Our current president, Larry Stimson, holds the honor of not only being the first president of SoCal Media Pros but also the last president of the LA/OC Chapter of MCAI! Because many of our members work in media production and because you've probably seen Larry behind his 4K camera recording some of our meetings, you might assume he's a producer or cameraman.
(Photo Left: Larry Stimson operates camera on a short film)
Well, he is… but his bread-and-butter job in media is an Application Designer. Larry was happy to explain how one guy can wear all these hats:
Larry, you have one foot in the world of tech and the other in production!
Well, I've always loved movies and television and the world of telling stories. I'm a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock. I made home movies as a youngster and got into video as a hobby many years ago, while working in another business. I made a number of 'explainer' videos which were well received. I took a number of professional training courses in audio and video as well. A few years back I joined MCAI (now the SoCal Media Pros) and started scriptwriting with my wife and directing short films. I'm the kind of person who likes the details of technology and working with professionals, so these organizations were perfect for me.
And speaking of technology, your media background is in IT and the internet.
Yes, I have been working in media for 22 years, solving problems for people. I design software applications. My "Day Job" is running a company that provides data services to the Real Estate Industry via the internet. My business partner and I have a subscription website which offers real estate professionals essential up-to-date information for their business. It's been very successful. My official job may be Application Designer, but my favorite title is, Lover!
(Photo Left-- Larry Stimson (R) with the cast of "Have Nice Day-Not Really!")
You've seen a lot of advances in technology.
I can’t think of any aspect of my work that doesn’t involve technology. We've seen a lot of changes over the years I've been working in media. For us the biggest transformations were going from distributing information via print to CD’s; then from CD’s to the Internet. On the video production side, I love 4K!
This all sounds like a very interesting journey. Where did it all begin?
After College I went to work in Real Estate. I had to do a ton of mortgage calculations and I got one of the first electronic calculators to help. When a programmable calculator first came out, I got one of those, then another, then another. I got one of the first Apple computers too but it didn’t help (it had no math coprocessor). But it did force me to learn how to write computer programs. After getting elected to the Board of Realtors I began working with people to improve our computerized data and, finally, I started designing software and databases.
(Photo Right-- Larry Stimson (L) does a cameo in his own film, "Call Of the Sweet Siren"
And at some point you went from Real Estate to IT...
Yes, for me the fun became the challenge of making new applications and creatively solving problems by programming code. Each time I have to come up with what is essentially a virtual machine that functions in a special way to perform a task that needs automating. Of course I never left Real Estate in the sense that I was now providing services to that industry.
(Photo Below: Larry at his 'Day Job' behind the computer!)
What was your most rewarding project?
It was in the very beginning of creating our current business. For 6 months my partner and I sweated in his garage to convert 22 volumes of real estate data into a digital format. When lunch time would roll around, we would empty our pockets to see how many Buck Burgers we could get at the local Carl’s, Jr. On a good day, we could get 2 each and even some fries. When we finally launched our CD-ROM programs, sales were slow to come in. So the climax wasn’t as big as we had hoped. However, our Internet launch on November 11, 2011 was a different story. We had spent over 2 years preparing. The most exciting part about this launch is that it would give us the ability to update data continuously. Before we would have to burn CDs and ship them out with the new data. This launch was a big success, in part because we already had a large customer base and, in part, because we offered big discounts.
So Bill Gates and Steve Jobs must be role models for you --they started in a garage as well!
I’ve always admired Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for their success but I wouldn’t consider either to be my role model or mentor. On the other hand, my life’s best mentor was and is my high school football coach. He drilled us to never give up. That mind set paid off because never giving up was an absolutely necessity for us to succeed in this career.
What important skills/character traits do you recommend for people starting out?
Both my partner and I tell people, had we known how hard the work would be and how (relatively) little the reward was, we would never have started this business. So you really need to believe in your goals and be willing to stick with it. Regarding skills, my business partner, Dean, is a super salesman. I think he was born that way. It can’t be taught. Programming, on the other hand, can be taught. But if you want to be really good at it, you have to love it. And I mean 12 hours a day, week after week and still look forward to the next day’s work kind of love.
(Photo Right: Larry Stimson captures video of a SoCal Media Pros monthly Meeting)
Larry, what do you like about SoCal Media Pros?
Well, I enjoy the people. I've met a lot of very talented professionals who work in many different specialties. And I enjoy the teamwork. Everyone contributes for the greater good and we all are better for it.
(Photo Left: Larry Stimson MC's a panel of experts for SoCal Media Pros)
So what do you do in your spare time --when you're not writing scripts and shooting and editing video?
Other than making videos, my hobbies include spending time with our 6 grandchildren, writing software programs, and building robots. I like to walk and it helps me unwind. For laughs, I like watching comedies and comedians. I also have the good fortune to be married to a woman who has a great sense of humor.
I was arrested only once. It was at gun point by about a dozen MPs at the US Marine base at Camp Pendleton. I was 16 at the time and was surfing at a place called Trestles. They released me… but without my surfboard. Losing my surfboard was very traumatic!