Passion for Beer

8 10 2010

“Ah, beer. The cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.” – Homer Simpson

I moved to San Diego right after college and needed to find a way to make a few bucks while I searched for a career.  With a bit of table-waiting experience under my belt, I was able to land a job at the Karl Strauss Brewing Company in downtown.  Talk about your great times! I made a ton of friends (many of the life-long variety), earned enough money to cover the rent while I searched for a regular job type job, and got deep discounts on some fantastic beer.

Also during that time, I had the extreme honor and pleasure of participating in a beer-tasting with the man himself, Mr. Karl Strauss.  Always dressed in suit and tie, “Uncle Karl” personally led the tasting, describing the brewing process and unique qualities of each of the fine ales and lagers we sampled.  The more he drank the thicker his German accent grew, and by the time we were done I thought I would need a translator.

Although impressed by his ability to put ‘em down, I was primarily enamored by the passion he had for his craft.  Mr. Strauss was literally born on the premises of his father’s brewery.  He was the VP of Production for Pabst and remained with the company for 44 years.  This was not his job, it was his love.  He is not just the name behind the brewery, he is the inspiration.   Beer was in his blood – his profession was his life.

“My life’s work has been brewing and if I had to do it over again, I would pursue the same path, which is to say I have no regrets.” Karl M. Strauss, 1912-2006

Okay, we don’t all get to work at a brewery and talk about beer all day, but there is something you can find to be passionate about at your job.  I will always remember to bring passion to work with me every morning.  Thank you Uncle Karl for the inspiration.  And cheers!  I’ll raise one to you this Oktoberfest.

That’s What She Said

24 09 2010

I’ve been waiting until the season premier of The Office to write about the shirts we recently produced for the show.  This post was supposed to be about how t-shirts can start conversations – about how the guys in the art department and I talk about the show every Friday morning:  “Why was Dwight holding a knife??” – stuff like that.  But after last night’s premier of The Office, something else happened and I have to change direction.

The Office is not just “ha-ha” funny – it is filled with such strange, inappropriate, and unethical behavior that it becomes almost uncomfortable to watch – and you can’t help but laugh.  As you learn the flaws of the characters you eventually feel like an insider.  NBC capitalizes on this and promotes the show by making items that appear in the episodes available for the public – the Dwight Schrute bobblehead, the personalized mugs, the Dunder Mifflin fun run t-shirts.

Last night they took it a step farther.  On the season premier, the staff made a YouTube video (sounds familiar) and “Ryan” wore a shirt advertising his website:  Of course I had to look it up, and it exists.  The site asks for all kinds of sensitive personal information but does not actually allow you to enter – although I wonder how many people tried.  The hoax becomes clear, especially since it’s backed by Ryan who has already done time for fraud.

What point are they trying to make?  Who knows – does it really matter?  The bottom line is that they got me and a lot of other people to participate.  They used a printed t-shirt to make me curious enough to take action.  And yes, I’m the shirt guy, and I was giddy.  I sat back in my comfy chair, sipped my traditional Thursday cognac and smiled.  Thank you NBC, thank you The Office.

5K Fun Run

17 09 2010

It is with great pleasure and utter shock that I announce 5,000 views of this blog (and no, that does not count my own visits).  In the blog world that still makes me small potatoes (mmm, hashbrowns…), but that’s 5,000 more views than I had 4 months ago, and it’s an important-sounding number I can use to propel me forward.

I have learned a lot.  You might not be aware of this, but the “Internet” watches everything you do, and provides some fascinating statistics.  I know how many people read my blog every day.  I know which pictures you click on.  I know what links you follow.  I know what website you were looking at before you came to my page and what site you’re leaving me for.

Based on those stats and other observations, here’s what I have learned about You:

  • You love True Blood, Batman, Snoop, and College Football
  • You spend a lot of time looking at your computer on Sunday morning
  • A lot of you are “considering” starting your own blog
  • You love watching videos, especially if they are not too long

Just a short time ago I was a guy that knew very little about social media and the technology that makes it all work.  Here is what I’ve learned about Social Media:

  • Sites like WordPress, Google, Facebook, and YouTube are incredibly powerful tools for spreading your message
  • Technology is helpful, but people that are willing to show you how to use it are much more helpful
  • Without a Social Media platform, you are becoming less and less relevant
  • You don’t need to know everything to participate

This whole project has caused me to examine myself and give serious consideration to my thoughts and actions.  Here’s what I’ve learned about myself:

  • I can turn any situation into a positive by thinking about the lesson I’m learning
  • I would rather try and fail than not try at all
  • Teaching is one of the best ways to realize what you’ve learned
  • I love having an excuse to wear t-shirts on Friday

So after achieving this mini-milestone, here is what you can expect as we move forward:

  • Stories about some really interesting people I know
  • Opportunities for your involvement
  • A blog specifically about the Batman projects we have done
  • Drink recipes (it is Friday after all)

Thank you to everyone for reading.  Special thanks to those of you that have commented publicly or privately.  I will continue to try and make sure it doesn’t suck.


Speaking of milestones, Happy Birthday to my mom – Sandy White.  She turns 60 this week.  We might live thousands of miles apart and not talk as often as we would like, but I think about her all the time.  As a parent and as a professional, I always want to make my mom proud.  I love you Mom!


When I say “WOLF”

10 09 2010

Why is it so easy to love college football?

– Community pride
– Marching band plays throughout the game
– Fewer commercials than the NFL
– Tailgate parties
– Raw emotion

The emotional pull of college football is huge.  The players are not being paid, they are playing for scholarships and desire.  Most of them will never play professionally.  This is probably the pinnacle of their athletic career, their fame, and their shot at glory.  These are not mega-million-dollar celebrity athletes, these are your classmates and friends, your neighbors and co-workers, your sons and brothers – representatives of your town or alma-mater.  It is pretty easy to get fired up rooting for these guys.

The loyalty of a fan is strong and it is for life.  Fans get emotional.  “Fan” is short for “fanatic” and we constantly display why.  We paint our faces.  We go shirtless in cold weather.  We rush the field.  We talk like we’re on the team:  “We had a tough week, but our defense is sweet and no one can beat us!”

We even dress like we’re on the team.  A lot of people are jersey-wearers, but it doesn’t end there.  People literally wear equipment to the games.  I saw a fan at a San Diego State game last weekend wearing not only a jersey, but pants, helmet, shoulder pads, elbow pads, and eyeblack.  It seemed like he thought the team might give him a chance if they ran short on players.  I was almost hoping for an injury just to see if they would actually do it.

The rest of us probably prefer the team T-shirt as our method of showing school pride.  There are simple designs with the school letters, colorful shirts with slogans, or big prints of the mascot.  You’re happy to pay for those shirts, but it’s also nice to get them for free.  Many businesses will sponsor a t-shirt giveaway with the company logo printed somewhere on the shirt.  I’ve produced a ton of those, and you’ve gotten them for free at a game.  You wear it because that’s your team, you don’t mind doing a little advertising for the company that gave it to you.  On a small level it’s a business contract – and one that is agreeable to both parties.

I went to Nevada – the Wolf Pack.  Not one wolf, but the whole pack, a team.  “Wolves, running around the desert together” The Hangover.   “When I say WOLF, you say PACK!  ‘WOLF!’ (PACK!) ‘WOLF!’  (PACK!)….”  And so on.  If you want to know why the Pack is awesome, read about the Pistol Offense or email me and I will go on a ridiculous rant.

There is a college football team near you.  Be a fan, show your loyalty – go to the games, wear the t-shirt, watch on TV, throw a party, streak the quad!!

College Football season is here, and all is right in the world.


Full Disclosure

27 08 2010

The blind date is a thing of the past – in personal relationships and in business.  You would not date someone without looking at their Facebook page first.  You would not buy online without investigating the company website.  People, products and services are available to anyone at anytime.  Websites and social media portholes give us complete access to all kinds of information about the people we want to date, work with, or buy from.

Consider this:  You need to choose a dentist.  You go online and search for dentists in your area.  You find two sites:

Dentist #1:  This site has a phone number, a catchy slogan about your smile, and offers some kind of special deal.

Dentist #2:  This site has a picture of the staff, a video tour of the facility, and comments from happy clients.  500 people “Like” them on Facebook.  The main dentist has posted a video.  He looks right into the camera and tells you why he loves his job and why healthy teeth are important.  He cracks a dry joke and has a pleasant demeanor.  He seems like a nice guy that you can trust.

Now, which dentist are you going to choose?

This is the age of transparency.  If you are not forthcoming about yourself, you seem to be hiding something, and are not to be trusted – or at least you will not be trusted nearly as much as someone that puts themselves out there for public view.

Trust is the complete confidence that something is as it appears.  In marketing, in sales, the common approach is to present a pretty picture and make something seem better than it actually is – that approach causes distrust.  How can you avoid it?

Portray yourself honestly, expose your true character – love you or hate you, people know who they are dealing with.  Those that align with you do so with full disclosure, full knowledge, and they participate by choice.  Why should people have to spend so much time trying to figure out the truth?  You are what you are.  Be that.  Show that.

I write this blog to be a resource for my network and to expose my true character.  Sometimes I am serious and sometimes I am silly – and good or bad, I put it all out there publicly.  This video is a little behind the scenes from last week’s photo shoot.  Judge me as you will – I only hope that I can encourage you to reveal yourself.

Go Motivate Yourself

20 08 2010

I hate motivational speakers.  If you are motivated by them, that’s cool – being motivated by a good presentation can have a positive effect on your energy and effort for a little while, but how do you continue to motivate yourself when the seminar is over and Matt Foley has left the building?

I define motivation as encouraged excitement that comes from a specific source – a triggered emotional response to stimulus leading to a definite action.  The source is different for everyone.  I can’t tell you how to motivate yourself, but I can tell you how I am motivated by basic sensory stimulation.

Sight – My office is filled with pictures of people I admire like my Grandfather, Rickey Henderson, and Rocky Marciano.  I’m motivated by pictures of my kids.  Maybe for you it’s a picture of that boat you want to buy or that resort you want to visit, or maybe it’s your bank statement taped to the wall.

Sound – Music is a great motivator.  I like NOFX, James Brown, Wolfmother, and 80’s anthem rock.  Some people like Springsteen, AC/DC, or the theme from Karate Kid.  Don’t underestimate the power of music.  Google the phrase “music effects on the brain” if you want to learn more.

Dress – People can get motivated with what they wear.  How do you feel when you wear a suit and tie?  Or your favorite team’s sports jersey?  I was never a soldier, but how must it feel to suit up in your gear and strap on your weapon in the morning?  I’ve also never worn a sexy dress, but my wife sure looks like she owns the world when she gets all decked out.

What I’m about to say is predictable because I’m a t-shirt guy:  T-shirts are great for motivation.  Maybe for you it’s a shirt from your vacation to Alaska when you had a close encounter with a bear, or maybe it’s the shirt you bought at a Metallica concert.  For me it’s this tiger shirt from the San Diego Zoo.  Created by artist Jordan, it was probably not intended to make me growl, but nonetheless…

The tiger doesn’t live by anyone else’s expectations.  He stares down opposition, he pounces on challengers.  He lives to hunt.  He will not relent.  He sets no limits!  No box will hold him and he sure as hell ain’t climbing into one!  He’s a wild bloody-toothed beast with glowing marble eyes, ruffled mane, and veins filled with conquering FURY!! Grrrrrrrrrrr!!!

And I digress.  Anyway, unless you got a lot of time and money to attend seminars, you better figure out how to motivate yourself.  Grrrrrr.




Your Inner Rockstar

13 08 2010

Who is your favorite one-name celebrity?  Madonna, Prince, Bono, Sade?  My favorite is Slash.  It’s not even a name, it’s an action, a motion, or a punctuation mark / .  Slash doesn’t need authentication, he doesn’t need a last name – that man can play the damn guitar.

I recently produced a t-shirt project for Slash’s new album.  No surprise that he went with a skull and crossbones for the design – that’s always in style for Pirates and Rockers.  A few years ago, skulls came back as a fashion trend, even for the non-hardcore and non-swashbuckler.  As a guy that makes t-shirts for a living, I saw skulls everywhere, and I’ll admit it got a little tired.  Why didn’t I feel that way about these shirts for Slash?  What’s the difference between him and everyone else?  Well, Slash would have shirts with skulls on them in 1987, 1999, 2010, or 2056.  That’s not being trendy, that’s being authentic.

Authentic Slash

Guns N Roses is one of the most iconic bands of my generation, and Slash’s guitar became the backbone of their signature sound.  You might not be a fan of hard rock, but you gotta admire the ability to cement your place in pop culture, brand yourself as a virtuoso, and become known as one of the best ever in your profession.

Okay, so you don’t shred the guitar on stage in front of packed stadiums.  How can you brand yourself or your business as authentic and timeless?  What can you learn from the man with one name?

  • Be YOU regardless of the situation. Regardless of who you’re hanging out with, where you are, where you work or go to school.  You might not fit in with the trendy crowd but you will always be cool.  Slash wears a top hat, has hair covering his face at all times, and usually has a smoke hanging from his lip.  Sure it’s cool now because he’s “Slash” but there were times in his life when that look was not fitting-in.  Better to be an outcast as yourself than a cool pretender.
  • Stop paying attention to rivals. Yep, I said it.  If you want to read a business blog about how studying your competition is good, there are plenty.  Everyone is so concerned with what the competition is doing.  “Will meet or beat,” or “bring in a competitor’s coupon,” you’ve heard it all.  Your competitors might be doing something right but you can never truly match it – even if you come close you will be perceived as a copycat.  Do your best to be your best.  To be authentic you have to be an innovator – you can’t focus on innovation with one eye on someone else.
  • Stop using the word “Supposed.” Doing what you’re “supposed” to do is overrated.  It only means you are living up to someone else’s expectations.  What if you’re better than that?  When you worry about what you’re “supposed” to do, what you’re “supposed” to say, you will never sink into the confident feeling of owning your actions, owning your success.
  • Form your own band. So you don’t fit the trend?  There are others – find them, appreciate your differences.  Provide each other a safe haven for creativity and individuality.  Slash has collaborated with an wide array of artists from all musical styles – including Michael Jackson, Ray Charles, Insane Clown Posse, Fergie, Ozzy Osbourne, and the guy from Maroon 5.
  • Broadcast. People can’t get to know what is special about you if you don’t put it out there.  Don’t hide the weird things – expose them, let people get to know the real you.  Don’t worry about showing your best side, your most presentable traits.  You are only delaying the inevitable – at some point people will figure out who you truly are.  They might like you for your flaws or your inner weirdo, but not if you try to hide it.

Be yourself, be authentic, be the rockstar in your life.

In The Posse

9 07 2010

The Doggfather

How does it feel to be included?  When someone makes the special effort to make sure you know that you are part of the team, a member of the inner circle – feels good right?

Snoop Dogg is a hip-hop legend, an icon, a master marketer, and a shrewd businessman.  In 2009, Snoop was named the new Creative Chairman of Priority Records – the label that gave us Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, EPMD, Jay-Z, Ice Cube, Master P, and other legendary rappers.  After folding in 2004, Priority was recently revived with “S-N-Double-O-P” as the face of the brand and the man running the show.

While preparing his new business venture and building his team, Snoop took the time to make sure his guys knew that they were still his guys.  He gave them a custom Priority Records t-shirt so they could flaunt the new old name.


I got the call to print these shirts for Snoop and his posse.  It was a small order for me, because there are only a few dudes that are close enough to matter to Snoop.  Actually it wasn’t a “small” order – all these shirts were 3XLT, 4XLT, 5XLT.  These were some of the biggest shirts I’ve ever seen.  I could fit into them twice.  When I printed a size Large for myself, it looked ridiculous compared to the others.

I’ve never been in Snoop’s posse, but I’m guessing it’s pretty sweet.  Somebody drives, somebody is head of security, somebody keeps groupies in line and somebody rolls blunts.  Everybody has a job and they are all part of Team Snoop, the inner circle.  How must that feel?

Okay, you’re not a celebrity, but you have people in your inner circle, your posse – how do you make them feel?  Do they know they are important?  How do you show it?


Oh, and don’t worry – he didn’t forget to show love to his fans.


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