Hell No, Yes-Man

The thought of having my own yes-man is bi-polar.  I like the thought of having a minion of my own, a vote that always echoes my own (thus doubling my own personal voting power) and possibly having my lunch fetched for me, but the inverse of that that brings a taste of “ew” to my mouth when I think of being around such a person… why is this… hmmmm.

Even though I may love the way a “yes man” agrees with my statements, opinions and solutions, the average “yes man” can often be the worse type business person to have around.   Most often for complex technical decisions or high stakes investment decisions, you’re much better to listen to the one who’s playing “devil’s advocate”.  They’re the ones who position their statements in such a way as to get you to think about possible unwanted outcomes or byproducts of the proposed solution. In situations like this, I say “Hell no yes man!”.

The yes-man is such a common role in todays business world that Merriam-Webster has an official definition for this type of person:

a person who agrees with everything that is said; especially :  one who endorses or supports without criticism every opinion or proposal of an associate or superior

In my current professional career and past entrepreneurial endeavors, I have never met a yes-man I like.  Personality wise, yeah okay I might make small talk about a current event or something non-critical, but for highly debatable topics and intense discussions where a strategic, technical, or financial decision is going to be made,  it is seldom if not nonexistent that I take a yes-man’s parroting opinion as a serious contribution.  This is my own opinion based on my experience… yours may of course be different.

It’s interesting to note that the first known use of the term “yes-man” was in 1912.  Other notable events for that year include:

⁃New Mexico and Arizona admitted to the Union as the 47th and 48th state respectively

⁃Girl Scouts (Girls Guides) formed in Savannah by Juliette Gordon Low

⁃“Tarzan of the Apes” was published by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Surprisingly, Urban Dictionary has a well thought out definition for this type of individual:

“Men without balls who will answer yes to any query from their boss/superior regardless of the question’s intelligence, bearing, or appropriateness. It is usually intended to farther the yes man’s career by getting and staying on the boss’s good side, but may have the opposite effect.”   The phrase “may have the opposite effect” resonates very loudly in my head when I read this…

Another yes-man definition:

Yes men often ruin the productivity or usefulness in the department they work in, as they are unwilling to provide any form of original idea, opinion or more importantly criticism to their boss and thus contribute to disconnect between managers and workers.” – by boohooohoo

And this is description of the movie Yes Man staring Jim Carey (not to be confused for The Yes Men, because that flick is spot on and hilarious):

“Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) is stuck in a rut with his negative ways. Then he goes to a self-help seminar and learns to unleash the power of yes. Living in the affirmative leads him to all sorts of amazing and transforming experiences; he gets a job promotion, and even finds a new romance. But Carl finds that too much of anything, even positive thinking, is not necessarily a good thing.”  The key phrase here is “not necessarily a good thing”.  However, this movie was not about being a brown nose, ass kissing, yes-man, but more-so just having to say “yes” to everything.

Also, this type of person is not to be confused with the “yes-man” theory of saying yes to more things in your life.  Exercising that theory may make one think a bit more positive about things, take more chances, be a bit more selfless, that kind of thing, but clearly not the “yes-man” I’m talking about here.  Another thing (that should go without saying) of course is that a woman can equally be a “yes-man”.  The term has no gender boundaries and is the same type of character in a business setting that I say hell no to.

I’m a bit perplexed that people are still yes-mans.  I mean, it seems so transparent to me and therefore I have think to myself, “Hell no, yes-man”.   I’m going to leave it at that.  I almost started to discuss what is worse, the yes-man or the people (bosses, mgrs, peers, etc.) that enable them to be that way.  Hmmm… I’ll leave that one for another time, but feel free to let me know what you think, even if it’s to say “yes, I agree”!   Thanks for reading my little rant.

Today I resigned from Apple.

“So long and thanks for all the fish”

Today I resigned from Apple. In what has been probably one of the most difficult decisions in my life, I decided to resign as Senior Advisor after close to 5 years of service for the company.  It was a tough decision because I had been a life long Apple Computer user, I highly respected the company and I loved the products they produced.    The people I worked with were some of the best people I’ve ever known, being highly skilled in technology, customer service, management, business development, and on and on and on… the talent pool there is very deep and I have learned so much about myself, business, and technology just by being there.  I will never regret the experience for having worked with such wonderful people or for such an amazing company.

With that being said, and after much thought, consideration, internalization and discussions with Sheryl, I decided it was time for me to go.  I submitted my resignation letter, wrote a final farewell email to my team, friends and managers, and signed off the VPN for the last time.  It was very surreal.

The No-Plan Plan

How can something go according to a plan when there isn’t a plan to begin with?  Well, it can’t.  Without going to deep into Mgmt., it’s like a company trying to operate without a business plan or marketing strategy… you’re somewhat at the mercy of trial and error results, seeing “what works and sticking to it” or what some may call fate.  This can be very exciting and it actually reminds me of my startup days in the valley, but when you’re not 23 anymore, you have a family of 4 in tow, there’s a couple of mortgages to pay every month, vehicles to keep maintainted, and all the other cogs of domesticated life to keep lubricated, it’s not as easy as crashing on the proverbial couch and riding the winds of change… don’t get me wrong, I know I made the right decision.  I know I did.  I wholeheartedly welcome this exciting change in my life and I’m fully embracing it.   Even though I’m not 100% certain what’s coming next for me, I can’t wait!

How I knew it was time. 

I had reached the point of realizing I had golden hand cuff a few months back.  Golden handcuffs, the shiny, beautiful, strong, reliable shackles that keep you to a company or idea (or some could say spouse).  The golden shackles provided me stable income, super super affordable health insurance for my kids and I, deep discounts on all Apple Hardware and services,  discounts on other services like internet and cellular, discounts and perks in other industries as well such as travel, hospitality, and entertainment.  These golden handcuffs were very comfortable too.  I didn’t want to take them off really, it was just the idea that I had them on and that I I was wearing them that soon manifested the decision to take them off.

So this is my real life case study.  To do the things that you know you should do.  To take the risks when rewards aren’t fully realized.  To trust in yourself and the people in your life.  To live life the way you want to in the present and to force immediate change upon yourself.  The way I like to phrase it is this:  One can decide to implement incremental change that leads to making a major decision, versus making the decision that forces immediate change.  I chose the later, and it’s time to rock and roll!

What to Include With an Album Submission for Review

It is important to realize right away that the ones you want to review your music get a lot of submissions. You can increase the chances of a reviewer listening to your album if you do the following:

1) Include a well written bio. Writing an affective bio is an art and should take some time to do. Keep your bio on one page. Include why your music is exciting to you, don’t use adjectives like ‘unique’ or superfluous statements like ‘one of a kind sound’.

(Bat Wings for Lab Rats current bio below)

2) Include A CD. Contrary to popular belief, the CD is not dead yet, especially to a music reviewer.

3) Maintain a professional “look” that is simple and effective. Use one font on all your printed material. Use one version of your logo.

4) Include an introduction letter, or a cover letter. Think of it like a CV. You want to have a FRIENDLY cover letter that is polite and to the point. Use the cover letter to explain who you are, what your music sounds like (yeah, reviewers actually like to hear what you think you sound like), and that you’d appreciate them giving your CD a listen.

5) Address your package and cover letter with the name of the reviewer if possible. I know this info is sometimes difficult to come by, but if you show that you did your homework, the reviewer will pay more attention.

 

A Review of Those Who Review (Music)

I am working on getting reviews for one of the bands I produce (Bat Wings for Lab Rats) and am looking into all possible outlets to send our CDs too for review. Since there are 000’s of those who review music online, I am reviewing those who review to ensure they meet MY requirements before I waste time, money, and energy submitting my music to them. I of course want my music to be reviewed, but with so many reviewers, how do I focus on the cream of the crop first? For my own use (and now for you to consider) I came up with questions I ask myself when investigating a review site. They are as follows:

1) When was their last review? Take a look at the date of their last review. Was it this month? Good. This week? Better. Yesterday or today? Best! I want to send my music to someone who will give it a listen and then write something about it in a timely manner. If they haven’t reviewed SOMETHING in the last 15 days, well than they may just be “hobby blogger” reviewers and will not be at the top of my list.

2) What is the format for submission? E-mail or snail-mail? I don’t mind sending a CD in the mail. I don’t mind emailing a link. However, if you’re going to call yourself a music reviewer, please tell me how to submit my music to you. If you want a CD, tell me where to send it. If you prefer links to SoundCloud, ReverbNation, LastFM, BandCamp, etc. then let me know. Please do not make me guess or waste my time trying to figure it out. Those that make this information easy to find are at the top of my list, because it tells me they’re serious about reviewing.

3) What information do they include in the review? Do they rate the artwork or at least include it? Do they rate the “commercial” ability of the band? For example, “This band would be successful at a reality TV show soundtrack”, or “I could hear this band on mainstream radio”. (I actually don’t mind this very very subjective perspective when reading reviews. It tells me the reviewer is confident enough in what they think ) Do they consider song complexity, lyrical content, arrangement, and composition in their review? The easiest way to see this is by reading other reviews of course. If the reviewer doesn’t write things like “This band will melt your face!” just to get me to send them a CD, than they’re at the top of my list. I am a musician, engineer, and music producer who work with musicians who are going to listen to every word you write. Please review our music as though you were talking to us.

4) Is there social networking integration on the site? How easy is it for a reader to tweet about a review they just read? Can a reader share a review with their friends Facebook? Is the review “linkable” on its own? (In other words, can a band link to the review without promoting 3 other bands on the same link?) The better the social networking integration on the website, the easier it is for me and others to promote the music and reviewer. Win/Win.

5) Can a reader leave comments? This isn’t THAT big of a deal, but it’s a nice touch. If the review site as a way for readers to make comments, than the me and the band can get even more info from the review. By allowing readers to agree, disagree, or add to the review, the review praise/criticism holds more weight and increases in value. Again, not that big of a deal, but a very nice touch.

6) Are there advertising banners on the site?I’m not talking about Google adsense stuff, I’m talking about banners and skyscrapers that advertisers pay to place on the site. I use this as a popularity gauge. Who’s advertising? This tells me a little bit about who the demographic is. This isn’t THAT important in the grand scheme of things, but I do prefer to see advertisement on the blog/site because that tells me that someone is investing in them because they attract a lot of eyeballs.

Now you know how I sift though the thousands of online music reviewers on the interwebs. I had to come up with some type of criteria for myself in order to tackle the task of sending my music out for review.

Soundtoys EchoBoy Steps Up and Saturates the Mix!

When producing an album, my duties often include mixing and mastering. Independent music often has a single producer covering all angles, and with High Iron’s debut album, I’m that guy.

I’m currently in the mastering phase and there are my tried and true “go-to’s” when it comes to gain staging and limiting the stereo bus. When working on an album (I work on just one at a time) I like to investigate and experiment to determine just what exactly “completes” the mix. A coat of “sonic-urethane” if you will. The last sprinkle of color and distortion before it’s called done.

 

I had previously attempted to use the Presonus ADL600 to add some natural tube compression / distortion. It didn’t work like I thought it was. The ADL600 has character, but not necessarily color and it wasn’t working for this mastering.

I needed tape saturation not tube. Being the avid user I am, I knew that Soundtoy’s EchoBoy has saturation and tape emulation, but I never considered EchoBoy for that purpose. I have always used EchoBoy for wicked delays and effects… It’s not uncommon to see me use EchoBoy on the drum bus, gtr bus, and vocals… I don’t really use it on the master 2bus until tonight. Ahhhhhh! The heavens parted and I basked in the audible glory.

My new discovery with EchoBoy is that you can bypass the delay processor and just employ the saturation processing.

First, I cut the delay time down to 1/64 beat or 31.3msec. None of the emulators sounded good at “o msec”. I put the saturation about 75% with the input gain about -2db, with about a 1.5db output gain. Using the ‘Mix’ I was able to add the distortion each song called for, but also have the cohesiveness of using the same algorithm.

EchoBoy’s tape presets include “Master Tape”, “Studio Tape”, “Tube Tape”, etc. They all sound great. I chose Studio Tape ‘style’ simply for the way the distortion is dispersed in the stereo field. It actually increases the perceived stereo image, making the program wider and separated. Just what I was looking for.

SoundToys plugins never cease to amaze me. If you’re interested, check em out at http://www.soundtoys.com

Elephonic Studios Pro Tools Rig

What you heard was true, there is a new studio being built in Albuquerque right as I type this. Jesse, of Five Minute Sin fame is building a studio on the North side of town called Elephonic.

Last night we got together to start the long and tedious process of installing Pro Tools HD. This isn’t the kiddie ride, no siree.

This is the top of the line Pro Tools system paired to a smoking hot Apple Mac Pro sporting 8 Intel processor cores and 12 Gb of RAM. Nothing out there can even come close to the processing power this workstation (will soon) possess.

The pics I’m uploading were taken with my iPhone since I didn’t even think about docu-photographing the install. It is a big step for Elephonic as we begin to build the heart of the studio. More about this fantastic local studio to come later.

Scott Walker

I don’t know what it is about Scott Walker, but after watching a documentary about him I felt like I had to go into the studio and make something. Scott’s drone-ish, yet emotionally charged vocal styling is only the top layer of his wonder cake.

Never before were cameras allowed in the studio with him while he worked. For this documentary you get a look inside his mind as you’re taken along the his voyage, career, and mental navigation of his art and passion – recording music.

His words, music, art and life inspired me to set out and instantly record something… letting my thoughts of logic and technicalness fall to the wayside as my creativity elbowed passed rational thought. Here is the result I call “Predictable Patterns”.

 

Imbedded Automobile Synthesizer

I remember there was a “Pimp My Ride” episode where they used a device to make a Ford Pinto sound like a Ferrari. I can’t find this device on the interwebs to save my life. I’m still looking though… I’ll comment it in if I find it.

So, if the idea to put speakers in hybrid car’s bumpers to emit sound to let pedestrians know the car is coming at them, I think that it should be a synthesizer.

As they NY Times article states, they want it to sound something like a cross between a Starship and a Formula One car… well, when I think of the sound of that, it’s the Doppler Effect I’m most reminded off… I mean, how often do you hear a formula one car where the doppler effect is not a characteristic (when the car is parked of course).

So, my thoughts are, there needs to be a controller for the car synthesizer… something akin to “rev’ing” the engine… Aha! Simple! Send a controller message from the takometer that modulates a low pass filter! I mean, not only do you want the hybrid vehicle to emit sound, you want to know if the vehicle is rapidly approaching you, or just crawling down the street. The doppler effect will always be present in anything moving towards or away from you, but it only makes sense that we perceive speed according to the pitch of the engine.

Not only will an onboard synthesizer be able to tell you that a hybrid car is around you, but it should be able to tell you how fast the car is actually going. What do you think?

THE AGENCY, TRIPL3TONE STUDIOS, and FHAB CONCEPTS ANNOUNCE GRAND OPENING

March 22, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THE AGENCY, TRIPL3TONE STUDIOS, and FHAB CONCEPTS ANNOUNCE GRAND OPENING

(ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO) THE AGENCY, a new venue in Albuquerque, is pleased to announce its grand opening event on Saturday, March 29th.

The Agency, located at 111 4th Street, will offer an environment for
fine art openings, musical performances, spoken word, independent film showings, and new media installations.

The celebration begins at 6pm and is open to the public without a
cover charge. The night will feature performances by local musicians
and video projectionists.  Media Professionals wishing to cover the
event are welcome.

The Agency will begin to host events after its grand opening,
providing a new outlet for art, music, and community in Albuquerque.
The Agency will host concerts, art shows, performances and more in a refined, stylish environment built with interaction of the many art
communities of Albuquerque and New Mexico.

Tripl3Tone Studios, located at The Agency, is operated by audio
engineer / producer Jason Wolf of KeyToSound.  Tripl3Tone Studios
caters to the audio and video production needs of Albuquerque’s
quickly evolving music and film community.  Tripl3Tone utilizes
sophisticated audio and video recording and editing technology to meet the needs of musicians and bands; as well as, broadcasters,
advertising agencies, film makers, and website developers.

The Agency is also the new home of  artist Nick Harmon and FHAB
Concepts.  FHAB art will reside permanently at The Agency.  Featuring a different local artist each month, FHAB Friday showcases new artists every first Friday of the month.   Artists interested in participating are encouraged to contact FHAB for showing details.

Media Contact:
Jason Wolf
(505)264-8008
contact@the-agency.org
www.the-agency.org

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