Our Story of 2019

ACT 4 OF 7: THE CARMEN SANDIEGO EFFECT by Mitchell Derrey

One of the many perks of working at Silver Fox is the ability to travel with our clients around the world—all while earning personal frequent flyer miles!

Over the years, we’ve built great relationships with our clients who have given us amazing opportunities to support their event needs all around the globe. This year alone we’ve been to Tokyo, Warsaw, Taipei, Seoul, Shenzhen, Berlin, and Sydney. Our team has also traveled to onsite roles in the United States, including Orlando, Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York, and Washington D.C. Some of these locations numerous times!

When it comes to supporting events around the world, we believe it takes special people to travel and push through the jet lag. Our team consistently shows up ready to tackle challenges and the long hours onsite, all the while being that cool, calming smile and voice our clients need to succeed in stressful situations.

While onsite, we execute three primary roles for our clients:

First, we have our “breakout” support that enables our team to service events featuring 2,000+ presentations and hundreds of breakout rooms. We’re there to make things simple so speakers can focus on making their performance a success.

Second, we assign specific assignments to our designers, which typically include supporting specific executives and their larger keynote presentations or supporting general session and keynote rooms. In these instances, the assigned designer manages design work that often comes from multiple directions and multiple key players. Our designers attend rehearsals and manage edits in real time to ensure that everything goes as planned.

Finally, Silver Fox provides a highly specialized role that requires specific design training: presentation operation. Our operators make real-time edits for rehearsals, last minute design revisions, and emergency edits during the live show. They also must ensure that the correct presentation is playing at the correct time. Quick thinking, creativity, and remaining cool under pressure is essential for this role!

Even with long hours onsite, navigating complex issues, and often working through jet lag, our team always finds opportunities to explore the cities we visit. Traveling means that our team gets to create new experiences together, as we explore these destinations. We wouldn’t have it any other way!

In Act 5 of our blog series, we will share how inviting our four-legged friends into our daily office routine livens it up and helps boost morale.

Our Story of 2019

ACT 3 OF 7: A PATH FOR GROWTH by Auri Mathisen

Every newly hired designer at Silver Fox goes through the same two-week training program designed to provide them with a technical background in PowerPoint. This onboarding program is run by senior designers and has seen many iterations based on evolving business and client needs. In January of 2019, I had the opportunity to take over the onboarding process for our new designers and have since continued to mentor the designer team.

The model for training at Silver Fox is that designers not only receive ongoing training, but they actively participate in the creation of new trainings and are able to teach their peers, which provides learning opportunities and harvesting leadership skills.

From onboarding to…?

While the onboarding process does an excellent job of equipping new designers with the basics, there is still a period of “ramping up” so the new designers can grow to the same level of efficiency as the seasoned designers. In response to this growth period, we hold a variety of designer-led trainings as opportunities for designers to hone and refresh their skills. As a more senior designer, you can advance your skills by participating in the Executive Level Certification. We value the continued exploration of our design learning and encourage all our designers to participate in these trainings.

Why extended onboarding?

In between their initial onboarding and Executive Level Certification, designers must learn crucial communication and time management skills while honing efficiencies in PowerPoint. As a result, I created the Extended Onboarding program to actively continue mentoring new designers after their initial training. The purpose of it is to bring the new designers up to speed by developing project communication and advanced design skills.

What does this look like?

As I’ve grown as a designer, I’ve learned that communication skills are critical to a designer’s success and career. Not only does it mean listening and interpreting the client’s needs, it also means conveying expectations around timelines and next steps—especially as you grow into a one-on-one executive support role. As designers gain status within the company, they begin to take more ownership of their client relationships; these skills are foundational to that work.

When putting together the workshops for Extended Onboarding we wanted to prepare new designers for these executive types of client relationships.

Additionally, a key part of being a successful designer at Silver Fox is understanding the team dynamic. Good communication is part of the fabric of strong designer and project manager relationships and why we can serve our clients so effectively.

Advancing design skills

After fully exploring communication and the designer’s role in the creative process, I developed the second half of Extended Onboarding to focus on advanced PowerPoint techniques and storytelling. Designers are each given a script for a presentation and tasked with translating this into a slide deck. Storytelling is at the heart of what we do, as our designs serve only to enhance the speaker’s message. In this workshop, we take designers through multiple group critiques, which is an important process to fine tune our skills, as well as gain practice speaking to our own designs.

Using this method, I have been privileged to learn from several talented designers at Silver Fox and utilize their unique PowerPoint hacks to this day. Our culture of shared knowledge is what makes us a strong and informed design team!

Recently, we had four designers go through Extended Onboarding: Anna, Cody, Keelan, and Iuliia. They all presented impressive final projects that showcases their skills and growth in their time at Silver Fox. We are excited to see how future classes of new Silver Fox designers will continue to bloom!

In Act 4 of our blog series, we will share in depth information about our onsite operations and some of the many places we get to travel with our clients.

Our Story of 2019

ACT 2 OF 7: THE BREAKFAST CLUB by Priscila Croxall

When I started at Silver Fox six years ago, our designers would gather every Thursday for an hour a week to collaborate and share ideas. It was a space where we could think outside of the box, free from constraints or boundaries of corporate work. We called this weekly meeting Breakfast Club.

I thought that was a great initiative to get to know my new colleagues and enrich my presentation skills, so I participated in every meeting. Many of the designers who participated were excited have fun and satisfy their creative thirst each week. Eventually, our busy event season made it challenging to keep these meetings, so they were cancelled. During our busy season, our focus was 100% devoted to our clients, and everyone’s efforts made the mountain of work conquerable! Once our work settled down, it was time to reinvent Breakfast Club in a creative, new way.

A new format was born where team building was the main goal. In our first iteration of Breakfast Club, we would individually present an idea, however our new iteration brought us all together as teammates to share ideas. Our weekly meetings included different games that would enhance our leadership skills, collaboration and creativity. It was a fun space for us as designers

As we see often in design, new iterations and innovation are necessary. So, earlier this year, we decided to reinvent Breakfast Club– and this time, I took on leadership with the help of my colleagues, Calder and Megan. We had the challenge of creating a new format that needed to be fresh and interesting, while also offering growth to our skillsets, as designers.

Keeping this in mind, I dreamt up a new Breakfast Club that consisted of four sections per meeting.

The first section, called Hot Topic, was all about our work: showcasing before and after slides, updating the designers of forthcoming projects, and recaps of events we had supported, to name a few.

The next section was called Tips & Tricks, where it offered an opportunity to learn tips from Silver Fox’s senior designers. Some of these tips and tricks helped us learn speedy ways to improve our work and learn creative solutions to overcome software limitations.

The third section was focused on presentations by the designers. Each designer collaborated by bringing fresh discussion ideas to the group, which made Breakfast club an interactive and cooperative meeting.

Finally, the last 15 minutes offered a flexible space dedicated to a leisurely activity as a group. In one instance, we shared fun stories from our experience at events, and in another instance, we crafted origami art. Organizing these meetings made me grow as a leader and helped me get to know my coworkers better in a creative, interactive space.

It was very rewarding to see our design staff participating and enjoying our once a week space solely for all things design! Through this, I was able to contribute to each designers’ growth and to growing the culture of creativity at Silver Fox.

Stay tuned for Act 3 of our blog series where we will be providing an in-depth look at our training programs for skill and career development.

Our Story of 2019

ACT 1 OF 7: THE REBRAND by Mitchell Derrey

A company, in its very essence, is a sum of all its people and all of who they are. We believe our best ideas come from our employees, our people, whose diverse and exciting ideas germinate new evolutions to Silver Fox.

Some of our most bold and ambitious ideas were ushered in through new ownership in 2016, establishing new values and vision for the company. Silver Fox’s core values are rooted in empathy, teamwork, mindfulness, curiosity, ownership, and character.

We believe we found the secret formula in both design and creating a sustaining culture driven to embody, embrace, and enact our foundational core values. In turn, this creates space for creativity and dreaming up innovative solutions in design.

With a fresh perspective and a newfound space for employees to blossom, it required a complete design rebrand, including a new logo that showcased our fresh and modern approach to design. Which, we believe, is a better reflection of the comp

any and our trajectory for the future.

After feeling enthused about our logo redesign, it was obvious that the dark, pallid website design needed fresh life breathed into it, as well. We wanted our website to reflect our company’s diverse, exciting, and colorful culture.

That’s exactly what we set out to do a year ago.

If there’s anything that excites a company full of designers, it’s the ability to provide input, share ideas, and see their designs come to life! So, we assembled teams of designers to dream up concepts and ideas for the new website. We saw our designers take ownership in representing the company, as they poured their hearts into this project. It was a long journey and sometimes required tabling the design, as we focused on producing excellent work for our valued partners and clients. However, our team never lost sight in the overarching goal during this process: to create a website that reflects the vibrance of Silver Fox and what we offer to our clients.

In October of this year, we reached the finish line and excitedly launched the newly reinvented website! It was through mutual efforts of teamwork, patience, and dedication to our craft that pulled it all together. Check out our new website.

The rebranding of our company is more than merely the color, font size, or shapes—It’s about embracing change and welcoming new, fresh perspectives. It’s about defining and living our core values, owning the culture of our workplace, and being thrilled to serve our clients.

In Act 2 of our blog series, we will share how exploring and celebrating our artistic talents enriches our culture of creativity.

Executive Level Certification

Over the last few years, we have identified two emerging needs within our designer training program: building a stronger bench of expert level design talent and proactively equipping our design staff to meet the challenges of presentation design with confidence, efficiency, and expertise. In response to these needs, the Executive Level Certification (ELC) program was born. ELC participants are led through a series of lessons and challenges, preparing them to take on any project that comes their way.

The ELC course was built to address not only design skills, but also to grow junior designers into full-fledged professionals. We realize that design skills are developed over time, but no school program really prepares designers to use presentation software like we do. Creating innovative and beautiful presentations is our specialty, and we love mentoring and developing designers’ skills in this medium.

“WHAT YOU GET OUT OF THIS COURSE WILL DEPEND ON WHAT YOU PUT IN.”

While there is a small group of mentors who run the ELC, the task of training and equipping our designers is shared across the whole team. From Creative Managers and Team Leaders to Mentors and Trainees, it is truly a group effort!

Allow me to share a few of the highlights from our most recent ELC cohort.

Taylor participated in an SFP infographic initiative last year, but felt that his work had room to grow. He took his personal ELC project as an opportunity to build on that effort. He went outside his comfort zone by creating 3D models to drive the concept around Screen Printing 101. We could tell he really enjoyed creating something around a personal passion.

Priscila had participated in an externally run Executive Design Certification in the past, but coming off a sabbatical, wanted to reset and refresh her skills utilizing our newly formed internal program. Her personal project also really stood out. She did an informative slide set around the hidden gems of the Pacific Northwest, which showcased a solid stylized design and some simple and elegant animations.

David has been with SFP for over 10 years, having the most tenure out of all the participants this round. It was impressive to see him step in and take the initiative to sharpen his skills outside of his day-to-day work. He participated in some spirited peer review sessions and really stepped up his game on a specific reconcept of a timeline slide. I think this design has many practical applications in our client work.

Auri stood out in her ability to distill information into simple and easy to understand concepts. Often, speakers are so close to their content that they struggle to communicate it clearly to others outside their field. As designers, we advise our clients to explain their heavy subjects in the simplest terms, then use that simplified information to tell a compelling visual story. Our goal is to make the audience walk away understanding the key messages and concept, and Auri proved she could do this effectively while maintaining a great aesthetic.

Finally, Megan’s ELC work really displayed her ability to understand the goal of a slide. In her example, she took a complex idea of showing comparison of a solution with and without a partnership. The simple solution she employed of a linear step-by-step showcase helps the audience to easily follow the visual and the speaker. The minimalistic use of color and iconography also allows the message to be front and center without any distraction from over the top visuals. With a view into the structure of this slide set outside of show mode, one can see how easily editable the slides are; set up with each animation on its own slide. This is important for last minute onsite changes just before showtime.

Our ELC team this year was outstanding and I’m excited to see how they continue to push the boundaries of presentation design, beyond what most people believe PowerPoint can do!

Events

Great presentations have the ability to transform and empower their audiences. But when a presentation is a part of a bigger event, it’s easy for the quality and authenticity of the story to get lost in the shuffle, amid the increasing complexity of event logistics. At Silver Fox, we work tirelessly to make sure our clients’ stories shine throughout the event process, from idea to design to delivery.

Our full range of event services include template design, one-on-one presentation support, event content management, and backstage presentation operation. Our talented teams are trained to create stunning, accessible, effective presentations. We work closely with key decision makers and vendors to construct a logistics game plan for each event we support, supplying a talented on-site team that is agile and efficient to ensure successful execution. Every event is comprised of thousands of presentation details and we know how to roll with the changes, even up to the last minute.

Our automated presentation management tool, FoxTrax, helps to enhance the presentation experience at any scale. With FoxTrax, hundreds of presentations are processed, cued up for delivery onstage, then captured and archived for future use. Utilizing FoxTrax on-site at events allows speakers to focus on a successful performance, knowing the details are taken care of. Presenters, event staff, and content owners enjoy a smoother logistical experience, freeing up time and resources.

We have successfully supported hundreds of events and over 250,000 presentations over the last two decades. We have built trusted partnerships with our clients by providing excellence in presentation design, management, and execution, and we are here to help you level-up your event delivery.

Design

At Silver Fox, our talented team of designers specializes in incredible presentation design, and we’ve earned our position at the top of the industry over the last 20 years. But what does it really mean to deliver design solutions, and what makes Silver Fox unique?

We specialize in the nitty gritty details so our clients can focus on what matters most—giving a great talk. We geek out about the latest presentation tools, from PowerPoint to Illustrator, and we obsess over delivering creative results that allow our clients to tell their stories well.

The design process can be tricky to explain to those who are unfamiliar with its iterative nature, but we strive to break barriers between designers and clients so that ideas flow freely. Great design is best accomplished when there is open connection and communication. To that end, we work hard to build a trusting relationship with each client we support.

Internally, we’ve set up a support structure to empower our design team to create their best possible work. Our creative managers and directors work closely with designers every day to give them the tools they need to be successful and meet the demands of increasingly advanced design projects.

Fundamentally, we remain design-centric at our core. We’re constantly on the lookout for new technologies that might enhance the quality and impact of our graphic design. We lean into digital transformation so we can do we do best—help our clients shine on stage.

Innovation

In the world of events, innovation is key to providing an attendee experience that is engaging and exciting. With advancements in AR and VR, accessibility, and mobile apps, event content is now available more quickly and in more innovative forms than ever before. As technology rapidly connects and expands our world, we’re looking at how these changes can improve our processes and offerings.

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Blip: Life Really IS Too Short

One of our frequent partners, Message Glue, is made up of husband and wife team Ken and Anna Boynton. Anna is a communications coach, and we’ve worked with her for the last six years on TEDx Seattle, as well as other events. Her husband, Ken, is the writer and creative side of the company, and he creates connected and compelling content. Recently we attended the launch party for Ken’s newly published book “Blip”.

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The art of storytelling from a guru

Storytelling has been a primary means of passing down information for thousands of years. From cave paintings, to oral narratives, to music and dance, stories help us to examine and share our world with others. While the ways and technologies that we use to tell stories are ever evolving and changing, the roots and principles of storytelling remain the same. Here at Silver Fox, we help clients craft and deliver compelling stories every day.

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Giving back: an interview with the Union Gospel Mission

Working downtown, we encounter homelessness and poverty on a daily basis. As we drive into work, we see people living under bridges, tents up on street sides, and young people with signs asking for money. In the last year or two, I’ve noticed that the situation seems to be getting worse, and seems to be spreading farther north and south of downtown.

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Thoughts from behind the TEDxRainier curtain

As presentation designers, we don’t regularly get to work with a speaker AND watch their final delivery of the slides. It often feels like we send our work out into the ether. TEDx Rainier gave us an opportunity to see our work come to fruition, and to work alongside the cast of speakers – a surprising mixture of characters that are each unique, yet strangely tied together through TEDx’s carefully orchestrated theme.

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Mel Carson on Integrated Marketing and Branding

Mel Carson (@MelCarson) is a digital strategist who helps businesses understand and make the most of digital media and technology. He’s often tapped to be a keynote speaker at many events and conferences. We had the opportunity to get an update from him first-hand about his book, “Pioneers of Digital.” Mel shares a few of his insights about digital strategies, integrated marketing and branding.

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“Known and Unknown”: Branding TEDxRainier 2014

We’re very excited to announce that Silver Fox Productions will once again provide presentation development and backstage support for this year’s TEDxRainier (www.TEDxRainier.com). TEDxRainier offers a forum for some of today’s most brilliant minds to meet together at a public event where they tell their stories and define their aspirations for physical, medical, biological, astronomical, you-name-it, advancement. This will give us another chance to work with speakers building their own unique stories.

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Five things we learned from the Silver Fox brand refresh

Over a year and a half ago, we began updating the Silver Fox identity to feel modern and personable. Our company is known in the industry as the go-to experts in presentation design, so we wanted to maintain the credibility that is associated with our brand. Since Silver Fox has grown quite a bit over the past few years, our identity needed a revamp that showcased who we are and why we’re so great to work with.

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Using copyrighted media correctly in your presentation

We touch thousands of presentations and see that many presenters use photographs, artwork, videos, or music found using search engines or from third parties in their presentation. This third-party material requires a license for the particular media. Using copyrighted material can be effective in your presentation, as long as you obtain the appropriate permission in advance. We’ve put together some suggested ideas and sources to help you.

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Art in the neighborhood

Every day, I walk past the north side of Century Link field on my way to Silver Fox offices and look up at the tower that includes four giant, metal circles wondering what they symbolize or what they mean. After some investigating, I learned that the discs, designed by Bob Haozous, an artist who has defined Native American sculpture, were among a number of pieces commissioned for the arena.

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