3 Ways Pinball Is Like Business

Pinball and BusinessI may or may not own a pinball machine…well ok, I do. I played this particular machine a lot in the year 1988 at the local pizza shop in Franklin Indiana. A favorite past time of mine was to spend lots of quarters on this machine and try to get the high score or in other words, have my name immortalized in the thrones of electronic data. I went to great lengths (and quarters) on getting the high score, only to leave college and move on. What ever happened to that machine? To my score?

Today I was blowing off some steam, trying to get the jackpot back up to over 4M before I attempt another run at the board…and then it hit me. Pinball is a lot like business….three examples.

You have to know the field/rules. 
So often I have people want to play me on my machine. They think they can win. While I am not the greatest (I do hold 3 of the 4 top scores, damn you SKO), I understand how to score. Just like so many entrepreneurs today, they get into the game and think it’s easy. Watch some Shark Tank, or a little of the TV show The Profit, help a friend “run” their business…easy! Wrong. If you don’t know exactly what to expect when you get into the game, either game, you will get crushed by your competition that has experience on their side.

You have to practice. 
I didn’t get the high score on my first try. I didn’t call my shots on the machine until I knew I could make them, or at least look like I knew what I was doing. I often just play to hit the Comet 6 times in a row on a double score clock. In business it is much the same, you have to read. You have to network. You have to try harder and work more if you want to be the best…it doesn’t come “natural”.

There is a score…keep it. This doesn’t necessarily mean profit, but that’s nice. As a matter of fact, profit let’s you do a lot in business. Help others, expand, employ more people, do greater work etc. Can you imagine playing pinball without keeping score? What would be the point? Understand what score is important in your business, and keep it. Not only that, but month after month, year after year, understanding more, practicing often, I believe you will beat your old score and become a Pinball Wizard.

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Remembering The Past, Planning The Future

NYE16Sometimes in life it pays to look backward, like when you’re pulling out of your driveway. In business it’s fun to look back to gain perspective on how far you have come along. Without said perspective, you can easily lose sight of the now, so without further adieu, I give you some past:

Hitler finds out his Facebook page has been removed. A little video we did to get our customer’s Facebook page back…with it’s 50k fans.

Fat Atom Day in the Life.  Who can forget this little gem. Showcasing our new digs in downtown Carmel.

Get Social Carmel. Here me talk about websites that work.

Now on to the future. 2015 was a good year for Fat Atom, our best ever in revenue. We project 2016 to be even better, with a stunning client line up and a great sales funnel, we feel unstoppable in reaching our goal of 2M in revenue. Also, our work keeps getting better and better, check these out:

Our Fall 2015 Demo Reel. Lots of great work for great companies, like Indiana Limestone, Greenwalt CPA and Gripp, Inc. to name a few.

Our revamped website. Making an effort to go more “inbound” we are revamping our website, especially our blog and portfolio sections.

We celebrated our tenth year in business on September 15th, TEN YEARS! I once read that 96% of businesses fail within the first ten years, guess that means we are in the 4% club. Perseverance has always been one of my best traits.

Lastly, we couldn’t do any of this without people. People are the lifeblood of our service based business and we have the best team in the history of the company. Check out our ugly mugs here. Thanks for coming along on our journey with us.


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NEVER Stop Dreaming

Exhale Sailing Charters Our boat….the story

It started with a desire to “be the captain of my life.” For freedom. To live by my rules, not other men’s.

I remember our first step…a boat show in Chicago. It was in the winter and I’m not sure Vicki Muffley went with me cause  she just wanted to get away for a weekend or because she was curious about boats. One show bled into another, then  another and so on. Annapolis Maryland three years, Miami one year. Over 5 years…dreaming.

Then about a year ago, I wanted to give up. Doubt crept into our dream. Why do I deserve this? How can we do this? Is it    really viable? Maybe we should give up. I stopped reading my sailing magazines from cover to cover. I stopped thinking  about living off the ocean….stopped fantasizing about OUR boat.

Why? Why did I stop? Discouragement. Not from others, but from my own inner voice. Telling me, “be like everyone else”,  or “you don’t deserve that” and even “you’re not smart enough to own a sailboat.”

But then a glimmer came back and we went to the boat show in Annapolis. I can hear Vicki saying, “Annapolis Again?” Yes,  one more. It was crappy weather and boats were expensive. Even the boats I didn’t love were expensive. How can we do  this anytime soon in our lives? So many obstacles.

Let’s get some food, get warm and grab a drink…so we went to Middletons. Wait for a table or sit at the bar? Let’s take the bar. A series of events unfolded that put Vicki and I next to Jeff and Shelly, a couple from Virginia Beach. We sat and talked for hours about boats, life, kids etc.

They told us of the fun they have in their Gemini and how great a catamaran is. They also told us “buy used!”. Was it chance that happened to put us together or destiny? Luck or fate?

The next day, we met them again to talk more, to get inspired and to add some kerosene to the dream that was just a flicker. Another 3 hours and more talking..more inspiration…the spark is back…and its a flame…wanting to be fulfilled. We can do this!

Shopping is fun for most people, but boat shopping is not only NOT fun, it’s strenuous. I guess I take things to serious sometimes, shocker right. Jeff was a big help, sending me lots of boats for sale up and down the east coast. Many calls, many discussions. Rovin Tar, out of New Bern North Carolina. A ten year old boat with only 120 hours on its engine. Hardly used, she just needed some TLC. She has air, water heater, 3 cabins and one bathroom. Plenty of storage and a 27 hp Westerbeke diesel. Sails were in great shape, she was just dirty, she needed love….our love.

Weeks of negotiations, a trip to test her out (with good friends mind you), a marine survey, more negotiations, financing…so many hurdles…but the dream was within reach. It was alive!!

The checks were sent, the dream secured. But it wasn’t “real”. Planning the trip to bring Exhale to Norfolk was not a small task. Jeff volunteered to help me and I Shanghai’d Peyton to come along. Vicki kept asking “was I excited”…I wasn’t. More stressed and nervous. Stressed to balance work and a “vacation” and nervous to sail OUR boat on a 4 day trip to its new port.

But now, today, while walking up to the marina from dinner, I saw our boat sitting in the water and I was overcome with joy. The dream was accomplished. Over 5 years of talking, reading, traveling, planning…accomplished.

For the next 2-3 days, I’m going to enjoy this feeling, revel in it…bask in the adventures and live in the moments. I’m excited. I’m happy, no thrilled, about not only the next couple days, but the next couple of years.

When I get home, Vicki and I will plan a new dream. One that people will probably laugh at and tell us we’re crazy to attempt. But that’s ok, it’s a dream and it will be ours…and we WILL make it come true together!

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One Picture Changed It All

Be Original We are starting a new business, nothing new to us. We spend our days helping companies brand new companies, new products, new services blah blah blah. So when it came to our company, I thought I had it The name was one I saw somewhere, a faint memory now pushed into existence for another business…it was good, not great. It would have worked. It would not have had a story….a soul.

So there I was, eating Chipotle at the fashion mall. Alone, I popped up my phone and hit Facebook, killing time while I digested my garden dinner. Then I saw it. A picture of Kid Rock in a pair of overalls. And that was my “ah ha” moment. The company I was about to launch had the wrong name…what the hell was I  thinking? Could I actually call my partners and tell them I was about to change something we had been working on for a week? Something I lobbied hard for? Yep, because when you are wrong, admit it. Pivot and move forward. The calls went well and everyone agreed, it was a hit. Someday when the company is big and the team is famous, we can look back and say thank you to Kid Rock for wearing those crazy pants.

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