Stephen Burns

Time Warner Cable and the art of being upfront

time-warner-cable-change-hed-2016-1You may have seen Time Warner Cable’s new ad campaign about the company changing. “Changing for Good”, in fact. That’s the slogan. With access to more channels, newer technologies and a focus on customer service, there’s a sweeping effort coming from TWC, as well as Comcast, Charter and the other cable giants to show customers that cable companies are different now. Really and truly different.

Well, actually, they aren’t that different. Beside the new technology, which has updated consistently but glacially through the years, not much has really changed. They’ll still be late, but instead of a four-hour window of time for arrival, they give you a one-hour window. They’re 98.8% sure they can hit that. And they’ll send you a notification when they’re on the way. That seems to be it.

But there is a lot of merit in this particular campaign.  Sure, they aren’t making massive changes in policy, price or customer service — the important stuff. Regardless of (my) personal vendettas against the cable companies, one has to acknowledge the vast networks of employees, data and technology that these companies have to manage. Yes, I’m calling for sympathy for the much-maligned cable companies. Don’t shoot. They’re admitting that they’ve messed up. You may see the sentiment as “the least they could do,” communicating the fact that they have been terrible, but this is the first step. There may be real changes on the horizon. And as a customer they’re telling you one, very important thing: no matter the changes, they’ll be communicated to you.

Companies can take a lesson from the transparency demonstrated here. Change management is one of the toughest areas of internal communication. Even at the helm of the company, leaders may not know exactly how changes will unfold. You may feel like you can’t communicate unless you have all the answers. As a result, managers may not feel well informed about what’s happening, and employees will feel out of the loop. The truth of the matter is, no news does not mean good news in the corporate world. People need to know what’s happening, no matter what.

Hence, there is one cardinal rule in change management: communicate. So, you may not know what’s happening exactly. Tell employees everything you do know. Give your people a heads-up that there are certain possibilities on the horizon. What’s truly important is keeping everyone on the same page, and showing them that they can trust you to continue that communication. With that trust comes the confidence to weather the changes and even voice improvements and opinions as to how the changes can happen as smoothly as possible.

Want to find the best ways to communicate change with employees? Give Tribe a call. We’d love to help.

Brittany Walker

Four productivity-increasing ways to take a break

Everyone is busy. But if your organization has stepped into a routine of being too busy to break, you could potentially break your attempt at increasing productivity. Taking short breaks regularly throughout the workday not only helps employees to feel more focused, but can also decrease stress, improve engagement and ultimately increase productivity. Here are four productive ways to take a break:

1. Engage in a few minutes of light exercise. Whether it’s taking a five-minute walk around the office or standing up and doing a couple sets of 30-second calf raises, when employees get their blood pumping, it can instantly increase energy and attentiveness.

2. Rest your mind with meditation. One of the most powerful ways to relax in a short amount of time is through meditation. Meditating is known to lower stress levels and improve overall health as well as creativity. Even just five minutes of tranquility a day could give employees the peace of mind they crave.

3. Prepare and enjoy an undistracted healthy snack. Breaking from work while eating seems like a no-brainer, but undistracted eating can commonly take a back seat to a busy day. Encourage employees to head to the break room or café to eat. Concentrating on food (instead of work) while eating will benefit both body and mind.

4. Engage is some friendly competition. Here at Tribe, we love to retreat to our newly established game room for a quick break. We’ve found that rewarding completed tasks with a game of basketball or putt putt is a great motivator. Incorporating games with a little competition or teamwork is also a great way to encourage collaboration and team building. Check out Tribe’s game room in action here.

Finding productivity through taking breaks is all about balance. If employees think they’ll be reprimanding for “not working,” they’re less likely to take the breaks they need. It all starts with creating a culture conducive to breaking.

Need help communicating the importance of balance? Tribe would love to help.

Stephen Burns

A Jazzy Christmas

Every time I go shopping around this time of the year, every car ride that results in an impromptu light show, every ornament and bough of holly that we hang in our house, Vince Gueraldi is playing in my head.

The man responsible for the unforgettable “Linus and Lucy” tune, also scored one of the most memorable soundtracks to date, that of A Charlie Brown Christmas. His renditions of “O Tannenbaum”, “My Little Drum (Little Drummer Boy)” and “Greensleeves” define Christmas music for me. The film was a holiday landmark in my family, but it was the music that really spoke to me. Perhaps it was because my dad played me Miles and Coltrane while I was still in the womb. Perhaps it is because I find most Christmas music to be a gaudy representation of the commercialism that has overtaken what should be such a humble holiday. But the understated, simple instrumentation of this record brings me a comfort, a warmth that can only be described as Christmas Spirit. It’s the only music that evokes such a degree of gratitude and sense of togetherness for me.

There are so many soundtracks to this holiday, but Gueraldi’s is the only one for me.

Merry Christmas.


Brittany Walker

A Jewish Christmas

Discovering the joy of Christmas as an adult. Is it possible for Christmas to be my favorite holiday if I’m Jewish? Yes, yes it is. Growing up in a Jewish household in the south contributed to my personality in many ways, one of them being that I am absolutely infatuated by Christmas.

Brittany’s first Christmas. Now that I live in my own home, I’m ecstatic to finally get to experience this magic and joy everyone always talks about this time of year. Stephen and Matt laughed at me when I tried to hang an ornament on the Tribe Christmas tree without a hook… but how was I suppose to know? I’ve never decorated one of those things before!

New traditions. I can’t really say what my favorite part about Christmas is, simply because it hasn’t happened yet. I am however, excited to start new traditions and the child in me can’t wait to come downstairs on Christmas morning and open presents under the tree.

And with that, I’ll leave you with my favorite Christmas song.

Hark how the bells, Sweet silver bells, All seem to say, Throw cares away
Christmas is here, Bringing good cheer, To young and old, Meek and the bold,
Oh how they pound, Raising the sound, O’er hill and dale, Telling their tale,
Gaily they ring, While people sing, Songs of good cheer, Christmas is here,
Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas, Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas,

On on they send, On without end, Their joyful tone to every home
Dong Ding dong ding, dong Bong

An ATLien Christmas

I have lived in Atlanta my entire life and love the transformation the city makes during the holiday season. Atlanta offers so many activities and events during the holidays, you just have to get off your Christmas cookie eating butt to do it. Easier said than done.

I know, letting go of your old holiday traditions seems absurd. Switch it up. If you haven’t gone out in the city during Christmas, it’s a must. Atlanta has some of the best light displays I have ever seen. This year I went to the Botanical Gardens to see their light display. Not only was that my first time seeing the lights but also the gardens in general. What an amazing place. I probably looked a little strange walking around the entire time squinting because the lights were so abundant and bright. I’m sure the rum spiked apple cider they were dishing out wasn’t helping my case either.

Stone Mountain Park is a great safe haven if you’re looking to stay away from the masses during shopping season. During the day, Snow Mountain brings in the crowd. For those who don’t know, Snow Mountain is a huge snow covered hill right at the foot of Stone Mountain made for the sole purpose of snow tubing. It’s worth just seeing, minus the tubing. At night, the forest, village, and streets are illuminated with lights from head to toe. A great place to go kill an entire day with a significant other, or the whole family.

If all else fails, crash a Christmas party. Preferably a costume themed one. If it does happen to be costume themed, don’t be that guy or girl that is too cool to wear a costume. Trust me, that’s not cool. In the past some of my MVP outfits have been: The Wet Bandits, Michael Scott (classy Christmas), and Saint Nick himself. Caution: If you wear a Santa suit, unless its made out of Nike dry fit, you WILL be the sweaty guy at the party.

So hopefully this quick guide the things Atlanta has to offer helps. Now go. Eat, Drink, and have a merry Christmas!

Stephen Burns

Forecast: Brainstorms Likely

“Who is more to be pitied,” posed Kurt Vonnegut, “a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”

We’ve all been there. A mental block that occurs when inspiration leaves, and we’re faced with the seemingly impossible task of creating something out of nothing. Stuck, as songwriter, producer and New York Times contributor, Darrell Brown calls it. It’s quite an apt term, because there is no better description of what happens when your mind hits that wall. In his latest article for the Times, Brown explores the many facets of writer’s block, remedies, and the fact that everyone, especially the most ambitious songwriters, have succumbed to the crippling grip of writer’s block.  He cites examples from artists as diverse as Paul Simon and JD Souther, and how they overcome their creative boundaries.

Recently, Tribe has been working with several clients who have asked us to help them get the ideas flowing in their problem-solving teams. We’ve found that certain brainstorming techniques work for some companies and fall flat with others. It depends on the culture, the structure and the operations of the company. But there are some tried and true solutions that work for everyone.

Now, we here at Tribe don’t encounter writer’s block too often, but when we do there are, um, certain things that always, well, help us to write more, er, you know what I mean. I can’t think of the word right now.

Give yourself time. Don’t just expect to just sit down and write the final draft right away. I waited until after lunch to even conceptualize this blog. This morning, it seemed like I had all the time in the world to finish. Five o’clock was a lifetime a way. Eight hours? I could write a novel in that time. Then, edits needed to be made to some client work, the Tribe Report needed a final proof, emails had to be sent, meetings took place. Now, it’s 4:30. I’m scrambling, struggling to take my own advice. If only I’d started thinking about this even yesterday, I would’ve given my mind the room it needed to formulate some ideas, organize them, so when I sat down, I could simply focus on my writing.

Drink, the Hemingway approach. Now, that’s a bit of a joke. That can work for some people, but we don’t recommend doing it at work. There’s something to be said, though, about lowering inhibitions, taking risks you normally wouldn’t, not being worried about creating something that’s imperfect. As Brown so eloquently wrote, “The ego of perfectionism will cut you off from the very cup you long to drink from.”

– Stop Editing. Start Writing. Editing should occur well after the writing actually takes place. Separate these two processes as much as possible. Editing while you write is one of the biggest detriments to your idea flow. You’re stunting your own creative growth, firing down your own ideas, and undermining your methods. It’s the proverbial shot to one’s own foot. Write, write, write. Finish. Walk away. Come back to it later (just one more reason to give yourself time). Then, you’ll be editing with a fresh mind and a new perspective. You won’t get down on yourself, and your output will be infinitely better. I promise.

Pretend like it isn’t there. If you start to think you have writer’s block, you’ll begin believe it’s there, and it will manifest itself in a matter of seconds. So, if you can’t think of anything to write, just starting moving your pen, or typing the first thing that comes to mind. Because, as Bukowski said best, “Even writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”

Tribe 101

It takes time. After graduating from UGA last May, I wanted my first step towards my career to be in the right direction. I’m indecisive by nature, so the idea of deciding what the first step of the rest of my life was going to be was a real doozie. Thanks to Tribe, I took the right step. I’ve been an intern here since the beginning of October and have gained more experience in these past two months than I could have ever imagined. It’s funny how school can try and teach you how an agency is works, but you will never really know until you are actually there. My time at Tribe so far has given me confidence and a wealth of knowledge that I build on every day. I’ve also almost cracked the code to the perfect pot of coffee: 12 cups of water and 6 hefty scoops of coffee.

Home away from home. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting more acclimated here or what, but this doesn’t feel like your every day office. I’m not locked away in some small cubical dungeon, out of sight and out of mind. I’m in the middle of the action, contributing to anything I can get my hands on. There’s nothing like knowing the people you work with care about you, your future, and want to help you grow. Having an Auburn fan sitting right behind me ready to talk SEC football trash (although, lets not talk about last week), and a catty, cat-loving art director across from me keeps me on my toes as well. Overall, it’s a great place to be, with people that are a blast to be around. Oh yeah, the view is great too.

I soon found out. I had no idea what the practice of internal communications was before hearing about Tribe. Once you realize what internal communications are, you realize they’re a necessity in every office environment. We’ve all been there, wondering how you know news about a company, store, or even hospital before the employees that actually work there. That’s one thing internal communications helps with, communication amongst top and bottom level employees. Tribe’s goal is to make life better for employees who, in turn, make life better for the people who interact with these companies and corporations day to day. Seems useful right? We think so too.

I’m Matt, by the way. I grew up in Stone Mountain my whole life. I’m the baby of my family with two older brothers and one older sister, and my closest sibling is 9 years my senior. I think it’s safe to say I was the best accident that ever happened to my parents, even though they might say otherwise. As far as my education goes, when I got to UGA I was originally a geology major, because I love science and the outdoors. But you know what I don’t love? Taking level two calculus, chemistry, and physics. So, one day, while I was sitting in a classroom trying to decipher my calc teacher’s handwriting and accent, I decided it was time for a change. Luckily, I went in the opposite direction, and I settled on advertising. And that decision has led me to meet some great people and experience some amazing things.

Planning a Wedding on a Budget in 3 Weeks

The key to success on this one is to be very blessed to have helpful and talented friends and family. Mid -August, my boyfriend Devin, got a call asking if he wanted to apply for a position in Italy for a year with the tentative start date of October 1st. Our previously discussed wedding date of summer 2014 was out, and early September 2013 was in. Thankfully, we had already planned to be in Michigan, where I am from, the next week for my best friend’s wedding. Devin used this opportunity to ask my dad’s blessing to marry me.  From the time we got back in Atlanta and started to plan it was T minus 20 days until the wedding. Here are some tips from my 3-week notice wedding on a budget.

Get in the right mindset:

My personal mantra was: If at the end of the day we will be married, this decision doesn’t matter. I must have repeated that to myself at least 10 times a day. Everything turned out great; we had fun, and are married. Keep that as the focus, stay calm and decisive, and things will be good.

Best money spent: Linens. Hands down the best money spent besides the bar tab. Getting married at a sportsmen’s club, it was folding tables and chairs. Spending the $350 to have chair covers with satin sashes, satin napkins, and tablecloths set up and taken away at the end of the night was worth every penny. Don’t underestimate what putting a cover on a folding chair can do.

Worst money spent: The DJ! Who knew DJ’s cost so much?! I spent $700 on a DJ, the most expensive part of the wedding besides food, which was only $300 more. If I had to do it over, I would have made an IPod playlist. Maybe I’m a little bitter.  The ONLY thing I gave strict instruction on was not to play the Macarena, Chicken dance, Cha-Cha slide or any other sort of dance that reminds me of the roller skating rink. You guessed it.  He played both the Cha -Cha slide and the Macarena. He had great reviews online, but had a hard time keeping people on the dance floor. If you have to cut something from your budget, I recommend using an IPod.

Things I chose not to have and didn’t miss at all:

Fancy wedding invitations: My wedding invitations served as my save the date and invitations in one. Tribe really pulled them off for me. Sara photographed Devin and me at a local park, Elizabeth did the proper wording, and Mary Frances put it all in a layout and found a cheap printer that could rush the order. I had 100 beautiful invitations with envelopes within 2 days for only $60. Thank goodness I have such amazing and talented coworkers!

A cake: My aunts and family friends baked desserts. The dessert table was overflowing and everyone loved all the delicious choices.

Flowers: I went to Kroger the day before my wedding and bought two $15 bouquets, one for me and one for my Maid of Honor. I don’t even know if those were necessary, I didn’t keep mine after the reception.

Official photographer: My friend Amy was gracious enough to take pictures for me. Growing up she was always the one with the camera documenting things, and for my wedding present I asked if she’d be the photographer. I meant for her to just stick them on a CD for me, but she’s going above and beyond and editing them for me as well.

Important things you should not cut:

Alcohol: Especially if you aren’t doing favors. We decided to use our money to feed people well and liquor ‘em up. I did not have a single complaint or guest asking where their wedding souvenir was.

The Wedding night: Make it special. We splurged on our wedding night. We reserved a room at a 4 Star hotel, with the package that included rose petals, champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. The experience was well worth the jaw-dropping price.

One More Piece of Advice: Any engaged boys that are reading this, here is a big tip. If your fiancé asks you to learn how to dance for your first dance, watching a couple of YouTube videos the day of the wedding does NOT qualify.

Brittany Walker

My first week at Tribe

The art of change can be a beautiful thing. Today will bring my first week at Tribe to a close, and I have to say, as far as big life changes go, I think I nailed this one. The past two months have been a whirlwind of change in my world including taking the leap into the job search arena, quitting my job and starting a new one (all while adding a new rescue lab puppy, Bodie, into the mix), but looking back I wouldn’t change a thing.

I learned the hard way. Through this experience, I found that sometimes it takes change to help you realize your true value and potential. I regained a lot of confidence not only in the skills that I will bring to Tribe as an Account Manager, but also in the general self-assurance that I lost along the way. Going through common interview questions like, “tell me about yourself” and “what kind of experience do you have in XYZ,” is a great way to rediscover yourself and reflect on what you’ve accomplished.

The New Kid. My first day was exactly how a first day should be. Was I nervous? Of course. I feel that if you’re not nervous, it means you don’t really care. Upon arriving at the Tribe office, in my carefully planned first-day-of-school outfit, I instantly felt welcomed and at home. Sure, it will be weeks before I’m fully up to speed on everything, but I’m ready and excited for the challenge. Becoming a part of the Tribe team has empowered me to do the best work I can do and be the best person I can be, and I have to say, I’m pretty pumped for this new chapter of my life.

Saving Silberman. A little more about me: I’ve lived in Atlanta for the past 20 years (with a brief stint in South Carolina for school – Go Gamecocks). Originally from New York, I’ve managed to maintain the elusive non-accent by refusing to incorporate “y’all” into my vocabulary and spending time with my northern-accented parents. Most of my growing family lives in Atlanta, with five new additions (between babies and in-laws) in the past five years. My love for food and cooking has recently developed into a passion for fitness and nutrition, but I’ll always be a sucker for a good grilled cheese. I try my hardest to look at everything as a learning experience and believe that everything happens for a reason.

Stephen Burns

Bridging the economic gap to adulthood

You can tell a lot about a person by how they spend their money. Having just graduated from Auburn University and moved back in with my wonderful parents, I have almost no outside expenses. No rent, minimal grocery costs, no power or cable bills, but I have two jobs. I work part-time at Jimmy John’s sandwiches as a delivery driver, and I’m the new creative intern here at Tribe. To the casual onlooker it might look like I’ve started to grow up, but socio-economically speaking, I’m nowhere near being an adult.

So I spend my money like a 22 year-old child with an addiction to music. My vinyl record collection has grown exponentially (Jim James and Mac Demarco have just put out some fantastic albums).  My guitars are looking and sounding their best, my drum kit is sporting some shiny new cymbals, and I’ve only been home for a month and a half.

Some might say I have a problem. Like my parents, who shake their heads in disapproval with every package that arrives on our doorstep. But I’m enjoying having some money for the first time in four years, and I’m taking advantage of this brief period in my life where my autonomous self is my only real expense. Still, I’ll defend my purchases as worthy investments. My records will last forever where hard drives will fry or when the computers eventually turn against us, and my guitars and drums will provide more wholesome entertainment than a TV ever could (or even a possible career…c’mon record labels). These are items that will stand the test of time. Something that can’t be said about most things in this fast, fickle world of ours.

What does all this say about me? Am I an irresponsible man-child or a quiet visionary who has it all figured out? I’d like to think that I lie somewhere in the middle of this spectrum. Yes, I drive a vintage Toyota Camry and live with my parents, but I’m surrounding myself with the things that I love and enjoying life much more than my peers who have unfulfilling or mindless jobs and are already living beyond their means all in the name of “becoming an adult.” True, I spend my nights as a delivery driver and my weekends up in Athens, GA gigging or practicing with my band, but I spend my days interning at a fantastic company doing something I enjoy, something creative and stimulating, something that will hopefully blossom into a long, fruitful career.

Looking to the future is often an exercise in futility. It is impossible to see what lies ahead. I know that I must be prepared for anything at this point in my life, and it would be wise to start saving my money. I’ll start soon, I promise. But for now I am enjoying the relatively carefree lifestyle of a recent college grad, and trying to find the keys to the most important things in life: balance and happiness.