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.