Happy Halloween from the Black Lake Studio team! Today we are not a studio team, but a team of a super girl, a candy lover, a Star Trek red shirt, and a big bad boss. Stop by today to save us from eating all the candy!
Fred is widely recognized as an expert Cicerone, i.e. a specialist in pairing beer with food. That might sound a bit hoity-toity, but The Beervangelist’s down-to-earth style ensures that beer stays accessible and enjoyable. Men’s Journal discovered this when they caught up with Fred at the Farm to Table Pavilion at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. Their article highlights nine lessons on food and beer pairing they learned from the Beervangelist, and it also includes Fred’s recipe for Brisket Sliders, featuring the new Carhartt Woodsman brew from New Holland.
Black Lake worked with Fred to develop his personal brand. We also collaborated closely to write, design, and publish his beer and food seasonal cookbook, Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy. We’re immensely pleased and proud to see Fred capturing national attention, and we’re eager to see where his Beervangelism efforts will lead him next!
Here at Black Lake Studio, we love helping nonprofit organizations achieve their full potential. That’s why working with NewDay Nonprofit Solutions has been such a good fit—they’re all about partnering with nonprofits so they can grow forward into vibrancy.
Brent Hafele of NewDay noticed that too many nonprofits struggle to raise the money they need, manage their teams effectively, and meet their communities’ needs. They’re trapped in the Campaign Cycle, going about their day-to-day business and only launching into a campaign when they find themselves swamped with need.
But Brent knew there was a better way. Black Lake partnered with NewDay to provide coaching, messaging, communication, and design support, and together we found a way to articulate this alternate path: the Growth Cycle graphic. Agencies that are in the Growth Cycle recognize that they will grow at some point in the future, so they are always thinking a few steps ahead. They intentionally plan and prepare before they launch a campaign, and they are also thinking about how they will achieve sustainability afterward.
We’ve continued to work with Brent and his team, helping them help nonprofits at any stage of the Growth Cycle develop a resource base that is practical, attainable, and sustainable. NewDay is a great client, so we were thrilled when it became clear that we could help them create a brand-new website. We’re even more excited to announce that it’s live and ready to visit!
Our goal was to bring a new level of contemporary design to the site while engaging prospective clients in a dynamic second-person dialogue. We were able to showcase Brent’s knowledge and expertise in the nonprofit sector, and to clearly communicate how each of NewDay’s services fit in to the four parts of the Growth Cycle.
Check out NewDay’s new website at www.newdaynonprofit.com, and stay tuned for more updates on our work with Brent and his team!
Jim Sullivan had a vision: to show people at the beginning of their careers how to clarify their purpose, find their power, and fulfill their potential. As a longtime marketer and leader with a few of America’s great companies, he was uniquely qualified to do just that.
Jim’s efforts began with crafting a novel, or more precisely, an engaging and realistic fable. He worked extensively with Greg Smith at Black Lake, learning how to write a good story that would illustrate the principles he was trying to convey while engaging readers and being of some practical use to them.
The result is EPICENTER: Unleash the Power of Your EPIC LIFE: A Success Fable. It tells the story of a young couple in crisis, putting them at the center of a drama threatening their future as they struggle with job losses, career choices, and life-or-death challenges to their marriage, friendships, and future. EPICENTER conveys the risks we all face if we ignore the EPIC story at the CENTER of our truest selves—the source of our Effective, Principled, Inspired Contribution to others.
The next step was to adapt and expand the content into a four-week career and life leadership course comprised of fourteen personal assessments and exercises (“Life Apps”). The EPICENTER Life Leadership Course is designed to help you uncover the EPIC story at the CENTER of you. It’s about revealing the moral of your story, your life’s purpose. You’ll find it by looking within, at exactly how you are designed. Your purpose lies at the overlapping center of your:
- Effective Competence: What are you good at? How skills do you have to create value?
- Principled Character: Who are you? How will you build value?
- Inspired Causes: What do you care about? What are your values?
- Contribution Value: How can you practically apply all of this? How do you deliver value? Translate your newfound self-understanding into a career that benefits yourself and your customers.
EPICENTER makes use of online assessments, reflections, and journalling exercises to guide users through an exploration of each of these EPIC elements of their design. The Life Apps make use of some of the most powerful techniques available today to help you learn what you love most, and do best, for the highest benefit of others, including employers hiring now. It’s all about unlocking the power of your core purpose to achieve your full potential in life and in the workplace.
Black Lake collaborated closely with Jim to create two versions of the course: a printed workbook and an interactive website. Our designers Ashley Kasul and Courtney Van De Burg crafted an interactive online experience and an engaging, eye-catching workbook. I edited and adapted Jim’s content for the print and web platforms, while Jessica Newton created illustrations for both iterations of the course. The entire project was overseen by our Chief Creative Officer, Greg Smith.
The EPICENTER Life Leadership Course is about to make its debut at Hope College, just down the street from our studio. The EPICENTER fable and workbook, published by Black Lake Press, will soon be available through Amazon, and the website is already live! Visit www.epicenterbook.com to learn more and to discover your Effective Competence, Principled Character, Inspired Causes, and Contribution Value.
For years, Scott Patchin has been giving leaders practical steps to turn leadership principles into measurably improved performance by their teams. This led to a series of trUTips, which Black Lake Press helped Scott publish as an ebook.
But these trUTips only led to bigger questions: Why is it so hard for some leaders to follow through on easy-to-understand principles? While these principles are building collaboration, what might be simultaneously eroding it? And what sort of cultivatable habits create a climate for collaboration and performance?
To answer these questions, Scott decided to write People-Centered Performance: Bringing Out Our Best Through Honest Conversation. It’s a resource for helping leaders to improve team performance through honest conversations and thoughtful actions. Black Lake Press worked with Scott throughout the writing, editorial, design, and publishing process, and we are now excited to announce that the book has arrived!
Scott Patchin is an experienced learning executive, trainer, coach, and author. His experience includes leadership roles in the manufacturing, financial, and healthcare industries. He has directed people and change strategies for startups, as well as multinational organizations. Scott is passionate about building the culture and processes within organizations that result in people being engaged and excited about what they are doing each day, and the business results that follow.
You can buy People-Centered Performance online at Scott’s website, www.thetrugroup.com, on Amazon in either print or Kindle editions, or through Apple iBooks. You can also keep up with Scott through the trU Group Blog or by signing up online to receive regular trUTips. Even better, if you subscribe to the trU Group mailing list, you’ll receive a free trUTips ebook, Strategic People Reminders for the Busy Executive.
We at Black Lake look forward to seeing Scott and the trU Group succeed, and to collaborating with them in the future.
Yesterday, Black Lake Studio received a mysterious package in the early afternoon that had us all wondering what it could be. We weren’t expecting any mail. To our surprise, the package contained our business cards, hot-off-the-press from MOO, and two days early to boot! We were immediately impressed by the packaging, from the “Yay!” sticker on the outside carton right down to the fancy magnetic and ribbon-sealed box.
It was immediately apparent that MOO is very attuned to their customers, and recognizes the personal relationships people have with the type of products that MOO prints and sells. These business cards were certainly important to me, as I designed them, and I was waiting with anticipation to see how they turned out. The card itself was of nice quality, but the experience of opening the product made it feel high quality, complete with a simulation wax seal stating, “Designed by MOO and You.” MOO hit the nail on the head when it comes to the user experience of their products.
We in the studio were very pleased with the business cards we got, as well as the way we got them. Hats off to MOO for preparing us in the best way to create awareness for our business. We’re ready to get out there and leave a great impression with our new business cards.
Congratulations to The Beervangelist, AKA Fred Bueltmann, on his book being a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards! Black Lake is excited by Fred’s well-deserved success and looks forward to seeing it continue in the future.
The Next Generation Indie Book Awards is the largest not-for-profit awards program for independent publishers, and it is open to independent authors and publishers worldwide. Fred’s beer and food cookbook Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Philosophy of Food & Drink was honored in the Cookbook and Home/Garden category. Find out more about the Next Generation Indie Book Awards here.
Fred is an owner at New Holland Brewing Co., a landmark in our mutual hometown of Holland, MI. As The Beervangelist, he is also an outspoken, passionate champion of well-made beer and food. With years of discovery, experimentation, and experience in the craft brewing industry, Fred is a widely-recognized expert on pairing beer and food. He is a Certified Cicerone®, past president of the Michigan Brewers Guild, and a recipient of their prestigious “Tom Burns Award” recognizing the pioneering spirit of the “Great Beer State.” Fred also pens the column “Beer and Food with the Beervangelist,” which appears in various flavorful magazines.
It wasn’t so very long ago that he was looking for a way to educate the masses beyond the local scene—to Beervangelize them, if you will. He needed a Beeracle worker, and Black Lake was up to the challenge!
Black Lake worked with Fred to develop verbal and visual branding for The Beervangelist, including his logo, inspired by wood burning. The kickoff for Fred’s brand, we decided, would be a cookbook that focused on food and beer pairings as well as seasonal eating.
The result was Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy—a 252-page beer and food extravaganza organized, edited, designed, and published by Black Lake Press. As Fred’s personal brand took off, we’ve helped him with everything from presentation graphics to coaching him in his public speaking. We’re invested in the ongoing success of his book and brand, and that’s why we couldn’t be more pleased that he’s being recognized not only in the beer and food world, but also among the literary crowd.
I recently listed Five Ways to Fail in Business. Well, I don’t want to be overly cynical and pessimistic (I think that most of the time I’m just the right amount of cynical and pessimistic), so to more than balance out that list with optimism and positivity, here’s Six Ways to Succeed in Business. None of these six items will guarantee success, which is a complex and multivariable equation. But they run consistently through so many success stories that they might be said to be necessary (but not sufficient) conditions for doing well in the business world. At the very least, practicing these six will guarantee that your career is the best kind.
1. Add Value in Every Transaction
Every time you interact with someone in business, give them more value than you take. Leave them feeling like they got the better end of the deal. Treat everyone this way, not just customers, and your business will have an advantage over the competition.
2. Solve Someone Else’s Problem, Not Your Own
Customers don’t buy to meet your needs. They buy out of self-interest, to meet their own needs and fill their wants. Understand the demand, and supply it, and you will give people every reason to buy from you.
3. Be Resilient and Optimistic
Business is an obstacle course, across the rolling deck of a ship, while your competition throws stuff at you, and the customer keeps moving the goalposts. Fun, huh? Change is constant. Every minute you spend whining about change and refusing to adapt, you fall further behind. Remain resilient. If you fall down, get up; if you have a bad day, make tomorrow better. And have an optimistic attitude, because it shapes how you behave and how others see you. Adaptability, confidence, and a positive disposition can take you further in business than a brilliant mind or product.
4. Fiercely Favor Freedom
Love your liberty, and don’t give any of it away unless you have to. Don’t take on debt you don’t need. Don’t commit to anything that you don’t have to or don’t want to. Don’t burden your business with unnecessary overhead costs. Don’t let bad habits make you sluggish and impotent. Preserve enough energy to react, room to maneuver, and time to think and create. Be free to change and grow, and you can.
5. Seek Wisdom
Learn to recognize what is true and what is false, what is useful and what is wasteful, what builds up and what tears down. Know what is good, and how to be and do good. Cultivate sound judgment and the ability to process better decisions faster by disregarding distractions. Being smart has value, but it isn’t always a factor in success. Successful business leaders aren’t always smart, but they’re all shrewd.
6. Success is Being Good and Doing Good
Money isn’t the only measure of success, nor its only reward. A business that loses money can’t be said to be succeeding, but the one with the biggest bottom line might not be the best or the one that you want to own. If it were, we’d all strive to be investment bankers or run international drug cartels. Be profitable, but earn that profit by being a good person with a good reputation who provides a good product that brings good value to good people. You will succeed enough to be happy, and to enjoy the love and loyalty of your family and friends. What more do you want?
Like this? See the companion article, Five Ways to Fail in Business
There are actually dozens, if not thousands, of ways to fail in business. But these five run through the stories of fizzled careers with a sad consistency. They are important landmarks on the map to the minefield of professional failure. We all might make one of these mistakes at some point, and they can be left behind with great effort. But every one of them is corrosive to professional success. If any one of them is your normal mode of operation, knock it off right now and learn to practice its opposite trait on my list of Six Ways to Succeed in Business.
1. Cost More than You Are Worth
Does your product or service take more from people in money, time, energy, trouble, etc. than it gives to them? Do you cost too much to your employees, colleagues, suppliers, government regulators, etc.? As soon as this equation is upside down for you, your days in that business are numbered.
2. Misunderstand Your Marketplace
What do customers need or want? Why do they, or would they, buy from you to meet those needs? Where else can they get their needs and wants met? If you don’t know your customer or the constantly shifting dynamics of your marketplace, your days in that business are numbered.
3. Think Like a Entitled Victim
Never believe that customers owe you their business, or that you deserve to succeed. People buy to meet their interests, not yours. Never dwell on any unfairness that you think you’ve suffered. While you feel sorry for yourself and nurse your wounds and grudges, your competition is wooing your customers. Passivity is a prescription for business failure.
4. Lose Your Liberty
Business success requires flexibility, adaptability, creativity, and resiliency. All of those require freedom to think, choose, and act. The more you limit your freedom—through debt, unnecessary overhead costs, bad commitments and contracts, your own bad habits, etc.—the more narrow your room to maneuver in a constantly changing marketplace. Self-imposed limitations shorten your shelf life as a business.
5. Value Information Over Knowledge
Know what you know, and what you don’t know. Know what you need to know, and what you don’t. In every business there are thousands of bits of data, information about everything from the environment to your customers, competition, and resources. Knowledge is information that you are sure of, and that is useful. Focus on what you know. If you need to know something but don’t, learn. Other information might be interesting, but if you aren’t sure of it and can’t use it, it’s a distraction. Don’t waste your time on useless information, or your days in business will be numbered.
Like this? See the companion article, Five Ways to Succeed in Business
Every day on the way up to or down from the studio, I see this plate (why do we look down in elevators?).
I got to thinking about the Otis Elevator Company. It isn’t innovative like Apple or Amazon. It doesn’t have a celebrity CEO or a Twitter feed. The branding isn’t clever or interactive. It isn’t green, and you never read about its horizontal market strategy (that could be fun), or its “velocity” (that would be scary). They just keep on keeping on, quietly building most of the elevators in most of the buildings that have them.
Working with entrepreneurs, I meet too many folks that want to be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerburg or hipster kid who invented Tumblr and sold it for Big Bucks. Hey, that’s cool; I’m thumb-typing this (so pardon the errors) on my iPhone, into Tumblr.
But the world needs Otis Elevator-type companies. Someone has to quietly haul us up and down. Heck, Jobs and Zuck probably ride up to their fancy offices looking down at an Otis logo just like the one I see. And for us to have those kind of companies, someone has to start them. And so some folks have to aspire to start the next Otis.
What would be wrong with that? It’s a decent, honorable, and (I assume) profitable thing to do. You could do worse things with your career—far worse. Build a solid business that meets a legitimate need, and work at it faithfully and without any more fanfare than you need to market your products. Be an Otis.