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A New Chapter Focused on STEM

On Veterans Day, November 11, 2020, I am starting with a single step. A step that I published on LinkedIn tonight, as this day winds down and I have spent it thinking about the people who have given much to our nation, and the ones who have given much to me personally:

I have promised this new chapter would begin several times. I have talked about this new content in other secluded areas of my life where I can keep making excuses for not taking action. Today, as I sit back and remember fallen veterans who have made the greatest sacrifice, and for ones who came back from trials I didn’t experience, but who gave unselfishly to me at various points in my journey to help me grow, I owe this stand. It is only a small new adventure, a short chapter, perhaps, but I can hear them saying: “What are you waiting for?: Jump out of the plane, ship the goods, stand and deliver.”

Some of you have already joined me on a newsletter list I have started and restarted. Thank you for sticking with me.

Today, I simply want to force myself out of the perfectly good aircraft that has become my comfortable life and start fresh, jumping into the bright blue sky knowing that ‘chute will open and I will glide gently back to earth.

I can only do that by stepping first to the edge. Here we go.

In 2014, we spent the year traveling the USA exploring what people were doing with 3D technologies in a project called 3DRV. What came about from that project and roadtrip was a deeper understanding on how we make things, how we design and create, how we think about design, creation, invention.

Update AUGUST 2020: GoExplore3D is no longer an active project, but the work continues for us as we help various government-funded projects and initiatives around STEM and its future. 

At the core, Refine Digital is a marketing firm where we create campaigns, projects, and test a lot of gear with and for clients, mostly technology companies, but often service providers. One of our main passions is content. Content that helps move a person to a greater understanding of the topic we’re exploring, covering, researching, and testing. Sure, that means content that sells, content that motivates, inspires, or otherwise moves your prospect to action. Content is and always has been a nurture approach to sales. Marketing is also an approach to selling, really, if you think about it. That is marketing’s primary purpose, to help sell.

We continue to build cool projects here at Refine Digital. GoExplore3D (3DRV v2) is the lab where we are taking the conversations and observations from regular trips to 3D technology businesses, organizations, and educational institutions. Sprout by HP and HP are clients of this work, 3DRV chapter two, if you will. We have their latest gear to help us test 3D in our workshop and in other locations around the USA.

Within the above-mentioned passion for content is another of our services: Executive ghostwriting. We write posts, articles, white papers, thought leadership documents for executives and business owners. While I have a long list of my own bylines, as one of the lead writers here, I genuinely love working with other people’s ideas. I am a curious person, by nature, and enjoy the challenge of working with a person to dig out their expertise and the thoughts that make them unique, that make them great. At the end of that process, to craft something that they can publish under their own name.

Heading into 2016 is exciting. There are always so many stories to share, amazing people who are doing significant work. GoExplore3D is part of our excitement, in addition to some major new ghostwriting clients, but we continue to work with Cloud (SaaS) companies, other types of computer vision, AR, VR, and hardware/gear makers. AT&T’s Cricket Wireless is another client brand that helps us get our work done by providing gear (in addition to client fees) so we can work from anywhere.

We’ll use this space to continue to announce new clients and projects and to talk about the changes in marketing, content, and sales.

2-3 minutes

When we were at Arches National Park with Shaan Hurley a few weeks ago, in another 3DRV post, presenting the 3D Prints that he made of Delicate Arch, Shaan reminded me of the value of Autodesk ReCap for restoration. We had been talking a lot about preservation of natural heritage sites, landmarks and so forth, when we somehow started talking about old, vintage cars.

I think we landed on the subject while asking Shaan about all the amazing assignments he has had, over the years, for Autodesk. One of the people he said he admired most was Jay Leno and the well-known late night talk show hosts kind demeanor. That led to us talking about Jay Leno’s Garage where he has a lot of 3D technology – from laser scanners to 3D printers.

Due to Mr. Leno’s extensive car collection, and his passion for keeping them in top shape, he has adopted 3D tech to replace parts that he cannot get or find on the open market. He scans parts he cannot buy, models them, then prints them out or has them printed out on high end metal printers (my guess, based on older vehicles, but Shaan didn’t specify in our conversation).

It then had me thinking back to our visit to Yellowstone National Park in Montana and Wyoming. We rode around on a wildlife tour, in these vintage “yellow buses” and the guide explained that many of the parts were almost impossible to replace today. So, I took a ton of photos of the exterior to stitch together in ReCap. There was a door handle, on the interior part of the door, that I thought I could capture and model, but it was a bit too shiny. The guide implied that the door handle was a common item to have break during the trips. 

I had meant to tell the guide to have his lead mechanic look into what 3D printing could do for his fleet of yellow buses, but we got back late and other guests were talking to him. But maybe, just maybe, the Yellowstone folks will one day watch Jay Leno’s Garage on NBC and a lightbulb will go off. More likely, Shaan will read my post and book a flight to Yellowstone.

This post originally appeared on 3drv.com

Forbes Maker Movement post by TJ McCue

The Future of the Maker Movement

The Maker Movement. The people who create, build, design, tinker, modify, hack, invent, or simply make something. That’s who this new blog is for and about because they are moving the economy.

Many people talk about how small business, startups, entrepreneurs are the true economy, or at least, the forces that will move the US and World economies back from the brink. I believe that these new businesses will help fix our ailing economy.

I’m motivated and moved by the idea, the belief – that the people who invent and build and make things have the power to change the world. People who “remix” something or hack a better way. In this new blog, I’ll be profiling the people and inventions that can change the world or at least a small piece of it. I doubt that I would have been able to interview Steve Jobs for this new blog, but his speech from 2005 at the Stanford Commencement moved me, as it did many others. This quote captures the spirit of this Maker Movement.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”  – Steve Jobs

I’ve been exploring the movement and trend for a while, but here are a few of my recent favorites:

  • Tim Carmody at Wired wrote a piece entitled: Big DIY: The Year the Maker Movement Broke (as in crossed the chasm or moved beyond the tipping point).  He cites a Googlepost from Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief at Wired which lists the various acquisitions and strategic moves of companies in the “personal manufacturing” industry, which is essentially a maker trend.
  • PBS did an interview piece Can the DIY Movement Fix a Crisis in U.S. Science Education? that asked what it will take to bring the U.S. back to an inventor-powerhouse (my summary, not theirs). They interviewed President Obama about science education, Make magazine founder, Dale Dougherty, and a host of other luminaries. The trend is clear – there is a movement well underway.
  • Last (at least in this post), Anil Dash, entrepreneur and founder of several companies, does an interview discussing the Maker Movement trend with Dale Dougherty: Recognizing the Maker Movement.

While each of these is not, in and of themselves, proof of a movement, they do point to a growing awareness and appreciation of do-it-yourself (DIY) types. And with that spirit of DIY, many powerful and ground-breaking companies were formed 100+ years ago and continue to form today.

After I put the word out about this blog, I received over 200 emails from makers of all types. This new conversation is expanding my definition of a maker and I hope this blog will help us uncover and discover the talent in individual and teams doing amazing things. So, I invite you to contact me and share the stories of the makers, DIYers, inventors, and craftspeople that are changing our economy and our lives.

–This post originally appeared on Forbes in October 2011 and has been updated here.

RAPID2017, 3DRV, And A Future In 3D Tech

As many of my Forbes readers know, I write about a variety of tech, but primarily 3D-related tech. News is important, but my primary focus is to look at how trends and opportunities emerge from the 3D printing and 3D scanning industries. Over these last six, intense years, like many of you, we have witnessed many amazing things involving 3D tech. I research and cover other gear/hardware advances, the cloud, mobile, and such, but it has been thrilling and an honor to see 5.5 Million views on my Forbes channel and thousands elsewhere driven by an interest in this amazing, game-changing tech.

My deepest thanks to each of you. Truly.

It is always exciting to get a chance to meet in person — as we will be doing very shortly in Pittsburgh at the annual RAPID + TCT #3DPrinting event. So, track me down if you are at the event so we can put faces and a handshake or hug to an online profile or name! Easiest way to find me at the show — message me on TJ McCue on Twitter or TJ_McCue on Instagram or track me on the Facebook Page for Refine Digital. Whew.

You can read other posts related to 3D below, including my wife and son’s blog —
Mini3DRV.com that told the story of our 2014 national roadtrip adventure in 3D Printing and 3D Scanning called 3DRV (and I explain 3DRV here — what it was and still is, to me).

Thinking In 3D – Conversation In Motion

Latest Forbes post on RAPID + TCT 2017 Event To Demonstrate $6 Billion 3D Printing Industry Strength which I will be updating here on RefineDigital.com as I attend RAPID 2017 and meet with many of you.

And if you are just bored, you can watch this slightly goofy video when a guy has just a bit too much time on his hands and his true, deeply loved wife and son are not yet home…

TJ McCue Heading to RAPID 3D Printing Event 2017 from TJ McCue on Vimeo.

Refine Digital continues to provide marketing, content marketing, and research for tech companies, many, but not all in 3D. We continue to build the GoExplore3D project responding to what the market tells us — which means a focus on educators/education and small urban manufacturers. More on the renewed effort shortly.

If you got this far, I’m grateful for a chance to share about my core marketing, content, and strategy work via Refine Digital. I like to call my work a “marketing lab,” or “marketing workshop” because it always seems I’m testing new ideas, new approaches, new strategies for my own projects as well as projects for big brands. I use writing and video (the above is not really a great example, okay?) as a way to engage and tell a story. Thank you for spending time here.


Claim Your Google Business Listing

People May Be Editing Your Google Business Listing

Google went from simple company to “verb” status in most cultures – just “Google” it we tell our kids or friends. Google is everywhere and helpful for consumers and for business owners.

As a business owner, you have probably heard about people using Google pay-per-click ads to help boost their sales or web traffic. You pay to use that service based on a pre-determined cost per click and the number of people who click. But a more powerful aspect of Google is completely free: Google Maps.

As a business owner, you are probably aware that your customers and prospects can find you on Google Maps. Much of Google’s business model is based on mobile usage, and they provide business owners with a free business listing on Google. In addition to free, it is pretty powerful.

Most Business Owners Have Not Claimed Their Business Listing

2016-12-06_Google Map CLAIM Example v2

What does this mean? If you have not claimed, or verified, your own Google Business Listing, then someone else can do it and enter information on your behalf. I am consistently amazed when I find dozens of business owners in an area that have not done this simple verification (claim) of their own business.

Better news? If you simply claim it, an incredibly easy process, which again is totally free, you can create a powerful way for people to find and visit your business.

In the process of working toward my “Google Trusted” status for 360 Degree Photography (the core of a Google Maps listing), I did extensive research to see how useful and valuable a Google Business Listing could be for a business owner, especially those with a physical location. Here’s a statistic for you:

When searching for businesses, consumers use mapping products 44% of the time.   -IPSOS Study

You can guess what mapping tool they use. Even with a huge number of consumers using Apple iPhones – most of them install and use Google Maps because they trust it more than Apple Maps.

The first step is to look up your business on Google Maps. From there, just as the image above shows, click on “Claim this Business.” Google then verifies your identity, either by phone to your company phone number, or via U.S. Postal Mail with a postcard sent to the address listed on the profile. If someone else has claimed your profile, which happens fairly often, there are more steps for you to prove you own the business, but I won’t go into that here.

After you complete this easy step, you can then update and control the content that shows (most of it) on your profile. Before you ask, you cannot simply delete negative reviews that customers leave about your business products or services (unless you can prove fraudulent activity). You can do all of this on a desktop computer or via the mobile app (the Android version from the Google Play Store is shown below).

2016-12-06_Google My Business Android App

In case you are wondering, some of the most compelling parts of a profile include:

  • Store/Location Hours
  • Reviews
  • That the business profile is claimed/verified. If they see the “Claim This Business” link, then clearly the business owner has not taken this step.
  • Photos, especially 360 Degree, virtual reality type photos that create a virtual tour-like experience.
  • And, of course, the map itself which allows them to see the nearby area and get directions.
  • Complete Listing – research showed that 67% of profile visitors would not do further research if a listing was mostly complete and included the above info. If not complete, 41% were likely to keep doing research and leave that profile.

Google Pay-per-click Ads are, no doubt, one of the most well-known Google products. But you don’t need to pay to increase interest and traffic to your business – just start using Google My Business (the formal name of the tool) so that you can keep your profile complete and up to date in addition to enhancing it with photos, 360 degree photos, and more. Feel free to message me on Facebook to chat if you get stuck or email me at Q4Sales at Gmail.


Thinking In 3D – Conversation In Motion

3D Scan to 3D Print

I’ve been writing about this idea, the possibilities of 3D technology, for a while now. Thanks to Julia Kirby at the Harvard Business Review for encouraging and nudging me to keep exploring this idea.

Work in progress, for sure, and my goal is to keep track of some of it here. To sum up, thinking in 3D is about how the technology tools we have in our hands are insignificant compared to the massive tool we have in our heads… It has always been this way, but with all our cultural focus on technology, we sometimes lose sight of what it means to think, to think deeply, to glimpse the freedom that the tools can provide.

Join me in discussing this idea around the web:  My Harvard Business Review post: 3D Printing Is Changing The Way We Think. If the post is behind a paywall, you can read my PDF copy of Thinking in 3D. Additional thoughts at the Autodesk Redshift blog: Thinking in 3D. It sure seems that a lot of my personal life and client work revolves around “Thinking in 3D.”