When it comes to ideas, whether creative or intellectual,
we fall firmly in the more-is-more camp…

SEC allows wealth managers to use testimonials in marketing. At last.
By Melissa Costello | December 2020

2021 is already a promising year for wealth managers thanks to a recent SEC ruling lifting the ban on using testimonials and endorsements in marketing and advertising. Finally! This means that those who work in the wealth management industry, like our clients Purposeful Wealth Advisors and Highpoint Planning Partners, can authentically convey their skill and experience via client reviews.

Though the ruling represents a sizable shift in the way the industry markets itself – a shift that will see client testimonials appearing in videos, on websites and social media, and in print – adoption will vary, with early adopters benefitting most.

Why all the fuss about testimonials? Because they’re powerful. They nearly instantly establish professional credibility, and consumers trust nothing more. Imagine if every time you met with a prospective client you could invite your most credible, most enthusiastic clients to show up and speak on your behalf – that is the incomparable power of testimonials. And when you put them on video, you easily double their emotional value and probability of being remembered. After adding a testimonial video to a pitch deck a client of ours announced that he would never do a pitch without it again. Ever.

Want to find out what testimonials could do for your revenue growth? We’d love to talk about it. Email us at hello@melissacostello.com.

How about watching a great film instead of zoom calling / cleaning / thinking you should be exercising?
By Melissa Costello | March 2020

Why not?! It’s right brain, it’s left brain, it’s everything you need but popcorn. Here, in no particular order, are some solid substantive films definitely worth checking out, and they’re all ‘free’ with either a Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription.

Some are magnificently shot and art directed like Raging Bull, Cold War, Roma… some are beautifully written like I Am Not Your Negro (James Baldwin), The Newsroom (Aaron Sorkin)… some are both like Sherlock Holmes… some barely have a script like Jeanne Dielman, Bicycle Thief… some are exquisite classics like Rashomon, The Conformist… some are just fun like Amelie, Silver Linings Playbook… some you could probably watch with your kids but most are either adult in what they depict or they’re challenging because they’re art films or both like Jeanne Dielman… though I wonder if any of you would like it either! Some are simply better than others but they’re all worth a look.

Streaming on Netflix — On Body and Soul An unusual love story set in a Hungarian slaughterhouse… The Cakemaker An equally unusual love story set in a bakery in Berlin and a cafe in Jerusalem… Roma So so so much fun to look at. If you do nothing else, watch the opening credits… Moonlight Heartbreaking and gorgeous… Joan Didion – The Center Will Not Hold Documentary about a brilliant writer facing multiple losses… And a few you already know that are worth revisiting… GoodFellas, Raging Bull, Silver Linings Playbook.

Streaming on Amazon Prime — I Am Not Your Negro Almost as moving as reading one of James Baldwin’s books… Tulpan So charming! A look at what life is like in a yurt on the barren Kazakh steppe when you’d like to get married and the nearest neighbor is many miles away and the only eligible girl is even farther… The Newsroom Good series to binge; Jeff Daniels is superb. Might also want to check him out in Godless on Netflix. You’ll get to hear Michelle Dockery of Downton Abbey fame speak with a Southern accent… Cold War Another stunning, intense film from the talented director of Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski. Sad/happy/sad… The Big Sick Happy/sad/happy rom com… Bicycle Thief Italian neorealist masterpiece; watch it and weep… Rashomon The origin of the term ‘Rashomon effect’… Jeanne Dielman Belgian housekeeping horror film… Andrei Rublev If painter Pieter Bruegel made movies, they’d look and feel like this… Sherlock Holmes The 2009 version. A visual feast… Amelie So playful! So French!

And here are several that are also free but on YouTube… One Eyed Jacks The only film Brando directed. His performance is understated and riveting. And quotable! Be listening for “Don’t be doing her like that.” “He didn’t give me no selection.” “Get up you scum sucking pig… you big tub of guts… you gob of spit.” “Turn around and get your time.” Taste of Cherry Not a cheery film, but a beautiful film by Iranian director, Abbas Kiarostami, who had a thing for shooting in cars. A Woman Under the Influence Also not cheery, but unvarnished and heartbreakingly human as are all John Cassavetes’ films. Note that Gena Rowlands’ mom is her actual mom and the irritating mother-in-law is her actual (hopefully not as irritating in real life) mother-in-law, John Cassavetes’ mom! The Conformist A lush and moving stylized classic about WWII betrayal. You’ll dance like the woman in stripes for months afterward.

Enjoy!! Now what would you recommend that I watch??

If Filmmakers Directed Zoom Meetings
By Melissa Costello | March 2020

Want to ace every zoom meeting? Want to make sure you’re not the person everyone else is private messaging about? Read on.

1 Over-arching theme. If you only take one thing away here it should be that zoom business meetings are a stand-in for in-person business meetings. All the same rules — and more — apply.

2 Wardrobe. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie, but do wear something you’d wear to a business meeting.

3 Lighting. Daylight is the best light, and if you can sit facing a window, so much the better. But no direct sunlight, please — too bright! If facing a window is impractical, place a lamp nearby off-camera. Pay attention to how the light affects your glasses, if you wear them, and adjust if the reflection is distracting.

4 The ‘set’ or background. The beautiful thing about a set on a sound stage is it’s a controlled environment. Do your best to simulate it. Home is preferable to a restaurant or cafe or other noisy, crowded locations. Next, go scouting for a background in your home. Go to the zoom icon in your dock on your laptop or notepad, and click on the orange box, “New Meeting”. You can now see what the others in your meeting will see. Look for and select a background, again, ideally with the ‘camera’ facing you as you face a window, where you can put your laptop on a solid surface with the camera at eye level, and where you have a solid internet connection. Very important! You may need a couple backgrounds just in case someone who shares your quarantine space also shares your zoom backgrounds!

5 Composing the frame. You’re generally looking to frame yourself medium close-up, or from the waist up. Important: you do not need to put your face exactly in the center of frame. In fact, unless you were being ironic, centered compositions would generally earn you a bad grade in art school. Besides, centering top to bottom almost invariably leads to a whole lot of your frame being wasted on the ceiling. Live a little and place the top of your head closer to the top of frame. And while you’re at it, experiment with placing yourself either to the left or right of center. It creates greater visual interest.

6 Special effects. Unless you want to hire a pro, don’t mess with green screen. Please. Green screen is notoriously challenging… even for some professionals. DIY green screen is amateurish at best and can make your head change shapes and other hallucinogenic effects which is generally undesirable for a business meeting. (Generally.)

7 Audio. You know how when you close the door to your conference room/office at work you don’t hear any children playing or dishes being washed or dogs barking or people yelling about walking the dog so it won’t bark? That’s what you’re going for here. While you’re at it, silence your phone and background music, too.

8 Producer’s advice. •Be on time; don’t keep your colleagues and clients waiting. •Don’t deflate the energy of a meeting by complaining about attendees who are less punctual than you. There are larger issues to address.

9 Director’s advice •Maintain eye contact. Make it easy for others to have a connection with you. •Unless everyone is eating, don’t do it. You’re framed for a medium close-up, remember? It’s ok to sip water or a cup of coffee occasionally, but less is definitely more. •Do not check your phone/emails/texts or take a call on your phone even when you’re muted. It’s bad business meeting etiquette. And distracting! •Remember that you’re part of a dialogue. A nod and a smile go a long way! The camera will love you!

In our hands, the camera will also love your company! If you care as much as we do about how your company is perceived, let’s talk about how our producer and director can set you up for a video triumph in addition to a zoom triumph. This is what we do!