(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.
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:
That’s what I would be thinking too – especially after that big parade about not wanting to fail. I want to apologize for not posting for the last 10 days, but I have the best excuse in the history of best excuses.
I was working away with a team of social media rockstars on Twestival Toronto, which took place at CiRCA in Toronto on February 12. I already told you why it was important to me, so I just wanted to share the results with you.
Brought out more than 450 people
Raised over $10,000 for charity: water
Were the #2 trending topic on all of Twitter for the night
Had free Molson beer and hung out with the Raptors girls, among lots of awesomeness
Made it on CBC, City TV, and many other media outlets
All in a matter of weeks. What matters most though? TO just funded 2 new clean water wells in developing nations and will change the lives of just over 600 people.
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.
It’s not news that I’m working behind the scenes on Twestival Toronto. If you follow me anywhere, you’ve seen it across Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Youtube, and then some. I want to tell you why I got involved.
The underlying concept is the most amazing thing I have ever seen happen through social media. Day to day in my life I’ve felt like a sitting duck in a line-up of 6 billion. We have so many deep-rooted global problems and even more ways to connect with one another on an equally epic scale, but we don’t put 2 and 2 together nearly often enough.
With Twestival, there are 175+ local communities mobilizing across the world for a single worthy cause (and fundamental human need). From Bangkok, to Bangalore, to Boston, people are getting engaged, reaching for the milky way, and working hard to make a difference.
Now this isn’t anywhere near the first grassroots event to take place, and not even the first that has a charitable cause at its centre. But it’s the first that has stuck out to me enough to not only want to attend, but to do everything in my ability to make it successful.
Success here means funds raised for charity: water and awareness that something we take for granted all too much is not a common luxury. That is first and foremost. People experiencing a unique glocal event and having an awesome time. That’s a close second.
Think of it as Live Earth concerts meets the Internet.
Every once in a while I am inspired by examples of social media for good. My friend Verne and team at Daily Challenge were the first such example for me. #hohoto followed shortly after that. TwestivalTO put me over the edge.
It’s been a wicked experience working alongside Sarah, Casie, Erin, Rahim, and the entire team. We’re almost there and I hope you’ll be joining me at CiRCA on February 12.