My Thoughts

EP14 – What do Denny’s, Sandman Hotels and The NHL’s Dallas Stars have in common?

Every once in a while I come across  an organization that I had no idea existed, you know, we’ve all had that experience where we’re looking up a stock symbol, we’re watching a financial news show, we find out one of our friends or colleagues or neighbors work somewhere. We ask them what they do, and it’s like, what the heck is that? I didn’t even really know that existed!

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Well, last year I was in Vancouver and I was speaking at a session for one of my favorite technology companies, Adobe, and I had an opportunity to meet an individual, Manoj Jasra, who was exactly in one of those situations, working for an organization in this really cool role that I seriously had no idea existed. The company is Northland Properties, and I had never heard of them.

What I did know were all of the brands and assets that roll up into it. So it was just this weird, interesting conversation. And so I asked Manoj to join me on the podcast to talk a little bit about himself, a little bit about his really interesting role and a little bit about his really interesting company, Northland Properties.

Recognized throughout Canada as one of the most trusted names in hotels, restaurants, sports, and construction, Northland Properties Corporation is the force behind such brands as Sandman Hotel Group, The Sutton Place Hotels, Moxie’s Grill & Bar, Chop Steakhouse & Bar, Denny’s Restaurants, the Dallas Stars, and Northland Asset Management Company. Proud to be 100% Canadian-owned and operated, with over 50 hotels across Canada, the UK, Ireland and the USA, they have head offices in both Calgary and Vancouver, and employ over 12,000 talented individuals across the world.

In the role of Chief Digital Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Manoj is tasked with transforming this legacy business, building out internal marketing agency and digital capabilities, while growing revenues and enhancing the customer experience across all of their properties and brands.

Listen in to Manoj Jasra as he shares his stories and opinions as an authority on how to transform organizations, build internal agency capabilities and redefine the role of the CDO and CMO. Then, listen to the rest of my podcast and let me know what you think about it by subscribing to my email list. I hope you enjoy listening. If you have any ideas for other interviews or topics, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Canada’s top CDO (that’s digital and data to you)

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, digital, data, UX, and technology solutions could not be more critical to an organization’s overall strategy, growth, and success. As an executive leader and CDO, Shawn Mandel transforms organizations and drives positive, lasting change to position those organizations as both industry and market leaders. A leader at the intersection of business and technology, his career encapsulates a blend of expertise in product and software development, business transformation, digital, data, and IT development and operations. Oh, and he likes Malcolm Gladwell too.

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With strengths that transcend industries, he has led some of the most transformative initiatives for Canada’s top brands, including TELUS and Rogers. Now, he tackles one his biggest challenges. Modernizing and transforming Cineplex, the leading film and entertainment company in Canada. As theaters shut down, how has Shawn set himself and Cineplex up for the future? His broad experience across the technology, telecommunications, e-commerce, retail and media & entertainment sectors might be just what they, and we as consumers, needed.

Listen in to Shawn as he shares his stories and opinions as an authority on how to transform organizations, hire top talent and redefine the role of the CDO (all from the confines of my backyard). Then, listen to the rest of my podcast and let me know what you think about it by subscribing to my email list. I hope you enjoy listening. If you have any ideas for other interviews or topics, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

EP12 – Live your customer’s story with Tony Chapman

Tony Chapman won a multi-million dollar agency pitch with 40 pictures and a monologue. I was there to witness it, and ever since, have marveled at this marketing guru who is also one of Canada’s leading communication experts and one of the youngest members inducted into the Marketing Hall of Legends (2008). 

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In this episode, Tony and I discuss the best ways to succeed, whether you are a large multinational or a small, local entrepreneur. Some of Tony’s most important pieces of advice resonate across all verticals and businesses. He has many insights and thoughts on culture, the role of digital, and which brands are winning in today’s world competing for customers and their constant attention.

Some highlights of Tony’s advice include:

“Stop telling your story, become part of theirs” 

“Give the customer more of what matters to them, their life, their livelihood, their family, and do it with less friction”

“I think you can, especially with digital nowadays, have an incredibly purposeful career that will bring profit to you versus a profitable career that lacks purpose”

Listen in to Tony Chapman as he shares his stories and opinions as an authority on how to build brands and sell strategically and profitably in today’s volatile marketplace. Then, listen to the rest of my podcast and let me know what you think about it by subscribing to my email list. I hope you enjoy listening. If you have any ideas for other interviews or topics, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

EP11 – Spotify on a watch, and how to build a business with Spotify

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Ivan Pehar is the Country Manager for Spotify Canada. After spending a number of years at another digital goliath, he made the move to conquer one of most people’s passions, the music business. In this episode, I talk with Ivan about the Spotify platform, and how it has become such an important and influential player in Canada’s digital media and content landscape. It is not just for music creators and music lovers, rather it is a place for all kinds of audio content both for those who want to consume it, as well as for those that want to build a business with Spotify using audio as a key tactic.

Spotify has a few sides to its business. One is obviously tied to consumer entertainment and streaming of content, with the other being focused on advertisers and marketers trying to reach specific audiences. We discuss how Spotify thinks about these two sides of the business and how content producers, like myself, can take advantage of the platform to help build a business with Spotify. It’s not just for music producers anymore.

If you are a business, a content producer, or just a fan of great music and audio content, you must listen in!

Listen to the rest of my podcast as well and let me know what you think by subscribing to my email list. I hope you enjoy listening. If you have any ideas for other interviews or topics, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

EP10 – Transitioning from a shopping cart to a shopping cart

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If you are in Canada then you have probably used a Loblaw’s shopping cart, spending a good portion of your grocery, drug and other living expenses at one of their owned, operated or franchised stores.

Loblaw Companies Limited is the largest Canadian food retailer operating under 22 different brand banners (including Loblaws), as well as pharmacies, banking and apparel. They are massive. With over 136,000 full-time and part-time employees they are the second largest employer in the country. They also have their own private label products under brands that include President’s Choice, No Name and others.

So other than their size, what makes them so interesting? Well, they are in the middle of a massive transformation, helping millions of customers transition from using a shopping cart in their stores, to using a different kind of shopping cart from their homes, work or anywhere on their phone. Yes, we are talking about migrating from those metal and plastic shopping carts used in physical stores, to the digital carts on the different e-commerce websites for each of the brands. How big of a transformation? Well they hit $1 Billion in e-commerce revenue, in 2019, doubling from their 2018 results.

In order to handle this transformation, the digital team has to manage changing customer expectations, massive performance needs and incredibly complex relationships with their retails stores, distribution centers and supplier partners. Lauren Steinberg, VP Product, UX and Digital Marketing spends some time with me talking about all of these challenges and how Loblaw is changing the face of retail in Canada, and getting noticed around the world.

Listen to the rest of my podcast as well and let me know what you think by subscribing to my email list. I hope you enjoy listening. If you have any ideas for other interviews or topics, please don’t hesitate to let me know.