Thursday, December 4, 2014

You can't be afraid to fail.

We've all failed at something (or several things) in our lives. What is most important is that we have the guts to get back up and keep going. I will be sharing some life lessons and some of my favorite failures at a lunch event put on by the Kalamazoo Chamber. Join me:

  • Failure as a Tool: Turning Adversity Into Advantage
  • 12:00 to 1:30 pm
  • Creekside Business Center in Portage
  • $25 | Includes lunch!
  • Panel includes: Kevin McLeod, Impact Athletic; Sara Dunn, 11Web and Kevin Romeo, Rhino Media

Monday, August 25, 2014

I did an interview with Kinetic Bear.

Sometimes you get the opportunity to meet interesting people in your physical life space, and Sometimes you get to meet people in digital space.
Sometimes they ask you some questions.
Sometimes you give some answers.

Almost always are you influenced by the interaction.

Check out my interview with Kinetic Bear.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

25 Best Seinfeld References (For Everyday Situations)

Here's the thing. I'm 30 years old now.
Feeling kind of old.
Especially when I start laughing in the middle of a conversation because something strikes me funny and reminds me of a "Seinfeld Moment".
Then, I can't help but mention it - hoping that someone in the conversation will agree and recall the reference and we'll connect over it.

But it's becoming less and less frequent that people know what the heck I'm talking about.

So, in the spirit of 25th Anniversary's and me getting it all out there, I'm going to attempt to name my 25 favorite Seinfeld references that can/do occur in my every day life. These are actually in no particular order other than the order in which they came to mind. ENJOY!

25 "George likes his chicken spicy" - George. 
This one has multiple applications. Whenever I'm eating Kung Pao chicken or I'm sweating uncomfortably, this one always comes to mind.

This is a shouting match by George's parents, and it often comes up when I'm confronted with banana's added to any dish.

23. "We mustn't disturb the delicate genius!" - George
Anytime I have the desire to ask a professional friend an 'off-the-clock' question, particularly concerning medical questions.

22. "Giddyup" - Kramer
Translation: "I highly approve of the current situation and/or circumstances"

21. "I was in the pool!" - George
Just talking about pools.

20. George wants to be known as "T-Bone".
Just say the word T-bone, "T-BONE!"

19. "Lyin' and Laughin" - Jackie Chiles
Anytime I suspect someone of laughing at me from a distance.

18. "No, I'm not joking... she looks like Lyndon Johnson" - Kramer
Literally anytime, anyone, anywhere asks me who I think their baby looks like, I think... Lyndon Johnson. This one can be particularly awkward for me, given the sensitive nature of the conversation.

17. "Kramerica Industries" - Kramer
Kramer gets an intern from NYU to attend to his affairs. I think of it at least once a week, because, I also have interns. And for a bonus.. @00:25, It's a lot like some conversations with my wife Anna about house chores.

16. "Just a Salad, Just a Salad, Just a Salad" Jerry's internal voice. 

15. "Seinfeld, you magnificent bastard!" - Jerry
Anytime the words Magnificent or Bastard are mentioned.

14. "Alright, playtime's over" - Peterman. 
In moment's where the shenanigan's need to stop.

13. "That's GOLD Jerry, GOLD!" - Kenny Bania
When genius idea's strike... that's gold, jerry.

12. "I'll have the salmon" - Jerry
See #16, but for salmon.

11c. "Why don't you shut the Shades" Jerry "They are shut" - Kramer
Just mention the word "shades".
Watch for 11a, b and c.

11b. "These are load bearing walls, they're not gonna come down!" - Kramer
Any construction related talk with do this.

11a "My rods and cones are all screwed up!" - Kramer
Whenever someone expressed discomfort with their vision.

10. "These pretzel's are making me thirsty" - Jerry, Kramer, Elaine, George
Don't all pretzel's make us thirsty?

9. "You tell that son-of-a-b that no yankee is ever coming to Houston!"
Whenever someone is inappropriately using swear words in a friendly fashion.

8. "You're an anti-dentite" - Kramer
Aren't we all, really?

7. "You've got the A, the B, the C... and D. That's the biggest" - Frank Costanza
Georges dad explains to him the basics of brassieres. I think of this anytime I hear the letters A-D mentioned in order.

6. "I know the D is the biggest, I base my WHOLE LIFE on knowing that the D is the biggest" - George's response. 
It's just absurd and hilarious.

5. "Installed" - Kramer
Whenever I accomplish a particularly manly task.

4. "The Government" - Homeless man
This one comes to mind everytime I skip past a political post on facebook.
Watch - starting at 1:19

3. "It's almost as if you have no business training at all"  - Kramer's boss at his fake job.
Feels like my life sometimes.

2. "It's very refreshing!" - Kramer
Speaking in regards to Junior Mints, I use this to convey my satisfaction with a food object.
Watch @ 3:30

1. "You look like a cowboy" - Kramer, "I don't wanna be a cowboy"- Jerry
    "You look like a pirate" - Kramer, "I don't wanna be a pirate" - Jerry

Most anytime I'm confronted with being associated with something I don't want to be associated with.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

LINCHPIN - Trevor Klimek from Paw Paw Brewing Co

It's really easy to show up to work.
It's really easy to do your job well enough.
It's really easy to hit your goals. 
It's really easy to follow a recipe.
It's really easy to do exactly what your told to do.

But this guy is special.
He lights up any room he walks into.
Hugs everyone.
Is the first to offer help.
Has an incredible knowledge base.
Is willing to share it freely.

He is a human.
His work is an art form. 
His name is Trevor.
He is a brewer at Paw Paw Brewing Company.

He is the definition of a Linchpin.
How do you replace a guy like that?
You don't.
You just treat him well and allow him to thrive. 

(This is Trevor, singing with the band.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My interview with Daniel Jefferies of Newmind Group

Dan Jefferies is admittedly not a good listener. But he's a great guy and is the Founder of Newmind Group, a Kalamazoo based IT services organization that goes against the grain in a lot of the right ways.

He opened up to me a little about success and family upbringing's in a very candid and refreshing way.

This was our first trial interview for the video interviews on the blog, so there a few hiccups during shooting, but the insight I gained from Dan was well worth putting it out there.

Crash on.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My interview with Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting

One of the absolute best things about what I get to do at Rhino Media is that I get to meet and learn from a tremendously diverse population of people.

Some are inventors.
Some are entrepreneurs.
Some are spiritual leaders.
Some are brewers.
Some are designers.

Most of them understand and embody the spirit of "Crash On" and often help me see entrepreneurship in new and exciting ways.

In short, I'm blessed to know the people I do, and I want to share some of these with my "Crash On: The Creative Entrepreneur" audience.
I've been very excited about this series of video interviews, but I'm still dialing in some of the branding of my blog... so very likely, these videos may change a little over the next few months. But I don't want that to slow down these conversations, because there is some really fantastic insights to be had here.

So I'm excited to share my first interview with Michael Kiser, Writer/Photographer and Owner of Good Beer Hunting (Chicago, IL).  This was shot in the Good Beer Hunting studio while I was in town for the Chicago premiere of The Michigan Beer Film (At the GBH studio)

Michael has a tremendous amount of insight that I tapped into for the Michigan Beer Film. Our conversations would often weave in and out of topics such as craft beer cultural shifts, work/life balance, corporate design, the changing American palate and much more.

This conversation focused mostly on his journey, lessons he's learned and being intentional on managing work/life balance.

I hope you enjoy the conversation.
Crash on.

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's Easy To Criticize From The Sideline.

It's easy to criticize while standing on the sideline.
Playing it safe, watching other people try and fail and try and fail...

I often find that the people who have the least amount of experience are the ones with the most amount of opinions (and the least amount of social/intellectual filters in sharing them).
As soon as you start putting yourself out there, you're going to have people say what you could/should have done better.
I believe this is a fundamental truth of human condition, essentially it's unavoidable.

So what can you do?
Ignore the negativity.

Why do people criticize?
My experience is that it's primarily a defense mechanism derived from their own fears and insecurities.
So why give it your precious time and energy?

Here's the thing...
I believe that suffering and struggle begets wisdom.
Wisdom that people on the sideline can never attain because they fail to do at all.
Without doing, they can never draw from the experiences that grow them into who they could be.

So if you're reading this and you like to drag people down... cut that junk out.
As cliché as it sounds... get in the game, then see how your perspective changes.
It's way too easy to criticize from the sideline.

Remember: If you try at something, you WILL fall down... What determines your success if getting up off your back and press on.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What I mean when I say, "Crash On"

What I mean when I say, "Crash On"

We can't always see what's in front of us. 

We can't always know. 
But we go forth, because that's what Rhino's do.
Not living out of fear of what may come, but crashing through - regardless of circumstance. 
Making our futures greater than our pasts. 

Crash on. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Weight of Lies.

Sometimes, songs say it best.

"The weight of lies
Will bring you down,
And follow you
To every town, cause

Nothing happens here
That doesn't happen there.

So when you run
Make sure you run 
To something 
And not away from, cause

Lies don't need 
An aero-plane 
To chase you down" 

- The Avett Brothers

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

You're not done yet: A lesson from the life of Johnny Cash.

A lot of my friends know that I'm a fan of Johnny Cash.

He lived a truly remarkable life, a pioneer in both Country and Rock genres, he is the icon in American social culture if there ever was one. He stood for the common man, writing and recording music that spoke to their values, beliefs, struggles and triumphs. He spoke what he believed in even if it wasn't what others wanted to hear.

This isn't to say his life is a road map for success either. He literally tried as hard as he could to ruin it. Somehow he still persevered despite himself.

One of moving moving and yet, strange tales of Johnny Cash's life was when at one of his lowest points of extreme drug usage and depression (after being awake and strung out for days) he decided to attempt suicide.
But in typical Johnny Cash fashion, he didn't do it the way others do it.

There is a cave roughly an hour's drive from his home in Tennessee called "Nickajack Cave" that delves very deep underground and it isn't too long before you see nothing but blackness and hear nothing at all.

Johnny Cash decided that if he crawled deep enough enough into the cave, that he would not be able to find his way out and he would just die there in the darkness. No one would ever find his body.
Stew on that scenario for a moment.

The story goes that he crawled for about 2-3 hours and when he felt like he couldn't crawl any further, he collapsed where he was and laid down to die in complete darkness & silence. Swallowed up in guilt and sorrow for his life.

This is what he said about what happened next:

"I didn’t believe it at first. I felt something very powerful, a sensation of utter peace, clarity and sobriety. I couldn’t understand it. How, after being awake for so long and driving my body so hard and taking so many pills—dozens of them, scores, even hundreds—could I possibly feel all right? The feeling persisted though, and then my mind started focusing on God. There in Nickajack Cave I became conscious of a very clear, simple idea: I was not in charge of my destiny. I was not in charge of my own death. I was going to die at God’s time, not mine."

The rest of the story is, as you can imagine, pretty incredible. He begins the journey of crawling back out without a bit of directional sense. He catches a slight breeze on his back at one point and then followed the wind for hours until he found his way back out.

To add to the craziness, when he got the entrance of the cave, June Carter and Cash's mom where there, with nothing other than a feeling guiding them to the entrance of the cave. His mom had driven from Arkansas simply because she felt like she needed to see her son. At that time, he sought further help for his addictions and saw real change occur of the course of the next decade as his career resurged, he and June married, and so on.

The reality is that Johnny Cash struggled with addiction until the day he died. He was very open about that in both autobiographies that I've read. But this moment in time represents a powerful lesson about having purpose in our lives.
It also makes me think about how as a part of a community, our life is not necessarily our own in some ways.
I have obligations and promises to keep to the people around me and in Johnny Cash's case, he felt God's presence pulling him up and saying "I'm not finished with you yet." (I'm not trying to quote God, just saying).

You still have work here to do.

I strongly believe that without purpose, we will wilt away. I know that for me, my purpose is clear and that's made all the difference in my life as husband, father, business owner, friend, mentor, student, etc.

Hopefully you've found something meaningful to take away from this blog post.

But if not, enjoy this frickin awesome song that Johnny Cash recorded in the last years of his life.



Sunday, March 9, 2014

Habits that can change your life.

Young leaders often want quick tips to be more effective. Here's something counter cultural: 

Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. 

Do that for a while and observe the change in yourself and your relationships.  
As we say at Rhino Media, crash on. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What not to do when you don't know what to do: Part 1

This post is for all you entry level employees out there.

A lesson I learned from one of my business mentors, Jason Bull, when I worked for his landscape design firm in my early-mid 20's.

1 - Don't cross your arms
There's no quicker way to look like you don't want to work than by crossing your arms while everyone around you is pitching in to get the job done.

2 - Don't put your hands in your pockets
Similar to crossing your arms, but possibly worse. Nothing says, "I don't know what I'm doing more than standing around with your hands in your pockets. Pick up a shovel, saw, or macbook pro and get to work.

3 - Don't go into your shell. 
This is not the time to pull out your iPhone and hide away. The people around you need your physical and mental presence.

I go so far as to employ these ideas when I'm standing in line at the grocery store. When it's really easy to avoid social interaction and peruse Instagram, I can be on the look out for a way to help someone. By keeping my hands and mind ready and alert, I can serve others so much better.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

If you hate networking events as much as I do...

I generally don't enjoy networking events.
Partly because it feels like I'm supposed to act a certain way and shake hands a certain way and follow certain rules about such events.
It all has a tendency to feel a bit slimey-ish.

That being said, they don't have to be so bad. Here are a few ways I've learned how to make the best out of networking events:

1. Don't be a respecter of persons. This concept implies favoritism and partiality. Do you believe that everyone has value? I do. Make sure that if you believe that, you act like it.

2. Shut your mouth and open your ears. Take the opportunity to learn about others rather than going on and on about yourself. Remember the ratio: 2 ears, 1 mouth.

3. Stay positive. One of the quickest ways to become irrelevant is to complain to complete strangers. I know I have a hard time trusting someone who is a chronic complainer. 

4. Think "make friends", not "network". People are more than what they do. Be flexible in conversation, you don't always have to talk about business/job/career topics. In fact, I mostly avoid these topics at networking events specifically because it's what is expected of me.

5. Be your true self. No further explanation needed.

Bonus Round:

6. Be present. Keep the iPhone in your pocket.
7. Don't go it Alone. Who doesn't need a wingman? Am I right?

Crash on.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Every job I've ever had. A lesson in humility.

Ever wonder what qualifications I have to run a company? I think about that sometimes...
The LinkedIn robots keep asking me to add previous jobs to my account, and the problem is, there are simply too many, so I decided to jot down a quick list in mostly chronological order of the jobs I've worked in my life.
This was a fantastic way to remind myself how extremely blessed I am to do what I do now and that I don't deserve it.

Threw Hay (Every summer from 12-20 yrs old)
Painted Pumpkins (after school job in the fall of freshman year)
Dishwasher at Panel Room Restaurant (3-4 weeks high school)
Circa High School. I'm wearing a tractor shirt. 
Mcdonalds (6 months during high school, until myself and 2 friends quit in epic fashion during lunch rush)
Server, Chinese Restaurant (1 month)
Tree Nursery Tree Waterer (1 day)
USPS shipping Department (3 months)
Family and Children Services (2 years)
Inventory Clerk Welch's (3 straight summers)
Cutco Knife Sales (a weekend)
Framing Houses with JA George Construction (3-4 months)
Painting Christmas Cards (sold 3 yard cards at 60/piece)
Western Herald Sports Cartoonist (1/week @ $12/Cartoon)
Sams Club Cashier (5 months of retail holiday hell)
Painting Houses (a few jobs here and there)
Outbound Sales National City Bank (9 Months Post College)
Poured Concrete (2 Months)
Landscape installation at Terra Compositions (2 Summers)
US Census Canvassing (about 9 days)
FledonFoot Design Owner (freelance photo/design)
Guitarist/Bassist/Promoter After.Adam Band (1 year)
Chikaming Country Club Server (3 Summers straight summers)
Michigan National Guard (Basic Training)
Substitute Teacher (Off and on for 3 years)
Lifetouch Photographer  (3 months)

Owner/Lead Rhino of Rhino Media Productions (4 Years)
Film maker - The Michigan Beer Film
Co-Owner of The Michigan Bottle Opener (1 year)

Don't wait to be picked. Pick yourself.

As we say at Rhino Media, Crash on.

How I raised $34,676 on Kickstarter for a film about beer. (Part 1)

Desperate artist-types think of Kickstarter as the answer to all their hopes, dreams and pagan-type prayers. Many walk away from the experience sadly disappointed, blaming their problems on the rest of the world rather than analyzing what may have went wrong.

And while it is an absolute game-changer when it comes to raising funds for creative projects, it's just like anything else in this life... it requires a lot of hard work to be successful.

How Kickstarter works is you use their platform to launch a "crowd sourcing" campaign (asking a lot of people for a little bit of money rather than asking a few people for a lot of money).
You launch a project with for either 30 or 60 days with a goal to raise a pre-determined amount of money (which you set).

The "catch" with Kickstarter is that it's all or nothing.. if you don't hit your goal, you don't get a dime.
So it can be a little scary going into it, but I think we played it smart and here are 6 things that myself and my company did to to raise over $34K for my first documentary film, The Michigan Beer Film.

1. Engage an already engaged audience.
Hard to overstate the importance of this. There is a lot of noise on kickstarter and a lot of goofy projects that frankly don't stand out and won't get noticed. It helps tremendously to have a following already established on other platforms (FB, Twitter, Tumblr, etc) and spread communication that way.

2. Don't romanticize your project. Ask sober friends their opinion BEFORE launching. 
How can I say this... you may not be completely objective about your work.

3. Keep communication up.
Don't leave your backers in the dark. The more consistent and relevant with your information, the more trust you will instill.

4. Expect to spend a couple hours a day working on it.
This is NOT Ron Popeil's chicken rotisserie... there's no "setting it and forgetting it"

We even threw a party at our studio to let people know about the project and encourage people to give.

Plan to make this a part time job for the next 30 days, creating the project page, developing your rewards, asking your friends via facebook, etc.
Which leads me to my next thought...

5. Don't be too proud. 
You can't be too proud to ask for money. If you believe in the quality of your work, you won't be embarrassed to ask people to back your project. For inspiration, check out this Ted talk from Amanda Palmer, who raised an insane amount of money via Kickstarter.

5. Be patient. 
When you first launch your project, if all goes well, you'll have a nice spike right away - as people will be excited to back a project as fricking awesome as yours. After a few days though, it will likely plateau quite a bit. Don't panic, keep at it. We were sitting around 55% funded with only a few days left on our project before we had a crazy spike to push us over our goal.

We delivered on what we promised. If you ever to hope to retain the trust of the people who backed your project, you must finish what you start.
That's for free.

If you've found this helpful, good. Now go do something worth doing.
Follow me @thekevinromeo

Oh yeah.. here's the link to my Kickstarter page!

This is me speaking on a panel discussion about crowd-funding... see? I'm an expert.

Startup Grind Kalamazoo Interview

I recently participated in a Startup Grind Kalamazoo event hosted by WMU Professor, John Mueller.
This even is hosted once a month at the offices of Maestro.

This conversation mostly hinged on my personal development and events that I learned from prior to and throughout founding and running my company, Rhino Media.
If you watch the interview in it's entirety, kudos.
Have a question? Feel free to email me

StartUp Grind Kalamazoo Featuring Kevin Romeo from Rhino Media Productions on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Creative Space

When you get paid to create ideas... sometimes, it's really important to get out of your normal work space. 

One of my favorites: Waterstreet Coffee on Oakland Dr in Kalamazoo. 

Thinking like a child.

Coming to terms
When you're a child, you think you're parents can do no wrong.

When you're 17, you realize they aren't perfect and you blame them for your shortcomings. 

When you become an adult, you understand that all people are flawed and start taking responsibility for your own actions. 

Individual experiences vs shared experiences

The few weeks ago, I was running errands and I drove past a family sedan with not one, but two separate little TV screens in the back for their 2 little kids to be entertained. 
At first I thought, "Man, that must be really hard to focus with competing audio from two separate TVs."
I realized then, of course, that they surely have earbuds in so they are in their own little world. 

I'm definitely not judging this family, maybe they have good boundaries on how often the children are plugged in. 

But the scene just set my mind thinking through how we pursue individual experiences. I started noticing this trend heavily when I was in college way back in '05. Even then it seemed that everyone had their own universe, because that was better than having to deal with other people.

Since then, the trend seems to be continuing further. Facebook was just beginning then, smart phones were able to text and email and the iPhone didn't exist. 

The elusive joy of the future will be shared experiences. People will pine for shared experiences as individual experiences are the norm. 

I promise. People will always crane human interaction. Human touch. Eye Contact. 
Start doing things with other people. 

So here's my recommendation: if you live in Kalamazoo, go to Sweetwater Donuts, have coffee with a friend and leave the phone at home. 

If you don't live in Kalamazoo, you should.