Warning: Not Recommended for Beginners

by Kelsie Montgomery

Christmastime in Texas is my favorite time. It’s not because of the weather — we never know what that will be like. This year it was 70°F. I’ve learned not to get my heart set on things feeling like Christmas. In fact, all I really need to feel like it’s Christmas is a Christmas stocking. Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, my favorite part of Christmas has been the part where my brothers and I open our stockings. My parents fill them with small, unexpected gifts that usually include some kind of activity. I know to expect to pull out embarrassing seasonal underwear and Juicy Couture perfume, but past that, it’s all a surprise. This year, my brothers received some laser-cut steel sheets of tiny parts that could be modeled into 3-D figurines. Everything this year was Star Wars related, so all of the models were ships from the series. My husband got the Millennium Falcon and an AT-AT. He spent half the day working on his AT-AT as my brothers built their Imperial Star Destroyers, X-Wings, and R2-D2 droids. I ended up building the Millennium Falcon (the girls got coloring books in our stockings, but this was a good excuse to hang out with the boys and have my brother re-explain all of the Star Wars episodes of the past to me before we saw the new movie later that evening). Using tweezers and toothpicks (sorry about your Tweezermans, mom), we pried pieces from their sheets and shaped them into tiny engines and wheels and wings. If you strayed from the directions, the setbacks were almost always irreversible (I don’t recommend bending perforated steel more than one direction- it will break off in your hand and make you feel weepy) and we had to pull out the superglue for a couple of the pieces. Meals were skipped and neck massages were needed as a result of turtle-like posture and the meticulous focus required for these tiny ships. I knew I was detail-oriented, but this family activity took that characteristic to a whole new level. I ended up getting another model of Ironman with an advanced difficulty warning on the front and 4x more pieces than the Star Wars ships (#NerdAlert). Aside from the awesome quality time with my dad, brothers and husband (its hard to make the men in my family sit still for more than 5 minutes), it was also really satisfying to see something go from sheets of pieces to a tiny, perfectly shaped, steel 3-D model.
Pivot Group - Not Recommended for Beginners

Creating a successful brand is a lot like building a little metal model. It can be difficult to pull out all of the necessary information, sort the pieces of a company or an idea and shape them into a dynamic, multi-dimensional brand or campaign. You’ll want the guidelines, and there’s a particular order of events that leads to certain success. You have an idea of what you want the final product to be, but maybe you don’t understand the importance of the tiny tweaks and details along the way. Let me say, from experience, if you skip the teensy bracket piece that looks like it will be a pain to make and seems obsolete on the bottom of the satellite for the Millennium Falcon, you will have a wobbly, weak looking satellite dish. And I know you’re excited, but you can’t build Ironman’s Arc Reactor until you’ve shaped him a platform to stand on and a chest to put it in. You will spend loads of time taking things apart and rebuilding them and your little neck muscles will be so angry with you. Building a campaign before building a brand is like skipping a step in the instructions — hasty decisions will be made for the sake of pumping out a piece, and you’ll end up with a wobbly satellite dish. Trust the process, cause ain’t nobody got time for that.

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