We had the good fortune of connecting with Karen Lustgarten and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Karen, what role does tech play in your business? Do you feel like a lack of tech is holding you, your business or your industry back?
Video production is a good example of an industry that’s both a creative art and a science. A well-produced professional video involves art at every phase for the finished piece:  creative planning, storytelling, storyboarding, artistic editing and editing decisions. The production and post-production phases include the science, which is the ever-evolving technology to produce a video and then market it online.  

For example, camera technology is evolving as we see newer ones becoming smaller, faster, more powerful, cheaper and easier to use. Such cameras and accessories are making video production more accessible:  drones, 3-d virtual, Go-pros to name a few. 

Now even a cell phone camera shoots in powerful 4K resolution (new ones coming out in 8K) with cool hardware available for it, such as gimbals, lighting and microphones, to make the cell phone video look cinematic and sound professional. If you know how to use the technology and have an artistic eye, storytelling and editing skills, you can shoot a full movie or mini-documentary with a cell phone and viewers would be hard pressed not to know it was shot on a phone.  So learning the technology and how to use it creatively is key in the professional video production business.  

Software development is in flux with emerging technologies. Graphics, special effects, video editing software packages are constantly improving to enhance the post-production phase and offer countless creative options to build a piece.   

What would we do without the technology of cloud-based unlimited storage for videos and editing? The technology that has improved computer performance, made more powerful servers possible with unlimited storage, super-fast networks, lean code and ingenious new applications are the backbone for video production. Better video resolution, frame rates and color depth demand more from IT infrastructures.  So yes, technology is integral to the business. As for me? I’m on the creative end of it and have a talented team that knows and uses the camera, computer technology and software creatively.  We work together to produce and deliver polished, professional videos.  

Once the video is produced, it needs to be marketed on social media sharing platforms, another example of combining art and technology. Creative marketing decisions and using the online platforms strategically for best marketing results with the video generates leads and drives business growth.  We have teamed with a top digital marketing company to offer best search engine optimization (SEO) results for each video we produce.

Video experiences that viewers enjoy actually represent massive technology advances in HD, 3D, 4K and more.  So the technologies that are transforming data centers in other sectors are enabling video teams like ours to produce, edit, finish and deliver clearer, crisper content faster and at lower cost.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others.  So is there a person, group, organization, book, etc that you want to dedicate your shoutout to? Who else deserves a little credit and recognition in your story?
A shoutout to my mother.  As children, my siblings and I were mesmerized by her stories about her life during the Great Depression.  They were like true Aesop’s Fables– lessons on survival, character and self-esteem that molded us into adulthood. One story I remember was after graduating high school, she was hired at a large five and dime retail store to sell and stock merchandise. She worked alongside several other employees who all felt fortunate to land a job even though the boss was mean.  One day she said he berated her in front of everyone for not stocking the merchandise properly.   

Ever the lady, she said, “Excuse me, were you speaking to me?”   

“Of course I’m talking you! Who do you think I was talking to, the countertop?” he barked.  

“No one speaks to me like that.  No one.  If you have something to say to me, you can say it nicely and I will learn if you don’t like what I did.”  Then she said she picked up her purse and sweater and walked toward the front door.  

“And where do you think you’re going?” he yelled.  

“I quit,” she said. “No one speaks to me that way.”  

“Oh really?  Did you look at the lines outside the stores today? They are all people looking for work. And you think you’ll find a job so easy?”    

“I’ll find another job, I’m not worried,” she called back. 

She said that as she went to open the door he stopped her and apologized for speaking to her so harshly. She gave him a skeptical look.  He said it would not happen again. So she decided to stay and he was nice to her thereafter.  

Self-respect, self-confidence, independent spirit, standing up in a lady-like way. She told several true stories like this one illustrating these traits. I grew up admiring her character and emulating the values she imparted. 

My mother died not realizing the importance to me of those teachable moment stories. I only wish I had thanked her before she passed.  This is her worthy shoutout.

My terrific, talented, delightful team at Multi-Media Works deserves a shoutout:  Diane, Wendy, Sandy, Matt, Darryl, Rahul along with new additions Scott and Paul.  They are the village, appreciated and integral to making it all happen.  

There are more shoutouts, like husbands Bernie and Ivan; Alex, an amazing dance teacher in Hollywood who inspired a successful fitness and dance career before video production.  And shoutout to my cousin Martin, who introduced me to U.C. Berkeley, which became my beloved alma mater with rich experiences, so many that I cried when I graduated because I didn’t want to leave the ivory tower of academia.    

Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Stories.  Everyone has stories.  I’ve listened to them since childhood when adults, strangers, other kids would sit down next to me and confide a story, seeking advice from someone, even a kid, who would listen.  I listened non-judgmentally to understand and imagine myself in that person’s predicament, asked a few good questions, then gave a few words of advice based on the answers.  An unwitting budding therapist, by 11-years-old I decided to be a child psychologist. 

I stuck with stories after graduating college, writing essays about living in the midst of major social changes–my own stories from the front lines (a forthcoming book). I decided on journalism to write about other people’s stories that needed to be told. The goal was always to get to the essence; what is this story really about? 

I have worked in a variety of fields—social work and probation work writing reports to the courts about defendants’ stories; in public relations writing press releases for business stories about what makes them special; establishing a niche newspaper in Washington, DC finding and writing stories in the nation’s capital; editor of a Hollywood monthly uncovering fascinating stories about women working in film and television; a Hollywood columnist scooping out stories behind the scenes; lifestyle editor of a Florida newspaper discovering business owners with great origin stories.  

While working in Hollywood, I joined a screenwriting group where we analyzed scripts of films about to be released. We delved into the elements of great storytelling with professional “script doctors” (only in Hollywood).  A communications eclectic and an adventure junkie, I would go anywhere for a good story.

It was inevitable that storytelling in print media would morph into TV and video. Before starting Multi-Media Works, I was nominated for an Emmy Award (Northern Calif.) for segments I wrote/produced/performed for a TV magazine show.  In Florida, I worked for a video production company as writer/producer/co-editor. The assignments sent me to six of seven continents producing videos about businesses and nonprofits doing humanitarian work. Those were my favorite video stories to tell. 

Multi-Media Works is the culmination and combination of my storytelling experiences–  branding and showcasing the essence of a business, nonprofit or government entity with compelling storytelling videos.      

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week-long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc. in your view what are some of the most fun, interesting, exciting people, places or things to check out?
When I decided I was done with L.A. gridlock, and all my detour back alleys were gird locked, too, I called a business advisor living in Delray Beach and told him I’m not sure where I’ll move but it must have palm trees, warm weather and less traffic. Being a California girl, I would never have considered the East Coast, but he bought me a plane ticket for my birthday to consider Delray Beach along with some other South Florida highlights. He would be the tour guide for the week. 

Most of his tour was east of I-95.  For exercise, I’d jog along Delray Beach barefoot in low tide and dip into the warmest, still ocean I ever experienced. I went to the famous Delray Beach Tennis Center to hit with anyone and got a thrill playing on stadium court where the tennis open is held.  We took a yacht tour on the Lady Atlantic along the Intracoastal Waterway in Delray and Boca Raton and dined at the Sundy House in the beautiful botanical gardens, then walked around lively downtown Delray poking into shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs (at that time).  

He showed me around the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens at teatime. He drove up scenic A1A to perfect Palm Beach, a scene out of movie.  We explored the villas in Palm Beach, stopping for dinner at trendy Ta-Boo.    

Another day included a tour of the gorgeous Boca Raton Resort and Club where he was a member, then a drive along A1A south to Las Olas where we got out and window shopped. We took a water taxi winding up at Shooters Waterfront restaurant for a bite overlooking the Intracoastal. There was time for Miami only once to walk around South Beach and have dinner at a Lincoln Road outdoor restaurant while people watching. Then time was up and I had to fly back.  

By the end of the trip, I was knocked out; I didn’t know Florida was so beautiful (east of 95) with so much happening.  A month later, I packed up and moved to Delray Beach with a job lined up in Boca Raton.  That was 22 years ago.

A year after re-locating, my ex-husband/friend was living and working in a dead-end job 50 miles east of L.A., gridlocked. He didn’t know anything about Florida either.  I suggested he take a week vacation and check it out.  I repeated the very same tour itinerary my business consultant gave me.  Guess what happened?  My ex packed up and moved to Delray Beach.    

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