Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What If Growing Up Is Today?

I do a lot of thinking when I am driving around in my car. These days I cruise by a number of different gyms and I find myself thinking, “when I grow older I want to do more weights.” I want to get bigger, with more muscle, and one day (hopefully) I’ll attain that mean looking body I always wanted.

I find myself saying these, “when I get older” and “when I grow up” statements quite a bit. What I also notice is that they are usually attached to improvement statements. I am always looking to eat better, run more, lift weights, see more places, and visit more friends/family. All of these are things I want to do “when I grow older.”

Then one day I had a moment where lightning struck my brain and started a brush fire across all my neurons - what if growing up was today?

I realize I’ll never be that muscle man if I don’t go to the gym, I’ll never start eating better if I don’t take the time to learn how to cook the right meals, I’ll never see more places if I don’t make a commitment to travel, and I’ll never see more friends/family if I don’t put myself out there to visit.

As I grow older I need to realize I am older. Change does not occur without action and to achieve the goals on my list I am going to need to start my action sooner rather than later. As Thomas Jefferson would say, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Making Your Mark

Every once and a while people will see me walking around with a limp and ask, “what happened to you?” People often assume I must have sprained or broken something in my leg, but my limping is usually directly related to the jogging I put myself through the previous day and my body is sore from all the work – I’m getting old.

When talking about running/jogging I often hear people say how they use their time to think about “everything”. When I run I am usually thinking, “oh crap! Keep going, this hurts, don’t die, keep going, you can do it”.

Lets try to get specific - what is everything? Are we thinking about work, school, family, friends, health, money, sports, books, jokes, TV shows, laundry, dinner, or commercials? If you stop to think about it – everything is a lot. I think we need to change thinking about everything to thinking about “our” everything. When we focus our mind has the opportunity to work through the things that are important to us – our problems at work, dinner for the family, paying the bills, talking with friends, thinking about family, and the list goes on.

If you think about it – it makes sense. In life our aim is to fix a series of problems (a.k.a. everything). Our ability to fix these problems will lead to a less stressful life, but ultimately we do the best when we work on one thing at a time.

At this exact moment of epiphany during my run I stepped right into fresh asphalt and lost all train of thought. My cries returned, “oh crap, I’m tired, keep going, you can do it”. The more I thought about the footprint I left behind in the asphalt the more I thought it to be a fitting metaphor – If you can narrow your thoughts/goals to the specifics your opportunity to leave your mark/achieve success increases.

Spending all your energy trying to solve everything at once will lead you to solve nothing. But, just like when your running, if you can remain focused on that single idea your chances for success increase.

If all else fails – you can try my mantra, “oh crap, this hurts, keep going, don’t stop…”

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Canadian Words Revisited

Four months back I wrote an article titled New Looks. The underlying theme of the article was focused around the idea that every small action counts when it comes to going green. At the post’s core was an interesting story about my misuse of the word “author”, which I was spelling “authour.” I had thought the word was spelt with an “our” like many other Canadian words (favour, behaviour, endeavour) and it wasn’t until my Literacy Professor pointed out my misuse of the word before I realized the error.

Recently, my post was referenced by Tyson Seburn at in his blog post We’re Word Snobs, but Maybe we Shouldn’t Be. Seburn’s post provides a brief and colourful critique of the many situations where we choose between a Canadian or foreign spelling.

The whole post summoned flashbacks of my Fourth-Year Canadian History classroom and stories of Guglielmo Marconi the inventor of the Radio. In the early 1900’s there weren’t too many Canadian Radio Stations. They would often only function a few hours out of the day at specific times. During the rest of the day the channels were often silent or off-air. In the 1920’s we began to see a change – Canadian's who were close to the American boarder began to pick up radio signals from our Southern Neighbours. This was the beginning of the Identity vs. Pop Culture debate in Canada. Canadians needed to figure out a way to keep the airwaves playing Canadian content so that citizens had something to remind them of their heritage. They feared that American popular music would “dumb us down.”

Almost 100 years later and the debate still continues. Today the CRTC (Canadian Radio & Television Telecommunications Commission) is still placing regulations on Canadian Broadcasters in an attempt to protect Canadian culture and content.

We can go on talking about how we use Radio and Television to protect/promote our Canadian Identity and if it is really worth protecting. Better yet, we could sit and talk about - what is Canadian Identity? But, we'll save that topic for another day.

After reading Tyson’s article I was asked to take part in a survey related to the What’s the Word: Research Project. During the process I was asked to choose between a series of words and select the one I thought was appropriate. (For Example, Sean asks his friend to do him a ____________. favour or favor).

The whole survey brought me back to the thought about American Culture taking over our lives. At the root of all communication is speech and that can be perceived in any given manner, but our written words can truly define us. Maybe there is something distinctly Canadian after all…

If you would like to take part in the research project you can follow the link here. It takes about five minutes to complete and every entrant is appreciated. If there is really a need to protect our Canadian Identity – why not start with our written word?

Should or shouldn't we be word snobs?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Story of Engagement

Every once and a while you ask yourself the questions: should I? Or shouldn’t I?

In this story it begins with a keyword search on twitter. A twenty-four year old Media Studies & Public Relations Graduate was fiddling around on Twitter when he searched the term “media” only to come across @BrianSolis.

For those of you who don’t know, Brian is a self-made social media guru in Silicon Valley. I did a little research and found that he has written quite a few books about Public Relations and more recently a book about how to use social media in PR and marketing.

I began the search for his book and found that Canadian stores weren’t carrying it. So, I did the first thing that came to my head – I asked him for a copy. Yes, you read that correctly I decided to ask him for a copy. I figured what’s the worst thing that could happen – he says no or he ignores me all together? There is always the off chance that he might actually say yes.

So, I did it. I sent him a message in less than 140 characters, “student – searching for your book. Can’t seem to find a copy. Any chance you have one laying around?” I hit send and waited. Within 30 minutes I received a message asking for my mailing address saying he would send me a copy – was this legit?

As I read the book I began to understand more and more as to why he would be the type of person to send me a copy.

At the heart of Brian Solis’s newest book Engage! is the statement “Engage or Die” where we, as social media professionals, embark into an online world where genuine participation is a form of new marketing, which he titles "un-marketing".

We are addressed as the “Champions” leading the socialization of our company’s marketing and service who must also ensure that our actions are observable. Social media is the new form of communication to the masses and before we can begin to properly disseminate information we must first learn how to “speak”.

Messages are not conversations. The era of “top-down” (meaning from the top of the company to the masses) message creation is nearing it’s end and it’s time to begin meaningful conversations from the bottom up. Social media is a means, not an end. It’s about being human.

Engaging is: showing interest in what people have to say and responding accordingly.
Engaging is: developing relationships with those who care enough to mention you or your company in the first place.
Engaging is: giving people something to believe in.

Engage! has instilled within me the confidence to develop my own social media plans. It has presented me with the resources to be a social media champion.

Be warned! There is a lot of research involved. Like anything worthwhile you need to be dedicated to your cause and understand that a large amount of time will be spent researching keywords, blogs, opportunities, threats, etc. But, with the right attitude Brian Solis has convinced me that success is possible.

Our goal is to take socialization, a human element, and create the same socialization in the online world - Solis writes, “technology is facilitating the social effect and it is most certainly connecting us in ways that truly make the world a much smaller place, one where we can participate in its definition and evolutions – and also define our place within it.”

Engage! is a must read for any social media enthusiast.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How a Good Morning = a Good Day

When I was in high school I wanted to change the world. I remember in my final year I took a course titled “Peer Leadership in the Community.” It wasn’t your typical course. If you looked in our school course booklet you wouldn’t find it in there. You don’t choose the course – your “course” chooses it for you.

Now by “course” I am referring to the course of life – or in this case – your school life. Looking back at it now I think you were chosen because somewhere along the line someone thought you could make a difference. May it be a teacher or a principal – somebody thought you had the qualities of a leader.

I remember feeling as if I was part of a secret society. There were ten of us in one small classroom in the corner of the school’s cafeteria. There were no tests, no daily homework, no major assignments, no essays, or any of that sort. A lot of what we did was talk and listen to one another. We shared stories we couldn’t share with other students and teachers. For an hour each day we would sit and share – it was quite the experience.

One day we were talking about how to make someone’s day. How do you go about making someone’s day? Well, you could surely buy them something or perhaps take them out for a meal. But, what we discovered was that one of the easiest ways to make someone’s day is to say, “good morning.”

Think about it! Your walking down the street or a hallway, you see someone coming your way, you make that first bit of eye contact, you look away, they get closer, you look again, look away, they are within three feet of you, you make eye contact again, and… NOTHING. We don’t say anything. Why not look that person square in the eye and say, “good morning”? Acknowledge they are alive! Share that life inside of you!

Needless to say – I was inspired. So, what does any good student do? If any of you have watched the movie Pay it Forward you would know that students put their plans into action. With each new day I would walk down the hall, look people in the eye, and say my new favourite word, “good morning.” Do you know what people did after? They smiled.

With all this newfound success I decided to take things one-step further. With words comes feeling and the next natural progression was to reach out and touch somebody. This was how Sean and Greg’s High Five Day came into creation. The plan was simple: spread the word over the announcements, create a buzz, and revive the high-five.

We hit the airwaves and began to announce the upcoming High-Five Day. Looking back at it now I always laugh. In high school I was the Weather Man – very sexy. Each day I would walk to the main office and read the weather. I used my position to sneak on all different kinds of announcements. I’ll never forget bringing Greg (the other part of the operation) into the office to say them with me. People would ask, “who’s Greg?” To which we would respond, “The Greg from Sean and Greg's High-Five Day of course.”

The big day eventually came and it couldn’t have been a bigger success. I think Greg and I both told each other we had a couple hundred high-fives each. People we didn’t even know would cross us in the hall and we would hold up our hands and slap some skin. We had done it – we went from a good morning to a high-five and let me tell you – the smiles got bigger.

Besides me using the PA system for my own private agenda – this whole plan was a lot of fun and what effort did it take? Granted, you can’t really walk around and start high-fiving people (unless it’s National High-Five day – the third Thursday of April). But, always remember – a single good morning can help a single person toward a good day.