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David Bouchard on the cover of the spring 2013 issue of Education Today
David Bouchard is living proof that life is full of surprises. The award-winning Victoria, B.C.-based author, who is now 60 years old, only discovered his Métis roots at the age of 40. And he was well into his previous career as an elementary school vice-principal in Regina, Sask., when he discovered the true joy of reading. Today, Bouchard is enriching the lives of children, parents and educators across Canada with his many books and frequent speaking engagements at schools and conferences.
In captivating presentations often lasting more than an hour, he discusses the environment, history, and the traditions and cultures of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples. He talks about his own Métis heritage and plays the Métis flute. The former teacher also reads selections from among his more than 70 books, and tells students how reading will open new worlds and bring success.
In recognition of his work as an author and a champion of literacy, Bouchard was named to the Order of Canada in 2010. Many of his books have been bestsellers, and some have won prestigious awards, including a Governor General’s Award, a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, and the U.S.-based Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award. It’s an impressive record for a man with dyslexia. But Bouchard says his own struggles with reading have given him a greater understanding of the bitter frustrations faced by children who wrestle with words. “I tell them that anyone can become a reader,” he says. “Just find that one book.”
You can read my profile of Bouchard in the spring 2013 issue of Education Today, the magazine published three times a year by the Toronto-based Ontario Public School Boards Association. Here’s a link to an online version of the story on Zinio. I’m pleased to learn today from Bouchard’s own blog that he enjoyed the story. “To be a part of these historical times is an honour and a responsibility I do not take lightly,” he says. ” When Education Today writer John Schofield offered to help me spread the good word, I was more than grateful. I was honoured and I was humbled.” I hope you also enjoy reading about David’s inspiring story.
Please vote for my friend Robert Carroll, the Dancing Executive, as a speaker at the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco next month. The topic of Robert’s talk is Getting your Groove Back through Conscious Movement. To vote, go to the conference Facebook page, scroll down and click on the Dancing Executive: https://www.facebook.com/wisdom2conference/app_197602066931325 “I need your help (vote) to bring the message of mindfulness through conscious dance to the world,” Robert said in an e-mail this week. “It would mean so much to me to speak at this conference and bring my message to a very influential audience.” It’s a message that would benefit all of us. Thanks very much.
According to my calendar, summer’s officially over today. As I look back wistfully on the season that was, my thoughts turn to technology. For the past few years, I’ve been a regular contributor to Tech Spotlight, an annual magazine that chronicles the incredible dynamism of what many would call Canada’s technology capital — Waterloo Region and Guelph. When you say Waterloo, most folks immediately think of Research in Motion, the country’s undisputed technology titan and the maker of the ubiquitous Blackberry. But there’s so much more than RIM. Communitech, the area’s leading technology industry association, estimates there are more than 700 tech firms based in Waterloo Region and Guelph. Many of them trace their roots to those hotbeds of innovation, the University of Waterloo and the University of Guelph. Each firm has a fascinating story, and you’ll find many of them in Tech Spotlight, published by the Waterloo Region Record. This year, my stories included a profile of Desire2Learn, one of the world’s leading education software companies. Founder John Baker was inducted last year into the Waterloo Region Entrepreneur’s Hall of Fame at the tender age of 32. I also did a piece on P&P Optica, a small Kitchener company that could see exceptional growth thanks to a sophisticated spectrometer it’s developed that can perform 14 tests on one blood sample. My five articles also included a story on Kevin Hall, the VP of Research at the University of Guelph. In the coming weeks, Hall will unveil a new research strategy for the university that will put more emphasis on research that has commercial appeal and could help drive economic growth. Canadian innovation is very much alive and well in Waterloo Region and Guelph. It’s exciting stuff. To read all about it, watch for Tech Spotlight on newsstands and online later next month.
JohnSchofield.com launches today with significantly more content, including an expanded Portfolio section that better showcases my writing skills and experience. Prospective clients and my existing customers can easily browse through a wide selection of previous projects, ranging from magazine pieces written during my tenure at Maclean’s to a sampling of more recent work for organizations such as the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), and the Retail Council of Canada. Among the featured assignments are a video script completed for the WSIB’s Young Worker Awareness Program, a booklet for prospective UOIT students, and a story on global retailing giant IKEA for the Retail Council’s Canadian Retailer magazine. The writing samples underline my strength in the business and education fields, and can be easily printed from the pages themselves. Four pieces are highlighted in my Featured Projects section, and can be accessed from anywhere on the website. The homepage and About page text has also been updated. Michael Alaggia, an accomplished Toronto web designer and Flash developer, built the site on a WordPress foundation, allowing for easy updates. JohnSchofield.com will be a key component in my ongoing marketing efforts. If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you at johnschofield[at]rogers.com or 647-477-7860.
MagNet was magnificent last week. After three days of non-stop seminars and schmoozing, I came away exhausted, but inspired. One of the many motivating speakers was Paul Copcutt, a branding guru from Hamilton, Ont., whose session was dubbed Brand New, Brand You. I’ve always had a tendency to dismiss so-called “branding” as a bunch of marketing malarky. But Paul put a spin on it that struck a chord. He emphasized that branding should stem entirely from your authentic self. That means reflecting first on your core values and what you really want to achieve with your work. Once you’ve defined that, branding is simply a matter of communicating those values. I still cringe at the idea of reducing everything in life to branding. Still, branding in business is a fact of life, and defining your business vision is enormously helpful. For once, Paul presented a meaningful definition of branding that cut through the crap. More on MagNet later.
This week, I’ll be attending the Professional Writers Association of Canada’s 33rd annual National Conference and AGM in Toronto. It promises to be bigger and better than ever. For the first time, the PWAC event is part of MagNet, Canada’s national magazine superconference. PWAC has partnered with Magazines Canada (the magazine trade association), the Canadian Authors Association, the Editors’ Association of Canada and the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors to offer more professional development sessions and expanded networking possibilities.
My schedule starts Thursday morning with a seminar titled At the Table with Six-Figure Freelancers. A panel of six top writers will share some of their secrets for success. On Thursday afternoon, I’m looking forward to attending Do It Yourself: How to Publish, Market and Sell Your Books Online. PWAC’s annual awards dinner is slated for Thursday evening with guest speaker Nino Ricci, winner of the 2008 Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Friday is shaping up to be an even busier day. Some of the sessions I’ll be attending include Going Global: Taking Your Freelance Career to International Clients, and Pitchcraft: How to Pitch Like a Pro. PWAC’s AGM will take place on Saturday morning. PWAC members from out of town will also have a chance to sample some of Toronto’s cultural life, with visits scheduled to popular tourist attractions like the Royal Ontario Museum, the CN Tower, the Toronto Islands, the musical We Will Rock You, and a Blue Jays baseball game. It’s the first PWAC conference I’ve ever attended and, by all indications, the organizers this year have hit one out of the park. I’ll be back at my desk on Monday, June 8, feeling motivated to achieve even more for my business and my clients.
GM’s bankruptcy is the big business story of the week. But we all know a lot of other industries are suffering, too. In Ottawa today, thousands of unionized forestry workers from across Canada demonstrated on Parliament Hill, demanding the government do more to support their industry. Add newspapers to the list. The Newspaper Association of America reported today that U.S. newspaper print advertising sales plunged 30 per cent in the first three months of the year, the biggest quarterly decline in at least 38 years. Ad revenue fell $2.5-billion (U.S.) to $5.92-billion during the same period last year. Is another bailout in the works? Probably not. People are fed up with politicians throwing obscene amounts of their tax money at moribund industries. Not only that, but accepting government money would completely undermine the notion of journalistic integrity, some industry leaders say. “That is so clearly contrary to what our role is as a watchdog that it’s just not acceptable,” Tom Fiedler, the dean of Boston University’s College of Communication and the former editor of the Miami Herald told Reuters this week. Instead, the report said, publishers are looking for changes to antitrust law, tax breaks and, for some, the leeway to convert their business into nonprofit companies. So far, Canadian newspapers have fared a bit better than their U.S. counterparts. But the shakeout is far from over. Canwest Global’s newspaper division, which includes the National Post and 11 other big city dailies, missed a $10 million interest payment last Friday. It’s survival seems in question. For writers, editors and publishers, these are interesting times indeed.