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Successful leaders have a number of common attributes. Some of them include having a sense of humility and humbleness, to be able to say that they don't have all the answers, that they have made mistakes, and that they are human and vulnerable. One of the most important characteristics is that they try to surround themselves with people who can teach them as well.Cindy Wahler understands that no single human is successful all by themselves. We all require mentors and advocates. A mentor is someone that's going to help you with a certain skillset that you want to achieve, whether it's presentation skills or executive presence. On the other hand, an advocate is somebody that's willing to risk their own reputation and career to be your voice at the table. Listen in as Cindy and I discuss these and other important leadership and development topics including how everyone at one point or another faces common challenges like imposter syndrome. Cindy is a leadership consultant with broad based experience in positioning organizations for success, within both the private and public sectors. She works with senior executives at the CEO, EVP and SVP levels developing leaders who can execute organizational strategy and drive business results. She offers a wide range of corporate leadership programs, including leadership assessment, executive coaching, succession planning, and talent management. Cindy is a regular contributor to Forbes, Huffington Post, CNN, and Chief Executive Officer and an author of arecent book on leadership entitled 20 Effective Habits for Mastery at Work.  She can be found at
Many of us strive to work at the intersection of really smart people, really strong technology advancement and differentiated thinking. That combination of elements ultimately leads to better results. Sean Downey, President, Americas & Global Partners at Google lives at that intersection.As Sean explains, you have to have a really innovative culture that has tremendous amounts of psychological safety, where people feel like they can come in and contribute ideas and that they belong. Only then will they feel really comfortable pushing the envelope on how to innovate and make things better. Oh, and he never punishes failure. As Sean states, "I love a healthy dose of failure and it's something that as long as we learn something, we can fall forward on it."Sean believes that innovative organizations strike a healthy balance between innovation and doing the common things commonly.  He states that "we're here to invent status quo." What does this mean? Well, Sean likes to innovate on the edge, and he has a cycle that starts with incubation as an idea in the form of a test, which then he proves works. Then and only then does Sean think about growing it, along with a handful of other things that were also successful. And then, he thinks about scaling it. Once scaled, it become the new common and the new starting point for the cycle to start over. As President of Americas & Global Partners at Google, Sean leads the company’s advertising business in North and South America. Before this role he served as the Vice President of the Google Marketing Platform for the Americas, helping Marketers, Agencies and Partners leverage data and technology to advance their Digital Marketing Maturity and buy and measure media more efficiently. Prior to joining Google in 2008, Sean was the Vice President of Buy Side Sales at DoubleClick, where he led their agency and advertiser business. Sean has also worked in various ad technology and software startups, and over the course of his career has brought various evolving advertising technologies to market such as rich media and programmatic buying and analytics.
You don't need to consistently look for big, humongous changes in your organization. According to Tanbir Grover, Chief Marketing and Digital Officer at Pet Valu, thinking about and focusing on the edges is critical as most things in your business are usually working quite well. The challenge is in getting alignment and support to work on making those things better. The trick according to Tanbir, is to figure out who you can ally with and gain alignment on a common vision to take things forward, and gain investment in making the good even better. Listen in as Tanbir and I discuss this as well as how Pet Valu has been transitioning itself into a digitally enabled, neighborhood partner in the health and wellbeing for pets of all kind. Oh, and learn that the movement of focusing on overall "wellness" isn't just for humans any longer!Tanbir Grover is the Chief Marketing and Digital Officer of the Pet Valu, having responsibility of the Company’s omni-channel marketing, e-commerce and marketing analytics, including the Company’s loyalty program. Prior to joining Pet Valu, Mr. Grover served as Vice President, Digital at the Co-operators Group Limited from January 2020 to November 2020. Prior to that, he held a number of different roles at Lowe’s Canada from 2011 to 2020 where he most recently served as Vice President of e-commerce and Omnichannel. Mr. Grover also held senior digital and marketing positions at the Hudson’s Bay Company and Sears Canada. He is also a graduate of the Not for Profit Directors Education Program at the Institute of Corporate Directors at the University of Toronto.
It takes a strong leader to be vulnerable and ask their teams, "can we do it this way?" and if it doesn't work, admit that it's okay. It takes an even stronger leader to speak with all new hires as they come on board, empowering and encouraging them to be reckless. Imagine starting a new job and having you leader tell you to use your first 90 days to try and do things your way, and to break and change things as you see opportunity, without fear of repercussion.  That's the kind of leader that Shilpa Arora is, and DoorDash is benefitting from her leadership. As Shilpa states, "I think that's where a lot of the energy comes from, and that's where a lot of the will to do something different and think about something from a fresh perspective comes from, and it leads to better debates, better discussions, and better outcomes".Shilpa Arora is the General Manager of DoorDash Canada, responsible for overseeing overall business strategy, operations and growth. With an international career spanning almost two decades and several industries, Shilpa has held leadership roles across financial advisory, mergers & acquisitions, corporate strategy and innovation as well as digital transformation. Before joining DoorDash, Shilpa led CIBC’s personal banking and client connectivity strategy and operations. Most recently, she was Senior Director of Transformation at CIBC, responsible for the bank’s digital enablement and business optimization initiatives. Shilpa is a trained architect, holds an MBA from Indian School of Business and is a certified business valuator (CBV). As a female leader in technology, Shilpa is an avid advocate for diversity and inclusion andintersectional representation in the workplace and is passionate about mentoring emerging women leaders and mentors newcomers and early-career women.
As marketing teams change their focus from successful campaign launches to measuring outcomes in an agile operating model, there is a fundamental shift requiring significant trust from the rest of the organization taking place. As Meghan Nameth describes, it is probably the biggest leap of faith that an organization can take, as most people, especially in senior executive positions, are used to seeing everything before it happens. In an agile, outcomes based world, things are very different.Listen in as Meghan and I discuss many of the issues and opportunities facing marketing teams and CMOs today including the effectiveness of creative, placement and message, the effectiveness of AI models versus simple triggers, and how complacency is the enemy of progress. Meghan gives some incredible examples and her established opinions on these and other topics.Meghan Nameth is the former and most recent SVP of Marketing for Loblaw Companies, having led the marketing organization to grow and strengthen some of Canada's most iconic brands from Shoppers Drug Mart, Presidents Choice, No Name, Loblaws, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore, Maxi and more...  Meghan joined Loblaw in 2021 from Hudson’s Bay Company, where she was CMO and prior to HBC she held several executive positions in brand management, digital marketing, data & analytics and product innovation for PwC, TD Bank & TD Insurance, Mars Canada, and P&G. 
Michael Roberts, CMO of MetLife, believes in outcomes, so much so that in the organizations he has had a chance to lead as a senior marketing executive, he has changed team structures and operating models to focus on outcomes based marketing.  One of his key principles, is that if you can't find a pattern of things NOT working, then it means that things are completely out control. So how do you find ways to consistently make things better, whether they were already broken or perhaps even doing quite well?  Listen in as Michael shares a few personal tips from his incredibly successful career.Michael is a senior operating executive and business leader with 18 years of experience serving financial institutions/professional services companies, leading teams of up to 150 people and product P&Ls of $1B+. Currently he is the CMO of MetLife running global brand and marketing for the organization. An operationally-focused business partner, his expertise spans strategic partnerships & M&A activities; strategy development; marketing, product management & technology; organizational re-structuring and process improvement. His exceptional communication, leadership, collaboration and relationship building skills inform all his work, as does his ability to identify/remove complexity in order to standardize/simplify. 
There is no question that digital technology is impacting all verticals and businesses, affecting both the customer experience and how organizations make money. The sports industry in particular, is undergoing rapid change and unlocking all kinds of opportunities for growth and new business models.Joining me in this episode is Christina Litz, the Chief Brand & Commercial Officer at True North Sports and Entertainment who are the owners and operators of the Winnipeg Jets (NHL), Manitoba Moose (AHL), the Canada Life Centre, Bell MTS Iceplex and other venues. A lawyer by background, Christina has been at the front of digital transformation for brands including Corus, Rogers, Telus, The CFL and Woodbine Entertainment Group.Listen in as Christina and I discuss;How has digital sports transformation been affecting consumers and fans?What makes a sports fan in the new world of digital engagement?New revenue streams and business models including sports data: real-time stats and numbers.Is data the core element of future monetization?Are sports gambling and the betting ecosystem the future?
According to Nic Beique, the payments space is generally boring, but his goal is to build a payments company that is loved by his customers and that can be the heartbeat of their customers success. Nic tells me that it would be enough of a differentiating point for Helcim to have built the brand that they have already built, one based on processing billions in payments per year with a human touch. But in an industry notorious for bad practices, he's going even further. Nic Beique is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Helcim, a payments company that makes it faster, easier, and more affordable for businesses to get paid.  Helcim is a payments company who believes in giving small businesses every possible edge to thrive and enrich their communities, delivering an easy, smart, and affordable payment experience with a human touch. They serve thousands of businesses in Canada and the US across 800 different industries, processing billions in payments each year.In our chat, Nic discusses how the legacy players in the payments space have enjoyed their monopolies and it is the new entrants and fintechs forcing a customer service first approach to the industry. "A lot of companies see their customer service as a place for bottom of the barrel employees, and it's like, no, no, they are the touch point for our customers, they have the single most impact to our brand. We need to treat them very differently." We also discuss how the data at the core of the payments industry can paint of picture of the health of the economy. Through their platform they are seeing a huge shift to omni-channel commerce, not just online transactions. And on the technology side we discuss how anyone entering the payment space has to have a huge technology stack with a focus on uptime, security, and simply getting payments right.The point is, being successful in the payments space is really, really hard.
When Daniel Dubois did the research, he realized that it takes an average of 27 years for the typical first-time Canadian urban home buyer just to save up for the recommended 20% down payment. That's when he and his co-founder decided to do something about it. They launched Key, a patent-pending two sided marketplace with a co-ownership model allowing people to move in and start building home equity, without being locked into a mortgage. Oh, it only takes $15,000 to start.Growing up in Vancouver his entire life Daniel knew how unaffordable real estate could be. He saw it first hand living in a co-op in False Creek and his parents would often talk about a woulda, coulda, shoulda situation of getting into the market.  It hasn't gotten any easier. Young people are stuck on the proverbial rental treadmill where their income isn't going up at the same rates as housing prices and they're locked out of being able to build wealth with home ownership. As Daniel discussed with me, Key sets out to offer a new option, a model where someone can have most of the benefits of owning, but with the freedoms and flexibilities of renting. They call it "homeownership as a service". It's a new form of home ownership where one can consume real estate incrementally. If a condo is worth $600,000 in downtown Toronto, one can become a co-owner with just $15,000 down and every month in their app, choose to purchase more of the home. After three years the buyer has the option to purchase 100% of it. So anyone can own a home years sooner, continue to build equity, have the freedoms of renting, and after three years have the option to purchase it.  Oh, and at any time, the purchaser can give a couple of months notice and leave and buy a house somewhere else, or move to a new city for a job opportunity. Total flexibility.
Pinterest is not really social media in the traditional sense, it's more personal media. As the "ultimate discovery platform", Pinterest is just in its very nature, a place where people feel hopeful when they are thinking about the future. As Erin Elofson describes in our discussion, "when using Pinterest you're fundamentally happy, reflecting on the past is a harder emotional process, and that's what happens often in social media, you're sort of being compared to others. Kids for example are probably thinking, why wasn't I invited to that party?" That's not what happens on Pinterest.As people start planning for milestones in their lives using Pinterest, not only does the platform get early indications, but that offers signals to advertisers of things like wedding planning, moving homes or even having a baby. All happy and future based events. Listen in as Erin and I discuss the business and consumer use of Pinterest. By the way, did you know that nine out of the ten people who use Pinterest to plan their happy future come with commercial intent? Often they don't know what brand or product they need to get there. What an opportunity for advertisers.Given Pinterest in focused on the future, they have also become experts in predicting trends.  They call their annual insights on trends 'Pinterest Predicts'. Simply put it's Pinterest's way of saying what's going to happen, and 80% of the trends they reveal in the annual Pinterest Predicts report are correct.The future is happy and Pinterest is helping their 400 million users get there!
Candice Faktor is on a mission to help creators make a living teaching what they love by re- imagining the future of learning through her platform, Disco.  She believes the future is learning live together and Disco's vision for learning leaves the industrial age behind and looks to a world of lifelong learning, that's live, with peers, led by trusted creators and accessible from anywhere.Prior to Disco, Candice has held various positions including Global GM and Head of Business at Wattpad, one of the world’s largest storytelling communities, which sold for US$660MM. Her love of learning led her to create cohort based courses years ago and the learning community both of which inspired her to create Disco.Listen in as Candice and I discuss learning 1.0 which was all about content and the ability to share it, mostly through prerecorded platforms, digitally or in written form, and how we are moving into the era of learning 2.0, which is all about experiences. The ability to actually facilitate experiences along with others, and that is really hard to make happen without synchronous video. So along comes Disco.As Candice says, "Disco is next level, just watch what is able to happen when you create the space and a container for learning to occur."
Ever hear of The Peak? Well if you haven't it's time to change that. The Peak is a daily newsletter covering the latest Canadian and global business, finance and tech news in a fun and informative daily email. Over 42,000 Canadians start their day with this email and I am one of them!Brett Chang is co-founder of The Peak, starting the business after a number of roles including working at Uber. As Brett explains in our discussion, The Peak is designed for the modern Canadian business leader. Mostly urban young professionals between the ages of 25 to 35 working at big companies like Shopify, Uber and Deloitte, across a range of different disciplines from marketing, to finance, to operations, and they're fairly senior in their roles.  The goal of The Peak is to work backwards when preparing content, thinking what do our readers want to know that  will help them through their day?How have they been so successful? Well, as Brett explains there are peaks and valleys in terms of growth in any business. Listen in as he explains tips on growing your digital customer base including how to get success from LinkedIn, really compelling content and the effective use of giveaways, especially when partnered with different businesses focused on the same target audience.Oh and monetization?  Yeah Brett has some incredible advice on that one too!  Don't miss this tactical and educational discussion (and it's less than a 20 minute commitment).Don't forget to sign up for yourself:
Most companies don't bother spending time thinking about how they can create their own flywheel. The flywheel that comes from digitally transforming their business, and finding ways that one new business model or revenue stream can feed off the other. John Boynton is an executive with over 30 years experience and a passion and track record of turning companies around and delivering high growth rates in highly competitive industries in Canada, USA and Europe.  He is continuously transforming businesses and finding those new models that open up growth and opportunity. He is a master at identifying the flywheel. His passion for building teams with his unique coaching/teaching style drives contagious enthusiasm. I know...I worked with him.Listen in as John and I discuss a few interesting topics. We discuss how consumer trends are shaping the way large and small organizations alike are having to transform themselves. We also talk about digital transformation and how large and small organizations need to adapt.As John states, "Consumers are looking for simplicity, service delivered in an effortless way. People are looking for certainty, especially in the digital world as other things in their life become more complicated. They're looking for fairness, a fair price for a large volume of good services. They're looking for quality to over what's widely available for free out there. And there's something about unrestricted access easily facilitated by the subscription economy."One final tip from John, don't forget to institutionalize your information consumption because information consumption is competitive and if you aren't doing it, someone else is.
In a world where consumers are moving their banking transactions online and leaving branches as remnants of the past, how does one bank differentiate themselves from the other? According to Maja Neable, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Banking at BMO Financial Group, it is a combination of what consumers think about as a perceived convenience, and the distinctiveness that a bank can create to try and convince consumers that they are really different. The balance for automation and self-service, along with the need for timely advice, is something that banks are trying to figure out. The young Generation Z client believes that they will probably never set foot in a branch, though as their financial needs evolve and they mature in their financial journey, they often realize the need to ask for and get human advice. Therefore, for those value-adding conversations, banks like BMO need to figure out why people should choose to stay with them, and it is mostly a result of being able to simply provide the right advice and truly help them. As we know, many things happen in life and we often need help. That help may not happen physically in the branch. Consumers can choose to talk to somebody on the phone, through video chat or perhaps even text chat. There is a lot of assistance and advice that can be delivered through digital channels. Listen in as Maja and I discuss these and other topics around the future of banks.  Maja Neable is well recognized as an innovative, action-oriented marketing leader with strong digital background. Prior to her current role, Maja was VP Digital Marketing at BMO and prior to BMO, Maja held successively more senior roles across the US, Canada, and Europe in a variety of industries, including technology (Microsoft and Expedia) and telecommunications (Rogers and Telenor).  Maja is a mathematician who loves creativity, and this combination of left & right brain is what has guided her career. Her 20+ years of experience include digital marketing, design & product development, business & brand strategy and sales & service leadership. Maja sits on the Board of Soulpepper theatre and is Vice-Chair of the Board at Skills for Change. She holds B Math degree from the University of Waterloo, and an MBA from IMD, Switzerland. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two sons, and enjoys skiing, running, and reading.
For anybody who is not familiar with it, there is a real productivity crisis in the pharmaceutical industry and they have even given it a name, which is Eroom's law, the opposite of Moore's law. Moore's law states that every 18-24 months, the amount of transistors you can get for the same or lower price doubles. In pharmaceutical, R&D is the opposite. Every 18 months, the price of getting a new drug to market DOUBLES! The goal of BenchSci is to help bring new medicine to patients 50% faster by 2025. They are solving the problem that about 80% of preclinical R&D experiments in pharma are unnecessary. Why is this important? Well, upwards of 1% of the global economy, and 10% of the G7's economies as measured in GDP are tied to pharmaceuticals, and it is growing faster than inflation. They are trying to solve it by using machine learning to read scientific literature like a Ph.D. scientist, then use the knowledge to guide scientists to run more successful (and therefore fewer) experiments. There aren't a lot of companies like BenchSci that are saying, well, we're not really trying to help find new biological targets or generate new drugs or optimize clinical trials. What they do is help scientists run better experiments, to move more quickly from having novel targets to testing that novel drug and getting it into the clinical environment. Simon Smith is the Chief Marketing Officer at BenchSci, where he oversees all of their marketing including commercial marketing, product marketing, employer branding, communications, events, and creative and content. He joined the company when it was just about 19 people and a few hundred-scientist users; they are now at nearly 200 people, and over 41,000 scientist users. Prior to BenchSci, Simon was the SVP Strategy at Klick Health, where he led digital strategy for a portfolio of pharmaceutical products, including the US launch of two novel drugs. His career spans over two decades working at the intersection of technology, life science, and communications. His passion about applying emerging technologies to improve human health, longevity, and wellbeing is what makes me so excited to have him on the podcast today.Oh, and did I say BenchSci is backed by F-Prime, Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI fund), and Inovia Capital. The platform accelerates science at 15 top-20 pharmaceutical companies and over 4,300 leading research centers worldwide. They are a CIX Top 10 Growth company, a certified Great Place to Work®, and top-ranked company on Glassdoor.
The Canadian healthcare system is typically ranked as either the lowest ranked or second lowest ranked performing healthcare system of all developed world nations. Our physicians are great. Our procedures, world class. Then why such a low ranking?According to Dr. Brett Belchetz, the reason why we are so far behind in the rankings is access. Only about half of Canadian doctors work full-time. That is one of the main reasons why Canadians wait so long for care. The perception is that there simply are not enough doctors. In fact, it's because we're not using our doctors properly. Dr. Brett Belchetz is trying to tackle this exact issue. He is the CEO and Co-founder of Maple, Canada’s leading virtual care provider connecting patients and healthcare providers like doctors and therapists for online medical visits in minutes. He’s also a practicing physician in Toronto, and a Senior Fellow at the Fraser Institute. In addition, Brett’s passion for healthcare communication and policy have led him to work as an on-air medical expert for CTV and Global News, as well as a contributor to outlets such as the National Post. Previously, Brett worked as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company.It is estimated that about 70% of the visits that people are making to clinics, hospitals and their family doctors can be digitized. Maple is out to enable that. As Maple continues to evolve, it is moving to a proactive model, where they can let patients know the frequency of visits that they need to have. They will tip you off when you need a screening test done or an intervention done. They will have resources available between those healthcare visits. So it's not just see a healthcare provider and you're kind of on your own until the next visit in a month or three months. It's an entire program. Best of all, Dr. Belchetz wants to make this made in Canada healthcare IP the basis of healthcare systems around the world.
Paul Burns is the Managing Director of Twitter Canada. Did you know that 1 in 5 North Americans use Twitter and 500 Million tweets are sent every single day? It is a platform with scale and is designed to generate conversation. As Paul states, "Twitter is look at THIS platform. It's pointing to a thing, an event, something that's happening in the world and people are talking about that thing rather than themselves." Other social platforms are designed as look at me, but not Twitter.As brands try to figure out how to engage in the platform, the first step is for them to identify the conversations that they want to be made aware of before engaging. It is important to know that the conversational intelligence within Twitter exists on a few different dimensions, one at a brand level, one at an industry level and one at a more macro economic level. If done right, Twitter is a platform where a brand can actually become a conversational brand. Listen in as Paul and I discuss this opportunity to become a conversation brand, along with some other key topics, including;Can purpose and profit co-exist, can Twitter be a platform that actually improves the quality of public conversation in the world and generate revenue and profit?How can a brand become a conversational brand authentically?Do we honestly believe that conversation is the way to solve many of the world's problems?Oh, and if you want to take over Twitter for a day, they have some pretty cool advertising products that allow you to essentially become the most talked about brand in the country for a day.
Consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, up an incredible 44.0% year over year. That’s the highest annual U.S. ecommerce growth in 20 years and It’s also nearly triple the 15.1% jump in 2019.With more and more people shopping online, retail media just makes sense.  But what exactly is a retail media network?A retail media network is when retailers set up an advertising platform on their website, app, or other digital platforms within their network. This allows the store, and other brands, to advertise to customers on sites like It’s a form of in-store advertising in a digital format.Dana Toering is a digital media and technology veteran with over 20 years of experience in high growth industries. In his current role as Vice President of Walmart Connect Canada, Dana is responsible for leading and transforming the business into the number one destination for omnichannel advertising solutions (aka Retail Media). Before being named Vice President in 2020, Dana held leadership roles in leading digital media and technology-based companies including AOL Canada, Adobe, and Accenture Interactive.  Listen in as Dana and I talk about the growth of the Walmart Connect Canada retail media network.
What is the future of loyalty?Capturing and rewarding consumers for their time, money and thoughts.When Derrick Fung thinks about Drop as a company, ultimately the big vision is to build both the world's most personalized rewards program and the largest transaction data set in market. To get there, one of the the biggest decisions they had to make in the early days of the company was to go directly to the consumer to get the data and not go through merchants as many other loyalty providers do.Derrick explains that Drop's consumers, especially the younger generations, will give up everything, as long as they're getting value back.  And that's where the world of loyalty is going. Cutting the consumer in on the money, on the deal...that's the future.Oh, and did we talk about Data?  Well as Derrick says, "I'd say data before was a good to have. Now it's a must have. You know the analogy and the saying, it used to be a vitamin and now it's a painkiller."Derrick Fung is the CEO and co-founder of Drop, one of the largest mobile rewards products in market with 4m users, hundreds of top retailers and merchants and $40 billion+ in transaction volume. Drop was named LinkedIn's #2 top start-up in Canada, as well as a member of the Deloitte Fast 50. Oh, and Derrick and was a Forbes 30 Under 30 winner in 2014.
Your customers have so many options, so many different ways that they can relay feedback to you. Sometimes they call you, other times they fill in surveys. If you're like me, sometimes you just go to Twitter and shout it out publicly and hope that the company is monitoring it. The ways in which your customers can provide feedback has never been more complex. Customers are communicating with businesses. They're providing unparalleled insights to inform  brands, organizations, the companies that they deal with, with all kinds of information. Now, the question is, are you as someone working in that business truly listening? Sometimes you actually think you are, but are you really? Do you really know how to listen to all of those different channels of feedback?Shannon Katschilo is the GM and Vice-President of Medallia in Canada. She has a long career focused on all kinds of different verticals and industries where she has spent her time helping organizations understand what their customers are telling them. Shannon provides us with a great list of five things that leaders and businesses need to do to really understand their customers.Listen before you leadLeverage your employee insightsPulse check your egoPlace power in the positiveAsk the right questionsListen in as Shannon and I discuss what these mean and how you can apply them in your business so that you don't miss out on what your customers are trying to tell you.
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