Christmas Drawing – 2019 Edition

Last year I did a series of drawings as gifts for family members, which I rather enjoyed doing. To be honest, I don’t draw enough, but when I do I feel energized. Doing it as a gift makes it even more rewarding.

While I was working on the drawings last Christmas, I was already thinking forward to 2019, and what I wanted to do. And, while I started thinking about it in 2018, and I got the subject for this drawing this past summer, the idea actually came a few years ago. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

A few years ago I was visiting family in my hometown and noticed that my only niece at the time, Elizabeth Eck, had a portrait I drew of her displayed on her dresser. It wasn’t a new portrait, it was of her at one or two, drawn when I was still in high school, almost two decades prior.

For her to keep this all of these years later, and still display it, made me proud. She’s always been an important person in my life, and it brought a smile to my face to see something I did so long ago displayed with pride.

I’ve never admitted this publicly, but when my niece was born I was going through a tough time, and she was the beacon I needed at that moment. She kept me motivated and helped me persevere. I wanted to give her an updated portrait to say thank you.

This past summer, on July 9, 2018, she married the love of her life in a ceremony on the beach in Ocean City, Maryland. I took photos that day knowing that I wanted to use one of them as a subject for this eventual Christmas present.

I took a few hundred photos, but the one that stood out to me was of her and her new husband dancing on the beach, still in their wedding apparel, with ocean waves crashing behind them.

It felt like the perfect setting for what I wanted to achieve.

I hope they enjoy this. It’s my way of thanking her for just being when I was at a difficult point in my life.

Lyz (Eck) and Tyler Smith’s wedding on the beach in Ocean City, Md, July 9, 2018.
Pencil and charcoal.

New Website Launch

I launched my third website today (including this one). Although all three are simple WordPress themes, this has taught me the basics of building and hosting a site.

It’s been a good experience so far, so if you have a moment head over to Nick’s Auto Detailing and Episcopal Nursery School of Royersford, PA and let me know what you think.

Father’s Day 2018

I woke up on this beautiful Father’s Day morning thinking about my grandfather who passed away in 2008. He was a child of immigrants, his father was born in Czechoslovakia and his mother Hungry. He fought in the Korean War, and spent most of his life working in the cemetery where I spent much of my childhood and teenage years.

I’m aware of his many failings and struggled mightily. He was not a nice man, some have described him as evil. He was an alcoholic. He was violent to those around him, including his wife and kids, and in all likelihood suffered from mental illness.

He had a presence about him when he walked into a room. Depending on your perspective – or time of day – it was respect or fear. You knew when he walked into a room, even if you didn’t know him.

It’s sad to say, but as the person I have become, I don’t think I would associate myself with him. It’s not that I think I’m better than he was, it’s that I came to learn just how severe his transgressions were.

Some things you can’t just simply forgive then forget.

However, as the child I was, he instilled in me important values that made me the person I am today. You see, his struggles and transgressions have become family legend, but so have his work ethic, problem solving, grit and tenacity.

He never had much, which, looking back, was by design. But he knew how to get the most out of what he did have. I remember him working long days, sometimes through the night to get the job done.

No matter what the obstacle was, he would always figure out a solution.

That’s what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I know it’s hard to look past the bad that people do. But as a child I was too young to understand everything else. I could only see the good in people.

On this Father’s Day, 10 years after my grandfather’s death, this is what’s on my mind. I’m thinking about the fathers and grandfathers who shaped me and how they are shaping the lives of my children.

And it makes me wonder, how am I shaping the lives of my children and, if we’re so fortunate, their children?

You can probably guess that my grandfather was a bit of a recluse, so I don’t have many pictures of him. The only one I could find was from Christmas 2006, just after my youngest son, Charlie, was born.

If memory serves, this was the last times I saw him before his passing.

Me, my two sons, Elijah and Charlie, my dad (standing), Randall, and my grandfather, Andrew.


When will print’s advertising revenue slide end?

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

I look forward to Mary Meeker’s internet trends report each spring. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. And, unlike the now-annual release of a new Star Wars film, it never disappoints.

Regardless of professional or personal interests, there is information in the report that touches all of us. You just have to be willing to consume 294 slides of information.

You can view the full report, presented at Recode’s 2018 Code Conference, below, or check it out on here.

Slide 96: % of Time Spent in Media v % of Advertising Spending

The slide that I find most interesting, as it relates directly to my profession, is slide 96. Slide 96 shows the percentage of time spent in media and compares it to the percentage of advertising revenue spent in the same media.

2018’s slide 96

I’ve worked in local media since 2001 and I’ve been fixated on each year’s version of this slide since at least 2012. Nieman Lab has a great post that captures this slide from 2011 through this year, which got me thinking about print’s constant ad revenue woes – which have accelerated over the past two years.

Is there an end in sight and can Mary Meeker’s report show when?

Crunching the Numbers

I pulled numbers from a few sources to build my analysis, including from the aforementioned Digital Trends Report and Nieman Lab article, as well as a post from Venture Beat that shows US ad spending growth as projected by e-marketer. I also made several assumptions that I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with. For example, I’m assuming that the time spent in print will remain constant at 4%.

Since 2011 ad spending in print media has dropped from 25% to 9%. On average the market lost 3 points per year. The two worst years were 2013 and 2016 when they lost 4 points.

On a percentage basis, this equates to a 15% annual loss in print revenue. The most significant losses in terms of percentage are the past two years, where advertising revenue in print has dropped 25% in each year.

Between 2015 and 217 the market share has dropped from $29.3B to $18.1B. A loss of $11.2B, or -38%.

In 2011, when the market share was 25%, time share for print was 7%. Between 2011 and 2014 this fell to 4%, where it has since remained. As the Nieman Lab article points out, this 4% could be as high as 4.4%, or as low as 3.5%. Regardless, we can say that the percentage of time spent has, at the very least, slowed.

As slide 96 illustrates, in media percentage of time spent and percentage of revenue generally correlate. Does that mean that the share of print revenue will drop to 4% of market share?

There is no real way to tell, but for purposes of  this article, I’m assuming so.

What Does a 4% Revenue Share Look Like?

If we assume that advertising revenue in print finds its low-water mark at 4%, how far away are we from seeing this, and what do the next few years look like?

If we assume that 2018 is average from a point loss basis, print should lose another three points, bringing the market share down to 6%. This is a 33% loss in revenue, which would dramatically accelerate the losses in 2016 and 2017.

In 2019 another two point loss would bring the market share down to 4%, matching the share of time spent. This would also represent a second straight year of 33% revenue loss.

This would put revenue in the print ad market around $8.9B, down $20.4B, an astonishing revenue loss of 70% since 2015.

Note: Using the percentage losses from the past two years, 25%, extends the time frame an additional year. Using the historical annual losses of 15% expends the time frame by three years.

On the Bright Side?

The bright side, regardless as to whether you look at revenue losses on a point, recent trend, or historical trend basis, is that once print advertising finds its low-water mark, it could show advertising revenue gains. However modest they might be.

Assuming the total advertising market continues to grow at 5% annually, print advertising should, at the very least, be able to maintain year-over-year revenue. Whether that’s in 2020, 2021 or 2022, it will be a welcome sight for an industry that has been beaten down for the past few decades.

Although, the media industry has yet to successfully monetize mobile to any real degree, relying on desktop for any signs of growth in recent years.

Hmm …

We may want to pay attention to the fourth column on that slide.


I Installed A Floor

I haven’t posted in a few weeks, but I have an excuse. With my free time I installed a Pergo floor in our dining room. I know a lot of folks out there will mock my accomplishment, and that’s okay.

I’m not normally a DIY kind of guy. I know a lot of people are, but I prefer to let professionals do what they do best.  But every so often I get a project in my head and go for it.

It took me two full weekends, minus a few hours to partake in a family gathering, but the job is complete and it has me feeling


Seriously, is there anything better than the feeling of a job well done?

Probably, but I’ll take it.

Here is a before and after pic my wife took. Note that the after is prior to trim.