“I believe in honesty and open communication for business, and I try to take advantage of the perspective that having a long history in journalism combined with my corporate writing offers. Of course, the best way to get to know me is to read my work at The M-Dash.
And, yes, I’m fully aware that’s a shameless plug.”
What motivates you to do what you do on a daily basis?
Two forms of love. First off, it’s my love for my family, and as the sole breadwinner (due to an accident that’s left my wife unable to work), I’ve got to show up every day and bring home that paycheque. Let’s be honest — we’d all love to do what we want, when we want, but something’s got to pay that mortgage and put food on the table. And if there’s one thing I insist upon in my writing is honesty.
That said, I truly love to write. I love each and every aspect about writing, whether it’s for corporate interests, for my consulting clients, my freelance reporting work, or on the pair of books I’ve got swirling in my head. There’s something absolutely magical about putting ink onto paper (or pixels onto a screen, as the case may be) and creating a finished product. I find myself endlessly amused by the minutae of writing — a simple turn of phrase or analogy that I create can be immensely rewarding — and that passion for writing keeps me going.
If you had 30 seconds to impart your wisdom on a classroom of soon-to-be graduates, what would you say?
Be honest — in every sense of the word. I firmly believe that the ability to communicate will be the defining skill of the future. However, your readers are becoming increasingly savvy — they can smell when you’re faking it. How do you avoid that? Don’t fake it. Just because everyone can have a FB page for their business, blog, or tweet, doesn’t mean they should.
And be honest in how you approach your job. When I wrote for The Gazette at Western, I treated each and every story with the utmost of respect and all of my attention. It didn’t matter if it was a huge scandal, or a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a new cafeteria — what I was working on was the most important thing of the day. Do you know why? Because to someone out there, it is. That person you’re interviewing takes an immense amount of pride in their job, and the least you can do is respect that. When I became an editor, then editor-in-chief, I tried to impart that to my writers. Even now, in business writing, I treat each and every piece with the utmost of respect. Sure, writing a piece of catalogue copy or a speech on a new product may seem trivial to most, but to someone it’s extremely important — and it deserves your respect.
In your opinion, what has been one of the most important technological developments over the past 12 months?
I think it’s the explosion in hand-held, wireless technology, and its mass acceptance amongst the mainstream public. While the Internet alone made information accessible and eliminated borders, the fact that you can now carry the world in the palm of your hand is incredible. And for all those people sounding the death knell for newspapers, this iTouch, iPad, Android, etc. revolution should put the kibosh on that. Instead, these devices have made it easier for people to access information, so they’re reading more. Their curiosity has been piqued, but you need responsible journalists to provide that information. Yes, there are a billion and one blogs, but for the most part they’re reacting to the news — they still need someone to create it. People may not want to buy a physical paper, but they’ll read their local rag on their tablet. Someone’s got to create that content.
The question remains, how is that content paid for? Of course, monetising the Internet is a question that goes back to my LookSmart editor days…
If you had a crystal ball, what would you say will be the most important technological development over the next 12 months?
I don’t know if it’s considered a development, but rather a trend. I see finding a way to secure information as being a primary focus for the future. Yes, early adopters have embraced the cloud mentality and many have the savvy to secure their data. But success will only be reached when my mom feels comfortable saving her information in the Internet Ether.
Who is one of Canada’s tech stars and why?
Other than Karim Kanji? (Editors Note: That was Jay’s quote, not mine.) I’d like to nominate an old friend of mine, Shuman Ghosemajumder, who recently left his position at Google to work with his wife on the TeachAIDS project. They are committed to using technology to combat this horrendous disease and I believe their cause is one worthy of attention and support. Sure, Shuman doesn’t live in Canada any more, but I know he’s still a Canadian at heart! http://teachaids.org/team.php