March 11, 2013 (4 weeks ago)
Archive for the ‘Rackspace’ Category
February 21, 2013
[More thoughts on The Rackspace Book…]
6. ROB LA GESSE
Rob La Gesse is the groovy cat who first hired gapingvoid at Rackspace.
He’s also the guy who hired my friend, Robert Scoble.
He’s a lot like me and Scoble, i.e. very much his own man, very much an individual.
I suppose that’s why we get along.
Above is a T-shirt design I’ve never showed Rob before– he’s seeing it for the first time here on the blog, the same as you and everyone else. He may like it, he may not.
That’s how Rob and I work together. Like I said in my last blog post, “he lets me just post stuff without getting pre-approval. We like doing that way because it lets him see the work for the first time in the wild, which keeps the thinking fresher, somehow.…”
The thing is, there’s a method to the madness. If the idea fails, hey, it’s just a wee cartoon on a blog post. We can quickly and easily try something else the same day. It’s not like we blew money on a Superbowl ad that ended up bombing…
But if the idea works, it works REALLY well. The idea gets emailed around, both inside and outside the company, to employees, shareholders, customers and non-customers alike. It suddenly takes on a life of its own, on its own merit.
In other words, it suddenly becomes a cultural object (i.e. a social object that articulates the company culture), as opposed to just a usual piece of commercial, “Here’s-why-you-should-give-us-your-money” messaging (You know, the kind that noboday actually cares about).
Rob and I never planned it this way, we just started talking and this is kinda how it evolved. That’s kinda how we both roll. Rock on.
February 20, 2013
[Screenshot of the cartoon showcase page we did for Rackspace etc.]
I’ve started writing a book about gapingvoid’s experience working with Rackspace. Here are some initial thoughts, some more formed than others:
i. WE’VE LEARNED A TON IN THE PROCESS.
I thought I’d share what we’ve learned about Rackspace along the way, about how this small little web-hosting company from San Antonio, Texas turned their unique take on “just being social” into a billion-dollar business.
ii. CAN A BILLION-DOLLAR COMPANY ACTUALLY BE “SOCIAL”?
I know. Right?
We’ve all been bombarded with the Social Media catchphrases, we’ve all seen the hype spewing out of every Internet orifice out there, we’ve heard every cliché and platitude known to man, we’ve all rolled our eyeballs.
The number of people calling themselves “Social Media Gurus” on Twitter numbers over a hundred thousand. “Business is Social!” “Join the conversation!” “Don’t sell, engage!”
“Hire me!” “I’m available for consultation!” “Write me a big, fat check and I’ll solve all your Social Media problems!”
Like I said, we’ve all rolled our eyeballs.
And yet… what if it actually works?
iii. “DEATH BY COMMODITY”.
Rackspace basically sells a commodity i.e. web hosting and cloud services.
They basically sell a lot of ones and zeroes, that they move through a lot of pipes, back and forth between their customers and their servers.
Not sexy, and highly competitive. What’s more, they’re competing with a lot of blue chip companies A LOT Larger than them: Amazon, Microsoft, IBM etc
It’s an easy place to get your lunch eaten by the big boys.
It’s an easy environment to be killed in.
And yet, they thrive.
iv. THE SECRET WEAPON: “FANATICAL SUPPORT” THE CREATION MYTH.
Two young guys start a web-hosting company, with Graham Weston as an investor. Graham gets an email from an irate customers. “Guys, we have to offer our customers Fanatical Support or this isn’t going to work. An ethos is born…
v. SOME MORE IDEAS TO PLAY WITH:
“IF YOU LOVE YOUR CUSTOMERS ENOUGH, YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT PRODUCT, END OF STORY…”
“DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT R.O.I., TALK TO ME ABOUT HOW WHAT WE”RE DOING IS ACTUALLY BEING HELPFUL TO OUR CUSTOMERS.”
“HOW THE OPEN CLOUD CHANGES EVERYTHING”
“A SHOPPING MALL CAN BECOME A CASTLE”
“COMMODITY? ODDITY? OR BOTH?
“PRODUCT IS THE PEOPLE…”
“TAKE HUMAN BITES”
“LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT CREATING MEANING, NOT TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO”
“RACKSPACE HAS TO BECOME A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE’S HIGHEST NEEDS ARE MET, OR WE’RE WASTING OUR TIME.”
“IT’S WHAT RACKSPACE MUST BECOME THAT’S INTERESTING. IT’S WHAT ALL BUSINESS MUST BECOME THAT’S EVEN MORE INTERESTING.”
[To be continued…]
I’ll be interested in seeing how this series progresses. Not sure everyone here knows this, but I don’t vet Hugh’s work — I see it when you see it. And that is pretty cool to me. I experience his work when you do. No preconceptions.
Yep. It’s what makes it fun– he lets me just post stuff without getting pre-approval. We like doing that way because it lets him see the work for the first time in the wild, which keeps the thinking fresher, somehow.…
January 11, 2013
The groovy cats at Rackspace asked me to design a new t-shirt for them; this cartoon was the first (but not the last) idea I came up with.
I know it embarrasses the grown-ups to say this, but… Love matters in Business, as much as anywhere else. Rackspace knows this as much as any client I’ve ever worked with, small or large.
Nothing wrong with connecting ‘Love’ with $1 billion in sales… Without Love, their whole “Fanatical Support” thing (something they built their whole company around) would be impossible. And I doubt there are any high-ups at Rackspace who would disagree with me.
It’s nothing to do with Romantic love, of course. Love equals passion, equals care, equals real meaning and good work etc. Exactly.
This t-shirt gig got us thinking at gapingvoid Central, why can’t Valentines’ Day (a big day in our calendar, already) be an opportunity to go beyond Romance, to communicate to those who matter to you, that they matter, that you care, and that we are all in this together?
[P.S. If you’re a Racker reading this, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your input on the shirt, Thanks!]
October 12, 2012
This made me so happy: My friend, Robert Scoble sent me a photo of the big gapingvoid print they have up on the wall in the Rackspace customer briefing room. This is just one of twelve giant 6 foot canvases that adorn the walls.
Aside from being thrilled that they used our work, what is interesting to me is that they had the choice of using lots of different kinds of art. They could have used photos of happy Rackers, customers, data centers, etc. But they chose to broadcast their beliefs by using messages that speak to their beliefs.
This particular cartoon about one of the fundamental aspects of the business: “Fanatical support In all we do”. I tried to present it in a way that I hope is both memorable and refreshingly disarming. Hopefully it touches a nerve.
As time goes by, one of the things that I realize is that having well chosen messages on offices walls is really powerful. They speak to people every day of the year, and brodacast what you stand for.
That’s what we think about more and more around our office, anyway.
August 16, 2012
I drew this quick cartoon earlier today; I was thinking about how many of the companies we’ve worked with over the last year or two have serious interest in The Cloud, and its future: Rackspace, HP, Cisco, SAP etc etc.
Though we do a lot of work around startup culture (e.g. Techcrunch and Movenback) we also do a TON of work in the Enterprise space. Maybe that’s because some of our biggest fans are aslo in that space– Sigurd Rind, Dennis Howlett, James Governor etc.
Enterprise work can be fairly dry, we take pride in making it A LOT more fun than most. Rock on.
April 7, 2012
PART ONE: THE CONVERGENCE.
So today there was this big convergence of things I’d been thinking about lately, including:
1. The cartoon (pictured above) that we sent out in Friday’s newsletter.
2. The “Jiro Dreams Of Sushi” article I posted Thursday and the whole “Mastery” kick I’ve been riffing on recently.
3. Sir Ken Robinson’s amazing 2006 Ted Talk on how schools kill creativity.
4. Seth Godin’s fabulous, free 30,000-word manifesto on education, “Stop Stealing Dreams”.
6. This week’s good news for Dave McClure and 500 Startups raising $50 million for their startup incubator.
7. Being in the same room while Babson’s President, Len Schlesinger interviewed CNN senior political analyst, Dave Gergen in Boston a few months ago. Gergen’s advice to students? “Learn how to invent.”
8. A tweet I made earlier: “I’m not sure if America is ready to be a second-rate nation quite yet”.
9. The appalling 50% youth unemployment in places like Spain or Greece. Will we Americans be seeing the same one day? Horrifying!
A lot of people worldwide are relying on America not becoming, like I said, a second-rate nation. Even some of the people who don’t particularly like America.
And how is that going to happen, exactly? How are we going to remain at the top of our game, or at least, make a damn good show of it?
The same way we’ve always done it: by creating new, interesting products and ideas that people need, want, value and are inspired by.
PART TWO: THE PREVIOUS TWO AGES OF EDUCATION.
To massively over-simplify, there were two main phases in the history of education, pre-industrial and industrial. The first meant only the clergy and the sons of the elite were properly educated. Then along comes the second, industrial phase, which meant universal education on a mass-scale, that emerges along with the “Age of Reason”, the industrial revolution and the whole modern era.
As Seth Godin famously likes to talk about, in this second, industrial phase, schools became little more than factories, churning out young people educated enough to work in bigger factories one day. Whether we’re talking blue collar or white collar, it didn’t matter, it’ still a factory job, basically. You’re still a cog in the factory machine, basically. This factory-model was perfect for when the factory was still the cornerstone of the industrial economy. A factory-centered model for a factory-centered world. This was true whether in elementary school in Iowa, or Harvard Business School in Cambridge, your reality was the factory because your career was the factory. Own the factory, work in the factory, live near the factory, become the factory. Factory, factory, factory…
And of course, this factory-centric model which worked fine for a hundred-plus years is now broken. We can no longer compete long-term that way. Just owning a factory doesn’t give us the same edge it used to, the same economic security, as anyone who’s ever tried competing lately in the global economy has been finding out.
A new model is needed.
PART THREE: WE ARE READY FOR THE THIRD AGE OF EDUCATION: THE CREATIVE AGE.
Personally, I had a pretty good formal education, where I learned the basics– reading, writing, math, a bit of science, history, languages and a wee smattering of the arts. I learned to study and pass tests. Like most students, I learned how to learn, basically. I leaned how to work in a foctory, basically.
I don’t think that’s enough anymore, as the THOUSANDS UPON THOUSANDS of under-employed and unemployed university graduates with good grades in Europe and America will testify. They passed all their tests fine, they all ticked off the right boxes… and yet, look at them now, poor things.
Kids in the future are simply not going to leave school with this big, bumper crop of plum jobs waiting for them to fill, not like they used to. In the future, kids will leave school and increasingly be expected to create their own viable realities.
Like David Gergen alluded to, these young adults will be expected not just to do the work, but expected to ACTUALLY invent something. Create something, not just obey orders, not just fulfill some sort of social role.
And somehow, we have to teach our schools how to teach our kids exactly that. It’s not going to be easy.
4. HOW DO YOU BEST PREPARE FOR THE CREATIVE AGE?
As I see it, there are basically two ways, at least if you go at it from a college-age, entrepreneurial, startup mentality. One is the more risky path advocated by my wonderfully lucid friend, Jason Calacanis, to forget college and instead, “Spend Your College Tuition on Being Mentored and Starting a Company.” That’s probably what I would have chosen for myself, nowadays. That, or apprenticing for a master at something, the way English tailors learn their craft, or how the advertising legend, Dave Trott used to hire kids right off the street in London and give theme a chance at writing ads (Hence the earlier Jiro/Mastery reference]. Learning on the job, as it were. The street-fighter’s approach. Tough, brutal, intense, but nonetheless a first-class education in the University of Life.
The second way is what I see Len Schesinger trying to do at Babson.… shaking things up… evolving the idea of school (business school, anyway) as not just a place of learning, but also as a place of DOING.
Where. Stuff. Gets. Done.
In the real world. Here and now.
Where students don’t just learn about running businesses, but are expected to actually start running businesses and making them viable. All while still getting good grades. It’s a pretty intense curriculum, but hey, the best students seem to thrive at it.
Michael Dell’s company was started in a dorm room. Ditto with Mark Zuckerberg. Hey, my cartooning career was, too.
This is the idea of a college as not just a seat of learning, but an incubator, of sorts. These days, business schools like Babson aren’t just competing with Harvard or Wharton, they’re competing with Y Combinator and 500 Startups. The most talented kids in the country aren’t waiting around for the grownups in the ivory towers to get their act together. They’re already inventing their own futures; they’re in a hurry.
I don’t have all the answers. All I know is that it’s already happening. It’s already begun, the genie is already out of the bottle… and it’s damn exciting to watch.
[PS: This blog post only took me a short morning and a couple of hundred words to write. Ideally, it would’ve taken me a couple of years and enough words to fill an entire book. I’m sorry if it’s incomplete, I’m sorry if there are massive holes everywhere. It’s a vast minefield of a subject that’ll take the cleverest people in the land more than a few decades to work out fully. But like I inferred, it still damn exciting to think about. I just hope we’re all up for it.]
March 27, 2012
Besides the main sentiment of the cartoon, #SmallTeamsBigImpact is something that me and the tem at Social Object Factory can really relate to. Of course we can…
March 23, 2012
Another video our new company, Social Object Factory did for Rackspace at SXSW..
A sea of little red startup folk, piling into the #StartupBus, something they sponsor.
“Because the world needs more Awesome, the world needs more Startups.” A simple enough thought, one I happen to think is very, very true.
Without startups, this world really doesn’t have much of a future. At least, not one I would want.
March 22, 2012
“Because the world needs more Awesome, the world needs more Startups.”
What astounds me is how quickly we turned it around. A couple of days from getting the first phone call, in the can. BOOM! Just like that.
Compare that to the traditional ad agency model– it would’ve taken ten times as long and cost ten times as much. Not to mention, a lot of strategy meetings and endless Powerpoint slides.
We live in incredible times…
Congrats to the team on a splendid effort! Rock on.
March 19, 2012
Rackspace printed up 2,500 gapingvoid t-shirts to give away. When the doors opened at 10am, we had 50 people already waiting in line. We ran out of shirts by day’s end.
Get your awesome on, indeed…
We like creating schwag. Schwag is fun. The challenge is to actually create something that transmits REAL MEANING to people. Otherwise you’re just adding to the slush-pile.
And it’s the slush-pile that kills most businesses in the end, schwag or no schwag.
February 13, 2012
[A screenshot from the video: a Rackspace banner, in my handwriting etc.]
I love this Rackspace video. No thespian voiceover. No pompous top-down message yak yak yak about how great they are.
In this video, they’re not saying it, they’re SHOWING it.
What are they showing? Well, that’s for us to figure out, all by ourselves.
Isn’t marketing much nicer, when people treat each other like grownups?
[Disclosure: Rackspace is a gapingvoid client. And a damn good one, I might add. Check out our work here etc.]
December 7, 2011
Very cool. Rackspace are using the cartoon above for their new “Small Teams, Big Impact” homepage.
Here at gapingvoid, we feel very honored. We really do.
Like Rackspace says,
Small teams can have a huge impact on the world.
Here we hope to inspire the small teams of tomorrow by highlighting and celebrating those impacting the world today. Return here for videos, blogs, web casts and other information on the latest startups and emerging technologies.
OK, so Rackspace and gapingvoid do it differently. No matter. It’s still prayer to the same god, basically.
Trying to change the world for the better, while making an honest living in the process.
Trying to be helpful, as Rob La Gesse likes to say.
November 15, 2011
[Photo courtesy of @MissDestructo]
Above are some of the social object cartoons we had on display the other week at Blogworld… clients including Rackspace, Babson College, Intel etc etc.
The one on the top left got the most reaction, I wonder why
The mission continues: to spread the message that yes, social objects ARE the future of marketing.
I think it’ll take a while to spread but hey, there’s been some serious recent progress: In his big keynote at Blogworld, Jim Farley, the CMO of Ford Motors said, “Cars are social objects”.
Wow. I was right there in the audience, hearing it live. I could hardly believe it.
It felt like a coup…
As you probably know already, I was turned onto the social object idea by the antropologist, Jaiku founder and former Google employee, Jyri Engstrom, at his big talk at Reboot 2005 (which has gone in history a one of the best tech conferences ever, btw).
A year before that, I had met Jyri for the first time at Joi Ito’s big geek dinner in London, where we talked about how blogging was all about “particle media”, whereas traditional broadcast was all about “wave media”.
Wave vs Particle. Exactly.
And what do these particles consist of? Social Objects. Exactly.
Jyri knew what I meant, kinda sorta. You?
[CAVEAT: This post is not a finely crafted piece of blog literature, witeen for posterity, but me just thinking outloud. But there’s some things in here worth thinking about firther etc.]
September 14, 2011
This is a poster I did for Prepara, the cooking utensil maker. They’re a client of my client, Rackspace. Basically, Rackspace was commissioning me to create a little goodwill gesture, a little social object for one of their favorite customers etc.
I was trying to capture Prepara’s schtick in a single drawing. I follow the art gallery scene, I follow the industrial design scene. Pound for pound, the latter inspires me more often, more consistently. The combination of love and utility is a powerful one. Combined with something so basic and primal as eating, even more so.
September 1, 2011
[Screenshot of the Rackspace client page etc.]
Now this is exciting: Dedicated gapingvoid client pages.
Here’s the first one: For my favorite Texan client, Rackspace. All the cartoons I’ve done for them on a single page, easy to find at the URL rackspace.gapingvoid.com.
AND… they’re all in high-rez. WHICH MEANS, anybody at Rackspace (or anybody somehwere else), can click on the image, download the high-rez version, print it out and stick it on the wall of their cubicle or office or door or wherever.
Instant cube grenades. Exactly.
And we’ll soon be doing likewise for gapingvoid’s other clients: HP, Dewar’s Whisky, Intel etc etc.
Like I said a few days ago, my work doesn’t belong in art galleries, it belongs in office cubicles. And this makes the latter REALLY easy for people. Sure, if they’d rather have a signed print that cost money, they can do that easily enough, as well… but FREE has its place, too.
Early on, we (i.e. the entire gapingvoid team– Me, Jason, Laura, Sam etc) noticed that a business is only as good as the conversations it has with people, both inside and outside the organization [i.e. classic Cluetrain parlance].
Ergo, that means there MUST be a market for art i.e. social objects that could start these right kinds of conversation. Quod Erat Demostrandum.
To us, this wasn’t rocket science, this was ALL common sense. And so we built a business around it…
So now the next question is, of course, how are YOUR conversations coming along? How can they be improved? CAN they actually be improved? Serious question.
June 18, 2011
A wee video I did for Paul Barron’s People Report Summer Camp and Digital Brand Camp 2011.
Nothing too fancy (although I do think Paul did a good job with the edit), some footage of me drawing my trademark business-card doodles and, in the background, some of my new paintings, including two I did for Rackspace.
The video riffs on the same theme I’ve been obsessing about for two decades, the subject of my second book, “Evil Plans” i.e. The Unification of Work And Love. What that means, what that implies, what ACTUALLY has to happen in order for it to manifest itself etc etc.
Yes, new paintings.
That’s all I’m willing to say about it for now… though feel free to drop me an email if you’re curious, Thanks.
June 13, 2011
A brand’s first job is to be interesting. Aligned brands are far more interesting than brands that just want somebody else’s money.
“Crap jobs are created by other people, dream jobs you make yourself” and “Life is short, Make it amazing”.
No “Reason Why” to buy the Rackspace product. No top-down mission statement.
Nope. Instead I tried to talk about stuff that ACTUALLY MATTER to people inside and outside the company.
Like I said in my last post, ALIGNMENT is where the action is.
“A brand’s first job is to be interesting”. Aligned brands are far more interesting than brands that just want somebody else’s money.
Just because you work for a big company doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about REAL human values. In fact, it’s more important than ever.
Think about it.
May 19, 2011
[One of my favorite recent “Social Objects”: a cartoon I did for Rackspace.]
The Social Object, in a nutshell, is the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else. Human beings are social animals. We like to socialize. But if think about it, there needs to be a reason for it to happen in the first place. That reason, that “node” in the social network, is what we call the Social Object.
For as long as I’ve been involved with the Internet, I’ve seen the SAME OLD DISCONNECT appear again and again AND AGAIN i.e. the disconnect between how the Internet ACTUALLY works and how the social media marketing dorks like to PRETEND how it works.
Case in point: From Steve Jones’ blog:
Today I received an e-mail that said “Like us on Facebook and win”. Later in the day I walked into a store and on the door was a sign that said “Like us on Facebook”.
That’s like Billy Joel asking me to buy his album. It is like walking into a party and having someone say “Be my friend and I’ll buy you a drink”. In a word, it is pathetic.
Damn right it’s pathetic.
Note to Social Media Marketing Dorks: The hard currency of the Internet is not Facebook “Likes” or Twitter “Retweets”, as flavor-of-the-month as they might be. By themselves, they’re worthless.
The hard currency of the Internet is “Social Objects”.
i.e. Social Objects for people to SHARE MEANINGFULLY with other people.
You’re either creating them or you’re not. And if you’re not, you will fail, end of story.
May 3, 2011
April 21, 2011
His nine-year old son wearing that Rackspace t-shirt I did for SXSW 2011.
“Life is short. Make it amazing”.
The kid just liked it, Rackspace or no Rackspace.
“I want life to be amazing,” he told his father.
Yes, even nine-year-old kids want their life to be amazing. Of course they do. Why wouldn’t they?
And it’s ESPECIALLY much bigger than gapingvoid or cartooning.
I may not be the most talented or famous or disruptive artist since Picasso. That’s fine; you’re not either.
But I’ve always believed, even before I started doing my work seriously, that art– that cartooning– can change lives for the better. Either individually or at a corporate level. Right here. Right now.
And you don’t have to be as big as Peanuts or The Simpsons or Dilbert in order to do so. Especially now that we have the Internet.
And what’s true for cartoonists is also true for your job.
You don’t have to be a rock star or a billionaire. We can all change the world, one small meaningful intervention at time.
Which is what the t-shirt was. A small meaningful intervention. No more, no less.
The power is within us. Now all we have to do is teach ourselves how to believe it.
April 5, 2011
Another Rackspace-sponsored cartoon…
I like this cartoon. It’s something that Scoble would would say.
Scoble works for Rackspace, too. Do the math.
Hola. Yes, another Rackspace-sponsored cartoon…
Like I said on Twitter earlier today, yes, you can work for a large company and not be a #slavebot. But you have to decide, before somebody decides for you.
Rackspace doesn’t want #slavebots working for them. Hell, Rackspace doesn’t even want #slavebots working for their customers, ideally.
#Slavebots are bad. Don’t be one. Best avoid them like the plague, both at work and at play. Exactly.
The idea comes from a core value taken right off the latter’s homepage. They use a lot of blue and green in their graphic design, so I went with something blue-greeny.
The little “Love from Rackspace” symbol is right there in the bottom left-hand corner. A little secret hallmark, as it were…
Love it. Rock on.
A Social Object. Exactly.
It’s not rocket science. It’s common sense. Less theory, more action. Less talk, more doing. That’s what it means to have a startup. Part of the Rackspace “We Love Startups” riff. Exactly.
April 4, 2011
[One of my more successful “Social Objects” of late: The SXSW t-shirt I did for my client, Rackspace. We printed 3,200 of them, and they all went REALLY quickly. The just FLEW off the table. It was stunning to watch…]
I’ve been talking about Social Objects for a while now. And using cartoons to create social objects i.e. “Cube Grenades” is the main way I make a living.
Whatever your social media strategy is, it needs the object. It needs that thing that people socialize around.
Because people socialize around objects– a product, an idea, a movement, a person– people don’t socialize in a vacuum.
Creating cartoons is my way of creating social objects, but of course, there are other ways.
gapingvoid is basically a little Social Object factory.…
March 27, 2011
PS Check out the little [“Love heart + Heart”] symbol on the bottom right. It’s there for a reason. #WinkWink
March 24, 2011
March 21, 2011
Basically, Posterous is a site that makes it easy to upload and share photos. It’s simple and straightforward. It doesn’t need a lot of explaining, really.
And nor should it have to. Talking to their CEO, Sachin Agarwal on the phone the other week, it’s apparent they want their service to have mainstream, mom n’ pop usage, not just something for the geeks…
As for the cartoon, well, I was determined NOT to draw yet another one of my cute-sy “monstercritter” cartoons [I was already doing a lot of them for Rackspace already], but in spite of my best intentions, this Posterous one just stuck, somehow… the humanity of it.
We know the point of photos is to document the seen world, capture memories and all that. But a big a part of that is the social and emotional– the creation of what I call “Sharing Devices”- social objects that allow us to share ourselves with others.
i.e. Posterous’ value comes not from the actual photos per se, but from a very human need that was around long before photography (or cave painting, for that matter) was even invented.
March 7, 2011
I just drew this wee cartoon for one of my favorite brands, Laughing Squid.
Laughing Squid aka my good friend, Scott Beale, GETS it. Really, really gets it. Very few brands seem to be able to truly understand both the Art and the Internet so well. The only other guys I know who come close are Boing Boing.
I think it’s so cool that when Scott talks to people at parties, he’ll often talk to somebody who LOVES Laughing Squid, KNOWS Laughing Squid well, but still has no idea that web hosting is what Laughing Squid actually does for a living.
To be so great, you don’t evern need to tell people about it in order for it to work.
That is rare. That is a gift. That is THE gift. To be able to do that. That is what inspired the cartoon. Yes, exactly.
But that’s not the only reason I’m writing this. Full Disclosure: My client, Rackspace, recently commissioned me to draw a “Cube Grenade” cartoon for one of their favorite customers. A “social gesture” from them to say thanks, as it were. They gave me a shortlist, Scott’s name was on top. I was delighted to find him there.
Secondly, Laughing Squid is also one of Rackspace’s oldest customers. We’re talking REALLY early days. That isn’t common knowledge, I only just found out. But I was delighted to learn that; I really was.
So thanks to Scott, Laughing Squid, Rackspace and everybody else who “gets it”, who truly knows and truly feels the love.
Yes, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Godbless.
March 2, 2011
You being my client and all, I thought now would be a good time to let you know my current thinking:
You love startups. You live and breathe making them happy. You live and breathe trying to be helpful to them. You live and breathe “Fanatical”.
Sure, other companies offer the same kind of hosting that you do– Amazon being the best known example.
But it’s your particular brand of “Fanatical” that permeates your culture… THAT is what makes you unique; THAT is what your competitors DON’T have; THAT is your secret weapon.
And the minute you lose that, of course, is the minute you start to die.
Not everybody reading this is going to believe what I’ve just said. Some will remain skeptical, both inside and outside your company. Frankly, I don’t care. I’ve been working with y’all long enough to know that I’m speaking the truth.
“We Love Startups.” That is your mantra. That is your line in the sand.
And now you’re going to have to live it. Now that the line has been drawn, I’m never going to allow you to take those words back. Nor will anyone else. Ever. Nor should you.
“We Love Startups.” That is what the startup community must know about Rackspace. They must know it AND believe it. All of them. That is the mission.
[PS: Note to Rackers: If your boss will let you, feel free to use the cartoon in your email signature. Spread the love etc.]
February 28, 2011
For the past couple of months, I’ve been trying to capture the Rackspace essence in a single, 550-pixel-wide cartoon.
So what is THE ONE THING they need to let the world know? Above all else?
My opinion? That they love startups.
Hence the cartoon above.
February 1, 2011
So I drew this cartoon earlier today for Rackspace.
An idea for a greeting card. An “Apology” card. For when Rackspace screws up [ALL companies screw up occasionally].
Just a way of saying sorry. Of staying human.
It could be printed on to a card and put in an envelope. Or it could just be a digital image you put in an email or on a website.
That kind of thing…
[You can see the other cartoons I’ve done for Rackspace here.]
The first line in the book is “Everybody needs an Evil Plan”. This sentiment would apply to both big companies like Rackspace and, or course, the people who work for them.
So there was a natural fit. Plus I dig the red…
Hmmm… Thinking of making this one a print.
January 25, 2011
“Don’t be normal”.
Who wants a “normal” job, anyway?
Who wants a “normal” employer, anyway?
Who wants a “normal” life, anyway?
So why not say it, loud and proud?
So I drew some cartoons on the subject.
I’m thinking they’d make great recruiting posters…
[P.S. At the time of posting this, Rob hasn’t seen these cartoons yet. He lets me post my ideas “live”, without having to go through him first. THAT IS WHY I’m psyched to be working with Rob and Rackspace. Just so you know.]
January 24, 2011
We have a basic idea what we’ll be doing– I know Scoble is involved– but that’s all still under wraps.
Nonetheless, I drew the cartoon above.
As with my usual approach, the message is less about, “This is what we do and this is how much it costs”, and more about, “We hold these truths to be self-evident”.
Think about it: Rackspace is a fast-growing company. It needs to hire really good people. Lots of them.
And to do that, it has to convince a lot these really good people to relocate to their main campus in San Antonio, Texas.
Have you ever been to San Antonio? Exactly.
Now, don’t get me wrong, San Antonio is a perfectly lovely Texas town, hugely underrated compared to say, Austin, 80 miles to the North.
But still, it isn’t one of those towns where “Everybody” goes to, like New York, Chicago, Austin or San Francisco. It’s not a capital.
So in order to get some of the best brains in the country to move there, you have to offer them something else. Affordable housing, good schools, high quality of life, high standard of living etc. etc.
But you also have to offer them, as Rackspace Chairman, Graham Weston said in 2010, the chance to be on “on a winning team, on an inspiring mission.”
People don’t go to South-By in order to buy stuff, to buy Rackspace hosting. They go there to see their friends, to commune with their tribe, and yes, to look for opportunities that allow them to play on the aforementioned winning team.
THAT is how Rackspace needs to talk to people at South-By.
Doing something that matters. On a winning team. That’s why I wrote the cartoon the way I did.
Life is short. Make it amazing.
And so there y’are…
January 20, 2011
Besides their new cartoon I posted yesterday, they really haven’t seen it yet.
For whatever reason, they prefer being “surprised” by stuff posted live on the web, rather than seeing it first through the usual backchannels.
Seeing how the idea works live on the web informs their initial impression etc.
1. We have the Rackspace cloud [Image 1.]. A nice, fluffy cartoon Rackspace cloud. Red, black and white– their corporate colors. Iconic. Easily recognizable at fifty yards etc etc.
2. Inside the cloud we insert the headline [Image 2.]. “Create The Future You Want To Believe In” [Image 3.] was the headline I wrote, but that doesn’t have to be the only headline.
3. In fact, it doesn’t have to be me who writes the headline, either. Feasibly you could even set up a website where people could create their own headlines. Or something.
4. The headline would express whatever strong beliefs about “The Cloud” are needed to be expressed, inside the Rackspace cartoon cloud device.
5. So Rackspace isn’t just saying, “Here’s why you should buy from us”. Rackspace is saying, “Here’s what actually frickin’ matters”, whatever that might be.
6. Putting one’s balls on the line always resonates far more than ticking off the “Reasons to buy” laundry list.
7. And now they have a fun, wee device that allows Rackspace to do just that.
And that’s the idea. Hope you like. Hope they like, too. Watch this space…
January 19, 2011
To become the coolest player in The Cloud computing space.
Or something like that…
If they win, they win big.
Yes, there is risk. Of course there is.
So I drew this little cartoon for them.
A nemonic device. A nice, fluffy cartoon cloud with a bright, red background.
Instantly recognisable from fifty yards etc.
With a message re. Faith precedes creation, always.
Welcome to being alive…
December 28, 2010
Another new cartoon for the Rackspace series.…
Basically, I took the old “George” idea and re-jigged it, adding the trademark Rackspace red & black.
And hey, it worked.
I see this cartoon going in the slide deck of Rackspace’s recruiters.
We’re not a ‘normal’ company etc. It’s OK not to be ‘normal’ etc. ‘Normal’ is boring etc.
It’s easy for a small company to have a distinct personality. Much harder when the company has grown a lot, like Rackspace has done in the last few years.
Much harder to NOT be normal…
[Commission your own cartoon from gapingvoid etc.]
December 27, 2010
One thing that Rackspace is very proud of is their customer base. Both in terms of quality and quantity. Not only do they have some really wicked customers, they have lots of them.
And no, I’m not just being nice because they’re my client. Some of them ARE awesome. A lot of amazing companies that you’ve heard of and admire.
So… what’s wrong with wanting more where that came from?
What is wrong with wanting THE BEST customer base in the world, and adjusting your business plan accordingly?
And what is wrong with declaring that to the frickin’ world?
To be honest, I don’t just see this cartoon as an internal motivational poster whatsit. I also see it as a full blown advertisement– one that could easily go into magazines like Wired or Inc.
What’s wrong with declaring to the world, “Here’s what we’re going after with a vengeance”, rather than the usual “Here’s why should buy our wonderful product” drivel?
And the cartoon character: why not make him stressed out and antsy– like real entrepreneurs are– rather than the usual happy-happy-joy-joy that most advertisements run with?
Why not talk to people about the ACTUAL world we live in, rather than the irritating fantasy world that Madison Ave created?
Why the hell not?
We’re all going to be dead in 100 years. In the meantime, why not try to rip the face off the dragon?
December 19, 2010
I love the backstory to the “Hug” cartoon above:
My mother, in her day, was a very successful education software consultant. “Have you hugged your client today?” was her line, not mine.
She always had about 6 – 10 Blue Chip clients on board at one time. Companies like Shell, Exxon, Coco-Cola etc.
And no matter what kind of day she was having, EVERY DAY she would make some kind of effort to demonstrate to each and every client that… she cared, that this stuff mattered, that she was willing to go the extra mile.
And it worked. It certainly paid for me and my sister’s education.
“Hugging clients” is really a no-brainer.
Unless you don’t really like your clients. Unless you’re just in it it for the money.
Then it just feels sleazy and wrong.
There’s nothing wrong with insisting on good chemistry, before you commit fully to working with someone.
Sure, we all need money. But I think we need chemistry more.
November 25, 2010
[One of the cube grenades I did for Rackspace etc.]
Here’s something to think about this Thanksgiving:
Art that you hang in your cubicle, in order to affect change, in order to start a conversation. Art that you “toss” into the work/corporate environment, that hopefully causes a small “explosion”. Hence the term, Cube Grenade.
“Art with purpose. Work with purpose”.
Thanks to the Internet, the nature of work is changing in so many amazing ways, and we’re all so damn lucky to be caught right in the middle of it.
As a cartoonist, my work is totally inspired and informed by this– this is exactly why the work took the direction it did.
And your work, whatever it may be, should also be affected in the same way. I can’t think of a better time to be alive; I really can’t.
So besides friends and family, what better reason is there to celebrate Thanksgiving? Seriously…