The Saints Go Marching

Don Mayo and I named our weekly show On Bourbon Street in honour of a late-night (actually early morning) walk we had down the legendary New Orleans street a few years back. 

Bourbon Street is a microcosm of the entire city. Parts of it are excellent, and parts of it are unfathomable. The disparity between rich and poor, utterly profound. Crises, such as Hurricane Ida, make the divide even more profound. The permanent loss of lives and livelihoods and the temporary displacement of people and pets will be overwhelmingly from the poorer communities. 

The City of New Orleans can never catch a break, and my heart goes out to them. 

Even their beloved Saints will have to kick off their 2021 season in a neutral site in Jacksonville. This unexpected relocation will not be the first time that Saints have become nomads for a season. Hurricane Katrina forced the city to use the Superdome as a massive shelter for displaced residents and that on its own will be a story for many more documentaries to come. But when the team does return home, their stadium will have a new name – the Caesars Superdome. 

As Sports Betting explodes across North America, the influx of sponsorship and marketing dollars is funding partnership deals at an unprecedented level. The NFL just announced four new sportsbook partners in time for this season. One of them is Caesars Entertainment, so the double down to name the stadium makes a lot of sense. 

This activity has heightened an already highly anticipated season that will include the mass return of fans to stadiums, the ongoing controversy over unvaccinated players, and the unprecedented return of all twenty-two starters to the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

I am inquisitive to see how brand partners and league sponsors join in the fray. Will the pent-up demand for activation with consumers in real life be overmatched by the fears of variants and creating spreader events. This week will give us a preview into how the most powerful sports marketing machine on the continent will tackle the second season to be played under the clouds of this pandemic. 

As most team partners get prepared for the excitement, the challenge the Saints partners face must be twofold. One, how do you support the community in which you do business and help the victims? Two, what is the right tone and approach to take with your activations during this crisis? Let alone the third component of executing activities when your team is not even in its home state. 

The message is that while the NFL Kickoff brings joy to me as a fan and piques my interest as a marketer, it will also focus on the challenges of a team playing away from the hometown fans that have never needed them more. 

What Juneteenth Means to Black Canadians

The signing of Juneteenth into law as a federal holiday in the United States is as of much importance to Black Americans as it is to Black Canadians.

In simple terms, without the end of Slavery, many of us would literally not be here.

Half of my DNA is from the Anderson family of Arkansas. Without freedom from Slavery, my biological grandfather doesn’t play college football at Kentucky State, doesn’t get signed by the Calgary Stampeders, and certainly doesn’t appear in a movie with Marilyn Monroe.

I want you to reflect on your “23andme” for a moment. Where are your bloodlines connected to Slavery? Now imagine if Slavery still existed. You either would not exist, or you would be a slave. I am literally touching my arms, face, and heart as I write and consider this fact. Without the Civil War, there is no me.

People may wonder why it makes sense to enact a holiday for something that occurred three-hundred and fifty-plus years ago. In fact, some people may wonder what Juneteenth is? I had no idea about it until last year. But as part of my personal awakening after George Floyd’s murder, it was one of my first learnings.

Many of you who read this are marketers. You know the power of Awareness. Many of you who read this are educators. You see the power of the Curriculum. Many of you who read this are volunteers. You know the power of Purpose.

Enacting Juneteenth as a holiday will raise Awareness, ensure Slavery is discussed, and renew the Purpose of social justice advocates. In addition, Slavery and its evil cousins of caste systems, forced labour, debt bondage are still very active worldwide. Therefore, if the United States declares the end of Slavery a national holiday, the amplification impact could be enormous.

You need to understand that descendants of slaves think about Slavery every day. The colour of our skin will not allow us to forget. But, if Slavery had not ended in the United States, how long do you think emancipation would have really lasted in Canada? Imagine never going to the USA for vacation or business if American Slavery was still the law. Let alone the fact that many of us would never have worked for American companies in their Canadian offices or had them hire our firms as suppliers.

Juneteenth becoming a national holiday in America turns a much-needed spotlight on anti-racism. You do not need to apologize if you are just learning about its significance. I certainly do not feel the need. I would instead focus your energies on celebrating Juneteenth. Celebrate it not for marking the end of Slavery but for the beginning of life.


How do we turn something heinous into some form of good? Is it possible?

One year ago, the George Floyd murder had me asking myself the same question. The rage that tragedy ignited has continued to burn fiercely inside me.

Will the discovery of the remains of two hundred and fifteen children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School be the George Floyd moment for Indigenous people in Canada? I ask this question not to sensationalize this tragedy. I ask it from a place of hope.

The discovery of these dead children, long suspected by the Indigenous community, is a black mark on our country. This is proof that we have committed genocide. We all need to be outraged.

The Catholic Church, the governments of British Columbia, the educators involved, and our federal government all need to be held accountable. The specific individuals involved, living or otherwise, need to be held responsible by a court of law.

These two tragedies amidst this pandemic are hard to swallow. In fact, swallowing them is the last thing to do. We need to clear our throats and scream about them.

After the Geroge Floyd murder, many people in the Black community and thousands of allies galvanized in a new resolve to end racism in all aspects of their lives. But we cannot do it alone, and without the support of our allies, our governments, our employers, and our media, we will not succeed.

I am personally grateful for the support I have received in founding the Black Talent Initiative.

It is time we do the same for our original citizens. The manner we have treated our Indigenous is so appalling. Police violence. Hospital maltreatment. Ongoing land disputes. Boardroom exclusion. Daily bigotry.

This is not a subject where I have even marginal knowledge. My brain has not studied this topic. My personal advocacy has been only recently through my work with the Black, Biracial, and Indigenous Task Force for Ontario University Athletics.


My mind, my heart, and my soul know there needs to be something done. That something must be done by us. By you.

You are the people who came to my side when I ranted about the George Floyd murder. You are the people that are supporting the Black Opportunity Fund, Onyx, and the Reading Partnership. You are the people making the change in your boardrooms, reviewing your hiring practices, and investing in community partnerships. You are the people volunteering, mentoring, sponsoring. You are the people asking our governments for more.

There is more to do for the Black community, but potentially none higher than expressing your solidarity for our sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers of our Indigenous people.

It is possible if you want it to be, to right hundreds of years of wrongs.

T1 is 27!

Where were you on May 16, 1994?

I suspect that for as many of you who can’t remember, there are an equal amount of readers who may not have been born back then.

Well, that was the day T1 was born. My first day of true entrepreneurship. While “Trojan” had existed as a brand for a few months within my former employer before arbitrarily being shelved, May 16, 1994, was the first day of me, myself, and I.

Although that is not true, that first day, a remarkable invention also accompanied me from Steve Jobs, the Macintosh Powerbook Duo, which was a desktop, laptop, and fax machine all in one. Beside me, I had Buddy the Beagle, my honourary vice-president. I had some entrepreneurial books inside me, such as Mark McCormack’s What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, which I would recommend you read to this day.

But best of all, I had some amazingly trusting clients. People such as David Jones, Carol Laumen, Domenic Vivolo, and Dave Copp, to name a few. These people believed that a 29-year old could help build their business and support their career trajectories. I also had George from Classic Signs, my original signage vendor. I wonder if he is still around. Plus, a handful of other suppliers waived their credit checks for this cashless startup and accepted my handshake as payment terms.

It was a rough first few years, living on a tight budget and learning to cut my hair, inventing the term staycation before it’s time and enjoying all my gourmet meals out of the cookbooks my sister so lovingly gifted me. In hindsight, and especially compared to the last fifteen months, it seems almost like Happy Days the TV show.

I learned to play tennis. I learned to network my face off. I learned how to keep my books.

I juggled it on my own for a few years until a young intern named Karen Hood came into our company, and a quarter-century later, we were seventy-five people strong and poised to have a record year in 2020. All of the stars were aligning, and I eagerly awaited my ego-stuffing, crowning moment of hosting SponsorshipX in Tokyo at the Olympics.

Then Will Smith let me down. Because when COVID hit, I thought best case it would be the subject of a Will Smith movie in a few years when he saves the day, and worst case, it would be a repeat of SARS from 2003. I was frightened and wrongly given a diagnosis of having SARS, but that’s another story.

A year ago, on our 26th Birthday, I honestly thought we might never see 27. I didn’t tell anybody that except myself. But I did.

Thankfully I kept that thought to myself, and more thankfully, I was not alone this time. Instead, with allies from my team, our clients, our community, and yes, even our government*, we not only survived, but we are now in a position to thrive.

*Despite the fact the BDC would not give us a loan because, in 26 years, we never had a loan, they deemed us a lousy credit risk. Figure that one out!

On this glorious 27th T1 Birthday, I could not be more proud. In the past twelve months, we have designed and launched a creative agency – Humanity, innovated a new type of school – Park Street, and tackled racism in the workplace through the Black Talent Initiative. Later this year, we will go public with our new venture – The MH3 Group. The MH3 Group will draw inspiration from the four P’s of my Life – Purpose, Passion, Profit, and People.

Because if there is one thing I have learned in twenty-seven years, you cannot pursue the first three Ps without investing in the fourth.

To all the People of T1 – past, present, and prospective, I dedicate today to you!

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.