Matt Andresen

Former mascot, banker, co-owner of web analytics co. and financial advising co. Currently PR, content and analytics marketing dude with Cleland Marketing.


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Wake Up! It was just a Debt Nightmare.

Debt Nightmare

Click on the picture above to see an awesome and short Brass Media DEBT Trailer.

Not too long ago I remember having bad weekly nightmares.  I started writing them down when I woke up and I struggled to understand their meaning.  The good dreams made more sense or at least had a higher meaning with a possible life lesson, but the nightmares didn’t seem to serve a purpose, other than to lengthen my anxiety…until I looked at what might be causing them; my debt.

According to a Huffington Post Article, “Not all nightmare triggers have to be traumatic, however. Everyday stressors, such as job or financial anxiety, or major life transitions such as moving or divorce, can also cause nightmares.”

I remember having one dream so real and scary that I still remember it vividly, but when I woke up the first thing I thought of was my debt.  The dream was about being forced with others to enter a gladiator type ring with very unstable bulls.  I guess that is what debt feels like; having to fight off unstable bulls constantly.  From my personal experience, the only chance at survival is to come up with a plan and find help.

Since I work for a company in the field of financial education (Brass Media), I get to see a lot of what is out there in attempt to make people more aware, which is why so many groups target middle and high schoolers.  It should be understood though, that while teaching those how to handle their money (that don’t yet know any better), it’s equally important (if not more so),  to teach those who learned the hard way…like me.

This nightmare of mine translated into a small nightmare for my bank (there will be a future blog post just about this), since I was no longer a “sticky” product customer. When my debt started getting out of control, the last thing I thought about was getting a loan or starting a savings account (let alone worrying about direct deposit or bill pay – yikes!), yet my banker would ask me all the time about both, without targeting the real issue: my debt nightmare.

Dreams are literally wounded by debt and until others understand how debt can enslave and starve a person, there may never be a good cure.  Living within your means may be trying and painful at times, but it is better than living with debt.  If, like Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs said, “It’s all about the Benjamins,” then maybe it’s best to look to Mr. Franklin to get some sound advice: “Rather go to bed with out dinner than to rise in debt.”

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Along side this blog post is a relevantly parallel article (below) taken from the Brass Media Archives on the good and bad of having a Credit Card (Click on the image below to enlarge the article for reading).

clutchesofcredit - Original

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Hazing the ME ME ME Generation

Time Magazine 2013 - ME ME ME

Growing up, my dad had a sticker on his music entertainment center that read, “If It’s TOO LOUD, You’re TOO OLD!”  What it didn’t say is that if I tried to play Tupac, my dad would turn it off and say it sounded like “just noise,” that my generation was trying to pass as music.  When I got older I asked him if his parents thought the same of his rock and roll music, he just laughed and reluctantly agreed.  The point is each generation seems to look down on the one following, like one brother would treat his younger one.

Millenials are a very popular topic right now. Back in May, Time Magazine ran a cover that read: The ME ME ME Generation. Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.  Why they’ll save us all.    Here are some quotes from Time Magazine:

“What worries parents, teachers and employers is the latest crop of adults want to postpone growing up. At a time when they should be graduating, entering the workforce and starting their own families, the 20-something crowd is baulking at those rights of passage.  Companies are discovering to win the best talent they must get a young workforce that is considered overly sensitive at best and lazy at worst.  They would rather hike in the Himalayas then climb a corporate ladder. They have trouble making decisions.  A reluctance to embrace the dying work ethic of the former generation left this generation sounding like whiners,”  echoed Brad Karsh of JB Training Solutions on his very informative webinar (for which I base this post) on Millennial Retention at work.

Here is the funny thing, it’s not from the time magazine above, dated May, 20, 2013; It’s from this Time Magazine below, dated July 16, 1990.

Twentysomething 7-16-1990

I think we like to haze the new generation. It would seem that it has become a time honored tradition. If you back a little farther, say 1985 (Newsweek – The Video Generation), you find complaints about how this generation is so obsessed about taking videos of themselves and a decade earlier in the New York Magazine in 1976,  where it talks about the baby boomers and the “Me Decade”.

Newsweek-NewYork-Millenials

While every one is quick to focus on the here and now and what technology is doing to the current generation, one needs decades of perspective before just calling the current generation selfish with eyes out just for ME ME ME.  In the end it’s partly the culture to blame, making each generation seem so selfish.  Pop culture cultivates an entitlement mentality by steering kids towards immediate rewards. This immediate reward makes it easier for marketers and advertisers to forgo the work of the relationship they could foster.  All we try to do to help is create rules, but rules without a relationship lead to rebellion from a good financial foundation amongst other things.


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SIRIously: Just Type, Read and Follow Directions

SiriToday’s post may be a shorter one as the concept is simple and simply requires the ability to type, read and follow directions.  When I am not working at Brass Media, I work with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Linn-Benton Community College, advising business owners, helping them with most of their online/marketing needs.  When I was first asked to do this; I was confused as to what I could offer, but I quickly found out many business owners didn’t know how to use some of the basic free tools at their disposal.  The most basic: Google search.  Now with the existence of Siri on iPhone, folks are making a game out of asking Siri questions that “she” just turns around and searches for.  For example, my brother asks Siri questions all the time and most of the time I can search for it faster on my phone than he can using Siri.  Apple has been masters of innovation time and time again, but Siri can be more gimmicky than helpful.  Just stop being lazy and type once in a while!

When I meet with a client, here is what happens too often: The client asks me a question, I type in that question into a Google search and send the client links.  I show exactly what I did, but they come back asking me more questions.  It’s almost like they treat Google as a trusted expert that only I am allowed to talk to. Why?!?!

At a Corvallis City Club event, discussing the type, read and follow directions "strategy".

At a Corvallis City Club event several years ago, discussing the type, read and follow directions “strategy”.

A big part of the problem is their past experiences with paid consultants.  I tell them to maintain and cultivate their specific area of expertise, but in some ways…become a jack of all trades.  If you don’t have a basic understanding of a product, tool or task, than how can you assess if the consultant you are paying is doing their job?  I met with someone years ago that was paying a  web/social media consultant $30,000/year.  Thanks to the state and federal funding the SBDC receives, we are able to give clients free advising.  My first piece of free advice was fire your consultant; they have done nothing for your online presence.  I preceded to give them the basic tools that will prevent them from making the same mistake again.

So…if you have Siri (and especially if you don’t), take sometime to just type, read and follow directions before you just ask an “expert” how to solve your problem.  As my dad used to say, “be careful in asking advice from someone who stands to monetarily benefit.”


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Banking on Jackie’s Birthday

In honor of what would be Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) birthday, I wanted to do a very brief spotlight on his bank.  “Robinson helped found and direct the Freedom National Bank in Harlem because he thought black people should have a financial institution of their own. At the time, the bank, which eventually closed, was the largest black-owned and operated bank in New York state.”

Jackie Robinson and Freedom National Bank in HarlemAs a huge Dodger fan (see previously post) and a proud supporter of banks increasing customer engagement around the country, I couldn’t be prouder of a man that by transforming a sport, he transformed a nation.  Go Dodgers!


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Mascot Mondays – Peter the Anteater

About six hours south of our last Mascot Monday feature (Sammy the Slug) lives another unique mascot, UC Irvine’s Peter the Anteater.  This mascot was a close second to Sammy, according to my father.

UCIrvine Anteaters

According the Anteater Chronicles website, the Anteater was chose in 1965 in a student election.  ” The choice was hailed for its originality, winning over the second place choice “None of these” and the more common – if less imaginative – Eagles, Unicorns and Seahawks.”  This mascot is unique and unexpected, but the reason you may have heard of him before is thanks to  a sign at John Wayne International Airport reads “Welcome to Anteater Country.”


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Mascot Mondays – Sammy the Slug

Butch T. Cougar UnveiledIn attempt to spice up some of my Mondays and bring to life my dad’s love of mascot names, I have decided to take a peek at different mascots around the country (and maybe the world) in frequent installments called Mascot Mondays.  Since I missed last Monday and will probably miss the following Monday, due to the Holidays, today’s post will be for both. So…anyway, a Google search defined a mascot as, “A person or thing that is supposed to bring good luck or that is used to symbolize a particular event or organization.”  At Wazzu, I was a fairly normal mascot (Butch. T. Cougar), but I hope to discover some not so normal good luck bearers going forward.

First up: Sammy the Slug

UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs

UC Santa Cruz has one of the most amusing and awesome (according to my father) mascots: The Banana Slug. UC Santa Cruz wanted more inclusive physical education and recreational programs and according to the UC Santa Cruz website, “The students’ embrace of such a lowly creature was their response to the fierce athletic competition fostered at most American universities.”  While the mascot name does not foster fear, in certainly does well at symbolizing a more welcoming environment and as one of their T-Shirts states: “Banana Slugs-No Known Predators.”


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A Family Tradition: The Boys in Blue

The Andresen Family

In the photo on the left, I am the only male without a baseball shirt, probably out of protest for not going to Disneyland afterwords and to show I wasn’t a fan of the the baseball park experience.  Of course I look back and laugh because  I love Dodger stadium and the Dodgers, but I get a lot of questions about my loyalty given where I live (Corvallis, OR) and my sudden reemerged passion.  I get asked if I like the Lakers too, but I just answer, nope I kind of hate them.  Why, you ask? Well my Dad wasn’t a basketball fan and how can you not love the Portland Trail Blazers (literally the best fans in the country).

Here is a quick breakdown of why I love them (as told to a friend):
My dad kind of tried to get us to be Mariner fans growing up to no avail. Instead I picked the Braves because Dave Justice was my first baseball card. Later I started to somewhat root for the Dodgers because my Uncle, Dad and Grandma were very big fans.

Obviously 1988 is a very vivid memory for me. My dad and my uncle made a video which some of the kids starred in, having a Dodger fan trying to tell a Giants fan not to jump to their death over the outcome of the Kirk Gibson World Series.

When my Grandma moved to Corvallis shortly after my Grandpa’s death, we became very close. I use to go have lunch and/or dinner with her and then watch a Dodger game. She must have been one of the few people flirting with 90 that had the MLB package. She knew her Dodgers, but spent most of the time complaining about Manny Ramirez’s hair.

So the summer of 2009 wasn’t fun. My grandma died on June 10th and Dad died on August 26th. The last time the Dodgers played the Mariners, since last weekend, was the end of June 2009 and that made going to SafeCo Field to watch the game this year more meaningful.

Between ownership issues and sad associations, I kind of walked away from watching baseball, especially the Dodgers. And then when the Giants won the World Series…I really thought there wasn’t a God for a bit. Last year I watched more actively and then the beginning of this year I felt it was time to be gung-ho. Watching the Dodgers only had good memories now. I got the MLB package first thing (my grandma would of hugged me).

On the trip to L.A. in May of this year was the real moment and will forever leave a lasting impact. Kim’s grandparents and family are all HUGE Dodger fans, they watch every game. Watching the game with her grandparents was so much like watching it with my grandma and then going to the game where Kershaw pitched a complete game shutout was overwhelming. My dad had taken us to a good number of Dodger games growing up, packaged with the promise of Disneyland.  It’s funny that now I would go to Disneyland if promised a Dodger game.

To top it all off, I was finally able to keep with my dad’s wishes to spread some of his ashes on the field of Dodger Stadium. That was a very emotional moment for me. We spread his ashes at OSU’s ballpark too, but this meant more as I was in the right mindset to appreciate it.

I know that this is way more than you wanted to know, but I thought I would explain myself. In the end the Dodgers are more than just a team for me, they are a constant reminder of the Dodger baseball passion that lives in my family and at times I feel like my Dad and Grandma are present watching the game with me. The Dodgers not only symbolize how I have moved on, but also how I carry a healthy remembrance of the fans that have left us. Go Boys in Blue!

My dad and his Blue Crew Boys.