Dad, this is what I do for a living.



Photo by Paul Townsend

Photo by Paul Townsend

“I’m confused”, my Dad would say.  “What do you do for a living?”

I try to explain that I produce projects on the web, on mobile, through social, supporting TV.

Then I catch him explaining to someone, “She works with computers.  No.. not a programmer. No, not in graphic design. Frankly, I don’t know what she does.  She sits in front of her computer all day.”

[Sigh.]  When did it become complicated?  Old media was simple.  You worked on TV, Radio, Film.  You would be on staff at a newspaper, magazine.  You would produce a book.  These were simple, absolute THINGS.  Actual products. They were created and they were absolute.

Old Media is a THING.  A THING that DID NOT CHANGE.

Once it was produced, it was consumed.  You would go to the store and buy it.  Sit down and watch or listen to it.  The producers created  the opportunity for you to be entertained by it.  It was a wonderful thing.  You approached your experience, generally knowing what to expect.

But something changed.

The 1s and 0s of Reboot TV series

The 1s and 0s of Reboot TV series

It is simpler than you think.  Little ones and zeros were joined to create a virtual space inside a computer.  These ones and zeros matured and evolved to change anything on a screen instantly. Don’t like the size of the picture? Change it.  Then, these ones and zeros roamed through wires from one computer to the next.  From a server in Chicago, to one in Toronto.  These tubes became the internet and the internet grew into the world wide web.

Still with me?  You continue to consume old media.  Analogue media.  Its great.  But this internet stuff is growing beside it.

So.. what changed?

The ability to change media.  You can talk on forums.  Each move you make in a video game has a direct impact in front of you.  The birth of social media where you can share and contribute to anyone’s media.  There is a fancy name for this.  PARTICIPATORY MEDIA.

In old media, you would passively consume.  In new media, you can Participate and CHANGE the media in front you.  It was no longer a thing.  A product.  But a growing changing media.  And…  you don’t know exactly what to expect.



So Dad… I make participatory media in this new age of the internet.  And yes, I do it with computers.

Are you wired to do Interactive work?


Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 10.47.51 PMI taught piano for 10 years.  Loved it.  The kids would come tramping through my apartment on Saturdays and all kinds of wonderful (and not so wonderful notes) would be created in my space.

There was all kinds of kids.  Kids that were obsessive about learning, kids who just played for fun… and kids who laughed at my jokes (I really liked those…)

And there was a few occasions where I would get a new student who was.. how shall I put this…   not piano learning inclined.  The kid knew it, I knew it… but the tricky part was telling the parent it.

The conversation would go something like this…

Me:  “I need to talk to you about George.  He is a very talented, sweet, funny kid, but after X number of lessons, I can say that he is not wired for piano”.

Parent: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Piano takes a certain kind of natural skill set.  You need to look at the page.  Decode it.  Transfer that knowledge to your fingers and execute.  Not every kid is wired that way.  They are not naturally inclined to let that kind of information transfer through them.  But rest assured, they are wired for other great talents..”

Parent: “So.. you are saying, that my kid sucks at piano.”

Me: “No.  I’m saying, his time would be better spend learning something that is is naturally wired to do.  Like the guitar, the violin, or the circus.”

Never an easy conversation, but definitely a necessary one.

Screen Shot 2013-07-07 at 10.45.01 PMINTERACTIVE

How does apply to the interactive space?  I was having a lovely dinner with my friend Sasha Boersma who is the coordinator at Centennial College for the IDM post graduate program which we also both teach in.  We got talking about, what it takes to succeed in the digital space.

They need to be wired a certain way… just like piano.  But, what is that exactly.

They need to be wired to hack.

Now.. hacking has a bad rep.  It brings up images of Guy Fawkes mask and illegal activity.  The hacking I’m talking about is the kind where you look at a problem and/or a situation and you thrive on the challenge to fix, change, solve, improve in new and different ways.

What are you talking about?  Let me give you an example.

I needed to get a flash game up on a webpage in order to distribute it to stakeholders in the same day.  Easy?  Not if you don’t own a website.  The broadcaster’s dev team was too busy to do it, internally we didn’t have access to the FTP site.  How are we going to post this?  There were no CLIENT resources available.  So.. what did I do?  Just uploaded it to my  personal site.  Yes… it says “” when I distribute it, but it was distributed.

Now was this solution revolutionary?   Hell no.  But it was the nth hack I did that day to keep the project moving.

In digital, you need to have a hacking mentality to get things done.

There are no textbook answers.  My students who expect a step by step guide on how to solve problems will be disappointed.  There is only your creative imagination and (never under estimate what you can google).  And the drive to figure things out.

There are many ways you approach a hack.

  1.  What is the most obvious solution?
  2. Can’t do the most obvious solution?  Ok..  Google an answer.
  3. 3 ideas come to my mind when looking stuff up.
  4. Explore those ideas with people on your team.
  5. Brainstorm more.
  6. Have a conversation with your muse/god/pet.
  7. Don’t give up.
  8. Ask a friend
  9. Don’t give up.
  10. This is fun.
  11. And… it can be solved.

You need to have that difficult question with yourself.  Are you wired for Interactive?  Are you actively hacking?

What have you hacked for me lately?


Where the hell have you been, Laurinda


Photo by Flickr user Michael Batfish

Is so easy.  You get busy and then one day passes, then 2, them 30.  And before you know it, you are one of those blogs you HATE.  The ones where there is nothing new posted for about 3 million days.  Crickets sound.  Cobwebs collecting in the corner.

What happened?  I didn’t show up.

Its like the friend who stops calling.  Doesn’t come when invited.  And you get pissed off because you take it personally.  What did I say?  What the hell is wrong?

But its not you, its me.  I didn’t show up.

Why?  Oh god.  I could give you three million reasons.  I was busy, my computer has been a pain in the ass, my personal life took over, I was focused on starting other things.

At the end of day, for this relationship to work.  I have to do my part.  I know that.  And I didn’t.

I’m sorry.

I will do better.

My assumptions questioned. Daily.


Photo by Mark Norman Francis

Thank you so much for all your positive feedback about my last post, The Extremely Personal Post.  It reminds me that when I struggling through crisis,  the first question every professional asked me was “Who is your support network”?  You can’t and shouldn’t do it alone.  So.. thank you all for helping.  And if I can help in anyway (got 2 amazing ears and can buy you decent coffee) let me know.

The one bit that I got the most feedback on was challenging my personal beliefs.  Now.. strangely enough.. this is not just a personal thing, but also equally applies to your work.  My business partner, the fabulously talented Jessica Zwaiman Lerner, and I are working through a business plan.  Well, she is and I’m supporting.  Through this process we are breaking down our assumptions.  Here are some learnings we have experienced so far.

1.  There is a difference between what you do and defining it as a business.

Both Jessica and I come from the media world.  We talk like TV people, because we were raised and trained as TV people.  Our world is filled with stories, characters, dialogue, connection, visuals, etc.  What does this has to do with building the business?  Its the product, not how we are going to make money.  We need to separate  building the product from figuring out how the product will carry a revenue.  This means shifting from the language of the creative to the language of the financial when necessary.  Not easy.

2.  We know alot.  Not!

Jessica and I are not new at this.  We are both seasoned professionals with 20 years experience each.  But every time we approach something there are gaps in our understanding.  But we have the maturity to say “we don’t know” and trust our networks to help us and some good old research.  The temptation is to think you know more than you know.  Then your assumptions get out of whack and your plan starts to loose its ground.  I want to start a drinking game with a shot for every time one of us says.. “I don’t know.”

3.  Trust your Gut.

When something is right, it feels right too.  While we are filling in our gaps, researching, picking brains of people smarter than us, we are percolating.  And as the problem presents itself, if we listen to ourselves carefully enough, Voila… our gut reveals the answer.  Now.. everyone says they follow their gut.  But do you really?  If something is nagging you inside.. do you speak up and say… “something isn’t quite right.”  I sometimes ignore that feeling and always to my detriment.

4.  Working with an amazing someone

I think working with someone really challenges your thinking and brings out the best out of you.  But if that partner doesn’t support you, understand where you are coming from and doesn’t challenge your thinking.. then how is 2 better than one?  My dream for years was to work with Jessica.. and now that we are knee deep in it, I realize how we can accomplish so much more as 2 than as 1.

5.  The world is changing

Between the economy, the way people consume content and the way people stay connected to the world is changing. its scary and unsettling.  But there is something that never changes.  People.  They are the constant to whom if you do something in these challenging times to make their life better, then you’ve got something.  I remind myself what is the ultimate goal.  I am SHOCKED frankly at how easy it is sometimes to loose sight of it.  I’m going to have to tattoo it to my hand.

So there you have it…  Have you had any assumptions lately that were challenged?  Or new learnings that you can share?  Would love to hear them.



The Extremely Personal Post

Laurinda Shaver

Another confession. I love scotch. The only buddy I put in the cupboard.

July 30, 2011

I am the CEO of my life.

This proud statement just sprung out of me as I read an inspiring post by Janet Callaway entitled How to be the CEO of your life.

Frankly, I was shocked that as soon as I read the post, I HAD to write my comment.  It was like I had no choice.  I had to state my position because I have finally figured it out.

Figured what out?

That I’m ok.

Let me give you some background.

3 years ago I made the most difficult decision of my life.  I decided to end my marriage of 7 years.  Not an easy thing you can imagine, with 2 very young kids in tow.  But it was the right decision.  And I did it.  This was just the start of 3 years of crisis.

It went from a separation, to getting laid off, to my mom being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour, to her dying a year later, to my dad suddenly suffering from mobility issues.

How did I cope?

Ok.. being honest.  I didn’t.  I survived.

Have you ever been in a position where you just deal with what is screaming in front of you.  Because you have to.  Because it is the right thing to do?  I think we all have.  You do what needs to be done and you move on.

The problem in my case, is that it was 3 years of this.  Living in crisis.  It becomes the new normal.  You don’t panic, because you are always panic’d.  You live on the edge.  Its like everyday is the last day before a big project is due.   Because this was my normal, you don’t question it.  You do it.  What needs to be done.  Everyday.

God, I hated living like that.

Now… let me ask you.  What is your day to day level of stress like?  Really think about this one.  You may not have the crisis I have, but at what grade of panic do you live?  Don’t cheat yourself.  Answer honestly.  Can’t answer this one?  Ok.. let me tell you how my life is now.

I have upgraded from surviving to being happy.  This is my first written proclamation of this… so I’m living it up.  What this means is that things are easier.  Its never easy, but its easier.  I cherish my time with my kids.  I enjoy my friends.  I love my work.  I find myself coasting in a state of bliss.  My bliss is:

  • Goals are clear
  • Balance between opportunity and capacity
  • Concentration deepens
  • The present is what matters
  • Control is no problem
  • Time is altered
  • Loss of ego

Yes.  I stole this list from somewhere.. wish I noted the source in my theft, but I didn’t.  But it is now my list.  Instead of wandering, I am focused.  Instead of praying for the night to appear, I’m surprised when it does.

I think the real testament is that I’m comfortable being me.  That I am my true authentic self in all situations.  Well, as best as I can.  When you strip away all the layers of crap and find yourself.. its like.  Hello.  there you are. Wanna hang?  Nice to have you around.

So, I ask myself.. how the hell did I get here.

It wasn’t easy.  Once I found myself out of crisis.  I wanted to start to focus on me.  It took someone outside of me to point out…  um.. Laurinda… you operate at high anxiety… all the friggin time.

So I made the commitment to stop.

What I discovered is that anxiety wasn’t my problem.  It was the beliefs that I held about myself was the problem.  And I worked hard at changing all the ones I logically new were stupid, but my emotions didn’t get that memo.  This was a daily battle of identifying when I thought of the belief.  Finding evidence that said… hey.. that isn’t true. Building new evidence on what was true.  And believing it… and I have found… I believe in me.  More and more.

Why am I sharing this?

Because of Janet’s post.  Because I believe that I’m not alone and that you may be experiencing something similar.  And because I had to.  People who know me, know that I am straight forward and don’t hide much.  I’m human.  I’m proud.  And I care.

Please share your thoughts below.  Tell me I’m crazy, I don’t mind.  Because of you, I learn and grow.  I hope to help too!


#trust30 – Liz Danzico


Greetings.  I have committed to Seth Godin‘s #trust30 online initiative.

#Trust30 is an online initiative and 30-day writing challenge that encourages you to look within and trust yourself. Use this as an opportunity to reflect on your now, and to create direction for your future. 30 prompts from inspiring thought-leaders will guide you on your writing journey.

Today’s Prompt

My one sentence, which I will tweet out to a friend is:

My internal disappointment bells are ringing so loud, my ears hurt.

Are you stalking me?


Social Media Success Summit 2011


I had an amazing time at the Social Media Success Summit 2011.  I learned a ton and met alot of great tweeps during the month long webinars.

In one of the last sessions I was having some fun with a fellow attendee:  Eli Ingraham.  I had to leave early due to a daycare pick up and was whining in my usual fashion about how hard it is to leave my computer, when I was learning a ton and having a great time.

Me:  must…. break away… from… computer…..  and go……. soooo…. hard……. #smss11

Eli:  NOOOOooooo! dont;t goooooo! RT @LaurindaShaver: must…. break away… from… computer…..  and go……. soooo…. hard……. #smss11

Me:  @EliIngraham child standing alone at daycare with Tshirt: My mom is a social media addict & abandoned me. #smss11

Then… we got an outsider piping in, who was not part of the session:

xxxx_xxxxx_xxx @eliingraham @LaurindaShaver HA!  That is a fantastic shirt idea!

I didn’t think much of it, so I decided to continue on….

Me:  @eliingraham tshirt:  #smss11 stole my mom. Please being her back. #smss11

JackiJames@LaurindaShaver @eliingraham tshirt from down under: #smss11 stole my sleep! I can’t get it back 🙁

Eli:  excellent! party is at your house! RT @JackiJames: @LaurindaShaver @eliingraham tshirt from down under: #smss11 stole my sleep!  #smss11

All in the fun… but then xxxx_xxxxx_xxx came back:

xxxx_xxxxx_xxx:  @eliingraham @LaurindaShaver I know a guy #shamelessplug

I dismissed it at the time, but it kinda bothered me.  I have never met Eli or Jacki, but we were joking in the context of the summit.  This guy appeared out of no where and interrupted the conversation.  Its kinda like you are in a party, standing around with people having a discussion about a specific topic and some guy interrupts the circle with an out of context statement.

There are many reasons why this outsider’s tweet felt wrong:

  1. It was obvious he was just searching for the word “T shirt” and jumped in without any context.  If you are going to speak up, you need to listen first.  Understand what is going on and then jump in.
  2. He was a stranger who wanted to sell something to me.  Not build a relationship first or even add value to my life.  Its a twitter cold call.
  3. I never heard from him again.  Twitter is not a drop in and drop out kind of platform.  You need to be consistent in your relationship building.
  4. Frankly, it felt creepy.  Like I was being stalked by my words.

What do you think?



Are you funny looking or funny ha ha?


Today I had the pleasure of participating in Social Media Success Summit’s session with Guy Kawasaki.

His session about How to Use Social Media to Enchant People was not only full of interesting facts, but his delivery style was easy to understand and enjoyable.  Why?  Because Guy has a sense of humour.

So much so that I tweeted:  The only point that @GuyKawasaki missed in his list was: Have a Sense of Humour.  Which he has in spades. #smss11.

Guy responded:  @LaurindaShaver But humor cannot be taught so why mention it? 🙂

If humour can’t be taught, is it essential in Social Media?

Humour is not just about making you laugh.  It is also about not taking yourself too seriously.  We all have those moments where we write a tweet and press SEND and walk away.  Only to come back later and realize that you wrote “asses” instead of “assess”. Or is that just me?

What do you do?  I laughed.  I laughed so hard it hurt.  Why?  because I made of ass of myself (pardon the pun) and I can just picture the looks on people’s faces when they read it.

So I believe that not only do you provide info, insight, and assistance as per Guy’s presentation, but you also need to do so with a sense of humour.

What do you think?


Dude, where is my library?


There seems to be alot of buzz lately about libraries.   Remember those.  As a student that I would wander through desperately trying to find the one piece of info for my essay. (Yes.. pre-internet days)

In Ontario, the Windsor-Essex Catholic is dismantling all its libraries.  It has started to divvy up the library books in its elementary schools and distribute them to individual classrooms instead.  Imagine that…  no more hiding out in the library.  No more discoveries of a cool book on a shelf.  But more importantly, what message does this send to youth?  Sorry guys.. books are not important anymore, so we are closing shop.  Farewell and good luck.

Why have we arrived at this state?

I LOVE books.  I own many.  The biggest threat I have ever received is in a heated non-logical exchange with an ex who threatened to burn all my books.  He might as well ripped out my soul and danced on it.

Laurinda's KindleI own a Kindle.  Marvelous thing it is.  Holds up to 3,500 books. It has actually increased my reading (yes, it is possible) and its light.  My friends say “I would miss the feeling of the book.”, but somehow I don’t.  My biggest complaint is how it lands with a huge thump on my chest as I fall asleep reading in bed.

eBooks in their sexy electronic package is changing the hardware of books.  The Association of American Publishers says that ebooks are the single best-selling category in U.S. publishing. Amazon says that ebooks are its most popular category of book format.  Why?  because its cheap and easy.  It cost me less than $200CDN with a nice book cover and a light. From what I have seen, the average price of a kindle book is $10. Then, there are over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books are available.  The real advantage for me is the WAY TOO EASY one click purchase at  I find a book I like, I click and in seconds its on my kindle.  Just like that.  Amazon has way too much of my money.

On April 20, 2011 Amazon announced that later this year it will launch library lending for Kindle books, from over 11,000 libraries in the U.S.  Imagine how easy that is going to be.  And its free! You hop on a WiFi service or 3G and in seconds you can “borrow” a book.  No library building, no stacks, just data transferred from one point into your hands.

So, what is the future of Libraries?

Seth Godin had a great post today entitled the future of the library. His perspective is that the library is still a place.  Not a warehouse of books (that is your ebook), but rather a meeting place.  Instead of looking for information, people will “come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together.”

My library of the future is a place where I can go to study and to have meetings with others.  A physical manifestation of google.  Where info is organized and accessible.  A place that provides information that is organized to help me.  Imagine that!

So, like everything else, libraries need to evolve to be relevant.  Ok… back to reading Do the Work by Steven Pressfield on my Kindle.

What is your vision of the library of the future?


Social Media = Business Skills


On LinkedIn, Josh Blank asked the question in the Social Media Success Summit 2010 group:

How important is previous experience when hiring someone to head up Social Media?

There were a few comments, but the one that really stood out to me was Tia Dobi’s [highlighted parts are mine]:

Hmmmm…I would definitely hire someone with the ability/mindset to bring in new business – is there a head position where we would not want experience and results from the new hire?

…Getting someone with business sense to create profits for your company (and to not understand that relationships create profits would be amateur/immature thinking it seems to me).

…I would never suggest entrusting the future profits and growth of a business to someone without a mature business mind and the hands-on knowledge of connecting the dots.

In my social media research I rarely come across social media = business.  Yes, there is alot of discussion about what is the ROI of Social Media.  My favs:

The perception of Social Media is that it is Social and thus not a true business driver.  Social media is a young field.  The internet is young.  I’m 36 and my university days did not include the World Wide Web.  I graduated in 1995 when the web was born.  There was NOT ONE laptop at my lectures…  that was 15 yrs ago!!

But lets look at the core of what a business is.  According to, its “the purchase and sale of goods in an attempt to make a profit.” In order for that transaction to happen you need 2 people.  The seller and the buyer.  Business is that fancy dance of letting you know what I got to buy and finding what you need to buy.  Yes… to use the cliche, it takes 2 to tango (and to make money).

Social Media = Relationships

So… Laurinda where are you going with this?  Its about the relationship.  I need to find you.  You need to find me.  We meet and have a transaction that is mutually beneficial (for the most part).  Without you or without me.. there is no transaction.  No business.  Therefore the relationship is ESSENTIAL.

What makes a good relationship?

  • Understanding
  • Communication
  • Credibility
  • Respect
  • Trust

How do you build relationships in social media that lead to business?

  • Understanding:  Listen to your marketplace.  Understand who they are and what are their needs.
  • Communication:  Talk to your marketplace.  Be part of the community.  Be helpful.  Don’t just PUSH your message out.  Imagine if you did that with your friends, they would look at you as if your nuts.  Instead, put to use all those good manners that your mom taught you.
  • Credibility and Respect:  If you listen to understand and communicate to be a good community citizen, you build trust and credibility.  And when someone wants something that you offer, they will go to the place that they know and trust over someone else.
  • Trust:  If you hang out long enough and proven your worth, people will trust you.  Its a slow build, but in a time where people value other people’s opinions, you will have business “ambassadors” doing the pre-relationships for you.

In answering Josh’s question.  One key element is truly understanding how social media will drive your business.

Do you agree?