Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Monday, February 27, 2012

#SDCC – The project – Plan phase

The 5 phases – Initiate, Plan, Execute, Monitor and Control, Close Down
Preparation is only worth what you put into it and what you get out of it. Don’t over plan.
The Plan phase is the ‘Devil in the details’ part.
Ideally, there should be no ‘black boxes’. Meaning everything thing should be understood and broken down into manageable activities. You should never have something in the plan like ‘Then we show up and have fun’ or ‘create a new portfolio for review’.  That’s not manageable and implies something isn’t understood.  If that is the case, you need to go back to initiate and do more research.
This part of the project is reviewing the Charter and breaking down the parts into tasks to be divided among the team. From the tasks, you will start prioritizing them based on importance and order of completion and in the end you have your Project Schedule.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chad Brown, Dennis Philips, Todd Brunson, Scotty Nguyen, Tom McEvoy, and TJ Cloutier at Choctaw

You know how much I love autographs. You might know how much I enjoy poker. This was an event that tied both together.  Choctaw Casino in Durant, OK was hosting a World Series of Poker satellite event and they had a signing opportunity on a Friday.
I dragged my wife up to the casino and quickly found the players seated at a table. I must admit to being intimidated. I like to think I can play poker decently but I know I don’t rate against these guys. I played at the same table against TJ Cloutier for several hours. My successful strategy was simple – run away.  If we were in a hand together I checked or folder when he bet. My ‘live to fight another day’ plan allowed me to outlast about 150 other players. I still didn’t cash but I didn’t crash and burn either.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Michael Oher B&N Northpark

When Michael Oher’s book first came out in hardback, he was scheduled to sign in Dallas.  The bookstore chain that was hosting him was closing a lot of stores and the signing was cancelled. Luckily when the trade addition of I Beat the Odds hit the market, B&N was able to wrangle him into their local  Dallas store.
I’ll admit to not being a football fan. I’ll admit to not knowing his story expect for the movie. And I’ll admit at times I paid more attention to Sandra Bullock than the story.  I was there solely to get the book signed. My fellow line mates were football fans or people inspired by the story.  
I wasn’t able to get to the book store in advance so I thought my place in line would have been behinds hundreds of others. Surprisingly I was only those 60 people were buying multiple copies and brought family along. So the 60 grew to 150 and the line moved slowly.
Michael got there early. Something I always appreciate and he started to sign immediately, while the store posted ‘no posed photos’ that was obviously just wishful thinking as Michael invited people behind his table to pose for photos.
I can say he genuinely seemed happy that people were there to see him and read his book and take something to heart about his story. He paused to take time to talk to the little ones and shook everyone’s hand.  He smiled and nodded knowingly as people expressed their thoughts.
When I got to the front he shook my hand. He thanked me for showing up. He confirmed I didn’t want it personalized and then signed. He looked up and shook my hand again and thanked me again.
No fuss no muss as I added a nice edition to my colleciton.


Monday, February 20, 2012

#SDCC – The project – Initiate phase deliverables

The 5 phases – Initiate Plan, Execute, Monitor and Control, Close Down
Preparation is only worth what you put into it and what you get out of it. Don’t over plan.
Are you going to SDCC with a group of people? Are you pooling resources or sharing responsibilities?
You might want to look at selecting a Project Manager and creating a Project Charter for ComicCon trip.
The first deliverable is delegating someone from your group to act as Project Manager.
A Project Manager (PM) is the person that manages the project from start to end. They do that through coordinating, expediting, communicating, and managing the tasks, resources, and people.
Ultimately they are responsible for a successful or failed project. Whether they have excuses or extenuating circumstances, they are responsible.  If they research and plan and monitor well (or their delegates do those functions well) the project should succeed.
They need to be able to make decisions, manage resources, and manage the plan. The PM needs to be able to delegate and get open and frank feedback from the team. The PM should be a benevolent dictator.
There IS a difference between managing and bossing.
The PM will be using the information from the 5 phases of the project cycles and the information of his team to decide how to plan, delegate, and track the various tasks needed to have a successful trip San Diego and ComicCon.
The second deliverable from the Initiate Phase is the Project Charter.
The Project Charter explains what the goal is. Something like:  4 friends planning a trip to SDCC. They will collect x amount of money, they will arrange airfare, hotel, and transportation. They want to have a good time.
The Charter assigns the PM.
The Charter will explain why this project needs to be done: The project aims at correcting issues from past trips. Previous trips to SDCC, people canceled at the last minute or we could find a hotel or we didn’t have enough money to enjoy out trip. We want to be able experience more of the convention.
The Charter will list the Risks.
What is your definition of success? If you don’t define success, how did you know if you failed or succeeded?  What is a ‘good time’? Hangovers or emptied bank accounts do not mean success. Defining it now, also level sets expectations among the team; this is an important part of managing and prioritizing the scope.
Who holds the purse strings?  While the PM can spend the money, they don’t get to keep it in their back pocket.  Who does the PM report? 
Discussing this up front and at various points through the project help keep you on target and lets everyone know what is working and what can work better.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Eliza Dushku Sci Fi Expo Irving

Last weekend I got Eliza Dushku’s autograph. She is someone that’s been on the radar for a while. I enjoyed her Buffy and in Dollhouse. My wife loves Bring It On.  For years, I waited/wanted but it seemed she was always at the conventions I wasn’t attending. This time she came to Texas and I was there.
I usually try to come up with something interesting/witty to say when I get someone’s autograph.  I really had nothing for her. My wife sat in on her Q&A session at the convention and told me some of the high lights. Eliza impressed my wife and I’m sure she charmed the whole audience.  My wife told me some of the questions and answers from the Q&A session. One thing that stood out was Eliza describing her visits to conventions in Europe. When people recognized her, Eliza would hear people shout out ‘Boofy!’ instead of Buffy.  And still I had nothing to say to her.

Monday, February 13, 2012

#SDCC – The project – Initiate phase

The 5 phases – Initiate , Plan, Execute, Monitor and Control, Close Down
If you haven’t gone to San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) before, you need to realize this is a big event.
Not only does it cover an incredible amount of floor space, it also has 25,000 people a day attending; hence the claims of 125,000 people over the weekend.  On top of that, add the fact that this is the industry’s big event of the year.  Every year, the TV and Movie studios spend a lot of money at SDCC to get the public to watch their movies and shows.  The publishing and gaming industries aren’t just sitting by either. They are presenting and wooing the SDCC attendees too.
Over the last 10 years SDCC has been mainstreamed.  While everyone hasn’t heard of it, more and more non geeks/nerds are aware it exists.  Entertainment news shows are present to interview the top actors as they promote their movies and programs. So as Grandmom sits at home and catches up on her celebrity gossip with E!, she is watching video from SDCC.
Many people just get their tickets and show up. They have an idea of the schedule and wing it. For some that method works for them. Others are very disappointed and end up not having a good time. At the end of the weekend they talk about the coulda’s and the shoulda’s.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tami Hoag – A Real Book Store

 This in one of the signings I attended because of ‘The Name’. I haven’t read anything from Tami Hoag but she is a big enough name as a writer to be on my radar. Tami Hoag was at a Real Bookstore on February 2nd for Down the Darkest Road.
Tami entered and spoke a few words; she then read a page or so from the book; and lastly fielded questions.  Listening to the questions you can tell the audience was avid fans.  As she discussed this I knew it would be a book my wife would enjoy.
As I was getting close to the front of the line a high school kid asked to have a book signed. It was Catcher in the Rye. Tami smiled and with a laugh said she wished she wrote that. The student then explained he was trying to get on his English teacher’s good side.  The teacher had gone off on a long tangent about Tami and how much she enjoyed Tami’s books. 
 Tami gladly signed the book and personalized it.  Then they all posed for photos together with the book in hand – to prove to the teacher he didn’t just scrawl a signature into the book. It was something odd and something fun.  It was also something an author could get mad about and reject but  - an eyelash wasn’t batted before the answer was 'yes'.
It’s the way people react to the unusual that I enjoy seeing. I know personally I react poorly to the unexpected.  I always enjoy seeing when it goes well and people can roll with the punches and come out smiling. Just the way Tami Hoag did.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dune, Kevin J Anderson, and Brian Herbert

When I was a kid, a good friend showed me his copy of Dune.  We were maybe 10 or 11 years old. He told me the book had its own language.  I would have to read the back of the book first.  As a kid I was both intrigued and horrified by such an unconventional thought.
I few years later I stumbled across the book again and I read it. I read the back of the book first and I struggled with the glossary.  It was worth it though.  I often wondered if the thrill and excitement I had when I read Dune was the same experience my dad had when he read Three Musketeers.
Dune is one of my Desert Island books. It’s one of the five books I’d want to have with me if I was stranded on a desert island.  The book’s depth of story and characters makes it one I reread often and I know I will never tire of it. Dune is a classic and the following books that Frank Herbert released in the series are cannon to me and have a very special place in my life.  I’ve read the original at least 15 times.  The next 2 books of the series I may have read 10 times each and the next 3 books a few times less for each one. Yes, I’m one of those guys that will reread the entire series when the new one comes out. 
Then Frank Herbert passed away, he left the series with a cliff-hanger.  A few rumors were heard about an outline for the final book and more rumors that his son, Brian Herbert, would be carrying on the series.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Clayton Kershaw TriStar Houston and Costco Plano

I don’t know Clayton Kershaw and I don’t know his reputation as a signer. I’ve gotten his autograph twice within the last few weeks and both times he seemed friendly, quiet, and polite.
Since I was at TriStar in Houston for the 86 Astros’ reunion, I figured I’d pick up Clayton Kershaw’s autograph too. I was over budget at this time but: in for a penny, in for a pound.
I’m standing in a line that is moving fairly fast as Clayton seemed like a no nonsense type of guy.  He sat down and started signing.  The Collector in front of me had a black baseball and a silver paint pen.  While that is not my thing, I can appreciate how the signature would really pop out with that combination.
So the Collector stepped to the table and handled over the ball and pen. He paid extra for an inscription and Clayton dutifully signed away. Then the Collector asked for a photo.  Clayton straightened and smiled for the camera.  The Collector TOLD Clayton he needed to hold the ball.  I watched Clayton.  I knew what the Collector wanted. Clayton reacted like the ball was rolling off the table and quickly rested his hand on the ball.  Then the Collector TOLD him he needed to pick up the ball.  Obediently Clayton lifted the ball up; still thinking the Collector was worried about his ball rolling away. And Lastly the Collector TOLD him to hold the ball by his face.  Clayton got it now. The Collector took the photo and then his ball and walked away.  I still watched Clayton.  He never shook his head in frustration or watched the guy walk away in relief. He just looked to me as I stepped up and I handed him my ball to sign.