June 2016

blind tiger cafe 3

I’m going to attend what should be an interesting meetup this Thursday in Tampa: the first Tampa Company Culture Meetup. It’ll happen on Thursday, June 23rd at 7:00 p.m. at the Blind Tiger Café in Ybor City.

culture its what were made of

The simplest definition of “company culture” is the set of values and practices that a company’s employees share. Wikipedia’s page on organizational culture says “culture includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits.”

Some examples of company culture:

  • A small, scrappy company operating out of someone’s living room is likely to have a culture with values like “done is better than perfect” and an “anything that gets the job done” approach to operating.
  • A hospital’s culture will probably feature values like “err on the side of caution” and practices that emphasize following procedure and maintaining as sterile an environment as possible.
  • Zappos.com’s About Zappos Culture page spells out their core values, and one of their practices is giving customers the best experience possible.
  • Even a solo sole proprietorship has a culture — it’s that single person’s vision, values, assumptions, beliefs, and habits.
  • The unintentional but de facto culture at a company that’s in crisis can be one where the primary value is “every man for himself”, with its practices being doing the bare minimum because no one’s really invested in the place anymore and blind adherence to procedure solely to avoid becoming a scapegoat.

blind tiger cafe

Roberto Torres, CEO of Blind Tiger Cafe and Vlack and Denim.

According to its Meetup page, this goal of this group is to “bring together the best minds in Culture from all around the Tampa Bay area. We want to share best practices, hear from some pros, and discuss the always changing landscape of company culture.”

The first meeting will feature Roberto Torres, CEO of Blind Tiger Cafe and Black and Denim. He’ll talk about how understanding company culture helped his business succeed.

Here’s how Tampa Bay Business Journal described Torres shortly after he opened the Bling Tiger in late 2014:

Torres has the success story and drive to be Mr. Ybor. The head ofBlack and Denim Apparel Company now sells his merchandise in his three-in-one retail, cafe and coworking space. The space’s opening is perhaps the first flashy step in inviting young urban professionals to spend the day in Ybor City.

blind tiger cafe 2

Tampa Bay Online has this to say about the space:

Perhaps the best way to understand the new Blind Tiger Cafe space in Ybor City is to envision it as a creative-type entrepreneur’s dream of where to work for the day, or the month.

The Blind Tiger gets its name from another term for “speakeasy”, an establishment that sells alcohol illegally, often under the guise of another business. The Blind Tiger Café does something similar: they’re a clothing boutique under the guise of a café, with a little coworking space thrown in for good measure.

black and denim

If you’d like to know a little more about Torres and the Blind Tiger and get a feel for the sort of company culture they have, this video might shed some light:

I’ll be there Thursday evening, along with Anitra. Hope to see you there!

The details

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…and when the stories coming out of this great state look more like this:

Screencapture of article from The Independent with the headline 'This woman says she breastfeeds her 36-year-old boyfriend and people really don't know what to think'.

I like how the vaccuum cleaner box in the background really pulls the room together.
Click the photo to read the story in The Independent.

(Remember, this is what passes for “normal” here.)

Take the story above — This woman says she breastfeeds her 36-year-old boyfriend and people really don’t know what to think — with a grain of salt. Most of the outlets running the story are questionable ones at best: The New York Post and notorious Fleet Street rags The Sun and The Daily Heil. But after last week, I’d rather see this kind of Florida story.

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If you’ve been on the internet this week, chances are that you’ve seen the fantastic run through American Ninja Warrior’s famously difficult obstacle course by a competitor in an inflatable tyrannosaurus rex suit, getting a lot farther than many others wearing less cumbersome clothing. If you haven’t seen it yet, click on the video above before you read any further.

reko rivera in t-rex suit

You shouldn’t be all too surprised that the person inside the T-rex suit is from Florida. He’s Reko “DKRekon” Rivera, who works as an actor and entertainer at the Universal theme park in Orlando and is also a DJ. He lives in Oldsmar, a city in the Tampa Bay area about a half hour’s drive from my place, named after Ransom E. Olds of Oldsmobile fame.

Here’s what Rivera looks like when he’s running the course and not wearing a dinosaur outfit:

reko rivera as himself

Here’s his 2015 audition video for American Ninja Warrior, where he shows off his many skills and interests, which range from DJing, fire-breathing, dancing, parkour, and stuntwork:

You know what’s even better? His 2016 audition video for American Ninja Warrior, which is as over-the-top as Kung Fury, and features a finale with him in a lightsaber duel against a guy in a t-rex suit and a Chuck Norris lookalike:

Around the same time, he also appeared in this video, Jurassic Parkour, where he’s doing ninja warrior training in a t-rex suit:

Reko placed in the top 15 in the Atlanta Qualifiers round, and will advance to the regional finals. Well done, sir!

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erlich bachman on unicorn

Now that he’s Pied Piper’s chief evangelist, Erlich Bachman is my spirit animal.

In the most recent episode of Silicon Valley (season 3, episode 8, titled Bachman’s Earning’s Over-Ride), there are a couple of scenes that feature the made-up dietary restriction “pesca-pescatarian”, which is someone who eats only fish that eat other fish:

It’s a cute little evangelism trick — doing something that’s offbeat enough that no one else will do it, but palatable enough that once they see you doing it, people will want to follow suit. It works in the episode, and from experience, I can attest that it also works in real life.

The “pesca-pescatarian” bit got me wondering: which fish would be on the pesca-pescatarian menu? Aside from really tiny fish, clams, and oysters, what fish would a pesca-pescatarian not eat?

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trump ad screen shot

There’s at least one good thing to come out of a Trump candidacy: discovering the work of director/VFX artist Mike Diva. Here’s his latest creation, titled Japanese Donald Trump Commercialトランプ2016:

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Yes, the rainbow accordion is real!

by Joey deVilla on June 14, 2016

weltmeister rainbow accordion

Some of you have asked if the accordion with rainbow bellows and sharp/flat keys from my previous post on Orlando was Photoshopped or was actually made. I’m pleased to report that it exists: it’s a Weltmeister Juwel LMM 72. I’d love to have one, and if I had $2000 burning a hole in my pocket, I’d order one from Liberty Bellows in Philadephia, and play George Michael’s Freedom ’90 on it all the time.

Here’s the Juwel in action:

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For Orlando

by Joey deVilla on June 14, 2016

orlando rainbow accordion

I’m sending love, support, and yes, cash to the city next door, where I’ve honeymooned, Disneyed, taken my sweetie for her birthday, geeked out, and done fun stuff in the place that’s all about doing fun stuff.

I’ll close with the best musical tribute to Orlando that I’m aware of: the song Two by Two from the musical The Book of Mormon:

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