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Welcome!

Hello there,

I’m Elizabeth, lover of bad TV and good movies. If you’re looking for the best of the best content, check out my Writing Portfolio.

As you’ll probably notice, I mostly write about the Canucks, because I adore them,  but don’t fool yourself into thinking I’d be a good addition you your floor hockey team, my little brother makes me play goalie, and not because I have moves like Luo.

Originally posted May 21, 2012 on Sfu.ca/olc

I love Tina Fey. She’s hilarious, smart, and she doesn’t just play in what is traditionally a man’s game, she beats them at it. Plus one of my best friends has claimed Liz Lemon as her TV soul mate, because they are essentially the same person. Sure, Liz is 40-ish and runs a somewhat horrible late night TV show, and my friend is 21 and does not, but she does have better hair flashbacks, so it evens out.

Now, returning to the subject at hand, Tina Fey is an awesome person, and so is her book, Bossypants. This is why I’ve decided to let Ms. Fey guest post on my marketing blog, and help relate ‘The Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life’ contained in her book to the rules for a successful co-op term.

Rule One: Always Say Yes

Improv scenes require all involved to be willing to say “Yes” and agree with whatever their scene partner just said. If one person holds up a stick and declares it King Arthur’s sword, it’s no fun if you scoff and call it a stupid stick. Your scene will be over before it begins.

Now, I should point out, that no, this does not mean you should say “Yes” to everything in life. If someone comes up to you on the street and tries to convince you that they are King Arthur you really shouldn’t go along with that. On the job, you shouldn’t say “Yes” to everything; if something makes you uncomfortable, you shouldn’t follow along just to be a team player. The point here is to at least start from an open-minded place. Respect where the other person is coming from, and give their idea proper consideration. If there are no immediate objections than try saying “Yes” and see what can happen.

Rule Two: Yes, And…

For an improv scene to succeed everyone needs to contribute. If one person is always the one pushing a scene forward, while the other contributes nothing more than mono-syllable answers then it doesn’t make for a very entertaining scene.

When it comes to your job, this rule means that you shouldn’t be afraid to contribute. Don’t assume that just because you’re new it means that your ideas are bad, or aren’t worth voicing. You are there for a reason, and your contributions are worthwhile. This doesn’t mean that the middle of a company-wide staff meeting is the forum to discuss your ideas to revolutionize the company, but it does mean that if you think the current stat-tracking system you’re using is inefficient that you shouldn’t be afraid to say so.

Rule Three: Make Statements

If you’ve ever done improv, then you know that if one person is always asking questions and creating obstacles while expecting you to solve them, that it creates far too much pressure, and isn’t much fun for either of you.

What this really means is don’t ask questions and bring up obstacles all the time. Yes, asking questions is important, especially when you’re in a new situation, and yes, being able to spot potential road blocks to a project is an essential skill, but someone needs to find solutions to these problems. Instead of shooting down an outdoor event while asking what to do if it rains, offer to look into tent rentals and outdoor heaters. People who put up endless roadblocks stop being invited out to lunch. People who solve problems get to put lunch on the company tab.

Rule Four: There Are No Mistakes

If you forget that your character was paralyzed in a hippo fighting accident and leap up mid-scene, don’t go back, go forward. This mis-step could be a huge mistake, and you could ruin the scene, or you could declare that you’ve been faking an injury for the insurance money, and make the scene even better.

You will make a mistake at work. It’s just a fact, accept it now, and you’ll be better prepared to deal with it when it happens. When this inevitable mistake is found out, you just need to accept responsibility, apologize if necessary, work on finding a way to fix it, figure out how it happened and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again, and finally find a way to move forward from there. Mistakes can be forgiven and forgotten about, as long as you take the correct actions in the aftermath.

Since starting my Co-op term in January I can think of times when I’ve followed this advice, and I can certainly find examples of times when I didn’t. I am fairly confident when I say that this applies to pretty much everyone, nevertheless, I think Tina Fey is on to something here.

Looking for more to read? Make sure you check out the rest of my Diary of a Marketing Co-op series, or go read Bossypants for yourself. If you want to share in my Tina Fey love, leave a comment, or reach out to me on Twitter @lizzmoffat or @SFU_OLC.

Originally posted September 28, 2011 on Sfu.ca/olc

Today was day one of two on Burnaby campus for the BIG fair, and the name is not an exaggeration. Tables lined the halls of three sides of the AQ, presenting students with volunteer, career and further education opportunities.

This was the first year I took an active interest in any of the career fairs on campus. Sure, I had walked through them on the way to class before, maybe grabbed a few free pens, but I never really stopped to talk to anyone.

Part of the reason was because  I have no desire to go to graduate school, and I seemed hopelessly unqualified for jobs at any of the companies participating. I don’t want to be an accountant, or do IT work or computer programming, or quite honestly anything that involves an abundance of math. Walking through the fair this year I spotted a whole bunch of accounting and banking firms, some insurance agencies, and some IT and engineering places I’d never even heard of.

Then there was the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and who knows what kind of skills they look for…probably some sort of combination of kickboxing and Dan Brown style decoding skills…is there even a degree for that?

I was pretty sure that being able to write clever blog posts would not be high on their qualifications list.

Instead of being discouraged, however, I just walked myself up to some booths and started asking questions.

The CSIS probably wasn’t right for me, but  the Communications Security Establishment of Canada might be (although I didn’t ask about their kickboxing requirements).

SAP focuses on software development, but they have a marketing internship. My Loud Speaker specifically hires employees with less than five years experience, Clearly Contacts has openings for email marketers.

Even Microsoft could help me out, at today‘s fair they were only recruiting for technical internships, but I introduced myself and was given a website to find marketing internships this summer.

If I wanted to brush up on some tech skills BCIT was there too, with tons of brochures on full and part time classes.

So to sum up todays lesson: Don’t be intimidated if you think  the companies at a career fair have no use for you. Just ask. At the very least you’ll score yourself a free pen.

Originally posted December 19, 2012 on Sfu.ca/olc

On November 15th BPK Co-op and the Biomedical Physiology & Kinesiology Student Association (BPKSA) hosted an event celebrating the British Columbia Association of Kinesiologists (BCAK) 20th Anniversary, and featuring a talk from Roger Takahashi, strength & conditioning coach of the Vancouver Canucks.

The OLC also Storifed the event where Craig Asmundson and Nancy Johnston, founding  BCAK members, were presented with lifetime honours. Following a brief talk on the history of BPCAK Roger Takahashi took the stage.

Roger began by reflecting on the fact that not long ago kinesiology was regarded as a mystery by the general public, few outside of the field took the practise seriously, but this has clearly changed in recent years. BPK grads no longer have to justify their degree choice at every turn, and Roger hopes that as programs grow students will continue to champion the practice.

Roger earned a BA in General Science from the University of Waterloo before returning to complete a Bachelor of Science in Honours Kinesiology. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and a member of BPAK. Roger also recommends students take some psychology courses if they strive to work with athletes.

Before joining the Vancouver Canucks, Roger trained various athletes through his own company as well as working as the strength and conditioning coach for the BCHL’s Langley Hornets. Although he was with the team to train the players, as with many minor league teams he ended up doing a little of everything, from darning socks to mopping up locker rooms.

While working in the minors wasn’t exactly a glamorous gig, it allowed Roger to work at something he loved. He believes that this passion is important, saying that if you work hard and “do what you love, the money will eventually follow.”

Roger also played hockey until he was fourteen, but admits that he was simply too small and not good enough to continue playing at the level he would have liked. Little did he know, this hands-on hockey experience would one day help him land his dream job.

Roger heard that the Canucks were looking for strength and conditioning coach through his job with the Hornets, a few months after submitting his resume he was called in for a group interview. To his surprise the interview focused as much on day-to-day hockey knowledge as it did on his kinesiology background. Having spent years playing, working with, and watching hockey Roger had gained an advantage in the interview, and landed the job.

Now his job consists of early mornings and numerous road trips. He travels with the team, arrives at the arena before every practice, works with injured players on off-days, and occasionally sleeps over at the arena.

Still, he knows that he has it easier than his predecessors. Players take their overall health more seriously now, staying in shape year-round rather than spending their summer on less productive activities.

A lot of students had questions about Roger’s day-to-day training regime, but he couldn’t provide a simple answer. He told us about his first year on the team, when he tried to plan every day weeks in advance. He soon found out, however, that it was impossible. There are simply too many unexpected changes, some players may need more attention than others, and the head coach can suddenly decide the team needs an off day, or that some players need on-ice practice while others should hit the gym. Now he sets out broad general plan for the season.

Roger also revealed that most of his time isn’t spent how most students expected, doing hours of one-on-one training with players. Instead, he spends most of his time following up on injuries and doing a lot of research (that’s right, the hours you spend studying won’t end when you graduate.) He needs to research constantly, staying on top of the latest in changes to hockey gear (stronger sticks and rigid skates make a bigger physical difference than you might expect,) and making sure players that players are taking the right supplements – and that they’re legal. Working for a West coast team adds another layer of difficulty, as travel takes a toll on the team, and he often needs to help newly acquired East coast players adapt.

Many in the room were also surprised to learn that a win or a loss does not necessarily equal a change to the next days workouts. Unless the coaches see a need to work on something specific Roger tries to keep work outs consistent.

When asked about how much input he has on choosing draft picks, Roger downplayed his role while offering some good advice for any student. He said that he tries not to put too much stake in the annual physical tests prospects and draftees go through. After all, these tests only represent “one hour of one day of his life.” There can be a million factors that contribute to the end result. Did they just fly in? How long was their last season and did they have to recover from injuries? What else was happening that hampered their ability to train?

These are all valid points that can translate to any number of situations in life. So if I took one thing away from this event, it won’t be the fun behind the scenes hockey info. It will be the reminder that when it comes down to it, any big interview, test, or presentation is really only one hour of one day of the rest of my life.

Originally posted May 27, 2012 on Sfu.ca/olc

“I was never given any advice. I had to figure it out for myself. But my best advice is to let your passion lead your purpose. There is a sea of desire inside every person, and if you get still enough, you can feel it. You can’t feel it if you allow your mother, friends, school or everybody else to tell you who it is you’re supposed to be. But there is a seed of heart’s desire that burns in every person and your real job on earth is to figure out what that thing feels like and then spend the rest of your life following it!” – Oprah Winfrey

Oprah, Oprah, Oprah.

I’m well aware that Ms. Oprah Winfrey may not be the saint some think she is, but really, who among us is? In general, she is a fabulously successful woman who came from essentially nothing, became insanely successful (launching your own network is hard) and does a whole lot of good. Whether she’s giving away a parking lot full of cars, establishing new schools in Africa, or just generally boosting self esteem across the nation, no one can argue that she’s made some real change in the world.

She also has some excellent advice to share, as the above quote proves. Now, at first glance, it appears to be yet another inspirational, if unrealistic gem about following your dreams. The truth is that few people end up in their dream job, no matter how hard they try. And that’s OK. You don’t need your job to fulfil your dreams. Do you want to be a published author? Start a blog and practice writing. Always dreamed of acting opposite Meryl Streep or Johnny Depp? Join a local theatre group and discover some amazing talent closer to home.

The point isn’t that you follow your passions, regardless of everything else, the point is that you have a passion, and more importantly that the passion is yours. You can’t pursue anything that requires hard work and is worthwhile if you’re not following it with a passion that comes from within. If you’re following the wrong path while choosing a simple hobby then you won’t lose much more than a few hours of your time, but if you try pursuing the kind of career or education that requires deep commitment with a passion that rings false you could end up spinning your wheels and getting increasingly frustrated for years.

When I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer, but more importantly, my parents wanted me to be one. Throughout high school I liked the idea of becoming a lawyer, and as my parents would easily attest to, I’ve always been skilled at putting together logical arguments. I’ve always been skeptical of unsupported claims, able to catch details that lead to loopholes, and generally pick apart any argument I come across. Even now, I find certain aspects of the law more interesting than most. My parents weren’t wrong in pushing me towards law school.

The problem was that I don’t particularly enjoy any of this. I hate long arguments, partly because I work myself up far too much, and I eventually get bored of picking at loopholes and piecing together debates. Actually reading a legal document causes my eyes to glaze over. Now there’s nothing wrong with ending up with a job that includes details that are too boring to deal with, but law school involves a lot of commitment and a lot of competition. If I went I’d be competing against people who have a real passion for the stuff, and all the natural talent in the world isn’t going to overcome that. I would have been miserable and would have probably performed mediocre at best.

So how did I eventually realize that this lawyer dream was my parents doing and not my own? More importantly, how was I sure that it really just wasn’t the extra school work that turned me off?

I thought about the things I chose to commit my time to. I wasn’t on debate club in school, I was in theatre, and I wasn’t looking up case studies online when I couldn’t sleep, I was reading about Coke’s latest ad campaign. That is what I was passionate about, and that is what I was willing to put in the extra hours for.

I wasted a lot of time looking up law school requirements and debating the merits of a Criminology major while following a passion that I never really had. I had always been told I was good at something, and I never really questioned it, until I realized that I couldn’t answer why I cared.

Borrowing someone else’s passion for something can get you pretty far, but it will never take you as far as a passion that comes from yourself.

So the question to ask yourself is: What do you choose to care about? What do you willingly put extra time and effort into, even if you’ll be the only one who ever knows? Find whatever that is, figure out what you need to do to make it a part of your life, and make that the passion that drives you forward.

I started the night determined to get some real work done on a marketing project. Unfortunately, that involved critiquing online book selling websites, which of course led to Amazon, and eventually the Mockingjay book page. This is when I gave up on getting any school work done.

If you haven’t read all three books you should bookmark this page, go read, and come back. You’ve been warned.

The top user review of the book at the moment somehow managed to beautifully put to words almost everything I thought about The Hunger Games trilogy in a way I had never quite been able to verbalize. Quite a few people were horribly disappointed in Mockingjay. They hated the bleakness, thought Katniss was weak and completely out of character and scoffed at the epilogue. I have to admit, the first time I read the epilogue I was a little disappointed. After everything that happened it seemed too simple, life was left too ordinary.

But once I took a long walk to clear my head I realised that it wasn’t a disappointment at all. The ending didn’t have to be a tale detailing a life of glory, because there was none to be had.

Although some claim the ending was far too happy, it wasn’t. After all, we watched as these kids played in a meadow filled with graves.

I will be the first to admit that, at times, The Hunger Games is not the most well written series. There are stretches that could have done with another run through by an editor, but small glitches in the narrative voice can’t overshadow the overall themes and emotions.

I was furious and devastated as more of my favourite characters turned up dead or broken throughout the series, the final book in particular, and I think that this “throw a dart” method of killing characters upset a lot of people, but it worked.

Thinking back to the first book, despite being warned beforehand, I refused to believe that Collins would really kill off almost two dozen children in a YA book. I was convinced that a group of tributes would band together, refuse to play the Capitols games, and find a way to escape. When I was proved wrong, I started to compromise: Katniss, Rue and Peeta will all escape I assured myself, they’ll live as some happy little rebellion family, the next books can chronicle their triumph. Wrong again. Even when Katniss and Peeta finally escaped together I thought that the sheer tragedy would be over – at least for awhile. Until we learn just how serious eating those berries was. I suppose I felt just as clueless as Katniss here – why would holding up berries be anything other than a hopeless attempt at mutual survival?

Looking back, this is really when I should have clued in that there would be no glorious ending.

In the second book, Catching Fire, I often think of my reactions as an exercise in the five stage of grief:

  1. Denial: This district tour will be great, President Snow will be convinced, and something will happen so that we don’t have to worry about the Hunger Games again.
  2. Anger: This is dumb, they can’t send these two back to the area, it’s simply too depressing and hopeless.
  3. Bargaining: The tributes are banding together, the Capitol is in an uproar! They’ll have to cancel the games, if they don’t everyone can just refuse to fight.
  4. Depression: Everyone is dying again. I should just stop reading, because everyone is going to die.
  5. Acceptance: They’re saved! I don’t quite understand what is happening, but the good guys have come to the rescue!

I know, I was still horribly naive. I walked into these books completely unprepared.

The final book is dark, there’s no point in denying it. Collins purposefully took the most hopeful things we had left, and dashed them to bits. District 12 is gone, Peeta is, for the moment, worse than dead, and we’re forced to watch it all unfold through the damaged soul of our poor girl on fire.

I think I finally began to acknowledge that there would be no happy ending when details of District 13 started to emerge. As with most narratives I had always assumed there would be two sides: Good and Bad, Right and Wrong. But Collins refuses to give us that.

It only makes it all the more realistic, and is probably why I felt the series as a whole resonated so deeply for so many people. Life doesn’t have clear cut winners and losers. There is no group of “good guys” that win at the end. Sometimes the good guys lose, and even more troubling, sometimes there is no “good” side to cheer for at all.

Collins let that fact sink in slowly throughout the final book, a continual feeling of despair, where deep down you knew that the light at the end of this tunnel wouldn’t be much brighter than the tunnel itself.

These characters we had grown to love, and entrusted with a part of ourselves were already broken, soon after we met them.

Gale already had so much rage inside for someone so young. He had to grow up the night his father didn’t return from the mine, and it jaded him. When he should have been learning about the depth of human kindness and forming the internal lessons of right and wrong he was hunting on his own, weighed down with the knowledge that letting himself care too much would result in starvation for his family. It’s no wonder that he, intentionally or not, ended up designing the trap that would kill Prim. His life had left him with a set of morals whose edges were just a little too jagged.

When we met Prim she was too innocent and pure to survive long in this life she’d been handed. Sure, she grew so strong by the time she died, but the ideal that Katniss, and in turn we, had for her was too fragile. If she didn’t die she would’ve had the sweetness associated with her name torn from her.

Peeta was set to a high standard as well, he refused to be changed by the Capitol, he maintained a sense of self and assurance for so long that his eventual torture was made all the worse. Here’s someone whose own family didn’t think they’d see him again, and openly admitted it, but in so many ways he ended up being stronger than anyone.

Now we come to Katniss, the girl who was broken apart too many time to count. The only one who volunteered for her role in this, and therefore the one who takes the role of the tragic heroine. The girl who quite literally sacrificed herself at the alter to protect a sister who would only end up being killed a year or two later anyways. Critics of Mockingjay point at this as a fatal flaw to the series, after all what was the point of it all if Prim dies anyway?

The point, of course, is that the choices we make are so much bigger than that. At the very least, Katniss bought Prim a choice. She didn’t have to leave 13 for medic duty, but she did, because innocent people needed her, and that’s what she needed to do, something she no doubt learned from her sister.  Maybe that small choice seems meaningless, but it’s not. It means everything.

Another critique I often hear is the sheer randomness of who dies in Collins books, the pointlessness of it all, but that’s the point. Not everyone who deserves one gets a heroes finale. Life doesn’t work that way. It’s mean, and it’s random, and the fact that any of us can get up and deal with it is amazing.

People die every day for no reason. Sure we can preach that there must me a higher level reasoning we haven’t figured out yet, but there’s not. Horrible things happen, and all we can do is deal with it. If we’re lucky we can form some kind of justification, but we usually can’t, and it hurts, and it breaks us, but then it ends.

The pain stays as the scars fade, and we can scream and fight, but it happened, and yelling for pay back or revenge only turns one wrong into two. All we can do is deal with the fact that our souls and spirits need to be stitched back together, and hope that we don’t run out of thread.

Unfortunately for the parts of our souls that we gave to Katniss as we entered her world, she ran out of thread before she could quite finish the job.

Timeline: The Story of Me

Facebook launched their new timeline feature yesterday, and even before the announcement was made insiders were touting it as the biggest change to Facebook since, well, Facebook happened. I was skeptical, until they showed the Timeline video. The concept is so simple, yet so perfect.

I am sure others will be able to better express the importance of this change from a business perspective; raising the cost of leaving Facebook, the marketing potential, the ability for self promotion. Really, just imagine the viral marketing potential, being able to complete entire backgrounds on movie or television characters, presented as a real person. I’m excited to see these campaigns, I’m sure they’ll be great, I’d like to try some things myself, but where this new tool really shines is the personal level.

Scrolling through your timeline feels like turning the pages of a scrapbook, but one where your friends and your past self can reach out to you.

Admittedly, the effect is much stronger if you haven’t filled your page with Farmville invites, and for the scrapbook element to really work you need a solid history of photos.
If, like me, you’ve had your Facebook account since high school then scrolling through the early years feels like looking through an old year book or photo album and finding old notes, once passed in class, stuffed between the pages.

The timeline on your profile won’t show every little thing you did, and thank goodness, because that would be a mess, but if you go through the Activity Log then you can see every old wall post, photo comment and your own status updates.

I love it.

I found comments from old friends about a party long forgotten, pictures I forgot I had in that hidden from public view album, and notes from myself.

I went through a tough time when I started University. My best friend died four days before my first semester started. I had never lost anyone close to me, and despite all outward appearances I did not handle it well. Sometimes when the pain comes up unexpectedly I am amazed that I ever got through it.

Timeline takes me back there.

I can go through old wall posts my friend left me, comments she wrote on photos, or a message on my 18th birthday. It’s like getting a hug from four years in the past.

By reading old statuses I can remember how I felt then, and I can see how my posts slowly grew happier. I can see the first time I let myself take her initials off my posts. I can look through photos and watch fake smiles become real ones. It’s a reminder that I was hurt, but that I got past it. It reminds me that no matter how bad I feel today, I’ve felt worse, and I made it through.

The video at F8 explaining Timeline immediately brought to mind “The Wheel” the first season finale of Mad Men. Don is pitching Kodak’s new Carousal slide projector and he makes beautiful use of nostalgia to do it.
The executives in the scene are speechless, as is the audience at home.

Using Timeline has given me that same experience. I can choose to share it with the world, or I can hide it and keep it for myself. An online collection of notes and pictures that take me back in time then lets me see how far I’ve come.

“Nostalgia—it’s delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, ‘nostalgia’ literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It let’s us travel the way a child travels—around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.”