Weekly Event Roundup May 24-30

This week at Gangplank:

Tuesday, May 24th

  • (6:00pm) Chandler Mayor Jay Tibshraeny’s ‘State of the City’ address
  • (7:00-9:00pm) Phoenix Rails Meeting
  • (7:00-9:00pm) Storytellers AZ

Wednesday, May 25th

  • (noon) Brownbag – ‘Spec Work vs. Pragmatic Business’ [RSVP]
  • (1:00pm) Gangplank Tour
  • (6:00pm) Hacknight
  • (7:00pm) Street Hockey

Thursday, May 26th

  • (6:00-9:00pm) SEVDNUG Meeting

    What CAN we do in one week?

    Mayor Tibshraeny and the City of Chandler have accepted a friendly challenge from the Town of Gilbert, as both raise food for the hungry.

    The community that donates the most food (by weight) during the month of May will send the losing Mayor & Council T-shirts to wear during an upcoming Council meeting.

    As much as we’d love to see Councilmember Weninger blush while wearing whatever clever concoction Gilbert creates, we can’t let them beat out Chandler. We’ve got one week (through May 31st) to collect as many non-perishable items as possible in Gangplank.

    SO BRING EM! We’ve got a small box by the video games that we can easily overflow with goodies for the local food bank.

    Want to help spread the word? Here are Facebook and Twitter alerts to put out to your networks:

    Worthy cause that gives Chandler bragging rights over Gilbert? Win! Donate your canned goods through 5/31 @gangplank - http://bit.ly/lNeHxR

    Donate your non-perishable items @gangplank through 5/31 and help us beat Gilbert! http://bit.ly/lNeHxR

    Friendship over Formality

    As part of a new series, ‘Living the Gangplank Manifesto’, various community participants share their stories about the values through blogs, videos and podcasts. If you’d like to participate, email info@gangplankhq.com.

    Chris Conrey, Human to Geek Relations for Integrum and Gangplank’s resident loud voice, shares how he lives the value of ‘Friendship over Formality’ is his work.

    Check out the ‘Boldness over Assurance‘ value video.

    Breaking down Gangplank

    An important part of Gangplank’s culture is our ability to adapt to change and commitment to having an agile space. Though displayed in many small ways every day, the most significant example of this commitment in action is moving out our entire space to welcome in various events. It can be a bit chaotic, but always a good workout!

    Why I Let a Ten-Year-Old Tattoo Me

    Gangplank’s guest-blogging series illustrates the array of personalities and experiences embodied by our community. All invited participants – past brownbag speakers, anchors, new members, City of Chandler employees and others – share their Gangplank stories. Interested guest posters should send a draft to our Director of Operations.

    By Chris Conrey, Human to Geek Relations for Integrum and ‘Don’t Sell Me Bro‘ podcaster

    “You guys are crazy man.”

    That’s what the professional tattoo artists from Tabu Tattoo told us when we said that five of us were going to let kids put real tattoos on our bodies at the “Making Your Art Permanent” Gangplank Jr event. Confidence inspiring for sure.

    “Nasty” Nate Houtz, along with Adam and Chris, led the class for 12 kids ranging in age from 4 to 14. Beginning with some basics about how a tattoo machine works, followed by a practical demonstration on a grapefruit, the kids were ready to rock and roll. They started by drawing on their own grapefruit with a sharpie, then took turns using a real tattoo machine to make it permanent, just like they would do on a person. After a few butterflies, smiley faces, skulls, and other pieces were added to various members of a healthy breakfast, Greg Taylor, Derek Neighbors, Laurie Neighbors, Mike Benner and myself geared up to be put to the real test – a kid with a tattoo machine aimed at our skin.

    conrey tattoo 225x300 Why I Let a Ten Year Old Tattoo MeDerek, Laurie and Mike can at least say it was their own kids, to justify letting a kid ink them up. Greg and I lent our bodies to be the canvas for Susan Baier’s two kids. Emma, who was turning 11 the next day, asked me no less than 4 times if I was sure this was ok before she applied the stencil to my arm in preparation for the tattoo. There were probably three more reassurances before the needle first touched my arm, but once contact was made she was off to the races with a big grin. Just a few minutes later I had a Gangplank Jr skull logo on my left bicep that would go home with me forever (pending amputation of course).

    But why would I let a 10 year old have the chance to permanently scar me? What sort of crazy person would do that?

    My thoughts on it are simple – you only live once, and so do the kids. What better way to show them that taking risks can be done in a safe environment with people who can help teach and guide you?tattoo 225x300 Why I Let a Ten Year Old Tattoo Me This was an opportunity to give those kids a chance to do something that no one in their peer group will experience for years, if ever. I am proud to be a part of it. Conventional wisdom says to go to a professional like Nate, Adam or Chris if you’re inclined to get inked – but that’s the same conventional wisdom that tells you to not let kids take risks or learn about dangerous things.

    The dozen kids who got to handle a tattoo machine that day will never forget it, and I’d be willing to say that their curiosity has been tickled. Who knows what sort of artists or creative minds we jumpstarted that day? I can’t wait to find out.

    Photo exhibit to benefit Gangplank Jr

    Gangplank’s guest-blogging series illustrates the array of personalities and experiences embodied by our community. All invited participants – past brownbag speakers, anchors, new members, City of Chandler employees and others – share their Gangplank stories. Interested guest posters should send a draft to our Director of Operations.

    By Greg Taylor, a Digital Marketer at TMC Interactive, Content Creator, Collaborator, Photographer, Skateboarder, Blogger, & Music Lover

    I love music and I love photography – smash the two together and you’ll find a passionate music photographer. There’s something about the excitement of flashing lights, the loud music and standing in the photographer’s pit before a rock show that can’t be explained.

    36662 401875790898 606950898 4841161 625720 n 300x225 Photo exhibit to benefit Gangplank JrRecently, Gangplank asked me to display some of my favorite concert photographs on the Gangplank art walls. I was more than flattered to be asked but the challenge was the limited space for only eight photos. How can I select only eight? The answer was simple: crowdsourcing.

    Through my site and Twitter I asked people to vote for the photos they wanted to see printed and framed for exhibit. They responded and the eight (of the 30) that made the grade we produced.

    The exhibit contains photographs of Muse, Roger Clyne, Jim Dalton (of Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers), Rev. Horton Heat, Silversun Pickups, Agnostic Front, Death By Stereo and Five Finger Deathpunch.

    My passion for music photography doesn’t pay my bills but that doesn’t mean it can’t help out a good cause. All prints on exhibit are for sale for $70 with 100% of all monies collected going directly to Gangplank Jr.

    Thanks to everyone for allowing me to display my work.

    Happy Birthday!

    Sometimes one of the good things we lose by going independent is the social part of the big office environment. Everyone needs acknowledgement occasionally, so why not on your birthday? Or at the very least, near it.

    cake 300x225 Happy Birthday!

    Gangplank is adding a once-a-month birthday celebration during Hacknight so everyone can get that special mention. We don’t know everyone well enough to know all of your birthdays so don’t be shy, fill out this form and let people have the chance to give you a special minute or two…and maybe a cookie or cupcake with your name on it. Join the fun! You don’t want to feel left out when everyone else is getting their pat on the back or hug from @GangplankMom.

    Birthday Form

    Want to celebrate your birthday at Gangplank! Fill out the form to be included in our monthly celebrations.


    Thank you to Gangplank volunteer Debbie Walker for setting this up!

    Photo by Jessica Diamond

    Gangplank Synchronicity

    So we at Customer Systems, Inc have been around Gangplank full time for just over 5 months now. Though we’ve been fans and participated on some level for a number of years, our experience is definitely changing.

    iStock 000002259552XSmall 300x201 Gangplank SynchronicityOne of the things folks say is that the proximity to others and the culture of collaboration enables synchronicity to occur. In the short time we have been at Gangplank full-time, I’ve seen this happen a number of times.

    My favorite story is when Forty asked for feedback on an opportunity to purchase subdomain redirection and emails at http://forty.net at an astronomical rate. Ed Nusbaum went out and found that the domain was up for auction, grabbed it and gave it to Forty for nothing. I especially love that the original domain owner had been less than cordial to Forty.

    Another recent serendipitous event occurred when the Startup Bus came by Gangplank on its way to SXSW. The folks from Xero, this year’s Startup Bus sponsor, mentioned that they were laboring with a technical challenge. Someone happened to hear them and turned them on to Authority Labs, who are experts in that same technology. A quick conversation yielded significant benefit to Xero.

    I’ve had a number of these synchronicities myself while working on various projects thanks to Chuck Reynolds, Jade Meskill and others.

    One big one that just occurred stands out though. I guess I expected that people would help each other with technical hurdles or design questions.  I don’t think I anticipated all the different ways that Gangplankers help each other.

    iStock 000002307828XSmall 200x300 Gangplank SynchronicityFirst of all, our company pretty much operates on referral and doesn’t have a dedicated sales force. We are definitely not experts in negotiation.

    We had a new prospect that we pitched who came back requesting that we discount our services. We were ready to go back with a counteroffer (with discount) and figured that we might as well run our email and the scenario by Chris Conrey, the sales guy at Integrum. He had some killer feedback and suggested we handle the situation a different way. We did as he said and within a matter of hours, the prospect closed themselves without a discount.

    Basically, if we hadn’t been at Gangplank, hadn’t furthered our friendship with Conrey to the point that we were comfortable to just blatantly ask for help, and he hadn’t been right around him to make the ask, we might have mishandled the opportunity and lost it or just ended up in a lesser situation.

    So the moral. Be here. Or someplace like here. Engage. Get to know folks. Make friends. Strengthen friendships. Give. Do good. So when you need to,  you can walk the 10 steps and ask someone for a bit of help that might turn out to be quite significant.

    Boldness over Assurance

    As part of a new series, ‘Living the Gangplank Manifesto’, various community participants share their stories about the values through blogs, videos and podcasts. If you’d like to participate, email info@gangplankhq.com.

    To kick off the series, Katie Charland discusses how she lives the value ‘Boldness over Assurance’ through overcoming her shyness to interact and welcome people into Gangplank. Continue reading

    Photographer Interview

    When Gangplank announced our Chandler Photo Throwdown in the spring of 2010, two photographers jumped on board right away. Nearly a year later, Peter Hart and Jeff Rivers have become star volunteers, assisting in building our Gangplank Studios program and taking fabulous pictures of our events. Recently, we hosted a headshot event that allowed Jeff and Peter to hone their portrait skills. We took a moment to ask about their experience and what they learned.

    What got you started with photography?

    Peter: As part of my undergrad, I took classes on photography/videography, so I knew some of the foundational principles. I knew that when I got a serious camera, it wouldn’t be a hobby, but I would put my head down and figure out how to make commercial-grade, creative photos. When I finally bought a DSLR, with its instant feedback, that when my knowledge and experience took off. I didn’t get into photography until it was digital.

    Jeff: About 15 years ago, when I was looking for a hobby. I thought photography would be challenging to learn and rewarding if I got halfway decent at it. My first “real” camera was a fully manual Pentax SLR. It was no-frills – nothing like the DSLRs that we have now – but it forced me to think about what I was doing and learn to take good photographs.

    Describe your ideal headshot subject.

    Peter: As a photographer, it helps when a subject is relaxed and willing to try new poses. At this photo shoot, I had a few who were like this. Personally, all of the attendees at the photo shoot were ideal because they were all interesting people doing interesting things.

    Jeff: Someone who’s fun and willing to try different things. Everyone at the event was great to work with in this regard.

    What equipment did you bring to the shoot and why?

    Peter: I used a Canon Rebel XTi, which is an entry level DSLR. I rented a 85mm f/1.8 telephoto lens to use for the shoot. I used my 50mm f/1.8 for when there were two people in the shot. I own three flashes and I borrowed one from a friend to give me more flexibility. 60” and 48” umbrellas spread the light from the flashes over a wide area. This softens or eliminates the shadows on your subject.

    Jeff: I was a little paranoid that equipment might fail or I’d get set up and change my mind about the equipment I wanted to use, so I brought way too much equipment – nearly everything I own. In the end though, I went with a pretty simple set up. I used a white seamless background and one light – an Alien Bee B1600 shot through a Westcott Apollo 50″ softbox. I triggered the flash using Pocket Wizard flash triggers.

    What is the most difficult part of taking headshots?

    Peter: The subject. We all know the landscape of the human face so well that we can interpret a person’s facial expression instantly. If the subject is nervous, anxious, apathetic, or fake, no amount of equipment, lighting or Photoshop can take it away. The success of my photos is determined by my ability to bring out the true personality of the subject.

    Jeff: For me, it’s trying to make my subjects comfortable and then posing them. I want the people I’m working with to be comfortable and relaxed. When that happens, everything else takes care of itself.

    What methods did you use to make your subjects more comfortable?

    Peter: Before I took a shots, I talked with each person. Nothing about getting headshots is natural or normal. I had done research on each person on my list beforehand, so I already had some questions to ask. With this group, conversations were easy because each person was doing something awesome. Once I felt they were ready, I took a few practice shots to set my exposure and to get them used to the process. I kept them talking throughout the session. I also played some awesome progressive music with a good beat to get at least one of us in the mood. Some (ok, all) of my sessions took longer than we scheduled, so thanks to Jeff for picking up my slack ;)

    Jeff: Before we started shooting, we’d spend a few minutes chatting. I asked them about their job and what they were going to use their portrait for. Once the shoot started, I tried to give everyone clear instructions, even if I was just making it up as I went along. Once the event started, I was comfortable, so I think that may have come through as well. There were only a handful of times that I had to resort to threats and intimidation.

    What did you learn from the event that will help you as a photographer?

    Peter: My personal goal in this shoot was to learn how people relax. One criticism of my earlier work was that my subjects looked nervous. My lighting doesn’t matter if the person is nervous.

    Jeff: I saw the event as a great opportunity for all involved – it was a no-brainer for me. I got some hands-on experience doing something I enjoy – working with people to find a pose or a stance that suited them best. I met a bunch of new people. And I got to provide the participants with a nice portrait. It’s great to see people using the photos from the event in their social media profiles.