six pixels of separation

10 Years Of Blogging. One Tiny Favor. Please Help Me.

The truth is that I hate anniversaries.

That’s kind of a lie. I just don’t like the whole, “hey everyone, did you know that I have been blogging for ten years?” I don’t blog, write or publish with a numerical metric or amount of time in mind. I don’t blog, write or publish with the notion that the longer that I publish, the more entitled I am to your attention or interest. All of that has to be earned – each and every day. I do believe that this is why the vast majority of brands still struggle with content marketing. They’re in it for the quick hit. Not to create value and endure. Still, when I mentioned to some close peers that today is my tenth anniversary of blogging, every one of them thought that it is a moment of time worthy of mentioning and writing about. I thought about it, and decided to something a little bit different.

If you care about this blog, I want you to think about helping me put an end to leukemia.

It has been another crazy year of people that I know and love getting some form of cancer, but here’s a deeply, personal story: It was beautiful and perfect sunny day on August 25th, 2010. I was flying from Montreal to Toronto for a business pitch. I was happy with life – family, business and community were all going along great. I remember looking out of the plane window into the clear blue horizon and thinking, “life is good. I am very lucky.” I was looking forward to landing because I was about to call my best friend to let him know that my family was expecting a new baby. I’ve known this person for my whole life. I can’t remember them not being a part of my life or a friend. He was the first call outside of my immediate family with the good news. He always is. When the flight landed, I received a phone call from him. I was smiling to myself thinking, “this is perfect! He’s calling me!”

That’s when my world collapsed.

He told me that his beautiful, young daughter, Leah (who was five years old), had cancer… leukemia. How could that be? A few weeks prior she was at my kid’s birthday party, laughing, playing… perfect. Now… leukemia? It was – without a question – the hardest moment of my life… trying to understand and take in what my best friend was telling me about his daughter… who I would treat as my own daughter in terms of love and care.

It makes no sense.

Leah’s courage throughout this nightmare is what pulled everyone through – family and friends. If there were ever a definition for “survivor” it is Leah. After a lengthy and hard battle, she is – thankfully – in remission and back home where she belongs: with her family and friends. Three years ago, she was diagnosed and a year after that, she was in remission (and remains there).

She’s lucky, but many, many people are not this lucky.

Now, it’s our turn to make a difference. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s Light The Night Walk is a night to pay tribute and bring hope to all those affected by blood cancer. On October 19th, I will be joining thousands of people walking in twilight carrying illuminated balloons to fight this dreaded disease for the third year in a row. I’m doing this as a part of Leah’s team. I’ll be walking with Leah and her family. Leah didn’t deserve cancer of the blood… nobody does.

I’m asking you to do one thing for me.

Today is my tenth anniversary of blogging. I do my best to put out six blog posts and one audio podcast every week. This makes it close to four thousand entries over the years. In a perfect world, I’d prefer to not ask for help (those who know me, personally, can attest that I struggle with asking for help). In all instances, I try to make the ask something that has more value to the person actually taking action. Meaning, I prefer when the value of the ask is balanced not towards the person asking, but to those who participate. I’m confident that over the past decade, I have offered up countless pieces that added value to your work (at least, I hope I have!). This isn’t about me raising money. It’s about our kids and the randomness and cruelty that is leukemia and because none of us are safe. Leah got leukemia with no family history of the problem. Nothing. Now, Leah (who is in remission) will have to deal with this for the rest of her life.

Please help.

I set a goal of $5000 to raise from friends and family. The truth is that I would love to crack the $10,000 mark. I do realize that times are tough and many of us are watching our wallets just a little bit closer than we usually have, but please consider giving something. You know the saying, “every dollar counts.” If over the years, any of my content (on the blog, in Huffington Post, Harvard Business Review or in either of my two books: Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete) has struck a chord with you, made you smile, made you see your business world in a different way, I hope that you will consider this ask as the “tip jar” for my thoughts. Please help me. Please sponsor my walk. Please give generously. Please.

If you can find it in your heart to give, please do so right here: Light The Night Walk.

How about a little giver’s gain?…

As a “thank you,” here’s what I am offering:

  • Whoever gives the most money gets me for a one-hour get-together. It can be via video Skype, phone or in-person (meaning, if you’re in Montreal or if I happen to be travelling to wherever it is that you live). It will be a social meeting, but you can feel free to ask me anything. Lunch is on me. I’ll also include a signed copy of Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete.
  • Whoever comes in next gets two signed copies of my books, Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete.
  • Whoever comes in third gets one signed copy of both Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete.

Please help out. Please help me spread the good word. Thank you. I’m hoping that by the 20th anniversary, we don’t have to deal with cancer.

My friend – who is Leah’s father – wrote the following song and performed it. This should add some more context to my ask…

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Digital Empathy

When I drive home from the office, I pass an elementary school and there are always shenanigans taking place.

I worry that my children are going to face bullies. They will. We all do. Regardless of the mass media attention that this has received in the past few years. Regardless of how many young lives we have lost or that still remain ruined. People often point to social media as an aggravator of the situation. A friend of mine put it best: “social media is the best thing in the world, unless you have teenage kids… then, it’s the worst thing in the world.” Yep.

What happened?

When we first got computers there was not much human interaction. In the early days of modems and BBS, it was still hard to be anonymous, plus we truly wanted to connect with others who were like us. It was a small village. The Internet changed that. Social Media completely changed everything again. We believed that social media was all about this notion of a “conversation.” In both of my business books (Six Pixels of Separation and CTRL ALT Delete), I write about why I love this kind of technology: it’s about real interactions between real human beings. The truth is, that it’s more about artificial interactions between human beings who are hiding behind technology. If we ever want to move things forward, we’ll need this technology to make us feel empathy within these interactions. It’s not dramatic. It’s a fact. So long as you can type something about something or someone and not have to look them in the eyes, this will never truly be “real.” You may have seen the following clip of Louis C.K. being interviewed by Conan O’Brien about why he hates smartphones. It’s funny (so it’s worth it just for the laughs), but Louis touches on something very real and troublesome about the interconnected of our technology, and the vacuum that exists between humans when the vast majority of communication doesn’t require looking into someone’s eyes and feeling their reactions… that’s real empathy.

We need some digital empathy.

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