Tag Archives: Wish I had a good photo

Looking the Part?

I’m sure you’ve seen them, bad publicity photos, cheesy professional headshots.  You know those ones where it looks like the person is just smiling a little too hard, or they are holding their head at an awkward angle.  Depending on your position, having a good professional headshot is a must, and it should go without saying that the individual being photographed should dress professionally as well, and a president or CEO would be one such person.

Well the family owned business issue of “Business” the publication from Holland Chamber of Commerce brings us this:

Could you imagine if he had a lei on?

Jeff Mulder is the CEO and President of ODL (manufacturer of decorative door glass and other residential products) an international company headquartered in Zeeland, that employs over 800 people in 6 countries.  So he is not the CEO of a small machine shop in town, but of a pretty large company.  But why, oh why was it decided that wearing a Hawaiian shirt for a headshot was a good idea, and even more shocking, why was this photo submitted for use in this publication.  So maybe wearing the power suit with red tie, might not be the best choice of photo for the family business issue, so why not go with the ODL embroidered shirt from Land’s End?  Though it could be worse, they could have gone with the edited out significant other photo, those can always be found on Rapid Growth’s Jobs Landed section (Exhibit 1, Exhibit 2, Exhibit 3, Exhibit 4).

Why so serious?

Not to be overlooked but there is also just plain angry photos, like the above from one of the members of Status Creative.  Why is Scott Erickson so angry?  It looks especially odd right next to his co-worker Rob Bliss, who sports quite an affable look in his photo.

Do you have any favorite bad publicity photos you would like to share?  Share them here or on The Ledger facebook page.  Does a weird, bad, or awkward photo, change your thoughts of that person?


MiBiz Has No “Biz-ness” Writing Headlines

Writing headlines is a pain.  Often times it is the last thing I do before I post my stories, usually after many deletions and rewritings.  So I can’t fault MiBiz too much for their choice of headlines but wow they do really kick up the corniness.  Peruse the list below:

Which MiBiz headline do you like the best?  Can you find any other good ones in their archives?  More importantly my headlines aren’t that bad… are they?

Note:  Remember you can read MiBiz stories free of charge if you just sign up for an account

Part 2: The Rise and Fall of Spearia – The Filmmakers

In researching the whole Spearia situation I  was able to interview Justin Vander Velde a senior at Grand Valley State University, who created Switching Gears, the Spearia film.

First off let me talk about the film for a little.  Justin is majoring in Cinema Video with an emphasis on documentaries.  In a documentary class Justin and his four other classmates:  Matt Dayton, Jake Dawson, and Andrea Wallace (yes only four, it was a small class I was told) had a whole semester to create a documentary.  The classmates batted around some ideas before settling on the interesting story of Danny Beckett, and Spearia.  The former motocross rider turned entrepreneur and founder of a web development company.  Justin was familiar with Beckett because they had worked on some projects together in the past.  Justin approached Beckett about the documentary idea and Beckett was all on board with the idea, and agreed to help the classmates with their project.

Justin had a pretty good idea of how the documentary would turn out …  a cool company, with a cool ex-motocross guy doing things their own way, with cool events, sponsorships, and activities..  They started filming in September, with Justin asking the questions, and the other students were helping out with filming and editing.  By Mid-November the students thought they had their film basically wrapped up after they completed filming the Halloween themed Free Lunch Friday.  But also during this time the students sensed for the first time that something was amiss with Spearia.  This happened when they were interviewing Jason Dodge outside of Spearia office when he mentioned he was no longer the Marketing Director, but rather he was now a Project Manager.  A week after that interaction Jason left the company.  Then as mentioned in the video the team could not get a hold of Beckett anymore.  As you could image with students who have a grade on the line, panic quickly set in.

Eventually the students received a tip about the For Lease Signs on the Spearia building.  After they drove to Comstock Park and filmed the empty building, the students were left at a crossroads on how to proceed.  They needed to complete their film, and turn it in for a grade.  On one hand they had the story they initially were trying to do – Fun company being successful doing their own thing, but obviously there was now more to the story.  Or they could keep on asking questions and hopefully get a answer about the For Lease Signs.

The students decided to try to get the full story, and were still trying to make contact with Beckett.  Finally they got a hold of Beckett, since Justin had a personal relationship with Beckett, he had a hard time asking the hard questions.  Luckily, Jake picked up the slack and was able to ask Beckett the difficult questions that needed to be answered.

The classmates were happy with the way the project turned out but they would have liked to have more time filming and being able to wrap up the story properly.  They ended up working on editing the video just hours before the final film was due to their professor.

As you could imagine Justin and his classmates received a lot of feedback on the video after they posted it to Vimeo.  Though  about a day after it was posted, the video was taking down.  Justin wanted to change some privacy settings to the video, and it was not in fact taken down because of Beckett or his actions (Justin just wanted this to be clear).  Justin had a difficult time with this project because as mentioned earlier he did have a personal relationship with Beckett, and as you could imagine it would be quite difficult to be in the middle of everything filming this company as it is unraveling.   He did not want to tarnish Beckett’s image since he did help them out with the film.  But he did hear back from Beckett after the final video, and Beckett relayed his congratulations to the filmmakers and was very proud of the way the video turned out, and was happy to help them out in their class. Through various Facebook postings the students also got feedback from former Spearia employees who were happy to see the whole story out there and thought for the most part that everything was accurately depicted.

Justin said he will have to make another film for next semester.  He is leaving the door open to perhaps follow Danny Beckett more closely in what happens to him after Spearia.  Per Justin, Danny is looking at becoming a public speaker or writing books.  So it will be quite interesting to see what comes out of this.

What Justin and his classmates were able to capture is amazing in my opinion, and I thought they did a great job on the video.  I have never met Danny, so I am not sure how open he is in general, but I would have to think that as the filmmaker, he had to have some role in either asking the right questions, making Danny feel at ease to discuss the company so candidly, or both.

On top of that I thought that the students did a great job handling the curveball they were throw.  As mentioned the students thought that they had the video wrapped up after that Halloween themed Free Lunch Friday.  Then you find out that something is up, i.e. finding investors, people leaving or getting new titles, the For Lease sign on the building.  So all of a sudden you have to go in a new direction with the story, because all that fun, cool, crazy stuff Spearia was doing just doesn’t quite fit in the story anymore.

So then going back through the footage and being able to piece together the rise, the pinnacle, some surface cracks of trouble, and finally the demise of the company was great.  I watched the movie numerous times, and at first I did not zero in on the whole interesting exchanges with Jason Dodge, and Kristen  (the woman employee) who talked about the challenges of working with an ideas person, and then catching the awkward exchange regarding Jeff’s new position at Spearia.  I had to re-watch that portion a couple of times to really get the magnitude of those exchanges and how they fit in the story.  Getting that shot of Danny alone on the deck was a very demonstrative shot, and just getting Danny to tell you in his own words about the end of the company, and them showing the shots of the for lease sign to reinforce to the viewer what Danny is saying.  So nice job Justin, Matt, Jake, and Andrea.

In case you were wondering Justin did receive an A in the class.

This is Part 2 of the Spearia Tale.
Part 1 can be found here.
I will have one more follow-up post with some insights from a former employee of Spearia.

For more reading and discussion on Spearia check out Urban Planet message board and the mlive – GR Press article on Danny Beckett.

Outside Validation for our “Causes”

In reading Revue West Michigan I came across Stad DiPonzi’ s Mean & Sober column (Download magazine here).  The article starts out with this

“ One of West Michigan’s least-endearing qualities is our apparent unquenchable thirst for outside validation.  It is with Sally Field-like abandon that The Right Place proclaims every cheesy top 10 list we seem to stumble onto (“Strom Drain Daily Loves GR’s Grates”).  The ever-needy nerd squad at Urban Planet even has a forum dedicated to mentions of GR in external media.”

Although this was obviously written tongue and cheek, it is an interesting statement and one that got me thinking.  Outside validation is a big deal, and getting recognized for positives attributes is very important.  In fact, I think that everyone has something which they identify with (school, region, city, organization) which when validated by outside media, you get excited.  Even for myself I am a dead ringer for this, here is my list of “causes” which I identify with:

  • Ukrainian
  • Alumni of University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
  • Grew up in Chicagoland
  • Live in Holland, MI
  • Working Grand Rapids, MI
  • Live in State of Michigan
  • Write for a little known blog

So anytime one of my “causes” gets mentioned in a positive light by outside or mainstream media, I get excited, giddy even.  I am so used to my “causes” being portrayed incorrectly or negatively, which sucks, and I get quite tired of that. For example:

  • Ukrainian – Eggs, The,
  • University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) – being known as a hyphen school and a lousy basketball team
  • Chicago – Al Capone (totally true told a cabby in Germany I was form Chicago, and he makes a gun out of his hand and starts shooting), and always behind New York and Los Angeles
  • Holland, MI – Cheap, Conservative, Religious, Dutch
  • Grand Rapids, MI -Cheap, Conservative, Religious, Dutch
  • Michigan – Rarely mentioned in a positive light
  • Write for a little known blog – I am a blogger enough said

There is a reason to get excited when your “cause” is acknowledged, recommended, or written about.  It is exciting and it helps validate everything you already know, and allows you to share your “cause” with everyone else.  Not to mention you can speak more confidently to others, because it is not just your opinion but someone elses.  So instead of focusing on the bad or the negatives why not embrace the positives.  Why not get excited?

Here is my list of positives

So tell me what are your “causes” and share with us the positives.

West Michigan Business Publications

Where do you get your business news from? Luckily for our region there are a lot of sources out there. Below is a list with some hyperlinks and some notes of mine. Also keep in mind that these are great venues for getting news about your company out. This way you can save money by not using a PR wire and can specifically target the West Michigan region effectively. Enjoy!


Weekly Publication
Can get a free print subscription if you have a fancy title (middle to upper management) . Unfortunately, I do not so I just read the online version. You can also register online to view their archives free of charge.  They also have a pretty easy way to submit press releases


Business Update

Monthly publication
Website is a bit difficult to navigate but luckily they do offer PDF of the past 12 issues free of charge (http://www.businessupdate.com/publications.php)
Also have an issue submission process for your press releases
In my experience they will usually give you at least a small mention


Grand Rapids Business Journal

Weekly Publication
Main articles on homepage and “Change Ups” available to read, but everything else requires a subscription
Press Release can be sent to their editorial department editorial@grbj.com


West Michigan Business Review

Weekly printed publication who has their online version available through mlive.com
Contact information for Press Release submission and subscription information

This is the one magazine I actually do get.
“Business Briefcase” is their new hires, news updates section available in the print edition
RSS Feed available


Grand Rapids Press

Daily paper
Editorial contacts
, best bet email press releases to some of the business editors
Also has a “Names and Faces in Business” section
RSS Feed available


Rapid Growth

Weekly email sent out
Great source of news, pulls information from various sources and provides a few in-depth stories from their reporters and the rest of excerpts with a link to the full news story
Editorial contacts

RSS Feed available


Holland Sentinel

Daily publication
Seems to handle only local companies, also has BizBuzz section for submitting personal changes or new business openings, etc. BizBuzz
Editorial contacts


Grand Haven Tribune

Business section seems to be AP news
Editorial contacts


Muskegon Chronicle

Part of the mlive umbrella
Editorial contacts


Kalamazoo Gazette

Part of the mlive umbrella
Business section
, Editorial contacts

My favorite section Kalamabrew blog

If you have any other favorite business publications, or know of editor contacts please post below. Additionally, anyone been featured in the New Position or New Company Hire sections in any of these publications? How did you feel about it? Everyone wants to be valued by their company, and this is one way for your company to say “yes we are happy to have hired you.” Plus as a nice little ego boost for yourself, because you just know that those other hiring managers who passed you over are definitely reading those section.