I'm a natural problem solver. It's in my nature to connect dots and look for opportunities. The bigger the conundrum I'm presented, the bigger my envisioned solution gets.
So Rob Ford made some headlines with his Jimmy Kimmel appearance, bringing his (and Toronto's) woes to the global stage in a fresh way. What will Toronto do next, some ask, waiting for the next punchline.
That's the opportunity. Here's what I would do with it, were I invited by Team Kimmel to provide a citizen's perspective on Toronto.
I wouldn't go in blind. I'd go back, watch every reference Kimmel had made to Toronto and look for material to work with. I have a rough idea what I'd want to look for already.
Before leaving for L.A. (he'd be welcome to pay for my trip) I'd to to Tilley Endurables and ask them to donate a blazer (first checking with Team Kimmel on Jimmy's size). I'd go to Tom's Place and get a tie - a nice one. These would be gifts for Kimmel.
Then I'd spot-check potential site-vists in town that I'd want to visit if I were to do a personalized tour of my Toronto. A hotel room, some places to eat - those I'd want donated. I'd also make sure to hit CSI, MaRS, Queen's Park, Riverdale Hub, Forest Valley, Kensington Market and probably a visit to Lawrence Heights, where I'd set up a mini-concert featuring some of the remarkable artists there.
I would also hit up some of the amazing social catalysts I know for chats, knowing this would be a great opportunity to promote their work on a broader scale.
One of these artists I would invite to come with, just so they can have the experience too. There's nothing I enjoy more than showing talented people of limited means that the restrictions they endure aren't fixed.
I'd also have some words with Tourism Toronto, but we'll get to that later.
This would be a chance to own Jimmy in the way that he owned Ford, but instead of an intervention, I'd stay laser-focused on selling Toronto.
I wouldn't dress like a magician - I'd wear my own Tilley trousers, shirt and blazer. I'd tell him where my clothes came from and where they were made. I'd then have my friend come forward and present Jimmy with the donated blazer and tie; a gift, Toronto-style.
Then I'd hand him a little envelope and tell him we'll get to that at the end of the visit.
He'd probably want to talk about Ford and Toronto's take on him. This would be my hook.
I'd tell him that Ford's no irregularity - we Torontonians, we love our substances. Then I'd take a sip of water, and ask him if it was mineral.
Whatever the answer, I'd segue into a little sketch piece I call Dr. TorontoLove that would be a bit creepy, hilarious if you get the references but lead into my key hook.
L.A. may have its Scientology, but in Toronto, we're all about sociology, including our favourite tool of conversion - social media. Yes, we're Hollywood North, but we're also a burgeoning Silicon Valley North (sorry, Waterloo, but I don't live there!)
Toronto is at the cutting edge of citizen engagement; we're a bastion of Open Government; we are an example of citizens, activists, hacktivists and public servants working together to make a better city and beyond, a better world. Why? It must be something in the water.
Then, I'd be sure he knew I'm not from Toronto, but from a great little city in Eastern Ontario called Cornwall. I'd tell Kimmel I brought a video with that featured a face he might know giving a personal tour of Cornwall and invite him (and his audience) to watch it.
I'd show them this. Maybe he'd even want to guest, too.
Then I'd get back to the envelope. It would contain passes for two - Jimmy Kimmel and a guest - to come to Toronto and take a personalized tour with me as their guide around Toronto as I see it (reinforcing the fact that Toronto is a prism of the world that can be seen through multiple lenses).
Here's the catch. Jimmy's fans would have to compete for the chance to be his road buddy on this trip.
They would do so by going to Tourism Toronto's website and answer a simple questionnaire that would feature one question: name three famous Torontonians who have never been mayor.
That would be it. I think we could get it done in 10 minutes, even less 'cause I talk fast.
Kimmel would love it - he's a positive guy and likes success. His audience would love it, too, because it would be engaging and give them opportunity. Toronto would benefit from some positive publicity and the opportunity to build one little negative into a whole lot of positive.
I'm game if they're game. What say you, Team Kimmel? Want to be part of Toronto's solution? Drop me a line, let's talk.