Gary Vaynerchuk on Storytelling in 2013

Moved to:

If you’ve never heard of Gary Vaynerchuk, you should check him out. He’s one of today’s great marketers that get’s it. Gary’s latest post is about storytelling. It’s about the ways that a company or brand connects with customers in 2013 is not the same as it was in 1998, 2004 or even 2010.  Storytelling in 2013  is a must read for entrepreneurs & marketers in any industry.

If you really want to known how to use Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Youtube and every other tool invented and not yet invented then you should watch Gary’s talk at Elevate NYC 2013.


I first learned about Gary through his Keynote Speech at Inc 500 Seminar in 2011. It’s an hour long but it’s worth your time. Check it out.

Bye Bye MS Word, Hello Linkedin Resume Writer

If you’re like me, you probably have a half a dozen versions of your resume sitting in a MS Word doc somewhere on a file server, on your computer or in Dropbox. When someone asks you to send them your resume, you either look through these folders to find the most recent version or you search your Gmail account for the last company you sent it to. Either way, for me, every time I finish a job or contract, I’m updating my MS Word based resume. It doesn’t take a lot of time but it is tedious for me because my most up-to-date resume is now my linkedin profile.

resumeLinkedin has had for a while a PDF download(image on right) of your profile but it was pretty generic and if you wanted to customize it, you had to have Acrobat or convert it to Word. It was okay but Linkedin Labs has a whole new solution.

If you have an up-to-date Linkedin profile, Linkedin Labs has built a resume builder that pulls all of your profile data into a web app that allows you to format your resume using pre-built templates and easy to use drag and drop sections.

In short, you can produce a beautiful resume in just a couple of mouse clicks and export it to PDF to share.

Here’s a resume I just created in about 15 seconds.

Try it out for yourself at

Where main stream “news” comes from

The main stream media(MSM) has lost it’s way and I don’t think it is ever coming back. Bloggers and social media are fast becoming the new reliable news source as the MSM has just become a regurgitation machine for businesses. A glowing example for me of this is from the real estate industry. They take full advantage of the PR process to get their message out that it’s always a good time to buy.

“News” as it’s called at the end of this process starts off in a boardroom and in this case, the board room of a large national real estate firm. The product for this company is real estate and in order for them to make money, they need to move tons of it. So they craft a message that makes buying real estate a smart decision regardless of the fact that buying real estate right now is a terrible decision. This time the message was;

Single-family homes remain the most popular property type among both Baby Boomers and Generation Y, according to Royal LePage survey”

The message doesn’t really matter for the point I’m making here as the semantics may change but the message is always about moving product.

They started off by hiring a firm called Leger Marketing to do a poll.(Just as an aside, Polls are also about as accurate as weather forcasts) They then put the data together and create some scientific looking metrics that prove or attempt to prove their point. The data and findings are word-smithed and wrapped up in a nice bow and fed into the Press Release distribution machine. For a few hundred bucks anyone can send a press release to every news desk in the country or world if they choose.

The MSM news desks comb through these advertisements, I mean press releases and choose the ones they want to make into “News”. They then “write” a story or cut, paste and paraphrase the press release and you get this.

Here’s the Press Release that Royal Lepage paid to send to Canadian news desks earlier this week.

Press release that Royal Lepage paid to send to Canadian news desks.
Press release that Royal Lepage paid to send to Canadian news desks.

An then the regurgitation began…

gandm winipegcalgary


The sad part about all of this is that it is so easy for the general public to be manipulated. The process above can be done for less than $500 dollars by almost anyone who is good at story telling.

This weak example of  journalism has gone on for years. People are getting smarter and are losing confidence in the reliability, accuracy and supposed unbiased information coming from the “News”. Unfortunately the baby boomers that these messages are targeted at are the one’s that still have faith in the accuracy and reliability of the “news” and hence the ones that are being deceived the most.

With the news business now operating like this, I’m still confused as to why main stream media executives wonder why they are all going bankrupt?

Using Artificial Intelligence to fight Cyber Bullying

Bullying is becoming a large problem in society with a quarter of parents reporting their kids experience it. Just this past week, a young girl names Amanda Todd committed suicide because she was bullied for several years online and offline. She posted a video on YouTube describing her experience and her pain. It was a sad account of what she went through and a strong indication of this growing problem of cyber bullying. This incident has ignited the debate on the subject of bullying, especially cyber bullying and how to prevent it. Facebook is already doing some education and providing tools for reporting bullying but I think it can be taken further.

It got me thinking about possible solutions for prevention and one idea that came to mind was inspired by some of my previous work in the banking industry. The banking industry is challenged with debit & credit card fraud where criminals use a technique called debit card skimming among many other techniques, to steal millions of dollars from banks.  In order to combat this growing trend, banks and credit card companies are using very advanced systems that leverage some very complex algorithms to help estimate, detect and prevent undesirable behaviors.

These systems are capable of dynamic profiling that condenses enormous amounts of historical data, capturing the most predictive variables for real-time analytics. Updated with every transaction, these dynamic profiles enable analytics to “learn” behavior patterns as they evolve. It’s this technology that I think can be used to help find bullying as it happens and educate those involved.

Proposed Solution

Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter could leverage these same artificial intelligence technologies to estimate, detect and prevent cyber bullying behavior.

Like credit and debit card fraud, it’s important to first understand the mechanisms of identifying bullying conversations or actions on social networks. Natural Language Processing and Natural Language Understanding techniques could be used to identify conversations that could be considered to have bullying intent between users. Looking for curse words, insults and specific phrases based on a scoring model for severity could flag conversations and then take a specific course of action based on the type of bullying that is occurring.

These course of actions should first be in the form of education but could include anything from a warning to the user to terminating the account and reporting to authorities.

For example, lets say a user starts to bully another user by first posting an abusive statement on their Facebook timeline. The bully detection system would recognize the statement and warn the offending user that this type of interaction is not acceptable and suggest that they review some bulling education videos. If the offender continues abusive behavior and the system detects another incident, the offenders account access could then be suspended and force the user to complete a bullying education course that they have to pass in order to have their account restored. If the the offending user completes this and still continues to bully other users, their Facebook account would be suspended indefinitely. The user could then enter an appeal process if they wish to get  their account reinstated.

The process looks something like this:

These course of actions could be expanded to account for many different situations and severities which could include reporting to authorities or other bullying management groups. The goal would be to educate offenders as much as possible and the consequence  is being suspension from using Facebook.

This type of model enforces education and consequences for unacceptable actions.

It would be good if Facebook was working on something like this. They already enforce many of their policies but I’m not sure on the extent of their detection and prevention strategies. From this statement, they do rely on their users for reporting specific behaviors.

We maintain a robust reporting infrastructure that leverages the 500 million people who use our site to keep an eye out for offensive or potentially dangerous content.  This reporting infrastructure includes report links on pages across the Facebook site, systems to prioritize the most serious reports, and a trained team of reviewers who respond to reports and escalate them to law enforcement as needed.  This team treats reports of harassing messages and impostor profiles as a priority. Facebook

Either way, more needs to be done to detect, prevent and educate everyone on bullying.

3 ways the District of Squamish should be using technology

Information is the Currency of Democracy. Technology helps us make good use of it. 

Here are three ways that I think the District of Squamish should be leveraging information technology.

#1 – Reporting and solving community issues

Every community has issues. From pot holes to homelessness and everything in between. Reporting, prioritizing and fixing issues has always been a challenge for governments. There are many great tools that have come on to the market in the past few years. See Click Fix is one of of them. It’s a platform that allows anyone to report and track non-emergency issues in a community. This simple tool could empower the citizens of Squamish and the district  to take care of and improve our neighborhoods.

What to report?

    • Garbage dumping
    • Street repair issues
    • Graffiti that needs cleaning
    • Broken signage
    • Sidewalk repairs
    • Dirty public spaces
    • Overflowing garbage cans
    • Burnt out lights
    • and more…

A tool like this brings huge efficiency as the community helps the district with identifying what needs to be focused on and gathers valuable actionable information. The District can’t be in all places at all times and a tool like this makes it easy for everyone to help improve our community.

It’s so easy that I already started a page for Squamish. If you have an issue, report it here and be part of the solution.

#2 – Cutting through the Red Tape

You hear about this all the time. There is so much Red Tape!

Everything takes too long and is too complex to process. The DOS deals with thousands of requests for licenses, permits and many other service requests from regular citizens to developers and other government entities. The challenge is in fulfilling all of these request in a timely manner with limited resources. It’s a common challenge that every business and government is faced with today.

The current known solution for fixing this for most leaders today is to simply add more people to the process and maybe start using some “off the shelf” COTS technology tools to speed up tasks. This rarely solves the greater problem and the fact of the matter is that most small governments are still manually run siloed organizations.

They need to look at new solutions and they need to look at Business Process Management (BPM). Business Process Management is not new but it has evolved and become a powerful tool for accelerating continuous process improvement. Companies like have created tools with capabilities that can that can automate and streamline processes for all sorts of tasks and help organizations reach new levels of performance, while reducing costs. BPM creates the flexibility, agility and visibility our government needs to adapt more quickly to internal and external changes.

#3 Community Engagement through Social Media

Although the District of Squamish has started using Facebook, there is so much more it can and should be doing. Tools like Twitter and even Tiipz, a local tech company that offers a tool to capture real time consumer insight need to be explored and put to use. But Social media is not just about Twitter, Youtube and Facebook. It’s about engaging people where they are. The social media landscape looks a bit like this today.

A little overwhelming isn’t it? It’s hard to know where to invest the time and resources but it must be explored as it’s a gold mine of knowledge and opportunity. The beauty in this graphic is that it provides a chance to see the larger social media landscape and examine where the district of Squamish fits in.

Squamish is already being talked about on Twitter as you can see from this graph below and it’s growing every month. The DOS and other locals needs to join the conversation and even start more conversations with it’s citizens and the world at large.

That spike to 1000 was during Live at Squamish where thousands of people from Vancouver and the US were tweeting about Squamish to all of the followers on their Twitter accounts. The average twitter user has 126 followers and using some basic math we can make the assumption that over 100,000 people would have been exposed to our little town’s name and the event going on here. The reach and exposure on that one weekend was huge and was an opportunity for more local engagement. This is just one example of the opportunities out there on social media.

Highway 99 is another. Almost everyone of those cars that flies down the highway have a smartphone with a Twitter and Facebook account and learning how to capture and engage that audience should be a priority for the district and our tourism entities.

There are so many uses for social media in government and here are just a few.

    • It can be used to promote government information and services
    • RFP and tender opportunity marketing
    • It can expand the outreach capabilities and improve the ability to interact with and serve the public
    • It can help with community planning and decision making
    • It can be used for service requesting
    • It can be used to increase transparency and trust
    • It can be used to educate the world at large about Squamish, it’s history and it’s future
    • It can help with economic development by engaging business around the world
    • It can help with tourism
    • It can help with healthcare

The point is, a place like Squamish needs to embrace and become a leader in this area. It will help attract people to live here, business to work here and tourists to visit here. The need is not to just have social media accounts but use them to their full capabilities in concert with each other for a greater goal.