Advertising is the art of making whole lies out of half-truths. -Edgar A. Shoaff

When thinking about camping, a landscape of beautiful lush green trees and gathering around a fire comes to mind. This was very true for the first leg of our trip.

Last month, we set off on a family adventure from New England to Williamsburg, VA towing our 23’ hybrid (Big Roo) camper. The thick woods of Williamsburg were absolutely beautiful. In one week we visited Historic Jamestown, the Yorktown battle fields, Colonial Williamsburg and Bush Gardens. Everyday was a relaxing excursion.

For the trip home we decided to stop off in Pennsylvania and chose a campground after doing some research on the Internet.

As we approached our destination, the GPS guided us down a narrow road that had a HUGE power plant on one side and lead us over cargo railroad tracks. Thinking we must have made a wrong turn when suddenly, just ahead, we saw the campground sign. My husband laughed and said, “This is going to be fun!”. Thankfully it was only a few nights after leaving the beautiful woods of Williamsburg.

We set up in what looked like a field of campers – we could reach out and touch the camper next to us. The smell of cow manure was in the air on the hot summer evening. The grounds looked like we had entered a flea market – old mirrors thrown up at the end of the water slides, trash cans with cut-out gas tanks as a lid, common area buildings falling apart. Behind the pool was a foam pit (sounds like fun!) but upon exiting the pit, the staff sprayed everyone down with a massive hose. Think of a prison scene when the inmates are getting deloused…yes this happened and our son had blood gushing from his arm after falling in the pit. (That didn’t stop the spray down!)

As evening approached, we sat by the fire looking back at the website for the campground in disbelief. They hired a great firm because the photos online looked beautiful and nothing like the grounds. The agency should win an ADDY for pulling it off. In the eyes of my eight and nine year-old, “We had a lot of things to do, but the campground was a dump! Why would anyone come back here?”. Well kids, it’s all about the advertising!

Make it or Break it

It’s in the nooks and crannies where I find design most inspiring.

While I was in New York for a few days, I got juiced by the creative everywhere. Not sure what I’m talking about? Just look up – Buildings on top of one another… Narrow alleys…

New York shows us how to utilize the space in, around, on, and between buildings for our creative. You never know what you will find 34 stories high.

From brick walls, sidewalks and glass, to garage doors and imprinting on light fixtures, design and type is everywhere. Many times, ad spaces become the focal point and inspiration for the aesthetic of a place or business.

Particularly, it is the typography found around the city that is beautiful. Great design relies on typography (and sometimes solely) and its ability to work with various textures that are present. As designers, the careful attention and detail to selecting or crafting type can make or break your design.

Once you put it all together and find out a way to incorporate design into an outdoor space, it’s the raw elements of Mother Nature that give strong design the striking authenticity of natural weathering.

Enjoy a collection below from my trip. Have something to add? Share it with us on Twitter.

P.S. – Stumbled upon these mannequins with facial hair. It doesn’t fit with this blog, but how could I resist not including them?

How to Survive a Tradeshow on a Broken Foot

The sun was shining. There was a crisp bite in the air that signaled winter was soon approaching. I rounded the corner on Heath Street (riding my beautiful mint green 2016 Genuine Buddy Scooter), on a mission to get to a couple of media meetings, when suddenly… I flipped.

After a brief five seconds on the ground, facing oncoming traffic, the adrenaline kicked in. As people started to crowd around me and help move my scooter away from the Green Line train tracks, I jumped up.

Do we need to call the ambulance?!” one guy shouted at me.

No! Please don’t. I’m fine.” I said.

Luckily, my scooter was unscathed. I hopped back on and very carefully (at 5 mph) got myself to the media meetings and gave the reporters walking tours of two large hotels.

After a weekend of limping around, two x-rays and an MRI, I learned that I fractured four bones on the top of my foot and was sentenced to six weeks in an air cast.

Six. Weeks.

Stephanie Ross sits on her scooter at RSNAWhile the boot put a damper in my wardrobe, it also put a damper in my schedule. I had a tradeshow in Chicago in two weeks, and not just any tradeshow – the largest radiology meeting in the world, drawing 58,000 attendees annually. I was worried I was going to miss it. It was an opportunity to meet face-to-face with my Sweden-based client and a first experience for me with tradeshow media interviews.

I had to go. And where there’s a will… there’s a way.

My colleagues, client and family were reluctant to see me go. Trade shows are on-your-feet, exhibit hall-giant, evening event experiences. Still, I made my way to Chicago and spent three days with my crutches and my client. Was it tiring? Yes. But was it worth it? Absolutely.

Here are 5 tips for how to survive a tradeshow with a broken foot:

 1.     Triple check with your airline about special assistance.

Call your airline ahead of time requesting wheelchair service on both legs of your trip. Make sure they will have a wheelchair waiting for you at the gate when you arrive. Then, call again to make sure everything is set – wheelchairs, pre-boarding and arrival. Sometimes, they forget to enter it or there is some sort of miscommunication that forces you to not get pre-boarding and hobble alongside the inpatient passengers (I’m looking at you, American Airlines). Pro tip: remember to carry cash to tip the employees who wheel you around – it’s not an easy task.

2.     Rent a scooter or wheelchair

Ahead of your tradeshow or conference, check the website for accessibility services. Most of the time, these large venues allow you to rent a scooter so you can zoom around. The rental was $50/day and it was extremely worth it. I was able to scoot around the tradeshow floor to meet with different reporters and exhibitors (and I was never late, since the scooter was wicked fast).

3.     Wear a comfortable shoe

That’s right. Shoe – singular. You depend so much on your healthy leg when you have a broken foot, it’s important you wear a shoe that’s comfortable. Learn from my mistake: that cute black, Italian leather heel that you thought would even out your lopsided stance doesn’t.

4.     Identify spots for you to sit during slow booth time

Similar to locating the nearest emergency exit when boarding a plane, you should locate the nearest chair, bench, table or clean floor for you to sit. Tending to a booth at a trade show is tiresome – you’re on your feet for hours at a time. If the healthiest feet need rest, you better believe your broken foot will need some too.

5.     Use the boot to network

As I stood at my client’s booth, my foot and I were met with sympathetic glances that soon turned into friendly introductions. I can’t tell you how many times I had to answer the question: “how did it happen?” However, one of the positive outcomes was how many booth visitors we engaged with because of the ugly, gray boot.

Can you wear the boot again next year?” my client asked.

“Sure,” I said, “Maybe.”

(Disclaimer: I’ve been boot-free for 46 days and counting. The boot, however, was unable to introduce me to or attract potential boyfriends. Bummer.)

Almost Missing My Flight Restored My Faith in Humanity

It’s 6:25 p.m. and the back of my neck is prickling with sweat. My flight leaves in 17 minutes. Not boarding, leaving. In the 30 minutes that have elapsed since being in line, I have moved approximately 12 feet closer to the TSA official checking IDs and boarding passes.

I start doing the math. If it takes me another 15 minutes to get to the scanners, I will have 60 seconds to get my luggage and sprint to the gate. Not possible. I start to think about all of the money I will have to pay for another flight, the inconvenience for my family picking me up and I realize that I cannot miss this plane. I will have to rely on the goodness of other people.

I spent most of my queue time talking myself out of this option. I don’t want to be that person. After all, I am the one who left work late, took a Lyft Line rather than a regular ride and knew that the TSA is short-staffed. I don’t deserve to get the expedited version of the bag check experience. Despite that, I start asking my fellow line-mates if I can pass.

flight_800“Excuse me, I’m nervous that I will miss my flight, may I go ahead of you?”
“Sorry, do you mind if cut in line to make my plane”
“My flight takes off in 16 minutes, could I…?”

Each time I brace myself for anger, frustration and annoyance; and each time, I am pleasantly surprised. Everyone lets me pass, including the one or two slightly peeved travelers. Not only that, many of them seem genuinely concerned for me. One guy loudly announces that I should ask the entire line at once, after which the remainder of the line moves over to let me through.

The humanitarian aid does not end there. Once I go through the screening booth and collect my belongings I decide that I do not have time to put my sneakers back on. As I round the first corner of the terminal, I slide several feet in my socks and I realize this was not a good idea. Naturally, I continue running shoe-less anyway.

I’m approaching the third turn on my route as I hear “Miss! Miss!” My driver’s license had fallen out of the overflowing pile of belongings I am clutching to my chest. A nice gentleman not only alerts me of the issue, he goes out of his way to pick it up and hand it to me. I try my best to quickly and genuinely thank him so I could continue around the corner. I make the turn, looking for gate 38 – the one all the way at the end. JetBlue attendants are holding the door to close the tunnel as I swiftly slip in, phone in hand.

So yeah, I’m grateful for humans.

Millions of People, One Dream

The grand opening of the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium was incredible.

The exhibits of the Red Star Line celebrate and memorialize the location where 2.5 million immigrants left Europe to travel to America between 1873 and 1934. The museum shares the stories of countless travelers and their dreams and aspirations. Some became rich and famous, like Irving Berlin, but all helped lay the foundation for today’s America.

Please enjoy this video of the grand opening celebration.

The Power of Story

On a daily basis, we listen to presentations filled with engaging facts and mind-blowing statistical data. Most of the bulleted data points get lost in the sea of facts thrown at us over a 45 minute period. When this is over,  you might ask yourself–what the hell just happened?

Non stories may provide important information, but stories have a unique power to move people emotionally and move them to take action. If you don’t believe me, take a look at Tell to Win by Peter Guber, a book about purposeful stories that serve as powerful calls to action. Think about when you watch a great movie. You watch and listen intently for two hours straight, sometimes more. Not talking, commenting, moving or worrying about the world around you. You’re fully engaged in the story. What if you could engage your customers and prospects in this way?

Last week, I attended the Mckee Story Seminar in New York city. Four intense days of listening to Robert Mckee speak about the principles involved in the art and craft of story design.

Here are some key lessons from McKee’s seminar, that all writers – in business or not – could apply to their stories:

  • Writing a story is an art form.
  • Quality story structure demands creativity; it cannot be reduced to simple formulas that impose a rigid number of mandatory story elements.
  • Write alternate scenarios for each draft.
  • Never repeat yourself – it gets boring.
  • Trash something if it’s not great.
  • It’s all about turning points.
  • Characters need to experience things they have never experienced before.
  • Conflict is to story as sound is to music.
  • Don’t write what your audience expects.

If I listed everything, I’m sure most of it would get lost in a sea of facts. If you want more information on any of these bullets, or to learn more about the McKee Story Seminar, call me. Nothing beats a conversation.

An Interview With Garrett(s)

Fenway Photo

Hello world! I’m Garrett, the new intern at HB. I happen to hail from Illinois; I’m a student at the University of Illinois in Champaign. In order to introduce myself to the HB blog readers I have conducted an interview with myself (below). Under normal circumstances, interviewees are interviewed by an interviewer that is not the same person as the interviewee. However, since the other HB employees are hard at work (as they always are), I have assembled a list of questions to interview myself with. Read on to see the interview, in its entirety.

[Read more…]

Traveling Green – Behavior Might Trump Destination

I sleep in a hotel at least two nights each week. To get to my regular hotel, I drive two hours plus, and roughly once each month I travel to more distant national and international destinations.

My room, two nights per week

Despite this carbon-intensive lifestyle, I make efforts to minimize my impact. Sadly, I’m bucking the trend, according to two Virginia Tech students whose study, “Guests’ green habits slip during hotel stays”, notes that “consumers who engage in environmentally friendly behavior at home behave differently when staying at a hotel.”

Aside from driving a five-year-old Toyota Prius, I have developed numerous hotel habits that help minimize my impact. A brief search on “green traveling” revealed no obvious online resource to point to — most green travel tips are focused not on the traveler, but on the destinations. Here are a few tips for greening up your travel, whether your destination is green or not. I make a practice of each of these, and none of them makes traveling any more difficult. [Read more…]

Art History Flash Back

Years ago, I would visit art museums, knowing details about famous artists’ masterpieces… how quickly our lifestyle changed when we settled down and had a family.

Last week, we returned from our first vacation since having children. We spent time camping, crabbing, boating and eating our way through Mount Desert Island. Fortunately, the President’s visit didn’t impact our trip.

We then ventured to Rockland, home of the Farnsworth Art Museum – we walked through town, viewed sculptures by local artists, and poked our heads into galleries. The sculpture that most caught my attention was Robert Indiana’s famous LOVE pop icon on the corner of Main and Park Street. A long-time resident of Maine, Indiana originally designed the ubiquitous icon for holiday cards. This summer, The Farnsworth Art Museum is showcasing his new work as well as variations of his long-familiar themes. Indiana’s show, “Robert Indiana and the Star of Hope Lodge,” is his first public exhibition in five years, and includes a documentary film on Indiana by filmmaker Dale Schierholt.

Sipping Wine, Helping our Planet

In need for a relaxing vacation? I have just the place! A week ago, I returned from a trip of rest and relaxation in Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley and San Francisco. My time at the vineyards was spent sipping wine and picnicking with delicious warm pesto bread, rosemary cheese, a creamy sheep cheese, fresh apricots and of course, chocolate.

While driving with the windows down over rolling hills of grape vines, I began to take note of the advancements in science and technology that the vineyards have incorporated.

One particular vineyard I visited, Grgich Hills Cellar, has an impressive commitment to sustainability and biodynamic farming. Installed on the rooftop are waterproof solar panels that generate 150kw of clean energy on a daily basis. The winery only needs 120kw, so the winery receives rebates for the additional energy generated. The winery saves about $70,000 a year!

The biodynamic farming technique at Grgich relies on natural cycles of the earth and cosmos, as well as natural farming techniques over artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. The winery uses a mixture of dried horsetails and chamomile as an alternative to harmful sprays. The difference between biodynamic and organic farming is that biodynamic recognizes cosmic forces and uses them to enhance and balance the vine growth. Biodynamic farming treats the Earth as a living organism.

The outcome is a winery that acts as a large, pulsing, self-contained, self-sustaining eco-system.

If you have the opportunity, make a trip to Grgich and taste the highly praised Chardonnay with a buttery and subtle oak flavor. Or, as founder Mike Grgich describes the oak taste, “layers of  bouquet, complexity, and a little bit of extra joy to the finished product.”

If you have been to the area and have some preferred spots – or noticed your own use of sustainable agriculture or energy usage, please feel free to comment and tell us about it.