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.



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?


Social Media (non) habits


In my avid twitter reading, I came across this new twitter follow list site:  TweepML, Share Groups of Twitter Users.  (I wish I could remember who tweeted it…sorry I can’t credit you)

I was interested in the list Top 250 Technology Influencers on Twitter.

So, I signed up, entered my twitter account and within minutes, I had effortlessly added many tech gurus to my list.

Easy right?

Well.. not so much.  You see, I’m a creature of habit.  (yes, human.. although there are days my friends who argue against it).  And when I go through my daily, habitual reading and responding on twitter I had all these new faces and tweets.  Normally I would follow a person here, or there.  Like, someone I met at #blogchat or someone who was recommended by another.  But, when there was tons of new people, it felt like an entirely new feed.

My response to all these new faces?

I swore.  Yet another new thing I have to get used to.  Do I really need all these new faces?  Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Within minutes (should have been seconds).. but within minutes,  I caught myself.  What the hell am I complaining about?  In the last 2 years I have moved from being  TV person only to a social media sponge.  I have tried 3 million new things, learned so much, and met so many great people.  All from constantly trying new things.

So, why am I complaining?

Because trying new things all the time takes a lot of effort.  Humans recognize patterns and fall into habits, because it requires alot less energy from us.  By venturing into something different, an unknown, we need to be conscious, aware and learning.  What a thrill and a pain all at the same time.

Have you ever run across this?  What do you do to stretch yourself everyday?