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Creating Reel Potential: An Interview With Founder Scott DiGiammarino

A self-proclaimed movie buff, Scott DiGiammarino, founder of Reel Potential, used his love of cinema to transform workplace performance.  Under-achievers became inspired professionals.  In the process of this transformation, he also has created a new life and revenue stream for “classic” content in a major studio’s vaults.

How did DiGiammarino harness this power?  It all began in the 80s.  A successful executive at the Boston American Express office, DiGiammarino was promoted to the Washington, D. C. headquarters.  The office was ranked one of the worst places to work at that time, hitting #173 in a list of #176 offices.   The employ population had become accustomed to pink slips, and moral was low.

“They had a negative perception of the office, and approached work in a very lazy fashion,” said DiGiammarino.  “When I arrived, I spent two months reviewing the (office’s) vision and structure. Within one year, our workplace ranking went from the bottom of the list to number one.”

The key to making this change was finding a way to engage the employee population.  DiGiammarino looked at everything from in house emails to training sessions and determined the rate of engagement.  Professional studies have indicated that during a three hour training session, the duration of full engagement occurs during the first eight minutes and completely drops off after twenty minutes.  DiGiammarino wanted to find a way to address the engagement problem that wouldn’t, in turn, require him to put in vast amounts of overtime.  He had relocated with his family to D.C., and it was important for him to spend time with his two young daughters.  He was determined to isolate a creative solution to fostering engagement that wouldn’t require him to be in the office long evenings and weekends.    At this time, video clips had started to emerge into the general landscape.  The popularity of clips sparked an inspiration in DiGiammarino’s mind.

“I am a big movie guy, I have over 800 DVDs at home,” said DiGiammarino.  “Certain scenes in movies give me goosebumps.”

Noting the power movies have to not only entertain a viewer but present relatable situations, DiGiammarino began introducing short scenes into company emails that related to universal themes, such as motivation, leadership and courage.  He’d sometimes ask people why the scene was important or relevant, and asked people to share important decisions they had made that related to the clip.

“I was getting 200-300 stories a week; stories that had nothing to do with work,” said DiGiammarino.  “People felt trust in their leadership.   We eventually got permission to share two to three stories a week.  This gave our community new ways to connect with each other.”

With the success of the clips, DiGiammarino found he had developed a way to transform a work environment.  He began reaching out to major studios to obtain rights to their libraries and subsequently develop a new business.  In 2001 he contacted all the major studios.  In 2011, Universal Studios became the first studio to partner with DiGiammarino, and Reel Potential was underway.

It took DiGiammarino some experimenting over the next few years to define the business.  Initially, he went to a studio and constructed a video segment featuring himself in front of the camera, guiding the user through a lesson.

“I worked with a crew who helped write the piece.  I put on a performance,” said DiGiammarino.  “I created a consulting model but realized, this was not the business I wanted to build.  I wanted everyone to have access.”

DiGiammarino realized a “do it yourself” model would be more effect for a broad range of clients.  Starting with 600 clips – a number that has consistently been growing since this article was completed – DiGiammarino and his team began building a detailed library.  The first 600 clips were broken down into 86,000 data points, including movie name, clip name and alternative themes to each clip.  The clips were then rated in terms of impact.  The team also had to be very careful in determining clearance rights for use in the US, Canada and overseas territories.  Once all the data was gathered, the product could be built.

Now completed, Reel Potential works on a monthly subscriber basis.  With rates including $99, $199 and above, users can access movies and clips, bringing in new revenue to older films in the Universal archives.  DiGiammarino and his staff are available to assist everyone from colleges to big businesses who are looking for ways to inspire professional growth through the clip message format.

“By partnering with the studios, we are working with the world’s greatest storytellers,” said DiGiammarino.  “People are always quoting movie lines.  Its emotional metadata; how a clip makes you feel.”


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