« Back to News List« Back to News List
July 1st, 2019
Welcome to the Fun Enterprises Monthly Newsletter
One on One with Ken Abrahams
Where are you from? I'm from South Bend, Indiana. When I was 14, we moved east. My Mom and Dad both are from New York. My Dad worked in retail and they moved to Indiana for his work. After their divorce, my mom waited for a good time to switch schools before leaving the Midwest. She never liked Indiana. It's landlocked and she loved the ocean. I had just finished the 8th grade when we moved. Despite not having a job, my Mom knew that she didn’t want to live in the Midwest, so we lived with my Grandfather for a few months. He lived on Long Island, NY. My Mom was a Special Education Teacher. Probably one of the only ones with a master’s degree at the time and she couldn't find a job because she was overqualified. My Uncle knew a woman who worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, dealing with implementing a new law called chapter 766. This was the law that required the state to provide appropriate education and services to people ages 3 - 22 with special needs. After meeting my Mom, she felt my mom would be a great asset to the office and hired her. My mother worked there until she had to retire due to Alzheimers. We moved to Brookline, MA, where I attended Brookline High School. After graduation I went on to Connecticut College.
Can you give us a little history on how you got started? I was on the program board at college and had a friend, from the camp I worked at, who attended Trinity college and had a similar position to me. After college, I began a job in the music industry and my friend went to work for a company called Creative Program Design. After some time and very little money, I ended up moving to that company as well. Eventually, the two owners ended up having a falling out and just left the company to my friend and I. After about a year, my friend decided to give up the novelty piece and pursue some other options. He had no interest in Novelties so, for better or worse, it all came to me. In the meantime, Wayde worked with a company called Caricatures Unlimited that we'd worked with on different jobs. Eventually, I began to work with Caricatures Unlimited with Wayde and Rich but then Caricatures Unlimited eventually folded. It was at this time that the partnership between Wayde and I began. We were young and didn't really have any business experience so we thought it might be better if we brought in a partner. It wasn't. We ended up cutting him out of the business after some less than ethical moves. At this time, Wayde and I started the FUN name with Fun Services, but we were sued over it, so we switched to Fun Enterprises.
Why the College market? It is the market that I am most comfortable in. Based on my background as a former student programmer, I felt initially that I had a lot in common with that marketplace as well as a good understanding of what they were going through on their own campuses. As I have gotten older, campuses have changed dramatically as has the experience these students are having. There are some things that are the same today as they were in the pre-cellphone era; they still don’t get the appreciation they deserve. What they provide on campus is an essential part of the community building that goes on at campuses all over the country. For me, it is an interesting relationship now. I find that more and more lately, I fill a duel role. For some of these students, I am a teacher or a mentor, while for others I am the student. They really teach me about what is happening on campus and what their current challenges are. I learn so much from these students; it is fantastic. That, in a nutshell, is why, at almost 60 years of age, I am still working with and loving colleges and college students.
What are some words of advice you'd give a student just entering student activities today?
1. Eyes Wide Open, and by this I mean think clearly and look ahead to where you see yourself in 5 or 10 years. Sit down and talk with more people than your Advisor. Don't be fooled by the facade, really look behind the scenes and see the hard work involved before you commit.
2. If you are really set on going into higher ed, then begin researching your master’s degree in your Jr. year. Find a master's degree that will take you beyond higher ed and will be useful in other areas. Find a school that will pay for it, many schools have stipends and other opportunities, do your research.
3. Go to a different school than undergrad. The students you've just spent the past few years with are not going to look at you in a professional capacity next year. Besides that, give yourself the opportunity to experience different systems and schools. Your resume will look far better with two different schools listed.
4. Understand that you are low-man on the pole and you are not going to be director in 2 years, nor should you be, really. Pay your dues, learn along the way and you will grow into a much better, more experienced person and professional.
What is your favorite campus? I would never say I had a favorite campus because as soon I did someone would be asking me why they didn't make the cut. What I will say is that my favorite campuses are the ones that actually read our riders, are prepared for us and treat us like human beings. When I was working the program board in college, we'd get some pretty lengthy riders and we would try to get them everything on it. We'd always treat them well, from the lowest man on the roster to the headliner, everyone deserves respect. The other determining factor is if the people are nice. I’m very lucky to have so many great clients and schools that I really enjoy working with. For me, there is nothing better than having students that want to talk to you and engage with you. Some of them have very interesting stories that they are willing to share. I also enjoy people that embrace my sarcastic, sometimes quirky, personality.
We know you like to cook, what other hobbies do you like? My photography, doing the PA for the Brockton Rox and the radio shows I've done. Give me a microphone and I'm a very happy human being. I also like animals, and volunteer on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Capron Park Zoo as well as the Greater Boston YMCA Camping Service's Northwoods and Pleasant Valley Camp.
Sparks of Creativity
by Amma Marfo
As I write this, it's the first day of summer- hands down, my favorite season of the year. It provides the best weather for going to the beach and surfing, spending time with friends outdoors, and it doesn't hurt that I get to wear shorts and dresses!
I also appreciate summer for being a generally acceptable time to slow down a little bit. Whether you're doing so on a strategically placed vacation, or have more downtime built into your work schedule, I love summer for the space it provides to relax, reset, and rejuvenate ourselves. In this edition of the newsletter, I'd love to share some of my favorite ways to use that time and how they can help spark your creativity.
Volunteer. Are there causes or organizations in your area that can use a helping hand? Consider taking a summer Friday or a weekend morning to offer yours. I love volunteering not just for the impact it has on my community, but for the opportunity to meet new people and to see things from a different perspective. Particularly if you're volunteering in service to the less fortunate, it can offer insight into a world or experience that you may not otherwise see. Even that brief glimpse can spark some reflection on your current state of affairs: what assumptions do we make about people? How do those assumptions make their way into policies and procedures? And how can we use this recently gained insight to make changes that expand our influence? Believe it or not, these opportunities can help you answer these questions.
Read. For Fun. Ideally, Outdoors. I compile a reading list each year and find that I often make the most progress during the summer. Taking my gaze away from articles and toward books allows me to learn new things and absorb new information in a (relatively) distraction free space. Just as with volunteering, reading affords us the opportunity to dive deeper into another person's experience or perspective. And this perspective taking can inform how we go about creating new things for colleagues or students. Have a hard time focusing on books? Audiobooks do count, as do podcasts! Learn something new and challenge yourself to think about how it could broaden your perspective.
Try Something New. Whether it's through an online course, a class offered at a learning annex, or even cobbled together through YouTube tutorials, summer can offer a time-limited opportunity to invest in ourselves. What skill gaps exist in your personal repertoire, or perhaps in your office? Graphic design? Consider a course on Photoshop. Documentation? How about a class on digital photography? Trying new things pushes us into what Liz Wiseman calls a "rookie mindset," which can spill over into other areas of our lives. As we know, we look at organizations and experiences differently when we're new, versus when we're vested. Getting the chance to look at your life and work through "rookie eyes" can unlock insight you'd otherwise have missed.
I hope that once fall rolls around, you'll find yourself rested, refreshed, and ideally primed to attack this new season with creative energy. If I see you on campus or during conference season, I'd love to know how you used the season to invest in yourself!
Have a great summer and take care,
Amma Marfo is an avid advocate of creativity, humor and finding the best use of your energy. Learn more about Amma at: Meet Amma Marfo
"Working with Amma taught my student leaders to better consider the needs and interests of both introverts and extroverts and how to create an inclusive environment for both. In her workshops, Amma introduced students to new skills, including how to approach more introverted students, become more tolerant of others who are different, and building inclusive communities for all students." Professional: Rutgers University
A Foggy Night
by Anna Ginnetti-Ricci
Artist - Anna Ginnetti-Ricci
My artwork is inspired by emotional experiences, personal passions, childhood memories and cultural movements. After overcoming numerous obstacles and extraordinary events, I’ve learned that the world has much to teach us. As an artist, these experiences have only flourished my creative side and controlled the aspects of life on canvas that cannot always be managed in reality. Although I have worked with watercolor and oil, I mainly work with acrylic and digital art. My work portrays different forms of emotional symbolism and allows for various interpretations in each piece of art.
To date, I have produced more than 100 pieces of art and sold hundreds of prints in various venues such as Newbury Comics, Peabody Essex Museum and Berklee College of Music Bookstore. A small sample of my work can be seen on my instagram: @ginnettianna or at annaginnetti.com.