Interview with OMNI News

It’s fun to feel famous once in awhile. But I learned a few things from the interview:

  1. First, you learn some things about how you see yourself. And that awareness reveals its strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Second, the news story is rarely the whole story. The news item makes me feel like an adventurer much more than I actually feel.

Oh and don’t forget to turn the captions on in case you don’t speak Cantonese!


Tony Kushner

A lovely interview with Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner that inspires the need to seek out and speak truth and let uncertainty be a companion.

“I decided long ago that my job as a playwright is to try to speak and write honestly about what I believe to be true. It’s been my experience that truth eventually triumphs over soundbites, spin and defamation, and that reason, honest inquiry, and courage, which are more appealing and more persuasive than demagoguery, will carry the day.”

“Political evil is absolute certainty.”

“Meaning is the food by which humans live.”


Notes on Tod Maffin’s Social Media Seminar

Here are my notes from the CIR Realty event I sponsored featuring Tod Maffin on using social media for sales. If you have any questions, feel free to post it below.

1. Traditional Marketing versus Participatory Marketing

Traditional Marketing
Traditional Marketing is like a flock of birds that fly in the V-formation. As the lead “bird” you are trying essentially to “buy eyeballs” with advertising. You send your listing out to the radio stations to the bus benches and so forth.

Eventually with enough eyeballs, you can segment them into four or five categories and you market to each segment differently. You can send the same message but branded differently.

Participatory Marketing
Participatory marketing is like a swarm of bees. There is no clear “leader”. What happens is that in the swarm there are one or two trusted bees that others pay attention to and the swarm will suddenly shift directions [Chris: See Malcom Gladwell’s Tipping Point about Mavens and Connectors].

So instead of buying eyeballs, you are in the swarm participating with the swarm.

2. Facebook

Facebook was invented by Mark Zuckerberg. The Facebook was a publication that came out at Harvard. Only those invited could see it. He thought that it would be interesting to know people that many of your friends knew too. Thus the idea was born.

Facebook operates on an economy of trust which is critical.

Websites, on the other hand, are the point of second contact. Nobody will buy a home from your website. There had to have been a referral to it.

TIP: Remember that people are most often going to your website to look for your phone number or other contact info.

Facebook’s most valuable page is the “News Feed”. This is what everyone checks to see what their friends are up to. Anything that you do to your Facebook account, is or can be reported to your friend’s news feed.

Use friend-splitting to create lists to allow you to target different segments on your Facebook. You can have a list for friends and family, a list for new home buyers, for prospects… etc. [Chris: See Tod Maffin’s blog post]

Fan Page
Use fan pages to be your online storefront. You can brand it. Make sure you name it appropriately so that others can find it. Put things of interest to your buyer. Share articles and videos, create events. Act like a bee and pollinate Facebook!

TIP: If someone posts a comment, reply back every time! This is when you move from advertising to conversation.

You can create an add in a few minutes. [Chris – ask me if you want to know more about this].

3. YouTube

You can shoot videos with a regular camera these days. A $129 Canon camera will shoot HD video. Display an entire house all on one video.


  • People typically watch a video for no longer than 4 minutes.
  • If you shoot multiple rooms, stitch it all into one video.
  • Pretend there is someone on the tour with you. Talk as if they are there.
  • When embedding videos, turn “related videos” off. You don’t want people’s attention diverted from your video.

4. Top Five Mistakes that Realtors Make with Social Media

  1. You don’t sound like yourself. Write as if you were talking to them personally.
  2. You only post listings. Give them other reasons to read!
  3. You post stuff about your vacation. People don’t care (unless you’re a celebrity)
  4. You don’t participate. You don’t comment or reply.
  5. You don’t post reliably or consistently.

5. Craig’s List

Craig’s list started as a mailing list. Someone wanted to sell his bike and asked if Craig could put it at the bottom of the mailing list. Craig’s list was born.

Craig’s list demolished newspapers because it eroded the money they earned through classified ads.

As an advertising tool, it’s free and you can put as much text in it as you want. This is way better than classified ads.


  • Really think about who is looking at your listing. What are they looking for?
  • Take photos from Google streetview or 3D views from Bing
  • Feel free to put lots of detail in the postings. Some people LOVE the detail.

[Chris: Is there anything else I missed? Questions? Then start practicing your participatory marketing by doing one of the following:

  1. Share this post with your Facebook friends by clicking the “Share This” button.
  2. Post a comment about something you found interesting at the event.
  3. Post a question of something about social media you’d like to know more about.

All the best and have fun social networking.]

Are we running out of water?

“To a water expert, looking ahead is like the view from a locomotive, 10 seconds before the train wreck. Sometime in the coming century, the increasing human demand for water, the increasing scarcity of water due to climate warming, and one of the long droughts of past centuries will collide, and Albertans will learn first-hand what water scarcity is all about. Water scarcity will become one of the most important economic and environmental issues of the 21st century in the western prairie provinces”

Dr. David Schindler, A Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology at the University of Alberta in “The Myth of Abundant Canadian Water”

Is it true? And if it is, why might people dismiss this warning? Post your thoughts below!

How to Leave Your Job (Tip 2)

To leave your job it helps to have a strong financial capacity as discussed in the last post, but what about your social capacity?

Check Your Social Network

Richard Bolles of “What Color is Your Parachute” says that you need 80 eyes and ears to find the job of your dreams.The same would seem to apply when building a business.

As I soon discovered, having good relationships with a wide variety of people was to “seeing and hearing” what possibilities abound. The majority of interesting employment are found through unofficial channels. Much of business is still based on referrals and the ability to connect with the right network.

How are you at connecting with people that are involved in areas you care about? Do you meet interesting people that broaden your horizon?

Or perhaps you might be a lone wolf like me. Sometimes I think I’ve spent too much time as an independent engineer where one’s work is judged on its merits and not on who you know or who says what. But even engineers must collaborate with accountants, controllers, salespeople, and marketers to enable a product to have an impact on the world. Like Shackleton’s incredible voyage to the Antarctica and back, you can’t survive life alone.

So how is your ecology of friends and associates? It’s one thing to hang out with your friends. It’s another to intentionally cultivate the kinds of relationships that will sustain you in all areas.

Social capital not only allows you to leave your job. It allows you to find other kinds of opportunities. So invest!

More tips to come.