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.

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.

Redefine Your Brand Values for the CV-19 Pandemic

This pandemic is rewriting the rules of business and stewardship faster than any technological revolution ever did. “What is faster than 5G?” Unfortunately, I think we are finding out the hard way.

It’s frightening to imagine that just two weeks ago, all seemed normal-ish in North America. Then the sword fell on SXSW, the NBA, and so on and so on. Now, tragic deaths, many of which could have been avoided, financial hardship, and untold mental anxiety are the headlines of our every feed, post, and update. 

So, what should a brand be doing? Well, I have a feeling it is going to be changing daily, so my thoughts today may be stale by tomorrow. But here is what I am doing with my brand, advising our clients on what to do with their brands, and sharing with my followers for feedback and ideas.

Let’s plan a simple road map for todaytomorrow, and ‘till next time:

Your brand needs to focus on three messages:

  1. 911 – Be clear to the public that what we have is not a slow growing issue – it is an emergency, and people need to respond now. The sirens are blaring. Take notice, pull over, and change your behaviour. 
  2. Heart – Now is the time to relate to your consumer who is panic stricken, information overloaded, and feeling out of control. 
  3. Lead – A leader goes into battle at the front. Get your leader out on the front lines daily with real action. Cut the red tape. Forget about your old policies. Make it happen. 

There will come a day when we are finally out of this trauma. In my mind, that will be sometime this fall. And it could be due to the global effort of scientists, or because of warm weather as soon as this summer. Hopefully part of the celebration of CV-Day (yes, a play on V-Day from World War II) will be an ecumenic opportunity to reboot. A chance for those who suffered to eliminate debt and baggage. A chance for charities, festivals, culture and community to reengage. It is not too early to start planning for this now.

We need to rebuild our business models to withstand the shocking blows of a global shutdown. Build up reserves of cash, resources, and assets. Do not allow greedy shareholders to strip our cupboards bare. Governments must be held accountable to invest appropriately in our response mechanisms, health care infrastructure, and frontline workers. 

I am as worried as you about the future. But we can all make a choice to either hide in our caves or try new things every day. Who knows – maybe you will end up inventing fire!

Vegas to Vegas

CES is my favourite business event not named SponsorshipX

Now before you accuse me of being self-serving, let me clarify. If an industry colleague asks me where should they go to:

  1. Be inspired
  2. See what’s next
  3. Meet great people

Plus they get budget to only attend one conference a year – I would definitively recommend CES

If you have any social media tied to your profession, you probably have CES-envy. I don’t know how to describe it, but EVERYBODY is at CES. Business, government, religions, charities, media, musicians, athletes, entrepreneurs, and money managers. Plus, plus, plus. The event is as good as it looks on your social feeds, if not better. The event is as large as it seems, if not larger. The event is as important it looks, if not more.

My CES experience this year was a bit more harried as I squeezed in a half dozen planning meetings for our upcoming SponsorshipX Vegas, but I did want to share some key learnings.

I am not qualified to list the top tech elevations, or smart enough to highlight the most important consumer insights. But I will share with you five things I am going to start doing that were directly a result of my attending this year’s events. I won’t call them New Year’s Resolutions, but they are my CES Commitments. After all, no conference is worth attending if it doesn’t impact your future behaviour.

Here I go:

1. Feel free to eye-roll, but I am going to start playing esports. I can’t say I thought esports had slowed or peaked, but I have come to realize it has only just begun. So while learning the business side is one thing, I want to understand the passion side. 5G is going to democratize esports in a unique way, allowing generations to play and participate together like we have never seen. I want in. 

2. I am going to find a young entrepreneur or two and invest my time in them. I met with one young investor who had exited a blog platform business and was now mentoring/supporting even younger entrepreneurs. The word “new” is one of the most inspiring terms in our vocabulary, and I want to help someone get something new off the ground. 

3. I am going to embrace the rogue. I don’t know how to articulate this to you or pinpoint when it hit me. But last night I was reading my notes from my second day at CES (I like to summarize my days) and I scribed Embrace the Rogue to myself. Not once, but twice. Actually I do know where it came from and who said it, but in fear of paying them a royalty I am keeping them anonymous. But it hit home. The rogue is truly why CES is what it is. 

4. I am going to learn about data. I know nothing about data as it exists today, but I do know that Data Scientist and all its variants will be the hot profession of the 2020’s.

5. I am going back to CES in 2021. I am going to invite you to come with me, and we can form a contingent to learn, network, and explore. I am going to also ensure I get a speaking role at CES. Not because I think I am better than the speakers there (okay, I am better than many of them), but I want to share some stories from Canada because, candidly, I think we are way f’n under-represented on stage there and we have a lot to talk about.

ERA2020 is upon us. CES was a great way to kick off my decade. What’s next?