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Join Ron Callis, Owner & CEO of One Firefly and industry veteran, as he talks business development, technology trends, and more with leading personalities in the tech industry. Automation Unplugged (AU) is produced and broadcast live every week.
An AV and integration-focused podcast broadcast live weekly
Join Ron Callis, Owner & CEO of One Firefly and industry veteran, as he talks business development, technology trends, and more with leading personalities in the tech industry. Automation Unplugged (AU) is produced and broadcast live every week.
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Home Automation Podcast Episode #126: An Industry Q&A With Maryellen Oswald

In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Maryellen, of Connected Design Magazine, shares about the potential permanent move to virtual meetings, demonstrations and trade events.

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Maryellen Oswald. Recorded live on Wednesday, June 24th, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

About Maryellen Oswald

With 22 years in consumer publication, Maryellen and her team at Connected Design Magazine work to build bridges and create networking opportunities between technology professionals and the design & build community.

Connected Design Magazine is a seasonal publication venture between CT Lab Global Media and IFA that offers a visual showcase of the modern-day technology industry partnering with world-class architects, builders, and designers as they pioneer a new era of sophisticated connected homes.

Interview Recap

  • How Maryellen got her start in Consumer Electronics with Widescreen Magazine 
  • The potential permanent move to virtual meetings, demonstrations and trade events 
  • Insider look at the benefits of being featured in a publication such as Connected Design Magazine
  • Maryellen’s thoughts on the current state and future of our industry

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #125: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With Kyle Steele


Ron:  Hello. Hello. Ron Callis here with another episode of Automation Unplugged. It is Wednesday, June 24th. It's just a little bit after 12:30 p.m. Coming to you on our normal day and time. As always, I'm going to jump over to Facebook to make sure we're actually streaming my software. I use a piece of software called B Live and they changed some settings on me. Well, I hope you guys and gals are doing well. If you are watching in replay you can still play along. You can still drop into the comments or share and we generally are auditing the comment feed well into the future so if you do have questions or comments, we'll do our best to get back to you. We had Tomas from Panama. He says, "Saludos Ron!" What's up Tomas? How are you bud? I was on a podcast with Ariel from Polaris, Tomas, and I saw that you were also a guest. But I went to listen to your interview and it was all in Spanish and I am language limited. All I've got is English so I have no idea what you were saying but it was good to see there. All right. Who do I have today? I have the one and only Maryellen Oswald. This is show number 126 by the way. She is the publisher at Connected Design Magazine and I've been wanting to have Maryellen on the show for quite a while and our schedules aligned and so I'm happy to bring her to you today. Let me go ahead and do that. Let me click on my magical software. Maryellen, how are you?

Maryellen: Hey Ron! Hola Tomas!

Ron:  Maryellen, for those that may not be aware. Where are you coming to us from? What part of the world?

Maryellen: I am in sunny Southern California just north of San Diego and east of Los Angeles. And it is very sunny today.

Ron:  Very nice. Now is what is the current state of Southern Cal? What's it like outside? Are the restaurants open? Are the integrators that you might know in the area are they open and doing projects? What's going on down there?

Maryellen: Sure. Let's start with we are open. We are in what's called Phase 3, which means as of June 19th, hair salons, nail salons, barbershops, restaurants, bars, everything but bigger venue large crowd gathering settings. Minus those, everything is open.

Ron:  Are masks required?
Well, they were not. But in my county, I live in Riverside County and we're having not a resurgence but a peak. We're having cases come up so at first the governor had said optional but now it's mandatory. Each county decides whether they want to follow that or not. We're kind of on the edge of if you want to, but you should. Yes, there are masks involved. I wear a mask everywhere I go except for the restaurants. My husband and I went to a restaurant Friday night. We went to my son's bar. He works at a local distillery. And there were only maybe 10 or 12 people in there because we had to physical distance. And we were there for a bit for about an hour and then we went to a restaurant. The restaurant experience was very much like you would expect. You're waiting to get into the restaurant. But once we got into the restaurant, it was not full. Every other table was a setting. In between on those tables where there were people, there were these little signs that said reserved for our imaginary friends. Right. It was cute. But at the same time, they were doing appropriate measures to social distance. The experience itself was good. It was a very good experience. We weren't there more than an hour and then we went back home. A little glimpse but again maybe twenty-five percent capacity, if that.

Ron:  Yeah, I went to a restaurant for the first time here in Florida in three months. I went last weekend with my wife and my son and it was number one a very surreal experience. And in that case, everyone out and about in Florida I don't know if it's a state law or not, but everybody's wearing masks. Certainly, inside of stores, it's required. At the restaurant, everyone entered with a mask. But when they sat down, they would take their mask off. That's what we did.

Maryellen: Yes.

Ron:  But the food experience, it was actually a well-rated restaurant but it was I guess if you just use your imagination and if a restaurant has been closed for months and they reopen and the waiting staff was out of practice. Clearly, the kitchen was out of practice and overall it reminded us, sadly, that food is much better in our house than at that restaurant. We've been doing the Hello Fresh, cook the gourmet meal for yourself.

Maryellen: Us too! Yes.

Ron:  It's hard to beat that because Hello Fresh is so good.

Maryellen: When you're done, they show you exactly how to design and decorate the plate you feel like a master chef.

Ron:  My wife and I take pictures of most of our food these days. Who does that?

Maryellen: I do!

Ron:  I mean she made that and sometimes I'll go drink a glass of wine like as she's doing that she really enjoys it.

Maryellen: And I call that cooking with wine.

Ron:  Cooking with wine. Yes. We've got a lot of practice at that here over the last three months or so. Maryellen, for those that are not familiar with your background and what you currently do as Publisher of Connected Design Magazine. Can you just lay the foundation? What are you doing now and then I always enjoy the origin story and I've received that feedback from our audience. They love to hear where folks came from and how they landed in this industry.

Maryellen: Absolutely. Currently, I am the Publisher of Connected Design Magazine. If you aren't familiar with the magazine, shame on you. No.

Ron:  Take their wrist out! Slap it! Haha!

Maryellen: We launched about three and a half years ago and it's a magazine. What we like to call our little tag theme is connected solutions, sophisticated design. We like to focus a lot on the design aspect with the hidden technology but really to highlight the work the collaboration between the integrators and the design-build audience. We have a lot of features where we're highlighting integrators and who their partners are, a lot of installs, case studies. Case studies are a real favorite of mine because you get the real experience from the integrator themselves. What the challenge was, what they had to do to overcome it, and how all the heads come together to at the end of the day make the homeowner happy. It is a B2B magazine. And in addition to that, I'm also part of Dealer Scope Magazine which has been around for many years. A large B2B on the retail side. Many of you may have just received an e-mail notifying you of their new look and feel, new redesign.

Ron:  I was telling you I just had received that e-mail just moments before you and I connected for the show. I was like, "Hey I just got the e-mail about the redesign of Dealer Scope."

Maryellen: Yeah we're really excited about that. I think one of the things and I know we'll talk about this a little bit later in the convo but when we first kind of went heads down when everything started shutting down, I remember going on one of your webinars on working from home and things you can do. And there were all these little tips of things that you can do to work on your business and that's pretty much what we did was put our heads down and took a look at who do we want to be? Where do we want to be? We put all those things into place. We were excited to have a new Art Director and a couple of new people join our team to help us move and navigate into what today and what the future will be for readers. The redesign is definitely a big deal for us.

Ron:  You guys have a lot of cool exciting things in the works then for the upcoming year. Is that what I'm to understand?

Maryellen: We do.

Ron:  But we can't talk about those things here publicly. We'll just leave it high level. Lots of cool fun exciting things to announce.

Maryellen: Yes correct.

Ron:  That's awesome. Then, your origin? That's what you're doing now. You're also doing CE Week.

Maryellen: This is true. Yes. CE Week is an annual show, a trade show that we do every year in June and the foundation of that is primarily press but we do have a little bit of a buyers component to it where we try to do matchmaking. But every year whatever products were now available any new product announcements, technology announcements, where we are in the state of our industry, we would do that every year in June. But COVID hit.

Ron:  Not this June, next June.

Maryellen: Next June. COVID hit, we couldn't do that but that is a show we've been doing for many years. It continues to evolve and we are tied in to IFA. And I don't know if many people know of IFA but IFA is a trade show that's been around since 1924. It's probably the largest global consumer electronics trade show and white goods. They normally average around two hundred forty thousand attendees. They cover any electronic device that you could have in your home.

Ron:  This is bigger than CES?

Maryellen: Yes, it's bigger than CES if you can imagine.

Ron:  That's amazing.

Maryellen: If you can imagine. I mean it's six days so every September usually during our Labor Day holiday week they kick-off . Right on the tails of CEDIA. But yes. That's who we are and we can talk a little bit about that if you'd like. Just to answer the question of my origin, how I came into, obviously I'm Hispanic, I'm Latin. But about twenty-two years ago, I had a baby and then I stayed home for a year. We decided I should probably go back to work. Back in the day, you would look for jobs in the newspaper right. I answered this ad and lo and behold I ended up starting with a small consumer publication called Widescreen Review. It's been around for a while but that's where I got my start.

Ron:  Is that publication still around?

Maryellen: I believe so yes. Very consumer-targeted. Very technical. As a matter of fact, I owe them a lot because I learned a lot about the publishing industry but also about our industry because they really take some product reviews and I mean they're very technical to go through and they break it down. Being in media, you have to read everything you're representing right? I learned a lot. I've seen a lot of new technologies come and go but that's how I started. And then I was with them for about nine years before I started with Napco Media and now about three years ago we branched off and formed CT Lab Media. You'll see CT Lab Global Media a lot. What that represents is Connected Design, Dealer Scope, CE week, and then IFA.

Ron:  Your email is a CT lab address?

Maryellen: Yeah. If anybody sees that that's who we are.

Ron:  And I asked you a question as we were prepping, and I said you've been in this space 20 plus years. Why did you decide to stay? You gave me a great answer. What was your response to why you stayed?

Maryellen: Relationships. Our industry is built the foundation of our business is built on relationships. And there was an opportunity for me to segway out of the industry and do something completely different. And I got some great advice from someone who said do you know how long it took you to build these relationships? Do you know how long it will take you to build new relationships in a completely different industry? It's a value, you need to stay and you enjoy it. And I do I enjoy working. Not only for my company but I enjoy working in this industry. I've met so many people I've learned from so many people. And now we're at the position where I like to look at us as we're in the middle. We're not quite on our way out and we're not just fresh into it. We get to be mentors to people, but also continue to be mentored by some of the greats. It's why I'm still here. Twenty-two years and I can't believe I'm saying that out loud.

"The foundation of our business is built on relationships."

Ron:  I heard it but there's the adage that network equals your net worth. And that goes back to that idea that your network, the people you know and surround yourself with and that is valuable that's gold. That enables you to pick up the phone and I would imagine you could pick up the phone and talk the head of almost any company in our industry whether that's an integrator whether that's a manufacturer. That's power.

Maryellen: Definitely an integrative for sure or send out a text. And I try to not be that person that's continuously calling and asking or needing something but rather being that person who's checking in. How are you doing and how is your business? We did a lot of that because we wanted to make sure that people were OK. And not only are you OK but is there something we can do to help your business?

Ron:  Let's go into that. COVID I'm going to say as predicted it's having a resurgence because everyone decided to play. Go out and pretend as if there had been a vaccine and act as if there wasn't a virus rampaging across the planet. And so there's a resurgence. But big picture, from your vantage point what's happening across the country for our industry? Because it's it's not doom and gloom. There are plenty of people hurting but our industry is actually in a really interesting place. What are you seeing?

Maryellen: Yes absolutely. Within our industry, our CI channel, everybody's busy. And even if they weren't busy, there were calls. There were calls from customers where they had to go out and make sure the network was working or my projector's down or my home theater something's wrong with my home theater. I need a home office. All the above, they were busy and continuing to be busy. As the phases opened throughout the country, they're able to get some of their employees back in and get their employees out there and really just go out and try to meet that demand but also fulfill a new demand that's out there. Because of the way that we live, this has changed our lifestyles. Many companies will probably continue remote work from home, watching movies, streaming. Being able to watch in the comfort of your own home. Gyms. Oh my gosh. Home gyms. I just have to say this. We just closed the summer issue of Connected Design last week and it should be mailed out. I would say next week people will start getting it but I can't even tell you the number of home gym pictures we got to accompany some of these features. Gyms are closed and people care about their health and that's another thing.

Ron:  My wife and I converted our garage to a home. We did the same thing.

Maryellen: Well, I'll be honest, my husband and I are the ones that decided late in the game that oh maybe we need a bike. We need not the Peloton but the Nordic Track. We need to have it. We're those people who are waiting six weeks for this bike to show up. It's hard not having these face to face is not having the conferences, not having the shows. For us, that's being in contact and being able to communicate with the integrators to hear their stories. We're not able to do what we do without them. It was important for us to reach out. One of the things that came about was our talk shows that you may have seen, The Insider Talk and really that was an idea that OK we're all stuck at home we need to be able to still share content. And by the way, while we're sharing this content, we're reaching new people. We need to be able to do that and if we can bring value to our partners and have them on the show and talk about some really cool things let's do it. Little things like that because everybody is busy.

Ron:  How is that going? How is doing shows? You're my guest. Thank you for coming on, by the way. But how is it as we look around social media YouTube or social media. We see folks are discovering this format where you don't need a television studio to have a show, you can have a webcam and a microphone. You don't even have to have a microphone. You can use a computer mic and you can interview people. So how has that experience been for you?

Maryellen: I will be honest. I will say that you know we wouldn't be able to do this without a really good tech guy or a tech company or a tech gal and so we have a partner, our production partner. They help us but it's a lot of work. It's not just, "Oh let me just go live and start talking." There's a lot of prep. I would say an average show probably can consume four hours of your day easily. Right. And that's not my day job. But it's a means to be able to communicate to build a community. To get our content out there, just have conversations and sometimes you get ideas. You get people who will interact with you and suggest things so we like it. Will it last? I hope so. But it's trial and error. It's working for now.

Ron:  Number one. How can people that are listening or watching this, that want to watch your show. Give us more details. Where would they go how would they subscribe and how can they listen to it or watch it?

Maryellen: OK. I don't know if any of you remember but Technology Integrator used to be a product, a brand of ours. And when we sunsetted that out came Connected Design. We were a little slow in transferring everything over but if you wanted to find us you could find us Connected Design should be up and running hopefully soon within the next few days. You can find us via Dealer Scope on Facebook, you can find us on Connected Design, I'll give you my contact info at the end of the show but you can go to our website. It's everywhere. You can go to Mepo.

Ron:  It's on Facebook?

Maryellen: Correct. And they've been very instrumental in helping us build our audience. Dealer Scope is doing quite well. You can go right to their page in and view the episodes. I believe they want to go one show per week and they're talking to retailers, big retailers because that's their space. I typically like to bring on a vendor and an integrator and just shoot the s$*% about what's happening over there.

Ron:  It's our show. We're allowed to curse. Have you enjoyed the live interview format or has it been stressful or what's your read on that?

Maryellen: As you know, it takes practice right? It takes a lot of practice. And when you go live right on the spot there is no margin for error. And I'll just say there is one show that just threw me for a loop. And like yours, we're having a really good conversation, good flow. That's the intention I'd like for Connected Design's insider talk is I don't want it to be scripted. I want you to feel natural and like we're face to face we're just having a conversation. One of the episodes we did, somebody felt a little bit more as though they needed structure, needed outlines, needed a script to follow.

Ron:  They wanted to make sure they said the right things or didn't miss anything.

Maryellen: Exactly, they wanted to make sure we had this outline to flow with and it was not on the cuff and it threw me off. And I kept having to look down and then it didn't go as well as it should have.

Ron:  You felt uncomfortable.

Maryellen: And what made me feel uncomfortable was they were so uncomfortable and it was like, that was it. But all the others were fun. It's starting to get fun. I got to do something fun the other day with Josh and Dish Network. They reached out and said they do their Friday webinars and they said, "We'd like for you to moderate one of our shows." And I said, "Oh I'd love to." That was probably the easiest thing I could do because all I had to do was ask the questions I didn't have to lead or run the show or probe them so that was much more fun for me.

Ron:  My style is I don't do well with thorough outlines. Anyone that has seen me live and certainly listening to this show or watching the show or maybe at a training or a webinar, I'll know where I'm going and I'll know like the bullet the word which will give me a cue of the thing to talk about. I have a few words over here on my screen that reminds me of things I want to talk to you about. But being detailed I don't know. To try to follow a systematic outline in a really detailed fashion it brings back a terrible memory from my very early days at Lutron 20 years ago. I remember I was in Minneapolis and I was doing something with architects or designers I was maybe doing outreach instruction and I did something that my boss had acknowledged me for. And we went to the national sales meeting and he bid me to speak in front of the entire Lutron sales organization which even 20 years ago globally was massive. I just remember this room of so many people. And I remember knowing and anticipating I had to go up and just sweating and then going up and I'll bore you. I'll give you the very short version. I remember going up and the microphone was there and the lights were on and all of these people I didn't know. And I had my detailed notes there and I froze and it was the worst 60 seconds of silence that you could ever imagine. And then finally I just flipped my notes over to the blank page and I just looked up and started talking.

Maryellen: Yes. Sometimes it's the best we could do.

Ron:  It was so much better. I saved the audience from the awkwardness of having to watch me freeze in public and be scared out of my mind.

Maryellen: Yep. If you do have to have a script you need to follow just practice! Over and over again. Don't change it up a minute before you go live.

Ron:  Amen, I am mindful of the time and I have a few things I want to try to have you help me help the audience with. You are a publisher and it is for many business owners dreams of getting published one day. Getting a story about their business, getting a story about one of their projects featured in print for posterity. They can tell their children they were published in a magazine. Number one I'm going to peel the layers back on this. I just want at a high level. Why should someone listening want to get published? What is in your opinion some of the benefits for their business of simply showing up in your publication or another industry publication?

Maryellen: Sure. First and foremost, being published gives you credibility. You're real. You're authentic. You're not some ghost in the background that says here's what I do and here's how I do it. Not only that, it gives you a resource, a reference if you will, to solicit new business or showcase and explain how you do what you do. Because in our industry, when you say integrator to just an average person they are like well what does that mean?

Ron:  Most of the world has no idea what our industry is or does.

Maryellen: No. But if you say little things like smart home or I hate saying that. Voice control let's say voice control when you say voice and things like that then people start to understand what it is. What we do is we help you tell that story. We share what it is that you do with the pretty pictures to go along with it. That should be first and foremost why you would want to be published.

Ron:  Pictures, how does that normally happen? Does your publication, being specific, does your publication assign a photographer? Do you want the integrator to have their photographer shoot a project and what are the guidelines of what to shoot or even how to shoot it so that it's beautiful and would look good in a publication?

Maryellen: Spend the money and hire a photographer, a professional, because they will know how to do this. They will shine the light the angles. It's worth it for your business. If it's low-quality low res, shot from your phone you'll know. Especially when it's in print you'll know. Now digital it's a little different. Yes, definitely just spend the money reinvest into your business hire a photographer. Especially on those high-end projects. Those real big projects, it's worth it.

"Spend the money, hire a photographer, a professional, because they will know how to do this. They will shine the light the angles. It's worth it for your business."

Ron:  Now Mary Ellen I'm going to pause here just for a second because on my screen you are all green and I want to figure it out. This just happened so I want to figure out with my audience. It just flipped. Now I see you in full color.

Maryellen: Why am I green?

Ron:  I don't know and I don't know if the audience on Facebook actually sees you.

Maryellen: I'm going to blame your Be Live software.

Ron:  I blame it all the time. If you only knew how many curse words I threw at my software on a regular basis.

Maryellen: Let's edit that out. Do we need to say it again?

Ron:  No. I think we're good. We're going to keep going. What was the answer around photography and are you driving the specification or the selection of a photographer?

Maryellen: Yep. Hire a photographer. We expect high-resolution images nice clean images so we don't provide that. But I would invest, it's a small little thing that you should invest into your business. Especially for those high level larger estate projects where there are lots of things going on, a lot of pretty pictures that you can take if the homeowner allows you.

Ron:  Sure you need to certainly get the homeowner's approval.

Maryellen: You need to get permission. Absolutely.

Ron:  What is the way that someone should approach a publisher such as yourself? Those that are listening, watching. What are your recommendations on how to pitch you on ideas? I'm using the word pitch I'm using a PR term. I don't want to put words in your mouth but how should they approach you regarding potentially either their business being featured in a case study or and or a project being featured or highlighted?

Maryellen: Sure. Listen, we are all about content. We are a content company. We like to create and share content. We are very approachable. You can e-mail me directly. We have a full team of editorial editors on hand. They're easily accessible. You can shoot anyone of us an e-mail and say, "Hey here's an idea." A lot of PR companies send us case studies. They send us ideas, exclusives, things like that. Within reason we take everything, depending. Most of the time we will share it online almost immediately within two to three days. But if it's something that's going into print because we're only published four times a year, there is a little bit of delay. But with those, there's a little qualification process. First and foremost is photography, high res images. If they're not high res, they won't be published.

Ron:  The images do the selling. They do a lot of selling.

Maryellen: The images tell the story. And when you're appealing to an interior designer an architect or sometimes a builder, it's got to be pretty. It's gotta capture their attention. They want to be able to look, feel, touch.

Ron:  What is your next upcoming publication? I know you said you published four times a year. What is your next upcoming issue and what are your deadlines for submissions? I'm just trying to nudge those that are listening that might want to participate.

Maryellen: We are actually taking submissions now for our fall issue which is September. This would have been our CEDIA issue and really all that means is we would have taken an extra few thousand to the show. But all of the same people will still be able to receive this in their home or at their place of business. But we have on the website, There's a tab where you can click "Submit your Install." It doesn't cost anything, feel free to go there. We are taking submissions until the end of July, maybe sooner. But the rule of thumb if you can get them within the next three to four weeks and the photography is good we'll take it.

Ron:  For those that are listening, we'll drop this into the show notes in the comments. Stephanie on my team will make sure that happens and we'll also put those links on the show page show 126 page on our website so we'll make sure you guys have the notes on how to do that submission. I will shout from the mountaintops guys and gals, you need to get your jobs photographed for all of your marketing needs including bringing it to a publisher if they're going to write a story it really helps. Now , Maryellen, we did learn recently, maybe a couple of weeks ago or so that CEDIA is canceled and I'm going to make a bet. If you know differently, please tell me. I think most of the industry shows for the balance of the year are canceled ish. I say that with an exception because I know that you already told me the IFA show in Germany is going to happen. Is that news? Was I supposed to say that? Is that public news?

Maryellen: Yeah, it was announced late May that they were going to continue. It's not the original show that they normally would have produced but with the government guidelines they are allowed to have 5000 people a day. No more than 5000 people a day. They've redesigned, reorganized the show with their four concepts which is press, their global press conference. The retail aspect of it which is the buying part of it, new technology new products and then some retail lounges and a global supply chain is another big deal. September 3rd through the 6th they will have this live show. If you're interested in hearing more about it reach out to me and I'd be happy to give you more details.

Ron:  I have a question. Does the integrator audience here in North America which is at least some of our listeners we have we have listeners around the world. I think they'll be either on the show or the podcast listeners in Europe and or elsewhere that might regularly go to IFA in the US. I'm not that familiar.

Maryellen: Definitely European because it's in Germany. It's based in Berlin, Germany. It's more retail white goods more general consumer electronics anything you can buy at a store through distribution. Very large brands, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Samsung.

Ron:  Our industry, our integrators are busy. In North America I'm going to say this, our integrators are busy. I think the demand for consumer electronics and technology in the home is very high right now in certain segments of the economy. Fortunately for us it's the segment we serve and our customers serve. What do you think the lack of shows or industry events high-level brainstorm how does the industry recover 2021 and what do events look like in 2021? I'm imagining you're having brainstorms with your team around what. Let's assume there's a vaccine discovered God willing and we're not having to run around with face masks on and run through hand sanitizer bottles daily. What do you think the future looks like for our industry? Is it a quick rebound or what?

Maryellen: No I don't think it's a quick rebound at all. I think we'll still see a lot of virtual concepts and I think that the virtual concept is here to stay. Depending on what the main goal is, whether it's a meeting or a launch. What have you. Virtual is not going away. I don't think ever. But I think the new norm, what we'll end up seeing is especially within the next year or so. Because it's not like this is just going to go away. We're going to continue to get sick and it's going to look different and the flu is always going to be around. But I think our behavior is going to change. How we interact with people. And I think we'll see more conventions starting. The new norm will be taking the temperature right. Maybe some of them will make you show proof of vaccination or proof of negative testing. That's what I think we're going to see in the next six to eight months. I think we're going to see a lot of those prerequisites.

Ron:  My wife is not feeling well. The past couple of days and for the first time ever, she and I were investigating telemedicine. How to have a virtual appointment with a doctor and there's a great hospital here in South Florida. Cleveland Hospital. And so we were just like well that's one of the best hospitals. I bet you they have a virtual medicine just brainstorm. And never researched it before. And there you go. They had an app ready to go and you sign up and you literally are face to face with a doctor and they can write prescriptions and they can follow up with you and you do it all through the app and through FaceTime on the phone. If COVID had not happened, she normally would have just gone down the street into urgent care to the doctor's office. But this scenario, the fact that we're thinking differently to your point. She doesn't want to go. That appointment from your home seems quite logical now. And I think that this is just fast-forwarding us into the future.

Maryellen: Yes. And I think it's very innovative. I give major kudos to our parent company for moving forward with this concept because our behavior is changing, it's going to continue to change. But I do feel like, a couple of years down the line. Fast forward two or three years, we all laugh. We all look back and say oh my gosh, we had to wear masks. I was on the phone with one of our team members and her kids were gonna go the grocery store with their dad and they were asking for their masks and I joked and I said, "Fast forward to when your kids are adults and they tell stories about how the time where can you remember when people didn't wear masks?" This is what they know right now. Let's be honest this is a pandemic, it's a first for many of us.

Ron:  It's a different universe for sure. Well, Maryellen, believe it or not, it has been almost an hour of us chatting here. I told you it would go by in a blink and I'm gonna put your email address on the screen here. Let me just try to do that for all of the people that are watching us live. Let's see if I can figure out technology and while I do that if there are other ways that people can follow up with you personally or follow up with the various publications that you're associated with?

Maryellen: Yep so you can find me through social. Maryellen Oswald on Facebook @MeOswald on Twitter, Connected.Design on Instagram.

Ron:  Did I get the email right by the way?

Maryellen: Yes.

Ron:  Any closing advice Maryellen, for our audience of business owners operators industry people, on what you recommend they should be thinking about or focusing on here for the rest of the year? Any thoughts that come top of mind?

Maryellen: You threw that one at me.

Ron:  It was a softball, you're saying get published dammit. Reach out, photograph your projects.

Maryellen: Yeah. I think my parting words would be to use your network. Get a hold of your vendors. Get a hold of your colleagues and start groups. Start little groups on how you can brainstorm or come up with ideas or what you're hearing out there and problems things that you can solve. There's nothing like a good strong network and we're all in this together. We're only as strong as we are together.

"There's nothing like a good strong network and we're all in this together."

Ron:  Amen, well Maryellen, this has been a pleasure having you on the show. I appreciate you're a busy woman. So thank you.

Maryellen: Thank you so much, it was a lot of fun.

Ron:  If you're game we'll follow up afterward. I'd love to have you on again. Maybe we'll get a little bit further down the road here.

Maryellen: Yeah, thank you.

Ron:  All right folks. So there you have it. Episode number 126 Maryellen Oswald, Publisher at Connected Design Magazine. And again yes business is good right now but we do not know what business is going to look like three months six months a year from now. And the idea of evaluating your marketing your PR and kind of increasing the visibility of your brand is just a good idea. It's a good logical smart thing to do. And here you have Maryellen providing advice. She's saying my goodness, I need stories to publish, I need dealers to feature in case studies. If you're watching and listening, definitely seek her out. Seek out her publication and or other industry publications and tell them about the exciting projects you're doing. What I'm hearing and seeing is that most integrators are busier right this minute than they've been. In many cases ever. And so the demand is high for putting technology in the home.
You guys have an opportunity to tie up your game and maybe secure your future by making sure you're photographing those projects and featuring those projects out there in the media. It can only help. On that note as always if you have not already done so, go over to your favorite podcast program and type in Automation Unplugged, find the show in case you want to listen to our guests in these interviews and not just watch live. I know that sometimes your time and availability are limited so definitely check out the actual podcast. And as always have a great day. Have a great week and I will see you next time. Thanks everyone.


Maryellen has 22 years of experience in consumer publication. She and her team at Connected Design Magazine work to build bridges and create networking opportunities between technology professionals and the design & build community.

Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing within the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.

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