Living in Intolerance

There are many discussions about the current social and political climate in Florida. I will clearly state that these issues are not political, they are basic humanity.

If you are not comfortable visiting Florida,
please don’t.

If you are conflicted about attending business events in Florida, congratulations you are human. If you are not attending, I ask you to be vocal about it. Make companies and people aware of the reasons. It might seem trite, but if you don’t make people aware there is little chance of it changing.

If you are attending, also make sure to make people aware of your discomfort. This request applies double to restaurants and hotels. Making sure that people understand the impact policies have on their business and wallet is a key item. It is also perfectly acceptable and understandable if one must attend because of business requirements.

We all must take part in this process. These issues will not be solved by shying away from them. Expecting things to change without putting in any effort is like waiting for a ship at the airport. To quote Mother Teresa, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” At the end of this missive are suggestions for how to create ripples.

Megan Dutta at rAVe [PUBS], reached out and asked me for comments about the current situation in Florida and InfoComm 2023. I responded, “If I didn’t live less than ten miles from InfoComm 2023, I would not attend, but I will be there with my LGBTQI+ ally pin on. I support people who decided not to come to Florida. Living here, I am embarrassed and frustrated; Florida’s current administration views are abhorrent to me. Both personally and professionally, the intolerance has impacted me. A large amount of my work history is theme park-based; it is the reason I decided to stay in Florida after being laid off in November of 2020. At the time Disney, had just announced its Lake Nona campus. DeSantis’s attacks on Disney and human rights will financially impact me. The financial issue is secondary to the human impact. Please stay away and be vocal about why. No change ever came from people satisfied with the status quo.”

After I sent this response to Megan, I continued to think about the situation, and I continued to get angry. There are so many more issues than just the “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, there are the attacks on women’s rights, there is the removal of history from school, there are book bans, there is the damage being done to education … etc. The more I thought the angrier I am about it.
I have been thinking about this topic for a few months; I hesitated as so concerned about writing perfectly that I kept stumbling. No matter what I do, there is always the chance of unintended consequences or saying something wrong. I have done many stupid things in my 50+ years. I am embarrassed by them almost daily, but they are my mistakes and missteps to own. I apologize when I can and try to do better. Acting against this intolerance is more important and hopefully people will see past missteps.
Yes, I am embarrassed by the state I live in. The decision to stay was the appropriate decisions based on the information at the time. It was not a decision made lightly as I was determining what the next step was after being laid off due to COVID. I consulted my financial & business advisors, colleagues in the AV industry, family members, and friends. The financial situational constraints from that decision are also what keeps me here. I can list all the political and retaliatory actions made by the current administration of Florida. Beyond the issue with Disney moving cancelling their Lake Nona campus, the battle to abolish the Reedy Creek Improvement District (RCID) also impacts me. RCID basically borders the development where I live.
For those that are not familiar with it, RCID was created in 1967 to support the creation of Walt Disney World. The local governments did not have the services to support developing a 25,000-acre project. From RCID’s charter, “The District is responsible to oversee land use and environmental protections within the District, and provide essential public services (e.g. fire protection, emergency medical services, potable water production, treatment, storage, pumping & distribution, reclaimed water distribution, chilled water systems, wastewater services, drainage and flood control, electric power generation & distribution, and solid waste and recyclables collection & disposal) and operate and maintain all public roadways & bridges.”
Transferring that burden to the local government places the burden on the local community. Disney also saves US$145 Million in taxes. Having a petulant state administration deciding to make these decisions in a retaliatory move is downright angering to put it mildly.

These acts of oppression and fear are not unfamiliar to me. Two weeks after I was born there were race riots about five miles from my house, . As I was growing up, I saw the scars of the riots for over two decades. It was not taught in school. It was not talked about. It was simply, “Asbury Park is still recovering.”

I clearly remember my white grandmother would always dance with my grandfather’s coworker Ace at the Officer’s Club at Fort Monmouth. People would become aghast at a white woman dancing with a black man. My grandfather would simply reply, “they are having a good time and Ace is my friend, why would that be a problem?” I did not understand the reason that some would see this situation as a problem. To this day, I still don’t

The Stonewall Riots occurred in New York the year before I was born. I remember there being stories about it in the news, but not knowing the history. Once again something that was not talked about but that had an impact during my youth. I did not learn about the actual incidents until I was in college and was mixing audio at a bar called “The Stonewall” in homage to the one in New York City. It was simply not discussed or taught in history classes.

I am a member of the artistic and creative communities and industries and have been for decades. I lived through the AIDS crisis and saw the hate it brought out in people. Seeing my friends during college being harassed and persecuted because of their sexual preferences and orientation was heartbreaking. Being harassed because I was a theater major and had a gay roommate was not unexpected. My roommate and I asked our gay friend to move in because of the intolerance of his dormitory residents. It was what we could do at the time.

Being of Jewish heritage, I knew and know many people who are Holocaust survivors. Seeing numbers on people’s arms leaves an unending impact. One would hope that as a society we had moved on from that. We all know that is not true as religious intolerance still occurs and is very visible. I did not realize how much so until I was living in South Bend, IN and working for a company that had required weekly prayer meetings until late 2000 was quite awkward. There were many issues around diversity. A small example is that I would ask at meal events what items had pork in them, people were amazed. Often, people would not answer or scoff. Watching the same people happily answering questions about peanuts and other allergens clearly sent a message. Instead, I was told, “How can you not like pork? Try it you will like it.”

I have felt the intolerance personally through these experiences. Yes, I am a white male so things are much easier than they could be. That does not preclude me from empathy having experienced just a small portion of what others face.

I had hoped that most of these things are in the past. Unfortunately, as we know, they are not. My situation is not unique, in fact it is rather mild. There are many others who have been impacted in more profound ways.

To me it is important to make the world better. It is not a simple thing to do. It takes effort each day. I also readily understand that not everyone is in a situation to be vocal or active with this process. I act and speak not just for myself but also for those that cannot.

Not all actions need to be dramatic, one can wear an LBGTQI+ Ally pin so that others know that they are accepted. Simply speaking up when people are being stupid is amazingly power. It does not need to be in the moment. It could be simply documenting the situation. Simply sitting with someone quietly so that they are not alone is an amazing act of kindness. One doesn’t need to say anything, just ask if it is okay to sit with them.

Below are a few suggestions of what you can do to help:

  • Some people buy carbon offsets to lessen the impact of their travel on the environment. Do the same thing but for intolerance offsets. There are many options, but I recommend considering or
  • Show your Pride. June is Pride Month, wear a rainbow. I will have Ally pins with me if you need one. They go with every outfit.
  • When paying for something, leave a calling card behind to make sure that the business knows that you care about how people are treated. I will have some if you need some.

I am sure that this post will annoy some people, others will agree. If I lose a few followers and clients as a result, no regrets at all. There are companies and people that I no longer interact with because of their actions and attitudes. It would be unrealistic to expect that others do not do the same.

I leave you with two quotes::

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed,
it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead

“How wonderful is it that nobody need wait a single moment
before starting to improve the world.”
Anne Frank

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

June 1, 2023

Donate Bradford Benn’s Money

Bradford made a business decision to change the marketing plan for Advisist. Most of the marketing budget was planned to be spent on promotional items, “swag”. He decided to “cancel all swag for the year” and donate the money to the AVIXA Women’s Council fundraising project benefiting Rosie Riveters and promoting STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) and specifically Audio Video for girls. Advisist fully funded their project.

Yes, this is still a marketing and brand awareness opportunity. Advisist is the Title Sponsor for the project which means it is included in their material. But as said before, it is not about the monetary ROI (Return on Investment). It is about bringing more girls into STEM. The sponsorship can result in no new opportunities to Advisist and it would be a success. Our goal is truly to increase women in STEM fields.

We have been talking with Jennifer Goodyer, CTS and Erica Carroll, CSM as the project leaders quite a bit. They are continuing to fundraise to expand the project’s impact. During an interview with AVNation ( Tim Albright spoke about raising the goal. That is where this idea came from. And yes, Bradford is humbled by the impact and the kind words of many people.

When the AVIXA Women’s Council crosses US$30,000 before July 1, 2022, Bradford will personally donate an additional 50% of the Advisist donation. There is an additional condition, at least 20% of the total amount raised in June must come from individuals. (He is trusting that people are not just donating a company’s money.)

Basically, this challenge is a twist on the game show “Win Ben Stein’s Money.” The big change is that the girls are the winners.

You can donate here:

Help us spend our boss’s money, please.

The Ideation Process is Powerful

The word ideation is a buzzword. At times though it is still the correct word to use. Advisist has just launched and as can be expected there are some startup pains. They are not growing pains, as we haven’t grown yet. These are small problems I did not expect to encounter. An example is trying to keep calendars synchronized so that one does not book two activities for the same time.

Previously I managed this challenge by having two mobile devices, one personal and one business. Each device’s calendar was synchronized to the appropriate scheduling tool. That didn’t work for my new situation. I was still having the challenge of which calendar was active in the calendar application. Was it the iCloud based one or the Office 365 one? If it was the Office 365 one, was it Advisist or AVNation? I knew that there had to be a better way. Off to I went.

After some searching, the results were not looking promising. I could find many people who were having the same issue:

It was not looking promising. I paused and thought. Then I thought about the Ideation services we offer. I had defined, “experience to be created” by saying I wanted to synchronize calendars so that AVNation, Personal, and Advisist events show up in all three calendars. As I thought about it I added, do not confuse the meeting organizer by forwarding the invite. Now that it was clearly defined, I just had to figure out how.

The next portion was defining the process to make this happen. Some call this “process ideation.” I was not trying to figure out the “how” of what was going to be done. I was determining the steps or the flow of what needed to be done. I started with a basic list of:

  1. Create new event on Calendar X
  2. Inform calendars Y and Z that there is a new event

Well that is easy, but that isn’t synchronizing. It got a lot more complex as I thought about it.

  1. Create new event on calendar X
  2. Inform calendars Y and Z to create new event
  3. Create new event on calendar Y
  4. Inform calendars X and Z – well that is a loop

An indicator was need to prevent the calendar from creating a mirrored event. That would be a really fun feedback loop. Should probably make it unique per event.

A basic flow diagram to show the steps of event mirroring
Click to Embiggen

This was the part of the process ideation. I had documented processes for creating an event on multiple calendars. I had not defined the code or tools to be used. I then thought about the important word of synchronization. Calendar X must not only tell calendars Y and Z that there is a new event, it also needs to inform the other calendars if it is changed or deleted. I won’t go through all the steps I went through. The flow chart ended up a little more complex than expected. However based on the process I thought it would solve the issue and synchronize calendars.

The next step was to take the idea and create it in reality. Determining the way to accomplish and support the defined processes was easier than opening up a search engine and looking for the solution as could be seen by the previous results. I studied various off the shelf solutions that had the ability to perform the processes I outlined. I might not have known how they performed the task, I just knew that they could perform the tasks need to complete the processes needed. I was able to determine that Microsoft PowerAutomate Flows, part of Office 365, could perform the tasks I needed. There was one limiting factor, I needed to change the calendering service for one of my accounts to make items synchronize effectively. However after that I was able to configure the system to work with all my e-mails and calendar accounts.

A little more complex:
Click to Embiggen

Now comes the question everyone has: Why should I care? The point of this post is to show you that through Advisist’s experience and approach we are able to provide solutions that others have not been able to create.

Advisist Holiday Happenings 2020Thank you for reading. Now if you will excuse me, I have some calendars to synch

PS Have you signed up for our 2020 Holiday List?

Hello World!

“Friends seen and unseen I greet you with the holy word Peace” – Prophet Omega

As a tip of the hat to the Apollo 13 team, I have decided to launch my newest Endeavour. today, Friday, November 13, 2020 at 13:13 Eastern Standard Time. I was told on July 27 that the project I was working on at Universal Creative would be ending. Given the current state of the world, I was saddened and scared. I turned to the great philosopher Dr. Seuss, who soothes the world by writing, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Now it is time to look to the future while still smiling.

I have been fortunate to receive great support from people within the Theme Park and Audio Video industries. Due to COVID, I am far from the only one who has been looking for employment. There is no such thing as a good time to be unemployed but during a pandemic is an even more extraordinary time to be looking for work.

One cannot have comedy without tragedy, King Kong without Ann Darrow (played by Fay Wray), or sadness without happiness. We are changing from the sad part of an indefinite pause to the happy part of the unwritten future. Each of us decides what we will do next. Yes, the Pandemic changes many things, but how it changes us hasn’t been written. We influence our own future, keeping in mind that in doing so we also influence the future of others.

Three years ago, when I was laid off from Harman, I considered starting my own consulting firm, however the selection of opportunities available at the time lead me to put that idea on hold. Again, given the current state of the world, I have no reason (read that as excuse) to not take the leap. Is it a great time to make this decision? I am not sure; I don’t think anyone can know what is coming.

Yes, I am concerned, nervous, and scared right now, but I am taking the leap and I am doing something about it. Today I launch “ADVISIST”.

In the past three-plus decades of working in professional audio, video, and lighting I have had many roles. I have been a student, a teacher, an operator, a technical manager, a specifier, a designer, a fabricator, and an installer. I have performed these roles in various guises. I have worked for integration firms, I have worked for manufacturers, and now I have worked as a technical manager. This history is what I am drawing on as our company moves forward. As they say, no man is an island and behind every great man stands a woman pushing him forward. Yes, my wife Jennifer has been doing that for this project.

Advisist will not be a typical firm. The way we work has evolved as have world conditions. The “gig” economy and temporary staffing have proven that sometimes all that is needed is help for the short term, which is perfectly reasonable. The goal is long-term relationships that are beneficial to both parties while not saddling either with unneeded expenses.

There are five main beliefs that are guiding the new company. These are not the mission statement; those things are hard to write. The five main guiding principles are:

  • People Over Profit
  • Do What Is Right
  • Open Communication
  • Support People and Companies We Know
  • We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone

I have gotten this far in life and my career by preparing as best I can, then showing up and seeing what happens. Yes, there is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy infamous quote of, “Don’t Panic.” It is good advice, but I do feel that embracing the fear and doing something anyway is the better way to live. No one’s future is certain. All anyone can do is prepare as best they can, show up, and see what happens.

Elbert Hubbard wrote, “Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.”
It was made famous by Bugs Bunny in 1960’s cartoon Rabbit’s Feat. Pretty good advice.

Peace and good health to all, always.

Bradford Benn
November 13, 2020 13:13 EST