The Redskins name and my Sammamish Totems

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The Seattle Times newspaper announced today that it would join the ever-growing list of publications that will ban use of the name Redskins in future paper and online articles. The news comes one day after the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled the name Redskins can no longer enjoy trademark protection because “€œbased on the evidence properly before us … these (trademark) registrations must be canceled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered.”.

In the Times article it is pointed out that my high school, Sammamish High School in Bellevue, Washington, is one of many schools and organizations that has a name/mascot derived from Native American culture. Sammamish is “The Totems”. And the article points out that in addition to banning the racial slur Redskins from popular culture, that other sports teams and or schools are being encouraged to ban ALL nicknames derived from Native American culture.  This would include Chiefs, Warriors, Braves, Indians and on and on.

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I’ll admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I honestly never thought of my high school’s nickname as being Native American. Clearly it is. I just never thought about it. Even though the subject of removing the name Redskins and other less offensive Native American nicknames has been in the news for years, I never made the connection. Interestingly (for me) the Time’s article also points out one of the lone remaining school sports names in Washington that carry’s with it some racial over tones toward Native Americans (or any other ethnic group, I guess) is my Dad’s high school alma mater The Bellingham High School Red Raiders. While keeping the nickname the Bellingham School District years ago removed any logo or symbolism associated with Native Americans from its High School, choosing instead on displaying a Hawk in depicting Red Raiders.

So my questions are these: 

1. Should the NFL’s Washington football team change its name from Redskins?

2. Should ALL nicknames with Native American connotations be banned/removed?

3. Am I alone in not giving any thought toward my own school’s nickname…along these lines?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office admits in its report that only 30% of Native Americans surveyed find the term Redskins offensive. And survey’s of the team’s fans throughout the D.C. area strongly approve of owner Daniel Snyder’s stance to “NEVER change the name”.

My position is not unlike my thoughts about my own Totem’s nickname from my high school days. I’m rather indifferent. I see how the term Redskins can be offensive (who can’t?). But I also feel…INTENT has to play a big part in how a word is used. Nobody in their right mind believes Snyder or anyone associated with the Washington Redskins intends to offend anyone. It’s as if simply writing or saying the “n-word” is offensive; which it is…to a lot of people. I respect that. But I’m going to write it here, now. Nigger. Am I a racist? In the context of how I am using it I would openly and strongly call you an idiot for accusing me of being so. And my African-American wife, children, and friends would defend me; I’m sure. Still the word is offensive because of how it has historically been used, and the frequency with which its been used. The same can be said of the word Redskins. Though nobody with any scruples would use the word in any other way but as a reference to the football team. And such has been the case for decades. You can’t say that about the N-word.

Nonetheless, the tide to remove the name Redskins from the NFL football team is certainly unmistakable; and I predict it will be done in the next 2-3 years. Chalk up another one for political correctness. Still, it’s not something I don’t understand or would strongly argue.

However, to the politically correct wimps who would remove all nicknames, like my Totems, from schools and sports teams I would say, GROW UP. As I already pointed out, INTENT, must be taken into consideration when choosing to be offended otherwise you can find offense in way too many things in this world. The nursery level idiom “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, comes to mind. I could point out all the other nicknames of some racial derivation…like a lot of people arguing this point do…but I won’t. Because it’s a waste of time.

If someone offends you and does so intentionally or unthinkingly, do something about it. Say something. But if their Intent is non-offensive keep that in mind. When I was young and going to school studying broadcasting I created an audio character with an English accent named “Bueno Mike”. It was a character I used for product commercials. And it was intended to be funny. Bueno Mike was supposed to be an English explorer in the vein of “Stanley and Livingston”. I decided Bueno Mike needed an assistant and innocently came up with a new character I called “Sambo”. This was in 1985. My then-girlfriend, and future wife, was incensed. I had no ill-intent. I was thinking of the restaurant named Sambo’s, and the young Indian character who spun a tiger around a tree and turned him into butter. But my girlfriend couldn’t believe I would use a name so offensive. I admitted I didn’t know that it was offensive to African-Americans. But after she calmed down and explained it to me I didn’t hesitate to ditch the plan and not use the derogatory name. But I have to admit my girlfriends strong first reaction put me on the defensive and I was a little upset. Only through a calmer approach was my mind changed.

What do you think? I’m really interested in hearing from my fellow Sammamish Alums to my 3 earlier questions.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

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What Business Owners Want

Total Broadcasting's Picture/Quote Service is great at improving interactivity between businesses and their customers.

Total Broadcasting’s Picture/Quote Service is great at improving interactivity between businesses and their customers.

My personal habits, likes and dislikes provide for some interesting contradictions. One that I admit to is the fact that I like quality service and products for myself and for my customers. In the eyes of many my other more overriding quality is that I am quite thrifty. Not cheap. I just don’t like spending money unnecessarily.

As with many I have translated my personality and preferences into what is offered my clients through Total Broadcasting Service, my video and audio production company in Seattle. I could get into great detail, but I won’t. Simply put, business owners want quality and lots of money-spending customers…but they don’t want to pay for it. Business owners want marketing exposure and the results good marketing and branding provides…but they don’t want to do a darn thing to facilitate this marketing. They want you to do it for them.  And far too many don’t want to pay you for the work you provide.

Hmmm….so as an owner of a business-to-business company with a goal of pleasing our customers and helping those business owners achieve their business and personal goals how do we overcome this clear contradiction in business owners wants?

Here is our personal example. Total Broadcasting Service was a pioneer in the video-marketing for the web services that are growing exponentially now. When we added video to our menu of services nearly 5 years ago our primary goal was to provide the service inexpensively, thus complying with this authors personal beliefs and desire to be thrifty. We worked hard to get early customers in a field for which we had nearly no experience. Upon reflexion I can say our videos weren’t very good. But they were cheap. Our practice was to get a customer, take their money, produce their video and provide it to them and then thank them, hoping they would use their videos well and call us again in the future with orders for more work.

You can probably guess what happened. The business owners took the videos and (presumably) stored them in their computers never to be seen again…by anyone…most notably their customers or potential customers. The business owners didn’t have the acumen or the time to acquire it to post their own marketing videos anywhere on the internet including their Social Media (“What’s that? Oh you mean Facebook and Tweeter or whatever its called?”) or their websites. As a result few of them called us back for more work and some looked at their time and money invested in the creation of the video as a waste.

Graphic Facebook Insights shows tremendous improvement in customer interactivity while employing added services, and a decrease when not.

Graphic Facebook Insights shows tremendous improvement in customer interactivity while employing added services, and a decrease when not.

So, we had some work to do. We chose to improve our services. Going forward, anyone we sold a video was going to have us post that video onto their own YouTube Channel, and if they didn’t have one we would create one for them; and we would post that YouTube video onto their Facebook business page, and if they didn’t have one we would create one for them.

Simultaneously while assuring that the videos we produced for our customers would at least have a chance of being seen or found we worked diligently at improving the quality of our videos. We learned better editing and production techniques and programs. We learned better methods and got better equipment for when we shot video.

The results were wonderful. As expected our customers benefited from the changes we implemented and didn’t mind the slight increases in pricing these changes required. And they showed their pleasure by routinely renewing their orders with us and keeping us growing as a company.

Skip forward a couple of years to 2014. The internet, marketing, search engines and social media are all constantly changing. What worked yesterday may no longer be a best practice. So it was with our video, social media, and internet marketing service. We added services since it became apparent our customers needed those added services to best market themselves and grow their business. With the added services our prices increased.

The good news is we made more money with a few customers who added these extra services and we were quickly able to graphically show results for our customers. The added services and expenses were proving to be worth it. The bad news…not enough business owners wanted or could afford to pay for the added services we felt would be necessary in today’s world of internet advertising. So we lost out on too many customers we otherwise might have been able to sign-up had we been offering them the earlier diminished services at lower prices.

The lesson learned; a lesson that is an age-old lesson in business, don’t give the customers what you think they need. Give the customers what they want. But we don’t have to be so cold about it. There is good news on the other side of this seemingly dark lesson. Once you give the customer what they want, you earn their trust. Upon earning their trust…you can add to the services you provide and grow your business with the customers you already have. After all, it’s an age-old business adage that 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. In following this method everybody wins. And isn’t that what you were shooting for to begin with?

Make providing your customer what they want your top priority, work your butt off to make it serve them as best possible. Upon earning their trust and serving their wants…approach them again…give them what they need…and subsequently serve them better.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

Call for Video Production Services: 425-687-0100

Call for Video Production Services: 425-687-0100