My name is Stephen Berner, and this is my personal web site.Thank you for checking in, and for taking a look.
I have a number of personal interests that compliment my business life, and in a decidedly “non-renaissance age”, I have been described as somewhat of a renaissance man (no smirking please..lol), most probably due to my blending of interests, both intellectual and hands-on: imagery-driven marketing, messaging and storytelling, advertising “that is as useful as a utility”, digital and social media, branding, publishing, editorial and content development. I am deep into leathercraft, NYC, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, moto-travel, photography, abandoned industrial exploration, art, industrial design, New England.. the list goes on!
Please, let me know what brought you here. Email me > stephenberner(@)me.com
I’ve spent some time in and around the media business, and have a pretty good sense of when a media platform is relevant to solving a communications challenge, and if it has value. In a modern world view, you, yourself, your very body is a media platform. Just take a look at yourself, with your logos hanging out on every article of clothing you own… if that’s not a media platform, describe a better one!
So it is with this mindset, that I went through my closet and pulled out all of my t-shirts, which, if you are an enthusiast of any sort of pursuit – from fishing to fighting – with some years under your belt, you’ve got plenty of… and made a pile. I go through my closet every year and rifle through my t-shirt pile. I’ve got a sense t-shirts propagate on their own in the dark while we are at work. Its rare I buy one, folks rarely give them to me anymore and still – they multiply!
In this substantial pile, every one of my Harley-Davidson shirts, with their various logos, aftermarket manufacturer shirts and shirts that commemorate events. I have bought a few of these, but most were given to me.
In another much smaller pile were shirts from artists and some motorcycle people whom i feel a connection to and support. As is the routine, I decided to cull the herd, because no one needs a million t-shirts sitting on a shelf, and quite honestly, I’ve got a new found sense of personal media value, PMV, if you will, and I want my collection to reflect that.
Whoever first came up with the idea of selling a t-shirt with his/her own logo on it – was brilliant. I’d shake that persons hand in a red hot minute, what a stroke of brilliance. I selected the few shirts from the pile that fit my current socio-political mood and reflect a sense of value in my PMV, it was a pretty small pile; single digits. The colors of the shirts in this pile reflected the singular focus on motorcycle activities: black, red, white. The shirts were all thick cotton, ala Beefy-T style.
So with a mighty thin collection on the closet shelf for my fashion considerations, I took the opportunity and reset my wardrobe. I decided to look for some well made, no-brand, no print, no logo t-shirts. Shouldn’t be too hard I thought, as I headed out the door to the local retailer where you can get that kind of thing.
Well i was in for a surprise, three stores later and I was failing in my mission. Every single decently constructed shirt i saw had a clearly identified and publicly displayed logo or brand mark. Not only did every shirt carry a logo, but they were expensive to boot – averaging $29.99 to $45.
The way i see it, my PMV prevents me from paying that kind of penalty. It just doesn’t make sense for me to pay to display a commercial message. I’d accept a payment from a company i like, to display their logo on a shirt, but why in heck would i pay for that “privilege”. How about this scenario: i let a company send me a large shirt, along with a check, and I’d happily wear their shirt in rotation with the rest of the ones in my closet for a year. I’d say that is the beginning of acknowledgment of PMV. I don’t think that’s going to happen though… LOL
So I did some searching and found (online) an American made, t-shirt for $22, that fits well, comes in some decent colors beyond the standard blase palette, and has nary a logo or brand mark on it. I bought 6 of them, in a range of colors. Mission accomplished. My PMV is at the highest value its ever been (as measured by the PMV firm, Delaney&Bonnie), and i feel better than ever, about the value of the billboard on my chest.
So the offer stands: If you’d like me to wear your shirt (no kooky colors or awkward designs please), send me an email making the request.read more
HR and hiring managers take note please, it’s easy to confuse a Harley-Davidson motorcycle enthusiast with a biker, but please, know there is a significant difference. When looking for talent, be discerning and select the biker, as there are important, meaningful differences. Gender does not figure into this equation, as there are both female and male bikers.
A Harley-Davidson enthusiast, is very simply, driving a motorcycle for sport and fun, whereas a biker also rides, but in addition, is living life by a predefined, aspirational, loose code of conduct. It is this code of conduct that differentiates them from others, both motorcycle enthusiasts and citizens.
I am a biker, who describes himself as an enthusiast, partly because I resist being categorized by a well worn stereotype, and partly, because I found the term confused my peers in the professional world.
I’ve been asked time to time, by people who’ve gotten to know me personally, “how does being a biker work in a corporate, agency or marketing context”?
It works well, because the bikers rule book addresses team play and hierarchical environments in great detail. There is a strong “formally informal” code of conduct in the biker community (as there is in business), and it dictates behavior (and demands compliance). Off the top of my head, I can think of a few general rules of conduct that bikers (and the greater mass of humanity should) try and follow…
1 – Be honest, demonstrate discipline and play by the rules. In a perfect world, bikers tell the truth and live by specific rules of engagement. Real bikers know how to ride as a herd (and not a herd of cats) and show throttle discipline, never hitting the brakes when they ride as a pack on the highway. Real bikers pay attention and stay tight. Rookies stay in the back until they’ve shown good sense, stability and reliability after many miles. Its about traveling as a group safely, in tune and with purpose.
This is one reason there are so few bikers, these can be tough hurdles for many to cross (who wants to ride in the back?). Being accepted as a biker takes putting on miles and a demonstration of respect, discipline and patience – over time.
2 – Love, get to know and maintain your machine. Bikers get their hands dirty, they invest the time to try and get to know how things work, they take responsibility for their machine, they can use their tools. Bikers know the investment in self reliance pays dividends and it is a source of pride. The biker in the C-Suite is easily identified as the person who crawls under his desk to trouble shoot his own computer issue, and doesn’t call IT first.
3 – Lean in and help others, as often as you can. Treat people how you’d like to be treated. Nothing new here, no revelations, just simply karmic good sense.
4 – Listen. Bikers know that if you pay attention and listen, you will get ahead of a mechanical failure. Usually there are plenty of warnings of impending trouble, if you take the time to carefully listen (to both people and machines).
5 – Show me, don’t tell me. To be credible to a biker, you have to live it, to be expert in it – and not simply lecture about it. Bikers demand you make the investment in time and effort to make it happen, if you want to earn respect.
6 – If you don’t know, ask. Smart people ask lots of informed questions, and smart people don’t mind answering smart, informed questions. Conversely, smart people hate being asked dumb, uniformed questions and have no patience for uniformed babblers.
7 – Don’t steal. Really, this goes under the “be honest” heading, but in this day and age of piracy and IP theft, this bears breaking out on its own. Bikers know that if you want to “borrow an idea, a design, a tool”, you show some courtesy and ask. Bikers look out for each other, sometimes putting their partners interests ahead of their own.
8 – Enjoy the moment and savor the win. A lesson I am learning myself, is to stop moving once I’ve accomplished my goal, look around and appreciate what I’ve got. If you don’t savor the win and enjoy the moment, why are you doing what you are doing?
OK – so if you distill this down, it looks to me like bikers are not only a rare breed, but they are the kind of people you’d want working in any organization. Bikers understand and abide by team play, they know how to collaborate and support each others efforts. Bikers know how to stand up and lead, but can also sit down and play a supportive role. Bikers are the type of folks that own the results of their work, but also shine a light on others. Bikers give credit where credit is due. If bikers don’t know, they lean in and ask for help.
As it so happens, and not surprisingly, bikers wear their hearts on their sleeves. Bikers are passionate, informed and generally outspoken. Bikers are generalists by nature, and want to know how EVERYTHING works. Bikers want to dig in, they want to twist knobs and pull levers to make things happen. Bikers want to see the volume increase, they want to compete as a team and win. Bikers are subject matter experts of the highest order, they thrive on knowing history, spec’s and data points, they thrive on facts, many are technology geeks, nearly all first adopters, in some way.
I know some very successful executive bikers in the professional corporate world. Much like them, I used to hide the fact I rode my machine (and I rode it to work too). People just could not rationalize the connection between these crazy noise making machines, the nuts that rode them, and someone who presented themselves as a sane, successful, suit and tie, marketing executive.
Well thankfully, those days are over. Our world is a bit looser, and I for one, am thrilled. The day of the biker marketer is upon us – we are the people who craft “show me, don’t tell me stories”. Bikers are the people you can count on when things get tough or when there is a challenge. Bikers are the type of loyal folks you want on your business team. Bikers are big talkers (guilty!), but we also know how to listen. Bikers know how to pick up new skills and aren’t afraid to try new things. Bikers try and make informed decisions. Bikers, who also happen to be geeks in many instances, helped found the internet – we love digital media!
Part of being a successful biker is paying it forward and passing it along. That is in part, what drives us to help each other, to work on our machines. Part of being a real and genuine biker, is to mentor another in the ways of “being a biker”.
And this list o’biker behaviors is not complete by any stretch, and its never a done deal, there is no permanent membership card. Maintaining biker status is a lifelong endeavor. I work on applying these rules of engagement in all my interactions, and am better at integrating some into my daily interactions than others (I need to work on #4 especially). Being a biker is tough stuff, its hard work. Being a biker demands thoughtfulness.
So in closing, being a biker has a lot to do with riding a two-wheeled machine, but it also has a lot to do with being a good, professional and respectful person.
This is why I think that bikers are the types of people that organizations would be wise to consider seeking out and engaging. In this competitive age, where success is measured in small increments, tiny movements of the dial – we need bikers – people who have the energy, the diverse, generalist skill sets, the transparency, drive and discipline to forge ahead and lead in an informed, genuine manner. Having bikers on the team, also helps distinguish them from their competitors, makes them distinctive, and telegraphs nothing but good things in a business context.
Regards & Respect,
I am looking for an opportunity to work with a company or brand, as they navigate the journey to self sufficiency in terms of publishing content.
Based on experience, and what I’ve seen and read, abdicating the responsibility of “figuring out” what the role of content is, and just what it means to a brand, to a consultant, is not a good solution.
Having a background which includes publishing, media, advertising, strategy and brand design, I feel uniquely qualified to chime in.
Not having publishing in-house, well it’s sort of like having to go to an outside, to a freelance designer every time you wanted to change a .ppt or .key slide. You need to be able to manage the process independently, as it changes that often. Relentless refining, tuning, tagging and tireless multi-channel distribution is the name of the game. Brand publishing also needs to be innovative and fearless, and you are simply not going to get fearless from a 3rd party. If you are lucky and do indeed get fearless, the thinking in most probability, wont be accepted or acted upon.
Its just the way things go….
Committing to publishing content, managing messaging and telling your story yourself via content, is a long term venture for a business unit. This is a big investment, and as with most long term capital investments, you don’t want to wed yourself to a solution that leaves you beholden to vendors/consultant/suppliers. I think content is too important a pillar for long term success to let that happen, Content needs to live near Marketing and sit by Sales, it needs to be strategically driven from “inside”.
Content serves the matrixed organization in many valuable ways: from providing ingredients for on-boarding packages for HR recruits, to collateral for sales meetings. Content also fills social media channels with interest, engagement, value and utility. Having a flow of content keeps media activated in a
This is the area that I want to contribute – developing programs that earn my brand long term sustained market share. The strategic value of content applies to industry and consumer marketspaces and I’d like to work with a team that is looking ahead, and investing in opportunities that allow us to engage customers in meaningful ways.
I heard a term that I fell in love with recently: Loafering.
The sound of the word describes it accurately.
Loafering is a description of the art of pretty much, not accomplishing or doing anything specific, the act of being chill, the pursuit of calmness and of being “unbusy”.
I like the sound of that, it sounds good, fun and like something we should all want… like a winning Lottery ticket.
Straight up, I am not very good at Loafering. I am so clueless at how to begin pursuing the Loaf, that i find the thought of it stressful.
Like a Lottery ticket, I don’t pursue it because I am sure that there is no “winner” for me, that the odds of getting a win in hand are so slim, that I might as well not bother.
There is a lot to get tweaked about in modern life… have you driven a vehicle in the land of email reading, make-up applying, text’er drivers. Senseless killings at movie theaters, TV shows that revel in showing embarrassing college students drinking binges. Egads.read more
It was a rainy, kind of crappy cold day in March in California when I finally got to get a close look at a bike that I’d seen before, but not gotten up tight and personal with. I’d spied the beginning of the machine taking shape, a frame and a few tin parts, while visiting Custom Design Studio in Novato California some many moons ago and It was pretty cool to be able take a look at the bike in its fully finished state – no longer a fresh, out of the box bauble.
So during a busy weekend at the Custom Chrome Dealer Show in Santa Clara, Kirk and I rolled this machine out onto the loading dock behind the venue, gave it a final wipe and there ya have it, Sacred, a bike built by Kirk Taylor at Custom Design Studios – in tribute to our mutual, departed friend Johnny Chop. Plain and simple.
This long shuttered fabric treatment and dying facility is typical of many East Coast industrial complexes that were built to serve a number of wars and a growing America. It’s a patchwork of buildings, areas, processes, catwalks and huge machinery, such as walk-in Autoclaves . You have fabric treatment next to fabric dying, next to fabric drying – giant machines, many of them with open flames, pits of solvents and bolts of fabric all butted up against one another – a sure recipe for disaster under any circumstance and if all of the signage in the plant is any indication – fires were a regular occurrence.read more
Another look at what is happening to America’s industrial resources.read more
A new book on E-Fab is available on Blurb. See some of Lock bakers great machines up close and personal.read more
TPJ specializes in designing in and building unique, highly refined V-Twin customs, some of the leanest, cleanest around.
We dare you to find an ounce of fat in a TPJ machine! Take a look and see if you don’t agree!
45dgree has published it’s first book on motorcycles – and Kraus Motor Company is the company I’ve decided to roll out with first.
Please take a look at this book, it is the first in what will be a ongoing series featuring the best the V-Twin industry has to offer.
Abandoned America_2 is out and it is sure to strike joy into the hearts of those who enjoy abandonment & dereliction.
You can get it here on Blurb and as with all of the Abandoned America Series, I wil only print 100 of them and then – they are gone!
I will be happy to sign your edition at no charge and will arrange that with you through email, post purchase.
Thanks for the support folks!read more