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About | Sean L. Womack
About My Work

About My Work

Over the past 20+ years, my work has been to create, innovate and develop businesses, brands, products and services. This has taken various shapes from working in product development at a social expression company to launching a magazine for a boutique consulting firm to helping found and grow three different agencies that focused on entertainment marketing, shopper marketing and video content marketing respectively. My consulting firm, TBD Inc., is a brand studio that develops brands and brand content.

I am also very excited about the recent launch of TBD Labs™. TBD Labs help businesses, brands and organizations develop unique and valuable ideas so they can innovate and grow. There are four types labs that we run: Innovation, Brand, Story and Idea Labs. Each lab consists of a series of half-day sessions, which are designed based on the latest research in group collaboration and creativity. They are an intense, focused series of conversations built to generate useful insights and valuable ideas. Labs are great for creating business ideas, new products, new value for consumers, unique and differentiated brands, promotional ideas, communication strategies and clear stories for you, your brand or your organization.

About Me

About Me

Here is the dreaded identity page (aka. About Page). Or in this case, the cleverly titled, but impossible to write “Who I Am.” I do this for companies of all shapes and sizes, so why is it so hard to do for myself? The curse of knowledge, I suppose. How do you strip away all of the uninteresting, unimportant aspects of yourself until just the essence remains? You don’t.

Then do you focus on one set of information like accomplishments? Sean helped this company and that company. He won this and that award. How about the roles you play in life? Sean is the blessed husband of Shelley and proud father of three biological and three adopted children. Education? He went to JBU in undergrad on a Presidential scholarship and then got his MFA at USC’s famed film school winning the Mary Pickford Scholarship and the Robert S. Ferguson marketing award. Or do you list the litany of companies and brands he’s worked on? List out my vision for the future of all things? Talk about impressive projects? Clever anecdotes? Witty aphorisms? Pack it full of keywords so people find me in Google search? The truth is I don’t know, and there is no right answer. I’m just going to write something. Then I’ll keep fiddling with it endlessly. Here it is.

I am an idea junkie. There I said it. That’s supposed to be the first step. Admitting it. I love ideas. Especially new ones. I read about them, study where they come from, and work on developing them. I have spent the last 20+ years creating ideas for various businesses – my own and others. Right now, I am focused on helping businesses, brands and organizations develop unique and valuable ideas so they can innovate and grow.

50 Things I Learned in 2012 – somewhat in order.

50 Things I Learned in 2012 – somewhat in order.

  1. The Achilles’ tendon of 40-something year old men are very likely to snap during pick-up basketball games.
  2. Traveling on crutches alone via airplane is ill advised.
  3. However, if you do travel on crutches alone via airplane, you’ll find that there are a lot of people offering to help you, and many of them will be outside your normal circle of interaction, which will both humble you and open your eyes in much needed ways.
  4. Everyone on crutches will stop and say hi to someone else on crutches.
  5. New York is not a crutches friendly town in general.
  6. There is TV talent and Online Video talent and they are usually not the same people.
  7. This is because Online Video is a new medium and what works elsewhere doesn’t necessarily translate.
  8. If you spend the $$$ on a location, then you should shoot that location in all its glory — otherwise, save your money.
  9. Reading off a TelePrompTer is a very particular talent that not everyone possesses.
  10. When the camera turns on, most people turn off. Children, babies, dogs and cats will pretty much do whatever they want to on camera. If you get a good take, them you’ve done a good days work.
  11. Write action very specifically in your scripts.
  12. Unless you plant to wing it, then make sure you are working with people who can wing it well.
  13. Editing is a precise (and tedious) craft, and a good editor covers a multitude of sins.
  14. You will always need a pick-up day (a day to shoot things you either missed or didn’t know you’d need), but don’t sweat it. Build it into the process.
  15. There is nothing better for your film than a good crew – assuming you already have a good script.
  16. A director’s primary job–and any leader really–is to ensure that everyone is making the same movie.
  17. There is no such thing as over-communicating. The best selling book of all time (the Bible) is very repetitive.
  18. Most of your work life will be spent solving problems – this becomes truer the farther your progress in your career and the problems just get more complex.
  19. So, learn to love solving problems – step one is having the right attitude toward it.
  20. If you expect them and also expect that your team can solve any of them that arise, then you’ll find it (more often than not) to be true.
  21. Money won’t solve all problems, but it will be a key part of solving many of them.
  22. The rest will need creativity. There’s nothing like constraints–lack of time or money–to spark creative solutions to problems.
  23. Problem-solving is like the ‘word problems’ from math and science, except in the work world, you first have to figure out and get everyone to agree to the problem you are trying to solve.
  24. There is no writing, there is only rewriting.
  25. Rewriting is hard work, and very necessary. Learn to love rewriting.
  26. According to some research I heard about, being slightly irritated puts your brain in the right frame for good editing and critical thought. So, don’t keep yourself from being annoyed by another rewrite, it’s probably getting you in the right frame of mind.
  27. A good editor is a writer’s secret weapon. If you find one, then do not let them go.
  28. There’s enough space in the world for two books about the same topic. This might seem like a no-brainier until you find out someone already wrote the book you are working on. Then it becomes an issue to wrestle through.
  29. A great book is more than a work of art. It is a miracle. Meaning that it is beyond your ability to produce. Other factors outside of your control must bring their influences to bear on the work.
  30. So, don’t worry about it, and just create.
  31. Doing the work is the hardest part. Everything that comes before is merely preparation, everything that comes after is out of your control. So, just do the work.
  32. You know when it is right. Don’t stop until you reach that point. Even if it takes 200 times. Do it until you know it is right.
  33. It matters to get things right.
  34. A name is one of the most important parts of a new company. Getting the name right is worth all of the time, effort and money you invest in it.
  35. A good name sets you on a trajectory and will either tether you to the earth or help you escape orbit. Get a good name.
  36. Good creative partners make everything they touch better and the best ones make you perform better as well.
  37. It is easy to be critical at a distance. It is much harder standing in the room, face-to-face. Be in the room as much as you can. You’ll be more empathetic.
  38. In execution, the details are everything. Ride herd over those details as much as possible because the next folks down the line (more than likely) won’t care as much as you do. Stay involved until it’s done/live/printed/distributed.
  39. If someone offers you their cats to be in your video, don’t assume they will like the crew.
  40. If you believe in it, think it is the right thing to do and that it ought to exist in the world, then you will probably have to fight for it. Expect this and do it. Otherwise it won’t exist.
  41. Bringing something new into the world takes an incredible effort. But fight graciously.
  42. Steal Like An Artist. Thank you Austin Kleon for writing an amazing book with this title. (Buy it)
  43. Seriously, creativity is mostly theft. Steal well. As in steal from the best. Your filter will be the new thing you add.
  44. Pre-production (or prepping for anything) is way more important than you ever think it is, it is the easiest part to short-change or outright ignore, but you’ll never regret one minute spent preparing.
  45. Being well prepared frees up your brain to be alert to little spontaneous moments on the day that will be the real magic.
  46. Ask your team to do the impossible and they will surprise you & they will appreciate you believing in them.
  47. If you are leading a team you will need a right hand and a left hand person who can keep you on track and the project going forward. Trust them and listen to them.
  48. Take risks that scare you – not ones that might hurt you or others – but ones that make you quake in your shoes. You won’t grow without it.
  49. There are some things you will commit to do because it is the right thing to do, but you shouldn’t always try and anticipate what the impact on you will be because if you do, you’ll talk yourself out of it. Better just to say ‘yes’ and let the chips fall where they may.
  50. Life pulses. We need to surge ahead and then take regular pauses before the next surge. It’s like our heart beat. It can race for a while, but most of the time it needs to operate nearer our resting heart rate. I have a rate at which I operate best and my life needs to run at that pulse.
43 Lessons From My 43 Years

43 Lessons From My 43 Years

Last night before I fell asleep, I started writing down a list of lessons I’ve learned over the past 43 years of my life. Most of these I’ve learned by experiencing them several times until it dawned on me. Some of them I’ve stolen from friends and mentors. I don’t know why I started writing them down. Maybe just to see what I would write. Making the list made me remember friends and family, highs and lows, and ended up being a better exercise than I intended it to be. So, I thought I would share it. If you have any to add to the list, then please leave them in the comments. I am blessed to have friends on the road with me.
  1. Answering the God questions are the most important pursuits in life.
  2. Faith is not the opposite of doubt, it is the opposite of fear.
  3. My wife is my life partner.
  4. Being a father is the most meaningful work that I will ever do.
  5. You measure love by the degree to which you are willing to be inconvenienced.
  6. Forgiveness helps you more than the person you are forgiving.
  7. Saying “I’m sorry” is the best weapon in any relationship – especially your marriage.
  8. The Bible is an awesome book of books.
  9. Dreams happen in your head, life happens out here with everybody.
  10. If something is worth doing, then it is worth doing right.
  11. Writing equals thinking. Writing well equals clear thinking. It is the hardest work you will do, and the pursuit of writing well is lifelong.
  12. Some things you just have to experience to learn.
  13. God loves more and better than I do.
  14. Marrying well is a blessing that words cannot describe.
  15. My emotions can (and will) betray me.
  16. Being deceived means you don’t realize you are wrong – if you know you are wrong, then that’s just being stupid (or euphemisms like willful or stubborn).
  17. Having only one word for love hurts us English speakers.
  18. If I don’t love myself, then I won’t love anyone else very well. It is “love your neighbor the way you love yourself,” which I now think is a warning and not a command. You will love others the same way you love yourself.
  19. There’s a little arrow on most gas gauges to tell you which side the pump is on.
  20. Most people don’t care what you think, but they sure will watch what you do.
  21. Money is a great tool, but a terrible master.
  22. Financial debt shackles your future to its service.
  23. Make decisions today based on what you want to be true 10, 20 or 40 years from now.
  24. What I do every day is more important than what I do every now and then.
  25. My calendar and my checkbook tell the world what I value.
  26. Verbs transform sentences. Use them. Adverbs definitely clog sentences. Delete them.
  27. There are two products that are for everyone – air and water. One is tasteless, the other one is invisible. Don’t make your products for everyone.
  28. Simple trumps complex.
  29. When everyone is going the same way as you, it might be a sign to turn around.
  30. If three people tell you the same thing, pay attention.
  31. Crawl, walk, then run is the best approach to business partnerships.
  32. Always push back in a negotiation (even if you love the offer), otherwise people feel like they got a bad deal.
  33. If the CEO isn’t preaching the change, then it won’t happen no matter who is telling you it will.
  34. There is more to life than just what we see.
  35. Relationships are all we take out of this life.
  36. Success is taking the next step of obedience.
  37. Your sins will find you out.
  38. When you get caught, confess. Hiding makes me a coward (see #37).
  39. People love stories more than lectures. Learning to tell them well is worth the effort.
  40. Getting outside of yourself is the only way to engage an audience. The fearless inspire.
  41. Never let your career outpace your character.
  42. You are never to old for a significant change in your life.
  43. The older I get, the less I know.

That cleared my head. Ready for the lessons of year 44. Bring it on.

My Top 5 tools of the trade

Without a doubt, these are the five items I would not try and run my business without:

  1. uni-ball Gel Impact (not RT) 1.0mm tip pens. I’d by refills by the case load if I could. You can get them at Office Depot, which I love except their rewards program is horrible.
  2. Moo.com cards. I got turned on to these by Seth Godin. I ordered them immediately. You can order 50 cards and have 50 different images on the back. Incredible quality and service. And they are in the US now, so shipping costs less. I took my 50 photos with my next tool:
  3. My iPhone. No, it’s not a very original answer, but I’m rocking an old school, day one iPhone that I stood in line for at my local AT&T store. I still remember the small crowds that would gather in the airport to look at it those first weeks. Favorite apps: WSJ, NYT, Kindle, Logos, TripIt, FlightTracker PRO, New LinkedIn (old was awful), Fandango, Kayak, Banking, ActionMethod, Mint.com, RedLaser (more the idea than the app, it’s not great on a Gen 1 phone), Shazam, Tweetie and WordPress (and Tumblr is a cool interface), and CameraBag (I took all my site photos with it); Some games: Bloom, SlightControl, Fieldrunners, geoDefense and Spider.
  4. My MacBook. The black 13″ one. I love their titanium products, but there’s something about this black that I like better. I live in Google via Firefox (I’ve tried Chrome, but not found enough compatibility with some sites & services yet). I also have it integrated with my next favorite…
  5. Action Method products and digital tools. My new friend Scott Belsky’s (founder of Behance) incredibly crafted products (now available at B&N) and his intuitive project-based to-do methods fits creative types better that the context-based GTD system – especially if you work and your home are the same location.
  6. Okay, so I have to list a few others: Moleskine Journals (I met the US team leader last year, I felt like I was meeting a rock star and learned that I’ve been using the journals since they were first available in the US. When I die, they will be my inheritance to my children), binder clips (near addiction), index cards (5 x 8), my LiveScribe pen (although it doesn’t get that much use), and my Label Maker (thanks David Allen).

Now that I’ve started this, I realize that there are a lot more. I’ll post others like Time Machine and iDisk for back-ups in the cloud, my AT&T U-Verse internet, Google Voice, etc.


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