Speaking at Social Media Week TO

Anastasia | New Media, Television, journalism | Thursday, 17 February 2011

Social Media Week TO

I recently had the pleasure of speaking at one of the hottest digital media events held in 8 cities around the world - Social Media Week - about some of my favourite topics - media, broadcasting and the Internet. Marie (my partner-in-crime on NatandMarie.com) and I lead a conversation called “Engaging Entertainment.” Needless to say, this was a pretty exciting milestone (and experience) for our team. I love getting to chat to people about online video and how it’s evolving. But adding livestreaming and true engagingement into the mix was truly inspiring. Here’s the description of the talk:

“What if you took any camera that could stream, free services, inexpensive tools a supportive circle of friends and hedged a major bet on a motley crew of statistics sourced from several online sources? You’d see a batch of new talent and new growth emerge that blur the lines between radio, television and social media engagement. Live streaming entertainment is on the 2011 docket for the team behind NatandMarie.com. From the technical to the marketing, from the production to the delivery, the show’s team will share some behind-the-scenes tips and overcoming challenges on creating engaged entertainment for the 21st century.”

You can watch the LiveStream of the talk here (it doesn’t ACTUALLY start until around 20 minutes into the recording).

The Natifesto

Anastasia | Uncategorized, profile | Friday, 14 January 2011

Before this week, I had no idea people who weren’t political leaders or companies outlining its philosophies were writing personal manifestos. It had never even occurred to me to look it up. But I was recently challenged to put one together and I really enjoyed the experience. It’s quite different than writing out your yearly goals because it makes you get much more introspective and get to the heart of your beliefs and outlook on different areas of your life.

I did a bunch of research before putting mine together, but I found this website immensely useful with its explanations and examples. I particularly liked the Dalai Lama’s and Lu Lu Lemon’s.

These are a couple of other very cool examples:
Bruce Mau Design’s “Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
Permission to Suck’s “A Manifesto for Creative Professionals

And so, without further ado…

Written in 2011, The Natifesto is a collection of statements based on my values, strategies and motivations. What’s right for me, may not be right for you. Then again, it wasn’t written for you. I don’t know how many of these will change or stay the same over the years, but this is me today and how I’ll strive to approach every project (and life situation).

I) Grab your life by the balls and OWN it.
You’ve achieved great things in your life whether you can always recognize it or not. Comparing yourself to others’ successes only makes you forget this essential fact. Be confident. Believe in yourself. Then dazzle the world.

II) Take better care of your body.
Don’t just focus on nourishing your mind, nourish your body. It’s the fortress that lets you to explore the places you haven’t seen yet or walk over to your mom to give her a big hug. Your body should be a priority. You need it to travel the world.

III) Continue laughing and don’t forget to smile.
You were recently told to copyright your laugh and add it to your show credits. Your laugh is distinct and infectious. And it fills you with endorphines, which make you happy. Remember to laugh. Remember to smile. It makes you more approachable.

IV) Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Can’t take full credit for this, but the Dalai Lama sure knew what he was talking about. Learn the rules so you know the parameters, then let your creativity explode. Kaboom.

V) Take a breather.
Sometimes you just need to slow down so you can take a step back to really appreciate the masterpiece you’ve created. And be GRATEFUL for God’s sake!

VI) Don’t be afraid to dream big.
You’re an out-of-the box thinker. You’re often drawn to the road less traveled, whether it’s against your better judgement or not. You have huge ideas and all the tools to execute them. Make those travel shows! Build your businesses! Build your infamy! You’re only limited by your own doubt and insecurities.

VII) Take more showers.
Not because you’re not hygenic, but because, for some strange reason, all your greatest ideas flow out when you’re scrubbing away.

VIII) Be diplomatic but don’t be a pushover.
Your natural ability to see all sides of a situation makes it easy for you to be diplomatic and bridge the gap for others. It makes you more understanding. It’s what makes you well-suited to journalism and communications in general. But at the same time, don’t forget your values and be ready to make a stand. For things to move forward, concrete decisions need to be made.

IX) Collaborate.
As they say, many hands make light work. Plus, you LOVE brainstorming because of the energy buzz. Bounce ideas off others, split the work. Everyone has their own brand of awesome to contribute, so what you achieve together can surpass your expectations. Have faith in that.

X) Listen. Then ask strategic questions.
This is something you know you’re good at and love to do whenever you meet someone new or interview them for a story. You need to listen to be able to ask the questions that will only add more value for when you’re telling (or reporting) the story to someone else in the future.

XI) Try to learn something new everyday.
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates was a pretty smart guy and this is one of those quotes that resonates. You’re innately curious and love to research and learn. Explore cultures and societies and their histories. It helps you grow as a person. Plus adds to your generous conversational skills. Nurture that strength.

XII) Create, create and, for good measure, create!
Because when you don’t, you feel stifled. Like you’re not expressing yourself the way you’d like. Continue to write, to produce, to host, to perform the piano, to sing and dance. And please take some art classes already, your soul is dying to paint.

XIII) Find a way to turn your weaknesses into strengths.
But don’t tell anyone you’re doing it. Mistakes happen. Failures happen. But it’s the mark of a successful person to not get discouraged by failures. You’re human. The mistake is if you don’t learn something from it.

XIV) Make more friends and nuture your relationships.
Being a social butterfly in high school evolved to being a master schmoozer in the “real world.” Continue to make new friends and always nurture your old relationships. It leads to respect, ease of communication and trust, essential elements whether in business or day-to-day shenanigans.

XV) Act honestly and with integrity.
You’re a horrible liar and you need to believe in a product or person or project to be able to sell it. You feel at unease and occasionally passionately furious when something unjust occurs or if one’s integrity is questioned. So be honest and act with integrity. Genuineness is attractive.

Looking Back at 2010

Anastasia | Site News, interviews, journalism, profile | Tuesday, 04 January 2011

As seems to be customary these days for those who have blogs (or are generally into social media and being transparent) the beginning of the year is a great time to look back at the previous year’s successes, meditate and be grateful for them, and to start working on goals in the year to come.

Inspired by my good friend, Irene’s, 2010 re-cap, I thought I would write down some of my 2010 highlights as well. Take it from me, putting it all in writing like this sure puts things into perspective and makes it a whole lot easier to give yourself that pat on the back that perhaps you don’t do often enough.

So let’s reflect, shall we?

-Perhaps my biggest achievement this year was planning and implementing Women’s Post’s 2nd Annual Charity Fashion Show. Proceeds went towards the Women of Baycrest (an incredible organization focused on women’s brain health that REALLY should be getting more press in my opinion) and it was a glamourous and fun evening full of vintage fashions, high-end catering, tons of swag and a whole lot of schmoozing for 400 people. Coming from a journalism background, event managing wasn’t something I was entirely confident in when I was hired to do the job, but considering how much I learned about building business relationships, negotiating deals, promoting ticket sales, managing employees and interns and simply making sure the job got done as smoothly as possible regardless of inevitable bumps along the way, this event was the most challenging yet most satisfying thing I’ve done all year. I am so proud of myself for successfully throwing my biggest party ever:)

-A show I’ve been producing over the last couple of years, Naked Wine Show, was picked up by Food Network Canada for its digital property and re-branded as “Grape Notes.” Instead of a weekly show, we’re now producing about 20-25 episodes a month, ranging from wine reviews, How To’s, Top 5 lists and even Memory Notes (where our host, Susan, teaches you how to find certain scents and tastes commonly found in wine, like apples or dirt). Needless to say, I’m loving all the wine knowledge (and tastings!). TOTAL job perks.

-Interviewing and profiling interesting people is one of my absolute favourite things to do. I love getting to know individuals and hearing their stories. It probably explains why I enjoy reading memoirs as much as I do. Luckily, I’ve gotten to interview a lot of interesting people this year, but my two favourites have to have been Marvel’s Stan “The Man” Lee and Nadia G (host of Food Network’s Bitchin Kitchen). They both have such distinct personalities and twisted senses of humour:) Although, getting serenaded by Matt Dusk comes at a close third!

-Among my bag of tricks, PR seems to be something else I have a knack for and really enjoy. Between my social media experience, journalism background and understanding of PR, I worked as a freelance publicist with CL Communications and helped strategize and implement a national publicity plan for speed dating company, FastLife.ca. We obtained international coverage through Reuters, CP24, NOW Magazine, CanadaAM, Dragon’s Den and even Rachel Ray for a fun Valentine’s story about “Flitter.” It certainly snowballed into something bigger than we started with, but that’s always the goal with PR, isn’t it? The more buzz, the better.

-On a journalistic level, I’ve expanded my reach by freelancing for various publications and networks. Some of my favourite experiences have included blogging for CBC.ca during TIFF 2010, profiling indie filmmakers for BlogTO, interviewing and getting a piece picked up by the Financial Post.

-Visited British Columbia for the first time…in my life. Sad, I know. But I got to check out Vancouver, Whistler AND Okanagan and I am SOLD. I’ve always been a sucker for gorgeous scenery (ie. mountains and oceans) but being in the Okanagan visiting numerous wineries definitely solidified the fact that my one of my future businesses seriously might have to include owning a winery. No jokes.

-Through the help of my dearest Walid (my inspiring fitness guru and source of willpower), I have taken my fitness to a whole new level in 2010. Given, I still have ways to go in making 2011 my most fit year ever, but 2010 is where I began to build a foundation for trying to make health and fitness a more integrated part of my life. And not just aerobics classes. I mean, weight-lifting, hardcore conditioning. It’s been painful. But SOO satisfying.

-Last but not least, my partner-in-crime, Marie, and I started “Nat&Marie,” a weekly live streaming talk show focused on online and pop culture. Ever since meeting her through Twitter almost 2 years ago, our creative energies have come up with numerous project ideas from female-oriented scripted-reality shows and portals, to travel shows, to marketing campaigns and now to a project that I believe has the potential to go very far based on the traction and interest that has been stirred in such a short period of time. Nat&Marie has grown very organically and has great plans in 2011 that involve engaging show ideas, unique social media marketing and much much more.

All in all, 2010 was a pretty awesome year. More grandiose than I thought, to be honest. As the good Doctor once said, “Will you succeed? Yes you will indeed! (98 and three-quarters percent guaranteed).” And with advice like that, how can you not look at 2011 with a grin. Excelsior!

Nat&Marie go LIVE

Anastasia | New Media, Television | Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Not sure if you’re following me on Twitter or Facebook, but if you are, you’re probably aware by now that my partner-in-crime, Marie, and I have launched a live streaming talk show that explores all the best there is to experience in online and pop culture. We geek out over the latest viral videos, YouTube WTF discoveries (like this video about Japan’s virtual diva, Hatsune Miku, who is now a 3D hologram performing for thousands in a live concert??), Twitter trending topics, fascinating online personalities, buzz-worthy news and mixing a cocktail-of-the week (usually of our own creation), all while engaging with our viewers live on Ustream, Twitter and Facebook.

Oh, and we have a very cool growing team so far including Matt Read doing all our hyping and moderating online, as well as Roberto Sarjoo who is our resident DJ-extraordinaire spinning the latest singles every week exclusively for our crowd. And I can’t forget the amazingly unique (mind-bogglingly unique…have you seen their Harth Night? Or heard their self-produced tunes?) BNotions boyz who are letting us crash their pimpin’ office for our studio set.

Considering all the online video experience I’ve had, live streaming is an area I’ve been curious to explore. And the R&D with Marie has been fruitful and giddy-worthy, indeed.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook!

Check out for more shinanigans on our YouTube

And track us on Twitter with #NatandMarie when we’re airing every Wednesday, around 8 p.m. ET on NatandMarie.com :)

We’re on Food Network!

Anastasia | New Media, Television | Monday, 08 November 2010

You know that weekly wine show I produce with Frogwater Media called Naked Wine Show? Well, it has evolved and has been picked up by FoodNetwork.ca! It went through a wee bit of a re-brand as “Grape Notes” (which I suppose is a little more network friendly) but features our awesome host, Susan Sterling, doing her thang daily. And instead of just reviews we’re also doing wine How To’s, Memory Notes (ie. how to determine notes in wine like apple, coffee, dirt etc) and Top 5 lists!

Here’s some coverage you can read more about it from TechVibes, MediaCaster and Food Network itself!

Check out a new wine-y episode every day on FoodNetwork.ca.

And make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

Blogging for the CBC during TIFF 2010

Anastasia | Film, Television, interviews, journalism | Saturday, 11 September 2010

CBC Street Team

I have had the wonderful fortune of getting to blog for the CBC. I guess all this cross-platform reporting I do is paying off if it’s getting me sweet gigs like this:)I was one of eight people who were hired on CBC’s Street Team to report on the ins and outs of the Toronto International Film Festival 2010. Our only mission was to bring to light the stories of TIFF outside of generic movie reviews and celeb interviews and we could do this through writing, video and tweeting. Fun challenge.

Some of the angles I covered were more along the business side of TIFF, like gifting suites and what TIFF offers for emerging filmmakers. I even pulled out my handy ol’ FlipCam (my fave!) and hit the streets asking people about their fave celeb sighting stories.

I’m glad networks are moving in the direction of cross-platform reporting. It’s so dynamic and ends up offering audiences a feast for the senses:)

Filmmaker Profiles on BlogTO

Anastasia | interviews, journalism, profile | Friday, 30 April 2010

Although the hustle to get freelance gigs is tough, this one with BlogTO was one I was pretty pumped to hook up. Mostly because it involved doing interviews and profiling people, which is one of my FAVOURITE things to do. And it involved a pretty sweet photo shoot by James Kachan highlighting some of my fave indie filmmakers.

Check out my interviews with:

Dean Bajramovic

Jason Hildebrand

And, last but not least, The Campagna Brothers.

Nat’s insights on The Questionnaire

Anastasia | New Media, Television, Travel, interviews | Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Considering I’m a nerd for doing interviews, I rarely am faced with the opportunity to be the interviewee. However, The Questionnaire recently reached out to do a Q&A with me, and I’m pretty pumped with the results. They profile notables within arts and entertainment, so I’m honored to be featured among the likes of Veronica Belmont, Amanda Congdon and The Guild’s Sandip Parikh.

While reading through the questions, it really reminded me of those Proust Questionnaires featured on the last page of every issue of Vanity Fair. They’re painfully fascinating and for such a concise limit of words offer an explosion of insight about an individual.

Here’s a snippet:

What turns you on creatively?
Strangely enough, showers are where I get the most of my ideas. I guess there’s some sort of clarity when you’re “washing away” everything else under a hot jet of water.

Brainstorming sessions get me buzzing and being around people who are passionate about what they’re doing really gets my creative juices flowing. That kind of energy is infectious and it always makes me think of ways I could connect them and help them reach their goals with my skill sets and vice versa. I love to collaborate.

If you were a mind-reader whose mind would you like to read?
Lady Gaga. That woman is one of the most intriguing public figures I’ve ever come across and I’d love to know if she’s really that abstract or she knows it’s a fantastically edgy angle to put out there for marketing purposes.

If you could travel in time, which era would you visit?
Ancient Greece in a time where Gods walked among men, being a philosopher was a real job, and everyday was a toga party.

What is your favorite sound?
The ocean. Or a huge, booming belly laugh from the people I adore.

Pretty cool, right? Check out the rest of the interview here!

Best Travel Job EVER!

Anastasia | New Media, Travel | Monday, 19 April 2010

I recently entered a rather FANTASTIC sounding contest with a fellow parter-in-crime, Marie Nicola of TwentySomethingTV and Karmacake.ca fame, to win the best travel job ever. Coincidentally that’s the name of the contest, BestTravelJobEver.com.

It seems like Flight Centre, who’s putting on the contest (along with a slew of sponsors including Intrepid Travel and Air Canada), have jumped on the social media bandwagon to rally up the most adventuresome, travel lusty communicators across Canada to create a short video about why they’re the best choice to win the contest.

The videos are up for voting for the month of April and then the Top 25 videos are evaluated by a panel of celeb judges. Six entrants get sent on a trip by Intrepid Travel to vlog to their heart’s content. And then the best two from that gets the GRAND PRIZE from Flight Centre.

Here’s our rather salacious entry. We decided to go for the tongue-in-cheek testimonial approach. Plus, it’s the first piece of video I’ve been the editor for in a looong while. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out:)

Guess Who Has a Column??

Anastasia | Magazine, New Media | Wednesday, 07 April 2010

So guess who’s a columnist for Women’s Post?

Yep. Me. How rad is that?

It’s a bi-monthly column called “Bridging the Gap” and its aim is to discuss the interactions between Old Media vs. New Media.

I’m pretty pumped because I get to use this forum to analyze and geek out about all the different moves played by traditional media outlets like TV, magazines and newspapers to try to make themselves more relevant via the rapidly changing medium of the Net. On the flipside, I also get to talk about New Media and how its users have been working to legitimize themselves and build business models around the content they’re creating on the web.

My first column really sums it all up:

The Internet has been a catalyst for change for a lot of different industries, but particularly within the world of traditional media, like newspapers, magazines and television.

Over the last six years, I’ve worked various media roles, from a chase producer for Canadian network programs to launching five online TV shows. Coming from a background of both traditional and “new media,” which essentially means online publications and web shows, I have had the benefit of seeing how both worlds have been growing and adapting to each other to accommodate this paradigm shift in how media is being consumed by the general public.

With regards to video consumption, for example, ComScore’s latest Video Metrix data report released April 2009 ranked Canada as the highest in online video viewing - beating countries like the UK, Germany, France, and the U.S. - and reported that the average Canadian online viewer spent 10 hours viewing online content, up 53 percent from last year.

The Internet really is the Wild West for mass media and in this column I’ll be taking a look at how the web has affected traditional mediums and point towards concrete examples of stories like networks launching webisodes to complement their TV shows or original web-only series; citizen journalism or viewer-created content becoming more sought out by news organizations; and newspapers and networks embracing the two-way conversation the Internet has become notorious for.

I’ll even be bringing to light examples of how web start-ups have made the leap into traditional mediums, with online magazines expanding into print or web series being sold to networks and launched as TV shows.

It seems the medium is no longer the message. Not entirely, at least. Content is king. And hopefully this column will help make sense of it all and offer a forum to explore, discuss and bridge the gap between Old Media and New Media.