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Lessons from a 9-year-old

Chloë, my nine-year-old daughter (pictured above), decided to create a blog last week. And in her second blog post, simply titled, "How I Got Started", she explained why and how:

I started my blog because I saw my parents creating their websites. I thought that it would be really interesting if I could start a website. I looked on Google for free websites and that is when I found So I choose it and then I started creating on It took me a bit of time and concentration but after the afternoon of working on my website, I finished it. I am so proud of myself for doing all that work in such a short period of time.

That's the full text of the post, but there's so much we can learn from just those six sentences.

People see what you do. Sometimes you might not realize it, but people are watching you and how you spend your time. So try to set a good example, not just any kids you might have, but for all those around you. Chloë saw how much time her mother and I were both spending on our laptops, and what she asked us what we were doing, we told her; that gave her the idea to have a website for herself. She had a little bit of guidance from her Mama, but for the most part, she figured everything out on her own... because that's what she saw her non-technical parents doing.

Not knowing how to do something isn't an excuse. My nine-year-old daughter decided she wanted to have a blog, and by the end of the day, she had one. We live in a time where all the information in the world is just a Google query away, so if you want to do something but don't know how... that isn't really a valid excuse. You're never too old (or young) to learn something new.

You can get a lot done with a little time and concentration. Most of you are probably reading this in an open-office environment. I don't mind them myself, but I also don't hesitate to put on headphones when I have to get something important done and need to concentrate. Don't let distractions get in the way of accomplishing your goals.

Be proud of what you accomplish. There's no shame in being proud of your work. Celebrate your wins!

As it happens, I took those same lessons and applied them to this week's newsletter. Last week, I didn't know how to optimize the newsletter for mobile... but after I realized I made many of you squint at your screens to read my inaugural edition, I learned what I did wrong and applied it to this week's email. (Fortunately, only one person unsubscribed! Thanks to everyone who stuck with me for issue #2... and good riddance, Tim.) Revising the newsletter's format to be mobile-friendly took me a lot more time and concentration than I would have liked -- I had to throw out the template I painstakingly build last week and start from scratch -- but I think it'll be worth it. And I'm proud of the result!

I also want to thank everyone who took the time to provide feedback on my last newsletter, which absolutely made this edition better. Feedback is a gift, and Christmas came twice! (But if you're late with your shopping and still want to get me a present, I'll still happily accept it.)

- dp

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  • Well, it took until 2020, but we may finally have the flying cars The Jetsons promised us all those years ago! Hyundai and Uber team up to debut new flying taxis at CES.
  • The fires raging in Australia right now are absolutely devastating, and many are looking for ways they can help. Instagram model Kayln Ward decided to offer a unique fundraiser, and managed to raise $700,000 before Instagram found out about it and shut down her account. What did she do? She offered nude photos in exchange for donations to bushfire relief. Sure, Ward's actions clearly violate Instagram's terms and conditions, but given Instagram parent Facebook earned BILLIONS of dollars in profit last year, maybe they could have handled this a bit differently? (Perhaps by asking her to stop but offering to match the money she raised?) Facebook missed an opportunity here... they should take a lesson from Maple Leaf Foods. (Confused? Keep reading...)
  • Speaking of fire, according to the Globe & Mail, Amazon Fire TV now has 40 million active users globally. Keep in mind, these are "users" not devices... I'm a single user but I have four of them in my house. Not familiar with the device? Trust me, it's worth every single penny.
  • Even the Pope makes mistakes sometimes. (Like, say, slapping away an overly-enthusiastic woman's hand as she aggressively reached for him.) But as this Wall Street Journal article outlines, his simple apology demonstrates the right way to say, "I'm sorry."

Win-of-the-Week: Creating Maple Leaf fans!

Remember that time the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup? Sadly, neither do I... it's literally never happened in my lifetime. But I do remember the time that Maple Leaf won the internet.

According to this CBC article, Jacob wanted a "Maple Leaf" cake for his eighth birthday. But a confused (or possibly very devious) Montreal bakery sent him one topped with the "Maple Leaf Foods" logo. (Insert evil laugh here.)

Instead of taking offence at the kid's reaction to the mix-up, the meat-company decided to turn the kid's frown upside down by offering Jacob and his family tickets to an upcoming Maple Leafs hockey game.

Ironically, the best opportunity to create a brand fan is often how a company handles a mistake. This wasn't Maple Leaf Foods' mistake, but they did a great job turning it into a win anyway.


* an interview conducted completed via text message... so please excuse all typos *

This week's text-talk comes to you live from the exciting Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, courtesy of my guest (and friend) Linda Cronin. Linda is the Executive Vice-President and Managing Director of Initiative, a full-service global media agency based out of New York.

A few hours after we finished out text-talk interview, Linda did send me a text -- with a video -- of something really cool: Samsung's "The Wall", essentially little TV-tiles that can be placed together (sans bezels!) to create a wall of multiple screens or a giant screen with up to 292-inch diagonal! The video she sent was a bit grainy and didn't do the technology justice, but I found this clip that C|Net posted on YouTube a few days ago... watch it and prepare to be uber-envious of the uber-rich folks who are currently the only ones able to afford this.
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Practical Matters: Make Meetings Stink Less!

I once suffered through an hour-long meeting on the topic of.... how we could have fewer meetings. (I wish I was kidding.)

I don't know anyone who enjoys meetings, but that's probably because most meetings at work aren't productive or value-added.

In Why Your Meetings Stink-and What to Do About It, University of North Carolina Charlotte professor Steven G. Rogelberg challenges managers to make positive changes to meetings by objectively assessing and improving their own meeting skills. If you're a manager, this is worth a read. (If you're not, print out a copy and discreetly slip it on to your manager's desk.) 

And if that doesn't work, try this absolutely incredible Meeting Ticker, which calculates in real-time how much money is being spent every second the meeting continues...


Another holiday season is in the books!

Have you ever wondered what Santa Claus does in his "off-season"?

Well, thanks to this brilliant spot, now we know!

This is so simple, yet so fun. Have a watch.

(h/t to Andrew Shortt for sharing it on his LinkedIn feed.)

The Last Word.

"You're a dope if you don't steal from everybody you have ever worked with."

- Tom Hanks, during his Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech at the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards. His entire speech is filled with great advice for not just actors, but for us all... watch it here.

Life's too short to make all of the mistakes yourself. Learn from others, always.

Until next week,
- dp

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