REDBAND: The How, Why and What of REDBAND Radio’s live podcast with Verrex Corp. by Christopher Neto

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The idea behind REDBAND is simple…Find unique individuals in the AV industry and give them a platform to air their views. George Tucker was the first to use the opportunity and write about the online AV community the rest is REDBAND lore. Since then REDBAND has grown and developed as a group. In under a year REDBAND has grown to 16 contributors from various geographical regions and backgrounds. I never expected the idea of guest bloggers to have flourished into what it is today. I wish I could sit here and write about this grand plan of where AVshout.com and the REDBAND bloggers are heading but fact is we do what we do because we love what we do for a living. If we didn’t we wouldn’t put in a full work day, come home, eat and work on AV related blogs, podcasts and videos.

Most recently we launched our first foray into the podcast space with the help of AV Nation. While at InfoComm 2013 Mark Coxon, George Tucker, Mike Brandes and I went into the studio to record an unscripted view of the show we were attending. Having no idea where the conversation was heading was the main idea behind the show’s concept. When it was all said and done the end result was exactly what we had wanted. We had taken the idea of “shop talk” and put it on “tape”. What we didn’t expect was the response we received to the podcast when it was released on AV Nation. The hits, tweets, likes and downloads were better than we could have imagined. Again this goes back to the fact that we don’t see ourselves as anything special…we’re regular “Joes” in the industry.

As soon as I got back from Infocomm 2013 I began to work on an idea that Todd Puma and I had been working on. The original concept was to showcase or uncover people, places or ideas that touch our industry both directly and indirectly. When I brought the idea to Tim Albright, the founder of AV Nation, he liked the idea but not even Tim was aware of what we were planning. With Tim’s ok I approached Verrex with the show concept.

A few months back I had visited the Verrex headquarters for an industry event. While entering the building for the event I could hear a band rehearsing in the background. I later found out that the band I heard rehearsing in the background was Verrex employees who would get together every so often and Jam after-hours. Thinking back to the event I thought how awesome it would be to someday have an AV tech band play on the podcast. Most of our roots as AV professionals come from the music and performance industry. Ask around your office “Who played in a band or was a DJ?” Some were “unofficial” roadies for friends and family bands by default. Eventually they developed a skill that they translated into a career later on in life. I knew then what to do for our next podcast.

I approached Verrex with the idea to have the Band on the show and bring Tom Berry Jr., the CEO of Verrex, as our featured guest as well. I thought “How cool is that a company in our industry allows its employees to jam in the office”. The concept of a show based on how AV companies were changing and embracing a new style of company culture was interesting to both me and the members of REDBAND. REDBAND attacked the idea like a pack of hungry wolves…They loved the idea.

So the stage was set for our 2nd episode of REDBAND Radio. So how do we do this? George went to work on the audio portion of the project and figured out a way to bring the bands audio onto the show while the rest of REDBAND kept pushing other ideas that would make it “real cool”. We agreed that the idea of video would be the “cherry” on top of a cool concept. One catch… no one told Verrex. We worked diligently on the video idea afterhours testing back and forth. We tested a few different platforms to bring video to the show. It wasn’t until the night before the show that we felt comfortable enough with the Google/ YouTube platform to move forward with it as an acceptable means to do video.

The day of the show George, Todd, Jacqueline and I showed up onsite to set up for the show. By the way Jacqueline has not been officially announced but she is one of the newest REDBAND members who will soon post her first article. In typical AV fashion as soon as we walked in the door many of us knew or had worked in the past with some of Verrex’s team. Once we got past the hellos we quickly moved to the set up. The podcast portion of the show was relatively simple to set up. We had audio feeds ready and additional mixers on hand along with our computers. I had brought a spare PC for back up and few other devices “just in case”.

As the set up began we quickly found out that the dedicated laptop for the Verrex Band was giving us problems. We decided to remove the laptop from the equation and grab the audio and camera feed elsewhere. When the backup option failed the bulk of the operation fell onto my PC hence the technical difficulties that came across on the show. I should have been better prepared with more than just a secondary backup so that responsibility falls squarely on me. But the Show must go on and it did technical issues and all.

Looking back at the event I can say that we “overtaxed” my pc. We can also attribute some of the issues to network/bandwidth as well. Once we added video to the equation we knew that we would be changing everything. We each have been in AV long enough to know how much video can slow a pc or network down. Regardless of the issues we would soldier on Live. Verrex only found out about the video addition when we set up the cameras. In a way I’m glad it worked out that way. Verrex’s CEO was dressed down in jeans and a t-shirt and not expecting to be on video. Instead of panicking about corporate image he did exactly what we were hoping for he sat and talked to us like one of the gang.

What you saw and heard was 100% real conversation that took place inside Verrex’s warehouse. I guess the whole event was more REDBAND’s style than we originally expected. Everything from the Rock Band performing, to Sitting in the warehouse with equipment as our backdrop, to interviewing a major integrator in our industry while he sitting there in a Rolling Stones t-shirt couldn’t have been better. We had a vision and video was part of that. Pushing the limits of traditional podcasting that has been used in our industry and going out a live from a major AV integrator headquarters with a LIVE band not only special but it made the event unique and unprecedented. I can’t say enough of about the event without thanking Verrex for the opportunity and for rolling with the surprises. They were along for the ride and hopefully a great time with it.

Moving forward you can be assured that we will fix our technical issues. We have already met a few times since the show to discuss our lessons learned. It’s truly impressive how a group of late night writers, who already volunteer hours of their “off time”, are working tenaciously on  solutions to improve the next podcast. I don’t doubt the members of the REDBAND because as the quote says:

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew

I look forward to your feedback, comments, ideas and criticism. It’s how we learn.

Sincerely,

Chris

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REDBAND: The Changing Face of Higher Education Technology By Mike Brandes

Across the nation, higher education technology departments are working at a feverish pace to ready themselves for the onslaught of returning students and the deluge of connected devices they wield. Five years ago most of the previous sentence wouldn’t have made sense. I remember sitting in college classes as a senior, in 2009 looking around the room and seeing a large percentage of students were using laptops to take notes and research facts in the classroom, with a tiny percentage also owning some other connected device (smartphone, PDA, etc.). I also remember sitting in the same classroom four years earlier and the percentage of students using computers in class was significantly lower. Now, four years removed from my senior year of college, the number of connected devices on campuses nationwide is staggeringly high. A white paper, written in 2012 by CDW-G, estimates the ratio of connected devices to students is as high as 3.5:1. It wouldn’t be far-fetched to imagine the ratio is drastically higher today.  I have at least 6 connected devices in my office at any given time and students living on campus are likely to have more devices than that given the proliferation of smart TVs, gaming consoles and media players over the last two years.

University IT departments are preparing for this blitzkrieg of bandwidth-sucking devices by increasing internet connections and placing stricter security measures on campus networks. Millions of words have been written on the subject of BYOD in the classroom and in the enterprise; but it’s important to also remember the effects of BYOD on network utilization. Network Admins everywhere are placing enhanced security devices in the network to compensate for the vulnerability brought by a surge of connected devices with suspect, if not sub-par, security measures.

Any device connected to the network represents a potential vulnerability to malware and viruses; we all know this. Connected devices such as gaming consoles, apple TV’s, smartphones, tablets, iPods and other media players represent increased vulnerability to networks. More and more equipment, configurations processes and procedures are necessary to protect networks, keep users connected and manage bandwidth. The higher education technology landscape, much like any enterprise technology landscape, has drastically shifted in the past five years. It will be interesting to come back to this post in five years, and see how archaic this really is. The good and the bad of working in technology is things never stay the same. I look forward to watching the landscape grow even further, and the new challenges it presents.

Mike Brandes

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Mike is an experienced audio video and information technology specialist, with 5 years experience in AV/IT, and previous experience in Pro Audio including full time touring experience. Mike is active in InfoComm, the Audiovisual Industry Association, and serves on the Technology Managers Council. Check out Mike’swebsite http://mikebrandesav.com/ and Follow him on Twitter.

REDBAND: An Inexpensive Way to Offer Music in Any Room with AppleTV Control by Todd Anthony Puma

Low-Cost Multi-Zone Media Streaming with iPhone/iPad control using AppleTV and a DAC… It’s the holy grail, but rarely comes together. It’s low cost, easy to use, easy to install, and features iOS control.

My company has been doing it for a while for many of our customers, and it’s been a huge success. It was just a matter for finding the right DAC. We all know that AppleTV is a great little box for $99 and that most people love iOS control, but how do you make that a reality for whole-home systems? There are now a slew of affordable, capable DACs on the market. While I historically have been a bit of a DAC snob, using brands priced $400 and up, for the AppleTV I’ve been using a great little DAC from Zuum Media that hasn’t let me down and produces great sound for the price. It’s the DACD-Stereo for $169 MSRP……

Continue reading on Residential Systems by clicking he link below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=632

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

REDBAND LIVE!

REDBAND: Then & Now…Growing Up Nerdy by Heather Helton

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When did it become “cool” to be a nerd?

You mean to tell me all those years I was bullied as a kid were completely pointless? Does that mean I’m some sort of a nerd hipster now? Because, after all, I was a nerd before being a nerd was cool. Nerds everywhere are desperately trying to protect the boundaries of their sacred universe as if it were some exclusive club reserved for the elite. Well, guess what? You’ve officially become the breed of asshole that tormented you in grade school! So why are nerds so “butthurt” about this trend?

Well, I have several conjectures. I think the biggest frustration is with “faux” nerd girls (I feel the term “idiot nerd girl” is a bit harsh). These are the pretty girls who throw on a pair of glasses and exclaim, “Omgah, I’m sooo nerdy!” I can understand why this would piss nerds off. It’s debasing to nerd culture. To them, not just anyone can be a nerd; you must earn nerd cred. Think of it this way: You won’t be accepted as a jock without proving your athletic prowess, right? Well, you won’t be accepted as a nerd without proving your intellectual prowess. Nerds assume that pretty girls can’t deliver in this department. Why so judgmental, I’m not really sure…

I would guess intimidation plays a role. When you’re part of a culture that has been male-dominated for so long with a strong sense of brotherhood, it’s hard to adapt to the induction of females — especially when your group is notorious for being awkward around them. Introduce an attractive woman to the group and it’s even more difficult to accept her without argument. I suppose we’ve all been conditioned to assume that attractive people just aren’t as intelligent. I throw bitch fits all the time about how I get paid twice as much for my looks than my brain. It’s rather insulting and I’m sure I’m not the only girl out there who feels this way. As an audio-visual technician at an educational institution, I’m often mistaken for a student rather than an employee. Others seem baffled that an attractive female is capable of operating and troubleshooting sophisticated video conferencing equipment.

Even while interviewing for a position, someone had the audacity to say, “You wouldn’t like it here, anyway; it’s all middle-aged males.” Who are you to tell me what type of environment I would or would not be capable of working in? It’s unnerving to be repeatedly turned down for jobs simply because my age and gender isn’t in line with the preconceived mental image of a qualified candidate. Oh, and as if nerdy gals didn’t have a hard enough time in the workplace, we find ourselves fighting a social battle as well:

  • Why can’t I host a Reddit meetup? Do I need to check with the meetup Gods to have permissions bestowed upon me?
  • Why can’t I wear my glasses without being called a poser? They’re prescription…Get over it!
  • Why do you look at me like that when I tell stories about chess tournaments, astronomy club, AND cheerleading? Would you pass out if I told you I carry a tool bag at work? Give me a break!

How are truly nerdy girls supposed to distinguish themselves from the faux nerd girls, when nerds are already in attack mode? Why are they so defensive? I know they’ve been through a lot, but hey, we all have! We live in a society where individualism is emphasized. Everyone wants to be a special snowflake. If everyone suddenly jumps on the nerd ship, being a nerd won’t be some sexy secret society anymore. I get it, you want to preserve the integrity of your group, but you ought to give people the opportunity to prove themselves. You may find that they surprise you and fit right in!

If not, don’t fret; popular culture cycles and recycles. As quickly as the siege seemed to appear, it will subside and all will be well in the universe again. I’ll still be here, though. So save a spot for me!

Heather H.

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Heather is an experienced Marketing and Communications professional with expertise in Video Production, Videoconferencing, Tech Support, Customer Service and Social Media. She spends ample time  watching the alien life forms taunting her from the other side of the glass ceiling…with a brick in her hand.  Connect with her on Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/hehelton and Follow her on Twitter: @heathereleanora

REDBAND: Technology Leadership Series: Building Successful Teams by Mike Brandes

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One of the best moves a CIO, CTO or technology manager of any level can make is to build a strong, competent and complete team.  While this idea seems to be common sense and commonplace it’s more integral to the success of the organization than it seems. There are endless books, blogs and seminars on the topic of team-building strategies, compiling successful, high-performing teams isn’t difficult.

 Hire people who are smarter than you. As a leader, personal insecurity shouldn’t be part of any decision-making process, ever. Not being concerned with individual perceptions is important. Any true leader knows it is the team, not the leader who is the catalyst for success. Surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you, who make decisions differently than you and whom process information differently than you will allow more creativity into the decision-making and brainstorming process.

Insist on all team members being an excellent cultural fit. Every company, intentionally or not, has a company culture. Making hiring decision based on company culture is imperative. With rare exceptions, every employee contributes to team morale and culture. Each employee being highly skilled and competent isn’t enough. Each team member must contribute positively to the success of the enterprise as well as the company culture.

Clearly define expectations and roles. Few things contribute to high turnover, low morale and under performing teams than unclear expectations. It’s nearly impossible for employees to stay motivated while working towards a moving target of poorly communicated expectations. It’s simple to increase team productivity; efficiency and morale by ensuring team members are clearly understanding all expectations. Making smart hires and developing employees are important but nothing will keep employees engaged longer and deeper than clearly defined goals and expectations.

No one person is capable of doing everything, no matter how much we try. Leaders aren’t leaders unless they have followers, it’s important to ensure teams of followers are assembled in the best way possible. Hiring competent, intelligent and diversely talented people who are committed to the values, goals and culture of the organization; and then clearly and plainly setting reasonable expectations are the ingredients to strong, engaged, effective and successful teams.

For the next several months, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.

Mike Brandes

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Mike is an experienced audio video and information technology specialist, with 5 years experience in AV/IT, and previous experience in Pro Audio including full-time touring experience. Mike is active in InfoComm, the Audiovisual Industry Association, and serves on the Technology Managers Council. Check out Mike’swebsite http://mikebrandesav.com/ and Follow him on Twitter.

Check out the latest REDBAND Video

REDBAND: Technology Leadership Series: Emotional Intelligence by Mike Brandes

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The individualized vision of the “Perfect Leader” is highly subjective and its definition can be surprisingly diverse from person to person. While there are many attributes and actions that are commonly associated with high performing leadership, one of the most understated in my opinion is emotional intelligence.

You may have run across this person before. They seem to be calm regardless of the circumstances, they never lose their temper, and they always make a deliberate effort to listen to the views and opinions of their team. These qualities reflect an individual who has been able to leverage emotional intelligence to their benefit. More importantly, this method of leadership has perhaps had a more beneficial impact on his or her direct reports than anything else.

So what exactly is emotional intelligence? It is loosely defined as the ability to manage and understand not only your own emotions but the emotional state of those in your presence. Someone with a highly acute sense of emotional intelligence will be able to quickly analyze their emotional state to understand what they are feeling, what it means for the given situation, and how their emotional state may affect others. When a leader loses their temper, they are not only creating an unnecessarily tense environment, but they are communicating that they have lost control of the situation. Gifted leaders never allow this to occur. They recognize the warning signs and channel this energy into more deliberate, actionable leadership.

It’s my opinion that emotional intelligence is an absolute for true leadership success. Leaders need to set the example for their teams and have the ability to operate and execute in the most stressful situations. The absence of self-control in situations such as these can lead to reactionary actions and a “shoot from the hip” type approach. Neither of these are recommended during periods of high stress and pressure. While some leaders have developed a strategy to manage and maintain their emotional state, it may take time for those who are new to leadership to hone their self-awareness. Before you can move to understand the state of your teams on an individual basis, you must have an acute sense of self.

In conclusion, working with diverse teams and personalities will invariably lead to challenging interpersonal situations. Strong leaders will be able to quickly recognize these instances and be able to apply their emotional intelligence to mitigate the situation. To get started, leaders should focus on honing their skills as it relates to empathy, self-awareness, self-regulation and of course, social skills as they relate to communication and conflict resolution.

For the next several months, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.

Mike Brandes

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Mike is an experienced audio video and information technology specialist, with 5 years experience in AV/IT, and previous experience in Pro Audio including full time touring experience. Mike is active in InfoComm, the Audiovisual Industry Association, and serves on the Technology Managers Council. Check out Mike’swebsite http://mikebrandesav.com/ and Follow him on Twitter.

REDBAND: Technology Leadership Series – Managing Expectations By Mike Brandes

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As we’ve already discussed, one of the most important characteristics and skills a CIO, CTO or Technology Manager can have excellent communication skills. One of the ways great communication skills are manifested is in managing expectations, internally and externally.

A good CIO will be able to do internal marketing of their department’s ability to help a company reach their goals and objectives. A great CIO, however, sells the department without overselling it. There’s a subtle difference, but a great CIO must understand the limits of his or her team and set realistic timelines for project completion. The difference between a good CIO and a great CIO is the ability to understand limits and not to over commit resources.

A great technology leader understands the best way to avoid overselling their department is to build a team capable of thinking fast on their feet, and able to develop solutions and strategies to help the organization accomplish its objectives. A great CIO must have the ability to inspire his or her team to provide a viable solution to every problem. On my team we don’t say no to any request, we offer at least one solution for every request allowing the customer to make an educated decision as to whether or not they would like to pursue it further. By constantly challenging team members with high expectations they know and understand what is expected of them, allowing them to focus on meeting deadlines and project requirements.

Mike Brandes

For the next several months, a new post will be released with another key characteristic of what it takes to be successful in technology leadership. These posts are in no particular order; I’d love for you to provide feedback and let me know if you think I’m missing something, or if you’d like to see a particular trait addressed please feel free to contact me, or leave a comment. I’m hoping this will be a useful dialogue about what is necessary to become a successful technology leader.

squareglasses6

Mike is an experienced audio video and information technology specialist, with 5 years experience in AV/IT, and previous experience in Pro Audio including full time touring experience. Mike is active in InfoComm, the Audiovisual Industry Association, and serves on the Technology Managers Council. Check out Mike’swebsite http://mikebrandesav.com/ and Follow him on Twitter.

REDBAND: Client Interactions Reinforce Management Best Practices by Todd Anthony Puma

 

Just four weeks ago, I wrote a blog titled “Knowing When to Cut Ties with an Unresponsive Custom Install Prospect.” Back on July 1, I had yet to receive a payment for the several site visits and two rounds of estimates. I was ready to write off the project and any hope of getting paid. How quickly things change. Just two weeks later, the client has hand delivered a check for the initial estimate fees plus a small retainer to show good faith. Last week we started the pre-wire after receiving the full initial deposit and a signed contract.

Not only was the client profusely happy that we were able to schedule him in so quickly, as the construction is moving forward and walls are starting to be closed up, but he pulled me aside and told me how much he trusted me. He had made changes to the contract and he stated that he would normally not have provided the full deposit without all contract changes executed and a finalized product list (he’s changing the size of some TVs and a few other things), but he really appreciates how professional my team has been through the process. He called us the most reliable and professional company on the renovation project. I was so proud of my team and so pleased to hear that from a customer, that it made me almost forget all of the hassles of getting the initial payment. Well, almost… I’m still going to make sure we are fully paid before moving on to future phases.

But his glowing words and the impact it had on me reminded me how important it is to provide positive reinforcement in all aspects of business and life, including (and most importantly) our employees. It’s critical to give feedback, both positive and constructive to every employee on a regular basis. This is something that has been reinforced not only by my interactions with this client, but also by Mark Feinberg, the owner of Home Theater Advisors. Mark was previously in Corporate America and managed large teams of professionals. He has an MBA and went through many management-training programs provided by his employers. He is also an enormous supporter of regular reinforcement.

One of the most important comments he ever made to me was “Money attracts, it doesn’t motivate or retain”. By that he meant that people may come to work for you for more money, but throwing more money at them every time they seem unhappy or to reward them or they comment about pay only has a short-term effect. You need to find other ways to motivate and retain them. They stay with you because they are happy and you provide a positive, engaging work environment.

Here are my six suggestions for creating this time of climate for your team…

Continue reading on Residential Systems by clicking he link below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=627

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .