Neil Brown

Building a Team

Sunday, April 01, 2012

One of the most important and difficult aspects of any entrepreneurial endeavor is building the right team. It’s no easy task! If you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, do not underestimate the time, effort, and ultimately the financial cost it will take to build a great team. If viewed as a point of frustration, remember this African proverb … “You can go quickly alone. But you can go far with many.” It’s best to always focus on the latter. Great vision requires a great amount of work. If one can accomplish his vision alone, that vision is simply too small.


The beauty of working with and for a team is that the vision of the organization grows, evolves and pivots rapidly, simply because two minds think faster than one. Never lose sight of the fact that those with whom you serve on your team have their own vision and goals. And as a leader it is important to factor the visions of the individual team members into the organization’s vision. Otherwise de-motivation runs rampant. It is an issue of designing intrinsic motivation into the fiber of the organization and its culture. Remember that you are building a team of people, not assembling widgets in a factory. Human capital trades on a different currency than financial capital. Human capital does not trade as simply as a transaction. Human capital trades on the currency of the objective … purpose, passion, vision, emotion, and the ephemeral. Do not view the economy of human capital as a downside, but rather as an opportunity – a privilege truly.

The foundation of any organization’s success is built upon the success of the individual team members. The more successful your team, the more successful the organization. It’s rather elementary! I believe that a business can be built as a platform where the passions of the individual team members are, in fact, the most profitable facet of the business.

Beauty Shoot with Friends

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hanging out with old friends, and making new friends ... All in a day's work on set, having a good time. Here's a few selects of Brittany from last weekend's shoot. There's a lot of editing and retouching to knock out, it's just a matter of finding some time.

Focus ... Not on Results

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Results are the natural by-product of an investment. Results can not be the sole focus. Over the last decade as an entrepreneur, a creator, a strategist, a designer, a photographer, a developer, I believe the value of an opportunity is based on what one is willing to put in or give to the opportunity, rather than what one expects from the opportunity. Naturally there must be a return on an investment, otherwise it’s a donation! But we must be cautious of our own, fabricated (and many times false) expectations. When we focus on our efforts rather than the outcome, the results will always be greater than our own finite expectations.

An Overdue Update ...

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Back in January I wrote a blog post about The Power of Intentionality with Social Media, and how a story played out with Adam Biel. I've been meaning to post the above photo as an update on the story. Jolante sent me this picture of Adam's photograph in the advertising campaign out in the wild. It's a large poster at a train stop somewhere in the Netherlands (I believe).

It's just amazing how this story continues to unfold over the last two years. And now Adam is back in training. He's going to attempt to break the world record for bicycling from one end of Pan-America to the other. His goal is to beat the record by 120 days or so! I don't know Adam that well, but I know well enough that if anyone is gonna beat that record, it'll be him!

You can follow Adam's journey at Adventure for Autism.

If You Can't Stand the Heat ...

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

While I did spend much of my time as a child in the wood shop with my father, I spent as much in the kitchen with my mother. I was a good helper! But more importantly, my mother is an amazing chef. It’s not just my opinion, every single friend of mine would agree – just ask Derrick, Trey, Oliver, or anyone that’s had her fried chicken or BBQ! Honestly, it’s amazing that everyone in my family is thin.


There are a few key elements to cooking, and the application of heat is least important as it is by far the simplest aspect. Just don’t burn it! First, you have to know what’s for dinner. Once you have that decided, it’s all in the finding the right ingredients or items at the store. Proper sourcing is a must. Then, as the best chefs know, the secret is in the preparation. The end game … Timing. Everything must be pipping hot (not kept warm) when plated and served. And of course, heat is applied as needed.

Call me crazy, but this process (for all practical purposes) is the exact same process for executing any type of project. Whether naming a company, building an ecommerce website, or crafting a two year marketing strategy, it’s the same process. Now I'm wondering how to work in my time spent helping my mother in the kitchen as relevant work experience on the ol’ resume.

 

Dive In. The water's nice!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011



If you walk out to the end of a diving board and just stand there, not much will happen. The diving board will simply flex under your weight.


Now, go back to end of the diving board at the steps. As far back as you can. Run and hurl all your weight on the far end of the diving board, and you’ll be flung out into the deep end. And with the proper body position, you can make one heck of a good splash. Might even get some innocent sun bathers wet!

It may sound crazy, but that’s how I look at Barnum Design … As a spring board. I want all of my staff to realize that if they put in their own effort, the studio can hurl them forward in their career, passions, skillsets, interests, and much more. But just like the diving board, you’ve got to put your energy and weight behind it if you want to make any kind of splash.

An Empire View

Saturday, March 26, 2011



With continued growth over the last few years, we moved the Barnum Design studio recently to a larger space, and I now have a private office with great views of the Empire State Building. I love the view, and the privacy! A couple of months back I started taking photos of my Empire view every few days.


When seeing these 18 shots together, I was quite happy with the results. So, I'll continue to take a shot of the Empire view a few times a week. Looking forward to keeping a record of weather, light, color and such as this quite small, personal project continues over the coming months. I'll be sure to post results as they develop.

Evaluating Worth

Monday, March 21, 2011



Is it worth it? Is what we do with our life worth it? Of course it is … We wouldn’t do something if it wasn’t worth it for us individually. But what if we did.


What if our lives were committed to a point of resolve that personal worth was irrelevant. How much does worth matter? That depends on how we measure worth; the measure of its value. Generally when we measure worth, we evaluate it against the impact it has for us individually in an isolated context. “Is it worth it for me to do _________.” While that may be the standard of measure, it’s time we employee another.

When seeking to serve oneself, the desire for success will never satiate. Serve others, and you will find success quickly! Please note it’s found quickly, not easily. Success is a journey, not a destination. As we server others we struggle, grow stronger, fail constantly, learn repeatedly, and most importantly begin to understand the right measure of worth.

Not to belabor the point, but let’s move this example into practicality and up the ladder to executive management of a corporation. Most executives do not make decisions based on personal worth, but make decisions based on the worth for that which they represent – the company or the brand. True leaders, that make worthwhile decisions, understand the right measure.

Off-the-Cuff Boot-Strap Shoot

Monday, March 07, 2011





It is always a fun challenge when you need a shot for a client project, but you have no budget, no real props, no studio time, not site scouting. Nothing but a favor, the office, and half an hour!


A great big thanks to Elizabeth Davis Richard for dropping by the Barnum office to quickly model for a photo for a client site. She came with props in tow, to boot! Shots turned out quite well given the circumstances. And the client's going to be quite happy with the final result. Always prefer delivering above and beyond expectations.

Persuasion vs Purpose

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

In the end, many brand strategies attempt to merely persuade. To influence a purchasing decision. A great deal of thought, time, and resources are consumed (or wasted) in order to persuade. To manipulate behavior and to inform a decision. Is this the most worthwhile endeavor? The most worthwhile use of resources?



When developing brand strategies, many times the demographic or target audience is the focal point. But here’s the problem … Brands can’t interact with a demographic. Brands interact with people. So, where should brands focus? The most important aspect of a person is most oft overlooked. Purpose. A person has purpose, even though he may not fully realize his purpose. It does exist. That is undeniable.

Since brands interact with people, and the most important aspect of an individual is his purpose, then how can a brand tie into that purpose. Or better yet, help to serve that purpose. No brand will ever fulfill an individual’s purpose … by no stretch of the imagination. The point is how can a brand be relevant to that innermost aspect – purpose. Can brands be driven by purpose? Driven by the purpose of those with whom the brand interacts?

Purpose should be the focal point, not persuasion. Once found, purpose lasts a lifetime.


PROJECT WORK

Ellman Family Vineyards

Ellman Family Vineyards

Although we had no experience in the category (other than enjoying fine wine ourselves!) the trust and respect ...

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Barnum Design

Barnum Design

Creative vision coupled with strategic thinking. As a boutique design studio, Barnum Design fosters the entrepreneurial spirit ...

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NoDa Film Festival | SoundVision

SoundVision Film Festival

Live bands. Great film. A wonderful combination. Three nights, three bands and three films. Pere Ubu headlined the ...

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NoDa Film Festival | French New Wave

French New Wave Film Festival

The filmmakers that inspired the "indie" films of today were the French New Wave. This group of directors ...

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NoDa Film Festival | Exploring Animation

Exploring Animation Film Festival

There is a wide world of animated film. Culling down all that exists in the world of animation for a four day film festival ...

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Charles Burnett

Charles Burnett Retrospective

Charles Burnett is the epitome of a cult hero—almost famous for not being famous. On the rare occasion his work attracts any notice in ...

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NoDa Film Festival | Cetury of the Self

Century of the Self

A secret history of the 20th Century. A story of politics, advertising, and psychoanalysis starring Freud, Hitler, FDR, Marilyn Monroe ...

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Wigfarm Stereotapes | Blake Deming

Wigfarm Stereotapes

Seattle born and breed. New York snobbed upon. Blake Deming is an eclectic musician and aficionado, whose work is truly an art form ...

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The Salt Space

Salt Space

In New York City, everyone has something to share. But in a city that's this jam packed, it's hard to find a place to do so. We developed ...

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Sherle Wagner Architectural

Sherle Wagner Architectural

With a passion for art and architecture, Sherle Wagner’s founder transformed the once utilitarian bathroom into an architectural ...

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Allied Minds

Allied Minds is not a typical venture capital firm. As a premiere seed organization for early-stage technology, Allied Minds focuses ...

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NOMADIC by design

The spirit of Nomadic by design is to document, propel and cultivate stories throughout the world. To serve those who are on a ...

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City Uprising

City Uprising is a unique opportunity for people to unite in the worlds' great urban centers in order to ‘propel the local ...

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Resolute Racing

Rowing blends personal excellence with precision team-work unlike any other sport. In developing brand identity, advertising and ...

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Havana Nines

A linen Guayabera, a fine Cigar, a game of Dominos and a minty Mojito – just a few of the dozens of ways that the Havana Nines ...

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David Kirsch Wellness Co.

Focused fitness leads to revolutionary results. Celebrity fitness trainer David Kirsch’s unique, holistic approach goes beyond ...

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Muzak Album Art

A lot has changed at Muzak in the past five years. As part of the ongoing process to alleviate the stigma of elevator music ...

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Muzak Box Set

To strategically focus sales, Muzak identified specific vertical markets with high sales potential. With an extremely successful ...

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Muzak Box Set

Everyone likes a free stuff ... right? Upgrade your commercial television service and receive a free DVR. Direct mail piece sent to ...

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Portfolio Book

Presentation is key. Upon moving to New York City, I worked up a variety of portfolio concepts. I knew I'd be pounding the pavement ...

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Web Design Comps

Web Design Comps

Most design work never sees the light of day. Always providing three design solutions means that two-thirds of work falls to the ...

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Logos & Such

Creating a visual mark to embody a company is a daunting task, to say the least. Understanding the company, its goals, projections ...

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PHOTOGRAPHY

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Photography / Portraits


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Photography / Vietnam


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Photography / Objects


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Photography / Kids & Family


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