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Why I decided to blow up my business after 25 years

The wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the new stay at home normal of social distancing has brought more intimacy, understanding, humility and humanity to our communications and our world. Our team at Cubist Media Group has been lucky to have our health, the benefits of a PPP loan, and some faithful clients to keep us employed.

Déjà vu from 1992: How many parents can relate to this now?

Back in December 2019, I launched Project Nuclear with our team – a genuine opportunity to blow-up our business, get back to our nucleus (helping people tell stories) and create a sustainable model for the future.

My thinking at the time: It’s been 25 years since Cubist was founded, perhaps it’s time to shake things up a little.

However, in the months that followed business as usual had remained just that, business as usual.

Little did I know that 2020 would rock our world on a previously unimaginable scale.

Looking over the cliff edge

Just a week after completing one of our most successful live events ever, for nearly 1000 face-to-face attendees in Dallas for GSK Vaccines, the Coronavirus began escalating.

In fact, we barely made it home before the Pandemic was declared and as the world went into lock down our calendar was wiped out. 

I felt disappointed for our business and our clients, as I genuinely believe there’s no substitute for face-to-face interactions. So much of our experience is shaped by our senses, the memory of time spent in familiar or unfamiliar places.

This thought also reminded me of our beautiful office in Old City, which has always been the heart of Cubist.

To us this was never just an office, it was our first ‘real office’ and I’ve loved it since 1998

From my desk, with its big windows facing out on to Market Street, I’ve watched my young team grow up to have their first homes, find a soul mate and start families. And now, almost unbelievably, last year we bid farewell to our first retirees.

As lockdown set in, the building that I loved lay deserted for the first time in nearly twenty years. And with no new business on the table, I wondered, is this the natural conclusion to one of the biggest things in my life?

When everything stopped, real change began

As the first weeks unfolded, patchy WiFi, less than perfect webcams, and cameos from the canine community became the norm as we logged on each day to discuss our recovery plan.

At first, these virtual meetings were nothing more than a round robin with each of us giving updates of how we were and sharing any ideas we had.

A view from the gallery: My team

But in these imperfect conditions somehow we flourished. A feeling of team spirit I haven’t seen for years returned and our virtual calls began to feel more inclusive, productive, and frankly, more fun than any of us have known in a long while.

Three months later as we emerge from lock downs, the cobbler’s kids finally have a new website and Project Nuclear has launched, our answer for immediate needs. We call it Cubist Live from Home – a broadcast control center for streaming television to deliver the stories our clients need to tell.

We call it Cubist Live from Home – a broadcast control center for streaming television to deliver the stories our clients need to tell.

We began work on the new project by creating a broadcast control center for streaming television from home using much of the same tech as news and entertainment programs – with remote hosts, journalists and guest contributors and pre-recorded video roll ins.

Now and then: It’s no secret, I’ve always loved a good control panel

The perfect first test

Rocco and Erin say ‘I do’

In true Cubist style, we set the stakes ridiculously high – promising to stream our leader Joe’s daughter’s wedding, live from their backyard to all her friends and family who couldn’t be there.

Thankfully it went off without a hitch (pun intended) just in time for us to pitch it to our biggest client.

Delivery at last

Fast forward another couple of months, and after several painful tests and many late nights, we finally got it right. And this week, we have delivered two virtual events to large audiences in a single day and ready to do more.

Using much of the same tech that has kept news and entertainment programs on the air where remote hosts, journalists and guest contributors connect with audiences from their homes, our crew connects and operates from their homes as well. New technology like Cloud-based WiFi intercoms, NDI and SRT video protocols, along with Microsoft Teams, Skype and iPhone presenter kits – like the NFL draft used – allow us to break the barriers of ‘stay at home and social distancing’ to tell stories and engage audiences. It’s a return to our roots in news and journalism.

And guess what? That feels pretty good.

To deliver something of value, straight from our home to yours in a polished and professional way has been a reminder to me that the heart of our business is and always has been the people, regardless of whatever location they, or we, are in.

Back in 2002 Joe, Dianne and I made headlines by blending quality video into live events

Today we’re still pushing the boundaries to give audiences the best experience at home

So, whether you’re someone with a story to tell, a communicator in need of support or one of the stellar techs out of work right now, my invitation to you is the same: Get in touch and jump onboard.

You never know where change will take you, but the thing about having no office is, the door is always wide open!

A heartfelt thank you to my faithful team, my extended “A” team, friends and long term colleagues that continue to bring your creative talents, technical expertise and service mindset to our work.