What I Learned By Doing Stuff I Didn’t Know How To Do

Before I get too far into this, please know this- I’m NOT an expert film maker, photographer, graphic designer, publisher/editor, blogger, vlogger, or rapper. There. Disclaimer complete.

Never Have I Ever… done play by play for hockey games, until this year! Had Fun and learned a lot!

“Brad, you’re so creative!”

“Brad, you have such an eye for drawing!”

“Your imagination, Brad, is really something special!”

I was a hyper active kid, (I’m so sorry, mom!) with a very wild imagination. Not sure when it began; pretty sure I was born with it. I loved to draw, and would sit in my room for hours and hours drawing pictures of Spiderman and my favorite hockey players. I could spend days and days with the same bucket of Lego’s and create all kinds of different things. I learned at a very young age that my imagination could take me places. In fact, I spent much of my youth pretending to be a ninja turtle. True story! (Michelangelo!)

I drew this of Wayne Gretzky in high school, first and only time I used pastels.

This imagination continues to serve me very well in my career as a marketer, and I want to share with you how I apply my creativity in this age of technology.

“I NEVER LET NOT KNOWING HOW TO DO SOMETHING STOP ME FROM TRYING IT ANYWAY!” -Me

I tell you what- my iPhone 6S Plus is damn near every toy I ever wanted as a kid! In my pocket at any given time, I have not one but TWO cameras with HD video capturing, a laser gun, a communicator with my fellow star shipmates; I have apps that let me create just about any kind of image or video I can possibly imagine, a voice recorder, and the list goes on. These tools in my 8 year old hands would have been dangerous! So as an adult, I try to take full advantage.

I wanted to make videos when I was a young adult, and for many years, I used the stock Windows Movie Maker program in my computers over the years. Eventually, I grew to appreciate Adobe Premier Pro. I didn’t know how any of the Adobe products worked, so I did what any other curious person does- went to the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube, and spent about 50 hours in tutorials. Am I a pro? NOT. EVEN. CLOSE.

But I’m learning! And I’m comfortable in my basic level knowledge that if I need to put something together, I can get it done; I also know where to go when I want to learn some new tricks or features.

What learning a new software has given me has been wonderful! I feel confident in my ability to tell a visual story and for one of my clients, the Helena Bighorns Junior hockey Club in Helena, MT, this storytelling looks like this:

This is a Bighorns Original Series called “Beyond the Bench”. The premise of this short-form video series is that, for the last 15 seasons, hockey fans have only seen the on-ice product; the games. But they’ve never been let in on how the players got to Helena, or how the organization puts things together, etc. So I pulled back the curtain and started telling all of these stories that are happening everyday around the the team. Before I ever even filmed a single frame for it, I got one of our sponsors to give us $3K investment just to have branding rights of the show, site unseen!

Pretty ballsy, considering I never worked for a major TV network, never wrote scripts for movies, and never really made anything like this. I didn’t graduate from an accredited school with a film major either. But this bi-weekly show that lives on their Facebook Page and YouTube channel has resonated with the fan base, and may be inadvertently responsible for one of the most attended seasons since 1999; fan base here has grown from about 300 per game up to a hair under 800 on the average per game in less than a calendar year. There are nights we see 1200 fans in the stands, and I’m told by so so many of them that they love BTB and they want more! It’s been great!

“Stop telling yourself you can’t do something because you don’t know how. Apply your natural curiosity towards learning it instead and before you know it, you’re doing it with confidence!”- Me, again

I hadn’t even heard the word podcast until about 2015. I didn’t know or care what it was. But my girlfriend would listen to these audio shows on her phone everyday when getting ready for work and I started to kind of observe. She LOVES Las Vegas, and listens to a couple of popular Vegas podcasts that give listeners the inside scoop on the best, hidden places to eat and sleep, the best shows and when the best times are to see them, etc. She knows more about Vegas than any human probably should, because she listened to these things all the time. I saw in real time this was a great platform to learn new things. And since I’m on the go a lot and don’t really read blogs anymore, I gravitated towards podcasts.

Then I thought, well, jeez, maybe I could do this podcasting thing; I have a face for radio, why not?!

I reached out to a few close friends that have their own podcasts, spent a very small amount of money on equipment, and away I went! That’s how the Snapchatters Podcast was born!

I didn’t work in the radio industry; I had zero experience in audio mixing or sound manipulation; again, I didn’t go to college to become a broadcaster- I simply just did it. As the great Seth Godin would say, I shipped imperfection. I know I don’t have a team of writers and editors and sound mixers like my heroes at Gimlet Media, but I created something that started as pure curiosity.

“The fear of failing affects everyone. But for a select few, putting something we feel is imperfect out there gets us past that fear of failure. For me, it’s become a fear of not even trying that scares me most.”- Yeah, I said that too.
I drew this my junior year in high school. My favorite goalie at that time was Patrick Roy. This is all pencil, accept the card in the top left corner.

I see an awful lot of debate in the marketing industry about things being broken or not working or not being as effective as this that or the other thing. I have found that the time I could have easily spent in debate, was spent on learning and doing instead has done more for me than reading click bait could any day. I don’t know where my creativity and imagination will take me next, but I know for certain that the possibilities are endless.

What did I learn by doing all this stuff that I’ve never done before? Well, the biggest take away for me is this: at least trying something new or different forces me to learn what it takes to make these things possible. I learn to appreciate the tireless hours podcasters put into their shows everyday; I know first hand the emotional roller coaster ride a video editor is on when things are going well and your pc freezes up, losing 14 hours of work and having to start over or when a clip doesn’t render properly.

Finally, I learned a lot about me. Applying my creative processes into new things will bring me to places and people I wouldn’t have if I had just settled with the ageless excuse: “I don’t know how, so I can’t”. All this coming from a kid that wore ninja turtle costumes to school on days OTHER than Halloween!

My little sister and I at a west coast beach, roughly 1987

If you’re stuck; if you’re trying to get past that fear; if you want to try something but are afraid someone will judge you for trying; if you just need to hear permission from somebody to try something, than, that’s the point of this writing- GO DO IT! Go learn, try, experiment, create, launch, cringe, review, learn more, try again, screw up, figure it out, break it, bend it, say it, BELIEVE IN IT! And always keep going!

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