A Life Lesson I Learned from Photography

I very recently decided to pick up photography both as a hobby and as a potential additional service for my marketing agency.

I’ve been running around taking photos of anything and everything, pestering my friends with various shots to ask for advice on how to take better photos and what lens I should invest in for a robust photography kit.

As I began to see snapshots of my life through the camera lens, I saw that different lens captured slightly different versions of the same thing, in different tones, contrasts, colour hues, etc.

I suddenly had a very cheesy, yet positive and uplifting thought.

Life is beautiful, it really just depends on what lens you choose to use.

The same event can mean happiness or worry for different people. We all know one person who is super positive regardless of what happens they manage to find something good about the situation; and the other, who always feels like the sky is falling (and not just falling, but very probable to land directly on top of them. Just them.)

So, sift through your thoughts today as you journey on through your day and notice how you are reacting to situations. Does an event really warrant you to be worried for the whole day? Do you really need to be stressed out about the job next week (it’s happening next week! Not in the next minute!)

You experience what you LET yourself experience, so change your perspective and don’t try to change the situation and you will see how easy it is to find happiness. 

HAPPY FRIDAY!

 

 

 

 

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Entrepreneurship – Getting Past Yourself

Though I would not call myself a serial entrepreneur, I have often encountered the question: “How do you get started on a new business or project?” As a refresher, I have started 3+ businesses in the past in different industries (Finance, Fashion, Marketing) and rebranded, turned around, or built 3 non-profits as well (in the areas of adults with disabilities and female empowerment).

It is one of the most frequent questions I get at events, and honestly, you just starting DOING things and see what sticks. Debating over the best course of action is great, once you have developed say 2 – 3 options, and thought of the worse case scenario of what could happen if sh*t hit the fan, you just need to get out and start trying things.

I recently watched a Tony Robbins video clip where he reiterates the same concept, you just have to come up with and try as many approaches as possible until you find one that succeeds. Easier said than done because most people stop when they fail ONCE; they are so easily deterred I’m amazed that anything gets done in this world.

So here are my key steps to “getting started”:

  1. Note down all the brilliant ideas you have in a notebook
  2. Go talk about it with a few of your closest friends and get their opinion
  3. Go talk about it with a few prospective clients or users of your product/service and see what they say
  4. Take this feedback and strategize on what can be improved, what’s the minimum viable product you can throw out to the market to get some in-market feedback.
  5. Make sure you have a “testing fund” cap. For me it’s somewhere around $2000. If I can’t make anything happen with that amount, or even test for operations and logistics, then at least you tried. Don’t dump money into an idea that’s not showing any action after you exhaust your testing fund. If you do get any positive signs, it might be worth your while to keep testing – the decision is up to you.
  6. Produce the minimum viable product, launch it and observe the market reaction.
  7. Make changes based on the feedback and keep doing more rollouts.
  8. Repeat until you are successful.

Most people stop at step 2 or 3, because of what their friends or prospects tell them. Keep in mind the point is for you to gather information to see HOW you can make your idea work. Most of the time the market doesn’t know what it needs, or how much they are willing to pay for it, until the option to purchase the item is available.

So just get out there and start doing. Only once you get the ball rolling can you experience momentum, so crucial to giving you the good vibes of success to fuel your passion forward. If you fail, well, it’s time to pull out your notebook and try out another idea.

I challenge you to test out all the possibilities you’ve been thinking of.

 

You Weren’t Made to Fit a Mold

You weren’t made to fit a mold, and that’s okay.

Growing up we would play puzzle games where we earn points for finding the perfect fit or for matching jewels to the same colour, and were taught to fit circular objects inside circular spaces, and squares inside square spaces. The idea is that everything should fit and conform.

We are in an age where individuals are thriving on finding their irregular edges, the sides of them that don’t conform, that don’t seem to fit the mold, and it’s actually exciting.

Take myself for instance. I am a business owner of a marketing agency, non-profit leader and advocate to create equal opportunities for females in the workplace, and fashion stylist.

You could be an Accountant or Risk Analyst or Programmer/Developer by day, and run a side business baking cakes, creating a ceramics line, or magazine columnist.

You don’t have to be artistic OR academic in this day and age – in fact, most of the new people I met are supremely multi-faceted and it’s fascinating. In 2017, you can be artistic AND academically inclined. For those who have read the book A Whole New Mind by Daniel H. Pink – I believe magic happens when you develop BOTH sides of your brain, the ability to see the abstract and to think in logistical, rational terms lets you strategize AND implement. Be a thinker AND a doer.

So if you are a Financial Analyst and have always wanted to become a freelance Graphics Designer, there is nothing stopping you from doing so. In fact, you will probably find that developing this new dimension of you helps you achieve balance and progress.

So give it some thought today – what do you want to be?

Dare to Explore

Resting on a long weekend Monday for me means letting my mind explore.

A business idea has been brewing in my mind for a few months now and so far I have prototyped it, did some initial interviews with vested parties (groups that would use the service) and gotten back some great questions, feedback and support. Of course there are opinions from the consumer end as well, and not all were approving.

Some comments:

  • This isn’t for me
  • This isn’t for the XYZ market
  • I could see value for this for ABC market, but not the mass market
  • How long will this last, the market won’t be hot forever

All these points are well taken, but here’s the positive spin on it.

  • Great – it means it’s not for you but for somebody else.
  • Great – not for XYZ market means it could be for ABC market – a product/service should have its lovers and haters or else you would be sadly, nothing.
  • Great – as long as there is a way to make the service profitable for a niche market, it’s still a win.
  • Sure – but when is it hot forever? I can apply this comment to every single business out there but hey, we’re all still working every day right? Might as well work to earn all that we can so that when the market isn’t hot anymore we can feel safe from all that we have saved, earned from NOW until then.

So – if you have an idea, at least explore it. Talk to parties about it, do your research, and commit to a small investment that would tell you whether the market would respond to your proposed product/service. A small pilot would do, but it still takes time and effort. The point is, don’t stop at the first negative comments that are thrown at you, get the service out there and see what the market says to a tangible product/service.

If they hate it – move on. If they love it – keep at it. You might have hit something big!

Who’s Going to Stop YOU? 

The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.

There are many things that once seemed impossible until you did it. Yes – YOU did it. 

A 6-hour hike, a promotion, negotiating a raise, lose 10 pounds, start and grow a company…whatever it is, the only thing stopping you from getting it done is you. 

 

What Happens When Your Company is Fueled by Sheer Laziness

A lot of times as your company grows, it’s impossible to micro manage and see what happens at every branch of your company, and the bigger the company gets, the majority of them move slower.

Even more unfortunate is the layer of staff who try to get by without doing much; even worse is when that energy and experience is passed on and delivered to your end customers.

Case in point: I am traveling back from Brussels to Vancouver via Montreal. The connection time is tight with a one-hour window. During this one hour connection time we have to pick up our checked luggage, clear customs, and go through security again in Montreal to board our domestic flight.

Concerned that we would not catch our connection, I asked the counter staff at Air Canada (it is a miracle they are still operating as they seem to be in the business of coordinating delays rather than flights) whether they could assist by switching us to the next flight out of Montreal to Vancouver as I am 99% sure we won’t make the connection. At this point our flight leaving Brussels had already been delayed by close to an hour.

My conversation with the staff:
“Will we be able to make the connection and if not can you switch us to the next flight?”
[converses with each other in French]
“We think you may have to hurry but it should be OK.”
“Ummm..Ok.”

Needless to say as our plane touched down in Montreal, it was the same time our flight to Vancouver departed. We then had to make an extra visit to the counter to get arranged on the next flight which meant an additional 4 hours of lost productivity.

Luckily for me I am able to work somewhat remotely, but how about for others who actually depend on airlines to be “on time”? In an industry plagued by delays and cancellations, it has become the norm for travellers to expect the worse.

The staff in Brussels could have done something for us instead of acting out of sheer laziness and passing the responsibility onto their colleagues in Montreal.

Little details such as this translates into poor customer experience and the culture of procrastination permeates throughout the organization. So far it’s evident Air Canada suffers from this “disease”.

The takeaway is to manage your company’s culture as it grows to avoid the slow-moving, lazy tendency of a corporate giant. I will close with a quote on the topic:

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Yesterday You Said Tomorrow.

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We have all done it. Procrastinate. Yesterday you said tomorrow. Tomorrow you will say the day after. Why do you procrastinate? Because you are afraid of failing? Or maybe even… afraid of succeeding?

Whatever it is, own it. If you don’t do it. Somebody else will.