Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Computers for Communities is looking for a volunteer Director of Communications

C4C Computer Lab at Draffin House
For over two years, I have volunteered my time with Computers for Communities (C4C).  C4C is an entirely volunteer run non-profit that helps Ottawa-area people get access to technology. The most visible work that C4C does is refurbishing computers and donate them back into the community.  What's different about C4C than other organizations doing similar work is that with C4C, people can earn computers through volunteering and the fact that C4C supports open-source software. 

I learned about C4C when I first moved back to Ottawa and was interested in volunteering for an organization that helped people in Ottawa and was involved in technology.  Now, I sit on their board of directors and volunteer my time as their Partnership Director. 

C4C is currently looking for somebody to volunteer as Director of Communications.  We have an enthusiastic team of communications volunteers but we're at the point where we need somebody to lead the team to help tell the C4C story.  Here's a good idea of what would be involved:

  1. Develop, manage and review the organization communication plan annually
  2. Ensure all communication milestones are achieved
  3. Work with and support the team lead of the communications team
  4. Ensure volunteers are appropriately trained and oriented
  5. Monitor all communications channels to ensure consistent messaging

Personally, I think that C4C has a great story to tell and we've had lots of success in the past few years... we just need somebody to help us shape and share that story as far and wide as possible so that we can take the organization to the next level.  

This would be a perfect opportunity for somebody who is looking to develop their communications skills and experience while helping their community.  

If you're interested, you can contact me and I'll be happy to help answer any questions.

Friday, September 21, 2012

I'm back!

Rainbow over Molokai, Hawaii at sunrise 

After one of the busiest summers on record, I'm glad to report that I'm officially back to reality.  I wouldn't recommend to anyone that you move into a new house and get married within a two-month period but I'm really looking forward to the next chapter in my life.

Summer is usually a slow time for the IABC Ottawa podcast The Voice, but this summer was full of interesting developments.  We started being syndicated nationally through other IABC chapters (and soon to be internationally) and booked some amazing guests.  The highlight being a three-part series on the future of news media and communications that started with my interview of Alan Neal and finished with Graham Machacek's discussions with Kevin Newman and TVO's Steve Paikin.

Guests coming soon include Terry O'Reilly and Mitch Joel... so if you're aren't subscribed, now is the perfect time!  Here's The Voice podcast RSS feed.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Sorry, not much going on here in terms of blog posts.

I'm busy moving into a new house and getting married in a few months so you won't hear from me for a while. 

I do have a bunch of podcast episodes coming up for IABC, you can listen or subscribe here

I hope you are having a great summer!


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Do you read annual reports?

I was listening to this episode of Marketing Over Coffee today and realized that I should probably write a post about how I often read annual reports for companies I am interested in or firms that operate in industries closely related to those of my employer into order to gather macro-level insight into where things are going and why.

In this week's MOC, Christopher Penn references a recent episode of Kitchen Table Companies where at the 50 min mark he talks about combing SEC S-1 filings for public companies and gleaming all kinds of great information from them.  They are often long and dry but there's gold in them if you take the time to look.  Here's an S-1 filing from Salesforce.  Specifically, check out the section about their business

Chris also mentions quarterly analyst phone calls and I often read transcripts of those as well, here's one for Motorola.  

These sources of information are invaluable to anyone looking for insight about the competition, your industry or a company you could be interviewing for.  I highly recommend you listen to MOC and the episode of KTC with Chris to learn more. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

How more competition can increase sales

Interesting comments here on Fast Company from Roku CEO about competing Apple TV. Roku makes the Roku Box, a piece of Internet-connected hardware that will turn your TV into a Smart TV so that you can stream web content and run apps.

Roku outsells Apple TV right now in the USA but understandably, everyone is waiting for Apple to jump into Smart TV in a big way soon with the release of a Apple-branded TV set, most likely in the form of an Apple HDTV that runs iOS.  It will probably be expensive but it also has the potential to set the Smart TV market on fire.

You'd think Roku was scared but they aren't and here's why: Smart TVs or Internet-connected TVs are still a relatively new product category.  When you are competing in a relatively new product category, competition (especially from big brands with lots of recognition) helps raise category awareness - big time.

As the Roku CEO says, "sales doubled with Apple released the Apple TV". 

Next time you're scared by the entrance of a major brand in your category, think of it as a opportunity and not a threat.  

Image credit: robertnelson

Friday, March 9, 2012

How to Network When You're Shy

I am hosting a networking skills workshop on Monday for The Community Cup here in Ottawa and so I thought I would share a few of my thoughts on how you can be an effective at networker despite being a shy person. 

Most people who know me believe that I'm a extrovert and that might be true to some extent but I have always felt that I am really a shy person that simply learned how to overcome it.  I learned how to confront my shyness and overcome it by developing skills and a system that worked for me yet I still find myself sweating before I walk into an event.  Here's how I have learned to network despite being a shy person. 

Prepare Yourself: Take the time in advance of any networking to really work on how you describe yourself and your experience.  Practice out loud and even spend time recording yourself.  Listen back to your recordings and figure out the best words and combinations of words that make your description pop.  Having the words handy to introduce and describe yourself gives you the confidence you are going to need to talk to people.  

Research: I could write a whole post on this alone but use Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to learn more about the people and companies you want to meet.   Here's a little nugget for you: do some work to find out who is going in advance to an event and arrive with some idea of the people you might want to talk to.  This has never been easier because events often use online registration tools (like EventBrite or Meetup.com) that generate a list of attendees and people often tweet about an event they are going to. Spend a few minutes looking around or even ask the organizer if you can get a list of attendees before you go.  Doing some research will help you be familiar with people BEFORE you meet them. 

Be Active on Social Platforms:  This might not work for everyone and apply to all communities but based on my experience, one of easier ways to get over being shy and doing network is to be active on social platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.  For Twitter, make sure your username is your real name and your picture looks like you (this isn't Plenty Of Fish, you want people to recognize you easily not think you're hot).  If there is an event hashtag, watch for it and participate in advance.  If you did your research, retweet people going to the event and get on their radar.  For LinkedIn, see if there is a group around the event and participate in the discussion.  The goal here is to have people come up to you at the event and introduce themselves to you.  Trust me, this actually happens and it works.  I can't tell you how many times I've walked into an event sweating with nervousness and somebody has come up to me to introduce themselves.  If you are able to get really good at doing this, you have won the war before the battle even starts. 

Start and Screw Up Early: Would you rather have a bad interaction with John Doe or Bill Gates?  Make your mistakes early and with the "little fish" because, trust me, you're going to make some mistakes and it's easier and less costly if you make those mistakes early so you can learn from them and that you don't do it with CEO's or other power players at a time when it could really hurt you.  When I was doing my MBA, I did informational interviews with recent grads and I screwed up a few of them.  I also went as many networking functions as I could (even if they weren't the best events) so that I could get some practice.  If you start your networking practice early then you'll be rocking when it really counts.  I have heard that it takes up to 150 connections to make one quality connection so the sooner you meet more people, the more likely you are to make important connections. 

Set Goals for Events: Before you go to an event, set a few goals for yourself like meeting three new people and helping to connect two people.  Having goals like this will help you focus your energy and avoid being stuck in a corner the whole time.  This was a big part of my success in networking because it pushed me to get over any initial reservations or shyness.  After a few months of events, you get used to the cadence of networking and it becomes much more natural. 

Get Over Yourself: Sure, your ultimate goal is to sell yourself but people love to talk about themselves so the best way to get to know somebody and get comfortable is to ask them a bunch of great questions about themselves.  The best way to start a conversation is to ask somebody about what they do.  I always know I'm doing this right when the other person asks me "so tell me about yourself" because it means I'm not blabbing on about things that I'm doing. 

Bonus: Watch the booze.  If you're shy, you might be tempted to have a few drinks to loosen yourself up but there is a really fine line between having a drink and having too many drinks and it's easy to cross it if you're nervous.  I will say that there are some less formal events that I go to in the tech/startup community where people are drinking.  People in these communities work hard, know each other personally and often get together at events to blow off steam, celebrate success and see friends.  However I believe that only an experienced networker is sharp enough to know when they are at these types of events so I recommend you stay off the sauce until you're good enough to know when the time is right. 

Photo credit: Grant Wickes

Thursday, March 1, 2012

New IABC Ottawa Podcast: Does your organization have a proper content strategy?

My latest podcast has been posted for IABC Ottawa.  This episode talks about content strategy and my guest is Kristina Mausser from Digital Word

I wanted to talk about content strategy not only because it's a really important topic in 2012 but because I think there are a number of concepts and elements of content strategy that marketers and communicators don't really understand.  We often hear about something and we keep hearing about it but we never take the time to think about it strategically.  I saw this episode as an opportunity to pause and do exactly that.

I did a few things differently for this episode.  This was the first time I recorded the podcast with with a live guest in the MediaStyle studio.  Every other episode that I did was over Skype and I found it very helpful to have my guest in the same room as me so it was very much like a conversation because the MediaStyle studio is really comfortable.  You may have an image of a radio type studio but the studio is actually a room with comfortable chairs and we are wearing microphones on our lapels.  

It was also the first time I had a more detailed script with me.  In the past, I had notes on who my guest was and what questions I wanted to ask but I found that when I listened back to my recordings, that the intro and outro could have been more polished.  I have to thank Bob Knorpp, host of The Beancast (marketing and advertising podcast) for the advice on having a more detailed script.  I have always admired how smooth and polished his podcast sounds without sounding overly scripted, which is actually my goal in terms of being a podcast host. 

Enjoy the episode and let me know what you think.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New IABC Podcast Up: Email Marketing

I started my "marketing career" working at an email service provider (a company that sends emails for marketers) and so it was great to be able to come back to email marketing in my latest episode of IABC Ottawa's podcast "The Voice".   Listen and learn more here

I wanted to talk about email marketing because I don't feel that it gets enough love.  Back in 2000, it was all the rage and was very much the "you gotta be doing it" marketing tactic so business was good for anyone in the email marketing field.  I used to help my clients be better email marketers and in doing so, developed and published many of the best practices still being used today.

Over the years, those best practices seemed to become written in stone and I was really enjoying DJ Waldow's recent thinking on how we should look to break those rules so I decided to invite him onto The Voice (the podcast, not the TV show) to talk about the relevancy of email in 2012 (it's as relevant as ever) and how to break the rules to get better. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

3 Ottawa BBQ Places in 1 Day

Ottawa is lucky to have at least four authentic BBQ restaurants in the area:  D&S Southern BBQ on Russell Road in Carlsbad Springs, Fatboys Southern Smokehouse on Murray Street and The Smoque Shack on York Street.  There is also a new place on Bank Street in the Glebe, Annie and Clyde's Southern BBQ

As my fiance was spending Saturday with her bridesmaids getting their dresses sorted out, I decided to grab a few buddies and see if I could visit D&S, Fatboys and Smoque in the same day.  It turned out to be quite the adventure.  Each BBQ place is different and if you know BBQ, then you know there are many different preparation methods, sauces and rubs that go into BBQ, making it a very personal thing.  If you're not sure which one you'd like to visit, do what I did - visit them all. 

D&S Southern BBQ 

D&S brisket
D&S is about 20 minutes East of Ottawa but it's not that hard to find.  Get off the 417 by making a left on Boundary road and follow it until you get to the junction with Russell Road and you'll see it.  They have ample parking for cars and snowmobiles.

The restaurant is large with lots of comfortable seating for families and so I'd say that D&S is really the best option for people with family because the combination of parking and seating make it perfect for people with children who can't afford to spend the time it takes to get the minivan parked downtown.  If you are bringing kids, be sure to have something to occupy them as our food did a bit of time to arrive.  But hey, if you want fast food, go to McDonald's. 

The food at D&S is really good.  Everything is big. They even have a 5.5 pound "burger" called "The Determinator".  If you eat it in 1 hour, you'll get yourself on the D&S Wall of Fame.  We had brisket, pulled pork, ribs and wings with sides of coleslaw and cornbread.

The brisket was really good.  The sauce you can see on it in the picture was really tasty.  They slice their brisket thinly and there is a nice layer of fat (flavor) on it.  The pulled pork was sweet and juicy and the ribs were tasty and tender.  Now, some people will say that D&S' ribs aren't fall of the bone and that's the way they designed them but that doesn't mean they aren't tender.  The cornbread was amazing.  It's not as "mealy" as other places, more like a muffin but still, it was really good and worth ordering for sure.

Fatboys Southern Smokehouse

Located on Murray Street near Sussex you'll find Fatboys Southern Smokehouse.  I should start by saying that I went to Fatboys on the day that it opened wasn't overly impressed.  The brisket was dry, the ribs were small and the sides were dry and unimpressive. Here's Ottawa Citizen restaurant reviewer Ron Eade's thoughts on Fatboys at opening. 

Fatboys brisket and cornbread
I was pleasantly surprised to find out upon my most recent visit that they fixed all of these issues, and then some.  The brisket was nice and thick with a huge layer of fat on the top, the ribs were juicy and tender and the sides were really good.  They also have amazing little cornbread bites that are addictive.  One my buddies said the ribs were the best he'd had since The Salt Lick in Austin Texas.  That's high praise for sure.  Fatboys also has amazing sauces and if our server wasn't 6'5'' and over 300 pounds, I would have stolen some as the store won't be up and running until the Spring. 

Fatboys is a large open space with plenty of TV's, tables and beer paraphernalia.  The decor and the details are really impressive and you can see that they spared no expense renovating the space that used to be a flower shop.  Fatboys is the place you go with a group of friends to drink beers and have fun watching some sports or, if you're there on Friday or Saturday nights, the live music.

The Smoque Shack

The final stop on our tour was The Smoque Shack.  It's on York Street, East of Dalhousie.  I have been to Smoque a few times before and I knew it was good so it served as my "safe bet" for a place I knew we'd love.  If D&S is a place for families and Fatboys is a place to party, Smoque is a place for those of you who are serious about food.

Warren Sutherland who used to be at Sweetgrass knows his way around a kitchen and despite being a super nice guy (he had seen that we were touring BBQ places on Twitter before we arrived) he cooks up some mean BBQ in his smoker.
You guessed it.... brisket at Smoque Shack

The first thing you need to know is that anything jerk at Smoque is off-the-charts good.   We had jerk wings and jerk pork, both of which were simply amazing.  Of course, I had brisket and it was also really good.  Smoque does brisket a little different than everyone else.  First, they chop it up and then they finish it off with a coffee BBQ sauce.  The best part is the small bits of burnt crust (called bark in BBQ circles) are to die for.

Smoque has an atmosphere that is a mix of traditional and modern and the bar is stocked with amazing local microbrews.  Many thanks for the bartender for pointing us towards Mill Street's seasonal 9% Belgian hopfest that is called Beetlegeuse.  


Eating BBQ is fun and we had a great time visiting each of these establishments.  Ottawa is in a great place right now.  There's an epic battle going on for our BBQ hearts and minds and we are ultimate winners.  Even mediocre authentic BBQ is better than what you'll get at the large franchises so I would encourage you to get out and try these places.

Just do me one favour - don't complain about the lack of place ware to your server.  BBQ is a contact sport and so it's not about forks or plates.  In fact, I prefer mine without either of those things.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My First IABC Ottawa Podcast Episode is Up!

It's been a busy 2012 so far for me and I'm really happy to announce that the first episode of IABC Ottawa's podcast "The Voice" that I am hosting has been posted on the IABC website

I have always been a fan of podcasts and listen to upwards of 5 to 10 of them a week, so it was a no-brainer when IABC Ottawa asked me to take over co-hosting duties from Jud Rasmussen who didn't have time to give it the attention it deserved.  Jud is a close family friend of mine and I wanted to make sure that I tried to keep up the amazing quality he established over the past year. 

For my first episode, I decided to talk about Peer to Peer Marketing with my buddy Jackson Wightman.  

Give it a listen and let me know what you think.