Browsing Tag: cari


    The Evolution of My Wife’s Real Estate Logo

    February 26, 2020

    Two years ago this month my wife and I finally agreed on a logo for her soon-to-launch real estate team. As a Keller Williams agent, she had (and still has) the freedom to brand her own team/business to the public. That’s different from many brokerages that require agents to use the brokerage’s logo and branding on signs, business cards, etc.

    We met with a local design agency and and went back and forth for several weeks, before deciding that we weren’t making any real progress.

    So I decided to take matters into my own hands. Way back in the day, I had been a graphic designer — primarily creating websites, but also doing some logos and branding, too. So I figured I’d try it again — I know my wife better than anyone, so I thought I might be able to come up with something she’d love.

    It worked! On a single afternoon, I sent her more than a dozen logo options and we finally landed on THE ONE. I just re-discovered all those logos and thought it might be fun to put together a blog post about how it all played out.

    The Old Look

    Many years ago, Cari paid an enormous sum of money to an out-of-town design company that specialized in real estate branding. She loved what they did for her; I didn’t. It was print-focused and looked similar to this screenshot, which shows the header of her website.

    The branding was basically a cursive version of her first name over a colorful painting. The painting had a ton of meaning for Cari — her dad painted it decades ago and it’s currently on display in our living room.

    The design is unique and attractive, but not super functional. That multi-color painting looked great on print material like stationery and business cards, but it wasn’t something we could ever reproduce on clothing, pens, or a whole bunch of other swag. When we launched Cari’s team, we wanted to be able to put her logo on anything and everything, so the logo had to be simple … but also powerful and memorable.

    The First 5 Ideas

    Our process began with five ideas that I emailed to Cari on a Thursday morning, starting at exactly 11:00 AM.

    (#1) Cari and I had decided by this point that we both loved a font called Trajan Pro. So that’s what I used for the “CM” and the full “Cari McGee Real Estate Team” name. She really wanted to keep her cursive name because that element had been so prominent in everything she did over the previous 4-5 years.

    (#2) Mostly the same elements as #1, but put together differently.

    (#3) I thought maybe the first two options, with all of the straight lines and block elements, might be a little too boring, so the curved top and bottom offered a different look here. And instead of the full “Cari” in cursive, I just used the capital “C.”

    Looking back at these now two years later, it’s interesting that — aside from color — everything in the final logo shows up in these first three options.

    (#4) Started to bring some color in here by dropping in a splash of the Keller Williams red in the lower corner of the block element. Just between us, I really liked this one — and still do.

    (#5) Since Cari really wanted to carry on her dad’s painting if at all possible, this one incorporates a bit of that on both the top and bottom of the block element. Again, this would’ve been more difficult to reproduce in certain swag contexts, but sometimes you do things in the name of family bonds no matter what. In the email, I told Cari that if she liked this idea, we could just remove the painting elements or make them some solid color if we were putting the logo somewhere that the painting element didn’t work.

    So those were the first five. I knew we were on the right track when Cari’s first email reply was to say that all five were better than what we’d been working with before. In a different email, she said she liked #1 and #5 the best, and also liked the “CM” initials in the block element. She also wanted to see something using dark gray and yellow, which were two colors she liked together.

    Back to work I went….

    The Next Batch (of 9)

    (#6 / #7) These are basically riffs on #1, which we both agreed was a bit too cluttered. The only difference here is that #7 has the divider bar in between the cursive name and the text below.

    (#8) This is a tweak to #2 above, where the signature in the box changes to the “CM” initials that we both liked better. Sneak preview: This became one of the final logos, but with some color you’ll see later.

    (#9 / #10) These are both the same as #5 above, which Cari had by now decided was her favorite from the first batch — but with the painting strip only showing at the top or bottom of the block element, instead of both.

    (#11) This is essentially the same as #5 above, but Cari wanted to see something using yellow and dark gray. The gray is the same as the official Keller Williams gray. Cari loved this one — she emailed back to say she was crying! Before she got too excited about it, I warned her that the yellow edges on the block element would be hard to see on white/light backgrounds — not enough contrast.

    (#12) Another riff on #5, but this one has the “CM” initials in the block element instead of the cursive capital “C,” and has no other design in the block — that’s where our focus was by now. As you can see from the recent logos, we had settled on the right side — “Cari McGee Real Estate Team” in Trajan Pro separated by a divider bar.

    (#13) As soon as I did this one, with the block element sized to fit the right-side text and the “CM” in yellow, I loved it. I sent it to Cari in an email with no words — just the logo speaking for itself. As you’ll see in a moment, this is pretty much the winner, but with some slight mods.

    (#14) A riff on #9 and #10 above, but Cari wanted a piece of the actual bottom of the painting to be at the bottom of the block element. Even though we both loved some of the others, we were still trying at the last minute to find a way to keep her dad’s painting in the running. But it wasn’t working.

    Those are the first 14 designs we worked on, and we were really close to finding THE ONE.

    I don’t know what happened next — Cari may have come home from work, or I may have gone into the office. I only point that out because the winning logos, according to my filenames, were versions 21 and 22. So there are six versions that I must’ve shown her in person because they’re not in my outgoing email archives.

    The Winning Logos

    These are riffs on #8 and #13 above, with the main change being the combo of the capital “CM” and the cursive “C” inside the block element. By using the cursive “C,” we were able to hold on to one piece of the old “Cari” branding that people had seen for 4-5 years, so that was a Good Thing. But sadly, we couldn’t find a way to keep her dad’s painting in the mix. That was sad.

    Why two winners? Only because sometimes you need a version of your logo that fits a vertical/square space, and sometimes you need a version that fits a more horizontal space! On the vertical/square version, we didn’t like the divider bar between the text — everything else is the same in both, other than the shape/layout.

    Since then, we’ve put the logo on pens, business cards, stationery, folders, banners, name badges, baseball caps, polo shirts, sweatshirts and more … and we still love how it looks!


    A 25th Anniversary Mixtape Playlist for Cari McGee

    November 2, 2016


    Today I celebrate 25 years of marriage to Cari McGee, the most wonderful human being God ever made. There were times when it didn’t look like we were gonna make it 25 months, much less years, but here we are thanks to God’s grace and a lot of hard work to make our marriage work, survive and thrive.

    We started dating in 1987 and, like most guys (and maybe girls, too?) who had a girlfriend in the ’80s, I used to make Cari mixtapes. (C’mon, you know you did, too. Mixtapes were the best, and for all the amazing things the internet has brought into our lives, we also need to remember that it killed the mixtape, and that’s borderline unforgiveable.)

    Anyway, these mixtapes were songs that reminded me of Cari … songs that we both loved … songs that said something across the miles … songs that, for one reason or another, played an important role in the early days of our relationship. I made a bunch of them — some that I kept for myself and played while I was home from college for the summer, and at least a couple that I sent to her in California, or brought with me for our next year together at Pepperdine.

    For the past several weeks, I’ve been thinking about doing something special for Cari for our 25th anniversary (beyond our anniversary trip) and one day it dawned on me: MAKE HER A MIXTAPE! YES! Obviously we can’t make an actual tape; they stopped making and selling cassette decks and blank tapes like ages ago, but I figured I can use the internet to make the next best thing.

    So below I present my wonderful wife with a modern-day mixtape, created on Spotify: 25 Songs for our 25th Anniversary. She’ll know why all these songs are included, but our kids won’t and most anyone else that reads this won’t, either. So I’ll include a few quick comments below to explain things.

    Stand By Me: This was our wedding dance song. It was an embarassing, junior prom-like slow dance. But it was our first as husband and wife, and nothing else matters.

    If You Leave: The main theme song from Pretty In Pink, the movie we watched on what became our first date on March 19, 1987.

    I Melt With You: No special meaning, just a song that we both love and included on several mixtapes while we were dating.

    Coming Up Close: I used to take the lyrics of this song and spin them into poems during our college years, and give the poems to Cari. At the time, the poems seemed Very Deep and Meaningful. Today, we’d call them “overly melodramatic” … “emo” … or maybe just “really lame.”

    California Dreamin’: Another frequent mixtape song, especially when I was at home in Pennsylvania and missing Cari on the other side of the country.

    Romeo And Juliet: One of the saddest love songs of all time, but one that we both love and sang/sing regularly when we hear it.

    Just Got Lucky: One day not too long ago, we discovered that both of us loved this song in the ’80s. And now, about once a month or so, we can be found dancing around the house with this playing loudly … much to the kids’ embarrassment.

    (I Just) Died In Your Arms: A popular mixtape choice, and the No. 1 song in the U.S. shortly after we first started dating.

    Just A Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody: A favorite during our dating years for the irony that I was never anything close to a gigolo.

    Carrie: Duh. Obvious choice, right? I was always jealous that Cari had a song named after her, even if the spelling was different. I used to joke that Susanna Hoffs (of The Bangles) had written a song about me called “Matthew,” but never released it because she was broken-hearted after I dumped her. Actually, I still tell that joke. I need to get over this.

    Say Once More: Every couple has an “our song.” We’ve had a few, in my opinion, but I think this one was the first one we considered our song.

    Walking On Sunshine: One of Cari’s favorites and a song that will always remind me of her from start to finish.

    Sister Christian: This was apparently an important family song between Cari and her brothers … it’s a long story, actually. In a nutshell, Cari was “Sister Christian” in high school and so this song often made it on my mixtapes.

    Same Old Lang Syne: OMG, one of the five or ten saddest songs ever. But one that we’ve often sung together over the years when it gets played at Christmas.

    I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles): To help repair our marriage in the early days, I once drove non-stop from Twin Falls, Idaho, to see Cari in Hacienda Heights, California. That’s about 750 miles one way. The marriage was repaired and when this came on the radio in the years since then, we’d sing “I would drive 500 miles….”

    At This Moment: Another sad one, but we used to love watching Family Ties together. In the ’80s, I looked a lot like Michael J. Fox, and this one became a favorite for both of us.

    Don’t Dream It’s Over: A favorite for both of us that was on several mixtapes.

    Come Dancing: OMG, it would take forever to explain all the jokes and fun we’ve had with this song over the years — goofy, little husband/wife memes that make no sense to anyone else, but never fail to put a smile on our faces.

    San Jose: Another regular mixtape choice for the California connection.

    My Girl: “I got sunshine on a cloudy day.” Those seven words perfectly explain how I feel about Cari.

    It Must Be Love: Madness was such an underrated band, and we both loved this one. A mixtape favorite.

    Mr. Jones: Hehehehehehe. LOLOLOLOLOL

    My Eyes Adored You: Just about a year ago, we went to see the musical, Jersey Boys, in Las Vegas with good friends and we were all surprised by how many Frankie Valli/Four Seasons songs we knew and had forgotten over the years. We all got home from the trip and immediately bought a bunch of their songs on iTunes, but this one is my favorite of the bunch. Let the ’70s cheesiness play loudly!

    Back In The High Life: We both went through a little Steve Winwood phase during our Pepperdine years together. I recall many afternoons driving up and down Pacific Coast Highway with Cari while this whole album played loudly and we sang together.

    The Best Was Yet To Come: Not only was this a favorite of both of ours, but the title sums up where we are, even after 25 great years together.

    That’s it. I really could’ve put 50 more songs on here, and there were a few important ones that are missing due to Spotify vs. artist limitations. I’m sad, for example, that Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” isn’t available on Spotify. There’s also nothing from a little-known band called The Fat Lady Sings — their song “Arclight” was a favorite of ours in the 1990s, especially. And I could go on….

    But despite the limitations, I love this modern-day mixtape. My love, I hope you do, too. Happy 25th anniversary. Thanks for making my heart sing all these years.


    20 Years with My Best Friend

    November 2, 2011

    Twenty years ago today, I made the best decision of my life: I married my best friend, Cari (McGann) McGee.

    I had just turned 23 a few weeks before and had big plans to become a nationally-known — maybe even internationally-known — sportscaster. The TV career only lasted about 6-7 years, which is probably about what the average marriage lasts these days.

    Our marriage, though, has been anything but average! The fact that we’re celebrating 20 years together proves that. That’s not to say it’s been easy: nothing worthwhile ever is. I’m not perfect. Cari’s not perfect. And like every marriage, ours hasn’t been perfect, either.

    But when you marry your best friend, you find a way to fight through the bumpy times. You work at it. You pray. You change. You come out stronger in the end. And the blessings flow. Grace abounds. Love endures.

    I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Twenty years with my best friend. Happy anniversary to the love of my life, Cari McGee. I love you, honey.

    November 2, 2006: My best friend and I


    What I Needed as a Wedding Gift

    March 20, 2011

    When I have a question, one of Cari’s favorite answers is, “Do whatever you think is best.” Early on in our marriage, I thought that was a sign of her trust in my decision-making. You know, like, Of course you should go see eight U2 concerts in the next two months! Have fun, honey! But, as I eventually learned, that wasn’t really what she was saying.

    I wish I’d gotten the Manslater as a wedding gift.

    They played that video during church today. Had the whole congregation in stitches.



    Detour at 35,000 Feet

    July 21, 2009

    Cari got home last night from a 4-day trip to Minnesota, and I decided to follow her flight on just like she and the kids do when I’m traveling. Thought this image of her flight path was cool:

    flight path

    I like how they flew through the maze of storms approaching Minneapolis, and I really like how I can follow this kind of thing on the Internet. Technology is amazing, y’know?