for anybody. There’s nothing to explain the senseless loss of vital people before their time … Chris White, and now Michael.
Some years ago, we made a video about the Creative Vision Factory that highlighted Michael’s story, and this is one of those times that I’m just 🙏 so glad we made this video. It’s utterly inadequate, inconsequential, nothing in the light of Michael Solomon’s real story, who he was, and the hope and the steadfast support he gave to people everyone else had given up on … but at least we’ve got something. Thanks to Mike Pfeifer, who was on our team at the time and spearheaded this production.
We’ll miss seeing Michael around the neighborhood. Massive shoes to fill.
All right, on to to the regular stuff …
Something We Like: Negative Supply
Zach: This month, I want to talk to you about an amazing guy and past Short Order customer Saxon McClamma. Saxon's business is even cooler than his name, which is saying a lot.
Saxon’s from Alabama, but I met him when he was working at the Apple Store on Walnut Street in Philadelphia. I was wearing my Leica (as you do), and Saxon noticed it. He told me that he was building a film carrier for scanning with DSLRs, which was a concept I didn't yet know about.
Some time later, Saxon let me know he wanted to do a Kickstarter video for Negative Supply’s next product, a film carrier for medium format. Short Order made the video along with some social spots, and the Kickstarter was a wild success.
While we'd love to take credit (Jason and the team did make a very nice video), the truth is that Saxon and his partner AJ Holmes found a passionate community of people who were not just willing to buy a nice film carrier, but were actually interested in supporting a company that would focus on making the best products in any category they entered. I know these people, because I am one of them.
Saxon and his company have since moved across the country to L.A. and I was honored when he reached out to ask me to do the voiceover for a video launching their next product. This one they produced in-house. They did a nice job (other than the voiceover guy).
See, the Negative Supply film carrier isn't just a film carrier. It's the finest film carrier ever created. It's heavy, perfectly anodized, and it has great knob feel. Saxon even designed it to be modular so that he could someday add a motor drive to it, one that hasn't even been designed yet. And this light meter will be, without any doubt, the finest light meter the world has ever seen. And with $175,000 raised of their $50,000 goal, I’m extremely excited to get mine.
What can we learn from Saxon? There is an audience for who you are, no matter how niche you think your specific interests might be. Saxon now has a business employing many humans making high-priced tools for an art form that is arguably obsolete. No one’s even making film cameras anymore (other than Leica), and yet Saxon can make a business out of catering to those who still love film and are willing to support innovation in film photography.
What is that thing, that obsession that makes you, your company or organization special? Is anyone out there telling that story? Of course they aren’t. You are uniquely in a position to tell that story. It’s yours. And there are people out there who need to hear it.
I’ve always hated light meters. Finally I will have a light meter I do not hate. Delightful.
Something We Learned: Hybrid Events
Matt: And now to bring the room down — I want to talk about hybrid meetings. (Wait! Before you click away, know that there’s some very funny, inspiring, heartwarming stuff in the next section. But first, let’s eat some vegetables.)
I’ve seen two reports (from Northstar Meetings Group and Bizzabo) that basically make the same point — most event and conference planners expect hybrid events (catering to both in-person and virtual audiences) to be the norm going forward, but few people have seen it done well. Among key findings:
While 72% of organizers plan on investing in hybrid in 2020 and 2021, only 24% have ever invested in hybrid experiences. - Bizzabo
“Keeping viewers engaged” is a top challenge during hybrid events. - Bizzabo
Event planner: “I love the idea of hybrid, but it’s challenging for financial, experiential and staff capacity reasons.” - NMG
Google exec: “Do not try a “lift and shift” of physical to digital - it’s better to rethink the entire strategy and start from the beginning to optimize the experience vs square-peg-round-hole from a physical event strategy and experience.” - Bizzabo
Since we started working with clients on virtual events, we’ve encouraged people to re-think every aspect of their events. (First thing to go: The podium. Podia are terrible. Necessary in real life, maybe, but when you have access to a teleprompter, they’re just big wooden barriers between you and the audience.)
And here’s something I legitimately hate to say: That anonymous Google exec is right. It’s time to start from a blank page and resist the temptation to go back to “the way we’ve always done it,” while setting up a camera in the back to stream on Zoom. Now is the time to rebuild conferences and events that play to both crowds — events that bring the virtual crowd into the room, that create dynamic contrast from session to session to keep people interested, and that maximize the strengths of both in-person gatherings and virtual platforms … instead of wasting time on sessions that don’t translate easily between the two.
Something We Did: “Disability Pride 2021” Series
Matt: Speaking on new ways of doing things … the Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council had planned to launch its inaugural Disability Pride Week this summer, but given the continuing complications of COVID-19, they decided to pivot the live event into a video series.
After meeting the people we’d be profiling, our team (led by director Jason Prezant and producer Hannah Geller) developed a slate of concepts that reflected the diversity of our subjects — with on-location dancing, fully-scripted comedy spots, and in-studio, couch-based interviews stolen directly from “When Harry Met Sally.” (Fortunately for us, the good folks at the DDDC are all on board with our 32-year-old movie references.)
Says Jason: “Our subjects here are are, by far, some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. And they’re the experts. They live with their stories every day. We wouldn’t have been able to make anything here that felt true without their input, experiences and knowledge.”
Here are three of the pieces we created to give you a glimpse of what pride means to our friends and neighbors. For more, check out the DDDC’s YouTube page.
The Final Bits
Thanks for sticking it out to the bottom of the newsletter! As a reward, you get … our email addresses? (Sorry, we had to put them somewhere.) Reach Zach at firstname.lastname@example.org and Matt at email@example.com, or give a call at 302-656-1638. We’d love to hear about what you’re up to.
The Short Order Team