The Simple Life

Gran’s 80th Birthday at Hilton Head 2010

“There is something to be said of the simple life.” That’s what my grandmother, Jeannette W. Niles, used to tell me. To us, she was Gran: an Oxford native, independent, smart as a whip and my hero. I could go on for days about how she inspired me, but I equally enjoyed her witty sense of humor, contagious laugh and unfiltered, never-ending stories from her past. She could captivate any audience from the first sentence. Her southern, yet graceful drawl was just icing on the cake.

My favorite stories were those told of her childhood. As the youngest of 10 and the biggest troublemaker, she had her own nanny she called Mammi, who basically raised her.

All of Gran’s stories from that time make me wish I had grown up in the 40s on a plantation home full of borders, brothers and sisters. The food was better, the air was cleaner, the towns were smaller and life was simpler. The milk came from their cows, the vegetables came from their garden and her father, the town’s Post Master, delivered the mail. Although I enjoy my fast-paced lifestyle, it’s fun to daydream of the simpler times.

In honor of Gran, I would like to share what was written on Gran’s 80th birthday T-shirts that our family had made. If I had to attempt the impossible task of summing Gran up in one paragraph, this would be it:

Truth be Told

Jeannette, a.k.a Gran

80 years of real life; living in the moment; life at it’s fullest; always looking forward. A dancer, a card player, a car thief, a mother, a grandmother, a southern woman…full of grace. An opinioned formed from the hardest and best of life- shared without asking. An opened heart, filled with love & patience. Given freely and often generous to all.


Happy Birthday!

Our Treasure.


Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

4 Words To Make You Look More Intelligent4

I started to title this post “Me Is Not A Bad Word,” because so many people in business seem to think it is. Somehow, there seems to be this belief that the word “I” makes you look smart and using “me” makes you look dumb.

They both are perfectly good words, but they each have their appropriate uses — and inappropriate ones. “I” is a subject. As in, “I have a meeting.” I is the person speaking. “Me,” on the other hand, is an object, useful for sentences like, “Do you still have time for a meeting with me?”

The most common misuse seems to be when the object involves the speaker and another person. “My boss gave promotions to Bob and I,” for instance. No, your boss did not. What you meant to say was “My boss gave promotions to Bob and me.” Me is the person something happened to or was done to or is in any way the object, not the subject of the sentence.

The words “good” and “well” also are problematic, and can make the speaker seem less intelligent than they really are. “Good” is the quality of something, as in “Your presentation was good.”

Many people make the mistake of also using the word “good” when they mean “well.”
If you’re describing how something is being done, you want the word “well.” For instance, you often hear people say, “The company is doing good.” Correct usage would be “The company is doing well.”

Here are four easy-to-remember sentences that can help you sound like the genius you really are:

I killed a bear.
The bear killed me.

Your spaghetti is good.
You cook spaghetti well.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

3 Tips for Attracting and Retaining Star Talent

Posted by Alan Dixon, Writer at Tribe

Now more than ever, companies are looking for talented people to help build revenue and grow their organizations. Finding people that supply your company with the creativity and insight that advances your organization provides you with a competitive edge hard to duplicate by your competition. Here are 3 concepts that will help you stock your company with star talent.

1. Talented people are drawn to innovative organizations capable of pioneering projects that engage and challenge them. A talented and qualified software engineer with highly sought-after skills realizes they have their pick of places to work. Companies need to realize that as much as they are interviewing and making decisions on potential employees, talented people are evaluating them against other companies as well.

2. Talented people looking for jobs want to know what you are going to do for them. Highly skilled individuals realize they have options. They want a job where they can engage and be challenged as they work to discover new and better ways of accomplishing the set goal and advancing their own career.

3. When a job loses its challenge, a company will lose its talent. Keeping people in positions that allow them to become engaged means keeping people on the move. Putting a person in a new area and allowing them to stretch their abilities can contribute to retaining their employment and benefiting the company as a whole. When people find themselves stuck in a job of little opportunity that no longer challenges or excites them, the potential for them to change employers becomes a real threat. And that becomes a threat to the future of your organization.

Cooling and Cursing (Home Repairs)

So I’ve never been a “handy” guy. When I begin working on a home improvement project, I generally have an 80% chance of failure. This has sentenced me to a life of weekend warrior work that ends with multiple trips to Home Depot, a few well place four-letter words and phone calls to friends in hopes of help.

This past weekend involved a home repair I felt like I could handle. It was a ceiling fan in my son’s room that made an annoying clicking noise. It was loud enough that it woke up my wife one night via the baby monitor. Needless to say, she was not happy about this. At first I considered calling the person that installed it to let them know it was done improperly and they need to come fix it. Then I realized the person that added this advanced piece of cooling technology to my home was none other than that genius of home repair: Alan Dixon.

Since I was going to take it apart anyway, I figured it would be a good time to go ahead and add a remote control that would allow me to change the speed from a distance. That way we could turn the fan down without going in and disturbing our son as he sleeps.

I found the right fuse, took apart the fan, nervously touched the wires and installed the remote. When I got it as good as I thought it could be, I went to put it back together. I tightened the screws and began cramming all of the wires back into the box. This was a bit of a challenge and involved me making disparaging comments about the mother of this one fan in particular. Eventually I got it back together and began to nervously test it out. I clicked the remote and the fan turned on. YES!

Then I clicked the on button again to get it to change speeds. Nothing happened. I pressed the button again and still nothing happened. A sense of dread came over me. I looked at the package and sure enough, I neglected to read the details. This remote only turns fans on and off. It doesn’t allow you to change the speed. Now instead of walking in the room and doing the incredibly difficult chore of flipping on the light switch, I can now pick up the remote a foot away and turn on the fan. Not. What. I. Wanted. Cursing followed.

If you asked me what the moral of the story was, I would tell you morals left the picture during the re-install phase. If you asked me about the message, I would say if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. And again. And again…You get the picture.

Vacation… For Good

Well it’s finally here. I’ve been at Tribe for a little over six months and it’s time for a vacation. I will be out of the office for an entire week down at the beach. Though I love my job, I have to admit that it will feel good to get away from everything and lose myself in the sun. Fortunately for me I love to drive. I think the drive is one of my favorite parts of vacation. The open road is so inviting. There is a freedom that the road gives with the sun baking your skin and the wind in your hair. Also, I am glad to say that I am driving down in a Jeep Wrangler. This will make the experience even better.

My only fear of things would be the fact that I am within a mile radius of sharks. I realize that most sharks off the coast of where I will be would likely be very far off the coast or not that large. However, even though reason and science tell me otherwise, I will always think that lurking no more than ten feet away in the dark water is a great white shark.

My departure will be bitter sweet because upon my return, our beloved Miles will have left to go back to school. There will be a hole from all of his witty remarks and sound advice. Personally, I will miss all of the fake explosion noises we attempt to make in the studio, but it’s a tradition and I will try my best to carry it on.

Miles you will be sorely missed.


The Best $64.95 I’ve Ever Spent (Travel Liner)

To people that know me well it’s no secret that I have a little but of a germ problem. For the most part this relates to carpet and fabric. Things like hotel room carpet, sheets, old couches, fitting room flooring, cloth napkins, and pretty much anything else that I come in contact with that is not a hard surface. This might seem humorous to those who know me because I also like walking around barefoot. For the most part I get by just fine and you would never notice that I’m internally freaking out. I’ve even learned to walk around barefoot on the mats at the climbing gym because my shoes hurt my feet so bad.

A little over a year ago I was traveling to Iceland and before I left I had a minor freak out over the cleanliness of international hotels. This was the first time I had traveled internationally and I didn’t know what hotels would be like. I had to prepare for the worst. The key to my preparation was purchasing a sleep sack. I didn’t know it at the time but it turned out to be one of the best purchases of my life. The Sea to Summit Silk Travel Sleeping bag liner is awesome. Actually, awesome doesn’t seem like an awesome enough word.

The hotel in Iceland turned out to be modern, clean and totally up to my standards but I slept in my sack anyway. I brought it with me thousands of miles, so I might as well use it to protect me from any invisible dangers. The silk feels nice and cool against your skin; it’s very roomy and even had a pillow pouch! Weighing in at 7 ounces and fitting in a teeny 3” x 5.5” stuff sack, it goes with me everywhere I go. If it were socially expectable, I would probably try to live in it.  In the event you’re OCD like me, order one right now. It will be the best $64.95 of your life.


Getcha Popcorn Ready

One of the great things about summer is the onslaught of big-budget blockbuster movies. Here at Tribe, we love a good movie as much as the next guy (and probably then some). I decided for this blog to give our readers a quick insight into our movie preferences by conducting a survey to find out everyone’s favorite flick. I soon realized that this seemingly simple question quickly turned into a stressful matter requiring much thought and discussion. To some, narrowing it down to one single movie is the equivalent of a parent choosing their favorite child. Our friendly Art Director Caleb Hall said it best, “This is my nightmare.”  Following the pain-staking process behind this crucial decision that will live on the internet for years to come, I now present you the results…

  • Mallory: Blow – Mallory’s reasons for choosing this movie are two-fold: 1) if she had it her way, she would have grown up in the 60s/70s as she is absolutely fascinated by the culture of that time and 2) “Johnny Depp is hot”.
  • Kara: Dumb and Dumber – an absolute classic. Hard to believe that this movie came out almost 20 years ago. Even though it’s almost two decades old, it seems like you still hear one-liners from it almost on a daily basis.
  • Alan: Stand by Me – for Alan, it doesn’t get much better than a classic 80’s movie. Stand by Me edged out another great one, The Breakfast Club, for his top spot.
  • Caleb: take your pick – Caleb may never forgive me for asking this question to him. If he was to choose the wrong movie, this decision will literally haunt him for years. Luckily for him, he doesn’t have to worry about choosing one wrong movie as his final answer was actually a total of 12 of them. In order: the Star Wars trilogy, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, multiple Batman movies (the first one with Michael Keaton and both of the new ones from Christopher Nolan), Inception and Pulp Fiction. While Caleb doesn’t get a gold star for his decision making, I can’t argue with any of his selections. Simply great movies.
  • Miles: The Godfather – no explanation needed
  • Elizabeth: Cross Creek and The Hangover – the first, the true story set in the early 20th century in rural southwest Florida, of the author that wrote “The Yearling”; the second, a fictional story of three friends that lose their other friend in a drunken night in Vegas that they can’t remember. That my friends is what we call “variety.”
  • Alexis: see Caleb above – as was the case with Caleb, Alexis had several top movies that were too close to call. Like romance? Alexis has that covered with Gone with the Wind and Dr. Zhivago. Feeling like a laugh? Ms. Snell would highly recommend any of the following: The Great Outdoors, Christmas Vacation, Father of the Bride and Groundhog Day. Personally, I can’t speak for the two romances but I have seen each of those four comedies probably 100 times. Great selections indeed.
  • Grace: The Sound of Music – she claims that she can literally sing all of the songs from the movie. We might just take her up on that some day…
  • Derek: tie between Blade Runner and Top Secret – Derek’s explanation for his Blade Runner selection: Classic. Deep. Incredible screenwriting. Amazing dialogue…well said, well said indeed. His choice of Top Secret stems from his deep love of slapstick, goofy comedy and the fact that he literally started laughing just typing out some of the lines from the film
  • Michele: Mama Mia – big fan of the music of Abba and Meryl Streep. One could say that this movie was made for her
  • Sara: Anchorman – Sara actually gave me a list of three but I went ahead and made the decision for her. The other two were both very good movies (Legends of the Fall, The Princess Bride) but neither of those contain the one-liners that Anchorman offers. When in Rome…
  • Yours truly – there are several that I debated (Godfather 2, Good Will Hunting and Office Space to name a few) but ultimately, I have to give the nod to Shawshank Redemption. Honestly, I don’t think I could ever truly trust a person that dislikes this movie. I think TNT plays this movie literally every week but there is no such thing as watching this movie too many times. Without spoiling the movie for those who have not seen it, I don’t think there is a better “feel good” story than the one from Shawshank.

As you can probably tell, we are a group that enjoys their movies. What are some of your favorites?


Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Collaboration Starts At The Photocopier

Posted by Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin, President and CEO of Tribe

Is collaboration important for your company? For many of the companies we work with at Tribe, leadership is increasingly interested in fostering a spirit of collaboration between employees, particularly between employees who are subject media experts in different areas, departments and disciplines.

What fosters collaboration? The staying power of the old water cooler cliche communicates an important nugget of wisdom. People who engage in casual conversation — building relationships over topics as trivial as the weather, last night’s sports scores or the challenges of getting a baby to sleep through the night — are more apt to share thoughts on work projects as well. Collaboration happens when people already feel a level of comfort and familiarity with each other.

More and more work spaces are being designed with this water cooler theory in mind. Collaborative spaces are deliberatively placed in close proximity to shared resources like coffee machines or photocopiers. Employees reaching over each other for the non-dairy creamer engage in idle chit chat, and sometimes that conversation may lead to a discussion of work that might be continued in a nearby sitting area or standing in the doorway of someone’s office.

The photocopier itself is thought to be a surprisingly powerful catalyst for collaboration. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by researchers Anne-Laure Fayard and John Weeks points out that employees having to wait their turn at the copier affords an opportunity for conversation and potential collaboration. They also may find relevancies for their own work in something another employee is photocopying, when they otherwise might not even be aware the other person was working on that topic or issue.

But even better, sometimes the darned thing won’t work. Then you find employees working together to free paper jams, replace toner, or figure out the right sequence of buttons that must be pressed to clear the problem. Because the people who know how to replace a toner cartridge are typically not the ones at the top of the corporate hierarchy, it also provides opportunities for reverse mentoring that give underlings the confidence to later share other knowledge or ideas with management.

But none of that happens without cultural permission. One of the reasons the photocopier is such a fertile area for collaboration is that, as Fayard and Weeks put it, “copying is perceived as work.” Some workplace cultures seem to condone workplace socializing while others tacitly discourage it. A boss who passes two colleagues chatting in the hallway and makes disparaging remarks about them not having enough to do is effectively squashing the beginnings of collaboration.

Sure, you can force collaboration. You can put people with various expertise and from different departments in a room and ask them to work together to solve a problem or come up with ideas. But collaboration happens much more easily, and with a higher caliber of results, when there’s already a foundation of familiarity built on casual conversation.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you should get rid of a few photocopiers so people have to stand in line. The photocopier example is merely emblematic of how casual social interactions can lead to collaboration. The point really is that those sorts of social interactions need to be sanctioned, if your company truly wants to foster collaboration.

You find those same sorts of casual interactions among smokers standing outside chatting over a cigarette. Smokers also tend to represent a diverse cross section of job titles and departments. But few companies are likely to encourage smoking as a means to support collaboration.

What’s your best advice on how to foster collaboration? I’d love to hear from some of you about your experiences in different organizations.

Next week, we’ll take a look at why you might actually want employees to be spending time on social media at work.

Preemptive Prose

A few weeks ago – before I started writing at Tribe – I wrote my first blog about working for Tribe. A little preemptive, perhaps, the prose mainly came about because I was psyched, thrilled, stoked, even giddy about coming to work on the reservation.

But come to think about it, writing it before I stepped through the door wasn’t out of place at all. Enter the fact that I have worked for Tribe before. See, prior to my current job with Tribe, prior to the job before that and the job before that, I was a freelance writer/proofreader. That gig found me at Tribe.

When the hours there finished, I kept in contact. It was the right thing to do not only professionally, but personally, because I loved working there … here. Nice people. Nice feeling at the office. Good all around.

A long story short, a month ago, we got in contact again. A few conversations later, they offered me a senior writing position. So I said yes. Gratefully. It’s not often that one is happy as a clam in their job and another, seemingly more enjoyable (and rewarding) one comes calling. But it happened. And I’m thrilled.


My New Tribe

I have never been very fond of change. For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed being right where I am; not just my physical location but also the people and events in my life. For example, I remember the transition between grades in school was always hard for me because I was used to my friends, teachers and routine. To switch that up was very unsettling to me. I had a hard time moving away from home to go to college but adjusted very quickly and thoroughly enjoyed my independent lifestyle.

I thought that I had outgrown my reluctance to change until I lost 2 family members last year and I found myself having that anxiety again. About a month ago, I was faced with a great opportunity to leave my first job out of college to join the wonderful team at Tribe, Inc. where I would be given the chance to learn, be challenged and follow my chosen career path.

Although I know change must take place in order to grow, I was still nervous to leave the comfort zone of my first job. My anxiety quickly dissolved upon walking into Tribe’s front door. I was greeted by Grace, my now partner in crime, and all of the other teammates who were nothing short of over-the-top nice and helpful. My co-workers already feel like family and I can honestly say that I love my job.

That brings me to the question of what inspires me? I am inspired by smart, hardworking people around me and that is what I experience everyday at Tribe.