July 31, 2008


Gobs of time, web space, long distance charges, emails, txt msgs, social media correspondence has been used to discuss what many call “the new reality”.

It is not longer “new” – it is reality.

I just got off an hour phone call with a marketing guru and we didn’t talk about commerce, or how we could help make each other money; we talked about ideas and passions and music and what inspired us.

Often we seek knowledge only to share it with others. Magic happens when we share it with no expectation of it being returned. Money is not the end game, it never has been. I know – shock horror say every for-profit employee and company owner – but it isn’t. Money is our currency, but ideas have saved lives.

Over the last year, I have unconsciously built a list of mantras, phrases and words that I’ve realized I am using almost daily.

Seth Godin talks about how we must be prepared to be remarkable. If you’re not, who will care? Why should anyone care? Mitch Joel reminds us that authenticity must always be present. I merge the two because in order to be remarkable, you must be authentic.

The cynic in me says; people will do what they want to do when they want to do it. It matters not whether you scare them within an inch of being fired, they won’t do it if they don’t want to. The optimist in me says that’s a good thing, because like you I don’t want others to tell me what do to when they want me to do it.

My phone call this morning got me thinking about the infinite power of inspiration. If you are inspired, you will do anything you want. But if you can inspire others, the dividends are immeasurable.


July 30, 2008

Be Fabulous

I was exchanging emails with a colleague recently about her recent split. She is fabulous. She said “he’s an idiot” and we friends all agree.

That’s not the point. That’s not the point in business either.

We do mean well, we do listen to clients, we do try our best to find solutions, and we do try to work well together. That may not be enough.

My dad once said – and it was a defining moment – "life ain’t fair, get over it". Not warm welcoming wisdom you’d expect from a father. Dads are supposed to protect you and tell you you’re great and that you’ll be an astronaut some day. Well, no that would be cruel.

We have all made the mistake – in business and in life – to assume everyone in a given situation is looking out of the same pair of eyes, with the same lens of experience and expectation. That couldn’t be further from any truth.

Contracts are not just those things we sign when we’re doing a business deal – they are those emotional agreements we make with ourselves and often with others. The difference with others is, we rarely let the other side know.

The reason road rage occurs is simply because one driver is unaware that the other wants the lane or is late for the meeting. We make contracts with the world every day and every day the world disappoints us.

Communication is an interesting thing – it works best when you are clear and concise and sometimes that requires dealing with the icky stuff and the tough stuff. That includes communication with you.

So do your best, communicate more, expect less of others, expect more of yourself and most of all – be fabulous.


July 29, 2008

Fifty Years in Space

Fifty years ago today, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was first introduced. A half century ago, the Soviets kicked American ass with the launch of Sputnik. Eight years and 356 days later, Apollo 11 landed on the moon.

That’s determination.

NASA formed on July 29th, 1958. It began operation on October 1st that same year and Pioneer 1 – the first launch from Cape Canaveral was on October 11th, 1958.

Forty-four days after its inception, NASA launched its first rocket into space – that’s less time that it takes to build the average house.

That’s focus.

Space exploration has not only been about the flashy. Payload Specialists have been studying, collecting, and analyzing our solar system for much more information than what we see in the press. Not to mention the research that has been conducted from here on Earth.

It's never easy to summarize these monumental advancements in short form but in the last 50 years; we have orbited planets, landed on the moon seven times, landed on mars once, launched an international space station, developed the Canadarm, and tragically lost lives in the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

In 50 years, the cost of space exploration is in the trillions. It has also cost many lives, enjoyed many victories, and resulted in seemingly countless advancements. There are those who say it’s a big waste of money, there are many of us who say we haven’t done enough.

There are more than 800 satellites currently orbiting Earth giving us the ability to send massages across the globe in an instant, watch sporting events in Hi-Def, and transfer sensitive information to each other through secured Internet transmission.

NASA and the millions of scientists, engineers, and technicians over the last half century have changed the world dramatically.


July 28, 2008

Toss And Hope

I was backing out of the driveway recently and drove over something. I noticed it was a large collection of rolled up pamphlets, with an elastic band around them, in a plastic bag. Someone had lobbed a bunch of direct mail barely on to my driveway from a moving vehicle.

There are graphic design shops all over the world churning out millions of pages of this stuff daily. They make flyers offering “deals” on every imaginable product – all to be rolled up and thrown out of a car on to driveways, mail slots, front porches, or yards for as far as they eye can see.

Jeff Parks and I were talking the other day during another excellent chat about social networking, corporate culture and the new reality. He often uses the phrase from Dilbertthe fire hose aimed at the tea cup. Trillions of bits of information are being fired at us every single minute of every single day. How do you keep up? How do you cut through? How do you make a difference? What is the secret?

If you are in product development, you spend a tremendous amount of energy crafting and planning and building something that will resonate with customers, viewers, users, listeners, or readers.

Direct mail or external marketing experts will tell you about the two second rule. You have about that much time to catch someone’s attention. The mass marketing model is simple – hit as many people as possible and hope that 3-5% will react to your message.

Tossing flyers from a moving vehicle on to people’s property is a sign of giving up. What are the chances your potential customers will; open the bag, undo the elastic band, read through your message, get in their car, and buy those pork chops on sale this week? That’s a lot of assumptions.

Drenching everyone with the fire hose of mass media doesn’t guarantee anyone will notice. We spend all day being hosed.


July 26, 2008

Clich├ęs and Caddies

It’s Saturday and the coffee is perfect. I think the calmness of (most) Saturday mornings to (most of us) seems to be a good place to gather all those little scraps of half-thoughts, events that happened yet to be digested properly, and I certainly can’t speak for you but ideas begin to flow better …again.

First, the man who taught us that we will not regret the things we did in life, we will regret the things we didn’t do. Randy Pausch lost his courageous battle with pancreatic cancer yesterday. Over 8 million of us have watched his Last Lecture which was originally intended for his children. We need purpose, we need to belong and Randy changed more lives than can be measured.

I send a shout out to one of my partner’s wife who has not left her husband by the side of some road in Palermo where they are celebrating their 15th anniversary. He answers emails and calls me at all hours. A lesson from Randy – turn the BB off, spend time with your wife, you’re in frickin’ Italy! In a hundred years, the emergency won't matter.

Enjoy your Saturday – whatever you are doing – I am going golfing.

Cheers :-)


July 25, 2008

Be The Champion

I find it fascinating to watch as companies grapple with the new realities.

There are no rules, no one has the answer, currency is knowledge and not a warehouse full of crap, and mass marketing has been compromised by the fragmented user-driven world.

I was speaking with a colleague this week about the behavior of large household name companies that are moving slowly away from the television-radio-newspaper only model and starting to toss a few pennies and quarters at the millions of eyeballs consuming content online.

The next day, I had a conversation with someone about the largest generation of the 20th century who are now quite simply looking toward retirement. A few weeks ago I was speaking with someone who said “I only have a few more years ‘til I retire and drink beer.”

Can’t you just feel the urgency to learn new things?! Inspiring, isn’t it?

Back to the phones I went. The next conversation on the subject was with a man I’ve known for decades. He is in his 60’s and has no intention of retiring. It’s not about work for him; he simply enjoys what he does. He also enjoys his 12 weeks of annual vacations and taking his wife to Europe. This is one very cool dude who you’d think was – trying to get to retirement to drink said beer. Nope. We exchange information all the time about online advertising, social networking, content development – rich, important stuff.

He said to me the other day that he was frustrated more people in his company didn’t embrace the social network. I said it was because he was the champion. He was the one person in the entire building who was leading the online charge. He was not afraid to meet new people – online or in person. He shared ideas constantly and didn’t try and sell everyone he met. And best of all, he never led with his job title.

If you want your company or organization involved in the new reality – it’s not something you can fake. The price of admission is showing up and contributing. Put your PowerPoint presentations away and connect. Be the social media corporate champion who lets people get to know you and what you may do rather than tossing business cards around and reminding others of your Harvard pedigree.

Through the social network space, I have met doctors and lawyers and CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies and owners of ad agencies and independent consultants and writers and painters and marketing people and the list goes on.

But that is information I found out after they piqued my interest as human beings.


July 24, 2008

The Price Is Irrelevant

There has been much ado about gas prices these days. We all have our personal stories but mine is that the car I drive now costs 50% more to fill than when I bought it. That’s a real number. But do I drive any less? No. Sure, probably like you I don’t go on as many pleasure drives for no apparent reason but I don’t cancel a meeting because it now costs me $60 to fill the tank when is used to cost $40. I’m sure you’re the same.

I was on a flight recently and you could barely get everyone on to the plane. The cost of an airline ticket has increased sharply because …of the price of gas. No one seemed to have canceled their plans on that trip. Of course, the teleconferencing and PDA industries are certainly seeing more money come their way. You've probably done it too - you fly out in the morning, fly home at night all for a two-hour meeting. That's just not an efficient use of resources and time.

Psychologists, Human Resources officers, and Pediatricians will tell you that if an action is not reprimanded then it is endorsed. If you tell your child not to eat candy before dinner but when they do you do nothing – then you are telling them that it’s accepted behavior. If you drive a car and complain about gas prices but still drive your car as much, you accept the behavior of those who set the fee.

Yes, I know we need our cars blah blah blah. I use mine too. There is no soap box here. I know a lot of people in the auto industry who are feeling the crunch. Our driving may not be diminishing but new car sales are on sharp decline. As much as we bitch and moan about what we put in our vehicles, we justify the costs somewhere in our heads by hanging on to the old car for a couple more years.

The Ford Motor Company this week announced an $8.67B loss this quarter.

It's good to know that the oil rich nations are not favored through the war effort and that the oil companies are no longer holding court at the next Washington shindig. Fill the tank and complain to everyone. We’re listening.


July 22, 2008

Don’t Call Us

Radio stations are rated in a very archaic way. For as many as four times each year (less often in smaller markets) BBM in Canada or Arbitron in the U.S. contact potentially qualified participants via land lines then mail booklets or “diaries” to random households in each given market.

BBM or Arbitron then asks them to report radio tuning for a week. That’s right, every time you listen to radio – any station – you are supposed to keep record of that. Exact times. Exact station. Exact length of time.

Sounds easy? Sure thing.

If you are a participant in a particular survey, they then ask you to take your handwritten booklet and put it in an envelope, find a stamp, and put it in a mailbox.

That sounds cutting edge, doesn’t it?

With the daily increase of cell onlies, this ratings system grows more antiquated with very passing year.

Personal People Meters (PPMs) are being introduced in most major markets in North America this year, so some feel this will help. But again in order to be a participant, you need to receive unsolicited contact through a land line.

This isn’t an issue unique to radio. Telemarketing is a multi-billion dollar industry. Radio is just another interruption. And as of September, this practice will become increasingly more difficult to the marketing and survey industries.

In Canada, the National Do Not Call List received approval to make changes to unsolicited telecommunications from the CRTC and those calls will decrease.

As far as ratings and research opportunities for radio, this isn't great news. But I think I have enough credit cards and I’m very happy with my fifteen insurance policies.


July 21, 2008

Ala Carte

You may remember the first time you went to one of those fancy schmancy restaurants. One of those joints that has someone who takes you to your table, someone who takes your drink order, another person recommends what steak you should get, someone else is fretting around with new napkins and fresh water, someone who has the job of driving the dessert cart around. It’s like a factory.

I’m talkin’ one of those places where you order a $60 steak and you get …a steak! That's it. The rest of the meal is available ala carte.

I’m in the process of deciding on a new PDA. Bravo to the marketing thrust. We are being bombarded with deals, gadgets, the latest, the fastest, and the newest.

My trip to the stores was a blast; if I was in search of a headache then it was a success. If I want the phone, it’s $600. It won’t do anything, but I’m welcome to purchase it. This will undoubtedly be replaced in a year or two with the next latest thing. But if I sign for three years, I can have it for $200.

I read a story recently about Taipei – the semiconductor capital of the world. Some replace their phones every 6-8 months.

So I choose my steak.

But in the PDA world – I don’t even get a plate with it. I need a data package, storage, email, roaming, long distance, the list goes on. Oh, you want a steering wheel? Well, that's extra.

In Canada, Apple sold more that a million iPhones in three days. It was lunacy. People were camped out at retail outlets all over the world for one of these cool devices.

When Blackberry releases the Bold on August 15th, the mania will probably not be quite the same. Good job, Jobs.

But if you get wooed by the sexy new device, stop and breathe. Pay attention to the stuff around it – the stuff that can add up quickly. The stuff no one reads.

I love technology, I love new stuff, but perhaps it would’ve been easier just to go to the closest drive-thru and get a combo #2.


July 16, 2008

The Pitch

I was in a bunch of pitch meetings lately and I thought I may share something that few of us admit. We're not 100%. It's a newsflash, I know! My dad (along with generations of dads before him, and yours) said that you never stop learning. Another newsflash.

One of my partners did a great pitch this week and on our way back all he did was rail on himself about his mistakes. If you are in sales, media, marketing, promotions, public relations, packaged goods, or even in every day work with colleagues - you don't hit a grand slam every time.

I love social networking because I have met so many cool interesting people doing great work. What is celebrated through this space is victories and ideas and people share articles and tips. I don't read a lot of posts from people kicking themselves.

That's a good thing! That's what we all should do - even when we think "the pitch" didn't go our way.

I have been around sales people my entire career and for some strange reason they all feel that every client pitch will end in a sale. Of course you have to prepare, find the needs, work on the solutions, partner with your client but it won't always go your way.

The problem with working around other creative people is that we are WAY too hard on ourselves. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Was that okay? I know, it could've been better.

July 14, 2008

New Words

George Dubya has been fodder for many a comedian and pontificator when it comes to his public faux pas and made up words.

It got me thinking how our world has had some new additions through the interactive and social media space.

It’s a company’s dream that their product will turn into a brand – something no company can build; brands are built by customers and experiences with your products. Where it gets interesting is when you develop a product that becomes a brand and your brand becomes part of the vernacular.

You don’t hand someone a facial tissue – it’s a Kleenex. You don't go to a search engine, you Google It.

Since radio ratings are published in Canada today, I thought of another word that may - one day - make it in to our every day language.

Spinforus: This common activity works in all walks of business, first mastered in politics. It is the art of showing seemingly scientific data that your product or service is #1 even if it's clear it is not. This activity can include showing others how you increased profits and/or market share in the face of overwhelming contradiction.

I wish my radio colleagues and clients well today as we all get to work on our spinforus.



July 12, 2008

iPhone uPhone We All Phone For aPhone

Let me be the 7,871,934th person to talk, whine, write, blog or give free publicity to the iPhone.

First of all, kudos to Jobs & Co. for creating a pop culture buzz so loud that the sale of the 3G was the lead NEWS story on many networks around the world. Bravo. You cannot buy that kind of publicity. Or can you? Hmmm.

I love toys. They don’t make you a better person. They don’t make you better than anyone else. They don’t make you smarter, taller, thinner or younger.

Some toys are tools, some are toys, and some are both.

I’ve been going to concerts for many years and have yet to line up early for one. That’s not arrogance; I’ve just never done it. I’ve never lined up for a sale on shoes; I can’t see myself doing so for a phone. Especially when the same phone will in fact be on sale at that store a few days later. If they are sold-out, then they misread demand. But I don’t need to be first so badly that a tent and sleeping bag are required.

I currently do not have a personal digital assistant. I know I’m out of uniform! The wolves failed to show me how to use such an extravagant device. Actually, I had a Blackberry for a few years and despite the fact that most people commented about seeing the top of my head more than my face, and that I felt the need to answer emails while driving, and the familiar buzz would often make me check for important messages at 3am; it’s a useful device.

My colleagues have been inquiring about me jumping back on the PDA parade and I’ve resisted – so far. The Pearl and Curve are cool, the Bold is worth waiting for, but everyone has different needs for these devices.

Every product (toy/tool) has its cool stuff and its drawbacks. My BB was excellent at keeping appointments and managing email – the phone part sucked.

But I may need to drop by the store today – just to see what all the fuss is about. It’s only research, of course ;-)


July 10, 2008

It Ain’t About The Coffee

I first met Jeff Parks at Geek Dinner Ottawa back in April. I found him engaging and passionate about what he did …whatever that was.

Months passed and we connected again through Facebook and Twitter. I suggested we grab a coffee and have a chat. It was supposed to be a “what do you do” conversation.

We talked for almost two hours about dreams and ideas and social media and life. I enjoyed listening to Jeff’s idea about a conference he wants to create in Ottawa which will bring all walks of life together. Keep an eye on his blogs and podcasts for more details.

It was two guys sharing ideas and it was not about “networking for your next client”. It’s funny to note that Jeff is known as a top podcaster but started it because it was cool. Many naysayers – like those who talked to me about my blog – said it would never make him any money. He then proceeded to share some amazing relationships he has made through social media.

It isn’t about the websites or coffee, it’s about the connections.

CC Chapman wrote about this a few weeks ago. Go ahead, make your connections but if you can - try and meet face to face. It's still the most powerful way to get to know someone.

I look forward to contributing to Jeff’s conference and sharing many more ideas in the future. This is all about people and connections with ideas and the sharing is free. Everyone has bills, everyone wants to make a mark and make a living but it begins with the contact.

Give it a shot – find someone on your Facebook friend list or a Twitter follower and ask to meet for coffee.

One thing that I just remembered – we didn’t talk about what we actually did, we just shared ideas. That is social networking.

Good to meet you, Jeff!


July 9, 2008

You May Already Be A Winner

I was sifting through emails this morning and noticed 328 in the junk folder.

I’m not sure about you, but I have very a good filter on my email which limits daily junk down to usually a couple of dozen. There are people I know who get hundreds – a day.

I had a look at the addresses and subject lines this morning.

It's understandable how someone may accidentally open an email that looks somewhat legit, but I’m now getting emails with domain extensions that don’t exist, or the latest – a completely blank email – no subject line and no email addy.

I even received the infamous email from Nigeria that says - you send me money and I’ll deposit hundreds of thousands in your bank account - last week. That one has been going on for years and the scam continues. Clearly people are replying to it.

Who falls for this stuff? I know, a lot of people do or it wouldn’t be escalating at a rate faster than Paris Hilton is spending her inheritance, but c’mon! You have to admire the persistence because any marketing or research person will tell you that 10% return is huge, so if you're sending an email to the planet the odds are in your favor that you'll get one of two.

More importantly, how do you market your message if you are legit? I have a colleague who wants to do a direct mail piece along with an email companion. Direct mail continues to be a very popular form of advertising but we are all getting savvier at weeding through it.

As digital marketing grows, we will need to be smarter about reaching potential customers with actual real messages.

Feel free to send me an email but only if it’s a legitimate response. I already have four lawnmowers, eleven office chairs, a dancing penguin, and apparently I may already be the winner of all-expense paid trip to Boca Raton.


July 8, 2008

Chocolate, Berries and Voyeurism

Some interesting tidbits today…

Our web world is about to change. Dot com, Dot net, Dot org etc. are about to get some company. On June 26th, ICANN approved an expansion which will open up to all sorts of interesting opportunities but perhaps more confusion. Right now, there are 21 domain extensions available.

Soon, we may be able to customize our space to suit our interests and businesses. We could have domains such as; .love, .chocolate, .hockey etc.

.I .think .it .will .be .interesting .to .watch

Here’s the official announcement.

> > >

The creators of 411.ca have enhanced their service. No longer can you simply go online to find information on someone you want to call or mail; businesses now have another place to tell their story through added information on their listings and links to Facebook and Virtual Maps.

Why call 4-1-1 on your phone and get information when you can spend hours online looking at your house and other stuff? It is cool. I’m not saying I’ve done it, just sayin’.

> > >

And it must be summer or a slow news week because it was interesting that this story made headlines. We all love fresh fruit, there’s nothing like delicious fresh picked strawberries on a summer’s eve. It’s a rite of passage; it’s part of our fabric.

But who woulda thought that violence could follow such a benign companion.

According to a CBC News report, the u-pick strawberry industry is dangerous business. There are reports of people near fisticuffs over small red harmless berries. I think I may stick with the blueberries, thanks.

Be careful out there.


July 7, 2008


I was in meetings last week when someone uttered that age old phrase “we were given two ears and one mouthin reference to the sales’ process. Listen to your client, pay attention to their needs, be the last to speak. It is a tremendous art and I admire anyone who can do it consistently.

The problem with an active brain is that it spills out of your face. You have ideas, you’re brimming with thoughts and solutions. Or maybe that’s just me?

One of my mentors used to remind me to be a mouse with elephant ears.

I get it, shut up and listen. What was that? Sorry I was trying to find a solution for that last thing you said.

It's important to allow for awkward silence. Conversations often have two sides: talking and waiting to talk. But if you are both quiet for a moment, interesting stuff happens.

My mind is always working, so it’s not easy to do but it's powerful when you can do it. So I’ll shut up now. Your turn. Go ahead. I'm listening. Really. Honest.


July 6, 2008

Do It Right

My mom is my biggest fan. On the day I had clearly lost my faculties and announced I wanted to be a goalie in hockey, she rejoiced. There was never any fear of a call from a scout, but according to her I was headin' to the NHL.

Years later, I told my parents I was getting in to radio. Mom said "As long as you're happy." And Dad said "If you're gonna do it, do it right."

There are always things you could do better. No company can carry it off perfectly. Two words: iPod battery.

iMedia Connection published a story recently by Marian Salzman about brands vs. products, it’s worth a read when you get a moment.

I am in media and if you are in the industry, you know how tough it is to stay on top. This isn’t a gadget conversation; it’s a user/customer/listener/viewer conversation.

We live in a word of sound bites, early adopters, shiny new things and 8 billion websites. It’s tough to stay relevant, and it’s equally tough to do everything as well as we’d like to do it.

Too often media people utter phrases like "It's not our best, but we gotta do it." …or “that will do”. What you don't do, they won't know you didn't do well. We have all been guilty of trying to do too much and it becomes clear that none of us – no individual, no company, no group – can do it all.

Like my dad once said “If you're gonna do it, do it right.” Which reminds me, the lawn needs cutting, gotta go.


July 2, 2008

The Future

We are all trying to find out what’s next. What new gadget, website, social media space will be the next big thing. In order to stop the lunacy, it is probably best we agree that none of us will ever know. There will always be some new thing. Some will stick, most will not.

I find it funny that we think we can find consenous in a world of individuals with varying backgrounds, knowledge bases, goals, and dreams.

At one time, many decades ago they promised that by the year 2000 we would all be driving flying cars and own our own jet pack.

With escalating gas prices, we are all scrambling to find ways to keep our costs down. Until we go back to the horse and buggy, that won’t happen. We love our cars; we are dependant on oil and fuel for our vehicles and other creature comforts.

Hybrids are the answer to some, but in 4-5 years when we have a mountain of dead batteries to dispose of, we’ll have a new problem on our hands.

As I embark on a road trip this morning I only have one question – where is my jet pack?


July 1, 2008

Oh Canada

I’m sure at one point in your life; you’ve had one of those freaky existential chats about why we are here and why now. We hear and read about conflict all over the world. There is no end in sight to the war in Afghanistan, Iraq is unstable, South Korea is a disaster, there is sickness and horrid living conditions in Africa, and the list goes on.

I never forget how lucky I am to be in a part of the world during a part of history where we can do literally whatever we want. The only difference between a millionaire and someone struggling from pay to pay is bravery. It may sound simple, but it really is. We trap ourselves into thinking we can’t take a risk, and do that thing we’ve always wanted.

Most of us get scared, most of us aren't sure how to do it.

I am a proud Canadian. We pay a lot of taxes – if you live in the highest tax bracket with no write-offs, you pay 47 cents on the dollar – but we have clean roads, universal healthcare and few people carry around a hand gun. It’s a safe exciting place to live.

Canada is blessed with mountains and trees and clean water and natural resources and polite people and opportunities far and wide.

I am blessed with a brain, experience and ideas. I have nothing to complain about. Count your blessings today too.

If we lived in the Middle East, our best hope would be to get through today without hearing bombs or guns.

Happy 141st Canada, thanks for everything!


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