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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

May 2014 – Ottawa, New York, DC, Florence

I spent the large part of May on the road doing what I love best: writing, talking about technology and hanging out with some of my best friends. I’ve been “rediscovering my relationship with blogging” over the past few weeks, and have been happy to get back into the regular routine of sharing what I’ve been working on.  It involves a lot of writing – which as it turns out is my favorite thing to do both for work and for play.

In that vein, I’ve been toying around with an editorial calendar, trying to give myself some structure about the type of content I want to produce. As of next month, you’ll be seeing regular themes, generally pulled from the projects I’m researching now. Oh, and I’ve also finally set up my newsletter, so if you haven’t already, sign up now to stay updated. Subscribers will receive some free and awesome goodies from me over the course of the year. It’s going to be fabulous, so don’t miss out.

Ottawa, Canada: How Technology is Redefining Rurality

I was delighted to be invited to speak at the Ontario Rural Economic Summit to talk about how technology was impacting the notion of rurality. Many rural communities have been, traditionally, isolated due to their physical location. Now, thanks to the Internet, we have the ability to build communities, access information, and conduct business without being limited by proximity.

A very interesting discussion took place after my keynote about how the digital economy could breathe new life into struggling rural municipalities. I spoke to the Mayor of one small town in Ontario who wanted to explore bringing fiber-optic internet to residents and businesses. Now that people can work from anywhere, he reasoned, some of them will want to leave the city life behind for the picturesque small towns of Ontario. People who wanted a different pace of life, parents who wanted more space and open air to raise their families, those who wanted the more intimate feel of a small town. “They don’t have to choose anymore,” he said to me. “They can work for some of the best companies, while living in some of the best small towns.”

I loved this idea, and the notion of giving people location freedom to pursue their goals. After all, commuting is actually costing us more than we think both in terms of health and money. It’s no surprise that telecommuting is on the rise.

 

New York, USA : Potlucks, Highline & Story

I flew to New York for a couple of meetings and to reconnect with the vibrant community of innovators and entrepreneurs. While I love living in Paris, New York has a very distinctive buzz, a level of energy that just makes you excited about all the possibilities that exist. The weather was gorgeous, and I loved watching the city embrace the first tentative days of spring.

Jesse ended up surprising me in NYC and we spent a few days exploring the city together. He had never been on the highline before and we had a great time walking around enjoying the sunshine. Of course, any New York trip is never complete without a visit to my lovely Niamh who works at Shutterstock (and who lets me stay with her every time I’m in town!). Their new office at the Empire State Building is just gorgeous.

One of my favorite places to visit in NYC is Story, in Chelsea.  Story is a retail space that reinvents itself every six weeks with a theme. The theme this time was Impact, so everything in the store was curated to include products that also have a positive impact on the world around us. There were products by Charity:Water, Pencils for Promise, and my favorite little solar powered lamp, LUCI. I love the idea of buying something that also helps someone in need.

A big thanks goes out to my friend Dan Dzombak  for organizing a delicious Sandbox Potluck, giving me the opportunity to hang out with some of my favorite boxies. A night of great conversations with friends combined with delicious food is my idea of the best time.  Other trip highlights included seeing a jogging Clare Danes and a grumpy looking Kanye West.  (WHY U SO GRUMPY KANYE?)

 

 

DC, USA : Sweetlife Music Festival

I wrapped up my trip to the US with a weekend jaunt out to D.C. to attend the Sweetlife Music Festival.  In addition to the great line-up of artists, the organizers, Sweetgreen, made sure that there was a steady supply of green juices and quinoa salad. It was great fun, but by about 8pm I was ready to call it a day. What can I say, I’m an old now and I just can’t keep up with these young punks. A group of us did escape a little early and went back to our hotel to enjoy a civilized glass of wine and high speed internet.

Lifestyle brands are so interesting to me, and seeing companies like Sweetgreen extend their positioning to include a mindful and positive outlook on life in addition to health-concisous food is fascinating. My friends from Holstee were also there, and Jessica Alba’s Honest company had a giant tent with free goodies like bio-degradable and toxic-free wipes which I loved.

 

Florence, Italy : Pizza, Pasta, Pisa

Jesse and finished the month of May off with a quick weekend trip to Florence, a short hour and a half plane ride away. It was my first time seeing the majestic Duomo, the narrow cobbled stone streets and of course, the David. My enjoyment was dulled somewhat by the insane amount of giant tour groups. Packs of tourists roaming the streets en masse made it difficult to navigate the city sometimes. We escaped to the other side of the Ponte Vecchio and spent some time in local neighborhoods watching artisans make hand crafted leather shoes and bespoke suit jackets. That was a calmer side of Florence I enjoyed so much more.  The city is small, you can walk around easily on foot and is the perfect city to explore in two days. My favorite sight was gorgeous pharmacy that has been in business since the 11th century! Once run by monks who specialized in herbology, it was eventually taken over by the state and then acquired by an Italian family who have run it for several generations.

On our last night, we went up to the rooftop bar at the Westin Excelsior hotel, which offered stunning panoramic views of the city, well worth the steep price of the cocktails.

 

Paris – Pixel & Nalini Singh!

At last, I was back at home and Paris rewarded me with…cold damp weather. Still, there were some notable moments!

Pixel, my furry little shadow, turned 3 years old! I can’t believe how fast time has gone by, it seems like yesterday that we brought her home for the first time. I can’t imagine my life without her. While I am a huge animal lover, I have to say that nothing in my experience ever truly compares between the bond of a girl and her dog. Dogs are such miraculous creatures, and (if I may wax poetic for a moment) are in my opinion, the physical manifestation of unconditional love.

Nalini was in Paris!

As if this month wasn’t exciting enough, I was beyond thrilled to hear that my talented friend, the unparallelled Nalini Singh would be in Paris, as a part of her European book tour. Nalini is the author of one of my all time favorite series of books, called the Psy Changling Series. I discovered the books in 2007, corresponded on and off with Nalini for a few years. Then, in 2011, the stars aligned and we both attended the same writer’s conference. We met up for a coffee, which turned into drinks, which turned into dinner and a friendship was born. In 2012, I was able to hang out with her in New Zealand (she lives in beautiful Auckland) and now 2014 I got to show her around my city! We walked around and ate macarons, really, what more could a girl ask for?

Nalini’s latest release in the series is out next month, and I have already blocked out an entire day to sit somewhere sunny (hopefully) and read it. SO. EXCITED.

As a writer, there is nothing that compares with spending such quality time with someone who has created a world and characters you love. It’s so inspiring and motivating – it made me even more determined to finish those pesky novel rewrites of mine!

And so, that was quite a jampacked 30 days!

Other bits and pieces:

I wrote about how FOMO helped me reclaim my creative process. 

I’ve just finished week 9, of the Artist’s Way, one of my ongoing creativity series.

 

Next month I welcome a slew of friends to the City of Light, have a weekend trip planned to Fontaine Bleu, and will finally have an announcement about my next book project! Newsletter subscribers will be the first to know!

 

 

 

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