The Nine Stages Of Job-Hunting and Soulmate Searching (part ii)

Continued…

Stage 6: The Honeymoon

I arrive at Google’s offices, on the corner of the busiest intersection in the heart of Toronto. Butterflies in my stomach, I enter and am instantly drawn to the company even more than before. I feel so at home in their bright, roomy offices, and the more I learn about their corporate culture, the more I’m convinced I can’t work anywhere else. Everyone is so friendly and everything is so colourful. First, I meet with the Toronto manager again. Then with another member of the Toronto team. After that, I’m linked up to a video conference, interviewing with three more members of Google’s team: two in New York and one in Ottawa. Overall, I fly through five interviews in under three hours. I’ve answered questions brilliantly and made people laugh. I know I’ve made a great impression, and I know they liked me. I’m on top of the world. I leave with the confidence of a man who knows he’s got the job, and wait to hear about next steps.


There you are with your date. Butterflies in your stomach, you remain drawn to her, perhaps even more so now that you feel validated in your attraction to her. You embark on the evening feeling confident despite your nerves. This girl makes you feel so at home, you can be yourself without fear of being judged. You feel right when you hold her hand, and she touches your leg. You imagine yourself doing this the rest of your life, and it makes sense. Your world seems brighter, people seem friendlier. You see her again. And again after that. You fly through several dates and you’re on top of the world. You answer her questions and make her laugh. You know you’re making a great impression and you know she likes you. One night after you’ve dropped her off, you drive home with the confidence of a man who knows he’s got a great girl in his life.

Stage 7: Washing Hair On A Friday Night

Two weeks pass with no word. Nerves wracked, I cannot understand what’s going on. Everything went so well, everyone said such nice things, but no one’s calling. What’s going on? Google said they’d call, regardless of whether I get the job. But where are they? Do I call them? Is that being too pushy? Exactly two weeks after my series of interviews, I decide to get in touch with Google to see what’s happening. They call me back the same day to ask whether I can forward my University transcripts, and whether they can contact my references. I’m ecstatic. I tell them it’s OK, and I go about securing the transcripts and giving my references a heads-up. Google contacts my references asking when it’s best to discuss my professional history. A week passes, and Google does not follow-up with anyone. I send them my transcript and hear nothing back. Nearly ten days after their last contact with me, I’m told they’ll be in touch with me Monday to discuss my application. Monday and Tuesday come and go, with no word from Google. I don’t know what to think.

A few weeks pass by and you’re a nervous wreck. You really like this girl, but she hasn’t called in a while. You’re worried about calling her because you don’t want to come off as desperate or pushy. But you really like her. You know she liked you, but can’t understand why she’s not calling. Finally, you grow a pair and give her a shout. She says she’s happy to hear from you as she’s been very busy lately, but can’t wait to see you again. You’re ecstatic. She sets aside a day to hang out with you, and that day comes and goes without any word. She calls the next day and apologizes, asking to reschedule. You’re more than happy to do so. Shortly afterward, you receive a message from her. “We need to talk…”

Stage 8: The Breakup

After three days of waiting, Google calls. It’s another HR recruiter calling from California. She tells me I made a very positive impression on everyone with whom I interviewed, and I was certainly qualified for the position. However, they decided to move ahead with other, “stronger” candidates, which I took to mean they might prefer someone with a professional history in the industry. Fair enough. And yet… my heart sank. In fact, I was heartbroken. I always knew that it may not work out, but I had been so confident and everything had gone so well… I convinced myself that no one could be better for this job. This job was going to be the jump-off for my future, and my life would grow around this spectacular opportunity. And just like that, with one phone call, it was stolen away from me. I felt like I lost it all. The job of my dreams… gone.

After a few days of waiting (and mental anguish), she calls you. She says you’re funny, you’re sweet, you’re a great guy and she really likes you. However, she just doesn’t see herself with you, and she’s decided that you should just be friends. Fair enough. And yet… your heart sinks. You’re heartbroken, in fact. You always knew it may not work out, but you thought maybe, just maybe, she was the one. You convinced yourself there’s no one out there better for you than her. She was going to be the jump-off for your future, and your lives would grow together, evolve into something meaningful and long-lasting. And just like that, with one phone call, it’s stolen away from you. You feel like you’ve lost it all. The girl of your dreams… gone.


Stage 9: The 5 Stages

Denial: “Whatever… it’s just another job. How good could it really have been? Besides, maybe I’d have hated working there…
Anger:
“It’s not fair… I was perfect for that job! I had all the qualifications. I impressed them all… Why wouldn’t they hire me?!”
Bargaining:
“I’d do anything to work at Google, even take a pay cut. I just really want this job, please…”
Depression:
“All that hard work for nothing. All I learned about Google, for nothing. Why even bother looking for something else, nothing will ever be as good as Google could have been…”
Acceptance:
“Whatever. It’s their loss. It just wasn’t meant to be, and I’ll find something bigger and better for myself.”


Denial:
“Whatever… it’s just another girl. How amazing could she really have been? Besides, maybe I’d just end up hating her…”
Anger:
“It’s not fair! She was perfect for me and I was perfect for her! She said I was funny, I was cute, I was sweet… Why wouldn’t she want to date me?!”
Bargaining: “I’d do anything to be with her, whatever she wanted. I just want to be with her, please…”
Depression:
“She was perfect for me and now I have nothing. Why even bother looking for someone else, no one could ever top her…”
Acceptance:
“Whatever. It’s her loss. It just wasn’t meant to be, and I’ll find a better girl in no time…”

What say you? Have you ever been unceremoniously dumped by a potential job? Would you go so far as to compare it with losing a girlfriend or boyfriend? Share your thoughts below!

The Nine Stages Of Job-Hunting and Soulmate Searching (part i)

The Nine Stages Of Job-Hunting and Soulmate Searching (part i)

Looking for a job is like looking for a girlfriend. Or boyfriend. Or transsexual friend, if that’s the way you swing. Knowing you, that’s totally the way you swing. But I digress.

Looking for a job is like looking for a girlfriend. There are stages which one goes through when job-hunting that are eerily similar to those experienced when searching soulmates. This is something of a recent discovery for me, as I went through the dizzying highs, terrifying lows, and creamy middles, of applying for a dream job.

First, a quick aside. When I say “dream job,” it should be pretty clear I’m not applying to become the first-line center for the Toronto Maple Leafs (hardly a dream job at this juncture in time), nor am I applying to become the fourth Beastie Boy. I’m talking more in the realm of realistic and obtainable jobs, marrying professional and personal interests in a complementary corporate culture at a successful and desirable organization. For some people, this entails working at a bank. For others, it entails working for a beer company. For me, at this particular time in my life, it was the chance to work for Google.

Stage 1: Single

Before stumbling upon the job posting for Google, I was “job-hunting,” to use a dreaded term. Hunting for potential jobs is much like hunting for potential mates. To try and better my chances of employment in my field, I attended conferences and seminars related to my industry. I met people whom I’d followed on Twitter and LinkedIn, and introduced myself to countless others, all in the hopes of meeting someone who would consider calling me in for an interview.

Searching for the perfect boy or girl is much the same. You attend interesting social events in the hopes of meeting a member of the opposite sex to whom you’re attracted. You’ve met people online through Twitter or Facebook, and now approach them nervously in real life, hoping they ask for your number (or Twitter handle) to hang out in the future.


Stage 2: Guarded Optimism

I actually don’t recall how I found out Google was hiring in Toronto, though I’m pretty sure someone tweeted about it. Nevertheless, as soon as I saw the posting, I jumped at the chance. Never thinking it would actually work out, I gathered my courage, updated my resume, and reached out to them. In the back of my head, I quietly expounded upon the possibilities of working for Google. “It’s like playing for the Yankees,” I thought to myself. I was excited, but reserved.


Excited but reserved – the feeling of meeting someone for the first time and sensing an instant attraction. You size her up and quickly determine whether you’d get along with that person and to what degree. Once you’ve decided that she potentially suits you as a mate (or a lover… ooh la la), you get that feeling. You know… that feeling. In the back of your head, you quietly expound upon the possibilities of being with this person: What would it be like to touch them, feel them, taste them…


Stage 3: The First Contact

Google emailed me on a Friday morning to say they’re interested in speaking with me over the phone. I was elated, until realizing I had only received the email that morning, though it had actually been sent one week earlier. I was devastated. A wave of stress crashed over me as I scrambled to reply, hoping that waiting a week didn’t ruin my chances. To make matters worse, I use Gmail… so it was as if Google had cost me a job with Google. After a few days with no response, I emailed them a second time explaining why I had waited a week to reply the first time. They replied within four minutes, letting me know they were still interested, and we set up a time.

Nervous. Elated. Devastated. Relived. That’s your cycle of emotions as you call the girl you really like for the first time. You’re nervous before calling, and elated when the call goes well. Then you go back and replay the conversation in your head, and realize you said something so ridiculous and so stupid, you wouldn’t be surprised if she never called back. Then… a call back. Your potential mate didn’t even realize you had said anything remotely odd, and looks forward to meeting you for a date. Score.


Stage 4: The First Date

My next contact with Google was a phone conversation with an HR recruiter based in Mountain View, CA, home to the Google compound. We spoke casually on the phone for 45 minutes or so, as I walked her through my resume and professional career to that point. I cracked a few jokes but remained slightly guarded. I felt it went well, and she let me know that if I met certain qualifications, I’d be contacted for a second interview. I was nervous but confident.

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You pick a girl up and go for a drink. You’re nervous, but confident. You crack a few jokes, but you don’t take it too far because you don’t want to mess up early on. You speak casually and watch the time, not wanting to drag on too long. You go through each of your lives, discussing past dating disasters. At the end of the night, she thanks you for a lovely time and lets you know she’ll call if she’s interested in seeing you again.


Stage 5: The Second Date


An email from Google… it must be good news. They liked me. They want me to have a phone chat with their Toronto manager. I’m thrilled. We get in touch and talk for an hour. I walk her through my resume; she walks me through her responsibilities. It’s easy-going and comfortable. At the end, she tells me Google will let me know if they’d like to proceed. She seems confident they will. This could be the start of something big.

A phone call from your date the other night… it must be good news. She liked you. She’d like to see you again. You’re thrilled. You get in touch and talk for hours. It’s easy-going and comfortable, much more so than your first phone call. You walk her through your day at work; she walks you through hers. At the end, she tells you she’d like to get together again soon. You seem confident this is the start of something big.


To Be Continued…

Passion vs. Profits

A question as old as time itself, it’s been asked by people worldwide, spanning languages, centuries and continents. It’s a question we’ve all asked at one time or another… a question that penetrates deep into our souls. Of course, that question is: “Are you sure the baby is mine?”

No wait. Wrong question. Let’s try again.

The question in question is: “Which would you rather have – a lower-paying job you love, or a higher-paying job you dislike?”

Before we continue, let’s make a few things clear:

  • I’m not talking about your Dream Job vs. Being A Garbageman (sorry sanitation workers, not a knock against you. But I understand you’re all well-paid, so quit yer whinin’)
  • I’m not talking about a high, six-figure salary at a job you hate vs. a low, five-figure salary at a job you love
  • I am talking about having to choose between two (or more) jobs, where your preferred position pays slightly less than your not-so-preferred position

Essentially, I’m asking what you value more: Passion or Profit?

Let’s try an example: After months of job-searching you’re offered two positions, from two companies operating in different industries. The company in the industry in which you’d prefer to work offers a position with a salary of $40K, and no indication whether there’s opportunity for growth.

The company in the industry you’re not familiar with offers a similar position starting at $50K, with the chance to grow. This company is not necessarily the most ideal destination for you, but at the same, who wouldn’t want an extra $10,000 each year?

Pop Quiz, Hotshot: What do you do? What do you do!?

There are many factors to consider when faced with such a decision: the calibre of your potential team, the credibility and reputation of the organization, and the actual work you’d be involved in, for starters. There’s also the commute, the location, the growth opportunities, and whether or not you can expense that new BlackBerry you’ve had your eye on.

Does taking the higher-paying job make you a sell-out? Will accepting the lower-paying job signal you’re afraid to take on a new challenge?

Does taking the lower-paying job prioritize your passion and expertise over a slightly higher income? Will accepting the higher-paying job ultimately make you happy?

One question leads to many more, and it’s a struggle to solve them all. Ultimately, I try and err on the side of personal happiness. Whether it’s the right decision or not is something only time will tell, but I believe it’s most important to be true to oneself. Of course, that may mean different things to different people.

In the end, you must weigh all your options and make what will likely be a difficult decision, and one you may reconsider almost immediately. If you’re fortunate, you’ll know that you made the right choice. And if not, then at least you’re either getting paid real well, or having some fun.

Have you had any such experiences? Share your war stories below!

Quote Me On This

You know folks, there are plenty of things I dislike in this world. Like negative introductions to paragraphs. Whatever happened to opening a paragraph with something optimistic, like: “You know folks, there are plenty of things I really enjoy in this world”? Let’s try this again.


You know folks, there are plenty of things I really enjoy in this world. However, one thing I do not enjoy is being asked for a quote that I somehow feels reflects who I am, where I came from, my beliefs, my values, my life. How am I expected to take someone else’s words and contextualize them in my own life to reflect my personal thoughts?

Well, turns out it’s not so hard. As a matter of fact, for no other reason than procrastination, I thought I’d share with you a favourite quote of mine, from a favourite author of mine. While I’m far from the first person to identify with Hunter S. Thompson (Johnny Depp, anyone?), his writing heavily influenced the way I write and look at the world. I have nothing but praise for the Gonzo bastard, and I wanted to share with you a personal favourite quote of his, which is one of the few quotes I’ve ever come across from anyone that I felt I could identify with.

Enjoy, and feel free to share any quotes that get you going, one way or another.

“First, I do not live from orgy to orgy, as I might have made you believe. I drink much less than most people think, and I think much more than most people would believe. I am quite sincere about some of the things which people take very lightly, and almost insultingly unconcerned about some of the things which people take most seriously. In short, I am basically antisocial: certainly not to an alarmingly degree, but just more so than I appear to be.

“And finally, the more I try to explain myself, the more apparent it becomes that I’m not doing a very good job of it.”

– Hunter S. Thompson, October 17, 1957, The Proud Highway: Saga Of A Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-67


Five Professional Advantages To Being Unemployed

Three weeks before my wedding, my position in the PR department of a non-profit arts organization was eliminated. The good news was it meant more time for me to help plan a wedding for more people than I’ll ever know. The bad news, of course, was my unemployment.

I have a hard time believing claims that losing a job is “the best thing to happen to me.” However, there are certainly more advantages to being unemployed than one might consider. Here are five:

  • Re-Evaluate Your Resume
    When I lost my job, I realized my resume hadn’t been updated since I was hired. I spent weeks afterward recalling all my accomplishments at work, and putting them down on paper coherently. I wrote and re-wrote, edited and re-edited. But that wasn’t enough.

    The great thing about being unemployed is that you can freely pass your resume around for scrutiny. Sure, you can re-write a resume until the cows come home (farmers have resumes?) but why not share the wealth? Reach out to professionals in your industry or sector, and ask them to read your resume and offer suggestions. Talk to your colleagues and those in higher positions. And don’t be shy! After all, you won’t be hiring yourself.

    As it stands now, I have had my resume go through most of my friends in PR. I’ve sent my resume to former managers and directors, looking for their feedback. My parents have helped me by sending my resume to their friends, soliciting their feedback as well. I consider every suggestion made, and my resume is richer for having done so.

  • Interview, Informationally
    Ah yes, the wily, elusive, and intimidating informational interview. In reality, none of those three adjectives should apply. Informationals are pretty easy to come by and usually quite relaxed and informal. While I wasn’t completely sold on the concept when I first began making the rounds, I quickly warmed to the idea.

    Whenever an organization I contacted would come back to me saying no positions are available, I’d ask to meet with someone in their Communications department, regardless. It reflects a genuine interest and enthusiasm on my part, but it’s also a strategic way of learning about the inner-workings of a company. There’s only so much you can glean from websites and news releases.

    The informational interview is also a no-pressure chance to ask questions you might not ask in a formal job interview: Curious about the salary expectations for someone with your experience? Ask away. Ever wondered what qualifications are truly needed for the positions you seek? Ask away. Want to know how the VP of Communications for SomeCompany Ltd got the position? Where they went to school? What they suggest you learn to get ahead? ASK!

  • Network Network Network. And then Network some more.
    This goes hand-in-hand with the first two points. When I send out a resume for someone to have a look at, I know they’ll offer some useful suggestions. I also know that it’s one more person who will have read my resume, seen my qualifications, and learned about my professional career to that point. That’s one more person who may be able to throw my name out somewhere.

    The same idea applies to everyone I meet for informationals, even more so. Now there’s someone who is not only aware of who I am and what I’ve accomplished, but they have spent some time talking to me, getting to know me, and learning how I think and act. This is – in fact – even more useful as it’s safe to assume an informational interview takes place with someone within your desired industry. That’s another person who can throw your name out to potential employers, with the added bonus of being able to vouch for your character as well. Furthermore, should a position ever open in that person’s organization, a good impression will keep you at the top of their pile.

    Besides that, I follow fellow PR folk on Twitter and LinkedIn, so I know who is doing what. Attending conferences and talks is a great way to meet people in your industry. Go for drinks with a friend and their coworkers. You never know who or what will lead where.

  • Here, Take My Card.
    Simple and cheap. Make yourself a business card. I found out very quickly after having lost my job that networking is difficult without a business card.

    A business card is a classic reminder of who you are and what you do, and it fits in everyone’s front pocket. If you’re unemployed, all you need is your name and contact info, with a brief line about what you do. For example, on my card there is contact information broken up by a single line reading: Communications. Public Relations. Branding. Writing. Editing. Who I am, what I do, where to reach me.

  • Freelance Is Not A Four-Letter Word
    Stay sharp by offering your skills to others. This is not about the money, but about staying in the loop. Offer your services to a friend’s company, or a non-profit organization, or even your dad’s repair shop. Freelancing between jobs can be fun, keeps you on your toes and allows to dabble in a variety of areas.

While being unemployed is never fun, there are ways to use that time to your professional advantage. I’ve been doing my best to stay busy and stay relevant, and I’m pretty happy with the results so far. While not working full-time at the moment, I have a few things on the go and am always looking at new opportunities. Meanwhile, I’ve met with everyone from coordinators and managers, to VPs and Presidents. I’ve had my resume edited by people whom I’d only ever seen on the news. Now they know my first name, where I went to school and what I’m capable of on the job.

Being unemployed hasn’t been the greatest thing to happen to me, but it’s certainly far from the worst. Best of luck to all!

PS
As of this writing, for #HAPPOTO, I remain unemployed but open to all opportunities.

Look Both Ways Before You Cross A Toronto Driver

***UPDATE***
The National Post ran a story Thursday, January 27 in which they essentially corroborate my point below. That means I technically broke this story. Awesome.

Q. In Toronto, why did the Chicken cross the road?
A. Nobody knows – it was struck and killed.

Nine pedestrians died in the past eight days in Toronto, all struck by vehicles. Ranging in age from their mid-20s to senior citizens, their deaths are the only common thread tying them together.

In the Toronto Star, urban issues writer Christopher Hume argues that Toronto is a city that caters to drivers, leaving pedestrians out in the cold. “The truth is that for the past 60 years we have been building cities for cars, not people,” Hume writes. “The width of streets, speed limits, as well as the size and design of cars themselves are all carefully calibrated to suit drivers.”

In the wake of these pedestrian deaths, a buzz has been brewing about the safety of walking the streets of Toronto. It’s almost funny, in a morbid way, that just a few years ago, Toronto endured what was then known affectionately as “The Summer of The Gun.” (another great name for a band, by the way.) Back then, in the halcyon days of 2005, walking down the street in this city would get you shot and killed, if you believed the news. Fast-forward a few years to the first days of a new decade, and once again, walking will get you killed in the city of Toronto, this time by errant drivers

Now, a growing number of people are clamouring for a solution. Citizens, journalists, tweeters, bloggers, and even President Obama, are falling over themselves to make sense of these deaths.

The nine pedestrians killed over eight days has stopped just short of being labeled an epidemic. Guess what? It’s not. In fact, I argue it’s nothing more than mere coincidence. Blasphemy, you say? Read on.

Some may say that to call it a coincidence is asinine, and there is no way cosmic forces surrounded the city of Toronto in such a way that nine people just happened to die in eight days, all in the same manner. To those people, I recommend a book by the name of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein. (click on the link to check it out, I’m not a book reviewer.)

The problem, they write, is that in a city with a high population (such as, oh, I don’t know, say… Toronto?), it’s inevitable that certain occurrences will happen with higher frequency within any one-year period. This can be related to gun deaths, cancer clusters, broken watermains, and even pedestrian deaths.

The results of these inexplicable outbreaks may be products of random fluctuations, with the public insisting that they could not have possibly occurred by chance. However, Thaler and Sunstein argue that people confuse random fluctuations with casual patterns, and therein lies the problem.

Our ability to judge these events as nothing more than a series of coincidences is clouded by the fact that people “often detect patterns that they think have great meaning but in fact are just due to chance.” Thaler and Sunstein continue, “You might flip a coin three times, see it come up heads every time, and conclude that there is something funny about the coin. But the fact is that if you flip any coin a lot, it won’t be so unusual to see three heads in a row.”

What does it all mean? It means that Toronto’s roads are no more or less dangerous than they were two weeks ago and that there is no “epidemic” of pedestrians being struck and killed by vehicles. It means, for better or for worse, that things happen. Sometimes, it’s best to deal with that fact and move on, rather than get on a soapbox and start screaming for change.

In his article, Hume asks: “So why aren’t we talking about lowering speed limits, increasing penalties or narrowing city streets? Why aren’t we discussing ways to improve crosswalks, intersections and road signage generally? And why aren’t we trying to change a culture that quietly condones putting pedestrians’ lives at risk?”

All great questions, all deserving of honest answers. But regardless of what happens to the future of pedestrians and drivers in the city of Toronto, people will continue to die on the roads and the sidewalks. Sometimes more often than seems possible. But such is life… a string of coincidences our brains struggle to logically explain.

If you think there’s something to this, feel free to let me know. If you think I’m a blasphemous human being with no care or consideration toward the victims I mention above, feel free to let me know as well.

The TTC’s One-Night Stand With Ashley Madison

The TTC in bed with Ashley Madison? Heavens to murgatroyd! No one ever says that anymore. It’s a shame, really. Snagglepuss must be rolling over in his grave. But I digress.

The TTC has been linked to Ashley Madison, a website whose official slogan is “Life is short. Have an affair.”  Specifically, Ashley Madison is crying foul over the TTC’s rejection of a contract that would have wrapped several streetcars in Ashley Madison advertising. Even more specifically, the streetcars would have the company’s slogan plastered along either side. It’s a deal that would put at least $250,000 in the TTC’s pockets, which are presently empty and hanging inside-out with moths flying about. Talk radio (the social barometer by which all issues are measured… what are you going to do about it, social media?) was all a-twitter this morning (see what I did there?) over the issue, with Torontonians evenly divided on whether it’s a good idea. Here are some arguments floating around:

  • Having Ashley Madison advertise on the TTC will encourage deviant behaviour and drive people to cheat on their significant others – First off, if someone in a relationship is debating cheating, that relationship is already in trouble. Second, if someone in a relationship decides to go ahead and cheat, they will do so regardless of what they see on the side of a bus. Life isn’t a movie where epiphanies are had standing on snowy street corners staring at signs on streetcars.There seems to be little uproar over the EYE or NOW magazines available free at most TTC stations, which openly advertise sexual services from prostitutes and escorts, and feature NSA (no-strings attached) ads from ordinary people looking for casual sex. In fact, there is likely a greater probability that you’re safer meeting someone from Ashley Madison for casual yet intimate encounters, rather than from the back pages of a free newspaper.
  • How will parents explain to children viewing the ad the notion of having an affair? – Good parents will think of something. If not, maybe we should look at banning the word “sex” from advertising, though that would probably cut out 50% of all ads. Maybe we should also make sure women in ads all wear ankle-length skirts and cover their shoulders, in case children ask about breasts or shapely legs. Oh, we should also ban ads where it looks like people are driving fast, in case it leads to speed racing. We should also ban the movie Speed Racer. Speaking of movies, don’t they have words in their titles like kill and death and violence and war? Let’s look at banning those as well. I’m pretty sure I once saw an ad that asked people not to smoke, and that may have a reverse-psychology effect on children, so that’s banned as well.The annoying point I’m making here is that you cannot shield your children from everything, and more importantly, your children aren’t as interested in these things as parents believe. They don’t possess the breadth of experience and knowledge to properly process the meaning of and beliefs behind, say, an affair. They learn the surface meaning and move on.
  • If Ashley Madison can advertise, why not cigarette companies? Alcohol? Gaming? – What if Marlboro put up a website, and asked people to join and create profiles. They could interact online with other people interested in Marlboros, and maybe even meet up in person. And when they met in person, they would each bring some cigarettes and smoke up a storm together. It’s a lousy – and copyrighted – idea, but bear with me. Marlboro wouldn’t be pushing cigarettes in that case. Sure, they may be encouraging their use, but they would really just be acting as a facilitator between two parties with mutual interests. If they hadn’t met through Marlboro’s website, they might have met nine feet outside the front doors to their office.If someone is going to cheat, they will cheat. Seeing an ad won’t compel anyone who hasn’t already made that decision. What’s more, Ashley Madison only acts as a third party. If not them, then EYE or NOW or Craigslist or Kijiji or any other number of sources.

By now you should see where I stand on the issue. The TTC is in need of money and Ashley Madison is more than happy to fork some over. But ethics and morals prevent the TTC from accepting. Has it forgotten the fact that in 2007, it was happy to take on the controversy of posting ads promoting atheism and the lack of God? Two years can be a long time when you’re raising fares and failing to meet the evolving infrastructure of the city which you serve.

Even if the TTC ultimately does reject having Ashley Madison’s ads plastered on what probably amounts to less than 1% of their streetcar fleet (for $250,000, did I mention that?), this should open a discussion for more advertising on the TTC to subsidize some of its costs.

Anyone who’s been on the Metro in Paris, the Underground in London, the New York subway, the Hong Kong subway and many other transit systems can attest to a plethora of ads. In New York and Paris, there is an ad every few feet. They are inescapable but not intolerable; rather they are a part of the urban underground landscape. Blending into the walls of the transit system as passers-by scurry by, they also give companies a chance to be edgy, creative and try to grab people’s attention. Volkswagen is a perfect example.

Finally, in a brilliant PR move, Ashley Madison also announced reduced fares on TTC vehicles bearing their ad, should their contract be approved. I don’t know if that’s realistic, but they’ve managed to hit a note that resonates with every citizen of Toronto, regardless of their stance on the morality of the issue: Your wallets are suffering, and we want to help. In effect, they’ve told Toronto that they will subsidize the TTC and they will subsidize TTC riders, but the TTC won’t let them. Touché, Ashley Madison.

Bottom line: The TTC needs financial help. If they don’t accept it from Ashley Madison, let this issue lead to an improved resolution on advertising on the TTC in order to offset operating costs. Higher ad revenues mean lower fares and a better system. Toronto deserves that much.

What do you think? Would you allow this? Details, please…