What is a Producer?

What is a ProducerFor 30 years I have been working as an audio editor, audio engineer, live sound reinforcement, director, camera operator and business owner. Perhaps one of my favorite jobs is that of being a producer, and when I explain to people who ask what a producer does, I explain based on whatever job at hand I’m working on.

For instance, in a live reinforcement application, a producer is the person sources all of the pieces and parts necessary to make that show a success, as well as manage all of the labor and the meal breaks and the scheduling and the attire of the crew. And in a live production situation, depending on the client – and any client-specific requests – the production team can wear all black or they can wear business attire. And, again, that depends on the client.

In a video production situation, the producer is the person who understands the scope of work for the production and brings a team together and assigns duties in order to execute that production. Sometimes the scope of work is so large that many persons will be required in order to successfully complete the project.

In some cases, the client may require more activity than the crew that has been budgeted can handle. That’s why as a producer it is extremely important to understand the client’s expectations and anticipate additional activity and make sure that you have it covered. And, of course, part of the financial quote in your proposal.

In the studio a producer is in charge of similar activities – bringing on the right staff members to handle the video recording and being able to coordinate the client – makeup, wardrobe, rehearsal time … and not pushing the team too much, because it’s very difficult to be creative in a tense environment. Which is another activity for which a producer is responsible: making sure the environment for the production is stress-free and allows creativity to flow.

So, a producer is in charge of the crew, the feel of the production, the flow of the work, meeting the expectations of the client, coming in on – if not under – budget, and communicating back to the customer service representative when the budget may go over, prior to the budget going over. And this is a very important element. Producers sometimes can get carried away and deliver what the client is expecting, while spending more than the client is expecting to pay. So it is very important to be able anticipate that situation before it happens. It’s very important to communicate in anticipation of going over budget before the work is executed. That way you have given the client an opportunity to make a decision on whether or not they want to reduce the scope of work and meet the budget, or add additional dollars and go over budget.

 photo credit: Jason Bonham via photopin (license) A Process that Saves Time and Hassle

Airport Security I travel a lot for both work and pleasure. One of my least favorite things about traveling is security. The security of the United States has evolved into a necessary process when traveling. Take off your coat, belt, and shoes; remove laptop, cell phone and all objects from your pockets. Step in (hurry up!) and raise your hands above your head. Smile, you are being x-rayed again! On a trip back home to Michigan I noticed a TSA ‘Pre-Screen’ sign at security in the Nashville airport and asked an agent for the low down. I had seen the signs before but misunderstood the concept and value. She explained that any American citizen can apply online, pay a $100 non-refundable application fee, and if approved, schedule a face to face interview at border patrol. Then, if you are one of the chosen few selected to qualify as an outstanding citizen, you receive the ability to be a hassle free traveler. I have to admit the process was fairly easy until I went to the well hidden Border Patrol office in Downtown Detroit. Once I found the office I completed my interview. The officer then took the worst picture I have ever had taken in my entire life and informed me that I passed. I was to receive an identification card in the mail within 8-10 business days.  Sure enough, the card showed up and I felt a sense of accomplishment. The process left out one very important piece of information, though. No one had told me that in order to use the card I had to go into my profile on Delta (my carrier of choice) and enter the Global Entry ID information in order to be able to use the card. The card looks very official and includes my passport number. When I proudly handed the card and my boarding pass to the TSA at Detroit Metro Airport during its first use, the TSA officer told me I had to go through the ‘regular’ security lane because my boarding pass did not reflect my Global Entry status. I look forward to my prescreening future of travel and the number of hours I will save standing in lines and disrobing for TSA. I think I’ll add a few travel destinations to my bucket list now that I have Global Entry status.

Do You Invest in What You Love?

invest in what you loveAs a video producer, director and writer, I meet a lot of great people, our Primeau Productions clients. In addition to receiving a paycheck from the work we do I get to benefit from the knowledge, wisdom and experience of the great clients we produce video for. I have learned so much but one of the best lessons I learned from venture capitalists. Venture capitalists serve a great purpose in the business world. They have money and they, too, enjoy and are interested in different business opportunities. Venture capitalists enjoy the process of discovering good ventures in which to invest capital. One of the most basic concepts of bringing an investor into your company involves looking at the opportunity through their eyes. If you would like them to invest a half million dollars in your business and receive a percentage of ownership in return what else will they gain over a period of time? A 10% ownership in a turtle is not worth half a million dollars. However, a 10% ownership in a nightclub that has a booking agent that previously worked for a major concert promoter has value, because their return on your investment would not only be a percentage of ownership, it would also be a monthly, or quarterly, or annual residual income you would receive as one of the venture capitalist investors. It’s quite interesting, from my perspective, to see how some of our venture capitalist clients have worked through the investments they choose. One thing I have noticed is they only invest in what they enjoy doing. That’s a great message for a lot of us in business because many people go to work every day hating their job. There are business owners who own companies that they are not enjoying running and operating; not very attractive to a venture capitalist. What a great message I’ve learned about money and enjoyment from our venture capitalist clients. So, hopefully, if you ever need to bring in an investor to give your business a shot in the arm or a facelift, look at the venture capitalist opportunity through their eyes and not your own goals for raising capital. If the deal looks good to you, seeing it from their point of view, then it probably looks good to them.

Clients Who Are Friends Are Better Than Friends Who Are Clients

"Who's Got Your Back" Book CoverI’ve been reading a book, “Who’s Got Your Back” by Keith Ferrazzi which, in a nutshell, is about understanding and trusting relationships that help create success. I’m about half way through the book and I had a realization about the value of numerous relationships I’ve had for years with people from around the world, who all have greatness. There are people like Winston Marsh in Melbourne, Australia, who hosted me so I could come and speak to the National Speakers Association of Australia and his small business group in Australia.  There are people like Max Hitchens in Sydney, Australia, who I met, like Winston, through my dear friend Terry Brock. This week Terry Brock and his friend Gina Carr, are coming to stay with me in Rochester Hills for our semi-annual get-together. Terry and I have been doing this for about seven years now, and it has become a tradition. I’ve known Terry for almost twenty years, and the relationships that have come from my friendship with Terry are no less than amazing. I never would have met Max and Winston had it not been for Terry – I never would’ve gone to Australia to do my presentations if it weren’t for Terry. I look at other friends like Bob Bolya, who I’ve known for twenty years, and the get-togethers that we’ve had and the knowledge and experience that we’ve been able to share with each other. I also think of my mentor, Floyd Wickman, and what I’ve learned from him throughout the years about selling, dialogue and how to communicate with people. And Mike Pallin, who works with Floyd, who turned me on to Napoleon Hill early on in my life, which has had a huge impact on my personal and professional growth and experience.

As I read this book, “Who’s Got Your Back” by Keith Ferrazzi, I’m starting to realize the depth of my relationships that I have built throughout the years, and how important they are going forward. The people that I just mentioned are the tip of the iceberg – there are many people, like Connie Podesta and Eileen McDargh and Steve Rizzo and Mark Sanborn and Mikki Williams and Pegine, who I have learned so much from while working with them. These people would stand behind me and help me with anything I needed, and I would do the same for them. In fact, many of these people call me on occasion and know that my door is open for me to answer any kind of questions that they have.

I think many of us overlook our relationships and the power of having this connectivity in our lives. In this blog post I not only want to share that you must read “Who’s Got Your Back” because it’s a very powerful book, but I also want you to think about connecting with these past relationships that can become disconnected over time. With a little effort, you can reconnect with these people, just like I have since I started reading this book.

I’m very much looking forward to Terry coming up today because I know that our time together will be high-value, high-entertainment and another great memory. I look forward to continuing to reconnect with people from my past – the people who have made an impression on me and who have value in relationships, and I am now beginning to learn how to avoid the people that don’t bring value to relationships and that are cynical and doubtful about the values I have in my life and the beliefs on what it takes to be successful, personally and professionally.

I’m also realizing the value of reconnecting with friends. I recently reconnected with Martie Schultz who worked as my assistant for forteen years, up until 2007. I reconnected with Martie because she had left and gotten another job when Primeau Productions was going through a transition. Primeau Productions survived its reinvention and transition several years ago, and my team needed another person to help pull it all together, and to be reliable and available for front office support. So I recently reached out to Martie through Facebook and we reconnected. Within a week she was back on the Primeau Productions team. The value of maintaining relationships and reconnecting can be very beneficial in many ways. It’s also crucial in other ways, because when it’s all said and done, it’s not about how much money you have in the bank at the end of your journey, it’s about the relationships that you make along the way that you can value, and the trust and respect that you earn from these relationships. That’s what gets me jazzed in the morning, and that’s what “Who’s Got Your Back” by Keith Ferrazzi is all about.

The National Speakers Association Founder Cavett Robert

National Speakers Association I met Cavett Robert, a modern day philosopher, in 1994 at my first National Speakers Association convention in Washington DC.  That year I also met Og Mandino, Zig Ziglar and Mark Victor Hansen.  It was an amazing convention at both the hotel that facilitated the convention and the Vietnam Wall Memorial. At the time, I had no clue who Cavett Robert was. Cavett Robert was the founder of the National Speakers Association.  He wanted to form a national organization with the goals of making professional speaking a full-time job.  His first stab at forming the National Speakers Association failed. Nobody believed that anyone could have a full time job as a professional speaking for a living. Cavett was persistent.  He used his skills as a salesman and won people over to form the National Speakers Association. To this day, NSA promotes the high ethical and professional standards of its members. NSA’s first president was the late Bill Gove. The organization began with sales seminars in Phoenix for eight years. Twenty people joined at the NSA’s incorporation. At the fifth year convention held in New Orleans, 300 people attended, which was more than three times the number of any previous gathering. Today, NSA has around 4,500 members and continues to grow! There is now an International Speaking Federation for world-wide members, and according to my friend Terry Brock, a new chapter has launched in Panama where Terry resides every August. Cavett passed away in 1997, leaving a lasting legacy in every individual’s heart who has heard a motivational speaker or trainer from the National Speaker’s Association. Today, Primeau Productions has been asked by Joe Sabah to digitally restore some Cavett Robert video from 1973 and share it with the world so everyone can understand first hand who Cavett was. The footage we uploaded of Cavett’s final performance at an NSA convention is on the Primeau Productions YouTube channel.  These newly restored videos can be seen here: Cavett Robert Live – Ep. 1: A History of Professional Speaking from Primeau_Productions on Vimeo. Cavett Robert Live – Ep. 4: A History of Professional Speaking from Primeau_Productions on Vimeo. Primeau Productions feels it is important to preserve our modern day philosopher’s messages on video whenever possible.  Video recordings of modern day philosophers like Cavett, Napoleon Hill and others like Earl Nightingale have been professionally restored and are available for your viewing on the Primeau Productions YouTube channel:   If you know of any film or video footage that is need of restoration, we would love to speak with you.

Unemployment Sucks

unemploymentA few months ago I was at a friend’s mother’s funeral. Afterwards at the wake I sat across from a man who looked to be in his late 40s. Because my nature is talkative, I struck up a conversation with him and he began to tell me that he was unemployed, and had been for 12 years. Twelve years. Listening to him talk it occurred to me that his biggest reason for being unemployed for 12 years is he had not been flexible in any aspect of his employment. He was bitter about a job he was let go from. So I guess you could say his ego was keeping him from employment.

Now, regardless of who is right and wrong in a situation like that, you have to change something about what you’re doing in order to gain success. You have to change something that you’re doing in order to have a job opportunity present itself. He went on to tell me that the Internet has really screwed up a lot of his employment opportunity. I didn’t get it, so I asked what he meant. He said people are posting their resumes online and applying for jobs online.

Since I am in the video production business and video marketing is one of our activities, I asked him why that was screwing up his opportunity for employment. He said because it was a complete waste of time. I could tell this conversation was about to conclude because I was beginning to realize this was not somebody I saw eye to eye with. He was an electrical engineer, worked for one of the car companies (who, by the way, are doing pretty well today, and there’s no reason he should still be unemployed). So as a last ditch effort, I threw out “have you considered applying at either Lowe’s or Home Depot?”  At least it was something to get him out and in circulation again, learning how to interact with people – which was an ability I was beginning to seriously doubt he had, considering the way this conversation was headed. He replied that both Lowe’s and Home Depot require that applications be made online. As crazy as this sounds, it’s even crazier to think of an unemployed person creating a paper resume and expecting an employer to pick them from among dozens of other paper resumes they’ve received.

We’re in the video production business, and our candidates who apply for editor, motion graphic designer and audio engineer positions use the Internet and video to get my attention to be considered for an interview. We just hired a new video editor, Michael Brink. His application, along with two others, got my attention because of the video samples and content that came with his application and resume. After interviewing three people, Mike being one of them, we chose Mike because of his great attitude, personality and technical skill and ability. How could any of that have come across in a traditional paper resume? However, those qualities can be expressed in a video resume.

After experiencing the types of video demos that I receive with applications for employment, it occurred to me that this should be a product that is offered to our unemployment community, to be used as a way to stand out from the competition. Unemployment sucks! But the only reason it sucks is because there is a lack of understanding on the part of the unemployed on what to do to change their circumstances. Now, I’m not saying that all unemployed people think this way – this is a general observation, but the definition of insanity – if I haven’t already said this – is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So in order to change your unemployed status to employed, consider investing in a video resume that can show your people skills, personality and potential to a qualified employer.

Rare Beatles Recordings and Internet Marketing

rare Beatles recordingsI was recently in Guadalajara filming additional footage for our El Viejito Tequila documentary. While checking my email in my hotel room at the Hilton one evening, I opened an email from the band that I manage, Soulfreee, about dates available for gigging. In the end of the email the musician put a link to a song that he said was very interesting. I almost didn’t click on it, but I’m glad I did because it took me to YouTube to a video titled “Deconstructing ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps.’” I watched the video, which was 17 or so minutes, with all of the isolated music tracks back-to-back. Back when the Beatles were recording the White Album, which is where “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” came from, they were recording with 8-track analog reel-to-reel tape recorders at Abbey Road Studios in London. This was a video that somebody put together isolating those tracks, which I found absolutely fascinating. The video was images of the Beatles that I had never seen before, but what really fascinated me more than anything was how on earth anyone was able to get ahold of those original master recordings to create these videos. I entertained listening to the entire piece in fascination, and at the end of the video YouTube displayed six or seven similar videos. There was “Deconstructing ‘Get Back’”; there was “Deconstructing ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps,’ Part 2”; and there was the Eric Clapton isolated guitar part from “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” which was absolutely incredible. If you’ve ever read the autobiography by Eric Clapton, you would really appreciate that guitar solo—he was the first person outside of the Beatles ever to be asked into a recording session to participate. He was very nervous, and addicted to heroin at the time, but still did an absolutely incredible job making that song a huge hit (not that it wasn’t before). But there was one song in particular, “Deconstructing ‘Sgt. Pepper,’” that’s probably one of the best videos I have ever seen. There’s not a lot of activity in the video – it’s an After Effects plug-in that displays sound wave formation on the screen while the music is playing. There’s a different color sound wave for each of the four tracks because back when “Sgt. Pepper” was recorded, the Beatles were recording on 4-track analog reel-to-reel tape recorders. The first track in the video, as you will see embedded below, is the rhythm track. You can hear two guitar parts, bass and drums, which are the four Beatles playing the song as it was composed. The second track was probably the most thought-out track because it’s a combination of George Harrison’s guitar solos and the French horn ensemble. The third track, probably the most fascinating on the video, is the vocals. They’re isolated vocals and you can hear the headphones bleeding through. When I say “bleeding,” I mean you can hear the rhythm track playing as they listened to it while they were performing their vocals. You can distinctly hear the harmonies that the Beatles were so amazing at, including Ringo’s voice, but Paul’s lead vocal is undoubtedly the most amazing performance he ever gave, on the title track from “Sgt. Pepper.” Track four is sound effects that George Martin, the Beatles producer, added to enhance the song. It’s worth ten minutes of your time to watch this video if you’re at least interested in the Beatles and how they composed their music. It is by far one of the most amazing pieces I’ve ever seen. But here’s what hit me, and I guess what motivated me to post this blog: YouTube has been incredibly controlling, especially lately, of the content and music licensing for the videos that are posted on YouTube. So you have to ask yourself how these people have gotten away with uploading these entire recordings without having the recordings removed because of copyright infringement. Then it hit me. Perhaps Apple Corps., Ltd., which is the name of the Beatles company in London (not to be confused with Apple Computers, although there was a lawsuit at one point—but that’s another blog post) authorized the release of these rare recordings in their entirety in order to create interest from the public to sell more CDs. And now that the Beatles have been on iTunes for well over a year, another purpose may be to generate more downloadable music sales from iTunes. Fascinating – brilliant – incredibly powerful marketing campaign. This is video marketing in its finest form. Unless there’s another reason that I’m not aware of as to why these videos exist, it has got to be an incredibly well thought out and executed video marketing plan in order to sell more music. Take a look at the video below – you will not be disappointed.

My Favorite Hair Care Product

hair careMany guys (and gals) know that as men age they lose testosterone. It’s a big deal because low testosterone causes weight gain because lack of testosterone lowers metabolism. Another bummer is hair loss. Therefore, many aging men have excess belly fat and are balding. Funny thing is that the hair does not really fall out—it grows back into the head and comes out in the nose and ears. (Just kidding!)

Seriously, excess belly fat is a health concern and hair loss is a social concern. By walking and bike riding daily, I have managed to regulate (but not really lose) weight.  If I watch what I eat closely and keep exercising, I can actually lose two or three pounds a week.

The real problem is hair loss.  Most men believe it’s uncontrollable.  I don’t know about getting hair to grow back once it’s gone, but I do know how to keep what’s left.  At fifty-three I still have a pretty good head of hair which is VIP for my self confidence.

How do I do it?  Bosley hair care products.  I was introduced to Bosley by Eileen, the lady who cuts my hair when I am in town. She gave me some samples and immediately my hair became thicker! So I bought the hair care package from Ulta and three months later, I can’t get over how much more hair I have. Plus, the cost is very reasonable. It’s less than a bottle of premium scotch.

I know this is a strange topic to blog about, but I just had to tell the world one of my discoveries and hopefully Bosley will also find out about another satisfied customer.

photo credit: Moon Scape of Bald Head via photopin (license)

Almost Thirty Years of Customer Service for Floyd Wickman

Floyd Wickman Ed PrimeauShortly after I started Primeau Productions in 1984, I met Floyd Wickman. Floyd quickly became a mentor and led me to the National Speakers Association. Primeau Productions soon became an audio and video supplier to professional speakers around the world. Last week I had the opportunity to work with Floyd at a local event here in the metropolitan Detroit, Michigan area. It occurred to me during our time together that we have been producing audio and video content for Floyd Wickman Associates for almost thirty years. It also occurred to me that most of the clients at Primeau Productions have been with us since the beginning of their professional speaking careers.

Working with Floyd last week reminded me of the number of things that I learned from him while creating audio and video content throughout the years. One of the things that I learned from Floyd is how to sell. Selling is not about anything other than discovering a need that people have and being able to fulfill that need through the expertise that you, as a business, can provide. With Floyd and his staff of trainers, Primeau Productions learned how to identify opportunities within their organization regarding multi-media production, such as audio and video training tapes. (Back in the day, we recorded on tape. Today everything, of course, is digital.)

I also learned how to communicate from Floyd because he is known as “The Duke of Dialogue.” Back in 2005 Primeau Productions created “101 Greatest Dialogues of Floyd Wickman.” It was during the creative process that Floyd and I went through that I quickly discovered how much of the English language and communication I had learned from Floyd regarding selling and customer service. These videos of Floyd’s greatest dialogues will soon be available on our on-demand video channel,

Communication in sales and in business is the most important skill to develop, which is why we are posting these digital videos on PrimeauTV on a pay-per-view basis.

Another thing that I learned from Floyd is how to build a team and delegate. When I first started Primeau Productions, it was just me. Then I learned that in order to grow the company and make more money, I needed to bring talented people on board.

I did the best I could to find people and train them, but was not always successful. So I learned, just like Floyd learned, that when you hire people, you build your team, you give them a chance, you teach them what you know, and then you analyze the results. In many cases the results were excellent, as these people would perform beyond my expectations as a business owner. When they didn’t perform, it was always difficult to try to make a decision on how to change the situation without having the company suffer. Floyd’s trainers in his organization have come and gone throughout the years for many reasons. But it’s the confidence and the skill that I learned by witnessing that process within Floyd’s organization that helped me build Primeau Productions to be the successful multi-media video marketing company that it is today. So for that I am very grateful.

And I’m also grateful to still have Floyd Wickman as a client after almost thirty years. And I’m also grateful to have been able to spend some time with him to create video last week in the metro Detroit area. Thanks for the memories, Floyd.

This Isn’t Rocket Science

CD DiscBack in the 1960s as Cold War tensions were just heating up, the Soviet Union and the United States were constantly trying to outdo one another in what was known as the space race. In the midst of this competition, the United States spent millions of dollars to invent a pen that would write upside-down. The Soviets sent their cosmonauts into space with a pencil– which was obviously much easier and less costly.

So the United States invented an upside-down space pen and the Soviets sent regular old pencils up into space. The same unnecessary complication holds true for the answer to a question I’m often asked by friends, family and clients: “What do I do with all my old cassette tapes?” Of course, the number one answer seems to be to transfer them to a compact disk so that you can listen to them in a compact disk player. Unfortunately, because of the way time operates for most of us, this never gets done. And our cassette tapes from long ago remain in their cases because we can’t part with them.

After pondering this, I quickly realized that the most logical answer to this question would be to hook up a cassette player to my main stereo system and find one of the hand-held cassette players I have had in storage for years so that I can listen to my cassette tapes when and where I want. The portable system even has a headphone jack so that I can listen to my cassette tapes with my headphones if I choose to. Now, the one that’s hooked up to my own stereo system is a pretty nice older Marantz that I’ve had for many years. It has some different settings for noise reduction so no matter how the tape was recorded, there are some options for optimum playback listening quality. This would be a great alternative to listening to a portable cassette tape in your car: instead you could listen to it in the comfort of your own home. If you’ve lost or misplaced your own personal cassette player, the Salvation Army is a great place to pick one up at a fraction of the cost.

I find it interesting that sometimes the most obvious answers are right under our fingertips and are often the easiest solutions to some of our biggest problems. For a long time, I spent hours and hours loading some of my motivational cassette recordings into my computer and authoring CDs. I thought that would be easier because CDs had become one of the easiest means to listening to audio recordings.

But now, technology lives pretty much everywhere and it’s constantly being reinvented and innovated each and every day—even with record albums. I can impress my kids sometimes because some of the artwork on some of the earlier music cassettes is pretty cool and the same holds true for record albums. Instead of transferring records and turning them into CD’s, why not listen to them on record players? Record players are being reinvented and are available almost anywhere on the Internet in places like eBay and Amazon. They now have a USB connection so the record player plugs into a USB port so you can load them into your computer or you can play them and listen through the provided speakers that come with many of the other models. In short, as quickly as technology is advancing, it can also become useful when applied properly to life’s everyday challenges regardless of how modern a piece of technology is.