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SILVER OAKS COMMUNICATIONS BLOG

Welcome to the Silver Oaks Family!
June 29, 2018
Welcome to the Silver Oaks family, Bailey and Brittany! In the past month, we've welcomed these two talented professionals to our team. Read more to get to know our newest team members. Bailey Schober, Project Manager and Corporate Marketing Hometown: I grew up in Maquoketa, Iowa, but now I live in Muscatine, Iowa. Background: I have a B.S. in Agricultural Communications from Iowa State University. I worked for an agricultural technology start up company for 1 and a half years as a Marketing and Sales Coordinator. I also worked at Iowa State University College of Engineering as a Communications Specialist for 2 years before becoming a Project Manager at Silver Oaks. I’m inspired by... People who are warm, kind, positive, innovative, hard-working, and full of life. I’m also inspired by cozy homes and good conversation. When I’m not at Silver Oaks, I’m...Visiting friends and family, trying new restaurants or breweries, gardening, going to concerts, watching or playing sports, or spending time outside – on the river, in a pool, walking my dog, or being on our family farm. Family: My husband Ben and I have a Miniature Australian Shepherd named Ellie. Urban or Rural Life? I grew up on a farm north of Maquoketa, IA so I’m a country girl at heart. Favorite places to travel: I’ve travelled abroad to Kenya, Spain and Mexico. I’d love to travel to Norway next. My goal is to travel to all of the National Parks in the United States. Guilty pleasures: I’m slightly embarrassed by how much I love The Bachelorette/The Bachelor. I’m also a huge news junkie and have watched The Today Show just about every day of my life. Brittany French, Administrative Assistant Hometown: I live in Rock Island, IL where I was born and raised. Background: I graduated from Rock Island High School in June 2005 and studied Nursing for 2 years at Black Hawk Community College. I worked in retail management for 5 years and retail sales, customer service, and advertising for 15 years.   Family: My husband, Matt, and I have 4 children — Becca (13), Brayden (10), Elizabeth (7), and Gisella (1). Last, but certainly not least, we have a dog, Justice, and 2 cats, Bella and Bane.  Books or movies? Movies - I am a huge Marvel fan! I’m inspired by… My biggest inspiration in life was my late Great Grandmother Ada. Dogs or cats? I’m definitely more of a cat person. Favorite Food? Anything Mexican. I love my tacos. Guilty pleasures: I would have to say that I love to sing. If I do get some time to myself to have some fun, I like to find karaoke to do or just have my own at-home karaoke session.
The Scary Side of Business Isn’t All That Scary.
April 30, 2018
When was the last time you walked into a crowded room and sought out a stranger to talk to instead of making a beeline toward a familiar face? Not lately, huh?  It seems we fear what we don’t know, and as creatures of habit, we tend to enjoy our comfortably lined security nests, and don’t veer easily toward what is foreign to us. When it comes to business networking, many of us wince.   We immediately think about a pushy salesperson with a sweaty stack of business cards, but that’s not what it should be about. It should be about getting to know people. New people. And that can be scary stuff. This week, however, I pushed the boundaries of my comfort level. Jacqueline Holm, Assistant General Manager for the Quad Cities River Bandits, gave a presentation at the PR Network Half Day Workshop on networking, and her words resonated with me. Here’s the thing about walking up to a perfect stranger and introducing yourself—it’s a little scary for everyone.  But there’s a good chance we’ll have something in common with that person, because at our core, we’re all just people. And those similarities? They make new people less scary because once we learn we have something in common, we feel as if we know them—at least a little—because they are like us. Jacqueline had us break into groups of two (yes, groups of two strangers!), gave us a list of icebreaker questions and within a few minutes, we all knew something—and had things in common with—a perfect stranger. It’s likely that we all had anxiety to some degree, but no one fled the room, no one cried, and no one was exiled from the village. I’d say it was a success.   All of this got me to thinking about the Quad Cities Big Table event that took place the week before. Over 5000 people participated in over 500 tables throughout the Quad Cities, giving residents and businesses a chance to voice their opinions on how they would like to see the area grow. The table I participated in discussed how to foster diversity and inclusion. The consensus was that we tend to gravitate toward people we know and shy away from people we don’t, and if we can overcome that, we’ll be a more inclusive society. This leads me back to that issue of fear and comfort. If we don’t get out of our comfort zones—if we don’t meet new people and go new places—we’ll do little to foster diversity and inclusion. We—all of us—need to be willing to strike up a conversation with someone who doesn’t look like us or think like us. We need to be willing to listen to an opinion that is different from our own, and we need to be willing to hear it. We need to be willing to experience things that force us to shed our security blankets. For the Quad Cities Big Table group I participated in, this means choosing to frequent locally owned businesses owned by people whose backgrounds are different than our own and intentionally saying hello to new people. We may feel uncomfortable at first, but that’s just the fear of the unknown whispering in our ear.   And let’s face it—our best memories are not usually created doing those humdrum things that are part of our everyday routine. They’re usually created doing new things that challenged us, surprised us or inspired us. People are much the same way. It can be those new people who will challenge, surprise or inspire us. I think it’s time we go meet them.
Happy National Pet Day!
April 11, 2018
April 11th is National Pet Day! In honor of National Pet Day, we asked all Silver Oaksians to send in photos of their favorite four-legged, winged and wet-nosed "fur babies". They're endlessly entertaining, and they love us unconditionally.  Shouldn't we all strive to be the person our pet thinks we are?! And after a long day at work, they're always happy to see us. Zoey Age: 3 years Owner: Nick Scott, President "Zoey's favorite things are cleanly washed, balled-up socks and Whitey's ice cream. She gets a vanilla dixie cup every time we get Whitey's."     Gus Age: 9 months Owner: Matt Mock, Sales Representative "Gus enjoys walks at the forest preserve, stealing underwear out of the dryer, and chewing on Ugg slippers. He's currently in training as Silver Oaks' Rockford office executive assistant. It appears training will be ongoing for some time."   Joel Owner: Julie Myers, Project Manager Age: Unknown "Joel only comes out at night. He loves Dove dark chocolate, Reece's Peanut Butter Cups, Babe Ruth's and leather bags. He does not like mouse traps."     Boetje (Boo Boo) and Lily Ages: 2 and 8 1/2 years Owner: Anne Kirkpatrick, Writer "Boetje's nickname is Boo Boo and her signature look is 'durp'! Lily frequently looks like she'd like to hurt us, but instead sits on our laps and purrs. Her signature look is withering disapproval. These two like to chase each other through the house and when they wrestle it sounds like two grown men having a grudge match. We are highly entertained by them on a daily basis."     Annie Age: 6 months Owner: Danny O'Leary, Designer "I like long walks at the dog park and the occasional scent of a nice butt. I keep my family safe by staring out the front window and barking at imaginary things. Oh! And that Pete the Opossum, big mistake there buddy! I will have none of that! My guilty pleasure is my plush squeaky bone and lounging on the couch when no one is looking. My super power is my puppy dog eyes."   Lucy Age: 2 years Owner: Julia Evans, Project Manager "Lucy loves to flop over on her back to show us how food deprived she is. As you can see, she most definitely is NOT deprived of any sort of food. She also likes to 'hunt' the cardinal pair that come to the bird feeder by running at the window as fast as she can until they fly away. She always has to be within at least 2 square feet of wherever I am in the house, and is always ready to curl up on my lap. She does not like plastic grocery bags."   Cotesworth "Coe" Age: Just turned 12 - Coe is a St. Patty's Day Puppy! Owner: Grace Kocinski, Project Manager "Coe is a Yorky Bear and basically looks like a teddy bear. He is truly the all-around perfect pet and an incredibly amiable best friend -- that is unless it's 4th of July or I want to enjoy a cozy fire in the winter - then he is quick to disown me. Like any Yorkie, he is intent to de-stuff or de-squeak any toy in record time, so his toy options are pretty limited. I won't lie, Coe lives a very 'cushy' life! His favorite pastime is to window-watch and keep an eye on all the neighborhood happenings. As you can see, he's a true member of the family - he even has his own portrait!"   Fungus ("Gus") Age: 4 years Owner: Chris Cashion, Sales Representative "Gus 'chose' us by wandering into our yard and sticking around. We swore we didn't have a cat, but kept feeding him anyway. When he went missing one day, we were devastated. After fruitlessly looking for him, we discovered he'd been picked up by animal control and taken to 'kitty jail'. We paid to get him out, officially adopted him, had him neutered and got all of his vet work done. His favorite things are sleeping upside down, following me around and teasing dogs. His real name is 'Fungus'. (Fun-Gus). We call him that because he's fun to have around, and he grew on us!"   Madison "Maddie" Owner: Tim Wren, Sales Representative Age: 5 months "Maddie is a miniature beagle who eats absolutely everything. She not only chews on stuff, but actually ingests everything she comes in contact with. Maddie also goes by 'Mad', 'Maddie Girl', and 'Cujo'."   Callie, Daisy, Koda, Luna, Zues, and Levi (top left to bottom right) Pet Sitter: Tracey Sands, Project Manager Owner: Friends + Family Ages: 9 yrs., 4 yrs., 5 yrs., 8 mos., 2 yrs. and 11 yrs. "I am unable to own a pet at my rental house so to get my dog fix, I dogsit for friends and family! Each dog has a different and unique personality. Whether they like to run 5+ miles or sleep all day, I join them in their favorite activities. But no matter what, all the pups enjoy puppy kisses, eating, and cuddling!!"   Meow Meow Age: 1-1/2 years Owner: Dylan Atwater, IT "Meow Meow's favorite toy is anything she's not supposed to play with, and she loves waking me up by meowing at my face. When she's not being a terror she enjoys sleeping, occasional cuddling, and of course, meowing."   Gilgamesh ("Mesh") Age: 9 years Owner: Gilly, PreMedia "Mesh loves to bite us when we don't pay enough attention to her, beg for small bread and meat bits, and curling up with us when we're having a rough day."   Rex Age: 12 years Owner: Will Berry, Programmer "This is my good boy, Rex. He's 12-years-old, but he still runs around like a puppy. He likes to bite at floating dust particles and chase birds that land in our yard!"   Teeny and Mr. Bird Ages: 1 1/2 years and  4 years Owner: Scott Kelty, Graphic Designer "Teeny came from a caged bird show close to Chicago. At that show, he escaped and flew up into some of the lights in the venue, and we figured that was why his feathers were all crinkly when we got him. Apparently not -- he went through a molt last year and all his tail feathers and some of his other ones came in curly. He looks like he has perpetual bed-head. His song has more sharp, higher notes to it. Mr. Bird about 4-years-old and we got him from a canary show near Joliet, Illinois. He was there for a singing competition, but didn't win because he won't sing if someone is in the room with him. So he wouldn't sing for the judges! His song is pretty mellow."   Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Zeus, and Bella Ages: 7 years, 5 years, and 9 years Owner: Matt Wince, Photographer "Sheldon is king! He likes everyone. He has to be the center of attention. Zeus likes to eat USB portable drives and SD cards. Bella loves her daddy! She likes to sit on the keyboard while I am typing."
Meet our Account Manager, Chris!
April 4, 2018
Chris Cashion is an account manager with Silver Oaks whose had her finger on the pulse of the local business community for more than 25 years. She’s helped create comprehensive marketing campaigns and award-winning ads, spent time as a reporter covering government and business, and previously taught small business marketing at Black Hawk College. She holds a BA in Communications from Teikyo Marycrest University. What made you decide to come to Silver Oaks? I decided to join Silver Oaks as an account manager after more than 20 years in the newspaper industry. I loved what I did, but I felt I had given my clients everything I had to offer in that field and needed a new challenge. Silver Oaks has a reputation for being the best in the business, and I knew that’s where I wanted to be. What are you goals for your clients? For Silver Oaks? My goals for my clients are to always give them first-rate service and first-rate products. We have the perfect team for that. My goals for Silver Oaks include making sure that as the Quad Cities continues to grow, we are a part of that growth.   What keeps you motivated? Constantly learning new things keeps me motivated. I love learning, and I enjoy working with people who are passionate about what they do. At Silver Oaks, I’m surrounded by people who are incredibly talented and passionate about their jobs.  They’re always willing to educate me about what they do. Our clients are really varied, and I'm constantly learning new things about a variety of industries. Each project is like an education in a different field. What makes you a successful account manager? Part of being a good account manager is being a good listener. I started my career as a reporter, and you learn to hear the things people say, as well as the things they don’t. The other part of being a good account manager is being surrounded by a great team, and the creative team at Silver Oaks is phenomenal. What does good customer service / client relations look like to you? Good customer service varies so much from client to client. But what it all comes down to treating people with respect and kindness, while managing expectations. Those three things go a long way in any industry.                             Favorite Food: Fresh seafood. I travel to Florida every spring, and the first thing I do when I get off the plane is go in search of a grouper sandwich. Favorite Quote: "It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up." - Vince Lombardi Favorite Book: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. But that can change at any moment—that’s just the last book that made a huge impression on me! What do you like to do in your free time?: I need more hours in the day because there are way too many things I like to do! I like to travel, read, garden, run, practice yoga, try random new fitness classes, go kayaking, write, cook, go hiking, try new wines...life really is too short! If you could vacation anywhere, where would you go?: Anywhere with a beach and a tropical breeze is right up my alley, but one day I’d like see Ireland, and I’d love to visit Australia.   To meet the rest of our talented and creative team, click here!
work from home
Buh-Bye 8 to 5 Work!
April 2, 2018
Why this Gen Xer loves a Millennial work schedule It’s Friday afternoon and I’ve left work around 3:30 to pick up my son. He’s not a grade schooler anymore and daycare is far behind us. He's in high school and is leaving for a band trip in the wee hours of the next morning. We’re behind the eight ball with dirty clothes to be washed and a bag to pack before a jam-packed evening. The next time I see him, we’ll be in the car well past midnight. My work for the week is done, so I feel good about leaving a little early. But if it wasn’t -- done that is – I would be working from home over the weekend to finish or start a project, e-mail a colleague, or look over information for a Monday a.m. meeting. And that would be fine with my boss and my co-workers. Granted, working from home is not a new phenomenon. However, leaving early, coming in late or working the hours that YOU decide, definitely is. But not for long. An article in The Muse sited a new study by Bentley University , saying that 77% of Millennials want flexible work hours, mentioning that “it would make the workplace more productive for people their age.” But let’s face it, with some getting used to, it feels pretty good to people my age as well. Before you naysayers jump to the conclusion that employees are taking advantage, not earning their keep, etc., etc., consider that institutions like Stanford are doing research on the subject – and recent data shows that productivity, overall work hours and employee satisfaction, actually improves with workplace flexibility. And I have to agree. Don’t we all feel better when the pressure of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. sharp is gone? For Millennials that may mean leaving early, then working from home late at night when “their brains are sharper” – for me that may mean getting up early and working in my pajamas for a couple hours. With coffee. Of course, technology keeps us in constant contact. Even 10 years ago, I would not have had access to my co-workers’ personal cell phones, or would have texted them about work issues. Today, it happens almost daily. Some would call that an annoyance, but most of us would call it a necessity. And for a flexible schedule to work, communication is key and so is accountability. Being present for in-person meetings, and being reachable throughout the day (and beyond) HAS to happen. Nick Scott, president of Silver Oaks, and a Millennial, says, “as the workforce changes again, we want to make sure we’re changing with it. Millennials and Gen Y want more flexibility – and technology coupled with changing business philosophies is helping to make that happen. With that comes a sense of personal responsibility and professionalism.  But in the end, it’s all about happy, productive employees who want to stay.”
Augmented Reality is Changing the Museum Experience
February 1, 2018
Imagine...you're watching a dinosaur roam the halls of a natural history museum. You're taking a walking tour of Abe Lincoln's Springfield home -- standing next to Abe himself.  Oh, and why not stand in the modern-day Colosseum for a Roman gladiator battle? These scenarios are all possible with augmented reality. This technology allows users to superimpose virtual worlds over what’s actually in front of them. And it presents an exciting opportunity in the museum world. Exhibits and artifacts come to life in new ways, allowing visitors to have a richer understanding of the stories museums tell.  Silver Oaks is excited to be a part of this new and exciting world, and the potential impact it's having in the world of museums. So, how is augmented reality different than virtual reality? VR  lets users escape the physical world by creating the illusion that they are somewhere else entirely. AR, on the other hand, merges digital media with the physical world. Digital cameras capture an environment before laying digital content on top of it. Silver Oaks programmer, Adrian Woods, is experimenting with augmented reality applications suited for museum settings. According to Woods, “AR fits perfectly in museums. It has the potential to add a new dimension to any narrative, and the best part is you can’t do it in your living room — you actually need to go to the museum.” AR is intuitive, easy to use, engaging, and compelling -- but it doesn't fit every situation. The ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ environments should compliment each other — not conflict with one another. “Tech works best when it's transparent and frictionless. An important distinction to make is the difference between the novelty of overlaying digital content on the real world, and actually interacting with persistent content,” says Woods. AR is changing the museum experience. AR is changing the way we learn, get inspired, and interact with one another. It fosters curiosity and inspires visitors to learn more about the real thing. And isn’t that what museums are all about? Is your museum ready to step into the world of augmented reality? Let Silver Oaks guide the way! Have an over-the-top idea? We’re ready to make it happen, are you? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toF_BEpLXcg

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