With my compliments

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Have you complimented someone today? This week? This month?

It’s amazing what a few words of support and kindness can do for someone who feels like he or she is uncertain or struggling to accomplish specific goals or develop certain skills.

And those kind words are particularly important when they come from someone who is in a position of authority in that subject.

I am an amateur photographer; a good one, in my own opinion. And I am eternally grateful for and happy to hear friends and loved ones tell me when they like a particular photo or group of images.

But recently, I have received some very kind comments from other photographers, whose work impresses the hell out of me, and who, in a few cases, don’t know me beyond what they have seen of my work on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.

Earlier today, someone I did not know stopped by my Instagram account to comment on an image I posted recently.

Simply wonderful! You got what it takes for a good photographer!

I immediately jumped over to his account and realized that I was being complimented by someone who I believe has amazing talent. This is someone making a career as a professional photographer.

I have likewise built a nice friendship with one of the official photographers for my beloved Toronto Marlies; a man who will periodically compliment me on a particularly good shot. I have told him as much, but I’m not sure he believes how much his kind words and encouragement mean to me.

When someone does well, I like to let them know I think so. I think my compliments are most powerful, however, when they related to writing; my particular strength.

What is your area of expertise or authority?

When was the last time you took a moment to tell someone further down the development chain that he or she had done a really good job on something or that you found his or her work impressive?

Trust me; it will make their day to hear that.

And if you are already spreading encouragement and passion, thank you for that. We need to make sure this spreads.

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You never know what people will like…so don’t try to anticipate; just create

Demystifying Expertise

expertise-equation

Each of us tends to undersell (or completely disbelieve) our expertise on subjects that are near and dear to our hearts. Expertise, we believe, is something other people have.

And yet, I am convinced that we are more expert than we think. And fortunately, we are living in a time where methods to convince others of our expertise has never been easier.

Watch my recent Facebook Live video Demystifying Expertise and see if you agree.

 

Talk about ALS – no bucket, no ice (video)

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around my problem with these ice bucket videos in support of ALS. Something didn’t sit right with me, and yet I felt like a complete jerk crapping on all these lovely people making loving efforts to make a difference.

And then, suddenly, it struck me. Almost none of the video efforts I have seen have included any information about ALS beyond how to spell it. They’ve done a magnificent job of raising money, but I seriously doubt that many people watching these videos have a clue as to what ALS is.

Thus, in support of their efforts and to spread not just awareness but also knowledge, I have produced a short, very homemade video (click below) with terrible production values (as in none).

I hope it helps.

 

Engage me, don’t yell at me

While on LinkedIn earlier today, an acquaintance posted the following image that has been circulating lately; an image humourously designed to explain social media.

Look at me!

Look at me!

What this also highlights, however, is our complete lack of understanding when it comes to social media…that it has to be social.

Well, it doesn’t have to be social. Plenty of examples on the Internet (probably some written by me) where an individual or company has used social media to scream out their own message, not bothering to wait for a response or worried whether they are engaging the individuals on the other end. Just one giant game of: Look at me! Aren’t I clever? Love me!

Again, I recognize my own culpability in this. I too can be accused of approaching social media like a dog barking at a window, with little or no concern about those at whom I am barking. I do my best to have a point and always enjoy engagement.

Social media should be about engaging and building a community of which you and I are just one member. It should be more about listening than talking. It’s about starting a conversation, not a speech.

Thus, I offer the following revision of the white board presentation above.

Look at us!

Look at us!

In social media, everyone can hear you scream…but how many of us are listening to what you are screaming?

(Of course, this could all be high-handed holier-than-thou BS…in which case, I expect you to hold me to account. Go ahead, prove me right!)

500 Views of Little Joe’s Heart post

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AMAZING! Thank you all, so much.

As of earlier today, my blog post updating the story of Little Joe’s Heart had received 500 views.

My gracious thanks to all the people on Twitter who have and continue to retweet my original posts and to friends on Facebook who shared the post on their Facebook pages.

Together, we are raising awareness of the need for organ donors.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Be A Donor (Canada)

OrganDonor.gov (US)

Donate Life (US)

NHS Blood and Transplant (UK)

Puppet Up! visits Toronto (UPDATED)

PuppetUp! logo

As some of you know who’ve watched this space, I am fixated on puppets and improv and so, several months back, I started a social media campaign to bring Puppet Up! uncensored to Toronto.

For the uninitiated, I recommend you click the link to see what this show is all about. Briefly, however, it is the Jim Henson Company taking their puppetry genius and applying it to a largely improvised comedy show designed for adults.

Well, shortly after starting my campaign, the Henson Company announced the show was coming to Toronto. While I realistically have to believe the wheels were in motion long before I started whining on Facebook and Twitter, I will happily claim responsibly for them coming.

In the weeks leading up to the show, like a 15-year-old girl at a Bieber concert, I followed everything PuppetUp! on TV and online. I tweeted with the show organizers on an almost daily basis, and then when one of the puppeteers (Grant Baciocco) made the mistake of letting the world know he was in rehearsals, the stalking began.

PuppetUp! shines into the night

PuppetUp! shines into the night

My first show was opening night (October 22) and within seconds of the lights going down, my mind was completely blown! This was everything I imagined and then some. It was everything I had in me not to run down from the balcony, up the aisle and onto the stage, grabbing a puppet as I passed the wall of hollow bodies. As one, the audience laughed, cringed, oohed and ahhed at the antics that both sent up and paid noble tribute to the late Jim Henson.

But then, dear god, I found out that you could have your picture taken with some of the puppets after the show…I am proud to say I did not swoon (on the outside).

(L-to-R) Brian Clark, Grant Baciocco and Peggy Etra surround me with puppet love

(L-to-R) Brian Clark, Grant Baciocco and Peggy Etra surround me with puppet love

Opening night was going to have to hold me for another week as 7 hours after the lights came up, I was in a cab, heading to the airport and a week-long date with the Austin Film Festival. The conference was great but I positively bounced at the idea that when I got home, I had two more shows to see…the final weekend matinees.

Sitting at the feet of the master

Sitting at the feet of the master

On Saturday (Nov 2), there I was, second row, stage left…effectively at the feet of show co-creator and host Patrick Bristow. Rather than have to squint at the puppeteers and watch the big screens, I now had close up access to the puppeteers, who became more fascinating than what was happening onscreen, to me. The show was great, although a few of the bits in the first act failed…which made them even funnier. It was in that show that I truly fell in love with the talent of puppeteer Colleen Smith. WOW!

And it was after that show that I finally got to meet Grant Baciocco, who was as charming and affable while wielding a camera as he was on Twitter.

Brian Clark and Peggy Etra welcome me back (Grant Baciocco on camera)

Brian Clark and Peggy Etra welcome me back (Grant Baciocco on camera)

My love and enthusiasm for this show was so big that I decided there and then that I had to buy tickets for the final show and I had to bring two friends along for me even though it would mean going out of pocket. I was so tickled, I had to share this with people. Texting madly to check my friends’ availability and enthusiasm, I then popped open my laptop and purchased the best available tickets for the Sunday, 8 pm show for all three of us.

Matinee ticket and 3 tix for the final performance

Matinee ticket and 3 tix for the final performance

Then came the show on Sunday (Nov 3). Again, sitting at Patrick Bristow’s feet. Shouting suggestions left, right and centre. Feeling like we were developing a bond, even though I knew he probably couldn’t see more than two feet into the audience.

Nary a flaw in this show. The musical numbers popped. The classics practically brought tears. Colleen and Grant were amazing. Brian Clark, Peggy Etra, Michael Oosterom and Ted Michaels were on fire. And I got to add Michael to my photographic portfolio of puppeteers.

(L-to-R) Was able to add Michael Oosterom to the list of puppeteers with Brian Clark and Peggy Etra (Grant Baciocco on camera)

(L-to-R) Was able to add Michael Oosterom to the list of puppeteers with Brian Clark and Peggy Etra (Grant Baciocco on camera)

To make the afternoon even more special, as I waited in line at a nearby restaurant to grab dinner between the 4pm and 8pm shows, who should walk in behind me other than Patrick Bristow. Still needing a picture with two of the puppeteers, I couldn’t die quite yet, but I was getting close. Patrick was wonderful and charming and was nice enough to pose for a photo.

Patrick Bristow and I await dinner near the theatre (no earthquake, just shaky camera)

Patrick Bristow and I await dinner near the theatre (no earthquake, just shaky camera)

So here we are. Eight pm on Sunday night. I met Leela in the foyer of the theatre and left the ticket at Will Call for my friend, Michael. If I vibrated any faster, I might have been able to pass through walls. I was going to get to share this with two really important people in my life. This was my birthday gift to me…sharing PuppetUp!

There were a couple bumpy bits in the first part of the show, but it was still amazing. And the closing half was A-FIRKIN-MAZING! Every bit went perfectly. Even from the balcony, Patrick would take my suggestions (I was in the balcony, not Patrick). Leela, who is a tough comedic audience, laughed raucously throughout the show (high praise if any of the PuppetUp! people are reading this).

Leela and Michael were both great to hang back with me…I wanted to be one of the last people to get my photo done tonight so I could let everyone know how much I appreciated their performances and talents. And beauty of beauty, the entire cast was out for photos on the last night. I was going to complete the set of puppeteers for the photo.

Finale photo with (L to R) Brian D Clark, Michael Oosterom, Ted Michaels, Colleen Smith. Buried is Peggy Etra, and Grant Baciocco is on camera duty.

Finale photo with (L to R) Brian D Clark, Michael Oosterom, Ted Michaels, Colleen Smith. Buried is Peggy Etra, and Grant Baciocco is on camera duty.

As I was waiting for my turn, Patrick passed through the lobby and asked me to hang back. Interesting.

After having my picture done and convincing my friend Michael to get his done, Patrick came out from a back room and handed me a puppet from the concession stand as thanks for all the support and enthusiasm I offered them while they were in Toronto. Nice! She (the puppet is a girl) is sitting on my desk as I type this.

The new lady in my life thanks to Patrick Bristow and the folks at PuppetUp!

The new lady in my life thanks to Patrick Bristow and the folks at PuppetUp!

I was able to shake everyone’s hand and let them know how much I enjoyed knowing them. I am currently hooking up with many of the puppeteers on Twitter and Facebook. And have promised them all that I will initiate the next social media campaign to get them to come back to Toronto.

Based on their experiences in Toronto, both in the theatre and on the town, I think they’d be open to the idea.

And now, sadly, PuppetUp! has left Toronto, but not without leaving an incredibly big mark on my heart. Thanks, folks. It was a special couple of weeks.

Puppet Up! is coming to Toronto

Okay, that was either the most effective social media campaign EVAR! or the folks at Puppet Up! were already coming to Toronto.

Either way, I don’t care and am simply ecstatic that Puppet Up! Uncensored is coming to Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre October 22 to November 3.

Tickets are currently only open to Mirvish Theatre subscribers, but will likely open up soon.

Thanks to everyone who responded to, looked at or smiled bemusedly at my Bring Puppet Up! to Toronto campaign.

For more about Puppet Up!, visit their web site or FB page.

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