Phyllis Lipman

My grandmother died recently. She was extraordinary. This was my eulogy to her:


My grandmother’s love was fierce.

It was a force. It could lift you up and light you up, and make you the center of the universe. It was warm. It was smart. It was addictive.

She drew people in with her intelligence and beauty and wit and built experience by experience upon nature’s generous armature, adding and building and actively shaping her story, her way.

My grandmother was one of the two key figures who shaped my life. I am who I am in sympathy and in opposition to the force of her.

As a kid, I was her first grandchild. No one was bathed in her love like me. I had it all to myself. To young me it was a thrill. To have this beautiful, brilliant woman show me off and take joy in my company meant that I had to be worth quite a lot.

So I started my life with a deep set confidence in my own self worth, which is a super power of a kind especially for a shy kid. It’s enabled me to set my shoulder to the work and go after whatever I’ve wanted.

As a teenager we were extraordinarily close. We worked together at Marci’s store for years. We hung out. We ate, we drank, we smoked a little pot. It was a gift for a teenage boy to have that support at such a time. What kindness and ease with strangers I have is not natural. It comes from watching her engage with the world and copying her. I would not be as successful in my career without her as a model.

But grandma’s true gift to me is the one that causes me (and at times her) the most pain and the most grief.

It’s this:

This Artist’s soul

This yearning to feel the for the edges, to dangle a hand in the flow of experience, and to bring out something beautiful and meaningful.

My grandmother was a complex, multifaceted person. We didn’t agree about everything. That fierceness I mentioned at the start? That fierceness was hard to live up to. Like all good friends there were times when we didn’t even like each other. But our souls knew each other’s. And recognized each other’s scars, at a level way below words.

We were bound by the same need, to create, at all costs.

We are all here today at a literal crossroads. When we go out into the world tomorrow we have very real choice to make: to go back to our jobs and our pursuits and follow our current path, with it’s hard won positions, and status, and comforts. Or to follow our souls.

I don’t know grandma would have told me to do. It would have depended on how quiet we were being. On how honest we could be.

Because that’s really the struggle we all face, isn’t it? To do what’s in our souls. Grandma was better than most of us at doing what was in her heart. So in lieu of an answer I’ll take this:

Always be moving towards your soul’s calling.

That’s what she did.

Thank you grandma.

It Klicked

Last month, I set out to find my next gig. I wasn’t just looking for a job, I wanted to find the right place to put my attention. I wasn’t sure if I’d work at an ad agency, a boutique marketing shop, go client-side, or start my own thing. To help steer, I set a couple of goals. I wanted to

  • work on big meaty problems
  • do meaningful work
  • grow my skills
  • balance creative and strategic work
  • focus on the team and culture
  • earn my keep

I’m very happy to say that I found a place where I get to check every box on the list. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be joining Klick. My mandate is to bring a creative perspective to the strategy practice.

If you know me, you know that I’m slightly passionate about diving to the heart of a problem and getting to the story behind the data. At Klick, this will be a big part of how I get to spend my days, collaborating with an fantastically strong digital strategy team.

I’ve got a ton to learn on the healthcare side. My brother the Dr may be hearing from me a bit more frequently in the coming weeks.

The past month was a gift. I spoke with so many smart, kind, helpful people, and made a couple of new friends. I am a very lucky man.

I have a “what I learned while drinking coffee and talking about the state of the digital industry in Toronto for 30 days” post half written. I’ll finish it shortly. The takeaway: I’m keeping the coffee circuit up. Way too many amazing people to stop. Ping me. We’ll have coffee and talk.

Role of story

From Neal Stephenson “The fondness that many such people have for science fiction reflects, in part, the usefulness of an over-arching narrative that supplies them and their colleagues with a shared vision.”

This is exactly what I’ve been harping about on Twitter lately. Without vision it’s very hard to make progress. Storytelling is an extremely effective way of transferring vision. As strategists and designers we need to get really, really good at weaving engaging stories in order to get our points across in a way that they become actionable.


Instagram, the iphone social network photo app thing, has me seeing things.

I’m enjoying the process of looking for a shot.

Often looking up and around, checking out the view.

The omnipresent iphone makes for a willing collaborator.

It lets me focus on composition, then use apps highlight shape and form.

I look for interesting shapes or textures.

It’s been some time since I’ve used my DSLR. It looks like it might be a while.

I use a combo of Hipstamatic, Instagram, 100Cameras, Mill Colour, Camera+, and TiltShiftGen. Mostly shot in Hipstamatic.

What I did on 2008-01-21

  • Getting ready to watch raiders of the lost ark for the first time in a decade #
  • browsing flickr checking out generative art built with Processing #
  • Monday! #
  • I think my desire to repeatedly twitter my love for coffee might be a sign of a deeper issue #
  • if anyone asks you to export data from blogger, run away #
  • @Travis, that’s what you get for living in Canada eh? #
  • the web for kids has become as commercial and crass as tv, only the hooks go much deeper #
  • @matthew, thanks! #
  • @Erik that looks like a handy app #

2006: Local blogs

My wife is a technophobe. Maybe that’s a bit too strong a word. She’s not _scared_ of technoloogy. She just doesn’t use it all that much. Until recently, she did her banking online and not much else. Now though, she’s branching out, starting to use the web to research topics of interest. And discovering blogs.

(Yes, I know the irony.)

The point is that her interests are mainly local – she’s a real estate and interior design nut, and is constantly researching the market. The *local* market.

Over at “Naked Conversations”:, Shel Israel has just posted his predicitions for 2006. His third prediction reads

After a few major metropolitan newspapers die, dailies will begin to understand that blogs are part of their solution, and will start incorporating neighborhood bloggers into their system.  These microchannels of news will be well-supported by local advertisers who will be thrilled to support these effrots over Google Local or static Yellow Pages. Why? Because these newspaper bloggers will be comprised of local people talking to their neighbors. What better way to reach such a community?

I couldn’t agree more. My wife is typical (well, hardly – but in this rare occasion she is). The point is that she doesn’t care what format the information is is: blog site, web site, print, or radio. What she cares about is getting _relevant_, _topical content when she wants to find it_.

It strikes me that one might be wise to investigate ways to aggregate local content. Off the top of my head I can see a couple of ways to leverage existing technology to create effective, profitable portals.  While it may be beneficial to partner with a local community newspaper in order to use their sales team and local marketing reach, I’m not convinced it’s a requirement for success. Their entrenched culture may make the concept of citizen journalists reporting on screen difficult to grasp.

Hmmmmm… Investors?


So, you want to chat? What a coincidence! So do I.

The best way to get me is at the office at peter @

Phone works awfully well too. The office number is 416-461-4406

I’m located in the quite wonderful city of Toronto, which puts me smack dab in the middle of the Eastern time zone.

You can try to get me on AIM at theblogstudio, but odds are I’ll have it set to ignore.


Ok, do we all remember the heart warming cold-war story of The Hundredth Monkey? For those who are too young or too old, the premise of the story is that once a certain percentage of a population learns a lesson (in this case, one hundred monkeys), the whole of the population spontaneously shares the knowlege. I am the 97th monkey. I am not the first monkey, nor the 10th, but I am in that lead group, albeit at the tail end. Hence, almost cool.

If you read me with any regularity, you’ll know I have a propensity for overusing the word ‘power’. This paragraph will be no exception. I think being the 97th monkey puts me in a pretty powerful position. If I know all the other monkeys are going to start washing their potatoes soon, I can set up a potato washing service before the market gets saturated. See what I mean?

I’ve ignored this gut sense far too many times. This blog is my attempt to stake out a bit of territory, and establish myself as an expert in a narrow field before the field becomes too cluttered. My chosen field is a hybrid of graphic design and marketing, with an emphasis on personal connection between a business and its customers.

Almost Cool, v8.0

Almost Cool was created in the fall of 2004, while recovering from disc surgery, and trying not to go insane with boredom. The impetus for, or rather the catalyst to doing the actual design and coding was an “article”: written by Andrei Herasimchuk at “Design by Fire.”:

*About the Name* Do we all remember the heart warming cold-war story of *The Hundredth Monkey*? For those who are too young or too old, the premise of the story is that once a certain percentage of a population learns a lesson (in this case, one hundred monkeys), the whole of the population spontaneously shares the knowlege. I am the 97th monkey. I am not the first monkey, nor the 10th, but I am in that lead group, albeit at the tail end. Hence, almost cool.

*About the Code* XHTML 1.0 Transitional and valid CSS. No big whoop. I use WP to power this particular *About the Author* Having already compared myself to a monkey, and not a particluarly bright one at that, you may well be wondering who it is pushing the buttons behind the scenes. I dislike having to sum one’s self up in a few sentences. Who am I? Oh boy, there’s a loaded question. Let’s just say this: I am a father to two incredible girls. I am a husband to the love of my life. I am a loved and loving son. I am an ex-bike racer, an ex-windsurfer, and ex-snowboarder (don’t worry, only until my back is better). I am an avid reader, a dis-interested gardener, and a lover of fine foods and wine. I’ve studied business and art, and practice both. I live by the words “help others make wealth, and wealth will come to you”.

How’s that? So that’s what the 97 is all about. Clear?