August 31, 2008

Blog Day 2008

Today is the day we celebrate other people’s work. There is an estimated 120 million blogs on the planet and that number is growing every day. You could work 90 hours a week simply reading blogs and never come close to the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg. It’s overwhelming.

We are in an era where content, sharing, and relationships are the medium.

The purpose of Blog Day 2008 is to pick five blogs you read on a regular basis and share them. Here are five (of many) I look forward to reading every day…

Six Pixels of Separation | Mitch Joel
Mitch is the president of Twist Image - a digital marketing firm with offices in Montreal and Toronto. He is a blogger, podcaster, author, creator, thinker and speaker. And best of all, he is a real good guy. Look for his book in 2009!

Jaffe Juice | Joseph Jaffe
Joseph always makes me think and I find myself nodding my head in agreement often when I read his posts. He expands my scope and delivers his material is a personable way. In his spare time, Joseph is a partner with a fascinating marketing company called Crayon

TED Blog |
Have you ever heard, read, or seen something that you must tell everyone about? Several years ago, a friend told me about TED and my reaction was exactly the reaction I get when I do the same. So if you have never heard of TED, visit the site and let me know what you think. It will change your life.

Scobleizer | Robert Scoble
Robert makes geeks the world over drool. This guy is on top of it way before most. If you are a gear head or someone who wishes they were (me), read Scobleizer.

How To Change The World | Guy Kawasaki
Another big brained dude with lots to say and plenty to make you think. Guy has written several books and when he is not working as managing director for Garage Technology Ventures, or writing his column for Entrepreneur Magazine, he does speaking tours. There is always deep rich commentary on his blog.

If you are reading this, have a blog and are not mentioned please send me your link I’d love to check out your work and thanks for reading mine!

And on a more serious note, imagine for a moment having to endure this, the mayor of your city tells you that you must evacuate your home today. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who may be affected by Hurricane Gustav.


August 30, 2008


It's everywhere but we rarely pay attention. Sometimes we can get caught up in what appears to be important and have a little too much perspective, but some is a good thing.

We all watch with hope for the best and as I write this, hurricane Gustav is gaining strength before its inevitable collision with the U.S. southern coast. Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory complete evacuation of New Orleans as they are predicting that Gustav may be worse than Katrina. That gave me perspective in my safe home. I've experienced an earthquake - this is unfathomable.

My thoughts and best wishes are with the people of New Orleans and other cities and towns along the southern coast. I admire the strength and courage of those going through it. At a time like this we all feel powerless and the perspective of life's precious balance is ever-present.

August 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mom’s birthday. I will call her later but I won’t wish her a happy birthday. Last year, she made it official that she wasn’t “celebrating those things anymore”. My mom is my hero. This is the woman who made my life easy, supports every decision I make and backs me all the way. She has given me great joy and belly laughs all the way.

Mom is the most quotable person I know, makes the best cookies on the face of the earth, is never bored, reads veraciously, is always up on current events and never short on opinion.

This is the woman who; thought I was a shoe-in for the NHL, told everyone who would listen about her son the writer-broadcaster-executive producer, and has never been anything but straight up.

Mom came from an era where you had two choices at a tender age; work or work. She entered the workforce at 13 and retired last year at 70. She has a bright mind and for as long as I can remember, we have always had wicked long in-depth talks about everything – no topic is off-limits.

She is finally retired and I’m sure today she’ll be watching her beloved Toronto Blue Jays and going to dinner with her man Ross – the love of her life. Mom is finally making it about her and that makes me smile.

So I won’t wish her happy birthday today, it’ll be our little secret ;-)


August 27, 2008


I have been immersed in the social network for a while now and despite the fact that the theory behind has been around as long as humans have walked upright, the technology has allowed us to connect easier and more efficiently.

Over the last few weeks, I have had some remarkable conversations with old friends, new friends, and friends of friends – all because of connections or re-connections through portals such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

A lot has been written about the fact that these are simply conduits to get the discussion going and to share – there is no golden bullet to millionaire status. Thousands have blogged about the fact that none of this is about money. We all have to pay our bills and avoid an impoverished retirement but unlike the days depicted in the popular series Mad Men; it’s not about scotch and smokes at noon with the client and the age-old cliché when signing a deal “press hard, you’re making three copies”. That is antiquated thinking.

Akin to chat rooms or dating sites, social media can even the playing field and remove trepidation about meeting new people face-to-face. I remember when I began writing these silly blogs – I was worried about two things: would anyone actually care what I had to say and more importantly what was I going to say! I had people – some I hadn't actually met – assure me to just go for it.

We are eager to hear ideas. The important element of the connection process is to contribute to the conversation.


August 26, 2008

The Choice Is Ours

Recently a friend sent me an article about the future of television and the growing success of cable or specialty outlets.

I have always been fascinated by the never ending shift in what I call 'The 3 T’s': Tastes, Trends, and Technology. And what is most fascinating is the egg and chicken are ever present.

Does technology create new trends? Do audience tastes create demand for new technology? Do trends simply morph to whatever is available?

Ten years ago, there were no iPods. Now, Apple owns over 70% of the market in portable mp3 players. Did we need a portable music device that plays thousands of downloaded songs? No, but we don’t need chocolate ice cream either. Okay ...bad examples ;-)

It’s hilarious when a sensational story hits the news cycle – editors and producers scream on their boxes of soap about the public's need to know. Designers will spout the need to satisfy consumer pressure for new gadgets and advancements. Who creates this desire for the new shiny thing? Us or Them?

I like options, I’m sure you do too. But the next time you’re in an electronics store frozen with indecision over the azure or vermillion ear buds, mouth breathing at the Google screen, or frozen in front of the plasma for something to watch …remember, we may have asked for this.


August 25, 2008

Thanks Mom

The Olympics in Beijing are over. As usual, there was plenty of drama; from the American relay teams dropping batons to the Chinese gymnastics’ age limit issue. Michael Phelps won Gold in every race he competed in, and Mongolia won their first Gold medal ever – it was in boxing.

Politics, cheating, communism, all present during the Olympics.

On a positive note, kudos to all Canadian medal winners; Carol Huynh, the men's four and eight rowing teams, Eric Lamaze, Calder & Frandsen, Karen Cockburn, Simon Whitfield, Jason Burnett, Alexandre Despatie, Team Equestrian, Emile Heymans, Adan van Koeverden, Karine Sergeie, Ryan Cochrane, Tonya Verbeek, Cameron & Kok, Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, and Thomas Hall.

One story that resonated with me was was about Ron McLean.

Ron had to leave the Games early because his mom died last Wednesday night. He is the real deal, a classic act. He is genuine and a national treasure. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him and what you see is exactly what you get.

Ron shared a deeply personal moment with millions of viewers and I’m not sure how many of us could’ve done that. Our hearts break for him.

So many of the athletes were seen thanking their moms during interviews, Ron was no different.


August 21, 2008

I Got Your Back

I received an email yesterday from a good friend who took the time to point out that I had made a small typo on a previous blog post. This is a guy who clearly reads my crap most days, he sends comments and nice words but also feels comfortable enough to point out when I have a human moment. No one gets their nose out of joint, it’s just a simple “caught a typo, dude” and I fix it.

That doesn’t sound like a huge deal – but it is.

I worked with someone years ago who I learned more about life from, than any skill I possess. He was gracious to fans when they sent compliments, he took criticism well, his coaching skills were exceptional, and he was tough.

One of the most important things I learned from him was mean what you say, say what you mean – no, this time we mean it! Honestly. For real this time!

Too many companies spout soulless phrase likes “we value our people” and “we are open to suggestions” and “we encourage our people to make mistakes”. Every now and then, there is a company or boss that does mean it.

It is my unscientific stance that we would see an overwhelmingly large increase in productivity and creativity if people were truly allowed to make mistakes and be able to point out errors - while not making it a personal attack - but with a true intent on making things better. I know, easier said than done but isn't worth a try?

No one likes being told they are wrong, no one likes being made an example of, but there is a tactful way to do this and the results will be miraculous. I am obviously not suggesting this is an exchange between colleagues in front of a client.

One of my many mantras is simple; perhaps you may want to try it. I’m not here to cover my ass; I’m here to cover yours.

Thanks Sal, typo fixed!


August 19, 2008

Misguided Talent

I was at a coffee shop drive-thru and in the parking lot next to the place was a mechanic’s garage with a half-full parking lot of vehicles in various conditions.

On a large cube van, there was some very well done graffiti that simply said “Liar”. I’d love to know the story behind that artwork! But it got me thinking about something that pops in my head whenever I get a piece of junk email.

Just imagine if someone discovered that graffiti artist? Who knows, he or she may be the next Jackson Pollack?!

There are those who find joy in writing computer code which will turn in to a virus which will mess up computers all over the world. There is no glory; we don’t often find the author. Who knows, he or she may be the next Steve Jobs?!

And finally there is a large group of the population who seem to spend a vast amount of energy toiling away in cubicles and offices all over the world. These are well dressed people with hopes and dreams – in some cases dreams that have been dashed by the mother corp. They show up and swipe their card and eat their lunch at 12:30 and keep their head down and get that report done in time. How many are there in your organization?

There are those who enjoy defacing others’ property or writing computer viruses but for the most part there is a lot of untapped talent out there right in front of us. Look around at who you work with, he or she may have next great idea.


August 18, 2008

Travels & Tribulations

On the road again this week which has made me think…

Where did bumper man expect me to go when the tracker trailer was inches from me in the other lane? Why can’t the lid of your coffee cup stay put when you’re in the car trying to answer email …I mean, drive?

Could it possibly not rain the moment I get out of the car to unload my luggage into the hotel? Why do they tout GPS on my wireless device? It’s a tad tricky to navigate whilst operating a vehicle. Oh, you’re supposed to do that before you get in the car? Gotcha.

Is it possible that before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I will be able to secure a parking spot which is actually close to the meeting? What ever happened to the seminal 80’s goth syth super group This Mortal Coil?

Why does someone in the meeting always feel compelled to utter the rhetorical question “did you find the place okay?” My answer is usually “no, I got lost despite your meticulous directions”.

If you’re on the road this week – safe travels.


August 15, 2008

And I Quote...

I received an email this week with some classic lines. It's Friday, let's look at some fun quotes. Feel free to use them the next time you want to avoid the four-letter option.

He had delusions of adequacy. Walter Kerr

He is a modest little person, with much to be modest about. Winston Churchill

I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure. Clarence Darrow

Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it. Moses Hadas

He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know. Abraham Lincoln

He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends. Oscar Wilde

He is a self-made man and worships his creator. John Bright

I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend if you have one.
George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second if there is one.
Winston Churchill to George Bernard Shaw

Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it? Mark Twain

I've just learned about his illness, let's hope it's nothing trivial. Irvin S. Cobb

He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others. Samuel Johnson

He has Van Gogh's ear for music. Billy Wilder

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire. Winston Churchill

And one I love because it so aptly describes many I have worked with in the past – perhaps you know someone like this…

He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up. Paul Keating

Happy Friday :-)


August 13, 2008

Is It Five Yet?

You've seen the interview with the actor who didn't win the award or the athlete who failed to medal - they are usually "just glad to be here" and "honored by the opportunity".

Clearly making the Olympics or being nominated for an Oscar is huge ...duh. But once you are at that level, and you feel you have a legitimate chance of winning - are you really going to settle for the honor of the nomination?

I recently saw an interview with Mel Karmazin. Like any high achiever, Mel has his fans and critics - don't we all. The part of the clip I thought was interesting was when he was explaining his mantra. Always go for the win, it's not enough to show up, and to borrow a baseball analogy; win the world series every season.

I used to work for a guy who has a much harsher view of business and believed that you must smack your opponent in the head with a 2X4, take no prisoners and shoot the wounded. How pleasant.

But seriously - who plays for a tie? ...good enough? ...that will do?

I gravitate to high achievers because they give me a constant kick in the ass. I am at my lowest when I get caught up in self-doubt or snag on a patch of inertia. It's not a fun place to visit.

There is no time well spent with those who are satisfied with keeping their heads down and skating their way to 5pm. Life isn't only about work - but if you dog it at work - me thinks that may seep into other parts of life. Trust me, I can couch with the best of them - this isn't about working all the time!

You don't have to be the President of a company in order to contribute or strive for better - but we all know those who are barely showing up. My father used to lament when referring to his staff that quittin' time was the fastest they seem to move all day.

No thanks.


August 12, 2008

Pin Me Later

Malcolm Gladwell was right – we are connectors, mavens, and salesmen. In my opinion; in order to be truly successful, you need to be all three. Generalists were successful at one time, then it turned to the specialists, now it's all about the 360-view. You must understand everyone's role in order to better do yours.

The workplace is expanding into new territories. Technology is allowing us to be more portable and better connected. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re getting more done or truly being more linked.

The next time you’re at a convention, tally the number of people you see on their PDAs feverishly doing email versus the number of people in one-on-one actual personal conversations. We have this innate need to bond but are we causing a generation of thumbers over talkers and listeners?

I recently and reluctantly returned to the world of thumb communication.

The promise I made to myself was that I was going to use it as a tool and a resource this time and not live on the thing. That worked – for an hour. You have it on your hip and you feel the need to check every buzz no matter where you are.

On day two, I took it off the holster and locked it in the glove box while driving – there, temptation gone. Until I remembered it's also my phone. On day four, I found myself doing email on it – while in my office, with the laptop right there! Sound familiar?

I exchanged pins with one of my partners today and he was the first to finally cave and call. I had almost forgotten what his voice sounded like. It’s silliness. We convince ourselves that technology is helping us and making our lives more efficient but it is eroding conversation.

Try it next time someone sends you an email you pick up on your portable device – give them a call or better yet, set up a face-to-face meeting with your “phasors on stun” as a previous boss used to say. Turn off the PDA and have a chat. Oh and at the break during that next convention, see if you can be the last person to haul it off your hip.

You may get more done. Talk to you soon.


August 11, 2008

Twist in Toronto

If you read this space even occasionally, you probably know I have a lot of time and respect for Mitch Joel. He is creative, wicked smart, forward thinking, and true to his word. It alarms people when they meet him - that he's just himself. It's a weird concept, I know!

Blogspace is meant to share ideas and grow a community. Today, it's all about a well-deserved shout-out, shamless plug, and pat on the collective back of a fine company called Twist Image.

I first met Mitch a "few" years ago ;) Over the past few months, we have shared ideas and talked about business, social media, branding, advertising and of course our biggest love - music! Oh, and his experience at the TED conference last year - wow!

His Montreal based agency is expanding. Mitch announced this week that Twist will now also have an office at Front Street and Spadina in Toronto - well done, well deserved, overdue!!

Twist Image will do well in Toronto - as they have done in Montreal and beyond. Not simply because they do good work or that they think ahead but because they mean it.


August 9, 2008

Building A Powerhouse

I didn’t watch a lot of the Olympic opening ceremonies, but one fact jumped out of the TV was when Ron McLean said China has become a powerhouse in some sports where they had no entries in the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. The Chinese government decided they wanted to build a dynasty – and instead of doing that over time through hard work and a proven track record – they just decided and did it. It isn’t enough for them to have an athlete compete in a discipline – they want to be a powerhouse.

Some experts say that China has a chance to win somewhere around 46 medals from their 700+ athletes. If that number is met, each medal will have cost the Chinese government $6 Million. It’s a powerhouse, after all. It’s a small price to pay.

The 50th anniversary of the launch of NASA was on July 29th. In forty-four days, the Americans launched their first rocket. They built a powerhouse.

Conspiracy theories aside (that’s a year worth of blogs) it is a testament of determination. Now imagine how much a group of people can accomplish in any venture.

It reminds me of the cynics' lament about how our goverment is here to help us.
We’ve all been in situations where whether through a client-company relationship or through a corporate mandate, we’ve helped others. And the myriad personal situations we are in find us helping and being helped all the time. We need help, we offer help, we help each other – that’s how this life thing all works best.

In the next seven days, help someone without their knowledge and without wanting anything in return. Build your powerhouse by simply helping someone. Go Canada!


August 4, 2008

Road Trips

I’m on the road the rest of this week and at the time of this writing, I have not packed yet. I have been on a myriad, a gaggle o’ road trips in my life. If I calculated, I would probably tally up close to two years worth of nights in my life spent in a hotel on the road. You think I’d get good at this. Perhaps you go through the same thing. What to pack. You want choice, you want to plan things, but worst of all – you don't want to over pack!

These days, you usually need your laptop and cell or PDA; several sets of clothing depending on the length or nature of the trip and – if you’re like me – a few extra things, just in case.

Why do I end up with a week’s worth of crap for a short business trip?

I admire my buddy Mike. He somehow knows exactly – to the t-shirt – what to bring on any given trip. I’ve known Mike for a long time; you think I’d learn from him by now. He’s also the guy to shop with on the way to the cottage because he can calculate every meal, all snacks and adult beverage consumed by five guys for a fishing/golfing weekend - with no waste.

Business casual is accepted in most companies. If you have a “business” lunch, it’s often enough to wear clean pressed clothes with good hygiene. That’s simple. Unless you work in banking or politics, the dress code policy is pretty loose.

Never has that been more true than when I return from a trip to see all my formal business clothes still packed at the bottom of the suitcase. Of course they will make the trek again this time because the trip you don’t pack that stuff, is the trip you need it.

I envy those people portrayed in movies from the future. Gone are dress codes, personality, choice, and individuality.

But it does solve the problem: four-day road trip, four red shirts.


August 3, 2008

Socialite's Lament

Okay fine, I did it. I signed up to Delicious. They just redesigned the site, solidified the name and I’m in. I haven’t done anything yet, but I have a profile – yay me. Thanks Mitch, for reminding me that no matter how I try I will never keep up.

Do you feel that way sometimes? You have all your social networking profiles, your blogroll, your own blog and possibly your own podcast. It's a full-time job just to keep your sites updated while trying to stay on top of others.

Does this sound familiar? How do you expect others to read your profiles, blogs and listen to your podcasts while you try and stay on top of those you follow? I guess you took the time to read this blog – oh great, now I have to write something wise.

I have profiles on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Delicious, and I’m forgetting a bunch. If you’re like me, you find yourself checking these profiles to insure you are keeping up your side of the social networking bargain but how much time to you have to check others’?

I was at a convention in Los Angeles a few years ago, and during a coffee break we were all standing in this gorgeous outdoor terrace. At one end was a long table with various beverage choices and a selection of goodies. I was fixing myself a coffee while enjoying a beautiful spring day. I then heard a voice from across the patio; “Dude, you’re out of uniform!” I turned and saw about 15 people standing around in a circle, all checking voice mail and email.

It’s okay, I’ll be out of uniform once in a while.

But, I should check email first.


August 1, 2008

Playgrounds and Politics

I have always enjoyed watching American politics – it’s so, um – political! The spins, the back tracks, the bold-faced lies, the shimmy shimmy – it is like a ballet. Trillions of dollars hang in the balance as everyone in the room makes it someone else’s fault. Sub-committees full of butt covering get nowhere special interest group glad handing – it’s brilliant and hilarious.

But Barrack Obama has changed my view - and I live in Canada!

Yesterday, Senator John McCain held a conference call about Barrack’s popularity. He called Obama the “world’s biggest celebrity” and has a new television campaign to prove it. Let’s dumb it down to the school yard. Harold is upset that Mikey is getting all the girls. Mikey is blonde, blue-eyed, and smart. Harold is a dweeb.

Obama is too popular? It’s an election!

There was a movie entitled The Pirates of Silicon Valley released in 1999 staring Noah Wyle as Steve Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall as Bill Gates.

At one point during the film, the Jobs’ character is upset because the Gates’ character stole his ideas. Here’s a passage;

Steve Jobs: What is this? This is like doing business with a praying mantis. You get seduced, and then eaten alive?

Bill Gates: Get real, would ya? You and I are both guys who had this rich neighbor – Xerox – who left the door open all the time. And you go sneaking in to steal the TV set. Only when you get there, you realize I got there first. I got the loot, Steve! And you’re yelling “it’s not fair, I wanted to steal it first!?”

Steve Jobs: We’re better than you are! We have better stuff.

Bill Gates: You don’t get it, Steve. It doesn’t matter.

Where Jobs’ real-life brilliance shone was when he premiered the movie at the 1999 Macworld summit and had Noah Wyle as a guest speaker. Bravo!

He has also taken Apple to heights never seen before, since his return to the company he built. And let me check the Vista helpline again ;-)

Obama is popular – there is no denying that. It does not mean he will make a fine President – but I like his chances. I'm Canadian, but I will go on record to say that he is by far the clear choice. Perhaps my biggest understatement.

Mr. McCain may want to have a look back at his decades of public service and remember, in the fight for the White House – it doesn’t matter. Right or wrong, the guy who is most popular gets more girls.


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