Fast & Curious: Short Takes on Random Things

Hey, ladies

In this week’s Innovacorp article, I referenced an event sponsored by the corporation in 2013 — an evening with a character by the name of Geoff Lewis. Here’s the breathless description of the festivities from the Innovacorp website:

On May 30, 2013, Geoff Lewis commandeered the atrium at the Innovacorp Enterprise Centre and as you can see from the pictures, we were happy to oblige. That evening, Geoff bestowed his wisdom upon the audience from his experiences as a principal with FOUNDERS FUND and as an entrepreneur. (Previously, Geoff was co-founder and CEO of TOPGUEST, the social loyalty software. In 2011, he sold Topguest to Switchfly in an eight figure transaction.) Not too shabby, Geoff.

We were also blessed with  ORIS4‘s Reza Kazemipour and LEADSIFT’s Tapajyoti (Tukan) Das’ presence, who captivated us with their stories from the start-up world.

(Is it just me, or does this kind of sound like a member of the Branch Davidians reviewing a David Koresh talk?)

I noted that while the photographer assigned to the event (Kelly Clark) seemed to go out of her way to take photos of women, there was no disguising the serious gender imbalance in the audience and on the stage. Which makes the captions the anonymous author of the article chose to place under photos of Lewis all the more jarring:

Geoff Lewis

Geoff Lewis

 

So, the few women who did attend Lewis’ presentation were there to ogle him?

I think this is what the kids call “cringe.”

 

Advertising

Temporary mobile signs, CBRMA reader and I were exchanging thoughts on CBRM’s temporary sign situation (he pointed out the rather startling crop that’s popped up in front of the Value Check Plaza in Sydney River, perfectly placed to distract unwary motorists heading into our newest rotary) and I realized that the ubiquity of advertising in our lives is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

I’m bombarded by advertising these days — I hear podcast hosts shilling for products ranging from CBD oil to home insurance. I watch YouTube ads for cruise lines and new release movies. I get text messages from my cell phone provider offering me things I don’t need (like second lines). My Facebook and Twitter feeds are rife with ads and I have to wade through them to read most online publications. My email inbox is plugged solid with offers from any company that’s wangled my email address from me and — despite my handmade “No Flyers Please” sign — my mailbox is mainly a repository for fast-food coupons I don’t use and (lately) Christmas flyers from Canadian Tire that all look absolutely identical to me although I can’t say for sure because I can’t be bothered to read them.

And that’s the kicker: none of it works. I can’t think of the last time I was moved to buy something because of an advertisement. Most of my non-food purchases these days are project driven (no matter what I want to do around the house, I never seem to have the necessary tools/materials, it’s kind of amazing).

I went looking for insight into the efficacity of advertising and found this episode of the Freakonomics podcast. It’s very long and involved but it says, basically, that little research has been done to determine whether advertising works, that it’s very difficult to measure how well it works and that what research has been done suggests it often doesn’t work very well at all. (That’s in terms of increasing sales, although marketers argue this is not the only purpose of advertising, that “brand building” is equally important.)

I will be very curious to see if the proponents of temporary signs here in CBRM offer any evidence that they work.

 

Jesus, Take This Podcast

Bet on Me, podcast, Annette VerschurenI realized, tuning in to Episode Seven of Annette Verschuren’s Bet On Me podcast (“The Back-Roads of Inspiration: A look into the life of Grammy Award Winning Songwriter Gordie Sampson“), that I’ve been remiss — I haven’t dealt with Verschuren’s introduction, the spiel she gives at the beginning of every conversation. So let’s get this over with:

I’ve always believed that global success can be achieved from any pocket of the world. Being here in rural Cape Breton throughout the pandemic has proven this — not just for myself, but for entrepreneurs everywhere who’ve adapted and found opportunities in spite of significant challenges. So many people have inspired me throughout my career and continue to every day, from small business owners to international leaders. People across our country are taking risks and betting on themselves in pursuit of their passions. I’m launching these platforms to spark conversations about what it takes to succeed in business and life. If you want to stay connected, inspired, follow along!

These sentences feel disjointed to me, like she pulled them at random from a longer text. They also capture a weird contradiction that runs throughout the series — Verschuren claims to love and be inspired by “small business owners” and yet measures success in “global” terms.

Introducing her conversation with Gordie Sampson, she says:

It’s conversations like these that I know will be good for your soul and will remind us all about the importance of hard work, believing in yourself and reaching for those big dreams that you’ve been thinking about.

I would like to state here and now that I do not accept that Verschuren knows what’s good for my soul. Also, you don’t “think about” dreams. You dream them. That’s what makes them “dreams” rather than “thoughts.”

Sampson sounds like a perfectly nice man and I can imagine aspiring musicians and songwriters would be very interested to hear him interviewed — by someone who actually knew something about music, which Verschuren (although she has apparently bought a piano and is trying to learn to play) clearly doesn’t. She asks questions like:

What’s your favorite instrument? Guitar? But I’ve seen you play the piano. Can you play the fiddle?

And offers observations like:

I was invited to a songwriters circle recently, I couldn’t make it.

She also peppers Sampson with questions to which he has to answer, “no,” including, “Do you speak Gaelic?” “Do you read music?” and my favorite, “Did you know Stan Rogers?” to which Sampson has to both say “No” and then explain that he’d been 12 when Rogers died.

On the plus side, I made it through the whole interview.

On the minus side, that’s how low the bar for this podcast is now set.