Wednesday, 6 July 2016

I Can't Spell & 11 Other Little Known Facts That You Probably Don't Care About

I no longer blog here so thought I'd end at the beginning - below is the first blog post i ever wrote (edited for 2016).

Ok, so by way of introduction, some bits and pieces about me:

1. I can't spell. I used to rationalize to myself that there were many really smart people who also can't spell. I tried to find them in Google but apparently they don't exist.

2. I bought a CD player about 2 years after everyone else I knew had one. I was hoping that digital tapes would win.

3. I write fiction. I am still in the middle of writing my first novel, ‘Lessons in Breathing Underwater’. I am on page 77. (update - this is now a screenplay and completed)

4. I have a really smart and beautiful daughter who i'll call CeeCee. She finished her first novel at sixteen. She is now twenty, second year at U of T,  a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, does Krav Maga and starred in this music video Keys n Krate.

5. I was the first employee of a company called ‘Telepersonals’ where my brother did the original computer programming. It's now called Lavalife.

6. I get really really mad about customer service issues. I once got about fifty of my friends to email Jeff Bezos when Amazon refused refund me $10 for a digital download that was broken. I got my money back. 

7. Legend has it that my cousin Victor, an aerospace engineer, invented the process for turning urine into water in space. I know right?

8.  My brother Jeffrey who lived in Phnom Pen was a Cambodian national golf champion. However, he was not allowed to regain his title the next year because they made a law that foreigners couldn’t enter. He retired as champion. He helped me play my first game in Jan 2016. It was way more fun than i thought it would be. 

9.  My sister Susan was on the Nation Team of Canada for Rhythmic Gymnastics (which I thought was a silly sport myself but still) and ended up on a date with a famous Prince.

10.  I was in the North York Mirror next to our illustrious mayor at the time, Mel Lastman (the non-crack smoking Mayor), as part of the North York Aquatic Clubs big yearly fundraiser (green with envy aren’t ya?).

11.  I helped my Dad (who was an OB/GYN and died about four years ago) write a blog about urinary incontinence  The Bladder Control Blog . Some great reading in there so please, enjoy and don't forget to share on social.

12. I was named 4th on a list of the top 100 women entrepreneurs. While an honour, all that really happened is I had to explain to everyone who knows me, why my press photo had an expression on my face that apparently never existed before or after that exact moment.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Taking a Blogging Break

I've been blogging off and on here since 2006. I've loved the discipline of the writing process but the truth is these days, I put all of my business writing acumen into Gravity and my personal writing into my various unfinished fiction projects. What this means is that there isn't a lot of time left over for here.  So I've decided to take a break from blog writing, at least for now.

For now, I'll leave everyone with my two slideshares that probably best summarize the way that I see the world when it comes to network communications.

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Cause of Ovarian Cancer Chose Me

As many of you know, I've been part of creating and supporting an Ovarian Cancer Awareness initiative called It's Time To Shout.

At the time when i had  reached out to Elana & Mark (Waldman) I hadn't really been touched by cancer.  But since that time, my uncle died of esophageal cancer and my father died of Pancreatic cancer.

Most importantly, we found out that my family has what is sometimes known as the "Jewish Cancer Gene" BRCA .  (note: There is an increased rate of BRCA in the Ashkenazi Jewish community of 1 in 40, vs. 1 in 250 in the general Caucasian population)

It's funny.  I worked on It's Time To Shout for over a year.  I have hours of video of Elana and a hundred conversations talking about her diagnosis, BRCA in her family etc. and it never occurred to me even for a second that BRCA ran in my family.   So when my sister mentioned to me a study of Jewish women in Toronto where we would be tested, I thought, well, sure, it will give the study more data, probably a good thing to do but again, NEVER OCCURRED TO ME FOR A SECOND THAT WE HAD IT.

And then the results phone call.

Genetics Councellor:  " Just calling to tell you that you DO NOT have BRCA."
Me:  " Ok great. thanks" (i mean exactly what i expected right?)
Genetics Councellor:  "Have you talked to your sister yet?"
Me: "No.  Why?  Why would i need to talk to my sister?" (me...panic)

So i did end up talking to her --  and I (unfortunately) burst into tears when she told me she had BRCA II.  Everyone in my family has now been given the choice to be tested (or not) with results that they choose to keep private and I won't discuss here.

When I told Elana she said to me,

"Sometimes you don't choose things, they choose you"

And clearly It's Time To Shout chose me.

I tell this story (with my sister's permission)  to ask everyone to help bring attention to Ovarian Cancer awareness in any and all forms.  From our site to this infographic to of course Elana's own powerful story.

And that's what I'm going to leave everyone with.

Spread the word and maybe, save a life.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Business Lessons From Motherhood

Being a mother is my greatest challenge and my most brilliant accomplishment.  And I’ve learned a lot that I use in business.  Here are just a few of those business lessons from motherhood. 

How to function without sleep – probably the first thing every mother learns and let’s face it, it can be essential to running a successful business.

Patience:   I once waited almost an hour for my daughter to stop screaming in a Park when she was having a major tantrum.  Maybe this just pertains to businesses with creative people, but patience is something you can’t succeed in my business without. 

Creativity:  Finding solutions to simple problems seems to be a Mother’s main function.  You are in the middle of nowhere and they suddenly have to go Potty.  It’s been raining all week at the cottage and you have to keep them entertained.  Business is all about having new challenges being thrown at you and finding new ways to make them work for you vs. against you – much like being a mother.

Focus:  “Mama play that song from Adele again!”  Repeated at the top of his lungs about a hundred times while I’m trying to do a significantly challenging driving move.  Yep, kids absolutely teach you focus amidst chaos. 

Negotiating skills:  My two kids are like the most hard core negotiators I’ve ever met.  They make my head spin.  If anyone thinks I’m a decent negotiator, the only reason I don’t suck, is what I’ve learned from my two pros at home.

Helplessness:  Sometimes there is nothing that can be done.  They are getting bullied at school.  They have to get through the process of learning how to get comfortable with daycare.  Their sad little eyes are enough to break your heart and yet you learn, some times there is nothing one can do.  Sometimes things just are.  Business lesson?  Absolutely. 

Dinosaurs:  Well not just dinosaurs, Thomas the tank engine, ancient Greece, everything I’ve never wanted to know about bugs, and some disparate things about science, social networks, cell phones, how a 18 month year old learns to experience an ipad and what makes 16 year old girls tick.  Understanding strange facts and the process of watching two different generations of children grow up has made me a better marketer and businessperson. 

Perspective:   Business can be stressful.  Things happen you can’t control.  You feel the pressure of ensuring your staff and your business succeed on a daily basis.  But it doesn’t always happen.  You fail.  You aren’t as good as you’d like to be and it can feel like everything is coming apart at the seams.  You go home.  Your son or daughter says, let’s go to the park and make a sand castle.  And you do.  There is nothing like sand castles at the park to let you know that it really doesn’t matter and it will all be ok.  Perspective is everything and they give it to me every day. 

Final Note:  As I was finishing this up, my 3 year old son has come into my room and wants me to be done and play Thomas with him -- couldn't think of a more perfect way to end this post and start my day :)

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Competitive Advantage Of Letting Your Employees Leave at 5:30

I am and have always been a working mother. When I had my first job at a communications company I felt how many do. You have to give a 1000% and never wanted the fact that I had an 18 month yr old child to affect the perception of how hard i worked. To the point that while in the middle of a very stressful week with a client, as a co-ordinator, i was told that even though my daughter had a fever i was not allowed to go home (my only choice was to bring her in and put her on a mattress in a spare office - and by the way, i'm not kidding).

As you move up in your career you get braver. You realize that how much you work or when you work isn't and shouldn't be the marker of what makes you great at what you do.

It's why i love this article with Sheryl Sandberg about how she leaves every day at 5:30 to be with her kids but makes sure people see she is the last and first to email.

And it's funny bc my business partner and I had that exact conversation the other day. He said he likes to be the first in and the last out of the office -- and I laughed and said i like to be the last to email to which he laughed.

What does this all have to do with competitive advantage? The truth is, we all have different lives and different situations. Being flexible enough to allow people to live their lives well will make them not only want to work with you and more importantly on behalf of your brand.

In a market place where who you recruit and retain can make the difference between being just good or absolutely brilliant, it's time to rethink our traditional lenses and understand the competitive advantage of a truly flexible workplace.

(h/t to Katherine Emberly for the Sandberg article)

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Innovate By Focusing In On What Makes You Great

Always innovating is a tough game. RIM more then anyone has had a tough go of it recently. Jon Evans has a piece in Techcrunch today that I really relate to. If you are from Canada, it's hard not to want to see RIM turn themselves around. There are a tonne of smart people at that company and they simply transformed the technology market place here at home.

But evans isn't optimistic. He talks about the inevitable demise of RIM. He thinks it's one of ability. They don't have the product development prowess of a Google or Apple in his mind and never will.

I just don't buy that.

I have friends who have gone to work for Google - they'd probably come and work for RIM. I know a huge amount of smart product people working in startups all over Canada -- they'd go work for RIM. Facebook bought Parakey -- many people say only to get Blake Ross as part of their team.

Ironically i wrote about RIM in the context of a post back in 2009, reinvent or die. Might be good to read that one again.

But reinvention won't happen by focusing on the competition. There is no light at the end of the "trying to be like Apple or Google tunnel".

Moreover, RIM definitely shouldn't waste its time focussing on why people AREN'T buying their products -- they need to start reframing their challenge by looking towards how to unlock their incredible potential just like Hermes did.

So my advice?

Innovate by focusing in on your amazing strengths and what has made you great.

And if this helps at all, just remember you still have an army of brand advocates sitting here waiting for you to succeed.

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