#FF Alex Blom

I’m borrowing an idea that my friend Alex Blom started a couple of years ago. Instead of just listing #FF’s (Follow Fridays – A practice on Twitter where people recommend who everyone else should follow), he started doing a weekly blog post dedicated to a single recommendation for Follow Friday. So it’s only fitting that I give my first one in this series to him, not only for the idea, but because I was his first too (Minds out of the gutter, if you please. It’s pretty full down there already). It is still ranked second in Google when you use my name as the search term, ranking over Twitter and Facebook. The only one that’s beating it currently is LinkedIn.

I met Alex just over 2 years ago at Product Camp, held at the Ted Rogers School of Management. I attended a session for beginners in Product Management and he had made some comments on Twitter that I thought were of interest. I joined him during the lunch break and we discussed the session at length. I hadn’t really used Twitter all that much and my account was still locked down.  He’d had difficulty locating my profile and that was why. This was one of the biggest and best lessons I learned about Twitter vs. Facebook. Don’t lock Twitter down. It defeats the purpose. We had a great conversation and started meeting up regularly after the camp.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the majority of what I know today about social media and marketing is from his tutelage. I’ve picked up a few things since then, but I would not be where I am today without his lessons. When I got hired on the mayoral campaign in Toronto and was told to help the candidate improve his tweeting, I didn’t know what to do. Alex gave me some pointers so that I could at least steer the candidate in the right direction. A year later, I was hired on another political campaign as the social media co-ordinator. Now, I have a successful social media consulting business and have multiple clients.

Today, I can still call on him if I need help or if I need a double check on what I’m doing. I highly recommend that you all follow him on Twitter and read his blog.  Thank you Alex Blom, for helping make me into what I am today and letting me borrow your idea.



I love attending panels. The topic isn’t as important, but the discussion is. Attending a talk with one individual is great, but if you have a few people with different points of view to bring their knowledge to the table, even better.

I attended one in particular called Panel on Panels thanks to Alex Blom. Now, sounds like a joke, right? Maybe so. As entertaining as it was, I actually learned a few things, not only about attending a panel discussion, but also how to go about running a successful panel, from being a moderator to organizing one to being a panelist. I was reminded of this event when I attended a panel at FITC Toronto because the moderator, Jason Theodor was so well prepared. If they have another one, I’ll be first in line.

Panel on The Secrets of Creation at FITC

Panel on The Secrets of Creation at FITC

One thing I’ve learned on my own: always have a question to ask. You may have one prepped from before based on your research or maybe from something that is said during the main discussion. I have a favourite that I like to ask of every panel I attend. I figured it out while attending a discussion on mentorship presented by Women in Information Technology Management (WITM) at my alma mater, the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. I had graduated from the program a couple of years earlier and there were a number of current students in the room. I asked of the panel: “If there was one source, such as a book, blog, website, etc.) that you would recommend to everyone in the room, for whatever reason, what would it be and why?”. I’ve gotten some pretty interesting answers, but a couple of weeks ago at FITC Toronto, I asked one panelist after the presentation this question and got a surprising answer. The topic of the discussion had been about creativity and I asked the engineer of the team who was originally from the Soviet Union, Dr. Ivan Poupyrev. His answer: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky because (and I’m paraphrasing) Dostoevsky knows how to tell a story of angst and the trials and tribulations of life. A real story about suffering. Of course I’ve heard of the book, but know it’s on my list to read.

Though I’ve never participated on a panel (it is on my bucket list), I really had to think hard about what my own response would be. It took me a while, but then I figured it out: TED. It is full ow wonderful and amazing stories that teach, among other things, that anything is possible. If you want an eye-opening experience or need inspiration, Check it out. If you get me on a panel some day, ask me that question and I’ll tell you about my favourite TED Talk.

Bridget Jones: New Year Edition

Number of alcohol units over the last two days: Too many to count

Number of delectible finger foods at Pre-NYE birthday party: Too many to count

Number of Gingerbread houses: -1

Number of karaoke songs sung: 1

Number of pre-NY workouts: 1

Number of NY text messages from unknown senders: 2

Had good evening of training a few nights ago. Think I’ve finally figured out that form. Went to pub and ate salad (good). Wasn’t ready to go home, so went to #loserkaraoke at Tequila Sunrise with a few tweeps, @AlexBlom, @Dan_L, and @photojunkie. Missed @jpuopolo unfortunately. Hope he and his wife are going well on the #babypuopolo watch! She was due today, so as soon as there is extended radio silence, am sure that we’ll know. Hadn’t done karaoke in a while, but glad I stuck around. Got home late, but fun times figuring late night route home. Thankful for 24 hour TTC service outside my door.

Next day, got gear together and went to friend’s for pre-NYE birthday party. Lots of finger foods, good wine, Rock Band, polar bears and singletons. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to break more boards at training. Took three tries to break the gingerbread house, so either am a great builder and should consider career in hurricane/tornado prone areas or am complete weakling. Even caused hand to bleed. Either way, am #toughcookie. See it here.

Had amazing time at NYE party with good friends and had interesting voyage home which involved a bus and 2 cabs, only paid for one. Great photos can be seen here.

Still have not heard about dream job, but with holidays, could be delayed. Expect to hear Monday or Tuesday.

Not making too many resolutions this year. Too many disappointments. Chose “hope” instead of “resolve”. Therefore, HOPE to (in no particular order):

  1. Lose weight and lead healthier life
  2. Learn to knit and will have completed at least one project this year
  3. Cook and read more often
  4. Get dream job
  5. Find love, even if only temporary
  6. Procrastinate less.

Not a lot to ask, is it? Wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous new year. Let it be better than the last.

– Shanta


I had the pleasure of attending an event called HoHoTo last night. I noticed that a number of the people that I follow on Twitter were going to be there, some I’ve met before and some I’ve been dying to meet. I’m now really starting to get the idea of social media and engaging people. Just meeting online is not enough.

One of the things that I’ve learned from Scott Stratten (@unmarketing) is that you should #FollowFriday fewer people, but with reason. I’ve got a few today, but all have good reasons. PS. I have yet to meet Scott, but it’s on my list!

Firstly, I had the pleasure of meeting April Dunford (@aprildunford) at Product Camp last year. She was one of the people who helped me understand the difference between Facebook and Twitter. Thanks to her, I am an active Twitter user. I finally got the chance to see her again last night since last year.

These skills improved over the few months with the help of someone that many of you know and love, Alex Blom (@alexblom). I met him at the next Product Camp because of his comments on Twitter. We chatted over lunch and he has become a very good friend. With his guidance, I was able to find my way to #HoHoTO last night, not because he told me to go, but because of the people that I’ve met through him and his teachings of the “finesse” of Twitter and social media. I even started writing this wonderful blog.

Through him, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and hopefully will continue to meet further these amazing people:

Joe Puopolo (@jpuopolo and @stickeryou)

Karim Kanji (@karimkanji and @wearethirdocean)

Carolyn Van (@carolynvan and @wearethirdocean) – We haven’t met yet, but turns out we graduated from the same faculty at Ryerson. Discussions will be had!

My last #FollowFriday goes out to @HoHoTo. Though the event was held last night, there will be a Hangover Auction on Monday night for all of the unclaimed prizes from the raffle. They have raised over $61,000 for the Daily Bread Foodbank so far. Let’s see if we can do better. Thanks go out to all the organizers who did a wonderful job. Because of this event, I got to go to a holiday party this year. Please follow them and show your support for the Daily Bread Foodbank, especially if you couldn’t make it last night. I had a blast!

And lastly, for all those “haters” out there, if you spent as much time helping others and positively contributing to the world for things that matter, the world would be a better place. If you don’t like it, don’t follow.

Have a wonderful holiday everyone. Peace.

Why are you following me?

Geese Following

Why Are You Following Me?

This is a follow up from a #TODebate discussion on July 2, 2010 in which we discussed on what basis you pick who you follow on Twitter.

I haven’t had much movement in followers simply because I wasn’t doing many blog postings (been working!), but only commenting on things I saw in Twitter, but not much past that. This all changed when I met Alex Blom (@AlexBlom) at Product Camp Toronto back in May, 2010.  Almost a month ago, he decided to start a series of posts on Follow Fridays. For those not versed in Twitter (and until he told me, I didn’t know either), this was a post that you would do on Friday with the tag #FF in which you would recommend someone that you think others should follow. It became really silly when people would just post a tonne of names and the whole purpose became rather deflated. Instead, Alex decided to do a post in which he introduced the person and gave you a reason why you should follow them, including a bio (that was more than the little one included in Twitter). I was fortunate enough to be his first. Within three days of this post, my followings on Twitter went up by 33%. Now, for small time like me who hadn’t had a new follower in a long time, that’s a big deal. I was able to track within those few days exactly where they found me. This was of interest to me and it continues…

Because it didn’t stop there. I haven’t done a blog post in almost a month, and yet, other than those I’ve met personally, or been introduced to, I’ve gained even more. Just last week, I had about 5 new followers in one evening. That’s a lot for me!

So now I want to know:

  1. How did you find me? Did you see this blog or my other one? Did you see one of my retweets or maybe someone you follow has mentioned my name?
  2. Why did you decide to grace your twitter feed with me?

Comment below because now I want to know who my readers are, what they want to know, what they like and what they don’t like. If you can provide sources, that would be nice to so I can properly thank those who have been good to me as you have in following me. I also want to know what works and what doesn’t. I’m not a professional marketing person, nor do I want to rely on statistics and analytics (essentially technology) to tell me. I want to hear from you.