Mark Milliere was born in Georgetown, Ontario, Canada. He attended Ryerson University in Toronto and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Radio & Television. While at Ryerson he started working at TSN (The Sports Network), a 24/7 all-sports network that had recently launched. That would begin a 32-year career journey at TSN where he went from an entry-level Editorial Assistant position to Senior Vice-President & General Manager. During his time at TSN, Milliere was regarded for hiring and developing exceptional on-air talent, putting together an acclaimed hockey broadcast and editorial team, and developing show brands. He won 2 Gemini Awards for production excellence, was named one of the Top 20 Most Powerful & Influential People in Hockey by The Hockey News, and ranked one of the ten most powerful people in the NHL by Sports Illustrated in 2013. Ryerson University inducted Milliere into their School of Media Wall of Fame in 2016. He served on the Board of Directors for CTV Specialty Inc., and Dome Productions while at TSN.
Mark Milliere has now taken this experience to launch M2 Consulting, which works with private companies and not-for-profit organizations on strategic planning, brand development, and content creation. As well as providing executive and career coaching to individuals and groups.
How has your business been impacted by COVID-19 and social distancing now being required to flatten the spread of the virus?
M2 Consulting became very busy helping create new content delivery solutions for organizations as a result of COVID-19. A client that had to cancel a large in-person event turned to M2 Consulting to re-imagine the event as a show distributed across social media channels. Another client created daily on-line content with the guidance of M2 Consulting to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, there is a demand to find innovative solutions to help the fan experience if sports return without live audiences.
What does your typical day look like now versus prior to social isolation?
I spend almost all my day at my home office working off my laptop and phone. I find you have to remind yourself to get up and move around, as you can get lost in the work. There are fewer natural breaks, such as outside meetings to travel to.
How do you stay connected to your customers during this time of isolation given that you cannot just walk into your client’s offices and grab a cup of coffee?
Emails and phone calls, followed by in-person meetings were the standards before the lockdown. The in-person meetings and many of the conference calls have been replaced by Zoom Calls. Within days it seems Zoom became the go-to means of communicating.
What keeps you motivated during this time of quarantine?
Nothing has changed in this regard. The motivation remains growing the M2 Consulting business. In any difficult situation, there are opportunities. I am looking to find solutions and create value for clients as a result of COVID-19. The companies, organizations, and individuals that can see and seize the opportunities to innovate will come out on the other end of this pandemic with growth prospects.
How difficult has managing a work-life balance been in this circumstance?
As mentioned earlier, the biggest challenge is not to get glued to your computer. With no meetings to leave the home office for or the daily routine of going to the gym, you can go hours without moving. This has been a challenge, but as the lockdown continues, I’ve tried to create new routines to form a balance.
What are some things outside of work that you are doing now to stay busy?
I’ve started running again on a daily basis. It is helping maintain some cardio fitness and forces me out the door to get fresh air. I’ve also been fortunate that my neighborhood created a daily dance party each evening where people go out on their balconies and enjoy some music. It’s another opportunity to get outside and see people at a safe distance. We are also enjoying family time each evening by making a point of preparing meals together and watching a show together.
What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome working remotely?
I think everyone in business misses the face to face connection time. Those in-person meetings allow you to make eye contact, read body language and connect stronger. However, zoom calls where you can at least see the person can still create a bond. There is the reality that we are all in this together, and we can all relate to the challenges presented by it. That in itself is creating a bond. On the glass half full, you never would have been invited into so many clients’ homes!
What advice would you give to our readers about how you have had to change your business practice to meet social distancing guidelines?
Embrace any technology that allows you to continue meetings with video conferencing. The visual connection really makes a difference during this time. The ability to share decks and videos while on the calls is terrific. I would also suggest you double down on your time spent on Linkedin and other social media platforms to stay connected to business contacts. I’m also finding that many organizations have put together some fantastic webinars that are terrific for information sharing in your respective industry.
What is one piece of advice that is getting you through these challenging times?
When presented with a challenging situation, ask yourself, “What’s good about this problem?” It shifts your focus from negative to positive. You begin to look at the opportunities instead of what is being lost. Make no mistake, there are opportunities in all of this. Go find them.
When this pandemic is behind us are there any new processes or ways of communicating with customers you would keep in place?
For meetings that can’t happen in person, I would continue with video conferencing for important meetings. It does create a more personal connection than a regular phone conference call. I believe the pandemic has also reinforced the value of using social media platforms to promote your brand and make new connections.
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