Okay, so I borrowed the title from a session I saw at SXSW 2017. 

I hope the panelists –  Aaron Hillis, Indiegogo; Jen Yamato, LA Times; Roxanne Benjamin, We Summon the Darkness; and Tom Hall, Montclair Film Festival – don’t mind my plagiarism. That’s not my intention. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s to promote what I found to be a fascinating little gem of a panel, tucked away in the corner of one of the biggest and best conferences in the world. 

When I say tucked away, I mean tucked away. At go time there were only nine of us in the room for the panel, with one attendee being the husband of a panelist. I felt bad for the quartet on the podium, who summoned their mojo and committed to making an amazing experience for their few supporters, including me. 

I’m pretty sure I was the least musically inclined or talented person in the room. I stood out like a broken guitar string. The others were all clearly into music, into karaoke, and into each other. 

The premise of the panel was that for some reason karaoke is the golf of the film/festival business. Who knew? The panelists claimed that movie deals get done, pitches get made (no pun intended), and relations get built at karaoke parties.


The more I sat and listened, the more it made sense. Karaoke is social, fun, interactive, unpretentious, and celebratory. It involves a lot more people than a golf foursome. It’s fueled by emotion. It’s turbocharged by cocktailing.  

The best part of the panel? Each panelist ended up performing a song. Think Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball done by an LA Times film critic. A few audience members joined in as well, including a guest appearance by Brett Galman, who channeled his inner Notorious B.I.G. and wowed us with a Springsteen cover. 

They were awesome and I was jealous and wowed. It was the best hour of my day. 

Every song made me smile, made me laugh. I had some writing to do that I was stuck on, and one performance sung a breakthrough idea into my head. I left the hour with an energy level that a venti cappuccino couldn’t have provided. 

I have a question for you. Why don’t you have music in your meetings? Why don’t people sing, not just talk in meetings? Could you imagine how collaborative your meeting would be if every participant was asked to belt out a favourite before you got down to business?  

Given I have laid down the challenge, I’m sure I’m going to get called on. I plan on practicing in private to prevent total humiliation. 

Purple Rain baby, Purple Rain. 

Southby Soundbites

Administrator —  March 15, 2017

Greetings from Austin.

The general sentiment at SXSW is everyone is waiting for the big news of the year, and for the second event in a row, the general feeling is that it’s not going to happen this year. 

Unfortunately, the lack of splash casts a pall over the event. Additionally, the keynote lineup has slipped this year. But then again, how do you compete with Obama from last year’s conference? Or live streaming Edward Snowden in from a secret Russian location like they did in 2015. Or Star Wars: The Force Awakens Director J.J. Abrams. Or Twitter Co-Founder Biz Stone talking about combining humanity with technology.

Admittedly, many of the panels disappointed me. The SX sports content seems to be flooded with expert panelists who think that stating that people watch sport differently in 2017 than 1987 is somehow a breakthrough. At one panel, I tweeted the speakers to ask a leading question to see if they would get back on their stated topic. They read my question aloud and then answered it by going even farther off topic. I really think SX needs to find a better quality control model. One thing is clear; many panelists are first-time speakers, who forget the audience often has more experience than them. They don’t realize their job was to research, craft, and present a very tight point of view or personal experiences that will provoke thought and discussion. Instead, many of them turn into a cliché recital.

Fortunately, I went to a Meetup on Sports & New Media that provided some more interesting perspectives. Meetups are great, because everybody talks, or can if they want. The discussion, led by the NFL Networks Jane Slater, focused on Twitter and its use by sports journalists, teams, athletes, and brands. What made it special is there were attendees there from a Mexican-based online soccer forum (no word on how they snuck past Trump into Austin), a Marketer from the German Bundesliga, programmers from SRC in Montreal, and an Irish journalist. 

The SXSW Trade Show always has some gems and this year it was Pincause. Started by a former management consultant turned world saviour, the concept is simple. Buy a pin and the funds go to important causes. My pin was in support of refugees. The Pincause booth featured delegate created artwork pinned to a content wall. I got chatty with some others at the booth who immediately grilled me on my views on their POTUS (That has been a recurring theme this week. As soon as people discover I’m a Canadian, they express their love and jealousy of Justin Trudeau and want to know what we Canucks thought of their conundrum). I decided to open my arms to my newfound troubled American friends and drew a Canadian flag with a blue border inviting them to come visit…and stay for a while. The Pincause team was pleased with my quick adoption of their values. 

Pfizer impressed me with their activation communicating the Global Goals of the United Nations. I decidedly was not shy about grilling the Community Relations rep about their reason for being at SXSW. It’s an interesting way to activate a partnership. They’ve decided to attend trade and consumer shows attended by influential people, in this case marketers and innovators, to showcase the UN partnership. Pfizer seems to have a healthy dose (I made THAT pun without even realizing it) of self-awareness that they can be perceived as a big bad money gouging pharma company. Shrewd of them to not only invest in a worthy cause, but to be unafraid to toot their horn about their involvement   

The best stat I heard this week is that there are 350 parties that occur in Austin around Southby. Everyone has a party. Telefilm Canada. Music Export Canada. Fuse Canada (Where was my invite Nicole Galluci?). Washington DC Events. Mazda. National Geographic. Pandora. Samsung. German Haus. Many of them have created their own custom event spaces. Mazda had an amazing studio and a music lineup that would crush many festivals. Events DC has a prime outdoor space right across from the convention centre. National Geographic, yes National Geographic too, had a multistory space on Dirty 6th (yes the locals call it Dirty and it is) where they were getting rave reviews for the best drinks in the city. I went for the cover shot (not a drink), an unreal AR Experience, and the Einstein Chalkboard robot. The latter was super cool. Consumers were asked to tweet a head shot to NG and then the robot arm would draw your portrait in chalk. They even set you a prompt to come back to the space when your old-school selfie was being produced. 

My Apple Watch, Nike edition (hopefully this plug will get me some brand cred) says I tallied 15,773 steps today for 10.94 K of travelling. It was worth it to find these tasty morsels.

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!


Air Ballin’

Administrator —  February 21, 2017

BIG thanks to NBA Canada for extending the chance for me to attend the NBA All-Star festivities in New Orleans this past weekend. 

Despite the frostiness between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, NOLA boasted warm weather and sizzling Mardi Gras excitement. 

There was certainly no lack of excitement at Sunday night’s NBA showcase game. During the fourth quarter, buzzing fans started chanting “Defence! Defence! Defence!” Hearing the crowd’s cries from the Western Conference bench, DeAndre Jordan returned with “No! No! No!” That moment in time perfectly describes Sunday’s aggressive game. With a short supply of defence, the electric game ended with Anthony Davis destroying a 55-year-old record with 52 points, leading the West to a ten point victory over the East. With 33 steals and 16 fouls, there is no doubt that players were out to give the crowd a show.

The same couldn’t be said about the Slam Dunk Contest, as the crazy 2016 showdown in the frigid 416 was unequivocally better. Unfortunately for Aaron Gordon, his Drone Dunk went awry and overshadowed him getting robbed of the Slam Dunk title in Toronto last year. However, the All-Star game was saved Sunday by John Legend who I think the NBA should just sign a lifetime deal with. 

If there was a Slam Dunk winner over the weekend it was probably Nike. Their Equality campaign cast a long gaze over the visitors from across a fractured nation being hosted in a town whose inhabitants possess an unreliable spirit despite the environmental catastrophes it has overcome.

Featuring Antonio Davis’s steely gaze and the simple word Equality, posted a dagger to the heart of the issues facing the USA. The Equality t-shirt was selling out constantly with stores restocking at a fast break pace.

The effort was glued together by its connection to Black History Month featuring limited edition Nike Shoes raising money for Nike’s Ever Higher Fund. I tried to snare the Nike Air Force 1 Equality special edition shoes but ten minutes after their online launch they were sold out. A quick trip to eBay saw them already listed for a 300% markup. Not bad for ten minutes work (don’t worry my feet had a happy ending after I scored a pair of Kyrie Irvings at local sneaker store).

The other big winner was the City of New Orleans. Pressed into duty as a replacement host after political pressure saw the game pulled from North Carolina, the original southern party town, New Orleans strutted its crazy eccentric self. The fact it was also Mardi Gras made for a combustible combination. Parades, parties, and preachers were on every street corner, I kid you not. Every street corner had some form of apocalypse promising barker.

The parades became my weekend obsession. I followed them around amazed at how excited people get over beads, how elaborate the floats were and how others were nothing more than a pickup truck. My favourite piece by far were the marching bands. It amazed me how dozens of people can walk, play, and perform in perfect unison while wearing uniforms that appear to be fur lined, bejewelled hazmat suits with War of 1812 hats. 

I stalked the bands for two hours Sunday, trying to keep pace with those in full verse. The parade conveniently snaked through the downtown core allowing for some zigging and zagging by a first time Mardi. 

The weekend left me wishing we had more marching bands in Canada. It would certainly add life to Canuck events. Activation idea??? Perhaps. 

The thrill of an NBA All-Star Weekend is that everywhere you look there is a celebrity. Coaches. Current Players. Hall of Famers. Media. Musicians. Agents. Put them in any city and you’ve got an epic scene.

Combine the excitement with a little gumbo and it gets downright spicy!

Ghost Writer

MH3 —  February 15, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen it’s official, I am writing a book.

I talked about it for years and was asked about it a great many times. A lot of my friends and several of my blog readers – which would mean all of them – have suggested that perhaps I should put something together that is a little bit longer than a weekly rant. They have also suggested, and not unfairly, that I use appropriate grammar, structure, punctuation and language style. So, I went out and bought a classic style guide, completely rearranged my work schedule, put on my thinking hat and dove right in.

I’m sure you have many questions. Questions that most likely fall under the following three inquiries. Number one, what am I writing about? Number two, who agreed to publish this thing? Number three, who is going to read it?

Number One

I am going to write about what sponsors want. Why? Well first off, every piece of unsolicited advice I’ve received in my life has been consistent with “you should do something you know or you should do something you’re passionate about.”  So, that’s exactly what I’m doing and it’s pretty exciting. Literally what I’m attempting to do is take a presentation that I have given at least 50 times, which focuses around my ranting against gold, silver and bronze sponsorship packages, and turn it into a book. If you have ever seen my presentation before, you know that I focus on sponsors wanting to borrow equity, tell stories, engage stakeholders, see proof and get promoted. So naturally, this is precisely what my book is about.

Number Two

Ohio University Press agreed to publish my book. They even sent me a fancy contract, which I’ve signed, and now I have an incredibly demanding set of deliverables because I set a ridiculous timeline to deliver this book by April 30th. In addition, we still have the many projects going on at T1. I am, however, honoured and candidly intimidated that the Ohio University press will be including my book in a new sports marketing series they’ve been creating, publishing and promoting over the last year. They have asked me to tackle the sponsorship topic for my book and they have several more in the hopper as well. If you’re wondering if this has anything to do with my recent trip to Athens, Ohio where I talked happily in this blog space about working with some fantastic combined MBA/MSA students, then you are correct. If you’re thinking that Ohio University also sounds like the same place where my good friend Dr. Norm O’Reilly is the Richard P. & Joan S. Fox Professor of Business, you’re right again. I’ll fill in the blanks for you if you’re thinking this publishing gig is a result of me using my connections, it is. I mean, what good in life are connections if we can’t use them.

Number Three

Now on to chapter three. I didn’t mean chapter three but I guess I’m thinking about the book. Question three, who will read it? The cool thing about this project is that while I have a university as my publisher, it’s not a textbook. It’s a book that we would like to see in classrooms in sports marketing courses on sponsorship. It’s a book that we would like to see in many countries, in fact the book is going to be promoted in over 50 countries through their network. It’s a book we would like to see as required reading. But most importantly, it’s book we would like to see people who work in sponsorship in the street reading, whether that be an academic professional or on a voluntary basis.

I hope all of you read the book as well because if one thing is for certain you are all contributors. The book is not a textbook and was not meant to be an academic study. It was really to question my thoughts on sponsorship, on the opportunities that exist today, on the application to use it tomorrow and what makes for great sponsorship or for poor. Really what this book is going to be is a catalogue for my lifelong industry observations. I have had the amazing fortune to work on some great sponsorships but candidly I have had the opportunity to watch and observe even more great work than I’ve had my hands on. I’m combining my life of observing, my relentless reading, insane amount of conference going and unapologetic event snooping to pepper my thoughts into one little book. So, in effect everybody in my universe is a contributor.

On top of that, I should reach out to some of you for discussions, to gain your input, to question case studies and to fax quotes for the book (that is been an interesting exercise). I’ve reached out to people as far away as Austria, Germany, The United Kingdom, Spain, The United States of Trump and, of course, some Canadian experts as well. Modestly I must say that everybody is very excited for me and so far have agreed to contribute as best they can. If you have any thoughts or a case study or a person I should interview or an idea for my book, send it my way. 

As the publisher said to me, nobody is getting rich off this. My motivation is to provide a resource to help sponsorship marketers around the world. My motivation is to create a vehicle for conversation about different points of view on sponsorship. My motivation is to shape and share what I have learned so others benefit. If you want to be a part of that, hurrah! But hurry, I have committed to a crazy deadline of April 30th for my first draft. Yikes. That’s 80,000 words away. The good news is I have cranked out about 43,000 words already, digitally at least. Though I suspect 42,000 of them will be deleted. If you want to read some, I can send the completely unedited version to you because I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts.

How have I been able to get so much done in January? Well my team here at T1 has been incredibly supportive. I was really quite surprised how agreeable everybody was when I said “Hey I’m not going to come in most mornings. Hey I’m going to decrease the number of meetings I attend. Hey I’m not going to work on so many projects. Hey I need to move your weekly one-on-one to the afternoon.” I don’t know, maybe I was naïve expecting more protests. Maybe my ego hoped for some tears and whimpering sad faces. I guess my team is just so supportive of me that they don’t have a problem with me not being around. I guess the team really wants T1 to have a worldwide publication and they’re willing to sacrifice having me in their meetings giving them the death stare. Somehow, someway my team has figured out that they need to let Mark go be in a dark corner to scribble down all his problems, memorize his memoirs and put them into a book.

Of course, I must thank my darling wife Karen, my lovely and handsome sons, my sweet little animals Prince my CavaPoo and Apollo the crazy cat. I also must make sure that I think of my staff who sacrificed so much. But it all seriousness to everyone who reads this blog, a big big big big thanks as many of you have said to me, “Hey you know what you’re an OK writer, maybe you should write a book.”

So finally, I am listening and cranking out pages, because that’s what you want and this book is about What Sponsors Want.

5 to Watch

MH3 —  February 8, 2017

Kudos to Class of ’97 grad Brendan Fyfe and his volunteer band of Sport & Event Marketing alumni for building the George Brown College 5 to Watch program into a premier Canadian sports marketing property.

Since its inception, the program has awarded 25 5 to Watch winners from 186 nominations and raised over $200k for student bursaries at George Brown. One of those award winners being T1’s very own Norm O’Reilly who was honoured in 2013.

Other notable winners include TSN’s Matt Silver, Under Armour’s Matt Shearer, Scotiabank’s Jacquie Ryan, NHL’s Sophie Kotsopoulos and Canadian Olympic Committee’s Andrew Baker.

There are three things I admire about the program:

1. It’s a “Hall of Fame” for people in their prime. Just look at the past winners. They aren’t retiring. They aren’t selling their agencies. They aren’t getting ready to write their memoirs (not one of these comments apply to me FYI.) They are the hottest and smartest players in our industry today and will be for some time.

2. Talent attracts talent. By honouring and promoting the best, the younger people in our industry are provided with role models and templates to mirror. Hopefully this property helps retain some of our best young minds who may be getting lured to stray.

3. Given it sold out last year this may cause more harm than good, but the 5 to Watch Award Ceremony is one of best networking events of the year (you know I’m going to list my events at the top….ha!).  But seriously, get a half dozen tickets early, early, early for your team and block off your afternoon to make yourself handsome. Okay that’s my strategy. You probably don’t need the extra prep time. In any event, if you haven’t been to the beautiful George Brown Waterfront campus, here is your chance.

Like anything in life there is, however, room for improvement:

1. To date, only 1/4 of the nominees and 1/4 of the winners have been women. While I have no data, I am positive this industry is a lot more gender balanced than that. I am shocked that any sort of bias exists, but there must be a fundamental reason for this inequality. That problem can be solved by YOU!

2. Another issue that the organizers have stressed is ensuring national representation of nominees. While there is an industry concentration in Toronto, there is a massive sports marketing community in the Province of Quebec, as well as provincial sports bodies, university athletic departments, community sports leaders and junior hockey teams from coast to coast.  If ever there was a year to ensure more nominees came from across our great land, 2017 is it!

3. Not enough people outside the industry know about them. We can be the world’s biggest clique in this business and sometimes that’s a great thing, but other times it’s a liability. Awards like the 5 to Watch need to have a larger profile across the Canadian marketplace. Not only will it be great for the winners, it will have tremendous benefit for the professionalism of Sports Marketing.

One quick note: The organizers are looking for new blood to drive it forward. The core group of volunteers have done five years of heavy lifting and it’s time for some fresh input  I don’t know if they are accepting non-GBC alumni, but to me this seems like a prime volunteering role if you’re looking to “network before you need to.” This would certainly be an effective platform!

Nominations are now open. It’s a great opportunity to honour the next generation in your organization, even though you will probably have a challenge narrowing it down to five from your own talent pool. As well, it’s a great opportunity to build profile for your property, organization, company or agency. Place a special emphasis on finding nominees who don’t look like the past winners.

Nominate. Celebrate. Motivate.

See You in Two Months

MH3 —  February 1, 2017

We are exactly two months away from the 2017 edition of the Canadian Sponsorship Forum, CSFX17 for short, to be held in Ottawa in conjunction with the JUNOS. I should clarify that the two months applies if you read this on the day I wrote this, which is/was January 31, 2017. If you read it later in the week, or month, I will leave the countdown arithmetic to you. Sound good?

Since I am such a creature of habit, it’s usually around this time out from the event that I write something disguised as a blog, but closer to a pitch, in an effort to rally your support and attendance at our conference . Sometimes I attempt to be funny by providing you a top 10 list of not so secret tips on how to navigate our Xperience. Other times I pursue an inspirational tone by talking about the value of networking and learning for your career. Often nostalgia dominates my tone as I reflect back (is there any other type of reflection by the way?) on my motivation for starting this conference in the first place, but I am sure everyone has heard that story one or three too many times.

Consider this edition a simplistic and straightforward informational notice. Why so plain you ask? Well our online sleuthing tells us that a lot more of you read my blog than ever open up our propaganda email. Of course if I make this blog too much propaganda, you will portably tune me out forever. However, I am going to take my chances that I can entertain you while I’m blatantly selling you.

The questions is, are you up to the challenge? If so, let me know. Feel free to tell me if I was boring, neither good nor bad, or if I was actually somewhat entertaining. You can tell me in the comments section, reach out to me directly, use your loudest social media vehicle or tell me in person in Ottawa on March 31st! See, I already have you thinking about it. So when I see you in two months, what else will we talk about?

Sourced from: Canadian Sponsorship Forum

We will talk about how the Songwriters Circle was your favourite event of the weekend.

We will talk about how amazing it was that we had both Facebook and Google presenting this year.

We will talk about how hearing Don Amero talk about music as medicine got you thinking.

We will talk about how many new industry friends you have made.

We will talk about how the Forum seems like the best class reunion you’ve ever had.

We will talk about how amazing the production of the JUNOS were compared to the last time you saw them live.

We will talk about how the Forum should partner with a music property every year.

We will talk about how men have been excluded, again, from our Women’s Only leadership panel.

We will talk about how the influx of tech speakers invented wonders you never thought possible.

We will talk about how the removal of morning runs from the agenda made you feel less guilty.

We will talk about how the IMI Happy Hour is the best networking event of the year.

We will talk about how the Taylor Swift tour case study blew you away.

We will talk about how you have finally figured out the hook to sell that title sponsorship.

We will talk about how there was no way you could have imagined yourself lip syncing.

We will talk about how the injection of younger speakers really spiced things up.

We will talk about how excited you are about our 2018 host partner.

We will talk about how surprised you were that our 2018 host partner wasn’t at the Forum, the first time this has ever happened.

We will talk about how your daughter couldn’t believe you were going to a conference to talk about Hatchimals!

We will talk about how the founder of Spartan Race made you feel like a slob during his keynote

We will talk about how come I don’t need as much sleep as you.

We will talk about how much you loved Sarah McLaughlin when you were in university.

We will talk about how great it is to be Canadian and in Ottawa during our 150th!

We will talk about how great the T1 team is.

We will talk about how many people are here as we are steaming towards record attendance.


Steel Curtain

MH3 —  January 24, 2017

The curtain came down quickly and ferociously on my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night. Unfortunately, the Black & Yellow have badly tarnished their infamous reputation of having a ferocious Steel Curtain defence for much of the past forty years. Sunday, it looked like a shower curtain.

In a world where we often make far too many comparisons between sports and business, this unhappy fan needs to drag you through one more analogy therapy session. It’s because I can’t really understand what happened when I evaluate the loss through my sports-loving eyes. The fan in me actually thought we were going to win, by ten points no less!

So the business thinker in me needs to take over. I heard a question on ESPN Radio this morning that resonated. Why don’t more teams copy what the New England Patriots have done for the past two decades? How come they alone are re-writing the record books at a furious pace? How come the most hated sixth-round draft pick ever has the chance to be one of the most successful QBs in history? (Please don’t name him the most successful QB of all time because of the potential for five Super Bowl wins. Bart Starr won five NFL titles and Otto Graham won seven professional football titles.) But win, lose or draw Super Bowl LI, the Pats are still amazing for what they have accomplished.

To provide you with the most objective comparison I can, I am going to evaluate the success of the Pats organization with that of my Steelers from one moment in time. Sunday Night. It will be a debilitating exercise for me but one from which I think I can provide myself with daily reminders about what it takes to be successful. And, of course, because I love threes. Mh3 is going to serve this up in three digestible courses.


I didn’t know whether to label this one pain or purpose. My Steelers looked disinterested from winning the game until the end. I could have also named this one passion. Passion, for me, is the most powerful word in business. It’s the one trait that can overcome all other shortcomings in a candidate or within a culture. If you are talented and also passionate than you are going to be a star. If your organization is loaded with talent and passion, watch out for competition. So why did I use the word purpose? Why did I consider the word pain? Because I think that the Pats have been playing with a purpose all season, caused by immense and unjust pain that is fuelling their passion. All of this can be accredited to one man, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who spent two years chasing down Tom Brady to punish him for Deflategate. The Pats shouldn’t be mad at the commissioner, the rest of the league should be. He has fuelled their already mighty fire and increased it to torch mode. This team is on a mission from Goodell to win that Lombardi Trophy and make him say nice things about them post-game in Houston. Want to get yourself fired up? Want to get your organization fired up? I am convinced that pain, desperation and anguish will always bring out the strongest character in human beings, much more than the pursuit of happiness. Scientifically, I challenge you to examine the origins of the best songs, the innovations created during wars and the philosophy produced by depravation. Pain creates purpose. Add a little, or a lot, to your next planning meeting and watch the idea fireworks explode!


Did you hear the joke about the NFL team who had full contact practices the week of their conference championship game? If this was 1987 or 1967 that would be no joke. But in 2017? It is true. The New England Patriots had full pad, tackle to the ground practices leading up to the championship game. This team’s preparation has been legendary for years. If you haven’t read the story about them practicing against Seattle’s goal line pass (remember the Super Bowl interception?) in the pre-season that year, you must! But it’s true. The Pats staff was so upset about fumbles and missed tackles in their previous playoff game, they moved aside the tackling dummies and pylons, and told their stars to go at it. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers were learning how to use Facebook, holding pep rallies and planning their wardrobe for Houston. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating but preparation is the key to anything. If you want to have a great meeting with your boss, prepare! Think about what questions they will ask you. Try to understand what challenges are on their plate for the week. Technology is amazing but it still cannot make up for old fashioned blood, sweat and more sweat if you want to win a piece of new business, sign a new sponsor, get that internship or out hustle the other guy or gal.  If you watched this game you felt like the Steelers had never even heard of Chris Hogan. Otherwise, they may have come within 15 yards of him at some point. The Steelers didn’t prepare hard enough. This in’t just a coaching issue. Everything you read from the Pats locker room is that the team prepares so incredibly well because their leader on the field (Tommy Brady) works so hard. In your organization, who is that de facto on-field leader who raises the bar for everybody else? Neither motivational speeches or butt kickings can match the powerful presence of a standard bearer. Every organization needs one. Who is your Tom Brady?


New England came out at the beginning of the first and third quarters smacking the Steelers right in the mouth. It took the life out of the Steelers. You could see it on the sidelines. You could see it in the eyes of the coaches. You could see it in the eyes of the players. The result was a Steelers team that lost their confidence, completely abandoned their mojo and played without poise. At the end of the first half they decided not to use their timeouts, happy to escape down “only” 17-9. What? You are in a championship game! Every possession, every yard, every point is huge, yet the coaches decided to run and hide. In business, we all face adversity. That isn’t the cause of problems. Problems start when you lose your poise. When you doubt yourself, your capabilities, your organization, your team. No business, organization, charity, government or community group has many days on the calendar where challenges aren’t flooding in. Building your ship to withstand the worst challenges is the best organizational design theory in the world. As a leader, it is even more important for you to keep your poise because the world is watching. I love Mike Tomlin, because he is my team’s coach. But I can’t say i loved how he withered in the looming shadow of Bill Belichick’s hoody.

I know these ramblings may make little sense to you, but they will help me swallow my pride and watch the Super Bowl. More importantly, they validate to me that sport imitates life and there can be something to be learned from any disappointment. Even a slip in the shower with the mouldy curtain providing your only defence!



Bobcat Fever

MH3 —  January 18, 2017

All isn’t so bad in America after all.

At least not in Athens, Ohio, where I spent three inspiring days teaching in the MBA/MSA (Sport administration) program at Ohio University. Ohio is the number one graduate sport business program, according to the rankings. A title they proudly claimed in 2012, 2013, and 2015.

But first a word about Athens. It’s one of those small towns that could lure me out of living in a big place like T.O. Its population is approximately 24,000, which makes the fact that it is home to a 24,000 person university all the more intriguing. The downtown core of the community and the university are one. The school was opened in 1804, set high on a hill painted with gorgeous views of rolling terrain. Apparently designed by the same architect who created Harvard, the whole place has a calming buzz.

Athens is also friendly beyond belief. I walked everywhere, and with everywhere I walked people stopped to say “hello” to me. I don’t really know why, but it certainly was nice. If I walk down Yonge Street in Toronto, nobody says hello. Did I look like a professor? An aged foreign exchange student? The father of a new sports recruit? An out-of-work Obama looking for a part-time gig? I don’t know the answer to the question, although I answered every hello with an equally chipper hello back. Then I would slowly turn my head as they went by to make sure they weren’t secretly posting me on Facebook Live Antonio Brown style, nor laughing hysterically at the toilet paper strung out of my backside from my morning ritual. Nope. Nope. Nope. They were being nice.

I guess Athens hasn’t received the memo from the PE yet. Nice isn’t America’s way anymore.

As nice as the people of Athens were, the 28 students in my workshop were amazing. In fact, amazing isn’t a powerful enough word. I just don’t have a stronger one. Let me work on that.

The group were the second year MBA/MSA students, carefully selected from across the country. Each of them were passionate, driven, ambitious and delightfully unique. They told me their stories. Shared with me their dreams. Admitted their weaknesses. Talked about their futures. 

The purpose of my visit was to run a one credit workshop around one of my favourite topics – entrepreneurship in sport. I used to teach it as a semester long course in Laurentian’s SPAD program but changed it up dramatically for this workshop. Time was a clear driver of this change. Taking a sixteen week course down to a couple of days required a reboot to the approach.

The reboot resulted in the design of a workshop that focused on my personal beliefs as the most critical factor in the success of any enterprise. The entrepreneur themselves. As well, that reboot also resulted in a slight adjustment in focus. My objective wasn’t for everyone in the room to run out the door and magically become entrepreneurs. My focus was for the participants to become more entrepreneurial in spirit. Obviously biased but I feel entrepreneurial people are the key to success in any enterprise, regardless of size, mission, structure, or purpose.

I write pieces of this on a wet winter January morning, minutes after meeting an aspiring film maker who has invested thee years and all of his savings of his life into creating a documentary. That’s an entrepreneur. This afternoon I will huddle with the CEO of one of our largest NFP clients, who has rebuilt his organization despite encountering massive funding cuts literally the week he assumed his new title. That’s an entrepreneurial leader. 

There are thee parts to this discussion for any person wanting to understand their inner entrepreneur. 

1. Can you sell yourself to yourself? There are going to be dark moments and ugly hurdles. Do you have the passion, focus, and courage to succeed?

2. Can you sell yourself to others? You can’t do it alone. Who will come to your side for this voyage? Who will pick up arms for this battle? Who will leap off that cliff holding your hand?

3. Can you sell yourself to customers? You are the brand. You are the business. But a business isn’t a business until you make a sale. A sale isn’t made until you get paid. 

These questions made for an engaging discussion with this group of Bobcats. Taking stock of yourself isn’t easy, but it’s a process that can benefit anyone. However taking stock of yourself and sharing it with some strange Canadian is an even more challenging task. These OU kids, however, were more than my match. 

I came home from this trip and blurted out to anyone that there is some incredible talent for hire in this class. There is one young lady I want to sign up tomorrow. Even if it means she would become our entire Athens office. She’s a rockstar. Additionally it would be really nice to work somewhere where total strangers said Good Morning. Something to consider.