Pension Plan Videos Online

January 6, 2008

Well, the videos are now online! Just before I left on holidays the videos were on the verge of being posted and I’ve noticed they are now live. We’re in the process of developing a marketing strategy for the board to get these videos even greater exposure–I’ll be jumping right back into that when I return from my break.


Tod Maffin On Depression

October 7, 2007

CBC Radio technology columnist and all-round tech/media guru Tod Maffin has spoken publicly
about his battle with depression. Anyone who has followed his blog knows this isn’t a new issue for him, but he has officially made it public, as he explained on CBC Radio.

Tod is one of those guys who has fully embraced the digital age. He’s a futurist and former dot.commer, and he’s always trying new ways of communicating. A little research will easily dig up a wide array of off- and online pursuits, mostly very pioneering stuff. One of the reasons I’ve always liked Tod is that he’s always looking at how technology impacts people. It’s not just about the latest trend, but how these trends are shaping the way we live. Anyone can review a product or service, but few are able to understand the bigger picture and present it in such a compelling, and often humorous, way.

I’m proud to have played a small part in one of his earlier endeavors,, producing two stories for two different episodes. His show was a unique attempt at radio in Canada, running live and interactive across Canada’s time zones show after show, starting on the East Coast and wrapping up on the West.

Anyway, it takes guts to be so candid about such a personal issue, so he has my admiration.

It’s a Wrap! We’ve Finished Shooting our Corporate Video

August 16, 2007

Today was the last day of shooting for three videos we’re producing at work for our largest client. It’s an ambitious project. We’ve been using online video internally for a couple of years, and it’s been quite successful (and will be expanding). For our external audiences, however, while we have previously produced videos, I mostly project-managed contracted resources. We never fully took on the task of fully producing them in-house. Partly it was a lack of resources–that is, I had no help–and also that we didn’t have the equipment. I now have both.

We’re still building our equipment inventory, but we’re at the point where the barriers to producing a good-looking production are essentially eliminated. We still need a full lighting kit, otherwise we’re rolling.

Here’s a quick summary of some of what we’re using:

And there’s more. A nice big light (brand name escapes me), accessories, software on the editing station, DV tape recorder, etc. Like I said, we’re decked out quite nicely.

So back to the project. We’ve shot three short (max 3 min each) commercial-style videos explaining the benefits of being part of a pension plan. A few months ago I pitched three concepts to a sub-committee of the full board of trustees and they chose a hybrid of all three. I returned with their feedback and we started in on storyboarding and scripting the new concept. Finally, I presented the polished scripts to the same committee confident that we had hit the mark. Sure enough, they bought it.

This was a great success for a couple of reasons. First, I went in planning to have the committee approve the scripts at the meeting so that I could leave with my marching orders ready to roll. Some colleagues thought this would never fly, since approvals are not usually granted so easily by the committees. But I was undaunted: I viewed it as my responsibility to provide them with a compelling vision of what we hoped to achieve and a strong enough script and presentation that the committee would have little reason not to give me the green light. And it went off perfectly.

Second, we have a mandate to produce plain language materials, but, given the industry (pensions), it’s not always easy. Not to mention satisfying a variety of stakeholders who typically want to include a lot more information without realizing the impact on readability, comprehension, etc. Anyway, the scripts that we developed were plain languaged to the extreme. We worked hard to distill pension concepts and benefits down to their barest essentials. Again, some were worried that our trustees would never buy into this vision. And, again, they were wrong. The trustees loved the concept, the language, the simplicity.

Anyway, so now we’re on to editing, and we’re right on schedule. Next step is to preview it for the trustees, which we’ll be doing in a couple of weeks. I’m a little anxious, naturally, but confident that what we’ve produced will exceed expectations.

One-sentence Lesson on Leadership

May 23, 2007

Last night I started re-watching HBO‘s fantastic WWII miniseries Band of Brothers. I’m part-way through the second episode–I would have continued watching but it was already passed my bedtime!–but there was a scene, and in particular a line, in the first episode that really struck me as a great encapsulation of what it means to be a leader.

While driving across the base, Lt. Winters admonishes 2nd Lt. Buck Compton for gambling with his men. Compton protests, saying that soldiers gamble and he was just spending some time getting to know his men.

At this point we get a glimpse of Lt. Compton’s leadership style as he offers up his justification for his actions. He was getting to know his men, he says; where’s the harm in that? It’s what soldiers do, he explains. He obviously wants to be a good leader and believes that relating with his men on a more personal level will pay dividends in loyalty, dedication, etc. These are reasonable ends, and his style is probably increasingly familiar to most of us in modern office life.

However, as the scene nears its conclusion, Lt. Winters asks bluntly, “what if you’d have won?” Lt. Compton is confused. The jeep comes to a stop. Exiting the vehicle Lt. Winters turns and delivers his one-sentence lesson on leadership: “Never put yourself in a position where you can take from these men.”

With this simple statement Lt. Winters pinpoints the essence of leadership: service. Leaders exist to serve, not to be served. To say this is lost on a lot of people is an understatement. Of course the drama and gravity of being at war lends the comment a bit more weight, but even in the most mundane of office settings, it still holds true.

National Post Columnist to Speak in Victoria

April 28, 2007

St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Victoria is hosting guest preacher, speaker and National Post columnist Fr. Raymond Joseph de Souza on Friday, May 11th at 7:30 pm. The topic will be “The Church and the Influence of the Canadian Media.”

This promises to be a very interesting talk, from a very compelling, intelligent individual and writer, and I’ll definitely be there.

The following is from an advertisement from St. Andrew’s Cathedral:

Fr. de Souza was ordained to the priesthood in July 2002 and currently serves as Chaplain at Newman House, the Roman Catholic Chaplaincy at Queen’s University. He also teaches at Queen’s in the Faculty of Education and the Queen’s Economic Dept. His area of specialization is Catholic social teaching. Fr. de Souza writes for a number of publications. Principal among these is the National Post, where he is a weekly columnist. He also contributes to the National Catholic Register and he serves as the editor of Religion & Liberty.

In addition, his work has appeared in well known publications such as L’Osservatore Romano, First Things, The Messenger of St. Anthony, the Ottawa Citizen and The Calgary Herald.