Friday, September 30, 2011

Making Caricatures of Schoolkids at a Primary School Fun Day

Thanks very much to Gus Silber for taking the time and effort to make an animated gif of me making a caricature.That's me on the left, wielding my stylus. With my subject having a great time looking back and seeing what the rest of the class is laughing about.

Gus's son Max organised for me to be there. Kids paid a token fee to have their caricatures done. Luckily, the school has a smart board installed in this particular classroom, so we were able to project my stuff as it was happening.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Women's Leadership Journal -- Roy's "Shower Creativity-Capture" Featured

A while back, I tweeted about one of the ways I make sure my creative ideas don't end up bubbling down the drain.

The technique involves sticking white, self-adhesive, shelf-wrap onto the shower wall, and suction-cupping a pencil to the apparatus.

When inspiration strikes under the water stream, I simply pop the pencil into action, and write the idea on the wall.

Pencil works brilliantly on plastic, and it's excellent in both wet and dry conditions. What's more, shelf-wrap allows you to erase old stuff easily using a normal rubber eraser.

The tweet tickled the imagination of Debby Edelstein (@DebbyEdelstein), editor of THE WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP JOURNAL.

She asked me to take a photo of my shower setup, and asked if she could feature my idea in her journal.

I couldn't resist the idea of my shower appearing naked in a women's journal. So of course, I said yes.

Find the July 2011 edition online at

Monday, August 01, 2011

A much appreciated apology received from Ryan Barwell, BMW Sandton Auto. Process back on track.

It's 2.44pm. I just got off the phone. Ryan Barwell phoned me to apologise for his behaviour at BMW Sandton Auto this morning. He sounded a LOT friendlier. Matched my first impression of him when I saw him in his office.

Basically, it's as simple as his having had a sleepless weekend due to a newborn baby. And to his being genuinely curious as to why Jennifer would bring the car back time and again if it wasn't getting fixed.

I took his question as a disingenuous attempt to evade responsibility, and it escalated.

I understand these things.

It was really big of Ryan to call and apologise. And he also asked me to tell him why I wanted to see him this morning in the first place. So he's looking into the history of the vehicle. He's checking into why his service rep didn't call Jennifer when he promised he would. He's looking into why and how the water problem which has recurred over and over again hasn't yet been solved. And he's offered us parts at cost and some goodwill discount on the job.

Thanks very much to Johan Conradie and Guy Kilfoil at BMW Head Office for dealing with this matter. And thanks to Ryan Barwell for his apology, and for making it right. Thanks also to everyone on Twitter and Google+ and Facebook for your support and astonishment at how this situation came about.

We're all human. And sometimes we have shit days.

Best thing about my phone conversation with Ryan is that he called me 'sir' a few times, and I called him 'bru' a few times, and we both laughed a bit. It feels WAY better being friendly.

Does Ryan Barwell, Dealer Principal, BMW Sandton Auto, ride a bike with the number plate THUG GP?

Thanks to a commenter on my previous post about the terrible 'service' I received from Ryan Barwell, the Dealer Principal at BMW Sandton Auto.

The comment referred to a picture on Ryan Barwell's Facebook profile.

The profile picture is of a motorcycle with the vanity plate, 'THUG GP'.

Unfortunately, there are no other details visible on the profile, so I have no idea if this belongs to the same person. Anyone know?

Johan Conradie, Manager of Customer Care, BMW South Africa, gets hold of me

This morning, after the rude, unprofessional, and unacceptable encounter with Ryan Barwell, Dealer Principal of BMW Sandton Auto, I called their Customer Care line twice.

The first time was from Ryan's office. But Johan wasn't in the office at that point.

The second call was just after 8am while I was sitting in my car in the parking lot at the dealership. I spoke to someone at Johan's office -- Princess -- who told me that Johan was on a conference call, and that she would pass the message on.

In the interim, I blogged about Ryan's awful 'service', and tweeted about it.

There seems to be a serious amount of buzz around this particular topic, with loads of retweets, and vigorous response from people.

One of the people who responded included @GuyKilfoil in the tweet. He's the Director of Communications for BMW South Africa. And he got back to me super-fast. He'd already followed my Twitter account (@RoyBlumenthal) before I was even aware that he was in the loop.

He tweeted me from a conference, saying that someone would get back to me pronto. That was at about 11:10am. Sure enough, Johan Conradie phoned at around 11:25am.

What's curious about the call is that I assumed he was responding to the message I'd left with Princess. And I asked him if that was the case. He said, 'No, I didn't get the message. Guy Kilfoil asked me to call you.'

Which means that my message didn't rise above the surface. It took social media to get a response. The good old fashioned 'leave a message' didn't crack it.

Is Ryan Barwell, Dealer Principal at BMW Sandton Auto, the WORST people-person EVER? Or is this just a REALLY bad Monday?

[UPDATE3: Ryan Barwell calls to apologise. Apology accepted. Process back on track.]

[UPDATE2: Does Ryan Barwell ride 'THUG GP'?]

[UPDATE1: Got a response from Johan Conradie, Manager of Customer Care, BMW South Africa. Here's my post on what transpired: Short answer, no resolution yet.]

[EDIT: This conversation happened just before 8am this morning: 2011/08/01.] I arrive at BMW Sandton Auto to speak to the Dealer Principal about Jennifer's car. It's in for a re-repair of a re-repair. They've 'fixed' her water leak twice already. And still it leaks. Only, this time, they've given her a quote for R22 000. And they're arguing that what's wrong with it now WASN'T part of the original problem.

I'm here to discuss the problem with the person in charge. My intention is to find out what portion of the repair quote is legitimately attributable to Jennifer, and what portion is a result of their actions.

So I go to the reception desk, and they direct me to Ryan Barwell's office. Good looking youngish guy in a suit. Pleasant smile. Short hair. Very well built.

'Hi Ryan,' I say, and we shake hands. 'I'm Roy Blumenthal. I need to have a conversation with you about my girlfriend's car.'

'How can I help you, Sir?' he asks. He's standing behind his desk.

'Ryan... We're both very unhappy with the situation right now. She's more unhappy than me, which is why I'm here to chat to you.' He nods for me to go on. I say, 'We've brought the car in several times now for the same problem--'

Ryan folds his arms, cuts me off. Says, 'Can I just interrupt you? I just want to know, if you're so unhappy with the service, why are you here?'

I say, 'You're BMW. And her car's a Beemer.'

'Ya,' he says, 'But why are you HERE, Sir? Why did you bring it back here, Sir, if you're so unhappy?'

I'm flummoxed. And I see where this is going. I say, 'Ryan, I think we need to back up a bit. I'm not liking how this conversation's going.'

He says, 'Well, I'm just wondering, if you're so concerned, why did you keep bringing it back to us?'

I say, 'I can see what you're doing, Ryan. You're making out that we're idiots for bringing the car to you. So we're somehow to blame. Dude... We aren't kippies. Do you see the word "Kippie" written here on my head, bru?'

He says, 'I'm not your "bru", Sir.' He's savouring the word "sir", using it as a swearword.

'What, you don't like the word "bru"?'

'I'm not your "bru",' he says. 'We don't have that kind of relationship, SIR.'

'My name's Roy. Don't call me "sir".'

'I'll call you whatever I like, SIR.'

'Bru... This is going nowhere. Please tell me who I need to speak to at BMW South Africa to resolve this.'

'Your girlfriend can speak to the call centre. SHE's the "customer",' he says, turning away from me, as if the conversation's over.

'Write down the person's name, please,' I say.

'What must I write it on, SIR?'

'Maybe a piece of paper, bru. How about your business card?'

He picks up his card, throws it on the table in front of me. 'Write it yourself,' he says, and starts rattling off a number.

'You can write it, please,' I say.

He picks up a pen. Considers what to write. Then writes down Johan Conradie's name, and a Pretoria phone number.

I say, 'Please phone Johan Conradie.'

He says, 'You're welcome to phone him yourself.' No "sir".

'You can use your phone,' I say.

He says, 'You're welcome to use your own cellphone.'

I pull it out and dial.

Get through to a switchboard.

I ask the lady on the phone what position Johan Conradie holds. She says, 'He's the Manager of Customer Care.'
He's not in the office yet, so I'll speak to him later.

I walk out of Ryan Barwell's office.

Sent from my iPad.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Boxing Clever -- a WinWin Group conference for Unilever

Thanks to the genius of David and Steve at the WinWin Group, Unilever had what must rank as one of the most exciting and DIFFERENT conferences ever!

My role on the production was to provide visual facilitation for Gary McGaghey.

This pic was taken by one of the crew members. He was stationed up near the ceiling to capture video and stills of the event.

What you're seeing is roughly half of the room. The entire space is a massive square, just on 22 x 22 x 22 x 22 metres. It's about 2.5 to 3 stories tall. The screens are all joined, with uninterrupted pictures on all four surfaces. It's built from scratch in one of the Durban International Conference Centre spaces.

Dean Foure of Integrity, the company that provides the projection system, tells me that it took the rigging crew almost four full days AND nights to get the structure set up. And it's HUNDREDS of tons of wood and scaffolding.

Dean says it takes almost twelve hours to get all eight projectors EXACTLY balanced, colour-matched, aligned. And those eight projectors cost R10 million. (Each one is about the size of half a Fiat Uno.)

I've worked on big screens before. But never anything on this scale. And, as it happens, this is the first time anything this big has ever been seen in South Africa.

Gary's talk had a boxing theme. So that's me in the foreground in boxing garb. And all of my pictures were boxing-related.

I pre-drew almost everything, with two layers... a before layer, and a final-state layer. I then used my eraser tool to 'live-erase' the before layer stuff out of the way to reveal what lies beneath.

At the same time, I was moving the canvas into a new position every few seconds to stay in sync with Gary's talk.

Audience loved it. Client loved it. WinWin loved it. I loved it. That's a lot of love.