Beach Ball

Originally published in the WasagaDome inaugral season print program.

It’s been called a giant golf ball in the sand, an enormous igloo, and the giant jungle gym of Georgian Bay.

What is it?

It’s WasagaDome: Ontario’s premier beachfront entertainment complex; a unique performance space for circus, comedy, music, and other events; and a structure known as a geodesic dome.

You may recognize the shape from other famous buildings including Spaceship Earth at Disney World’s Epcot Centre, the IMAX Cinesphere at Ontario Place, Vancouver’s Science World, and the Biosphère at the site of Montreal’s Expo ‘67. 

“I was first introduced to geodesic domes at the Burning Man festival in Nevada,” says WasagaDome’s chief operating officer Dave McKay. “At this festival, they construct an entire city in a week and then tear it down when they leave. Geodesic domes are a natural building choice there because they are strong, transport easily, and you can build them fast.”

The strongest architectural structure in the world

Based on a network of triangular sections that in turn create interlocking polygons, geodesic domes are the strongest architectural structure in the world and have been called “the lightest, and most efficient means of enclosing space known to man.”

The first geodesic dome was built in 1922 to house a planetarium projector in Jena, Germany but it wasn’t until the late 1940s – when American inventor Buckminster Fuller discovered the unique structure – that domes came into the public eye. 

Fuller believed the geodesic dome could help alleviate the post-World War II housing crisis, in part because they require far fewer materials and time to erect than traditional buildings.

Despite being the largest event dome of its kind in Canada, the 90-foot wide and 45-foot high WasagaDome was assembled in a mere 24 hours by a crew of 10 workers. 

Still, don’t confuse time with stability. Becomes of its shape, geodesic domes distribute stress equally across the sphere and are frequently used as survival shelters in areas subject to frequent hurricanes and earthquakes.

Protection from the weather

On Wasaga Beach, safety was paramount in the structure’s construction. To withstand the strong winds sweeping off the bay, WasagaDome is weighed down by 30 concrete cylinders, the strongest foundation an event dome has ever been built on. 

Geodesic domes, which require 30 percent less energy to heat and cool than conventional buildings, offer environmental advantages as well. At Wasaga, where summer temperatures can reach above 30 degrees Celsius, the dome on the beach provides a cool UV-free respite. 

Made of recyclable vinyl, the cover consists of a layer of black sandwiched between two waterproof layers of white and is designed to keep the sunlight out.

Meanwhile, the structure’s five solar fans pool cool air up from the wet sand below the floor and pump hot air out of the top, eliminating the need for traditional air conditioning. 

Entertainment in the round

One of the coolest things about geodesic domes is being in one.

“Because it’s this round structure, the acoustics are quite different,” says McKay. “When the dome is empty, if you stand on one side of the dome and speak to the person across from you it’s almost as if you are louder than if they were right beside you, and this is 90 feet away.”

For high-flying acts like those in Ignite, Zero Gravity Circus’ breathtaking new production playing at WasagaDome in August, the structure is a natural.

“I saw these domes a few years ago and was so excited by the rigging possibilities for the circus,” says Eli Chorneki, WasagaDome’s creative director. “Circus is designed to be experienced in the round, and the dome gives more front row seats.” 

With a 20-foot stage surrounded by chairs on all sides, no seat in the house is more than 10 rows from the action, with no columns or other architectural features obstructing the view. 

In addition to Ignite, WasagaDome’s inaugural season will feature stand-ups from Absolute Comedy, sketch from The Second City, screenings of blockbuster movies, concerts, and more. 

The first phase of the Blue Beach Avenue Corporation’s redevelopment of Wasaga Beach, WasagaDome is expected to stay in its current location for the next three years, after which it may find a more permanent home elsewhere in the town.  

And, although the roof will come off in the late fall, visitors can expect even more great entertainment programming next year.

In the meantime, this unique venue is available for rentals for weddings, receptions, banquets, and other events. 

7 phrases to banish from your online profile

Originally published in Digital Romance

You’re active, laid back and drama-free. You have a great sense of humour and love to travel. In fact, you’re just a normal person looking for a partner in crime. 

Why isn’t your inbox flooded with messages?

If the way you describe yourself in your online dating profile is anything like the paragraph above, it’s likely because you are an online cliché.

Browse through any dating site and you’ll repeatedly encounter these vague self-descriptors. While you might think they say a lot, they actually leave lots to the imagination.

If your profile uses any of the words below, delete them and be more specific.


Normal typically gets interpreted as either “I’m boring” or “I’m creepy but want you to think I’m not so I can lure you to my lair.” 

If you consider normal an important part of who you are, ask yourself what this means to you. For one person it might mean family-oriented, for another it might mean easy to talk to.

Once you’ve pinpointed those qualities, show how you’ve demonstrated them in your life. For example, “I bought a house in the suburbs last year and am ready to start a family to fill it with laughter.”


If normal is a red flag, drama-free is the bull charging toward it. Most people read drama-free as “my ex is crazy” and that screams baggage.

Instead of saying drama-free, put a positive spin on your past; for example, “I’ve faced challenges in my life and become a stronger person because of them.”


Laidback could mean “I have zero goals in life” or it could mean “I handle stress by doing hot yoga three times a week.”

Instead of saying laidback, describe activities that show your chill nature in all its relaxed glory. 


Jen starts her day with a 5 a.m. walk. Kevin sees live music until 3 a.m. five nights a week. Both consider themselves active yet, would be exhausted by the other’s lifestyle.

Whether it’s skiing, sky diving, or Skyping with friends, be clear about what active means to you.    

Loves to travel

One person’s perfect vacation is a week at an all-inclusive resort. Another’s is living off-grid for a month with a tribe in a tropical rainforest.

If you love to travel, describe your favourite destination and what you did there to help others discern if they’d want to join you on future journeys.

Sense of humour

Do you crack up at Woody Allen or is Bugs Bunny more your speed? If you want someone to laugh with, say what you find funny.

Partner in crime

Yes, it’s an easy catch-all, but you’ll have a better chance of finding a match that’s right for you if you state exactly what you want; for example, “a friend with benefits” or “my future spouse” or “an accomplice to help me rob a bank.”

While you might think generalities will cast your net wider, you’ll only end up with more fish to toss back into the sea. That was a cliché. Don’t be one online.

Q&A with John Oliver

Originally published in NOW magazine

As the dimple-faced British correspondent from The Daily Show, John Oliver still isn’t sure what he’s doing in America. Fans of the former radio-show writer would say he’s making us laugh.

Whether poking fun at U.S. foreign policy or the differences between British and American customs, his naive style cloaks a cutting commentary on the state of the world, helping us realize just how ridiculous we can be.

Oliver brings his satirical brand of political humour to Toronto as a part of the Just For Laughs Gala with Jimmy Fallon on Saturday (July 26) at Massey Hall. See comedy listings for details.

How are British stand-up audiences different from Canadian audiences?

I’ve never done stand-up in Canada, but I’m presuming that we are bonded through a deep respect for the Queen. Remember, she is the greatest lady in the world, despite the fact that there is no evidence to support that yet.

Why do you think Canadians find the British so funny?

I have no idea. Perhaps you find something laughable about accurate pronunciation. We have always found it not so much amusing, as basic human politeness.

You wrote a very funny campaign for BBC America to get subtitles for the British accent. How many accents do you do? How would you describe your accent?

I do one accent – my own. I can make it louder or quieter. That is the sum total of my vocal range. I thought I could do an American accent until I tried it in front of an American – the expression of horror is still burnt onto my retinas.

What was it like working with Mike Myers on The Love Guru?

Great. I’ve always liked him. When I went home over the holidays I found a small picture of him on my old bedroom wall from when I was a kid. I’d forgotten about that, and I’m glad that I only remembered once it was over.

What do you miss most about the UK in New York?

Terrible food. Sometimes it’s good to remember how bad food can be, so you can enjoy the concept of flavour to the fullest.

What still baffles you about North American culture?

NASCAR. They’re literally going round in circles. They all look like they’re about to pull over and ask a spectator for directions.

How do you keep a straight face when interviewing people for The Daily Show?

The relentless tension in the room usually makes that pretty easy.

What’s your solution to global ­warming?

People growing up.

3 writing hacks to stop your audience in their tracks

You want your audience to know, like, and trust you.

You know consistency is the key, so you’ve decided to craft a weekly email, or LinkedIn post, or blog.  

If the last time you put any serious effort into writing was for your university thesis, know this:  most online audiences have the attention spans of a two-year old.

You need to work to earn and keep their interest.

Unlike tenured professors, your audience isn’t obligated to read anything you write. Furthermore, they are inundated with information all day long.

In 2021, spitting out a stream of consciousness and hitting send doesn’t cut it.

Expecting someone to read a giant block of text in one sitting is like expecting someone to eat a giant head of broccoli in one bite.

You must spoon-feed your audience information in digestible chunks.


1. Shorten your paragraphs.

Give their eyes a break by keeping your paragraphs to a maximum of three lines. Keep in mind, many readers will access your content on their phones where three lines can easily become six or more.  

2. Use subheads.

Most audiences scan web pages and emails rather than read every word. You may even be scanning this one now. (Busted!) Great subheads give the reader the entire story without the body copy. 

Help your readers find what they need by placing your subheads in boldface, all caps or a larger font.

3. Cut the irrelevant.

Before sending, review every sentence, asking “Does this information help my audience?”

With personal stories, start where the action starts. With case studies, start with the problem or results. With how-to pieces, start with the reason why they should care.

You can spend hours crafting the perfect piece but if no one reads it, all that work is for nothing. Help your readers – and your business – by making your content clear and your layout spacious and easy to read.

Distracted by your face on Zoom? Do this.

Over the past year, video conferencing has become the default way of working and along with it, the weirdness of seeing your face while talking to others.

Like a mirror in a hallway, the image of your mug online can pull your attention from the task at hand. As a result, you aren’t fully present with clients, co-workers, or prospects.

Turning off your camera, especially if others on the call have theirs on, can appear rude or suspicious.

What to do?

If you find yourself watching your digital reflection more than the person speaking, refocus with this quick fix in Zoom.

  1. Hover over your video until you see the box with the ellipsis (three dots) .
  2. Left click on the ellipsis
  3. Select hide self view.

Voila! Your image disappears from the screen, you stop obsessing about how you look, and can now give your full attention to the other participants on the call.

When you want to see your video again, simply click the View button at the top right of the screen and click show self view.

The greatest gift we can give others is our attention. Don’t shortchange yours with needless self-consciousness online.

Doubt can be a sign you’re on the right track

You’ve decided to finally do that thing you’ve been thinking about – open a new business, change careers, take a long-coveted course.

You’re excited. You’re committed. You’re ready.

But then, just as you are about to take that first major step – start accepting clients, stop entertaining offers in your previous field, make the payment – the self-doubt hits.

“What if this isn’t what I really want? Maybe I’m supposed to do something else? Hey, what’s that idea over there?” 

Your ego is never stronger than when you are about to make a breakthrough.

This is because it wants you to stay in your comfort zone.

The ego likes to live in a place where it knows the lay of the land – regardless of if that land is a happy place or one fraught with dissatisfaction and indecision.

This is why the moment you are about to act, you doubt yourself.

Like a shy four-year old starting school for the first time, your ego doesn’t know what’s going to happen when you let go of its hand so it does everything it can to keep you holding on. 

The stronger the pushback, the more it means you are on the cusp of a major change.

What if you took self doubt not as a sign that you might be on the wrong track but as a sign that you are on the right track?

There’s a saying in personal growth fields: “New level. New devil.” This means that when you get to the next level of your life, you will continue to have challenges.

A better way to address this is “The devil precedes the level.”

Looked at this way, self-doubt is simply another sign that if you push through it, you will succeed.

Of course, you’ll never know for certain, until you try.

Speak your client’s language, not yours

Have you ever been to the doctor and she says something like “You’ve got a stress fracture in your metatarsal?” and you have no idea what she’s talking about? 

Doctors are notorious for speaking in medical jargon rather than plain English.

If you have a stress fracture in your metatarsal it means you’ve cracked one of the bones between your ankle and your toes.

But, if you’re in excruciating pain every time you walk, the diagnosis is secondary to making the pain go away.

Language matters.

Most people experiencing the problem above wouldn’t search online for a metatarsal specialist. They would search for someone (or something) who could help with foot pain.

Metatarsal doesn’t speak their language. Foot pain does.

If you want to attract clients, you need to speak their language, not yours. 

How do the people in your ideal audience describe their problem?

Find out and then repeat this back to them in your emails, your posts, and any other content marketing materials.

Show them that you get them and they’ll know who to come to first.

Know Your Niche

Turbocharge your marketing with intelligence on how your target market talks.

How to promote yourself when you haven’t had any clients

My heart sank.

I was taking a course with a coach who helps entrepreneurs
with messaging.

“Write a post about your timeline,” she suggested. “What
happened in your business that would inspire potential clients. Quantify it.
How many clients did you have? How many programs did you sell?”

I didn’t have any clients. I hadn’t sold any programs.

I was brand-spankin’ new to my business and wracked with

Why the Hell would anyone buy from me?

Sound familiar?

If you’re new to your business, you won’t have success
stories and comparing yourself to others who do is a one-way ticket to the Land
of Not Good Enough (a.k.a. The Isle of Inertia).

What you do have is time –

Time you could use to lay the groundwork for future
success stories by:

  1. Reminding yourself of the qualifications you do
  2. Getting clear on your target market and offer
  3. Giving low cost or free sessions in exchange for
  4. Reaching out for referrals and cross-promotions
  5. Crafting messaging that positions you as an
    expert despite your lack of experience

Focus on what you do have. Not on what you don’t. Then,
measure your success by taking the steps.

Do this and the results will come soon enough.

Thinking of quitting? Start here.

Things didn’t go as planned and now you’re considering retreating to your comfort zone.

You know? That place where you aren’t trying to grow your audience, meet sales quotas, hire help, and do a million other things you’ve never done before?

Perhaps you’re fantasizing about returning to the corporate world: that magical place where there’s never any self-doubt or feelings of incompetence – just the soul-sucking boredom of spending day after day building someone else’s dream.

I get it. 

Yesterday, I flirted with the idea of disabling my social media accounts, moving to a small town in Nova Scotia, and getting a job at Tim Hortons (where I meet a local rancher named Zak who says I’m all the sweetener he needs… but I digress.)

Wanting to quit doesn’t mean your dream of self-employment isn’t for you.

It means you’re human.

It’s normal when things are tough to want to quit. You lump the situation with the unpleasant emotion and think if you just toss the whole thing, you’ll never have to deal with it again.

But you will because:

The things we avoid, return until we address them.

That’s because the problem making you want to quit isn’t the dream or the tactic or the thing you think you are struggling with.

It’s the story you are telling yourself about it and the story you are telling yourself about who you are. 

So, if you’re going to quit start there.

Let go of the thoughts that are holding you back.  

Examine the words you’re saying to yourself, ask yourself what else might be true, and stay open to other possibilities.

When you do, you may find a way to your dreams after all.

Kick the Monday morning blues: recharge like a pro

Originally published on InsideOPS

Do you drag your feet on Monday mornings?

If so, you aren’t alone. 

According to research from Jamie Gruman at the University of Guelph, 40 percent of employees feel tired at the start of the week (and every weekday thereafter). 

The problem? Ineffective use of downtime.

Recharging your batteries is essential for your well-being but doing so isn’t as simple as binging on the latest Netflix hit. The best activities, says Gruman, do one or more of the following.

Rebuild depleted resources.

To rest your mental and physical faculties pursue different types of activities in your leisure time than those you do at work. 

For example, if your job involves hours of reading and deep thinking, give the analytical part of your brain a break by hiking, gardening, or taking improv comedy classes.

On the other hand, if your job is highly physical, a long snooze may be just what the doctor ordered.

Nourish your psychological needs.

We all need to feel autonomous, competent, and connected to others. Research shows that people who satisfy these needs on the weekend, return to work more energized.   

To fulfill autonomy, do something of your own choosing. For competency, pursue a hobby you can see the results of such as playing a musical instrument, cooking, or woodworking. And to ensure connection, spend time with people whose company you enjoy.

Unplug from work.

You have to mentally leave the office, says Gruman, even if your office is at home.

To signal movement into another part of your life, create a transitional activity such as making a cup of tea or changing your clothes when you are off-the-clock.

Recharging is ultimately about making smart choices in how you spend your downtime, whenever you find it. 

Says Gruman, “You can top up the tank in any moment of leisure you have – vacations, evenings at home, even coffee breaks.”