Business Strategies in
Olympics Sport Regions


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Regional Business News
regarding the 2010 Olympics
in British Columbia, Canada

OlyBLOG is for businesses across Canada, especially in Vancouver / Whistler and throughout B.C. We also hope companies in Alberta and United States (i.e. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California) will find OlyBLOG interesting and informative.

"Leverage Olympic Momentum"
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October 2006

Newsmedia Inquiry Needed

Christy Clark on Gentrification

Solutions to Balance Mainstream Media Misinformation

Furlong Works With Media to Manage the Message

VANOC Wants to Close Universities - Students Will Suffer

Vancouver Sun Gives Violent Protest a Toehold

The Business of Manipulating Volunteers

Vancouver Sun Thinks Kids Should Be Forced To Volunteer

VANOC Rings Workopolis Bell

University Students Take A HIT from the Olympics

Globe and Mail's Olympic Report on Small Business
You want the truth? Read This article . . .

John Furlong Wants
Constructive Criticism

well here it is . . .

From the Globe and Mail - October 21, 2006 - "City newspapers across the continent have witnessed their traditional readership being eroded by the Internet, a phenomenon that has thrown parts of the industry into crisis mode."

In these desperate times for newspaper companies, people do desperate things to protect their livelihood. Newspapers, more than all other media, struggle daily to remain competitive. According to Editor and Publisher, the Audit Bureau of Circulation will report at the end of this month that for the six months ending September 2006, newspapers are suffering a daily circulation decline of 2.5%, and a drop off of Sunday readership of 3%. Newspaper companies in North America are bleeding out.

As a result, sometimes they push boundaries that are completely unacceptable, and recently, lines have been blurred beyond recognition. Backroom gossip of bought loyalties increases daily. Checkbook journalism to some is an art. It is loosely defined as a company or organization that buys advertising, and then ends up with editorial coverage as well in the same publication. It happens more frequently, and can be thought of as a second cousin to advertorial. Advertorial is the controversial, but accepted process of mixing news with advertising in the same document. All genres of media do it. In its proper form, the pseudo-editorial piece is clearly identified as "advertising," and most of the time consumers recognize it. The lines have become blurred however between checkbook journalism and advertorial, and in some very unique cases, like in Olympic regions, it is almost impossible to identify. When we see it in community tabloid-style newspapers we understand the process and treat it as such, but when we see it on a broadsheet (the Vancouver Sun is a broadsheet), it is harder to recognize because we assume they hold their news companies up to higher news reporting standards -- think "wolf in sheep's clothing."

Checkbook journalism doesn't necessarily mean that a company or organization cuts a check to a newspaper and then expects to be interviewed or reported about in a flattering way. It is much more surreptitious and can happen when both parties involved have an unspoken understanding that promoting a specific view is good for both of them. They don't have to get together and talk about it. They just know. It is unspoken, and this is the reason it is so hard to prove in court. It is called an "oligopoly" and it is more dangerous to a community than you can imagine.

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Newsmedia Inquiry Needed

The special challenge in Olympic regions is that most people have no idea that local mainstream news media generate obscene amounts of revenue from the Olympics, and more importantly, that some make more money if they primarily tell the Olympic side of the story. For some news media companies, profit is proportionately tied to "Olympic Spirit." The Vancouver Sun for example has already made a fortune off of 2010 by selling copious amounts of double-spread full color advertising to condo king Bob Rennie who capitalized on Olympic frenzy and pumped the well for all it was worth.

Communities now know more about what has transpired in past contemporary Olympic regions than any region has in the past. We in Vancouver/Whistler even now know more than we knew in Turin, and their Games happened less than a year ago. Our knowledge grows exponentially. Considering VANOC's resistance to offer clear fiduciary and planning transparency, and the incredible amount of revenue that media will generate, plus the volatile nature regarding almost everything connected to our 2010 Olympic Games; any media action that promotes false information regarding 2010 Olympics planning, operations and logistics, should constitute grounds for an inquiry -- just like they did in Sydney, Australia in the ramp up to their Olympic Games in 2000.

Because of legal issues (I don't want to be sued), I'm not claiming a case of checkbook journalism, or even one of advertorial impropriety, however, you have to wonder how a news company that purports to be professional, can allow something like the following to happen. Read on and make up your own mind regarding what you think is transpiring here in our Vancouver/Whistler regions.

If B.C.'s Auditor General, Arn van lersel, and NDP Olympic critics, Carol James and Harry Bains, are truly serious about making 2010 work for our community, they would be well advised to investigate immediately, and in an official capacity, how local media manages Olympic information. A good place to start would be the Canadian Association of Journalists.

How many times have you heard VANOC or the government tell us that we have to take ownership of the Games, and that all of Canada must invest in, as well as share the accolades?

According to them, the Canadian public are investors and shareholders in the Olympics. If what they say is true, then as investors we also have rights. If anyone who makes money off the Games, media or otherwise, should infringe or unduly influence these rights, they should be held accountable.

Hypothetically, if the Vancouver Sun or one of their sister publications becomes an official Olympic newspaper sponsor, then the issue of leaving out critical information that Olympic shareholders need in order to make decisions about their investment is similar in many ways to what transpired regarding the promotion of information that Nortel or Enron executives managed in their efforts to manipulate their respective shareholders. And if executives of these infamous public companies go to prison and are fined for artificially boosting sales projections and stock value, I see no reason why Olympic partners are also not held to the same standards when they recommend investments based on misleading information. I made a prediction in 2005 that the Vancouver Sun would become an Olympic partner and an official paid Olympics booster, and unfortunately, in June of 2007 my prediction came true.

In early 2006, the Vancouver Sun reported the same Olympic story twice, using different reporters, but both times they failed to include critical information that was in the public domain.

Now, once more, on September 28, 2006, Vancouver Sun reporter Jeff Lee (one of the reporters involved in the incident described above), falls, or is pushed, or is led, into a common Olympic media conundrum. Although there is no evidence, direct or otherwise, and I am not suggesting that checkbook journalism played a role regarding Lee's work, the accusation is not a foreign term to Lee's parent company, CanWest Global. In mid 2006, reporter Vivian Smith was fired allegedly because she wrote a critical story regarding the Victoria tourist industry. It was a convoluted mess. She was fired by her employer, The Times Colonist, and then rehired five weeks later by her parent company, CanWest Global (who also own the Sun). There was no investigation by the CRTC or local governments, and the news company offered no explanation. The story was also completely buried by local mainstream media.

The story on September 28th, penned by Lee, left readers with the perception that John Furlong invites criticism. Lee also gave violent protest fifteen minutes of fame, which invites trouble to our doorstep. As an investigative piece, if in fact it was intended to be one, the article was so poorly presented that it impedes the public from being able to understand all the issues.

By North American journalistic standards, Jeff Lee's reporting style is average at best. He markets himself as an investigative journalist, but some of his Olympic articles more closely resemble "puff pieces." Maybe it's a Vancouver thing, but simply reporting a "he said, she said" merry-go-round, and juxtaposing it in a way to suit your boss' agenda is not journalism, it's more akin to advertorial. As I mentioned above, Lee was also the journalist who wrote the story in early 2006 about the purchase and lease of VANOC's new offices. I discovered through another news media company's report, and reported in, that he left critical information completely unreported. Unbelievably, his employer, the Sun, did it twice regarding the same story, and with a second reporter.

This pattern leads me in part to believe that Lee and his bosses know exactly what they are doing, and that they put their company before the welfare of our community. I also base this conclusion on a recent Sun editorial (September 29, 2006), where an anonymous Sun editorial writer tries hard to leave an impression with readers that the Sun impartially reports Olympic facts, when in fact as you can see above, the exact opposite is true. They claim, and I quote, "Roadblocks aside, the goal is to make our Olympics memorable."

Well that's a pretty patriotic statement considering the Sun has actually impeded our community's effort in this regard, as evidenced in the story above and the fact that they sold a huge whack of advertising to condo king Bob Rennie during the peak of Olympic frenzy - a frenzy that the Sun helped to artificially create. If it weren't for "paper millionaire " articles that the Sun ran on their front pages, homeowners like Sabina Mawson from Whistler might not have lost $80,000 in home ownership gone bad. Mawson, like all of us, was influenced by media, and as a result naively walked into the frenzy trusting stories from local media trumpeting that real estate in our Olympic region could only keep going up. For her though it went down from a buy in at $649,000, to a sell off of $570,000 only a year and a half later. On October 4, 2006, the Sun is now reporting that real estate in the Vancouver region is spiraling down, but they don't actually put it in those terms. Instead the small headline is, "END OF THE SELLERS' MARKET?" Why the question mark now? I don't recall them questioning the wild ride when prices were being manipulated up to obscene levels, but today they are not so sure. Is it because they don't want to unduly and negatively influence the market -- for the sake of developers and realtors? It seemed to be all right to do it when we were in a reverse position, but now that it negatively impacts local news media's bottom line the story has changed.

It's probably pne of the most telling predictions I made. House prices in the first couple of years after the Olympic Bid is won are dictated by Olympic frenzy, and are not a result of astute political management as was promoted so many times by local media and politicians. Olympic frenzy is fueled directly by local media pandering to real estate marketers.


Christy Clark, in an opinion piece, October 1, 2006 in The Province newspaper, leads readers to believe "gentrification" is a good thing, and that marginalized people should be pushed out in order to make room for nicer neighborhoods. The article is callous and an attack on marginalized Vancouver citizens.

Rhetoric like this is good for the Olympics, and it certainly sells newspapers, but it does nothing to help the public understand what is happening in our community. Clark has a youthful mind, and I want to be nice and say she is impetuous, but the fact is, her actions indicate she is totally ignorant of the machinations of the Olympic process. She was played by The Province in their effort to support the Vancouver Sun's story regarding protesters. It was a smooth tag team tabloid/broadsheet move that indicates why it is so dangerous for one company to dominate news.

Gentrification "sounds" nice Christy, but it is a corporately-sanitized euphemism similar to "downsizing, or lateral promotion," or in an extreme case, "ethnic cleansing." There are very few redeeming qualities for the community regarding gentrification. Fortunately, your comments are so wholly without substance and self-centered that they will not influence intelligent people, so instead I will just scold you and send you to your room to think about all the people you hurt in your selfish effort to raise your visibility and boost your career.

Clark is just one more person in the Olympic parade, and now it seems also a go-to girl for CanWest. She should apologize to everyone she insulted, especially those with limited incomes or on welfare, and also to social activists like David Eby from Pivot Legal Society who have been fighting hard to make sense of the confusion. Clark irresponsibly injected more misinformation into the already deafening stream of white noise. She complains that protesters use "quirky logic," but she somehow thinks that B.C. would be booming without the Olympics. Only politicians looking to take undue credit make statements like that. The primary reason B.C. is booming is because of 2010. Period. (Note to self: Tell Christy about Leverage Olympic Momentum in an effort to keep her from spreading more hurtful and destructive information.)

Over the last three years it was my experience, and I have meticulously documented it in this blog and my book, that the Sun and their sister publication primarily spin only the VANOC/IOC side of the story. However, recently, and without an apology, or even an explanation regarding their about-face, they are feigning support for our community. If they were really serious about supporting our community they would challenge VANOC in a more robust manner and not let them off the hook so easily. Reporting information already in the public domain doesn't count. We know the Games are over budget and we expected they would be. Tell us something we don't know and quit sending up flares regarding common knowledge. Very rarely since Vancouver/Whistler won the Bid and since we've documented the Sun's Olympic reporting have they impartially reported both sides of the Olympic story, although of late they are making up for it. (Maybe they see their sponsor ship sinking in the wake of the Workopolis announcement?) Most of the other local mainstream news media have reported responsibly, including the Globe and Mail and BC Business magazine, and many other smaller independent news media too. Unfortunately though, many of you also still sit in the bush, which means you aren't exactly championing realistic solutions for our community. Thankfully though, at least you are not adding fuel to the fire like our youthful eager beaver Christy. I don't blame local media for being hesitant to report both sides of the story. As you will see below, the Olympic world is a confusing, scary and intimidating place that only the most sophisticated journalists and producers can fathom and navigate.

I am pro-Olympic with a twist, which means I love the sport, but hate the politics, which might also lead you to think I would support the Sun's Olympic boosterism, but the exact opposite is true. So why on earth would I challenge a large news media corporation in a manner that has grown to such an aggressive pitch? It's certainly not for the exposure, because they would be insane to even admit I exist. I can also assure you, I am not suicidal or anyone's fool, or as one mainstream news pro angrily called me . . . an idiot. It is disturbing to receive phone calls from mainstream news media and have them angrily threaten me with what amounts to character assassination. There is no fun in this sport. Well, actually there is a bit of fun knowing that they know I am right and that they are so scared of the consequences they pretend I'm not in the room. In reality, I'm not exactly an 800lb gorilla, but more like high blood pressure - the silent killer. Then again I suppose I'm not that silent either. I guess I'm actually the new media guy who doesn't play by traditional rules.

The bulk of my business today is built around helping small and midsize businesses leverage Olympic momentum. I believe in this so much that I put my life and business on hold to write a book and produce this blog. I derive absolutely zero direct income from this blog, but just imagine how many hours I put into it over the last two years. The only reason I do it is because the information you find here cannot be easily found elsewhere. This is the first time a book and blog of this style have ever been produced, either independently, or as a package. If someone else took the time to research and collate all the information we did, and they put it into an easy-to-read book, I would have read it, and went on with my business of helping small and midsize businesses develop strategies in Olympic regions. But they didn't. So I did.

I was forced to do it because mainstream news media like the Vancouver Sun wouldn't, and neither would our government, who just happen to be Olympic partners. Why would they shoot themselves in the pocketbook? Always remember that they too are in the business of "necessary illusion."

For clarity, I have predicted for quite some time that the Vancouver Sun is interested in becoming an official Olympic newspaper sponsor, and I caution small and midsize business owners that allowing a local mainstream newspaper to become an official Olympic sponsor has never been a good thing for the community anywhere and at any time. Instead, it sacrifices the community. In absolutely all Olympic regions where this happens, (and it happens in most of them in the free world), the community ends up on the losing end of the communication stream. The IOC business model is flawed. Never forget about the $12 billion Olympic debt in Athens, and the $1.2 billion deficit in Salt Lake City (Turin is still counting, but don't hold your breath because it usually takes years to find hidden costs - five years in Salt Lake City.). News media are not capable of policing themselves. It is why we have the CRTC, and now, and, and, plus a rapidly growing list of others with Olympic VS. community interest.

NBC sold advertising to 4 billion Olympic spectators around the world, first in Athens, and then again in Turin. Someone's making billions here, but it's certainly not small and midsize businesses. SMBs in this region are the community, in fact we make up 98% of the community, and if we don't do well, no one does, except of course for the IOC, and Olympic sponsors like Bell, RBC, HBC, Rona, Petro Canada, Workopolis, and all the rest.

Solutions to Balance Mainstream Media Misinformation

It is well documented not only by me, but also by other more experienced and educated researchers, that newspapers that become official Olympic sponsors do it at the expense of the community. You have to read my book for the details. I am not a blogger or a book writer by trade. I am a business analyst and advisor, but over the last three years I found it increasingly more difficult to practice the Olympic side of my business effectively because mainstream news media, like the Sun, failed to illuminate both sides of the Olympic story. They now want the public to believe they have been onboard with the community all along. The Sun made a fortune selling advertising and publishing articles that artificially boosted home prices. It would be nice to hear from the Sun how they plan to remedy the Olympic issues they have had a hand in creating. They primarily support the Games, and report only very selectively that VANOC mismanages plans for 2010, but I want to hear from them how they would fix it? If they really have respect for our community they would introduce us to "experts" with real solutions. But they don't. They don't because the current IOC system is very lucrative for them, and if they polled specialists like me regarding solutions, my advice would include changes that negatively impact their bottom line.

I have extensive crisis management experience, and for many years produced, and still do, business newsletters to help executives and politicians as well as MBA students at Harvard Law School understand how to manage media. Self-serving media and pseudo-politicos like Christy Clark are high on my "Experts Who Unfairly Manipulated Us" retrospective to be published in the summer of 2010 when the tax bill arrives. At that point the community can decide who will pay for it.

If Jeff Lee really wanted to help he would have insisted that his employer, the Sun, allow him to publish a follow up story correcting the misinformation I busted them over. He should have resigned or been fired, much like Vivian Smith recently did at another CanWest newspaper, the Times Colonist. Instead, Sun readers still think that something happened in the Olympic camp that didn't. Lee only gave us part of the story. Leaving out critical information, or half-truths, is tantamount to lying. If Jeff Lee characterizes himself as smart, he has to be smart all the time, and not just pick and choose when to put his brain in gear.

Lee's recent story on September 28 is void of any really useful information to help a reader see a clear picture of what is happening. On one side Lee gives 2010 Watch protester Chris Shaw a platform to air his views about why the Games are bad for our community, but in a backhanded manner Lee also undermines Shaw's position by including baseless rhetoric from VANOC CEO, John Furlong. An anonymous editorial in the Sun the next day further supports this very subtle trickery. It's journalistic tag team Olympic boosterism and juxtaposition at its finest. Basically, Lee portrayed Shaw as a villain to boost Furlong's popularity. Unfortunately, it's not a popularity contest. We need the facts. All of them, and we'll decide who is right or wrong, not Lee, or the Vancouver Sun, or their parent, CanWest Global.

Lee's article starts with a boastful headline in big black letters;

Won't be cowed by Games 'naysayers,' Vanoc (sic) declares."

This big headline is followed by a tiny headline directly below it that reads;

2010 Olympic Watch accuses organizers and government partners of breaking promises."

If the Sun wanted to remain unbiased and not simply use Chris Shaw as a "foil" they would have placed the tiny 2010 Watch headline first, and made it bigger, because that's the core of the story - at least according to them when you read the article. However, doing it that way would have infuriated VANOC. Juxtaposition is an art in the newspaper publishing business, and CanWest, like most newspaper companies, is a master at this manipulative and deceptive tactic.

The Sun is torn between two masters. They obviously pander to VANOC, but on the other hand they know that promoting protest is very, very good for business. Controversy sells advertising.

I predicted long ago that the Vancouver Sun would be a serious contender to become an official Olympic newspaper sponsor, but for the record, once again, they haven't expressed it publicly, or privately to me, even though I've asked. The Vancouver Sun is making all the right moves to emulate the Aussies and it is especially easy to see when you study carefully, and compare what Helen Lenskyj (a well respected researcher of modern Olympic history) wrote about local media in Sydney, Australia.

Consequently, if the Sun is planning to become an Olympic sponsor they have great incentive to undermine Lenskyj's credibility, because if what she writes is correct - then what I predict carries ominous weight. Indirectly, it is her research combined with my research and experience (including Calgary '88 and Expo '86), and the Sun's actions that lead me to believe they want to become an official Olympic newspaper sponsor.

If the Sun wants to put an end to this speculation all they have to do is say, "No, we are not interested now, nor will we ever become a 2010 Olympic sponsor. It is just a coincidence that we are acting like one. Sorry. We won't let it happen again. What can we do to remedy the situation?"

As I wrote in an earlier blog, if that happens I'll put my money on their sister paper The Province. As I also stated in an earlier blog, even though The Globe and Mail is owned by Bell Globemedia, who also own CTV, which is the official 2010 television broadcaster, I find it implausible that the Globe and Mail would lower their standards or jeopardize their credibility to become a 2010 newspaper sponsor. In this wacky world, anything could happen, but it would be a very long shot. The absolute only way it would work would be if The Globe and Mail branded every single Olympic-related article with a notice saying, "We are an official Olympic sponsor." And if they did that, how would it look on Bay Street? Sorry guys, I'm still not betting on your horse even though you're related by marriage to Workopolis. Besides, the Olympics probably wouldn't have you. You're too ethical and would never get past preliminary negotiations. They'd stop you cold with the clause in their non-compete/confidentiality agreement that says, "when you sign this contract you agree to unconditionally protect the image of all Olympic organizations and their partners and agents, even if it impacts journalistic integrity, or if it harms the community."

Look at it this way; NBC has been the official Olympic worldwide television broadcaster for many years. They boast about making more Olympic money than all other news media combined. Ask yourself; Do you trust critical Olympic news that emanates from NBC? Of course not. We all know and accept their bias, and we are all fine with it because they sacrificed their integrity to exploit the Olympics and become rich. I'm cool with it because they are upfront about it. At least I know where they stand. But if local media gets in the same game and they don't identify themselves as biased, is that OK? The question for local news media is, "Whose side are you on? The Olympics? Or the Community?" Even someone as ill informed as Christy Clark knows that you can't serve two masters.

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Furlong Works With Media to Manage the Message

As fully expected, based on Lenskyj's research of past Olympic Games, Sun writer Jeff Lee allows Furlong to undermine the validity of Lenskyj's research, while he does nothing to refute Furlong's silly statement that Lenskyj never approached Furlong to complain about how he is running VANOC. It is the response of a desperate man, and Lee never picked up on it. Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law, or mismanaging an Olympic event, and it's not why Furlong gets paid the big bucks (over $330K per year plus bonuses and perks). Don't you think it is his responsibility to search out the truth? Shouldn't Furlong go to Lenskyj if he thinks she has new information that will make the Games better for our community? Every responsible executive I've ever worked with would do so, and I've worked with many Fortune 500 companies and even brushed shoulders with a few oval office politicians throughout my career.

George Bush signature on Art of War
I once cornered U.S. President George Bush (Sr) into signing a copy of The Art of War at a time when he was immersed in the Desert Storm conflict. The opportunity presented itself at a private event in Washington DC, and against everyone's recommendations, I went for it. When I asked President Bush to sign Sun Tzu's tome, everyone, including secret service agents, took a big breath and sucked all the air out of the room -- until George happily blurted, "Sure! It's my bible."

As Bush signed the book, out of the corner of my eye I watched press secretary Marlin Fitzwater lean against the wall and roll his eyes upward.

That little Bush Hallmark quote still gives me chills.

I can just imagine daddy propping junior on his knee and reading him a bedtime bible story.

Lately, when I look at the picture on my office wall of Daddy Bush and I standing together, I can't help but think that little Dubya never stood a chance.

President George Bush, Maurice Cardinal, Bob Zievers, Anne Murray
Anyway, back to our war . . . in retrospect, I'm sorry that I gave John Furlong the benefit of the doubt when he was first appointed CEO. My biggest mistake was not to have challenged his actions more aggressively from the very beginning. You live and learn. Like most people, I also thought too romantically of Olympic organizations, and as a result, the warm and fuzzy feelings I carried from childhood influenced my judgment. Never again.

Dr. Helen Jefferson Lenskyj, and her well-documented research, are examined in critical detail in my book. Considering that local news media will make a killing off of the 2010 Games, out of principle, and even though it would help explain my work, I refuse to give hundreds of copies of my book freely to media. It is their responsibility to understand all aspects of the Olympics. Besides, it didn't take long to realize that I also needed to track and monitor a local media control subject to verify my point. Someone had to navigate the maze to the block of cheese. And sure enough, someone did. Happily, it seems that currently only very few media have a serious interest in becoming an Olympic mouthpiece, although I have to say that a few did give it a shot until they saw my early reports. No one likes their motivations placed under a microscope and critiqued in front of 10,000 business owners and international media, especially when their views harm Canada and our local community.

Unfortunately, those few who still side in a primarily partisan way with Olympic organizations are local heavyweights, and they hold considerable sway over the entire industry. Up until I came along, local news media had a lot to gain financially on the back of the community, but now, they also have a lot to lose regarding long-term credibility if they don't maintain a balanced perspective. In mid October of 2006, the bulk of local news media are still waiting to see which way community favor leans before they weigh in relative to my perspective. Some actually take "man-on-the-street polls" to support their perspective - like it matters what uninformed people think to those of us with a brain and a penchant for the truth. I could care less what a thousand naive and gullible lemmings say, but I do respect what even one intelligent person who has done a little research thinks. In past Olympic regions news media professionals were never put under the pressure I am exerting because communities never had easy access to the information I share here, and media's decision to choose a side was made for them when the local Olympic organizing committee finally chose an official newspaper sponsor.

In past Olympic regions, after mainstream news companies found out they didn't win the "dubious sponsorship honor" they covered this controversy openly, and in cities like Sidney or Salt Lake City, they too were forced to wait for the crack of the starter's pistol. No one wants to get onboard before they know the train is at least partly full and going in the right direction. Being right has nothing to do with anything when someone else signs your paycheck. I question openly how media traditionally do business and I talk to journalists on and off the record. Most do not agree with the Olympic news media sponsorship system I describe here, however, none have bought a ticket on my train - at least not yet, although Tracy Tjaden, editor at BC Business magazine did give me a ride in her caboose in July 2006 regarding a letter I sent to her describing my overall take on the outdated Olympic business model. Most journalists are still skeptical that the traditional sponsor media system I describe will be adopted in 2010, but curiously none have offered alternative solutions regarding how to keep volunteers hyped up and in Olympic Spirit. Surely local mainstream news media can't be so naive as to think it happens naturally? If you think the average person is concerned about rising costs now, poll them again six months before the Games. It takes a village to raise a child, and fortunately, frustrated small and midsize business owners are starting to get it. It's amazing what happens when the perception of Olympic costs leaps overnight from $600 million to $2.5 billion. All of a sudden my perspective makes a little more sense, and interest in my book ratchets up a notch. Thank you Arn.

The reality is that no one needs traditional mainstream news media when they have the internet. The longer that traditional news media ignore past history, the more they alienate the community, and the worse they look. The difference between today and yesterday is that in past Olympic regions business leaders never knew what to expect, so they rolled with the punches. Today, thanks to blogs like this, they can see the upper cross coming far in advance. I'm not pretending it was my choice, but I've been forced to sit back and let mainstream news media prove my point through their blunders. Granted, its not the way I envisioned it would play out, but I'm flexible. As Darwin said, "It's not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one with the greatest capacity for change."

Thankfully, some media (young people primarily who are more attuned to new media and the internet) buy my book, and a few select media also received complimentary copies, but only after they expressed interest or indicated through their work that they were capable of remaining impartial. They didn't have to agree with me, but they at least had to have an open mind. I have no intention to give my book to someone who will simply use it to further manipulate the community. If media, or developers, or landlords, or university leaders buy it to do so, c'est la vie, but I'm not giving it to them -- at least not yet. I might however reverse this decision when a greater segment of the community is so pissed off that they will demand that local mainstream media hop on board the community train. Until then, media can click here to buy it. For the sake of full disclosure, we also give free copies to professionals like lawyers, politicians, volunteer and business associations. They too often find it controversial and shocking, but many use the information in it to forward their positions. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, our community has not yet reached the tipping point, but if VANOC keeps mismanaging things, it won't be long before taxpayers are pushed over the edge. I'm a patient man, but the tragedy is that the longer it takes for exasperation to reach critical mass, the longer the community suffers and the worse the resultant long term tax burden grows. Meanwhile, local media make a killing off of the controversy while they feed the fire.

What you might also find interesting is that Lenskyj figured out years ago, and she documents in incredible detail, how local media with a vested interest to become an official Olympic sponsor manipulate taxpayers in Olympic regions. My book examines her work, and compares what happened in Vancouver/Whistler over the last three years, with what has already transpired in Sydney and other Olympic regions. What happened in Sydney is happening here almost stroke for stroke, including Aboriginal, environmental and social issues.

Either they are working in collusion, or John Furlong fooled Sun reporter Jeff Lee into thinking that VANOC has a different plan, and that we should not base Furlong's performance on what has happened in other Olympic regions. So far, and other than a few minor deviations, like Workopolis for example, Furlong is doing exactly what has happened in other Olympic regions, so why should we think he won't continue to toe the IOC line? If Lee did his homework he would have picked up on it, but he doesn't, so he didn't. Ironically, on one hand, in an exercise of what Noam Chomsky describes as "necessary illusion," the Sun anemically leads readers to believe that VANOC is not transparent, and I agree that in many cases they are not forthcoming regarding financial reporting, but in an operational sense their actions and intentions are crystal clear to anyone who reads this blog and my book. John Furlong looks like a ghost of days gone past. He's completely transparent. You just have to know where to look.

I write it, and a year later VANOC does it.

The Vancouver Sun designs stories that lead readers to believe we are unique. I hate to break it to navel-gazing Vancouverites, but look up once in a while and beyond your backyard. Our situation here is not as unique as mainstream news media or VANOC would have you believe. The financial nightmare you see unfolding in our region happened almost identically in not only Sydney and Salt Lake City, but also in almost every Olympic region in the free world. Lee let Furlong lead readers to believe that Helen Lenskyj's views do not have merit. Well, they do, plus I'll show you why you should also pay attention to Tony Webb and Dick Pound. Read my book if you are interested in details of the correlation. It's not nice, but it's true.

Furlong also fooled Lee into reporting that Lenskyj's information is incorrect.

In reference to Lenskyj's material, there is a big difference between reporting about protest strategies in Olympic regions, and condoning such action. Lenskyj does the former, not the latter, but for a reporter who has not done thorough research, or who has ulterior motives, Lenskyj's actions could be accidentally misconstrued, or purposefully manipulated to the contrary. You actually have to study the book, not scan it to understand the information presented. Plus, if you don't trust the source, compare it to what other people who hold a completely different perspective report. I did. Guess what Jeff and John? It holds up. Olympic insider, Tony Webb, who is rabidly pro-Olympic, corroborates much of what Lenskyj states, but he does so in a different context. That is why my book is important, and if Lee did his job properly he'd know this too. Furlong pulls Lee's strings through the experienced puppet master fingers of IOC president Jacques Rogge.

When news media starts to make up stories, like, "as yet" non existent protesting, it is usually a sign they are trying to distract us from a more important issue. It's awfully coincidental that a week or so after the auditor general's report trumpeting a 2.5 billion dollar boondoggle, that we now have to deal with the "threat" of professional protest. It brings a whole new meaning to "breaking the news." It's broke all right, and that is exactly why's slogan, "We don't break the news. We fix it!" is so timely.

It's hard for the inexperienced to tell whether the Sun is reporting news, or making news.

I know some of you will find this next statement much too harsh, and you might even unsubscribe from my newsletter, but if you believe the misinformation emanating from Lee, the Sun, and John Furlong, you deserve to suffer the consequences. If you continue to ignore what is happening around you, your more progressive competitors will take a wide lead. As you can see, everyone here will pay way more than they bargained for regarding 2010, the difference however will be that smart companies will compensate for it by thinking outside the rings. If you have to pay for it, shouldn't you benefit too? The solution is simple. Deciding to do it is the hard part.

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Vancouver Sun Gives Violent Protest a Toehold

Let's get back to Jeff Lee and the Sun. Once again the Sun strategically gives a necessary illusion platform to another losing horse. Although I appreciate 2010 Watch and Chris Shaw's position as to why he hates the Games, I do not believe that traditional professional protest, which they advocate, and which in Olympic regions is usually very violent, is the answer. Physical protest is not the right route to take, and I've written about it here and in my book in considerable detail. Sometimes Olympic protest is necessary, but mostly it is a waste of time and taxpayer money. Protesting is very costly for the business and residential communities, but surprise, surprise, it dumps millions of dollars into the coffers of local media who report it and sell advertising on its back. Local media in other Olympic regions, and ours, as you already saw in the Eagleridge fiasco, usually only give protesters enough rope to hang themselves, and when they do, they swing for all to see on the front page.

Local newspapers need controversy to sell headlines. Protesters like Chris Shaw are promoted by news media just enough to let them swing, but not enough to give them real credibility or any level of long range success. I implore Chris Shaw to rethink his strategy and consider my less volatile, but more effective and contemporary solution. Use technology instead of physical force.

If Shaw simply hates all aspects of the Olympics then he is simply wrong. At its core the Olympics is a good event, unfortunately though it has become profit-centric as opposed to sport-centric. We no longer have to kill the horse just because it has a broken leg. It's a new era and we have new tools. It is now possible to take back the community in a manner similar to how consumers put the music industry on notice. MP3 knocked major record companies to their knees, and we can do the same thing here, in a similar way, to the IOC.

Unlike Chris Shaw, I don't want to kill the IOC, but I do want 2010 to reflect a more accurate depiction of what our community needs today to make it work for everyone. I've been trumpeting this perspective since day one for the last three years, but have you ever heard this message emanate from local mainstream news media? Instead, now you see stories from people like Shaw who threaten us with violent protest. Is this responsible reporting?

I would much rather have Chris Shaw use technology to expose and undermine VANOC's motivations, than to have to deal with his violent protesters in my neighborhood. And Shaw could take a closer look at sponsor businesses too. We live in an era of target marketing. Broadcast is withering on the vine. Focus and pull, instead of a shotgun broadcast approach, is much more effective. At the very least Shaw could embarrass sponsors or manage boycotts against them, but why make the average person in our community suffer? We don't like increased taxes and inconvenience any more than you, but hey Chris, do you use a Visa card, or do you bank at the RBC, or still work for the UBC? Do you drive a GM vehicle, is your deck built by Rona? Does your family do any of these things or use any Olympic sponsor products? Do you derive income, or support any of the sponsor companies or partners in any way whatsoever? If you are truly championing the community then you have to divest yourself of all these products or you won't have credibility. You can't be on the team and kill the team at the same time. The options are limitless in this online world. Impact their money stream, not the community's. VANOC and the IOC will get the message. Forget the outdated, easily manipulated referendum or plebiscite. It's 2006. Go digital and vote with your money. Think local. Act global.

Build international media networks targeted at countries interested in bidding to host future Games. Make sure local media in all prospective BID countries know what is happening here. It's the IOC you hate, not people in Vancouver and Whistler. One thing I do agree with in the Sun editorial on September 29, the Games are coming, and it's way too late to send them back to Turin or elsewhere. Besides, why? Some cities actually manage a very successful Games, like Atlanta, Los Angeles and Lillehammer, however, don't believe that Sydney was the "Best Games Ever " as the IOC makes it out to be. That title was a smokescreen to hide major changes forced upon the IOC by Australian Aboriginals and the local business community. Unlike Vancouver/Whistler, at least so far, all these cities aggressively fought from the outset with the IOC. They told the IOC to take a hike - community first, IOC second. To me, "the best" means that the community benefits directly too, and if you read Lenskyj's research, you know what really transpired. BTW, Calgary doesn't count among the best. If you don't believe me, ask the Lubicon Tribe in Alberta. Plus, the fuel industry bailed taxpayers out in '88, and Calgarians just plain lucked out negotiating broadcast rights after Los Angeles in 1984 set new precedents that demonstrated to the IOC how unsophisticated the Swiss organization really was. All Calgary did was benefit from LA backwash. It was mostly luck, and if you know anything about Olympic events you know it is inappropriate to use Calgary as a model for Vancouver. Read Dick Pound's book for the inside story. Calgary was as surprised as everyone to do so well.

I'm also betting that Jeff Lee or Chris Shaw didn't read what Lenskyj wrote about universities that partner with Olympic organizations. Then again, maybe Shaw no longer works for UBC. Can you sleep with the enemy? I know I can't. More importantly, can they sleep with you? We'll see.

It is ironic that Shaw is using the companies that underwrite the bane of his existence (local media) to get his message across. It's as convoluted as Eagleridge protesters allowing the Sun to embed in the protest camp. What makes Olympic protesters think that all local media are on their side? It might look impressive at the time, but if it hasn't already, the Sun article will soon leave Shaw less than pleased. He didn't exactly come across in the Sun with much credibility. It is a fallacy that any press is good press. The reality is that bad press can be spun to raise your visibility, but it's very hard and expensive to leverage it to your advantage unless you already have solid communication ties into your community. Eagleridge was plastered all over the Sun. What good did it do them? For the most part the Sun made them look small-town and self-serving, yet they still allowed a Sun reporter to camp out on the bluff with them. Protesters should skip the Sun for Sun Tzu. All that counts is results. Anything less is grandstanding.

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The Business of Manipulating Volunteers

If Olympic organizations didn't have local media to partner with, they would have to either develop new online promotional strategies . . . or fizzle and die. VANOC could never conscript a volunteer network if they couldn't count on local media to keep the community primed and hyped. Olympic Spirit is a euphemism for "cult" and it smacks of hegemony. Shaw would make greater headway by educating the masses at the low end of the food chain - prospective Olympic volunteers. Teach them what they are really in for, and how much it really costs to become a volunteer. Olympic volunteering doesn't come without a hefty price for the volunteer. It is the reason Olympic organizations have volunteer churn rates of 3:1, and sometimes greater.


Here's a good example of a "compliance" tactic VANOC currently uses to conscript volunteers.

It was copied directly from their website on October 11, 2006.

VANOC will require an estimated 25,000 volunteers to help run both the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, in dozens of functions ranging from Accreditation to Venue Operations.

Due to the high level of interest in volunteering, we will not be able to offer everyone a volunteer position. Much like applying for a job, there will be application screening and an interview process in order to best match prospective volunteers with the available positions.

Let's now dissect it sentence by sentence . . .

VANOC will require an estimated 25,000 volunteers to help run both the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, in dozens of functions ranging from Accreditation to Venue Operations.

The above line is a true statement, and the first part of a psychological compliance technique designed to get the reader to agree with them, ... or say "yes."

This is their next line;

Due to the high level of interest in volunteering, we will not be able to offer everyone a volunteer position.

The above is a false statement based on the past history of "ALL" recent modern Olympic events and when you read it in the context of their preceding line. They make it sound absolute when it is not. VANOC cannot possibly know at this early date that they 'will not be able to place all volunteers who apply.' If they really believe that they know this early, they are fools. The phrase "will not be able to offer" is very selective and deceptive. When backed into a corner over this line they will likely respond by saying that some of the people who volunteer will be hired as paid workers, which technically means that they will not be offered a volunteer position, and consequently it makes the statement half true. It represents part two of the compliance technique.

Much like applying for a job, there will be application screening and an interview process in order to best match prospective volunteers with the available positions.

The above line is correct, and it represents part three of a traditional compliance technique, which is; end with a true statement. The overall technique consists of a false statement sandwiched between two true statements. It is a finely tuned technique that used car salesmen and condo marketers use. It's legal for the most part because the lie is basically just a little white lie, but as you can see, it is wholly unethical and deceptive, and very manipulative. Is this representative of an Olympian?

Keep reading to find out what really happens regarding volunteers in Olympic regions.


Olympic organizations have to offer prizes and cash incentives, which they disguise as "awards" to keep even paid help working to the end of the Games. For example, paid workers get say $7/hr as a base pay, and if they make it all the way through they are then paid an additional award of $3 more per hour. The catch is that they have to work the entire run without taking time off or quitting.

Why do you think Olympic organizations do that?

Shouldn't Olympic Spirit be enough to keep them on the job?

Jeff should ask John if VANOC is going to institute the same "award" program, and if so, why?

And if not, what exactly will VANOC do to keep volunteers on the job?

That would be real investigative reporting.

Here's why the question is so important, and this is just one example; How hard will it be for a volunteer to get all the way through a seventeen day run if it takes two or three hours (each way) to get to work on a route that normally takes half an hour? Pardon me? You don't think it will happen here? I describe it in detail in my book, but Furlong had to spend $380,000 traveling to Turin with his crack executive team to experience it first hand because he never heard of Lenskyj, and he didn't read my book. News media actually reported that Furlong spent seven hours in transit via bus on a route similar in length to the Sea to Sky between Vancouver and Whistler. Is it necessary to stick your hand in boiling water to see if it's really hot? Can you imagine what Furlong would have learned if he used his time wisely and didn't fritter it away on a mismanaged bus route? A few hours here, one hundred and fifty million there, it all adds up. BTW, Salt Lake City and Sydney had exactly the same transportation nightmares. Athens didn't however because their Games were so mismanaged that no one showed up at all - their roads and buses were barren.

Not only do I examine these issues in great detail in my book, I offer solutions.

I am curious why Jeff Lee or any of his colleagues have not explored these hidden little secrets in the Sun. Instead, the Sun leads prospective volunteers to believe that it will be hard to become a volunteer. What a crock. If you don't believe what I say about Olympic volunteering and transportation, ask Tony Webb (author of "The Collaborative Games), or Helen Lenskyj. Lenskyj is anti-Olympic, while Webb is pro-Olympic. How is it possible they both agree on these points? They both can't be wrong, can they? They paint the same picture, but use a different brush, yet the Sun leads us to believe that exactly the opposite is true. And by the way, has the Sun ever reminded prospective volunteers that they have to take at least five weeks off of work, plus spend two months training in their off hours to fulfill their obligations to the Games? Who do they think pays for that? To volunteer means to give of your time and money. In case you misunderstand me here, I think volunteering is noble, but it turns into a different situation entirely when Olympic organizations are so mismanaged that thousands of people quit because they feel they've been disrespected. Not only does it turn them off of the Olympic volunteer experience, many become so disillusioned they never volunteer for anything for the rest of their lives, which leaves organizations like the Cancer Society or the Heart and Stroke Foundation in the lurch. Did the Sun ever drive this home to their readers? If they were truly impartial, every time they boost the Games, they would balance it with reality, but they don't.

How about you SMBs? We get email regularly at from small and midsize business owners who want to "serve" the Olympics. They want to volunteer their services or products until we tell them that it's not simply a matter of giving stuff away emblazoned with their logos. They have no idea that to volunteer means investing a huge amount of money too. Few ever think that VANOC will expect them to meet stringent criteria. They rarely factor in the human resources cost. The only way to gauge Olympic success is to look at your profit and loss statement. Can an SMB really afford to donate $80,000 in time and products to Olympic organizations as a volunteer, and then in 2011 have their taxes skyrocket too. If so, commit your business to VANOC as they require, but before you do, I highly recommend you read my book so you know what you're getting into, because I guarantee, John Furlong and Brian Krieger (2010 Commerce manager) won't tell you what you're in for when you sign on their dotted line. Due diligence is YOUR responsibility.

If you want to even explore doing "value-in-kind" (volunteer-style) business with Olympic organizations they force you to sign confidentiality agreements. What the hell are they hiding that makes it so important to sign confidentiality agreements just to find out if you even want to give them your time and money? The reality is that it's not a confidentiality agreement your signing, it's a "gag restraint." The IOC has been managing companies in host regions since 1896. Thanks to local media like the Sun, they have your number even before you show up.

Protester, Dr. Christopher Shaw, is a professor of ophthalmology at UBC, at least that's what is says on the UBC website. If he wants to have an impact that is good for the community he has to reassess what is happening in our community, and more importantly, he also has to reconsider his actions. Shaw brought Lenskyj into his fight with VANOC mistakenly believing it would bolster his position. What our eager reporter Jeff Lee didn't tell us was that Helen Lenskyj, in one of her books, "The Best Olympics Ever?" (the question mark says it all) doesn't advocate traditional Olympic protest. In fact she is the main reason I oppose professional protest, and if you consider her argument, you will probably come to the same conclusion too. Lenskyj's research indicates that protest in Olympic regions rarely works. All it does is sell newspapers and create controversy, which makes it even harder for local residents and businesses to understand what is really happening and to survive the Games. Jeff Lee spun her ideology to suit his boss and undermine Shaw.

Olympic organizations like VANOC are coached by the IOC. They've been through this many times and know exactly how to manage civic minded people like Chris Shaw. Be forewarned though, according to Lee's article, Shaw is threatening to escalate his local protest to an international level, and if he does, residents (you) will be facing, on our streets, masked, violent, professional protesters from around the world. Do you want that? Do you want your taxes to go up in order to pay the police and military to protect you from it? If not, don't listen to the Sun, because even though it is illegal to incite a riot, that is exactly what they are propagating by not telling both sides of the story. Do you think the Sun is smart enough to know what they are doing, or are they just plain dumb and naive?

Chris Shaw is not even yet a story, but Jeff Lee at the Sun sees it as one. This type of reporting is opportunistic, irresponsible and hurtful to our community, and if someone gets hurt or killed over it, it might be regarded by the courts as such, especially now that we at are identifying the metapattern and creating a record.

Shaw was taken aback last year when plainclothes officers casually approached him at the very beginning of the lighting of the Inukshuk ceremony on English Bay, and they let him know that they knew who he was. That's all they said. They just wanted him to know that they knew his name, and implied that he was being watched. Earlier that same day during an interview where I was trying to convince 2010 Watch to soften their positions (apparently I failed miserably), I cautioned Shaw that his employment with the UBC could also become strained if he turned up the heat (you might remember Chris, he was the guy waving the black skull and crossbones flag on a three meter pole during the Inukshuk ceremony). In my early career I co-directed security for crowds of up to 65,000 people, and I can tell you, to see someone in my audience waving a pirate flag would have sent a shockwave through my security staff. UBC is an Olympic partner, and as such they have sworn allegiance to VANOC. As I mentioned earlier, a company or organization with official ties to Olympic organizations has to sign an agreement stating that they have a legal obligation to protect the image of the Games, which is extrapolated to mean, even if it is to the detriment of the community. This agreement also applies to their agents and employees, of which Chris Shaw is one. I wonder if Lee knows that Dr. Shaw is a professor at UBC, and if he does, why didn't he explain to his readers what I just told you? Details like this would not have slipped by someone like Monte Stewart from Business Edge, or Bob Mackin from Business in Vancouver. (BTW, Business in Vancouver first reported the VANOC offices incident that I busted Jeff Lee over.) It will be interesting to see how long Shaw will remain in the good stead of UBC if he brings violent protest into our community, but I hope it never comes to that because he's an intelligent guy and will be way more effective if he uses his brain instead of brawn. Considering he's a doctor of ophthalmology it's surprising he can't see this.

I appreciate Shaw's frustration, but I have a better solution to our huge and quickly growing Olympic mess. Our solution is nonviolent and it has proven successful. Ask yourself this, how effective do you think the Eagleridge protest was? Where is poor old Betty exploited-by-local-media what's-her-name today? Not still in jail I hope. (Just kidding, in all seriousness, she was released from prison a month or so ago. Her name is Betty Krawczyk and she is a noble defender of trees, but no match for media and modern day professional protesters.) Now, envision the wasted money and resources, and all the bad feelings generated by Eagleridge magnified one thousand fold. Remember too that your taxes paid for all that police intervention, and I bet it wasn't counted as an Olympic expense. Olympic organizations and local media were able to effectively pit community against community. Do you want that? Because that is exactly the traditional modus operandi used by Olympic organizations, news media and protesters. If you don't believe me, read Helen Lenskyj's book, read Dick Pound's book, read Tony Webb's book, read Anne Popma's report, read reports by Pricewaterhouse Cooper, Google your fingers off, and read the thousands of government articles and documents we slogged through and collated over a three year period.

If you don't have three years or a big budget to do all this, you can find the critical and important information and opinions of these people and other well respected companies in our book, "Leverage Olympic Momentum."

2010 is not going away.

Instead, learn to leverage it to the advantage of our community.

Our solution is based on community involvement and ensures that our community shares in the profits, and not just absorbs the costs. The solution takes back control of our streets without resorting to traditional protest. Our solution will ensure that local media, and Olympic sponsors like Bell, RBC, HBC, Rona, Petro Canada, and the rest of them will not be the only ones making a profit. And that, after all . . . is the root of the problem.

If you want to make a profit during the Olympics you have to separate yourself from the madding crowd (which means frenzied), or in our case maddening crowd, and learn to think outside the rings.

Our solution is based on the premise that our community has independent access to the world in a manner that grows stronger every day. Our solution has been proven by other industries, and it exploits a loophole in the IOC business model, the part about Vancouver/Whistler not being able to officially promote the Games until 2008.

Wake up Vancouver and start ringing the
virtual Olympic bell around the world.

It is our local challenge, but it is also
a global issue, so regard it as one.


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