The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Interview: SF Local, Drew Hoolhorst — May 26, 2013

Interview: SF Local, Drew Hoolhorst

This week Eliza interviews freelance copywriter and regular Bold Italic contributor, Drew Hoolhorst. Follow Drew on Twitter via @drewber and on his blog, Rocket Shoes

Drew Hoolhorst
Drew Hoolhorst

You, Drew Hoolhorst, are a master storyteller. Who do you consider your earliest influences, and how has your storytelling evolved over the years?

Thank you, interview question, that’s incredibly kind of you. Ready for the hokey answer? My grandfather was the best storyteller I’ve ever met in my lifetime. Since I was a tiny babe, he would tell me the most grandiose Big Fish-esque lies you’ve ever heard and I just couldn’t get enough. There was sort of something great about it…his “art” of lying, really. I know that sounds horrible, but I loved how he could lie to me and tell these tales of absolute grandeur and even when I knew they were lies or at least stretches of truths, I just loved hearing them. The man just knew how to make you feel like you were the only person he was talking to, or had EVER spoken to, and that’s an art.

I’ve always tried to mimic that in any form of writing or storytelling: say things that readers and listeners feel like are just for them. In the best writing, that’s there, really. You are speaking to a million people, but if it were just one you’d tell it just as personally.

Some would say you are well known for your contributions to The Bold Italic. How would you breakdown your creative writing process?

It’s simple: come up with a great idea when you’re talking to people you care about. Laugh with them about it because you all agree that this is something you all feel and could talk about for hours. Every time: that’s where you start. The best stuff comes from conversations with people you care about, because when you’re just shooting the sh*t, that’s when you say the random Seinfeld-esque stuff that really sticks in your head… everyone’s head. After that?

Get a deadline, wait until the last minute, panic and then write. Don’t ever write ahead of time. You’ll write a huge piece of shit. Panic, man. It brings out some wonderful stuff, in my opinion.

Having worked as a freelance copywriter for SF advertising agency EVB, how do you gauge what style of writing will be the best suited for a particular audience?

In all honesty, you just listen to the client and then (in my case, because I’m small fry) you don’t wait to hear what your CD’s have to say to you, you listen to what they say to the other important people in the room that are just like them. Basically: what bosses say to bosses? Write for that audience. Because that’s when everyone’s really being completely honest, and that’s when people say the off the cuff stuff that tells you exactly what we all think we should be writing or concepting to.

As a freelancer what is your best self-motivation tactic, and what advice would you give to professionals considering freelance work?

Freelancing has been a funny thing. In the beginning, it’s like sex: you have no idea what you’re doing and you just lie incessantly to get everyone thinking you’ve been doing this for ages. I try to always remember that beginning part because after each job, you’ve sponged up a little more knowledge from some really amazing creative people and you’re that much better than you were when you walked in their door. Basically, every time I can’t self motivate, I remember that I used to have no idea what I was doing, and if it’s this much fun now, how much fun will it be if I keep my ass in gear? You can always get better, and I try to just remember that.

If you’re considering freelancing, just remember that it’s like getting a new job all the time, always. It’s hard, but it’s also incredibly fun to get a new uniform every month or so.

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You worked as a social media strategist for the creative agency Mekanism back in 2006. What has surprised you about the evolution of social media, and do you have any predictions about how it will change in the future?

What’s surprised me is how far it’s come since then. I mean, I remember explaining to senior creatives how “the youtubes and the tweeters” worked back in the day and how strangely slow they were to grasp it and/or take it seriously, and it’s just really funny how now all of them add you on a social network every other day like a parent trying to add their daugther on Facebook (I say in jest, my bosses at the time were incredible people.) I think things like Vine have jumped the shark a bit, where it’s really awesome but…I don’t know, do we really have to have THAT short of an attention span? I like what companies like Medium are doing in trying to Goldilocks the blog/twitter conundrum a bit, and I think service apps are only going to get more amazing. Not a bold prediction, I know, but I think people are going to back off of the hyper short attention span stuff and focus more on making a service that’s “food delivery for blank” for every last thing on the planet.

You have a self-proclaimed ‘black belt in feelings’. What exactly do you mean by that?

It means I was raised by a single mother and have an extensive shoe collection and am happy to talk about feelings until both of our ears hurt. (I’ve just always been the sensitive guy my whole life, guess it just sort of stuck.)

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What are your favorite events and communities in SF?

I love Noise Pop and Outside Lands to an almost unhealthy degree, and I’m so happy that OSL is finally getting to the level of Lollapalooza and what not. We deserved to have something like that here in SF. We’re a bunch of “neener neener” artisanal fans, it’s only right we get to see bands that no one’s ever heard of yet.

About our contributor // Eliza Dropkin is a lover of live music, good food, and beautiful places. Connect with her on Twitter via @elizadropkin.

Event Review: KPI – Become a Key Person of Influence — February 10, 2013

Event Review: KPI – Become a Key Person of Influence

What: KPI event or an introduction to an entrepreneur growth accelerator designed to assist small businesses through a growth phase.
Over Heard: “There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. There are opportunities for everyone.”

Captivated audience
Captivated audience

Last Saturday, the KPI event kicked off 2013 with over 670 people attending the conference at NAIDA in spite of the rain… this big number shows how much people, are they owners of small businesses or entrepreneurs, are eager to learn more about how to make a difference in their industry or even to the world.

The KPI Accelerator programme presents itself like a recipe to follow in order to achieve success in your industry. The motto being to love what you do, to stay authentic and to be ready to spare no expense to make it real… sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

Let’s start the journey with Glen Carlson and Daniel Priestley, our hosts for the day. Glen has an impressive list of professional achievements and describes himself as a startup enthusiast and a fun hunter. Daniel is known for coining the phrase ‘Global Small Business’ and believes that an Entrepreneur Revolution is unfolding. He is  also the best-selling author of the book Key Person of Influence.

We are no longer in the Industrial Age; we are in the Ideas Economy and everything has changed.

Being a key person of influence means having a voice within the industry. Influence comes from being a visible, remarkable, credible and valuable person in the inner-circle of the industry you love. Back in the days, what made you a person of influence was the family you were born, the school you went to and a touch of luck. Today, we’re facing a critical change: we came from the Industrial Age to the Ideas Economy and with the development of technology and smart devices everyone has a factory in his pocket. The last five years have seen a huge shift and with no geographic barriers, more and more people are working for themselves and today, your soft skills are what makes the difference.

Let’s be back to the recipe or five-step methods to set you and your business apart:

KPI event 5 steps

1. You need a Perfect Pitch: it’s all about answering the “What do you do?” question. You may have a great product, service or idea but if you can’t communicate its values in a remarkable way, you’ll always struggle. Words have power: they can convey what you stand for or against. “Being able to describe what makes you or your product unique is key to your success. This is called the unique value proposition”, explained Ian Elliot.  Defining your niche can also help you to stand out from the crowd: it’s better to be famous in a small area than being all things to all people. Crafting your brand essence will ensure your business grow as an authentic expression of who you are: the brand essence is the core spirit behind your business. When you’re working on your elevator pitch, don’t forget the customer. Understand him: who is he? what does he want? need? expect? What are his rational, emotional and corporate needs? A satisfied customer is a worthless asset.

Consistency in little things and continuity across all your messages: they are things that matter.

2. You need to Publish your ideas: in the Ideas Economy, publishing positions you as an authority. Andrew Griffiths is Australia’s #1 small business author with 11 books sold in over 50 countries. As he said : “Before I wrote my first book, I was an idiot. After I published it, I was a genius”. Following the success of his first publication, Andrew decided to leverage the power of his book and wrote a second one, then a third… up to eleventh! This gave him a huge competitive advantage in his industry as being an author gives credibility. Andrew explained why publishing makes a difference:

  • It shows that you have information that is valuable to others
  • It sets you apart from other people in your chosen field
  • It also demonstrates that you have the discipline to complete a major project that requires structure and creativity
  • It also shows that you have convictions and are brave enough to back yourself

If you are unsure of your capacity of writing a book, you can start with your own blog, a website, some white papers or even Twitter. Publishing in your industry shows that you are a person to be consulted, engaged, listened to and sought for advice. But unlike Andrew whose business is writing books, you don’t have to write 11 books to get noticed.

There has never been a better time to publish with the new publishing landscape.

3. You need to Productise your values: time is money and as an entrepeneur, making the most of your time and making money is crucial. But regularly people get it wrong by sticking to the OOPS model: Only One Product/Service that makes them dependent in terms of brand, time and capital.To make money, you have to create value. Product and service don’t make money. The product eco-system can change that: for example, Steve Jobs decided to heavily promote the iPod which turned out to be a huge success. This was also the first key entrance for customers into Apple’s world. People were then ready to buy Mac computers. Defining the asset of your product is another way to increase your value: What is your asset? Is it said in your positioning? Can you develop your product or the scale of your product? Multiple products sold through multiple channels mean multiplying your value.

Income follows assets. Defining the assets of your product is what will allow you to earn money.

4. You need to raise your Profile: being good at what you do is no longer enough. You need to stand out and using social media is one of the best tactics to achieve it. In a world where everything can be Googled, you have to do your best to ensure the results that show up are positive and convincing enough to win the deal. Kylie Bartlett shared be sure that your pitch and message are replicated across all your social media; content is the new currency: write, publish, share and syndicate all your content across the web; don’t do social media without a strategy to transform leads into sales; pay attention to your digital footprint, be sure that there is coherence; enjoy social media as it allows you  to meet interesting people that could bring you new opportunities.

When your customers Google you, they want to see a video, updates, dowloads, community and dynamic information.

5. You need great Partnerships: Partnership creates wholesale value. The IRL (Illusion of Limited Resource) prevents you from doing what you want: you think you don’t have enough time or money or people. But there is an amazing network of partners out there ready to give you what you need. As Daniel Priestley said, “There is no such thing as a self-made millionaire”. The beauty of the partnership is that you don’t need to have all things, you partner with those who have what’s missing. Ideas are great but worthless in themselves; implementation is everything. Cathy Burke, the CEO of The Hunger Project in Australia came to explain how she mastered the art of mobilising key resources like time, money and knowledge via strategic joint ventures and partnerships. When she approaches CEOs, rather than saying that the aim of The Hunger Project is to put an end to the worldwide hunger, she explains that it seeks to empower people to resolve their hunger problem. And that changes everything. To explain the essence of the partnership, Cathy shared an african proverb:

If you want to go quick, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.

The KPI event was a great introduction to the 5-step method developed by Daniel Priestley to become the new Steve Jobs or new Larry and Sergey of your industry. Let’s conclude with few words: opportunity is nowhere = now here.

Kpi event

About our ambassador // Delphine Vuagnoux is a community ambassador for Sydney. She is passionate about innovation and social change. She does her best working at All Together Now and Medianet. You can find her on Twitter here: @delphinevuagnou.

Interview: Melbourne local, Lachlann Carter — October 25, 2012

Interview: Melbourne local, Lachlann Carter

Deep down in the cozy book-lined dungeons of the Wheeler Centre, Community Ambassador Deb Itzkowic sat down with Lachlann Carter (left) to chat about the imminent launch of 100 Story Building, an inspiring social enterprise that he co-founded with Jenna Williams (right) and Jess Tran (middle).

What is 100 Story Building?

100 Story Building is a social enterprise and centre for young writers. Based in Melbourne’s inner-west, it’s stated mission is to  “provide opportunities for the most marginalised children and young people in our community to build literacy skills, confidence and a sense of belonging – the key to their future success.”

The projects implemented by 100 Story Building connect students with creative professionals from all aspects of the literary world, who undertake to share their passion for storytelling, demystify the creative process and support students to write, create and explore their literary skills.

Of utmost importance to Lachlann, all of 100 Story Building’s projects have authentic outcomes and honour students’ work so that they have an opportunity to see their work being celebrated in a professional space. Lachlann is also proud of other positive side-effects of the literary programs which include building students’ self confidence and engaging their natural creative spirits in an effortless way.

Once upon a time… (Or ‘tell us about the seeds for 100 Story Building’)

Four years ago, Lachlann, a primary school teacher (amongst other talents) who had been working with disadvantaged students in Melbourne’s inner-west primary schools, teamed up with Jenna, who had her feet firmly planted in the publishing world, to pursue a shared vision that combined their love of kids with their love of the literary arts.

Together they followed their pied piper (Dave Eggers) to undertake a three-month internship at 826 Valencia in San Fransisco, an organisation whose mission it is to support students writing skills and help teaches get their students excited about writing.

This was a role model organisation for Lachlann and Jenna’s vision and the best place to soak up the skills and experience required to implement a like-minded organisation in their home town, Melbourne.

On return the pair founded Pigeons Projects, a not-for-profit organisation that delivered creative writing workshops to primary school students. Over the past four years they have been busy nurturing and growing the literary skills of marginalised children in Melbourne’s inner-west.

Fast forward four years later and Pigeons has written itself into a new story called 100 Story Building, where the lead authors include Alice Pung and Michael Pryor who are the Ambassadors of this visionary social enterprise.

Who have been influential in helping get your social enterprise up and running?

Lachlann acknowledged the amazing support 100 Story Building has had along the way from its Board members, philanthropic funding bodies, industry bodies, Melbourne’s literary community as well as the schools and students that they have worked with over the past four years.

One of the main reasons that 100 Story Building has been able to get off the ground was through the support of The Social Traders program called ‘The Crunch’. During the three-month program, Lachlann and Jenna were supported by mentors who helped them develop a feasibility study for their social enterprise. At the end of The Crunch’s program, 100 Story Building participated in a pitch for investment and were rewarded with start-up funding and ongoing mentoring support which ensured that the social enterprise was viable.

Since then 100 Story Building has been awarded philanthropic grants to keep them afloat until a time in the not too distant future that their social enterprise will be self-funding.

Tell us about some of your pilot projects…

Lachlann and his team have recently run a pilot program called ‘In Other Words’ in collaboration with Maribyrnong City Council. Over the course of a term Prep to Year 2, who predominantly came from low socio-economic, non-English speaking homes, were asked to create and tell their parent’s stories. The program was a holistic vision of literacy where parents, teachers and students worked collaboratively and parents were empowered to assist their kids to develop literacy skills.

Each week “storytellers”, including Melbourne literary heavyweight Alice Pung, ran workshops to help the students develop their own story and their own storytelling voice. The program evolved and adapted over time when Bernard Caleo, one of the “storytellers”, introduced the students to ‘Kamishibai’, a Japanese storytelling form involving paper theatre. The students magnetised towards this art form and ultimately their told their stories using words and pictures which were filmed during the workshop. The program improved students’ literary skills by teaching them how to put together a story using a simple character and plot framework and at the same time also developed other skills such as public speaking.

The school community came together at the grand finale film premiere, complete with red carpet and popcorn, which was held in a transformed classroom. (You can check out the students creative genius yourselves at a film screening at Federation Square on Saturday 27 October at 10am as part of the Federation Square 10th birthday celebration.) Lachlann is serious about ensuring that 100 Story Building programs improve literacy and explains that the program is now being independently evaluated for concrete literacy development outcomes and hopes that this successful pilot project will be run again in other schools.

Another successful pilot program was run in collaboration with Harvest Magazine, where students in Year 5 and 6 convened as the editorial committee of “Early Harvest”, a children’s edition of the magazine. Each week the students participated in a workshop facilitated by an industry professional designed to explore the various stages of the publishing process. The students put out a tender for submissions, chose the stories they wanted to include (which included rejecting a number of established adult writers!), edited the articles, designed the layout of the magazine and published it.

How will your social enterprise work?

Lachlann envisages that eventually the literary programs for marginalised students in schools will be funded by a range of writing workshops offered to adults and kids in the general public, using the skills, experience and networks that they have developed. Examples include school holiday workshops for kids, master classes for adults who want to write for children and in collaboration with Hardie Grant Egmont (Hardie Grant’s emerging reader’s publishing arm) the 100 Story Studio will hold workshops where budding writers can present their work and get constructive feedback.

What a fabulous enterprise… how can I get involved?

Currently 100 Story Building is looking for a place to call home in the West Footscray/Flemington area. Once established, the 100 Story Studio will be the hub for the social enterprise’s ongoing programs and workshops. 100 Story Building is currently seeking enthusiastic volunteers passionate about creating it’s literary vision who can help in a range of areas including the fit-out of the studio, administration, marketing and program facilitators. Volunteers wanting to work with kids will understandably undergo a rigorous screening process including completing a working with children check.

100 Story Building will be launched on Tuesday October 30, 7:30pm – 8:15pm at the Wheeler Centre. Find out how the 100 Story Building will support the voices of more than 1000 children and young people in the inner-west of Melbourne, and how you can get involved and help to work towards 100 Story Building’s ‘happily ever after’. RSVP here.

Email: lach@100storybuilding.org.au
Facebook: 100 Story Building
Twitter: @100storyb

Announcing custom email and content curation: we’re here to help — October 23, 2011

Announcing custom email and content curation: we’re here to help

  • Do you ever find yourself not knowing where to start with your content?
  • Have you been handballed email marketing in the office but can’t cope with another thing on your plate?
  • Has your creativity and keen-eye been zapped by corporate zombies or 4-o’clock-itis?
  • Do you have better things to do than spend 24/7 burrowed in your laptop trawling the web?
  • Do you hate reading endless questions?

Well, whatever you answered, I wanted to share something new we’re working on at Fetch HQ. After a steady run this year in Melbourne and Sydney, and our soon-to-launch other cities, we like to think we’re getting this niche sorted. We’re experiencing promising organic growth, becoming a highly-trusted (just see the open and click-through rates) online resource and giving our covered communities a vehicle to discover, connect and share. Most importantly, we love and know email and social.

That’s right… we enjoy it, we create it and we get it. I often feel sorry for content distributed via poor email. In some circles, it’s somehow perceived to be uncool. We simply don’t understand it. I’ve been doing email and content for five plus years, and still get the inspiration chills when I received a well-designed and thoughtfully-crafted enewsletter.

So, if you like what we’ve created so far and are looking at your own content and email desires – we’re keen to chat about:

  • End-to-end, interesting, relevant and smartly-laid out emails for your community
  • Beautifully designed and standards-compliant email development
  • Hosting and sending with access to our own easy-to-use platform if needed
  • Tutorials, analytics and training
  • Content strategy, creation, curation, aggregation, other ‘ations’, seeding, and social sharing
  • Community engagement and audience development
Sounds like it could be a fit? Just email contact@thefetch.org to discuss your vision and needs.
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