Archive for the 35 Things Learned in 35 Years Category

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 17

Posted in 35 Things Learned in 35 Years on December 17, 2010 by djscottshirley

17) Don’t “Just Do it,” Do It Well!

While there is virtue to be found in Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan, and Larry the Cable Guy tells us to “Git ‘er done,” that’s not good enough in my business.

In fact, “good enough” is fightin’ words at Party Machine Celebrations! Clients don’t hire us to be merely adequate, our customers count on us to do our job exceedingly well. They have a valid reason to expect more than a minimal approach from the most experienced business in the field. I believe it is their right!

Master Yoda said it best in The Empire Strikes Back:

We work to find creative solutions, embrace new ideas, and to get things done for our clients – to exceed expectations, because “good enough” isn’t.

Do, or do not; There is no “try.”

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 16

Posted in 35 Things Learned in 35 Years on December 16, 2010 by djscottshirley

16) Be Proactive.

In Stephen Covey’s seminal 1989 book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” this is Numero Uno. It is the opposite of being reactive; it’s the art of acting first.

Wikipedia defines Proactivity as “being anticipatory and taking charge of situations.”

But it was hardly a new idea in 1989. Perhaps it’s the number one thing I learned in college, from a Journalism professor who stressed the need to “take the initiative.”

A friend put it differently: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

The easiest problems to solve are the ones that never happen. Being proactive and in control make life easy.

Over the years Party Machine Celebrations has continually streamlined, simplified and improved our methods of planning and preparation, and of following up. The best defense is a “First Strike” offense.

35 Things Learned in 35 Years #15

Posted in 35 Things Learned in 35 Years on December 15, 2010 by djscottshirley

15) You’re never too old to celebrate!

We at Party Machine Celebrations believe life should be celebrated!

Every milestone deserves to be celebrated with song and dance, food and drink, family and friends.

Little kids grow up celebrating every birthday. Themed parties are common, and my own kids had already planned the theme for their next 3 parties.

As we age, some adults lose sight of the importance of celebration. They only celebrate the 30th, 40th, 50th, etc. We have celebrated every milestone, including a few “39 and holding” denial parties.

But you’re never too old to celebrate! While the physical ability to celebrate may decline with age, the number of events – and people – to be celebrated only increases. The older you are, the more reason to celebrate!

This 80-year-old Great-grandmother understands.

You’re never too old to celebrate!

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 14

Posted in 35 Things Learned in 35 Years on December 14, 2010 by djscottshirley

14) Video Preserves Memories!

Every Celebration should be recorded on Video!

I reached this conclusion long before YouTube was conceived. The ability to record and replay the sights and sounds of your life is powerful.

When you are the star of the show, as at your Wedding, Anniversary, or Birthday celebration, you are “LIFO” – Last In, First Out. You see less of the event than any of the guests do.

A video camera will capture those moments. But without a video recording, the Guest of Honor misses an awful lot. The Bride and Groom would have completely missed the moment above without videography.

Meredith Liewehr, publisher of the Perfect Wedding Guide in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, says if she had one thing for a “do-over” at her own wedding, it would have been to hire a professional videographer. Too much is lost without it! There was a moment where she almost tripped on her gown in the aisle, that would be priceless if her children could see it now – but it’s lost forever.

When I got married, professional videographers were scarce; in fact, they were hard to find. We had a friend record our wedding, using a single VHS camcorder borrowed from his office. While I wouldn’t trade that recording for anything – it’s 26 years old, and to me and my lovely wife, it’s gold – it does show a rather unfortunate camera angle, where I recite vows to a beautiful gown, with a potted plant where my wife’s head should be. A pro would have used multiple cameras, and caught that scene from the other side.

A professional video of your wedding from the Party Machine captures a priceless memory. But if you have to cut your budget, at the very least, get a friend to record your vows, as my wife and I did. It will mean a lot to you in later years, and can save a marriage.

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 13

Posted in 35 Things Learned in 35 Years on December 13, 2010 by djscottshirley

13) Never Assume You’ve Seen it All!

As a DJ and MC for all types of celebrations, I have been fortunate to see and do some interesting things.

I rode an elephant. I got to fly in a stunt plane. I have worked on boats, barns, basements, and balconies, warehouses, treehouses, restaurants, bars, churches, yacht clubs, hot tubs, farms, ranches, hotels, motels, and some beautiful homes.

The Party Machine
is an interesting business. Now that’s an understatement! There is always something new ahead. I have learned not to assume I have seen it all!

I have worked with celebrities, musicians, magicians, mimes, jugglers, sports figures, naked people, and politicians (not all at the same time).

I have seen people catch on fire and have a leg removed.

Jim and Laura Schwendig at Bass Hall; photo by Kent "Hoss" Evans

I might say nothing surprises me, but I know better! In this business, you just don’t know what surprises tomorrow may bring.

I love my job!

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 12

Posted in 35 Things Learned in 35 Years on December 12, 2010 by djscottshirley

12) Wires are the Root of all Evil

We’re all familiar with Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.

Where audio-visual equipment is concerned, what usually goes wrong is a simple cable connection: a loose wire. In fact, one of the early attempts at a DJ association in North Texas chose the painfully prophetic name “The Loose Connection.” Like all systems with loose connections, it failed.

Without proper attention, it can seem like the cables are taking over! This storm-in-a-spaghetti-factory is NOT a Party Machine system!

And as systems grow larger and more complicated, it seems like the wires start taking over. It’s as if they mate inside the road cases, and multiply like Tribbles (reference to a furry alien life form from a Star Trek episode that multiplies quickly.)

The Party Machine takes great pains to prevent wires from becoming a problem.

First off we use high-quality cables of the correct type for the required task. Then we use locking connectors that cannot come loose from vibration. We use shielded cables to prevent RF and EMI interference, and we carry lots of spares and a cable tester.

Wherever possible, we eliminate wires altogether!

The Party Machine pioneered the use of wireless microphones while the technology was in its infancy (and so were many of the youngsters calling themselves DJs today!)

Today we utilize wireless technology for speakers as well, enabling better sound quality and coverage at lower sound pressure levels throughout a banquet room.

Look, Mom, no wires! This PM powered speaker (seen in a chapel) has a built-in wireless receiver, and has its own Power Module concealed beneath the tripod skirt. No wires to see or to trip on.

We even have wireless control of our lighting systems. And when the electrical outlets are not where they need to be, we provide our own portable Power Modules, thus eliminating extension cords that are not just unsightly, but pose a safety hazard.

Party Machine systems look better, work better, and are safer and more reliable because “we got it wired!” Or unwired, as the case may be.

35 Things Learned in 35 Years # 11

Posted in 35 Things Learned in 35 Years on December 11, 2010 by djscottshirley

11) You can learn a new trick from almost anyone

For all these many years, I have yet to meet anyone that didn’t have something to teach me.

It took several years when the Party Machine was starting out, to learn to learn, from everyone I encounter.

Good ideas are everywhere!

This especially applies to my professional peers – other DJs. Because this service is complex and has so many variables, it often forces DJs, sound men, and light techs to innovate. Through the years I have learned tricks from both rookies and old salts.

And it’s not just technical tricks, either. I have picked up amazing ideas from caterers, decorators, and photographers. I keep notes from Party Machine events about simple and elegant ways to make a ballroom or party venue look and feel spectacular.

Ever see a good idea that seemed really simple, and wonder, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”

So I pay careful attention, and constantly innovate, improve, streamline and integrate fresh thinking and new ideas.