Archives For MH3

North-South Runner

MH3 —  June 21, 2017 — Leave a comment

The football expression to run “north-south” may sound odd to those who aren’t familiar with gridiron nomenclature, but it’s timeless and it’s invaluable advice.

The expression is used to coach running backs. The idea is simple. Once the back reaches the designated hole or zone to run, they should stop running side to side, aka east or west, and head north. Why we say North-South I don’t really know. Maybe it’s a more rhythmic comment. That doesn’t mean a runner can’t cut back or make moves but in general, you want them gaining yards, not running sideways for no gain or worse a loss.

It’s a hard thing to teach and great players have it instinctively. The best runners are wired to gain yardage by heading north-south. They understand that three yards upfield is better than two yards lost. They know that to get to pay dirt they need to point their compass north as soon as possible. They understand that despite the counterintuitiveness of running towards their opponent, that the sure swat way to success is through your opponent.

Yesterday I joined NFL Canada, and some of their major partners as they did a little north-south running of their own for the 2017 Sponsor Summit. To shake things up the event was held at NFL headquarters in New York, which afforded us a fantastic line-up of expert speakers from the NFL office staff. In effect, some of the best sports marketing coaching on the continent!

NFL Headquarters

NFL Headquarters


NFL Headquarters

The clichés between sport and business are some of the most overworked writings in literature, but when sport and business intertwine they take on new meaning. So, at risk of you penalizing me, I am going to share a thought from the day that will stay with me for a while. It might perhaps provide the goal line required for being a north-south runner.

When sport and business collide, through sponsorships, licensing, media partnerships, or joint ventures, a mutually beneficial relationship is created. It is not a one-way relationship. Both parties, or all parties I should say, have a vested interest in both the sport being successful and the business being successful. In simple math, the more football, rugby, or soccer fans that exist in a market, the better it is for the governing bodies, teams and leagues, and the better it is for partners and sponsors. The exchange of rights and funding is the transactional part of the relationship, but the mission of the relationship is much more important. The long-term sustainability of the relationship is directly tied to the growth of the sport.

The growth of any sport, such as football, is the payday for all its constituents. A football in the hands of an eight-year-old girl or boy is good for everyone in football. A football jersey on the back of a millennial, or mom, or media celebrity is as good for the NFL, as it is the CFL, as it is Budweiser, as it is Mount Allison University. The Argos open their second season at BMO this week and their success is as important to the football industry as my Toronto Jets game against the Guelph Jr. Gryphons on Saturday.

Toronto Argos Tailgate Party

Toronto Argos Tailgate Party

Toronto Jets

Toronto Jets

Sport and business are at their best when they learn how to work together. There was a lot of conversation yesterday about insights, planning cycles, shared learnings, and partnerships. Sport and business are great teammates when they pursue lofty, ambitious goals together. When they create a powerful sense of shared mission. When they recognize that a team is built slowly, purposefully, and painfully.

Getting to 345 Park Avenue (NFL HQ) was a bucket list moment for me. No, not because I played the board game as a kid. In the lobby is a display of every Super Bowl champion ring ever produced. There is no jewellery store in the world that can compare. These rings aren’t bling. They are the result of sticking your nose to your opponent, whether that be your daily task list or a tough sales call or a creative challenge, and not stopping until you get to the end zone for a touchdown.

Run North-South!

PS. I am so glad the NFL is loosening the rules on touchdown celebrations last year. Few images were more striking to me than last season when Zeke Elliott jumped in the Salvation Army kettle.

Zeke Elliott in the Salvation Army kettle

Joy Inc.

MH3 —  June 6, 2017 — Leave a comment

I just finished an awesome book.

Credit for my hearing about it goes to an Ohio U MBA-MSA student I had in a recent workshop who was fortunate enough to be mentored by the author and his co-founder. As passionate as I am about entrepreneurship, the book intrigued me. Its title? Did you read my blog title? I borrowed it from their book.

The subtitle of the book, How We Built a Workplace People Love, is both accurate and misleading. There is no question that people love working at Menlo Innovations, his software company, according to the author. In fact, I suspect Thomas Edison himself would have loved working there. The book, however, is about more than love or Joy. It’s about an entrepreneur’s journey to build a workplace that he feels makes sense.

The stories about the sheer stupidity that culturally existed at many of his jobs sent shivers down my spine. It caused me to question how many times I have been that shortsighted with my teams. One of the shortcomings of most workplaces it represents is how invaluable we allow team members to become because nobody else understands how to do what they do. Inevitably, this backfires as the super important team member gets frustrated by the lack of internal mobility and leaves the company for new challenges. I know I have done that in my tenure as a business owner. Not intentionally.

You can hear the frustration in Sheridan’s voice and pen about companies he served that didn’t understand the ongoing museum of resources. How urgent projects constantly interrupted best laid plans. How fire after fire messed up any chance for work to be purposely throughout out. How fixing things becomes the norm versus the energy to build things. Sound familiar?

One of the most unique aspects of Menlo Innovations is the way every person is twinned. On every project. Every day. Two people work together, for a week. On one computer. They Ying, they yang. They sing, they sang. Then after a week, they split up and twin with somebody else. Menlo has proven that two heads are better than one and by standardizing their approach to software they can move people from project to project with no glitches. Many people don’t believe it, until the try it. Think about pairing everybody in your organization up. Would it work?

Another feature of the Menlo culture is safety. Not from falling beams or air pollution. No. The safety that exists in Menlo is the opportunity to be honest and candid about project estimating. Teams can freely express how long projects will take, without retribution from bosses. In fact, the role of the bosses is to educate the clients to understand why tasks take the time they do to be done right. By infusing a lack of fear in the organization, there is no fudging of time estimates to buy time. Project managers make the most accurate assessments they can and if they off, the conversation is focused on adjusting the schedule, not punishment. This process is widely enabled because all clients must participate in a resource planning exercise with Menlo throughout the project build. Using index cards and markers, the broader project team works together to prioritize what needs to be done and when. Safe to say I am envious of their ability to bring this to reality with their clients.

Midway through Joy Inc., I almost stopped reading it. Sometimes the author gets a bit preachy, sometimes a bit corny, often not super strategic, and a few times almost unbelievable. But I was glad I plotted through it. Candidly, the book isn’t just about Joy. It’s about taking the absurdity out of how many of us work.

Sunday morning I was riding a school bus.

Yellow on the outside, with plastic seats on the inside. Filled with thirty nervous adolescents and a few tense coaches. Friendly driver with sweat stained souvenir Blue Jays hat.

An hour bounce along the highway ahead of me. Opening game of my Bantam football team that I coach.

As we shuffled up the highway it was all I could do to mask my nerves. Small talk, a few quips. Several shouts to tell my players to either sit down or stop screeching. The irony of me screaming at kids to stop screaming was somehow lost on me.

Coaching youth sports is not supposed to be about winning. It’s supposed to be about life lessons, role modelling, growth, and development. The bloggers, script writers, and propagandists like myself endlessly espouse it’s virtues.

Easy to understand principles and all, in most normal situations. Except the one I found myself in on Sunday. My team headed to play the team that had popped us by a ruthless 84-14 tally last season. Sorry, did I mention this was football and not basketball?

Somehow, at the time, the score didn’t seem all that bad. Perhaps our 72-12 opening season loss conditioned us for taking a pummelling. Perhaps it was because we had lost our third game 53-0.

But as we headed for our 2017 opener against the same inflicted, it felt a lot worse. I could see it in the eyes of my 13 & 14 year old players. They had been humiliated last year, they knew it, and they feared it happening again.

That loss was by a score I have never suffered in some twenty-three years and now thirty odd teams of volunteer coaching. It made me ponder. Why did the other coach not stop the onslaught?

I’ve never had the chance to score 84 points on someone in a football game. I hope I never will. I am not one to harp about sports justice, but what can possibly be achieved by lapping your opponent six times!!!!!!

You can probably forgive my edginess. I wasn’t worried about losing, I just didn’t want my kids to be humiliated, again. I told them pregame my request for them was to be GAMERS.

Don’t give me that puzzled look, like they did, I always want to strive to win. But in order to win the game, you have to put yourself in a position to be in the game. Focus on keeping yourselves in the game first, I asked, and then worry about the final outcome later.

At first it was clear they hadn’t listened. Or maybe they had listened but hadn’t heard. Perhaps I was the one who wasn’t listening, to their nerves, to their anxiety, to their tension.

We went out and got a first down. Hurrah. Maybe more to come?

We then got a few more yards. Then missed an easy catch. Then had to make a fourth down decision.

To make it a game I felt the need to strike. So I went for it. One of our rookies, in his first game of football ever in his whole entire life, scored a beautiful, improbable, broken tackle, sixty-yard plus touchdown.

But a flag hit the ground before he hit paydirt. The frustration erupted from my mouth before the referees arms went in the air. It was a stupid penalty that didn’t help the kid score, but triggered the beginning of the end.

Touchdown wiped away, we were forced to punt. The elation had turned to dread and I sensed we may be headed down Humiliation Boulevard again. So did the enemy as they confidently jogged to the line of scrimmage and looked over our dispirited defense.

Less than twenty seconds later we were down 6-0. All it took was one play. One hand-off to their star running back, who indeed had a beard covering his young face, intimidating Samson-like hair down his back, and a body that ran past every one of our players who missed their faux attempts to stop him from scoring.

I tried to restrain myself, but didn’t have it in me. I lit a fire on everybody within breathing distance of my dragon’s tongue: players, my fellow volunteer coaches, surprisingly not the refs, but most definitely the grass field, the weather, my horoscope, two kids I went to Grade 3 with, my choice of shirt, and my number one target of all time – Mh3. My tirade was highly effective at ensuring we only played more poorly and it was not surprising that our opponent quickly scored again.

The electronic scoreboard predicted our fate. Down 12-0. Only 72 more points to go and the Vegas line would have been met, to the merriment of the many bettors watching this tweenage tussle. The yellow bus suddenly seemed like an oasis I could only hope to reach.

However I have forgotten an important part of this story. I have forgotten the long winter of preparation this team had put in. Many of our players attended indoor camps each week, recruited their friends to join the team, lost weight, got stronger, grew taller, and promised themselves they wouldn’t be humiliated this season.

Indeed our kids are gamers. Gamely they fought back and gamely they turned the tide and gamely they succeeded in stopping the other team’s drives. When they weren’t on the field they were gathering with each other for impromptu pep talks, strategy sessions, and because they aren’t as football obsessed as me – a few silly jokes.

It was still 12-0 at halftime. But you know what? It was a game.

In the second half they did as the coaches asked them. It was a simple request. Win every play, one at a time, and the game result will take care of itself.

With less than two minutes to go our quarterback sneaked the ball thirty-six inches to paydirt. The score was 14-12 for us. Boy, what a game.

Still I questioned my strategy. Had I left too much time on the clock for our opponent to notch a Bradyesque like comeback? This wasn’t the time to second guess a decision already made, but that’s me.

We had to kickoff and hope to contain their star player who stared down our kicker from forty yards away, steeled in the knowledge that his coach had designed a return play for him to run for glory. Our kicker was instructed to defy their plan with a target away from their stud. But that guaranteed us nothing.

It was a perfect kick but unfortunately still landed in the hands of one of their fleet receivers. He gathered up the ball and a head of steam as he raced forward for five yards, ten yards, twenty yards, a crease to our end zone emerging in front of him, before one of our most passionate players flew in and knocked the ball from his grasp for a fumble we recovered. BALL GAME!

Apparently the bus ride home through weekend traffic was much longer than our first leg, though I don’t think my singing players or laughing coaches took notice. I was enjoying myself beyond belief, but trying not to show too much emotion to the players over the victory, in order to falsely convey some life lesson.

Hopefully you’re okay if I confess to you that it was nice to be in the game, but was even nicer to win.

I’m flattered. The early response to our invitation for the June 13th T1 Speaker Series featuring moi (mh3) has been amazing.

That’s the good news.
The bad news? The pressure is on!

Seriously, if you’re going to take the time out of your day to come hear me speak, I am one thousand percent committed to ensuring it’s worth your while. To that end, I’m sitting at my sports club on the May long weekend Sunday, reworking the outline of my presentation from the version I gave at CSFX17. I love creating, but I also agonize over these things.

The best part of redoing a previously given presentation is the opportunity to fix things. I think I have given my What Sponsors Want presentation so many times, that I can do it in my sleep. I probably do do it in my sleep. I need to count, but I think I am approaching one hundred renditions. One of them was two days long! I kid you not. That was in Holland and was one of my favourites of all time. So when it came to drafting my book, by the same name, candidly the content was easy. The hard part was writing my verbal manuscript.

150 Years of Events That Built a Country is a presentation that celebrates what each of us do every day. While the shelf life is probably limited to 2017 and our sesquicentennial, the importance of it will live much longer. The first version, which I shared with you at CSFX, was meant to inspire our attendees for a weekend of learning, networking, and experiencing. Many of you provided invaluable feedback on it. Both what you liked and what you wanted more of.

The history buffs loved the details and stories of century-old events they had never known of. The Toastmaster buffs were in disbelief I didn’t use a teleprompter (no notes for this cat ever). The equality buffs felt I didn’t have enough diversity across regions and in other ways. The nothing is ever good enough buffs wanted more learning.

None of you can be as hard on me, as me. Let me give you a sneak peek of what I’m tackling for June 13th, so it has fresh spin. First, I added a few new stories. I almost froze on stage while presenting at CSFX17, because I suddenly realized I had missed a MAJOR MAJOR event. It wasn’t in my deck. I almost performed a disastrous ad lib. Thankfully my calm-down voice calmed me down, and I didn’t wander off. That missed one will be in for sure. Can you guess what it is???

Addition by subtraction is also in order. One of my stories just didn’t work. I can remember being on stage fighting a tug of war with the words. With over five hundred eyeballs and a couple of HD cameras focused on me, that’s never a great feeling. When I rehearse I loved this story, but for some reason, the audience didn’t. So goodbye to that one.

The third area for improvement is to put a bow on the information and tie it all together. What lessons can we learn from our past? How did events shape our country? Why do some events, campaigns and movements succeed, when others fail? Hopefully, it will leave you thinking about what role events will play in our nation’s future. How will that impact your business, your career, and your community? What do you need to do to ensure success for your initiatives?

I am not professing to have answers for you on June 13th, but I can promise you some strong, strong fuel for your own fire. However, I will offer you a fair warning. If you attend on June 13th, you will have to deal with an overdose of MH3 passion. Some people call it bias. I don’t care what you call it. A bias that believes that events build community. A bias that connecting live is the most powerful form of engagement. A bias that what we collectively do has a powerful role in nation building. A bias that our country’s marketing pioneers, builders, innovators, and entrepreneurs have figured something out that others have not.

Second warning, you will be surrounded by a room full of people who feel the same. Many of whom have pitched me on events they feel should be included in my chit chat. Don’t be shy, I am all ears. Fire away with your ideas. I am a week or so away from finalizing the content and then handing it over to my crack creative team to make me pretty.

Talk soon. I need to go shopping for a new outfit for June 13th.

PS. If you haven’t received an invite, connect with my colleague Carli at Cheers!

Mother’s Earth

MH3 —  May 16, 2017 — Leave a comment

I’m very blessed to still have my Mom.

It was easy to be reminded of that this past weekend, as I read online Mother’s Day tributes from family, friends, digital “friends”, celebrities, and other randoms I follow. Inspiring. Revealing. Loving. Your words said it all.

Mother’s Day is an uncharted celebration for those with newborns. It’s a day of pampering for those with toddlers. It’s a “how did I get here” day for moms with teenagers. It’s a welcome oasis for the recently separated. A long-standing family tradition for those with adult children, and a reboot of the cycle for new grandmas.

Celebration cedes to tributes, tears, and timeless memories for those who can no longer tell their moms they love them in person. It’s a remorseless reminder for those who are marking the first since their mom’s passing. That tragedy attempting to mute a beautiful family day, but foiled by your proud voice that ensures your mom will be recognized.

My mom is eighty “plus” and going strong. It’s amazing when I look at her. I see her the same as I did as a child. The grit. The determination. The work ethic. The ability to laugh herself to tears. The unrelenting love of her husband.

She and I had our battles when I was young. Even when I knew she was right, I pressed my case with stubborn pride. Some things never change, but she was right more than I was.

Thank goodness.

Thankfully I listened. She may not have realized that, but I did. Her words, her actions, her examples. They taught me profound lessons. I learned at an early age that you make your own breaks in life. That there was no room in this world for excuses. That the colour of your skin wasn’t as nearly as important as what it held inside. That when I thought I had a bad day, it was nothing compared to what those of her generation endured on our behalf.

Today I love to tease her with my childhood persecution stories. Some of them are legit, some are, well, just a bit enhanced. I have the ability to repeat the same urban myth to myself to the point where I am convinced they are reality. You know the type of story where you walked uphill to school both ways? Colourizing my childhood fables makes for great storytelling, so I like them.

What is closer to the truth is that we were well fed, well clothed, and well loved. We knew that our parents were there to protect us. Even more, we knew that they would support us, even when we were wrong. That didn’t mean we didn’t get punished, but it did mean the punishment came with an equal dose of wisdom. Keeping the repeated mistakes to a minimum.

I think of my Mom as the ultimate boss any young person would want.

She set high standards, but never asked of you something she wouldn’t do herself. She was demanding, but never put you through something she hadn’t endured. She was a high achiever, but always applauded your achievements even more loudly.

Mother’s Day may only be one day a year, but it’s a debt that will never be paid off. Not that my Mother, or any of our mums, would ever expect that. That’s not part of the maternal contract. In their honour we should seek ways to pay tribute to all mothers from around the world.

Look no further than the Globe and Mail’s recent visual story this past weekend entitled The Single Mothers of Afghanistan. Read aloud, the text affiliated with each image. Picture your mom raising you in those circumstances. Imagine raising your children in those conditions.

In honour of your mother, how can you help all mothers around the world? A world that seems to be drifting rapidly towards a real life version of The Handmaid’s Tale. A world where rights, not just of women, but of all marginalized groups are evaporating. A world where Mother’s Day may soon be an illegal act.

I am so fortunate to have my mom today. My Dad is so fortunate to have married this crusader almost sixty years ago. My sons, niece, and nephew are so privileged to grow up with a loving nanna.

You make our lives better and we should say thank you every day of the year. You also show me how valuable moms are to all our futures.

No Blog This Week

MH3 —  April 25, 2017

I am so sorry but I can’t write a blog this week.

But at least this week I’m issuing an apology.

Last week I just went silent on you.

No explanation, no apology, no note.

Reminds me of a former college girlfriend.

Just kidding.


Back to my inability to blog this week.

I don’t have another logical word in my body.

Just too busy finishing this book.

It was just an idea in January.

Now it’s 64,000 plus words.

Due April 30th.

Should get past 70,000 by then.

Lots of help from people like you.


C’mon, I meant that.


Can’t wait to be done this phase.

My overly ambitious self had no idea what I signed up for.

My friend Norm scoffed when I signed a contract with such a crazy deadline.

So did his wife.

Yes, you did too, you know it.

I have to admit that they were right.

As usual.

I should have asked for more time.

Then again, I may have procrastinated.

I may have been distracted.

I may have sat on my desk one Monday night.

Writing a blog that makes no sense.

Yes, this is how tired my brain is.

Thanks for listening.

I promise something marginally better.

Next Week.

CSFX Hangover

MH3 —  April 12, 2017

No, I don’t have the kind of hangover you are thinking.

I have the milestone kind of hangover. The one you get after a big accomplishment or period in your life. That after a major event, or back from your honeymoon, or the end of a season hangover. That kind of a hangover where part of you cherishes the memories, achievements and success, while the rest of you can’t wait for what’s next. I always find that the day after something big, I wake up obsessed about the next one. There is nothing wrong with that, but a little break can also be a good idea.

The thing 
is, I don’t want a break. I want to go back to Ottawa right now, and hang out with everybody. I feel bad that I didn’t sing at our karaoke event. Of course, you would have felt worse if I did. But seriously, I feel like I never get enough time to speak to everybody or get caught up with old friends. It’s like frosh week. It was amazing. You learned a lot. You had lots of fun (at least in my era of frosh week), but now you must go to class.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if I ran a Forum every month?

I am only half-joking. Our next one is too far away. August 2018. What is that? Three years?! There will be more than a few events between now and then, I promise. We are cooking up some more T1 Speaking Series event dates and plan to get our schedule to our guests earlier. We have at least two parties being planned. We might even rekindle a Canada Night or two at some out of country events… but won’t share which ones yet!

Wondering how to get on our guest list? Simple, I invite the people I have relationships with. That includes clients, suppliers, team members, ex-team members who I still like, ex-team members who still like me, competitors who collaborate, suppliers who add value, industry leaders, properties our clients’ partner with, and the odd friend (or ten) who work in boring industries and are jealous of ours.

So now is your opportunity to get added to the not-so-exclusive guest list (I mean, really, 
when has anyone been able to accuse me of excluding people?). I need your help. I need you help me with my CSFX hangover.

I would love your input on this past year’s event. Our delegates will soon all receive a nice survey. People that didn’t attend will also be sent a questionnaire of a different sort, but don’t restrict yourself to that. I want your suggestions, input, and feedback. You can post here. You can email me. You can email our info email addresses. You can post on social.

Sound off any topic you like:
1. If you came to CSFX, what did you like? Not like?
2. If you didn’t attend, why not?
3. If you can’t wait till Whistler for CSFX & Crankworx in August 2018, should we hold a mini event prior?
4. Any suggestions for future speakers? Content? Topics?
5. 2018 is booked (Crankworx obviously), 2020 is looking solid… any suggestions for 2019 or 2021, 2022, 2065?

Thanks for helping me cure my what ails me. It’s much appreciated!

What to Wear, What to Wear?

MH3 —  March 28, 2017

I have this recurring dream about CSFX17 that I haven’t prepared at all. Suddenly, I am being asked to go on stage and introduce the next speaker, whom I know nothing about. The dream gets worse when I forget the script to my own keynote, can’t remember the last name of the CEO of our conference partner, and then proceed to ask for a program guide so I can look up a session title.

Bet you’re even more keen to join us this Friday in Ottawa!

One saving grace is that I seem to always have my pants on during these nightmares. That’s a good thing because truth be told, I am having a wee bit of panic of what to wear this weekend to the JUNOS. Yesterday I read a sartorial profile on Kardinal Offishall’s style in Toronto Life and liked his idea of dressing simple, but adding one bold piece, like a chunky watch or bold hat, to create a buzz. Sounds good… except if I show up in a wide brim fedora, people may wonder what the ransom price is to have me returned by my kidnappers or not!

Still, I am spending Canadian Sponsorship Forum weekend at the 2017 JUNOS with 250 of my closest, bestest, newest sponsorship industry friends and I am feeling a bit unprepared. What does one wear to the JUNOS weekend? What are you going to wear? Think of the circumstances!

The 2016 JUNO Awards. Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB. April 3, 2016. Photo: CARAS/iPhoto

First, there is the flight there. The odds are high you are going to be next to an artist, or producer, or, at worst, a publicist. No insults to publicists, but when they meet me and realize I am not a somebody, their facial disappointment is incredibly hard on my ego. But back to you! This is an important moment. You want to look cool for your starry seatmate, but not too cool. You want them to wonder if you’re a hotshot from a label, or the next big festival promoter, or even cash-laden sponsor. You don’t want to have to start the conversation, so you need something that will get them to open up.

Now let’s skip a few days, and think about the flight home. Here is your last chance for a name-dropping story you can regal dinner party friends with for years. You have purposely taken an afternoon flight, so you can ride with some hungover talent who might just fall asleep on your shoulder. Can you snatch a drooly selfie without waking them up? If you do, be sure to have worn an outfit that says it may have spent the night on your hotel room floor, or somebody else’s. But so what? It still rocks. So, you must wear something that is essentially the perfect intersection of the walk of shame and the catwalk…

If you found that perfect go home garb, that may be what you have worn to the JUNOS after party (Don’t have an invite to one yet… message me about mine). Of course, the real issue is what happens if your drooler was at the same party as you. Don’t worry, if they remember that will be a miracle. Plus, if they DO remember, then they noticed you. Victory!

Let’s be clear, you can’t wear the same outfit to the after party that you wore to the awards broadcast. Read the fine print on your ticket –  the JUNOS want you to look good for television. Plus, I know you have put a lot of thought into getting Shawn Mendes attention or Sarah McLachlan, depending on whether you are a cougar, or twenty years past your prime like me, or thirty. Regardless of your interests or your age, get fancy people. It’s show time!

The 2016 JUNO Awards. Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB. April 3, 2016. Photo: CARAS/iPhoto

The 2016 JUNO Awards. Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB. April 3, 2016. Photo: CARAS/iPhoto

If the dizzying pace of outfit changes doesn’t make you feel like stage dancer in a tacky cruise ship show, then wait. Just hours before the broadcast you were seated at the JUNO Songwriters’ Circle, a fundraiser for MusiCounts. Odds are good that you have missed brunch and your last full meal was somewhere in the ByWard Market. By meal I mean ice, stir stick, mix or whatever. So, you need to be comfortable. You need ventilation, but you also need to look cool-casual. This event is laid back, so your outfit better be. Keep in mind that there could be a Justin Trudeau sighting as well. What if he agrees to a picture? Crap! What a nightmare and it isn’t even Saturday yet.

Saturday, I can’t help you. Are you going to the JUNOS banquet? Are you attending my conference? Are you joining to watch me do karaoke at the Sens House? Do you really think I am going to sing? Do you have a VIP suite to hang out in? What about JUNOfest? Did you find some cool bands on Friday you want to see again? The forecast says it’s going to be around freezing, so your outfit needs to be chill.

I would love to provide more advice, but I need to get home and layout my garb. I also must figure out workout clothes, clothes for my Thursday stage rehearsals (yes I think about these things), what socks to bring, should I bother with a coat and, finally, I have to do a contact lens count. A contact lens count you ask? Yes, I need 1.5 pairs per day as they get all foggy on me when I wear them too long and my only pair of glasses are far from JUNOS cool. Besides, I need to see what YOU are going to be wearing!


A 183-Year-Old Viewpoint

MH3 —  March 7, 2017

I really like Tourism Toronto’s new spot.

Engineered by J. Walter Thompson, the new spot is a wonderful celebration of everything the 416/647/905/289 has to offer. I am not sure if the ad was released in celebration of the city’s milestone 183rd birthday, but that’s my guess.

The spot focuses on three F’s that make Toronto great right now: Food, Being a Fan, and Freedom.

This city tastes so damn good right now. When I moved here, the restaurant scene had no imagination. A waterfront patio or a view from an office building masqueraded as an atmosphere. Quickly prepared and even more quickly served Asian food pretended to be experimental. The removal of tablecloths at 9:00 PM, to make way for a dance floor, falsely signaled hipness.

Today, there are more places to dine than days in the week. Neighbourhood flavours are popping up and establishing delineated neighbourhood pockets that offer multiple options. Young people have made finding the latest brunch place into an art form. Condo after condo is rising to provide even more clients than most proprietors could imagine.

Food is also our moist outward symbol of our multiculturalism, which, thanks to President Trump, is high on the conscious of the entire world right now. Canada has longed to open its doors to the world and the collection of top menus profiled by Toronto Life demonstrates the benefit of that.

This city is also playing damn well right now. Is it possible with the rise of the Maple Leafs, renewed leadership at the Argos and the continued excellence of TFC/Jays/Raps, that 2017 could mark us going 5 for 5 in reaching the playoffs? Our teams’ performance has only been outshone by amazing marketing and player engagement. We The North is a timeless and brilliant marketing campaign. The Bautista bat flip should be in Cooperstown if it isn’t already. The media even seems to like the current Leafs brass  

My Dad used to tease me as a young Leafs fan. His patented expression “Poor old Toronto” could regularly be applied to many of the lean long downturns our teams have faced, but I smell a parade coming before you know it. Will it be a World Series? A Coupe Grey? Lord Stanley’s mug? My prediction? Raptors. 2017 NBA Champions. You heard it here first. Raps-Rockets, we win in 7!

Long before the world has decided to take a turn back to the Stone Age and erect borders, Brexits and brick walls, Toronto has been one of the most welcoming places on Earth. I found this as a young mixed race individual moving here with no track record and today we continue to do so. Unfortunately, the most famous Black Jew that Canada has produced isn’t me, though I’m giving Drake a good chase. JK!!! 

Drake is no refugee, but I love his eagerness to stump for our city at almost every chance he gets. We are a city that accepts everyone and our backbone is going to be tested more and more over the next few years. 

I only have small quibble with the Toronto Tourism’s piece – proclaiming Toronto as “Canada’s Downtown.” Guess the tourism marketers decided we don’t need any visitors from the rest of Canada. Perhaps they haven’t travelled across this great land and realized the dislike our fellow citizens have for our arrogance. In fact, I thought by loaning the Raps and Jays to the rest of the country that we were building new bridges (I’m only half joking).

Toronto is no more Canada’s downtown than Bay Street is my bank or Ossington is my rec room or Leslieville is my garden. Toronto, like Vancouver, Halifax, Chicoutimi, Lethbridge and Brandon, is a window into Canada. What you see through that window is a lot different than what you would see through the Fort McMurray or Port Hawkesbury window, but we aren’t anybody’s downtown. 

But that’s just my point of view. The View from/of Toronto is a pretty good one. So, let’s share it and not flaunt it!

“Guess Who”…. at CSFX 2017!

MH3 —  February 27, 2017

Can you “Guess Who” will be appearing at CSFX 2017?

It’s true, the thirteenth edition of the Canadian Sponsorship Forum will be featuring some amazing JUNOS weekend talent. No it won’t be the eponymous Winnipeg rockers. I just borrowed their name to create a catchy headline, or what I thought was a catchy headline.

But I can promise you some surprise artists will be making an appearance sometime during the weekend. I can’t tell you when. I certainly can’t tell you who. That would be ruining the fun. In fact, I have already said too much. I will leave it to you to be ready to share live with your social networks, so make sure your smartphone is always charged. As for whether you will be able to get a selfie, a group photo, or an autograph… my advice is simple. Sit in the front row of every session. Dress to impress. Gasp out loud every time a curtain opens behind a speaker. Mare sure you have engaged a teammate with sharp elbows to ward off other delegates trying to hone in on your moment!

Rock out to the best of Canadian music with the industry’s top thinkers, doers and knowers at CSFX17.

Experience three days of immersive JUNOS moments alongside the best brands, properties and agencies in the industry.








That’s half the fun of an event like the JUNOS. You don’t know who you are going to run into over the weekend, whether it be in the hotel or on the street. Just take a look at this year’s nominee list! We have The Weeknd, Celine Dion, Drake, Sam Roberts Band, Tegan and Sara, Coleman Hell, The Tragically Hip, Billy Talent, Hedley, Leonard Cohen, and Arkells just to name a few! How much fun would it be to see one of them? Once again, I encourage you to be at your ready. Start a couple of weeks out by practicing your moves. For example, don’t suffer from open mouth gaping syndrome when you first catch their eye. Your uvula is not attractive to anyone, especially perfect strangers. Secondly, don’t stammer that your their greatest fan and then get the name of their last single incorrect. Third, don’t start talking about your Kiwanis music festival ribbons unless you enjoy shouting to the back of a departing skull.

Here is who I can tell you that we are going to see: Shawn Mendes, The Strumbellas, Ruth B, Alessia Cara and A Tribe Called Red.

Sourced from: The JUNO Awards

Taking nothing away from the spectacular award show itself, but my favourite event is the Songwriters Circle in support of MusicCounts. The 2017 version of this event is hosted by music legend Bruce Cockburn and features some of Canada’s most talented songwriters, including this year’s JUNO nominees, performing their songs and sharing the stories behind them.

Guess who else you are going to see at CSFX 2017? Well I can tell you we have delegates from RBC, BMO, TD, Visa, Scotiabank, Telus, Bell, NHL, Canadian Red Cross, Allstate Insurance, Freedom 55 Financial, Unicef Canada, Habitat for Humanity Canada, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Diamond Integrated Marketing, NFL Canada, NBA Canada, Lumency and more! Now I am not sure if this is needed, but I am happy to share my Top 10 Networking Tips with you perhaps in a future blog, but #7 is most definitely to keep your PowerPoint in your pants. Seriously, nobody comes to a conference to get pitched. Friends first, sponsorship partners second.

Our JUNOS weekend won’t be complete without some Ottawa venue carousing at JUNOfest. Friday night we encourage you to hit the town with your wristband (part of your delegate kit) and check out some of the 100+ artists playing on stages throughout Ottawa. The festival will feature live performances by regional and national artists representing the many genres that make up Canadian music, including local artists representing Ottawa’s diverse and vibrant music scene and 2017 JUNO Award nominees.

You don’t need to guess at who our great speakers are. But in case you’ve missed it, we have Google’s very own Mike Armstrong and Cristie Schultz talking how Google can help you amplify your efforts in a mobile-first World. We have the founder and CEO of Spartan Race, the world’s leading obstacle racing company, Joe De Sena. We have digital media industry veteran of nearly 20 years, Marc Dinsdale, from Facebook and Instagram. We have Marketing Mag’s 30 under 30 winner, Rebecca Basi, from Plastic Mobile. We have Dana Brochu chatting how Sleeman Breweries launched a new product with a younger demographic. We have Allan Reid, President & CEO of CARAS, The JUNO Awards and MusiCounts, giving a backstage glimpse of the JUNOS and Canadian music. We have Smoke’s Poutinerie‘s Ryan Smolkin discussing brand building through entertainment and world domination through poutine. That’s just a small taste of CSFX17’s exciting speaker roster. 

Network with the country’s top decision-makers, executives and purchasing powers.

Hear from speakers that that inspire next-level thinking in sponsorship marketing.








I would encourage you to, once again, sit in the front. I would also encourage you to keep that charged phone in your pocket. Trust me, the world can wait forty-five minutes. You are much better off inhaling everything the speaker has to offer, especially if you want to hit them up later for coffee. Nobody wants to have coffee with the crown of your head.

I am sure you can guess by now that I will be at CSFX 2017, as your host and conference guru. But if you have any questions for me sooner, feel free to reach out!