I Sell Sincerity, Just Like John Wayne

This is the John Wayne I remember

This is the John Wayne I remember

I’m not necessarily a fan of John Wayne but we do have something in common, besides our shared tallness. We both sell sincerity, in droves. He still sells it, from the great beyond, with a no nonsense tough guy reputation that resonates 35 years after his passing. As for me, I’m doing my damnedest to sell it here on Mother Earth.

Before we go any further, here is Wayne’s sincerity quote: “In my acting, I have to identify with something in the character. The big tough boy on the side of right – that’s me. Simple themes. Same me from the nuances. All I do is sell sincerity and I’ve been selling the hell out of that ever since I started.” — Time Magazine, June 1967

Consider another of his quotes: “Talk low, talk slow, and don’t say too much.” It seems clear that he would have hated social media. But he had his talents to sell and a place to sell them, and I have mine. Continue reading

Revise Revise vs. Get It Out There

The desire to revise is the key to clarity

The desire to revise carefully is the key to clear communication.

I advise you to revise if you ache to be great

In an online world of daily and often by-the-minute production and publication, I am the novelist-at-heart who wants to produce only his best work and not let it be seen until it is utterly revised.

“But you have to get it out there: market it and spread the word,” the blogger in me beseeches. There is much daily infighting between him and the novelist.

“You can’t sell what the world doesn’t see repeatedly,” echo the voices of countless sale people I’ve met at networking events.

The retort comes quickly.

“If it’s not been carefully moulded and diligently reworked, it can’t be much good and shouldn’t be exposed to the light of day until such editing has occurred,” ring the voices of discontent from the writing workshop I attended with religious regularity in my 20s.

Continue reading

My Teenager and Her iPhone6s

iPhone6S, iPhone, smartphone, phone, handheld, technology, device, communications

The iPhone6S and the hand of the teenager that owns it

The iPhone6s was released a few weeks ago with much fanfare, including the tagline “The only thing that’s changed is everything.” This state-of-the-art smartphone promised such unique must-have features as 3D Touch, a more advanced camera, “the next generation of multi‑touch,” the most advanced chip ever in a smart phone, a breakthrough design, advanced security and faster Wi-Fi, all topped off by another omniscient tagline: “An experience unlike any other. On a phone unlike any other.”

Here in my house, its arrival was met with instant jubilation. My 14-year-old daughter made no bones about the fact that she wanted one to replace her quickly obscuring iPhone5. She was ready and willing to pay for it with the money she had saved from her birthday. What could we say? We called our service provider and negotiated the best possible deal on the yet-to-be-released device and within two weeks, it was in her hands. A few hours later it was fully charged and ready to use, much to my daughter’s delight.

Now it’s been in her possession about three weeks and I was curious about it as the focus of a blog article. I wanted to get the scoop from her on what’s so cool about this phone and why it’s such an important part of her life. Here is our interview. Continue reading

The Funny Thing About Eye Contact

eye contact, looking, communicating, communication, attention

The funny thing about eye contact is that it remains so critical in communication, yet few put in the effort and interest required to achieve it.

In the neighbourhood where I grew up in West Hamilton, there was a charismatic kid a few years older than me named Steve Lewis. I feel safe in using his surname because I have only positive recollections of him. He was a popular guy who was fortunate to have perfect hair for the times: it was longish and straight and was feathered perfectly in the middle.

The one thing that Steve could do better than any kid we knew was talk to parents. He didn’t talk down to them; he actually carried on conversations with them. I don’t recall the contents of these conversations but because of them, parents liked him and trusted him. My mom knew that if we – my brother Rob and I – were at Steve’s house (where all the neighbourhood kids congregated) everything would be okay. It always was.

I don’t know what became of Steve. He’s not on Facebook, as far as I can see. What I remember about him specifically was his knack for making direct eye contact with everyone he met. He had no airs about him so eye contact came easily to him. He followed it up with talk that was relaxed, casual, polite and positive. Unlike a lot of the other kids, Steve rarely swore. Continue reading

“Eat It,” in Baseball & Social Media

baseball, eat it, social media, posting, facebook, twitter, instagram, linkedin

Before posting on social media, think of baseball

When you hear the expression “eat it” you might reflect on several things: a command from your mom when you were young and refused to devour what she put on your plate; years ago, your friends daring you to taste something revolting (i.e. goldfish, in the olden days); or a parody of Michael Jackson’s 1982 classic “Beat It” by Weird Al Jankovic.

“Eat it” is also an expression often heard on the baseball diamond. It’s used when a fielder is about to make an ill-advised throw of a “live” ball: a ball that has just been hit and is in play. The fielder wants to make an out because that’s the name of the game on defence: to get outs. The throw may be considered ill-advised when the hitter or other base runner is likely going to beat the throw. The other fielders see that throwing the ball likely won’t result in an out, any may mean the ball is thrown away and the runners advance. So, they yell out “eat it” in an attempt to get the fielder to hold on to the ball and minimize the offensive damage.

In this case, “eat it” is a command to devour it yourself: don’t give it away, surrender its effects, or push it on someone else. It means that you, the one holding the ball, needs to take the most advisable action: NOTHING. Continue reading

Generosity, a la Subban & Myers

giving, generosity, donation

Picasso had the right idea.

I want to take a short while here and break from my usual talk about words and how to use them. I turn instead to the notion of generosity and the reasons I’m contemplating it.

Recently, a Facebook friend posted an article about a grandiose donation made by Montreal Canadiens hockey player P.K. Subban. He gave 10 million dollars to the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

When you consider that P.K.’s seven million dollar US annual salary, his long term contract and all the extra money he earns from endorsements, this may not seem like a huge deal. Certainly it’s not as stunning as a retired plumber giving 25 million dollars to Vancouver’s Lions Gate Hospital. Continue reading

Humanizing Content Marketing

humanizing content marketing, content, marketing, people, numbers

The numbers matter, but people matter much more.

Today I visited a local marketing firm, to speak with the CEO about collaborating on a project. When I walked in the front door, a beautiful mid-size dog walked quietly from the back into the reception area to greet me. She was followed by a larger but equally quiet and friendly male dog. I crouched down to meet them both.

Later, as I was considering what might be the topic of my new blog article, I thought of the dogs. The CEO told me they were rescues that she received after promising that they would not be left alone at home, even together, each day as she and her husband went to work. Now, they are a fixture at her office.

Being a content marketer, this is an interesting tidbit that I would definitely want to tell her clients and potential clients. I know a lot of dog lovers who would appreciate the value of doing business with someone who has proven empathy towards animals. Continue reading

How To Ramp Up For September

ramping up for September, summer is over

Sadly, summer does end.

The other day we bought our daughter a new backpack, lunch bag and gym bag. She’s entering high school in a few weeks and needs cool-looking new gear, to help her both fit in and stick out, and easily transport her belongings. She was glad to buy these items while there were choices available (you don’t want your backpack to be a colour that you hate) but she wanted us to hide them in the house. Looking at them meant thinking about them, and that meant realizing that summer is nearly over and September is almost upon us.

We discussed how adult life is different. We (most adults) don’t get more than a couple of weeks off during the summer, yet we all like to go into summertime mode. We eagerly jump at a chance to be on the beach, on a patio, in our backyard, in a swimming pool, at a barbecue, near an ocean or mountains … take your pick.

Sure, work still gets done. Often a lot of work gets done. When I was toiling in a newsroom and later in television post production, work simply never stopped. Yet I – and everyone else around me – pounced on any opportunity to leave as quickly as possible at the end of the day. We flipped a mental switch. Somehow it always seemed easier to do this in summer. Continue reading

bayfield ontario sunset

Sunset in Bayfield, Ontario; overlooking Lake Huron from Pioneer Park.

For many people in Southwestern Ontario, the epitome of beauty in summertime can be found in a Lake Huron sunset. The Huron Coast is long, spanning 325 kilometres from the Town of Tobermory in the north to the City of Sarnia in the south. This photo is from the idyllic village of Bayfield, located along the central-south section of the coast, just south of the historic town of Goderich. We had the pleasure of visiting on August 12 and 13, 2015. On the evening of the 12th, with our stomachs full from a good meal at the Black Dog Village Pub & Bistro, and fresh frozen yogurt from across the street, we ventured down the road to Pioneer Park, where flat land meets cliff side and a rocky beach below. As the sun disappeared slowly to the west, a small group of weekday visitors looked on in amazement. The Lake Huron sunset happens every day along this coast, and it never gets old.