MMVAs Were Better Back Then

What Happened to Crazy Passion for Canadian Culture?

by: Erica Ehm

MMVAs Were Better Back Then

Part of me thinks: "Now there's 2 hours of my life I'll never get back".

Watching the mega-extravaganza MMVA's snuggled with my 10-year old son is a significantly different experience than what felt like a million years ago when I was onstage as one of the hosts of the original MMVA's.

Let's be frank here. I am not into the music, the culture or the VJ's that kids today get. MuchMusic isn't for parents - it's pop culture for the teen set.

I get that.

(At least it better be, because the lower third graphics on the show were so small, only a teenager's eyes could read that tiny print)

And yet...

Back in my day, production values were significantly lower, but a crazy passion for Canadian culture was magnificently higher. The MMVA's were created to celebrate our own. Our stage was dinky, our rock show lighting was fine and the camera work was creatively shot by our regular shooters. With a next-to-nothing budget, we pulled together a quirky, homemade mix of your fave Canadian performers, many of them friends from their many visits to Much over the years.

Everyone who worked on the show had a few things in common - a passion for music and pride in Canada. And that combination was what made the MMVA's endearing and culturally important. We didn't need to find big stars from the US to make the show rock. We did it on our own.

The MMVA's last night was a spectacle - a mega concert with the finest of everything for the viewers including the validation of big American stars, but it was missing heart. When US teen starlet host Selena Gomez handed out awards to our Canadian artists, the Biebs aside, she was congratulating strangers. There was no real emotion, no genuine excitement for the winners because she's not one of us. She was just borrowed to bring the glitz.

The over-used buzz word in social media today is "authenticity". As big and brash as the final show was, it lacked heart and passion and an authentic love of the art of Canadian music.

Call me old fashioned, but I'd take a smaller stage with bigger home grown talent any day. That's a show I'd be proud to watch with my son.


The State Of Now In NYC

Life is a Journey, Not a Destination

by: Erica Ehm

The State Of Now In NYC

I'm in New York City, day one of a three-day groovy girlfriend getaway. Although it technically isn't a work trip, the reality is me and the gals signed up for Jeff Pulver's 140 Conference. The theme of this twitter-inspired series of talks is “The State of Now”. The irony - what happened today on the way to the conference was EXACTLY that.

Here's why.

Before we left Toronto, each of us was sent a gorgeous itinerary for the three days organized by our amazing girlfriend Joanne - including high tea at The Plaza Hotel with maternity clothing designer Liz Lange, tickets to see Regis and Kelly and a half day shopping adventure.

But a funny thing happened along the way. Things didn't work out as planned.

After a lovely decadent time with Liz Lange (who designs the maternity collection at Target) we had to rush to the other end of town for the kick-off VIP dinner for the 140 Conference. But there was a problem. It was rush hour and there was no way we were going to get there in time unless we veered from our plans.

High Tea with Liz Lange

Me with Liz Lange

Instead of taxis, we voted to suck-it-up and get a taste of the notorious NY subway. The six of us headed underground dressed in heels and cocktail dresses. But we had no freaking idea how to pay, which train to take or how not to get robbed on the subway. So we started to make friends along the way.

First, the ticket taker guy had a good laugh at the six giggling moms who needed directions.

In the New York City Subway Tunnel

Then we meet Johnny - a handsome young guy on the train who, he told us, worked at Victoria's Secret. Johnny was more than happy to share his subway expertise and made sure we got off at the right stop.

Except we didn't.

So we headed up for air to regroup and get our bearings. So, what did we do? Stop a police car with couple of handsome cops. They had a good chuckle at our enthusiasm then pointed us in the right direction. They even contemplated letting all six of us squish in the backseat of their car which was littered with weapons.

Asking the NYPD for directions

Instead, they suggested, we RUN for the bus that was just ahead. So we did - in heels, hair getting messier, makeup starting to melt.

The bus driver waited as we jumped in out of breath and we asked him how much the fare was. He just looked at us, shook his head and waved us to the back of the bus with a smile. SCORE!! Free bus ride in NYC!

As this next leg of our journey continued, our fearless leader Joanne nervously checking the time - we were already 15-minutes late for the VIP Conference dinner - we drove by a huge civil demonstration outside City Hall. We felt a part of the real NYC.

Civil Rights Demonstration

Our friend the bus driver let us know it was our stop. We jumped out, only to find ourselves in front of Ground Zero. We stopped for a couple of photos, craning our necks to look back as we rushed on to our planned dinner.

Ground Zero

We finally arrived 20-minutes late, slightly disheveled but giddy from our crazy trip downtown.

Dinner was fine - but nothing compared to the unexpected hilarity and excitement we experienced on the way there.

Today was about the journey - not the destination. That's the real state of now.


Connecting with Arianna Huffington

Sage Advice From an Online Publishing Titan

by: Erica Ehm

Connecting with Arianna Huffington

When I was asked to do a keynote for the Canadian Marketing Association Convention, I said no. Why? Because Arianna Huffington was the other keynote speaker. If you don't know who she is, let me just say, by creating, building and finally selling the Huffington Post, she is responsible for changing the ways news and blogs are being aggregated and curated. She is a titan in the world of online publishing. She's incredibly intelligent, opinionated and she is a visionary.

So, instead of agreeing to do a keynote PowerPoint, I negotiated my involvement to being interviewed by marketing guru Mitch Joel about the genesis and growth of YummyMummyClub. Why did I agree? So I could have front row seats to listen to Arianna Huffington that morning.

I sat for an hour, mesmerized by this powerful woman who I felt a surprisingly strong kinship to. Who knew Arianna and I had so much in common? Here are a few things she said which really connected with me:

Self Expression Has Become the New Entertainment

I love this thought. It's so wonderfully true. Our blogs, our points of view, our homemade YouTube videos, our tweets, FB posts and photo galleries have made all of us independent broadcasters - sharing our passions and points of view. There is so much talk about authenticity - and this is where it resides - in our need to express ourselves and create conversation with like minded people.

Everyone is Entitled to Their Opinions but Not Their Facts

This is a huge problem as the world of journalism and blogging converge. As a consumer of a ton of online information, I get that I can't believe everything I read. The bias, the facts and the hidden agendas even the authors are unclear about in today's online news and magazines. But am I in the minority about this. Do most online surfers believe most of what they read to be accurate and true?

I remember going to speak at a school event where the principal read my Wikipedia biography as an introduction. Of course, it was and still is completely incorrect and out of date - which allowed for a great opportunity to show the students you can't believe what you read online.

Arianna is fighting the good fight in trying to maintain attention to detail and fact in this new age of blogesphere media she's creating. It's not going to be easy to do.

Everyone is Longing for Community

I felt myself nodding while Arianna shared her anecdotes of how many of her readers are emotionally connected to the Huffington Post - wanting to be a part of the offline experience through events and face to face experiences.

This is something I brought to YMC a few years ago out of a personal desire to hang out with YMC members myself and get to know the people who write and read our site. The experience of putting on events and being able to put faces to names made me love what I do even more and solidified the concept of YMC being more than a website. It's a supportive community of exhausted moms looking for like minded women to play and chat with.

I'm Hoping Someone Will Invent a GPS for the Soul

If you look at what's hot in the media these days - the over emphasis of celebrity, our obsession of unreal body image and aging, the breakdown of marriage, horrible murders, despicable leaders - it sometimes feels like a society on the verge of moral collapse. Why? I'm not sure. Bad parenting, bad politics, bad business leaders?

I love that Arianna wants to be on the side of good. Who knows? Maybe with her newfound power as a media giant, she can help infuse meaning to those who feel lost. The greatest compliments we get at YMC are from burnt out moms who let us know our site makes them feel less alone. Hopefully our positive and realistic take on surviving ‘mummydom’ will continue to affect women's lives and souls and make life a little more meaningful.

Leadership is Recognizing the Problem Before It's Impossible to Solve

I loved this comment. I can be the queen of procrastination, especially when it comes to tasks I'm not good at or dislike. But what I've come to understand is that the problem doesn't go away - it just gets messier and more difficult to deal with. So, partly due to hearing Arianna state it so well, I'm trying to address issues ASAP. I take a deep breath, suck it up and make the phone call, pay the bill, deal with contract, write the post, fix the car. You name it. I've tried to postpone it. But when put into the perspective of leadership, I am now more motivated to take action and fix a small problem before it grows big.

Get Some Sleep

I found it fascinating that Arianna Huffington, media mogul, spent approximately twenty minutes talking about napping and how we have become a sleep deprived generation. At her head office, she has built nap rooms for her editors, so they can get some shut eye when they need to regenerate.

This resonated for me for a couple of reasons. First, it's clear she understands the importance of nurturing your staff and making sure they're functioning at their best. Most companies still work on the old punch clock philosophy where employees must put in the required hours no matter how they're feeling.

I think Arianna's holistic approach is where the future of companies should go philosophically. Treat your staff with respect. Help them stay healthy and inspired. Appreciate how mind and body is part of the creative process and treat the people who work for you accordingly.

I also found it fascinating that a woman who conceived a new model of news curation and amalgamation and is such a forward thinker, is also rather old fashioned or traditional in many ways. The idea of getting a good night sleep seems out of place in our fast paced wired world, but Arianna believes in the importance of shutting down at night without a Blackberry next to you on your nightstand. Sage advice, but difficult for me to follow.

Someone Needs to Invent a Truth Bubble

What Ms. Huffington was referring to was how too few people are accountable for their half truths or full lies. Politicians, businessmen, lawyers, writers - too many are guilty of saying what others need to hear in order to benefit in some way. In her talk, she described an (imaginary) visual bubble like in Pop Up Video which would literally appear every time someone said something that wasn't actually true. The bubble would clarify the liar's statement with the facts. I would patent it and call it a Bullshit Detector.

Or maybe I should just take a nap.