Yesterday, I gleefully attended The Art of Marketing event in Toronto (June 5, 2013).

The overall theme seemed to encourage us all to express ourselves and be creative, whatever your “medium” may be.


Lead singer from the band Moist, David Usher was utterly delightful and engaging, insightful and inspiring. A truly amazing performer and speaker. He sang and interacted with the audience and encouraged us to:

  • Challenge yourself in public spaces to exceed and be creative.
  • Get over the fear of failure.

And said that creativity isn’t a risk, it’s a necessity. That creativity is a muscle that needs to be used often.

He took us on a journey using storytelling and his songs such as “St. Lawrence River”, “Push” and “Black Black Heart” to share his creative process.

Talked about going beyond the rules and drawing outside the lines.

In addition to capturing all my thoughts via Twitter, I also tried out the video capture app Vine for the first time!

@davidusher wraps it up #theartof. Amazing.



Associate Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Jonah Berger talked about his book “Contagious: Why do things catch on”.

He said:

  • Word of mouth (WOM) is 10x more effective than ads. Its trusted & targeted
  • Online WOM is only 7% because we share more face-to-face
  • Technology may come & go, we must focus on psychology (I totally agree!)
  • Six key stepps: social currency, triggered, emotion, public, practical value and stories
  • Stories are the currency of conversation
  • Really good stories & morals have beginning, middle & end and keep people engaged

What was even cooler is that Jonah Berger actually spent the time reading the tweets after his speech and favourite one of my posts to acknowledge he had read it. (As a social media geek, I always find it pretty cool when the speakers “listen” and engage)


As a long-time follower of Seth Godin, I was UBER-excited to see him speak.

He discussed many of the ideas from his books including:

  • Boss’s four letter word is MORE…more profits, sell more, do more, get us more
  • If failure is not an option then neither is success
  • Mass marketing has lead to clutter, which makes more clutter. It’s not working anymore, we are branded to death
  • The Industrial Age is ending, revolutions go from perfect to impossible. Every industry does this.
  • Connection economy is replacing industrial economy
  • Old industrial economy is based on scarcity. Information economy is based on abundance
  • Coordination, trust, permission & exchange of ideas are supported by generosity & art

We are now all the “weird ones”, he said. We no longer have a bell curve of normal.

We are all the weird ones

I skipped out of the Q & A period to be first in line to meet the man himself at the book signing. Can you see the glee in my eyes?!

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I was SO nervous and told him so.

His quick and clever response was “Don’t cause a ruckus”.



New York Times reporter, author The Power of Habit, talked about the science of habit formation.

He shared examples about how every habit has 3 components: CUE –> ROUTINE –> REWARD

and that 40% – 45% of our daily activity are habits.

To change a habit (he talked about exercising), we have to reward ourselves with something like a small piece of chocolate.

He shared the marshmallow experiment video and explained that willpower is the best thing you can teach your kid for future success.

He discussed that Canadian Tire was one of the first companies to collect “Big Data” about their customers and also shared a story about Starbuck’s acronym for customer service: LATTE method: listen, acknowledge, thank, explain.

(My own aside, I think that from a marketing perspective, all this data collection is fantastic but at a time when trust is paramount for a company, stalking/creeping/mining us like Big Brother, there is a fine line between personalization and violation. But that’s a discussion for another time)


The hard core Social Media geeks in the room were delighted to see co-founder of Twitter present at this event. And the irony was not lost on us as we happily tweeted about the event and about Biz’s presentation.

He presented very casually using a lot of of “um whaaaats?” when recalling others reaction to some idea that seemed “stupid” but turned out to be wildly successful (like Twitter for example!)

He said that:

  • Graphic design teaches you there are so many solutions to one problem and that we will never run out of our own creativity.
  • Humanity will triumph with a little help from technolog; it’s just a tool.
  • There is compound influence in altruism over time and the future of marketing is philanthropy

I loved to hear him say “Naysayers, complainers and people who said ‘this is stupid’ drive MORE people to check out Twitter and gain more exposure”

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RON TITE – Master of Ceremonies

As always, the very funny and engaging MC, Ron Tite also captures all the clever moments in his blog:’s-not-bch-it’s-vicky/


Interestingly, most (if not all the speakers if I recall correctly) talked about their childhood and how as children we are just naturally creative and inspired and somehow this all “dies” as we grow into adulthood where we follow the rules and do the same thing day after day; not wanting to take the lead and be accountable.

The key messages that were reinforced by all the speakers today:

  • Be creative
  • Fail big and fail often
  • Be weird

I think a lot of this is easier when you have power over the final say. It’s not easy for many of us to take risks for fear of looking stupid, or fear of failure, but as Seth Godin so aptly pointed out:

“If failure is not an option then neither is success”

Let’s be brave out there.


What do you think? How easy is it for you to take risks? Answer with your thoughts on the blog below.