Audio
Photo Shoot of Conference Room
January 14th, 2020

Jamey Boiter Talks BOLTGROUP on Behind the Visual Podcast

Jamey recently had the distinction of being the second guest on a new podcast, Behind the Visual, with Mark Hanson. Jamey and Mark have worked together for a number of years on photoshoots for fashion, retail, and b2b. He talks about what it takes to help one particular client design and brand an entire new line of tools, from scratch, as well as how our company name came to be, other client stories, and getting the shot.

Listen along here!

TRANSCRIPT

Mark Hanson: Welcome to Episode 2 of Behind The Visual. A podcast that interviews the people responsible for creating, producing, and putting together all the pictures and videos you see in your world every day. I’m your host, Mark Hanson, and today we have Jamey Boiter. Jamey is the Brand Principal and COO of BOLTGROUP—a design, innovation, and experience firm whose client list includes some of the biggest companies in the world such as Coca-Cola, Lowe’s, Chick-fil-A, Izod, Phillips Van Heusen, Speedo, and many more. If you guys are interested in seeing what BOLTGROUP does, or possibly working with them, please go check them out at www.boltgroup.com.

Thank you for being here and agreeing to do this, and kind of giving us an idea of what it takes to bring all these ideas to life and to the world.

Jamey Boiter: Sure, thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

Mark Hanson: Absolutely. Tell us a little bit about you, and how you got to where you are, and BOLTGROUP—how it came about and all that kind of stuff.

Jamey Boiter: Sure. Next year (2020) will be our 35th year that we’ve been in business. I’ve been here for most of that, all but a couple of years. I got my start really in college. Discovered graphic design after thinking I wanted to be an architect, and took an introductory class, and really fell in love with how to communicate visually, verbally. Had been talented—I painted and drew when I was a kid—but really trying to find what I wanted to do.

My professor was a bit of a mentor, and really was the one that encouraged me to go to design school. Ultimately, he told me he was retiring and that I needed to get out of there. I got my portfolio together and transferred from Clemson, and ended up getting my BFA from East Carolina, from their School of Art and Design.

From there I made my way back towards Charlotte, and had worked with a couple of studios and sort of put my own shingle out, and started working freelancing and consulting with other small design firms around town. Met Monty, and he had some projects—Monty Montague, one of my current partners. We began working on some projects together and over the next few months, maybe six months, we realized that maybe this was something we wanted to do more permanently, and so I went to work full-time. A few years after that we changed the name to BOLTGROUP, and that’s when I became one of the owners.

Mark Hanson: How’d you come up with the name Bolt?

Jamey Boiter: Well, because there was a change in ownership we wanted to change the name, and get all the names off of the door because we weren’t a law firm. Late one night in the studio doing an ideation session, and I literally was going through Webster’s unabridged dictionary. We’ve still got it; it’s like this thick. I came across bolt, b-o-l-t. There are 14 definitions to that word. As a product innovation and brand development firm, we mean different things to different clients. For a lot of clients they would come to us when there was a speed to get to market. So, bolting ahead of the pack.

For others, they come to us for wildly creative solutions. It was a bolt out of the blue. For others, it was connecting parts together, or bringing customers together through a solution. We’re bolting that together. For others, it’s hitting the mark, so a bolt in a crossbow. It became, well, this really explains who we are from our customer’s perspective. I developed a rationale, typed it up, presented it to my partners the next morning. We all kind of looked at one another and said, “Well, that’s pretty cool. Let’s look at that.” Did a quick IP check. It was available, so we incorporated as BOLTGROUP.

Mark Hanson: That’s nice, especially since I did an IP check for Mark Hanson’s Photography, and it was taken and he wouldn’t sell it.

Jamey Boiter: I’ve been working with the wrong guy all this time.

Mark Hanson: That dude wouldn’t sell it, either. Here, I’ll give you a grand. He was like, no.

Jamey Boiter: Nope. Wow. We were able to incorporate as The Bolt Group, Incorporated, and we had a DBA of BOLT because a lot of people just refer to us that way. But we kind of go by BOLTGROUP for the most part. But yeah, we were able to get some protection on it.

Mark Hanson: That’s good.

Jamey Boiter: Really good. I mean that’s part of what we do. You know, we’ve named dozens and dozens of products, and a number of companies in the 34 years that we’ve been around. It’s kind of part of our process, anyway. The whole name development piece of it or brand development.

Mark Hanson: Tell me how you guys when you first started out, even now, how you get these major worldwide clients? Cause like it’s not like you just walk in the door and go, “Hey, we want to work with you guys.” And they go, “All right, come on in the door and let’s do it.”

Jamey Boiter: There is some knocking on the doors and we have an ongoing marketing development program, and Ed Holme, who is one of my partners. Ed’s responsibility is business development. Over the years we still get about 80-85% of our business through referral or network, as do a lot of other firms like ours. But we have an outreach program, and for a Coca-Cola kind of thing, that’s a campaign. You do go down and knock on doors, and you meet people. You get placed here, you might get the chance to do a project, and then based on the results of that project, you’re introduced to someone else. Before you know it you’ve kind of worked yourself into being relied upon and you become a good resource.

When we were one of many, many, many agencies of record for Coca-Cola, most of our work was focused around occasion-based marketing. We were activating their brands in various ways in retail through various programs. That was a lot of what we did just based on the talent that we have here.

Mark Hanson: Wow, that’s impressive. Just to get in the door I would think in Coke you got to have something.

Jamey Boiter: Well, I mean we had started small. Then it kind of mushroomed. I think one of the things that differentiated us from a lot of other firms was the fact that we did have industrial design and graphic design sitting side-by-side, and we had experience at retail of developing experience design. That was a lot of the work that we did as opposed to working on the Coca-Cola brand. We were activating the Coca-Cola brand. You know, how does it act at retail? We did a lot of co-marketing, co-branding work with Kraft and Coca-Cola or with Nabisco and Coca-Cola. It’s like how do you take two ubiquitous brands like DiGiorno Pizza and Coca-Cola, and how do you put them together at retail to create a solution for mom? You know, a dinner solution.

A “make memories together” kind of thing or “together tonight” was one of the programs we came up with where we’ve got a cooler of two liter Cokes sitting on an end cap. Then right beside that we’ve got a freezer full of DiGiorno Pizza, and we designed a cover where it looked like a side-by-side refrigerator / freezer, and so we did together tonight. It takes the idea we were trying to solve problems, and that’s really what design is and that’s what we do.

Mark Hanson: Cause you guys also, I just learned the other day, you guys also design products and came up with Kobalt at Lowe’s.

Jamey Boiter: Kobalt tools was a great program for us. It’s been about 20 years ago, now. Maybe it was just a little bit more than that, but we were already working with Lowe’s on some other projects and Dale Pond, who was the CMO at the time, came to us with sort of a hypothesis that he thought, if it’s positioned right and correctly, that he could sell mechanics tools there at Lowe’s for a premium price. And so we went out and we started with some extensive research, qualitative and quantitative, to really understand the market, understand what the product needed to be, and how it needed to communicate.

We worked with professional mechanics, professional non-mechanics, and DIYers knowing full well that we would probably never sell these tools to professional mechanics, because you know, they buy their tools off the truck and they mortgage their house. So, it’s a Snap-on or Mac Tools kind of thing. But we needed to understand from them what a professional tool needed to be. From there, we were able to really kind of dig in, create the foundation, the positioning of what the brand needed to be, how it needed to respond to the marketplace. We created the name, we created the identity, the logo, the lockup, created the merchandising for it, the packaging, the visual brand language for the tools themselves. We worked with the manufacturer too, then we went back into the market. A lot of the people that we had interviewed initially in the qualitative work, we created panels that we could go back periodically and test tools with them from an ergonomic standpoint. How does this work? How does this feel? Until we got the design exactly the way we wanted and then launched it out in the marketplace.

Did really well right at first. The merchants and the buyers got really anxious and started putting the brand on everything. We got a call in maybe a year after we had initially launched actually.

Mark Hanson: That was quick.

Jamey Boiter: Well, it happened pretty quick. Bob Gfeller, who had been our client at Coca-Cola, had left Coke and gone to Lowe’s, and so he was in charge of merchandising, and he called up and he said, “Hey, we’re about to break this brand. Can you guys come back in and help us get it back in its lane?” We went back in and worked with them, and then it just felt right for us to kind of stay with it. We then spent the next two or three years sort of being the brand communication agency for that brand to launch it further out into the marketplace and help get in motorsports.

We got a lot of articles written and things in the hot rod magazines and that sort of thing. We did a media tour across the country where I was the brand manager for Kobalt, which is something we wouldn’t normally do. Normally the client would be doing that, but it was kind of new to developing that. We played that part, I should say, and ended up getting to meet Jay Leno and be one of his guests at one of the tapings of The Tonight Show.

Mark Hanson: That’s pretty cool.

Jamey Boiter: That was kind of fun. That was something that was completely unexpected.

Mark Hanson: Wow.

Jamey Boiter: So we’ve got a picture somewhere here in the office of me hanging out with Jay.

Mark Hanson: That’s pretty cool. Tell everybody.

Jamey Boiter: It was really cool. We knew what a “tooly” he was, and at the time he actually was writing an article maybe once a month for Popular Mechanics. We had seen the folks at Popular Mechanics and they said, “Where are you headed next?” “Well, we’re going to be in LA.” They said, “Well, you ought to take Mr. Leno some tools.” We had a toolbox full of tools that we were literally going to drop it off at the studio in Burbank. We called and spoke to his Executive Assistant and she asked, “Can I call you back?” It was like, “Sure, no problem.” A few minutes later she calls back and she said, “Jay was wondering if maybe you could come to the show tonight if you had plans.” It was like, let me think about it for a second. No, of course not.

We went over and they had us in a guest room, and then we went and sat in a section over next to the band, watched the warm up and then watched the show. Then, after the show, we were invited up on stage to meet Jay. We gave him his tools and he took out a wrench and you know, banged it on his table and held it up to his ear, like a tuning fork, which we had seen mechanics do.

Mark Hanson: Really?

Jamey Boiter: And he said, “This is a great tool.”

Mark Hanson: That’s impressive.

Jamey Boiter: Yes.

Mark Hanson: I’m assuming you don’t go that deep for everybody that comes through here do you?

Jamey Boiter: No.

Mark Hanson: What’s the standard for more like a smaller, standard kind of client that comes in. What’s the process of giving them what they need, and making sure that they love what you guys present?

Jamey Boiter: Well, sure and that’s a good point. All of our clients aren’t great big. We also work with startups. We work with companies in early stage development and very small entrepreneurs from time-to-time. Our range of clients is vast and often the work that we do for those smaller clients is really, really involved because it’s everything. We’re helping them develop what their product is. We’re helping them name their company; we’re helping them create the identity for that business. Their packaging, their point of sale. We may help them with how to actually launch the product out into the marketplace, help them source manufacturing, that kind of thing.

To be perfectly honest, as a design innovation firm, that’s our sweet spot. That’s what we love the most is when we’re able to have a seat at the table strategically with a client. We’re working closely with them, taking them through that process from the very beginning, which is a design thinking all the way through implementation process. By taking them through that in a collaborative kind of way where we’re gathering insights that are going to inform what we do in the design. We test, we prototype, we break it, we rebuild it. We do that both for the brand and for the product to make sure that it’s just right to when we get it to the end and we launch it.

We’ve actually created a process of innovation for that company to then be able to continue as an ongoing concern and create new things. But we do have clients that will come to us for a very specific thing that they need, but in almost every instance, we do our best to get back to a strategic level just to validate what the challenge actually is, and understand and potentially challenge that problem that may only be a symptom.

Mark Hanson: They come and say we need a new website it may not be that they need a new website. They may need a whole other group of things.

Jamey Boiter: It could very well be, yes, you do need a new website, but that’s not your real problem. The reason you need a new website is because you’re not communicating very well. You know, you’re not being authentic. You’re not communicating with transparency and truth, or it could be that you’ve just, you’ve lost your message. You’re not as relevant as you used to be. And why is that? Because as a company moves up this trajectory, very often they lose some of the culture that helped get them started. Especially in founder companies or legacy companies. You get to a certain point, and to continue to grow you do the logical thing. You try and operationalize yourself to the next level.

The thing that you’re forgetting about is what made you who you were to begin with. You might lose your message, you might lose your relevance in doing that. Reaching back and really understanding why you exist and then what are those compelling truths, or we call them pillars of your brand, and how are you communicating those in every single touchpoint, both internally and externally? That’s how you build that brand ecosystem that every interaction is an experience internally. How HR handles talent search and acquisition and retention has as much to do with your brand as anything else.

Mark Hanson: Never would have thought that.

Jamey Boiter: One of our clients is the largest private practiceclinician owned and operated practice of physical, occupational, and speech therapists in the country. They’re in about 21 states now. The ongoing work that we did for them was really around recruitment and retention. It was really to understand what does that perfect ideal candidate need to be like, because it’s physical, occupational, and speech therapy for the aging. They make house calls, so you have to have a particular type of therapist. Very entrepreneur-minded, self-starter; they create their own schedules and those kinds of things. Where they’re at from a mindset is really important in terms of how you recruit, and being able to recruit in a way that you get that best talent.

Then you express it and you allow them to become your brand. That’s where the retention piece comes in. So, from an employer brand, it’s so important. We do work around all of those areas. If we’re working on a corporate brand, very often there’s an employer brand piece of it as well as a consumer or a customer brand piece of it. You know, so the in-facing messaging and the outfacing messaging has to be consistent. Otherwise, it’s not defensible as a position, ultimately.

Mark Hanson: That makes sense. I’ve never thought about it but it makes complete sense.

Jamey Boiter: With most of the brand work we do, especially with as it relates to corporate identity, we’ll create a brand and culture guide, which is something that is used internally to talk about the brand so that all of the employees understand what they stand for. And when you take them and they begin to believe it, they buy into it, that’s where you become—that’s your best sales tool. Because now you’re creating brand ambassadors for your own brand, and who can sell your brand better than those that own it, that are about it all the time? Creating that sort of an advocacy around your brand, it not only creates a better employee, a happier employee, a more efficient employee, but also becomes a sales tool.

Mark Hanson: Okay, so once you go through all this, and say you decide that they need some creative where maybe they need photography, videography, or something like that, how do you guys go about that process from coming up with the concept to hiring the people, the artists who are going to take care of that, to finding locations? All that kind of, how’s that work for you guys?

Jamey Boiter: Depending again on the type of client. We’ve had retail apparel, we’ve had fashion apparel clients in the past, we’ve had consumer good clients. And typically, when we’re going through that process, it’s what are we trying to communicate? What’s the emotion that we’re trying to evoke? From there, we will typically, if we’re scheduling a video shoot or a photo shoot for a particular thing, whether it’s their website or whether it’s communication, we think about what is the message, what’s the story we’re trying to tell? From a creative standpoint, our creative team of graphic designers and art directors, creative directors, writers, we work together symbiotically in that direction moving from strategy into creative where we’ll storyboard ideas. We’ll come up with our shot list.

Mark Hanson: That’s what I was going to ask you if you guys do the story board and all of that.

Jamey Boiter: We’ll storyboard, and depending on the client, sometimes it’s looser. For other clients it’s really, really detailed. Like Coca-Cola for instance; I did a photo shoot years ago in Franklin, Tennessee, and our shot list had to be so dead on that we completely storyboarded it out, sketched it out, worked with the photographer in building the sets, and had pretty much preapproval because it was a co-branding situation. We had preapproval from both brands before we got onto set. The trick was how to keep the two brands kind of at arm’s reach and away from the photographer while he’s doing his work. You know all about that.

Then, all of a sudden now you become account manager as well as creative director, and they’re talking into each ear. And then you’re talking to your photographer and trying to create an equitable situation. But it turned out really well.

Mark Hanson: How close was the product to once you sketched out?

Jamey Boiter: Almost dead on.

Mark Hanson: Really?

Jamey Boiter: As a matter of fact, even some of the perspectives that we did, there was one shot where we actually wanted to shoot kids in a tree house. We built the tree house and the …

Mark Hanson: Where’d you find the location for the tree house?

Jamey Boiter: Robin Hood is the photographer that we worked with in Franklin.

Mark Hanson: Wow, that’s a hell of a name.

Jamey Boiter: I know, right? Pulitzer Prize Winner.

Mark Hanson: Wow.

Jamey Boiter: Yeah, really, really great shooter. He did a book on Tennessee. It’s really beautiful. But, he had a great eye. He saw our storyboards. He said, “Let me go out. I’ll do Polaroids.” That was a while ago.

Mark Hanson: Yes, that was a while ago.

Jamey Boiter: Let’s do Polaroids and that sort of thing. He actually had a friend who had this gorgeous oak tree in their backyard, and he’d got up on the roof of their garage and shot the perspective that we were thinking about. Said, “This looks great. Let’s sort of see if we can paint it in.” Based on how we were going to shoot down on it, the tree house ended up only being like seven feet off the ground.

Mark Hanson: Really? But it looked a lot higher.

Jamey Boiter: It looked like it was way up, but we built a trap door in it where mom was coming through the trap door with refreshments and that kind of thing. Kids were up there and it was also a safety issue; we had young kids that we needed to make sure we built something that was safe and sound.

But other shoots like the shoots you and I have been on together, where it’s a little freer and looser. If it’s fashion apparel, where you’re trying to get movement and that sort of thing. But always we’re really trying to create that emotion. Whatever that happens to be, whether it’s for a campaign or whether it’s more sustainable in terms of we’re doing video for a website, or doing still photography to match up with video that we’re doing, like some of the work that we’ve done together.

Mark Hanson: So, how often do you guys work with photographers and videographers, or even graphic designers? I know you guys have a stable of them here, but that are new to you. Maybe not necessarily new in the business, but new to you guys that you haven’t worked with before.

Jamey Boiter: Every so often. From a photographer or videographer standpoint? Yes, if it’s a particular thing or a particular location or somebody that we’d like to shoot with who’s not available. Or in some cases it’s been, I’m looking for a particular style. And so going through black book and those kinds of things, you’re just kind of looking. Then all of a sudden you see, “I love this image”. Very often that’s what our graphic designers are doing in that planning stage – they’re looking online for swipes. We’re sort of creating a style. Like we’re going to do lay downs and I want it to feel like this. I want it to be back lit, I want a rush of light coming through, I want bright and airy. Or I want something really moody, and I want to think about it from that perspective. Or selective focus. I want to play with the eye and the emotion and hear are10 tears of kind of what we’re talking about, what we’re thinking about. You look at one of them and it’s a particular photographer. Well, let’s take a shot and let’s see.

But the other is in respect to relationships. You know, you have a really good shoot with a photographer and you start to develop that relationship. You begin to rely on them, and they begin to think like you think, and you start to read one another’s mind, and that whole creative process becomes a lot more seamless, and the success of the shoot goes up dramatically with that relationship.

Mark Hanson: Absolutely. Is that how you guys find, like do you mainly use work book or black book or whatever at the time or do you guys delve into Instagram now? Or do you use a lot of…

Jamey Boiter: Everything is digital now including the output of what we do. Probably 40% of our brand work is digital. Maybe more. We’ll use different tools, but Instagram accounts we’re definitely looking at; we’ll go through and we’ll look for similar products to see from a styling standpoint if anything that catches our eye.

Mark Hanson: Do you want to see like personal stuff on the Instagram account, or do you want to see basically just their portfolio on the Instagram? Do you care? Like here’s three or four shots that I’ve done for clients, and I’ll look, here’s me and my puppy, you know? Or whatever it is. Here are me and the kids on vacation. Do you want, or is that just distracting like all right, or do you just not give a damn?

Jamey Boiter: It depends on how it’s curated. I mean, because we’re designers, if you go on our Instagram account and you sort of scroll down, it’s a lot tighter in terms of how it’s curated. One of my senior graphic designers, (Alyssa Baker) she sort of manages our Instagram account and is really particular about what’s going to get placed next to what. Not necessarily the subject matter, but from a color, from a texture, from a context of how that actually works. At the end of a month or the end of the year or whatever, as you scroll down it has a feel to it. We kind of look at that for all the folks that we work with. Because you want to have, you want to get some sort of sensitivity to how they think about things. But having personal stuff in there doesn’t bother me at all because it kind of helps me understand more about the personality of that particular photographer, and may give us some indication of how that relationship’s going to go.

Mark Hanson: Okay, well that makes sense.

Jamey Boiter: I mean, it’s like anything. From a social media perspective, and a lot of the work that we do with our clients is related to creating a social media strategy—certain channels are good for certain things. You know, like LinkedIn. We’re pretty stodgy about making sure that that’s very business oriented. The work that they’re going to publish or they’re going to post. Those kinds of things are kind of buttoned up, versus if they’ve got a Facebook page for their company, that can be more social about what happens at the company picnic and you bring your dog to work day kind of thing so you get that sort of flow. Then of course like Instagram, again, you’re telling a story. You’re visually telling the story of what’s going on there. How that’s curated and what’s the messaging there.

Mark Hanson: With everything being so digital now if somebody came in to meet with you, do you have a preference over say a print portfolio as opposed to an iPad? Does it matter? Or is there one that you just still like better?

Jamey Boiter: I want them to bring something.

Mark Hanson: That would probably be good as opposed to their iPhone. Hey look, there’s my stuff.

Jamey Boiter: We’ve had a couple in the past where they come in, especially a designer that’s coming in to apply for a job and they come in and they don’t bring their portfolio, they expect you to have it and throw up on a screen.

Mark Hanson: Really? Wow, okay.

Jamey Boiter: Yes, it’s only happened a couple of times, but those are real teaching moments for that designer.

Mark Hanson: Do you end this meeting quickly or do you actually sit there and go listen, next time here’s what you should do?

Jamey Boiter: It kind of goes like, “I’m not going to hire you, but let’s take this moment as a teaching moment to say, the next creative director you go talk to you better have your portfolio, and you better have a copy of your resume, and you better have something to write on and something to write with. Because they’re probably not going to be as nice about it as I’m being to you right now”. But it’s only happened a couple times.

Mark Hanson: I’m shocked, though.

Jamey Boiter: But today with motion and everything else we’re pretty much set. We know that you’re going to come in with a tablet or you’re going to come in and throw it up on the screen. But if we’re looking for print work, you know, it’s really nice to see what print looks like. Cause there’s still some traditional—we’re doing a corporate brochure or something like that where that’s where it’s going to play out. It’s really nice to see that work or examples of that work—how it got printed.

Mark Hanson: I have a printed portfolio and then I have my iPad Pro or whatever, and I’ve noticed that when you go in there it’s, “Oh my God, it’s a portfolio. I haven’t seen one of these in a while.” They’re just like flipping through it and just feeling it, I guess.

Jamey Boiter: Depending on what generation you’re in, you still love the texture, the tactile feel of having something to look at. Having been heavily into print and into environmental design for a long time, then moving towards digital, it’s still refreshing to see.

Mark Hanson: Do you guys have an in-house producer or do you rely on a photographer or whoever to bring one?

Jamey Boiter: We’ll typically look to the photographer to help us. Now we’ve produced some stuff in-house. We’ve got full-time project management, and our project managers are not designers. We’ll work, if we need to come in and be producer, we’ll do that. But we love working with a producer. A lot of times it’s based on budget.

If the client just doesn’t have the budget then I will have our project manager kind of take over production of it, or we’ll even have one of the graphic designers, art directors stand in and work with the photographer.

Mark Hanson: Well that’s good.

Jamey Boiter: We’re pretty flexible that way. But you know, there are those budgets where you get to have a pretty good size crew, and then there are those where it’s three of you.

Mark Hanson: Right?

Jamey Boiter: But the work is still good.

Mark Hanson: Right, I’ve had all of those. From one end to the other, so I understand completely. All right, so last three questions I kind of ask everybody.

Jamey Boiter: Okay.

Mark Hanson: What’s the toughest part of your job do you think? Or the one thing that you wish everybody knew that? So, they think it’s so easy doing what you do. What would you like people to know about the end of your job or the toughest part?

Jamey Boiter: Well, the creative process is a lot more involved. Design thinking is a lot more involved, because most people only see the end result. They see the end product. They don’t see how you made the sausage.

Mark Hanson: I think you go into a room and throw darts until somebody comes up with an idea.

Jamey Boiter: Well, I mean we even joke about it. When name development is pizza and beer. That’s sometimes what clients think. But it’s a lot more involved than that, and the whole design process is so involved and iterative, and you’re not going to hit it the very first time. But it’s the collaboration and working back and forth as a team to get to that solution. Constantly reflecting back against your goals.

Most people aren’t supposed to see that. But that’s where the value is so that the solution is the most appropriate it can possibly be. It’s pretty hard to explain, but when you get it, you really get it. When you have a client that appreciates the design, the process, it allows you to then take them to a new level.

Mark Hanson: Well, that makes sense if you say that’s the toughest part because that’s the part where you’re doing your best on your end to try and make sure your client’s happy with what you present them. Where if you’ve just been like dealing with clients or you don’t put a whole lot of thought into whatever because your clients don’t like what you present every single time.

Jamey Boiter: You know your design team, they’re all altruistic. They are looking for the greatest success they can have. As a mentor and a leader of that group, that’s another area that an 80% solution for you as a designer, very often is 110% solution for your client. There’s an expectation that you want to try to create –  that you’ve exceeded expectations on this project. You didn’t get everything that you absolutely wanted in that or out of that, but what you did do is you created something that was award winning. It works for the client, it works for the client’s customer, and they now trust you for you to take them to the next level. To be able to get them closer to perfection. Which you’ll never have, but we all want perfection.

Mark Hanson: Well of course, you just got to learn to can’t really achieve it or else you’ll drive yourself crazy.

Jamey Boiter: But you can’t be too disappointed either, if it doesn’t come as far as you wanted it to come that first time. Just knowing that you’ve done a great job. Knowing that you’ve exceeded expectation, you’ve met the criteria, it’s going to give you another swing at bat.

Mark Hanson: One thing for me, it’s making, even if I don’t look at it and think it’s 100% where I want it to be or exactly what I want. If my client’s like, we love this, I’m like okay, well at least I’ve done my job. I’ve made them happy and given them what they needed and then maybe next time we can go a little farther.

Jamey Boiter: Well, there again, that’s where the relationship becomes so important because then you become that trusted advisor and you’re able to stay with that client. Even when that client goes somewhere else, they come back to you because they know what they’re going to get, and you continually help move them to the next level in terms of achieving the kinds of things you want to do.

Mark Hanson: I ended up shooting food a couple of times, and actually not want to, because I’d rather you said you can’t. What’s your favorite part of the job?

Jamey Boiter: I think the joy of being around the team we’ve created and developing relationships has got to be it. I mean, you have to maintain such a high level of curiosity to be good at what you do in this particular field and industry, and being surrounded with other curious people is a joy because every day is an adventure. Every day is going to be something new. You’re likely to have good surprises every day. You’ll have some bad ones, but more than not, it’s that. And sort of mentoring, coaching, teaching. For me, that’s kind of where I’m at now. I hire people to replace me and I’ve got some of the best.

Mark Hanson: And they love you, by the way, because when shooting when you’re not around, I never hear a bad word about you. If your name comes up it’s always about how great you are, how they like you and all that. There’s never been like, Jamey? Oh my God.

Jamey Boiter: Well, now I’m embarrassed. I’ve got super talented people and we have an orientation, we have a culture, and that’s so important in any business. Especially a creative business, but in any business developing that culture is paramount to being able to get the most out of your folks. I want to be, I try to take a position of servant leadership and I try to be there, try to be the net, but it’s their show. I want them to do their best and show out.

Mark Hanson: Well, you’re doing a good job of it from what I can tell.

Jamey Boiter: Well, thanks.

Mark Hanson: All right, last question. What is the most interesting, worst, strangest thing that has happened to you in this job?

Jamey Boiter: Holy cow. Worse, strangest?

Mark Hanson: It can be both or one or the other. Weirdest, psychotic…

Jamey Boiter: My plane ran out of fuel one time over Pennsylvania in a snow storm. Obviously, it ended up nicely, but I had been with one client during the day and was taking a quick flight from Harrisburg into Newark where I was meeting Mike Kelly and guys from PVH that we were working with, and it was a snow storm. I was on a little like Dash-8 or something like that.

We got off the ground and we got up and almost immediately, they were closing airports. JFK was closing and then LaGuardia was closing, so everything was being pushed to Newark. We just, we got into this pattern, and they had only planned for a short flight. We literally, we circled for a couple of hours, and finally, it was like we’re out of fuel.

They opened up the airport at Allentown. It had already closed. They went out, they opened it up, tried to scrape the runway and we came in on fumes. They landed the plane, they put us all on a bus and we rode the bus to Newark. Meanwhile, I’ve got my clients who were picking me up. This was pre 9/11, they’re in the airport at Newark and our flight just goes off the board—it just disappears. It’s like, where’s that flight from Harrisburg? Well sir, we don’t know. So, there were no cell phones and that kind of thing. I show up like two and a half, three hours late, but they’re still there waiting on me.

Mark Hanson: That’s impressive that they sat there that long just waiting not knowing what was going on.

Jamey Boiter: That was one of those, you just didn’t know. You just didn’t know. What started out as a normal day turned into anything but a normal day at the end of the day. I was also in New York when the power went out in 2002. We actually had an office in New York for seven years, and so I commuted back and forth. I happened to be up there and we had just come out of a client meeting and had stopped off at the local watering hole down on 36th and Madison when the power went out.

Nobody thought about it for a little while, but then people started to get antsy about it. Then ultimately I ended up walking. I was staying at the Gramercy Park Hotel and I ended up walking down Park Avenue all the way down with this sea of humanity, you know, and the lights were completely out. Fortunately, it was before the Gramercy had upfitted so it had a key lock so I was able to get up to my room eventually, but no power. The next day I just, I took a flyer. I had a driver picking me up at the office at 11 o’clock, but I had not been able to communicate at all. I just took a chance and walked over to the office and was sitting on the curb and right there Leo pulls up?

As soon as we cross through the tunnel, back into New Jersey, I had phone service and everything. That was weird.

Mark Hanson: Wow.

Jamey Boiter: That was weird.

Mark Hanson: I’d say so.

Jamey Boiter: But you know …

Mark Hanson: I guess it worked out.

Jamey Boiter: It was good.

Mark Hanson: Well Jamey, thank you very, very much for doing this. I really appreciate it.

Jamey Boiter: Mark, my pleasure. We’ve enjoyed our relationship for a number of years of working with you and hope to continue to do so in the future.

Mark Hanson: Me, too. Thank you, sir.

Jamey Boiter: All right, thanks man.

Mark Hanson: Appreciate it. Thank you.

Mark Hanson: Thank you guys for tuning in to Behind The Visual. If you like it, let everybody know about it. Share it with your friends, like, comment, you know, all that kind of stuff so we can stick around. Thank you guys.

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