(Sorry for not having posted in a while. Lots is going on in the Jet Cooper front, which keeps the days busy. You can follow all the adventures on Twitter, Vimeo, and more.)
As an alum from the University of Toronto Scarborough, I stay connected back to their BBA community wherever I can. Half because I really miss the people, and half because I really believe in keeping connections with the institutions that have guided my life.
I had an opportunity to do a guest lecture to the “New Ways of Work” class with Professor Chris Bovaird on October 28. The course is about consulting, freelancing, and entrepreneurship. I spent a couple hours sharing my story, decision process, and life as an entrepreneur. It was a mash between my Refresh Events slide deck (but from the entrepreneurs perspective, versus the employees) and a new set of “10 things I didn’t expect” after this started.
I also got asked by some students on campus earlier in October to be part of a video describing the value and use of Twitter to my personal and company brand. Thanks to Hilori Kaloti and Carmen Mak for organizing, and the guys at The Biz Media for the snazzy editing.
After a successful kick-off Pay It Backwards Day in April at a single location, the Daily Challenge team destroyed all expectations with the Ontario-wide event on September 30. It was my pleasure to have had our agency lead the design and development of the site, materials, etc. for the event – as well as supported the actual event on a volunteer level again.
Following the success of our first Twestival Toronto in February, Twestival hit it again on September 12 with a local focus. We had an amazing community-powered party with a cause in support of Meal Exchange… ON A BOAT! With $6000 raised, the charity will be able to locally enable more than 214 youth leaders to distribute more than 7500 meals.
As a tweet nearly 24 hours ago announced, I’m moving on to something very new and awesome. It’s a really exciting time and I want you all to be a part of it. To be honest, I think you saw this one coming.
A couple of weeks ago I gave a quick talk at Refresh Events: StayFresh08 at the Centre for Social Innovation on the topic of choosing the path of entrepreneurship versus employee. Refresh is a rapidly growing monthly meetup that brings together Toronto’s interactive community in a learning, sharing, and networking setting.
The content came inspired by decisions I’ve had to personally consider over the last few years – both when I first became a partner of a small creative agency in 2006 and again when I left that to join the corporate world in 2008.
The presentation was done Ignite style, meaning I had a total of 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide automatically changing. Excuse the fast talking, it was only 6.5 minutes :).
It flows from determining what success means to you, to evaluating the key variables that change, to bringing-method-to-the-madness diagramming, through to why you might not even have to choose.
Here’s the presentation with the full audio track:
Here’s some blurry video of it courtesy of @xclarke78x’s phone:
Here’s the collection of my favourite tweets from it:
Social media for social good is a hot topic, but no amount of presentations or tweets can really capture what it’s like compared to the real thing.
It’s exhilarating and gives you an unshakable feeling of invincibility (as simply put by Verne). All you need is a taste of it to get hooked, and it doesn’t take much more than a willing step forward to participate.
This past Saturday I had the pleasure of sticking it to Seattle with Pay It Backward Day, an event to break the world record for “acts of coffee kindness” and raise funds for SickKids Foundation. Hosted at Second Cup in Downtown Toronto, we took through a record-shattering 602 patrons with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity. (Not to mention the news cameras, entertainment, B-list celebrities, and giant ball of awesomeness.)
This was my second such event, after working on Twestival TO earlier this year. I had the good fortune of joining yet another rockstar team, led this time by D and A at Daily Challenge.
But what stood out this time compared to anything I’ve ever experienced were the amazing things that unfolded right before my eyes during the day. These are the 10 stories from Do Gooders in our community worth telling:
As the “ref”, I talked to at least 300 of the 602 people. As I began to greet one gentleman, I stopped abruptly after realizing he was actually on the phone. He smiled, apologized, and explained that he had his 3-year-old on the line.
He planned it out so his son could see his daddy on the computer. Our Do Gooder jumped up and down waving at the little camera in the corner of the store that was live streaming, until finally a scream of joy came out from the line. (Andrew had this scoop too.)
Another young lady I talked to was excited to pass by the event and drop in. After a bit of hesitation, she laughingly identified herself as a Starbucks employee from another Toronto location. This was too good for that to stop her from buying at Second Cup.
I won’t share any more details so as to prevent our double agent’s Do Gooder’s identity.
The street team outside was key to pulling in a constant stream of people. Though cold and tired, they gave it their all to each person that came by. Unfortunately, they got shot down a lot too.
One of their biggest walk-by skeptics ended up becoming their most enthusiastic after taking part. In fact, our Do Gooder even stuck around after to chalk the sidewalk with a SickKids wishing well.
Truth be told, there were countless others that chose to stick around and see the event through to the end. Our many Do Gooders – tweeps, friends, and walk-bys – filled gaps we didn’t know existed, helped without anyone asking, and asked for nothing in return.
You guys stood on boxes, yelled across the street, begged on your knees, kept me company, tweeted your fingertips out, and so much more.
It was even Cheryl’s birthday and she was there from 10AM to 8PM!
Continuing the theme of skeptics, a group of skater kids came by that showed zero interest until they were peer pressured by our street team into lining up. Their ring leader ended up being the world record tying participant to buy our SickKids graduate her coffee. How’s that for a memory our Do Gooder will never forget?
From the consciously unwilling, to the unconsciously participating. Our littlest Do Gooder was actually a toddler that did anything but stick close by his family. He wore the marathon bib proudly, ran around in photos, handed over his dad’s cash, and enjoyed his drink. (See picture at the end of this post.)
Despite being a not-so-accurate “ref” (I’m not explaining this), I spent a good part of the event firmly seated at the front with my Foot Locker jersey and counter in hand. Though I didn’t get in line until after 500, I can’t even count the number of our Do Gooders that openly offered to buy me a drink too.
The Second Cup at Queen/John is owned by Benny. Benny was unbelievably helpful along the whole way. On the day of the event itself, he kept so busy helping us setup, getting his staff prepared, and filling 602 orders, that he didn’t eat a bite.
When things were over, despite his wife and anyone’s best attempts, our Do Gooder chose to get us our final numbers and bask in the excitement of it all with us first. The smile on his face was timeless.
Hungry and tired ourselves, everyone left at the end of the event headed over to Milestones to celebrate and grab some grub. So impressed after learning what had just happened down the street, our Do Gooders at Milestones gave each of us a free appetizer coupon hand marked with the words “Pay It Forward”.
Not everyone was able to make it out on Saturday due to conflicts, travelling, or actually living outside of Toronto. That didn’t stop them though. There were some in Toronto that opted to do their good at other places. We even saw tweets from our Do Gooders in NYC, Chicago, Oklahoma, etc. that did their good at their local coffee shops!
Do you have any other stories of your own from Pay It Backward Day? Share them in the comments below!
Again… To be involved was nothing short of a geek’s dream come true. Do me a solid: read the concluding note and watch the video below.
Here are some of my favourite photos from the event:
I recently contributed a “Personal Branding for Dummies” article for a local community newspaper in Toronto called MY ROOTS (Malvern Youth Recognizing Our Opportunities to Succeed).
MY ROOTS was created for and by the youth in the Malvern area. Its goal is to inspire, educate, and support young leaders in the community through its quarterly publication and various other activities. I grew up in this area, which has traditionally been characterized by hopelessness and crime.
Fortunately, that’s not all true.
The article is aimed at a beginner’s audience – high school students just starting to define who they are today and what they eventually want to become. You will also notice some continuing themes from previous posts on my blog.
I wanted to share it with you and thank MY ROOTS’ Managing Editor (and my good friend) Hilori Kaloti for the opportunity.
It was more than a decade ago when the first article was written on “The Brand Called You” in FastCompany magazine. Tom Peters, a guru on business theory, became responsible for defining the era of personal branding that followed.
But beyond all of the hoopla, most of us today still have little or no idea of what personal branding is and why it should matter to us. If you choose to read this (because today is also all about choices), I’ll share some lessons on creating “brand you” for beginners and why you need to be ready.
Lesson One: If you don’t brand “you”, someone else will.
The Internet is all-knowing. It’s pushed the boundaries of access to information, leaving us all exposed. Because of this, anyone can find out anything about you if it’s been posted on the web.
If you search your full name right now, you’ll see a plethora of information about you. Do you have a Facebook profile? It’s there. Are you on a local sports team? It’s there. Did you interact with someone on a forum? It’s there.
All of this is your personal brand. Everything said about you, whether you said it or someone else did, aggregates into it. If you don’t take control of this conversation, you’ll only be left with how everyone else judges you.
Your personal brand is out there and people will use it in many ways. Employers will use it to get to know you before they even meet you, the same way your next date will.
Lesson 2: You need an objective.
When you start taking control, you need to give yourself a clear focus. Your personal brand should become something unique and valuable to you. It can stand for something that you are really interested in (i.e. a topic, activity, or pastime) or even some characteristics that reflect you (i.e. creative, active, or party-er).
For example, brand “Satish Kanwar” is aimed at being a technology marketer. That translates into characteristics like marketer, geek, go-getter, and evangelist.
Another way to think about it, from marketer Seth Godin, is knowing your superpower. Everyone in the Justice League had their own unique role. It was who they were and how they were valuable to the people around them. So when you have a personal brand and you meet someone (online or off), you’re no longer just another face. Instead of “Hi, I’m Satish, I’m from Toronto”, it’s instead “Hi, I’m Satish, I evangelize new technology”.
Lesson 3: You’ve already got the tools.
There are a lot of ways to do this, but the easiest places to start are actually where you already are.
Facebook is a big opportunity and an even bigger danger. It allows you to form stronger relationships with people you know. These are the people that care the most about your personal brand, so it’s important to make it clear to them and not let them down.
Make sure that you fill out your full profile with interesting and relevant information, not just random facts. Also use the specific privacy settings available to protect your more personal information. Block your public profile and sort all your friends in lists so you can show them different parts of you. Even go as far as removing your public listing if you don’t want this to show around the web.
Then clean up your other social tools. Go across your Google, Windows Live, Yahoo!, and other properties and implement your personal brand, a professional photo, and links back to your other sites.
Explore things like LinkedIn (online resume), Twitter (micro conversations), and especially a blog as next steps. There are tools out there for everything, but you should just choose a few and do them really well.
Things to Remember
While there is no definitive template to follow when it comes to creating “brand you”, there are a few virtues to follow that will help you succeed in the long run.
The first is consistency. If and when you decide to tackle your personal brand, don’t give it a sudden push and then disappear. Always keep your end game in mind and your tools of choice updated.
The second is longevity. Once you’ve decided what your focus is going to be, hold out for the long haul. You won’t see results immediately, but if you give it the right amount of time you’ll come up on top.
The third is simplicity. Don’t overthink it. Focus on impressing yourself with what you do, not on impressing others.