The Blake Project
Gabriel Flores 0:00
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I'm here with Robert strand, which he is the youngest of his family. So he let me know that he is the last strand. And if you guys know me, you guys know I love a great dad joke. So, Robert, welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. How are you doing?
Robert Strand 0:26
That is great. How are you? And I didn't I didn't know that you were such a dead joke.
Gabriel Flores 0:31
I'm a dad. I'm all about it right now. I'm all about the dad jokes for some reason. It some reason. It's just like, you know, got two kids and just kind of keeps me a little bit alive, right? So well, if
Robert Strand 0:43
you ever make it if you've ever been to New York, I would love to take you to punter dome, which is a pawn competition. Here in Brooklyn, I compete for it as seen on TV product prize. My stage name, my stage name is Kenny do it?
Gabriel Flores 1:00
No. Oh, yes. We're gonna talk more about this after the show. Because I'm very intrigued. I went to in fact, I went to Syracuse. So I can go out to New York sometime we need to get make it back out there at some point. So Robert, first, Robert, awesome. We're gonna talk a little bit about the World Water Film Festival, where I'll talk about a little bit about the Blake project. But first, let's talk a little bit about Robert, who is Robert string.
Robert Strand 1:27
Who is Robert strand. I am a creative brand strategist. I'm someone that likes to look for, and help people find like the best in themselves, and what's the best impact that they can have on the world with either who they are as a person or where they are professionally or within their business. I am a Foreign Language major from an engineering school and child of gifted academics. And I didn't necessarily inherit the science brain. From the parents, but nonetheless, having enjoyed a wonderful career and very lucky. And, you know, for a long time, I think I started was the kid that kind of got a B without any effort. If I put a little effort, I would get an A in school. And I kind of followed that a little bit into my career where things kind of started to came my way. But then I really found with a sense of like, once I figured out where I wanted to go in this world, I would say that this entrepreneurial spirit kicked in, and whether I'm in an established corporate environment, or an entrepreneurial environment, I always seek to foster an entrepreneurial environment. Either way, in any place that I've been, and it's a joy to be able to do that. So French, German and Arabic. Wow, I spent a year in I spent a year in France, studying French, German and Arabic in French, which was really trippy. And I graduated from college thinking I was gonna save the world. I got a job for the headquarters of the Peace Corps in Washington DC in their placement office, determining where people would spend the next two years of their lives. I moved up to New York City and kind of like in the movie Big when you see Tom Hanks walking into FAO Schwarz, if you remember that movie, if you haven't seen that movie, watch that movie. That's literally kind of what happened to me. I walked into FAO Schwarz to get a job to make ends meet demonstrating toys when I first moved to New York City, and I was fast tracked to their buying office. And suddenly I'm a recent college grad, I'm a toy buyer on the Lego buyer. You know, which was super exciting. And I've enjoyed an evolved career in consumer products working both for small entrepreneurial entities as well as well established corporate trademark brands brands entities spent five years the National Basketball Association, which many of my friends laughed at, because I was not gifted with I hand coordination. So so when I told my some of my friends I got a job for the NBA or like was it a phone interview? Like what what happened? What was interesting about that is the NBA so when Michael Jordan first retired, if you're a basketball fan, there was a big lockout. And the NBA was actually recruiting somebody into their consumer products business who did not come from sports. But some of the new retail that new licensing and would bring kind of an entrepreneurial spirit to the business because nobody wants to do business with the NBA at that at that point in time. And I was part of a team that helped rebuild the NBA consumer products business to exceed Jordan hair revenue numbers in five years. So I'm very lucky, I've gotten to work for some amazing, amazing companies, people mentors. I guess that sort of gives you a little bit of background, which led me to being a partner at the blink project, which is a strategic brain consultancy. As well as serving as founder and executive director of the World Water Film Festival.
Gabriel Flores 5:22
So before I asked about the Blake festival, gotta ask this question. Are you going to be portrayed in the new Michael Jordan movie? Will you be?
Robert Strand 5:32
Oh, I'm so behind the scene. I don't, I don't even think Mike my, my role would have gotten a background actor position in that story. So.
Gabriel Flores 5:42
So let's talk about the blank project for the listeners at home. What is the blank project?
Robert Strand 5:47
So the blank project is a brand consultancy. And what we do is we help startups, national global brands, really discover what their unique value is, and help them sort of discover what can they own in the minds of those who are most important to their future. So we help craft clients create a competitive and valuable future. And we do that through research, brand, research, brand, strategy, brand growth strategies such as licensing, and brand education. So it's a differentiator for us is that we help our clients be better stewards of their brands, by infusing brands education in everything we do. So it's very unconsolidated, like, we really are like true partners, we, we don't want to create a dependency on us. And we don't do any of the, if you will, activation, if you will, like we're not an advertising agency, I don't do visual branding work. But were as part of the strategy. If those elements are part of a strategy. We will work and serve as a steward in the thinking partner to our clients, as they're evaluating what third party resources or internal resources to bring on to bring that execution if you will, to life. So we're more behind the scenes?
Gabriel Flores 7:06
And who is your typical client, a client? Do you guys have a kind of specific niche that you focus on? Or is it pretty broad?
Robert Strand 7:14
It's fairly broad. You know, we're we're fortunate that we have some big name clients that we've worked with we've worked with. Currently, we're working with the opry Entertainment Group, as in Grand Old Opry. So clients like that Southwest Airlines, FootJoy, Coke Cola, established brands, we also do work with some startups. We do strategic consulting, sometimes with personalities, we've been doing some work with Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King. And sometimes we have clients that no one will ever heard or have heard of. But for example, a client Belknap white is the nation's largest flooring distributor. And through acquisition, the three companies were coming together as one. So when you have three cultures coming together, that are now going to be reintroducing themselves in the world, we're brought in to help them figure out with them through storytelling, you know, what do you want to represent to the world, what would be missed if you if you guys dissolved and went away, what would be missed. And so being able to work with clients to craft those stories, is actually a very beautiful thing. Because when you have a, say, a good client, a good client is someone from top to bottom is willing to commit to a vision and the strategy and embrace it. And so when we have clients like that, like on that white, it's just it's a real joy, to be able to do the work that we do. Unfortunately, I see issues, they're talking about that. You know, where you have senior level people who will work on some deal or something. And then they never informed the people that actually had to do the work, what was decided or what the parameters of authority are, or should be. But we actually also wants to the licensing strategy for Entrepreneur Magazine. Speaking about entrepreneurs, nice, nice. So. So there you go.
Gabriel Flores 9:20
There you go. Yeah. And you know, one of the things you mentioned is what would be missed when we're gone. You know, and I think that kind of leads into your kind of like your next project, what is the World Water Film Festival? And what was the inspiration behind creating this nonprofit?
Robert Strand 9:38
So thank you for asking because it's, it's becoming an increasingly more important passion project for me and the more I get into it, the more I realized just how important it really is. By day I've been working in retail brand strategy, brands education, brand monetization. and on and off since about 2000. I've been studying in Meisner acting technique. So I've been a background actor in some films. And I had been studying with an amazing acting instructor who was as much a mentor and friend. And there's just overwhelming or hit me in the fall of 2020, during the pandemic, to reconnect with acting instructor. And I thought it was because I was having a midlife crisis and I was going to change careers, I was going to pursue creative arts. And as it turned out, I started studying with her and unfortunately in January, she was diagnosed with cancer, and then we lost her in July. And so in her farewell message to her students, Gabrielle she had said, you know, she got to do everything she wanted to do in her life. This isn't a complete tragedy, would she have liked more time? Absolutely. But it was a very clear believing yourself. Take some risks. Don't be a people pleaser. Don't be in a hole. But really believe in yourself and put your acting chops to good use. And at that time, I learned that pharmaceutical water pollution was one of the top three threats to New York City's public water. So this is a lesson for anybody to understand. If you have leftover medications, do not flush them down the toilet. Do not do that. water systems were never contemplated to filter out pharmaceutical pollutants through already filtering them out through human waste, if you will. And the problem is is this antidepressants antibiotics, fentanyl is showing up in measurable quantities and people's drinking water and in species of fish that are being caught to be to be eaten. So to me, I heard pharmaceutical water pollution pills and toilets that had comedy written all over it. So I made a comedic short film about the importance of not flushing unused meds down the toilet to kind of honor my late acting instructor. And as we looked for film festival that was about water to submit this film to their environmental film festivals over here or documentary film festival that eco kind of put there wasn't really an heir apparent to a film festival about water, especially one that that it was inclusive of different types of storytelling that had experimental films and then had narrative storytelling, dramas and comedies and animation. So I decided to create one. And the reason World Water Day or water Film Festival is I had discovered and kind of understanding and wrapping my head around water as I was researching my own film. Then every year since 1993, every March 22 There's what's called UN World Water Day. And policymakers, academics, scientists, they'll agree upon a topic and they'll research it for a year and then meet at the end of the year and talk about that which they've learned. Not enough people in our country have heard of World Water Day, and we're becoming attuned to different water crises. Apparently, I learned this week that we have actually broken the water cycle for the first time in humans history, which I believe means there's more water in the atmosphere than there is freshwater in the atmosphere than there is on the earth here but atmospheric rivers. So I reached out to the entity. It's a un water organization that was responsible for last year's World Water Day theme, which was groundwater, making the invisible visible organization called iGraph. The International groundwater resources has some center on adult Netherlands and said, Hey, I made this film, I think I'm gonna make a film festival at water. We'd love to see if we can get filmmakers to be a part of this annual exploration that the scientists policymakers and academics are doing on water because sometimes those worlds can be siloed data lives in the head sometimes and doesn't connect to the heart and it's when you connect things to the heart that you might actually influence and inspire action and change. And I Greg emailed us back the next day, and they said we think this is a phenomenal idea. Services World Water Day, we created the World Water Film Festival. flashforward, a little over, maybe not even two years, we screened 130 films about water, which is insane. We were able to partner with the Columbia University climate school and Water Center to serve as our hosts. And just this past weekend as an official part of New York Water Week leading into this the UN water conference in New York this week. We screened over at Phelps on three floors of this building. And it was quite magical, magical and understand it's still sinking in kind of what's happened this past week. You know to have a renowned scientist who guy by the name of John cherry he is As founder of an organization called nonprofit called the groundwater project, he's won awards and accolades. And I actually heard him speak at a un groundwater summit earlier this year, and in amongst the sea of and it sort of relates to my day job in a sea of people that sort of sounded like they're saying the same thing over and over kind of robotically. I heard this guy, he had a message, and I reached out to him and like, I loved every word you said, when you come introduce a film I film festival, and he did, he came from Canada, and he came down to introduce a film and our film festival. And he, you know, this is a man that's been doing this for decades, and he was like, this is the best day I've spent a long time every hydrology conference, every policymaking summit around water needs to start with one of these films. And that was a huge, that to me means I did a good job.
Gabriel Flores 15:54
Yeah. And I too, cannot stress the importance of this. In fact, you know, if you check out at the shades of EA, you'll actually see a recent post of World Water Day I kind of highlighted it on the social sites as well, unbeknownst that we're going to be talking about this, this is just happened to be very organic that it happened. Now, you know, Robert, one of the things you're doing is you're you're kind of starting something pretty new now, right? This is a brand new film. So nobody's done this before. How do you brand something that's never been branded before?
Robert Strand 16:30
It is a great question. So the first thing I did doing, knowing what I know, is I turned to my business partner, Derrick day of the blank project. And I said, we need to really think through this strategy. We need to really think through and like I need to, I need to actually pay attention to what I tell our clients and guide guide them to think about every day, you know, what would the world miss? If we weren't here? Who would care? Why should they care? What is the enemy, you know, of our Film Festival and the enemy, his is combination of either apathy or just lack of knowledge. People just aren't aware. But apathy is sort of an enemy. So I think the good news is we got the strategy, right to think through what our kind of promise was going to be. And a commitment to building a community of filmmakers, and those in the water sector. So it was really, really critical that we start with, you know, what do we want to what do we want to be reverse engineer that from an emotional perspective back to what our product of service was going to be, which is going to be curation of films? And how do we curate those with a strong emotional connection? Really, two, very imperative thing, and balance it, by the way, balance it with messages of hope, messages of laughter, along with those films that make you so angry. To see what is being done, it is really important, it was really important to us that people laughed at least once cried at least once and got really red face angry at least once throughout the day. And I think that we did the the second thing was from a visual branding perspective, how do we create an identity that represents World Water Film Festival, and in the first iteration that we looked at, it looked really cool. You know, but then when you took that, that logo, and you shrunk it to a business card, half of it was getting lost who wouldn't wouldn't reproduce as you shrunk it. So it's important in your visual identity, to think about the the nature of your identity in multiple formations. So our logo is a waterdrop, with a camera that has the globe icon, and it kind of partially in there to inspire you to realize there's more to discover. So brand strategy, visual branding. And then I think the third step was, you know, since we were new credibility, you know, we're we're new to the water sector, we're people that knew branding. And you know, I knew a little bit about film and created for my acting chops. But it was important to start to forge relationships with the thought leaders in the water sector. And it's kind of funny because when you when you get into a mode, where you're getting close to your events, and you have so many things happening at the same time. It's easy to briefly forget who you've met along the way. And then remember, oh my gosh, wait, I know this person. Wait a minute. And there's a organization of the Dutch government, the Netherlands, that manages a program called blah Water as leverage in water is leverage helps communities the Dutch government helps communities that are either going to be water stressed, or coastal cities that will be presumed to be in big threat circumstance to help them the water as a solution and not just something to be scared of, but to bring it in. So I just started, I really liked the people that worked at this organization. We forged a nice camaraderie, they had a couple of films that they had produced about the different work they had done in East Asia and Cardinia. And then, I remembered that they report to a man by the name of Hank COVID. And hankow. VANK is the lead person behind the UN water conference that happened in New York this week in the Dutch government. And you know, he's the David Bowie of water of Europe. I mean, he's, you know, he's, he's a really big thought leader. And he actually wanted to in came to give opening remarks at our film festival, which was huge. And it was huge. Not for me and for the film festival, while it was, but was huge is that Hey, COVID, in his opening remarks, commented that his biggest fear is knowing how many things in water are, are now broken. And the way to fix it is actually the way back that that all of us that have been involved in New York Water Week that work in the water sector will come Monday morning. conference is over, we're catching up on emails, we kind of forget, you know, we didn't get to or whatnot. And then we realized that our emphasis was on a conference and that water, what are we going to do to keep this going, and he teared up. And he's like, this is why I need efforts like the film festival to show the matters of the heart, so that people can connect with the various water issues, crises and solutions, and to a sense to feel motivated to want to be a part of a movement for a solution. And one of the things that I believe that we have begun by bringing the creative sector together with the water sector, Gabriel, my hope. Right now in marketing, there really isn't a water advocate or water champion, you know, if you want to market green products to people that are eco conscious, is very loose, but there isn't a narrow specific focus to people that are concerned about water. And ironically. So my hope is to in doing this by bringing the film community together with the craves that we're able to build a a new army of water champions. The most ironic thing happened Gabriel is about six weeks ago, I live in an old apartment building in New York City. I would imagine people in the Pacific Northwest, if you live in a building that was built before 1980, you may have led pipes still in your building. And the water in my apartment was suddenly coming out Brown and gross and leaving this weird, scummy residue. And I asked the building owner to please test the waters, especially knowing what I've come to know, can you know people in the water sector. And they were very dismissive. The building owner was like, if you want to get the water tested, you're on your own go for it. But we're not going to test the water. So I did. And guess what I discovered while I was on a vacation, and I'll tell you why that comment is important is that I have an unsafe level of copper and lead in my drinking water. And I found this information out. Gabriel while I was on vacation, and right now the way the laws regulations are I think in our entire country, at least specifically in New York. I don't know about you, the states for the Pacific Northwest, but there are 39 apartments in my building. God forbid I had died the plane crash on the way home. There is no current law code of ethics standards that would have obligated the water testing company that use this EPA 200.8 method. Very accurate. They wouldn't even know how to who do we notify they don't even know how to notify. Is it the Environmental Protection Agency? Is it the Department of viral protection is it the Department of Housing developed you know, nobody knows who's who really kind of the department so had it not made it home from my vacation. None of my other neighbors would know that we have a toxic level of lead and copper in our building. It's very scary. So So I am discovering how complicated that is to figure that out as someone who has just locked to Filmfestival water. Even I'm having trouble figuring out how to resolve my water. I know what the solution is. Now, by the way, and I have a pretty good idea what the problem is. And in speaking with Dr Lall, who is the head of the Columbia University Water Center. highly advise that you get your water tested once a year, wherever you live. And if you think that you are in a setting that could have any threat, you know, New York City has great water. The problem with the new the water is once you get inside an old building that has lead pipes with copper fittings, and old water tanks that make a change and they hammer the pipes to change the pipes dislodges the calcification that's protecting you from lead, yada, yada. You got a tank less reverse osmosis drinking water system and change filters. And if any, if everybody if anybody is hearing this is listening to this, who even thinks remotely my water might be have an issue, have reverse osmosis tankless drinking water system, you want to remineralize the water to make sure that you're getting the nutrients you need out of the water. That's a simple step, you can take it as like a $300 investment off of Amazon didn't get one of these systems put in.
You know, there's a big infrastructure push in our country right now to change all the lead pipes. Well, while we're waiting for that to happen. People are exposed to some pretty scary stuff. And, you know, I'm not an complete expert, but I have been told in my own experience, that's something I could do to protect myself so that I'm not having to buy bottled water, if you will.
Gabriel Flores 26:51
Yeah, I would, I must admit, the first thing we did when we purchased our home was actually changed the pipes to the kitchen. So those are all brand new, and then recently remodeled the bathroom. So we change all those pipes as well, slowly getting out all those old copper pipes. Yeah, but yeah, it's it's very true. You know, you mentioned three things that I think are super important for aspiring entrepreneurs really understand because one, you're really trying to tackle a specific problem. So one, you've you've identified a problem, you've identified a solution, you're trying to tackle it. But from a business perspective, you really broke it down into three areas. One, business strategy, right, start with a business strategy to brand guideline, create a brand guideline and stick to that brand guideline and then three, you have to be able to create the sense of that you know what you're doing, right? That the competence piece, the confidence in the consumer? Why are those three? Why were those three things? Why do you feel like from a business perspective, you've been doing this for some time? You know, what, for new and aspiring entrepreneur? Why are those three things so important?
Robert Strand 27:56
It's a great question. You know, I think often people may discount marketing. Yet, Mark Mark marketing creates the future, it is the human side it is the connective tissue to your offering and helps your customers or employees or shareholders or stakeholders see that the world is better for them with your brand and product or service in it. And, you know, your job as an entrepreneur or business owner is to inspire and move people to understand the React. That happens through marketing. If you don't do that strategy work from the get go. Then you're forced potentially with having to change people's perceptions, let alone trying to get them on to onboarding them onto a perception in their mind in the first place. So it is really important that this strategy that you have for your product or service is as strong as your product or service once once your awareness is is achieved, and people really understand that for which you stand. And that you know that that that is as good as what you're bringing to their lives. You know, you don't have to do any of the course corrections you make are going to be minor. It's gonna be easier to navigate in and out of the noise and traffic and distractions that will come your way when you're launching something new. Yeah,
Gabriel Flores 29:31
yeah. Now is this your first business have you created? You know, I know the waterworks Film Festival is a nonprofit, but have you done other entrepreneurial endeavors outside of this one?
Robert Strand 29:43
I will tell you that. So it's an interesting question because I have worked in a few startup ventures. I have created a new business within an established business. When I left the National Basketball Association, they went to go work for a minority owner of the Phoenix Suns, who was CEO of a holding company that owns 29 different sporting goods and technical apparel brands. And my job was to build a licensing program for scrap from scratch for these brands. And it's interesting, it was an interesting lesson. I mean, I kind of knew this from the NBA. But in the world of at least sporting goods, the sequence of importance of sort of product performance first brand a second, here, I'm talking about the importance of brand. But in sporting goods, specifically, the product performance has to perform the way you're saying it's going to perform or your brand doesn't mean anything, right. So to suddenly bring a brand first business unit, because you're in licensing, you're selling brands, you're not selling the product, to get the stakeholders or product performance to understand the importance of brands and brand strategy and all the nuances. That was a little bit of a lift, we did it better in some places than others. So I've done that. And it was successful in that environment. In a very dicey, inconsistently protected portfolio of intellectual property. So and with some kind of mistakes, if you will, that. I don't know that necessarily. They were like disastrous mistakes, but they sure made the hill a lot harder to climb and navigate. For example, if you are entrepreneurial, and you're doing a startup, and your sisters cousins, dog walker is a graphic artist and is willing to make a graphic for you. That's very nice. But you need to execute a document that assigns ownership of that art to you. If you don't execute a work for hire agreement, and you actually don't own that artwork, and your business takes off, that sister's friend's dog walker could be like, hey, wait a minute, you're making a lot of money off of my art, you owe me money. Now. I own the trademark and they can prevent you from using continuing to use that artwork. That happened in one of the there was an entrepreneurial brand in the portfolio called ex officio, wonderful company of travel apparel. And they developed a great iconography for their products. So you know, for travel, apparel, use insect repellent, safety features, SPF, whatever, the person that had developed those icons for them did it as as a favor when the company was young. And then as I was coming along to want to use those icons and licensing the brand into footwear, and child bags and luggage, I didn't I couldn't get permissions without compensating that artist for having created that artwork, and it just became an extra layer. That would have been nice. You know, the other thing you can do is if you're starting to build something that's really starting to hum. Talk to your attorney about a watch service, a watch services, you know, they'll alert you if someone is trying to register something complimentary in your in your trademark. So I'm not a lawyer. I'm not giving legal advice here. But one of the reasons Coca Cola has licensed its brand into apparel and footwear and toys and trinkets and stuff is that because they want world dominance with their logo, all of everything. It's to prevent others from using that name. In those product classifications, it was a defensive boot mode. So I was part of a team that launched the Motown brand in the form of theme restaurants. So again, established brand back in the day when theme restaurants were a thing. Yeah. So I have worked in established environments, but I have had a lot of entrepreneurial efforts. And joining the Blake project as a partner has been a wonderful thing because it is in being entrepreneurial, and really being a valued service trusted service to our clients. We get to be how do I say this I'm at a point in my career where we get to be a little selective in the types of projects that we take on. We've sort of accepted that our DNA is you know, doing good while doing good business. What we do has to have a greater purpose. And so you know that compass helps us I think really best serve some of the clients and within sort of the established stuff that we do, do, we actually launched a newer product of service recently, which now that I think about it was pretty entrepreneurial, the world of expert witness work. So we saw an opportunity. In the world of litigations. Typically, an accounting firm or valuation firm will be, will be brought in, to assign or defend a value of value damages, you know, you infringed my trademark If the damage is worth this amount of money, and then someone's hired to say, No, it's not worth that. We've been able to come in and serve as a branding and subject matter expert in licensing. So subject matter, subject matter expert in licensing and branding. So when there is a litigation, we help put the numbers that are assigned to a damage into context for a judge and a jury. So you'll have a case where someone will say, you know, I'm a famous brand, they did this bad thing to me. And I actually had a case like this recently, where I kind of had to diplomatically because I styles come in and say, Hi, are you really famous? Because you didn't really say why you're famous? And really, you're, you're actually not famous? And here is why in the world of branding, and I was able to make a pretty articulate case, that for a variety of reasons. In this instance, the the, the plaintiff in this case, claimed they were a famous brand, they didn't consistently use their intellectual property, their brand name was more of an idiomatic expression than it was a trademark. So the litmus test is, will the population be confused? By what you claim has been infringed or not? So that has actually been very rewarding work. I tend to I think my time at the National Basketball Association, I don't know why I weirdly fell in love with contracts. And so, you know, to really having that understanding and then to be of service to clients, because sometimes, you know, sometimes litigation is is legit. And it's really, there's a need for that. And sometimes it's you know, we don't take it, we won't take just any case, we have to really believe in the position of that, of that case. So what's interesting is in the world of those types of things, real estate is a regulated valuation practice, non real estate or intellectual property or artwork or whatever is not a regulated anything. So it's really incumbent upon an attorney to bring in a subject matter expert to help contextualize why some number is his his really legit knowledge.
Gabriel Flores 38:16
Yeah, that makes sense. Like with paintings and things of that nature, sculptures kind of difficult to put a price on it without a with an expertise. Now, one of the things you mentioned is, you know, in the past, you've worked with established folks, right, you mentioned the Motown how but you know, working with established brands, but how do you work with a new brand, right, especially like the waterworks? Filmfestival, right. This is a brand new brand, a brand, you've been doing it for two years? What has been difficult about starting the brand? What has been easy?
Robert Strand 38:46
So what has been difficult? That's a great question. So it's the World Water Film Festival. And think I didn't know how much people don't know about water. You know. And it is interesting how in it's one thing when you hear a story about and you can kind of envision somebody in the world that has to work for walk four hours a day, just to get a jug of water to bring water back to the community, like you can imagine, like, oh, that sounds awful. But we have such a, oh, there's a fix for that mentality, especially in our country. I have one of my clients and a friend of mine who both live in fairly wealthy suburbs, but I would talk about what I was doing with the World Water Film Festival, and just the bizarre strange water issues I'm discovering are some really weird I mean, you hear about some in the news, but like my favorite weird one timeout for a second. In the state of Wisconsin is using so much road salt in the winter, that they're at a precipice of permanently so alienating their freshwater resources and aquifers. Like, can you imagine, like you hear about you hear about desalinization in Israel, you wouldn't imagine desalinization needing to be a thing in the state of Wisconsin. But road salt is in measurable quantities of that communities. Pass was concentrated, you wonder, anyway, these two friends of mine that live in these wealthy suburbs and talking about this had one had an Oh, yeah, there was a there was a pee fast contamination, and we had to put it in a charcoal water filter. And I was like, and that's all you got to say about that? Like, wait, what do you have a peek at? Can we elaborate on this? Like, your only response is? Oh, yes, I felt that filter for that. People think that? Oh, no. The other one was like, Oh, you're there was a paint paint factory five miles down the road from us, and they contaminated our wall. So we had to put in a special reverse osmosis drinking water system. And again, so there needs to be a it is fascinating that there's little governance over kind of water aquifer groundwater, you know, 99% of all the freshwater we need to live as a species is contained in groundwater. It's not in rivers and lakes and reservoirs to the ground. And there's very little governance about what's happening three miles, eight miles, six miles down the road from you, that can be affecting your groundwater supply. Which is why it's really important to test your water once a year. So what's been hard also is that, and why I'm so grateful for to all of the filmmakers that submitted films is, you know, until you see the issue. It can connect with it emotionally somehow, you know, a sense of apathy, or oh, I can buy a filter at Home Depot for that. No, we shouldn't have to buy Home Depot, we should have to make filters for everything. Yeah, we should just have at it should be a basic human right. You know, the UN has these strategic development goals. Number six is about access to clean water for all. So it did surprise me how people don't connect the emotional side of things. That has been that has been hard. What has been easy, I think was the second part of the question or what has been not so hard. What Yeah, not too hard? Well, that's so hard. You know, once, once there is a sense of awareness. There a light bulb goes off, you know, like, oh, wow, no, I can wrap my head around this. It is really adorable. I have friends now. One friend who works in the television media business, that since I've tuned him into some watching some of these films. And he's been to two of our events now. I think every two weeks, he's texting me, did you see this water story in the news? Like, and he's all worked up about it. But that is exactly what we need to have happen in this world. You know, people need to be like fired up about Wait a minute, what is what is what is what is happening with governance and policy hence, you know, I was speaking with Dr. Lyle, again, head of the Columbia University Water Center, about my own water issue, you know, how hard it is to navigate. But there are people that are willing to help you in the water sector has been very welcoming. The lead the thought, like the thought leaders of the Netherlands, you know, which is kind of all about water since their whole country's kind of sea level. They've all been very collaborative, and supportive and fascinating and wonderful to work with. To do a little bit to answer what's been hard. And what do I see is going to be easy. Dr. Law was sharing an experience that he was in on a panel once upon a time and discussion came up about low income housing, and where there have been water issues in low income housing, public housing systems in our country. And this policy maker, policy, one of the things that has been hard to understand is why the science and policy is so siloed right? But what's been wonderful is how quickly the filmic creative people are like, oh, yeah, I've got stories for that. But let's let that let's amplify those crises and solutions. But this this policymaker was so ill and Ill educated, misinformed. Add this weird idea in their head, that low income people living in a low income housing wouldn't be smart enough to know how to change a water filter that we should just plan on giving people that have water contamination issues in low income housing bottled water. And I was looking at Dr. lols face on the Zoom. had, we had the same luck, like I am kidding me. Like if you can change a light bulb, you could change a water filter. Like, why would anybody think this? Why would anybody think that people aren't capable. So it has been really surprising and wonderful to see so many organizations doing such amazing work. At all levels, one of the things that has been surprising to me, there's a website called Josh's water jobs.com to jail, S H S, water jobs calm. And any given day, and this is only a partial listing. from entry level to PhD, there are no less than, like 1100 open water jobs around the world right now. One of the things that seemed that is hard to understand is that there are not enough young people going to work in the water sector in our country. In the United States, we have a fair number of water treatment and water, sewage treatment plants that whose operators are about to retire, and there are nowhere near enough people trained to step in and operate these water fuel systems. So what has been really beautiful is seeing the efforts at these governmental, non governmental organizations with trade associations as a trade association for everything. But in this instance, there's one called the water environment Federation WEF I just got a little chilly even just saying this is such a wonderful, thoughtful, important trade association. absolutely committed to storytelling and attracting young people into the water sector. And so as we look to efforts going forward, one of the things that we want to begin to highlight is careers and water to film. You know, one of the things we're hoping to curate, eventually is if we have a film, and we have a film showing to populate somewhere, it took a you know, we had our film festival, we just had Gabriel we had the Dutch water as leverage people showcase two films, and we had a photo exhibit and we have those photo exhibits on our gallery on our website, World Water, have that done work. And in speaking with them, you know. And one of the reasons it's so exciting to be creating the world war film festival in concert with these other efforts is they see a photograph of a water issue and a solution. You know, let's just imagine a woman standing in a well, beautifully photographed. What I have come to see in a picture of a woman at a well is it took a policymaker to make some decision about that. Well, it took an engineer and a hydraulics to figure out where am I going to dig that? Well, it took a contractor who had to know how to dig that. Well, it took a plumber to hook that well. I mean, there are so many jobs, it took a communications director, it took so many jobs to enable that photograph of that person standing at a well to even exist in the first place. We need people to be focused on water when the water champions. And if you're thinking if you're listening to this, and you're thinking of a career change, or you're thinking gee, I don't know if I put I'm doing feels purpose driven enough. You don't have to be a scientist to go work in the water sector.
I started a film festival. I'm a Foreign Language major from an engineering school. I started the film but I'm not working in the water sector. Anybody can work in the water sector. That's one of the things I love about Josh's water jobs is there are entry level jobs to you know, advanced level jobs. So the fact that there are organizations and institutions and trade associations willing to provide resources, what pride provides training, you've got places like the groundwater project, if you Google that they they'll mail you a free book, you know, there are resources you can download. There are people that want to impart information and knowledge to help you identify as a water champion and maybe move the needle a little bit in your own communities
Gabriel Flores 49:29
nice i love it you know it's there's so many different ways to kind of get involved in you provide I think the listeners so much information and advice not only regarding the branding, but also in regards to like clean water to water use and how to really test your water and make sure you're kind of thinking of those things. Now, for the listeners what about if they're interested in connecting with you? What if they're interested to learn more about Waterworld? What's the social media sites the websites how can they get in contact with you?
Robert Strand 49:57
So it is World Watch Er, F f.org ffs un film festival so we're water FF that work at World Water FF on social media platforms. You can tag us on LinkedIn, we are on Instagram, and Facebook. And if you are interested in the branding side of things we have one of the things that the Blake project does, which I wanted to make mention of because it's it's consistent. I think with the DNA that I shared with you earlier, we've created a free service called the branding strategy insider.com. It is. It's through thought leadership, articles, anything on branding, you can find we have over 60,000 subscribers It was founded in 2006. It is a wonderful resource. You can find us on branding strategy insider.com. If you're interested in branding matters or understanding your how branding is important in your in your own entrepreneurial endeavors. The Blake project.com Has the business side of things. But anybody is welcome to reach out to me My information is on both the Blake project.com and World Water ff.com is how to work excuse me. World Water FF that work under our meet our team.
Gabriel Flores 51:20
Excellent, excellent. And as always, this is a good reminder to plug the shades of entrepreneurship Newsletter because this information will be on the shades of entrepreneurship newsletter The week before the episode airs the week the episode airs and the week after, you can do that by visiting the shades of e.com. You can also follow me on LinkedIn and Facebook and Instagram Tik Tok at the shades of E. Robert, thank you so much for your time, I really do appreciate it. In fact, for those folks who are listening, we were kind of going a little crazy when we first started this because I had a severed cord had to figure out some things. And so Robert, thank you so much for your patience. I really do appreciate it. Behind the scenes, it probably looks like nothing but we were certainly like ducks in the background. Calm on top, crazy on the bottom. So Robert, is there any last things you want to say to the folks that are listening?
Robert Strand 52:11
Just Gabriel, thank you for having me on today. I really do appreciate it. And I would say to anybody thinking about starting something new. I didn't know how I was going to start this film festival. I just started doing it. I just started reaching out to people and people responded and sometimes you're gonna get a no and an answer, but that's okay. That just means you need to go to different direction but you got to keep going and if you do, your vision can be real.
Gabriel Flores 52:44
Robert, the last strand, thank you so much again for this opportunity. I really do appreciate it. And again for those listening please follow me at the shades of V on the social sites and subscribe to the newsletter at the shades of e.com Thank you and have a great night.