Thursday, September 12, 2019

My answers to four questions as a TEDxGreenville Curator.

I am honored to be selected as a curator for TEDxGreenville. For many years I have been behind the scenes so I am intimately familiar with TEDx and Greenville.  I attended my first TEDx in 2011 and was inspired by the quality of people and the intensity of the TEDx program format. In 2012, I was invited to lead the technical production team, which included doing all of the video recording, slideshow production, audio recording, and projection. Post production editing was included in that as well.

Since then, I have been selected to produce all of the events in multiple venues throughout Greenville. I've come to know some capable and experienced team members, many of whom are volunteers. The dedication of the TEDx community is inspiring.

I composed underscore music for TEDxGreenville videos for the Kaleidoscope, Imprint, Express, and Unknown conferences. I anticipate I will be composing again for TEDxGreenville 2020.

I produced and edited about 300 videos from conferences, salons, and other TEDxGreenville events.

The August 2019 TEDxGreenville Salon program included an introduction and Question and Answer session for the incoming curator team. In case you weren't in attendance, here are the questions I was asked. The answers here are a little bit expanded from what I said at the Salon because of time constraints there.

Question 1) What are some of your favorite TED talks and why?

My favorite talks open up my thinking by making connections between diverse topics, some inspire me to be curious to investigate further. Others give me a vivid glimpse into the life and feelings of another person. All of them persuade me to change my mind.

Things like putting health screening in barbershops or giving running shoes to homeless people to give them a purpose are some of my favorites because they’re just really good practical “let’s do that” ideas. And, they didn't just stay ideas. These people went out and did it and we can go do it, too.

One talk that really had an impact on me was the medical first responder that had to decide what to tell severely injured people when they asked if they were going to die. When accepting the truth, people wanted to know that they were loved and their life had value and they mattered in the world.  It sparked the idea in me to let people understand that they are valued and loved while they are alive and not wait until a final moment of life.

Question 2) In your opinion, what makes a great TED talk?

For me, a good TED talk tells a story that recreates your idea in my mind as I listen. It has a clearly communicated concept that I can add to my feelings, not just to my knowledge. Sometimes, it’s cleverly identified when someone says, “My idea worth spreading is…” But the real substance of the story is something I can only get from you. By sharing your feelings and first-person perspective, I get to experience the reality you experienced surrounding that moment you're sharing. That’s something I can’t look up on Wikipedia or find on the Internet.

One talk that stood out to me at this year's TEDxGreenville UnKnxwn conference was delivered by Keith Groover. His talk was about creating a new musical instrument. I think it was a perfect example of blending technology, musical entertainment, and design into a completely new concept.

Question 3) Tell us about the curation process you are bringing to TEDxGreenville.

The Achilles heel of TED is the humans who decide which good ideas are worth spreading. We’re all human, we have biases and favorites and agendas and we do what humans do, our attention narrows to see what we want to see. I believe that having a team of curators will help identify and nullify the bias barriers that influences our choices about which ideas resonate for our community. 

There is an added responsibility on the curators to promote good ideas, not just good pulpiteers. TED is a huge social capital generator that can launch careers, drive book sales, and promote agendas. People may not even look at your TED talk, they may simply assume your authority or your status just because you stood on the red dot. I think the value that the audience receives should be as great as the social capital gained by the presenter.

A goal for me as a curator is to expand my connections into the community of Greenville and discover people who have good ideas. They may not end up on the TEDxGreenville stage, but the activity of making connections benefits all of us.  I want to expand my network and listen to people who are in my immediate community with great ideas to share. TEDx is just as much about listening as it is speaking and I like to make new friends.

Question 4) Why are you so passionately involved with TEDx?

TEDx provides a highly effective forum for sharing and listening and creating meaningful connections. If you reduce societies, organizations, even families, to their fundamental building blocks you have two things: people and conversations. Having conversations and sharing stories creates relationships.  The depth of our relationships is directly related to the content of those conversations or stories. Whether it’s sitting around a campfire, sharing around the dinner table, chatting in a coffee shop, we have conversations that connect us, inspire us, prepare us, and create the possibilities of what real relationship between people can be. 

We're not just spreading good ideas, we're spreading experience and wisdom.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Synergy Mill: Values and House Rules

The Synergy Mill Makerspace and Community Workshop is more than just a big room with tools in it. It's a gathering spot for communities of amazing people. Creative people. Curious people. Accomplished and experienced people. Friendly and welcoming people. Knowing and working with them has given me a rewarding sense of belonging. I'm proud of the communities we helped develop and I'm committed to continue to provide a space and resources for the people to enjoy.

This is a statement of the values we hold at Synergy Mill:

We foster healthy and sustainable communities of creative people through the culture of making and providing the resources for making.

Our relationships and our community is resilient, authentic, and beneficial when
- Everyone has access to the resources and safe environment to be creative and the opportunity to express their creativity safely to themselves and others
- We accept and honor all people by being inclusive and welcoming them into our community with compassion, respect, listening, encouragement, and support
- We model and reward a culture of transparency, honesty, integrity, enthusiasm, and consideration for others

Our culture and our community and our resources are sustainable when
- We continually train and develop people to have the values that develop a legacy of strong relationships and sustainable maker communities
- Everyone takes responsibility for the ethical and moral choices they make for themselves
- Everyone considers and takes responsibility for the outcomes of their own creations and creativity so that these values are upheld
- Everyone gives more than they take

It's my ambition to create an environment that ignites joy. To create an inviting and engaging experience that fuels curiosity. To create the space where imagination compounds ideas and creativity moves ideas from possibility to reality. To create a tangible experience that inspires a sense of accomplishment, empowerment, and validation. A place that brings a harvest of fun and profit by developing people to be entrepreneurs that create amazing businesses.

Along with this is a set of "House Rules" guidelines for participating as a member or visitor at the mill. You'll see this posted throughout the shop.

Treat others the way they want to be treated.
Until you know exactly what that is, treat others with care and respect.
Be friendly and develop trust with other members of the community.

Work safely. 
Practice situational awareness.
You look great in safety glasses.
Dress appropriately to use power tools.
WALK confidently and carefully.

Respect the tools and equipment.
Plug in equipment only while you use it.
Report broken or unsafe gear.
Follow directions.

Make as big of a mess as you’re willing to clean up.
Clean up after yourself.

Put things back where you found them.

Kill zombies before taking selfies.
(Maintain the proper priorities.)

Guidelines for my crew. These may not be for you.

From time to time, I get to be the producer/director of a show and hire technicians, engineers, and camera operators to join my team. After 20 years as a video professional, including 8 years of being the Technical Producer for TEDxGreenville, I've come up with a the list of guidelines and expectations I give all the people on my crew. I got the seeds of this list from my friend Phil Cooke. You can find his blog here:

1) Show up early. Our client paid us to be on time, and nobody’s going to wait for you. Show up on time even if it means you leave 2 hours early in case of traffic.

1a) Wear all black shirt and pants, including socks.

1b) Phones on vibrate. Communicate to your teammates directly using spoken words or eye-to-eye contact, don't rely on text messages. The primary way to communicate to me is face-to-face or over coms.

2) If the producer, client, the assistant’s assistant, or anyone else is carrying more equipment than you, step in and help.

3) Bring an umbrella, coat, flashlight, headlamps, protein bars, sunglasses, uber fare, mobile phone charger – and anything else you can think of – because Murphy’s Law is real. Keep track of your own stuff.

3a) Bring your own tools of the trade. I may not loan you tools out of my tool belt
4) Spot issues before they become problems and report as fast as possible. Make things happen. Nobody wants to hear that it can’t be done. We’ve all made the impossible happen before or we wouldn’t have survived this long in the video business. I’m not interested in hearing about your problems. I’m interested in solutions.

5) Bring a notepad and pen. Someone’s going to give you orders. Write it down.

6) Your job is to help make the production happen. You can’t get distracted by taking selfie’s of you next to the cool camera, raiding the craft service table, or chatting up with your girlfriend or the cute makeup artist. Concentrate.

7) Be a problem solver. Take initiative to learn as much as possible about the project. Don’t wait to be told – find what needs to be done and do it. If you have to be told more than twice, I’ll find somebody else.

8) It’s not about you. Don’t be the first in line at lunch. Give up your seat for a client. Don’t take the closest parking space. We all know you’re a genius and should actually be in charge, but right now, you need to be a team player.

9) I may not remember what you did right, but I’ll sure as heck remember what you did wrong. If you want to get invited back next time, put some effort into not messing up.

10) Be the last person to leave. If the director has to work extra to tidy up at the end of the day because you left early, you may not stay on my go-to list.

11) Keep all areas neat and orderly.
11a) Know how to roll up a cable.
11b) Know how to gaff tape wires across a doorway.
11c) Know when to gaff tape cables (Correct answer: just before the actual event, no sooner.)
11d) Keep travel cases and storage containers closed and latched.
12) Be hyper-aware of your situation and put a priority on safety to the audience and clients.

13) Absolutely no drinks in cups, use capped bottles only. Don’t spill your drink. Everybody, including me, gets a 10% cut in pay if somebody spills anything. I’m not kidding.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

What's with the upside down "∀" in your name?

People often ask about the upside down "A" that I put in my last name.
The simple answer is it's my brand. Distinctive, unusual, catchy, and I thought it was a pretty good representation for me. Plus, it appears that you can read my name upside down a bit easier as well.

A friend, being funny, asked, "What's Naywoah-seven?"

I've been using the notation in my name since the late 1980's, sometime during my stint as a lowly systems analyst at the University of Missouri Computer Science Department. I don't know what prompted me to do it, it just happened.

The actual meaning came to me later. The upside down "A" is a mathematical symbol that means "for all." For instance, when used in set theory, you may use the ∀ to describe "all of the elements of the set." Having been labelled a renaissance man, I thought it fit me well.

So I embraced the brand. It's emblazoned on my shirtsleeves, my watch, my tools, my shoes, my belt, my collar stays, this blog, anything that's uniquely mine.

In fact, there's a big "A" on the top of my truck. That, however, is a different experiment that had to do with Google Maps. The conclusion of that was I found my truck on the map parked outside my house.

There you have it. It's my brand logo that means "all the things that make up Joey."

Wednesday, September 4, 2019


I was browsing LinkedIn and saw a prospective business acquaintance post their personality types and other information on their profile. I initially thought it was too much information.

Then I met them.

I'm glad I read all that first. It enabled me to understand how to communicate with them on a level that was most effective for both of us. We got to that level a lot quicker than just having to figure it out through conversation. It also gave me some awesome insight into how and why they do what they do.

I've decided to share some of my test results. Hopefully, it's not too much information for you, but it may answer some questions about who I am and why I do what I do. It also may give you an advantage if we ever work together.

Clifton Strengthfinders from Gallup is a great start:

Joey's Top Five Strenghfinders Results:

  1. Focus
  2. Futuristic
  3. Intellection
  4. Ideation
  5. Deliberative

The short interpretation of this is, "Joey is particularly good at creating and thinking about ideas, the future, and planning how to get there."  It started early, check out my Visioneer blog and you'll read about that.

I joined an entrepreneurial community recently that is led by my good friend Adam Anderson. It's called Whole Life Entrepreneurship and you can find it here:
If you've ever met Adam, you'll know he's quite the entrepreneur. Nevertheless, one of his vlogs mentioned knowing what your values are. I'm convinced that the values we hold in common provide more strength to our relationships than compatible personalities.

Joey's most important values (as of 2019-08) are:

  • integrity
  • compassion
  • peace
  • wisdom
  • commitment
  • humility
  • forgiveness
  • creativity
  • teamwork
  • patience


I'm not really thrilled with the accuracy of the MB tests but I'll include it anyway. Apparently, they can vary with the intent and mindset when you take the test.

Here's mine. The particular site that gave me that test put me as both INTP and ISTP with the same score.

"You have a strong sense of the hidden principles that govern how the world works. You are interested in theoretical models and explanations, and when other people put forward their own theories you put them to the test to find out how true or robust they are. You enjoy solving difficult intellectual problems and seek to understand the real truth behind any situation, even when it involves several complex factors."

"You have both a logical and a practical mind and therefore enjoy solving tangible problems. You are very interested in how things work, and may have a tendency to take things apart if you don't know how they work. You may also enjoy using your craftmanslike skills to fix things that are broken, or doing investigative work, collecting facts and clues to find out the truth of what has happened."

Your personality type: "Dynamic Thinker"
"Assertive and outspoken - they are driven to lead. Excellent ability to understand difficult organizational problems and create solid solutions. Intelligent and well-informed, they usually excel at public speaking. They value knowledge and competence and usually have little patience with inefficiency or disorganization."

Yet another MB test put me here:

The Truity website said this about ENTJ:
"ENTJs are strategic leaders, motivated to organize change. They are quick to see inefficiency and conceptualize new solutions, and enjoy developing long-range plans to accomplish their vision. They excel at logical reasoning and are usually articulate and quick-witted. ENTJs are analytical and objective, and like bringing order to the world around them. When there are flaws in a system, the ENTJ sees them, and enjoys the process of discovering and implementing a better way. ENTJs are assertive and enjoy taking charge; they see their role as that of leader and manager, organizing people and processes to achieve their goals."

Well, yeah, that's me. If the results were radically different, I'd probably discount it.

"Know thyself."

If you are curious about your own personality, click over to this website and take the tests for yourself.

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Visioneer

The background image on this blog is a 2 mile stretch of Interstate 70 at mile marker 168 in the middle of somewhere Missouri.

This scenic view is the setting for an often told story by my mother. As she tells it, we were on the return leg of a trip and I was just old enough to sit in the passenger seat and barely see over the dash. I reckon I was about 9 years old.

As we crest the hill from the east, I said, "Mother! Mother! Look! There's the future!"
Amused, she didn't think much of it.

Two miles is just long enough to not pay attention to where you are. Two minutes is just long enough to let the thoughts wander.

As we neared the top of the western ridge, "We're here! We're here!" I exclaimed.
"Where?" asked Mom, startled at our apparent arrival.

"The Future!"

It came that fast. Sometimes I see the future, sometimes I don't. What I do know is I spend a lot of time thinking about it and a lot of times I get to say "We're here!"

It's usually not a startling surprise to me because I saw it coming. I'm not clairvoyant or anything like that, I'm just visionary and it started when I was young.

Sometimes I see a future in a business opportunity. Sometimes I envision a goal I wish to attain. Sometimes it's a life event that, apparently random, plays out exactly how I wrote it to be. The frequent fruition is me exclaiming, "We're here!"

Don't be over impressed. There's no secret. I have no magic glasses or crystal balls.

What discovered is that I could dream about how I wanted the future to be, talk about it, then live expecting it to be that way. The only literal thing I can point to is the words I use. There's nothing mystical about that.

The vision becomes the future I create because I formed possibilities with words. The words become the stories I tell or scribble in my journal. The stories become conversations. The conversations become the connections that define my relationships in the real world. The relationships somehow turn the possibility into reality.

It's not magic, it's visioneering.