twitter

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!

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.

Hey! Could I get a little bit of help, please! The 2013 Bloggies are about to close!


logotype of The Weblog Awards (Bloggies)

logotype of The Weblog Awards (Bloggies) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not exactly sure how this happened, or how I missed this but a couple of weeks ago I noticed a massive spike in readership here at The Urban Daddy and after a very quick check of my statistics I came to realize that I had a whole bunch of new readers coming to see me from The 2013 Weblog Awards aka The Bloggies.

The specific reason for the increased traffic was because many folks were dropping by to learn more about this blog which was nominated, and made it to the finals of the 2013 Weblog Awards in the following two categories.

Best Parenting or Family Weblog
Best Canadian Weblog

I’ve always been a big fan of the Bloggies because of their global coverage and I looked through many of the other blogs who made the finals in their respective categories and there are some pretty awesome blogs out there being written by some pretty amazing writers. Being nominated is really great, as I’ve said before after being nominated for the Canadian Weblog Awards, it’s great just to be nominated.  That someone other than myself has taken the time to put forward my URL is quite humbling. (thanks Mom!).

But now I need your help, and I need it quickly! I don’t normally beg or ask for favours but I’m going to do both today. I need your vote! Please.

Voting for the 2013 Bloggies closes on March 17th, and all you need to do in order to vote for me (or someone else if you like them better) is follow the link to their website, here, then vote for at least 3 blogs, enter the security code and your email and you are almost done. You will receive an email from The Bloggies to ensure you are legitimate, and once you confirm that, your vote goes through. Nice and easy!

But remember to only vote once, please. If you vote more than once, the awards use your most recent vote.  We don’t want to waste your time now, do we?

Then, after that has been completed, you can sit back until the 24th of March, at which time you can Watch the Ceremony from 8:00-10:30 PM EST (UTC-5) on the Bloggies’ Twitter feed and Facebook page. One winner will be announced approximately every five minutes, culminating with the Weblog of the Year at 10:30, at which point the winners will be posted to the site. Follow the feed to keep up to date on the Bloggies!

If you are able to take the time to vote, I appreciate it. Heck, I’m happy that you even come by, subscribe and “like” my blog.

Just under 46 Reasons why my kids have freaked out, at 3-years-old.


My wife posted a link to an article on Facebook the other day called “46 Reasons Why My 3-Year-Old Might Be Freaking Out“, and this was just after our 3-year-old daughter Boo had an epic 20-minute meltdown.  Once she was done we confirmed the cause of the meltdown was a result of the fact that she wanted the zipper on her fleece sweater zipped up… Who knew?!?

Sidebar:  Forget the terrible two’s, new parents.  It’s the Terrible three’s which will kill you!!!  Am I right?

I loved the article so much I wanted to re-post it, but I also wanted to yank out a few of the 46 reasons which applied to any of our 3 children.

So please, visit the original article, but only after you read this on either Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Tumblr or here on The Urban Daddy’s blog,   Then your next mission is to see which meltdown’s we have I/ had in common.  Then let me know in the comment section so we can all laugh together.

I’ve broken it down by boys (ages 8 & 6 right now) and girl (just turned 3).

Coles Notes Version

Coles Notes Version

Meltdown’s in Common:

His sock is on wrong.

His lip tastes salty.

His shirt has a tag on it.

They are hungry, but can’t remember the word “hungry.”

His brother looked at him.

His brother didn’t look at him.

We don’t understand what he/she said.

He/she doesn’t want to get out of the car.

He/she wants to get out of the car by himself.

The iPad has a password.

He jumped off the sofa and we weren’t  watching.

He’s not allowed to touch fire.

Everything is wrong with his coat.

There’s a dog (or raccoon or monster or dragon) within a 70km radius.

I asked him/her a question.

His brother/sister/mother/father is talking.

The cat is in his/her way.

The inside of his cheek feels rough.

Things take too long to cook.

He has too much food in his mouth.

He sneezed.

He doesn’t know how to type.

His/her mom is taking a shower.

Someone knocked over his tower.

The food won’t stay on his spoon.

… and so much more…

How does this relate to your kids?