The Best Way to Learn is to Teach

Docendo Discimus – in Latin translates to “the best way to learn is to teach” but what does this mean? How can I apply it to social media? Social Media gives everyone a platform to be an expert and the diversity of potential topics is literally endless. Furthermore with the ease of accessibility that social media provides and the fact that the amount of attention people are willing to devote to a particular blog or article means you don’t need to be incredibly thorough and can instead focus on smaller specific topics. I don’t need to know everything there is to know about space flight to be able to offer meaningful content on NASA’s newest Mars rover.

High-Resolution Still Image of Perseverance’s Landing: This is a high-resolution still image, part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars. A camera aboard the descent stage captured this shot. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

But I’m not going to learn very much just sharing other people’s content. For this method to be successful I need to actually make the effort to learn about a topic. Elizabeth Stock states “Learning by teaching can help improve student efficacy, confidence and communication skills. In addition to learning content, Richard said that students learn productive beliefs about themselves. In his words: “If students feel confident enough to explain it to someone else, they might develop a higher self-efficacy. That’s going to be motivating to see themselves as competent learners.” (Stock, E January 24, 2019). So by teaching a subject I will become more confident in the topic and can apply that confidence and knowledge to other areas of my life. To give a practical example I am a “Gamer” I play all sorts of games both casually and competitively. One of the games I play competitively is a game called Star Wars Destiny. There is a content creator at who publishes excellent content and I had considered reaching out to them to see if I could provide content through their site but I had not done so yet. Recently I won a tournament and over the weekend they contacted me eager to hear my insights into the deck I used to win and any thoughts or things I had learned. Naturally I was flattered to be contacted by someone I respected and excited to share my experience. Before I knew it I was the expert and I can attribute this strictly to the effort I put into learning about how to win this particular tournament. Due to my success I was confident that I had meaningful content to share. You don’t have to be an expert on everything, focus on one thing at a time and build a foundation. I guess that’s why teachers always seem so smart and confident. Before you know it the student will become the master. What is one area where you are confident sharing your expertise? What do you wish you were an expert in?

Facebook: Are you a student or a master?

Twitter: #LearntoTeach #StarWarsDestiny

Developing Your Brand

The world is changing every day and if you want to remain relevant you have to be willing to change with it. There was a time when you could go to a good school, get a good job, and as long as you were reliable and hard working you could keep that job for the rest of your life. Your job defined you and your commitment and experience was valued by your employer. What we have seen in ever increasing numbers is students graduating from good schools and not being able to find a job in their area of expertise. Feeling forced to accept a lower paying job then they had anticipated with less potential for advancement. “This has resulted in record levels of student debt. “In 2018, student debt contributed to more than 1 in 6 (17.6%) insolvencies in Ontario” (Hoyes, Michalos Bankruptcy Study). In the U.S. things are even more critical with student loan debt at 1.56 Trillion. These numbers paint a very bleak picture for an aspiring student, if the times are changing then so must you.

The Brand Called You

Tom Peters first explored the topic of personal branding in an article he wrote in 1997 titled The Brand Called You. This article was revolutionary for it’s time and one of Peter’s main points in the article is that you are not defined by where you went to school or where you work but that you yourself are your own brand and all those other things are just a part of your brand. He believes strongly that in order for you to be a successful brand you have to continue learning, continue being a student. Peter has claimed that he will never be the smartest person in the room but he will always be the most prepared. If we look at the brands that have remained successful and relevant over time they have all evolved and grown with the times continuing to improve and adapt their products and services. It makes sense then, that if you are a brand and want to continue to be successful you will also have to continue to learn and change with the times. But how do you do that without going into debt from student loans?

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There Are No Stupid Questions

Everyone has heard this saying at some point in there life “there are no stupid questions, only stupid people”. It kind of feels like a trap, like there has to be at least one stupid question. Right? However I think this statement holds a lot of wisdom especially in our time. People love to be able to share their expertise in a given field so let’s create an opportunity for them to do just that, while also developing our personal brand. Asking questions is one of the best ways to foster engagement but what if instead of asking a question on social media with only the intention of promoting yourself, you do so with the intent of learning something new. By asking the right questions in the right places you can not only continue to learn and grow as a person/brand but it’s also the perfect opportunity to develop your network and promote engagement. There is a whole world out there eager to let you know just how smart they are so let them, and over time you may realize that you have become the expert. What area do you want to be an expert in? What is the first question you would ask?

Why You Need Discord

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines discord as a lack of agreement or harmony but that does not describe the type of Discord I want to tell you about today.

Discord is an American VoIPinstant messaging and digital distribution platform designed for creating communities. Users communicate with voice callsvideo callstext messaging, media and files in private chats or as part of communities called “servers.” Servers are a collection of persistent chat rooms and voice chat channels. Discord runs on WindowsmacOSAndroidiOSiPadOSLinux, and in web browsers. As of July 21, 2019, there are over 250 million users of the software.”(Definition from Wikipedia

Screenshot of my Discord homepage

I first learned about Discord in March of 2018 after playing in a tournament for a game called Star Wars Destiny I performed very well in this tournament and gained the attention of some local players who were looking to add members to their group, they invited me to join their Discord server. This server was made up of a group of friends who had known each other since they were kids but were now just reaching their 40’s. Immediately I was intrigued by the way the server allowed specific groups of people to stay connected, converse, and to share information with each other. As the servers are invite only it is very easy to control who you allow to join and thereby who you are sharing your information with. I should note that members do have the option to share public invites to allow anyone to join. While Discord was originally created specifically for gamers it has evolved as it has grown and is now a space for all types of communities.

Fast forward one year to March of 2019 and I have just been laid off at my job as a restaurant manager and am looking for new opportunities for myself. I have always been fascinated by strategy games and their ability to force me to think critically. I had an idea for creating my own card game and with lockdown restrictions and so much uncertainty during that time I decided it was an opportunity to explore game design. I began to research the practices of other successful game designers and realized quickly that they all had their own Discord servers. I learned that these servers were an excellent place to build a community of people who were interested in a product and provided an opportunity to interact directly with fans and to showcase prototypes or ideas to receive feedback before releasing to the general public.

Moving ahead a few more months and my game is looking pretty good (in my own opinion) however I needed to test it with people I didn’t know. My plan to go to large conventions and small gaming stores/cafes to promote and test my product was not going to happen in 2020 so I needed a solution. With a little bit of research I was able to find many Discord servers tailored towards independent game designers. There were groups playtesting games nearly every day of the week and all were very welcoming to new designers. I found the group at BreakMyGame to be the best fit for myself. Thanks to this group I was finally able to test my game with strangers and this process was invaluable. This group had been designing and playtesting games together for years but the pandemic had forced them to move their events online. Many large gaming conventions also converted to an online format using Discord. I recently participated in Protospiel Online and while it was no substitute for the energy created at an in person convention I did consider it a very successful event and look forward to the next one on April 16.

While Discord does not provide any one specific thing that you can’t get on other platforms, I love the way it allows everyone to connect with specific communities. The ability to transition seamlessly between group chat, voice calls, and streaming is why I believe Discord will be an important tool for anyone who uses social media. Have you ever used Discord? If you have what are your favorite ways to use it? If not there is no time like the present because I am sure there is a community out there for you. And if not… Start your own, it’s easy and it’s free.

Facebook: Discord and why you need it in your life.

Twitter: Need help playtesting your game? #Gamedesign

How Covid-19 Has improved our lives

Everyone will agree that Covid-19 has had an effect on nearly every aspect of our lives. Most people can easily come up with a long list of ways this pandemic has had a negative impact on them. But what if I told you that it has also created many opportunities just waiting to be taken advantage of.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin.

Image by Elijah O’donnell on

With the global impact of this pandemic we have been able to observe many different examples that companies and individuals have used to try and adapt. Before 2020 I think many people had not heard of Zoom and now it’s presence is ubiquitous. Nearly everyone I know is now permanently working from home and the preference is unanimous. No more long commutes, no more acceptable office attire. I think most don’t ever plan to go back.

In March of 2019 the idea of mandatory online learning in Ontario was very controversial as reported by Canada’s National Observer due in part to the lack of resources and infrastructure available to facilitate this change. The pandemic has forced the government to rethink their strategy and implement new systems to make home schooling more accessible, such as investing $50 million in virtual learning and educational technologies reported here. Although many students still suffer from challenges to online learning such as access to reliable internet the investment we make now will benefit all future students by providing more availability and opportunity.

Image from on

Work and school are not the only areas teeming with opportunities. The entertainment industry provides us with many examples as well, so many that I will only focus on two. Remember going to the movies? do you miss it? Movie theatres were especially impacted during 2020 with theatres being fully closed for most of the year. While some of my best memories are seeing “The brand new exclusive blockbuster” as soon as it came out with a group of friends. I have to be honest that I don’t miss going to the theatre. Expensive snacks, sticky floors and people kicking the back of my chair? No thanks, I prefer to stay in the comfort of my own home and due to the pandemic now I can. Netflix has always had lots of great content but now other major companies have been forced to adapt their business models. Warner Brothers announced that all of it’s 2021 releases will be offered on HBO Max. Disney’s streaming service Disney+ which I pay for strictly to watch episodes of the Mandalorian is also releasing all of it’s new movies directly to the service providing additional value to me. The second area that I want to highlight I will refer to as celebrity Zoom calls. Celebrities have been forced to rethink how they interact with their fans. Colin Mochrie famous for his improv work on Who’s Line is it Anyway is one example of a celebrity who has embraced this new phenomenon. On New Year’s eve 2020 he offered an interactive Zoom call experience that my mother purchased a ticket to attend. During this call she was able to interact directly with Colin in one of his skits. The elation she felt at being able to tell family and friends “I got to do a skit with Colin Mochrie!!” was such a joyful experience for her. This kind of direct access would not have been possible at a traditional live event.

I am sure that 2021 will provide many more examples of how we have adapted to this new normal. What opportunities have you taken advantage of since the pandemic began? What is one thing you are glad you will never have to do again?

The new normal. Reasons to celebrate.

Why am I excited for 2021?