Friday, August 24, 2007

To those at 1000steineland -

Have fun - I wish I was there!

Things didn't quite workout for me to go there this year.

But Mel is there to get some reports and interviews, so that's cool - she's getting some great information for all of us.

So hope everyone in Berlin is having fun - I'm thinking about all of ya!

Some odds and ends...

Am starting up BrickJournal 9 now, so things are getting busy again for me - as in production busy. THis is different from usual busy, because I focus, which means that I disappear from the local scene while I write, correspond, and otherwisie set up the mag.

But I need to get back to telling about some stuff at teh Billund visit....

On Monday, I was to talk to Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, LEGO CEO for a video interview. At that time, I still hadn't gotten my lost luggage, so I was wearing the same clothes from Sunday...but I did shower. That morningI talked with Jens and Nate (as mentioned earlier) and then chatted briefly over lunch with Nate, Jamie Berard and some other designers.

Jamie is a designer in the Creator team, and he has done the Fast Flyers set and the Cafe Corner set. He's also a really cool person and is easygoing. I sent him a note about my luggage predicament, and he offered some clothes if I needed them.

I also told him about the pending video interview and he suggested borrowing the company video camera - LEGO *does* have video resources on hand. I didn't think about that because, well who let ME borrow their equipment? Then again, they haven't seen me use equipment before, so that may be a good thing.

The discussion was good, and I had some ideas on how to pull this off - and I had to go back to my hotel 30 minutes away by foot - mainly to get my notebook I left and also so I could ask about the luggage. My notes from JEns and Nte's interviews were on various  papers I had in my bag - not good form.

Once I got my notebook, I went to the checkout desk and had them ask about my luggage...and after a few calls, I found out - they were found! And better yet they were ontheir way to teh hotel! The luggage was to come in late afternoon - too late for the interview, but still a great piece of news!

So I packed my bag and headed off to teh corporate office. This is a nice facility, with a large lounge and reception desk. I came in thirty minutes early to ask for the camera and hopefully get it.

However, the receptionist didn't quite understand my English very well, so I explained that I was to meet Jørgen Vig Knudstorp (and had to write his name because my English pronounciation apparently mangled his name beyond recognition) and I was early to see if I could borrow a video camera. The receptionist smiled when she saw the name and thought for a moment, then directed meto a lounge to wait.

There was some movement at the receptionist's desk, and then the glass doors to the Corporate Management opened, and one of the admin assistants greeted me. She expleined that teh receptionist didn't quite understand what I wanted, so I explained it out and what had happened to me. The admin thaought for a moment and told we (with a smile) that she would go to Corporate Communications to see about getting what I wanted. She went to the other side of the lounge to another office.

A few moments later, another woman greets me from the other office - she's from Corporate Communcations and asks me what I need - I just need a camera and tripod - no lights. She goes a different direction and disappears.

When she returns, she has a long bag that is zipped closed. It's long, and I am a little surprised - I had completely forgotten that what they have most likely will be professional-level equipment - far beyond what I am used to using.

The bag held the tripod. A big nice tripod. She went back and returned with a smaller cube shaped bag. Andin it was a camera that was better than mine...she explained that she didn't know how to use it, so I was a bit on my own on figuring it out.

Hm. New tripod, new camera, need to figure it all out in 15 minutes or less.  A typical challenge for me:-)

The camera, after looking all over it, turned out to be a big brother of the camera I have, so while everything was in different places, I could run the cam. Once I found the remote, I was okay - it looked just like the remote to my camera. The tripod was easy too. I took a look at the mic which was connected to a box and a matching boxwith an antenna...wirelss...Nice, but that was a new item to me. I turned them both on and plugged in the reciever tothe cam, but couldn't get it to work. no time to figure it out either. I only had thirty minutes to talk.

By this time there about five minutes left, and Jamie and a friend of his wander into the building, and we meet very briefly - just in time for JVK to open the corporate management office to greet me!

So I got in all the equipment and go to his office and start setting up - he's busy, but also very friendly. And in chatting before the interview,  I found out he's a Train fan. I had forgotten my questions that I was going to ask him, but he had them on hand and gave me a copy (really cool!)

Before I knew it,  the camera was started and in a flash, thirty minutes passed and I got an interview...and I took everything down and returned the camera to the admin assistant - and I owe them a tape:-)

DId I use my questions? Not all of them. Did I ask any hard questions? Not really. I asked questions about him and how he looks at his responsibilities - I wanted a conversation with him about the company, his part in it and community.

I need to edit the video, but assuming the sound is good (which is a question) you will see this online soon!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

LEGO Serious Play Released!

One aspect of LEGO building that is starting to become noticed is the process behind it.

I'm not talking about the simple "how I do it"process, but the play that goes into the building. We as builders do amazing models, and there's a process behind it that can be applied to our work environment.

I have been exposed to this in college on a broad sense - I have a degree in a creative field, so I have been taught the value of play in brainstorming and idea creation. for me it's called ideation. It turns out t hat LEGO building is a more 3-D way of doing this ideation. I have been trained in sketching and drawing my ideas - LEGO  lets me build my ideas.

The use of LEGO building in professional environments is now a growing idea - and  LEGO Serious Play does training sessions and workshops for people and companies interested.

They just started a newsletter last year called Pl@yground, and the newest issue can be found here:

Issue 2

For me it's interesting because LSP makes a bridge between the 'serious' work ethic (that most companies seem to have - you MUST work 37 hours, and you HAVE to do it the corporate way) and play. If more companies did it, there would be a bit more positive work environments, and that leads to good things for companies.

More coming...

I have about 20 pages of notes for the week that I have to simmer down to a workable form.

Wednesday was a lot of fun in meeting Tim Ainley, then doing lunch with some LEGO designers - what fun! I got some hints about upcoming sets (nothing big) and relaxed for the first time since I got in.

I met Megan Rothrock and Mark Stafford -  Megan is working to get in LEGO (and she is qualified) and Mark is in Playthemes and is working on some stuff....he did some ExoForce things and worked on some items in the next year. We all yacked and then got a peek at a model that Jamie Berard is working on for 1000-steineland in a week - he's building a city hall. Beautiful, too.

Aftert hat, it was off to meet Lisbeth Vallther Pallesen at the Administrative office. A video interview was scheduled, and this time I was ready. Got the video and had the questions (which I glanced at) and got set up, and started up the video, and....mispronounced Lisbeth's name.

Three times.

In a row.

Geez, you'd think I would be more professional:-)

I got a 45 minute interview that will be edited for goofy mis-takes and flubs. But this interview, like Jørgen's Vig Knudstorp's, was a lot of fun to do and will be thing stat will be seen hopefully soon on the website in some form.

After that, went to a sorta barbecue with the New Business Group and ate and played goofy (and I mean goofy:-)) games with LEGO building, trivia quizzes and otehr stuff....and the there I met some more people...including the manage of the #D department. And that was a cool discovery!!!!!

And there was one more that I can't talk about at all..........

Pictures will be coming later today from my visist - not much really except for the Idea House visit. Billund is....small. So photos after the first trip are not all that exciting.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More of Day Two

I'm going to have to be shorter because I am now pretty far behind on my notes.

So here goes: After Jens, I spoke to Nate Kuipers and a little about Technic -= he has been doing Technic models at the company and did the initial designs for the snowmobile and many alternate models:-).

After that I spent 3 hours at the idea house - including visiting the Vault. I was given a tour by Jette Orduna, and went with Melody, the Eurobureau I got the full tour, and it's a LOT of information.

I had planned on video taping it, but the initial guide tour took too long - so I got many many pictures.

And then it was off to dinner to talk about LEGO Factory....good times...

Next: Wednesday

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Trip Day Two - The Rebound!

Well, things started fast when I was whisked off by Jan Beyer to start all the talks I was planned for. Top of the morning, and with some LEGO designers - always fun to talk with them,

I was taken to the Global Innovation and Marketing building (but wasn't allowed to any farther than the canteen - argh! It was the camera) and I was greet by Jens Kronvold, who was the designer of the Millennium Falcon. I met him first at the Toy Fair in New York, when the set was first announced. He's a pretty cool guy and what I thought would be a pretty straightforward interview became a conversation on more than a  few things, including a little on the Indy theme (nothing really groundbreaking, though, just talking about the use of bad guys as opposed to Nazis. Turns out Jens was pushing for Raiders for some time, so he was happy to see the LEGO Group get the license.

We also talked about the Falcon (of course) and some other things (again, nothing groundbreaking - turns out the Star Wars team is very hush hush about things) - there will be more UCS models coming, and more Star Wars models coming from the Clone Wars TV show..again nothing new to report. But talking about how he worked on the model was really neat, and will be part of an upcoming article.

More in a bit - off again!

Back - I interviewed Jørgen Vig Knudstorp in video....and that is a fun little story that I will recount in a little bit - watch this space!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A road trip...

So I am finishing my packing and printing...

I am going to Billund. The trip has to do with BrickJournal, of course. It's been two years since the magazine started and the LEGO Group has watched the Journal grow and mature.

They have been more than impressed with the publication and have helped out with the magazine in providing information and media when possible. And this trip is the result of the magazine being consistently released with a high level of quality.

While I am editor, I won't take full credit of the success of BrickJournal. Credit needs to be given to all the writers and photographers and artists that make each issue - I may be the person directing, without them, I'm just another person pointing a way:-).

I'm excited because I will be going to the office (which in itself is incredibly cool) and also will be spending my time finding story ideas and information for the next issue of BrickJournal. I like to say on trips like this that I will get enough information to take five years to sort out...there's so much going on to learn.

In the next three weeks, I figure, the future of BrickJournal will be finalized. There's more than the magazine being planned:-) Some subtle hints are in the website.

There's a favorite quote from Walt Disney that pretty much expresses my thoughts - he said this on a Disneyland show thah presented his next project, then the first iteration of what became EPCOT. Surrounded by planners and designers working on sketches and maps, he turned to the camera and stated,

"We know what our goals are. We know what we hope to accomplish. And believe me, it's the most exciting and challenging assignment we've ever tackled at Walt Disney Productions."

Change Walt Disney Productions to BrickJournal Media, LLC. You'll see my point of view.

I hope to update this blog through the trip - I don't know what kind of internet connection I will be able to get though. I'll be trying to post news on also.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Happy 75th Anniversary, LEGO!

There are some celebrations going on aall around for this, and I wish I could be at them.

In any case, best wishes to the LEGO Group on this milestone! I'm looking forward to the next 75 years!

Under a cool coincidence, my little sister's birthday is the same day as LEGO's anniversary. And mine is the same day as Disneyland's opening!


Monday, August 6, 2007

Looking ahead...

The site has been launched, and there's still much to be done.

Past issues have to be uploaded, and new content needs to be placed.

It's nice to know that the site is being used - I got a note about a person who went to the  Chinese LEGO display because it was on the BrickJournal page. I'm pretty happy with that because it shows that the site works.

I should note that the news from that display came from the organizers and was sent directly to the BrickJournal e-mail address. This was something that didn't come from anyone in the community - it came from outside. A very good sign to me.

mission is to show off the best of the community, and of what is going on with the hobby - many in the community believe that their theme is the community and center their views on that perception.

BrickJournal doesn't narrowcast. As editor, I firmly believe that we benefit from cross-pollination and exploring what is going on. And there's a lot.

While there are train shows, there are also art exhibitions, displays and robotics workshops going on all over. Some are small, but some are very large in scope - all of them work to bring awareness to the hobby in their areas. The Journal should be looking for these events and publicizing, and by using the calendar and articles, it can.

On another note, I get to go on a road trip this coming weekend.