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Check out my 1st article for Commercial Integrator: Separating Value Engineering from Cost Reduction

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Here is my first of many posts for Commercial Integrator…

“In our industry there are many dreaded terms. The term “EDID,” for one, is a major pain point for many site technicians, engineers and manufacturers. As much as the term drums up memories of discontent, there is one term in our industry that strikes defeat, fear and self-doubt amongst many. That term is “Value Engineering.” Wikipedia defines value engineering as “a systematic method to improve the ‘value’ of goods or products and services by using an examination of function. Value, as defined, is the ratio of function to cost.” Sounds great! So why do we hate hearing about it?…”

Click the link below to read the article on Commercial Integrator’s site:

http://www.commercialintegrator.com/article/separating_value_engineering_from_cost_reduction

REDBAND: Technology Leadership Series: Emotional Intelligence by Mike Brandes

TECHNOLOGYLEADERSHIPSERIES

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

TECHNOLOGYLEADERSHIPSERIES

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.

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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: 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 .

 

REDBAND: Technology Leadership Series – Management Skills by Mike Brandes

TECHNOLOGYLEADERSHIPSERIES

Technology Leadership Series: Management Skills

Technology Leaders, CIO’s and CTO’s must be more than good manager  to be successful. However, it’s difficult to have success in an organizational leadership role without having strong management skills.  Management skills extend beyond some of the typical roles of a manager one might think: scheduling employees, hiring applicants, ensuring adequate coverage and meeting goals. Strong management skills include a dedication to not only improving their individual performance, but also the performance of their team. Successful leaders develop the talent they manage, preparing them for future advanced roles within the company. Successful leaders motivate their team to accomplish more than expected, and exemplify excellence as the standard.

In college I worked in retail and food service, arguably two of the worst managed industries. I’ve had terrible managers that used their authority to manipulate and coerce employees; but, I’ve also had several incredible managers who motivated me to be a better employee and person. I can recall one day, while working in a restaurant, I was vacuuming carpet and I saw the store’s General Manager walk out from the restroom with a cleaning cart. Jokingly I asked what he was doing, and didn’t he have someone to do that for him, since after all he was the manager. He smiled and explained the cleanliness of a bathroom can have an impact on a guest returning to the restaurant. Even cleaning a bathroom can increase the restaurant’s success; his job as a manager was to increase the restaurant’s success even if it meant scrubbing toilets.

A successful CIO must be proficient in directing and supervising people, projects, resources, budgets, vendors and other business partners is essential. In addition, great management skills entail team building, motivation, coaching and mentoring. Great managers ensure priorities are set appropriately and projects are completed on time and budget. . People with great management skills take advantage of delegation to ensure all work gets done and to engage team members in the success of the organization.  Organizations require excellent managers to be successful; the level of management skills in an organization’s leadership can be a good barometer of the organization’s health.

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.

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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 – Communication By Mike Brandes

TECHNOLOGYLEADERSHIPSERIES

I’m beginning a multiple part series on what makes a successful CIO. I’m hoping to explore, in dpeth, the individual personality factors and job responsibilities required to succeed in technology leadership. Whether you find yourself in the role of CIO or CTO, or not, these traits can also be applied to successful leadership within your organization and especially on your team.

At no point in history have organizations so greatly relied on technology to connect them, make themselves more efficient, manage information systems and warehouse data like they do now. With this in mind, the role of the CIO is arguably more important now, than it has ever been. These decisions of a CIO will impact just about every department within an organization. CIO’s have to demonstrate business acumen, leadership and teambuilding skills; traits that extend beyond a keen understanding of technical systems and operations.

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.

Technology Leadership Series: Communication

The ability to intelligently and articulately talk about a strategy or a feeling in a clear and appropriate manner is an absolute must of any leader, especially a technology manager. Good communication is the foundation for success in any organization. Communication affects everything from task lists to the culture of the team. Communication prompts motivation by providing information to employees regarding the task they are to perform, or how to improve their performance. Communication is the source of information to all team members; allowing them to participate in decision-making process as it helps identify and assess alternative course of actions, if necessary. Communication plays an imperative role in altering individual’s attitudes. An individual who has been properly communicated with should have a better attitude than an individual who has not been properly communicated with.

Communication is more than just disseminating information. Great communication skills require great listening skills; to be a strong communicator one must also seek and accept feedback from peers, subordinates and customers. One of the most important things a technology leader can do is successfully alter the course of direction based on feedback. There is nothing worse than forcing an idea through against all common sense and feedback.
More than just written word, one-to-one verbal communication and public speaking. Much of what is discussed over the next few months, in this series, will have to do with healthy communication; which is why it was chosen first. Communication skills properly frame all other parts of an organization: communication the vision and direction the organization is to take, informing employees their role in advancing the company, managing expectations and time frames and so much more.

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: In Their Words… Review of Sound Design Live, Build Your Career as a Sound Engineer By Tucker

In Their Words… Review of Sound Design Live, Build Your Career as a Sound Engineer

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We humans have found many ways to communicate. Our infinite creativity has provided us the written word, sign language, slang and even long distance forms such as semaphore, smoke signals and ‘talking’ drums.  All of these forms have been updated and adapted to be preserved and exposed to a wider audience as the medium has evolved, from books to radio to blogs and texts.  It can be argued that while the technological platforms have enabled us to distribute information with greater efficiency to more people at astounding speed, the very nature of its speed erodes the natural  flow of conversation.  Regardless of our language it is this oral dialog that is the most comfortable and impactful to our little grey cells.

Oral histories are also the most poignant, conveying a feeling of being there with a rhythm and tenor of the speaker through which you could feel what it was like to be there. Two of my favorite books about music are Legs McNeil’s ‘Please Kill Me’ and Jon Wiederhorn’s “Louder Than Hell’ – both of these books have a subtitle of ‘An Oral History of ….”.  In the case of Legs it is about the early days of Punk and Wiederhorn’s is about Heavy Metal.  The books take interviews from various magazines over several years with musicians, writers and scene makers of the time.  The Trick here is that the statements have been taken out of the larger interviews  and placed in the appropriate chronological timeline. This technique provides a flow of conversation and perspectives on an event by disparate interviews into a dialog making the events come ‘alive’ and not just a formal recap.

In a very similar fashion Nathan Lively a sound designer and live audio engineer , a frequent guest on AVNation.tv podcasts and who has his own very good show – Sound Design Live,  just published an e-book that follows the same oral history methodology. In the book, “Live Sound Design, Build Your Career as a Sound Engineer”, Nathan has taken the transcripts of interviews from two years of producing his show to create a conversation on topics ranging from tools and techniques to the relationships of building a career.  What the book is NOT is an ivory tower thesis on audio theory nor a product placement webinar on ‘Better Audio Techniques’.  While the textbooks and manufacture seminars can be beneficial it is the apprenticeship like relationship that really provides usable tools and practical knowledge.

I was particularly taken with the section on ‘Working with Technical Limitations’ which focuses on building systems with limitations such as budget, available gear or space.  I also really enjoyed Pierre Dupree of the Alley Theater in Houston discussion on minimalist microphone set up  in an 800 seat venue. The two pieces are quite refreshing and reminded me of an interview in EQ magazine with Rudy Van Gelder who, much to the writers chagrin, would not talk specific mic models but only types of microphones to be use for an application. At the time the article was a game changer where I stopped looking at model names and focused on learning technique.  The book also has interesting sections on remote access to controls, mixing with computers vs physical decks, business networking, webcasting and more.

 If I had to lay criticism it would only be my preference to having the cast of characters introduced at the beginning and the ‘speakers’ laid directly one after the other like a play – each with their name and lines in order.  This would be more in line with Nathan’s background in theater.  It is but a small point and most likely go unnoticed by anyone else.

If you are looking for a book to take you step by step through learning a specific technique this book is not for you.  If you want an insight to the world of live sound and design, the types of people who can become resources and the pro and cons of some hot button techniques then this book will fill your head with great ideas. Be sure to purchase a copy then read some of his great articles and check out the podcast, you’ll be glad you did.

Author: Nathan Lively

Price: $7.95 / 8.95 depending on reader format

Format: e-reader

Tucker

 

When asked to recap his career and life Tucker responded “Me? I am just a figment of your collective imagination and let me tell you that living this life has taught me one thing- “You people are twisted Mofos”   You can follow Tucker on Twitter @Tuckertues or his personal blog on tech and tech culture at http://tuckerstuesday.typepad.com

 

This week’s #AVWEEK podcast features two #Redband members!

Check out the latest AVWeek podcast from AVNation.tv (episode 101).  Both Tucker and Nate were guests on the popular weekly podcast along with  Tom Andry from AVRant.com and Ronnie Anne Spang. Nice Jobl!

Chris

Click the  Image below to listen in…

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Click Here: http://avnation.tv/shows/avweek/avw-101/

REDBAND: “An Open Marriage” Trust in publications in an age of open infidelity By Tucker

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I have been brooding for much too long on the subject of CNET’s  tumble at CES.  I tried to stay away from the topic but it has kept gnawing at me, eating away the lining of my stomach and lapping up the brain fluid in my cranium.

Chris Brogan, the social marketing Svengali,  wrote a book a few years back entitled ‘Trust Agents’ and I am reminded of its main tenets as well as the book this one has as a foundation, namely the Cluetrain Manifesto.  Mr.Brogan’s book exalts the humanizing of business through social media’s power to build relationships.  Part of this relationship is a cultural contract which requires the dismantling of  secrets, a breaking of the fourth wall. When used as a tool which is grounded in truth, it can help you trump your competitors regardless of their size and war chest.  Trust is a valuable commodity which once trampled upon risks the vehement vitriol of those who were duped.

Trust is also the tool of hucksters and scammers.  How many times have we heard victims of the Madoffs, local grifters and assorted snake oil salesmen say something akin to “…I just felt I could trust him…”.  A successful charlatan will take great pains to gain your confidence, to appear as if your concerns are theirs and play off our universal expectations of just what a villain should look like – Twirling his thin handle bar mustache, grinning devilishly.  Whatever the form they take from handsome socialite to trade publication – they are a breed of the most foul.

CNET’s coverage of CES at the beginning of the year exposed a dichotomy in  consumer electronics reporting.  If you missed this episode it can be easily summarized – CNET, as part of the awards select committee, included in its final list the Dish Network’s Hopper Box as among the top contenders. The Hopper box allow Dish Network subscribers the ability to ‘hop’ through commercials while watching a show, much like the Tivo fast forward function only the dish box jumps a predetermined time 30 to 60 seconds.  CBS Network, which acquired CNET for 1.8billion in the early summer of 2008, instantly began foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog and demanded that the award not be given to Dish Network. (CBS and other traditional broadcast networks, it seems,  fear the hopper as it takes yet another bite out of potential ad revenue). While CBS may have a genuine business concern here they overreacted by forcing an owned entity to go back on its journalistic ethics and retract an award (and editorial approval) to satisfy a corporate overlords paranoia.

This is an unforgivable act which caused a good number of writers and editorial staff to render their resignations. I, like millions of others, sought out CNET for its coverage of breaking products and in-depth reviews of the same. The fracas which followed and CBS’s CEO essentially giving us the “F*ck You, we will tell you what is good and you will like it with whip cream on top’ cemented my dissolution with the network as a source of anything but fluff. As a result I also do not watch CBS or any of its affiliate networks, my reasoning being that if they were so flippant with a small tech outlet – what, pray tell are they doing with the regular news?  CNET/CBS also lost the prestige and honor of being an awards panelist, a fall from grace which will echo for some time to come.  (Every year from now on folks will contrast CNET’s  CES coverage to their removal from the panel and the cause).

CBS and CNET’s newly installed Vichy editorial staff promised to be committed as ever to honestly reporting on the consumer electronics news and culture. This is a very nice sentiment but one which is flat-footed and built for sin. The fine folks at both would like us to think that what we are witnessing is an open marriage where two partners are free to make outside choices that the other will respect with the caveat of no blood, no foul. Yeah Right! Evidently the editors and corporate overlords have been reading far, far too many back issues of Forum magazine and have bought into the fanciful delusions of the free love cult. Jealousy eventually gets the best of folks in these situations with Jacobean melodrama to soon follow.  Seriously it is akin to calling your coverage ‘fair and balanced’ but swearing allegiance to the stockholders before each article.

The AV Integration industry is not the consumer electronics business despite our overlapping it in the Veen diagrams. In light of the CNET ‘fuster cluck’ we do have to view the trade publications of our own industry with an a skew’d eye.  Or do we?

The pressures on AV Integration periodicals are great, everyone from the newest startup to the established colossuses, all seek coverage of their products and a positive spin. This can, and is often, viewed as a boon to the trades – so much to report on, so many Press Releases to post and comment on!  It’s a gold mine! And indeed many of the trades thrive off of this.  The problem is that everyone wants ‘The Cover’. The temptation to leverage ones coverage and reach into a disguised version of a ‘vanity periodical’ must be in the back of many publishers and editorial director heads. The money to be made in this Tammany Hall journalism is very real but is it happening now, could it?

Is our industry too small to ever really get away with ‘fixing’ the best in show awards? Who do you trust to provide the honest reporting and reviews for the AV Industry and CE?

Tucker

When asked to recap his career and life Tucker responded “Me? I am just a figment of your collective imagination and let me tell you that living this life has taught me one thing- you people are twisted Mofos”   You can follow Tucker on Twitter @Tuckertues or his personal blog on tech and tech culture at http://tuckerstuesday.typepad.com