Tag Archive for: relationships

Old Bank & Lessons on Relationships

Lessons learned from an old bank for modern business on the value of relationships

I, Rhonda Negard (Fat Dog Creatives) grew up not far from the small town of Oakwood, TX. While it was never a bustling metropolis, Oakwood did experience success in the pre-WWI thanks to its stop along the railroad, proximity to the Trinity River, and a booming cotton industry.

“Oakwood suffered from the boll weevil and the Great Depression and begin to decline in the early 1930s.”–Texas State Historical Association

Oakwood continued its decline and still teeters on obsolescence. In spite of consistent decline, an old bank and banker makes one nostalgic the simple times with more personal relationships and predictability.

While neighboring cities in Leon Country thrive and grow thanks in part to their locations along Interstate 45 running between two of the largest cities in the US, Houston and Dallas, Oakwood sits between a larger town (with a Walmart, hospital, and movie theater) and I-45. The highway connecting the larger town and I-45 accommodates 18-wheelers and occasional added lanes for passing. Most drivers pass through Oakwood on the way to Palestine or Tyler from Waco or another bigger town West. It’s not a half-way stop; it’s too close to a larger town with more options to stop for gas or food.

How does a smalltown bank in Oakwood thrive?

As technology automates processes formerly performed by multiple people while also facilitating significantly more communication and contacts, do we have exponentially more interactions and relationships?

Texas Country Reporter’s Bob Philips introduces us to a low-tech man and his banking business, running it just as it was ran 100 years ago.

“We just want to keep it the same. We like it that way,” says Roddy Wiley.

“People kind of like the personal touch,” says Leila Coater, who’s been at the bank since 1954.


Social and Media

Using the various social media platforms, our virtual contacts total more than the population of Oakwood. However, can you say you have exponentially more and greater relationships with these contacts?

Doing what makes since for someone who might live in small town America, like Oakwood from a computer, as demonstrated by Robert Nissenbaum, can establish similar bonds as those customers with their banker(s). In his blog he explains we need to stop posting so much and “engage” more on others’ content rather than hoping to get engagement on our own posts.

Don’t hope, expect, or ask for something from others. Contribute, give of yourself first!

Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Give, give, give, and then ask.”

“Social at its best is you giving…. People stop following those who are pushing all the time.”–Gary Vanynerchuk

You get what you put into something. Start doing for these businesses what you want, more engagement. Let go of ego and actually read and react to what others’s content. Maybe the businesses return the favor–maybe not. It doesn’t matter. The point is to build a relationship over time…through comment threads or tweet replies. One comment can go a long way.

Be social…on social media–engage and interact.

Visibility, Opportunity, Momentum

“When you add an insightful comment or are visible on others’ content often enough, someone will get curious one day and look at your social media profile or page and scroll through and read your content. We all get the notifications when other look at our profile on LinkedIn. How often do you go back and look at who checked you out?” – Robert Nissenbaum

A dying town held together by threads…of relationships

The old Oakwood bank offers some low-tech lessons for the tech-engulfed businesses of 2018. As humans, and business owners, the answer to growing and maintaining a thriving businesses and sense of self, lies in the hands we place at our keyboards. Speaking with our fingers through social media, we must focus more on relating to one another, building bonds. Sharing our thoughts from a soap box won’t make connections or build those bonds. Genuine, honest conversations does that.

Rhonda Negard

Rhonda has more than 20 years of experience in graphic design and marketing. She has substantial experience in the association, financial services, insurance, healthcare and construction industries. She hold a Master’s degree in Communications from the University of the Incarnate Word and a Bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University.

Rhonda NegardGraphic Designer, Consultant, Speaker – Fat Dog Creatives

Recap of CAT Event “Transitions: Ideas to Reality”

Transitions: Ideas to Reality Recap

It was an inspiring, tasty and toe tapping night filled with wonderful entertainment and insights from very talented creatives and business owners from our local community.

Paul Gerard on Creating the World Around You

The evening started with Paul Gerard on the guitar and vocals. One song stood out from the rest for the creative crowd. Walk About told the story of creation according to the Aboriginal people. Paul informed us songwriters would sing or speak the world around them into existence. If they didn’t speak about it, the destination they hoped for wouldn’t show up. For those who followed the songs, they served as ‘maps’.

For creatives, if you’re unable to put form to your ideas, you cannot manifest them.

Innovative and Inspiring Photography

Tyler Miller of Tyler Miller Photography displayed her unique digital art that blends patriotism, mystery, and the female soldier.


Lazzat Olarti of Lazzat Photography displayed her talent for unique composition, humor, and sophistication in her photography.


Brüks Bars on Sticking to Your Values

“Meticulous Quality over Easy Quantity”

Brooke Muldoon and her husband Sean create healthy snack bars that taste like food you want to eat. Their labor of love is known as Brüks Bars. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and vegan, made from whole ingredients.  Brooke inspired us, sharing their journey with all the twists and turns of a company built through painstaking work and care.

Early on they talked with a commercial bakery which would allow them to ramp up production AND take it out of their own kitchen. The couple had made every bar in their own home. They were looking forward to increasing production while shifting their attention to more business-building activities.

The facility made gluten products in a mixer a few feet away and they were ensured it would not be a problem. During a tour, Brooke noticed the potential for contamination after a worker poured a mix for another product. Even though money and time had been invested, Brooke and Sean chose to continue using their own kitchen. One of their core values is remaining gluten-free. They knew they needed to maintain control to deliver what they promised. Although it was a tough decision, they’re glad they stuck to it. The decision proved to them it’s better to grow a business based on their values versus taking the easy route.

In Brooke’s words, “We chose meticulous quality over easy quantity.”

Ferguson Architecture on Bigger Vision

Ben Ferguson of Ferguson Architecture has been an architect for many years, recently venturing out on his own. He took this bold step with faith in his vision. That vision was collaborating with clients to make breathtaking structures that tell a story and reflect character. To make it happen, Ben took some very practical steps, starting with a detailed business plan which was numbers-driven. These plans assured him he’d be financially stable to start his own firm.

Ben had previously spent a healthy amount of time cultivating relationships. The time he invested as an employee ensured he’d have no problem staying busy. “From Day 1 I was swamped with business from other clients and relationships.”

Soon after, it was time to get the band back together. Ben went back to his former coworkers and asked them to trust in his vision and take the leap with him. He convinced one to come on board, and then a second. Currently, the company employs 11 workers, all committed and adding to the vision.

“I’ve always wanted to thrive in life. My definition of thriving is working with talented individuals, working on amazing projects, and enjoying a good quality of life.” By creating new and exciting projects and loving what he does, Ben is doing that today.

Wane + Flitch on Creating a Unique Experience

Jeff Wolf and his team at Wane + Flitch (W+F) are providing Do-It-Yourselfers and high-end customers alike, an experience unique to the Puget Sound. At W+F, they repurpose trees previously cut down turning them into 3-inch slabs. By selecting trees and strategically cutting them, W+F truly delivers a different slab every time.

W+F continues to add value to the process by displaying slabs for people to browse, ask questions about, and choose for their own tables. Choose to have the team create the table for you and the customer experience continues well beyond what one would expect. The company uses an app, creating a portal allowing customers to see every step of the process. There is no waiting and wondering. W+F keeps their customers involved at every step.

We’re very thankful to our four presenters and the wealth of information and inspiration they provided. They clearly explained to us parts of their creative process and everyone walked away with something of value.

Special Thanks

We’d also like to send special thank you to the folks at The Union Club. This historical location in downtown Tacoma provided a unique backdrop and view of the Port of Tacoma for the event. The building itself dates back to 1888 and has many stories to tell! If you haven’t stopped by or are looking for a co-working space, give them a call and arrange a tour. (See this video for a snippet of the history: Union Club–A Co-Working and Event Space.)


View the photos from the event. (Thank you, Kim Thornton, for sharing your photos.)


Join the discussions: Head over to our Facebook page, facebook.com/groups/creativeallianceoftacoma, to stay up-to-date with events, networking opportunities, and chances to grow your business!


Gatlin Johnson

Gatlin Johnson encourages others to share their stories, products, and services to the world through the written word. Gatlin’s down-to-earth approach produces content that is easily relatable and understood.

Learn more about Gatlin Johnson at Gatlin Johnson Copywriting.

Gatlin Johnson; Copywriter, Speaker, Business Development