Football Needs Super Heroes, Not A Super League

I store my interest in European Football (soccer ) in three distinct subdivisions. 

The first is business, strictly business. Whether it be sponsorship, sports betting, the machinery of relegation or the current ownership abandonment by Asian investors, I am tuning in daily. 

The second is fandom but on an international scale. Soccer stirs my patriotic fires when our Canadian women compete in the Olympics, World Cup, or other major international tourneys. If you have spent five minutes in the presence of Christine Sinclair, you too will be a fan for life.  

The third is my love for the World Cup when all of Canada has a reason to get involved because we each adopt a new homeland for a few weeks and cheer our guts out. 

(Don’t get me wrong, I love watching TFC win their first MLS title, but even then, I have to admit the early days of BMO field in the old Carlsberg paddock make my heart warmer.) 

Despite those three veins of interest, I cannot say I am a fan of the Premier League or La Liga or Serie A. I don’t wake up early on the weekends, paint my face, inebriate myself to cheer on my beloved Club. But I understand why millions do. 

But last week, my attention drifted from obsessing over whom the Steelers would draft to European Football. First, like many, I was drawn to the trainwreck of a Netflix series called The Super League fiasco. Not since New Coke has the world witnessed such a vile consumer revolt. This revolt involved consumers, competitors, coaches, and commentators. Books, and yes, a Netflix series, will be written about this. 

But as the Super League buried itself, another European football story emerged. That of a social media boycott by the Premier League, the English Football League and the Women’s Super League to protest abuse and discrimination. While not given the same attention as the Stan Kroenke in Wonderland debacle, this story is even more critical. 

I am not trying to stereotype when I picture the European football fan. While we all have seen the portrayal of hooligans, Football in Europe is much more than that. It plays a community-building, family bonding, and nation-boosting role in society. It can take a poor lad from anywhere in the world and propel him to stardom. It provides countless hours of debate, camaraderie, and anxiety.

Soccer truly is a beautiful game. 

Unfortunately, soccer, Football, I should say, is marred by cowards. Vile, ugly cowards who hide behind online platforms and spew hate. Racist, cowardly hate. More often than not, they will also bring this hatred to the stadium. But social media has given them the safest platform of all from which to lob their missives. 


In their frustration, coaches, players, and leagues try to turn off their social feeds, not follow online, and retreat. That is a shameful loss for their loyal fans. But who can blame the targets of these offensive attacks? Why put up with it.

Racism is dominant around the world. I don’t have to tell you that. I also don’t have to say those that run social media platforms also know it.

The world needs one of these social media platforms to become a Super Hero. To use their clout, their technology, and their influence to combat racism. I know there are issues of alleged free speech, challenges in monitoring, and costs. But the world needs the leaders of these businesses to act. 

There must be a strategy. There must because we are talking about racism. 

Suppose the vile cowards can chase a star to shut down their feeds. What is next? To get them to quit the game, to deprive their fans and the country of their majesty. 

Why not just stop the sport altogether? Now, there is an idea. How about the entire sport of Football follows the steps to the graveyard imprinted by the Super League. 

Imagine that for a moment—a zero-tolerance policy. If, at any point, during a football broadcast, a racist remark is made, it will halt the game.  How about every time a racist comment surfaces between games, the team boycotts its next match. How about every time a coward makes a statement, eliminates their country from international competition for a month? The second time a year?

Racism isn’t something that minorities who play Football should have to battle alone. They need the Super Heroes called owners, sponsors, politicians, media, and social media to join them on the pitch. If there is some doubt in the minds of the powers to be, I have a suggestion.

Read some of the attacks that and imagine the target is your son or daughter. Aren’t parents the ultimate Super Heroes?

NFT’s Is Not an Acronym for Gold Rush

The erupting hysteria around non-fungible tokens (NFT) is another once-in-a-lifetime chapter of this bizarre pandemic era.

I cannot profess to be an NFT expert. However, it is a topic that I am daily researching, studying, and absorbing. Since I am old, I will explain NFT”s in this manner. When I was a kid, I collected trading cards. Who didn’t? The basic concept of trading cards is the rarer the card, the more valuable it. NFT’s take this to an extreme. The value of an NFT is that there is only one of them in its more pure sense.

Now the BFT community will argue that there are collections and sets in the NFT world, which is true. But even they are unique in their own right. So let me try again. Let’s pretend you had an autograph from a famous singer. If that singer added your name and a message and dated it to the second, that asset would exist only once. If the singer signed another similar autograph, replete with the same note, and time-stamped it, that would be a completely different asset, despite its similarity.

Another way to think of it would be this. Imagine you own the original of Banksy’s Napalm. There is only one. Now other people could copy it, take pictures of it, or share prints of it. But there is only one original. NFT’s are the equivalent of that original masterpiece. Only digitally.

There have been some fantastic NFT stories told over the past few weeks. Start with Beeple, the formerly anonymous Mike Winkelmann. Before selling Everydays: the First 50000 Days for $ 69 Million (USD!), he had never earned more than $ 100 for a single print. NBA Top Shots have gone from zero to $ 500 million in sales with almost 1 million accounts in less than a year. Then there is CryptoKitties. Like NBA Top Shots, they are produced by the Candian Company Dapper Labs. In simple terms, people are buying digital kitties. They have actually been around for a few years. Still, the current frenzied orgy of speculation fueled by the blockchain/NFT/ Clubhouse has made them even more famous.

All this to say, there is a gold rush of hysteria happening around NFT’s. Their value to the consumer is built on scarcity, bragging rights, and the cool factor. The value of NFT’s to artists is an incredible opportunity to disrupt existing distribution channels, monetization models, and marketing platforms. The NFT puts the power even further in the hand of the artists. Whether that be musicians, visual artists, and authors. The ability to track the material’s ownership, ensure that royalties are always paid, and generate income from every transaction of their work is unbelievable.

But I do have a cautionary word—investors, amateur and otherwise. Artists, famous and wanting to become famous; brands, traditional or DTC; athletes, amateur or professional – should all heed this warning.

Do not treat NFT’s like a gold rush. They are not. Speculative purchases or investing could end up ruining people if they are not careful. It is hard to ignore that the stories of Beeple or Kevin Abosch, who made $ 2 million from an NFT art show after COVID cancelled his in-gallery events. It is hard not to want to. It is hard not to ignore that people pay $ 200,000 for LeBron James highlights that could be sourced for free on YouTube.

But here is what you have to remember. The actual value in an NFT is the democratization of creativity. The NFT allows artists and creators to share in ways never before accessible. To secure global attention, ensure the protection of their work, and get paid fairly for their work.

So if you’re interested in NFT’s for your brand, your fundraiser, your team. Start with the creators in mind. Most creators are also highly driven by their work over profit. They have a message to deliver, and they want to be heard. That is a highly customer-centric approach.

By beginning with the creator, you will also ensure the customer is the center of your story. As a responsible brand owner, remember we all own our brands. You need to think of trust as critical to your future. So do not attempt to create a get-rich approach to your deployment of NFT’s.

History has demonstrated to us from the gold rush to the dot com rush, to the blockchain rush, to the day trading rush that what goes up must come down. You are far better to take the NFT journey one foot after the other. There is no question that learning this brave new world is essential. But there is a difference between priority and urgency. One will ensure you follow your north star. The latter can have you chasing shooting stars.

An Invitation to Clubhouse

The radio call-in show has been democratized, and it is called Clubhouse.

The social media app that is sweeping the world is a daily place of joy for me. While brands, self-help gurus, and entrepreneurs all try to decipher what this runaway train of connectivity will become, I have handed myself over to it, body and soul.

If you haven’t heard of Clubhouse yet, just search it online. In fact, I would encourage you to do so right now and then come back to this blog. At the risk of losing you, I think you must understand what I am talking about. That will help me make my task more manageable and explain why I am so in love with this thing.

For perspective, I was cut by every baseball team I ever tried out for. So I never made it to the Clubhouse. But as I progressed through life, I made my own clubs. When I went to university, I wasn’t keen on the Greek system of clubs called sororities or fraternities as a club. So I created a group called Team Gryphon. This was a club of students who loved our university sports teams and wanted to help promote them. Later in my career, I created SponsorshipX (formerly the Canadian Sponsorship Forum), which was less an event and more of a club for sponsorship marketing professionals. I recently launched the Black Talent Initiative, part movement, and part club for social justice advocates.

The one thing in common with all of these clubs? In fact, with any club? They provide an opportunity for your voice to be heard. A safe space for you to be among like-minded people with shared values. A chance to meet people you may never have met before.

This is why I believe Clubhouse has wholly upended the notion of community in social media forever. Akin to what Instagram did to photo social sharing, TikTok has done to video, Clubhouse now has to audio. The Clubhouse app takes the best of the podcast – hearing from experts,  best of radio – the chance to be heard and combined with the best of being in a club – an opportunity to dialogue.

The Clubhouse app has also eliminated many of the pitfalls of social media. The vitriol from the anonymous person, hiding behind an online identity. The misinterpretation is often caused by the written word. The delay in feedback and gratification. The one too many nature of a post. The lack of spontaneity, emotion, and nuance. All the negatives of social media are gone.

The Clubhouse app is the place for you to find your voice. The place for your consumers to find their voice. The place for your employees to find their voices. The place for your future consumers and employees to find their voices as well.

When I joined Clubhouse a month or so ago, there were two million users. Today it is past ten million. It is technically invite-only. That means someone you know has to either send you an entry or they need to let you in off the waitlist.

Those are the technical invitations to Clubhouse. I am offering you an emotional invitation.

Join the Club and find your voice.

History is Calling You

History is calling.

John C. Maxwell recently wrote: “Movements don’t start with masses. They start with one.”

History will look back at you today and ask a simple question. What movement were you a part of?

What will your answer be?

Will it be one that confirms your legacy? Will it be one that every attendee at your funeral confirms? Will it be one that fulfills your vision of your life?

Or will history hear excuses?

History is the only true impartial judge that exists. The future can be recklessly predicted. The present can be falsely reported. But the past – that’s a scoreboard for the ages. 

History doesn’t lie. 

History is beckoning you right now to contribute to the storyline. History is begging you to get involved. History is beseeching you to make your voice heard. History is relying on you to change its course.

The world needs you now more than ever. In every crisis lies opportunity and as sad as that sounds, it is true. As vocal as history has been, the present has been gagged by the crisis of today. The threats to democracy, our health, our economy, and our wellbeing have never been greater.

The only cure for what makes our hearts and minds ache? Movement.

You can be that relief. That pain killer. That remedy. You have the power. You have the opportunity. You now have the purpose.

The first person to sell on joining your movement will literally be you. Self-doubt, apprehension, and inertia are the hardest things for you to overcome with any new journey. The water looks cold, until you crash the surface and realize how refreshing it can be.

Our history is depending on you taking that jump. Our future will be bleak without you. Our present will be even more challenging. Our past will be wasted effort.
It truly just takes one. One step, by one person. One more after that. One at a time.

You are the one.

The Teacher of the Future

Welcome to World Teachers’ Day 2020. 

The theme for this year’s special day is Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future.

As a parent, you can’t ask for much more than a teacher who will lead and reimagine. As a parent, you would be delighted for your child to be in this type of teacher’s classroom. As a parent, you have a fair expectation that all teachers will fulfill this mantra – leading in crisis, reimagining the future. 

It is no secret that there is a decline in the parent confidence of teachers. The profession has sadly been challenged by a decline in perceived status in society, hurdles placed before the profession by educational authorities, and a populous who thinks they are experts in everything.

As a marketing entrepreneur who recently decided to co-found a school, Park Street, it may seem that I too belong in that last category of know-it-alls. But I didn’t launch Park Street because I believe I know more about teaching than the professionals do. There was a simple and genuine insight that struck me like a thunderbolt during this pandemic. In fact it has struck all of us. 

In simple terms, the education systems were not ready for a catastrophe of this magnitude. Neither the public nor the private systems. Furthermore the push to online learning, even when done on an ad hoc basis, has unfairly disadvantaged those that are already disadvantaged. Lastly, the way we live will forever be changed and I do not believe our current education system will change with it. 

Plus I had a secret weapon. My father. 

My father was a teacher and much more. He was a father figure to his students, a collaborator with his peers, and a champion of the school janitorial and support staff. He was even my teacher in my early high school years. Most importantly however, he was a role model. Even if I did not realize it at the time. 

My father always led others through crisis and reimagined the future. He helped teenagers who faced economic, familial, and other challenges, find a way through them. He guided young men and women into careers they did not know were possible. He gave confidence to those lacking and mentored in the most powerful way possible. By showing, not telling.

Before there was the internet, my father practiced social media with his story telling. Before there was the concept of team bonding, my dad took his students on off-sites to build things that led to shared experiences. Before purpose was in vogue, my Dad had his students helping teach those with intellectual disabilities. 

Show. Don’t Tell. 

I named our new school “Park Street” in honour of my Dad. The school he enriched for a quarter-century was of the same name, but it was torn down a few years ago. The wrecking ball can knock down the walls, but it can’t stop the success of the thousands of people he helped.

While Park Street has an eye to the future of education, there is one fundamental tenant that we will never compromise – the role of our teachers. We want great teachers to be the backbone of our experience. Teachers build community. Teachers build children. Teachers build society. Teaching is the most important form of activism that exists in our society today. 

I was extremely lucky to have my father as my greatest teacher. As an adopted child, I truly feel I’ve won the lottery. Today I feel I have won the lottery twice over. In Julie Champagne and Samantha Leach, I have found two co-founders and head teachers that are glaring reincarnations of my father. (If reincarnation is possible, given my dad is still alive.)

Julie and Sam are unbelievably intelligent people who could have pursued any career path they wanted. I think there is a perception that some people teach because they could not get a better job. Not these two. 

Julie and Sam are unbelievably passionate teachers who care about the complete development of children above all else. Their teaching style is to understand the child first and teach the courses second, if not sometimes third. 

Julie and Sam are also entrepreneurs at heart. As an entrepreneur myself I admire their innovation, their hustle, and their belief in taking control of their own careers, as opposed to waiting for a handout from an unseen hand. 

A great teacher knows that nothing is handed to you in life. My father taught me that. Julie and Sam are reminding me of that daily.


We Can’t Protest Too Much

I was so angry last week.

The boos raining down on the Houston Texans and Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs from the fans at Arrowhead Stadium was a slap in the face of equality.

What sin had these players committed? The sin of protest, acting, advocacy.

They lined up at midfield. Linked arms. Players. Coaches. Teammates. Opponents. The stadium screen displayed a simple message of support for Black Lives Matter.

Oh my. What a sin.

That simple call for racial unity was met with outright disapproval.

It made me cry. More than once in fact. It made me angry. I still am. It made me realize how much work society has to go.

I think that Roger Goodell and every league partner, broadcaster, and investor need to condemn the acts of these fans. Their leadership has never been so vital. Their voices need to be heard.

Those fans are not being fans. They have forfeited their rights. They need to earn them back.

I can’t make this ask, without acting.

I need to keep making sure my voice is heard. I need to ensure that I keep protesting. I need to ensure that you keep protesting. We all do.

It’s going to get more difficult than just being booed. It’s going to get nastier. It’s going to get more risky. It’s going to get more damaging.

But we can’t stop. The Chiefs won’t stop. The Texans won’t stop.

I won’t stop, if you won’t.

Falling Back

I often write an early September blog about going Back to School.

It is an easy metaphor to make. It’s easy to speak inspirationally about lifelong learning. The COVID lockdown has reignited that in people around the world. For example, I started to play the piano with the help of apps and YouTube.

So what if I can now peck out a few keys from my favourite Adele, John Lennon, or Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper songs? Is that minor accomplishment going to change my life or impact the world’s direction? Nope. At best it will keep my brain a little sharper as I creep into old age. At worst it allows me to fantasize about possessing the musical skills, and personal discipline, that I envy in talented and focused people

However, there is a glaringly important lesson for us to learn during these days when our children are trickling back into some form of structured education. Glaring, but simple.

History repeats itself.

Let’s consider the following:
I. When the Spanish flu crippled the world between 1908 and 1920, those regions that took preventive measures such as wearing masks suffered the least amount of infections and casualties.

II. When any national ruler rises to power on the foundation of nationalism, protection of past ways of life, and masked racism, that ruler lulls the country to sleep and when they wake their democracy has become a dictatorship.

III. When a natural, medical, or militant disaster hits any country or region, those with the least suffer the most, and those with the most suffer the least.

History has proven these truths, year after year, generation after generation. But what does it mean for us?

It means that if we are smart we will take the lessons of the past and apply them to today. We will practice social distancing and wear masks. We will hold politicians accountable for their misdeeds. We will seek solutions that overcompensate for those who need it.

The next three months will be the most important in history since World War II.

If we don’t stop this pandemic, millions more will die and millions of dollars will be lost. If countries around the world don’t stop their dictators who poison and lie as easily as they breathe, civil liberties will be lost forever. If we don’t help those who need it, an entire generation of potential will be wasted.

This morning I passed by a school of dozens of eager, masked faces, safely lined up to get inside their classes. They were treated by welcoming, masked teachers and staff, and sent off by nervous parents. I paused. I watched. I smiled.

These kids are resilient. They are battling through. Us adults need to step up. We have the advantage of knowledge. We know what happened in the past.

We should know not to let it happen again.

Happy Birthday, Terry

If Terry Fox had survived, he would have been 62 years old yesterday, July 28th.

He barely made it to one-third of that.

Projecting what Terry Fox might have done if he survived does a disservice to what his legacy has accomplished. But today, we need the inspiration of Terry Fox more than ever. COVID has become our new marathon.

Terry’s brilliant letter to adidas, written at age 21, for support of his mission continues to motivate. I read it for the first time just three years ago. Then, and today, it ignites the same fiery flame in me that Fox did when I was a teenager.

If Terry Fox was alive today he would be a brilliant doctor, or community leader, or fundraiser. Also probably a great father, a trusted friend and a decorated Paralympian. We could use more of all the above with the character that Fox shared by attempting to run across our country.

Terry talks in his letter about believing in miracles. We need a miracle right now. We need a vaccine. We need compassion. We need equality. We need leaders.

It may have been Terry’s birthday yesterday, but consider this letter his gift to us. In return, I think the best gift we can give back to him is to not lose our faith, our belief, our strength. If you want to give Terry something for his birthday, read this letter. Not once. But many times.

Read it to yourself.

Read it out loud.

Read it to your family.

Read it before your next meeting.

Read it to a friend.

Read it to your colleagues.

Read it to Terry.

Money Talks

The Washington entry to the National Football League has finally decided to replace their racist name.

This after their owner, who I am not going to provide any additional free publicity to because he does not deserve it, regardless of how small my audience is; had stated he would never change the name. But there is no such thing as never. Never has an expiration date. Never has an end date. Never has a price. 

Faced with mounting pressure the owner, and the word never, and the team name have had a three-way divorce. The mounting pressure was not the political toll, the moral toll, or the social toll. No, this was purely financial. 

The Washington NFL Franchise was being lambasted by its stadium entitlement partner, its minority (share-wise, not ethnic) owners, and business partners. The threat to the bottom line was real and imminent. 

On one hand we can rejoice. A major injustice is being corrected. The former team name for Washington was racist. I know the discussion will now travel to other team names, but there are very few, if any, others that are out and out epitaphs. 

On the other hand, we cannot be glad. We have to be saddened that some people are unwilling to see injustice. We have to be saddened about the forthcoming, and it is coming, backlash from racists who want the team name maintained. All in honour of legacy. 

Slavery is a legacy. Should we keep that around as well?

One our third hand – yes three are required for this tale – we need to understand a basic tenant to life. Money is power. It is all-powerful. Disputes over money, wealth, resources, cause wars, family breakups, friends to become enemies, and spouses to become divorcées. 

Money begets power. A person who earns lots of money is granted outsized respect and adulation. A person who earns significant amounts of money is viewed through rose coloured glasses. A profitable corporation is more beloved than a charitable one. An unprofitable corporation with the potential to explode into a massively profitable one is provided ridiculous stock market valuations. 

Money does talk. 

It talks to me. It is a constant and significant aspect of my life. I want to provide for my family, for teammates, for myself. I like nice things. 

But money does not have to be the only voice we adhere to. Money cannot be pursued at all costs. Money needs to be just one component of any scorecard. 

At a time like this especially. The massive Social Movement of 2020 that is spreading around the world in the midst of an unprecedented health, financial, and societal crisis like we have never seen before, or since 1918 anyway. But at a time like this, I will give money its credit. Money solved one problem. 

Perhaps this save will lead to more change. Perhaps those changes will then beget new attitudes. Perhaps those attitudes will result in social change for more reasons than just financial. Change that comes because it is right. 

When that happens, and I believe it will, I will return with you to have a new discussion about the right side of money. Where justice is served. 

O Canada

I have never been so grateful to live in Canada.

I am sure all of my fellow Canadians would agree wholeheartedly with me. In the midst of this no end in sight global criss, we have so much to be grateful for. But before I espouse too much, I do need to pause and reflect. Let’s take a moment to think of those who have lost their lives, health, loved ones, economic or personal stability due to this pandemic.The toll has been immense.

It could have been worse. It could get worse.

But thankfully we live in a country where people respect and value their neighbours, their public servants, and their institutions. If we did not our toll would be much much worse. We need to not look very far south to witness the terrifying impact of a country of people who prioritize the individual over the whole.

It many ways it feels like the fiery inferno of hell has surfaced to Earth and is raging right next to us.

There is much more to do. We didn’t act quickly enough in the beginning, making it vital that our governments accelerate measures such as enforcing indoor masks wearing, clarifying standards across the country, and increase contract tracing. We still have too many young people who think they are immune to the virus, which even if it was true, which it is not, does not give them the right to infect someone less immortal. Our businesses need to find a way to accelerate reopening in an environment where consumer behaviour is permanently skewed by safety considerations.

Oh and our Prime Minister needs to find his way to the ethics store and buy himself a basket full, as he continues to believe the rules of conflict do not apply to him.

July 1st is more than our country’s birthday this year. It is the unofficial restart tp 2020. Let’s look forward to what we can make of 2020. It is time for a reboot. It’s time to reclaim our lives.

I have a few quick thoughts on how we treat July 1st as our Happy New Year.

Let’s start with each other. Say Hello to a Canadian next time you see one. Hello. Good Morning. Good Afternoon. Hi. Have a Great Day. Bonjour. A wave A smile. A nod. It will make the day of your fellow Canadian and add a shine to your 24 hours.

From being great patriot lets add some patronage. Get out and visit your local business, store, restaurant, coffee shop, barber, fruit stand, golf course. Spend what you can. Help that small business person succeed. Support your local charity, music venue, festival, sports team. Help them live to see another day of fueling passion in our lives.

The third thought from the Mh3 school of three’s is for YOU. Take today and give yourself a new start. Treat today like January 1. Make those resolutions. reset those goals. Have some champagne if you want. We have six months. Six months is a long time. Six months is a lifetime. Six months can be a year. A very good year. If you want it to be.

Happy Canada Day.