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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With A Little Help From My (Community) Friends…

Scientific Method - DougIn all of my schooling (from Kindergarten through my bachelor’s degree in college and continuing through current life learning) the successful epicenter of it all came from one man whistling “Dixie.”

“Over 20 years ago, teacher Doug Eldon was having his sixth grade students work from a big, beautiful, new, thickly illustrated textbook. The problem was too many students couldn’t remember or understand what they had just read, even though they used the materials with hands-on activities. Students were overwhelmed by the amount of information. So Doug started whistling “Dixie” one day in the shower and soon came lyrics all about the scientific method. Eventually he had a nine verse song which he offered to those who were having difficulty learning, and to make a long story short, they understood and remembered the information, as demonstrated by the improved test scores (and their confident smiles).” – Lyrical Learning Website

Doug Eldon was my six grade teacher and I was one of the students having difficulty learning. Science quickly became one of my favorite subjects.  If only finance was too.  Now, while most parents want want their kids to make their own mistakes, I am sure running up huge credit card debt (like I did) wasn’t what they had in mind. Mr. Eldon was only one man and he developed this one great idea.

What I am asking for here, is not to have teachers simply step up their creativity (by cloning Eldon’s creativity), but for community members (such as financial institutions) to supplement teachers in their efforts to provide life lasting moments.  These community partners could easily help provide helpful financial content.  Think of it this way; teachers  are like a 747 airliner traveling through the sky without time or money to land for gas.  Now what if there was a community partner acting as a refueling plane, that can provide gas in mid-flight? I think you get my drift…

It has been over 20 years since I first participated in Mr. Eldon’s lyrical science learning, but I remember nearly every word to those songs.  Its direct science benefit ended in my singing under by breath in my college science classes.  I never had a community partner help in the way I suggested above, so all I can do is wonder what I could of avoided if Mr. Eldon had taught economics.

A musical excerpt of the scientific method:

The World According to Madeline: The Luck of the Andresens

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I hope you are enjoying  Saint Patrick’s Day.  I spent mine in remembrance.  If you know me at all, you know how much I loved my grandmother (Madeline Andresen).  It was enough for me to get an Irish tattoo in remembrance.   Five years ago, knowing that she was the last strong link to my Irish heritage, I had her write a blog post about how my great-grandmother immigrated to the United States from Ireland.  Here is the beautiful Madeline:

Gma with Tattoo

My mother, Anne Hickey (Higgins?) Darsey, was born in Tipperary, Ireland in 1900. She was the daughter of Bridget Higgins, born in 1885. Anne was the illegitimate child of Bridget and her father was unknown. Anne did not have a good relationship with her mother, but did with her grandmother,Bridget Higgins. She was a thorn in her mother’s side. Bridget left for England to work while Anne was still an infant. Anne was left in the workhouse and where she was christened. She was not christened at at St. Michael’s, the local catholic church, because of her illegitimacy. To save Anne from abandonment, her grandmother took her from the workhouse.

Anne adored her grandmother, who raised her until she was 10-years-old. Anne’s beloved grandmother was very indulgent with Anne. On the way to school, Anne and her classmates passed the local protestant church and graveyard. The children all would swing on the gate to the cemetery and sing: “Prody-wody ring your bell, eat your supper and go to hell”. Anne was never admonished by her grandmother for singing this rather disrespectful ditty about the protestants. Her grandmother was a great reader and taught the importance of reading to Anne. She always told Anne, “If you have a cup of tea and a book to read you don’t need anything else”. This philosophy taught Anne the love of reading and the importance of education. (This philosophy was carried on into Anne’s adult life when she became a parent and always instilled in her children the importance of an educaton).

In 1910 grandma Higgins, Anne and her grandma’s youngest child, Joe (he was about 9 years older than Anne) emigrated to the United States. Anne, her grandmother and Uncle Joe landed in Boston (not Ellis Island). Anne’s mother met the ship and so Anne finally met her mother. Anne’s mother’s greeting on meeting her was an admonishment for wearing her new coat on the ship and getting it dirty. Bridget Higgins had traveled from England to the United States (New York City). She went to the United States with her sister, Fanny. In the United States, Bridget met and married Jeramiah Hickey. She then produced three more children, Madeline, Fanny and Tom. All these half-siblings were strangers to Anne. She was placed in school in New York and was put back grade because she did not know the monetary system of the United States. This demotion made her very unhappy. None the less, she enjoyed school and graduated from the eighth grade. Anne wanted to continue school and graduate from High School, but she had to go to work to help support the family.

John Dempsey Darsey, my father, was born in Macon, Georgia in 1895. He was the oldest of five children: Albert, Marion, Anne and Rosalie. Rosalie died as an infant. My father always said that Rosalie died in a fire. We never heard the details of said fire. John’s father was a railroad engineer and worked for the Panama Canal Railway Company. He contracted malaria. In Panama, at that time, there was no cure for Malaria so he was sent home to die; which he did do. His death left Anne’s mother, Elizabeth with 5 children to feed. There was no governmental agency for her to appeal to for aid. Elizabeth then moved to Atlanta to Peachtree Street where she opened a boarding house and thus was able to support her family. By now, John was 15 years old. He joined the Navy by lying about his age (said he was 16) and his mother signed the necessary papers. Thus, Elizabeth was left with one less mouth to feed.My mother, Anne Hickey, met her future husband, John, at a street dance in New York City. He was a young sailor and Anne was but 17 years old. John told Anne his name was “Arthur” because “sailors never told girls their real name”. Therefore, Anne called “John” “Arthur” for the rest of her life.

Anne and John married within a year after meeting. Anne’s mother, Bridget disapproved of the marriage, so banished her from the family apartment. The newlyweds, Anne and John, went to live with Aunt Fanny. Anne was soon pregnant with her oldest child, Elizabeth Anne (Lily).(Sept. 1919) Lily was born while Anne and John were still living with Aunt Fanny. While Lily was still an infant, John was transferred to Key West, Florida, to the Navy Yard. Anne, with Lily, then followed him to Key West. In Key West, Anne and John’s second child was born, Madeline Ellen.(November 1920). Anne did not like Key West. She was homesick for New York City and her family there. She was very happy to leave Key West when Madeline was nine months old. Lily was almost two years old at that time. So, the family returned to New York for a short time; then to Portsmouth, New Hampshire; then back to New York City where Anne’s third daughter was born, Edith Bridget (Biddy) (February 1922). 

And that is the story of us…the Andresens.  I’d say we’ve been pretty lucky.

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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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Mascot Mondays – New Orleans Pelicans

With the New Orleans Super Bowl Hangover (literal for some) just about over, I thought it relevant to talk about the NBA’s new New Orleans Mascot, the New Orleans Pelicans.  That’s not a typo.  It has caused a lot of chatter.  I don’t mind the logo, but I can’t say I like the name.  As it rolls off the tongue, its hard to take the name seriously.  A pelican doesn’t seem the formidable even when you cross an angry one.  A Trail Cat (a.k.a. cougar) on the other hand (much like the Portland Trail Blazers Mascot) seems a lot more formidable.


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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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All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Montessori

M is for MontessoriIt seems the education in this country isn’t getting any better, yet there is a constant: Montessori.  Montessori is in at least 120 countries and this manifested itself best when I was on the Corvallis Montessori Society (CMS) board.  Corvallis isn’t exactly an ethnically diverse town and take Oregon State University away and Corvallis might as well be renamed Anglo.  I found that CMS had a lot of diversity, partially because of the open mindedness Montessori fosters and since the teaching around the world are congruent.  The curiosity of learning that Montessori fosters creates a better community and really has made me a much better marketer.

So what did I learn while I was in Montessori?  According to my title, everything, but let’s get more specific. My Montessori experience (although brief) has helped mold me into the person I am today in part because those were my first vivid memories growing up.  Many years later I would join the Montessori board in my hometown of Corvallis.  One of the requirement of sitting on board was doing classroom observations, which I loved.  Since Montessori education has remained virtually unchanged for more than a century, it felt more like the Ghost of Christmas Past took me on a journey of my own past.  To be honest, I was always nervous about these visits because when a Montessori child ask you a question, they truly were interested in how you crafted your answer.  Learning was a privilege to them and curiosity; the catalyst.

Me - I'm This Many


Do you remember your first traumatic experience?  I do!  I bet millions of people share the same cause of their traumatic experience, but not the same reason.  Kindergarten was a scary time and for many their first big social experience, so of course it is going to be traumatic.  I was a VERY shy child and so this type of social experience scared learning out of me.  The really traumatic part came from the transition from Montessori to public school.  In Montessori, guides (teachers) fostered my shy curiosity and I was rewarded for the person I was, while in Kindergarten (RIP Mrs. Stone) I was rewarded if I followed everyone else.  I am not saying the public school is terrible; the best teacher I ever had was Mr. Eldon, a public school 6th grade teacher.  I got lucky, but so many don’t get lucky.  Montessori, because of its structure, is much less of a crap shoot as the importance it put into the curiosity of one’s environment and less on the teacher.  The teachers were called guides  for a reason; they guided you to unlock your curiosity of learning and didn’t simply teach.  Don’t get me wrong I do have a lot of appreciation for teachers as most of my family at one point in time were public school teachers (this is not the same as saying I am not racist because I have a black friend).

The majority of the work we do here at Brass Media, centers around creating engaging personal finance content to help the ADD generation find their love of learning in an entertaining fashion. The benefits of this content in social media can be seen in the conversations that are happening, instead of the majority of information that is best served behind  a lectern. In the end I am not advocating that every child should attend Montessori, but as Maria Montessori once said, “We cannot create observers by saying “observe,” but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through education of the senses”