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Sean Connon

Posted by on February 11, 2016 in Business & Marketing

Sean Connon

We lost our friend and associate Sean Connon this past January 20th, to an unrelenting cancer, following a triumphant journey against all odds.  While this is a very difficult piece to write for many reasons, I felt compelled to share a few personal thoughts and anecdotes about this special individual.

We originally met when I had been hired by Chris Grossman to present a ‘creative session’ in Sudbury for what had become a significant media group in Ontario: The Haliburton Broadcasting Group – HBG for short.  A few years later, I was hired to help the Sales Division which Sean led as Director of Sales.  And what a great leader he was!  Like Christopher, Sean drove throughout much of mid and northern Ontario, to understand the markets, and most importantly, the personnel.  This allowed for a much closer long distance relationship with the Sales team.  On the weekly Monday morning conference calls, Sean often opened with his familiar: “Morning Angels”.

No mention of Sean would be complete without mentioning his competitive spirit – in life’s everything!  Closing a sale, ‘hitting a post’, exceeding a goal.  Stubborn to a fault, when Sean had his mind made up, there was little that would halt his momentum.  Once Sean had his sights set on a goal, he was relentless.

When it came to the loves of Sean’s life, there was little doubt about what turned his crank.  The short list: family, (in particular his two lads), motorcycles, cars, guitars, sports (hockey: Maple Leafs, football: NFL – Dallas Cowboys).  Headlining the list, singing and playing guitar live on stage, or pretty well anywhere.

I never had the pleasure of seeing Sean coach his son’s hockey, but I’m told, to no surprise, he was excellent.  Always there for his boys, as they graduated the various skill levels of age.  Teaching his boys to handle a sled, or drive a boat or car, all had their challenges and mishaps, but the bonds between father and sons are unbreakable.  The fact that the lads have taken to be accomplished musicians speaks loudly of the relationships and the DNA.

In his quest for speed, Sean loved quick cars, snowmobiles and motorcycles.  I joined Sean and one of our partners in crime, Phil Ward, for a memorable sledding session years ago.  Was not easy to keep up.  Our half-way reward was a stop for another of Sean’s fav’s:  a cold draft, usually a Rickards Red….or two.

In my time with Sean, he was very proud of his Acura TL and LOVED the performance of his black BWM 320 sedan.  On warm summer days Sean would appear on his motorcycle at the station after his run down from Huntsville.   After pulling his helmet off, he’d shakeout his long full mane of graying hair.

Thinking about his handsome looks, there is a great story about the time Sean was in Vegas on ‘HBG business’, and whilst there, enjoyed a very special ‘Prince’ concert up close and personal, at the Palms.  As it would oft happen, Sean was mistaken for Kenny Rogers, and was shuffled off to a private section, soon to be protected by security, where others were not allowed to go.  Hilarious and true!

Eating with Sean was a challenge.  A limited menu.  His staples of meat and potatoes, pizza, and of course, Swiss Chalet kept him happy.  At a great steakhouse, the order was a New York striploin, baked potato with sour cream and caesar salad.  Barberians in Toronto the #1 choice.  I remember the efforts we made to get Sean to go to Wabora (sushi/shashimi) in Bracebridge.  Not likely! – too funny!  We did have dozens of ‘Friday Sales lunches’ at Andrea’s Steakhouse in Bracebridge though.  We all always ‘bushed’ (a game) for the tax receipt.  Great memories.

Fair to say that Sean was nothing short of an outstanding musician.  His strength in my mind was his presence on stage.  A leathery throat and voice that could go for hours.  His memory for lyrics was incredible.  A fine guitar player.  I loved his ‘flinging of the guitar pick’ into the audience at the end of a show – a tribute to a favorite musician.

You could request a song of Sean, and the odds were, he’d know it.  His annual St. Patrick’s Day (night) ‘concerts’ at the pub in Huntsville were legendary.  I never knew his long time band mates, but a couple of the men spoke at his wake, and you could feel the genuine love and compassion in their words.  The fun, the oft-crazy circumstances of being ‘on the road’, and of course, Sean’s stubborn, quirky personality was evident throughout their warm remarks.

Paul Feist, a mutual friend, and fine singer, who has also been challenged from cancer, reminisced with me recently about Sean’s excellent efforts, singing in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at the Huntsville theater.  Sean’s role consumed him for a couple of months, as he had never performed in a musical before.  He was of course, awesome during the many standing-room-only shows.

Sean also had a love of guitars.  Being a drummer I don’t know much about guitars, but Sean was a collector and very proud of a special few of them.  He often went on line looking for collectibles or interesting instruments, which could lead to a trip to Toronto, to invest in a new ‘sound’ with great ‘action’.

One aspect of Sean’s life, I was to find out about, during our one-on-one’s over a few drafts, was his love of the States (born in New Jersey) and his travel time in Key West in Florida.  There on his motorcycle of course.  He LOVED Key West.  I believe Sean went through one of his life’s epiphanies sitting on the beach there…..nothing I can explain, but his departure, set him on a new course.  I do remember that he loved “Pepe’s” there, and I was actually able to bring him a t-shirt back from this local hotspot during one of Sean’s stays down at Princess Margaret.

My final set of accolades concerning our man Connon, is to best describe him as a fighter.  He fought his leukemia with a sense of purpose knowing he could, and would, beat this disease.  And he DID! … for quite a while.  His trials could never be described by this mere mortal, but from the terrible onset through his stem cell transplant and his recovery, to his final stages, he was a pyramid of strength.  Very near death on more than one occasion, he nine-lived himself to recovery amidst the most unlikely of scenarios. My ol’ man called it ‘intestinal fortitude’. Whatever it was, Sean had it, in spades.

Genetics play their part of course, and while I cannot do the tale justice, if you ever have the opportunity to hear this story about Sean’s father, Charlie, it is beyond incredible.  Let it be said in precis version, that Charlie was long thought to be lost to our world in a coma for MONTHS in Ireland.  Doctors had given up hope, but Sean went over, to perhaps say his goodbyes, and ended up bringing him back on a flight to Ontario, where to the utter amazement of all, ‘came to’ and recovered in a manner that would make a fine novel.  Charlie is still with us thankfully, and was full of fatherly gusto when I shook his hand at Sean’s visitation.  So…this fighter thing is in the genes.

One final bit of closure if you’ll allow me, and that is to say that Sean counted his blessings in the friendship of Chris Grossman and Kim Ward.  In all, and there was a LOT going on over the 15 years they worked together, these folks were the most loyal of friends.  Regardless of the fine and successful business relationship they enjoyed, I saw firsthand the personal efforts made to visit Sean in all his challenges, at all the medical and homebound locations.  MANY times.  Countless phone calls and emails.  It takes courage, and real honest passion to continually support a friend in such dire straits.  This was indeed a special bond that Sean was so appreciative of.

Connon-groupFlorida

“Sconnon” – we’ll miss you, as will many, in the regions of New Jersey, and Muskoka…. perhaps even Key West.  If there is a stage in afterlife, you’ll no doubt be on it with some other fine musicians.

Cheers to you man!

A Disappearance

Posted by on January 21, 2016 in Business & Marketing

A Disappearance

A Disappearance

It is indeed most unfortunate that Post Media pulled the plug on what was an institution in Muskoka:  Muskoka Magazine, gone, along with a free, lesser known weekly: What’s Up Muskoka.  Twenty jobs in these parts is significant, not to mention the deafening sounds of editorial silence.  Jack Hutton’s column will be sadly missed. There were several very talented managers, writers, and graphics people operating this business.  Muskoka Magazine adorned many decks, docks and coffee tables, and enjoyed a decent readership in particular, by Cottagers.  Three Metroland papers (owned by TorStar) still exist: The Examiner, The Banner and The Forester, plus yet another magazine: Muskoka Life.

Stay with me here, some research is involved.  What is at play here is more obvious to some and less to others who may not pay much attention to the media of this fast paced era.

The reality is yes, Paul Godfrey at Post Media is trimming costs and continues to do so with gusto, eliminating jobs.  The print business is under siege and has been for some time.  Just this week, it was announced that yet another (ninety)  90 Post Media Jobs  were trimmed out west.

Let’s get to the meat of the matter.  Back in March of last year, Torstar announced that it’s highly prized concept of attracting distribution revenue for a Toronto Star digital delivery was a flop. As the Huffington Post reported:  No more paywall.   Fast forward, September 2015 Star Touch was launched.  Yes, you can download this creative, well written publication 7 days a week – for FREE.  Candidly, I highly recommend it.  Editors note:  as an anomaly to this trend, I still invest each month in The Globe And Mail’s digital version and it is a great investment. A bargain compared to the printed, tree eliminating version.

Not sure what bars or boardrooms these ideas come from, but the brain trusts at a few other publications deem (as reported in the Globe) that we consumers might consider making ‘micropayments’ per story !  Yikes!  Does not project to be a volume concept.

In October of last year, the magazine industry was turned slightly on its head by the Rogers Media announcement that Flare Magazine would be no more…except in digital form.  Circulation had spiraled from 12,000 a month to a paltry 2,600.   Hmm, and some think the Radio business has its challenges.

Further to the point, Rogers now offers its Next Issue, now known as Texture, which, for $10 – $15 , provides you with something in the order of 200 magazines to download and read.  Incredible when you view all the titles.

So hop on line and download news, entertainment, sports and, you name it – you can have it.  Especially with all the extra time you have each day reading newsletters , blogs, emails and jokes from far away relatives.

The future?  Banks as we know them, will disappear.  Shopping on line will grow exponentially as will delivery services.  Retailers will have to be much smarter and marketing types like yours truly, five steps ahead of the many tech curves headed our way.  We have not seen the last of the cuts by Post Media.  Too many newspapers, not enough eyes, or, ad revenue.

My coffee table?  Less adorned with magazines and local newsprint; more adorned, especially with family around, with laptops, ipads and smart phones of every size and color.

 

Once in a lifetime, hopefully…

Posted by on October 5, 2015 in Life @ North45

Once in a lifetime, hopefully…

Please forgive the length of this ‘Life at 45 Degrees’ story.  Hopefully, you can take a few minutes and live this journey with me….

This past Saturday morning started in the usual manner.  Up and at it, check out the view of the lake…. coffee, into the laptop while the cottage was still quiet.  Daughter and grandson asleep upstairs.  One of my favorite times of the day in Muskoka.

A fate altering email from a friend changed my day.  Mitchell Shnier, of Save The Bala Falls engineering fame, communicates to me and a couple of other buddies, that a cottager friend, Sara West, on Long Lake has seen a loon in distress.  Can we help?

I’ve heard about loons eating golf balls and getting tangled in fishing line before.  Probably the most famous of these was written by Mrs. Loretta Rogers and her artist friends up on Lake Rosseau about “Larry The Loon” being hit by a boat.  This however is a children’s book, and well known for its accompanying artwork by Mrs. Rogers, her artist friends, and Muskoka realist, the incredible Doug Dunford.  Doug happens to be a good friend, so we know the book’s history, and have several copies.

Back to my Saturday morning coffee and email.  I started making phone calls to associates and friends I know on Long Lake.  Perhaps someone could help find this bird.  For those of you unaccustomed to our waterways, Long Lake runs north-south and is land-locked a total of two to three hundred yards west of Bala Bay (Lake Muskoka), depending on your location.  The reality is that, as close as this adjacent lake is to our Bala Bay, I’ve never really got to know it, and have never been in a motor boat there.  Someone will be available to help, we’ll see what can be done!

As is typical of life, we have to be prepared for the unexpected.  All the guys I knew on Long Lake were either working, away at hunt camps (it’s that time of year!), away fishing, or in Toronto.  I struck out like a Yankee on a David Price fastball.

So now I’m thinking, I gotta find a boat on Long Lake and go looking for this Loon.  One of the guys out of town working was Steve Davidson.  He and his lovely wife Diane live on Long Lake and Steve says:  “John, feel free to use our ‘tinny’,”  then paused and said:  “No, that’s no good, it’s out at the hunt camp… ah..there’s another ‘tinny at our dock – use that.”

After looking around parts of Bala for an accomplice, I ended up on Steve’s dock on my own, ready to go.  Before I left the cottage, I grabbed work gloves, three towels, wire cutters, small garden shears and scissors.  Sara said “fishing line” so I’m thinking if found, set this bird free.  I must admit, this all seemed quite odd, quite unlikely.

So now, I am in the little tin boat at the dock, with I think, a 20 on the back and of course… it won’t start.  I can’t pull it.  It ….wont ….PULL!  Totally jammed.  I call Steve back:  “Steve, it won’t start, something I should know?”   Steve:  “It’s Kyle’s boat, I’ll check. Call you right back.”

Two minutes later, Steve calls back.  “It’s electric, it’s tricky.  Here’s what you do…”   Now you gotta know, I KNOW BOATS and I know little outboards.  The battery was hidden away and the controls like nothing I have seen before.  Could I get that baby going?  Not on your life.  Steve, still with me on the cell phone says:  “I’ll call Kyle again, he’s having breakfast at Annie’s Deli.  We’ll see if he can come over and help.”

Ten minutes later, sure enough, Kyle comes down onto the dock and we introduce ourselves.  Kyle Vickers is a local builder, has, I find out, a lovely wife, a youngster, and another on the way.  Living in Bala, and typical of a small town, Kyle is friendly, and helpful.

“See, you do this, jimmy the handle, it’s a little tricky, push this button, and…”  RRRRhuuummm – the engine roars.  It’s awake!

I say: “Kyle, you’ve heard about this loon in trouble down the bay here.  Do you want to come along?  You got time?”  Kyle hesitates, then says: “Ah, ok, sure!”

Fortunatly for me, Kyle knows Long Lake, almost like the back of his hand.  I explained where Sara said her cottage was, where she had spotted the loon, but of course we had no idea where the bird was now.  It was ten degrees, and the wind had been howling all week.  It was COLD.

The feeling was that if we could find this loon, and it felt like a long shot, it would be located in a calm bay close to shore away from the wind.  We found Sara waving at us from her dock in her fluorescent pink t-shirt.  She indicated the bird had left her bay and was likely farther south around the next point and into another small longish bay.  Kyle expertly navigated the shoals and rocks, and we idled into the wind again, slowly motoring around another point of land and south into a pretty little bay.

Both Kyle and I have our eyes peeled as we pass stumps by the shoreline on each side of the bay.  Small loon-like rock structures jutting out of the water fooled our senses.

We were just hopeful that we would get lucky and this would all make sense on a Saturday morning in October, two guys who had never met, now in a boat, looking for a disabled bird that might be in the vicinity.

“There it is!” I exclaim.  Sure enough, right at the end, on the east side of the bay, not a foot from shore, our bird sat swimming in neutral.  We very slowly pulled up to the bird, thinking, ‘ya right, we’ll just pick it up!’

Our thoughts mirrored when we agree out loud that we’ve never been this close to a loon before.  Kyle cuts the engine and handles a paddle into the water to guide us.  I grab my gloves with a towel at the ready.

As we near this lovely large creature, we’re mesmerized by the white circle and squared shaped spots that make loons famous.  This is a large bird!  Large beak, red eyes.  The loon is in distress.  Fishing line is wound around the wide end of the beak and parts of the body.

As I leaned over the gunnel, not surprisingly, our feathered quarry, with very efficient webbed feet, paddled away from us, heading north.  Kyle and I looked at each other and agree, ok, let’s try again.

Kyle started the engine, we came about, and slowly followed north up the bay.  Our loon, came to a stop and just sat in front of us quietly.  Kyle cut the engine, and again, I leaned over the gunnel with my gloves on.  This time, much to our surprise, incredibly, the bird allowed me to grab, and hold its sides and lift it out of the water!  Stunned, I asked Kyle to place one of the other towels on the floor of the boat, which he did.  I then sat our feathered friend on the towel and wrapped another towel around it and covered most of its head.

Jw&LilaInBoat

Astonished, and excited to have completed our catch, the loons’ condition startled and saddened us. Up close and personal, hooks and a lure were embedded inside the beak.  The beak was wrapped half shut, round and round by fishing line.  We could only imagine, the bird under water turning like a torpedo round and around, an expert swimmer, attempting to unravel itself, all the while, tying itself up into a state of bondage.  It’s amazing the bird did not drown, but it was quite able to sit on the water, awaiting what would now be a certain death.

Sara had told us that a ‘partner’ had been around a day earlier, so we were motivated now to get medical help.  Loons mate for life, so all this time, thinking, we can help a love story if all goes well.

My wife Pam and I have read many articles about the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.  We had never been there before, but the stories and positive outcomes are legendary in Muskoka.  As if by some premonition, that morning, before I left the cottage, I called Aspen Valley because I thought I should get some advice, in case this bird is actually found.  I talked with a lovely gal named Jan, who said it would be ‘very unlikely’ to catch a loon.  She gave advice as to how to handle a bird, and about covering it up.  Jan said a loons’ long neck and sharp beak could be very dangerous.  Fortunately for us, we did not have to worry about this.  In retrospect, we think our loon had the intelligence to be helped.  What choice was there?

We boated slowly back to Davidson’s dock, cut the engine and tied up.  Kyle had a perfect blue bin in the boat full of life jackets, safety equipment, bailer etc., so he emptied that, leaving one life jacket in the bottom of the bin.   I placed our new friend, wrapped in its towels, on the cushioned bottom and then placed the lid on top to ensure a dark space.

This was still all so surreal.  A needle found in the proverbial haystack of a small lake.

Kyle, the masterful Captain, job well done, bid farewell, as I dropped him off by car to his proud wife.  I then called my wife, Nurse Pam, to see if she would join me on the trip up to the town of Rosseau where the Sanctuary is located nearby.  It’s a hike from Bala.  With a bad back, trooper-like, she agreed, and we traveled an agonizing 40 minutes, worrying about our injured associate in the bin in the back of the car.

LilaInBin

Jan greeted us warmly.  We filled out an ‘arrival intake form’ and she whisked away, who we were now calling, ‘Lila the Loon’ off to a building where ‘she’ could be inspected closely, and have the lines and hooks extracted.  Pam I just stood there like parents near an emergency room, wanting to know what was happening.  Others arrived.  A cell call to a veterinarian.  Feeling somewhat emotional, I requested a final visitation with our new patient friend.  Exclamations of caring “oh mys”  and other comments were heard, as they snipped the fine lines wrapped and stuck around beak and body of the bird.  I was able to take a couple of pictures but, we were out of our element and decided to leave.

My final act, was to ask if I could touch the bird one last time.  The assistant said okay, so I laid my full hand gently on its back, and tried to inject some healthy vibe of something, I could only imagine.  I felt the breathing, and I could only hope that one day soon, she (or he) will be able to be returned to Long Lake, find its partner, and head south.

I’ll will do my best to update this amazing story as soon as I can.  A sincere thanks to Sara, Mitchell, Steve, Diane and of course Capt Kyle!

**********************

Footnote:  Feeling somewhat chipper, I wrote this, this past Sunday.  It all felt so special and magical as you might imagine.  Monday morning, I called the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary to check on the patient.  I am SO SORRY to report that our Lila did not survive her ordeal.  I was devastated, the wind taken out my sails, my thoughts returning to all the folks involved in the rescue.  Sandy Lockhart, one of the Editors at Sun Media who works on ‘What’s Up Muskoka; and ‘Muskoka Magazine’ echoed my so-sad sentiments.  She said positively, keeping my glass half full, that our loon had its life end far more peacefully at the Sanctuary, than it would have, suffering through an elongated time on the lake in misery.

Lessons learned?  Not sure.  I can say this:  We are more appreciative of our friends, our neighbors, the Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, and of course, the lakes and wonderful wildlife we treasure here in Muskoka.

The Essential Service

Posted by on September 28, 2015 in Business & Marketing

The Essential Service

I’m a bit of a customer service freak.  Often to the detriment of my bottom line, the extra distance is travelled for clients and often for friends.  It’s Jw DNA, ultimately wanting to help others succeed and improve. Who doesn’t appreciate a resourceful referral?

Since early days as an Account Executive in Toronto at Standard’s CKFM, (“The Sound of our Toronto”), my mantra was to be known for creativity, resourcefulness, and, customer service.

Recently whilst travelling (out of Muskoka), I called a popular little restaurant that does a nice job of serving pizza, wings, burgers and the like, to order take out.  We did not have time to sit down, order, sit and eat.  We wanted to order on the phone, pick up a couple of burgers on the fly, and SAVE TIME doing so.

The person on the other end of the phone was short with me saying: “It’s pizza and wing night here tonight, we can’t do burgers for take out.”  Somewhat understandably, I was flabbergasted.  In fact, for a moment I was literally speechless, which is a rarity for moi.

I finally said: “I’ll have to call you back”, because I did not know what else to say, that was pleasant.  He replied: “You do that!”

Back in the 80’s, in addition to the Radio gig, my bride and I owned three New York Fries locations in the GTA .  We were actually the first franchisee!  Thanks Jay!  We got to know a little about the restaurant business, customer service and a myriad of metrics, rules and regulations. The picture featured above is an hilarious shot of the incomparable Don Daynard hamming it up with Jeremy Brown at our original store in Sherway Gardens. Too funny!

So upon hearing this customer service ‘expert’ on the phone, it reminded me to point out to others (you), that you can never take for granted what your employees will say or do.  Training may be as omnipotent as persistence.  Do you know how your employees handle the phone?  Regardless of the size of your operation, is your sales team trained to ask the right questions when qualifying a prospect?  Are they trained to handle objections?  Perhaps most importantly, are they trained to handle pricing issues?

Over a fun-filled career, I have had the pleasure to train many individuals and groups on these subjects, and what a difference it makes.  Having prospect-tested a number of companies (as an interloping secret shopper) , you’d be surprised what I learn.

Folks, it will COST you, if you are not managing this component part of your business.  Unnecessary costs, that might have been a sale, that goodness knows, might have had margin attached to it!

So what was the genesis of this topic today?  A note was made, back on September 6th when Seth Godin blogged about customer service.  I know, this type of activity, or the scenario above, never happens at your operation, but as ‘they’ say, bad news travels fast, and is repeated often.

Even as a singleton business operator striving for success, I do my darnedest to exceed customer expectations.  Bottom line: Customers enjoy resourceful suppliers who consistently demonstrate passion, integrity, and effective customer service.

Tonight in Port Carling

Posted by on September 21, 2015 in Business & Marketing

Tonight in Port Carling

Feeling a little sedentary these days?  Not enough golf or swimming this summer?  Well, we can help. Why not get engaged with the dozens of walking & hiking Trails that meander creatively  around Muskoka?  Many people in our sphere of life have heard of the Hardy Lake and Torrance Barrens Trails, but what about the Hazelwood Trail in Port Carling, the Huckleberry Trail at Beaumaris or even Stubbs Falls Trail near Huntsville?  Pictured here above is part of a best kept secret: the newly created Walkers Point Community Trail, which starts and ends at the Community Centre there.

Having done a little research with compatriot Muskoka Lakes Trails committee members, my bride Pam and I have discovered a plethora of walking trail opportunities in Muskoka.  Trails that offer amazing vistas, group of seven scenery and, wait for it, a way to get out, and jolt the heart rate into 2nd gear.

So if you are interested in learning more about this activity and are keen about photography, wildlife and birding, there is an event in Port Carling TONIGHT at the Community Centre that will be of interest.

Tonight, Tuesday Sept 22nd at 7pm #‎MuskokaTrails and ‪#‎MuskokaFieldNaturalists have partnered to host a talk by two of Canada’s top nature cinematographers:  John and Janet Foster.  Those of you with memories better than mine, will know these folks from shows they did on CBC television from the 1960s through the 1980s.  John Foster got his start on television as host of the long running program ‘This Land of Ours’, in the 1960s.  He teamed up with Janet in the 1970s on ‘The Wild Country’, narrated by Lorne Greene, which featured their photos from trips across Canada; this program averaged 2.5 million viewers!  That show was followed up by the series ‘Wild Canada’, which tracked their work from Nunavut to the Queen Charlottes to the Bay of Fundy.

Janet and John continue travelling and recording Canada’s wilderness on film and video today.

This presentaJohn&Janet-Blogtion in Port Carling, “Stories from the Wild” will feature photos and video of the wildlife around their farm in Madoc, Ontario.

Seems to me that, while not a lot of notice, this will be a worthwhile and entertaining way to get out and enjoy a Tuesday evening, and hear more about the Trails around Muskoka. If you cannot join us…find yourself a trail soon….and enjoy!

Admission is by donation.  Hope to see you there!

Thank you Anthony Wood

Posted by on September 14, 2015 in Business & Marketing

Thank you Anthony Wood

Recently, I wrote that the PVR was one of life’s greatest inventions.  In terms of its ability to alter our daily / weekly schedules, save time, and time shift, I continue to hold this belief to be true.

From a marketing perspective, the PVR is a nightmare for advertisers who’s media planning and execution revolve around 30 second creative on ‘the tube’.  As an early adopter, I am embarrassed to point out that, in our little slice of Bala, we have five PVRs at our disposal.  We bought a couple, and then a lovely deal allowed us to ‘rent to own’ three more when we renovated.

Our programming needs and wants are a team effort: a typical assortment of news, shows and sports.  Friends know me to be fanatical about PVRs.  If you don’t have one, sorry, I truly believe you are missing a boat of some consequence.  See above.  If your cel phone rings and you miss that all important love scene, or the dog barks, or someone knocks at your door…. you just ‘pause’ the action, and then rewind and re-play.  Wonderful.  Missed that playoff putt to win?  Want to see that touchdown pass again?  Missed that puck hitting the crossbar or back of the net?  Yup – No probs.

In large populated centers, (i.e. Toronto) you don’t need five units anymore.  The technology, as you may know, now allows you to watch with one unit, and go from room to room wherever you have a flat screen and take that show with you.  Amazing.

Ok, enough of selling PVR’s.  What about selling products ‘around’ PVRs?  Have you noticed the transition for advertisers like Canadian Tire and Home Hardware?  Home Hardware, after years of advertising on Blue Jays baseball, have finally been rewarded with a winner.  What do we see?  Transitional, semi-transparent messages produced with text and, often animated, picture overlays on the live background of the sport you are watching.  Canadian Tire does it a little differently, but the effect is virtually the same.

Bottom line, you do not typically fast forward through these messages to get to the next sequence of programming, because you don’t want to miss anything!  Canadian Tire is well known for their emotional, award winning television creative, but they KNOW the power of the PVR, (“Im just going to get a beer honey”) and that increasingly, audiences are fast forwarding through their wonderful creative and the rest of the muck.

The issue for major advertisers is that this format is very limited in terms of inventory, television production costs are enormous, and finally, you have to be engaged with the medium to be ‘reached’ by a commercial.

No wonder, the television industry is suffering.  Not suffering as much as the transformational newspaper business, or, need I say, catalogues like the Yellow Pages.  Ouch.

Thank you PVR-man  Anthony Wood  for being a marital programming problem solver.  Because of you, WE, can decide WHEN, we want to watch the news!

A New View from North45

Posted by on September 7, 2015 in Business & Marketing

A New View from North45

Greetings and salutations.  As some wizened philosopher once said, if you are going to talk the talk, you’d better walk the walk.  So here we go, doing a little walking on the tech side of communication.

Very pleased and excited today to present this first blog:  “The Wright Report”.  You will recall receiving ‘group emails’ from me over the years that were addressed to ‘friends, clients and associates’.  This replaces that, and takes a step beyond the basics of a group email.

Key to the process is for you to please confirm your email when asked, so that you will continue to receive “The Wright Report”.  As with any blog, you will have the opportunity to ‘unsubscribe’, but I will strive to be of interest and topical and write once a week. Dare I say that the proof will be in the pudding!

I enjoy writing as many of you know, and this medium presents an opportunity to inform, possibly persuade, and to express some creativity.  So that you know what is being presented, we have segmented the blog into three parts, which will show themselves in the title:

‘Business & Marketing’:  Ideas will be offered, and or, ideas and concepts from others, who’s point of view will hopefully be of interest to you.  My desire is to save you time and money, by presenting strategies that will have a positive outcome for your business.

‘Aerial Video & Photo’: Many of you know that my wonderful and talented partner, Pam Wright and I, started up a drone business (UAV) 18 months ago.  We have expanded our web site (walking that walk too) and are open for business.  We are certified at the highest level for our phantom drone and now enjoy a ‘standing certificate’ for all of Ontario.  We’ll write about exploits and points of interest, when the occasion presents itself.

Finally, ‘Life @ 45 Degrees’:  More lifestyle based.  Muskoka at the roots, family and generational fun, and who knows what?  Politics?  Not so much.  Save the Bala Falls?  Yes.  Folks want to know what is going on, but do not have the time to research all the details.  When timely, we’ll simplify one of the most complex problems we face in Muskoka, indeed in Ontario.

Who knows, YOU may have an issue or topic that you’d like discussed here.  Be a ‘guest blogger’ or throw an idea or subject at me.  I have a big catcher’s mitt.  Anything is possible.

Being my persistent self, a short second reminder to confirm your email when asked, so we can stay in touch.

A large Thank You, to several creative and intelligent digital experts who have helped make this possible.  You know who you are!

Cheers and talk soon!

John

A Bits and Bytes Addiction

Posted by on August 28, 2015 in Business & Marketing

A Bits and Bytes Addiction

Like many, I have become addicted to technology.  Fact is, this happened twenty five years ago, but the realization of it becomes more and more evident by the week. As children and grandchildren visit our Muskoka cottage, we all line up our mobile devices on the top of a cupboard where ‘mass charging’ takes place.  Laptops are in abundance, iPads, and an assortment of electronic gadgets that keep the wee ones entertained when necessary are splayed about.  (We do our utmost to promote cottage activities with the g-kids, but there ARE times when adults require a respite).  So it has become cliché now to see an entire family viewing emails / texts / and browsing on their phones at the same time.  Owch!

Back to my addiction.   I work on my laptop a LOT.  It ‘houses’ my business life, and so much content it boggles the mind.  It bothers me on occasion, that when the family visits, I am often perched in my office chair peering into my screen working away.  Life at North45 requires my being online a lot, but that is another story.

Many years ago I purchased an iPad for my bride and for the most part, I use it more than she.  We ALL use it for weather, radar, trivia and general browsing , but my main use is for reading the #GlobeAndMail.  I LOVE this technology.  It is nothing short of amazing.  To this day, next to the PVR, I think reading the Globe online is one of life’s perfect inventions.  I was an early adopter to this software, and it STILL astounds me as it downloads every morning!  It is: very good value, the pages ‘turn’ beautifully, easy to magnify, search, and …..it’s a great read, other than the depressing parts!  For business, I often link Globe stories to my social media. A great resource in other words.

Hence my continued addiction.  In today’s Globe, I came upon another gem of a story  in the section called Facts and Arguments, written by guest authors.  Maybe one day this will be me!  Today’s piece penned (or typed) by #MichaelFreeman, speaks to one of my hobbies (fishing) and technology.

I have so much technology in my life, but I really do love it.  Some days, we hate it, particularly when it does not work, or it glitches…god forbid an on-line heart attack.

Bottom line, traditional newspapers are in trouble.  We know it, they know it, the numbers show it.  So get the Globe on line.  Save a tree, stay in touch with the world, and enjoy the pictures!

Just try not to get too addicted.

Bob and Terry

Posted by on July 19, 2015 in Life @ North45

Bob and Terry

In August of 1965 I was only eleven years old.  I was fortunate enough to be a very young cottager on Bala Bay since 1958 when my folks bought our property.  The only things on my mind in those days were my equally young friends, running around in a 12 foot ‘tinny’ with a ‘ten’ on the back, and having enough allowance to buy worms so I could go fishing.  The way I’m built now, much like my dad and brothers, I suspect food was on my mind most of the time as well, but that is another story.

What went unnoticed by yours truly that August, was Bob Dylan’s 1965 mammoth hit: “Like A Rolling Stone” peaking at #2.  Forty years later, that song was voted the greatest hit of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine.  This summer of 2o15, don’t you know, it’s celebrating its 50th year of fame.

When I read James Adam’s article in The Globe And Mail, it brought back some memories.  You see, a few years later music became a huge part of my life.  I became a drummer; played in a marching band, and in a couple of decent rock bands.  Many stories conjure up here, but I’ll keep on script.

In June of 1981, the world lost our hero Terry Fox.  We had a Bala connection with Terry as he ran through our town on his way to Thunder Bay.  I had run with Terry down University Avenue in Toronto that spring, shirt off, perspiring profusely, large garbage bag in hand collecting donations.  A memory indelibly marked.

So the summer of 81 we threw a pretty big party at our cottage.  Music was a theme of course, but it was also a fundraiser for Terry.  It was quite a scene.  We took my Koss 1030 loud speakers outside and pointed them out on the bay.  Cars were blocked in our driveway, boats tied up at all angles at our dock and overflowed at neighbors.

The one thing I’ll never forget about that afternoon (the party started at noon) , which turned to dusk on the dock, was when, near the end of my “greatest hits” tape, the sound of “Like a Rolling Stone” commenced.  In retrospect, it was almost cultish.  I clearly remember those still partying with us, forming a big circle on the dock, and all of us singing virtually word for word with the author.  Those that did not know all the verses, made up for it on the choruses.

Thanks for the memories.  Hero’s and great writers of music have a way of keeping them fresh in our minds.

Challenges Overcome

Posted by on June 23, 2015 in Aerial Video & Photo

Challenges Overcome

Receiving a request to do a drone ‘shoot’ at a new locale is always a challenge.  We received a call from a seasoned, and very astute real estate agent who found us on the web.  The issue as many UAV pilots know, is what form of certification do you have?

In our case we had successfully migrated to the highest level of certification with Transport Canada which is ‘Complex Restricted’ and further, we were awarded ‘blanket coverage’ for all the Muskoka Lakes Region.  For those not aware, blanket coverage can only be gained once Transport Canada feels that you have had enough successful and safe flights for business in specific locations, for specific dates, that they will give you broad access to an area for a much longer period of time.

So…. in this case the request came to do a shoot on Sparrow Lake which was not in our specified area of legal work.  So quickly we put together, yet another application, sent it in to Transport Canada and were pleased to receive a quick turnaround on approval.

Next, we had to co-ordinate the weather with the agent and the property owner, ensuring all aspects of the visuals would be in place.  In this case, the owners were having a yard sale and rightly so, wanted everything cleared away prior to the shoot.

Rain and wind are the UAV enemies, and we battled both prior to, and just after our shoot.  No matter the circumstances, we always learn something new at each customer location. A glitch with the GoPro camera delayed our launch.  The data card became slightly unseated in the camera and we could not discern why a beeping sound persisted. You have to be prepared for a myriad of problem solving.  There are SO many factors: equipment, safety regulations, emergency details, the angle of the Sun – customers typically have no idea.

This is why Drones (UAV’s) have developed such bad reputations because there are many ‘rogue’ pilots who do not operate within the law, flying ridiculously stupid and reckless operations.  Example:  you MUST have a certified ‘observer’ working with you to handle safety, payload (camera), and a host of other duties.

In the end we had a great shoot.  We went through two batteries (two flights) to get all the coverage we felt we needed, and both agent and the property owners were happy with the results.

Right after we drove away, a howling wind came up which would have prevented our operation.  Luck and a little forward planning was on our side.