The TEN7 Podcast – Episode 104

 

Chuck Hermes: From Paisley Park to Clockwork, creating opportunity by saying “yes”

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Summary

Bitstream and Clockwork founder, Chuck Hermes, talks about how saying “yes” to challenges helped him evolve from a musician, to a graphic designer for Prince, to a successful entrepreneur… and he takes a moment to geek out with Ivan over Kenji López-Alt.

Guest

Chuck Hermes, founding partner and Chief Experience Officer at Clockwork

Highlights

  • Prince taught Chuck to work outside of his comfort zone.
  • A prototype BBS system got Chuck fired from Paisley Park and launched a successful business.
  • Chuck’s career has evolved from musician to graphic designer to his current role at Clockwork, focusing on client and employee satisfaction.
  • COVID-19 is revealing the importance of remote work, but also presenting challenges for building and maintaining a positive company culture.

Links

Transcript

IVAN STEGIC: Hi Everyone! You’re listening to the TEN7 Podcast, where we get together every fortnight, and sometimes more often, to talk about technology, business, and the humans in it. I’m your host Ivan Stegic. My guest today is Chuck Hermes, founding partner at Clockwork, former night receptionist at Paisley Park Studios, avid bicyclist and skier, and also a lover of cooking, which has recently also become a joy for me as well, and it turns out we’re both fans of J. Kenji Lόpez-Alt who was on our show recently. So, we’re going to geek out a little bit about that as well.

So hello, welcome to the show, Chuck.

CHUCK HERMES: Ivan, thanks, yes.

IVAN: It’s lovely to have you on. I guess the triumvirate is complete for guests on The TEN7 Podcast with you and Nancy and Michael Koppelman.

CHUCK: Thanks for having me.

IVAN: Well it’s good to be talking to leaders like yourselves from the Twin Cities.

CHUCK: Thanks. Before we get started. I have kind of an embarrassing admission to make here.

IVAN: Uh oh.

CHUCK: How long is a fortnight?

IVAN: How long is a fortnight? I’m glad you asked. It’s two weeks.

CHUCK: Two weeks?

IVAN: It’s bi-weekly. It’s a very English thing apparently.

CHUCK: Yes.

IVAN: I grew up in South Africa and I just assumed everyone knew what it meant and then we put it in the preamble of the podcast and people ask, and it’s awesome.

CHUCK: Good. Well, I assume that everybody knows what that means too, except for me, which is why it’s an embarrassing admission.

IVAN: It’s hardly embarrassing. My daughter and my son thought it meant the game, [laughing], you know, at that age.

CHUCK: [laughing] Yup.

IVAN: Well, I’d like to start out by asking where our guests are from and where they grew up. So, are you Minnesotan? Are you a local guy?

CHUCK: I have lived in Minnesota my whole life. I grew up in a town in West Central Minnesota called Fergus Falls. And I left there shortly after high school for Minneapolis, in pursuit of a music career. And spent a few years playing in some bands in the area, touring around the country. My plan was to go back to school at some point, and eventually, I just rediscovered the love of graphic arts that I had my entire childhood, illustration drawing, any kind of artistic thing I was interested in. So that’s where I started was Fergus Falls, and then to Minneapolis.

IVAN: So Fergus Falls for those of you who don’t know is almost on the border of North Dakota. Correct?

CHUCK: Yep, 20 miles from Breckinridge, Minnesota and Wahpeton, North Dakota.

IVAN: So I promise, I did not Google that when you said Fergus Falls, and the only reason I know where Fergus Falls is, because I used to work at Imation and we had a manufacturing facility in Wahpeton, North Dakota. So driving up to Wahpeton from the Twin Cities, we had to drive through and past Fergus Falls.

CHUCK: Yeah, that’s right.

IVAN: It’s flat out there.

CHUCK: It is. It’s flat to the west, and it’s very hilly and beautiful to the east from there, so we’re kind of right on the edge of hill country up there.

IVAN: You made your way to Twin Cities to play music. What kind of music were you playing?

CHUCK: Just playing in a bunch of bands, primarily a band called Mile One. We played all original rock pop. It was called alternative or underground music at that time. This would’ve been the late 80s.

IVAN: And then you find yourself being a night receptionist at Paisley Park. I can’t believe that’s a coincidence that it’s related to music.

CHUCK: Yeah [laughing], well what happened there was, I got to the point where I realized that a career in music was not going to happen. And I was ready to make a change. So that band I was in, Mile One, we had studio time booked at Paisley Park, and I decided to leave the band, so I called the studio to cancel the studio time for the band. And then just happened to ask, “Do you have any jobs available?”

IVAN: [laughing] Great.

CHUCK: And John Dressel, the studio manager said, “Yes, as a matter of fact, we do. Why don’t you come on out?” So, I drove out and had an interview and left with a job.

IVAN: Wow, that’s great. And then you worked your way up to actually starting their in-house art department.

CHUCK: Yes. So, how did that arc happen, I imagine?

IVAN: Yeah.

CHUCK: So, at the same time that I started working at Paisley Park, I enrolled at MCAD and as I was doing my night reception duties at Paisley, I had a lot of time and used that time to do my artwork and my schoolwork. People around the studio recognized what I was doing and started assigning me little design tasks around the studio. Which over time, I moved from the night receptionist position to being hired within the same building by Warner Brothers, who was Prince’s record company and the record company affiliated with Paisley Park records.

So I went from night receptionist to working as an administrative assistant at Paisley Park Records, which was a Warner Brothers company. There I did a lot of work on kind of a liaison between Paisley Park and Prince the Artist and Warner Brothers art department. So that’s how I kind of transitioned into the art production side of the business.

Then it just went on from there where Prince at that time, all of the record covers, all of the artwork, pretty much everything was done through Warner Brothers. So any of those cover designs were designers that were true Warner Brothers on one of the coasts. Then he used a lot of people locally and regionally for things like tour sets and tour graphics and just all of this other stuff that he was doing.

But officially there was never an art department at Paisley. It just was freelancers coming in to do this and that. And then depending on what was going on, like Graffiti Bridge the movie was just wrapping up. They were just taking the sets down on that when I started working there. And so there were a bunch of designers and freelancers that were working on that. But once that project was over, they dispersed. This gap of Paisley, the question I asked was, “Do you realize that we could do a lot of what you’re sourcing out in-house here?” At that point, they said, “No, we didn’t realize that. So why don’t you take on the task of building an art department here?”

IVAN: What a wonderful assignment to build a department for Prince.

CHUCK: Yes, and I was grossly underqualified, which was okay, I guess, just having started school. And then ultimately, I dropped out of school because I had this opportunity to take this role at Paisley Park or be a student. I couldn’t do both at that time.

IVAN: Well someone must have had some belief and foundational trust in you to be able to tell you that you could do that for a living and believe in you.

CHUCK: Yeah, yeah. That’s one thing that Prince is really good at was taking risks on people. When you worked out there he would ask you to do things that were way outside of what you would consider your job description, and that went for anybody that worked there. And if you proved that you were trustworthy and get the job done, he just continued and Paisley Park in general just continued to give you more work and more trust in doing the things that needed to be done.

So, I had been there for quite a while at that point, and I think that I had proven my trustworthiness and my capabilities. But what I did immediately was went and looked for somebody to come in as a creative director and run the department, because like I said, I wasn’t qualified to do that. Ultimately, we hired Jeff Munson who had worked at Paisley Park prior, but lived in Illinois, and he moved up, and Jeff and I were the art department there for a couple of years.

IVAN: What was your favorite piece of art that you ever worked on for Paisley Park?

CHUCK: This was an interesting period of time for Prince and Paisley because right about this time is when, well the records that he was putting out at that time was Graffiti Bridge and then Diamonds and Pearls and then The Love Symbol album. And then shortly after that, well I’ll get into that in a second. Those three albums were essentially kind of the last of his legitimate Warner Brothers records. This is when he decided he wanted to part with Warner’s and began this dispute with them which then led to him retiring the name Prince and changing his name to The Artist Formerly Known As Prince.

Unfortunately for me, that time period there weren’t really many records coming out, so I never did get a design credit on a Prince record. I got design credits on all sorts of other stuff, again like tour graphics and promotional materials and other artists on the label CDs. So, I think as far as a piece of artwork that I would be most proud of that I was involved in back then, I can’t even name it, there was so much stuff. But unfortunately, there wasn’t an actual Prince CD release that had my name on it.

IVAN: So you were at Paisley Park in the early nineties, and I believe Prince separated from Warner Brothers after the mid-nineties? I remember the mid-nineties right around the end of high school, beginning of college for me, and then all of a sudden Prince disappeared and there was a symbol, and I couldn’t find any of his stuff anymore, in Africa. It just disappeared.

CHUCK: Yeah. So, yeah, there was the feud between Prince and Warner Brothers. I don’t know if you remember that, but he would write Slave on his face around that time.

IVAN: Yeah.

CHUCK: [laughing] So, yeah, records weren’t coming out at that time. The ones that he did, there was a record called that nobody has heard of that Jeff Munson did this beautiful artwork for, and it’s a very dark album. That was probably the poorest selling Prince album of all time. Just because he basically, I don’t think he was into it. He put out this record to fulfill his contract and then he was done.

IVAN: Oh, done. Yeah.

CHUCK: Then after that, he started releasing things on his own label.

IVAN: NPG, right?

CHUCK: NPG, yep. So there was one called 1-800 New Funk. Then there was the Beautiful Experience and just a bunch of stuff was happening at that time. He had three or four records that he was juggling and releasing at the same time, but they didn’t have the power of Warner Brothers promoting them. So they just kind of hung out there for anybody who discovered them.

IVAN: When I talked to Michael Koppelman, he had mentioned that you and he worked on Prince’s BBS, and I discovered yesterday that it had this name The Dawn. What is The Dawn?

CHUCK: How that happened then was kind of as this art department was being developed, Michael and I were both working at Paisley at that time and were experimenting with networking. I remember one night seeing Mike, he had this laptop, I think it was one of the first Mac laptop’s that was probably the size of a suitcase. And he had it plugged into a phone jack, and I just asked what he’s doing and he said he was experimenting with some kind of relay chat at that time.

So, that got me interested in that, so he and I started experimenting with that technology. This was about the time that very early adopters were getting online. American Online maybe had launched a year before, but it wasn’t really a public launch yet, so it was really small. There were a couple of other networks like that where people were starting to drift in.

IVAN: CompuServe I think was one of them, right?

CHUCK: CompuServe, yup, terrible at graphic interfaces if they had graphic interfaces at all. So it was very technical. We were experimenting with that and we found this software called First Class that allowed this great flexibility in creating a custom user interface. Anyway, about that time I brought this up to Prince, and he was completely unaware of any of this, so I brought it up to him.

Then the next day I ended up bringing my Mac from home and going up into one of the offices upstairs at Paisley Park and plugging it in and I gave him a tour of American Online and some of this other stuff. And the lightbulb went off in his head at that point, because he was looking at this and thinking about his situation with Warner Brothers, and he wanted to cut out the middle man, he wanted complete control over his work and the distribution of his work. I remember him turning to me and just saying, “So we can deliver music this way?” Downloading a song at that time through an old modem would’ve taken a day and a half.

But of course, I said, “Yes, of course we can!” [laughing] And so that then sent me off on this parallel journey from the art department stuff to digital. And so using my clout as a Paisley Park representative and representing Prince I was able to get meetings with the heads at AOL and people at Microsoft and all these super heavyweight people that were very instrumental in developing these early BBS and online communication technologies. So, Prince decided that, and we had a bunch of meetings chit-chatting. It was really exciting because he was pumped up and really wanted to do this and he decided that “Yes, let’s build this and call it The Dawn.”

IVAN: That was the name he gave it?

CHUCK: That was the name he gave it. Then at about that time Michael took his exit papers [laughing] and I think--

IVAN: [laughing] I think you mean got fired, isn’t that what you mean?

CHUCK: Yes. Or the way he put it in the podcast was, “people just disappear one day”. Michael had disappeared one day, and Michael was the technical side of this whole endeavor. I was the visual design side of this endeavor. So we secretly partnered on this because Prince would not have allowed Michael to continue to be involved in this. So, we just kept the Michael piece of this partnership quiet, and we built a prototype BBS called The Dawn.

I was able to bring in little audio clips for sounds throughout the interface and all of the Prince graphics that I had access to and had created for all the artwork. We built this beautiful BBS. And he was, I think, on the Diamonds and Pearls tour at that time, so we were communicating about this stuff and looking over progress on this daily for a long time. Then he went on tour and he came back on a break, this probably would’ve been a month or six weeks later.

It was late one night, we tended to work late hours, come in late and work late, because that’s when he was in the studio, and I said, Hey I’ve got an update to show you. Why don’t you swing on down to my office? So he and his eventually to be wife, Mayte came walking down the hall into my office one night, and I sat him down and said, “This is The Dawn,” and clicked the button and the modem made all its racket, and it connected to a computer elsewhere, and this whole beautiful interface and sound came up.

And he looked at me, and he looked at the thing, and he looked at me and he said, “So what is this?” I said, “This is what we’ve been talking about, this is The Dawn,” and he said, “And you did this?” I said, “Well, we did this.” And I felt the energy in the room change to this really odd negative energy, and he said, “So who owns this?” I said, “Well, this is what we’ve been talking about, so this is on my computer here, and we’re logging into another computer, which I said is at my house or my apartment in Minneapolis. That’s where the server is so that’s how it works.” He said, “So you own this?”

Anyway, you kind of get the picture of what was happening, which ended up being he stormed out of the office, even gave me a little shove and stormed out of the office that night. For the next two weeks, I would see him around the studio, but he wouldn’t look at me, he wouldn’t talk to me. It wasn’t the normal where he would check in every day on what we were up to in the art department. Then two weeks later I got my pink slip and that was the day I disappeared.

IVAN: Wow. Do you think you could’ve explained it in a way that he would’ve been comfortable with the control and the ownership that he actually probably already had over it?

CHUCK: The ownership was his. The ownership was Paisley Park’s. It’s just like anything that’s created there, I’m a paid staffer, and I get paid my hourly wage, I have no right to the ownership of the products that we created. So, I don’t know if I could’ve explained it better. I think it was a situation of where he was in this very distrusting, is that the right word, distrusting frame of mind with Warner Brothers, with I think there was some bootlegging stuff going on at that time. I think he felt like I had this somehow power to put his music online and deliver it without his knowledge.

IVAN: Boy, and it was such a different environment compared to what it is like now, like 25 years later of where the internet is and how ubiquitous devices are. And it must’ve been a great unknown for you as well.

CHUCK: Oh right. Yeah. We were just trying to figure it out as we went. But I think about that, you know, I had heard years later, or all the way through to his death, he didn’t allow people to bring mobile phones or smartphones into the studio. It’s pretty evident that he was worried about control of his content. And he didn’t want anybody to get control of his content.

IVAN: The irony of the situation is that he wanted to cut out the middleman and go directly to consumers with that kind of control that he wanted. And fast forward to right now, where anyone can be a musician, and anyone can get to those consumers and those listeners. But only to be really successful you need either a viral hit, or you need a record label.

CHUCK: Right.

IVAN: It’s gone completely the other way around.

CHUCK: Yeah, so the silver lining of all of this was that then Michael and I took everything we had learned by building The Dawn and created Bitstream Underground BBS, which was a huge success regionally. And we created this environment for artists, musicians, just generally people that were interested in the arts were attracted to this BBS. And we created this really, cool, unique community of people and sharing of information that turned into a legitimate business for us.

IVAN: Bitstream Underground. We talked about that with Michael but the one thing we didn’t talk about was Stress Lab. I don’t know if you started it, but the timing is about the same time as Bitstream Underground as well.

CHUCK: They happened at the same time. After Paisley Park, I still needed to make money [laughing].

IVAN: [laughing] Stupid having to live and feed yourself.

CHUCK: [laughing] That’s right. So, I was doing freelance design work and then Jeff Munson and Liz Loose who had been hired to take my place at Paisley Park, probably six months after that, they decided that they were done, they wanted to leave. And Jeff could tell the story. But basically, he left out of, I guess, just feeling how I had been mistreated here. He decided that he didn’t want to stick around so he left.

Anyway, the three of us, Jeff, Liz and myself, we started Stress Lab, about six months later officially. We had some fun with that too, because we were doing a lot of artwork for the record labels that we had worked with and connections we had through Paisley Park. So we were doing a lot of Warner’s Brothers work, Sony Records, Spin Magazine, just a whole long list of music-related clientele, I guess.

IVAN: You kind of referred to yourselves with this really long acronym that if you wouldn’t mind saying it. I want to give you the pleasure of saying it. [laughing]

CHUCK: [laughing] Right. We had some fun with that, because that was right at the time that Prince was telling people that his name was The Artist Formerly Known As Prince (TAFAP). So we just riffed on that and said, That Stress Lab is the Artist Formerly Known As The Artist For The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. [laughing]

IVAN: [laughing] So great. Well, you did some really amazing work and eventually ended up starting a company that you’ve been involved with now that’s called Clockwork in 2002 and you’ve been there since the founding. And you founded that with Nancy who was also on our show. What’s your role at Clockwork right now?

CHUCK: That’s an interesting question. That’s hard to answer. With Clockwork and Bitstream before it, my role was to lead the visual design side of things. If we’re talking back late nineties into the early 2000s, it still was considered a graphic designer’s job to create interfaces for websites and any of this stuff. And, that was my role. Clockwork we started with four people. It was myself, Michael Koppelman, Nancy Lyons, and Kurt Koppelman. So, we had all the bases covered. Nancy was really leading the business and sales, and Michael and Kurt were technology, and I was the creative side.

Then as we grew, we added staff, and the industry evolved to a point of where it was no longer necessarily graphic designers that were doing that work. Now we needed information architects, which turned into user experience professionals. I always, up until the last couple of years, lead that discipline at Clockwork.

One of the beauties of being in a business like Clockwork and being a business owner is that I was able to evolve my role over the years. Like I said from designer to UX, to whatever the evolution was, and whatever the need was on that side of the business, I was able to take that on, learn and build the right staff to do that work.

About two years ago, we hired Micah Spieler who is now the creative director essentially or director of user experience. And at that point, I had kind of lost my path of where I should go next in the business, so I decided I would take essentially a hiatus with the business. So I really did step away for about a year and a half, and then about a year or nine months ago now, I reentered the business coming back in.

So if more of the interest that I have in the business now versus before, I guess it’s always been an interest is the experience of the people working at Clockwork and the experience of our clients. Customer experience and employee experience, and that’s where my interest is now. I don’t really have a title connected to that, but that’s the part of the business that I love and am working on.

IVAN: Why do you think you’ve been as successful as you have as an organization? Does it have something to do with that attention to the client’s experience? To the employee’s experience?

CHUCK: Absolutely. For the entirety of Clockwork, we’ve had a reputation of being a great place to work. We won awards year after year after year for Best Place to Work competitions. I think the four of us wanted to create a company and a company culture that we were comfortable working in. And, well maybe not surprisingly, but I think luckily our personalities worked so well together that it was pretty easy to nurture a culture as we added staff around the personalities and the types of people that we are.

The gauge that I’ve used my entire career is how do I feel on Monday mornings? So it’s the Monday morning gut check. And I have family members and friends who all stress out on Sunday nights thinking about, Oh God, here’s the start to another week. And for me, I felt very fortunate that Sunday nights I’m excited. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, I love my weekends, I love everything I do. But I’m also equally excited about Mondays and the work we do and the people that we work with.

I hope that, and my hope has been through the entire existence of Clockwork is that people feel that same. I think that that truly is, that culture piece, is kind of the secret, the magic component of the company’s success.

IVAN: I completely understand what you’re saying, can identify with it as well. I had a job before I started TEN7 where I started to get really sad on a Sunday night, because Monday morning was coming, and I really didn’t want to be in the place I was at. I don’t remember ever feeling like that with TEN7, and I think that’s our desire is for the people that we work with to have exactly that same feeling like, You want to be able to go to work on a Monday morning and not dread the fact that that’s happening. So, that’s a wonderful measure of success, I think.

CHUCK: Our COVID world and working 100% remotely is potentially a challenge to that. I think that we’ve done a good job of adapting and fortunately we’re a pretty remote working staff anyway, even prior to this people were used to working remotely. But going 100% distributed staff is very different because we have this great building and people just really enjoyed collaborating and working together and sharing the common spaces within our buildings. That’s another thing I’m just really concerned about which is why I want to re-engage in that part of the business now.

IVAN: That was actually what I was going to ask you about. How has the distributed work been treating you and treating the organization?

CHUCK: So prior to this we encouraged the staff and each individual staff member to work when and where they’re most productive. So if that means coming into the office and keeping a normal business day, nine to five, great. If you want to set hours different during the day. And all you had to do was be available when your teams needed you to communicate and connect. For years we had that policy, but I was happy to see that the majority of the people came into the office the majority of the days because they just like being here with their coworkers.

That said, people would take time and work from home and we gave them the tools to do that very early. Everybody’s got a laptop, and even before laptops were that common, we tried to get people remote working tools that they could use and make it easy for them. How it’s working out so far, it seems to be that people are adapting fine. We decided with the buildings that we have a limited number of people that can be in the buildings now. We haven’t declared like, alright let’s bring people back into the office, but what we wanted to do was open up the offices so that anybody who can’t concentrate at home. There’s lots of people here that have young families and young kids, so those are the people that tend to come in maybe a couple of days a week here for a few hours, just to get some real focus time.

Aside from that, that’s what I’m trying to gauge is, how happy are people in this new world, and we’re six or seven months in now, so that’s kind of one of my goals now, is to figure out how happy are people and what are we going to do on the other side of this thing? What will normal look like a year or two years from now compared to what normal is today?

IVAN: Yeah. It’s a tough situation to be in as the leader of an organization. Have you used any tools to gauge employee satisfaction? We are using now Know Your Team, and we had Claire Lew on the show before. Do you have something that you’re using?

CHUCK: Yeah. We just stopped using it probably six months ago and I’m having a little brain lock here, I can’t remember what the name of the tool was. But it was an online thing that gauged, it did little surveys once a week and sent out basically polls to people randomly as well as these very frequent measures. Like I said, we decided to stop using that which was just about the time that COVID hit, because basically, we’re getting the same results and the same info. For years we had been getting the same stuff. Again, that’s why I’m sitting back in the seat right now thinking, What’s the best way that we can measure employee satisfaction?

IVAN: My coach likes to remind me that a part of my job is being Chief Paranoia Officer at TEN7. What’s a nightmare scenario for you in 2021?

CHUCK: Oh boy.

IVAN: Sorry. [laughing]

CHUCK: [laughing] My wife and I were just talking about, she had found a T-shirt that had 2020, it was a T-shirt, and it had the five-star rating with half a star colored in. [laughing]

IVAN: [laughing] Google review 2020.

CHUCK: [laughing] Right. Then I thought what’s 2021 going to look like because right now it could be shittier than 2020, I don’t know. So the nightmare scenario is that we do another shutdown and there isn’t the government support that we had, because we were able to get some of the PPP funding to help sustain us through the shutdown in the early part of the year. Right now, business, in general, is looking better than it has for the last 12 month. So we’re feeling really good about that, but who knows what happens with COVID and is the bottom going to fall out again. So, I think that’s what any business person would tell you at this point, right?

IVAN: Right. Yeah, and this episode is publishing after the results of the election have been finalized, I think.

CHUCK: I did true notifications off on my computer, so I wouldn’t be interrupted during this conversation. [laughing]

IVAN: Thank you. I did the same thing. So maybe we already have resolution and we just don’t know about it.

CHUCK: Right. We’re just waiting on Georgia right now. Come on Georgia. [laughing]

IVAN: [laughing] Let’s talk a little bit about food and then I think I’m going to have to let you go. I love J. Kenji Lόpez-Alt. I discovered you do as well. That Food Lab book that he created is amazing. How many times have you read that? [laughing]

CHUCK: You know, it’s nearby all the time. I just loved his approach to the science of food, because I’ve always loved cooking especially after a hard day at work, I love coming home in summertime, and we’ve got a beautiful garden, and go in and grabbing some stuff. And I just love chopping vegetables. It’s sort of a Zen activity for me. My wife bought me that book.

IVAN: Same. [laughing]

CHUCK: And I just changed my entire approach to cooking. I’m experimenting with things and just understanding what is actually happening with the food as you cook it, it’s fascinating. I love it.

IVAN: Yeah, the scientific approach to it is just wonderful. One of the pictures from his book that really sticks out in my mind is that top view of soft boiled eggs and hard-boiled eggs that have been cooked in 30-second intervals from 30 seconds through eight minutes or something like that. And there’s 16 eggs and there’s all these different consistencies and beautiful yellow colors. That approach, learning the technique, learning what it means, it just feels like it gives you so much flexibility and your skills to be able to experiment in the kitchen. And I always thought was recipes, and I guess it’s not.

CHUCK: Right. Yeah, you can follow recipes which is fine. But once you understand more of the basic principles it gives you a much more knowledgeable approach to experimentations.

IVAN: What’s your favorite thing to make?

CHUCK: Oh boy. Jaime my wife and I, we pick different recipes every week, and we just love to experiment. We also love to try and recreate some of the dishes that we eat at restaurants and try and bring them home. Favorite thing to make? God, I’m really failing with you on these particular questions, because we try something different every single week. In the summertime, we’re doing a lot of grilling. In the wintertime, we’re making soups and stews and things like that. One of my daughters really loves stir fry. We just looked up, Kenji Lόpez-Alt did, I think it was a kung pow chicken or a sweet and sour chicken a couple of weeks ago.

IVAN: Sweet and sour chicken, yes.

CHUCK: Sweet and sour chicken, that’s on our list to try. And those videos are just so much fun.

IVAN: Yeah, do the sweet and sour chicken. We actually did that one as well and it was amazingly good, and so simple and easy to do. I agree, his videos are wonderful. The point of view that he has is just, it’s well shot and just so endearing.

CHUCK: It is, and I love those too because we’re looking at Kenji Lόpez-Alt is working from his home kitchen, and you know, it’s a mess. And his dogs are running around, and he’s got bare feet. [laughing] It’s really fun.

IVAN: Yeah it was interesting to read about why he’s barefoot in the kitchen. It’s all related to his heritage.

It’s been great talking to you. I can’t believe the time is already over. Thank you for spending your time with me today. It’s just been lovely to get to know you a little bit more and to hear about Clockwork and Prince and Paisley Park. Will you join us again sometime in the future?

CHUCK: Absolutely, and hopefully we can meet in real life sometimes.

IVAN: Oh my gosh, wouldn’t it be great to have a coffee in a shop somewhere in 2021, where there’s no pandemic and the ability to sit outside or inside with an actual other person.

CHUCK: Right. I’m ready. [laughing]

IVAN: [laughing] I’m ready too. Thank you, Chuck, for joining us.

CHUCK: Alright. Thanks a lot.

IVAN: Chuck Hermes is the founding partner at Clockwork, and you can find him online as @chuckhermes.

You’ve been listening to The TEN7 Podcast. Find us online at ten7.com/podcast. And if you have a second, do send us a message. We love hearing from you. Our email address is podcast@ten7.com. Until next time, this is Ivan Stegic. Thanks for listening.

Ivan Stegic

CEO
 
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Ivan Stegic

Words that describe Ivan: Relentlessly optimistic. Kind. Equally concerned with client and employee happiness. Bowtie lover. Physicist. Ethical. Lighthearted and cheerful. Finds joy in the technical stuff. Inspiring. Loyal. Hires smart, curious and kind employees who want to create more good in the world. His favorite things right now: the TEN7 podcast and becoming the next Björn Borg.