Student Awards Night: that was fun!

This year’s Student Awards Night made a great impression. It was the first time I had been to Progress Campus, and I arrived to find a gorgeous gala, featuring a delicious menu and on point music, all from Centennial students. Did you know that Centennial gives away a quarter million dollars in student scholarships every year? Now you know.

Though Ann Buller unfortunately could not make the ceremony, I did get to chat with someone who I hope to count as my first mentor ever: Frank Cerisano. Stay tuned.

Cerisano Scholarship (March 11)


I won something! A scholarship!


That’s right. I have won a Cerisano scholarship for my online writing and high GPA.  This is an annual scholarship funded by Frank and Georgina Cerisano, extremely successful businesspeople and philanthropists. If my career amounts to one hundreth of what theirs is, I’ll be happy. For me, this recognition is a sign that I am on the right track and need to keep pushing myself to be consistent and always improving. It’s a light during a murky time for me.

In one week, I’ll be shaking the hand of THE Ann Buller as we smile and pose for pictures at the Student Awards Night ceremony, which takes place March 11th at Centennial College’s Progress Campus. Stay tuned.

The New Credibility: Being Yourself

This past weekend, I attended an annual event I also helped plan: PodCamp Toronto, an unconference in its ninth year that focuses on new media while retaining its podcasting community roots. Thanks to mega podcasts like Serial and Canadaland, podcasting is experiencing a huge resurgence that’s inspiring questions about the future of journalism, authenticity and production value.

Throughout the unconference, I noticed a pattern, whether we were talking about blogging, podcasting or content marketing: 2015 is the year of Being Yourself. This means celebrating imperfection, and embracing who you are in an honest way when connecting with your audience. There should be a baseline production value in order to properly communicate, and the rest is being true to yourself and knowing your audience. The hosts of podcasts like Serial and Canadaland are successful because they are passionate about what they’re talking about, won’t compromise their message for anyone and are honest about their bias. They’re also unique, quirky, reaching out to an untapped audience and a bit controversial.

One of the most emotional explorations of content production happened at the Fat Girl Food Squad session, where Yuli Scheidt and Ama Scriver talked about creating a community through body empowerment, food photography, fundraising and event outreach. They never expected to become successful bloggers, but their message resonated with so many people in such an honest way, that they are now 30 bloggers strong. They give a safe space to have difficult conversations, and through being themselves, invite their readers to embrace this attitude as well. One of the final sessions of the weekend, titled Why Serial Worked: What Audiences Want from New Media by Rob Moden, reflected the zeitgeist of the weekend. He used Hank Green’s brilliant article about the backlash he experienced from traditional media when he got to interview Obama along with two other famous YouTubers, as well as Obama’s interview on Between Two Ferns, to exemplify the new credibility.

In Hank’s article, he talks about comedy reporting as the most trusted news source: “Young people have absolutely no faith in people sitting at desks on television anymore. It’s gotten so bad that the most trusted news show among people under 40 is on Comedy Central. … The news is losing an entire generation.” He then talks about why YouTubers have established similar trust with their viewers: “People trust us because we’ve spent years developing a relationship with them. We have been scrutinized and found not evil. Our legitimacy comes from honesty, not from cultural signals or institutions.” Young people trust these three more than they trust the mainstream news media because they’re approachable and honest. As Rob Moden put it: “the new credibility is saying something is bullshit,” and giving a more personal glimpse into your own opinions, knowing that your audience can distinguish between fact and opinion.

Be yourself. Be honest. Connect with your audience. Build credibility. Don’t spew crappy content. Publicize well. Communicate on multiple platforms, with good social media content, consistently. That’s the formula I heard throughout the weekend.

New media connects with people because it talks not only to us but with us, invites our opinion, and explores beyond what a news desk is capable of: human emotion as part of the reporting process.

Disclaimer: I am the sponsorship coordinator of PodCamp Toronto, Toronto’s largest free gathering of members of the new media community. Slideshares, videos and photos from the weekend are available on PodCamp’s Twitter feed.

Introducing: The Nasty Gal Book Club

This summer, my friend Mirvet gave me #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso for my birthday. Sophia is the founder and CEO of Nasty Gal, an online retailer started in 2006 which has expanded exponentially and sees no sign of stopping. Reading the success story of Sophia inspired us, and we decided to read more empowering autobiographies. We did this by starting the Nasty Gal Book Club, in honour of #GIRLBOSS, our first book. (This was followed by Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, and January’s book: Orange Is the New Black.)

A couple months ago, we started a Facebook group to spread the word about the club, which now has over 60 members (mostly our friends). This month, we hosted our first event at Camera Bar, which featured a pajama party theme, our own specialty drink and a screening of Mean Girls (featuring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler). Later that night, Sophia Amoruso herself liked our photos on Instagram, thereby christening the club and solidifying that we’re on the right track to #GIRLBOSShood. Success.

sophia liked your photo

I may be at the beginning of my career journey, but I have so many strong women to look up to along the way. Here’s to a groundbreaking 2014, and to making big strides in 2015.

Quote Of The Day: Peterpot

“When I found beatboxing, it felt like the only limitation was my imagination. … People assume that beatboxing is confined to hip hop culture, but my biggest talent is my creativity, and I don’t want that confined to one genre.” – James ‘Peterpot’ McInnes, via Avenue Calgary

On November 8th, I went to Beatbox Canada’s national beatboxing championships. In a sea full of similar fish, Peterpot was a multicoloured octopus. He started beatboxing for fun at age 18, and now, at age 26, he is competing at the top of his game. He combines rhythm, melody, intelligence and major creativity in a fun and inspiring way. Wish I could see him compete at the world championships in Berlin in May. He’s forever on my list of personal heroes.

My First Recorded Interview!

When I started this blog, I didn’t think I’d update it frequently or learn to love it. Here’s the thing about writing: it’s transformative, and if you make it fun, you’ll never want to stop.

I sat down with Rachel Kellogg of the Young Pros Project a couple weeks ago to talk about my interest in craft beer and blogging. It also gave me chance to reflect upon Centennial’s CCPR program, and pass on some advice to new students.

Check it out here:

just write