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... And I Love My New Office

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

I had a great conversation with my friend Dune Nguyen on his Facebook Live show called Conversations with Dune & Friends.

We covered a lot of ground including: gymnastics, music, Guinness World Records, leadership, Bright Nights, Access Television, Toastmasters, CAPS, racquetball, Pan American Games, pulmonary embolisms and swimming with my grandson.

It's a long interview, and you probably won't be interested in all of the topics so in this post I'm going to focus on a few of my favourite topics.

(If you'd like to watch the full 90 minute interview, please scroll down to the bottom of this blog.)

Let's start with the chance encounter I had in an elevator that lead to me being a reporter on the Learning & Job News.

Here's what you'll see in this 13 minute video clip:

  • Moses Znaimer from MuchMusic purchasing ACCESS Television and producing the Learning & Job News.

  • How attending an Edmonton Chamber of Commerce networking event lead to me being interviewed on the Learning & Job News.

  • My first day as a reporter on the Learning & Job News, and how Neil Wilkinson, got his new office.

  • The Body Break jingle (and Dune singing it. )

  • Why I had to bring my own extra's when we shot the May We Talk? series at the Inn on 7th.


(Please skip the video if you'd prefer to read the transcript.)

Dune Nguyen (00:47:43):

Tell us a little bit about... you did some work with Shaw Cable? Or was it ACCESS Television?

Barbara May (00:47:51):

ACCESS Television.

Yes, this goes back a few years. ACCESS television used to be owned by the government [Government of Alberta] and they ended up selling it to Moses Znaimer from MuchMusic.

And so he took over and he came up with this new show called Learning and Job News. It was all the shaky camera work and really fast cuts and that kind of style.

And what the learning and job news was about was about getting jobs and going to school.

I was at a networking event for the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce at the Edmonton Sun. And I got on an elevator and I ended up meeting the publisher of the Sun. We started talking and there was another woman in the elevator and she introduced herself to me and [joking] I discovered elevators are a great way to meet people. [laughter]

She was going to be on the show that night and she goes, "Oh, you're a communications coach. Why don't you come with me?"

I was like, "okay."

So I go down to access television and I met the producer and he was telling me about his show. And I said, "sure, I'd love to be on it."

So next thing I know I'm being interviewed on this TV show. It was all about learning and jobs. And I talked about communication and at the end of the show I said to the producer, "That's a really awesome show."

I really liked the concept.

"You should interview business owners. I think it'd be really neat if you interviewed business owners."

He goes, "Great! When can you start?"



Barbara: (00:49:33):

This is long before I did comedy. [It's], even before I did the commercials. So I was like, "Well, I guess I could be on TV."

My very first, [day as a reporter] I lined up three interviews. Now I realize how crazy this was. But one of the people I interviewed was Neil Wilkinson. You may know that name from Toastmasters. He was the president of Toastmasters international. Not just the club, but the entire organization. And he also owned Barcol Doors.

I interviewed Neil and I was horrible. I was so nervous. And, and I got back to studio and somebody walked me through how to edit the story. Cause I hadn't done editing before.

I had to basically jot my notes down, of what I wanted, and then sit down with the editor and then he would do all the cuts.

Barbara May (00:50:33):

And at the end we call the producer over to show him my first new story. I'm all proud of myself.

He goes, "This is terrible. We can't, use this."

I'm like, "Well, Neil was really good." Cause Neil is smooth. He was great to interview.

And the producer says, "Yeah, he's really good, but you were terrible." He goes, "What were you looking at?"

And I was like, "What do you mean?"

He goes, "Well, when you were talking to us at the end, you were looking all over."

And I'm like, "I was talking to my audience."

And he goes, "Barbara it's television. Your audience is right here in the lens."

So I said, "Well, could I redo the ending? And then we'll just edit it together, cut and paste."

He goes, "Sure."

So the next day I wore the same clothes, but we were at access television now. And I found the hallway by all the executives and I shot the ending there. We pieced it together and it aired.

Well, Neil calls me up and he goes, "Barbara, that was a great story. And I love my new office."



Barbara May (00:51:38):

So from there, after about six months on the Learning and Job News, they decided they wanted to try and do some seminars and workshops on communication and promote them.

We didn't want to eat up commercial air time because that's how they make their money selling commercials. So we came up with the May We Talks and they were in the same spirit of the Body Breaks if you remember the Body Breaks.

So we did, [produced] uh, I think we did 13, uh, short clips, so around immunity, on different aspects of communication.


And just for those who do remember the Body Break, there's a little jingle that says, "Don't just think about it, do it, dude, here we go.

I'm going to bring it in and take a trip down memory lane. [Dune starts video] Very cool.

May We Talk? Video: Facial Expressions - 1996 ACCESS Television (00:52:38):

Young Barbara: "There's nothing more confusing than a sad message delivered with a smile with that, except perhaps a happy message delivered with a frown. If you want to communicate clearly, it's important that your facial expressions match your thoughts and emotions."

Man 1: "Have a great day, enjoy the coffee."

Young Barbara: "With a little practice in front of a mirror. You can use facial expressions to help you communicate your ideas. It may feel silly, but practicing your facial expressions will help you to communicate your ideas more clearly."

Man 2: "Can I sit here?"

Young Barbara: "Sure. The right look can make all the difference."

Dune Nguyen (00:53:27):

Very cool. So access, I remember watching access TV quite a bit back then and uh, yeah, very cool.

Now I do want to highlight again, here's another example where you say to essentially failing or falling down and stumbling and then do not give up though. You got up again and, and you say, well again, try to solve the problem and say, how can we make this still work?

Uh, right. Because many people would have given up there and moved on and maybe even swear not to ever do public speaking again or TV again. Uh, but you were trying to solve the problem and came up with the idea of, you know, we're going to just shoot it at the office. They're there at access TV and you made it work.

Barbara May (00:54:08):

Yeah. Um, and I mean, that was that lesson I learned, you know, as a gymnast, just how important it is to get back up. And we all have stumbling blocks. Right. We stumble, we fall it's part of life. And uh, the key is what do you do after you fall? How do you get back up?

Dune Nguyan (00:54:26):

[inaudible] yeah. Yeah. I mean, gymnast falling is just how you that's part of your profession to be honest, falling is just, that's part of it. You fall enough. So eventually you decrease the likelihood of falling, but uh, but you gotta fall a lot and that's why they have those big mats or what do they call those things, those big things you go. Yeah. So, uh, thanks for sharing that, uh, your time with, um, do you have a highlight from your, um, time with access TV? Was there a particular kind of memory of it that, that resonated that, that, uh, you want to kind kinda tell us a story of cause you were there for a little while?

Barbara May (00:55:08):

Yeah. Um, well I had a chance to interview a lot of business owners and uh, I mean obviously interviewing Neil sticks out because it was the first interview that I did, but I interviewed a lot of great business owners and what really stood out for me was how they really wanted to find good staff. So, you know, I think sometimes we get a little frustrated with our bosses and, you know, we think,

Dune (00:55:36):

Oh, your voice just went away there, but Barbara, so if you could mind the microphone, whatever that, uh, caused it. So, uh, you know, um, when you finish that story, I would love to hear a little bit more about Toastmasters as well. So

Barbara (00:55:52):

Yeah. So dune, can you hear me now? Is that better? Yeah. Perfect. Um, yeah, so I think what really struck me there was that the employers are the bosses or the business owners. They really want to find good staff and they really want the people they hire to succeed. And I think a lot of times, you know, when I'm dealing with clients and I'm working with their teams, I think sometimes we lose sight of that. And we think, um, you know, the boss is out to get us or, you know, sometimes there's that conflict that just happens. And I think if we can get back to what we're all there for, which is to work together to, to create a goal, right? So, you know, Joey always says, you know, less of this and more of this, right. We want to work together. And I think the key in, in all the years I've been working with business owners and with employees, I think the key is people need to feel safe and if they feel safe in the workplace, they can work through anything. So a lot of times the comments I get from people and after I work with their teams is, you know, now we have a common language and we can talk about the problems and we can talk about the challenges and the hurdles and what stumbling blocks does is it gives them a safe way to say, Hey, it's a stumbling block. We can get past it. Let's work together.

Dune (00:57:15):

Yeah. Yup. Again, have a quick handle, a quick, almost like a, well, it's like a, a safe sign that says, ah, that's, that's all it is. It's just a stumbling block rather than pointing fingers. And, and, uh, try to see who to crucified, uh, let's work together just like bands would on stage. If one person makes a mistake, you don't go and look at them and kind of make a big deal out of it. You figure out how you cover, you figure how to move from there very quickly, uh, real time. And, uh, uh, because the audience, um, you know, we owe that to the audience right. To, to, to make the best of the show that we have. So I'm going to bring in another video here, Barbara, and this is a, it talks about, uh, again, it's a may, may we talk and it's about the vocal variety. Uh, tell us a bit about that. And I know you've joined Toastmasters and you quite enjoy your time there. And I know it was quite instrumental in helping you develop your confidence. Tell us a bit about Toastmasters and then I'm going to play this video.

Barbara May (00:58:13):

Um, so what's really fun about this video is it is full of Toastmasters. So when we came up with the idea to shoot the maybe talk videos, I figured we could shoot 13 videos in two days. That's so naive. I was. And so the first video was shot at the Saint Albert farmer's market and the chamber, let us use their beautiful location there. And for this, for this video in particular, we worked at the Inn on seventh. So it's, it goes by a different name now, but it was the end on seventh. And I liked that hotel because it had huge windows with lots of natural light, but we needed people to be in the audience to make it look like, you know, the hotel was full. We couldn't just go into the hotel and start shooting in the restaurant. Um, so I had to bring my own extras. And what I did is I phoned up all my friends from Toastmasters. I said, I'm shooting these videos. Can you come to the end in seventh on this date and spend a whole day with us and be an extra. So everyone that you see in there, um, in this video, in particular, all the people in the audience or in the restaurant, in the background, they're all Toastmasters. So you might recognize some of them

Dune (00:59:32):

Very fun. I love the story.

And again, you have a vision and you do what it takes to realize the vision.

You don't say my role is this my role as that. And I'm going to ignore the other stuff and then figure out why your vision didn't come to reality.

Uh, you, you feel all the parts necessary and, and, uh, of course reach out to others like you did there with you, Toastmasters friends.

I'm going to just click play here. [starts video] And we're going to experience this again together here. And let me just take that [Barbara's camera view] out here.

May We Talk? Video: Vocal Variety - 1996 ACCESS Television (01:00:05):

Barbara "Have you ever listened in on someone's conversation? You can tell a lot about what people are saying just by listening to how they sound."

Man 1: "However, it's funny. I gotta tell you the thing..."

Barbara "You can add emphasis and meaning to your presentation simply by changing your vocal variety, by changing your pitch, pace and volume. Just remember to pause at the end of each thought to allow your listener to think about and absorb your ideas."

Dune (01:00:48):

Very cool. Very cool. So Toastmasters access, television, uh, it's uh, it's quite a, I'm sure you look back with some fond memories of that whole segment of your life. Hey,

Barbara May (01:01:06):

I do. And for me, it's always about taking on new challenges.

End Video Clip.

If you'd like to watch the entire interview on Conversations with Dune & Friends here's a link to the 90 minute video. We cover a lot of topics including: gymnastics, music, Guinness World Records, leadership, Bright Nights, Access Television, Toastmasters, CAPS, racquetball, Pan American Games, pulmonary embolisms and swimming with my grandson. The part where I talk about ACCESS Television starts around (00:47:43).

Barbara May

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