Category Archives: Hamilton

The Universe is Your Stage so we Ignite our Souls

Sunday September 22nd 2013, I experienced something I don’t think my mind will ever let me forget.

I always wanted to attend a Poetry Slam, and, it has been increasingly been on my brain over the last year to go to one. However, between other obligations and just life in general prevented me, until this night, September 22nd 2013.

Guided By the Spirit

A little back story on poetry and I, I use to write a lot of poems when I was in High School. In fact I became involved in a poetry community where I would post some of my latest work on a board and got some pretty amazing feedback from it. As I grew older I simply stopped. Periodically, I would write, but not as much as I did before. I went through a very troubling time, where I just hated anything artistically & creatively I had done. And as I grew more and more depressed realizing I was not like everyone else… in a fit of rage I tore all my work into pieces and threw away almost 10 years worth of emotions in a single evening.

I would eventually regret my decision to do so, realizing I should have not turn my back on the one thing that eventually would mean everything to me.

Sunday September 22nd, 2013 I attended the Hamilton HYP Poetry Slam, held at Baltimore House. I knew, I just knew I was going to be writing about tonight, and probably a majority of individuals probably won’t be able to begin to understand but I do hope it makes some sort of sense to people reading this.

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First off, I will begin by saying that all of the poets involved in the Open-Mic & Poetry Slam were absolutely amazing. Not just because their poetry was amazing, just to go up in front of that microphone regardless of the poetry reading themselves, displays a lot of courage. Public speaking is the most well known fear and phobia a individual can experience, people would rather die then get up and speak thats how bad it is. So for those individuals that got up on stage on that faithful night of Sunday September 22nd 2013 at Baltimore House Cafe, I applaud you, for that.

Secondly, aside from getting up on stage in front of an audience, pouring something you have written about your emotions. Deep feelings of sadness or thoughts & views on society, in a world where we are only taught to think and feel a certain way and if your views don’t mesh with everyone else you’re considered an outcast… but you, you stood up for what you believe in, spoke your mind, through rhythm and rhyme and told your story… is a source of inspiration for others.

Finally, the energy level that came shining through, the sense of passion displayed within every single word you spoke and breathe you took to let the emotions settle, took my breathe away. I could feel my heart beating faster with each line you read upon that stage, may you make note, words do truly effect us all.

But my experience did not stop there, what came during each of the readings I can not begin to put into words. There were times during each one of those readings, where my eyes would focus and re-focus between the poet and the backdrop of the stage at Baltimore House. And I kid you not, as it defocused upon the backdrop I saw your true self upon that stage. The beautiful most immaculate souls these eyes ever did see.

I saw the fiery courage within the voices, the power and strength of an individual, in which, one would only assume was weak just at a glance. I saw the beauty within a person and the confidence of a warrior ready to do battle. It was right then and there I knew I was meant to attend this amazing event. To experience what I experience and share what I saw with others.

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You see most people go through their entire lives not knowing who they truly are. They get trapped in this idea or vision of who they think other people believe them to be. But when you embrace something so pure as what I saw that night, you can not hide the beauty of your soul.

We grasp on to ideals and adopt them as our own, listening to what society tells us through media and pop culture that this is the ideal lifestyle you want to live. That you should look like this or that. You should run with this crowd because they are the most popular. And we believe in it, we believe in it so strongly we stop at nothing to fit in and we lose ourselves in it.

We deny our true self, but, if we only pursue and listen to our hearts you know it is not who we were meant to be. We end up feeling empty inside, so we fill our lives with meaningless objects & drama that creates stress in our lives, so much so, we caught off our ability to breathe. And all the things we think we want in our lives end up owning us, instead of us owning life.

And all of a sudden we are working just to maintain this lifestyle, but if only we gave ourselves more and surrendered it to the will of the universe, our inner spirit, will we then become whole again. And with that, that is the true meaning of life and that is what I saw up on stage that faithful Sunday night.

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Filed under Hamilton, Poetry

Top Three Networking Opportunities in Hamilton (September)

So as early morning approaches, and waking up to the sounds of crickets filling the air I thought I’d take the time to write a blog. I have two other blog ideas going but as I was on my way home today, seeing a bus filled with wide eyed impressionable minds excited about starting a new year at McMaster University or Mohawk College. I thought I’d take a minute to introduce some events those students might be interested in going to.

It’s never too early in a school term to get yourself out there to some of these networking events happening in Hamilton, and as I look at my calendar I keep of all these events I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by just how many events there are. Some I come accustomed to going on a monthly basis because I love the social interaction I have with them. Some I know and feel obligated to go as you never know what opportunity might come by going.

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So I thought I’d compile a list of 3 event/networking events happening in the city that I feel as a creative individual or entrepreneur should attend and why.

Startup Drinks

This is actually a fitting one, not only is it coming up really fast but it’s also just a great way to ease into your month of getting yourself out there. I think I’ve been attending Startup Drinks for about a year now. I don’t think I missed one yet. It is not because it has my favourite word in it… You can hazard a guess which word that might be! But truthfully it is the individuals, like me, that go out to Startup Drinks on a regular basis. It ranges from Developers to Graphic Designers, Lawyers to Game Designers. You name it, they will probably be there.

My favourite part of Startup Drinks is the discussions that happen, some will pitch you ideas, some will come just to introduce themselves but one of my favourite conversations happened just last month. Entrepreneurs discussing how Yoga and Meditation can help create a balanced lifestyle which is not really something that is discussed often enough. When you tend to go to other networking events, it is a lot of “pitching”, I remember when I first starting going to events oh how nervous I was, and scared to talk about myself especially when I know the other person is judging me by how I dress, how I present my ideas, how I act. Meanwhile still waiting for their opportunity to speak so they can talk about themselves. Finding Startup drinks, to discuss topics such as like how each individual handles stress was to say the least a stress reliever to know that others feel the same way.

Startup Drinks isn’t like that though, there is no agenda to it, no formal address from a speaker, it’s just a group of people gathered in one centralized location discussing matters that sometimes do not get addressed. I highly recommend anyone that is interested in starting to build a networking presence to come out to Startup Drinks, you will meet individuals that you will see at other events but have an opportunity to greet them with no-pressure environment. As they say, first impression is key, and when there is already pressure on hand how will one truly get to know you in the end?

Startup Drinks is happening:
Thursday September 12, 2013 (monthly event)
At Winking Judge on Augusta St.
And starts at 6pm and goes until late.
http://www.softwarehamilton.com/startupdrinks/

Creative Exchange

Now, on the other side of the spectrum, Creative Exchange I love to attend, again, I only have missed one or two over the past year due to the fact that there was way to many events to go to. Go-Hamilton-Go! In all honestly while for a person like me that I try to attend everything is a nightmare… it’s great to see so many different types of events out there to suit your needs.

Creative Exchange is a monthly networking event for Hamilton’s creative class, it is organized by the city’s Film & Television office. This one does follow a routine, but I do enjoy that routine. They allow you to openly address the group, introducing yourself with usually a minute pitch and explain what you do, and what you’re hoping to get out of being at the event and from the Hamilton community. You’ll also get updated on what is going on in Hamilton’s Film and Television world as well as any other sort of news that might be taking place in the creative space.

There is always a great turn out of highly respected creative individuals to create an engaging conversation with, and as always a great opportunity to meet someone new to Hamilton that is just excited to be apart of the Hamilton Creative Community.

While this is usually a monthly event, I’m not 100 percent sure when the next one will be, no formal updates have been made just yet however, Creative Exchange has been spending the last 6 months working on a Music Strategy plan after the Ontario government announced its plan to invest 45 million dollars to help cities like Hamilton to promote their music industry.

So, why should you attend their open house? You will be able to meet the very same individuals who come out to a normal Creative Exchange Networking event, plus be introduced to some of the movers and shakers of Hamilton’s Music Scene.

Now you’re saying, but, I’m a photographer, or videographer what does that have to do with me? It has everything to do with you, the Music Strategy plan will include everything from marketing and promotions to the musicians themselves. Pretty much anyone or any company that will be or can be involved in helping promote the scene should and needs to be included.

To find out more check out the link below!

The Creative Exchange Music Strategy Open House is happening
September 24th 2013 at Tourism Hamilton (Visitors Centre)
from 6pm to 9pm.
http://filmhamiltonontario.ning.com/events/hamilton-music-strategy-open-house-2nd-event

Innovation Factory’s Lunch n Learn

This is a different kind of event, I’ve been to a few so far and I’ve always learned something new in the business world. There is usually a formal networking part while you enjoy a nice lunch. And then a speaker discussing a certain aspect of business. I enjoy going to them because it allows me an opportunity to see people in the startup space that I don’t normally get to see at Startup Drinks.

Here is what will be happening this month from Lunch n Learn

“All About Franchising
Please join iF on Tuesday September 24, 2013 for a unique learning and networking opportunity presented by KPMG. Enjoy a free lunch while Ash Vasdani (McDonald’s) offers his insights into franchising. Do you own a business that could be franchised? Are you looking at buying into an existing franchise? Or, are you just interested in learning about franchising? If so, this Lunch ‘n Learn is for you! Ash will discuss franchising as a growth strategy, the motivations, benefits and opportunities for both the franchisee and the franchisor when entering into a franchise relationship, and shares his experiences with different types of franchise partnerships.
Our Lunch ‘n Learn events are a great way to get out and network while enjoying a free lunch, and learning something new! Please forward this to all of the innovators you know.”

If you want to see more about Innovation Factory’s Lunch n Learn check out their website.

And there you have it, this is merely a taste of what is happening. There are more events happening in the city and new ones being created by awesome community leaders every single day. So I’ll leave you with this, as we become accustom to social media to interact with individuals and stay within our own comfort zone you lose sight of what it truly means to be human. Fear of the unknown challenges us to grow beyond expectations. And real life social interaction helps develop the foundation of human communication.

It’s very easy to say how we feel online, but it is another thing to be able to speak eloquently in person to express our ideas and our dreams. You can stay within your core inner circle or you can grow your inner circle beyond measure. Start now, build your connections and relationships. You never know what opportunity might come your way just with a simple introduction.

Stay Legendary,
Michael

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Filed under Hamilton, Tech News & Events

The Power of Networking & Community

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So, as I sit down to write this blog, all I keep thinking of is to apologize to the reader profusely. This is not going to be a short read but I hope you read it all the way though and feel inspired by it, with that being said this is a blog entry about my three year journey of networking, and being involved in community activities and why it is important not just to you as a creative mind, but as a person.

The three year journey begins where I use to work, the company was the video production company that did all the Invest in Hamilton videos. It was there that I picked up so many skill sets I contributed most of my success from.

I will begin with my love of Social Media, and when I say social media I really mean Twitter. In the beginning I never understood twitter. I thought it was a silly site, writing what you want to say within a 140 characters seemed very ridiculous! But I knew as a company, you must be on the majority of the social media platforms to reach an audience / build relationships with people and other companies.

Perhaps it’s more of the psychologically nature of it, you might not need a service of a company right away but by building key relationships with people, somewhere down the line when they need your services they will instinctively remember you because you might have been the last person they tweeted with.

So I took up doing a majority of their social media relations, making sure their brand and message was heard through a couple of hours a day doing social media. It wasn’t until I started interacting with clients, that I knew there was more that could be done. Clients boasting about the customer service, which is free advertising to the company never hurts and it is highly authentic.

I was also privileged to work on a couple of music videos as a camera operator with two of my co-workers from the video production company as side projects with them.

On top of my regular day to day stuff, social media, editing and cutting online commercials for directory based business. I was also going out to shoot as part of Invest in Hamilton. It was in doing that where a majority of my networking, community, and relationship building came into play.

Interviewing Hamilton’s high profile individuals either in business, community related, and provided me to meet individuals I call my friends to date.

One such individual was Kevin Browne. Kevin, has been a source of inspiration in my eyes for a such a long time. A community leader in the Tech & Startup field in Hamilton, organizer of DemoCamp and Startup Drinks and very much for the grassroots movement to change a city. (Software Hamilton)

First initially met Kevin during a shoot by Invest In Hamilton for DemoCamp, I was completely inthralled by what was happening in the startup space at the time, all these great and awesome minds building something of value for community use. And I often wondered to myself, why isn’t this being covered more?
I mean, mainstream media covers a majority of the big events, Lions Lair, Startup Weekend, but nothing really at the beginning stages, the moment where everyone gets started. Seemed like a shame to not be able to tell their stories too.

Thus, enters the TechTalk year. For about a year and half now, I made it my mission to cover Demo Camps for the soul purpose of capturing individuals and or group of developers at the beginning stages of their ideas. One individual stood out in my mind which is Ethan Do of OverAir, where just last November he was pitching his idea for the very first time to the general public, we captured an interview with him along with his pitch and since then has gone on to win awards and funding in Toronto and taken his company to the next level.

I don’t find success to be inspiring, success, a long side with perseverance is almost the inevitable. What I find inspiring is hearing the individual story and where they came from and how they came to be and not about the company that has a million dollars. When you talk about inspirational stories from highly successful individuals or companies you’re already putting them on a higher stage and above the individuals you’re looking to inspire. As the quote goes, you can’t compare someone’s chapter 20 to your chapter 1, and I would much rather hear about chapter 1 then chapter 20 right now and get lost in their story of success.

I have been using other networking events such as Startup Drinks as a way of getting validation from Startups and Entrepreneurs to find out ways to improve quality and make TechTalk a more of a sustainable Web Series that creates more value for the viewer. So make sure you keep your eye out this fall as we come back from a summer hiatus to bigger and better TechTalk.

It was also through Kevin and DemoCamp where I met my next source of inspiration, Dale Mugford of BraveNewCode. He has another highly motivating story about how life can throw you a curve ball and turn your entire world upside down, and it is ultimately up to you to wallow in self pity or learn how to adjust the sails and start a new journey.

Having already the privilege of knowing his fiance, Roz of Double Barrel from other encounters, they told me about this exciting new event they want to bring into Hamilton. WordCamp Hamilton, another grassroots movement that is in almost every major city fathomable. Dale thought it was ready to have one in Hamilton to.

Again, another interesting project to work on that was more so self-gratifying to me to be involved in such a great community building event. Bringing together individuals that before didn’t know they blogged or had a word press account and learning from such people Like Kevin Browne, Joey Coleman, Kristen Archer & Seema Narula was a delightful way to spend a day.

They (Roz & Dale) brought me into do some social media engagement, again, knowing what they knew about me and my past and how much I love Social Media they thought it would be a great fit and so well & being that I have become so connected to different aspects of the community from creative to startups to individual bloggers in the city helped me source out individuals that I know would find an event like this valuable. Also helped Roz and Lee of Double Barrel with filming and capturing the event which was sold out by the way for WordCamp Tv.

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Another such instance was meeting Matthew Green, another truly inspiring person that has helped me a great deal and motivated me to do a lot of what I do. He also introduced me to Leo of Empowerment Squared and brought me on board a life changing moment to produce a 6 minute video for his project to build a Learning Centre in Liberia.

This project was many months of us back and forth about how to create a well rounded story that will encapsulate everything that Empowerment Squared stands for, sharing Leo’s story with the rest of the world. The video was recently launched last week, and the only reason why I brought it up in this blog was again the power of networking and building relationships with individuals has connected me to both Leo & Matthew and thus being able to work with both of them on such a phenomenal cause that will make a HUGE difference to the people in Liberia.

Which brings me back to where I have been, and what inspires me. As most of you know and probably think, and the answer is yes, I totally am YouTube obsessed from time to time. I don’t feel it’s an obsession as much as it is a dedication and a sense of passion for storytelling.

That journey began in 2006 when I launched my first Youtube channel, and Youtube was, well very much what it should be today. But that moment changed when Google then bought Youtube and now it’s less about community and more so about eyeballs on your content. But still some of the bigger names still hope for the best and want to do more for the people that are just launching channels which is also nice to see. But growing an audience does not happen over night. You don’t just post a video on Youtube and expect it to automatically reach your target market or demographic. It’s a lot of hard work, 40 hours a week almost to connect with people with similar interest to make a series or vlog successful. And it is not just a one way street, Youtube, like any form of social media is very much a two way street of commenting on other channels.

I became immersed in the vlogging culture youtube adopted. What is vlogging you ask? well it’s simple, right now you are reading a blog, vlogging is just video blogging. People sharing their thoughts and life online. Seems kind of weird don’t you think? But no doubt you’ve got a Facebook account, and isn’t that what Facebook was created for, so I guess it’s not so weird after all?

If you want to see a really awesome documentary pre-google check out the Anthropological look on Youtube
Link is below.

Anyways, getting back into the story, I soon stopped posting, to do the whole school thing but I knew I wanted to come back to it all in some way. I took Television Broadcasting at Mohawk as most of you know and successfully graduated. After looking at the landscape of the television world there was something that sunk into my mind and that is do I really want to be in the Television world?

After spending three years of my life learning everything, it has come down to, did I just waste 3 years of my life? Thankfully the answer is of course no, but that is when I started working for the video production company and worked there for 2 years.

But I started to notice and discover all these high-quality social web series, mostly through Revision3. A network that accuired certain high profile content creators to be apart of their larger network. That Network was then soon bought by Discovery Channel. And that brought the inspiration to do TechTalk as a Web Series and try and adopt their model of using the power and influence of a host to generate ad revenue dollars, same way old school television and radio ads were back in the day.

It also jump started to see if anyone else in the Hamilton area enjoyed creating Youtube videos as much as I did. And again inspired by Kevin Browne and the Startup Drinks meetups I began hosting my own YoutubeDrinks Meet ups.

This was also around the same time Creative Exchange a networking event hosted by the Hamilton Film and Television office shut down their events for the summer. Feeling frustrated not being able to meet new creatives and engage in new ideas that is how Youtube Drinks came to be.

It wasn’t until May/July of last year when I heard about the WebSeries Community growing in Toronto, hesitant to go venture out to Toronto by myself, I willed myself to go and meet new people. When I first got there I felt kind of out of place not knowing anyone there, until I met Rodney Smith (Out of Time WebSeries), an out-spoken, outgoing, vibrant individual that first said hello to me at the bar.

It was there where I introduced myself and told him where I’m from and thats when he took me around to meet some Toronto Creatives. Soon after it felt like I was home, I met close to 50 creatives and had a conversations with. All of them working on some sort of Web Series project, I remember thinking “This is unbelievable!”

All these individuals, are so forward thinking and ahead of their time right now and they are sitting and having drinks all in one room! My first initial thought was this is the kind of community I would love to see grow in Hamilton.

Hamilton’s creative class would LOVE this, and that was the turning point for Youtube Drinks to then become the Hamilton Web Series Community, a monthly meet up for Hamilton’s creative class that wish to do more web based projects & series ideas.

Also, while in attendance at the Toronto web series meet up was their launch for funding to start the IWCC (Independent Web Creators of Canada) a non for profit organization geared to help promote Canadian Content Creators, which has since launch and is now well on it’s way to host it’s first huge public event which we will get into in a moment.

But first, through speaking and networking with the Toronto Community I met an individual by Robert Mills (Rubber Chicken Players, and coming soon SteamPunk Adventures)
who then invited me to be on the panel the IWCC was hosting during FanExpo.


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(photo courtesy of Jess Morton of Jess the Press)

For anyone that doesn’t know what FanExpo is you can check out the link here

It was an honour to be up with the panel with individual creators of such Web Series as Steampunk Adventures, Clutch, Tight & Fights & Pretty in Geek, Kids town, BJ Fletcher Private Eye, and many more to speak about the future of Web Series.

You see, everything is changing now. You have the Canadian Screen Awards which is pretty much the Gemini and Genie awards now open to submission from the Web. Which means your little Web Drama Series can be internationally known.

There is of course WebFest’s springing up in major cities around the world such as LA, Rome, Australia that accept international submissions. And new to 2013 -2014 Vancouver and Toronto will be hosting their own WebFest.

So what exactly does this all mean for a creator? Well, one thing that was talked about on the panel was a screen is just a screen! Doesn’t matter if you’re watching your content through an inferior device such as a Television Screen or you’re watching shows through your smart phone or tablet. Technology has made it easier to watch your favourite content any where at any time.

A network is merely a name that your favourite show is on that you probably don’t even remember the name of in the first place. Services like netflix, allowing you to watch all the episodes of your favourite series to be downloaded or streamed where ever you might be is becoming more of a trend.

So what’s the difference if you find a series on Youtube such as H+ Digital (Produced by Bryan Singer)

Or Video Game Highschool

or if you watch it through something like CTV’s mobile App that is now accruing Web based content to be apart of their library, is there really one any more?

Such as the Web Series GuideStone that went from Youtube to the CTV site as a series.

And CBC, publicly funded by Canadian tax dollars to bring you Canadian content, isn’t that relatively the same as a content creator with a large enough audience to do a crowd sourcing campaign to bring you a second and third season… and they do it because they have a choice to do so.

Another item spoken about at on the panel, does length matter, if you’re trying to gear your web series towards a television audience is it better to make 26 minute long episodes and then break them down with the idea in the back of your head that it can be commercialized at some point down the road.

With all of that being said, being on that panel was terrific experience and I loved every minute of the discussion, now the question is where do we go from here.

From Hamilton’s side of things, I hope this blog post encourages more young vibrant creatives to come out to the Hamilton Web Series Meet ups. I hope it inspires them to get actively engage more so than ever to be apart of this growing movement. I hope that the more established individuals come out so that they can offer assistance with a younger generation wanting to get into the digital production space.

From the Independent Web Creators of Canada stand point, they are well on their way to becoming the flagship to build a strong united frontier. Future programs I would love to see come from the IWCC are more panel discussions and mentorship programs (which I’m sure are already in the works) to take your idea from start to finish learning from already well established Web Series.

And create a bridge between the city of Hamilton and the City of Toronto’s Web Creators, utilizing Hamilton’s unique city landscapes, and tapping into the Hamilton creatives to help build projects,
and of course for Hamilton to do the same within Toronto.

I also would love to see IWCC become the “gatekeeper”, where funding can come direct from the organization that has the creator driven mindset. And understand the challenges every web creator must go through in order to make a project successful.

And for us to continue to grow and learn from one another, build strong relationships with individuals even if you don’t know the reason for meeting each other just yet, the answer will reveal itself over time.

I will leave you with this Quote from the late Steve Jobs.

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Here is how I determine this quote it to be in reflection of my own experiences, you can either work for someone else and see their dreams come true, or you can really focus on what you’re passionate about. And sometimes it means to work while you’re working. Taking on one or two jobs just so you can self fund projects with out having to worry about the headaches so be it, but never lose sight or feeling you have in your heart. Never stop building relationships with people, never stop networking and meeting individuals that some day down the line might be able to assist you in accomplishing your goals and dreams. Always be community driven with the best intentions to help others discover what makes them come alive inside.

P.s I also had an opportunity to have my picture taken with Hannah of Verses Valerie.

Which again I thought was pretty cool!

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And as always, Be Legendary.

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Filed under General Life, Hamilton, Passion & Purpose

5 Things I wish I knew in college as a creative

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I learned in my college years at Mohawk College as a Television Broadcasting student the past few weeks. And had many conversations with highly engaged community driven creative individuals and I can’t imagine what the future for creatives in the city will be like in 5 to 10 years down the line.

The industry is changing very drastically even from a month-to-month basis that it’s hard to know how everything in the digital space will pan out. I’m not going to write something like Television is completely dead. It really isn’t, but how we consume our media has drastically change.

Our society has slowly changed, we no longer have valuable family time on a Friday night, watching Family Matters, Full House, and Whose The Boss. We no longer sit down at 6pm & or 11pm to watch the evening news… why would we? We’ve checked out our facebook, twitter feed and got the news updates as it is happening in real time. It use to be normal just have one single television set in the family room where we could all congregate, and then, it became normal to have a television set in every room of the house… okay, I’m exaggerating, perhaps one in each bedroom, plus a family room.

But as the digital age progresses, fewer people are watching “television” the way we use to think television should be watched. A majority of television consumption is now through our Smart phones, Tablets, laptop and desktop computers. We are also consuming media in shorter lengths of time because our attention span as dwindled down right to the core. If it doesn’t capture our attention within the first 30 seconds you’ve lost the audience. If you’re not a die hard fan of the concept why do I care to watch it in the first place.

So with all that being said, I wonder what kind of education is being programmed into young idealistic minds today to shape the future of tomorrow. Are they learning about the importance of content being produced and know why we create with an idea of cross platform purposes. Are they merely being taught the basics of video production or other technical aspects that would go into storytelling or finally are they being taught to think in new innovative ways, and think beyond the box we tend to put ourselves in.

So with that being said, I comprised a short top 5 list of things I wish I knew when I first got started in College.

1.) Networking, biggest favour to yourself is getting out in the community and network with other creatives, bring your friends, along with you too, force them into it if you have to!

Networking at events such as Creative Exchange, anything by Factory Media Arts, Cobalt Connects, get out there now, even if you’re just starting out and have nothing to show, it doesn’t matter. The skills you develop by actually interacting with people that are doing something in real time will go a long way with your professional career.

And you never know, you might just end up with a job with a simple handshake and a smile. Find the grassroots networking events, Startup Drinks comes to mind, which is a great networking event that happens once a month that will allow you to easily break the ice, but be consistent when attending. Once you do that, bring a friend, then they feel comfortable and may know another individual that might consider it of value to make connections. That is how we grow together as a community and build long lasting relationships with our peers.

And if at all possible, if you see something missing and you think the creative community could benefit from, build your own networking event. Reach out to the people you wish you could see more of at networking events, never get bogged down being and be an island only to yourself and a select few. The more individuals you know the more opportunities are then created for you to grow not only as a professional but as a person as well.

That’s what I ended up doing over the last year, after I attended my first Web Series meet up in Toronto, I fell in love with the energy that flowed through the space. It was something I was already passionate about so it only made sense to me that I wanted to bring that energy to the Hamilton Creatives.

And don’t be afraid to take the lead, and be a leader if you have to, even if it’s not widely accepted in the beginning. The more you work on building your connections the more people get to know what you’re up to and trying to accomplish.

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2.) If you’re not on social media, start now! And I don’t mean just the usual suspects (Facebook and Google) I mean twitter, Linkedin, even instagram. Use them to build your digital presence, another fellow Mohawk Grad actually brought this up. And after thinking about it, it was so true. You don’t have to have a company twitter account, it is more about getting into the process of interacting with again your community, building trust online, and creating engaging conversation.

Just make sure when you do sign up for twitter, you make your user name as simple as your first and last name. Try not to make it too crazy. The friend I spoke of which most of you reading this probably have seen his tweets, has gone through a few name changes and the only reason for this is as he continues to grow his following on twitter he has changed his work place at least once or twice and with each time he does, he merely changes the end of his twitter handle to reflect the company that he might be working for.

Linkedin, another great way to build relationships and potential leads for future job opportunities. Again, regardless of work experience, start building your professional connections now! It will make the transition process of being a student to a professional a whole lot smoother.

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3.) Take a business course: I would have loved to have more of an intensive class within the 3 year program that talks about the aspect of being a creative entrepreneur. For those individuals that have a passion and drive to build their own business. To be able to learn more about team building, managerial, sales, marketing side of production services. And the knowing what a reasonable rate is for the line of work that you’re doing. Obviously it will vary depending on the situation, a team of one won’t charge the same price as a team of 5 or 6 individuals as a company so that is a must to take into the consideration.

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4.) Development of boundaries: In other words, don’t ever let anyone walk all over you and take advantage of your skill sets as a creative. There is a statue of limitations on proving yourself in the industry and get away from the “It will be a great demo reel piece.” Knowing how much your time is worth, how much your equipment costs and your educational background. You are not a ‘starving artist’ there is no such thing, you just have to develop the right mindset as a creative well in advance before you dive in.

I can tell you through my experience, I spent almost a grand total of 14,000 dollars on getting all of my equipment. I saw it as an investment opportunity, and I haven’t regretted that decision yet. I also spend money every time I go out and buy a new external hard drive so I can properly archive and maintain raw footage just in case if I have to go back to something.

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Now going back to education, if your in Television Broadcasting, you’re using industry leading, cutting edge equipment that probably costs more than anyone is willing to admit. You’re trained in the art of storytelling, knowing what drives a great emotional piece that psychologically compels the viewer to share. You’re using equipment has to be properly taken care of and update and software that costs a pretty penny, unless of course you do it the old pirate way.

So knowing where, when and why you’re setting the boundaries is key. This isn’t a hobby class you’re taking this is your professional career and people have to understand that but most of all you have to understand that. And you might have to say no to projects you really want to take on, but, if you say yes all the time and especially with little to no pay being rewarded it will be that much harder to break later on in life.

5.) Follow your passion: This one is probably the most important of them all. Follow your passion, passion & enthusiasm will set you apart from everyone else. Never let the industry drain your passion to the point that you become jaded. The minute that you come across like that, get out of the way.

And there is a big difference between being realistic and jaded, even when your realistic you still have enthusiasm but if you’re jaded you just rip apart anything that someone new wants to try. And it becomes more pessimistic view on the world. Never let someone else’s path derail you from yours.

Even if they have 30 years worth of experience behind them, the fact is, times are changing. What might not have worked 10 years ago when they first tried to implement the very same idea, could have a completely different impact on how it could work now. Be mindful of these individuals, and stay true to your passionate side, keep the imagination alive and be open to endless possibilities, hang on to that as tightly as possible!

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And my final thought for all of the above is always stay true to yourself, never try and pretend to be like someone else! Be as real as possible. You don’t need to impress anyone, you just need to be you! Let your passion shine through your work like the golden sun breaking through the clouds of a stormy day.

Love and cherish every minute that you spend filling your head up with knowledge and truly empower yourself to be the best creative individual you can be.

– Cheers Michael

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The most powerful weapon human kind has, the power of choice.

A few days ago I had a few meetings to go to and a few things to sort out with my life, probably one of the better days I’ve had in a little while. I noticed something about myself when I started talking to someone about some of the stuff that I’ve done in the past and what I am looking forward to do, I get really soft and silent when it comes to certain subjects but very loud and animated when I discuss things about community and just in general certain stuff I am passionate about.

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It’s very strange what happened, I wanted to ask to get into this certain program that will help me develop what I want to develop in my field of video production and storytelling, but that’s not what the weird part. The weird part came after when someone sent me an email to a link to the very same program I was looking for more information on, which brings me to the conclusion that this is something I need and must do.

I might have to sacrifice a few things in my life at the moment but I am prepared to take those sacrifices on to continue to build what I would call my legacy, sounds a little bit vain, I know but having an ego is not necessarily a bad thing to have in life. It just means you know what you want, and the image you want to leave behind. And this is merely one part of the legacy I wish to leave with the rest of the world.

These blogs of course are apart of that, making sure I document every step leaving my footprint upon the world and making sure people know, I was here, and I am never to be forgotten. The other most powerful moment of the day was having a conversation with a young creative entrepreneur I met just about a year coming up this August. He is two years younger than I am, but he has this passion and drive and ideology towards life in him that I’ve never really seen before at a relatable level. We talked about his project which is this festival he started and how I come to cross paths with him called “A mid-summer nights dream”.

This is something I captured of the day event festival.

His outlook on life was very refreshing to see, a majority of individuals I meet or are friends with are slightly older than I, and there for have become jaded by pursing something new and with a sense of purpose. That I really enjoyed my conversation with him. His story about struggle and not knowing if the festival will be a success or not but something told him inside of himself to just do it and keep going. “Push on through” as he said things happen during the right time and place it is suppose to happen.

Needless to say he is very excited for this years festival and I to am as excited because I watched his progress and seen how much effort and work he has devoted himself to this festival that it will pay off in droves. I think the festival will have a bigger turn out than last year now that people who were there are helping to spread the message. And I think it is the best time for a festival like this.

You can see it, within the past two artcrawls in Hamilton even for the summer the amount of people that are out and about exploring James St North which is the centre for not only Hamilton, but Hamilton’s Art & culture community. The last artcrawl almost felt like supercrawl which only happens once a year and they shut down the streets, there was enough people and energy that fills James St N that warranted that to happen so people could freely walk down the street rather than a sidewalk.

The exciting growth in Hamilton’s Arts community grew organically, and that growth and excitement is now hitting a huge turning point in how art and culture can revitalize a city.

The third most thing that happened to me on that very same day was a friend of mine took me to a bar and I very suddenly realized that they had karaoke, which again gets me going sometimes when I want to express that side of me. Nothing like belting out my favourite songs to sing to unleash the musical creativity in me. Since I don’t play any musical instruments Karaoke and singing to me are the next best thing I can do to satisfy that need.

Karaoke Playlist: Frank Sinatra – My Way, Bobby Darin – Mack The Knife, Jerry Lee Lewis – Great Balls of Fire, Louis Armstrong – What a Wonderful World, Jerry Lee Lewis – Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going on, AC/DC – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.

Afterwards my friend that I was with said to me that she didn’t realize I had the range of music, and I was a renaissance man of talent, which often goes unnoticed. This made me smile, because this is how exactly how I feel about me and my art. A few of my idols as artists such as Michelangelo, or Da Vinci were best known for a wide range of talents and I always transplanted that idea in developing my creativity. So needless to say I feel like I’ve done something right now that people are starting to take notice.

It is important to me not just as an artist but as a human being to be able to freely explore the endless pool of abilities that God has given me, and I’m not much of a religious individual, I grew up catholic but I find organized religion to lose its purpose when you have agendas that have nothing to do with a calling from a higher power. I do believe in God, I just don’t believe in the catholic church. I don’t believe in going to a place of worship every Sunday especially since God and the spirit of God is all around us and surrounds us. I believe in celebrating in my own way and I think God would want us to do that.

“For qit will be like a man rgoing on a journey, who called his servants3 and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five stalents,4 to another two, to another one, tto each according to his ability. Then he rwent away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and udug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now vafter a long time the master of those servants came and wsettled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and xfaithful servant.5 yYou have been faithful over a little; zI will set you over much. Enter into athe joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be ba hard man, reaping cwhere you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here dyou have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You ewicked and eslothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 fFor to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And gcast hthe worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place gthere will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 25:14-30

This bible story always stuck out in my mind when I think about talents and abilities, and finding purpose within your talents to be able to share with the rest of the world the gift that which you have been given. Never fear your abilities, realizing that you have so much to give, and the more you give freely of yourself, the more ye shall return by the grace of God.

I am more of a spiritual human being rather than a God fearing individual, so hope you didn’t read into this as if I was just that. I am open to the endless possibilities that can and will only be discovered after departed from this body and where our souls go afterwards. And if you don’t believe in anything like that I certainly hope you’re making the most out of your life if you think that this is the only thing we have to look forward to.

I am eternally grateful for having this kind of mindset that was nurtured within me, to be humbled by not knowing what might happen after we pass on, but appreciating all religion’s just as they individual belief systems. My favourite religion teacher once said to our class “The secret is just to do and be good, if you do and be good with your life that’s all that matters”. And I believe that to be true. Just do the best that you can with your life and not be afraid. There are no right or wrong answers just experiences. So go and experience as much of life as you possibly can. Be good to your neighbour and fellow man/woman. And love as much as you can with out fear of being hurt in the process, because even in pain there is always a reason and I believe with all my heart and soul that you would not be given a bad experience you were not meant to handle.

Best part of being human is our ability to adapt and gain strength even during our darkest moments, the human spirit will always prevail.

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The Day After WordCamp Hamilton

After spending months working with Dale, Roz, Geoff, Martin, Nick, & Kevin on WordCamp Hamilton, the day has come and gone. Months of planning really payed off in the end for a great one day event held at the beautiful Art Gallery of Hamilton & After party at Radius.

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When I woke up this morning, I felt like I was coming down from a high, excited to see it happen, sad to see that it’s over… wondering what will the next big thing is.
I also thought about my past a bit, in terms of how long have I’ve used WordPress and how long I’ve actually had a blog.

When I think back, I really have been blogging since the beginning of highschool, when having a livejournal or deadjournal account was the big thing to have and do! And just how much fun I had writing what I was passionate about or what crazy thing I did on the weekend.

Yesterday’s event was really an eye opener for so many different reason, when you have people speaking like Joey Coleman, Kristin Archer and Seema Narula who shared their stories about entering into this world and why they do what they do, and really exploring their passion for the city it’s not hard to be inspired by their enthusiasm.

Kevin Browne giving the keynote talk about community and developing the connections and collisions necessary to form a strong base or foundation and growing the community as a whole.

Although all four of the morning speakers who talked about different aspects of community and engagement in terms of growing their audience and exploring their passion, which may or may not have anything to do with wordpress per say but has everything to do with it’s just the preferred platform they use because of the easy usability was again truly inspiring.

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Richard Rudy, who started off the more in-depth look at wordpress and technical side by expanding into mobile optimization of your wordpress account and why it is important to make sure you know how your audience is viewing your content and why it’s key to mobilize your site across all platforms was needless to say highly informative.

It’s something that I am no stranger to, as I always make sure that my content is doing just that reaching out, anyway it can be viewed.

Al Davis, Laurie Rauch, Todd Dow were awesome speakers as well, opening up the floor to security, Design, Content and beginners guide to installing wordpress. From the afternoon sessions there was just so much useful information to take in and now as I sit back and writing this blog starting to think about the format in which I write and direction I wish to take this wordpress account in.

In closing, WordCamp Hamilton was truly an amazing experience and learning so much knowledge gave me a new profound appreciation for what people do and what they are capable of doing. And seeing what happens when a small core group of people with different mindsets can achieve and accomplish. I also learned a lot not just in the sense of wordpress but also just in the spirit of community building, something I could easily translate it back into my own passions like Web Series and vlogging (video blogging) and transferred yet again back into the wordpress community.

Ever since I’ve decided to make a point to go out to every single event that helps promote the Startup & creative community I learn something new every single time, I make connections with individuals that I might not know why I’m drawn to them at first but there is good reason why those friendships are forged.

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I’m honestly grateful to be living in a city with so many awesome people, tightly woven in the fabric of a city that is on the verge to achieve great potential in a new frontier. Be mindful to those individuals that you so non-chalently forget about, it’s those people that make a huge difference in the city.

One final thought, Kevin Browne, Joey Coleman, and Dale Mugford are my heros for creating the necessary vehicles to create new opportunities, building friendships & relationships and learning from each others knowledge.

The city of Hamilton should be feel fortunate to having these individuals here and taking the community to the next level of growth

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DemoCamp 12 – An Inspirational Evening

You know sometimes it’s always great to stop and look around you, look at the people you surround yourself with and be absolutely grateful you are alive and full of life. And your friends are alive and full of life too, and your friends are inspiration to you.

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This can sum up what the keynote speaker Dale Mugford of BraveNewCode said in his speech the other night at DemoCamp at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Afterwards I thanked Dale for such an inspirational & Motivational speech.

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I’ve known Dale for sometime now and his fiance Roz of Double Barrel Studios, both individuals are just again one of the two most amazing individuals you will ever meet on this planet.

And I have a lot of respect for what they do within the community and helping the community grow within their own respected fields. They inspire me as both an individual as well as a person who wishes to be apart of the same movement that’s happening in the Hamilton community.

And as I sit here, trying to find words to express my emotions that are rushing through my heart right now and in my mind, I can’t. It’s again another one of those instances where I could tell you all about them, and what they have shown me or what we’ve talked about but really its more than that.

Tonight has opened my eyes to a lot of really good things in this world, about passion, friendship, community, engagement and why these events are important to be able to connect to those individuals that want to make a difference in the world. That want to help others grow and create and prosper.

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I felt a lot of happiness and love in the room tonight at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, hope and dreams and with that my heart, my soul, my entire spirit wants to explode with that emotion. Passion, passion is what makes things happen, drive and determination is what helps us along the way to know not to stop, if it makes you happy to keep driving it! Until it works.

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I have held a camera in my hand capturing various things, people, places, events and it’s those moments where you look around the room and you see no media coverage, no one with a camera to tell the stories that often go untold by media sources.

And to be able to say, I captured an interview or a piece that no one else had at an event. I want to talk about people and their stories, when they were down or looked like they were failing but came back up what brought them back into the game to not struggle anymore.

I want to learn from these individuals and help them spread their message.

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