The Human Race

Events, such as the Boston Marathon, are the ultimate celebration of humanity.

Endurance events celebrate human achievement that many thought impossible in themselves. Festivals provide a stage for expression and recognition. Sporting events bond people together and prove that team colours are thicker than red blood.

Events aren’t supposed to result in death, amputation, devastation.

Events aren’t supposed to result in CNN, 911, 617.

Events aren’t supposed to result in this.

There have been many, many call outs for us to soldier on, carry on, move ahead. Events and organizers around the world are putting on a brave face. All of us realize the need for beefed up security and additional diligence in our planning. I want to add to the choir.

Our industry might be perceived as fun and games. But we hold the key to The Human Race. We create experiences, joy, and triumph. Now more than ever we must continue to do so.

In this nonstop age of media onslaught, only events will ensure people connect physically. Only events will ensure that we get to know our neighbours. Only events will drive the fitness of our bodies and minds.

Almost every person who reads this blog contributes to that. You need to realize how important what you do, what you do each and everyday, is to society. Whether you are a sponsor, organizer, producer, marketer, volunteer, or a marathoner.

Whatever your marathon is… keep running. Keep organizing. Keep supporting.

Look into the faces of your participants and recognize the importance of what you do.

You don’t organize events. You build people.

Don’t let some nut stop that. It’s the best tribute we can pay to the victims, their families, and the countless people engaged with the Boston Marathon.

Leading from the Front

How do I summarize a week where it seemed every waking moment was filled with inspiration kicking me in the butt?

Some of the motivation was formally delivered. I witnessed a riveting speech delivered by General Rick Hillier at the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance Sport Events Congress. His central message about inspiring others and inspiring yourself revealed that his approach to motivating troops abroad was grounded in ensuring they stayed connected to being Canadian – a sip of Tim Horton’s coffee, a Christmas dinner made by a CO, a visit from the Stanley Cup.

Some of it arrived unexpectedly but in formal settings. In a meeting at Rideau Hall, I was enraptured to hear Bernard Shinder talk about how the event we now call Canada Day was created in the 1970’s by a group of well-connected Ottawa business leaders. Canada Day in Ottawa is a must do event for every Canadian, but in its early days was held away from the shadow of Parliament Hill, as the government feared it may flop!

Some out of the blue. An impromptu offer for a ride from the above Rideau Hall confab, found me being chauffeured by none other than General Walter Natynczyk and hearing about his three children, all proudly serving in our armed forces around the world. How energizing the words of a proud father were, discussing the love his offspring have for serving their country.

Some grew organically. Specifically from Charmaine Crooks, Debbi Wilkes, and Loreen Barnett participating in a Women of Influence panel, moderated by the non-influential male known as MH3, also at the CSTA event. Their voices combined to form a chorus of motivation and insights for women pursuing a career in sports marketing. To quote Debbi Wilkes, “Don’t let anybody else write the script for YOUR life!”

Some were ensnared in the jaws of defeat. Unfortunately at the hands of the US Women’s hockey team who upended Team Canada, in the gold medal world championship game, with their superior skills and sizzling skating. But defeat can be a powerful motivator and all of us should emotionally team up with our women for revenge in Sochi.

I misled you. This wasn’t even an entire week. It was actually only three days. And it wasn’t a butt kicking. No – it was more of a motivational stampede to catch up to those leading from the front!



The Last March

I read that this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament has been the most watched in nearly twenty years. I also read that this year’s tournament will garner nearly one billion dollars in advertising revenue, outpacing any other sporting event. Ever.

It might be April, but this event labelled March Madness is rolling along into the fourth month of the year quite nicely thank-you very much. Its already created the need to switch Cinderella’s mid-gear, dropping Florida Gulf Coast for Wichita State. Seen our Canadian players get dropped faster than an NBA player tricked into a Kardashian marriage. Not to mention the grotesque rekindling of vicious leg injury memories originally created by Lawrence Taylor on Joe Theisman.

And now. Now we are down to the Final Four. Two simple words that have become a lexiconic icon if there ever was to be one.

Recently USA Today ranked every one of the seventy-four Final Four held to determine the Division 1 basketball champ. Number one according to the survey? The 1979 Larry Bird-Magic Johnson head to head that also featured other members of their Indiana State and Michigan State teams.

I have been to two Final Fours. Put it on your bucket list. Hundreds of thousands of hoop lovers being hosted by a city starving for their tourism dollars. At every turn, every corner store, every coffee shop, every garbage can there is some sort of Final Four connection. Everyone is just happy to be there and if you are sporting any sort of logo, will unabashedly become your new best friend.

But the real magic of the Final Four is the one-hit wonder of its stars. Who can tell me who hit the fadeaway winner from the corner from 1987 or had the full court dash in 1995 or the lights out shooting in any year. For every Johnson or Jordan, there are countless Simons, Smarts, Edneys, Haywards that had their brief shining moment where they emerge from campus hero to national megastar and then soon to back down to NBA journeyman, grad student, European professional, or high school gym teacher.

That Last March into the shiniest of limelights must be most exhilarating and exasperating. This weekend marks the culmination of three weeks of undaldutered attention. Soon the fade away that made them famous, actually will fade away.

Oh there will be the annual replays and the obligatory highlight shows, but I wonder how it feels. To be the 20 year old who is sought by everyone, who will soon be a twenty year old memory.

Roman Times

My friend got mugged at the Super Bowl.

Not Michael Crabtree ticky tack on the most important fourth down of his life, which he deserved for running a wimpy route to cap off a deer in the headlights set of play calls to end the 49ers chances.

No, I mean mugged mugged.

Confronted on his way home by two apparently friendly locals, he was cowardly jumped from behind and flattened. The trio then pummeled him with their boots in a unique Louisiana welcome. Fortunately, two rent-a-cops from a nearby party scared off the unwelcoming committee before too much damage was inflicted.

That incident is a snapshot of New Orleans to me.  What a beautifully strange place. It’s everything the TV shows and movies make it out to be. The music was amazing, the food even better. The weather, highly cooperative.

It was only my third Super Bowl. Yes, I’ve already received plenty of kickback for saying only, but it was by far the best and definitely the strangest.

A kid tried to swipe my wallet in broad daylight. He grabbed it. I grabbed him. Shrieked some foreign shriek at him and it was over. TKO by Harrison.  Unfortunately, another Canadian we knew wasn’t so lucky succumbing to a Bourbon Street pick pocket.

Emboldened by my pugilistic prowess, I glared down a drunk who grabbed and threatened me in the men’s room at the Superdome. Truthfully, I was backed up by six new best friends made while waiting for this weak belly to finish ralphing all over the stall we were awaiting.

But don’t let these misdemeanors dissuade you from seeing NOLA some day. Everyone needs to once. But as our pilot said when we landed, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. What happens in New Orleans winds up on Twitter!”

On TV you saw the same magical game we did. Though I would be remiss in not telling you I was a mere ten rows from the last gasp play. But from Section 135 I experienced more than a football game. Pregame concerts, tailgate parties, live alligators, and fortunetellers surrounded the stadium. Rich, and wanting to be rich, and never going to be rich united for a single day in their entry into football heaven. Ravens fans and 49ers fans, inebriated by the Mardi Gras spirit, dancing together in the stands to the pre-game marching bands.

The emotional high evaporating when twenty-six Sandy Hook students came to the field to sing America the Beautiful. In front of me, David Arquette had brought one of the Sandy Hook first responders as his guest. His t-shirt imprinted with small footprints, a morbid reminder that life isn’t a game.

There was the eerie feeling when the blackout first struck. Immediate thoughts of Hurricane Katrina cast a spell of unease over the stadium. The tensions on the field rose, as the delay grew longer. Maybe this was a life or death game as we anxiously awaited Emperor Goodell to allow the combatants back into the arena.

In Roman Times the losers would have died. Thankfully, all the San Fran players and my buddy get to see another day. That’s sort of how you will feel after wading through Bourbon Street.


Second Fiddle

I feel badly for Alex Smith.

Smith is the recently minted backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.

He has fallen from being the overall # 1 pick in the NFL draft, and after several underwhelming seasons, to almost leading his team to the Super Bowl a year ago. Magically this year he was leading the NFL in passer rating before the cruel twist of being injured led to becoming a sideline patrolling clipboard carrier.

If I have to explain this to you, then clearly you are not a football fan and evidently you are not tracking the second biggest story line of Super Bowl XLVII. It’s not that Smith is the first QB in NFL history to lose his role as a starter. But it’s the way he fell on the depth chart and the amazing manner in which he has responded that contributes such an intriguing thread to this story.

There is an unwritten rule in sport that you don’t lose your job to injury. Meaning your replacement’s tenure is over the minute you are medically cleared to play again. In football this rule is close to a constitutional right especially for key skill positions such as quarterback. Amplify that Smith was, statistically at least, the best performer at the QB position in the league, at the time of his injury, and the violation of the injury rule code is even more amazing.

But unfortunately for Smith waiting in the wings was a freak of nature named Colin Kaepernick. I will bet you a souvenir Super Bowl t-shirt that you never witnessed CK7 play in college at Nevada. Well I saw a few games on late late late night ESPN, and I knew what was coming. Partially anyway. Not even his supporter emeritus, Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, could have imagined what was coming.

Kaepernick is part Michael Vick, part Peyton Manning, part Cam Newton, and part Adrian Peterson. Whatever parts I missed are covered in his tattoos. This guy can play.

He has set records with his legs, sliced up defenses with his arm, and energized a franchise with his energy. Plus he seems genuinely nice in his interviews.

So this weekend will feature this newly minted phenom against retiring warrior Ray Lewis.

What about Smith? Has he run away to pout? Is he spending his waking hours inebriated? Has he picked up a weekend’s supply of Mardi Gras beads for his stay in NOLA?

None of the above. Instead he is thrilled to be competing in a Super Bowl. He has turned into a coach, confidant, and cheerleader for his usurper. He has kept his skills sharp, his teammates motivated, and his ego in check for the betterment of his entire team.

Let that be a lesson for us all. I know we all want to be #1, but at times fate or failure stop us short of our goal. Alex Smith will benefit in the long run from how he responded to this dose of adversity. He will rise again.

Bye Week

This is the second worst weekend of the year for me. No football.

Grey Cup, Vanier Cup, Metro Bowl, Rose Bowl, Go Tell Your Daddy on Me Bowl are all a distant memory. In the name of Peyton Manning, don’t even try to tell me to watch the Pro Bowl. Peyton may want his fellow stars to play harder, but there is no worse all-star game than the Pro Bowl. Heck how can it even be a true all-star game when two teams can’t send their players?!

I am left floundering as to what to do this weekend. Maybe I will join all of you hopelessly hypocritical hockey fans and jump right back on the noisy bandwagon racing down the ice. You know who you are. I heard you telling me you weren’t going to buy NHL tickets, watch games, or join a fantasy pool. You’re the same cats who are emailing me for my Leaf tickets and screaming in my ear at the local wing joint last night because the Leafs are now 2-1.

I could shovel my driveway for the first time all winter, but despite this deep freeze called Friday we are in, it only has an inch of snow on it and heck it’s going to be +5 next Tuesday, so what’s the point.

Actually, the easiest option would be to join the 24/7, or 7/24 if you prefer, hype on-air and on-line about the Har-Bowl. Hype or not you have to revel in the fact that two brothers are facing each other in the Super Bowl! Less than 80 men have been Super Bowl coaches and the Harbaugh parents have now produced two of them. What’s next? Will Doug Ford run for mayor versus Rob Ford? Should Maya Soetoro-Ng have run against Obama in the last US Presidential election instead of Romney? Will Jazmyn and Jaxon Bieber gang up on JB1 and form their own modern day Donna and Marie revue?

Holy gumbo I know what I will do. Pack. Yes sports fans I am off to NOLA. Oh that’s not very nice of me to just let this slide out… in the most public of domains. But yes I am giggling with delight that MH3 is going to SBIII. No I don’t have the numbers wrong, this is MY SBIII.

As a Steeler man, you know I will be cheering against the Ravens. Somewhat sad the 49’ers will tie us for most rings, but that’s still better than watching Flacco win.

So stay tuned Rajun Cajuns. I will be tweeting with a Creole accent next weekend!


They Say It’s My Birthday

Thank-you for your Happy Birthday wishes on Wednesday.

One of my favourite proclamations was an in-person greeting from a client who congratulated me on “living another year.” Now that could win the title for Most Disingenuous or it could be genuine to the core. Knowing the proclaimer as I do, my vote is for the latter.

Reflecting on those words makes me realize, that’s really what Happy Birthday means. For years I have been slightly grumpy and mildly rude about my birthday. I really don’t like the fact that the scoreboard clock clearly shows I have less time left in the game. I’m always in too much of a hurry for my own good, and I often think – will I ever get done everything I have set out to do?

So how come Mr. Obstinate is changing his views on birthdays? Is it age? Surely its not just three words from a friend. Is it success. Is it failure? Is it mid-life crisis?

Candidly it’s probably reflection. In the past several months I have amped up my personal reflection time, use of motivational CD’s and magazines, and even gone so far to revamping my self-management tools to include more introspection.

One of the neatest things I have learned is the Habit of Gratitude. There are many, many, many versions, teachings, philosophies available on the topic. But I have really picked up on the simple process of everyday identifying three (yes me love threes!) events from my day, for which I should be grateful. It could be feedback from a client, it could be hiring a talented new staff member, it could be a really satisfying workout, phone conversation, or time spent with a family member. It’s amazing how identifying three positive occasions in a twenty-four hour window, can eradicate most negative events in a day.

So back to my birthday (it was January 16th if you want to mark it in your 2014 calendar!) and my three treasures? Hard to narrow down… but let me throw these at you and see if your reaction would be as grateful as mine:
1. My son posted the following on Facebook: “Happy birth dad…ur the best dad ever.” Might have been written before, but when its written for you… it feels like the first time.
2. My wife and kids performed the version of Happy Birthday we recently learned at the Alphorn in Collingwood, during my youngest son’s celebration. I think it needs to replace the traditional version, with all due respect to Preston Ware Orem and friends.
3. I received my annual birthday phone message, from a childhood friend who now lives in Georgia. I have known him for over forty years and for the past twenty, no matter where he is… he leaves me a birthday voice mail. A simple tradition, yet I am always a tiny but surprised, and always a lot bit pleased, when it comes.


Eamonn O’Loghlin 1951-2013

A good friend of mine, the Canadian marketing community, and the Irish Canadian community passed away Friday. I haven’t found the words yet to express my feelings, every time I type, I can’t see the keyboard. But I did want to share his obituary and funeral details with you.

Eamonn, I miss you already. Mh3


Eamonn O’Loghlin, born in Ennistymon, County Clare, Republic of Ireland on September 7, 1951, passed away on Friday, January 4th, 2013 at the age of 61, surrounded by family and friends. He was the beloved husband of Madeleine, the loving father of Treasa and Rory, and the adored son-in-law of Eleanor Treacy. He is survived by his 4 siblings Cathal, Ursula, Donogh and Roddy.

Eamonn O’Loghlin was larger than life, with a personality to match, which virtually filled any room he walked in to. His generosity to his fellow countrymen and women knew no bounds, as he helped hundreds of young people land their first jobs in Canada on their work visa, or in a more permanent way.

He was never afraid to speak his mind, to say what he thought was right and needed to be said. He made beautiful music with his loving wife Madeleine, especially during their time together with the band Tip Splinter. Oftentimes, when Eamonn played a song by Madeleine on his radio show on a Saturday morning, producer Alex Young would lower the volume on the CD and raise up Eamonn’s microphone, so that listeners at home could hear him singing along with his wife.

His family was very important to him – all one had to do was listen to hear the pride in his voice as he spoke about his devoted wife, Madeleine, and his adoring children, Treasa, now a lawyer, and Rory, now excelling in his first year of Biology at McGill University. Eamonn felt he had come full circle as a father to see Treasa embarking into happily married life with Edward Pendergrast, and Rory setting out into the world as an extremely capable young man.

A successful businessman, Eamonn had been the Executive Director of the Ireland Canada Chamber of Commerce since 1993. He graduated from University College Cork with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1975, the same year he came to Canada. He worked in marketing for Hallmark Cards for 18 years before starting up his own marketing and communications consulting business, O’Loghlin Communications.

Eamonn hosted a weekly Irish radio show and published a national magazine, Irish Connections Canada , formerly the Toronto Irish News . A long time supporter of the Gaelic Athletic Association, Ireland Fund of Canada, and Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, he was Director of Strategic Partnerships and Corporate Sponsorship at the Canadian National Exhibition, and was the interim President of the newly formed Irish Canadian Immigration Centre.

He was honoured as Irish Person of the Year in 2009 for his work on Ceol Agus Craic , the weekly Irish-Canadian radio show he had founded in 1998. He loved traditional Irish music and it was not unusual for a sing-song on the piano to break out whenever he was about. He was also fond of getting back to nature through golfing. He would return for his annual pilgrimage of golfing, travelling and All-Ireland hijinks every September.

Eamonn will be remembered for the good work he did in the community, his generous spirit, his love of family, and for being a great leader amongst Canada’s Irish community.

Ar dheis De go raibh a anam dhilis

Ni fhicimid a leithead aris

Funeral Details
Turner & Porter – Butler Chapel
4933 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke, ON, CANADA, M9A 1B6
Tue, 8 Jan 2013 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Tue, 8 Jan 2013 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Info: Rosary prayers at 8 p.m.

Transfiguration of Our Lord Church
45 Ludstone Drive, Toronto, ON, CANADA, M9R 2J2
Wed, 9 Jan 2013 10:30 AM

Below is the link on information regarding our dear friend Eamonn’s visitation and funeral service

Feeling Grey

Toronto is feeling pretty Grey today. In a good way!

With our soccer team quietly faded out of sight and our hockey team faded out of mind, and our basketball team fading early as usual, you wouldn’t expect this to be the case.

But the only teams not monopolized by the Toronto sports monopoly formerly known as MLSE are making big news. News is great when it is news. And news we’ve got.

It wasn’t news that Toronto was hosting the Grey Cup this week. It has been big news though how enthusiastic the city has been about it. Good planning aside, this is partially due to the unexpected news of the Argonauts actually playing in the game. Which is as rare a sight as a Leaf shot on goal.

More big news of course is our Blue Jays plucking the Marlins to the bone. Re-signing their formerly fired manager. Plus picking up a one-time MLB villain, who has talent to burn.

Continue reading “Feeling Grey”

Lincoln Alexander: My Brother

Humiliated, I slowly climbed the steps of the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum). It was the late 1980s and this was my first invitation to a big fundraising dinner.

Waiting on the steps was my client, who flashed a mischievous grin as I exited the taxi.

Instantly that grin was abated by the swat of his wife’s purse. It took her only a nanosecond to decipher that I had been the victim of his latest prank. I’m unsure of its official title, but it somehow rhymes with tell the twenty-four year old agency guy it’s cool to wear his emerald green suit and burgundy wing tips, to an event you consciously know is black tie.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Thankfully our table was well in the back and out of the sight of the head table guests and the keynote speaker. Not only was I the only person wearing a suit that looked like it walked off the set of the prime time TV show, Miami Vice, I was also the only person in the room who was close to the same colour as “Tubbs”.
That is outside of the keynote speaker, Lieutenant Governor Lincoln Alexander. I was thrilled. Alexander was Canada’s first ever black federal MP and first ever black Lieutenant Governor. He was an inspiration to a young black kid trying to navigate his way through life and I was pumped to hear him speak.

But now my sartorial embarrassment turned to anger. I seethed that I looked like a clown. Here I was listening to one of our country’s greatest Black Canadian pioneers and I looked like I came from a Malcolm X look-alike contest. Continue reading “Lincoln Alexander: My Brother”