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Brand & Mortar

4 Ways To Be More Productive at Work

By | Learning, Life | No Comments

Prioritize

Prioritizing tasks takes a lot of effort, but can ultimately help you be far more productive during your workday. Start with your most daunting tasks first. Completing your largest, most difficult projects at the beginning of the workday, when your mind is the freshest, will ensure that they are not avoided. Give yourself realistic time limits for each of your projects and execute accordingly. Not only will this help you have a more efficient workday, but it will also decrease stress. Prioritizing is key.

 Create To Do Lists

First thing in the morning, make a to do list of all the things you need to accomplish over the course of the workday in a priority sequence, along with any other notes you need to remember. Making a to do list first thing in the morning helps to organize your entire day and allows you to clearly see what you need to achieve. Set time goals for each task and try and stick to them. A good tip for creating to do lists is to break down when you are at your peak performance each day, and plan your to do list tasks accordingly so you are using those peak times to complete your most complicated tasks.

 Schedule Breaks

Strategizing and writing take a lot of mental effort and you brain can only focus for a specific amount of time. Schedule a break into your workday routine. Short breaks help you to be more productive during your workday as they help you focus, reenergize and keep your momentum up. Getting away from your desk for even a few short minutes allows you to come back with a fresh perspective and can help you produce better quality work!

 Don’t Multi Task

Since we are creatures of habit, it is safe to say that our brains are not good at multi-tasking or task switching. When multi-tasking, you are unable to focus on important details and are more likely to forget things, or leave things out. Multitasking also makes you less productive. Experts say that individuals experience a 40% loss in productivity when multi tasking or task switching between projects. It’s better to focus on one task at a time to produce effective, quality work and be more productive in the workplace.

Getting On Board with Social Media

By | Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

The use of social media to promote a business is an idea that has become extremely popular in recent years. Businesses both big and small have been creating accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in the hopes that they can create a strong digital presence, one which will help to separate them from their competition.  However, there are still many business owners that are hesitant to jump on board with the idea that social media platforms can be a useful marketing tool.  I believe social media should have a place in every business’s marketing strategy. Therefore, I have listed a few basic points that should help business owners understand the benefits of social media as a marketing tool.

Social Media As A Word Of Mouth

As many business owners know, word of mouth is one of the most effective forms of marketing. No commercial or print ad can get through to a consumer as effective as a friend’s recommendation. Social media is simply word of mouth amplified in the digital world. One recommendation of someone posted on social media can reach hundreds or even thousands of people simultaneously. Businesses can use social media in a highly personal and effective manner, which will allow them to mirror the process of word of mouth.

Social Media Is Cost Effective

Social media campaigns can be much cheaper to create than television and print campaigns. Traditional media campaigns are becoming increasingly expensive to produce. Thirty seconds of ad space for a television campaign can cost a business tens of thousands of dollars. Even worse is that tools like Digital Video Recorders allow consumers of television content to fast forward through commercial segments, rendering a business’ television campaign useless. With social media, there is no fast forwarding. This means that a business can always benefit from maintaining a strong digital presence. If handled properly, social media campaigns can be a highly cost effective alternative to traditional media.

Social Media Provides An Open Discourse

One of the most beneficial aspects of social media, is that it allows for an open discourse to take place between business and consumer. Social media users are able to connect directly with a business and give positive, or negative, feedback about products, customer service or what they would like to see next from the business. When done correctly, this open discourse can aid in a business’ research and development and can be a great tool to assist in market research. Direct communication between a business and their consumers can also create a humanizing affect for the business/brand, making it more likely for consumers to be willing to interact with a social media account belonging to a business.

Social Media Can Build Communities

The goal of traditional media is to transcend the the limits of both space and time by disseminating information as quickly as possible, and to the largest number of consumers possible. Social media also shares this goal, however, social media is far more dynamic and flexible than traditional media. What this means, is that social media will allow a business to alter their content and messages instantly. A business can adapt to the desires and needs of their consumer audience. More specifically, a business can alter their content in a way that targets a specific demographic. In doing so, the formation of online communities are made possible. These online communities consist of like-minded individuals who are eager to connect with each other and businesses they are fond of. This is a remarkable way to receive feedback about your business directly from those who use your product or service.

 

The use of social media as a marketing tool is most definitely not a fad. If anything, the power of social media as a marketing tool can only develop further as social media platforms become more ubiquitous and user friendly. I believe that businesses both big and small need to consider adapting social media into their marketing strategies if they wish to stay relevant and find success in the future. If you are the owner of a business that does not currently have Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, then maybe it’s time you consider going online.

Let’s Talk About Mental Illness

By | Life, Social Media | No Comments

On January 28, Bell Canada will launch their fifth annual Let’s Talk campaign. Using social media as its focus, the Let’s Talk campaign has been classified as a “virtual event,” where Canadians can text, tweet, call or share   campaign specific content in order to raise money and awareness for mental health and mental health related issues. For every campaign related text, tweet, call or share that is made on January 28, Bell Canada has pledged to donate $0.05.

 

Bell Canada aims to legitimize mental illness

 

Bell Canada created this campaign back in 2011 to help bring awareness to mental illness, an illness that many Canadians suffer from in secret. Historically, mental illness is not something that garners much attention from the media nor is it something that is openly discussed in daily conversation. By initiating an open dialogue between social media users, the campaign’s goal is to legitimize the problems caused by mental illness and assist in helping Canadians eliminate the stigma that surrounds it. Bell has made it very simple for the average Canadian to make a difference. Due to the fact that Let’s Talk is a virtual event, there are no geographical restrictions put on the individual; everyone can contribute. As long as the individual has access to social media, participation in the event can be as simple as the push of a button.

 

How the Let’s Talk virtual events generated real change

 

The Let’s Talk campaign created by Bell Canada is a perfect example of how social media can be used to create positive change right here in Canada. The pushing of a button on a smartphone may seem like an insignificant act, however, over the last five years the participation from thousands of Canadians in the Let’s Talk campaign has generated real change. From all of the texts, tweets calls and shares that have been made in relation to the Let’s Talk campaign, Bell has committed $67.5 million for mental health initiatives, including the support of hundreds of mental health initiatives located in Canada. This means that more tools are being made available for the treatment of mental illness and more money can be put towards mental illness research. That being said, support is not yet close to where it should be. According to the Let’s Talk website, “only one-third of those who need mental health-related service in Canada will receive treatment.” So, on January 28, pick up your phone and text, tweet, call or share in support of Bell’s Let’s Talk campaign.

 

Tech Skills: Learn To Build Your Own Websites

By | Learning, Web Development | No Comments

Tech skills are fast becoming one of the greatest additions to your work tool box; high demand, multipurpose, practical hard skills that can be used in a multitude of settings. With almost everyone needing a website for their business, personal blog or community group – being able to navigate code and website technology is becoming vital in today’s online age of virtual communication. It’s a new year and if you want to pick up some new tech skills for complete newbies the best place to start is with HTML and CSS.

HTML and CSS are the foundation of website design. If you want to build a website from scratch they are the coding languages you will need to know. So what is HTML and CSS?

Let’s start with how a website page is made: HTML

HTML or HyperText Markup Language creates the bones of any web page by structuring content. An HTML page is split into 2 parts: The <head> where all the information and resources the page will be utilizing are kept and the <body> where any information that will be visible on your web page will be kept. HTML is a ‘tag’ language that defines different elements of a page through the use of different <tags>.

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So we have the structure down – but it looks hideous… Now we need CSS!

CSS or Cascading Style Sheets is a presentation language that is used to make HTML prettier. Without CSS this is what a plain ‘ol HTML page looks like. Not that great looking. With the addition of CSS we can change how our content looks. Ok – to be fair this example is not very ‘wowza’ but you get the idea behind how powerful it is to have control over how your webpage will look. Then you can start making examples like this:

Now it’s your time to start learning those skills

Don’t get me wrong it can be a long road to learning new tech skills but by getting the basics down first you open a gate way to more complicated coding languages. These 2 coding languages alone can ensure you have the ability to save money building and managing your own website, make changes to that website when you choose and understanding how to troubleshoot issues when they happen. Learning a new technical skill will also open a lot of doors and adds so much value to what you can bring to the table at your current or new workplace. It’s also great as a freelancer or small business owner to know, as much of your time can be spent organizing/fixing/pulling your hair out over your IT issues.

Take a look at the amazing free online materials and courses to learn more about HTML and CSS:

 So what are you waiting for? Go get geeky!

5 Benefits To Using Social Media For Your Business

By | Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

Since its inception, social media has evolved massively. It is no longer restricted to social interactions between friends. Now, businesses – small and large – can benefit greatly from its ability to reach consumers and increase brand loyalty (and countless other perks). Social media is now positioned as a must-do in the marketing and branding sector, and if you’re still on the fence, here are five reasons why:

Increasing Brand Recognition

Social media is an insanely valuable tool for organizing your content and increasing online visibility of your brand. Think of your social media channels as an extension of your brand – a tool that allows you to communicate your brand’s voice and mission more effectively and seamlessly. Social media is so essential for businesses because it simultaneously makes your brand largely visible to new customers, as well as more familiar and relatable to existing customers. For example, a Twitter or Facebook user, casually scrolling through their news feeds, could hear about your company just by doing something that they do regularly and casually.

 Better Search Engine Rankings

Although SEO trends are ever changing it is the best way to capture traffic from search engines, so it’s worth staying on top of. Being active on various social media platforms, and ensuring you use keywords that describe the nature of your brand, acts as a ‘brand signal’ to search engines which then deem your brand legitimate and credible. This means that if you want to rank high on Google, or any other search engine, for a given set of keywords (that are relevant to your brand) you need to have a strong social media presence (which entails being active on your profiles, engaging with your followers, and posting relevant content that will likely be shared multiple times).

 Opportunity for Customer Insight

Social media gives you the opportunity to gain VALUABLE (!!!) insight about what your customers want, need, dislike and love about your brand. You can monitor what your followers are discussing in various forums, as well as what they are commenting on your social media channels, so you can gain brand loyalty and solve any issues your customers may have. You can also see which posts garner the highest level of engagement and then produce more of this type of content so your page is more frequently visited. If you give your customers a platform to express their opinions about your product, you can collaborate with them to create a product (or service) based on exactly what they need.

Generate Leads in a Cost Effective Manner

Utilizing social media as a marketing tool is an easy and cost-effective way to generate leads. Advertising on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram provides an amazing and (typically) inexpensive avenue for increasing reach and brand awareness – ultimately working to generate leads. This also works to build a loyal base of customers who simultaneously act as brand ambassadors and advocates through liking, commenting and sharing your social media pages.

Improve Market Intelligence and Get Ahead of Your Competitors

Everybody wants to be ahead of the curve and luckily, with social media, you can be. With social media monitoring you can gain helpful insight on what your competitors are up to, and how they are targeting their demographic. This information will (hopefully) prompt you to make perceptive, informed and strategic business decisions that allow you to stay ahead of your competition. With this knowledge, you can improve your business marketing strategy and even offer something your competitors might be missing.

 

10 Tips to Ace Your Next Job Interview

By | Learning, Life | No Comments

Let’s face it, interviews are weird. They’re uncomfortable, awkward, inorganic meetings with a lot of pressure attached to them. If you’re a recent graduate, like myself, then you know these feelings all too well. Interviews suck, but they’re an inevitable and necessary part of adult life and – believe it or not – they can work to build your confidence, too. From my experience as a millennial in the job market, I’ve come up with 10 tips that cover everything you need to know to ace your next job interview.

Do your research

Before your interview always research the company (what they do, their culture, who their clients are…) because there’s nothing more embarrassing than being asked to explain what the company that’s interviewing you does, and not knowing the answer.

Dress for success

First impressions are a massive part of interviews. Before you have a chance to open your mouth an employer gets an impression of you based on what you’re wearing, so make sure you have a good and APPROPRIATE interview outfit. Stay away from sweatpants and club attire.

Be on time

In short, time is money. This potential employer is taking time out of their busy day to interview you, so show them that their time is appreciated by arriving punctually. Show up 5-10 minutes before your interview.

Come prepared

Bring a copy of your resume to your interview. Of course you already sent it to your interviewer (duh, that’s how you got the interview in the first place) but it doesn’t hurt to make their lives a little easier and come with a hard copy as something to refer back to.

Don’t fidget

Easier said than done, I know, but try and be conscious of this bad habit. Fidgeting is a key sign of nervousness, and even though you are nervous, it’s in your best interest to try and appear as cool, calm, collected and confident as possible.

Body language

Sitting with your arms crossed and leaned back conveys a standoffish attitude. Sit with your arms in an open position and lean in when it’s called for. Both of these are forms of positive non-verbal communication that express a relaxed and comfortable attitude.

Listen

Don’t look like you’re drifting off into a mid afternoon daydream during your interview. Be engaged, make eye contact, nod your head and show your listening.

Think before you speak

You may think that this is obvious, but it’s good to remind yourself not to jump into answering an interviewer’s questions without thinking first. You want to emulate your best self in an interview, and taking time to answer questions shows you care (and makes for better answers).

Ask questions

At the end of an interview, the interviewer will most likely ask if you have any questions for them – say yes. It never hurts to come prepared with a couple good questions to ask post-interview. Asking questions shows that you are interested in what goes on in the company, and gives you a great opportunity to find out if it’s the right environment for you.

Be yourself

Chances are your mom has given you this same advice a couple times, but it’s important to showcase your personality! There’s no need to put added pressure on yourself to try and conform to who you think the interviewer wants you to be, just be yourself.

 

So, before your palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy (hopefully you don’t vomit on your sweater) think back to these interview tips and remember that you (yes, you) are awesome, your skills are valuable, and you’re PREPARED.

5 Quick Ideas to Combat Blogging Block

By | Blogging, Learning | No Comments

You have a blog. You’ve made the decision to post new blog posts twice a week. Your deadline is looming ever closer and your mind starts to shut down into a blank nothingness… This has happened to me so many times. Creativity on demand can be very challenging and in moments where you find yourself stuck for ideas, you need fresh perspective to help combat the blogging block.

A Brainstorm Session with Friends

It’s a classic for a reason! Introducing new information, perspectives and collaborating with people is one of the easiest ways to get your creative juices flowing.

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Google, Google, Google

The internet is like a giant brain just waiting for you to pick out new ideas. Browse some articles on the topics you want to blog about. Go to blogs with the same subjects and see what others are doing.

Inspiration on Pinterest

There is a plethora of eye candy on Pinterest. Do a search for the subjects you blog about or follow interesting boards. Pinterest is also great in that they have a lot of how to’s and tutorials that can be really useful. Or just be inspired by what is being posted that day.

Use a Generator

Until I started blogging on a regular basis I didn’t realize that there are great tools that will help you create the title of a blog post just by adding a few keywords to a couple fields and clicking a button.

Get Outside

Creativity doesn’t always come from within – it can come from external sources too. Get some inspiration by checking out a show, finding meetup groups with others interested in your topic or just taking in some fresh air to help clear your mind.

Last of all

Remember why you started blogging in the first place. Why are you passionate about what you are writing about? What areas are you most interested in and what else can you cover? There is a whole world out there for you to get inspiration from. Go on – get inspired!

Mind Blown Moments: 4 powerful lessons that have made me a better (business) person

By | Learning, Other | No Comments

We’ve all had that mind blown moment. A moment that resonates so completely within us; we internalize the experience and it changes the way we think. Those moments shape our future actions and motivations. The lessons we learn in life are just as valuable in becoming a better business person as the qualifications we hold. Here are 4 powerful moments that have changed my thinking and how these lessons have helped me become a better business person.

Travel will make you a stronger decision maker in uncertainty

Travel is one of the greatest influencers in changing people’s thinking and behaviour; it makes you gain a vast amount of perspective and is the perfect environment to test how you manage uncertainty because, like in business, things are not always going to go your way. And in this uncertainty we learn when to be firm, when to be flexible but most importantly when not to ‘sweat the small stuff’.

“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

― William Jennings Bryan

Being Successful does not equal being happy

TedTalks are inspirational, motivational and a great resource for gaining insight but this specific TedTalk I watched because it was listed as ‘funny’, which is something I don’t usually associate with TedTalks. As I watched it I was in stitches with tears of laughter; but it was the point that psychologist, Shawn Achor, was making that stayed with me long after the 12min video had finished. There is a fundamental flaw in the way we perceive happiness and success as being mutually inclusive at work. This video supplies valuable lessons that will change how you think about being successful compared to being happy.

Emotional Intelligence is just as important as your other qualifications

The great poet and author Maya Angelou passed away peacefully this year on May 28. Having come from New Zealand I wasn’t overly familiar with her work so this year was the first time that I read her following quote.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou

This is something that I have always intuitively understood but having someone put this experience to words takes it from being a subconscious thought to a conscious understanding. It helps us to understand how our interactions affect people. When we are genuine or insincere it may not be heard by others but it will be felt.

Always walk the talk

This song was strong and meaningful to my 12 year old self and even though I didn’t yet comprehend how these words of wisdom would impact my adult self, they resonated with me none the less. Many of these lessons can be challenging at times but I’ve been working on sticking with them for 15 years now. Sometimes I go back to this song and remind myself that it’s easy to make promises and knowing how you should be conducting yourself doesn’t equal living by those lessons. Same goes for business. Walk the talk. It won’t always be achieved but you should always strive to do what you know is right.

Lesson Takeaway

The powerful moments that reshape our thinking broaden our perceptions make us more receptive to learning, compassion and new experiences and these experiences in turn make us into better, in business and as people. What life lessons have you learned that have made you a better (business) person?