May 2015

Put A Smile In Your Voice

2015-05-19T18:46:14-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , |

The image below is a relic from my first out-of-college job with the Disney Company. A page from a “While You Were Out” message pad. (I re-discovered this as a bookmark in my copy of George Orwell’s 1984).


Smile In Your Voice


I was a marketeer at the Disney Vacation Club (Disney’s non-timeshare timeshare) when it first launched in ’92. We call it DVC, for short.

I answered inbound phone calls about the new Vacation Club and provided guided tours of the first property at the Walt Disney World Resort DVC Preview Center.

“Put a smile in your voice” was a simply technique they taught us to ensure we sounded friendly to Guests – especially when on the phone.

While it may seem cheesy at first, it really works.

Next time you’re talking with a client (or your father-in-law) try it.

March 2015

Love What You Do

2015-03-18T22:39:47-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

I received an email from a friend who works at Starbucks. In the auto-signature of her e-mail was this “Love What You Do” graphic.

Love What You Do

It is just one element hiring teams use to communicate enthusiasm for working at Starbucks. Potential candidates see this ‘badge’ in the emails from Starbucks as well as in other materials… Candidates begin to experience the passion partners (employees) have for the company and their work partly through this e-mail bumper sticker.

Starbucks is one of those companies that has a thick culture. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but “cult” is the root of the word culture.

Working as a partner at Starbucks is a lot like working as a cast member Disney (the theme parks and resorts)… Working in the cult, you either you “get it” or you don’t.

Both Starbucks and Disney, before you ever start your actual job, spend hours immersing you in the company culture and history. At Disney, these classes are called Traditions.

In fact, Disney makes sure you “get” what it means to provide excellent Guest service before they even assign you a job. They can teach anyone to operate a theme park attraction or work the front desk at a hotel… But what they can’t teach is that gut understanding of how to work with customers… and loving what you do.

December 2013

Looking for a Present for a Five Year Old?

2013-12-16T11:55:00-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , |

This article is a shameless plug for the picture book series KeeKee’s Big Adventures.

Hot off the printing press – just this month – KeeKee’s Big Adventures in Rome, Italy the children’s picture book featuring KeeKee, who travels the world in her hot air balloon.

KeeKee explores the sights, sounds, and tastes of the beautiful and historic cities she visits. KeeKee’s Big Adventures in Paris, France was released earlier this year.

Shannon Jones, my partner at Idea Sandbox, wrote these books. They are illustrated by an amazingly talented artist, Casey Uhelski. How amazing is Casey? An example… in the Rome book, Casey re-drew the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Here’s a peek.

[fancy_images width=”580″]
[image title=”Sistine Chapel Ceiling” caption=”Sistine Chapel Ceiling (click for larger view)”][/image]

The books use words from the country visited so a pronunciation guide and glossary in the back of the book help adults and kids learn the words. And, each book closes with charmingly illustrated map of the city.

Kids seem to love the books, and adults enjoy reading them. Great anytime of the year – they do make a nice holiday gift.

[fancy_images width=”580″][image title=”Enjoying Crepes in Paris” caption=”Enjoying Crepes in Paris (click for larger view)”][/image][/fancy_images]

Free Ornament & Shipping

As a special offer only Idea Sandbox readers…

Order two or more books and Shannon’s providing a free KeeKee holiday ornament and free shipping! Use coupon code SANDBOX when you check out.

The ornament can be colored, painted, or left natural!

Order either book on the KeeKee website.
[button link=”” size=”medium” bgColor=”#ff6600″ textColor=”#000000″ align=”center” target=”blank”]Order Rome and/or Paris on KeeKee’s Site[/button]

You can order the Paris book on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble. (But you can’t take advantage of the free ornament offer there, sorry).

[button link=”” size=”medium” bgColor=”#ff6600″ textColor=”#000000″ align=”center” target=”blank”]Order Paris on Amazon[/button] [button link=”″ size=”medium” bgColor=”#ff6600″ textColor=”#000000″ align=”center” target=”blank”]Order Paris from Barnes & Noble[/button]

[fancy_images width=”580″][image title=”Closing Scene from Rome” caption=”Closing Scene from Rome (click for larger view)”][/image][/fancy_images]

Happy Holidays, and thanks for letting me interrupt our normal articles!

September 2010

World’s Greatest Brainstorming Destination

2018-05-14T23:03:33-04:00 Categories: Destination, SandBlog|Tags: |

How would you like to be a part of creating the best meeting space in the world for brainstorming?

The place built from the ground up for the sole purpose of helping people create remarkable ideas. The Disneyland for the mind. The place that “turns brains into idea machines.”

The time is now. The place is here.

From this point forward, I’m committing myself to keeping the promise I made when I launched this site

From me… I promise to provide regular updates on the project. I’ll share where I am in the process. I’ll share the key decisions I’ve made. I promise to invite each and every one of you to the grand opening AND will offer each and every one of you something special if you bring your teams to the Idea Sandbox to find the solutions to your challenges.

From you… I want your honesty. Your thoughts. Your feedback. Your input. If you were to spec a dream space to bring your team – what would it be like? What have the barriers been at your organization to turning a flip-chart page of ideas into reality? How can you help make this the right place for the left brain?

Welcome aboard! For those of you standing, please hold onto the handrails throughout our journey.

Check out this “deck” below as an orientation of what Idea Sandbox is about. I prepared this in August 2009 as a way to brief the folks who are designing the Idea Sandbox spaces.

(Direct link to SlideShare Presentation)
More, more, more to come!

October 2009

Need A Web Designer?
Check Out Max Design.

2009-10-06T13:38:14-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , , , |

Are you looking for a web designer? There are a million of them out there… How do you choose?

While Max Design didn’t design my site,* I can vouch for their passion for design. Russ Weakley of Max Design helped me – at no charge – figure out a bit of coding for my site.

Max Design

Idea Sandbox features a Mid-Century Modern design style… A nod to the look of the 1950s. (Plan59 has great examples of this style).

When formatting lists of numbers in the 50s, they’d often wrap the numbers with parenthesis…

  • (1)A list,
  • (2)would look,
  • (3)like this.

But, this formatting isn’t possible in an easy way with existing html / css rules AND in a format that would be consistent on both Mac and PC web browsers.

  1. You can
  2. only do it
  3. like this.

(Am I getting too techie on you?)

After searching the interweb far and wide, I had no solutions… However, I did find pages called Listmatic created by Max Design. It seemed no one knew CSS and lists better than these folks. (In fact, Russ literally wrote the book on CSS: Teach Yourself CSS in 10 Minutes. Check it out).

I found his email, sent a note, and Russ quickly and graciously replied back with finished code! He didn’t ask for payment… In fact, refused payment… (He didn’t even want me to do this).

In the end, this isn’t about code, or websites… It’s about passion. Someone so passionate about their craft and service, they’re willing to share a wee bit of knowledge to help someone out.

For me, this was a big deal. I spent over an hour trying to find a clean solution. It took expert Russ a few minutes to figure it out.

So if you need some design work, it is worth stopping by their site and seeing if they’d be a good fit for your project.

*Idea Sandbox was designed by Studio Kudos.
Sorry feed-only readers, I don’t know any format that will cleanly format in feeds.

September 2009

For The Love Of Fluff

2009-09-28T20:49:35-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |

H. Allen Durkee and Fred L. Mower purchased the recipe for Marshmallow Fluff for $500* in 1917… and I’m glad they did. Durkee-Mower Inc has making Fluff in Lynn, Massachusetts ever since.

What? You don’t know what Fluff is? It is spreadable, marshmallow creme that – when made into a sandwich with peanut butter – is called a Fluffernutter.


[Fig. 1] Fluffernutter Sandwich

If you grew up in the New England area of the United States, you probably hear the commercials. (Check out the old jingles). Look at that 1950s drawing of a Fluffernutter.

Fluff is more than just melty marshmallows, it has its own delicious flavor. And I’m sorry… To those of you who say, “Oh yeah, it is like JetPuffed marshmallow creme.” I disagree no other brand can compare.

You have heard of people putting marshmallows in their hot chocolate? You haven’t HAD hot chocolate until you’ve had it with Fluff in it.

Little did I know… this weekend was the annual “What The Fluff” festival in Boston. It is so beloved, the Massachusetts legislature is considering making the Fluffernutter the official state sandwich.

Here are links to: the Official Fluff site, their Yummy Book of recipes. If the Fluff Finder doesn’t show a place near you, you can have Fluff and Fluff goods shipped in the 48 states.

Why did I post this? Simply for the love of Fluff.

*$500 from 1917 is around $9,000 today!

June 2009

Hand-Drawn “Fold-In” Puzzle, Circa 1979

2011-04-14T01:40:26-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

As a kid I was always fascinated by the Mad Magazine “Fold-In” puzzles that would appear on the inside back cover.

A fold-in featured a full drawing with a caption that – when folded properly – revealed a hidden picture and message. Sometimes they’d simply reveal a joke, and other times a political message. These were popularized in Mad and were drawn by Al Jaffee for 44 years – from 1964 until 2008.

The fun was trying to figure out the hidden message before you folded it…

In March, 2008 the New York Times posted interactive digital versions in a piece called, Fold-Ins, Past and Present.


The headline asks “What’s the dirtiest play in modern football?”


At the bottom you can see – when folded – the answer is:

My Version

Here was my version – as a 9 year old – in 1979. I drew this when living in Rhode Island and sent it to my uncle in “the big city” New York City. My uncle was a radio DJ and his partner a clothing designer… two cool professions… especially to a little kid! This was my way of entertaining them with my talent!

[click image for larger view]

Above you see Carl’s Pinball And Pool Bomb. “Carl’s Bomb” was no doubt a smoke-filled place with… pinball machines and bumper pool. Lit with a flashing strobe and air circulated by a ceiling fan.


When it is folded together properly, it reveals an image of a CB Radio and the caption “CB” at the top.

I know this has nothing to do with marketing, or making your company remarkable… But I thought you’d enjoy seeing my handiwork… and evidently… passion for CB Radios. (My CB handle was “Red Rooster.”)

Source: Mad Fold-In © DC Comics

April 2009

Bunny Meat And Rabbit Cheese

2009-09-10T16:25:19-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , |

I know the Easter Bunny has hopped along his bunny trail for this year… but I haven’t had the chance to post this image…

Our grocery store in Amsterdam, Albert Heijn, does a great job offering seasonal and holiday-related foods. Special foods for “feast days” or Feestdagen (in Dutch).

They’ll have special ready-prepared meals, limited-time baked goods, desserts, and.. in this instance… lunch fixins.

You’re looking at bunny shaped cheese and bologna slices.

If Stop-N-Shop had these back when mom was making school lunches for my brother and I, I’m sure she would have bought these for us.

Not sure you can read it, but the label on the cheese reads:

“Paashaas kaasplakken”

Or, “Easter Bunny Cheese Slices.”

  • Paas = Easter
    (Now you know where the the U.S. company PAAS – makers of Easter egg decorating kits – got their name 125 years ago. The founder of PAAS, William Townley, heard the word “Passen” – which means Easter – from the Pennsylvania Dutch).
  • haas = hare, or bunny (So, paashaas = Easter Bunny)
  • kaas = cheese
  • plakken = slices (looks like the word plank)

Goed! You’re on your way to learning Dutch.

Chris Gash, Talented Illustrator Of Idea Sandbox Site – Part 2 of 2

2009-10-06T13:28:35-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , |

This is Part 2 of a 2-Part article about illustrator, Chris Gash. ( Part 1 posted yesterday. Chris is one of the talented people who helped me re-design the Idea Sandbox website.

Chris was kind enough to answer some questions about his style, approach, and work. I hope you enjoy the discussion…

What lead you to pursue this retro style illustration?

It was never a consideration, it was just what I did. I don’t recall the first time I thought ‘I want to do that’, but I guess it’s from reading comics, the illustrations in the ads, my parents dragging me to garage sales as a kid and always being surrounded by old things and consequently, old illustration.

30s, 40s, 50s illustration, whether you like it stylistically or not, is traditional, good figurative drawing. And I think that’s part of why it’s still hanging around in illustration, and partly I think because there’s a familiarity to it that people respond to on some level, either sincerely or ironically, like macaroni and cheese.

How do you create your work? It looks as if you use the old school pencil, brush and ink? (And I love it). Do you do draw and ink on paper, scan and color on computer?

Pencil sketches, ink the drawing, scan it and color it in Photoshop. I used to watercolor everything, but as deadlines got tighter I had to adapt in order to take more assignments. It was a flat style of color so the difference is negligible in print, especially newsprint. At first it was a practical decision, but I actually like the possibilities Photoshop opened up. I still paint in my sketchbook, but that’s about it.

How much bigger is your original artwork than what typically gets printed? Same? Much bigger?

When I used to paint the illustrations I did them anywhere from 150 to 200% larger. I also inked exclusively with a brush at that point and that required a larger size original. Now I do them at most 125% and use a combination of pens and brushes.

What artists inspire or have inspired you?

It’s been different at different times.  When I was a student it was the countless nameless illustrators of old advertisements.

TinTin and the European ‘clear line’ illustrators were big for me for a long time too,

Tintin Artwork

Joost Swarte,

Swarte Artwork

Serge Clerc,

Clerc Artwork

Ted Benoit.

Benoit Artwork

Daniel Torres is another big one,

Torres Artwork

and whoa, Dan DeCarlo, I love that guy,

DeCarlo Artwork
DeCarlo was also the illustrator of the Archie Comics series

and Reginald Mount, I wish I could find more of his work.

Mount Artwork

I was Steven Guarnaccia’s assistant for years and his work had a big impact on me as well, he’s a great illustrator and designer.

Guarnaccia Artwork

As a student I loved all the guys who worked in a retro style,
Mike Klein and

Klein Artwork

Mark Matcho especially, they are both so good.

Matcho Artwork

And Christoph Niemann, good grief, they should put his brain in the Smithsonian, for my money, that’s as good as ideas get.

Niemann Artwork

If I tried to list all the comics guys and contemporary illustrators I love or am jealous of, we’d be here all day.

What am I missing that you think people should know?

I tend to avoid long-term projects. I love editorial illustration because of the pace, nail a good idea, draw it, move on. I think I need it to move along like that.

I am perpetually working on 2 kids books that I swore to finish this year, a cartoon strip that is NC-17, and a series of animations of various footrests called Ottoman Empire.  When you’re alone all the time, strange things seem like really good ideas…

Thank you Chris for your time, and for your art!

The images selected were pieces I found on the internet while researching the artists, they don’t necessarily reflect the pieces that Chris specifically likes. All artwork is © by the respective artists.

Chris Gash, Talented Illustrator Of Idea Sandbox Site – Part 1 of 2

2009-10-06T13:28:59-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , |

This is Part 1 of a 2-Part article about illustrator, Chris Gash ( He is one of the talented people who helped me re-design the Idea Sandbox websites. Chris created the cool images that appear in the “starbursts” in the headers of key pages.

SandBlog Icon

If you enjoy learning about “the work behind the work” – what it takes to produce something – you’ll enjoy this story.

The Story:

In January of this year, I re-launched the Idea Sandbox website and blog with a new design. I kept the 1950-ish, “mid-century modern” style, but wanted something cleaner.

Part of this design included art work and visual elements. While there is 1950s style clipart out there, it all sorta looks the same.

50s Kitchen

I’m running a business with a core value of creating things that are remarkable, I knew I couldn’t use “sorta looks the same” artwork.

Long story short, I decided to hire an illustrator.

The Process:

I surfed the interweb looking for artists styles I liked. I cruised stock photo galleries and came across – among several illustrators – Chris Gash.

Chris has a retro drawing style that is a perfect match for Idea Sandbox. He has prepared illustrations for The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Newsweek, The Washington Post, The New York Times: Science Times, and more…

He is especially good at turing a complex idea into a simple graphic. (A picture worth a thousand words).

Here are a few samples…

Noise Pollution

Noise pollution causes urban birds to sing at night.

Tasting Machine

New tasting machine can detect subtleties in the flavor of coffee
such as nutty, woody, flowery and acidy

Chris and I exchanged emails and conversed… Once we knew we “got” each other, we started to work…

I provided Chris with the list of main sections of my site… He took it from here.

  • Problem Solving Tools
  • Grow Your Business
  • About Us
  • Contact
  • Blog
  • What We Do

Here are a few of the sketches Chris sent on the first round. I’ve also provided a link to view the entire gallery of first drafts.  

What We Do
What We Do
This one was a no-brainer for me.
I love the use of the bucket and sand.

Grow Your Business
Grow Your Business
What a great image, a profit line busting out of the idea lightbulb.

About Us
About Us
I absolutely think this idea is brilliant,
reading the side of the lightbulb package as an ‘about us’ icon.

While Chris offered a slew of great options, we realized having “sandbox” related icons would align closer with my overall brand. Furthermore, while he created some pretty cool approaches to using the idea lightbulb icon… the idea lightbulb thing had been done before.

Here are the draft versions we selected. You’ll recognize them from browsing the website.

Idea Sandbox Icon Suite

And here are the final versions!

Idea Sandbox Icon Suite

Finally, here are some icons from the “sandbox” collection we have not used yet. I’ll bet these make their way onto the site eventually.

Gallery of Unused Sandbox Icons

Tomorrow I’ll post Part 2 of this article – an interview with Chris Gash: The Man Behind The Icons!

Images © Chris Gash and Idea Sandbox.