Confessions of a TED Speaker

There I was sitting in the audience simply being rude.

Really… I had turned my head from watching the person speaking in the front of the room and was openly talking to myself. Mouthing the words I had been thinking through for months.

I felt like a jerk, but did it anyway.

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Of course, I wanted to hear what everyone had to say.. this was a TED event and the brain candy and inspiration filling the room were commodities I cherish and sadly get so rarely these days.

But, have you ever had something you wanted to shout from the top of the tallest building at the top of your lungs? Something that meant so much to you personally that it really had nothing to do with you personally.

That is how I have felt for years while watching the influence of media build, and society’s awareness of how media was affecting us all fade.

I have given countless presentations and been in front of thousands of cameras in my life, but this was not your typical nerves I was feeling. It was the type of anxiety that only comes when you really care about something and desperately want your thoughts to punch through the clutter of noise and mean something.

I was about to have the opportunity to speak the words and thoughts I have incubating for years, and I was going to do it on a TED stage. I  had to wait just a few more hours. It was my dubious honor to be the last of 10 talented and fascinating individuals who were speaking.

A fellow speaker caught up to me during one of the intermissions and wanted to chat. The subject and the person could not have been more interesting. A real life Cannonball Run… but I could not focus. He only had a part of my attention and I just could not manage to fake it well enough. I was still running through my thoughts. Reviewing my timing and making sure my talk was as poignant and succinct as I could possibly deliver it.

During the next set of speakers I did it again. Mentally broke away from the person speaking and started reviewing my talk.

So all day I sat with my thoughts bottled up, ready to explode.

Seems rather silly now as I look back at it, but it was a very real feeling. It was a compulsion.

Then my name was called and suddenly I became very calm. It was odd.

Another TED speaker told me the same thing happened to him. It was somewhat of an out of body experience as I stepped in front of the crowd and began.

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I had personal moments with people during the presentation. As I looked at them and spoke they seemed to understand exactly what I meant. That is really all I could possibly hope for…

And the catharsis continued after I was done speaking as these same people walked up to me and wanted to continue the conversation that I had started.

That night I felt at peace. It seems dramatic but it is true. I realize now that I had felt a passive pressure to give the speech over months and the release was fantastic.

My hope is that what I said means something to you as well. If so, please share the talk. And if you want to reach out to me and further the conversation… I would be honored. After all, that was all I wanted from the beginning.


Glenn-Pic-2 resizedAbout the Author: Glenn Zimmerman 

Glenn has what is best described as “Superhero Syndrome.” His affliction began as a child and has progressed with age.

He got into extreme skiing and extreme sports before they were a thing because every superhero should try flying at least once.

While at Boston University, it was his desire to save the day that brought him to Post- Soviet Russia where he explored the emerging homeless population.

His Syndrome brought him to journalism school at Syracuse University to get his MS in Mass Communications. He later became an award winning reporter with the number one station in Detroit (WXYZ-TV) and with NBC’s flagship station in New York (WNBC- TV).

And, it was the reason he formed the video agency Mad Bear Productions.

With Mad Bear, he harnesses the power of story to help business, non-profits and events engage with their target audience. Video is his tool and he wields it mightily.

Glenn is a sought after speaker on video engagement and mass media. It is all part of his quest to help save the day, one story at a time.

Just a Game

Recently my family was asked to do a lighthearted interview on a Chicago morning news show. We are former Chicagoans who live in Tampa now. We are huge hockey fans who support the home team. Just so happens Tampa and Chicago are facing off in the hockey finals. The anchors wanted to have a little rivalry fun with us over Skype. I thought, morning TV, hockey… sounds harmless! But nowadays being on TV is just the beginning. It’s no longer a one-and-done deal. Your fun 3 minute interview about a sports rivalry then gets posted to social media with the tagline “Unacceptable.” Now all of a sudden those complete strangers are now dissecting and deciphering what we “really” meant, what type of role models my husband and I are for my  kids and our moral fiber. Really people, it’s just a game!

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Ugh. It really struck a nerve. Reading through some of nasty things people wrote turned something fun into something that felt downright bad. Don’t get me wrong. I get it. For one reason or another, someone will find a reason to project their insecurities, their negativity, and their fears onto you and your life, and you’ll have to deal with it. But come on people. It’s just a game!

Grow Up!

Grow Up!

Would it have made a difference if the person who posted it to Facebook would have spun the interview in a positive way instead of “Unacceptable?” I don’t know, but it’s certainly something to consider. We all have a responsibility when it comes to the way we share information, but more importantly we have a responsibility when it comes to the way we react to it. I’m not blaming anyone for changing the perspective of the interview because at the end of the day it is up to the individual to decide how they react. This isn’t a lecture on what you should or shouldn’t say. Rather taking a minute to decide how something is being served. The media drives the narrative in this country, but you have the power to translate. And THAT is not a game.


About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes…  she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.Roshni_Out_of_Focus

Blurred Lines

It’s the most simple visual. The plainest concept, boring in fact. A line. What a bum wrap it has. Straight and flat for all intents and purposes… blah. Only a line is anything but boring, straight and flat. For example when “I draw the line” I am talking serious business. Who’s with me? You’ve said it “Ok, that’s where I draw the line.” Someone crosses that lame line they are going to regret it. All of a sudden that boring line is the difference between life and death. Okay so maybe not that severe, but you get the idea.

My life has been full of lines. Lines at the grocery store (yes, that pack of gum counts as your 11th item, out of the express lane!), lines at amusement parks (the ones where no matter how much you crane your neck you’re not going to see the end, and the dreaded line for the public bathroom (in this case the line is likely the safest place).

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Lines matter. Kids are taught to color inside the lines, to walk in a single file line. It’s pretty much the first life lesson, following the line leader. Move on in life and that line leads you down a road full of choices, realistically and theoretically speaking. Lines will be crossed. Lines will be drawn. There is always a fine line between what we see as important and something we dismiss as simple and insignificant. Take a second to change your perspective. Yes, there was that whole mess with Miley and Robin Thicke, but sometimes a blurred line isn’t such a bad thing.


About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes…  she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.Roshni_Out_of_Focus

The Perfect Blend

No matter what business you are in, at some point we have all been faced with an obstacle requiring a little out-of-the-box problem solving. DiscoverE is a client we are working with right now. It is a foundation dedicated to showcasing the value of an education and a career in engineering. It’s our job to help them spread the word and grow their audience.

 

Spreading the Engineering Word to the World

Spreading the Word to the World

No problem. We will personally interview all of their brilliant, award-winning engineers and then with our cutting-edge technology we will wrap it up with our beautifully shot high-definition video. After all, these are engineers we can’t possibly use anything less than the highest grade video equipment. I mean these are people who construct bridges, build infrastructure and dream up big huge problem-solving concepts for the entire world, surely we can pull out all the technological stops.

But sometimes geographical limitations get in the way and you have to go with efficiency, creativity and personality. Enter the web cam.

Hello Old Friend

Hello Old Friend

The web cam is sort of the redheaded stepchild of digital media. Think about it, watching a web cam video is kind of like seeing someone first thing in the morning. It’s a little awkward with the person on the other end not really knowing exactly where to look, and then there’s the less than desirable visual and sound quality. But, what the web cam lacks in overall quality it makes up for in convenience and efficiency. With the DiscoverE project not only did the web cam make sense from a geographical standpoint, it actually personalized the videos making them successful.

The Perfect Blend

The Perfect Blend

We are not suggesting you throw spaghetti against a wall to see what sticks. To choose the best tool, you have to do the research. In this case we understood the different audiences we wanted to reach. This resulted in creating specialized content WITH the web cam. And it worked. Most of the 14 videos show that 60%, and in some cases more, of the time people who clicked on the videos watched the entire thing. Video, when used properly, is like having the ability to “be there” when you can’t physically be there – the challenge is always how to best deliver that experience to your audience.

To goto view DiscoverE’s 2015 New Faces of Engineering, please Click Here.


About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes…  she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.Roshni_Out_of_Focus

A Delayed Reaction

Mad Bear Perspective:

If you shine a light on anything in the right way, it has the potential to be powerful. So the challenge is to find the right story and the best way to tell it. This can apply to anything from business to every day life.

There is one place on earth where you can go to literally experience every emotion. My last visit to the airport was no exception. It was wintertime in Atlanta. Need I say more? The arrival and departure boards were full of bright red “delayed” and “cancelled” notifications. People walked up in droves and gazed at the signs as though staring would somehow switch it to “on-time.” Like deflated balloons travelers would then make their way over to their perspective gates to make arrangements (and to complain to the gate agent). I was delayed an hour. It was my daughter’s birthday. I was mad. Mind you she’s four she’s not going to know the difference. But dang it, this delay is messing with my day. I mean her day!

Mommy who?

Mommy who?

Others in the gate area were growing increasingly agitated as the delay went up another hour. Connections would be missed and plans would be ruined. I looked around at all the glum faces, and then I saw them. Dad in a military uniform, a very pregnant mom and her three other kids who all looked to be under the age of six, they didn’t look angry at all. One of the little boys sat on his dad’s lap, while another one stood behind him and kept bopping him on the head. Dad didn’t seem to care. He had an extra two hours. There was another child in a stroller who kept throwing stuff and then screaming for it. Dad would lean over—with the other kid still in his lap and the other one bopping him on the head—and keep passing it back to the stroller-bound baby.  He didn’t seem to care. He had an extra two hours.

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I caught a look between very-pregnant mom and military dad. It was a look I knew well, that look that says “I know. I hate it when the kids do that, but isn’t it cute!!” I didn’t need a book or a gossip mag. I was watching real life unfold, a real moment. All of a sudden a loud voice over the intercom informs the angry herd that our plane is here and we will start boarding momentarily. I felt a pit in my stomach.   While throngs of people stood up to wait in line sneaking peeks at other people’s boarding passes to make sure they weren’t skipping zones, I waited. I felt like a peeping Tom, but I couldn’t stop watching my Military family. Dad still playing and keeping a smiling face, mom picked the baby up out of the stroller to hug him. There were tears. I thought I was going to lose it. My annoying two hour delay was another family’s gift. Time, they wanted to freeze.  Finally dad picked up his bag and moved to the line. I felt like I should say “thank you for your service.” But this wasn’t about me or the dozens of other travelers and their destroyed plans this was about a family’s precious moment. Take pause in moments you dread, they are not always what they seem.

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About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes…  she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.Roshni_Out_of_Focus

 

Man on the Street

We are all creatures of habit, finding slight pleasure in mundane routine possibly even feeling agitated if said routine is thrown off for some reason. I had this experience a few years ago. For 10 years I took the same route to and from my office. Call it OCD, but I would even time it so I would hit certain landmarks at the same time. I even started to see the same homeless man at the same spot every single day. Every day he would be there holding the same sign: “Homeless. Please Help.” I would watch drivers discreetly glance his way and look down to avoid eye-contact. Some people would roll up their windows as if this man was going to come over and reach inside and take what wasn’t his. Sometimes people would dig deep and offer him some spare change. For years I saw this man. He became part of my daily routine. Several times I gave him money, once I offered him my lunch. He knew my face, he knew my car, he knew that the inside of my car was an unsightly mess.

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But we never really talked. I just knew that he was part of my day. Then one day he wasn’t there. I worked in the news business back then. I got into work and discovered there was a deadly accident at a busy intersection involving an elderly man. I had no way of knowing for sure if this was my friend, but I am fairly certain it was. His life had been reduced to a 20 second story told with random shots of cars zooming by and a sound bite about dangerous intersections.

It made me feel nothing but regret. Regret that I didn’t recognize that even the most routine parts of life can become something of great interest when told the right way. What was his name? What life events lead him there? Now there’s a story that would make me feel something. Don’t underestimate the mundane parts of your day. The real stories are a part of your real and very routine life.


About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes…  she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.Roshni_Out_of_Focus

Through a Child’s Eye

 

“You’re a kid. What do you know?” Maybe you haven’t said it, but you’ve thought it. The other afternoon I was walking the dog with my 4 year old daughter. As we tried to make our way down the sidewalk I kicked a piece of plastic that was sure to go in my French bulldog’s mouth, to the side. My 4 year old scolded me. “Mommy! What are you doing?!” I gave her that confused, startled but annoyed look you would give any child who yells at you. I told her why I kicked this precious piece of plastic into the grass as I watched her wander over to it and to my horror pick it up. She explained to me, hands akimbo, that this disgusting, germ-infested neon green piece of plastic was NOT garbage. This was in fact a piece of a Ninja Turtle spaceship that had broken off.

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She insisted on bringing this thing home so we could wash it off and assemble it into a vessel for 4 large, talking, karate-kicking turtles. I’ve learned to pick my battles. The plastic came home. It was washed and after hours of assembling, gluing, complaining and cursing it turned into TMNT Spaceship.

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It has become her favorite toy. Something so small, dirty and insignificant became the source of complete awesomeness to a 4 year old. Don’t discredit the mundane. The rarest gems are the ones that just need a little dusting off.


About the Author: Roshni Hannon
Contact: roshni@madbearproductions.com

Her name means “light” and that is what she is… high energy, bright and fast. And yes…  she does run regularly. While we’re not sure what she is running from (perhaps her two young kids) we know she’s covered a ton of ground. She was the Executive Producer for an award winning and number one rated morning show in Tampa for years. And now, she uses her unique blend of organization, storytelling and curiosity to help Mad Bear clients find their stories. Think of her as an architect, a story architect.Roshni_Out_of_Focus

 

 

#AdviceForYoungJournalists

Our social media manager just reached out to me this morning with a thought provoking request. She knew this topic is something VERY near and dear to my heart.

What follows is our exchange:


Good Morning Glenn,

Today on Twitter #AdviceForYoungJournalists is trending, if you have any pieces of advice you would find important to share I’d love to capitalize on this topic.

Hope all is well and business is booming over at Mad Bear.

Thank you,
Chelsea


Interesting!

hmmmm…. now to come up with something profound. How’s this?

Everyone talks about how journalism is changing and it is: there are new platforms, new voices, new ways to engage and share, even new audiences. You could even make the argument now the audience is in charge of the direction of news.  And with that the News model has been flipped upside down as the industry struggles with how to financially sustain itself.  Clicks, views, eyeballs, etc..  are more coveted and are used to quantify the success of this newfangled and evolving business model.

But what I hope never changes is the noble and untainted pursuit of truth.

So my advice would be: whatever your reason to become a journalist… keep that very close to you because there will be a lot of distractions along the way and something has to be your beacon.


 

What do you think? Anything to add? Reactions? This is such an important subject. We swim in media. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what we are swimming in….

The Joy of TEDx

TEDx-7Every day I find myself in the midst of a juggle between running a business and trying to be the best father/husband I can be. It is safe to assume many of you have a similar juggling act.

I am not complaining. Simply stating facts. There is simply not enough time in a day.

So that’s what makes life funny. When something comes up that hits a nerve, suddenly you find time.

Months ago, a very interesting man named Richie Etwaru asked me a question: “Would you like to be the Chief Storyteller for a TEDx event I am organizing in Bedminster, NJ?”

Despite the life juggle I mentioned above, I did not hesitate. “Yes, it would be an honor” was my answer.  No money. Though a feather in my cap there was no clear business upside. I did not initially even know what he meant by “Chief Storyteller.

So why was “yes” the gut reaction?

Mental candy. That is what immediately occurred to me. This event represented something to stimulate a part of my mind I have not stimulated enough recently. The part that explores the question “what if” without the need to answer that question. It is a mental exercise I used to enjoy so much back in my college days. When the ethereal trumped the practical. You get the picture.

I had not realized until that very moment how much I craved it.  There is true value in pushing your mind past the practical. It is more than an exercise. It is where truly great ideas can be born. So “yes” was the only answer.

Months have passed since that conversation with Richie and the event is upon us. It is happening today.

I have put hours of work into helping the speakers shape their storylines into effective 15 minutes of thought-provoking wonder and awe. And I am better for it.

Mad Bear Productions, my company is now producing the videos for the event so there is new fun exercise involved in the process but none of this has to do directly with profit or business.

Richie has called it a labor of love. While that is true, I am more overcome by the mirror image. It has been a gift of indulgence. The permission to indulge in a larger picture mental exercise that is about to really happen. I’ll let you know how it goes and what comes of this extraordinary experience.


About Glenn Zimmerman:
glenn@madbearproductions.com

Glenn-Pic-2 resized

Glenn has what is best described as “Superhero Syndrome.”

His affliction began as a child and has progressed with age.

He got into extreme skiing and extreme sports before they were a thing because every
superhero should try flying at least once.

While at Boston University, it was his desire to save the day that brought him to Post-
Soviet Russia where he explored the emerging homeless population.

His Syndrome brought him to journalism school at Syracuse University to get his MS in
Mass Communications. He later became an award winning reporter with the number
one station in Detroit (WXYZ-TV) and with NBC’s flagship station in New York (WNBC-
TV).

And, it was the reason he formed the video agency Mad Bear Productions.
With Mad Bear, he harnesses the power of story to help business, non-profits and
events engage with their target audience.  Video is his tool and he wields it mightily.

Glenn is a sought after speaker on video engagement and mass media.

It is all part of his quest to help save the day, one story at a time.

User Generated Video Can Enhance a Project (if used right)

Yes — we are actually encouraging people to produce professional video using their smartphones.

No — we are not crazy because this is a strategy that works.

The word strategy is crucial here. Without strategy, you just have a bunch of poorly shot video without purpose.

This is a way of significantly increasing the scope of your project while keeping the cost of production down.

Here is a scenario — there is only enough budget for a few days of professional shooting yet you are trying to capture locations in more than one state.

Unless you have some magical ability to be in multiple places at once  — you’re stuck, right?

Nope!

Here is where you can leverage the fact that most people have easy access to some type of device that shoots reasonable quality HD video.

Take a project we recently completed for WilsonHCG. They wanted a video that captured the essence of their corporate culture but their people work/live all over the country. So, we asked some of their employees to answer a few questions by speaking into their own cameras. Then we wove some of their footage into the storyline.

The result is an interesting blend of high resolution imagery and user generated footage.

Not only does the user generated footage add scope to the storyline but the fact that employees are helping to produce the piece adds a subtle amount of intimacy — it creates the right feeling.

One final note: When you ask people to use their phones to shoot their own video, remind them to make sure the phone is positioned on its side rather than vertically.

For those who don’t understand what I mean — you may be one of those unfortunate souls who has VVS (Vertical Video Syndrone) — if you get nothing from this post other than how to avoid VVS — then I would call this post a success. Enjoy!