In this episode, Howie Zales shares:
How he got his start as a cameraman.
That he didn't make it as a Pro Baseball player but still managed to fulfill his dream of 'playing' in Yankee stadium.
The great advice that he got about focusing on his 'zone of g...
In this episode, Howie Zales shares:
How he got his start as a cameraman.
That he didn't make it as a Pro Baseball player but still managed to fulfill his dream of 'playing' in Yankee stadium.
The great advice that he got about focusing on his 'zone of genius.'
How masterminds influenced his business for the better.
Why he chose the name Veridity for his business.
The power of staying calm in tense situations.
Why he started both companies and didn't solely focus on his career as a cameraman.
How broadcasting has changed over the years.
The injuries that he has gotten while working various sporting events.
What an ROS sheet is and its value for creating a video production.
The minimum bandwidth needed for a successful event.
Greg Mills: Our guest today is an Emmy award-winning cameraman who turned his passion for television broadcasting into several entrepreneurial endeavors. He created HJ Z production Inc. In 2000 to address the need for professional level sports staffing in the New York market. In 2019, he and his team founded Verity entertainment services, Inc, or vees to offer best in class broadcast quality live streams with professional sports shows and concerts.
Greg Mills: VES also produces corporate meetings and events. In addition, he took his love of the television production business and created the TV sports course, a hands on training, the next generation of television crew professionals. Without further ado. Let me introduce the one and only Howie Zales.
Howie Zales: Hey,
Greg Mills: how are you?
Greg Mills: I'm doing good. It's good to have you
Howie Zales: Howie. Thank you for having me, Greg. I appreciate it.
Greg Mills: Now, can you take a few moments and fill in the gaps from that intro and bring us up to speed with what's going on in your world today?
Howie Zales: Sure. I started out as as a camera operator, shooting local sports in the New York and metropolitan area.
Howie Zales: And then I had a few lucky breaks. I made the best of them and I. Started shooting for NBC sports, the network, and I did Kentucky. Derby's Olympics, super bowls. You name it. If it's aired on TV, I've pretty much shot it. And I also spent the same amount of time over 20 years shooting for the world, resting entertainment, WWE.
Howie Zales: I've traveled the world many times over. I've had the great fortune to do that. And I've seen a lot and I've had the opportunity to work in many great places with great people.
Greg Mills: Yeah. You probably remember when it was the WWF. Yes. Yeah.
Greg Mills: Do you come from an entrepreneurial background at all? Did anybody, your family? No. No one in your family had their own business?
Howie Zales: Nope. My father worked for the same business for most of his career.
Howie Zales: Maybe my dad's dad, but I never met him. Had a business years and years ago, he passed away before I was born. But no, not really.
Greg Mills: So it could have been passed down through the DNA, but no, knowledge imparted, so to speak. No, unfortunately.
Greg Mills: Now you were a cameraman for a number of years and still are primarily in the sports field. Yes. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert.
Greg Mills: So, yeah,
Howie Zales: and I love to I prefer talking than writing. I, I love doing the, I love being on podcasts and speaking to people and learning new things and, you know, just trying to inspire people with my story.
Greg Mills: Okay. So being a cameraman that focuses on sports event sounds like a dream job.
Greg Mills: How'd you get your start? How'd you break into that field?
Howie Zales: Yeah. Good question. Well, in 11th grade in high school, you know, I need, I needed an elective. needed one more class for my schedule and the course description was TV production, and then a field trip to being in New York NBC studios.
Howie Zales: Rock in New York city to wa to get a tour of NBC studios and to watch a TV show being taped. And I was like, how bad can that be? And I already had this love of sports. I wanted to play professional baseball. So. Why not right. And immediately I fell in love and I knew that I was gonna combine my love of sports and my new passion television into a career.
Howie Zales: And I only applied to colleges that had hands on TV production programs.
Greg Mills: Okay. Just outta curiosity, How close were you to being able to do that? Become a pro baseball player. Were you not that close? Okay. gotcha. A lot of people aren't,
Howie Zales: but I made it to Yankee stadium where I wanted to play in another way.
Howie Zales: So, I was still happy about
Greg Mills: that. That's awesome. Yep. So, and you're the type of guy that would appreciate your job. It's not like, oh God, I gotta go do another, sporting event. Yeah. I would appreciate it as well, particularly Gamecock football. Yep. So I can't imagine you've probably covered any of their games where I have,
Howie Zales: I used to shoot all of Notre Dame home games, so I think they've played each other over the years, so yes. Yeah. I think
Greg Mills: I think we played. Played them once or twice. So, yeah. And we got Lou Holtz from there. So that was a good pick up you've got a successful podcast and the Howze show. You've got a full service, nationwide sports crewing business, and H JZ productions. A video production company and Verity entertainment
Greg Mills: So when do you sleep and how do you get it all done?
Howie Zales: well, I have I do have help. I kind of focus in the areas of. The businesses where I know, you know, I stay in my lane in my three, 3% and and I have some good help. I have someone that helps run HJ Z that, that the business side of that.
Howie Zales: And I have someone that runs validity the business side of that. And I kind of float
Greg Mills: between all,
Howie Zales: to answer your question, like how do I get it done? I was like, I don't micromanage every part of all the businesses.
Howie Zales: I only do the parts of the business that I'm good at my quote zone a genius, you know? Okay.
Greg Mills: Yeah. How did you initially. Find that niche down to it because obviously as a business owner, you would be, or at least it's very tempting to try to manage everything. And that's where people fail.
Greg Mills: Yeah. How were you smart enough to figure that out and to find that
Howie Zales: right. And you know, over the years I tried doing that and you make mistakes. And mistakes cost money. So you don't wanna do. And when I decided to go full time, entrepreneur I hired a business coach and went to a lot of masterminds and I kind of learned that, you know, they said and I think that was one of the questions I asked.
Howie Zales: Cause my business coach had like 10 businesses. I'm like, how do you find the time? How do you know when to work on which business? What time of day? And he said, I just concentrate in the areas that I'm. And, you know, I was like, that makes a thousand percent of sense
Greg Mills: to me. Yeah. And hire out the rest and surround yourself with smart people.
Howie Zales: I, if I always say if I'm the smartest person in the room, then we have a big problem. I try to surround myself with people that are way smarter than I am in no matter what the subject area is. So
Greg Mills: yeah, I'm not the smartest person in the house right now.
Greg Mills: And it's just me and the dog. Yeah. So I'm with you, man. . I'm not a smart man. I had to look up the meaning of Verity, according to Miriam Webster online, it seems to mean the quality or state of being green or naive innocence. Yes. So why'd you choose that
Howie Zales: name?
Howie Zales: Great question. And it's a good story. So I went to a master. And we had this idea for this business and we were looking for a name. And when I say we, I mean, my wife and I, Jen and I and they were talking about, you know, when things go really bad and life and business, and when people react quickly and when things are bad, it's called being in the red zone.
Howie Zales: And you make an emotional decision and you get very heated quick. If things are going really well, and you have a good sale or something, and you react really positively, you that's called being in the blue and you could make an emotional reaction based on that. But if you stay even keeled good or bad, no matter what the situation is, it's called being in the green zone.
Howie Zales: That's my personality, no matter what really happens. Even if I get upset, my upset is not most people's upset. I just kind of I'm even keeled. So we were looking for a word that kind of described green and we didn't want it to be associated with money. Cause that sound sounded obnoxious. So we got the dictionary at the source out and looked for a word that meant green and we came up with valid.
Greg Mills: I imagine in your job, you have had a lot of stressful situations. Where your personality probably helped you out a good bit. Yes. Did were, have you always been that way or was that something you learned as a skill?
Howie Zales: Yeah I've pretty much always been a relaxed person.
Greg Mills: Is there a story that you could share with us where that kind of that helps you out a good bit?
Howie Zales: Yeah, I, it happens on a. On a, almost on every show that we do, because we deal a lot with technology, right.
Howie Zales: And a lot can go wrong. And mistakes, cost money. So everything has to be thought out and planned and Staying calm, even keeled and relaxed in intense situations when things are technically going wrong during a setup, or even during a, an actual live show, the calmer you stay in, the more relaxed you stay, the better decision and the quicker decision you can make to avoid a problem, or to get yourself out of the problem.
Howie Zales: If you're in the middle of a live broadcast.
Greg Mills: You really can't make a good decision if you're raging about something or if you're worrying, you know, stressing about it. Right. Okay. So you started H JZ productions back in 2001 and Verity entertainment services in 2019. What was, what made you start both companies?
Greg Mills: It seems like Verity entertainment would compete with HJ Z productions. Yeah.
Howie Zales: I started H JZ in 2001, cuz I knew I needed a backup to carrying a camera around on my shoulder. What if I got hurt? What if I what if I was not doing a good job and I couldn't find work? I always wanted to have a backup plan and so HJ Z was my backup plan.
Howie Zales: And throughout the years it kind of. And once the unions became involved, it grew even more. And then we hired someone to kind of take over a lot of my job responsibilities, which was payroll and dealing with employees. Cause we had a lot of employees. We grew more. And then in 2019, we saw the need with the, with a lot of the employment laws, especially in the state of New York, that we can offer a service to our clients that were bringing workers into the state of New York, that we would handle the payroll for them.
Howie Zales: So we saw this need and we wanted to keep it separate from our HJ Z employees because of unions and things like that. So we started ver. and then the pandemic happened and everything was shut down.
Greg Mills: Nothing like having good timing is there.
Greg Mills: Do you find the two businesses competing with each other?
Greg Mills: No.
Howie Zales: They don't because viridity kind of, and I kind of went back to. How I handle the businesses. H JZ stays in its lane, dealing with union crews and union shows and that's concerts and sporting events. And viridity stays in its lane, dealing with anything that's live streamed, whether it's concerts that are live streamed sporting events that are live stream corporate.
Howie Zales: Corporate meeting at meetings and events that are live streamed or interviews, depending on what it is. So we kind of, there are two kind of separate entities. Okay.
Greg Mills: How has broadcasting changed over the past year or so? Oh, okay.
Howie Zales: Yeah. Broadcasting has changed in the sense that people don't watch. Television, how they used to watch TV. Yeah. Especially the younger generation. I mean, my kids are playing a video game.
Howie Zales: They're watching their device. They have another thing over here. So people are really not watching television the way they used to. A lot of people record it record what they would like to watch and watch after the fact. And now a lot of things are being. You can watch an event and a part of that event can also be streamed to adding contents or separate pieces of content to the same event, whether you are, you know, watching a boxing match right on TV, you can stream all the other cameras independently of that boxing match.
Howie Zales: That's just one example. Okay. And streaming has really taken and streaming also offers events, sporting events that don't have the money to be broadcasted the opportunity to be distributed. So because it costs less money to show up with different, this different type of equipment, smaller college events or smaller.
Howie Zales: Other type of events could now be broadcasted because it costs less money to do so. Okay.
Greg Mills: Now were they broadcasting? Were they hosting their files, I guess? Are they doing it themselves? Are they doing it via YouTube or Vimeo or yeah, some combination thereof. Yeah, it
Howie Zales: could if you have a content delivery network, right?
Howie Zales: We own we have a content delivery network, so we could stream it to our network. We embed the network on your website and it could be streamed. That's how, that's, how we do it. It can go to YouTube. You know, YouTube and Facebook and things like that. There's a lot of copyright issues with, especially if you use music.
Howie Zales: So we'd like to stay away from that. That's why we like to use our content delivery network and stream to a website.
Greg Mills: So, yeah, I'm a CEO and I don't understand that. I could see me wanting to use, you know, survivors eye of the tiger or something coming out. Yeah. That's and YouTube kind of frowns on that.
Greg Mills: Yeah. So. Okay. And you mentioned your children. How old were they?
Howie Zales: 1918. 17, 15.
Greg Mills: If you'd had five or six year old, little boy or little girl running around why do you have a job?
Greg Mills: Why don't they just point their phones at it? Right. Right. Do you ever see that as a threat to your job?
Howie Zales: No, because the one that they don't have the camera lens that a real camera professional camera has the audio on phones is horrible.
Howie Zales: There's no microphone that can plug into an iPhone that can give you the same quality as you know, a professional microphone. It's, and it'll never be there. Right? The zoom, when you zoom in on an iPhone or another type of phone, you lose. , you know, you lose it, the resolution and everything goes down when you zoom in and becomes blurry out of focus.
Howie Zales: That doesn't happen when you have a professional
Greg Mills: account. Okay. I could see that now. Why do you think that doing video content is so hard for both peop individuals and for companies?
Howie Zales: Yeah, because technology is scary. People don't know how to operate it. And the internet, and it is a big part of what we do.
Howie Zales: And if you don't know a lot about it, there's a lot of ways you can get in trouble and you know, producing video and making. It look professional is an art, right? You don't wanna have a corporate meeting and have cameras panning left and right off the speaker or have the wrong slides up. It just looks unprofessional.
Howie Zales: So you want to go out and hire a company like ours that could help produce and collaboration with your company. An event that is, you know, that could be broadcast on TV. That's the quality of.
Greg Mills: Have you had any embarrassing or unforeseen moments in any of the videos that you've done?
Howie Zales: I've had several accidents. I've gotten hit head with a line drive baseball at SHA stadium where the Mets used to play. I've gotten run over on the football field two or three times. I've had at least three concussions that I can count.
Howie Zales: Oh, wow. I've, I'm doing wrestling. I've got hit many times. Ended up with bloody, you know, blood coming out of, you know, different parts of my face. It's just, it
Greg Mills: happens.
Greg Mills: How do you advise a business to integrate video into their content strategy? Or do you get that granular? Yeah,
Howie Zales: no, we do. We tell companies, you know, you gotta use video to help get your message out there because.
Howie Zales: There's a way to do it. And getting your message out there using video using slides helps get, you know, get your message out there to your employees worldwide. It's better than just having conference call and having everyone dial in having a produced a video produced. To get that word out there, whatever it is that you're trying to get out there is just a more interesting, better way to do it.
Howie Zales: Okay.
Greg Mills: Create more compelling video content. What are some tips and tricks that a company could use to create more compelling video content?
Howie Zales: Yeah. If you. Don't want to do it yourself hire a company that does this if you do wanna do it yourself you know, invest in a good camera with lenses and you want to have good lighting.
Howie Zales: You don't want the subjects to be dark that you're interviewing or shooting or talking about and you wanna have good audio. Having bad audio is useless. You might as well not produce the piece. If you're not gonna be able to hear perfectly what. You know, you're trying to get across. So my advice to most companies would be go out and hire a third party that does this on a regular basis.
Howie Zales: Kind of like, what our company does. Okay.
Greg Mills: Now, do you how granular do you get.
Greg Mills: Video recording or the video event, do you actually plot it out for them? Help them generate content?
Howie Zales: We can work with companies creating what we call a run of show, an ROS. It's basically like an Excel document spreadsheet. And every minute of the event is accounted for this.
Howie Zales: Person's gonna speak from 9:00 AM to nine, 10 and at nine oh. Four, we're gonna roll this video. And then at that video, and then we're gonna have a series of 15 slides and we give a clicker to the speaker and then they press button and it lets us know when to advance the slide. So we basically create in conjunction with the client, our run of show.
Howie Zales: So everyone is on the same page of what's gonna happen.
Greg Mills: Who do you normally end up interfacing with in these companies? Is it the CEO, the it department marketing, or who normally handles that?
Howie Zales: Yeah, a lot of the, a lot of the marketing department people that are in charge of getting the content out there for the client what PR department then we'll, if we're doing the event, At the company's location.
Howie Zales: If it's not a hotel, then we'll deal with we'll bring in the it department as well. We'll usually go before the event and do what we call a site survey. To make sure that the internet is where we need it to be in terms of speed we'll scout the location to see if we need to bring in any any lighting where are we gonna place the cameras?
Howie Zales: Do we need what El, what other equipment do we need to bring in to help make the event as professional looking as possible? Do we bring in teleprompters for the speaker? So they don't have to be looking down at their notes? How can we make this look as professional as possible?
Greg Mills: What type of bandwidth do you need for live streaming and for, just video recording?
Howie Zales: Yeah, we would like at least minimum hundred upload speed.
Greg Mills: Sometimes companies have that sometimes they don't. What if they don't do y'all use like a wifi or do you just insist that they up it at that point? Or how does that how do you go about
Howie Zales: that? Yeah we ask them to up it, if it's possible for the event, if it's not, we bring in bonded cellular solution.
Greg Mills: Now, do you have any favorite stories of how your companies have been able to help somebody in their business?
Howie Zales: Yeah we've been able to you know, Get our, I guess our first one of our first projects was our client needed to interview nine baseball players in nine separate cities.
Howie Zales: And the big problem with that is the interviewer couldn't leave her home. And how were we gonna achieve? So we managed to come up with these contributor kits. They're high end laptops with cameras and ring lights and microphones. And we sent them to baseball players around the country. And for nine weeks we did nine different interviews with this one interviewer and she never left her home.
Howie Zales: Wow. And no one had, you know, no one knew that it was completely virtual. We were able to do a home, run, a little league home run Derby live stream, 10, 10 boys on one night and 10 girls on another night. And it was a home run Derby contest that was completely live streamed. And it was pretty.
Greg Mills: What are you working on right now?
Greg Mills: That's new and exciting for you.
Howie Zales: Yeah we're working on, we have a few livestream projects coming up in the next month or so. We every September our company donates our time and resources to the local synagogue and our area to produce the high holiday livestream services for the community.
Howie Zales: So. That is something we do in September every year. And we're looking forward on hopefully doing some live shopping and sporting events in the next few months.
Greg Mills: Yeah. It seems like everything's starting to get back relatively normal, at least as far as COVID goes.
Greg Mills: Is there any book or resource that you would recommend to move someone to either start their business or move it to the next level?
Howie Zales: Yeah. You know, my business coach Bess cooling was very instrumental at helping me he has a Bookman up, which was, you know, really helped me a lot. So
Greg Mills: yeah. What was that? I'm sorry, I didn't catch that again.
Howie Zales: Bess Coolen book man up. Okay. Pedros was my business my business. Okay,
Greg Mills: well, that brings up an interesting question.
Greg Mills: How'd you, how did you come up? How did you meet him?
Howie Zales: Through a mutual friend. I went to a few masterminds with him and someone else Steve Eckhart and I, I think I went to three masterminds and I said, you know, I think I've gotten everything I can get out of these events. Looking for something.
Howie Zales: And I knew he had a coaching program and so I signed on,
Greg Mills: okay. Is there a piece of software or an app that you find indispensable in your business?
Howie Zales: Yeah, we use we use vMix, which is a professional broadcast software. That's how we do our live streams. It's basically having a TV truck in your computer and we've developed a pretty great workflow with a team that we're managed that we manage to basically keep all remote.
Greg Mills: Lastly, what's the number one piece of advice that you can give to our listeners?
Howie Zales: Number one piece of advice for me is trust your gut. I, or I always go with my gut instinct. But I need to make a decision. I don't sit in hand inha about it. I make the decision and I go with it.
Greg Mills: Awesome. Well, that's a wrap.
Greg Mills: Thank you Howie for being a guest on entrepreneurs over.
Howie Zales: Thank you, Greg. I really appreciate your time.