Archives For observations

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

Mark Twain

Refugees and Moonshots

November 20, 2015 — Leave a comment

Yesterday I attended the Calgary town hall on the Syrian refugees process. Some thoughts:

  1. Mayor Naheed Nenshi is an amazing speaker. I knew that before but on this topic, as the son of refugee parents himself, he is quite passionate and eloquent.
  2. At least locally, the resettlement effort is more organized and prepared than I would have thought considering the rush. Impressed. (Calgary really is a leader in so much of this stuff.)
  3. Nobody will be cutting corners on security and health checks.
  4. The semi-widespread notion that refugees are terrorists is nonsense. The Paris attacks were by French and Belgian nationals. To catch a 7-12 hour flight would be so much easier than the months-long gauntlet of checks, screens, transfers, and terrible travels those fleeing violence are going through. As Nenshi noted, terrorists are unfortunately smarter than that.
  5. Winter. These Syrians are arriving in the middle of a Canadian winter. Who would choose that voluntarily? People looking for peace and hope.
  6. The “how can we help” vibe in the room was inspiring. A smile at the airport and warm welcomes into the communities in which these families arrive will be more powerful than anything the government can do.
  7. The tight timeframe is actually a good thing, I think. Things happen in bursts. Canada shouldn’t be shy with ambition. And as far as moonshots go, this one is actually not that big.

The Politics of Summer

August 8, 2015 — 1 Comment

Like many, I didn’t watch the August 6th Macleans leaders debate – because, you now, summer. But I did catch some of the followup coverage. It made me wish that there was a fifth candidate onstage and that this would be her/his opening statement…

Good evening.

I have a question to ask all the people not watching this debate at home: What kind of monster starts an election campaign on an early August long weekend?

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Redamancy (the act of loving in return) and compersion (the joy from another’s joy) are a couple words that really ought to have a higher profile in the lexicon of relationships.

Such is Life

June 30, 2015 — Leave a comment

Such is life
to walk down the street
and not help but smile
to see the thousand colours
blur into one sight
to hear the hundred languages
form into one voice
to understand it all
and be none the wiser
Such is life

How Warms Went Cold

October 25, 2014 — 2 Comments


It was around two years ago that I shut down Warm Ventures, the startup I co-founded to pursue what I thought then might be a ripe opportunity in the gift marketing space. It failed, unfortunately, and this post aims to share some of my post-mortem thoughts on the experience – including some aspects that aren’t typical in more prominent startup stories.

Our main product originally was Warms, a platform that bridged the surprise and substance delivered by physical gift products with the emotion and versatility offered by digital videos and e-gifts. It consisted of a 4″x4″x4″ gift box with an elaborate unboxing experience revealing an audible heart-holding plush character and a unique code with instructions to view a video message (and, optionally, an e-gift) from the sender. “Cheaper than flowers and more substantial than e-cards, Warms have a sense of humor and are way more fun to give.” Here was the explainer video we made for them…

The physical item consisted of several custom pieces: a hinge-top wooden box with an interior elastic lever, a button-cell sound module (think audio greeting card), different versions of a small plush doll, a transparent under-lid label with a message and code (alphanumeric and QR), two brass tacks and a hemp string lid clasp with a “Be kind, please rewind” tag on the end, a card stock wrap to seal the box closed and tease to what’s inside, and all of this was mailed in a cubic cardboard box with a wax seal like sticker on top.

This is what one looked like…

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After the Beep

September 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

I find this recording fascinating for a few reasons:

  1. It shows just how significantly different it was in the ’90s to contact friends or organize a night out. We take for granted how easy and immediate it is to reach people now via text or mobile messaging apps.
  2. It shows how we’ve basically lost the dynamic and inherent personality (or banality) of spoken messages. Who leaves voicemail anymore?
  3. It threads together such a curious and fragmented narrative about these people, and especially about the multi-dimensional and mysterious recipient of these messages. A cool, piecemeal way for a story to unfold.