#FF Sacha Chua

Sacha gives me a run for my money when it comes to attending meetups. I go to a great number and now I fully expect to see Sacha there. Some of the interests that we have in common have been Girl Geeks Toronto, WordCamp Toronto (x2) and Accessibility Camp. You will usually find her behind her tablet PC, doing the most amazing sketchnotes. She has been a great inspiration and has now given me the interest to pursue it myself…After I decide on a device with a stylus! She also pointed me in the direction of Windows Live Writer which is a great tool for anyone that posts to multiple blogs. Has saved me a lot of time and effort!

She always has a kind word for everyone. I can’t remember ever hearing her critique anyone or anything negatively. Constructive, perhaps, but the root of her comments are always kind and meant to help others improve. Amazing what even changing a single word can do.

One of the coolest, yet simplest things I have ever seen her do, is ask me for my autograph after my presentation at WordCamp Toronto. I got to sign my own sketchnotes! I’d never been asked for my autograph before, and it really made me feel important.

I urge you to follow her adventures on Twitter, @SachaC and make sure you say hi if you are fortunate enough to run into her at an event. Enjoy.

Sacha Chua from her Twitter Profile

Sacha Chua from her Twitter Profile

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#FF Thomas George

Thomas is a student at Ryerson University in the Business Technology Management program. He’s not your typical student since he’s done more in the time I’ve known him than most professionals.

Through the co-op program, he’s worked for CIBC as well as StickerYou. He’s volunteered for the TO Tech Meetup and two of the three years of TEDxRyersonU. For the latest one, held this past Sunday, he was the curator. All this and he still has time to support the ITMSA.

I had the pleasure of meeting his parents at TEDxRyersonU and congratulated them both. I told them they should be very proud, because he is truly a gem. Any company that picks him up after graduation will be lucky to have him on board. I wish him luck in his studies and future endeavours. Whatever he does, it will be truly great. I can bet on it. Follow him @TommyGee.

Tommy George, BTM student at Ryerson University

Tommy George, BTM student at Ryerson University

#FF Jany Jang

Jany is another great student at Ryerson University in the Business Technology Management program. I push her pretty hard and try to be a good mentor to her, and she always rises to the occasion. I know I owe her a recommendation, so hopefully this will do the trick.

When I met Jany, she was on Women In ITM at Ryerson. The following year, she was President. We had lunch before the year started and she laid out for me all the things she wanted to achieve that year. I was in awe. I said, “You do realize that you have school work on top of this, right? This is a lot for someone doing this full time!” But she was ready for it. And did it she did. She has also been on TEDxRyersonUITMSA and is looking at yet another venture, all while still maintaining her studies. You’ll have to follow her to find out what comes next! Like Thomas, any company would do well to recruit her before she’s out of school. She’s not done yet! Find out what she’s up to @Jany_Jang

Jany Jang, BTM Student at Ryerson University

Jany Jang, BTM Student at Ryerson University

#FF ThirdOcean

If you ever want to attend a great panel discussion, make sure you add ThirdOcean to your follow list. They have been in business for a couple of years now and is headed by Carolyn Van and Karim Kanji. After attending my first event, FashionConnect that they put on under their brand XConnect, I found out that Carolyn and I both graduated from the same University, same faculty and probably within a day of each other. I like to think I graduated BEFORE her, but hey, what difference does a day make? 😉

Burritos from GameConnect (#GCTO)

Burritos from GameConnect (#GCTO)

Since the first panel, I’ve continued to attend their events regardless of the topic because I always find it interesting. The point is to find the intersection between technology and another industry. The topics have ranged from Film, Gaming and Education and they always put out a good spread. It is thanks to their events that I was introduced to Rightsleeve and their wonderful services. Their latest one was HealthConnect (#HCTO) where the discussion was centred around health. Amazing discussions come out of their panels and it is never boring! I can’t wait to see what the 2013 season brings.

Both Karim and Carolyn have been extremely supportive of me in my endeavours and have welcomed me with open arms. It is thanks to Carolyn that I began learning about WordPress just over a year ago. Had it not been for her insight and suggestions, I would not be where I am today. To give you an idea, I presented at WordCamp Toronto 2012 last month with a success story. They don’t just limit themselves to their own business either! You can find them almost everywhere, including Venus Ventures and Lean Startups. Heck, they were event at TEDxToronto today! Please give them all a follow on this wonderful Friday and I hope to see you at the next one.

ThirdOcean

ThirdOcean

#FF TED: Technology, Entertainment, Design

TED: Ideas Worth Spreading

TED: Ideas Worth Spreading

In a previous post, I talked about TED Talks and since TEDxToronto is going on today, I thought it fitting that I give a Follow Friday to them. I have to thank one of my friends who is a nurse for introducing me to TED Talks a few years ago. We were both students and not just at university and it was truly a wonderful thing to behold. Imagine, broadening your mind, one talk at a time. Just 20 minutes (or less) to change the way you might think about something or introduce you to something you may not have known anything about. One of the highlights of this was that it gave my father and I fuel for discussions that I always enjoyed.

The way I explain it to people is that TED is like a think tank, but an open one. You may have to be invited to sit in the audience or pay a lot of money to be a member, but all the talks are made available on their website for free. You can download them in podcasts which I sync on a regular basis to my iPod.

My favourite talk (which is not an easy thing to nail down) was done by Jamie Oliver shown here:

Now, I don’t watch his show all that often, nor am I a cooking connoisseur but it continually inspires me to ask questions. If you’ve ever had me at an event or in a class, now you understand from where it stems.

One of the great ideas that TEDxToronto had for their presentations today was to have viewing parties around the city so that if you didn’t make it into the main one, you could go to one of the satellite locations. I was fortunate enough to attend the one at the Daniels Spectrum in Regent Park. The added value that I got from this venue was that we got our own live presentations, mostly from people from that neighbourhood. So not only did we get the live feed from the main event, we had our own little intimate presentations. Really some seriously talented people. Unfortunately, I had to leave the event early, but caught the rest of the event on my computer from my office because it was running late.

I know that one of the talks from today that I will certainly be putting in front of my father from today for our discussion is the one by Shawn Micallef. Make sure you catch this one when it gets posted. For those who didn’t get a chance to be a part of TEDxToronto today, or TEDxRyersonU next month, fear not! All of them are taped so you can view them later and the quality is amazing. Please give TED, TEDxToronto and TEDxRyersonU a follow today and all of their presenters. And if you haven’t already done so, and I’ve convinced you, get your application in to TEDxRyersonU. Hope to see you there.

#FF Nth Degree Entertainment and DJ Thomas Hall

The Retro Road Show is put on by Nth Degree Entertainment headed by DJ Thomas Hall. For those of you that went to The Joker on a regular basis in Toronto, you might remember him. Think of those video dance parties that your high school would put on from Much Music with the videos projected all over the walls with Retro Music from the 80’s (and now the 90’s) and throw in the alcohol. NOW you’ve got one hell of a party. They also do private and corporate parties and I’ve attended at least one wedding where they DJ’ed and they never disappoint. I’m sorry that I missed them during Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche last month, but they were at King & Bay all night and I’m sure were a great success.

I started going to the Retro Road Show about three years ago because a friend of mine from high school said it would be a blast. She’d been going for some time and invited me along. I had a blast! I’d told my brother about it, but I wanted to check it out before I brought him along. As some of you might know, my brother is Autistic and it’s difficult to find places where he feels comfortable and that are safe for him. IT WAS AWESOME!

Ravi and his first prom dates

Ravi and his first prom dates

The next time I went was New Year’s. I’d tried to find a place that my brother could go where we didn’t have to deal with the potential for violence (as is prone on such evenings) and where he would feel accepted. This was the first time my brother was able to go to a “club” and go out dancing on New Year’s Eve. We’ve been going ever since. I feel completely comfortable with my brother going even without me because I know that there are people there that know him, welcome him and will protect him if something goes wrong. My brother never went to his prom, but thanks to the Retro Road Show, he got it. It truly is an amazing feeling to find a place where he is welcomed.

Our friends and I have a great time every month and I make it a point to go whenever I can. I think I’ve missed five in the last three years and make it out for their Hallowe’een and New Year’s Parties every time. Tonight, we celebrate my brother’s birthday as well as DJ Thomas Hall’s at their new release, Retro Wave Fridays at the Dovercourt House at 9:30 p.m.  The usual one is held the third Saturday of every month in the main floor space, except for October and December when they have their extra special events! You will have a dose of Retro every month to keep you going. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

This group of people put on a great show, but also have my undying thanks for having an inclusive atmosphere, safe and fun for all. Make sure you follow DJ Thomas Hall, Nth Degree Entertainment and Retro Road Show on Twitter, as well as join their Facebook Groups/Pages for chances to win tickets. Tune in on Friday afternoon to listen to Superstar DJ Thomas Hall on Boom 97.3 with their Retro Mix at 5 p.m.

Ravi and DJ Thomas Hall - The Terrible Twosome. ;)

Ravi and DJ Thomas Hall – The Terrible Twosome. 😉 Thanks to Diane for this photo.

#FF Jon Gauthier

Jon Gauthier and I meet at some pretty cool events. Sometimes, like last week, I get invited to some really awesome stuff because he’s on the list. He’s selfless in his invitations and is great company. He passed along an invitation for the Centre For Social Innovation‘s Grand Opening in Regent Parkand I took my brother along. It was a wonderful event and an amazing vibe throughout the room. Makes me want to know more about the organization and inspires me to do more.

Afterwards, Spacing was having their Fall Party and invited I and my friend along. We had a great time and I even got my photo taken with one of my Twitter idols, Shawn Micallef.

When he’s not being the social butterfly, he’s the co-founder of Good Foot Delivery Service, a messenger service that hires people with disabilities. My brother worked in a mail room at one time, so needless to say, this is a great social/business model that helps people who would not otherwise have a job earn a living.

I highly recommend today that you get on to Twitter and follow Jon Gauthier, who gives of his time and energy if nothing else for the good of those around him.

Taken from "Off On A Good Foot" story in the Toronto Star, August 20, 2010

Taken from “Off On A Good Foot” story in the Toronto Star, August 20, 2010

Hamilton’s 24-7 Live Local Journalist

Many of you may recall my post a few months ago about Joey Coleman in my #FF Series. Well he’s got a new project on the go and considering the donation levels and what you get in return, I’d say that it’s well worth it. I hope that you will all consider donating to this worthy cause.

http://www.indiegogo.com/hamiltonnews?c=home

Joey Coleman from his Facebook Page

#FF RightSleeve

As usual, RightSleeve has outdone themselves. I was once again invited to their Swag 2.0 event in May. I went last year and had a great time. This year was no exception.

Ernie Whitt Autograph

Ernie Whitt Autograph – Notice the RightSleeve paper. 😉

For those that don’t know, Rightsleeve is a promotions company that has clients large and small, but all feel important. Last year’s event had more exhibits and suppliers, but this year I did a lot more networking. I’d been out of touch with everyone for a while, and this was a great chance to catch up. Either way, it’s a great event. Last year, I even met Ernie Whitt, former catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and got his autograph! Karim Kanji is still jealous to this day.

I’m not only impressed with the products they have (and give out!) but with how friendly and supportive they are. They do a lot of promo for many worthwhile events around town, including Third Ocean‘s XConnect panel discussions, which I try never to miss.

When I was working on getting my consulting gig off the ground, I got an invite from Mark Graham to attend. I was in no position to spend money with them, but he didn’t care. Their events are a great chance to network and are definitely fun to attend. Mark wanted to help out and knew that I’d probably spread the work of their good deeds. Well, it obviously worked and I’ve never forgotten his kindness. Every chance I get, I put their name forward and know they won’t disappoint. So please make sure that you add Rightsleeve to your feed and let them know if you have any promotional swag needs. They are definitely the best in everything they do.

Here are some examples of their work:

Rightsleeve Notebooks

No Rightsleeve collection is complete without their notebooks. Two black ones used. Started the red one on Labour Day.

Rightsleeve Cooler Bag and Water Bottle

Rightsleeve Cooler Bag and Water Bottle perfect for a day outing.

Rightsleeve Umbrella

They gave these out the first year I went and it is my favourite umbrella.

#FF DevTO

Talk about building a community from the ground up! DevTO is certainly a great example for how to do it right.

Me and Ginny at the first anniversary

Me and Ginny at the first anniversary

I attended my first DevTO just over a year ago at Richmond Day, which was their second event. I am on record as being the first female techie to attend apparently. There were about six of us, sitting around a computer where we were being shown by Chris Brooker how Epilogger was created. I’d seen it in action a few days earlier and was familiar with it, but it was great to hear the in depth development of the project. I had also just started learning WordPress, so I brought my first site to them in hopes they could help me understand one or two things about a problem I was having. They gave me some great direction and I was happy to report at their next meeting that thanks to the advice I received, I was able to resolve the issue. This next meeting had over 20 attendees, including quite a few women. This event was going places!

Over the coming months, they had more great presenters, including Wes Bos, Xtreme Labs and most recently, Paul Laberge of Microsoft and Sachin Monga Facebook. The venue changed from Richmond Day to the ING Café, with their One Year Anniversary held at CSI: Annex. The latest one was held at Polar Mobile. The beauty about the change in venue is that they keep getting bigger. They are making sure that they have room for everyone and are changing with the demographic.

Wes Bos showing off HTML5

Wes Bos showing off HTML5

Don’t think that this is just the place for developers! Oh no, this meetup is designed to be for everyone from marketing and HR to the developers themselves. They pride themselves on bringing everyone together that has something to do with developing and puts them in the same room with beer and pizza.

They have grown to have some great sponsors including Headstart Solutions with Sue Varty and Marc Roginsky, ThinkWrap and ThirdOcean with Carolyn Van and Karim Kanji. They have numerous giveaways from FITC and many other sponsors using an app developed by one of the founders, Nael called Twitter, Twitter, Chicken Dinner which picks winners based on your criteria for giveaways. Great little app that he designed after one of the other founders, Jo, brought the opportunity out. Jo hosts a lot of events and does a number of giveaways, so this was a great solution.

DevTO has only been around for just over a year, but their events are now selling out (they are up to 100 attendees) within minutes of them posting the event on the first Monday of the month. The events are held on the last Monday of every month and can be accessed here on Meetup.com. You can follow DevTO on Twitter and of course, each one of the founders is a joy to follow, so add them too (See below). Their next meetup is on Monday and I hope to see you there!

Founders:

The DevTO Team: Nael, Jo, Kevin and Chris

The DevTO Team: Nael, Jo, Kevin and Chris

Joallare (aka Jo): @clickflickca

Chris Jones: @jonezy

Kevin Kelly: @kevincodes

Nael El Shawwa: @naelshawwa