Recap and Design Trends from NeoCon 2013

NeoCon_2013

Well, after months of waiting for this year’s NeoCon, the day finally came and I naturally geeked out with all the design I found within the walls of the Merch. Floors upon floors of designer furniture, materials, artwork and the masses of people from all over the world. NeoCon is kind of difficult to navigate not only because of the the sheer size of the Merchandise Mart and all the floors, but because of the people. However, that is only secondary to the amazing display of furniture and new designs.

NeoCon is truly a designer’s heaven. Regardless of your profession; graphic designer, industrial designer, buyer, showroom attendant, painter or photographer, there is something there for everyone. There are literally about 6 floors of exhibition space inside one of the world’s largest buildings. Some floors feature well-respected and established retailers such as Herman Miller, Knoll and KI. Other floors in the show feature some lesser-known retailers from all around the world including Europe, Japan, and South America. Beyond those retailers, you have B2B suppliers that focus on products such as lighting, flooring, veneer, handles, etc. All in all, there is something for everyone at this show and I’m so lucky to have gone this year (especially for free)!

Coming out of the show, I realize there are some trends moving from 2013 into 2014 in the industrial design world. There are definitely 5 major trends and one behavior trend I noticed.

Trends:
NeoCon Felt

    Felt: This one is huge! I saw this material everywhere in the show. Felt, brightly colored felt, was being used on everything from flooring to chairs to room dividers. Not sure if this is a response to the price of cotton in the world, but either way, manufacturers are putting it to great use in some unconventional areas.

NeoCon Molded Chair

    Molded Plastic: If your chair is not covered in felt or wool, it most likely will be made of molded plastic or molded wood veneer. It is so nice to see the come back of molded design, Saarinen and Eames style. If we can start designing furniture like that again, I will be a happy man.

High Back Furniture

    High-Back Furniture: I did see a lot of high-back chairs last year at the show, but this year it seems as though everyone has a high-back chair model. Most of the high-back chairs were angled at about a 110º angle. I’m thinking, and this is just my opinion, is that high-back chairs are meant to signal affluence and high-style. If that is the case, then I guess I’m out of style. Call me crazy, but I love lower, horizontal, and rectangular furniture.

Secluded Work Area

    Seclusion/Private Collaborative Work Areas: Again, this trend was big a few years ago at NeoCon and it’s not going away. Most of every retailer had some sort of seclusionary, collaborative workspace (some of them made of felt). It appears that this design is in response to companies who are looking for open-air working areas. Long gone are the days of the cube and the conference room.

Bright Color Furniture

    Bright Colors: I’m not sure if this is just for the show, to gain attention; but most of the retailers had their furniture in bright, almost neon-like colors. I’m sure the brighter the colors, the happier the person using them; but come on, neon-yellow is just way too bright for most people. Just give me the chair in black and I can use it in any environment.
    People Looking for Alcohol: Granted I did arrive mid-afternoon to the show, but it seemed as though people were on the prowl for alcohol; looking for the next open bar within a retailer environment. Yes, I’ve been to trade shows before, many different kinds; but I have never seen this level of excitement or anticipation for alcohol. I’m sure it was a long day for most people there, but come on people, this is Chicago, we have plenty of bars.

    Other Trends: If it’s not organic in design (chairs), it’s very angular – no middle ground. Also, the use of hardened-foam in chairs and benches. I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the coming years.

The “Value” of Super Bowl Advertisements

Even though Super Bowls can be a bit of a let down, advertisers and brands swarm to get spots for the Super Bowl. Case in point, all of the Super Bowl ad spots were sold out before Thanksgiving this year. This is mainly due to brands wanting to get in front of one of the largest audiences to view television programs. It is predicted this year there will be 100 million people watching the Super Bowl; and at a price tag of $3.5 million dollars for a 30 second spot, it may seem like a deal. However, I’m not sure that the brands truly recognize the value of the spots or the return they may, or may not get from them.

>> Read more at Experience Matters…

Recap: #SocialEvents Twitter Chat – Move Beyond the Check-In

Last week, in an effort to increase awareness around Critical Mass’ SxSW submissions, we hosted five days of Twitter chats. Each Critical Mass entry had its own chat. It was a great experience interacting with some top minds, sharing ideas and taking a critical look at the digital and social landscape from different perspectives – all on Twitter.

Just to recap, my SxSW entry is about making events more social and more engaging for the participants, in real-time and long after the event is over. (Don’t forget to vote!)

From the Move Beyond the Check-In: Making Events Truly Social Twitter chat, there were some interesting themes that came up.

  • Privacy is still a major concern with location-based services. Especially when it comes to integrating LBS into existing social networks.
  • Check-in and consumer loyalty are not always synonymous.
  • Incentives are still top-of-mind with consumers and marketers as a method to engage consumers.
  • Layered incentives or achievements can motivate consumer retention.
  • Gamification is another method still being considered or employed for consumer retention.
  • Marketers sometimes find it difficult to move beyond the incentive and game when engaging audiences at events.
  • Engagement at events with the event itself or crowd, could be a viable next step after incentives; curating real-time relationships.

So, to grow this conversation even further, how can we as marketers, move beyond the incentive and using technology, engage the consumer at events with real-time value and long term experiences?

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Twitter chat with me and Critical Mass! You all were great, highly engaged and provided incredible insights into event-based marketing! Below (after the fold) is the Twitter chat, formatted for your reference.

Please don’t forget to vote (Friday, September 2nd) is the last day to vote!

Continue reading “Recap: #SocialEvents Twitter Chat – Move Beyond the Check-In”

#SXSW 2012: Move Beyond the Check-In: Making Events Truly Social

A while back, I first viewed Amon Tobin’s new stage for his ISAM tour. It was an illuminating and innovative experience to view online. Yes, I am going to see him when he comes to Chicago in October to experience the projection mapping for myself. Yet, when I viewed it, I knew that it was so powerful and could not go unnoticed. I tweeted the video and got some amazing responses. One of the responses was from @mrrylln from our London office. This guy, is an amazing creative and witnessed the show himself out in the UK. He brought an amazing idea to the table. It was simple, how can you integrate social into something like that? Well, that got me thinking.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/26057973 w=400&h=225]

I wasn’t just thinking about projection mapping and social media, but events and social media with innovative technologies. We are reaching a period where users are starting to engage themselves with brands and locations rather than the other way around. How do we tap into that advocate power being marketers? These users who are checking into venues and are leaving comments about the experiences and by extension, building brand awareness for us.

Now, my question is, how do we take that check-in and make it worth something to the consumer? Well, it has to be valuable to the consumer, it has to be innovative to leave a mark, and it has to be engaging. I think that we have become pigeonholed into the simple check-in in social media. Check in here, then you get this. Incentive based check-ins have their place in the social ecosystem, but not to the point of consumer retention.

Another question is, can you buy friends, can you buy loyalty? The answer is no, you cannot buy loyalty. Loyalty, like trust, has to be earned and brands are not exempt from that. So, let’s push this forward a bit. Let’s move beyond the check-in and beyond a simple incentive.

Real-time engagement is the key; real-time engagement through innovative technologies. Let’s think of a concert. There is a band on stage and you have checked into the venue and that’s about it. You told your friends, both online and offline that you are there. Where is the engagement by the band? Perhaps they have a tweet to screen or a photo-to-screen technology set up? What if the band allowed you to vote during the show, via LBS, what the set-line up should be? And, what if, after the show, those who participated got the concert for free as a download? What if then, the band asked you to rate the show and share your experience or if the set line up worked? Or, what if the same type of line up occurred in Europe, from others voting and the band let you know after the fact? This is the type of real-time engagement I’m talking about here; taking the check-in by a consumer and doing something with it.

Recently, Foursquare announced they are offering event check-ins along with their location check-ins. Instead of checking into a concert venue, you are checking into the concert itself. This change was created by Foursquare after they observed all the check-ins by their users and noticed they were commenting on the event and not the location. This idea is brilliant and the next level of where event based social needs to go.

I submitted a SxSW panel topic called, Move Beyond the Check-in: Making Events Truly Social. This is line of thinking is what I will, hopefully, be presenting at SxSW 2012. I will be exploring new trends, technologies, consumer behaviors and ideas in event based marketing.

This is the new frontier. We, as marketers, need to take this relationship that the consumers form with the brands, onsite to online. We, as marketers, need to engage these consumers on behalf of the brand in innovative ways through technologies that offer value and excitement to the consumer. We, as marketers, need to retain the consumer long after the event is over. These consumers who are checking into events are the advocates that all brands are looking for, and we need to welcome them with open arms into the social community.

I have some wonderfully smart and creative people joining me on this panel from all over the industry. Vice President of Social Media, Heidi Skinner from Critical Mass will offer her unique insights into consumer loyalties and new technologies. Chief Creative Officer, Joe Sutter from GMR Marketing will bring his unparalleled experience in event-based marketing to the panel. And, Siobhan Quinn who is one of the original Product Managers at Forusquare. Her experience in location-based service is unquestionable.

Here comes the shameless plug. Please read my panel entry and vote for me to speak at SxSW. I firmly believe event-based social is the new frontier for marketers and the new way to interact with consumers. (Also, if you do vote for me, thank you!)

PS: A few others from Critical Mass have also submitted entries to SxSW and I invite you to check them out.

For the Chatty Community Managers:
Confessions of a Community Moderator
Workshop and interactive “confessional booth” including moderators for Converse, Peanuts, Humana and Aveda.

For the Statistically-Relevant and Uber-Accountable:
F**k Privacy: Neuromarketing is the Web’s Future
Panel, led by CM’s VP of Marketing Science, Shaina Boone, with contributions from the Chief Privacy Officer of Adobe and CEO of Next Stage Revolution.

For a Brand’s Strategic Moneymakers:
Social Commerce: The New Standard of Loyalty
Dual presentation from CM’s VP of Social Media, Heidi Skinner, and Social Commerce Today editor, Paul Mardsen.

For the Gadget Gods and Goddesses:
Consumer Goods: The Next Social Channels
Panel, prototyping contest and demo led by CM’s SVP Executive Technology Director, Scott Ross.

I Will Be Attending @SXSW Interactive

Big news! I’m heading to SXSWi next Friday and yes, I can barely contain my excitement. I will be there from the 11th-15th learning some new practices, introduced to new start-ups, engaging with technology, and hopefully meeting some amazing people. This will be my first time going to SXSW and my first time visiting Austin, TX.

I will be traveling with some coworkers from Critical Mass and we’re going to paint the town, intellectually speaking of course. Some of the sessions that I’m going to be focusing on are “Branding/Marketing” and “Social Graph.” It fits, right? I mean, I work in social media with a secondary passion in branding. (It’s going to be awesome!)

This event requires a lot of prep work. For starters, the schedule of sessions and events is large and full of, what sounds like, amazing content and lecturers. As I complied my schedule for the 5 days that will be down there, I came to realize that there is no possible way I can attend all the sessions. I had to be selective with the sessions I wanted, weigh the pros and cons, realize I can’t be in two places at once, so I had to choose the best session of the time. And it’s because of that, I believe this will be an extraordinary experience.

Another aspect of prep work that is requiring a lot of diligence is the travel. Yes, my flight and hotel are all taken care of, but when it comes to traveling in the Austin area, that may prove to be a bit more difficult. I found a shuttle service that runs from my hotel to the convention center. I think that might be the winner there. If that falls through, there are always cabs, right?

A while ago, I wrote a blog post about how I love working with and being around smart people. Here we go again and I can’t be more psyched! Not only am I heading down with some of the most talented and intelligent coworkers I’ve had the pleasure to work with, but we’re all going down to meet and learn from some of the most engaging and intelligent people from the nation and around the world.

So, what do I hope to take away from SXSWi? Well, I hope to learn more about social media and branding so I can bring that back that knowledge back to the team here in Chicago. I also hope to make industry connections, share my experiences, learn from others’ experiences, and overload my brain with knowledge and insights. The way I look at it, the more I learn and the more people I meet at SXSWi, the more I can offer my clients and Critical Mass. Professional development is something I don’t take lightly and it’s an ongoing process.

And then, there is the “fun” part of SXSW; the parties. I think I have triple booked myself for all of the evening parties. I don’t think that’s going to be a big deal. After all, my first priority is to learn down there and my last one is to rage it up all night. I’m thinking that I’m going to take the parties as they come and call an “audible” on the ground as they are not high priority in my book. However, I really want to attend the Mashable House — I heard that’s a killer party.

I depart for Austin on Friday and as I said before, I’ll be there until the following Wednesday. You can follow my travels and learnings by reading my tweets: @ebreakdown, following this hashtag: #cmsxsw, or by reading the blog: ebreakdown. Honestly, I probably will be tweeting more than blogging down there just because of time constraints. If you have any suggestions for enhancing my SXSW experience, I’m welcome to them! Also, if you are going to be down there and want to meet up, shoot me a tweet — we’ll make it happen.

Recap: The Chicago Auto Show

Saturday, I had the opportunity to check out the 2011 Chicago Auto Show with my brother Eric. Now, I for one absolutely love auto shows. Perhaps I love them because I grew up liking automobiles, maybe it’s because I’m a guy and guys “like that sort of thing,” or maybe it’s because auto shows are just plain cool. Regardless, auto shows are fun and this year’s show illustrated how integrated our culture is becoming with technology and communications. I noticed two activities the auto manufacturers were investing in, they were social media interaction and interactive, on-site engagement.

Social
Social was a very large component in the majority of the large auto manufacturers’ displays. Here is a rundown of how some the auto companies engaged socially.

• Volkswagon: Upon arrival to the Auto Show, I checked into the Chicago Auto Show via Foursquare. Very soon after, I received a tweet from @VWConnect stating, “Stop by the VW booth to see the all-new Jetta GLI & find out how to get a free T-shirt,” with a TwitPic of a VW GLI. Yes, it was a bot Twitter account, but it served its purpose. I was immediately intrigued by what they had going on and that they were engaging me based upon my location. I headed over to the VW booth to find out more.

I came up to the new model year Passat and noticed it had a CTA image on the vehicle. The image directed me to take a listen to the stereo, tweet about it, and find a Product Specialist. Well, I bypassed those directions and went to the Product Specialist. She was there with T-Shirts in hand, standing right next to the vehicle. She informed me that had I tweeted about the vehicle, she would have taken down some information (for direct mail purposes) and given me a VW t-shirt to take home.

    Pros: VW was highly engaged both online and off. The incentive was adequate for the promotional needs. It was a great way of directing online, to a socially engaged, real-life specialist.
    Cons: Twitter bots are sometimes overwhelming and people don’t respond to them that well. Taking down my information after I did all those steps for VW, was a big of a large ask.

• Audi: Audi used location based services to generate awareness and engagement. Audi featured a couple of signs that directed the public to check into the Audi booth via both Foursquare and Facebook Places. As far as I could tell, there wasn’t much of an incentive to do so. However, I have to say this: I didn’t check in. So, with that said, who knows what was on the other side of the check-in. Either way, it wasn’t mentioned on the signage what would happen if you did check in.

    Pros: Promoting the use of location based services through signage.
    Cons: No real or clear incentive to check-in to the services.

• Chrysler: Chrysler had a simple black-and-white flyer they handed out to attendees of the show. One side featured all of their social accounts with a CTA that asked the attendees to become a fan of their pages and upload images, video and editorial from their experience at the show.

The second side was a CTA to engage the brand through text messaging. Text “Chrysler” to a number, explore the booths, answer questions that were texted back, and get a reward at the information desk. The rewards varied from an eco-friendly bag to a 3-for-1 oil change. A good use of texting, however, it seemed to be a bit of an arduous task.

    Pros: Using texting instead of social to interact with the attendees was different from most OEMs. The 3-for-1 oil change reward was pretty good.
    Cons: Attendees have to pay for the texts. Who knows when else Chrylser will text the attendees. And the photocopied flyers were a very passive approach to social media.

• Chevrolet: Chevrolet had a “bullet-time” photo booth in conjunction with Hot Wheels. Attendees waited in line to get their photo taken in front a Chevy vehicle, were offered a physical copy of the photography, and had the option to post that photo on Facebook or other social media platform.

I didn’t participate in this one; the line was way too long. However, I can only assume Chevy got a great turn out, a lot of social information on attendees, and the offer for participation was pretty innovative. I mean really, where else can you get a photo of yourself in bullet time?

    Pros: Innovate and interactive booth with a social component on the backend.
    Cons: Very long line to wait.

• AutoTrader: AutoTrader, much like VW, had a Twitter bot engage the attendees after an Auto Show Foursquare check-in. Their tweet read, “Thanks for joining us at the Chicago Auto Show! Fly by AutoTrader.com’s booth with this tweet for a prize” offered a clear call to action with a plus up incentive. If it was anything like the LA Auto Show, you get a picture with someone you’ve never heard of, a pencil and a small carrying case. I admit, I didn’t try this one either; I already have a pencil.

    Pros: A quick social response with an incentive back end.
    Cons: Again, a Twitter bot engagement tactic. However, with that said, how else would we know to go over to the booth?

Interactive
The second major piece of the Chicago Auto Show were interactive displays. The auto manufacturers really stepped up their game this year. Let me quickly go through some of the more memorable displays.

Overall: QR Codes were in heavy use with every sort of CTA ranging from vehicle information, to connecting on Facebook, to engaging dealerships. It seems as though QR codes are becoming more prevalent in the industry and used more by the public.

Honda: Honda had an “X-Ray” like display. Basically, there was an image on a wall of a Honda minivan. There was a screen on rails affixed above the image. The attendee would move the screen back and forth over the image to give a detailed, x-ray like, look at the vehicle. The display didn’t work all that well, but the public didn’t seem to mind as they enjoyed just playing around with it.

Fiat: Fiat used an X-Box Kinect interface. An attendee would stand behind the kiosk, waive their hands and interact with a large television screen filled with images and information. The attendee would select one of the images, an informative piece, or video would display and the attendee selected another one. This display had a very high level of interaction and a clear description on how to use it. However, the screen was pretty distant and made it difficult to read the information.

Scion: Scion used 3D video to engage the attendees. The Product Specialists gave out the glasses and all you had to do, as an attendee, was sit down and watch a 3D Scion movie. It was pretty simple, however, offered little interaction.

Chevrolet Volt: The booth for the Volt alone, was larger than some of the other auto manufacturer’s booths overall. The Volt offered a serene test track that allowed the attendees to ride in the car through a beautifully landscaped roadway. Once you walk up to the track, you are inundated with the smell of fresh plants, trees and grass. The attendee didn’t get to drive the Volt around the track, which was about the size of a large go-kart track, they were chauffeured. The line to get in the Volt wrapped around the track. It was a site to see and a calming booth to visit with all the foliage.

Toyota: Toyota’s Prius display was pretty large, bright, and spoke to the “Prius Goes Plural” campaign. At the base of the booth, was a station to charge your mobile phone. Toyota offered, from what it seemed, every type of mobile phone chargers. I think Toyota understood perfectly what type of world we live in right now. Also, when the attendee charged their phones, a Product Specialist would sit with them to chat. I’m not one to be suckered into this sort of conversation, but when you need your phone charged, you will do just about anything.

So, that was just a part of my experience at the auto show. I truly do enjoy auto shows; the designs of the cars, the booth displays, and the unique approaches auto manufacturers use to get our attention. However, one major downside to the show was the shear amount of people in attendance. I think the flow of the show needs to be reevaluated from a perspective of the volume of people. That was just about the only downside, and looking at it from a marketing perspective, it’s certainly an upside.

Shout Out: Thank you Lindsay for the tickets!

A Shift in Culture

I remember writing something on Twitter a few weeks ago regarding the idea that people no longer to go coffee shops for coffee, as we did in the last decade or even the one before, but to go now for WIFI. This statement has made me wonder, what is different now from years before? How has our culture evolved? How has our day-to-day lives changed?

One example would be how we search for things. Remember back in the day when we would have to use the Yellow Pages to find business or people? Or even more recently when we would use search engines through the computer? No longer do we have to open a book or even turn our computer on, we can search in the palm of our hands with portable devices. Various applications allow us on our phones, to find what we are looking for almost immediately. I mean, even the mere idea of having applications on a phone is a relatively new concept. Ten years ago, I had a phone that could only send/receive calls and, what was at the time something new, text messages. We use our phones not to call anymore, but as a mobile computer.

Speaking of mobile computers, we are now in a time when you no longer have to wait to get to the office or go home, we simply pull our computer out of our bag, hop on to some WIFI and go. I’m not saying that laptops were not around 10 years ago, but they definitely weren’t as prevalent and certainly were not the primary computer that people used. We even use them to give presentations and pitches to clients. Our very nature is now becoming mobile.

Facebook.com

Twitter and Facebook were not the first, by a long shot, social networking platforms around. However, their ability to adapt to the ever-changing online environment, has kept them around. It used to be that we would ask someone for their number, call them or even text them. Now, we “Facebook” them or follow them on Twitter. Even businesses are adopting the social media trend. Promoting themselves through social media sites, advertising their services or products by “tweeting,” and interacting with their demographic in the first person. Social media is changing the way we buy things, learn about things and even meet people. I’ll even go as far as to say that psychologically, we believe that the online presence of a person and/or business is actually who they are. We don’t think of their page as a page, but as the person themselves.

And while we’re on the topic of online environments, who goes to a record store anymore? Do you know of any around still? Who uses CD players? It’s all iPods, mobile phones, laptops and streaming. The advent of the digital medium and the unlimited access to any song anywhere on the web has changed the way we buy and listen to music. I’m even thinking of ripping all my old CD’s to MP3 and selling them off.

So, what’s next? What are we as a culture going to shift to? We already see it happening. Augmented Reality is creeping into our culture slowly, but surely. Google has released a statement saying they’re going to customize billboard advertisements in their Street Map application and change the way we advertise. Ford is unveiling a car with applications on the dash. We have a vague idea of what is around the corner, however, all that we can really plan for is that we don’t know how society is going to change, but it is an exciting time to be alive.

Where do you see us heading next?

Update: I’ve Relocated to Chicago

I know I’ve been a bit remiss in the updating of this blog, but it was for good reason. The reason being, in the last two weeks, my life got turned right-side up. Allow me to update you on the happenings in my life.

Job Offer
A couple of weeks ago, as you may have read before, I accepted a job offer at a digital marketing agency in Chicago. Two things to point out here:

    1) I love digital marketing. I always have felt when working in print design that there was something else that I needed to incorporate into my professional life; that “something else” was marketing and/or strategy. Basically, I wanted to know the “why” and the “meaning” behind my work. I wanted to be apart of the strategy behind the campaigns. I wanted to develop the strategy and campaign for the assets I was designing. In the last couple of years, client demands and my own passion catapulted me into the world of social. Social media marketing was exactly what I was desiring and Critical Mass recognized that and gave me an offer.

    2) I love Chicago; I always have. Ever since I was a little boy, I had dreamt of living in Chicago. Chicago always had a connection with my family and myself. It’s not just the “tall” buildings, it’s the culture, the lifestyle, the movement of the city. It’s not that Milwaukee imprisoned me for 11 years, it’s more that I was a bit complacent for 11 years. Now, I had the means and opportunity coupled with the desire to move to the best city in the United States.

With all that said, I accepted the offer and as a result, things and events started to move really, really fast.

Moving
Moving is no easy task and most certainly, moving to another city isn’t either. Within two weeks, I needed to find a place to stay, pack my bags and head down to start work. At the time of me accepting the position, I was, for all intents and purposes, upwardly mobile. I didn’t have a lease that I was tied into, no girlfriend and no pets. Most of my things were already packed up and I was ready to go.

However, finding a place to stay was the inherent difficulty. Originally, it was planned that I would stay with a friend for a month until I located a more permanent residence from which I could launch my campaign to take on Chicago. Well, for reasons I won’t go into here, things fell through with my friend. I know you’re asking yourself why. Well, let’s just say, it was a conflict of interest.

Moving on, I had two contingency plans:

    Plan B: Locate an apartment and tap into savings to get it. Relocate the most minimal amount of personal belongings and set up shop until I can make the full-up move down.

    Plan C: Commute via Amtrak to and from Chicago everyday.

Obviously, I chose to tackle Plan B. With only 5 days left until I start my kick-ass position at CM; I took the train down to Chicago to locate my new digs. Since I was under a time constraint, my options were a bit limited. I decided to go with a pretty rad studio apartment. I signed the letters of intent and headed back to Milwaukee. The following day, I realized that I may have made a mistake. I called up the broker and informed them that I wanted a larger place. They gave me options, and I signed on a place a few hours later, without even stepping foot into it.

I had my place, I had my bags packed and I had an amazing friend ready to drive me down to Chicago with 4 days left before I start.

Saying Goodbye
Another reason why I haven’t been on top of the blog, was that I had to say goodbye to my close friends in Milwaukee. I realized that for the close friends, I wanted to say goodbye in person. This plan really took up a lot of my time; and I wouldn’t have it any other way. For some, the goodbyes were bittersweet, for others it was a celebration of moving forward. Cries and smiles seemed to be the specials of the day.

I also had a going away party at my favorite night spot, Hi Hat. Hi Hat always had a special place in my heart. For the last 11 years, so many great things and people came out of that business. With having that party, I knew that what I thought was the ideal was turning to the real. I AM moving to Chicago. I was amazed by the amount and diversity of people who came out to send me on my way; that was a bittersweet moment.

Saying Hello
With a goodbye, comes a hello. Sunday, the day before I started, I packed up my buddy’s car and we drove down to Chicago. I picked up the keys to my place and headed over to unwrap my new apartment. To my surprise, it was a pretty sweet place in a killer neighborhood. Also, my job turns out be even more amazing than what I had envisioned. I’m working with people of extreme passion and knowledge. They are all very welcoming to boot. I have a feeling I have a lot to offer and am exited for this opportunity to learn so many more things.

I have been living in Chicago for about a week now and already there are somethings that I have learned beyond what I knew already.

    1) Express busses are the way to go when commuting to the loop. Forget the train; it’s way too packed during rush and not to mention, it takes forever.

    2) The cost of living is comparable to Milwaukee minus the cost of consumables. What do I mean by consumables? I mean food, household goods, luxury items and overall anything you need to live day-to-day. It’s only about 30% more, but it’s still within reason.

    3) People in the morning are not happy. I’m not expecting people to be walking on sunshine at 7am, but come on, you don’t have to be a dick about it. (Maybe that will be one thing I can help change. Yeah right. Leif makes 3 million people happy in the morning.)

    4) Overall, once you get passed the 7am grumpy stage, people are very genuine and helpful. I am stunned by the generosity and gratuity of people here. All you have to do is ask.

    5) I thought people like the nightlife in Milwaukee, but man, I wasn’t prepared for Chicago night owls. I’m sorry Milwaukee, these people are pros down here; you have a run for your money.

    6) Despite what people say, Chicago is very clean, very clean.

    7) You never have to worry about being too far away from a CVS/Walgreens, Chase Bank, Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts.

    8) I think I’m going to like it here.

Well, there you have it, the last two weeks of my life. I’m sure, as things progress and become a bit more normal, I will be writing more on this blog. And not to worry, I will be writing more content about social media, art and music soon.

Announcement: I’m relocating to Chicago

Yes, I accepted a job and yes, it’s in Chicago.

So, you want the details? Well, I just signed the offer letter and I will be off to Chicago August 1st. I will be a Community Moderator at a pretty sweet, dare I say, rad digital/marketing agency in Chicago. What is a Community Moderator? Well, if you haven’t been reading my blog and need an explanation, in short, I will be a social media moderator for a brand represented by the agency; the wizard behind the curtain if you will.

I have lived in Milwaukee for over 10 years now. Milwaukee has been very good to me over the years and yes, I am a little sad to leave it. I have had many great experiences in Milwaukee and hope to have many more in Chicago. I went to school in Milwaukee, made some kick-ass friends, worked with some amazing people at some killer places. I have lived in different parts of town and experienced the most I could living in Milwaukee. It was, an excellent life experience, one that I’ll never forget.

However, Chicago offers a new chapter to my life. Many of you who know me know that I’m interested in trying new things. Well, with the exception of certain foods. (Those who know me, know what I’m talking about.) Chicago is a city that I have long since wanted to be in. The size, culture, family history, artist community, neighborhoods are all rolled into one massive desire to relocate and experience.

Like I said before, this is another volume I have to write. It’s something that I have to do and try out. And with this new, radical position, I’m able to do just that. I am excited to see what I can do in this new position and am excited, and I’m not going to lie, a little scared (but in a good way) to relocate to the city that I have always wanted to be in. And for those of you asking, no, I will not be living downtown. Come on, I’m not that rich.

Of course, this transformation and evolution in my life would not have been possible without all the help from my family, friends and coworkers. I would like to take this time to point out a few key players who helped me in this life changing event.

First and foremost, I must thank family. My parents have been a great help in being supportive in my decision to open up a new book. My sister has and always will be my rock. And let’s not forget Eric. Wow, this guy has been the idealistic older brother, and all the things he has done for me, I will never forget.

Also, I would like to send a special shout-out to Al and Mike. These guys helped me discover another talent and opportunity that has been most beneficial to me. My references I would also like to thank. Mike and John, you guys must have said some great things and I hope that I can continue to live up to what you said.

Oh man, this is starting to sound like an Oscar speech–terribly sorry about that. I’ll wrap things up.

My friends have been supremely excellent over the years, and I thank all of you for that. I would also like to thank my friends in Chicago for putting up with my non-stop visits and overnighters. You guys have really went above-and-beyond.

So, that is it. I’m moving to Chicago next month. If you’d like to meet up before I take off, you know how to get a hold of me. Also, if you want to help me move, I’m not going to say no. Ha Ha.

Thank you all! Now, I gotta pack!

Recap: Thank You Chicago!

Well, with much ado, I traveled to Chicago on Wednesday and stayed to Thursday. (Thank you to Laurie for putting me up for the night.) My travels to Chicago are fairly frequent, so it’s not an uncommon thing for me to go there. But, meeting people from the Twitterverse is fairly uncommon of me.

I had the pleasure to meet with my friend @fromdy3to60618 also I had the chance to meet @applegirl and @veronicaludwig. Both are very welcoming people full of knowledge and excellent conversation.

It was great to see my long time friend @fromdy3to60618 during his lunch. It has been a while since I’ve seen him and we had a lot to catch up on. I know our conversation was short, but I’m sure I will be down there once again to hang out with him more.

@applegirl is the voice behind @edelmandigital, a large digital services agency in Chicago. Come to find out that she loves to meet people IRL (In Real Life) from the online community, which is pretty excellent of her. That, in my opinion is exactly what social media is all about, social conversation not just in the virtual world, but extending that into the physical one. We had a brilliant conversation regarding social media, where I want to be in a few years, Chicago, life at @edelmandigital, iPhones and iPads. I would like to personally thank her for taking time out of her lunch to visit with a neighbor to the North.

@veronicaludwig is an independent recruiter. Now, this woman is full of life and hilarity. We have been meaning to meet up in person for a long while now. She is just as selfless as @applegirl in extending her hand out to new people, especially those who love Chicago. Over coffee in Millennium Park, we spoke about my ambitions for the Chicago market, what I specifically do, where her career is heading along with some fun conversations about media and networking.

After these sessions, I met up with my friend Laurie to get prepared to head to the @Razorfish recruitment party. In all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect out of this. I knew there would be many people attending, but I had no idea there would be a line of 75+ people out the door waiting to get in. That really illustrates how many people are out of work. From there, we left, got dinner and decided to head back and chat up over some wine.

All in all, it was a fairly exhausting trip, exhausting in a good way. I met some very cool and welcoming people from Chicago. @applegirl and @veronicaludwig catalyzed my belief that Chicago is a very open and nurturing city. I can’t wait for the next time I head down there. Hopefully I get to see them again and meet others. (And possibly, get a job.)