Upcoming Panel in NYC!

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hey friends!

I’ll be speaking at a Women in Music event on October 20th in NYC with some stellar ladies!

We’ll be diving deep in to social media best practices and giving on-the-spot feedback! Free for WIM members!

Details here:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/social-media-panel-live-audit-tickets-27953795555

Hope to see you there!

xo Sari

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Essential Reading Suggestions!

Hey friends!
I will be getting back on top of updating this blog here!
If you know me well, you know I’m a sucker for reading. A lot of great advice, insights, and useful tools for growing my business, finding balance, and becoming a strong leader has been found within the humble pages of these books below. Some of them are no brainers and you may have already read them, if so, nice work! If not, get on it!
Tweet to me @saridelmar if you’d like a more personal recommendation – but here are some of my all time favourites!
I hope you can enjoy them as much as I do on a regular basis!

BUSINESS/LEADERSHIP READS 
Making Ideas Happen – Scott Belsky 
The creatives definitive guide to structuring and organizing your business – whether you are a musician, graphic designer, or any kind of creative, this book speaks your language and will help you face some of the daily frustrations that could be standing in your way and holding you back from great success.

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
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Simular to the above but from the other side of the same coin, this book is about channelling your creative genius and finding a way to work with it constructively. Being patient and understanding with yourself is key. Gilbert’s writing is light and beautiful as she shares her stories and frustrations being an independent writer herself. Lots of great insights to glean here if you are someone who wants to have a level of creative output and for a long time.

One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard, Spencer Johnson 
Though a bit outdated and the writing style can be a bit irritating, the principles of this book really founded a lot of my management style. If you are the type of leader/entrepreneur that gets really stressed and finds managing a team tricky, this book’s sage advice will simplify things for you.

The Way You Do Anything is the Way You Do Everything – Suzanne Evans 
A raw and visceral kick in the ass to start living to your fuller potential, being a leader, and not letting your life be dictated by circumstance. Evans is ballsy and fierce. This book found its way in to my life right when I needed it, and I’m very grateful for that!

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First Break All the Rules – Marcus Buckingham
An oldie but goodie as well. Some of the advice may be a bit straight laced, but if you can see through that there is some really solid lessons to be learned about being a strong and consistent manager.

Built to Last  and Good to Great – James Collins 
2 books, but 1 great concept expounded upon. These books examine the differences between large companies who grow and outlast for years, compared to ones who just surf along and eventually fizzle out. They stress the importance of core values, among other things, and sum up ever so cohesively how to be a company that stands out from the pack.
MUSIC INDUSTRY READS 
Bumping in to Geniuses – Danny Goldberg 
An important read for any music industry type looking to understand the history of this game. Goldberg is a legendary music manager and walks us through his career and the ups and downs the industry has seen. This is an exciting and crucial read!
I’m With the Band – Pamela Des Barres 
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Another crucial music industry read if you want to understand what the industry looked like in the 70s and 80s. The sunset strip was home to many crucial moments and Miss P and her dolls dazzled, while witnessing many crucial moments. This beautiful piece of writing captures the essence of the era perfectly.
LIFE READS
Another Bullshit Night in Suck City – Nick Flynn 
One of my favourite books ever, that was later turned in to a movie starring Robert Di Nero in 2012 called ‘About Flynn’. This is a memoir and has nothing to do with running a business or the music industry. Nick’s writing is beautiful and perfect, and most importantly real. A highly recommended read. While you’re at it, read some of his poetry as well!
The Signature of All Things – Elizabeth Gilbert 
I have recently fallen in love with fiction (though most of the books on this list are non-fiction) and that is mainly because of this brilliant read. The Signature of all Things touches on life and death and botanics and the development of America in the 1920’s, and somehow wraps it all up eloquently. As the book’s diverse characters grew, matured, and arrived at life changing realizations, you as a reader will find yourself doing the same alongside.
Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari 
Aziz is really funny but that’s not why this book is great. This book gave me a much better understanding of the current climate of socialization. The history of dating and relationships, leading up to why we’re so weird about it today. It helped me come to terms with a lot about myself and be a lot more realistic.

LINK
Committed – Elizabeth Gilbert 

Ok last Elizabeth Gilbert book for the list! In this magical book, Elizabeth evaluates her relationship with marriage while going back through the ages to understand it as well as travelling to different parts of the world, where they seem to have a very different understanding of what marriage is. Her always witty banter and instantly likeable voice demystifies a lot of the qualms one may have with the outdated idea of the marriage union. Like most books, this one found its way in to my hands right when I needed it. Now recently engaged, I feel this book has prepped me for what’s to come 😃
David & Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell 
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All of these books are important to me, but this one is extra extra important! Gladwell has an amazing way of simplifying and explaining the ways why things are the way they are. This book focuses in on how some people have used their setbacks/downfalls or negative dispositions to actually strengthen/grow/outlast their components. It’s a concept I carry closely with me and some of the important learnings found within this book have helped me understand how to get the best out of myself and those around me.
Thank you for reading!
Sari

AB Co. to Wind Down Operations

1_720Dear friends and family,

I have some big changes to announce today. I have made the VERY hard decision to wind down operations of my company, AB Co. (Audio Blood Media Inc.). The decision has been a personal and professional one, and not one that I have taken lightly.

I am so incredibly proud of the amazing work we were able to do together over the last 8 years. Myself and a lot of the team have grown up with this company and as we grow in to the next chapter of our lives, it only makes sense that some things must shift. We have accomplished way more than I ever expected when I started out at 18 years old and I owe a huge amount of our success and growth to all of YOU.

This has truly been a life changing and unforgettable experience. I am so honoured and humbled to have gotten this opportunity, and while I’m sad for this chapter to end and will forever be nostalgic (being the emo kid that I am), I am truly excited by what’s to come for us all individually and together. From starting out in my bedroom on Salem Ave. in Toronto calling media about some of my very first clients (Sneaky Dee’s, Dinosaur Bones, Canadian Music Week, Black Hat Brigade, Amos the Transparent, Make Your Exit, Clothes Make the Man to name a few), to getting to lead a team of 15+ staff, travelling the world for various conferences, moving in to our amazing office at Queen and Dufferin, and then eventually to NYC last year, the heart and soul of this company has been about community and supporting great talent. I am so indebted and appreciative to all the amazing clients gave us the opportunity to stay true to that intention and honoured by the many staff who spent hours invested in this dream of mine.

It is truly amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it and you are supported by an amazing community, and a relentlessly hardworking team. Truly. Somewhere between the unforgettable rooftop ragers, the all-night holiday parties, and the madness of Canadian Music Week x5 years, we built a living and breathing company that was equal parts fun and equal parts hustle. I don’t even know how it happened in retrospect, but I’m so glad that it did.

Thank you to every journalist who responded to one of our emails and wrote about our clients.

Thank you to every artist, brand, or event that brought us in to the fold and allowed us to collaborate.

Thank you to every sponsor who supported our parties and every venue who hosted them.

Thank you everyone who came out to see our artists and clapped and danced along (especially super supporters who have been at every party since day one).

Thank you to The Matches for inspiring a young-Sari and writing the song “Audio Blood” that helped establish our founding principles.

Thank you to the talented souls that contributed to Audio Blood Zine, the first incarnation of AB Co.

Thank you to our industry colleagues who helped us grow along the way.

Thank you to my dear friends and family who pitched in when they could and were understanding of my haphazard work hours and lack of communication.

Thank you to our amazing interns, volunteers, freelancers, and street teamers who went the extra mile to kill a campaign for our clients.

Thank you to our tireless advisors, lawyers, accountants, and investors who provided more support than I can ever even begin to thank them for.

Thank you to funding bodies like FACTOR, and more, who got behind us or our clients to take projects to the next level.

And most importantly, thank you to my team of staff. You have each taught me so much about myself, pushed me to exceed my personal limitations, and to become the best leader I could be. These lessons will prove valuable and crucial as I forge ahead in life. Whether you worked here for 5 months or 5 years, you were a very important piece of this puzzle.

So THANK YOU all. Thank you so damn much.

I am so lucky to have gotten to lead this pack. I look forward to what the future brings and I have no doubt we will get to work together in new and exciting ways!

To quickly address some of the nitty gritty details:

We will be slowly winding down operations over the next 2 months with all of our active campaigns wrapping up by September 15, 2016. We won’t be taking on any new projects at this time. Each of the team members will be taking a chance to refresh and pursue their various callings and we are so excited for their future endeavours. My contact info will remain the same. I will continue to manage HIGHS and be involved with Women in Music as personal projects. We will move out of out NY and TO offices around August 15th and post updated mailing addresses on our website.

To close things off, I find this TS Eliot quote quite fitting:

TO MAKE AN END IS TO MAKE A BEGINNING. 

It is the end of an era, my friends. But what a great era it was!

Love you forever,

xo Sari

As an add on – thank you Billboard for this piece on AB Co. Read here 🙂

HIGHS’ new Album is Finally Here!

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Sorry for the lack of updates, things have been insane, this is one of the many (good) reasons why I haven’t been writing as many blogs as I’d like to…!

If you are a fellow artist manager you can probably attest to that very rare serendipitous feeling you get when an album your artist has worked on for years, after gallons of blood, sweat, tears and everything has been shed… FINALLY is released out in to the world!

Well if you know that feeling than you know how I am feeling now and to sum that feeling up – it’s pretty excited, relieved, and hopeful all rolled in to one. I manage this really special alt pop band from Toronto, called HIGHS and last week their debut full length album Dazzle Camouflage (ie. the album I haven’t been able to stop spinning for the last year, ie. the catchiest indie pop hooks you will hear in a long time) was finally unleashed upon the world! Apple Music called one of the tracks the “Best New Song of the Week” and apparently a lot of people in Holland are really digging it and putting in on their Spotify playlists! So all that is pretty cool!

The band worked with producer Luke Smith (Foals, Depeche Mode) on 10 tracks of vibrant and blissful songwriting that make my heart skip with joy! That being said, there is some darkness on the album and hearing the band really develop that side of their sound on songs like “Easy”, has been an enthralling part of the process as well.

The band is on tour now all around Ontario and the Toronto album release is on April 30th @ Lee’s Palace. I can’t wait! (http://highsmusic.com for more details).

So please, join me in a good listen why don’t ya? Play it loud and in good speakers! Play it on Spotify, Apple, whatever your heart desires just go ahead and PLAY IT ALREADY!

And then tell me what ya think! @saridelmar.
xo

Watch the video for lead single “I Do, Do You?”:

LISTEN ON SPOTIFY!!! 

New Speaking Engagement Coming up in Toronto!

Back to the homeland later this month and in May to speak about entrepreneurship and leadership!

Details below:

May 5-7, 2016
Canadian Music Week – Music Summit 
Toronto, ON
Details TBA – http://cmw.net

 

Hope to see you there!

xo Sari

ASK SARI! Vol. 4 – The Big Scary Decision: Go Full Steam in to Music or Not?

Hey there! Happy new year!

Sorry I’ve been backlogged on the Ask Sari A’s to your Q’s! Here is the latest instalment.

This question comes from Huma who like many of us faces a tough decision about whether to leave school to be in a band that’s growing or to try and juggle everything. This one comes up a lot so I’m so glad she sent it in! Feel free to chime in with your additional advice in the comment section! And if you have a question of your own, send it on over to AskSari@WeAreAB.co!

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QUESTION: 

Hi Sari!

So here’s my story:
I’m 19 years old, working and going to community college and joined as a singer/violinist in a band about 8 months ago. Since then, we’ve been steadily climbing in seemingly every area be it quality of music/performance, pulling more people at each show, and having found a new and seemingly promising promoter. I’ve also learned a LOT, as the guys in the band with me have been doing this for almost 10 years and have taught me a lot.

I love this band. It’s literally a dream come-true for me.

The problem? I want to make it a top priority, which isn’t too hard with my flexible work schedule, but school is daunting. We want to start upping our number of shows per week, and I optimistically think I can handle traveling and class, but I’m not always sure of that.

Everyone tells me school should come first, but if I want us to go somewhere (which I very much do!!) we all need 1000% commitment. Music and performance has been my number one passion ever since I can remember, and I want so bad to give 1000% of myself.

Do you realistically think I could juggle school, work and traveling and making this band a career? If one of these factors were to drop out of my life, which would you suggest it be?

Thank you so much for any answers you might have for me.

Sincerely,
Huma

ANSWER:

Hey Huma! Thank you for reaching out!

Firstly – Congrats! This is what I like to call a good problem. It’s a great situation to be in when you have a band taking off and getting busier, and a successful academic career all at once. I can definitely understand your want to simplify and streamline so that your focus isn’t so divided. But first take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back!

Secondly, I want to be upfront with you. I can’t wave a magic wand and tell you what to do here. This is truly a decision you need to own and make for yourself. Why? Because this is an important turning point for you that you will look back at for years to come. This decision will affect a handful of side factors that I am unaware of so let me just get that out of the way. That being said, I trust you can do this!

What I can do however is help lead you down the right track to arriving on an answer you can stand behind. Sit down and ask yourself, “What makes me happy?” Then think about yourself in 5 years. In your ideal situation, where are you?

Are you standing on stage in a touring band? or are you graduating with honours? Or are you somewhere completely different? If your answer was on stage – then ask yourself how badly you want that? Also in your vision – how many people are in your audience? Hundreds? Thousands?

I’m not going to sugarcoat it.  To be a successful artist on a stage that size is going to be incredibly hard. 5 years is likely not enough years to make that kind of magic happen. But now ask yourself, “how badly do I want that? So badly that if I don’’t get it in 5 years I will keep trying everything I can to achieve that? or so badly that if I don’t achieve that in 5 years I will go back to school and hang my head in shame?”

However you answered these questions, I urge you to follow your heart.

If you answered that you would be ok if you didn’t see great success in 5 years, and you are leaning towards diving in to music. – think of yourself on stage in 5 years again. But this time you are playing to a room of 40 friends in a cozy local cafe. How do you feel in this vision? Are you happy that you get to create and perform regardless of the scope? or are you sad and depressed?

If you are feeling like in 5 years you would be sad and depressed to be in that situation I think should stay in school and revisit this all-or-nothing approach later in your life. And there’s nothing wrong if that’s what you decide to do. It takes many years of knowing the industry to understand that even if you work super hard, and the band builds, and you try your damn hardest in every capacity, the industry still may not return the favour of awarding you a career with hundreds and thousands of fans. The trick, and lots of older artists will be able to share this with you too, is to be happy regardless of the recognition and fan base. To be happy creating and performing selflessly. If you can say that is you and you expect nothing in return from the industry, but that you will try your hardest to get to the top regardless, then by all means – it could very well be your time to hustle. The sooner you get out on the road the sooner you will be making new relationships and building you career, and thus increasing your chances of success.

Now I urge you when you’re thinking about these questions above to be incredibly honest with yourself. No one is listening to your answers to judge you and these answers don’t affect anyone else’s career more than yours . So be honest and understanding with yourself.

Also I didn’t even want to mention your age. But because you mentioned it in your question i’m just going to make one small comment on it. People are going to tell you that you’re too young to make such a decision but that’s bullshit. I started my company when I was 18 and knew what I wanted when I was 13. Going forward I urge you to disregard your age like you would a dirty napkin and surprise people with your maturity and sense of self.

In terms of leaving school and whether or not you could juggle all these facets – that is for you to really decide. What I can tell you about increasing you capacity and juggling a number of different things is it’s truly amazing how much you can do when you put your mind to it, build some great organization systems, and rely on them. Being able to handle a ridiculous amount of work without letting it affect you and compartmentalizing various facets of your life is an incredibly valuable and transferable skill. Doing it all with a smile is even harder. When I think I couldn’t possibly be more organized, I find a system or tool that allows me to be even more productive. So do I think it’s possible to juggle? Yes I really do. Will it be hard and require some real intense organization and commitment? Heck yes. It will also require a great deal of sacrificing time with friends, family etc. So it’s for you to weigh the importance of.

One of my favourite poets TS Eliot wrote, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” I love this quote and come back to it often. You know yourself and what you can handle. If you want to stretch yourself farther than that, by all means, give it a go and commit. If you stay positive, focused, and find what vices work for you (for me it’s a lot of yoga and a good naturopath) – you can truly do it all.

So to sum it all up, I suggest you read “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, ask yourself these questions I mentioned above, write down the answers, read them back, and then make your decision. And when you do make it, don’t pussy foot in to it. Make it whole heartedly and go and crush it!

Please keep me posted on where you land!
All the best,
Sari

WANT TO SUBMIT A QUESTION OF YOUR OWN? Email it in or send it via social media:

AskSari@WeAreAB.co
@SARIDELMAR

Embracing the 8 Mile Approach to Finding Success – Channelling Eminem-like Resilience

EminemThis was originally written as a talk I did for M for Montreal last year that I’ve now adapted in to a blog post!

A familiar old tune has been repeating in my head lately… one that I’m sure we’ve all been trying to forget…”What’s the Difference Between Me and You?” Dr. Dre feat. Eminem & XZibit. Ya, we’re going to go there.

I’ve been channelling Eminem lately, while running, working, chilling, you know just truly embracing Marshall Mathers, maybe he’s become my spirit animal?

If you know me, which lots of you do, you know how relentless I can be… and while many people create reasons not to be happy, not to take a huge risk, not to shake things up if they are already going ok, not to disrupt or change things, I refuse to acknowledge those road blocks. All it takes is one good reason to try something new, mess everything up in a good way, and find yourself on a whole new plain of success and happiness.

Of course the key element here is figuring out what you want out of life. Now, that’s a bit of a bitch isn’t it? The only real way around that one is good old trial and error, in my experience.

When I was 12 years old I knew I wanted to work in the music industry. I wanted to do whatever it took to be closer to artists creating art. And so at the time the easiest entry point I saw was to start freelance writing. Something a 13-year-old with an obsession to emo probably had no right doing. But hey, no one knew how old I was and I was persistent as heck. My first writing job was for Bedlam Society (an earlier carnation of Dine Alone) and my first interviews were with Bedouin Soundclash and Motion City Soundtrack. The latter one my parents had to drive me from the suburbs in Barrie, Ontario to Toronto to attend and they wouldn’t leave me in the room alone to do the interview. So cool, right?

By the time I was 17 I had gotten somewhat ok at writing reviews and interviewing bands. I was now freelance writing for Exclaim! and Clash Magazine. I moved to Toronto and started a degree in journalism at Ryerson University, and started an internship at Wind-Up Records Canada where I soon landed a job.

Around this time I started a zine called Audio Blood, named after my favourite song by Oakland, California pop punk band The Matches. When the internet became a thing, I had my friend Maria develop a website for me with $200 dollars from the money I made working part time at Subway Sandwiches in high school.

Audioblood.com was launched. The premise was easy – community first. We built a community that extended far past my small roots in Barrie and then Toronto. We had people sending in reviews and pictures, poetry, and essays from around North America. We had 100 contributors and these people became my dearest friends, mentors, many of them who I still work with today.

After my short-lived tenure at Ryerson, a stint at a music PR company, a merch company, and a jaunt across the country in a tour van – I found myself back on home soil and feeling like I needed a new challenge. So here’s where things get a bit 8 Mile so to speak or was Dre would say, “I act on what I feel and never deal wit emotions… I’m used to livin’ big dog style and straight coastin'”

I was 18. I had $500 dollars in my bank account. Why not start my own company? Why not be my own boss? So there I was drafting a business plan, and by that I mean, staying up all night every night scribbling all my wild ideas in a notebook.

January 2009, Audio Blood was reborn as a music PR and marketing company. To say I’ve grown up with this company is an understatement. Running this baby has been the hardest thing I’ve ever committed to. But it’s also been the only thing I’ve truly committed to on this level and for it I would do anything.

In year one we sold out the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern for our anniversary party.  In year 2 we threw parties at the CN Tower with Joel Plaskett and Hollerado. In Year 3 we landed some significant contracts with PledgeMusic, Google Play, Canadian Music Week, M for MTL and more. Year 4 I got to travel the world speaking at conferences, we expanded our team to 12 staff members and moved our office into a beautiful loft space. Year 5 the Globe and Mail called me a “music mogul” – very weird. In Year 6, we rebranded the company from Audio Blood to AB Co., we redefined our services to be focused on digital, lifestyle, and communications marketing! And I moved to NYC to open our US offices. Oh and I get to sit here and lament about Eminem and doing whatever you truly want to in your life cause I am living proof that if you fight like hell, find balance, are a good and honest business person – you can probably have it all.

And I’ll fill you in on another little secret, having it all,  or whatever that means, is truly a state of mind not a destination. So you might very well already be there. It sometimes is just hard to let ourselves notice.

Sure, there are concessions and as the company grows larger I can’t just wake up every day, blast some Dre, and tell everyone to get outta’ my way. You have to be strategic, you have to consider all the angles, and then you can proceed with caution. But always with a strong sense of purpose and leadership. Always guided by what is best for my clients and my team.

This year the move to NYC was prompted by a trip I took to Iceland in February with my best friend. It was my first true vacation as an adult. As I stood on the black sand beach and looked down at glaciers the size of small cities – I saw things in perspective. It occurred to me how very small I am in a world of places I want to go and see. And if I wanted to do that I would have to work even harder and with more focus than I had been up to this point. And I’ve been working pretty damn hard.

I realized I was truly at the start of my long career in music. It became very clear that the worst thing I could do is get comfortable. We need to grow bigger and stronger, the company, and myself as an individual. So I dreamt up the rebrand and I committed to myself that last year was going to be there year that I change everything for the better. I pushed past comfort zones and I waltzed in to new terrain.

In NY they make decisions with their wallets, the music industry resembles the stock market more than anywhere I’ve ever seen. It’s much more cut throat. That’s a change for me, one who has made most decisions with my heart and likely always will. But I’ve learned there needs to be a balance. If I want to grow and make a larger impact for artists and the music community I need my reach to be wider. Money and success will afford me such privileges. So I’ve started to find balance between being a cut throat business lady and a big hearted hippy looking out for the community. I’ll be honest it’s tricky. Every day there are decisions that push me to dig deep within myself and question how I will approach and resolve them. But I continue to fight through and not let up.

So whats the difference between me and you? Nothing! I have insecurities, I have bad days, I have stresses and responsibilities. I choose to fight through them and find a way despite all odds to do what it is that makes me happy every day and what brings good to the community. There is literally zero difference between me and you. As you would have learned if you watched 8 Mile the whole way through … It’s your choice. Are you going to be the Eminem in this situation or make like XZibit and fade away? Whatever happened to that guy?

Haters are gonna hate of course. That’s what they do. They told me I was too young, inexperienced, and in retrospect they were pretty on point in some ways. So I put my head down. I worked my butt off. Every day I learnt something new. I read, I found new mentors, I asked a million questions. I didn’t get discouraged and I stayed focused on the long game. I slowly won over new clients and the industry one by one. I learned how to make mistakes. I slowly learned how to manage a team and get the best out of them every day. How to truly find a life balance and bring your best ideas to the table every day. How to manage my inbox so that  it didn’t run my life. I did what i wanted to, and still do, on my terms.

As I evolve alongside the company, I never for a moment take it for granted -my hard working team, my generous and brilliant clients. I would have nothing without them. I always say actions speak louder, just go and do whatever it is you are longing to do. And when you do, do it whole heartedly and fight for it like you’ve never fought before.


Sari Delmar is the Founder and CEO of AB Co., a North American digital, lifestyle, and communications agency that specializes in music programs and events. Sari has spoken at international conferences (Big Sound, Canadian Music Week), sits on the Toronto Music Advisory Council and the Women in Music Canada board, and was profiled in the Globe and Mail Small business column (“from Music Fan to Music mogul”) in 2014. In 2015, Sari was awarded with an International Women Achievers’ Award in the Entertainment category and named as a Rising Star in ProfitGuide and Chatelaine’s Top 100 Canadian Female Entrepreneurs list. Learn more about the work AB does at: http://WeAreAB.co.