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How It’s Done: Mike McCaleb

How It’s Done is an inside look at the people in Orange County who are making things happen. From small businesses to the big guys, I’ll write a little about how they go about their business.

As you may know I’m very involved in producing all kinds of content. I want to be at the intersection of ‘content’ and ‘context’ now and when broadcast TV is disrupted (like the music industry was) in 12-24 months like most experts predict. I’m an active blogger here, on my own sites here, and here as well as producing video content and my own TV show for business peeps and entrepreneurs.

I’m fascinated and almost magnetically drawn to other content producers in my pursuit of figuring this all out…

Lucky for me I met Mike McCaleb, founder of OC WebSpotz and Mission Visual via Linked Orange County, my Orange County biz networking community, and we hit it right off.

Here’s a summary of our interview

Bryan: Mike, what’s Your story?

Mike: I am a documentary filmmaker with over 15 years of experience.  I have filmed rock concerts, stand up comedy shows, commercials, training films, the American Music Awards, and hundreds of weddings. Filming is my passion. OC WebSpotz is a video production company focused on small businesses who are ready to take their business to next level with video targeted for the web.  We can make short, entertaining  promo sizzle reels that help attract your ideal clients.

Here’s how OC WebSpotz works:

OC Webspotz Promo from Mission Visual on Vimeo.

Bryan: Who makes the decisions?

MIke: OC WebSpotz is a one-man game at the moment but sometimes I find myself turning to my superhero of a wife to help make the tougher decisions. Each time I look at my sons it reminds me what I am working for. They keep me moving forward.

Bryan: Who is your customer?

MIke: Our ideal client is someone who is passionate and confident about what they do or sell. They aren’t afraid of talking about their strengths, they aren’t afraid of being real, and they are eager to connect on a deeper level with their customers and their potential customers as well.

Watch this clip:

Make-A-Wish Foundation from Mission Visual on Vimeo.

Bryan: If you could only choose one person–for fun or business–who would 
you most like to have lunch with?

MIke: I would choose Johnny Carson because I feel he had a really cool style.  He had such a knack for getting the best out of his guests and did it such an enjoyable way.

Bryan: What’s the secret sauce?

Mike: The secret sauce is you, well not you Bryan, but our clients.  We focus on them and try to really capture the heart and personality of the business. I believe that being a good listener has helped me tremendously when interviewing clients.  I can focus on the core of where an idea came from; people are more interested in hearing about that developmental process.

Bryan: What mistakes have you made?

Mike: While I believe our service is greatly needed in the marketplace, I was under the impression people would jump at the idea of making a video for their business. I didn’t take people’s fear of being in front of the camera into account. I try to make the experience both easy and enjoyable to show them that being in the camera’s eye is just as easy as a handshake with a client.

Bryan: What inspires you?

Mike: I love to hear success stories from small businesses. It is incredibly moving to know that someone is making a living by doing what they love. Sometimes it wasn’t even what they went to school for, rather it is an emotional journey for them. Stories like that are very inspiring and I love to get that across on film.

It can be really challenging to capture a business’s ‘everything’ in 90-120 seconds. But that’s the proven timeframe to work with for an internet video so when there is a bigger story to tell, I recommend they film a series, that way they are happy with the end result.

Bryan: What’s one short term and long term goal?

Mike: I would like to see us produce 100 videos in 2012.  And eventually, I think that this business model will be something I would like to franchise.

Bryan: If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?

Mike: Oddly enough, umpiring baseball games.  I used to umpire CIF games and had a great time doing it. I also spent ten years working at Improv comedy clubs and edited demo reels for many famous comedians, some of which include Larry Miller, Craig Shoemaker, and George Lopez.  It was a crazy job! It was full of laughs and probably a little too much fun.

Bryan: Do you have a super power?

Mike: I am almost positive my dog can understand me when I talk to him. But seriously, as an editor, it’s important to be able to find the “shiny” parts of an interview and spotlight them.  I think we have done a good job of that. Video is such an awesome medium to project a message with.  It can convey emotion, intelligence, and beauty. It has become extremely powerful as a generator for internet businesses.

Bryan: What’s a big opportunity you’ve seized/missed?

Mike: Shooting for Johnny Rockets at the American Music Awards in 2008, it opened a lot of doors for me. I don’t know about the particular moment, but I do believe that my success so far has been down to some great and solid relationships.

I am a techie.  I’ve always loved cameras, computers, gadgets.  This is the perfect job for me because I’m a storyteller. I love interviewing people. I like to hear about people’s inspirations and “grand designs” for their lives.  Business is a natural extension of someone’s personality and it’s always interesting for me to see the person behind the business.

Business and marketing are rarely ever about the features and benefits of a product or service–it’s about telling a story. You can find out more about Mike here: www.ocwebspotz.com.  Phone is 714-585-3133

I’m @BryanElliott and this another example of How it’s Done. There’s more to come next week or you can catch up me on Linked Orange County

Beware the Social Media Expert

Gary Vaynerchuk who actually is a real social media expert, is recently famous for weighing in on the state of social media during a now famous Tech Crunch interview when he said, “99% of social media experts are clowns.” I caught up with the Gary in a rare interview and from what I’ve seen, –especially in OC, I agree.

Beware of anyone who calls themselves a "social media expert" or some form thereof...

State of the industry…

If you haven’t heard, there’s this thing called the Internet that’s really catching on. But there’s a very interesting dichotomy with the current economy and the plethora of social platforms. A lot of people have lost their jobs from the start of the downward spiral in the economy in 2008 to the present day. But as the economy reaches new lows, the social web continues to evolve and spiral upwards to new heights.

The result is that many of these out-of-work people have jumped on the social media bandwagon with little or zero marketing experience–not to mention a lack of social media management skills or any campaign track record. And yet they call themselves “social media experts” leading hopeful businesses that need new customers urgently astray.

These so-called experts are often transplants from mature industries hit hard by the economy like Real Estate, Finance, IT and more. They think that knowing what to do and how to set things up on social media platforms qualifies them to help businesses market their products or services and often make promises they can’t keep to vulnerable clients desperate for new biz like a guarantee of  “thousands of new fans or followers.”

I’ve personally met a lot of these folks and they are growing in numbers here in Orange County. They mean well and have good intentions and don’t set off to misguide the companies who hire them. They themselves are eagerly trying to stay afloat in a bad economy and make ends meet. But as nice as many of these people are you should be very careful about whom you give the wheel to drive your business and be the voice of your brand.

This is a young, fast-moving space. Are there really any experts (yet), especially in Orange County? We have a big (little) tech community that’s good at making chips and other stuff but we’re not even on the map for social media innovation. Most people haven’t even heard of Google+. The real hot spots are NorCal, NYC, Austin, Boston…

A few stats: Facebook: on pace to reach 1 billion users by the end of this year. I also read last week that 50% of North America signs in to Facebook every day. Wow! But don’t forget about the explosion of Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, and the flavor of the week in social media.

Here’s some advice from Gary about what to ask the next “expert” before you hire them.

1. What have you actually done? Have your next social media person show you 5 or more marketing plans they’ve written. Ask them for case studies from 5 or more social media campaigns they have done over the past twelve months. Gary talks about “dirt under your fingernails” as a good thing…

2. What is your marketing background? Find out about their level of experience in the area or project you’re asking them to do. Sounds like common sense, but there are a lot of real estate people doing social media marketing for small businesses. This is like the difference between being able to explain how to play tennis and actually being a great player. They are two very different things.

3. Beware of the Over promise. If the person you’re considering promises big numbers fast, they are probably a fraud. You can buy more Facebook fans on Amazon, but what’s that worth? Zero. Most of the real experts say social media is not a silver bullet. It’s good for something things and not for others. For example, great for listening and engaging to make new business relationships.

4. Low Social Proof.

Does your expert say they can change your world but only have 90 Twitter followers who never @reply? Do they manage a Facebook page for a friend that has 10,000 fans but zero fan posts? Watch out.

5. Young Does Not Qualify You. There seems to be a common misconception that just because someone is 20-something they are better suited to be a marketer–AND execute social media, than someone older. Age has nothing to do with it. It’s about skills. It’s about experience. It’s about results.

6. Watch and Listen to Reactions to This Post.It’s bold to call out a large group of people and basically say they are frauds. But remember this: those who are guilty here will be the most defensive and offended–because the truth is hard to swallow! The truly talented social media marketers will applaud this post and take comfort in their own skills.

Weigh in and let me know what you think about all this. Do you have any success stories with any of these newly self-crowned experts? Any horror stories?

The best way to reach me fast is Twitter. I’d love to hear from you!



How It’s Done: Cynthia Stamper Graff, CEO of Lindora

How It’s Done is an inside look at the people in Orange County that are making things happen. From small businesses to the big guys, I’ll write a little about how they go about their business.

Meet Cynthia Stamper Graff, president and CEO of Lindora.

Q. [Bryan] What does your company do and how did you get your start?

A. [Cynthia] Today, Lindora Clinic is America’s leading clinical weight management provider and enjoys a reputation as the gold standard in weight management. Every week, thousands of men, women and children visit one of our 40+ Lindora Clinics, and many others are becoming Lean for Life® through our interactive Lindora Clinic Online program.

As my father, Marshall Stamper, M.D., was developing the Lindora program 40 years ago, he would try different things with us as a family. We used to fast one day a week. I was a teenager, and was intrigued by his approach to weight loss and what later became known as his “Six Essentials.” While attending college, I had two years of pre-med. I took a year off and worked with my father as a medical assistant in our clinics and saw first hand how our program worked—and how what we did touched lives.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting organizational leadership expert and author Ken Blanchard. He observed that while most people would say Lindora is in the weight-loss business, he believes we’re really in the ‘quality of life’ business. He’s absolutely right. We’re in the business of helping people become healthier, and live happier, longer lives. We accomplish this goal by helping them lose weight which is a measurable marker for healthier choices.

Our company has thrived because of the strong relationships we’ve built over the years – including business relationships with our suppliers, that bond that occurs between nurses and patients, and the bond with employees – many of whom have been here for more than 20 years. We’re a company that values relationships.

Q. [Bryan] Who’s at the helm?

A. [Cynthia] I’ve been president and CEO of Lindora since 1989. We have a very collaborative management process and a great leadership team, but ultimately, I’m the one who’s called on to make the final decisions if we can’t reach a consensus. We have over 40 clinics throughout Southern California, and every one of them is staffed with clinicians who care, love what they do, and are committed to helping their patients succeed, and the great thing is our corporate people feel the same passion.

Q. [Bryan] Who is your customer?

A. [Cynthia] Our patients are people who want to lose weight and become healthier, and they come to Lindora because we have 40 years experience in helping people achieve that goal. Our customer mix used to be 95% women and 5% men, but now it’s 85% women and 15% men. Men are increasingly conscious about their health, and many of the men who come to Lindora have been encouraged to do so by women in their lives who know first hand how successful our program can be.

While individual patients are our core business, we’re also focusing on working with companies to create employee weight-loss and wellness programs. Healthy employees are more effective employees, and companies are realizing that helping employees become and stay healthy is an investment rather than an expense.

Our secret to success is the unique therapeutic bond that is built between our patients and nurses. Thousands of patient visits occur at our 40 clinics every week. Those connections—and the relationships that are developed—keep our patients focused and motivated. That same level of connection and support occurs through our Lindora Online program and through phone sessions with our Lindora nurse coaches.

Q. [Bryan] If you could only choose one person–for fun or business–who would you most like to have lunch with?

A. [Cynthia] Warren Buffet. He’s built a reputation, his personal brand, and his empire, on the principles of integrity and relationships. He values people as much or more than quarterly earnings. It’s an old-fashioned way of approaching business that resonates with me, and it obviously works for him!

Q. [Bryan] What mistakes have you made?

A. [Cynthia] I’ve always believed if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough. Our company has been an early adopter of technology, and with that has come both wins and losses. Personally, one of the biggest mistakes I ever made was in my first year as president. I wanted to improve the bottom line, so I restructured our bonus program. I made that adjustment without anticipating the morale consequences. Ultimately, the bottom line didn’t improve at all because production dropped. I had to get down on my knees and apologize. It was a classic case of not anticipating unintended consequences.

Q. [Bryan] What inspires you?

A. [Cynthia] People who accomplish a great goal—and the pride they feel in the process. I get letters every week from patients who tell me about the remarkable transformations they’ve made in their lives. I just received a note last week from a patient who lost 70 pounds and is now competing in triathlons. When people accomplish something really difficult and really meaningful, it reminds us of the best of human nature. Their success resonates and inspires us. We all love rooting for the underdog, and seeing someone achieve something they once thought was impossible is an amazing gift. I’m very lucky that hearing those stories is part of my job. Apathy and inertia frustrates me. I’m naturally attracted to people who are interested in life and passionate about living it.

Q. [Bryan] If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?

A. [Cynthia] Teaching personal development—which, in some ways, is what I do now.

Q. [Bryan] What’s a big opportunity you’ve seized or missed?

A. [Cynthia] For me, a big opportunity seized and missed are two sides of the same coin. The biggest opportunity seized was returning to California in 1989 to assume the challenge of growing Lindora. The opportunity missed was leaving my California real estate business in 1976 for an opportunity in Salt Lake City. I missed 15 years of the real estate boom! I think it reinforces the notion that we can do it all, but we can’t do it all at the same time. Life is a series of choices. When we choose to do one thing, we also choose to not do thousands of other things.

Back in 1996, the Fen-Phen medication craze was the big thing in weight loss. The public saw it as a quick fix and a “magic pill,” and some in the medical community fueled that perception. Even though it cost us 20% of our market share, we stood by what we thought was right – we didn’t engage in exploiting Fen-Phen. We did the right thing, even though it came at a price. In the long run, it was absolutely the right decision—and one that saved our business.

Q. [Bryan] How do you plan to improve evolve, survive?

A. [Cynthia] I totally trust my intuition, especially about people. We all have that gut instinct and inner voice, but not everyone listens to it and trusts it. I do. We’re successful because the product and service we offer is top-notch. I recently had a conversation with a patient who was interested in investing in the company. He compared Lindora to Coors and In-N-Out Burger. Both began as family businesses, offered an excellent product, were fiercely protective of their brand, and grew regionally and carefully.

A short-term goal is to have our program reimbursable by insurance companies who recognize the health benefits and cost savings that result from our program. Our long-term goal is making our company’s name internationally synonymous with effective behavioral change and healthy lifestyle.

Our goal is to continue to broaden and strengthen our brand, nationally and internationally. We have a very strong regional reputation, and through our online program, books, and media exposure, we’ve developed a national presence as well. We have two clinics in Saudi Arabia and are also focusing attention on licensing our program.

Business and marketing are rarely ever about the features and benefits of a product or service–it’s about telling a story. You can find out more about Cynthia and Lindora here: 1.800.LINDORA. www.lindora.com

I’m @BryanElliott and this another example of How it’s Done. There’s more to come next week or you can catch up me on Linked Orange County

How It’s Done: Kevin Rausch, Rausch Physical Therapy

How It’s Done is an inside look at the people in Orange County who are making things happen. From small businesses to the big guys, I write a little about how they go about their business. Introducing Kevin Rausch of Rausch Physical Therapy…

Bryan: What’s Your story?
I’m Kevin Rausch. A locally grown OC resident, the son of a restaurateur turned High School Athletic Director and an Accountant Secretary. I am the first college graduate in my family and I am 32 years old. I have owned my Physical Therapy & Sports Performance clinic since I was 26. My big “break” moment was literally that, a bilateral elbow fracture when I fell off my triathlon bike. For the first year of the clinic I had worked by myself with just one PT aide. Pretty simple and easy, all was good in the world. Then on Feb 17th, 2008, I was involved in a bicycle crash which left me, the sole revenue producer with two broken elbows. If you have ever been in my clinic, you’ll know that there is no way I can do what I do, in two full arm casts and slings. At that point in time, I realized that in order for my business to survive and excel, I would have to find another means of producing revenue, just in case, I get in another crash. That is when the idea for the bigger, better Rausch Physical Therapy & Sports Performance began to grow. I went from me and one employee in a small, simple clinic to twelve employees, an expensive state-of-the art treadmill and Simulated Altitude Training system plus, Pilates equipment with a certified instructor, Golf Fitness, Nutrition, Massage services and more. Quite a leap…

I began my career in physical therapy from the ground up, well; scratch that from the table up is a better choice. After injuring my knee playing volleyball, I required surgery and then of course had PT. At the time, I wanted to become a Neuro or Orthopedic Surgeon, but after my PT experience, I knew the PT field was for me. Fast-forward through my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Physiology from Cal Baptist University, where I played Men’s Volleyball, and to Nova Southeastern University where I earned my Master’s in Physical Therapy.

I returned home to land my first job as a physical therapist at a nice clinic in the OC. I put in 2 years, all the while knowing I could do it a little different and a lot better. There seemed to be something holding me back, something holding me from treating patients the way I knew they needed to be treated to make a faster and healthier recovery.

I secured some start up funding from the equity my wife and I had in our condo and leapt out on my own to open Rausch Physical Therapy & Sports Performance on March 15th, 2006 in Laguna Niguel. On day one, I saw one patient, and in week one I had a total of seven visits. Not nearly enough to make a rent payment on my clinic, but I was excited, driven and passionate. I had my own place, and as far as I was concerned my hard work and innovation would be my driving point to success.


How It’s Done: Ryan Neisz, Clear Creative Media

How It’s Done is an inside look at the people in Orange County who are making things happen. From small businesses to the big guys, I write a little about how they go about their business.

If you think all of the good production for TV and the web is done in some hip shop in Santa Monica, think again. Orange County not only has its share of great content and stories but also talented creative minds and Emmy winners…

Introducing, Ryan Neisz, CEO of Clear Creative Media in Lake Forest…

Bryan: What’s Your story?
Ryan: I’m a film and video producer in Orange County California.  My entertainment career started just out of college where I got a job as a page on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

From there I worked my way up through the sitcom ranks and eventually landed as a script coordinator on Spin City.  I remember the first season I worked in Sitcoms a show called Who Wants To Be A Millionaire debuted against us.  We all laughed and thought “reality” was a flash in the pan.  Three years later virtually the entire prime time programming landscape was dominated by reality…and I was out of a job.

I had learned a lot over the years about producing content, working with actors, crew and post production so I decided to take the leap and start my own production company.  Seven years later I’m still at it and I’m now starting to get some recognition for what I call “my life’s work.”

Bryan: Who is your customer?
Ryan: Clear Creative has a very wide customer base.  From the California Highway Patrol to the Medical Marijuana clinic we shoot content for literally anyone and everyone around the world.

We are a full service advertising agency by name.  We create compelling and informative video and film content for anyone who needs it.  We have created witty and hard hitting campaigns for the web that have been viewed over 8 million times…we’ve also created very conservative corporate pieces that deliver a strong message while still maintaining the integrity of brands.

Here’s Ryan’s Emmy award winning piece:

Every 15 Minutes: Castro Valley High School (High Definition) from RocketSpots.tv on Vimeo.

Bryan: If you could only choose one person–for fun or business–who would you most like to have lunch with?
Ryan: Gordon Ramsey. Because he dominates in a business that is one of the hardest to succeed in, and I know for a fact that the food will be good.

Bryan: What’s the secret sauce?
Ryan: The secret sauce is to listen.  I learned that from my wife, who was a local sales manager at KDOC TV here in Orange County.  So many producers come into a client meeting throwing out all the amazing things they can do with all of their expensive toys…but they forget to listen to what the client’s needs are.  Three weeks later when all the money is spent and the piece is delivered it may look beautiful…but it misses the mark because the client wasn’t heard.

I also owe my success to the long and twisted Hollywood road.  I’ve spent years in the trenches watching and absorbing the craft of storytelling.  At the end of the day, that’s what production is all about, telling an informative or emotional story that your audience can relate to.  Any audience, whether you’re selling tires or trying to keep kids from drinking and driving, it always comes back to the craft of telling a good story.

Bryan: What inspires and frustrates you?
Ryan: I’m inspired by watching people get an emotional response from my work.  Sometimes it takes months of work to finish a project.  And there are always huge moments of doubt during the process where you second guess yourself on creative decisions. Will this cut work? Should I add more of this testimonial? How will my audience react?  The inspiring part is watching the audience take something away from what we’ve done.

Frustrating? People who are afraid to risk… Advertising is such a huge gamble.  To stand out in advertising you have to be a leader and be willing to risk.  I’m always in client meetings where they want to break the “normal.”  They want a campaign that is going to push the boundaries and blow the doors off of the competition.  Then attorneys get involved and CEOs and CFOs and CIAs and before you know it this wonderfully pure and exciting and out-of-the-box creative razor has been sanded down to the sharpness of a beach ball.  So sad.

Bryan: What’s one short term and long term business goal?
Ryan: Short term goal is to take a breath and enjoy our Emmy win.  Long term goal is to fill our trophy case with 20 more!

Bryan: What is something we might not know about you?
Ryan: I have a conference room named after me at the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno.  I required them to make that the room they fire people in…but I don’t think they do that.

Bryan: Where can we find you?

Ryan: We are located in Lake Forest, CA

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter . I’ll be back next week again with another article but you can also catch up with me any time at Linked Orange County…


What Are You Missing?

How It’s Done is an inside look at the people in Orange County who are making things happen. From small businesses to the big guys, I write a little about how they go about their business.

What does a $3.5 million original Stradivari violin made in 1713 have to do Orange County? You might relate to this amazing story…

I was recently reminded of an experiment conducted by the Washington Post a few years ago with Joshua Bell, one of the world’s most talented violinists. It was “an experiment in context, perception and priorities: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time–would beauty transcend?”

On a Monday morning during rush hour in a crowded city subway in Washington DC, the virtuoso showed up without notice or fanfare wearing a non-descript pair of jeans, T-shirt, baseball cap and stood next to a trashcan. From a small case, he removed a violin but this wasn’t just any instrument. It was a handcrafted original Stradivari made in 1713, worth more than $3.5 million dollars. Placing the open case at his feet, Joshua threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, and proceeded to play some of the most beautiful and complex classical pieces of music for any of the thousands of people who would pass by and stop to listen over the next hour.

Incidentally, Joshua Bell plays for sold out crowds and royalty. He easily earns more than $1,000 per minute and even decent seats to his performances can fetch more than $100 each…

What do you think happened that day?

According to the Post, “A few minutes into the performance, Bell got his first donation. A woman threw in a buck and scooted off. Things never got much better. In the 45 minutes that he played, 7 people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. 27 gave money, most of them on the run — for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.
If we can’t take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that — then what else are we missing?”

For me this story is an indictment or sorts and a personal reminder that I need to recognize valuable opportunities at inconvenient times even when they don’t look like much. The most recent example of this is a local OC group I started about 18 months ago called Linked Orange County. Linked OC started as a very small seed of an idea and I didn’t recognize its potential at first. I was guilty of being quite distracted in my rush to find quick solutions to the challenges I was facing back then and passed it by like the people in the subway station.

After being on the client side of brand marketing for 15 years, I crossed over to the dark side 2 years ago and became a freelance consultant. It didn’t take long for me to have a rude awakening—and a feeling of panic about a potential personal financial emergency–as I realized that I had to hunt for my food everyday and I only ate what I killed (metaphorically speaking).

In an attempt to find new business (fast) I joined the maximum 50 groups on LinkedIn.com and proceeded to attend almost every event in the greater Orange County area hunting for new leads. I figured that attending more events would produce more results, but was surprised and discouraged at the complete opposite. Some of these groups were okay on the surface but I was disheartened to find out later that most were just traps to catch and “collect” new names for someone to later pitch me their product or service. Some professed to be local OC groups but were run by nice folks in Malaysia, which was both confusing and contradictory. And finally, some of these groups did not appeal to me because they were out of date and were filled with the kind of cheesy sales people that focused on commissions not relationships.

So Linked Orange County started as a selfish endeavor. With just one member at first, me, I built the kind of group that I couldn’t find out there. I built a simple website as our hub, www.LinkedOC.com, using the free WordPress platform.

I realized that there was strength in numbers, but didn’t measure value by how many members we had. Didn’t keep score of our popularity or add hundreds of new “friends” I would never know. I was interested in like-minded people who understood that the real value of networking is not about “collecting” but really about “connecting” and building relationships of trust. Where members help each other, form a community and prosper. A place where innovation, creativity and collaboration thrive. And self-promotion takes a back seat to generosity.

Joshua and his music were largely ignored. There are many messages within this story, what’s your take? Whether it’s business or personal, it’s not a bad question to ask: What are we passing by? What are you missing?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter . I’ll be back next week again with another article but you can also catch up with me any time at Linked Orange County…


How It’s Done: Patrick Rue, The Bruery

How It’s Done is an inside look at the people in Orange County who are making things happen. From small businesses to the big guys, I write a little about how they go about their business. Introducing Patrick Rue, CEO / Founder, The Bruery…

Bryan: What’s Your story?
Patrick: In my third year of law school at Chapman, I had the difficult decision of applying for a job at a law firm or pursuing my dream of running a brewery. I had started home-brewing a few years prior and I was obsessed with making beers using unusual ingredients. I went to law school straight out of undergrad because I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career, and I hoped that I might have a passion for law. I found my passion along the way for beer, and luckily I have zero regrets for the decisions I’ve made so far.

As an entrepreneur, I have no experience running a business so that’s where I’m learning the most. The Bruery started in May of 2008, with myself and head brewer Tyler King. We have since grown to 35 employees, have grown revenue over 100% from year to year, and struggle to keep up with demand. We have no debt, no outside investors, just my family. We focus on Belgianstyle and experimental beers, using ingredients not typically found in beer and unusual methods of production.

Bryan: Who’s at the helm?
Patrick: As CEO, I run the business and make most of the decisions. My Dad is President of the company and gets involved with larger strategic decisions and is in charge of governmental entitlements. His main business is as a real estate developer so he has a great business acumen and has a lot of experience in working with cities in gaining entitlements.

Bryan: Who’s the glue that keeps things together?
Patrick: The staff at The Bruery make sure everything happens as it should. We have a great brewing team, a small but talented sales, marketing and distribution team, and we have great people running the retail part of the business.

Bryan: Who is your customer?
Patrick: Our core customers are passionate beer connoisseurs– they love variety of beer styles, and typically the more outrageous the beer, the more they want it. The beer does have to be delicious though, that’s certainly the main requirement. They are not brand loyal as a traditional beer drinker might be, they enjoy a variety of different craft beers and want the best the beer world has to offer. Many of our customers also appreciate the diversity of flavors wine and spirits have to offer, and they are often “foodies”. It is important to them that they are supporting a dream–that they know the background of who made the beer and how they fit into the craft brewing world.

Bryan: If you could only choose one person–for fun or business–who would you most like to have lunch with?
Patrick: The late Robert Mondavi. I take a lot of interest in the history of California wine-making from jug wine to boutique, high end wine, and I see a lot of similarities to the craft beer industry. While it is not my goal for The Bruery to become behemoth in the beer industry, it would be quite an experience to get input from a person who revolutionized how wine from the United States is perceived.

Bryan: What’s the secret sauce?
Patrick: I believe The Bruery’s success can be attributed to brewing beers that cannot easily be compared to other beers by using unusual ingredients and brewing methods. We maintain a very high level of quality and choose to grow slower than the market demands for our beer.

Bryan: What mistakes have you made?
Patrick: I have a difficult time delegating tasks, so most of my mistakes are related to having too much on my plate and not being an expert in everything it takes to run a business. I have a hard time saying no to potential opportunities, so I’ve gotten into a lot of time consuming projects due to this. I credit the growing customer base of craft beer enthusiasts, my parents for risking their money on my endeavor, and my passionate and tireless employees who love The Bruery just as much as I do.

Bryan: What inspires and frustrates you?
Patrick: I’m inspired by other entrepreneurs and love to hear how others run their businesses. I am often inspired by food as flavor combinations in food can often be adapted to beer. I’m both inspired and frustrated by criticism. Almost everything I hear about The Bruery are compliments and praise, which is awesome yet I’ve grown a bit numb to it. It’s the complaint or trash talk of my brewery that lights a fire in me to improve.

Bryan: What’s one short term and long term business goal?
Patrick: Our short term goal is to increase our production of barrel aged beers to make them a core part of our product mix. Currently our barrel aged beers are our most sought after beers, and they are the beers I think are the most fun to make and offer a very complex flavor profile. The long term goal is to build a fabulous brewery and to do so without taking on debt or additional investment. This is probably a 8-10 year plan.

Bryan: What is something we might not know about you?
Patrick: My first job was an unpaid internship at Apple in 1994 at the age of 14. I co-founded an online community called “Youth Tech” on an online service Apple owned called eWorld. This was very similar to AOL, but there was only a client for Macs. This was a time where AOL was more popular than the web, so these online service providers were responsible for the content. As a huge computer geek, I wrote a lot of content about teaching kids and teens how to become more technologically savvy. In exchange for my work I was given an unlimited amount of hours on eWorld, which was $4.95 an hour. I thought it was a great deal for me!

Bryan: Do you have a super power?
Patrick: Yes– I have a long term vision and am willing to sacrifice in the short term to get there.

Bryan: Where do you see your company in 5 years?
Patrick: I see our production being about double of what it currently is, which is a far slower growth rate than we’ve had up to date. With our continued emphasis on barrel aged beers and retail sales, I see our revenue being about 5 times what it is currently.

Bryan: Where can we find you?

Patrick: Our brewery and tasting room are located at 715 Dunn Way, Placentia, CA 92870 and The Bruery Provisions is located at 143 N. Glassell St., Orange, CA 92866.

P: 714-996-6258
F: 714-829-1403

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter . I’ll be back next week again with another article but you can also catch up with me any time at Linked Orange County…


How It’s Done: iJustine, Internet Celebrity and Video Maven

How It’s Done is an inside look at the people in Orange County that are making things happen. From small businesses to the big guys, I write a little about how they go about their business.

Introducing Justine Ezarik, aka @ijustine: Internet celebrity, actress,  self-professed tech geek and video maven. All I can say as you watch our interview is don’t judge a book its cover. Justine is a very smart and strategic 20-something with over 1 million YouTube channel subscribers with more than 300 million channel views.

What’s the take-away for business owners and marketers here? For me the most impressive thing was her answer about her future acting career. She said something that shocked me. Here’s the dialogue:

Bryan: So, do you want to do more acting?

Justine: Yes, as long as the show I’m on allows me to film behind the scenes so my audience can watch.

Justine’s confidence and loyalty to her audience is the lesson here. She KNOWS her audience well and is fiercely loyal to them–even at the expense of her acting career. To me, more than “how to get gazillions of video views” this is really valuable. How many of us who are marketing a product or service really know who we’re talking to? Or do we just push messages out hoping that they will speak to the person intended…

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter . I’ll be back next week again with another article but you can also catch up with me any time at Linked Orange County…


How It’s Done: Chris Van Dusen of i-FFICIENCY

How It’s Done is an inside look at the people in Orange County that are making things happen. From small businesses to the big guys, I write a little about how they go about their business.

Introducing Chris Van Dusen, Owner, i-FFICIENCY. Chris teaches entrepreneurs and business professionals to utilize new technology into their sales and general business processes. Their goal is to create a remote efficiency jedi in every client. Said Chris, “The professional landscape is changing rapidly.  The ability to work not only remotely, but mobile, is increasing.  We are able to stay better connected and plugged in from anywhere.  We help make that possible for clients and show them the most efficient and productive way possible.”

Bryan: Who’s at the helm?

Chris: I am the proverbial front man and the “iGuy”, but am very aware that a successful business takes a village. I created it – with my business partner. She saw a market where I could differentiate my skill set, encouraged me to spend my nights and weekends exploring the possibilities and eventually persuaded me to dive into the business full time.

I collaborate with our clients and strategic partners regularly, but at the end of the day, I make the decisions with my co-founder. I work very hard during “normal” work hours when my clients tend to be more available. However, as a business owner, I work hard to grow my business – whatever it takes. Social media has been a very powerful tool to help me connect so I am in the 24/7 networking event in the cloud.

Bryan: Where can we we find you?

Chris: Ifficiency.com

Bryan: Who is your customer?

Chris: Our clients are entrepreneurs, professional service providers and sales teams.  We offer industry-specific consultations, speaking engagements and workshops for individuals and small to mid-size companies and groups. We are able to help anyone who wants to learn how to use new technology more efficiently, both personally and professionally, but does not want to spend the time weeding through hundreds of thousands of apps for the right fit.

I am currently focused on working with people and speaking to groups in Orange County and Los Angeles.  Our clients for both i-FFICIENCY and Rief Media are small and medium businesses in Orange County that want to increase their digital footprint and tell their stories better.

Bryan: What’s the secret sauce of your business success?

Chris: The iPad and new technology. Technology seems to change every time you blink your eyes, and most people become paralyzed trying to keep up.  “There’s an app for…” just about everything, but clients come to us to save themselves from the countless hours of trying to find apps that meet their specific needs. Typically the device they come to us for initially is the iPad and we bring them an integrated solution that is customized to fit their objectives.

I would also say forming a partnership with Rief Media has taken i-FFICIENCY to the next level.  Chase Rief the Principal has a fantastic company that genuinely cares about every client regardless of their size.  Together we have helped our companies grow respectively.  Like Chris Brogan said at the LinkedOC event last year, it takes strategic partnerships to grow. I have strategically aligned myself with great partners and I am watching this thing grow as a result. It’s awesome!

1. My life mantra: Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. – Abraham Lincoln
2. I have always used tech as a key differentiators in my sales process and along the way taught many of my fellow co-workers how to use the latest technology as well. We were able to turn my natural curiosity and passion for gadgets and technology integration into a company.

Bryan: To what or whom do you credit your success?

Chris: Our success is really attributed to our ability to network well and meet good people. Once we get our foot in the door with clients, it’s all about being honest and upfront about our business and what we can provide for them. People are embracing technology because they know they need to integrate it into their lives.  The learning curve and opportunity cost to integrate is steep.  We help mitigate that by teaching and providing solutions.

Bryan: What inspires you?

Chris: New technology inspires me to continually find new efficiencies for my clients.  The same goes for the frustration.  Mitigating the 350,000 iPhone and 70,000 iPad apps and the perpetual hype-machine ends up getting clients more confused and typically less efficient until they streamline their processes. With that said, a great source of my inspiration is that there are that many apps available.  It is truly amazing to see the innovation and creativity that is fostered through developers who create these mobile applications.

I have a tendency to tear things and ideas down to their least common denominator.  As a kid I loved to break apart my toys and even home electronics (much to the dismay of my parents) to figure out how they worked. It wasn’t long before I began figuring out how to put them back together again.  I still love to take things apart and put them back together. Now I get to do this for my clients.

Love for new technology and sales as well as the people who need to know how to integrate the two.  I have a passion to help people use gadgets and new technologies to their fullest, making them more productive and efficient in their process. I predict successful professionals in the future will wear more than just a single hat.  As more people embrace technology the ability to participate and add value will create multiple revenue channels allowing us not be relegated to one career/job that may get stagnate.

I also just started “DueToDos” a startup that Chase and I developed to increase productivity without sacrificing work flow.  We are signing people up for private beta now.

Concept:  we tag, flag and index incoming emails, but what about our sent mail? DueToDos allows me, the sender, to control when I follow up with the emails I send to others requiring action.  It works with ANY email and allows for team collaboration. Beta:  http://duetodos.com @duetodos

Bryan: What’s one short term and long term goal?

Chris: We would like to continue to speak to and work with small groups and entrepreneurs throughout Southern California about how to use new technology to revolutionize – both professionally and personally – the way they interact. Long-term our goal is to be doing this nationwide and eventually worldwide. i-FFICIENCY is my baby, but it is not my sole venture. I love tech, the startup community and communications. My goal is to help bridge the gap between tech and the rest of the world. I have found a way to integrate everything I love into a pretty packed “day at the office” and wear a number of hats as Director of Business Development/New Media as well as writing about tech and social media for various blogs.

In less than one year our company has evolved as many small businesses experience.  The majority of my time now is speaking to groups and working with businesses on strategic mobile roll outs.  In 5 years I see more speaking opportunities and continued growth in my partnership with Rief Media.

Bryan: What mistakes have you made?

Chris: Not seeing my own potential until I was slapped in the face with it.  It took my co-founder to allow me to believe this was possible.  Sometimes we get bogged down in a corporate ‘day job’ mentality and do not see the value or opportunity that can be seized by stepping out and taking a risk. Following my passion and doing what I love everyday is the most amazing opportunity I have seized.

Bryan: If you could only choose one person–for fun or business, you most like to have lunch with?

Chris: Richard Branson on the Virgin catamaran in Newport Harbor. CEO of 350 companies under the Virgin banner. Now that is a high intensity gig maintaining such a strong brand with a clear message. Sign me up!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter . I’ll be back next week again with another article but you can also catch up with me any time at Linked Orange County…


How It’s Done: Reid MacDonald of West North Media

How It’s Done is an inside look at the people in Orange County that are making things happen. From small businesses to the big guys, I write a little about how they go about their business.

Introducing Reid MacDonald and West North Media, a full service creative and production company in Orange County. West North is a one-stop shop that provides creative, filming, editing, music and motion graphics for television advertisements and Internet media. www.westnorthmedia.com; info@westnorthmedia.com

Bryan: Who’s at the helm?

Reid: Colin Best and I are the team.  We act as the creative directors and producers. When we have larger projects we have several key partners that we work with including shooters, editors, and graphic artists.

Bryan: Who is your customer?

Reid: Businesses that need creative work with $10K-$100K looking for audio and visual production.

Bryan: What’s the secret sauce of your business success?

Reid: It sounds simple but it’s all about thinking creatively and working hard.  Besides that, it is keeping a very low overhead so that all the costs of the project are going towards labor and equipment, and not towards posh office space. We love creating quality content for less money than the competition.

Bryan: To what or whom do you credit your success?

Reid: Our success is really attributed to our ability to network well and meet good people.  Once we get our foot in the door with clients, it’s all about being honest and upfront about our business and what we can provide for them.

Most clients these days are very price conscious so we are very pragmatic about what we offer.  We set some boundaries for the budget and creative, and then just be as artistic as we can within those boundaries.  If you ask most artists even dating back to the Renaissance, artists love boundaries even though most will not admit it.  As Leonard Bernstein said, “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time.”

Bryan: What inspires you?

Reid: Great films by the likes of Kubrick, Lynch, Kurosawa, Fellini, Wes Anderson and other artists who adhere to their vision even when it is more convenient not to.  Business wise, the TV and computer becoming one entity in the future.

Bryan: What frustrates you?

Reid: The Federal Reserve debasing our currency and TMZ.

Bryan: What’s one short term and long term goal?

Reid: Short term: $1 million in annual revenue.  Long term: write, produce and direct a feature film

Bryan: What mistakes have you made?

Reid: A mistake we made in the beginning was what some have coined as Founder-itis.  We were trying to wear too many hats by doing most of the work ourselves rather than relying on the international talent we have now accumulated and use on a daily basis.  By finally realizing what we do best and concentrating on just that part, we are now able to take more and bigger projects.

Bryan: If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?

Reid: We are living the dream.

Bryan: If you could only choose one person–for fun or business, you most like to have lunch with?

Reid: If it were someone that is not alive we would say Stanley Kubrick.  He truly is the master of film.  Jack Nicholson said about Kubrick that “Everyone just accepts that he’s the man.”  If it were someone alive, we would have to say David Lynch because he achieves aesthetic greatness with minimal budgets and is a supporter of Transcendental Meditation.

Bryan: What is something we might not know about you or the way your organization did to avoid disaster?

Reid: Avoiding unnecessary overhead that ultimately becomes costs that our clients have to pay for, which makes us less competitive at least in terms of price.  We have built our business to be as modular as possible, so that our customized teams fit each project.

Bryan: What’s a big opportunity you’ve seized or missed?

Reid: Embracing motion graphics and animation as a cost effective medium to tell stories. Missed? Maybe, embracing social media to help our business.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter . I’ll be back next week again with another article but you can also catch up with me any time at Linked Orange County…