My exclusive interview with archiCADmonkey…

I’m excited to share with you some interesting news: I was interviewed by Apollo Spiliotis, also known as archiCADmonkey. He’s just posted the 42 minute audio clip on his blog at www.archicadmonkey.com.

The interview was pretty wide-ranging, including some bits about the history and evolution of ArchiCAD (you know I go WAY back to almost prehistoric times with ArchiCAD), my thoughts on how to achieve more efficient workflows, my previous career as a professional dancer, and the origins and philosophy of MasterTemplate.

Apollo commented about some of the things he’s learned from my video tutorials, and we discussed my teaching style and approach. In the interview I also talk about the upcoming launch of the Best Practices Course, and the wonders of connecting with people digitally from across the globe.

Apollo is a pretty interesting fellow himself. He’s a young designer based in Greece, but who has lived in the U.S. and the U.K. for much of his life. He’s built up a lively website with articles and podcasts about a lot of technology stuff, mainly built around ArchiCAD and Artlantis but with increasing forays into other realms. HIs podcasts on Youtube and Vimeo have accumulated over 160,000 views, and he’s even created his own iPhone app called archiCADmonkey – search for it on the iTunes store!

His interview with me will be available on his website and also through his archiCADmonkey iPhone app.

Please check out the interview, and tell your friends about it. I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

Bumps in the Road

Oh, this brave new world…

I’ve been learning so much about communicating with the new Web 2.0 and 3.0 tools and social media. It is now possible to connect with people from all over the world based on common interests. Entire new business models are emerging, and I am actively studying and trying to take advantage of some of the new possibilities. It’s very exciting and liberating!

However, sometimes there are bumps in the road. Last week I posted a notice on ArchiCAD-Talk about a free ArchiCAD video tutorial I created that showed how to streamline the layer popup palette. I titled it provocatively Simplify Your Life, in an attempt to garner interest, and to make a metaphor. If you use certain ArchiCAD settings to streamline elements in your work environment, your (work) life will get a little simpler to manage, and by extension, you’ll be more efficient and perhaps a bit less stressed as you try to meet deadlines.

One of the respected members of that forum disagreed with my suggestion, and went beyond a simple statement of his preferences. He wrote “what (large) companies have you implemented this in and whose lives have you simplified? I’d like to hear from them…” I felt challenged, called-out, and responded vigorously. I went too far.

Although there were posts from two others who supported my idea, my reaction – to not only defend what I taught in that tutorial, but to list in great detail my background and accomplishments, along with quotes from ArchiCAD users who liked the video – overstepped the bounds in that forum.

There is a wonderful ethos on ArchiCAD Talk – a sense of community, one that values mutual assistance and active discussion of ideas. There are several hundred users who regularly post, and it is a lively place. When I pushed back in the way that I did, there were some that felt like I was only there to promote my commercial offerings (the Best Practice Course, etc.). Suddenly, I wasn’t seen as a member of the community, but as an interloper. Today I posted an apology, for I have truly learned from this experience.

Live and learn!
That’s my motto for today…

15,962 Fans for ArchiCAD on Facebook!

I’ve been on the periphery of the whole social media revolution. Of course, I am a techie, and have created multiple websites and made lots of email broadcasts over the years, but until recently I hadn’t done much with Facebook or Twitter or even real blogging.

Now my wife is another story. Each day she goes onto Facebook and interacts with lots of friends, watches videos, laughs a lot, shares some of her stories and gives encouragement to anything and anyone that brings beauty, truth and light to the world. It’s a major part of her routine. Occasionally I help her out – I’ve set up a few fan pages for her, and posted some events to promote her yoga and dance workshops.

Our son is very conversant with all of this as well. He’s 21, in his third year at university, and of course he was brought up with this stuff. He’s too busy to spend that much time on it, but I’m sure it’s all second nature.

I’ve been an avid student of internet marketing for the past year or two, and have learned so much. I’m adjusting my style to be more personal, to share my thoughts, to appear prominently as an individual in relation to my professional offerings – rather than hiding behind a company, even my own company. It feels incredibly comfortable, as I stop trying to pretend to be big (e.g. “We’d like to announce…”) and instead share myself – my gifts as a teacher, as an author, as an ArchiCAD expert, and as a caring indivdual.

ArchiCAD on Facebook?!

Which brings me to the title of my blog post. As of today there are now 15,962 individuals who “Like” ArchiCAD’s page on Facebook! How incredible! Not only are there lots of ArchiCAD users out there, these are people who proudly say “I like ArchiCAD”. They don’t need to fit in with the crowd who use Brand X, in fact they’re happy and passionate about their software tool of choice.

What else does this say, beyond the fact that ArchiCAD has a substantial user base? It says that professionals are using Facebook, that it’s no longer just for the college kids and the people who aren’t busy working. It’s becoming THE place to network, with 500 million members and growing.

Of course, LinkedIn and Plaxo and other social networks specifically focused on business and professional connections are growing too. There is a thriving ArchiCAD group on LinkedIn – but it’s got 947 members – a substantial gathering, but nowhere near the number of ArchiCAD fans on Facebook.

However, there is one thing that LinkedIn has that Facebook lacks (at this point) – a discussion board. There are many discussions in the ArchiCAD group, and lots of intelligent discourse. This plays a different role in the ArchiCAD community than ArchiCAD-Talk (also a VERY valuable resource), which tends to be more focused on technical questions rather than the more open-ended and personal discussions I see on LinkedIn.

archicadMonkey?

Another big surprise: recently I connected with a person who goes by the Facebook moniker archicadMonkey, a young man by the name of Apollo Spiliotis. He’s Greek by birth, although he was brought up partially in the U.S. and partly in the UK and he retains a bit of an American accent. He’s made a series of video podcasts on ArchiCAD and Artlantis that you can find on his website and on Youtube and Vimeo. He’s also made his own archicadMonkey App for the iPod, iPhone, iPad and now Android, that showcases his podcasts.

What’s so surprising about this? Apollo told me that his videos have logged over 100,000 views on Youtube and 60,000 views on Vimeo. WOW! And it’s not like he’s made 100 videos each with 1,000 views – I counted a total of 17 so far. One of his videos has 37,792 views. So there’s a real audience for this stuff, after all!

So where does this leave me? Now I’m becoming an avid student of social media, as well as internet marketing, video, website design, and of course…ArchiCAD. I’ve started blogging, Tweeting (@EricBobrow), Facebooking (Eric Bobrow) and posting my video tips on Youtube. I invite you to connect with me!

One can never stop learning, or to put it in a positive way – one can always keep learning. And I’m hungry to learn more. Another world to explore!

Reinventing Myself

Eric Bobrow

The newly reinvented Eric Bobrow

For almost 21 years I sold ArchiCAD. When the time came to leave that behind, it was stressful and scary. What could I do that would leverage my strengths while pivoting in a new direction?

Training and consulting clearly was the way to go. I have always loved helping people, and I’m very good at doing this with ArchiCAD. I’m a guru and people appreciate my expertise. The question was – how could I do this in a still foundering economy with so many clients struggling?

Fortunately, I had been spending a lot of time learning about internet marketing, website development, and creative uses of video. The answer seemed obvious, yet somehow daring: develop a comprehensive online video training program that my clients (and others around the world) could afford, while delivering the highest quality instruction in how to make the most out of ArchiCAD.

I weighed my options and decided to put all my eggs in this new basket. I started fleshing out the concept and working out a marketing plan for The Best Practices Course. Here’s where I really had to reinvent myself and my approach.

I studied with internet luminary Jeff Walker and learned his Product Launch Formula, a strategy for building a connection with clients and potential clients. One part of the strategy is to give away some great training materials for free. Give the goodies first, before asking someone to buy. This builds credibility as people can see the quality of my work and gain some tangible benefits from what I teach them. At the same time, it creates a subtle feeling Jeff calls “reciprocity” – the inclination for people to want to give back because they’ve gotten something nice from me.

I learned that it works to be personal and share my story, rather than trying to hide behind a corporate veneer, attempting to be a company selling to other companies. Each one of us is a unique individual, and even when a company buys something there is still a real human person (or more than one) who makes that buying decision.

Although I was familiar with the difference between selling features and benefits, Jeff’s emphasis on connecting with a person’s desires, needs, fears and frustrations was an eye-opener. It means talking less about the product or service, and listening more to what people say, what they complain about, and what they ask for.

When I deeply understand what you want, I can then talk to you about how I can help you get what you want, and you’ll want to listen. If you feel understood, and I’ve developed enough credibility in your eyes, you’re more likely to look at my offer with interest, perhaps even eagerness.

Wow! What a concept! When marketing, be a real person and talk to each and every person – even through email and web pages – as an individual who wants to change something about their life. In this case, to use ArchiCAD better, faster, with less stress, to finish work and get home earlier to enjoy the rest of their life more. Can I help you with that? I believe I can, so that’s what I’m offering you.

My dear old friend David Freeman, one of the most creative people I know, says half-jokingly that he’s going to start a “Reinventors Club”, and that I’m going to the president. I’m certainly in the midst of reinventing a lot of what I do and how I do it. It’s exciting and stressful and exhausting and ultimately very satisfying.

The Best Practices Course is Underway!

After several months of planning and preparation the Best Practices Course has launched! It has been an exciting and exhausting process, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.

The past few months I’ve researched the best way to set up a robust membership website to host the training materials, and ended up with Digital Access Pass combined with OptimizePress, both of which are built on the open-source WordPress platform. These tools allow me to create pages for members with live videos and graphics viewable on computers and mobile devices such as the iPad. Members have the option to download videos for offline viewing or permanent reference.

I’ve purchased and set up a movable video studio with a backdrop and lights, along with a Kodak ZI-8 digital video camera and several pieces of software including Camtasia and Final Cut Pro. I’ll be able to create “live video” as well as screen capture demonstrations and combine them to create both training and marketing materials.

Just before I opened the course for registration I held a contest at 99 Designs to create a new logo. This was an amazing process: dozens of designers from all over the world submitted ideas, and refined them based on my feedback. Some great concepts came out over 4 days, and it was hard to pick the winner myself. So I invited people to view the top 8 designs and vote – and one design clearly was the favorite – so we have a great visual representation of the Best Practices concept to use for the course. I’m so happy about it, and am thankful for everyone who participated as a designer or who voted to help me choose!

Everything seems to take so much time to figure out, and there’s so much more I want to learn and do with all of this technology. Nonetheless, I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish, and the results have been stunning! There are 94 people who signed up for the Best Practices Course in the past two weeks, so along with 14 who attended my Best Practices classes in L.A. we have 108 enrolled in the course. The comments and feedback from everyone has been very encouraging. I think we’re going to have a great experience together as I create this course over the next 6 months!