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Words of wisdom: Jeff Hastings

In the second outing for this new feature, BrightSign’s CEO Jeff Hastings shares with us his recommendations for success within the AV industry.

Reputation is key

This industry is all about reputation. A person’s reputation within the industry comes from quality – quality of relationships and interactions with customers, employees, and even competitors. A brand’s reputation also comes from quality – quality of the products and services offered. The AV industry is a small enough place that without a known reputation for quality, a company is going to have a difficult time establishing the trust and confidence needed to grow a business.

I’m a firm believer that every step along the way – even the occasional misstep – leads us to where we are today

Stay hungry

The pro AV market is never boring! In particular the digital signage market is growing at a very rapid pace. There are a lot of aggressive and motivated leaders who strive to pull ahead of the pack every waking moment. You need to be among them, or even ahead of them to stay competitive. There’s a ton of growth potential for people and companies that stay hungry and establish a quality reputation. The market opportunities are growing at the same pace as the new technology that those leaders continue to build into their respective AV products and services. I’m talking about 4K HDR video, beacons, Bluetooth, voice and facial recognition, social media of all kinds, WebGL, new touch technologies, motion sensors, RFID and NFC, the list goes on and on. I’m a firm believer that every step along the way – even the occasional misstep – leads us to where we are today. It’s better to face forward, learn from the past but always be thinking about what’s coming next and how you can stay at the top of your profession.

Appreciate your knowledge gaps

It really isn’t uncommon for us to gain a new customer because a big installation has gone wrong and fails to run reliably, or worse, the cursed Windows error message! Of course, the ideal client is one that understands where they need help and spends the time to learn what they need to know before they try to specify and install a digital signage system. If all our customers did their research to test content and made 100% sure that the hardware they’ve chosen gives flawless playback alongside smooth transitions and perfect synchronisation, everyone would be a winner. We’ve actually put together a web-based resource that provides licensed and open source content to enable customers to do this type of testing. Go to and try it for yourself.

Step into my global office

My day starts early talking with Europe and sometimes ends very late talking with China. I drink a lot of coffee – every day. I meet with the sales and executive team on Tuesdays. When I’m on airplanes – and that’s a lot of the time – I think about which business strategies and new technologies will help us remain the global market leader. My phone and computer are loaded with apps and tools that keep me connected with the team. But technology aside, I place a high value on maintaining direct contact with colleagues, customers and partners. Phone calls, videoconferences and in-person meetings are essential to forge collaboration and trust, and there’s really no substitute for that sort of one-to-one engagement.

Value your workforce

It’s no mistake that I’ve surrounded myself with a fantastic bunch of people. I have such a passion for the pro AV industry from way back when I started on my journey with Acuson and witnessed the transition from image to video ultrasound technology. Can you imagine how remarkable it was for doctors to suddenly observe and detect so much more using video technology? I’ve also been lucky enough to be involved in the birth of DVR and the first MP3 company. I want all my staff to feel as empowered and as motivated as I am – that they are part of this ever-changing journey that is Pro AV with so many exciting developments. I’m proud to have made BrightSign number one in the industry, and I couldn’t have done it without so many great people supporting me. A company is the sum of its parts. Always take the time to communicate and most importantly listen to everyone, at all levels of your business – you never know what you might learn!