All posts by Jefe

If you want to go far, go together

By | Adventure, Creative, play, productivity, relationship | No Comments

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” ~ African Proverb

When my wife Kelly and I first bought our shiny yellow tandem bicycle, I was so excited to take it out for a test drive. I expected the tandem to be just like, well… riding a bike. If perhaps just slightly more awkward? When I jumped on the back seat, I immediately realized that I was in for a surprise. You see, on a tandem bicycle, the back seat handlebars are fixed in place. They exist only to help you keep balance, and contribute nothing whatsoever to the steering of the bike. I then quickly realized that tandem connects both sets of pedals with a single chain, forcing the riders to cycle in sync. As we made our way out into the neighborhood street, one thing became clear; my job here was to pedal and to lend unquestioning support to Kelly in the captain’s seat.

Personally, as someone who likes to take charge, I found it very difficult to surrender control of the bike to my wife. When I tried to lean over to look ahead, I threw us off-balance and we would begin to wobble. When I shouted out steering suggestions, they were misinterpreted (putting it kindly) and always ended up doing more harm than good. I slowly began to relearn the lesson that we first discovered through our practice of acroyoga: it requires trust in order to be graceful.

Ultimately, I had to let go. I had to learn to be playful despite my lack of control or direction in the ride. Once I was able to fully let go of my need to be the in front, the experience became so much more fun. While Kelly steered us to good places, I put in the extra pedal power to give us momentum. We were having a great time, we were in sync, and we were cruising.

Given our current political climate, I think many male leaders could learn a thing or two by taking a few laps around the block in the back seat of a tandem bike. In so many arenas, males dominate the leadership positions. Women make up just 16.6% of corporate board officers at Fortune 500 companies, and own a staggering 1% of all titled land in the world.*

When learning how to row or ride or work together, it takes good communication and equanimity to stay in balance. Arguments arise easily when you’re in the thick of it and, in my experience, this friction often stems from the man’s need for control, and from his belief he can do better.

Through the years, I’ve learned that if you win an argument with your partner, nobody wins. However, when you treat your relationship like a team, everything changes. You realize that you are on a long journey together, and that a win for her means a win for us. Whenever I catch myself growing argumentative, I try to take a deep breath and remember that teamwork makes the dream work!

As a creative couple, Kelly and I have been working for years on how to thrive as married business partners. This year, things are getting even more interesting. As we enter into a new year under our new brand of CIRCUS PICNIC, we do so for the first time with a team working around us. We have recently hired on a staff of four editors and producers to take our work to the next level. With this creative cast of characters, we’ll be able to hoist up even bigger circus tents and climb up even steeper hills.

Circuspicnic

You can go farther when you’ve got a team! The CP Team!

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Sure, we didn’t need to build a team. As the proverb suggests, we could just as easily go the road alone and pedal quicker with less complexity. In fact, for years, Kelly and I did just that, working in tandem to produce amazing videos and events while collecting unforgettable experiences. However, we realized that our mission of bringing positive movement media to the masses is far too big for our four legs to support alone. When you have a team moving forward together with a common vision, there is so much more strength and momentum.

I see us pedaling collectively towards some incredible projects this year, and we hope you’ll follow along to see what we create together!

P.S. Does anyone know where we can find a 6 seater bike?

* statistics referenced from the phenomenal book Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life.

How to Make Epic Promo Films

By | Creative, film, productivity | No Comments

Want to create a powerful promotional video?  You probably already know that the right video can help you go places, but where do you start?  If you’re a video producer, or looking to make a high-end promo film for your brand, let me introduce you to my magical process. 

Disclaimer: I’ve been making promotional pieces for years, so realize the recipe is improved by attaining my “10,000 hours” in the creative kitchen.  Results may vary. 

The following steps show you how I worked with Lewis Howes on his book trailer for “The School of Greatness” which debuted #3 on The New York Times Best Seller’s List.  Watch it here, then read the process below.  

There are so many things that go into making a high quality promotional film like this one.  Some of our secrets included getting an awesome soundtrack scored by Lewis’s brother Christian Howes & producer Hamilton Hardin, and sourcing some of the footage I was shooting with major celebrities this Summer.  But the following steps are what I’ve boiled down as what made the most impact…

STEP 1:

CAST A VISION

I’m cheating here, because that’s the advice Lewis Howes gives in the first chapter of his book “The School of Greatness”.  But it’s the most important foundation for any endeavor.  I talked with Lewis at length about the “feeling” he hoped to evoke with the book trailer.  Early on, we developed a shared vision of the tone, shots, and underlying message the film would communicate.  Not only did we cast a vision for the film, we also visualized the positive impact it would have on his audience.  We started this process many months before his book release, because pre-planning is one of the most crucial ingredients to a successful launch.  When it comes down to it, all great video is comparable to alchemy.  The combination of scenes, music, and choice of words combines to create something bigger and more moving than you could have imagined.  And it all starts with solid storyboards that become your blueprint.  Our intention was to make something epic and aspirational, so striking visuals were #1.  But we also didn’t want it to seem like any other inspirational mashup, so a consistent look and cohesive movement throughout the piece were prioritized.  I also focused on shooting in the most epic locations possible which required some solid scouting.  Although we often didn’t have an official film permit, our crew is small and agile so we were able to fly under the radar.  The result: Remote beaches, Hollywood views, and trails off the beaten path.  

Lewis Howes athlete on beach on book trailer shoot with Jefe Greenheart

Lewis Howes being filmed by Jefe Greenheart on Zuma Beach for “The School of Greatness” book trailer.

 

STEP 2:

SPIRIT OF COLLABORATION

Remember to play to your strengths.  We identified two major advantages in approaching the project:

1) As a result of interviewing so many greats on his podcast, Lewis is friends with some of the most inspiring athletes/entrepreneurs on the planet.

2) I would already be going on a Summer tour across North America shooting branded content for Wanderlust, so I could schedule shoots with all these amazing characters along the way.

This helped dramatically reduce production costs, and made everything possible.  Although it made our travel schedule absolutely exhausting, it was all worth it for the experiences along the way. 

If you want to start a movement, there’s power in inclusivity.  Since the message of the book is bigger than Lewis, and shares the inspirational stories of others, we wanted to incorporate as many luminaries and modern-day legends as we could that represent the ethos of the book.  Those featured in the final project volunteered their time because they believe in what Lewis stands for and want to see him succeed.  When you have the backing of an army of awesome people, you have unlimited momentum.  By including and truly celebrating others, you create a spirit of collaboration and a sense of “we’re all in this together” that makes everyone feel like they’re invited to the party.  Since they shared the project with their audience, it amplified his message to a much greater audience.  So no matter how big your following is, when you include and feature other awesome personalities, it complements your promotional content.

STEP 3:

RELEASE CONTENT ON SLOW DRIP

As part of the campaign strategy, I thought it would be ideal to put the extra content that didn’t make the final cut to good use.  We made 10 instagram teaser videos (pitched 8, always over-deliver!), each told a short cinematic story of an athlete in training.  This was the perfect way to show off more beautiful footage we filmed with each person.  It also resulted in building more buzz in anticipation of the book release with all the social interactions generated.  We essentially provided fresh content every few days to keep fans excited about the book launch.  Meanwhile, Lewis was making appearances and doing several interviews each day.  With the added feature of a book trailer on his website, it acted as a way for readers to wet their appetite and feel connected with it.  Having a simple video book trailer is becoming the standard for successful book launches.  Having a cinematic trailer takes you to the next level. 

STEP 4:

PLUG IN THE MARKETING MACHINE

The rest is history.  Want to know what years of building a core audience amounts to?  Although Lewis is a first time author, he’s been building a huge following because he’s constantly giving.  Free training, inspirational podcasts, and more have helped make a name for himself in the online marketing world.  Beyond that, he’s fostered a network of entrepreneurs that support one another.  He’s also become clear on who he serves, which has resulted in an audience that knows him as well as he knows them.  He’s a guy that truly lives in the present.  If we had an idea about filming with someone, he’d immediately dial their number and get them on the phone.  I suppose it helps to have superstars on speed dial.  No matter how good your video is, you’ll need to have a marketing plan and release partners if you really want to make a splash.  Some of my most successful videos have been for brands that understand the value of leveraging their community.  

STEP 5:

LEAVE THEM WANTING MORE

The internet has become short attention span theatre.  Nobody’s proud of it.  It’s an easy target to criticize, and as a media producer it can be frustrating to try to share something of substance with the reality that most will click away or scroll down if your video lasts longer than a couple minutes.  That’s why we focused on a TRT (total running time) of 60 seconds.  As a result, you get more viewers re-watching the video to catch all the cool moments again.  Have you ever watched a movie trailer that completely gave away the whole story?  That’s just annoying.  What are the chances you’ll end up going to see that movie?  Feels like you already saw it, right?  That’s why any good promotional video should leave us asking more questions and inspiring our curiosity more than anything else.  It’s like an impressionistic painting.  You get the big picture, but it inspires you to walk closer to see more detail.  The beauty in the brush strokes.  There’s so much more meaning waiting to be explored. 

To learn more about the book and get your copy today (which I highly recommend), go here: The School of Greatness.

What kind of promo video do you want to produce?  Want to know more shortcuts and secret ingredients to streamline the process?  Sign up below and I’ll share more free tips from my Producer’s Blueprint for making great videos.

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Moments of Magic

By | Instagram | No Comments

Ode to this goofy guy and our wacky family.
My father-in-law Laren Schiller is constantly a great example of creativity and resourcefulness.
He can throw together a Halloween costume and a way to entertain the kids in no time. He dug up all these grubs (fated to be rhinoceros beetles) from the compost pile, and put them in a box labeled “Special Treats, take only one”. Both parents and kids were excited for what they may find inside, and everyone was universally disgusted…and delighted. His Bubba Redneck outfit with gnarly teeth was spot on.
This guy is a great example of the kind of Dad I endeavor to be one day. Always thinking of fun ways to entertain others.
We’re sad Halloween is officially over. It’s always a great excuse to get in costume and express ourselves. But that won’t stop us from continuing to find ways to dress up and bring a splash of color into everyday life.
Who do you look to as a mentor? I believe finding these figures is more important than ever these days… #Halloween #halloweencostume #happyhalloween #redneck #creativity #family #ghtv #alien #prank #greenheart #greenhearttv #dad

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Moments of Magic

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Remember that race I was telling you about!? I surprised myself and actually placed 3rd in my age division!!! Not so shabby for wearing big clunky basketball shoes and having danced my butt off at a Halloween party the night before.
The coolest thing about this journey has been working toward our fitness goals together as a couple. Kelly is making great strides, and we get to feed off each other’s energy and get inspired!
Kelly was a little nervous about rolling out of bed super early for a race, as she’s not too keen on competition. But it couldn’t have felt any better than what we experienced at the “Run for the Water” by the Gazelle Foundation. Each run participant funds one Burundi citizen the chance for clean water for life. What a worthwhile cause! Once you get out and do something meaningful, all the butterflies in your stomach subside. It’s the spirit of service & cooperation.
I think I’m getting hooked on the concept of charity runs, and have some ideas up my sleeve to make them more fun… As Gilbert Tuhabonye the race founder said, “RUN WITH JOY.” #gazelle foundation @run4thewater #fitness #running #burundi #ididitforsomeoneinburundi #atx #funrun #greenheart #ghtv #greenhearttv #lensoflove #5k #marathon #triathlete #training

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Moments of Magic

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Every once in a while we have to let out our shadow selves. Darkness reveals light.

Stilt walking for the grand opening of San Antonio Fashion Week #fwsa15
One of those nights where everyone was so gracious to have us perform and play with them.
How on earth did we figure out how to get well paid to do things we truly love!? That’s the path to pursue as an artist. For us : Dressing up, dancing like crazy, and sharing circus arts. At least on this particular night. The dazzling @yeskelly and @katieheyy by my side. Kelly made all the costumes, what a crafty lady!

So much fun!!! Was the perfect way to cap off a day filled with beautiful things.
Honestly, nearly had my first ever fall after I did a big kick and my peg’s rubber tip flew 30 feet away. Some partygoers happily helped me get it back on, so we could keep dancing together. I love people from San Antonio. They are so genuine and loving. So glad I grew up there.

Thanks @tonyrharris for throwing such a sensational event, we will never forget it!

#fwsa #stilts #stiltwalkers #happyhalloween #diadelosmuertos #tobincenter #greenhearttv #greenheart #ghtv #lensoflove #creativity #adventure #inspiration #art #artist #circus #costumes #halloweencostume #tall #sanantonio #sa

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Moments of Magic

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A lost art? So apparently we are pretty good at the jack-o-lantern thing! What other dying traditions are you keeping alive this Halloween!? Don’t ever say you’re not creative. Be patient and purposeful and pick up your sword. Art is a battle for those brave enough to fight through their own fears.
Hot cider and pumpkin mutilation with my homies!
@dempelvc @adamwest023 @yeskelly Hannah & Dave!

#halloween #jackolantern #october #creativity #art #craft #greenheart #greenhearttv #ghtv

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Moments of Magic

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You are never too old to play dress up.
And it doesn’t need to be Halloween to bring a splash of color to the season.
#tbt @yeskelly and I at Burning Man looking out from the maze.
We’ve been wanting to create similar painted cut outs for every holiday to rotate out in our front yard. A fun reason to meet your neighbors, ya know?
Don’t forget to make a funny face the next time you see yourself in the mirror. I remember this being something my mom couldn’t help but do as I was growing up. That’s where I got it from.
But the potty humor is definitely from my father.
#funnyface #burningman #artist #painting #laugh #inspiration #love #lensoflove #greenheart #ghtv #smile #halloween #cutouts

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Moments of Magic

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Have you seen @cowspiracy yet? A pretty compelling argument for environmentalists to change this one behavior…check it out on Netflix streaming. Executive Produced by Leonardo Dicaprio.
Kelly just so happened to cook the most delicious black bean burgers before we watched the film. This lady knows a thing or two about cooking healthy, mouth-watering food. Lucky me!

We are on a journey to get in the best shape of our lives. Kelly is training for a Triathlon, while I have my sights set on trying out for @americanninjawarrior .
We have the positive example of mentors like @richroll who rock out the vegan diet and perform at the highest levels of athletic conditioning. It can be done.
Imagine us in costumes, wigs, whatever else–doing awesome sporty things at a finish line near you :-). Excited to share some behind-the-scenes moments from the book trailer shot this Summer. Backflips, and alley hoops, and drones, oh my!! #vegan #triathlon #ninjatraining #wigs #artist #inspiration #motivation #fitness #burgers #healthy #environmentalist #nature #diet #leonardodicaprio

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The Highs and Lows of Life on the Road

By | Adventure, Creative, Travel | No Comments

Are you a cosmopolite?

A cosmopolite is someone who is at home at any place in the world.  It’s the feeling that I aspire to in my travels.  And now that we spend half of our year on the road  filming new Greenheart.tv episodes, it’s essential we learn to adapt.  To land in each new place with a sense of connection.  Although we’ve only been on the road a couple months on this Summer’s road trip, we’ve grown through so much.  From ecstatic peak experiences, to the loss of a loved one.  Along the way, we’ve crossed paths with bears on 4 different occasions, in 4 different states!  Therefore, we are proclaiming this to be THE SUMMER OF THE BEAR!

The first lesson I learned so far this Summer: how powerful you become through the challenge of a climb.  As we navigate the highs and lows of life on the road, it’s the stories of struggle that make us stronger.  Our dear friend Nature Williams took us out for our first rock climbing adventure at Rumney in New Hampshire.  I thought I would easily ascend and find my way, but quickly learned that my upper body strength didn’t necessarily mean I would be able to muscle my way up.  On the contrary, I was too conservative in choosing my grips and barely made it a few feet on my first all-out effort.  Meanwhile, my wife Kelly was a natural!  She gracefully found her footing and used her flexibility to her advantage—making it all the way to the top of her first climb in no time!

roadI learned to be more adventurous on my second climb route.  An Aussie climber labeled it “totally jug-tastic” referring to the plentiful natural grips or “jugs” available on the ascent.  I balanced my body weight closer to the wall, and relied more on my legs.  The feeling of accomplishment when I made it 90% of the way was well worth the fear and exhaustion.  When we return home in the Fall, we hope to frequent a rock wall located only 5 minutes from our house in Austin!  As if we didn’t have enough hobbies already…

RoadWe’re lucky to land with good friends along the road.  Although finding a parking spot is sometimes nearly impossible (especially in Los Angeles), navigating the country in our family’s camper van has been a huge blessing.  We can camp out at remote hot springs, store all our equipment for video productions, and cart around a van full of friends for a shoot.

Campervan FullThe biggest unforeseen obstacle has been getting over the sudden passing of my dear grandmother Dorothy Rulapaugh.  Her friends knew her as “Dot”, and she was a powerhouse of a personality in the lives of so many.  We had just celebrated her 70th wedding anniversary with my Grandfather—what an achievement!  I’m so glad we made it out to Virginia to honor them, but I never expected to return within the month to attend her funeral.  She was the glue that kept our family together.  And now I feel a heightened sense of responsibility to keep in touch more, and let those closest to me know how much I love them.

roadI was buoyed up by the love and support I received from my extended family, including our traveling family that works with us as part of the Wanderlust tour.

This road trip has also been full of adventure.  Some of my favorite moments have been spent filming athletes that have become new friends.  Most notably, we have been filming with high-liners.  What’s that?  Quite simply, slacklining between two cliffs.  If you’ve ever seen the documentary Man on Wire, it’s pretty similar, but in some of the most exquisite natural environments.  We’ve been inspired by the courage and lifestyle of these guys and gals.  We’ll be integrating footage into a film for Wanderlust as well as our epic book trailer for entrepreneur Lewis Howes.  More on that soon!

road

RoadOverall, we’ve learned that there’s virtue in experiencing the highs and lows of life on the road.  The challenge of a climb only adds character.  After seeing so many bears this Summer, I thought it might be a good idea to investigate the deeper meaning.  The Bear Totem is apparently all about strength through hard times, confidence, and leadership.  So fitting, as we are seeking to embody these values with integrity moving forward.

When I used to jump in my Grandparent’s camper van as a child, we’d always race to say “On the Road Again!” saluting Willie Nelson’s classic song, and signifying a new departure.  Now that we are traversing the country in a similar camper van, I can hear my Grandma Dot’s cheerful voice as I step behind the wheel, On the Road Again…

roadroad

Camera man slacklining with a Sony FS7

Finding Balance in Work & Play

By | play, Travel | No Comments

TOP PHOTO: Jefe Greenheart slacklining with a camera at Wanderlust Snowshoe 2015.  Photo by Sasha Juliard.

We all aspire to it, but why is it so hard to achieve!? 

Some call it a healthy work/life balance, but I believe there’s a lens with more depth to look through.  One of the chief reasons we feel off-kilter is because we are dramatically play-deprived.  Our society has substituted good old-fashioned recess with our friends, often in exchange for the concept of a “happy hour”.  We write it off as just something that happens when we get older, but that’s no excuse. 

If play is the ultimate prescription, why is it so hard to make time to seek it?

As a video producer, the hours are long and the work can be very stressful.  It’s not as glamorous as it seems, and without proper rejuvenation it can really take a toll on your body and mind.  Whether I’m out in the field filming something epic, or stuck in my editing cave—a simple practice of play even just a few minutes a day makes all the difference.  But very soon, my good friend Charlie Hoehn (author of Play it Away) and I are launching a play movement that inspires us all to get an hour of play each day, no matter your age (Check out The Recess Project).  Stay tuned for our launch coming soon, we’d love to invite you to our next recess!

I remember how play totally transformed my life a little over 5 years ago.  I was working in network television at the time,  and while I fully dedicated myself to an awesome career, my recreational life was seriously suffering.  That’s when I met my wife Kelly, who organized an interactive circus in Zilker Park with some friends.  That group changed my life.  I fulfilled a life long dream to run away with the circus with them touring festivals together.  The pursuit of a lifestyle of play has been an extraordinary experience, but it’s so easy to forget what nourishes me and brings me back to my center in the intensity of life commitments coming from every direction. 

Slackliner in Santa Monica

Jefe Greenheart Slacklining at Santa Monica beach 2014.  Photo by Jeff Liffmann.

That’s why I picked up slacklining.  To be honest, it’s become my preferred form of meditation.  I got bored of sitting on a cushion and closing my eyes.  What I’ve found in this moving meditation of walking on thin webbing and focusing my gaze on a tree has been nothing short of transcendent.  

And it only takes a few minutes on the line to feel like my etch-a-sketch mind has been shaken and cleared.  

One of the major reasons why we’ve fallen away from play is because we’ve lost touch with what excites us.  I remember the joy of a new toy.  The anticipation of discovering a new activity outdoors.  As a kid, I was gifted the freedom of riding my bike anywhere I wished.  Today, too many of us adults lose track of seeking novel opportunities that light us up. 

One of the coolest projects that Kelly and I do with Greenheart.tv is going on tour with the Wanderlust Festival!  We’re on the road with them now making films.  The experience is the perfect medicine for many of us, offering an experience to get outside the noise and be inspired by a mindful community.  And oh yeah, there’s SO MUCH PLAY!  Watch this short cinematic video that shows highlights from the first fest we filmed in beautiful Snowshoe, West Virginia.  Can you spot Kelly and I!?  If you can’t find a small thing to do that connects you with play every day, then maybe it’s time to go on an extended retreat and reclaim your playfully alive side…

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