comments & features

Sometimes I talk to people on the internet… about internet-y things: culture, creators, emerging media and remote technology. Some examples include The Economist, Wall Street Journal, Lifewire and others.

Here are a few examples:

Lifewire: Why Stories Have Taken Over Social Media.

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Lifewire: How Apple and Spotify’s Podcast war benefits you.

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Lifewire: Why you could see more Podcasts on Spotify soon.

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Lifewire: Why Clubhouse is so hot right now.

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The Ways to Wealth Blog: an explanation of Snapchat’s new feature Spotlight, its answer to TikTok.

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The Wall Street Journal: reducing video & Zoom fatigue by turning an old iPhone into a new piece of home meeting hardware.

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Business in Vancouver: B.C tech poised to capitalize on U.S. pandemic stumbles.

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The Economist: how to raise your profile at work while in a fully distributed team. 

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Campaigns & Elections: why all politicians need a vertical video strategy ahead of the 2020 Elections.

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Due to COVID—19 many companies and even some sectors are pivoting business operations or entire models in order to just stay solvent. 

Small businesses and startups — who generally are already short on resources — need to identify areas of highest likely return on current resources when looking at structural changes to their business.

Three common ways of pivoting a business are by changing:

  • How you sell
  • Who you sell to
  • What you are selling

How you sell

Overnight bricks and mortar stores who predominantly relied on high frequency foot traffic shuttered. Industries like traditional retail and hospitality immediately needed to take their business online in order to sell anything.  

Restaurants for example pivoted to selling 100% of sales via takeout, so the businesses already using delivery apps like GrubHub or UberEats were still in business while others scrambled to get setup. Now, with more uncertainty ahead, many are looking at companies like Mobi2go for their own multi-channel delivery app with a goal to have more brand control and deeper connection with customers.

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Who you sell to

Many companies who traditionally relied on internal sales teams or external wholesalers to get products on to shelves are now partially or fully pivoting to digital and direct to consumer (D2C) sales. Companies making this move are aiming to build and maintain a brand connection with their customers in a way that will garner repeat business, ideally increasing margins and lowering the cost of goods sold. 

An example of this is GoPro, who in April let go 20% of its workforce to focus on a complete transition to D2C sales by the end of 2020.

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What you are selling

Other brands have pivoted some or all of their current resources towards a new product line. Whether due to COVID—19 they were seeing major declines to their other products, or saw an opportunity for growth emerging because of it, being able to make small changes to create, build and sell new something brand new opens up a new pocet of revenue generation.

Peace Collective, a Toronto-based fashion label, quickly shifted from making clothes to also selling face masks; this foresight led to the hiring 14 new seamstresses purely to meet sales demands for face masks. Being aware of quick changes to customer needs and where your business adds value can even have a net positive outcome.

Peace Collective: P / C

Advice for SMBs and Start Ups looking to pivot their business this year:

Take the time to identify if you believe changes to who, how or what you are selling is going to lead to the best success. If you aren’t completely sure take a look around your industry and see what other businesses similar to yours are doing. If you’re not in the same market or a direct competitor I’d go as far as picking up the phone and talking to others — you’d be surprised at the willingness around to help one another right now. 

Once you’ve determined your path forward lean in on this first and do it exceptionally well before beginning to explore other areas more intensely.

I had the good fortunate of having a chat with The Economist about some practical strategies in raising your awareness inside your company while working from home. You can see the original article here, but I have C&P it below.

• • •

Telecommuting requires new interpersonal skills. That is especially true if you’re trying to stay on the boss’s radar or earn a promotion. Without brainstorming sessions and spontaneous coffee klatches, workers need to find new ways to strut their stuff and get noticed. Keeping your head down and focusing on your work isn’t enough.

  • Remote working is here to stay. This isn’t a short-term stopgap. According to an Upwork survey, 61.9% of hiring managers expect their workforce to be more remote after the pandemic. Businesses are rejigging office environments to minimise physical proximity, including at least part-time telecommuting.
  • And it’s a more level playing-field. “Sycophants are suffering during this pandemic,” says Leila Bulling Towne, an executive coach. Research from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute found that teleworking isn’t a barrier for employees with an eye on the corner office: its survey found that telecommuters and non-telecommuters did not differ in number of promotions.

So what’s the best approach? The experts we asked say that most “managing up” practices don’t change: keep learning, find mentors, take on more responsibility. But new tactics are needed when working remotely:

  • Be vocal about your work. “Be an advocate for yourself with readily available, concrete examples of achievements and strong performance,” advises Tiffany Glenn of ADP, a provider of human-resource software and services. Keep a journal or brag document in which you list your achievements and log outcomes. (This is handy anyway, for example when preparing for an annual review.) Every week, send a brief email summarising accomplishments (including tasks the boss didn’t know you were working on), challenges you’re facing—and how the boss can help.
  • Make the most of one-to-one meetings. A regular meeting builds trust and rapport, and ensures that your manager knows what you’ve done and where you aim to go. “Direct managers have the most impact on the engagement of employees,” says Katy Tynan, an expert on the future of work at Forrester, a consultancy. Teleworkers should insist on a regular, one-to-one meeting, she says. Use the time to ask for feedback, discuss professional-development plans, learn about corporate strategies, discuss career paths, get office scuttlebutt and connect personally.
  • Ask for help. Don’t be shy. Nobody can see if you’re struggling with a deadline. Or to put the advice more formally: “Network!” says Rebecca Wettemann of, a human-resources consultancy. In the absence of in-person scheduled or impromptu meetings, she says, “it’s harder to stay visible with management and identify other people who can help you advance your career.” So use your company’s networking tools, find mentors to connect with virtually and join professional groups, she advises.
  • Offer to help, too. Be generous and public with praise. Let everyone know when people around you do awesome things. This raises your peers’ profile and transitively raises your own. Ask your boss if you can “take something off their plate”. Doing so shows you can take on important work and can rise to a “level-up” challenge. “What important pre-crisis work is your manager not able to get to? Can you do the work, or learn it quickly? If yes, raise your hand,” suggests Phyllis Mooney, executive director of career services at Pace University.

But managing up isn’t just about impressing your line manager; taking a broader view of your company’s activities can help too.

  • Get noticed by people above your direct manager. Promotions happen when you impress the people who influence your boss. In the office, you might have had a hallway conversation with those executives, but that’s no longer possible. So “listen and learn from the CEO and senior leadership during all-hands meetings,” says Will Stewart, an economist and advisor for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. The strategies expressed by those execs will be pushed downwards to your boss.
  • Take the initiative. Alternatively, contribute to the new strategies—particularly because the pandemic means companies are more open to unconventional and creative ideas on how to turn things around, advises Mansur Khamitov, professor of marketing and consumer psychology at the Nanyang Business School in Singapore. Hatch a plan for something your organisation might test, improve or achieve. It’s more likely to be noticed—and so are you.

Above all, look for opportunities, not necessarily a promotion. Although working at home presents new opportunities for career advancement, look for ways to improve your skills, right now, rather than angling for a raise. “Crises are not a time to negotiate increased titles and compensation,” says Ms Mooney. “Jump in and do the work, learn new skills, build your network, and don’t be afraid to fail. When the time is right, the actual promotion will come, either at this company—or in your next job somewhere else.”

Snapchat is a Power For Good

FROM THE VAULT: a version of this was originally published in 2017 but has become a topic of conversation again of recent (for all the wrong reasons). Its narrative is amazing and the campaign’s execution was awesome so it’s worth having a read (or re-read)

In late 2016 — which in start up years, was approximately 100 years ago — I dropped into Chicago for a few days to chat-Snap at Social Media Week & grab a few slices of deep dish (can confirm, both are a great time).

Anna Russett was one of the SMW speakers, and was the most on to it when it came to Storytelling. Anna hosted a session about How Snapchat is Redefining Traditional Media. The thing that was super epic about this presentation was learning how she’d built an audience across several channels and used the platforms to educate her fans and followers to be cognizant when it comes to (social) media. Or more simply, she gives a shit about the world around us and is actually doing something about it.

Chatting briefly afterwards we hashed an informal plan to run a campaign together, amplifying the voices of her followers through Storytelling & UGC. We didn’t know what (or when) until a the following year when I got an email saying she wanted to do a UGC Story with her community on the Muslim Ban so we jumped onto a call to chat it through.

That night Anna executed one of the most powerful conversations on the topic. It was overwhelming what she received from her followers — not just in the US, but all over the world (and all of it on Snapchat).

Traditional Media picked up on it too, with several stories on the campaign and on Anna.

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Flash forward 12 months and Muslim Ban: Our Voice was nominated for two Shorty Awards

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Muslim Ban : Our Voice, outcomes:

The results were truly staggering, and showed not only the power of UGC on Snapchat, but also the willingness of Millennials and Gen Z to engage in conversations about politics and the world around them in a real and genuine way to drive social change. A community of over 11,000 on Snapchat made 40 minutes worth of video.

Soundbites that speak volumes:

  • “I want to thank Trump for bringing to light the racists in my high school,” said one Muslim young woman who said she’d lived through the recent civil war in Libya and emigrated to Canada with her family to escape from violence.
  • “No one in this world should be feeling less than other people because of their race or religion”, said another young girl with the caption ‘I’m so sad’
  • Many of the submission invited others to add them so they could continue the conversations. One group formed on that evening calls themselves “the potato gang” and has kept up a group conversation about their lives and politics. Anna met one of them in late 2017 who expressed their gratitude in person, and told her of their plans to meet up soon.

By the numbers:

  • # of Story Snaps: 255
  • Total length (s): 2,334 seconds
  • Total Views: 1,379,371
  • Total Screenshots: 360
  • Total Views (s): 12,537,172
  • Total Views (m): 208,953
  • Total Views: (h): 3,483


A version of this article was featured by Campaigns & Elections Magazine, you can see it here.

For years now, democracies around the world have branded their youngest eligible voters apathetic to the political system — unlikely to show up on the day and therefore not worth betting the house on.

The 2018 Midterm Elections in the US turned this narrative on its head, where 18- to 29-year-old voter turnout went from 20 percent in 2014 to 36. This is a 79% increase and was the largest percentage point shift of any age group.

Some of the biggest gains within this demographic are happening on campuses around the country. According to Bloomberg’s Balance of Power:

  • African American women are the most active voters on campus;
  • LatinX women saw the largest gains in voter turnout of any demographic;
  • Women’s colleges had the highest rates of campus turnout.

This trend in political engagement wasn’t just a one off in 2018, since then Gen Zers and Millennials have been triggering ‘youthquakes’ in democracies around the world.

snapchat voter turnout

© Snapchat; Snap, Inc.

Just last month in the UK, the largest jump in registered voters happened on the exact same day that Snapchat reminded all of its users via direct message to register to vote.

Looking ahead to 2020 in the US, this trend does not appear to be slowing down, where a recent report indicated 80% college students intend to vote, up from 48.3% in 2016.

The youth vote see the world differently to older generations. They prefer to hear from a peer or online influencer than from a brand. They are also more likely to trust a younger Amazon or Apple to an older Bank of America or Coca-Cola.

When pressed on these preferences a key theme arises: they perceive influencers and younger entities to be more trustful. Two of the most common words used to describe trust were: transparent and authentic.

Taking a step back then, a 2020 Candidate should be strategically positioning themselves more like a Megan Rapinoe and less like a Morgan Stanley.

Positioning for authenticity and transparency means engaging young voters on their level and getting cozy where they’re spending a lot of their time. That means embracing the ephemeral storification of platforms like Snapchat & Instagram.

Young voters perceive stories as a truer representation of individuals than the ‘easier to fake’ Newsfeed. Stories are short, unscripted, and to the point, which is why young voters watch them everyday, many times a day.

Stories are not the only form of Vertical Video though, Instagram TV (IGTV) and Snapchat Discover both cater to higher quality and longer form content. For Public Figures, IGTV is particularly advantageous, as it houses videos directly on their Instagram account and allows for the sharing of the first minute of the video directly on to the Newsfeed.

The Storification of Social Media means constructing a strategy specific these platforms and optimizing all of their feature sets.

  • Yes, you need to be taking questions from your followers on Instagram Live;
  • No, your YouTube video or TV ad is not a Snapchat Story;
  • Definitely get more ‘sweat’ out of your high quality video content by repurposing some of it (and its b-roll) into properly produced video for IGTV segments;
  • Absolutely draw inspiration from daily news shows like NBC’s Stay Tuned on Snapchat, which averages +30 million viewers each month.

Vertical Video allows for more regular and ‘real’ engagement with your audience, stories speak with your audience rather than at them. They are, by design, lower production value and add authenticity to your narrative. Beyond organic Stories each channels Paid Advertising options are inexpensive and effective. You only need to look at the aforementioned UK voter registrations to see direct response in action with those under the age of 25.

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Sourced from Twitter: @ElectionMapsUK

Today, politicians are already winning with these strategies:

  • AOC regularly does Live Stories on Instagram, providing her +4M followers unfiltered background and updates — just for them.
  • Beto used features like chat to listen and respond to real questions from his youngest fans during both his campaigns.
  • Donald Trump shares own narratives directly to IGTV, each generally garnering +1m organic views.

If you’re a potential candidate planning for next year and don’t yet have a dedicated Strategy for Stories, you may not survive another 2020 “youthquake.”



Image recognition:

Viewership statistics for the first quarter of the 2019/20 season were released this week. Given the the offseason hype — at first glance — they may appear alarming.

Major media outlets are blaming things like the NFL and early season load management of star players as key factors at play.

In 2019, only analyzing one traditional element of what we should consider ‘viewership’ is incubating a false narrative on the league’s engagement.

As the NBA itself, the 30 teams and hundreds of extended fan communities all vie for our “second screen,” our smartphones have quickly become a more robust source on game day than a singular cable network.

Here are a few reasons why these viewership metrics are misleading of the NBA’s true fan engagement this season.

Instagram is winning on Game Day

As a fan, I follow @NBA, @Raptors, @BrooklynNets, + a handful of players from each team, along with all major outlets (ESPN, Sports Center, The Score, etc). Additionally, there are also unaffiliated New Media accounts like @SidelineSources, House of Highlights, @NBAmemes and The Gist Sports adding different angles to the game 24/7.

A typical game day looks like this:

  • Nets & Raptors generally post about 8-12 feed posts + Stories every game day. These include photos and videos with game highlights and updates
  • Official Media Partners have rights to post photos and video highlights from league games
  • Fan & New Media outlets can be cranking out as many as 50+ feed posts a day along with Story highlights and user generated content from around the league.

As fans, our Feeds are full updates and highlights in near real time. Beyond that, high consumers of Stories, can find even more immediate updates where available

Power of Real Time Conversations

Take a five minute smartphone tour of any digital native fan and you’re likely to see conversations happening in private (WhatsApp, Snapchat, Messenger, SMS) as well as public (Twitter, Reddit).


Real time chat allows fans to closely keep tabs on a game or games without actually watching on cable.

YouTube’s library of Recaps

In a busy world it’s not always possible to watch a full game… especially if a game tips off is at 10:30pm (more on that in a sec.).

Similarly, maybe you don’t want to watch a full Mavs game (sorry, Cuban), but you do want to see Luka drop those 40 points without breaking a sweat.

The NBA cranks out ~10 minute game recaps for every regular season game (i.e. 1,230 total) along with playoffs.

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So whether you’ve missed your team, are a fane of the game, or just have a generationally youthful attention span the NBA delivers a very well utilized option to ‘view’ recent games.

Is West Coast the Best Coast?

You don’t realize how hard it is to be the fan of a western conference team living in the east until it happens to you (for me, RIP Vancouver Canucks 2016-present).

LeBron plays the majority of his games at the tail end of NBA game days (9-10:30pm EST). A lot of fans have followed him around the country (burning jerseys all along the way). With all the options available, many of east coasters may continue to sleep on these late night games until the playoffs roll around.

Where to from here?

The only thing these viewership metrics are truly relevant for are long-term negotiations between Turner (TNT), Disney (ESPN, RSN) and the NBA (at +2.5 Billion/year is not an insignificant negotiation).

NBA viewership, if given a more modernized definition, is significantly healthier than publicized because the current baseline narrative is missing massive chunks of what, in my opinion, should be considered an element of viewership.



p.s. for reference, Billboard Hot 100 added “YouTube plays” to its metrics in 2013. Just sayin’ ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


As the Game II looms near it feels appropriate to highlight a key win by the National Rugby League (Australia) from Game I State of Origin — and that “W” was from the League itself… winning fans’ second screen.

NRL’s Instagram Story from sunrise through to post-game celebrations was incredibly well crafted. So much so, I wanted to break down the successful elements to help inspire creators everywhere.

First off, to pique the interest of anyone deep in the Stories game, here’s the high-level recap from this story.

Story Insights:

  • # of Total Snaps: 48
  • Total Story Length: 6m15s
  • Completion Rate: 66.9%
  • Change in Organic Reach: 143% higher organic reach vs. trailing 90 day avg. 

There’s a lot to unpack exactly why this story ticked the boxes of Instagram’s algorithm and flew off the circular top shelf of the app.

So buckle up and get inspired by the team at NRL.

Intro: what’s to come

An engaging 10s intro (high paced enough to keep you from feeling the need to tap next or swipe out) the Story starts strong with historical moments from Origin’s of past.

(note: shouting out Network 9 their broadcaster reminds fans where to find the footy tonight)

Putting Instagram Polls at the top of the Story helps drive active engagement. This inevitably tells Instagram your followers like not only this Story but also content from your account.

Another power move was cross-promoting their Snapchat Lens with a swipe up. Australia has a highly engaged audience of young-Snapchatters, so ensuring fans know they have AR (augmented reality) to play with shows precisely how well the NRL understands the importance of connecting with young fans on their level — an epic few frames here!

#Origin: a Storied History

In most instances, I would always advise a client to rethink having 2 x 15 second videos near the top of a Story as any videos over 10s tend to see an average drop off rate of 7-10%+. This can be an engagement killer and lead your organic reach in the wrong direction. Not with the team here.

There are a couple of reasons why this 30s clip plays, it’s:

  • made specifically for vertical, it was the forefront of the strategy, not the afterthought
  • cuts between clips with graphics and gives the feeling of shifting into a new Snap rather than watching a 15-second video
  • leans in on history: the past gets fans fired up about the present
  • links to longer form content for those wanting to dip their toes into this content at length
  • and lastly, for the OTT peeps out there too, you’ll note NRL had an easy awareness piece for NRLTV — done in a way to not detract from the Story itself

That 30 seconds flies by in the palm of your hands.

Back to the Present: who, what, where

Similar to the top of the Story, the tactic of active engagement to bring your followers back into the narrative across a full day Story helps immensely in Instagram’s algorithm.

  • A simple Poll — ‘who ya got’ — is an easy way to recalibrate fan focus
  • Refresher on the game at hand — quick video: Sound On (obviously)
  • Head-to-Head Game Stats from all 114 matches to date
  • Shots of the stadium tailing off on another easy engagement sticker (Slider) does the trick

Across these 5 Snaps (20 seconds) only saw a 2.12% drop off rate — total! (that’s insanely good)


Shout Out to the Future: when, how

Promoting the future NRL stars is a key to the game’s long-term sustainability so it was great to see them drop in details on when and where the U18 Game was going to be available.

Again, this was also a subtle tie to their own OTT – NRLTV (great stuff!)

Pregame: prepping for #Origin

We’re getting close to game time now, it was imperative to remind followers of the actual task at hand.

Cue stadium specific stats to highlight the home state and stadium advantage the Maroons have built for themselves over the past 39 years of Origin.

Always a win with fans is getting them behind the scenes. A couple quick locker room shots (bonus points for having team specific GIFs loaded into GIPHY) as well as a few of the team entering Suncorp Stadium.

Game Time: fireworks, legends & the Kick Off

Right before the broadcast fires up the full line ups were pre-scheduled to go live on NRL’s Story.

This is probably overlooked for its value by most. The reason this is important is it’s a timely reminder that the NRL has fans covered on their 2nd screen for the whole evening.

As the final festivities got underway the NRL went all out on offering unique content specific to the channel as both teams made their way on to the field

For those on their second screens, it’s a very timely reminder to get your first screen tuned into Network 9.

Again, another high quality pre-made and scheduled video helped to kick off the game in real time.

So there are a couple of things worth mentioning here (and it’s these subtleties which are those 1%ers that add up over time).

  • They made sure this ‘stock imagery’ wasn’t out of place by using recent Origin Imagery from Suncorp Stadium means a fan’s subconscious does not disengage with incongruent Stock Imagery
  • They’re using graphics that line up with what you find in Instagram, so even though this was made in InDesign, it still feels native to the channel

Live Updates: not just for Twitter

Twitter used to be the only spot you could get live updates… not anymore.

I absolutely love what they’ve done here:

  • Premade Blues & Maroons templates
  • Designed to drop in horizontal highlights (cutting vertical like this just is not practical for these videos)
  • Updated in near-real-time to all tries are populated throughout the game (2nd screen ftw)

Post Game: feel the realness

After the final whistle blows they do an excellent job again winning that second screen by making sure unique channel specific content littered their Story through to completion.

Putting the phone in the hands of the victors is adds to the moment for everyone.

Summary: this Story won because

  • High energy intro
  • Active engagement at key points throughout the day (read: IG Stickers)
  • Keeping the history and fanaticism of State of Origin front and centre throughout
  • World Class Vertical videos created
  • Any still images were great quality & well branded (and had important information to share for the day)
  • Behind the scenes before and after kept fans coming back at important times of the day
  • All content was unique to the channel


National Rugby League Digital Team credits:

Cassandra Wilkins – Social Media Manager

Reece Carter – Senior Social Content Producers


It happened, again

Another year, another MTA card.

This year I knew better than the last.

Let’s get it, 2019.


What an epic weekend of March Madness, if your bracket isn’t busted you need to go get checked out. Through all the ups and downs we’re looking at four from team mish into the Sweet Sixteen.

On the Snapchat front, one of the highlights we saw was Texas Tech getting fan centric with their Storytelling in the quest to find the farthest fan.

The Call to Action (CTA) was simple: send us a Snap from where you’re cheering on the Raiders — with a geo-filter to prove it (cuz, you know, nobody likes a cheater) — for a chance to be featured on the Story.


As you can see the outcome was pretty epic.

Texas Tech saw a 15% reply rate from their followers who were Snapping back #WreckEm, Guns Up and Go Raiders from all corners of the globe (seriously, Raiders are everywhere)

We’re looking forward to another big week ahead. In case you’re keeping track, here’s who we still got in our client bracket at Mish*:

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Want to chat more about integrating your fans into your Storytelling? Let’s chat.

*we love all our clients equally

This year’s March Madness kicked off with additional excitement in the Mish Guru offices (this type of chat usually resides cleanly within the Slack channel properly titled #sports).

Here’s why:

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That is because nine institutions and/or departments lacing up for March Madness use Mish Guru to tell their campus story.  And better yet, they’re actually having fans tell it for them (this is an example of Texas Tech pre-game today — Go Raiders!)

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I remember when we didn’t even have nine SaaS clients (we’re not even talking about nine universities as clients… or nine in freaking March Madness!).

This is an example of why it’s important for startups to build predictable, scalable, sales processes aligned to solving the needs of an addressable and defined market — in this case, higher education — and doubling down.

Had Mish Guru spent all its scarce marketing and sales energies in its early days on the random lowest hanging fruits from all the trees in the orchard, rather than getting specific, there is no way 14% of March Madness institutions would be using Mish Guru on their campuses in 2018.

I’m super pumped to be cheering on the Blue Devils, Wildcats, Jayhawks, Spartans, Friars, Jackrabbits, Raiders, Racers, and being part of the Wolf Pack this March Madness… and even more excited to continue to build on these wins and learnings in higher ed as well as the new verticals we build out in 2018.

Cheers to the madness,