The Ideas Into Action podcast reverse-engineers the careers of accomplished high performers. Each interview explores the tactics, routines, habits, and mindsets which continue to influence their success. We’ll learn how they manage and optimize their time, energy, and attention. Across these dialogues, we’ll discover patterns and ultimately arrive at a formula for succeeding in this time of great change and uncertainty. Whether you’re starting a new project, new career, or new chapter in life, the stories you’ll hear will inspire you to transform your own ideas into action.
Earlier this year, I had the immense privilege of delivering a convocation address to the 2019 graduates of the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) in Toronto, Ontario. Inspired by The Toronto Raptors' crowning as 2019 NBA Champions, I urged graduates to contend with imposter syndrome and talk themselves into greatness. Here's the full audio for your listening pleasure. Links to the video and transcript are below.
Remember: Be great. Talk yourself into it.
FULL VIDEO: http://bit.ly/2J2eMme
FULL TRANSCRIPT: http://bit.ly/2x9gXze
David Ip Yam is the Project Director of Student Service Excellence at York University. He’s also the Co-Founder of Relationship Zen. By day, he’s an award-winning higher education practitioner and scholar with 10+ years of actively learning, facilitating, an co-creating personal, community, and professional mastery. And by night, he’s a martial artist and relationship strategist. He’s in many ways the perfect synthesis of all of the themes we’ve covered in the show thus far: multi-potentiality, self-awareness, confidence, perseverance, resilience, and discipline.
In this conversation we talked about being intentional in relationships, the hidden power of martial arts, and cultivating a beginner’s mindset. We also talked about knowing when to stop, managing energy to adequately show up, and staying locked on the end goal.
It was the perfect conversation to end this season, and I’m so glad you’re here for it.
NOTE: I know, I know—the audio quality for our last three intros is awful. Kwaku and I are working on a fix and will announce on the @iia_podcast Twitter account once it's been fixed. Thanks for your patience!
Blair Smith is a Professor of Marketing and Digital Media at George Brown College. He’s also a Learning Experience Designer and Instructor at the Canadian Marketing Association. On the MBTI, he registers as an INTP—a combination found in only 3% of the population. What does this mean? He’s an ingenious problem solver, an innovation architect, and “the secret weapon”. Over his storied career, spanning across Robert Half International, General Mills Canada, Evergreen Canada, and more, Blair has won awards for mentoring, marketing innovation, and content marketing. His goal is to cut through the buzzwords, clickbait, jargon, and endless stream of tactics and tools to demystify marketing and digital media at its fundamental parts.
In this conversation we talked about social media: the good, the bad, and the ugly. We also talked about slow and deep thinking, the importance of family, and rules for what goes into your calendar and what doesn’t.
Adam Rodricks is the Senior Manager of Social Media & Community at KPMG. His claim to fame in the world of social media and blogging came in 2007 when he reluctantly sold his blog after being served with a cease and desist. The important takeaway from the ordeal was validation: he could make an impact (and a career) through engaging conversation. Adam is a 2-time “Top 30 Under 30 Canadian Blogger to Watch” and a previous winner of the National Rogers Marketing Competition, for which he also held the title of best undergraduate speaker in Canada. He’s spent the last decade growing the social properties of Canada's most prominent brands, managing all aspects of their digital marketing strategy including social listening, management of social media channels, crisis comms and social media programs. His work as a social media influencer has been featured on CBC, CTV, Yahoo, BNN, DigitalJournal.com, MaximumPC, WhatCulture.com, staples.com, and nintendo.ca
In this conversation we talked about the power of social media, the state of the internet, and rebounding from failure. We also talked about balancing your time, the importance of exercise, and having multiple focal points.
NOTE: Unfortunately we've been having some audio issues. As such, the intro is a little hard to hear (and we're going to fix that as soon as we can). However, the actual episode sounds great! Also, we recorded this episode during the NBA Playoffs—enjoy our optimistic predictions for our beloved Toronto Raptors!
Megan Ramwa is the Founder & CEO of Sonder Toronto. Her desire to create “something bigger than herself” has always been at the forefront of her career. Megan graduated from the Law and Business program at Ryerson University. Shortly after graduating, she became a marketing and communications professional at a top Bay Street law firm where she was involved in many strategic initiatives such as the Canada 150 campaign and launching the firm’s first Instagram account. While juggling her 9-5, Megan continued to exercise her creativity on theawkwardadult.com - a personal blog that explored what it meant to be a young adult. In addition, Megan has launched a fashion and sustainable-tech company (Sonder Toronto), and has collaborated with local entrepreneurs to produce content. Megan is also involved with the Martin Family Initiative as a mentor to Indigenous high school students and was a marketing advisor to FLOCK - a project focused on providing women with the resources and support to explore entrepreneurship.
In this episode we talked about disrupting fashion, balancing full time work and entrepreneurship, and finding deeper meaning in your work. We also talked about immigrant parents, avoiding burnout, and dealing with failure. It was a fun and easy conversation that covered a lot of ground.
Joining me as a co-host today is Megan’s business partner, Aishah Shihabdeen.
Sheliza Jamal is an educator, speaker, and equity and inclusion coach. She is a graduate of the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she studied the impact of arts in education, leadership in social change organizations, education entrepreneurship innovation, and educational policy through the lens of systemic inequities. Sheliza also holds an Honors BA in Theatre and BEd from York University and is starting her PhD at OISE, University of Toronto in the Department of Social Justice Education. Sheliza brings over a decade of experience in public education teaching and designing and implementing programs and services aimed at addressing inequitable outcomes for underserved communities. Sheliza has a background in theatre performance and education and often uses theatre-based techniques to develop a sense of embodied empathy and engage participants in dialogue about oppression. Sheliza is an Ontario Certified Teacher (OCT) and a K-12 Inclusion Learning Coach with the Toronto District School Board where she supports students, teachers and leaders in programs that foster equity and inclusion to meet the needs of diverse learners.
In this conversation we talked about building confidence, managing imposter syndrome, and unconscious bias. We also talked about equity, diversity and inclusion, casual racism, and the negative effects of social media.
Gregg Brown is the founder of Change Ready Leadership and the best-selling author of Ready, Set, Change AGAIN! An award-winner in the fields of leadership and change, Gregg helps leaders and teams seize opportunities, create positive change and elevate their effectiveness in the workplace. As an international keynote speaker, he engages his audiences to help them break out of status quo change management thinking and discover people-centric approaches that actually work. His work has been featured nationally and internationally in media such as Entrepreneur, Global News, iHeart Media, HR.com and on CTV’s The Social.
In this conversation we talked about the power of calmness, personal leadership, and elite public speaking. We also talked about structured downtime, relaxation practices, and getting in the zone. It was an inspiring conversation that got me to consider all that it would take to unlock a new, higher level of performance.
Danny Tseng is the Co-Founder of Syllable Design, an interior design and architecture firm. As a licensed architect with the Ontario Association of Architects, Danny thoughtfully crafts buildings with rigorous detail and creatively maneuvers around restrictive parameters to create the best possible design solution. His main role at Syllable Design is leadership in design direction and production quality assurance. Working on key projects such as a major office building renovation, Danny is the driving force of design exploration within the firm. Previously, he used to work at some of Toronto’s largest firms—Quadrangle and Moriyama & Teshima Architects—having exposure to fine detailing and concept development on key projects around the GTA. Danny graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and the University of Toronto completing a Masters of Architecture.
In this conversation we talked about professional transitions, moments of change, and burnout. We also talked about deadlines, sugar & caffeine, and work-life balance.
Daniel Breez is the Finance Manager of Caudalie Canada and the Founder of Measured Growth CPA in partnership with Accodex Partners, an accounting technology firm. In his early years, Daniel had a strong passion for music and arts, and until the age of 20, he competed and performed professionally in ballroom dance. After that, he took on guitar and singing lessons and continues to put on live performances in his spare time. After graduating from the Schulich School of Business, Daniel felt lost, as most people do, and was unsure of what his next steps should be. It was at this point that he found a strong passion for fitness, nutrition, and psychology. This led to a huge transformation not only for the body but also for the mind. After completing his CPA CA requirements, Daniel co-founded IMPACTx Toronto, a live interview series for a community of young entrepreneurially-minded individuals. It was this passion for entrepreneurship that led Daniel down a path to pursue his own accounting practice to help impact-driven businesses succeed.
In this conversation we talked about pushing through slumps, starting a business, and getting inspired. We also talked about adherence to the process, nutrition and supplements, and productivity systems in general (and in detail). It was a gem-filled conversation that gave me the inspiration to get back into some good habits that got me here in the first place.
Brione Wishart is a Toronto based film director, producer and the founder of TrepFuel and ARTLEE Creative Agency. His work stems from a love of Cinema, Music, and Storytelling. Known for his ability to create visually engaging content and beautifully crafted work that captures something real and authentic in every subject, Brione's talent for cinematic storytelling is evident in all of his work. His work includes a wide variety of clients such as Porsche, Samsung, Under Armour, Bacardi, Huawei, eBay, Capital One, Gillette, Hasbro, Kitchen Aid, and The Alzheimers Society.
In this episode we talked about hip-hop moguls, ownership, and entrepreneurship. We also talked about fatherhood, burnout, and hip-hop.
Kelly Foss is the co-host of the Millennial Minimalists Podcast and the co-founder of IMPACTx Toronto, a monthly mindset-focused event series supported by Shopify Toronto. Kelly's professional experience includes managing partnerships, events and content marketing for brands including Air Canada, Iconink Hospitality, and Diversio AI. Today Kelly is overseeing partnerships and events for Bang & Olufsen Toronto. Kelly graduated with honours from Western University Canada and has worked in Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Los Angeles.
In this episode we talked about minimalism, the fashion industry, and creating communities. We also talked about travel, inspiration, and eliminating distractions when it comes to your time, energy, and attention.
Sam Demma is an alumni of Canada’s Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalist Award, the co-founder of the social enterprise PickWaste, and a 19-year-old youth speaker. He’s been recognized on national news, he’s delivered a TED talk, he’s worked with brands such as A&W, and over the past two years he has spoken to thousands of students across the country. He is a connector for the League of Innovators, the emcee of Speaker Slam Youth, and the youngest member of an advanced Toastmasters club. From soccer to social impact – Sam is the example of what happens when young people follow their dreams with small consistent actions.
In this episode we talked about TED talks, mental health, and being young. We also talked about bouncing back, the education system, and public speaking in general.
Pauleanna Reid is a Canadian journalist, two time author, and celebrity ghostwriter. She’s a Senior Contributor at Forbes. She’s also the Founder of WritersBlok, a collective of freelance writers who create share-worthy content. Pauleanna is the author of two books, Everything I Couldn’t Tell My Mother as well as Mixed Emotions. Her fascinating life story has been covered by publications include Global News, FLARE, Huffington Post, ESSENCE Magazine and MTV Canada. And for the past six years, she’s been speaking across North America with a focus on empowering young people, especially women, in transition.
In this conversation (co-hosted by Pauleanna’s co-author and business partner Andrew Nguyen), we talked about embracing the grind, confronting failure, and overcoming doubt. We also talked about building empires, manifesting success, and staying the course.
Hussain Bokhari is a Masters of Engineering Candidate at Ryerson University, studying Aerospace, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering. Born in Pakistan and raised in Canada, Hussain’s got a contagious appetite for personal development. Between his studies, during the day, he works as a Development Associate at Ryerson University, researching and writing proposals for major gifts. At night, he’s growing his start-up Holistic Bodies, a brand that’s dedicated to promoting holistic wellness. His motto is "Educate, Empower, Enjoy".
In this conversation we talked about manifesting success, persisting through lows, and building an online presence. We also talked about fitness routines, unlocking energy, and staying focused on long-term goals.
Follow Hussain Bokhari on Instagram: @huss_life
Follow Holistic Bodies on Instagram: @holisticbodies1
Herbert Lui writes about life, psychology, and culture. He was a staff writer for Lifehacker, and his writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, the New York Observer, and Fast Company. As the creative director of Wonder Shuttle, Herbert works with clients like Shopify, Stripe, and Pocket to make impressions instead of buying them. Prior to that, he has worked with grammy-nominated musicians, luxury retailers, and award-winning studios on their copywriting, strategy, and creative.
In this episode we talked about Kanye West, creative inspiration, and reaching your full potential. We also talked about structuring time for mega projects, context switching, and staying focused.
DISCLAIMER: We spent a good chunk of the convo talking about Kanye West. If you want to skip that, go to about the halfway point of the episode.
Lauren Marinigh is a marketing professional based in Toronto. Her professional experience over her career has been primarily focused in social media and content marketing. Outside of her 9-5 job as a social media manager, she is a freelance marketing consultant, runs a dating podcast with two of her best friends called Somebody Date Us, and also has a travel blog, Twirl The Globe.
In this conversation, we talked about creating podcasts, dating as a millennial, and building self-worth. We also talked about beating procrastination, preparing for high energy moments, and context switching.
Jonathan Andrews is an accomplished youth mental health speaker. After graduation, as a Fellow with Venture for Canada, Jonathan was hired at Fiix, one of the fastest growing tech companies in Canada. He quickly created a reputation of tremendous work ethic and over-delivering on sales and revenue quotas. 2 years and 3 promotions later, Jonathan is working and learning everyday, driving net new business as an Account Executive with Fiix. Today, Jonathan is passionate about public speaking and serving Canada's youth. Having overcome clinical depression himself, he's on a mission to impact the lives of millions of Canadian students through his writing and keynote speeches. He wants to be remembered as a writer, speaker, and a teacher. But, a reader, listener, and a student, first.
In this episode we talked about waking up early, lessons from sports, and overcoming depression. We also discussed sleep rituals, time management, and the importance of routines. Now, I know these topics might seem dry, but that’s the great thing about this podcast—we always keep the conversation entertaining with stories, jokes, and deep dives into what makes these high performers tick.
Raphael Wong is the Director of Strategic Initiatives at ThoughtWire, a Toronto-based technology company looking to disrupt the relationship between humans, devices and information, all with the goal of shaping a healthier, safer, and cleaner world. Prior to this, Raphael was a Senior Associate in PwC’s Private Company / SMB Consulting practice where he worked closely with C-Suite teams on strategic mandates focused on unlocking levers for growth and operational improvement. He’s the Founder of myTechne, an A.I.-driven productivity optimization platform. And he’s the host of The Canvas Series, a monthly podcast where busy professionals share their systems for success.
In this episode we talked about facing fears, starting projects, and intentional downtime. We also talked about types of energy, creating systems, and how to stay focused. It was a master class in productivity that got me rethinking some of my fundamental beliefs, for the better.
Chris Bacchus is the Director of Marketing for Canada’s largest paintball retailer, Badlands Inc. By night, he helps to build a growing fitness service, Strength-N-U. And somewhere in between all of that he’s managed to forge a successful YouTube channel where he entertains audiences with comedic chops, professional acting skills, and incredible voice work.
In this episode talked about side hustles, confidence, and going all-in on your dreams. We also talked about making time to be creative, structured downtime, and avoiding online distractions. It was a hilarious and insightful conversation that got me thinking about what I need to do to take this podcast to the next level, among other things.
Sathish Bala is the Founder & CEO of desiFEST Music. He’s a serial entrepreneur and marketing maven with over 20+ years in the game and several successful companies under his belt. Graduating with a degree in computer science the late 90’s, at the cusp of the internet as we know it today, Sathish has a refined understanding of how to succeed online (and offline). He’s an investor in early-stage companies and a mentor at Ryerson’s Science Discover Zone. 13 years ago, Sathish wanted to help Canada’s South Asian community to break down stereotypes, cultural bias, and gender inequalities that held back many young people. That inspired him to create desiFEST, a wildly successful cultural celebration. Since its inception, desiFEST has expanded to from Toronto to Montreal, Ottawa, and Vancouver.
In this episode (co-hosted by our mutual friend Justin Venturo) we talked about growing up Scarborough, culture clash, and facing obstacles head on. We also talked about morning routines, sleep rituals, and hip-hop.
Daniel Francavilla is the Founder and Creative Director of Now Creative Group, an award-winning full service agency. He leads a team of talented creatives and strategists to provide design, digital, marketing and media services to startups, businesses and nonprofits. He also produces content for their own media properties through the Now Digital Network. The agency’s clients range from fast-growing startups to behemoth corporations (and everything in between). Daniel is also the Founder of ACCESS, a youth-led non-profit organization. Originally founded to help students access education in developing countries, ACCESS has grown to focus on social innovation and youth social entrepreneurship. In 2018, The Brampton Board of Trade recognized Daniel with a prestigious Top 40 Under 40 award.
In this episode we talked about energy optimization, leadership vs. management, and what it's like to be a hometown hero. We also talked about stress, occupational burnout, and how to juggle multiple competing priorities.
Mahfuz Chowdhury is an award-winning Account Manager at Candybox Marketing, a digital marketing agency that has worked with notable brands such as Domino’s Pizza, The Weather Network, So You Think You Dance, Glee, Fox Entertainment, and Advertising Week. He’s also the author of Project Reinvention: The Social Timeline of a Millennial—a book where he open and honestly recollects his journey from self-described abject failure to someone now focused and steadfast on the path to success. And last but not least, he’s the host of the Ride With Me podcast.
In this episode, we talked about lessons from retail, blue collar work ethic, and hitting rock bottom. It was a candid, refreshing, and at times hilarious conversation. We also talked about sleep as a competitive advantage, drawing energy from your outfits, and staying sane on social media.
NOTE: Around the 1:02:00 mark, the quality of the audio drops quite a bit. Unfortunately we had ran into a technical issue on the boards, and as a result had to substitute the corrupted audio with whatever we picked up on camera. Our voices are still audible, but not as crisp as what you experienced in the first half. We're terribly sorry for this issue, and are going to bring Mahfuz back in the studio for a follow-up to this otherwise awesome episode. Thanks for your patience!
Jasmine Williams is an experienced digital marketing professional and the founder of Jasmine Williams Media, a content and social media consultancy based in Toronto, Ontario. Jasmine has helped a wide range of clients and companies refine and elevate their brand with high-quality, impactful content and social media marketing. She is also an award-winning freelance writer whose work has appeared on Daily Hive, ViewTheVibe and GoDaddy.ca.
In this episode we talked about freelancing, entrepreneurship, representation, and confidence among a whole slew of other topics. This episode is a must-listen if you’re on the fence about starting something.
On January 31st we interrupted our regularly scheduled programming to have an important conversation about depression, anxiety, stress, social media, belief, practice, and so much more. It was a relevant, much-needed dialogue that got me thinking about how to achieve composure in the chaos.
For this special episode, I called in the cavalry...
Keith Diaz works as an Insights Consultant with CIBC’s Live Labs Discovery Team where he focuses on digital strategy and innovation, working to keep the bank in-step with the behaviours and expectations of tomorrow’s customers. He’s also the host of The Modern Monk podcast. Keith’s story and battle with depression is nothing short of fascinating.
Alexandra Paige is a marketer, a writer, and a mental health advocate. She has worked in sales strategy and marketing roles in notable organizations including BlackBerry, PepsiCo Canada, and Communitech. Her adventures have taken her to such places around the world as Peru, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and more.
Astawa Alam is a great exhilarator of one of Canada’s youngest and fastest-growing cities, Brampton. As an Innovation & Technology Coordinator with the city’s Economic Development Office, he’s working tirelessly to raise the burgeoning city’s profile and awareness. And who better to tell its story than a proud, social media savvy digital native? As the Co-Founder & Lead Marketing Consultant of DxM Creative, this young entrepreneur has helped dozens of forward-thinking brands to build their brands.
In this episode we talked about combating stereotypes, investing in communities, building legacies, role models, sleep habits, caffeine regulation, and so much more.
At 25 years old, George Khalife became the Director of Business Development for Sampford Advisors - Canada’s #1 mid-market Tech M&A firm. Prior to this, George was leading the sales efforts for the Toronto Stock Exchange in Toronto/Waterloo & NYC. By day, George works with entrepreneurs. And by night, he becomes one himself—he's the Co-Founder & CEO at BookBack, as well as the host of Let’s Grab Coffee.
In this episode we talked about George's transition from the Middle East to Canada, unpacked some millennial stereotypes, reflected on failure, and exchanged pro-tips about nutrition and proper dieting.
In 2016, I delivered my second TEDx talk, “The Burnout Gamble.” I’m grateful to TEDxUTSC for the opportunity to return to my alma mater as a speaker. It was surreal to stand on the opposite end of an auditorium that I had spent much of my undergraduate life seated in. The experience of producing this talk compelled me to further examine my relationship with stress, and served as a catalyst for the release of a titular book. Stress has been described by the World Health Organization as “The health epidemic of the 21st century.” Through the TEDxUTSC platform, I aimed to inspire audiences to become the most thriving, productive, and motivated versions of themselves; I aimed to help them burn bright, not out.
In 2015, I delivered my first TEDxRyersonU talk. On stage within the breathtaking Design Exchange, I shared my views on why managing millennials and knowledge workers the way that we used to manage traditional factory workers can be disastrous. Speaking through my own experience of being managed (and alternatively as a manager) I made the case that the next generation must be lead instead of managed; they must be given the autonomy to complete their tasks, so that they can grow and reach their full potential. In describing my role as a “manager” I ultimately concluded that my approach to managing is to avoid it altogether.
In years past, I've published these posts on my birthday. This year, there was an overabundance of lessons that didn’t stop (and haven’t stopped) revealing themselves to me. Sorry for the delay! This a snapshot of the wisdom I accumulated in the lead up to 30.