Leaving it behind

The “it” in this title is university, which although might sound negative, is nothing further the truth. It’s really just a reflection and Femi and Amesrecollection of the moments that made university life so frustrating and rewarding at the same time.

Not really knowing too many people at convocation (Hey Amelie!) which seemed to be common chatter for many other people made for an interesting graduation day. None of my university friends were present and I was more likely to notice the random guy in Media Industries than anything else. Furthermore, being one of three grads of the Honours Bachelor of Public Relations, and the FIRST (insert applause) from the Algonquin College to University of Ottawa side of the program, the other two were from La Cite, I was really on my own. But you come for the gown, the cheers from the family, and the poses with a piece of paper that cost way too much money.

As a graduate, the obvious unavoidable question you get repeatedly is what are you doing next. I told those who asked about things that were in the works, such as a start-up offer and an interview at a company, but mainly was thinking about the guidance I got from one of the recent books I read.

Books adding to perspective 

A small book entitled “You are Born an Original don’t die a Copy”. It provided me with a level of comfort and guidance in my approach to what’s next to come in my career.

I’ve always liked being aware of what others around me are doing, but try not to envy. This point is further expanded in the book. The book is divided into sections called “nuggets”. The title of this nugget is “If You’re Ripe With Envy You’re Ripe For Problems”. This book is full of quotable material and two of the many I like in this section are:

Some people seem to know how to live everyone’s lives but their own. Envy is the consuming desire to have everyone else a little successful than you are. Don’t measure your success by what other’s haven’t done. 


Don’t envy anybody. Every person possesses something no one else has. Develop that one thing and make it outstanding.

Self-help sounds and feels good. It’s fuzzy and gives us that warm feeling. But this was different because this type of self-help was good in the fact it already reinforced my approach, allowing me to believe in what I felt was a positive approach for myself. Everyone has a unique path and looking around at my peer group, with some people married, in long-term relationships or in South East Asia, you see this. But to reach your potential, you have to do what you do, do it well and follow that path wherever that may take you.

Toronto here I come

After spending my living and schooling years in Ottawa  it’s time to make a move to the big city. It’s funny how some people think I’m from Toronto because how much I talk and visit the city. But it’s a pure career move, as job prospect wise it makes sense. Things at the Government where I have four years experience are not looking good. As well,  I come from the camp where Ottawa and Toronto are both fabulous cities but I’ve been aiming for Toronto for a while, as there is a reason I escaped to TO as often as I did, to destroy my wallet in the process, so hopefully in time I’ll find what I’m looking for to experience more rewarding and undoubtedly, but not hopefully, frustrating times.


Hanging out at Social Capital Ottawa

This past weekend I had a great opportunity to network  while meeting some of Ottawa’s social media minds by attending Social Capital Ottawa. It was a great time.

Social Capital Ottawa, an all day social media workshop, explored through presentations, roundtable discussions, and case studies, what local PR, marketing, graphic designers, mommy bloggers and other professionals are doing in social media. My favourite part was probably the one on one conversation, since I could finally talk to those who I follow on Twitter…in real life! Unfortunately, I can’t rehash everything that was said (your attention span, not my writing ability) so I’ll just dive into 3 areas I want to highlight as my key takeaways from the conference.: the big message, the underlying message, and quotes.

The big message

Something that I gathered from all the speakers is they took action in social media to make things happen. They brought  their expertise to the conversation going on in social media and added value. Sometimes it was a success, other times it was a challenge. Whatever the case, the message is you have to be willing to take action. You can wait on the sidelines thinking about what to do or jump into the fray. For me this hits home when looking at the small things (finishing the multitude of half done blog drafts) to the big things (working on an e-book).

The underlying message

We have a large social media community in Ottawa. I guessed 200 people attending. I was off by 10, as there were 190 people who attended. In the opening keynote, when Glen Gower (@Glengower) asked the audience what social media networks are you on (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn), 99% of hands went up. This was the same when Glen asked who had a blog. Apparently we aren’t a sleepy, government town! People are writing, sharing their thoughts, and pushing change in the community. When Glen asked: “What can we do to get more people participating in social media in Ottawa?”, it made me think. We have a community that is connected online (social media networks), sharing (blogs), but this is only in this small sample of 190 people. Ottawa is over 1 million people. We can’t have success with social media just in this vacuum. There is indeed much more work to be done in the community at large.

Favourite quotes from the conference

The following is a couple of my favourite quotes I collected from the sessions:

Shannon Smith (@cafenoiredesign) on why she writes her blog:

“A blog is a toolbox of support that can be shared to the next person.”

Craig Fitzgerald (Craig_fitz) on measuring social media:

“Its all about experimentation – there is no single formula, measurement is the eyes and ears of the marketer.”

Kneale Mann (@Knealemann) on teamwork:

“Teamwork is about finding who is the strongest for a particular area, not about everyone pitching in.”

on an organizations structure:

“Lower the walls in your organizations and start to share.”

And a favourite of many who attended the conference from Stacey Diffin-Lafleur (@TheStacey) on her social media strategy:

“Proceed until apprehended.”

Getting A Little Bit Better Everyday

When watching professional sports there are a variety of feelings that one can see clearly when watching your favourite team throughout the season. They can be simplified in three categories: joy when your team wins, anger when they lose, or pride when they give it their all but come up short. One feeling, a lot subtler than those three, which I love seeing in sports is inspiration. This week I found no better example of inspiration than that from the new coach , Paul MacLean aka the man with the killer moustache , of my hometown NHL team, the Ottawa Senators.

We had a rough season in Ottawa in terms of  Senators hockey. No playoffs. At one point during the 82 game season we were the worst team in the NHL, before coming to a “positive” finish of 5th last in the league. But there’s always another season in pro sports, and with that comes change. We traded a lot of our  veteran players on the team, and fired our head coach. Insert MacLean, to take control of the team. He had this gem of a quote I picked out from his introductory press conference to the media on Tuesday:

paul maclean

“Were just going to get a little bit better each day”

Those words just stuck to me. Yes, it’s a coach saying all the right things to try and get himself acclimatized to a passionate fan base in a highly competitive league. However, it made me look in one area where I strive to get a little better in everyday: reading.


Everyday, as part of my morning routine, I read the local paper as well as the what is closest to Canada’s national daily (The Globe and Mail) to soak up what’s going on in the local/national environment. As well, I read a book on the commute into work (Malcolm Gladwell’s third book, Outliers is my book of choice right now). Throw in some investing and business reading from online websites, as well as Canadian Business magazine and I’m done in this department. When you break it down that’s a lot of reading and it keeps me learning of what’s going on around me in the world.

As well, reading is something that enhances other areas such as your comprehension skills, vocabulary, and writing one of the key skills in the PR professionals toolbox, and one I’m working hard to develop, both professionally and creatively. Not to mention it’s fun getting lost in another writer’s thoughts, which in turn is usually intellectually stimulating.  Especially on warm summer days.

What do you do to get a little better everyday?

Taking an Interest

I’ve always had good relationships with people older than me. Perhaps it’s because I’m the youngest of 4 children and I had to obey what my 3 older and stronger siblings told me, so that I wouldn’t get crushed. However, as I got older, these relationships with my siblings changed, as I matured and so that they moved from one of fear into one of mutual respect and acceptance.

This respect for my elders is something that has stayed with me today. Especially when I talk about one elder in particular who I just spent this past weekend with in Toronto. He’s much older, 60 plus (I’ve never asked him his age), tall, and loves sports. The latter is what we really share in common. Whether it be hockey games, with the Ottawa 67’s which he’s been taking me for years, or with the Toronto Blue Jays, where we checked out the Blue Jays home opening games, we always have a good time.

Now this isn’t one of those cases where my buddy, we’ll call him Sam, is taking me under his wing as his own child. He already has 4. It’s just one of those relationships that you wish everyone could have, an older friend that you share a lot in common with and enjoy chilling with.

Sam is basically my adopted dad. My parents joke all the time about him in that way. Although I already have a great father, having what amounts to almost a second one is pretty cool.

Sam has a lot of great qualities. The quality about him I appreciate probably the most is that he’s straight to the point. He’ll offer to take me to  hockey games, and if I say no, no big deal. He accepts it and moves on. Not like some of my friends my age who keep pestering me to do things I’m just not feeling at the moment.

Another trait about Sam is he likes to talk. So do I. We can talk about the Blue Jays, 67s, or the Senators, whether it’s on the phone or in person for quite some time. Unfourtunatly, the talk on the Ottawa sports scene for Sam and I has been dull, since the Senators have been long out of the playoffs and the 67s got recently swept in the 1st round. Go Blue Jays!

Finally, Sam is really cool. He just gets it. Although much older than me, he gives me my space and understands as our relationships has grown, I may not want to do the same things today as much as I did in the past. That means less 67s games. However, road trips (which I have always loved, did a road trip to Orlando a few years back) to see the Blue Jays and friends have replaced that. In my opinion, that is a sign of a good relationship. Even if it evolves to where maybe you aren’t doing the same things as before, you still make time to hang out in some capacity.

So who is the Sam in your life? It’s always nice when someone outside your family, peers, or girlfriend/boyfriend takes an interest in you. The more friends the merrier I think.  Especially if you’re me and sports is your thing. Because after all the fun of last weekends games, me and Sam are already gearing up for when the next Blue Jays trip is. I think in July maybe? The New York Yankees are in town…