Step into the spotlight with Tsufit

Speaking with Tsufit, the author of Step Into the Spotlight, is a ton of fun!

The long-time marketing coach and expert has tons of stories. We began with a hilarious little anecdote about an interview beginning on the wrong food and continued through discussions about how she’s helped entrepreneurs from all walks of life tell their stories with confidence to get more clients and a business they love.



Listen to my conversation with Tsufit

I knew this was going to be an enlightening conversation because I’ve read the inspiring emails and good conversation questions Tsufit offers group members and subscribers for years.

She didn’t disappoint.

If you’re a creator, entrepreneur or business owner, you’ve got to hear our conversation.

I’d love to know how you liked it in the comments below.

In the meantime, here are some of the resource links we mentioned:

Tsufit’s blog

Spotlight Secrets email tips

Step into the Spotlight Book

Step into the Spotlight Linked In Group

The website of Heidy Lawrance, We Make Books.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation.

Tracey [00:00:13] And today we are speaking with Tsufit Actually, I should ask you. How do you see your first name? Only we’ve only been speaking to each other online, so I only ever get to see how it’s how it looks.

Tsufit [00:00:26] Well, and how does it look? It looks good. Well, it’s spelled TSUFIT and it’s pronounced two feet.

Tracey [00:00:27] Original and fascinating.

Tsufit [00:00:36] And I’ll tell you, I do a ton of radio interviews, podcasts, interviews in a few years ago, I was doing what they call terrestrial radio–what some people think of as real radio with a radio station.

Tsufit [00:00:47] But it was but it was done by my end by phone. And she asked me before the show the same question. You know, usually people ask me off the air as you did, and I said, save it because I have a story. So anyway, she asked me how you pronounce the name and I said she was calling me “too fit.” And I said, No, no. It’s two feet. Feet. Feet like feet. So she wrote down feet.

Tsufit [00:01:09] Right. So no, no, no. Listen. So. So that’s what she wrote down. So anyway. So we start the show. Hello, everybody, and welcome to the show. And today, our guest is award winning author Sue Foot. So she she remembered. And it was live, by the way. Because this is like radio. So she remembered the feet part, but she didn’t get it completely right.

Tracey [00:01:36] How beautiful. And so where does the name come from, what does it mean?

Tsufit [00:01:40] It’s a Hebrew, a Hebrew name and it means a hummingbird or sun bird. There was once an article in a Canadian newspaper in Ottawa that opened with something like “her name means hummingbird and it makes sense because her wings are flapping so quickly, you can’t even see them move.”

Tracey [00:02:06] And that’s because your specialty is actually getting people to shine brightly. It’s fabulous. Can you tell me a little bit about what got you into your specialty and how you actually became known basically worldwide? I mean, I didn’t even know you were a Canadian until you posted a recent email to your list, because I’ve been following you for years. And you just you said something about being in Toronto. And I’m like, wait a minute, she’s Canadian. I had no idea.

Tracey [00:02:38] Yeah. Yeah, you’re.

Childhood and early career

Tsufit [00:02:41] So, sure. Yeah. I grew up here. I’ve lived pretty much my whole life here.  I was born overseas. I was born in Israel and went to the U.S. when I was about 3. My brother was born there and then came to Canada where my sister was born. And I’ve lived here ever since.

Tsufit [00:02:59] When I was a kid, I used to always to perform with neighborhood kids and then I was in the folk club at the high school Musical and then the city tent theater and musicals and then university and all that stuff. And eventually did a professional music C.D. and ended up on national TV in a Canadian sitcom for four years as the comedically-evil cafeteria lady. Her name was Ludmi Lacropitc. And so yeah, I did that.

And, you know, I had four baby daughters in four years. I had been a lawyer, a civil litigation lawyer before that when I had my kids. And then after that, I thought, you know what, now it’s time for me to go for it. For me to follow my dream. And so I did. Performing on stage and singing at festivals and TV and doing this music C.D.

But then I had four kids and 1500 CDs n my basement. So I had to learn how to market and how to get these CDs out into the world and how to get publicity. So I got a ton of publicity and I was able to sell a lot of the C.D.s and people start to ask me, how do you do that? How do you make top album lists on radio around the world? You know, the folks genre, in the world music genre. And so I slowly started coaching other people.

Tsufit [00:04:36] You know, I thought I would coach people in creative industries like music, whatever. But I ended up by more coaching entrepreneurs, maybe because they had the money to pay for it or were willing to pay for it because it was a business expense for them.

Tsufit [00:04:48] And so for the last, I don’t know, 17, 18 years, however long it is I have been coaching entrepreneurs for the first few few years to follow their dreams like I did. You know, I left law for the limelight. So I was coaching them to figure out what they wanted to be when they grew up. And, you know, often, very, very often a second career. You know, maybe an accountant wants to leave to be a skydiver. Who knows what it is.

Anonymous in Canada

Tsufit [00:05:15] Then it became very clear that, you know, it’s one thing to follow that dream, but it’s another thing to support for a little baby’s doing it right.

Tsufit [00:05:24] Jann Arden, another unapologetically Canadian person, very funny woman, actually, singer said that Canada is the only place where you can headline at Maple Leaf Gardens and still have to take the subway home.

Tracey [00:05:40] Exactly.

Tsufit [00:05:42] You have to explain that when I’m interviewed on American shows. But I think in Canada, we all get it. The Bare Naked Ladies, also Canadian, had to go to the US to get famous. I mean, you could have seen them any Monday night on Queen Street, but no, they had to go and be in the background on Melrose Place or whatever it is that they did to get famous. So. Blue Rodeo.

Tracey [00:06:00] The Blue Rodeo and Margueret Lawrence. I mean, everything.

Tsufit [00:06:04] Bobby Weitzman used to go to Fat Albert’s where I used to sing a little underground cafe in a church. Yeah. They say a lot of.

Tracey [00:06:11] Yeah, I used to live in Toronto, maybe I saw you sing there.

Tsufit [00:06:22]  I did it for the first few years and then people said, well, can’t you just write a book? So I wrote a book called Step into the Spotlight A Guide to Getting Noticed. You know, I was recently overseas and I don’t usually check my my voicemail, my email, whatever when I’m overseas. But I had this voicemail from this very irate Canadian guy. And he said to me, you know, Tsufit. I’m a follower of your work. I’m a big fan and I’m in your Linked In group, whatever. But I have an issue with you.

Relationship to the United States

Tsufit [00:06:49] Why are the spellings in your book, American Spellings? Like this is the issue.

Tsufit [00:06:55] And I had to explain to my brother why I’m calling long distance from Israel to this guy that I’ve never met. I don’t know. I personally called the guy and he was shocked that I called him. He I don’t think he even knew I was calling from overseas. He was shocked that I personally called him to explain why I used American spellings. And the reason I used American spellings is because not everybody in Canada is unapologetically Canadian. You kind of have to get known in the world like like you said, you know, you you thought I was worldwide.

Whatever I am, I do. I do think of myself as, you know, an international person. But you kind of have to get known elsewhere before people in Canada take you seriously. So the spelt color C O L O R. And it’s funny because when I post online, I do use the U. And then in brackets I always put, yeah, I’m Canadian.  But in the book I thought, you know what? I want the book to be international and U.S. is kind of considered international.

Tracey [00:08:01] Yeah. Yeah. No. Well, actually, I’m working with a client on a book right now too, and we’ve decided to go with American spellings for the same reason because most of the world will accept American spellings, but Americans won’t accept other spellings. So it’s like it’s easier if you want to be global.

Tsufit [00:08:22] I when I was I was in the States in Grade 9 for a year. My dad was a–may he rest in peace–was a math professor. We were there for a year for his sabbatical. They didn’t know who our Prime minister was. I mean, there were times that I didn’t know who our prime minister were. I mean, I know every you know, I know the senators in the U.S. I watch the Democratic debates in the US. But Canadian, I just don’t know.

Tsufit [00:08:55] We had to have two Americans–I think it was Don Green and the I forget the other guys name,  Michael Budman, define Canada for us with Maple Leafs and Beavers, whatever, with their Roots Company. Roots is like the Canadian company. People, they’re from Detroit. I mean, I think they went to camp here or something. Our Canadian identity is formed by, you know, Americans.

Tracey [00:09:15] I know it’s hilarius. I remember the Red Barn. I loved the Red Barn.

Tsufit [00:09:30] And it’s only very recently that I have come to appreciate that I’m Canadian, because when I was younger, I used to think of us as, you know, the baby brother of the U.S.. Like we didn’t have McDonald’s here. We had the Red Barn. But I used to say that when we got McDonald’s we became legit. When Starbucks came, when Wal-Mart came.

Tsufit [00:10:00] And now I’m thinking, wait a second. Now I embrace it. Now I look out I’m looking out as I’m speaking to you at the most gorgeous green trees. Everywhere I walk is green and big and beautiful. But you know what? This is really it’s interesting because your show is called Unapologetically Canadian. And my expertise is branding. And Canada had a bit of a branding issue.

And now I think we’re doing great at it. Right. Especially with this whole “not my president” thing. And I’m not going to I’m not going to get political, but and hopefully this will be an evergreen podcast and people will say who? And they will have no idea what we’re talking about. But. But, you know, Canada has recently upped itself on the international marketplace.

Tracey [00:10:31] Oh, yeah.

Tsufit [00:10:49] But when I was growing up, we were like Midge, not Barbie. You know, Midge was the best friend that nobody’s ever heard of.  I didn’t appreciate it at the time. There was Ken and Barbie and Midge and Skipper. There was a Skipper.

Tracey [00:10:52] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Tracey [00:10:59] I got made to it like. I got Midge too.  I loved Midge.

Tracey [00:11:20] There was probably a sale on. Knowing my family, there was probably a sale on Midges and you could probably get them for cheaper.

Tsufit [00:11:33] Bonding over Midge.

Tracey [00:11:34] I’m in Quebec, too, so having a podcast called Unapologetically Canadian is particularly rebellious here. The last question is, as I think I warned you will be “do you consider yourself Canadian? And not everybody says yes. It always creates an interesting conversation. That’s the last question.

Tsufit [00:11:51] I’ll have to. I’ll have to. Thanks for the warning. I’ll have to come up with a good answer by then, but I’ll forget about it for so quick back. That’s right. Well, you know what, I have to tell you, when I was applying to law school, not law school before law school, when I was applying to undergrad, I got a nice scholarship offer from McGill and did not get initially I didn’t get a scholarship from UofT and my dad said, go to UofT.

Tracey [00:11:56] Yeah. Yeah.

Tracey [00:11:59] It is, and there isn’t there? And my my annoyance is when everyone says the rest of Canada here, I’m really quite annoyed. I’m like, what do you mean the rest of Canada?

Tracey [00:12:31] Yeah, yeah. It’s not unstable anymore. Well, actually, what I want to talk to you about is actually your specialty.

Branding Expertise

Tracey [00:12:46] Well, it’s fabulous. I do want to talk to you about your branding expertise because I learned about you because of your LinkIn Group, which has been going on for quite a while and isn’t as active now as it was then. But I just found it fascinating, some of the experiences that you talked about on that group. What are your three or maybe. Well, let’s start with your favorite solution that you’ve helped someone find when it comes to making their branding. I love that group. That’s why I think.

Tsufit [00:13:50] We’ve managed to attract the who’s who of Whoville to the group, not just people like you, but, you know, the entrepreneur, Entrepreneur Magazine Editor in chief, and, you know, the award winners. We are active. We you know, we’d like to be to get more notifications sent out.

Tracey [00:14:08] I’m one of those people who doesn’t yet know that’s what I’m one of those people who doesn’t see it often enough because it LinkedIn. I didn’t realize.

Tsufit [00:14:17] You know what our members do.

Tsufit [00:14:18] If any of your listeners who want to join our group go to Spotlight If you tell me you’re a friend of Tracey’s or if you had a Midge doll, you’re right away in. Anyway.

The group is very active. And people what they do is they keep that spotlight group dot biz forward on their desktop and they’re in there every single day. In fact, the Huffington Post business wrote about us as being one of the few LinkedIn tech groups that has not become a ghost town. In fact, LinkedIn itself has contacted me several people at linked to work for LinkedIn and interviewed me about how I keep the group so engaged.

Tsufit [00:15:03] And in fact, very recently one of them said that she was interviewed for a big US magazine and she mentioned our group as being one that embodies the, you know, the purpose of LinkedIn.

Tsufit [00:15:17] But anyway, to answer your question, you asked about solutions. What you want to just narrow in a little bit?

Tracey [00:15:23] Yeah, I want it. Yeah. Well, what I wanted to just talk about was you, because your specialty is helping people get attention on their brand and get the right kind of attention. And so I just wanted to talk about one of the solutions that you’ve come up with with people because you’re constantly.

I mean, the thing I love about your group is that everybody talks about personal stories all the time. And they talk about how they’ve solved something for themselves or for others. And you’re one of those people who always is mentioning an interesting story. So I thought it would be fun to talk about one of whatever one you think would be fun to talk about for  right now.

Tracey [00:16:12] That’s perfect. 

Tsufit [00:16:14] OK, so in general, if you want to get attention for yourself or your brand, obviously the things to do are get out there and speak, you know, speak to networking group, speak to business groups, speak at conferences, whatever, if you want to know how you get speaking engagements.

[00:16:29] For me, I went to business networking events, did a really good 30 seconds. I thought of it like a 30 second show and people started asking me to speak, you know, paid engagements, not paid engagements, depending who the audience was. If it made sense, I did it. Even keynoted a bunch of conferences.  Did it at a bunch of conferences. And many of those came from just going to the local Chamber of Commerce, Board of Trade, the DNI, whatever it is, let’s give and just do 30 seconds. So that’s one way.

The other way is to write a book, which, as you know, I did Step into the Spotlight, A Guide to Getting Noticed or start writing articles to get them on, you know, article distribution sites, get them on other people’s blogs, do it on LinkedIn. Be active in social media. Join groups. I’m a member of other groups as well, not only my own. And and maybe, you know, create your own platform like I did with the LinkedIn group.

So those are kind of general ways that you can get noticed and get known. Make sure when you open your mouth that there’s some that there is a story. You mentioned story, that there is a story to it, that there is some color, some flavor, some humor or something, you know, that makes it stand out.

Tsufit [00:17:37] I have so many clients who are like coaches or financial advisors and the saying the same old boy or boring stuff as everybody else. I’m not gonna get you noticed to get a little more particular. Give you a couple examples of how I help my clients do exactly that.

Tsufit [00:17:50] I had a client who came to me because she had a speaking bureau, but she was not a professional speaker herself. Speaker’s bureau. But she was invited by one of the professional speaker’s associations to come give a speech because she ran this bureau. She came to me because she said Tsufit. I don’t want to look bad in front of these people. And my speech was kind of dry and boring.

And I said her, well, yeah, you’re right. Your speech is dry and boring. Let’s see what we can do about it. I’m not very good at tying up the truth in a pretty red ribbon. I just tell it like it is.

So what we did was I asked her about, you know, her story. I asked her, you know, tell me about you. Tell me about you as a kid. What did you do? How was your childhood?

And she said, well, she grew up on a tomato farm and she used to help her dad pick tomatoes and take them to market. And I said, well, that’s interesting. And that can help us out some color because tomatoes are colorful. Right? The red, you can visualize them. And so we made this analogy between tomatoes and speakers.

And we said in her speech that some speakers are just seedlings and they’re not ready for market. They’re just growing. Others are still too green to go to market. Others are ripe and plump and juicy and ready for market. And other tomatoes are just plain rot. Just like some speakers. So she used that and she used that analogy. We dressed or up in some red gingham or whatever it was. She went to this thing and she was a hit. She said there was a lineup of people waiting to speak to her afterwards. So any one of us can do this.

Tsufit [00:19:26] I had another client who used to go to the networking events and she’d do her 30 seconds and she’d say, hi, I’m so and so. I have a graphic design company. So for all your graphic design needs, whether it’s a web site or a book or a brochure or, you know, we can help you buy our business cards, we can help you. And so finally, one of her friends pushed her to come to me, which took her about two years to get around to doing it.

And when she finally did, I said to her, what’s the matter for you? Every buddy has an uncle or a neighbor or a, you know, a friend who is a graphic designer. Everybody. Nobody needs your silly little web sites because everybody’s got some nephew. I mean, my first Web site was made by somebody nephew for a few hundred bucks, right. It was a young kid in high school. OK. And that was then. Right? That was like 20 years ago now. Are you kidding me? I do. You’re all right. So that’s not going to do it. But I said books. Not everybody does books.

So she changed the name of her business to we make books, DOT c.a., she made a plaque for her because she had a brick and mortar business as well. She made a plaque that said we made books .ca for the front door. So that was part of it getting narrow in particular. But the other part of it was telling her story. So I did the same thing with her.

Tsufit [00:20:47] I said, OK, tell me your story. Tell me, where did you grow up? Where were you born? Well, she told me a very interesting story, that she was born in the Swiss Alps. She grew up in a 600 year-old-farm house at the top of the hill and or mountain or whatever it was. It just used to have to go. She loved books, used love to read. She used to have to go down all the way down to the valley to get books from the library because that’s where it was. And I said, you know, wouldn’t be cool if we said that your favorite book was Heidi. And she said Tsufit. It was.

The reason I suggested that way. It would be cool to say that other than the Swiss Alps thing is because her name was Heidi also. Although Heidi with a y. Yes, this is true. You can’t make this stuff up. But the only difference is she was, Heidi, with a Y instead of with an eye like the story. Anyway, so we tell this story. She starts telling it at networking meetings.

Tracey [00:21:29] No, you’ve gotta be kidding me.

Tsufit [00:21:41] It changed everything.

Tsufit [00:21:44] All of a sudden, she wasn’t shy and talking into her lap, you know, when she she she held her head high and she started talking only about books. She started getting known for books. Well, so much that to the point that when I taught the book creation workshop, which I teach people how to write books. I brought her on as a guest for, you know, the part about actually getting it published or self publishing a book.  Because she got a lot more confident about speaking. And that came because she was telling a good story that people were interested to hear. She could, she could have gone for the rest of her life telling the same old boring story.

Tracey [00:22:27] Yeah, I know, and That’s fabulous. Those are exactly the kind of examples that I saw you speaking about in the Linkedln Group continually and actually your email list is fabulous too, because you’ve taken to I don’t know what gave you this idea, but lately you’re sending us different ads that you really like and why you like them.

Newsletter gems

Tracey [00:22:48] And that is a part of why I love it. It’s a spot of brilliance. And I’ll put him in the show notes, too, by the way. Oh, I will put all of this in the show notes.

Tsufit [00:22:49] Yeah, I’ll I’ll tell you why, actually. I’ll tell you why.  First of all, for any of your listeners who want in on this, if you go to WWW dot spotlight secrets with an S at the end, dot com spotlight secrets dot com. Put your name, your full name and your email address. A second form will pop up thanks to the Canadian government with anti spam regulations. A second form will pop up and you’ll have to put your name and email again and your country. Once you do that, you’re confirmed and you will get the same series that Traecy is speaking about.

Tsufit [00:23:22] Now  how that came about was I decided 13 years ago to share a few tips.  It was eleven spotlight secrets. That’s all it was gonna be. It was 11 when I was done. I was done. I wasn’t gonna bug people. I’m Canadian. We’re polite. We’re not aggressive marketers. I wasn’t gonna bug people for the rest of their lives. OK. So eleven tips. And it was over, right?

So I go to this conference in Dallas and one of the loyal people on my list, which has been going for 13 years now. One of the people on the list said to me, Tsufit, how come you stopped sending me emails? And I said, well, there 11 tips. You got them over 11 weeks or so. You know, it wasn’t exactly 11 weeks sometimes or a few days apart, sometimes a week, sometimes ten days. But you got all eleven. I’m done. I don’t want to bug you.

She goes, Oh, don’t bug me. I love your stuff, right? So I came home and wrote a 12th one which said I went to a conference in Dallas. I met this woman. She told me, how come you stopped it? Like I just told you the same on the 12th e-mail, I just told the same story I just told you right now, which was the truth. Right. So that was the 12th e-mail. And I said, OK, I’m going to keep sending you guys stuff. Right. And I thought, well, what am I going to say? Because the first eleven were about, you know, how you stand out in 30 seconds.

But after that, I thought, OK, what else can I share? So if I saw an interesting ad or if I maybe reasons to write a book or I forget what I’ve added over it, but now there’s like nine hundred days now they don’t come every day. I think they come more or less once a week. Now the first few days are more like three in a week, and then they’re down to every seven to 10 days. But I’ve got almost two and a half soon to be three years worth of that.

And you know what? I’ve had people on there for 13 years. So when they’re done, they just go back to the beginning and start again because, you know, you don’t get it all at once. Just like I’ve had a woman who told me she’s read my book thirty five times because you see stuff that you didn’t see the first time that you read it.

[00:25:21] Now, I’m feeling a little bit of pressure that I have to keep adding because I’m thinking, you know what? Like, I know that a lot of the people are at a certain point where soon they’re going to run out. So I keep thinking, OK, what can I add? What can I add? And so whenever I see something cool, I just, you know, take a few minutes and add another to the series. It works on an auto responder. So I don’t physically send it out because it means that people get it wherever they are in the sequence.

Tsufit [00:25:49] So if you if you start today on day one, you’re not going to get the note that Tracey got today. You’re gonna get the day one note.

Tracey [00:25:56] Yeah. Which is the. But those 11 tips are worthwhile, too. So it’s a worthwhile signing up regardless of when you sign up. I mean, it’s a. Yeah, well, because what you specialize in is important to everybody, regardless of where they are on their entrepreneurial journey. You still need to be standing out for, you know, whatever you’re trying to do. You can’t do anything unless you start with standing out. It’s true, it’s like I read those thoughts that we all have.

Tsufit [00:26:03] Well, thank you, and I’ll just tell you that I’ve had more than one and more than two and more than three, I don’t even know how many people ask for permission to syndicate those first eleven tips on their web site or to put them in their newsletter or in an article because people do want to share them.

Be memorable

Tsufit [00:26:32] That’s well, you know, that’s so true because I was actually watching the tape of the Democratic convention last night because I missed it when it aired, and it really struck me how some people understand the concept of sound bites or 30 seconds or or giving an answer that has an end to it and other people just ramble on until somebody says, OK, that’s enough, we’re moving to the next person. They just don’t get it. The concept that if you know your time is limited. Like if you’re on.

I mean, this podcast is, you know, a long form podcast. So I can, you know, speak a little bit more at length. But when I do radio interviews, if you’re on drive time radio, it could be a five minute spot. It could be an eight minute spot. I’ve done TV where it’s like eight minutes. That goes in a blink of an eye. Like you just open your mouth and it’s done and you’re thinking, seriously, we’re done. You have to learn how to be effective and stand out in such a short period of time. And also to make what you say remarkable enough that people will repeat it, that people will remember you by it.

Tsufit [00:27:46] They may not remember my name. Tsufit is not the easiest name for people in Canada to remember. T.S. U. F I T is not something that you see very often here. But even if they don’t remember the name, I remember I was at a networking meeting once and I gave a business card to the woman in charge of the meeting and she didn’t remember my name, but the card stood out and what it said on the card stood out. And she was telling people about it, even if she couldn’t remember the name. And sometimes now if people forget my name, they say, oh, you know that woman that, you know, talks about stepping into the spotlight or even before I had step into the spotlight, you know, that woman that teaches you how to stand out in public and she’s always and she’s funny. And people would come up with my name. So you have to figure out what is your branding, what do you stand for?

Tsufit [00:28:31] And you know who’s really terrible about this? Coaches are really bad at this. Financial advisors are really bad at this. Realtors are really bad at this because realtors will say, you know, now’s a good time to buy or sell a house because mortgage rates are low. And what realtor doesn’t say that. And like the graphic designers, everybody has a next door neighbor and an uncle and, you know, a coworker who’s a realtor. So if you don’t do something to stand out, you’re forgotten.

Tsufit [00:29:06] I was speaking at a coaching conference in Las Vegas and I met probably a thousand coaches and 999 of them probably said the identical thing. They all said more or less some version of I helped my clients break through the barriers and I helped them, you know. Is he a bigger vision, a blob above. Above? Well, I don’t remember any of them, but there was one woman, one coach, who said, I help bosses that are have been identified as aggressive.

Tracey [00:29:40] Oh, my God. That’s fabulous. Oh, you’ve got to remember that and you know, to refer them to.

Tsufit [00:29:47] Exactly. And and, you know, there are some issues that are more obscure, like there was a guy in my LinkedIn group who coached or taught trained anger management for physicians. OK, so he had two specialties. One is the anger management specialty and the second is for physicians. OK, so that’s double narrowing. That one is to narrow on topic and the second to narrow on audience. You’ve got to do one or the other or you know, ideally to do you should do both.

Most financial advisors don’t do that. Most coaches don’t do that. You know, I saw another I think he was actually a psychiatrist or psychologist. But let’s say it was a coach who coached people who fell in love with inmates. OK. That is not an everyday occurrence. You’re not going to go to your local BNI or your local networking meeting and stand and do your 30 seconds. And they’re gonna say, oh, I fell in love with an inmate. Right.

Tsufit [00:30:45] But but, but, but, but but there are a lot of there are thousands and probably many more than that in the world. And if you can get articles written about you, the word will spread in that small group and you will be the guy. You’ll be the person in that group.

Tsufit [00:31:03] When when my music C.D. came out, it was independently done. There was a graphic designer who wasn’t stupid, like a lot of I should use the word stupid, but he wasn’t like most graphic designers and said, you know, I’m a graphic designer for all your Web site. You. No, no. He specialized in the music industry. So, you know, like my client who specializes in books. This guy made the covers for music C.Ds. Right.

So I would go to music conferences. He would not only be onstage introducing people, but he did the little side things where you get, you know, five free minutes with the thing. So when I went to do my music, C.D., he was the first guy I called. No, I didn’t end up using him, because the truth is, I didn’t love his designs. I used somebody else. And I actually drew the first picture and then had an artist, you know, draw it, design it.

Tracey [00:31:40] Cora.

Tsufit [00:31:51] But he was the first guy I called because he had made a niche for himself, a brand.

Tracey [00:31:52] Right. Yeah.

Tracey [00:31:57] That’s great advice. And and now when your book. When does your book get published? Because now you are.

Book strategy

Tsufit [00:32:04] It came out a while ago, but people are still buying it, they’re buying it by the case and it is spreading to places like, you know, pair. It’s bringing me clients from New Zealand and Hong Kong and France. You know, the good thing about a book is it’s got the pass along value. Right. So, you know, it’s one thing for me to get my message out there. But some of my clients, I’ve never met. They met my book somewhere, you know, they ran it. One of them. He doesn’t even know who told him about the book. But he’s been my client for many years.

Tracey [00:32:41] No way. What I was going to say is the kind of thing that you would actually give out at conferences and things. So that’s why I was asking when it when it came out, because it is the perfect version of what I think of when you think of a book and a brand message all in one, because your brand message is the cover of your book.

Tsufit [00:33:01] The truth is, I don’t recommend that authors necessarily give them out at conferences unless you’ve made some arrangement with the person who asked you to speak at the conference and they bought them from you, or it’s part of your fee. When it first came out, I did give some to a conference of bloggers. Because that made sense, right? Every person there is a blog, especially at that time, it was a form of media. So, you know, I did that.

But generally when I go to a conference, I do something else. I make sure that the store in the hotel has my book on the counter for the week that I’m there. Which I arrange a month or two ahead of time. People show up at the conference. They see my book there. They think I’m super famous. Right. Then they meet me in person. They go, oh, my God, I just saw your book, right. They don’t know that. I arranged for it to be there. They just think it’s everywhere in the whole U.S. and the whole continent. Right. Because they happen to see it. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to arrange, I will tell you that, and I don’t share that very often, actually.

But there is our little secret with you and it because if everybody does it, it won’t be effective. But there is a little you know, I do a lot of podcasts, as you know, I told you I’m doing 4 today. You’re the third of four today. And yours is the first today that I’ve divulged that secret on. Because like I said, if everybody does it, it won’t be effective for me anymore. But there you go. You got a golden nugget that most people don’t get.

Tracey [00:33:40] Oh, that’s brilliant. I love that idea.

Tracey [00:34:01] Oh, I’m going to take that on as a mission for. Actually, I have a conference next month. I’m going to phone the hotel bookstores right away. I mean, that’s brilliant.

Tracey [00:34:15] Now, you shared it publicly, but I love it.

Tracey [00:34:37] Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that. We are coming to the end of our conversation. So as you know, the last question in my series is do you consider yourself a Canadian? And if and what does that mean to you, regardless of the answer. 

Tsufit [00:34:55] You know, I I totally forgot that you were gonna spring this on me, even though you warned me again. And it’s interesting because I guess the answer is yes and no.

Being Canadian and international at the same time

Tsufit [00:35:08] I’m a lot prouder and happier to be a Canadian now than I was growing up. I mean, growing up, I thought it was you know, we were the no name brand of the U.S. I mean, that’s how it kind of felt, right? Generic. I I now feel we have a stronger, better brand. It’s green, it’s beautiful, it’s clean. And I really do identify with it many ways. So in that sense, yes.

And I remember after 9/11 going to my kid’s school and they played, oh, Canada, it was just like a few days later or the week after, I almost started crying just hearing, Oh, Canada. It just felt so great to be here.

And and I just recently saw the movie based on Come from Away. And you know what happened, out there. It’s very powerful. So, yes, I mean, I love the fact that I’m Canadian. It feels it feels refreshing to travel in the world and and say we’re Canadian, which which is very exciting to me now. And the Roots thing did help. I mean, this identity of being green and clean and beautiful and natural and and polite and nice and all those things are great. So in that sense, yes. And I’m very proudly Canadian.

Tracey [00:35:53] Yeah.

Tsufit [00:36:21] In another sense, I really feel international. I mean, I am a citizen of another country. I was born in another country. That’s one thing. But so I’m a citizen of both.

Tsufit [00:36:32] But the other thing is, I really don’t think of my identity as to do with where I am.

Tsufit [00:36:40] I think of my identity as me, wherever I happen to be. So I do feel like I am international.

Tsufit [00:36:46] That said, this is a great place to call home.

Tracey [00:36:51] That’s it. I don’t. It’s interesting because regardless of whether you grew up here or not, the answer to that question is so diverse. It’s perfect for the person that I’m speaking to. And I cannot believe that you ended on global, when I started with thinking of you as a global brand person. It just gets a little bit deeper about how people really are.

People who are good at being themselves are themselves no matter what they are doing, including answering the question about nationalism, which, you know, people  can be uncomfortable. Are you a Canadian is actually a very uncomfortable question. So I appreciate your honesty.

Tsufit [00:37:34] Well, you know, I brag about it now, though, online, I brag about all the time because like I said, I deliberately when I’m posting, I very often use the Canadian spellings and that always in brackets. I say, yeah, I’m Canadian or yes, I’m from Igloo country or, you know, whatever something because again, that makes us stand out.

And and I love the title of your show, Unapologetically Canadian, because the truth is, when I grew up, we were kind of apologetic about it, like we were, you know, kind of the. And now I feel like we’re the superior brand. That’s really flipped for me at least.

Tracey [00:38:11] Well, the extraordinary thing is we are known around the world for saying sorry. Too often. Often. I mean, that’s why I used unapologetically Canadian. So often people say, oh, you say sorry to often, you must be Canadian.

Tsufit [00:38:18] Yeah. Not me, not me.

Tsufit [00:38:26] You know, it’s so funny, you know, it’s so funny. I just got back from overseas a few weeks ago and I was in the grocery store and I said, I don’t know if I bumped into a woman or she bumped into me. This woman apologized to me for something which it made no sense to me at all that she should be apologizing to me. And I kind of joked with her and I said, back in Canada, right. Like you’re apologing. Anywhere else, you’re pushing, you’re doing whatever, but here, like you’re apologizing for that. Like, I must be back in Canada. And we both laughed about it.

Tracey [00:39:03] That’s true. Well, thank you so much for your time, I appreciate it.

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Journalist Responsibility When Reporting on Death

What is a journalist's responsibility when reporting on death? A private list with a lot of Canadian journalists discussed this issue last week. It turned out to be a prescient subject. As the week went on, and journalists covering the Montreal Massacre continued naming the mass murderer instead of his victims, I got more dismayed. Given this, I thought I'd share my thoughts with blog readers about the kinds of questions reporters need to ask about their stories. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

As a baseline, I think that journalists and everyone else reporting on deaths have a responsibility to decide whether they should publish something or not.  If their work does more harm than good, they need to remain silent.

Figuring out this line can be difficult depending on the situation. I have three rules: begin by asking questions that determine the level of public interest and harm a story might do; focus on commemorating people; ask whether someone is manipulating you and if so, why; make sure that you are reporting news not propaganda; and remember that your responsibility is to the public interest, not the private one.

Begin by Asking Three Questions

As people who work in the public, journalists have always faced a hierarchical set of three questions that change whether a story will be published or not.

1. Does a story have a real public interest?

2. If it does, can publishing a story increase the likelihood that someone will act in the public interest?

3. Who gets harmed if a story gets published? Does the public interest supersede that harm, and if so, how? Answering these questions can be tricky, but anyone publishing something should not only ask these questions, but they should refrain from publishing something that clearly does more harm than good. How does that apply to reporting death? That's when the base rules really matter.

Mass Murders

With mass murderers, I tend to agree with readers who want journalists to avoid naming killers and the organizations they belong to. We faced the absence of this rule again multiple times last week. Writers and broadcasters continually named the person responsible for the Polytechnique massacre when the women he killed and the men he harmed remain anonymous. I've been trying to cover their stories instead.


I also want journalists and the police to continue keeping suicides anonymous. The anguish of the family and the tendency of copycats means that we shouldn't report suicides when they first occur. We need to write analysis, mental health awareness stories, and other stories later but not immediately after the death occurs. When we do write these stories later, we need to ensure we do so without causing unnecessary harm.

Individual Murders

Murders of individuals fall on either side of the issue. Sometimes, reporting murders is important so that the public knows to protect themselves, particularly when a suspect is on the loose or when the police are looking for clues. But that practice can be abused by the media, for sensational purposes or by the police, for manipulative purposes.


Wars need to be covered, even when they are street wars. Too often we don't know that these are happening around the world, and its important to be informed. This can be demoralizing when done badly however. Every day, a war takes place somewhere. If you want to know which places in the world are suffering, the Canadian Government offers a list of travel advice and advisories about conflict around the world. The Council on Foreign Relations operates a global conflict tracker that defines wars and other conflicts from a United States of America point of view. Wikepedia also has a page with current armed conflicts.

Accidental Death

We need to cover accidental deaths to prevent future accidents and to commemorate the lives of victims. Just be careful not to shame a victim.

Responsibility to Commemorate People

If journalists remember to commemorate individuals who take worthwhile action, they rarely stumble. Stories to commemorate people are almost always helpful, regardless of how those people died. There's fewer and fewer of these stories available, except when families pay to tell them. I think that's a shame.

Responsibility to avoid Manipulation

Too often journalists forget that there are multiple actors in every story, including our own emotions. The tendency of journalists to take an "unbiased" viewpoint hurts objectivity. People are always biased. I think it's more useful to make sure that readers know our biases rather than pretending they don't exist. Editors and publishers also have biases and making those transparent is crucial. It's tough to recognize how much manipulation of the media takes place. Journalists have always been among the many people manipulated by private interests, including the interests of the private owners of the media for whom we work. Our lack of success at that task has led to a dismal rating of trust by the public.

Responsibility to Report News versus Propaganda

The challenge of making sure that we report the news rather than participating in propaganda can be a challenge. We have a responsibility to our readers to do so anyway. Most of us continually face awkward situations. Our media bosses push for more pleasant coverage of advertisers. Advertisers ask us for favours. This is the constant advertising versus editorial dilemma, and advertisers have won. In the 1980's, the Toronto Star tried to take an editorial stand in the travel industry. It looked like the paper won that battle in the short run. I think we all lost the battle in the long run. Partly, because readers have different views about what they want in the travel pages compared to what they want in the news pages. There, they prefer to read pleasant travel stories. They don't want to know why they shouldn't travel somewhere. Nobody wants to read only negative material all the time, even though they want to be informed.

Responsibility to Protect Public Interest

Given that most media owners are private individuals, and the fact that publishers can simply pull stories if they don't like something, the private interests of a publisher usually win out if there's a conflict between a private and public interest. Journalists have a responsibility to avoid this. Even public media operators face private challenges, particularly as they try to raise funds, that can put the public interest in second place. The need to sensationalize stories to attract attention often works against the public interest. The editorial versus publisher fight became so idealized in the 90's and early 2000's that publishers realized that their best bet was to simply fire as many people as they can. That turned readers off and led to the demise or fall of many. Just look at where it led Postmedia. Then publishers realized that perhaps they could get readers back by sensationalizing stories in the way the Buzzfeed and Huffington Post do. Also, advertisers know how to get what they want. When they couldn't go to publishers to get something, they went to journalists directly. The Huffington Post publicized that issue when it cracked down on writers who were subsidized by advertisers, but the practice has long been prevalent. After all, someone has to pay. Those of us with more idealistic endeavours often find out that we are the ones paying. If not with money, perhaps with time and frustration.

Public Housing Story Example

Several years ago, I did a series of stories about the lack of hygienic conditions, the harassment of people who complained and administrative corruption in public housing complexes. While I was able to help some individuals, the practices that I uncovered continue to this day. People who complain still get kicked out easily, the process for having legitimate complaints heard remains long and convoluted, the number of spots in the system remains inadequate and the court system that handles complaints gets manipulated by bad actors. Plus, my stories added to public misconceptions about poverty and housing. I stopped covering that beat because it took too much effort for limited results. Every now and then, I think it would be worth while to cover again since few others are doing so, but I haven't yet figured out how to do so effectively without being demoralized about how bad things are. If you have ideas about how this subject can be covered more effectively, let me know. In the meantime, I hope everyone thinks carefully about their publishing responsibilities, regardless of how large an audience they reach.

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December 6: Montreal Massacre

Today, let’s remember Barbara-Maria Klucznik-Widajewicz.

Barbara and 13 other women died during the École Polytechnique Massacre on this date, December 6, 1989.

The 31-year-old nursing student got shot enjoying a cheap meal with her husband in the cafeteria. Newspapers ran a photo of her collapsed in her chair for days afterwards.

She and her husband had emigrated to Canada from Poland two years earlier looking for a safer life. A failed referendum left little room for solidarity activists like them.

Klucznik-Widajewicz spoke five languages and held degrees in engineering and economics when she arrived. She worked as a nanny and her husband worked overnight in a nursing home before they had enough to go back to school.

While he studied to be a psychiatrist, she studied nursing.

The Berlin wall came down a month before she died. The cold war ended. Europe was safe again. Would they go home?

We’ll never know where their dreams might have led. They died with her on December 6, 1989.

Her husband Witold Widajewicz spoke of his shock examining her body to a Gazette newspaper reporter a year after her death.

I opened the zipper and I found a hole in the left breast, the breast that I had kissed that day — one hole that finished everything, the American dream in this country,” said Widajewicz, then 30 years old.

We all empathized with his plight. Many of us remembered the photo of her slumped in her chair. The multiple bodies on stretchers rolled out of the school. All of it so horrific.

Poland repatriated Barbara’s body after she died. Her husband and all of Canada faced an enormous loss.

Too often, stories talk about the gunman, giving him a notoriety he doesn’t deserve. I’d much rather commemorate Barbara and her contribution. She’s the one who deserves to be famous and remembered.

Or, if we must say a man’s name today, why not weep for then engineering student, Sarto Blais? Sarto was at the Polytechnique that fateful day, but was unable to stop the shooter. The graduate killed himself in remorse in August 1990. His parents killed themselves ten months after their only son’s suicide. He and his parents deserve to be remembered too. We need to combat the mental illness that stems from trauma like the massacre.

Montreal, Quebec and Canada lost too many wonderful people 30 years ago today. On this, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, let’s remember them.

Remembering 11 women

In addition to Barbara, Sarto and the Blais, we also remember:

  • Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
  • Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
  • Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique’s finance department
  • Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  • Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
  • Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
  • Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student

Remember Geneviève Bergeron

Geneviève Bergeron was a twenty-one year old second-year scholarship student in mechanical engineering that year. She sang in a choir, played the clarinet and loved swimming, gymnastics and playing basketball. Then Mayor Jean Doré knew her as the eldest daughter of Thérèse Daviau, who then served as city councilor for the Montreal Citizens’ Movement. As a teenager, Bergeron went door-to-door in 1984 to help Doré win his first election. She also babysat Doré’s 3-year-old daughter.

Her sister spoke to CBC radio reporter Laura Marchand for an article published today.

She was my hero,” Bergeron said, smiling. “I remember her as a sunshine. That’s what we used to call her: our Sunshine.”

Catherine had an article in Le Devoir in 2005 that you can still read today.

Elaine Audet, whose daughter attended FACE with Geneviève also wrote a letter about her.

Remember Hélène Colgan

Hélène wasHeleneColgana 23-year-old mechanical engineering student on the day she died.

Finding information about what she believed in is difficult. All I could find is references to three job offers she was considering at the time, including one near Toronto, and her desire to do a masters degree. There’s also a brief statement about her energy from her father Clarence in a book about the events.

That’s all the more reason to miss her now. Who knows what she might have accomplished had she lived.

Her brother Claude Colgan, spoke about her in French on a video.

Women Engineer Success

If you prefer to commemorate today looking at the future instead of the past, join Mary Wells in celebrating 30 successful women in the engineering field who graduated within three years of that time.

Wells graduated from McGill as an engineer two years prior to the Massacre.

Her tribute page “30 years later” gives us just a small sense of what Canada lost when so many women engineer students–and one nursing student and trained engineer–died.

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Pete Bradford and the Art of Making Vinegar

If you're looking for unique gift ideas for the holidays, this week's podcast "Pete Bradford and the art of making vinegar" might interest you. Pete is a cooper, which means he specializes in barrel-making. Spirits, wine, vinegar, pickles, hot sauce, soy sauce, and a number of other fermented goods get aged in wooden barrels. Every community in Canada used to have at least one person who specialized in making barrels because you couldn't survive the winter without fermented foods. Not too many people took up the profession recently, but Pete has three apprentices working with him, because he says that there's a lot of work available and he can't do all of it. He accidentally fell into vinegar-making, and foodies everywhere will rejoice. I highly vouch for his peach, raspberry and balsamic vinegars, which are being shipped around the world. Pete and I discuss how he came to be a cooper, the history of coopering, the challenges of running a creative business in Canada, the many products that need barrel-aging and his recent luck at finding and purchasing his grandfather's blacksmith's bench and vice from 1923. [thrive_link color='orange' link='' target='_blank' size='medium' align='aligncenter']Listen to my conversation with Pete here.[/thrive_link]   Canadian Vinegar Cellars I highly recommend a visit to Canadian Vinegar Cellars, which operates within the Black Prince Winery in Picton. These vinegar flavours taste amazing, and the company takes orders from their website. Here's the transcript of our conversation: Tracey [00:00:03] We are here at the Black Prince Winery in Canadian vinegar sellers, Canadian vinegar sellers, and we are talking to Pete Bradford. Bradford, like the town, Bradford D, NORAD. Yep. And we have just been doing a tasting of the most amazing vinegar I've ever tasted in my life. Tracey [00:00:23] And they all started by accident. So tell me about the beginning of your vinegar experience. Pete [00:00:31] Well, I'm. I'm a cooper by trade, so I make barrels. And the interest in the barrels has been going for my entire life. But I basically started getting a little real about it about 35 years ago and it was back at that time where I had spoken to a couple of guys in a greasy spoon restaurant where we had had breakfast and we talked about where we lived and what we did and all that sort of thing. And I expressed at that time that I was interested in becoming a Cooper. So as not we said our goodbyes and everything. And it was a number of months later where I got a knock at the door and there was a gentleman who had four barrels in the back of his truck and offered to give them to me. Pete [00:01:17] So I accepted that and had the barrels and not knowing what to do with them or what to do anything about them other than to look at them over a couple of month's time. Another gentleman showed up and asked me if I was interested in some bulk sherry that it started to go to vinegar on him. I said absolutely. So took it and put it into the four barrels that I had. And by basically the grace of God sat in the garage for twenty plus years aging into vinegar. And then when it came basically to disposal time and thinking about getting rid of this stuff, because I've forgotten about the barrels. I went to dump it and I tasted some of it and found it quite amazing. So it grew from that particular year of three barrels up to about six. Pete [00:02:08] And then it went to about 12 and then 30. And I'm now sitting at about 250 to 280 barrels full of vinegar. Tracey [00:02:16] Wow. Actually, just to go back to the beginning, because the Cooper is a person who makes barrels. Yes. And most people don't necessarily know that this is a an art that has been around since the 1800s at least, and probably the 1600s. Because you had to make barrels in order to keep anything preserved. So the kinds of things that preserve in barrels include wine and vinegar and what else? Pete [00:02:42] There's soy sauce that's done. Pete [00:02:43] And quite frankly, barrels actually go back centuries, thousands of years, probably. Well, back to the Romans and the Greeks. So it's been it's been a trade and a vessel that has been around basically since the beginning of civilized world. So it's ithree thousand years old. And then when it comes to the vessel itself, it like you say, it's used for wine but spirits are bourbon, whiskeys and rums. Soy sauce is done in it, which I'm gonna be doing a soy sauce this fall. Tracey [00:03:20] So I mean, a new experience. Yeah. Pete [00:03:22] I built small fermentors, wooden fermentors. So 500 litre fermentors. And I've got one right now that I'm gonna be doing a soy sauce this fall. Tracey [00:03:31] So you wont add wheat, so I can taste it? Pete [00:03:32]  I haven't got a clue how to make. Well, I'll figure it out like everything else that I've done. And yeah, but hot sauce and pickles and you name it. So just about anything that's fermented or that can be preserved. It has typically historically been put into a wooden barrel. Tracey [00:03:57] Now, as I'm a hiker, so I've done a bunch of hiking guides and people know that there are Cooper Lane's pretty much throughout Ontario and Quebec because Cooper was a traditional industry that people wanted to be part of. But how many Coopers are there in Canada now? Pete [00:04:13] I know of two Coopers in Nova Scotia and they are called White Coopers. So they make barrels out of spruce and pints of softwood. And one is a historical site at the new Ross Farms. Walter's a Cooper that that both Marla and I had met. We spent the day in his shop. Pete [00:04:31] And then there's another shop in the southern end of Nova Scotia. And they also are White Coopers. They make pails, buckets, small barrels for the fishing industry.  When it comes to wet barrels, so hardwood barrels for wine, spirits, that sort of thing. Right now, as it stands, I am the only one doing it in Canada. Pete [00:04:54] I've got three apprentices and one or two other people have learned from me in the past. But there are three apprentices right now on the go. Tracey [00:05:03] Wow. Awesome. So this particular tradition is actually going to be carried on. Absolutely. Pete [00:05:08] It was always a goal of mine. When I first started this to have a couple of people before I retire. So I've got about 10 years left in me to keep on plugging away at what I'm doing. But there will be at least three other Coopers. So I'm hoping that they're going to open their own shops and things will carry on and evolve. There's enough business in each province of Canada to have three or four cooperidges. If the right marketing is done and all that sort of thing. There was always way more work than I ever wanted to deal with. Tracey [00:05:39] All right. OK. And in terms of the Cooper side, you've got a Cooper side to your business and you've got the vinegar side to your business. So can you talk a little bit about how the vinegar side has evolved and where you're going from here with that? Pete [00:05:54] Well, the evolution of this of this mess that I've created. I learned old school when it came to learning how to make barrels. And I learned that from one gentleman outside of Kansas City, Dale. And I was I was fortunate enough to learn old school. So what I've kind of done with the vinegar is, is it's taken a big interest of mine. I'm not a drinker. I don't drink alcohol really at all. I have a glass of wine once in a blue moon or a beer. But I'm not I'm not a drinker. So I always thought it would be kind of neat to really progress with the vinegar, being a non alcoholic ingredient. So I've sort of studied what the Spanish and the Italians and the Portuguese do with the barrels and how they age vingegars and Solaris systems and cooling systems and how barrels are stacked and how that affects the aging of whatever is in the barrels, the temperatures, the environment and all those sort of things. So II love what the Spanish and the Portuguese do with barrels. So it's not just the vinegars, but it's ports and it's sherrys and olive oils and all of the different things. Wine is at the bottom of the list for me when it comes to barrels. No particular reason. It's just not where my interest really lies. But I find it fascinating what they do. So old school on the vinegar is too. So thus, you know, the peach vinegar has been in the barrel for twenty-five, twenty-six years. All of vinegar are aged takes five to seven years for the alcohol to dissipate. So every vinegar from a starting point is five to seven years old. Tracey [00:07:43] Now what's interesting about aging vinegar is in a barrel is that the alcohol dissipates to the barrel itself. And yet they don't leak. Can you talk a little bit about the the leaking versus... Pete [00:07:57] It's a little more icomplicated than that. There's, um, there's a starter, a mother that I use that I was given or traded for a number of barrels that I built for an Italian gentleman in trade for the starter. That starter is really what takes the vinegar to a whole new level. But it's the work that the starter does with the enzymes within the barrel or within the vinegar. So it's pulling air in. It's constantly stirring and drawing air into the wine, which increases the acidic value. So it's basically an over-oxidization of the wine to to increase the acid. Pete [00:08:43] And then it's the that's the water molecules of the water vapor plus the alcohol vapor that evaporates through the wood in the barrel, which is called the angel's share. So on a typical vinegar barrel, I lose anywhere from five to eight liters of vinegar every year out of the barrel. And that is water, primarily water molecules and some of the alcohol. Most of the alcohol is eaten up by the mother working away on the enzymes within the barrel that's constantly bringing churning air into the wine, which air evaporates alcohol. So I'm never afraid to pull the bung on the barrel five or six times a month. Whereas wine, you put wine in a barrel, you put the bung in and you leave it until you're at least tasting from it, which is anywhere from five to six to eight months down the road. So the barrels are constantly being opened. New fresh air is being brought into the barrel every time you open it and take the bung out, which regenerates and revives or gives the mother a little more energy to keep working. Tracey [00:09:51] And just for listeners as well, then you use mothers with sour dough used nowadays with kombucha, you use mothers with anything that you're fermenting over a long period of time and you want to have a starter. So when I was a kid, we used to call sour dough monster dough, because it actually has to eat all the time. And that's you feeding the mother. Pete [00:10:11] Right. Tracey [00:10:11] And so in this particular case, you don't feed the mother. The mother gets fed by opening the barrel frequently and getting the oxygen. Pete [00:10:18] And I'm increasing. So I've got I've got a mother barrel that I draw mother from. So when I'm starting a barrel, I take five liters of mother out of my mother barrel and put it in the barrel that I'm starting. But when I take five liters out, I'm also taking 10 liters of vinegar or wine that's coming in the door and putting it in the mother barrel. So every time I use the mother, I'm taking five litres out, but I'm putting ten litres in. One to feed the mother with fresh and secondly to increase the volume. So that 15 liters of mother that I got 14 years ago is now grown to close to six hundred and fifty to seven hundred liters of mother. Tracey [00:10:57] And I just want to say, that's because so many people don't actually prepare their own food, let alone actually prepare their own artisan products. So it gives you an idea of how basically once you start with abundance, you actually create more abundance. Pete [00:11:09] Right. Tracey [00:11:11] Absolutely. Absolutely. It's a very important concept in the world. You're either dealing with abundance or you're deal with scarcity and it's much more happy life if you can actually work on the abundance side. Pete [00:11:23] Absolutely. Tracey [00:11:24] So can you talk a little bit about your how you set up your life as an artisan. It must be kind of hard to make a living in Canada these days. What's going on? Pete [00:11:33] Yeah, it's it's a tough in any small business. And I don't have any experience outside of Ontario, but any small business working in Ontario is really tough. There's the labour laws and then there's all of thealth and safety regulations. And and, yes, it's all necessary, but at the same time, it's a tough go. Ontario or Canada is a hard place to have a small business. There's no question about it. Pete [00:12:01] I've been through my hardships. I went bankrupt not too long ago, was five years ago and basically lost everything. And it's kind of I think it's the entrepreneur thing. It's going to happen to you once or twice and you jump in with both feet. And if you get knocked down, you stand up, you wipe the dirt off your jeans and you carry on or you start over. So that's kind of what I've done. And, you know, as much as here, I am 60 years old and wishing that I had a retirement program or a retirement fund, which I don't. But at the end of the day, it's only money. And at the end of the day, you have to enjoy it. So I enjoy the people that I meet. I meet amazing people from all over the world. I get invited all over the world to go and do things and and be places. I haven't taken any of them up on yet. And I've met some crazy musicians and movie stars and artists and it all has to do with this. So I'm a believer in opening up everything to the universe and not to sound too corny or anything, because I hate sounding corny, but just if you open up and you let the good things happen, then the good things will happen. And the bad things that happen, you just got to kind of get over it and get on with it. So that lets sort of the way I look at it and I take on the day with a smile on my face and I hope I end the day with a smile on my face. And the ones that do that for me are the ones that I meet in between. Tracey [00:13:30] And in terms of your creative entrepreneurship, because that's basically that's what you are. You have both sides. Can you tell me and some of the challenges that shocked you about being on either side and the creative side or the entrepreneurship side? Pete [00:13:48] Wow. That's a that's a big question. Geez. Pete [00:13:56] With or without pullingsome industries into this. It's just been a tough go. Pete [00:14:07] And I think probably one of the hardest things that I found as a Cooper was you're Canadian, so you don't know what you're doing. I had that response from a number of different companies. Tracey [00:14:25] Is that because Coopers are considered a European trade? Pete [00:14:28] Yeah. Tracey [00:14:30] It's very typical for almost all our artists. Any artist creative person in Canada faces that. You know, the group of seven went to study in Europe. Pete [00:14:41] And then and then the other thing that that I but I always find it funny and I still to to do to this day, And that is you're a Cooper. What are you doing making vinegar?  Because vinegar is out there in the world as bad wine. No, actually, it's really good wine that just happened to go to vinegar. But but so when you're when you're a company that's developing and you're making barrels for different industries and they're learning that you age vinegar in barrels, then that's kind of an oxymoron or whatever you might want to call it. Tracey [00:15:20] We like to call it multi passionate. Pete [00:15:23] And and I call it a big o, whatever. Take your opinion and shove it. It doesn't matter to me. Tracey [00:15:31] Now, we were talking earlier about the different kinds of you don't actually do any advertising. You tend to get your attention from word of mouth and yet you're actually exporting you now your work to several different companies. Can you tell me which which work it is and how you divide your two businesses up and where it goes? Pete [00:15:48] Well, of the the barrels themselves, I don't do too much anymore. I've got three apprentices. I'm letting those guys learn that the recoopering skills. I'm not building very many new barrels at all. And that will change over time over the next couple of years. But in the end, it's only to introduce the apprentices to building barrels. They all have a lot to learn. There's way more to a barrel than just knowing how to physically make a barrel. As a matter of fact, that's the easy part. Tracey [00:16:22] It's even the sizing. There's three different sizes a barrel, right? Pete [00:16:26] There's like 30 sizes 30. So there's that. I mean, I'm pulling the number out of the air, but yeah, I bet there's 30 sizes. Tracey [00:16:32] OK, so how many sizes do you specialize in? Pete [00:16:34] There's a 24 to 30 litre Perkin. Then there's a 50 liter barrel, a 100 liter barrel, a 220 litre barrel and then a 500 liter. Those are the ones that I that I've typically done. Pete [00:16:49] And which countries are they going to, where are they going to? Pete [00:16:53] It's been Canada and some to the United States when it comes to barrels. And that's as big and as far as I ever wanted to stretch their reach. Any more than that, it involves more than one person and I'm only one person. Tracey [00:17:06] While we're here at Prince Black Prince Winery and they actually are one of the few wineries that have decided to use your barrels. So these are Canadian oak barrels. You have to do one of their Solaris. It's like a brandy, but it's more than that. Pete [00:17:28] In Prince Edward County, there's probably about 15, 18  wineries that have used my barrels in the past. Some of them still have a couple of the barrels that they're using and then some went down into the states. And that's pretty much as far as the the barrels have gone. Pete [00:17:47] When it comes to the vinegar, though, it's gone to Tokyo, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, there's about four or five states and pretty much across Canada. And it's the foodies and the people that kind of appreciate what you do and then there's chefs, pretty much every one of those places that I just mentioned. That's that's the reason why it's gone primarily across the ocean, it's different restaurants and chefs. Tracey [00:18:21] Now, these chefs are all taking, what, your peach vinegar or? Pete [00:18:24] Yes. Or they're doing that. They're doing the peach. And then the solara, the original one, which I'm down to, only about 10, 12 liters left in that, then that's the end of it. That's the 37 year old.  It's over the top. And then they take the peach, the rasberry and the the balsamic seem to be the three main ones that are that are traveling around now. Tracey [00:18:48] Yeah. I know the ones that are truly appreciate. Yeah. And how do you actually ship them? Pete [00:18:54] It's bottled and then packed in boxes. Most of the shipments are only small shipments, like two or three cases or even sometimes not even that. Maybe half a case to different places. And then there's other places. I did a big order in January and it was 400 cases and it went to Taiwan. And that representative has already contacted me back saying that they received it and he's liking and he hoping to put in an order twice or three times the size for December because he wants to take it to China and in Japan. Tracey [00:19:56] So then my last question and all of my podcasts are always this are do you. Do you consider yourself a Canadian? And if so, what does that mean to you? Wow. Pete [00:20:05] Yes. I am a Canadian. I'm a 100 percent Canadian. I'm very proud to be a Canadian. The generations of my family have been Canadian for six generations.  We started in Ireland and went to the East Coast, then to Goderich, Ontario and Dungannan, Ontario. Pete [00:20:25] So my great grandfather and my great great grandfather were both blacksmiths in Dungannon,  Ontario. The type of cartridge. My grandparents had a butcher shop in Goderich.  My father was a butcher before he became a vice principal for the Scarborough Board of Education in Toronto. Pete [00:20:42] But yeah, I take great pride in in the fact that my family was not in any of the military services because the services they provided were necessities in the communities that they were living in, which is the blacksmithing and the butchering. So I take great pride in that. And yeah, I've got my great grandfather's blacksmith shop. I just found his blacksmith shop in Dungannan four years ago.  And I managed to buy the bench. His name's carved into the back of the bench. George Bradford, 1923 is carved into the bench. I managed to get his blacksmith vice, which is part of it. And the blower from the the forge. So I. Yeah. And I'm a hundred percent Canadian. I love it. I wouldn't live any other any in any other place in the world. We've got the greatest country in the world. And yeah, either Canadians like to have fun. If they if they're given the chance, the opportunity to have fun. So. Yeah. Tracey [00:21:55] Thank you very much. I really appreciate your time. And I love, love, love your vinegar. Thank you for introducing us to your art. Pete [00:22:02] Very nice meeting. Good to meet you, too.  

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Visit Picton for insight into military ancestors from WWII

Imagine turning a corner and seeing rows upon rows of green painted wooden buildings as far as the eye can see. One minute, there was nothing. The next minute, an entire town appeared in front of me.

For just a moment, I shared a bit of the awe my ancestors must have felt on day one of their military training during WWII.

The experience took place while I was touring wineries near Picton Ontario last summer.

A former airfield and military base on County Road 22 operates as the Picton Airport and Loch-Sloy Business Park. It includes 54 historic buildings and six airplane hangars on 701 acres of land.

Local businesses rent space

The Prince Edward Flying Club offers “prior permission required” landing services for pilots.

Fifteen other business tenants rent space there too. I saw listings for carpenters, furniture makers, glass manufacturers, landscapers, mechanics, and stone distributors. There’s even a yoga studio on site.

Driving and walking through the park feels like taking a step back in time.

The Picton airfield originally opened on April 28, 1941 as a bombing and gunnery school for the war effort.

Canada, with the support of Britain, built new or expanded existing fields into more than 100 such facilities in less than four years.

The effort became known as the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.

Looking back it is difficult to grasp the BCATP in all its dimensions,” wrote J.F. Hatch, in his 1983 book describing the project. “In themselves, the statistics are impressive: 131,553 [plus 5,296 RAF and Fleet Air Arm personnel trained prior to July 1, 1942] aircrew trained for battle, through a ground structure embracing 105 flying training schools of various kinds, 184 support units and a staff numbering 104,000. When war was declared the RCAF had less than two hundred aircraft suitable for training, many of them obsolete. In December 1943 there were 11,000 aircraft on strength of the BCATP.” [1]

My ancestors Paul Emile Hurtubise, Jean Charles Mathieu and Richard Himphen all trained at Ontario-based military installations just like this one, although the ones they went to were in Camp Borden, Dunnville and St. Thomas rather than Picton.

Camp Borden still operates as an active military training facility. The ones in Dunnville and St. Thomas are long gone.

Picton is probably the last BCATP centre in existence—with original buildings and triangle airfield layout intact—anywhere in the world.

Heritage Structures Intact

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) used the buildings and hangars for storage and equipment maintenance after WWII.

After that, the Royal Canadian School of Artillery (anti-aircraft) moved in to train anti-aircraft gunners, gunnery radar operators, technical assistants and artillery instructors. The first battalion Canadian Guards infantry unit also used the site for a while.

During part of that time, AVRO Arrow test models could be found in some of the hangars.

In 1969, the Department of Defense closed down CFB Picton and the H.J. McFarland Company purchased the land and buildings.

Loch-Sloy bought the site from the McFarland family in 1999.

Dreams for a Period Museum

That’s when the company began a slow challenging effort of reconstructing the former buildings into a period museum that they hope will eventually open full-time. They produced a fun video describing their dreams in April 2013.

Until that happens, you can arrange private tours of the site or contact them for upcoming public events.

I highly recommend the experience. It connects you to the past in a way that reading documents just can’t achieve.

– 30 –

If you want to read more about my WWII military ancestors and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, refer to the following stories:

Fairwell Sergeant Himphen

Evening Serenade

Shot Down Three Times

Vincent Massey and the BCATP


[1] Hatch, F. J. The Aerodrome of Democracy: Canada and the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, 1939-1945. Ottawa: Directorate of History, Dept. of National Defence, 1983, 222 pages.

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