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How Awesome is This! Win Safari Niagara Passes here!


Safari Niagar_Logo  As a father of 3 young children, we are always looking for fun, exciting things to do on the weekends with them which are hopefully mentally and physically stimulating, educational and hopefully interesting for us as well.  After 8 years of being a dad, we’ve been just about everywhere here in Toronto and surrounding area and I thought we had visited, heard of, or knew of all the great places to visit until I came across Safari Niagara.

Have you heard about Safari Niagara before?  Have you been there?  Did you know it is only 10 minutes from Niagara Falls in Stevensville, Ontario, and did you know that Safari Niagara is for visitors of all ages and all abilities and not only are there animals on a 150-acre, privately owned and operated nature park, which is home to more than 750 animals of native and exotic mammals, reptiles and birds.

If that is not enough to do in a day, then there is also these activities:Safari Niagara Rainbow (giraffe)

  • educational guided walking tours (free)
  • an educational, narrated tram ride/tour
  • interactive, educational demonstrations including birds of prey and threatened species presentations
  • petting farm-yard
  • catch-and-release fishing

If that is not enough fun, there is also other activities including ropes course*, bungee*, Safari Rides*, paddle boating, kite-flying and playing at the large playgrounds, sandbox and animal-themed splash pad. (* June 1st to labour day).  Forget visiting for one day, we could live here!

Here is what you might not know about Safari Niagara is that their vision;

Safari Niagara’s vision is to provide people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to meet animals and birds up close. It is hoped that such interaction with nature will inspire future conservationists and naturalists. In a world where children experience fewer exchanges with nature, Safari Niagara provides an unprecedented opportunity for kids to view, experience and learn about many animal and bird species that share our planet while engaging in a fun and rewarding adventure.

Safari Niagara is also home to one of Canada’s largest steel sculpture exhibits, on loan by artist Rod Dowling and the park includes an outdoor 90,000 square-foot outdoor amphitheatre which hosts the annual Safari Niagara Summer Concert Series of live concerts (check out the current list of concerts here), and the park also offers plenty of shaded picnic areas, a counter-service restaurant and gift shop.

Safari Niagara is open to the public on May 11, 2013 and closes October 14, 2013 (It is closed August 14th for a private event).

From June 1st to Labour Day, your 2013 Season Passes and Day Admissions included unlimited use of the Adventure Zone Activities: Ropes Course, Bungee, Safari Rides, and our newly expanded Gator Tram Ride*!

Read about Safari Niagara’s amazing history here.White Lions_Safari Niagara photo

The Contest!

The kind folks at Safari Niagara have given me 2 family day passes – good for 2 adults and 2 children  – to give away, for the 2013 season.

How to win:  Get the word out!  Share this post, like the link, and post a comment on this blog, through Twitter, or Facebook.  The more social media places you share this post on, the better are the chances of winning!

It’s that easy.

How will you know if you won?

Well starting today, July 24th, I will be taking down the names of everyone who posts, likes and shares this article and at the end of 2 weeks, I will put all those names into a hat and let my kids pick the 2 winners.  I will then arrange and mail out the passes to the winners ASAP so the winners can get out and enjoy the park with their family.

Needless to say, it’s the perfect way to wind up a summer!

So check out their website, and get posting / sharing and linking Safari Niagara and get ready to win with The Urban Daddy.  Who knows, we might even see you there!

Parenting: Still Smarter than a 6-year-old, but maybe not my 6-year-old…


A couple of days ago on my Facebook page, I posted a story about how I’m smarter than a 6-year-old.green apple

Here is the post;

Phew! Still smarter than a 6yo.

My 6yo and 3yo were fighting over apples tonight.  Each wanted their own for snack, however both kids are exhausted which means I would have pieces of 2 brown apples turning up later tonight when neither of them finished their entire apples.

So I deferred to them to figure out how to split the one apple they get for snack.

6yo Stewie decided that since he’s bigger he should get 6 pieces of apple while little Boo gets 3 pieces.

“Are you sure?”, I asked?  “Is that splitting the apple and sharing?”

“It’s fair”, he said “and that is what I decided.”

“Okay” was my response.

So I cut the apple into quarters and gave 3 of the quarters to Boo, in a bowl, then I took the last quarter and cut it into 6 small slices.

There. 3 pieces for Boo and 6 for Stewie.

Point taken!

Score one for the Daddy!!!

Update: So while I was patting myself on the back for being the smartest daddy on the block, I failed to check the table to make sure they finished their apples.

Oops.

When I did check, I saw that Stewie easily finished his quarter apple, however, Boo only ate half of one of the quarters of the apples she was given.  No wonder Stewie was so smug when I made that decision.  He knew his sister wasn’t going to eat 3/4ers of an apple.

So to be sure he didn’t find out, I ate the rest of her now browning apple…

Then I blogged about it.

May 1st is Doctors’ Day here in Ontario!


Did you know that today, May 1st, is Doctors’ Day here in Ontario.

The Ontario Medical Association is asking Ontarians to help celebrate this day by sending a personalized thank you card to their doctors. The cards can be created on this website, http://thanksdoc.oma.org/. Once submitted, the OMA will deliver your thank you card directly to your doctor.

When was the last time you thanked your doctor?

As an added incentive, everyone who submits a thank you card is eligible to win an iPhone5 and Fitbit One™ Wireless Activity & Sleep Tracker.

You can even thank you Doctor on Facebook, or send a kind note to the OMA through Twitter for taking care of their members.  I have spent numerous hours on their Facebook page reading articles which as a parent are important to me, such as the OMA asking to have antibiotics removed from livestock feed in Canada and the alarming amount of sodium in restaurant food.

As a special thank you for posting about a wonderful cause, the OMA is offering you, the reader, and opportunity to win a $25 Sport Chek gift card.  All you have to do to have an opportunity to win is post a comment on my blog or Facebook page of the direct link to their thank you on the website (example: http://thanksdoc.oma.org/#367)  just to be sure that you have actually participated in this day of recognition.

On May 15th, I will take down the names of all of you who took the time to comment, put them in a hat and have one of my children draw a winner.  The winner will be notified via email.

I’m off now to send a thank you to our family doctor of 13 years who adapted her style to meet our needs when she realized that we prefer to try natural remedies first before getting to the antibiotics for us and our children.  As a result, she offers us all solutions and we greatly appreciate that!

Thanks Doc!

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid


I had a dream the other night that I had to send a very important email to a friend and instead I sent it to a client.  I then woke up out of a deep sleep in a cold sweat.  That would be pretty disastrous, wouldn’t it?  Well it happens more than you think it does, especially in cases where people or organizations have multiple social media accounts and the lines between business and personal becomes faint.  Social media can be a great way to build your brand, but if handled incorrectly, can erode these efforts in a hurry.

In light of this panic, I thought it would be a good time to post this article which had been sitting in my draft folder for over a year.  The 13 Most Common Social Media mistakes which can either damage your brand or cause others to look at it and then move on to someone else.

Back in the day, your handshake was your word, and if you shook someone’s hand and then didn’t follow through or did so with the intent on lying or being deceitful, it was your name that was ruined.  Fast forward, and it’s your brand.

13. Having Incomplete Profile(s)

Having profiles which are not completely filled out, or are filled out in a comical way, or through false credentials is meaningful to the person / organization looking for you.  It means that you are either:

  • Extremely unqualified that you do not have enough background information to fill a profile up.
  • Very lazy because you don’t have one hour to add all the information into your profile.
  • A joker who cannot take anything seriously, or
  • A scammer who has to make things up in order to cover up for something you must be hiding.

12.  Inconsistency among networks

Imagine this.  You are looking to do business / connect with someone and you think you have found them on Facebook, but when you check on Twitter, they have a name and email address, which is different from Linkedin, and from Pinterest.  So now you Google these names and email addresses and all kinds of stuff comes back to you.  What are you thinking now?  Probably that they’re hiding something, or that they are very disorganized.   All these micro-networks that make up your overall network should be as consistent as possible as a consistent image is key to building a memorable, identifiable brand.

11.  Using Social Media to make money after building a significant network.  

For this mistake, I am thinking about the blogging world where bloggers attract a significant following due to their writings, then they realize they can pitch products to their networks which eventually turns their brand into an advertising site.  Those are a dime a dozen, and readers often wonder if the blogger is endorsing a product that they actually use and support, or because they are getting it for free.  The message becomes lost.  There is a fine line between doing what made you popular, and losing credibility among your readership.

10.  Audience participation.

Have you ever wondered why you have invested so much into your brand, and get so little in return?  Could it be that you are not meeting the needs of your readers / customers?  It is important to make sure that you engage your base whenever they take the time to reach out, for whatever reason they have chosen to reach out.  Talk to them, not about them.  Also, have a look through your Twitter feed and see how many of the last 30 tweets engage others, and how many are just random posts to your entire network.  Successful brand-builders don’t just tweet and re-tweet.  They also respond, engage, ask questions, and answer questions.

9.  Not Interlinking Your Profiles

The simplest mistake to fix.  Take 10 minutes, make sure all your social network profiles link to one another because the more touch points that exist to connect with your network, the better.  Your next best connection might be a die-hard Google + user, but you might only use Facebook and Twitter.   Make sure you have all profiles linked.

8.  Being impersonal 

Connections are gold in this day and age, so don’t take a potential connection for granted and allow the service you use to send out a generic stock message when trying to connect.  Linkedin, for example, provides a stock message that reads “I’d like to add you to my professional network on Linkedin.”   Take some time and put some effort into a greeting which makes that person want to connect with you.  Surely you have 30 seconds to include your name and a personal message.

7.  Stay on-topic as much as possible

A first-time visitor to any of your social media outlets should be able to instantly tell “what you are about”.  Don’t mistake frequent posting with relevant posting or think that everyone you are connected to is reading each and every post.  Every once in a while, logout and review your posts as if you were a visitor to see if you messaging is “on-brand” and if it’s not, get back in there and fix it!

6.  Automated Direct Message

The automated direct message on Twitter is the biggest personal branding disaster that seen on a daily basis.  It says, “You’ve just met me, and you want to spam me with your blog or product?”  Epic fail, and a sure way to lose followers quicker than you gain them.  Instead, send them a personalized direct message or @reply with someone’s actual name and a message relevant to their area of interest.  This one message may lead to a lasting connection that might not have occurred otherwise.

5.  Tunnel Vision

Have you focussed your brand-building on you and you only?  The 90/10 rule of social media brand building generally states that

90% of what you share should be made up of personal insights and thoughts along with a heavy dose of helpful links, while 10% should directly benefit you.”

Keep this rule in mind the next time you want to Tweet about your site or product.  I guarantee that the 90% of the time you take to help others will increase the attention paid to the other 10%.

Also keep in mind that a successful social media / brand building campaign takes into consideration the views and opinions of others.  For every organization which has a social media manager, there are probably 10-20 other employees who have ideas, thoughts and suggestions about the business which, if implemented, will help the business grow and get recognized.  To ignore this dedicated internal network is a crucial error that many organizations suffer from.  The silos have to be broken down in all areas of the business in order to improve the brand, and relying on one person to know the ins and outs of every organization is not possible.

4.  Don’t forget the impact of your word

In the age of social media it’s easy to forget that what you say to someone on the phone or in person can still come back to bite you in the ass.  You may not be sending an email to someone because you don’t want what they say to have a living trail, however as much as people save emails and forward emails, people also take what you said and post it on social media, and this negative messaging can mess with your brand.   So make sure when you are dealing with others that you are prepared to be upfront and honest because there is nothing worse than having them erode your credibility over a matter in which you chose a less than professional approach to.

3.  Un-friending, Un-following, Un-linking

All of these connection removals can have disastrous impact on your brand, especially around timing and how seriously the other person takes your connection.  If, for example, a friend from highschool removes you from Facebook, you will certainly get offended and you might even ask why.  If a follower on Twitter removes you, you probably understand that they may have followed you expecting something but got something else, or they disagree with your views, the frequency of posts, or possibly they need to remove people in order to be able to add others.  If, however, someone on Linkedin removes you, the severing of the business network goes much deeper because what that message says is that they never want to use you as a connection in the future ever again and that all those other people who are connected to both of you as 2nd or 3rd degree connections can get caught in the middle.  Imagine if a 3rd degree connection was ready to connect, then found themselves no long part of your network, but choose to reach out using their previous connection as the link, unbeknownst that this connection ended badly.

As well, people forgive and forget, so to remove someone right away may potentially sever that relationship for good, and you never know down the road when you might really need them!  One should never cut off their nose to spite their face in this day and age and to do so without proper thought often comes back to bite someone in the behind.

2.  Keeping your marketing and social media objective quiet – internally and externally

You build a business / brand through communicating internally and externally your message so that not only will your network be engaged, but also your customers, clients, friends, family, colleagues, etc.  Keeping them in the dark, or only focussing on external networks does not take into consideration that employees have lives outside of the office or social networks of their own.  The faster the message gets out and to the greater number of people, the better are the odds that your business / brand will be successful.  To not tap into that network is akin to advertising a businesses services on a telephone pole.  Sure the message gets out but only to those who see it and tell others.  If this was the chosen method to advertise the business, would you not want every employee to post advertising flyers on telephone poles near where they live?  That already increases the network and the chances that your business is going to get customers.  To do otherwise, just doesn’t make any sense.

1.  Not having a Social Media plan

Not having a social media plan, including ways to promote your brand is the biggest mistake that an individual / organization can make.  By just signing up to multiple micro networks and using them here and there demonstrates a poor social media plan just as much as signing up for multiple social media platforms and never using them, or worse, using them to connect with networks outside of your desired market.  In the few seconds that someone checks out your profile, they are deciding whether to stay and browse some more, or go back and look at one of your competitors.  If they choose to stay and see empty networks or random connections they quickly come to a conclusion about your brand and social media plan, that you don’t have one, and they will move on.

Know beforehand what your social media plan is going to be and share it, along with the do’s and please don’t, so they can be on board and help grow the brand.  To not have a plan in this day and age, or to make one up on the fly is going to lead to issues, inconsistency and confusion for everyone involved.

Ford vs. Thomson: An International Woman’s Day Nightmare. 2 Weeks Later.


Mayoral candidates at the "Better Ballots...

Mayoral candidates from 2010. From left to right: (front row) Rob Ford, Rocco Achampong, Sarah Thomson, John Pantalone, George Mammoliti, (back row) Keith Cole, Rocco Rossi, George Smitherman. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

International Woman’s Day (previous called International Working Woman’s Day, originating in 1909) was March 8th this year and the focus of the day ranged from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to celebrations for women’s economic, political and social achievements.  This day began as a Socialist political event, and in some countries it has morphed into a day for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, while in many countries, the political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.

In Toronto, a very odd event came to light on this day, which may or may not have occurred, the previous night at an event for CJPAC.

Sarah Thomson, the editor of the Woman’s Post and who ran for the mayor’s office in 2010, claimed on both social media and in several interviews that Mayor Rob Ford grabbed her buttocks (“Grabbed my ass” were her exact words on the radio) while taking a photo with Ford at the event.  Ms. Thomson also said in an interview that Ford suggested to her that evening that she should have been in Florida with him because his wife was not there.

Ms. Thomson also posted a very unflattering picture of the Mayor on her Facebook page –  his eyes were closed and there was either a stain on his shirt or he was sweating a lot.

In a radio interview, she continued to pile on the accusations by suggesting that Ford was high on cocaine that night.  Apparently she Googled cocaine use and concluded that “…it’s, you know, sweaty, talking quickly, out of it, arrogant. Like all these things were on there.”

While Thomson has continued to stand by her allegations, she has also thrown her own allegation into doubt because she said, “I looked up the symptoms and it looked like it was cocaine use, it could have been anything like that, I’m not sure what it is. I’ve also read that diabetes could have some odd effects. I’m not sure what was wrong with him, but there was definitely something wrong with him that night.”  Oops.  Cocaine, diabetes… Well, he was “erratic” and “arrogant” that night so it might have been one of those.

When Thomson was asked if she’d ever taken cocaine herself, she said she didn’t know, as she spent time on the street in her youth.

But it gets even more odd from here…

Two councillors from Richmond Hill, who were at the event, were part of a crowd when Thomson allegedly was devising a plot to get a photo of the mayor’s hand on her assistant’s rear end.  She planned on using this “evidence” to corroborate her story and she told the group it would be put to good use when she ran for Mayor again in 2014.

Thomson has ruled out pressing sexual assault charges against Ford; “It’s a big waste of time to go through the legal procedures,” Thomson said. “Now, I looked at it and I realized I had no proof.”

Thomson put herself at risk of being sued by making the public allegations against Ford.

The mayor had responded to her accusations on Friday in a written statement calling them “absolutely, completely false.”

Thomson responded to the mayor’s comments by saying that HE was trying to discredit HER.  “Decades ago powerful men who sexually assaulted women would call them ‘hysterical,’ or ‘crazy’ to debase their credibility,” Thomson said. “It pushed many assaulted women into silence…. He will not push me into silence and I hope his accusations do not re-ignite the old fears that once silenced women.”

Thomson went on to say, “I did not make these accusations lightly.”  And as for her hopes of one day being Mayor, she said the approach she took may not have been the best one; “I admit I did not handle the press perfectly.”

The problem here is not about he said vs she said, or is drawn along political lines.  It’s about a very serious allegation, made on a very important day and what the implications are if one of these parties is not telling the truth.  Since Ms. Thomson has in fact announced in public that she was sexually ‘assaulted’ by the Mayor of Toronto (in front of dozens of people no less) then I would think the police are duty-bound to investigate it to see if there are sufficient grounds for charges against the Mayor.

If it turns out however that this was just a politically motivated, vexatious, stunt by the publisher of a women’s-only magazine made purposely on the eve of International Women’s Day then of course SHE should be criminally charged with public mischief and making false accusations.

Criminal sexual assault is a very serious crime. Making public, false, allegations about it are equally so.

At the end of the day, this is very sad because either Sarah Thomson was assaulted by Rob Ford on the eve of International Woman’s Day, or Sarah Thomson was playing the victim and trying to set up the Mayor in order to further ruin his reputation and ultimately for her political gain.

Given the recent troubles Ford has had publicly under the attack of the left, a situation like this certainly causes people to question Ford’s ability to lead and make many people wonder if he is promoting a good image of Toronto for the rest of the world to see.  In light of the recent information revealed by Georgio Mammoliti we know the left have been targeting the reputations of right-wing politicians.

One of these two people made a horrible decision on the eve of International Woman’s Day.

Shame on him if it’s true and shame on her if it’s not.

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