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March 21, 2017, 05:47:15 PM

Therefore, I'm Not.


I was out to lunch with a colleague last week, and the waiter asked for my order.

“To start, I think I’ll go with the carrot soup, and for the entree, I think the seafood risotto sounds good.”

Over and done in a matter of seconds...or so I thought.

“Is that what you really want to eat?” she asked.

“Yeah, why?”

“Because you didn’t sound too sure.  You kept on saying ‘I think’.”


“Mere figure of speech,” I countered. “No big deal.”

“ BIG deal, but it does make you sound less than authoritative.  If you know what you want, why not say so instead of saying ‘I think’?”

Tipping point time.  Part of me wanted to bark out: “Who gives a rat’s ass?  Why are you so preoccupied with these petty semantics?  It’s just a lunch order, for crissakes!”

But the bigger, smarter, more diplomatic part of me gave it some, shall we say, thought.  She had a point.  If I knew what I wanted, why didn’t I just say it?

Peppering conversations with “I think” is another one of those annoying verbal tics, like “uhs” and “you knows.”  But you usually DON’T know you’re doing it until someone has the gumption to point it out as you do.

Nothing wrong with thinking; Lord knows we can use a lot more of it, particularly in board rooms and in upper chambers of government.  But thinking out loud is more a sign of uncertainty than it is of intelligence.

And in a world where every word, every move, every unspoken fragment of body language is scrutinized to form part of an overall evaluation, I’d rather be seen as decisive rather than wishy-washy.  Even if it’s only soup and seafood risotto.  

I will indeed continue to think...but quietly.  And make my decisions loudly.

So with apologies to philosopher René Descartes (yup, that's him above)...I think, therefore I’m not.  

I decide, therefore I am.


February 28, 2017, 11:58:27 AM

No More "Mr. Notes Guy"


I am a journalist.

Not the type that Donald Trump’s White House seems to hate; perhaps it would be more precise to add a hyphen and say that I am a journal-ist, meaning that I love taking notes in a hardcover journal.

I’ve been doing this for years--since I was 16, in fact--the result of which is that a couple of shelves in my home library are lined with lined books documenting my thoughts, reflections and to-do lists. While these books are more practical in their year of use (yes, it usually boils down to a book a year), it’s kinda fun to look back and see what I was doing, to whom I was talking and what I was thinking at this exact time five years, or a decade, or even longer ago.

So it’s somewhat a paradox that I jotted down the thesis and supporting notes for this post in my 2017 journal...because while doing so at a recent conference in Toronto, I realized that I was practically the only one there actually doing so.

In a nutshell...

Nobody takes notes anymore.

Well, not by hand, anyway.  And not by thumb or fingers either, because the act of note-taking has not “gone digital” to the keyboard, tablet or phone screen.

No, note-taking has gone the route of the lens, as people have taken to collecting data by snapping pictures of it.  The selfie has begat the slidie. (See photo-taking photo above!)

This is not a brand new phenomenon, but it was really knocked home at the ResolveTO start-up conference I referenced earlier. Never mind the speakers or people on stage; PowerPoint slides were the event’s mega-stars, and conference-goers a gaggle of snap-crazy paparazzi.

I have no problem with this personally, nor as a conference attendee.  

But as a speaker, this changes everything.

Ironically, “slidies” put the onus back on the words themselves, quite the different tact to the “big image” or one-word backdrops that have been conference on-screen de rigeur over the past couple of years.  You want your point to get across? Then your words (or text-heavy words-and-image combos) have to be photo worthy, and more importantly, make sense later on when you're not around.  

This conference attendee behavior reminds me much of what I see at concerts these days, namely people obsessed with capturing the whole thing on their phones for later viewing, ignoring the “in the moment”-ness of being there live.

But it’s easier to adapt to emerging consumer behavior than to change it, so to stay relevant for my next speaking engagements, I guess it’s time to sex up the on-screen typography...or better still, revert to the slide that I myself used at ResolveTO:


February 23, 2017, 03:52:27 PM

20 is the new 50


It’s just one sentence, yet the different meanings it takes on when enunciated are extreme.

It all boils down to a tiny tinge of inflection; but when the inflection is shifted over just one word and spoken out loud, the context of the sentence changes cataclysmically.

Since I’m not speaking out loud here, I’ll let the elements of, CAPITALIZATION, italicization, boldness and even colour clarify all this for you. Here’s the sentence in its raw form:

You’re 20 years old...what do you know?

When I was of the age bracket, it was said this way, somewhat derisively (I guess you can speak it out loud for full effect):

You’re 20 years old...what do YOU know?

In other words...who the hell are you to have an opinion?  You’re still a pisher.  Shut up and learn something.  I have socks older than you.  Stop bothering me.

Indeed, these were all actually spouted verbatim at me, delivered with squinty eyes and an upturned nose...despite the fact that when I was 20, I was in a management and editorial position at a newspaper, while completing my business degree at McGill.  Little respect from “the man.”  We know everything, you know nothing...but uh, give it a few years, and you’ll be in our position.

So I gave it a few years.  Cut to 2017.   Now the sentence goes:

You’re 20 years old...what do you KNOW?

The eyes aren’t squinting anymore.  They are wide to the point of popping, in a near desperate search for some street relevance, some insight into social media worlds and magic technological kingdoms that “the man” has been shut out of.  You know everything, we know nothing...but please, please give us a taste, a few insights and uh, maybe I can extricate myself from the prone position.

Now that I’m running a tech biz called Play The Future, I see this attitude shift everywhere.  From conferences to conference rooms. A most phenomenal flipping of the funnel of wisdom. 20 is indeed the new 50 (especially at Play The Future, where one-third of our staff are 20 somethings).

To those who can accept this seismic swing of influence, there’s a lot of opportunity to make things great and make great things.  To those who can’t, welcome to irrelevance, obscurity and bitterness.

I guess I chose the wrong time to be 20.

But at least I’m smart enough to act accordingly now that I’m on the other side ;)