Jimmy Vee is better known as the "Five Foot High Marketing Guy." His creativity has helped him to be successful in his marketing career. His jokes are a hit with family and clients. Recently he created a children's book called 'Little Jimmy Says, "Same Is Lame",' which is also the name of his foundation. Find out more about this talented man and his message for young and old.
What was the inspiration behind this book?
The inspiration for this book is the message itself. I came up with the “Same Is Lame” concept several years ago and have been teaching it to business owners and entrepreneurs. I would teach the concept as it relates to their advertising, marketing, image, approach and business culture. If you look up lame in the dictionary it means, “pathetically lacking in force or effectiveness.” It’s a pretty striking definition. The phrase and concept of Same Is Lame has been very sticky and people really seem to resonate with it. So much so, that we trademarked the phrase. When I thought about writing a kids book, I figured Same Is lame would be the perfect message to introduce to kids to help them get pointed in the right direction early. It has applied to me and I have used it nearly all my life, well before I discovered the words to sum up my philosophy.
What message are you trying to send? Why is this so important for children?
The outermost layer of the message is self-acceptance. Simply, being comfortable with who you are and understanding that it’s OK to be different. At a deeper level, I’m trying to get people to realize the power that lies in fully embracing the traits that make them different and giving them the confidence to leverage them, capitalize on them and exploit them.
SIDE NOTE: I love the word “exploit.” Most people think of it as a negative word but it’s really not. The definition is quite wonderful and very fitting in this case.
:to use (someone or something) in a way that helps you unfairly
:to make productive use of
:to get value or use from (something)
Why is humor so important when dealing with children?
I believe humor is important when dealing with any one and every one. I also believe that humor is very hard. It takes innate talent or hard work to be truly funny and to master the use of humor. Humor works to break down walls, it brings people together and relieves tension in a group. Humor can be extremely effective at getting people’s attention. Grabbing and holding people’s attention is the first (and most critical) step in the communication and learning processes.
For me personally, I love to make people laugh. I love to hear people laugh and I love to watch people laugh. Especially kids because they laugh so freely, without restrictions or reservation.
What can parents, educators, and other caregivers do to empower children?
Encouraging kids to read is the number one thing. I believe that leaders are readers. Also, allowing children to make small decisions and deal with the ramifications of their choices can help empower children. This accountability builds confidence and self-esteem and prepares kids to make bigger decisions later in life. It also teaches personal responsibility.
How closely did you work with the illustrator?
Mike and I worked very closely. I actually wanted to find an illustrator I could work collaboratively with. Not because I’m a control freak. In fact, when it comes to artists, I’m the exact opposite. I like working with experienced and talented artists of all types. I love to bounce ideas, give a general direction and allow them to do what they do. I love watching them bring to life my ideas by adding their creative spark and life. Mike and I did that on this project. I gave my initial direction and then let him go. When he was ready, he showed me pencil sketches page by page and I tried to only give minor tweaks when necessary. Occasionally, Mike would make a suggestion to completely change my art concept. I really liked that. I love when an artist puts himself/herself so deeply into the work that they don’t just do what’s asked. A collaboration is tug-of-war on all sides of the creative box. Each artist pushing the other to move beyond their walls and what they have done in the past.
This is your first published children's book. Do you have more in the works?
My original plan was just to do this project. I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book and thought Same Is Lame would be a good project with lots of opportunity to do good and make a positive impact on people. Writing the book was on my list of goals for 2013 and one day I just woke up with the first few lines of the book. By the end of the day I had a rough draft. Now, I’m not sure. I think I’ve been bitten. I have lots of ideas and it’s just really fun.
On what other projects are you currently working?
Tons. I am a partner in an advertising agency. It’s one of the top three agencies in Central Florida. We have over 40 employees so I’m always working on some new and creative projects. I also do a lot of writing. Sometimes advertising copywriting, sometimes content writing and sometimes I’m working on book projects.
Please tell us about your other publications.
I have co-authored a marketing book titled Gravitational Marketing: The Science Of Attracting Customers published by John Wiley & Sons in 2008. We’ve also self-published several niche-industry trade books and I’m the co-author on a business parable book which will hopefully be released through a major publisher by the end of 2014 or early 2015.
I have a bunch of kids book ideas in my journal. I’m not sure which one I want to work on next. I like that this book has a message and a purpose but I kinda want to write a book that’s just fun. No real purpose but to make kids and parents laugh when they read it. To just enjoy the ride. Super silly and outrageously over the top. That’s my personality and I’d like to write a book like that.
We love ventriloquists! Please tell us about that! Do you have any videos?
I have loved puppets my whole life. When I was in elementary school two events changed my world. I grew up in a small town in Florida called Beverly Hills. No, not the one with the famous zip code. We didn’t get a lot of big events at the school but one year we had a ventriloquist come to the school and another year we had a magician. Both of those shows lit a fire inside of me that still burns today. I never did anything serious with either ventriloquism or magic when I was a kid. It wasn’t until I was in college that I got serious and it was another random chance of fate that pulled me in. I was in college full time and I had a job at a retail eyeglass chain.
One day I was walking through the mall and saw a guy selling marionette puppets out of a kiosk. Completely by coincidence, I had been doing research on marionette puppets and was building them in my apartment. I struck up a conversation with the shopkeeper and told him about my love for puppets and the marionettes I had been making. He encouraged me to bring them down and let him take a look. So, a day or so later, I brought down my string-puppet creations. He liked my puppets and asked if I would like to put them on in his kiosk and sell them on consignment. I instantly agreed. So with my puppet hanging in all its glory, I kept coming back to check in and over time I made friends with the man at the kiosk.
A couple weeks had passed, I kept coming by and even starting working at the kiosk as a puppet demonstrator. They sold those wrap around puppets that has a stick on the hand. I would perform the puppet as people walked by and get them to stop. I would put the puppet around their body and show them how to manipulate it. It was lots of fun. One day while working the kiosk, some kids came around and my new friend pulled out a small ventriloquist puppet and starting performing for the kids. I was blown away. I loved it and my fire for talking without moving my lips was reignited.
I ask him if he could teach me how to do ventriloquism. He told me it wasn’t that difficult and suggested I get a book and learn from it. This was before Amazon, so I went to the Barnes And Noble store and they didn’t have any books on the shelve about ventriloquism but they did have ONE in the system they could order. I order the book and devoured it when it came in.
I practiced ventriloquism for a month straight every time I got in my car. I would sing songs on the radio without moving my lips. Soon I had it down. Then I bought my own puppet and starting to make a little show. It was at this point that I figured I needed to add a little something else to the show and sought to add a little magic… literally.
I decided to look for other ventriloquists in the area and discovered that there used to be an active ventriloquist club in Central Florida. It was not defunct but I found an old list of the members and started to call them. I restarted the club and met a bunch of new friends.
One of the people I met was a guy named Mike Palma who was not only a ventriloquist but also a magician. His father had even owned a magic shop at one time. Through Mike, I got back into magic and then added that to my show. Mike and I are still very close friends.
Once I had a little show, I started performing in people’s garages for $50 bucks. I got better, the show got better and I started doing lots of birthday parties, events and all kinds of shows. I also started charging a lot more too. I still perform today. I have since taken Imporv comedy classes and have done standup comedy with my dummy at the Improv comedy club.
How does your family support you and your work?
I am married. My wife is very supportive. She is very funny and creative too. She is a cake designer and a stay-at-home mom. We have two kids Autumn (8) and Vincent (2). My daughter told me that all I do is make stuff up all day. Which I guess is fairly accurate. The kids love the book and we have a lot of fun. Lots of laughs in my house. Everyone is trying to be funny all the time.
Give us a nutshell look at your typical day.
My day is fairly structured. I get up at 6:30 AM and go to the gym. I get home clean up, eat breakfast and drive my daughter to school. School is 5 minutes from the house in the direction of my office (this is by design). I hate wasting time and waiting around. Although I have a short commute, I always listen to audio books on the drive. Even with a short drive I cut through a lot of books. I try to read over 40 books a year. At the office, I have a very specific schedule. We block all of our time, group like tasks for efficiency and work strictly by appointment. I try to leave the office around 4PM. When I get home, I usually spend time with the kids, work on writing or practicing my magic or ventriloquism routines. Around six, my wife feeds the kids and we make dinner and then we read with the kids and put them to bed. After the kids are down for the night, my wife and I will either read or I’ll work on the computer writing or doing some other project. We also like to watch the tennis. I have to have a project going on or I go crazy. Occasionally, my wife and I will watch a bit of TV. Mostly creative shows like FaceOff on SyFy. Right now, I really like Jim Henson’s CreatureShop Challenge. We don’t usually watch a lot of TV though.
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
I really am Five Feet Tall. I wanted to be a special effects designer for movies and make puppets and animatronics.
Thank you so much for your time!