What Can You Learn in Fifteen Seconds?

The Fifteen Seconds Festival in Graz takes its name from the importance of the first fifteen seconds in any encounter – a meeting, a date, a presentation. So within the first Fifteen Seconds of this blog, I am going to tell you I was fortunate enough to attend this fantastic event again last week and therefore am inspired to share a series of fifteen-second learnings shared by people I met and sessions I heard. 
So pick one from the stack below and enjoy a very expedited masterclass. 

@Nina Meuller – the importance of making Failure Your Friend. Start by doing a premortem before starting any transformation, campaign or project. 

@George Nimeh – we should do more presentations about the good that came out of the pandemic and not just the bad. 
@Aurel Hosenenn – the power of being of understanding yourself through meditation, solo retreats, and self-care. 
@Emilie Colker – design is crucial to reframing and solving problems 
@Sandy Heydt – people over profits, people over profits, people over profits. 

@Allan Dransfield – not to be afraid of random strangers 
@Eena Kim – you need to ensure your branding does not lose its soul
@Tamas Trunk – to have faith in Gen Z to save our world

@Stoyan Yankov – productivity is not about efficiency; it is a state of mind. 

@Samantha Yarwood – losing everything during the pandemic was a blessing. 
@Alex Brueckmann – JOMO (joy of missing out) over FOMO
@Laurent Petit – you can do good for yourself and the planet simultaneously. 

See you in Fifteen Seconds!


With Sponsorship X returning to Whistler this August I thought it was fitting to repost some of our great times captured in my 2018 blog post:

Dear Whistler;

Thank you for being such an enchanting hostess for sponsorshipX.

“This was the 3rd sponsorshipX conference I attended and the best one yet. The workshops were insightful and the networking opportunities were second to none. In addition to establishing some great business contacts, I came home with a few new friends”

Your twin mountains embraced my sponsorshipX friends with passion.
Your rugged beauty and massive peaks challenged our souls.
Your endless skies, filled with sun and smoke, inspired us.

“It was an outstanding conference hosted in an amazing part of our country. I thought the topics were incredibly relevant, presented by engaging individuals.  I learned a lot and made many great connections.”

You were the perfect hostess.

Perfect because your mountains provided an apt metaphor for our conference theme. Perfect because your mountains provided an arena for our delegates to become bikers, hikers, and zip liners. Perfect because you challenged every person at sponsorshipX to challenge themselves in new ways they never thought possible.

“…this was the most impactful conference that we’ve been to. Everybody was excited to be there, open to chat and learn, and generally easy to engage with.” 

When I decided two years ago that you would be the first ever hostess of sponsorshipX, my only hope was that you would speak to everyone, the way you did to me. I was wrong about that. You sang to them. You sang to them in a way that the lyrics they heard were different for each of them, yet the tune was familiar. You made it personal. You made it powerful. You made it real.

Dear Whistler. I know my thanks are something that would be shared by all of our sponsorshipX guests. You can see the gratitude in these pictures I have shared. You can sense your impact in the words that I have shared. You can feel the gratitude in this message I have shared.

“Many thanks to all of you, and the entire T1 team for pulling off such an incredible and engaging conference… was off the charts and think you nailed not only the spectacular venue, but the approach to snack sized content was ideal.”

All I have to left to say is that I can’t wait to come back to you.


Head Coach, sponsorshipX

Sunrise, Sunrise

Sunrise, sunrise

Looks like mornin’ in your eyes.

Thanks to Ally Love, the words of Norah Jones sang through my pods this morning as my feet feverishly worked my Peloton. Jones’ ballad opened my eyes and finally unlocked much of what I felt these past few weeks. 

Like so many, I have been searching for the words to express my personal take on the anguish happening worldwide. But my hands were blocked by the self-doubt of who am I to try to find words to help others get through another day. (Credit to Ms. Jones for my poaching more of her lyrics.)

It is with sadness for me to think of the many people that will never see a sunrise again or get to share it with a lost loved one. 

Mornings are so inspiring. This past weekend on my first visiting New Brunswick, a group of us was up at 5:30 AM in St. Martins to see the sun emerge and the tide retreat across Quaco Bay. It did not disappoint. 

I love the sun because I love mornings. I am inspired by the mystery that every day brings and the opportunities to rewrite my personal script. To achieve more. Course correct. To regain a lost friend or meet a new collaborator. 

This week many of my friends and colleagues at CAMH, Sun Life, and the Mh3 Collective are rising with the sun to raise money for mental health research. Every day we lose people to suicide in this country. Every day families are devastated by the loss of a loved one. Every day millions of people face depression and a variety of disorders that impact their mental, physical, and emotional health.


I knew this week I was planning to financially and emotionally support my teammates in the Sunrise Challenge virtual fundraiser. But it was not until I heard Jones’ lyrics that these words came to me. I encourage you to listen to her, yourself, and a loved one. I encourage you to participate or support someone participating in the Sunrise Challenge. 

But most of all, I encourage you to speak up if the events in the world are causing you anxiety because they are indeed doing the same to someone who would like to hear from you. 

We can help one another rise.

To donate please check out this website: Sunrise Challenge – Donate | Support CAMH – Sunrise Challenge

Brand U™

A brand is a promise. 

A good brand is a promise kept. 

Do the words of former Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent satisfy your yearning for the answer to the age-old question – what is a brand? If so, I am sure you admire the simplicity of the concept of accountability weaving into his definition. Meeting, frankly exceeding, a consumer’s expectations is really at the heart of what every service, product, and experience pursue. 

This notion of delivering expands far beyond consumer goods to a coverage area of politicians, governments, religious organizations, public services, not-for-profit sports teams, influencers, motivational experts, personal coaches, and entertainers. This list is far from exhaustive. Extending to every entity and now individuals, personal branding is proliferating. 

As we emerge or escape from this cocooned world, the concept of personal brand presents opportunities and challenges for many people. ” The Great Resignation,” or “The Great Sabbatical,” is flaming with fuel from people reevaluating their lives and professional existence. The questions Who Am I and What Do I Do? can only bring answers with a definitive examination of your brand. This discussion, self-examination, is an incredibly challenging exercise. 

Often we think of a personal brand as the public profile of a famous individual. So it makes sense that CEOs are “Promoters” of their company or politicians as “Self-Promoters.” Similarly, Advocates might be labelled “Issue Promoters,” whereas entertainers are often “Talent Promoters.”

However, most of the people reading this post are not famous—a few may be Almost Famous. Many of you have probably seen the movie and wished you were. (If you haven’t seen Almost Famous, please watch it tonight!) Being famous is far from a prerequisite to having a personal brand. Being on social media is also not a prerequisite. The simple math is that you need to have a clearly defined promise of whom you are as an individual. 

Taking this simplistic approach, imagine there are just four Personal Brand Archetypes, although there are many more. This set will allow us to ponder for a moment. The four archetypes could be 1. Connectors, 2. Mentors, 3. Ringleaders, and 4. Peace Makers. It will not take much time for you to think about your collection of friends and family to recognize who the Networker, the Supporter, the Convenor, or the Socializer in your cohort. 

To understand which one you are, ask yourself some simple questions:

  1. What do you do well unconsciously?
  2. What is your story?
  3. Whom do you serve?
  4. Do you have a unique approach?
  5. What is your impact on others?

None of these questions are scientific, nor are they exhaustive. But they will provide a window into your soul, mind, and muscles. They will help you think about who you are. Significantly they will also help you identify who you should be. 

As you navigate 2022 taking the time to understand Brand U™ will be a helpful exercise to equip you to keep the promises you are making and understand what those promises should even contain. 

P.S. for more information about personal branding check out these links below:

  1. Harvard Business Review: What’s the Point of a Personal Brand? by Harrison Monarth
  2. Forbes: Ten Golden Rules of Personal Branding by Goldie Chan
  3. Live Your Message: 13 Strong Personal Brand Examples (+ Actionable Takeaways) by Marisa Murgatroyd
T1 Logo

May 16, 1994 & Beyond

Dear Friends of T1;

I want to thank each of you for the magical support of my team and me. 

Today, T1 turns 28 years young. While the past two years have been demonstrably more challenging than the first twenty-six, we are alive and thriving.

We have you to thank for that. 

Thank you for your faith in us, and we ask for your continued support for the next twenty-eight years!

No birthday is complete without some exciting news, milestones, and updates!  

  1. Today, we are no longer The T1 Agency – we are T1, with a new logo, new purpose statement, and tighter focus. 
  2. Please check out our new logo and brand online.
  3. Our new purpose, Sponsors of Impactful Brands™, is our beacon in supporting people and brands in their missions to impact people, communities, culture and society.
  4. Coupled with our mission of uniting brands with people, we are doing all of this by being a Full-Stack Sponsorship shop with three areas of emphasis: partnership, activation and amplification.
  5. If our focus is full-stack sponsorship, then it must be time to announce the relaunch of SponsorshipX with inspirational events, including Whistler this August and Ontario this Fall, along with training and development programs and a global communal platform. 
  6. Plus, we have BIG news about the world’s favourite sport. As of May 16, we have a new division – T1 Futbol led by Managing Partner – Imran Choudhry and supported by Steve Coakley (VP, Global Partnerships) and Jorge Tatto (Sr. Director, Partnership Strategy)
  7. As Imran is now busy on the pitch (pun intended), I welcome NithyaRamachandran as our (interim) General Manager. She joins Imran, Steve, Catherine Mass, and Christy Cusack (VP, Client Engagement) on the T1 Leadership team. 
  8. Lastly, T1 is now part of MH3 Collective, a group of ventures bonded by a common purpose – Connecting people & ideas to make a social impact. 

While it is time to celebrate business, it goes without saying that I am so proud of the community-building efforts of our teams. To mark our birthday, we ask our friends to support our mission at our not-for-profit school Park Street Education which focuses on removing barriers to education for youth from underserved communities. Today we are trying to raise $28,000 (simple math 1k per year!) to help provide scholarships for two children in the 2022-23 school year. You or your company can donate here. If your social responsibility leaders want further details, please have them reach out, and I will connect them with our team. 

Again, please accept our heartfelt thanks from all T1ers, past, present, and future. 


C the Futur

Much of the work done in social justice focuses on correcting past wrongdoings.

Collecting information and evidence, dealing with pain and emotion, and searching for empathetic partners make Reconciliation a challenging activity. But unfortunately, history is not as straightforward as it should be.

Our future hurtles and even more hurdles than our past, beginning with the simple concept of uncertainty. As we look forward, there will always be factors out of our control, but we cannot use those as an excuse not to work to shape our destiny. The brave and bold say otherwise. They live intentionally and look forward to scripting a better tomorrow.

In Edmonton this July, you have an opportunity to bear witness to those who have a vision for how the African diaspora can build a prosperous tomorrow for our community. This discussion will be central to the C-Tribe Festival and its marquee event, the C-Afrofuturism Conference, July 20-24th.

C-Tribe is the creation of my Black Talent Initiative colleague – Sahr Saffa. He created C-Tribe to promote and champion the influence of many cultural forces on business, fashion, music, technology, and entertainment. Edmonton is his hometown, and proudly the northernmost metropolis in the world is also central to his platform.

Sahr believes in shaping the future, and that is his community. By creating a platform for many diverse people to assemble and collaborate, he brings it to life with meaning and purpose.

We live in a time when social posts and likes are not enough. Today actual change will only be made by those who want to do the work. Magically as hard as a result is, the journey is full of rewards. The roadmap may get fuzzy at times, but the compass never waivers.

Today it points North to Edmonton.

Suppose you have felt the need after two years of isolation and loneliness to gather with your entire self. To unleash your energy and meet others who wish to do the same, I encourage you to participate in the C-Afrofuturism Conference.

It promises to be a forum where you, your company, and your industry can genuinely support the Black community. As our community thrives, it has an amplifier effect on all communities. As a Torontonian, I can say that marketers focus too much on the 416. Canada is the world’s best country not just because of our largest city but also because of Halifax, Orillia and Edmonton.

Bring your soul, investment, and optimism to Edmonton this summer. I will be there to await you with open arms, a high five, and a challenge to shape the future—the Afrofutur of Canada.

Draft Eligible

I must talk about the NFL Draft too much.

Yes, I went to Vegas last week to enjoy the Draft. Yes, I last attended it in 2019, as we staged SponsorshipX alongside the event in Nashville. But, no, I have never been to the NFL Draft at any other time than those two years.

Yet so many people commented to me that I go every year. Nope. Although I plan to go in 2023 to Kansas City, and not just because it is fun, but because I think the Draft provides an excellent lesson for marketers of all types – tourism, media, brand, property, athlete and celebrity. I want to share three thoughts that come to mind from my trip last week.

  1. We can all learn from Vegas Baby. It is incredible how Las Vegas is transitioning from being the capital of the unspoken escape to the sports entertainment capital. Vegas is taking its approach to attracting pro teams, new venues, and now significant events. It is filling gaps in its tourism calendar, leveraging residencies by stars such as John Legend, and expanding the footprint of the strip to new venues such as the Caesars Forum. Throw the hunger for the legalization of sports betting on top, and you can see how the Vegas approach to sports is consistent with its brand and a world apart from a classic sports town such as Chicago.
  2. The Crossover isn’t just a basketball move. I was fortunate to be invited to the NFLPA Pitch Day, where entrepreneurs pitch the union to receive marketing and business support. The judges for the event ranged from Marshall Lunch to WNBA star Tamera Young and 1863 Ventures founder Melissa Bradley. Sponsored by Truist bank, the winner and all finalists receive business consulting support. The grand prize winner was Healium, a startup founded by Sarah Hill. Healium is a new approach to mental wellness that helps you self-manage without medication.
  3. Surprise and annoyance are as exciting as surprise and delight. People love sports because of the absence of a scripted outcome, the result being the performance of players and coaches, shaped by officials, weather, and luck. The Draft is highly unscripted, despite every team entering armed with months and years of player evaluations. But their plans are intertwined with all of the other franchises. Each decision-maker has ten minutes to make their selection after the previous team’s choice, some of which will generate celebrations and others a heap of aggravation. But both generate an ongoing response from their fans and months’ worth of media debate. Brands like to surprise and delight; maybe they should ponder how they can rile up their devotees!

Dissecting the success of other properties is a recommended practice for any sports league, entertainment property, or even a charity event in building an off-season marketing moment like non-other. Do you have a tentpole activity that four months before the season begins creates headline news, electrifies a city, engages its fan base, and collaborates with every business partner? Could your brand benefit from conducting a pre-launch, much like the sales campaign for condo development with ‘Fall 2022 Occupancy’ messaging?

The recipe is right there for the leveraging even though it might take your property time to get there. Even the NFL didn’t expect TV audiences to come when it started broadcasting nationally on ESPN in 1980. The current event format only came about in 2015 after the league turned it into a travelling property. But every property has the elements:

– Future stars and celebrities
– Passionate fan bases
– Activation-starved partners
– Hospitality industry supporters
– News hungry media

Of course, the scale of the NFL may be quite different than yours but think of yourself as the local establishment borrowing secrets from a multinational. It is time for you to do the same.

National Volunteer Week

I want to thank all the volunteers in my life. It is National Volunteer Week, after all!

Every day of my life, I get to collaborate alongside people raising funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto, organizing events for CAMH, growing professional networks for the Black Talent Initiative community and advising our team at Park Street Education.

Every day.

If I had written this blog a few years ago, I would have talked of the football coaches in my life, the robotics coaches in our younger son’s life, the rugby coaches in our older son’s life, etc.

Volunteers lead the world to a better place and conduct rescue efforts when it is not so good. They understand they have a skill set and capacity that many organizations cannot access. Yet, inside many volunteers exists a pain point that gnaws away at them daily unless they get out and do something about it.

In short, the best volunteers are making the world, your world, a better place to live.

Take the time this week to salute the volunteers in your community. Please give them a gold star or buy them a Starbucks. Share their story on social because they are likely not apt to. Tell them to thank you in as many words as it takes—the better.

It is also time for you to remind those that don’t volunteer that it is their turn. Time pressure, personal finances, or perceived ability are irrelevant. Many opportunities to engage without it being a precursor to a significant donation or an unwieldy time commitment. If you can’t commit fully, buddy up, or Bonny up, on a role. You’re needed, wanted, and valued.

The world does not have enough volunteers. It has too many critics. The idiots who used to scream at my youth football coaching decisions but never offered a hand even to set up the bench. The climate protesters who don’t think about getting involved in a rideshare to help transport those without cars. The person at work thinks it is the receptionist’s job to unload the staff dishwasher or the social poster with lots to say about what other people are doing wrong.

Wow, this post took a dark turn, didn’t it?

But there are indeed more critics than contributors out there. So please celebrate the latter this week. I encourage you to find someone in your neighbourhood in your company in your circle of friends and surprise them with your own National Volunteer Week award. Need ideas? Check out the site Volunteer.ca. Need Inspiration – ask any of my friends who volunteer.

Need motivation? Just look outside. The world needs you!

Invaluable Internships

This blog may be a not-so-subtle commentary for my teams as it is for the external world. However, as we head into spring and students across Canada are nailing down their summer roles, I wonder how many have secured great internships to help launch their careers. Not only students but anyone who is looking to accelerate their career.

Suppose you were fortunate enough to have a great summer internship when you were younger, or your organization has a great internship program they deploy. In that case, I don’t have to convince you how hard the past two years have been on people looking to secure relevant work experience. The summer of 2020 was the year without internships. Just twenty-four months ago, many companies abandoned their plans to bring on talent for the summer. A year ago, the 2021 internship return was a broken-down golf cart of its former self.

It means that for us in the privileged position of bringing interns on board for 2022, we need to do the best of our financial abilities and the best of our capability to create a fantastic internship experience. Universally we can all agree that purely remote internships, as many were in 2021, suck at best and, at worst, are outright discouraging. So a few thought starters for the talent and hiring partners to think about this summer.

# 1 – It is not too late. If your company hasn’t finalized their plans for the summer, a plethora of young talent is still available. I know because they are flooding our inboxes daily. One of my competitors had five-hundred applicants for their internship program. I know they didn’t hire them all.

# 2 – Prioritize safe engagement. My actual bias would be to implore you to create 100% in-person internships, but I recognize that we need to privatize safety. That said, ensure your interns have human connections. Notice I didn’t say get them into the office. The office is just one part of it. By planning walking meetings, outdoor contacts, phone calls (yes, the phone) and some onsite days, you can create an excellent experience for your interns. If you are a talent securing an internship this summer, demand it. Maybe make a bubble of fellow interns who work together?

# 3 – Avoid the parent trap. Here is where I will get in trouble, but I am going here. Few things are less appealing to me about an applicant than when your parent asks on your behalf. I am amazed this happens with close friends and people who have done nothing for me in my entire career. I have zero interest in hiring someone who can’t write their application letters. If your parents offer to lend you a hand potential intern, let them know they should wait to applaud you for landing the internship on your own.

The next few months will be very telling as we think about how all of our businesses re-engage. The employee experience is one of the most confounding elements of future business planning, and I am sure you are constantly searching for answers. While on this quest, don’t forget interns and their impact on our ventures for the future.

Q2 is About You


Are you looking back at your Q1 goals and wondering why you didn’t complete what you set out to do?

Did you have New Year’s resolutions that you broke before putting a cork in January? Did your new diet, attitude, habit or hobby get thrown out the window on one of those bitterly cold days we experienced in Toronto? Or perhaps you live in a land without snow and ice, but you still froze in your self-development tracks.

In your work life, did you have a series of projects that felt doable and looked achievable on a Miro board or in a Slack channel that somehow fell apart right before your eyes? Did the leaks appear early in the hull of your expeditionary vessel before you could even put the mast and sails up?

I am sure you will agree with me when I say aloud: How is it April? Those words ring loud as you plan Q2, even though it is already two weeks old, and you assess your first quarter of this year entitled Twenty-Twenty-Two.

If you are strong enough to have achieved everything you set out to in Jan-Feb-March, you have little motivation to read on outside of attempting not to hurt my feelings. But if you are like me and put too many things up on the board, let’s discuss some solutions further.

In an attempt to practice what this blog is preaching, I will recommend one and only one idea for you to tackle for Q2. You can search elsewhere on how to set “S.M.A.R.T.” Goals or Objectives or Rocks or Milestones. There are more sources than you can imagine to help you learn, adapt, and hopefully maintain new habits. If weight loss is your primary goal, I can 1000% recommend the Noom App. Maybe you want to stave off old age, then read Younger Next Year. Missing something to celebrate? Go to a game or head to your local and make a new friend.

But if you are genuinely committed to taking down everything you need to in Q2, I suggest you focus on one thing only. Your Mental Health. Your Mental Health is the biggest threat to our existence in 2022. Think about it. You are stressed, your work is not getting any easier, and there are tsunamis of discontent around you. Watching Russia slaughter the people of Ukraine is horrifying. Witnessing Republicans attack Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson confirms that racism is a weapon that white people are happy to embrace. Your concerns over inflation, elections and housing affordability are not unfounded.

Plus, all around you are hearing horrifying stories of people’s mental health challenges. In everyday life, we all hear of the successful executive committing suicide. A friend of a friend is struggling with depression—a university student who can’t cope.

But what about you? Have you looked in on yourself? Are you strong enough to handle the world we live? Are you strong enough to support your loved ones? Are you strong enough for two, or maybe three, when someone with mental health challenges needs to lean on you?

The most unselfish thing in the world you can do is practice self-care. Somebody once said that You can’t love someone else until you can love yourself.

I implore you to set aside the planner. Park the time management tools. Push pause on the productivity podcast. Take a deep breath and look even deeper inside yourself; if you need help, celebrate the discovery, and seek it with your head held high.

If you believe you are 100% mentally fit, what is the plan to keep it that way? First, Journal and take notice of what is working every day. Then, celebrate your success every day. Finally, tell yourself you can do it every day.

Improving your mental health will improve every aspect of your health. It may even save your life.

It may even save the lives of others.