ProductivitySelf-ImprovementTechnology

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty’—that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” – Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats

There is a lack of beauty in modern life.  “Form ever follows function,”  We’re told that Beauty is merely an unnecessary ornament.  Even though that ignores the full meaning of the quote.  In reality, according to the originator of the phrase, Louis Sullivan, “Whether it be the sweeping eagle in his flight, or the open apple-blossom, the toiling work-horse, the blithe swan, the branching oak, the winding stream at its base, the drifting clouds, over all the coursing sun, form ever follows function, and this is the law.”  So, while the appearance of a thing should never be disconnected from its purpose, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be beautiful.  That would imply that beauty itself was without purpose and, as we shall see, it is not.

Food, water, warmth, and sleep are just some of the basic necessities of life.  It’s pretty obvious that we can’t survive without them.  I’d argue the same can be said for beauty.  In some ways it’s even more necessary.  As Dostoevsky said, “Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here.”

Sadly, for many of us a lot of that beauty has perished from the world.  We wake up.  We drive out into the gridlock.  We sit in our cubicle next to our coworkers in their cubicles, above and below other workers in their cubicles on other floors.  All of us typing away on identical screens until we eventually go back through the gridlock and get home.  Maybe then we’ll finally have time to go to a park or play a game, or maybe we’ll just sit on the couch and watch the same show that are neighbours and their neighbours and their neighbours’ neighbours are watching.  Just another cog in an ever-expanding machine.  Where is the beautiful in our lives?  It’s been replaced by a drab monotony.

City skyline
A forest of man-made trees is a sight to behold

Now, what modern architecture does right, it does really right.  There is truly something awe-inspiring in a row of towering skyscrapers in the skyline.  The view from an airplane window as it comes in to land is breath-taking.  Cities from far away look amazing.  However, up close and personal, the drab monotony comes back.  And I’m not the only one who thinks so.  Here‘s an article from the NYT written in 1964.  We’ve been living and working next to these ugly buildings as they slowly but surely tear down the beautiful architecture of the past replacing it with more of the same.

Suburban Housing
I live in the house with two top floor windows in the front. …No, the blue one. No, the other blue one.

Suburbia doesn’t fare much better.  Let’s be honest.  Is there anything awe-inspiring of a row of houses of near-identical design?  Not really.  The only thing that makes you and your neighbour different is that you couldn’t pick his shade of green for your house so you had to pick that yellow that you don’t really like.  The endless variations on the same theme are enough to drive me insane.  (a short trip, according to my wife.)  and good luck navigating without an address.  In some parts of Canada addresses are meaningless.  The terrain and even the houses themselves are so unique that you can navigate by landmarks.  But try doing that in the city and you’ll find the opposite is true.  Addresses are the only way to navigate in a world where every street looks just like the last.

 

High Rise
I don’t think the elevator is working. It says we’re on the 23rd floor but it looks just like the 2nd floor!

It’s even more true of a high rise with identical apartments piled one on top of each other to fit as many people as possible inside.  The only difference between the 23rd floor and the 22nd floor is that the people down below are slightly smaller on the 23rd. Don’t get me wrong, with the high populations in urban centers high rises and apartment complexes are definitely necessary.  Without cheap mass housing, there would be a lot of people without places to live.  I just think we need to remember the costs as well as the gains.  We need to remember to provide beauty for their residents.  It’s easy for the well to do to live in an ugly city.  when they need to see something beautiful they can buy a painting.  Or go hiking in the mountains.

 

At one point, this lack of beauty wasn’t an issue.  The average member of society always did one thing every week regardless of their economic status.  They always went to church on Sunday.  Regardless of who they were or how much they owned, they could see beautiful statues and domed ceilings every week.  But gradually as society has become less religious and as religious buildings have begun to match their urban surroundings more and more, this source of beauty has faded as well.

Notre Dame, Montreal interior
They don’t build ’em like they used to, do they?

This has caused detrimental effects on our mental health as studies have shown.  This is one of the reasons why urban environments are a greater mental health risk than rural ones.  Without the beauty of nature we’re left with whatever the cities can or can’t provide.  Of course, the drab monotony of the city has an effect on our workplace productivity too.

Fortunately, life finds a way.  Though many of the traditional ways we’ve expressed beauty throughout society have faded, several of them are making a resurgence and new methods are appearing too.  With smartphones we have access to all of the classic books of literature in our pockets.  With gigapixel cameras and websites like 360 cities we can tour architectural and natural marvels without the costs of travel.  As museums digitize their contents, we can see the relics of our past from across the world.  As VR technology develops and becomes more mainstream this will only expand.  As we realize the importance of our surroundings on our productivity and well-being, traditional office layouts are being redesigned into more open concepts with a focus on aesthetics again.  That’s why so many modern office buildings are doing away with the drab row of cubicles lit by fluorescent lights and replacing them with natural lighting and greenery alongside more character and personalization for employee workstations.  Beautiful web design is replacing the clunky boxes of the past as we realize that beauty helps our companies stand out of the crowd.  We’re realizing that not only does beauty have a purpose in the professional world, but that it helps make every aspect of both our professional lives and our life at home that little bit better.

So all in all, I’m pretty hopeful for beauty.  We’ve realized that it’s necessary in the modern world, we’ve seen that without it mental health issues rise, and in response we’ve begun rebuilding society to include the beautiful once more, whether that’s through new techniques and technologies or by reinviting nature back into our cities.  We’ve realized the age-old truth that beauty should not be a privilege of the rich but a gift for the world.  For as Dostoevsky says, “Beauty will save the world.”

CommunicationEducationProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Last week I was helping out at a local father-son summer camp outside of Calgary called Arcatheos.  A lot of theatrics and explosions and all those great things.  We like to joke that it’s a camp for teaching boys to become men and men to become boys again.

One of the characters with his fire sword
I mean a LOT of theatrics

Leadership Requires Service

This year the theme of the camp was “To Serve is to Reign”.  We really focused in on this theme of service with the teenagers who would become our version of camp counselors, called “knights.”  To be able to effectively lead the boys in their charge, they couldn’t simply order them around all day without a care for their well-being.  They had to be emotionally invested in both the boys they were in charge of and in the other members of their teams.  with that emotional investment, every order or directive is followed because the boys know its for the good of the camp and themselves.

I was struck by how well this carries into the workplace.  If an employee feels that his boss is invested in him and his life, that he’s not just another cog in the machine, the extra overtime needed to finish an important project becomes a lot easier to deal with.  It no longer feels like a forced task from a faceless overlord but like an urgent request from a friend.

Respect

Aretha Franklin
“Find out what it means to me”

We taught the “knights” that the easiest way to serve their boys is to respect them.  If you respect those around you, they’re more inclined to respect you.  If they respect you, they’re more likely to incorporate your feedback into their behaviour and truly listen to what you’re asking them to do.  They won’t merely sit around after completely a task waiting for you to hand them the next one, and instead they’ll proactively seek out ways to be helpful.

Don’t be a Drill Instructor (unless you are one)

Drill sergeant
Johnson! Did you finish that spreadsheet yesterday!

Meanwhile, if those under you feel they have to walk on eggshells around you with even the slightest mistake causing them to get raked over the metaphorical coals, they might try to work their hardest to not make a mistake, but a lot of their attention that could go towards doing their job right is now going towards watching over their shoulder to make sure they haven’t awoken the dragon.  In addition, if given a choice, people prefer leaders who are caring and compassionate instead of leaders who are taskmasters and drill instructors.  So if your employees have a choice, they will eventually leave for greener pastures.

Don’t be a Door Mat

Welcome
Please ignore all my directives on your way in.

At the same time, you won’t have respect if your employees feel they can walk all over you.  If missed deadlines are never a problem, unexpected absences are rampant, and no one listens to your instructions, sure, you won’t have employees flocking to leave your company in droves for better conditions, but you’ll also obviously end up with inefficient employees wasting the company’s time and money.  Resulting in them, and probably you, being let go.

Be a Compassionate AND Effective Leader

Cool dudes in cloaks

Instead of either of those two extremes, a synthesis of the two is required.  There are times when you need to lay down the law and reprimand the people working for you.  There are also times when those people need an ear to understand the problems and difficulties they’re facing and a helpful hand to guide them.  Using only one method or the other cripples your leadership abilities and it is only when you are both firm and compassionate as a leader that you will earn the respect and trust of those underneath you and unleash your full potential.

Ultimately, these leadership lessons we taught to the boys are vital for everyone, whether or not they’re currently in a position that requires leadership.  Everyone at some point in their lives will be in charge of something.  Whether that’s a multi-million dollar project or 10 children at a summer camp, no matter how large or small the opportunity effective compassionate leadership inevitably leads to further leadership opportunities down the road.

CommunicationProductivitySelf-Improvement

Allegorical painting from the 17th century with text Nosce te ipsum

Do you ever find communicating with other people difficult? Are you ever baffled by other people’s idea of a good time? Have you ever gone a whole year thinking one thing about someone only to discover a new piece of information about their personality and have to reframe your entire past relationship with them (for better or for worse)?

deborah or robot
Which one is Deborah? Which one is the robot? We’ll never know.

I don’t know about any of you out there, but I’ve got one of the more rare personality types. I’m socially introverted and extraverted thinking, or in the language of Myers-Briggs, I’m an INTJ, the Mastermind. Or as some people like to call me: I’m a robot. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that these personality measurements are the be-all-end-all of defining oneself, but they can be helpful for understanding yourself and others.

For example: I was acquainted with a girl for an entire year before she discovered that I was being friendly with her and didn’t hate her. She didn’t understand my extremely dry sense of humour (we INTJs tend to have a dry dark sense of humour). Once she got that, she looked back and realised I was making jokes the entire year and it was because I liked her rather than disliked her, and wanted to be friends. (And then we became friends.)

When it comes to the workplace, knowing about my own personality is helpful. I know that I work best when I have write out a schedule for myself — it helps keep me from getting bogged down in perfectionism. I can get a little obsessive sometimes. I’m good at knowing how to solve problems, and when to stop and return to the problem at a later time. I know that I work best alone, and that when I have to be around a lot of people, I should schedule in quiet time so that I don’t get burnt out.

I can also be pretty cold, direct, and bossy so I need to remember to be more gentle with people who might take that personally (it’s not unusual to hear me to tell someone, “no, you’re doing it completely wrong. No, that’s wrong too. No! Stop now! Before you make it worse! I will show you!” Yeah, tact: not a strong point for me, room for self-improvement). I’m also good at taking criticism about my work (the previous sentence directed at me won’t bother me). If a client isn’t satisfied with something, I want to know so that I can make them happy, so I make sure to let my clients know that they can be upfront with me.

panda wearing a panda
According to Youtopia, pandas are an INFJ

On the flip side of the coin, it can be helpful to know more about the personalities of the people you work with, including clients, co-workers, and managers. Are they introverted or extroverted? What are the best ways to communicate with them? What are habits that tend to annoy (or please) their personality type? Taking the time to understand the people around you can make a big difference in getting along in the workplace (as well as home and other interpersonal relationships). Sometimes looking outward can make a big difference, especially in a small workplace.

Have you ever known someone for a long time then had to reframe everything you knew about them after learning something about their personality? Has someone ever had to do that with you? What is your Myers-Briggs personality type? What are some other types of personality assessments that you find helpful?

*Note: I’m pretty sure that the maxim “know thyself” wasn’t originally about personality, but it seems to have evolved that way. Perhaps another subject for another day!

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job application tips

So you’re looking for a new job.  Maybe you’re just entering the work force and ready to put your fresh knowledge into action. Or maybe you just need a new start or a change in careers. It can be difficult for anyone to stand out from the crowd when you send in your application. But with these 4 tips you’ll be able to spark interest with your potential employer and possibly score an interview.

Cover letters aren’t optional

cover letter

Please don’t skim over the area to add a cover letter. Although some job posting say ‘cover letter optional’ this shouldn’t be the case in applicants minds. The chances you will be rejected almost immediately are quite high if you avoid adding a cover letter. Especially if the job posting specifically asks for one. A cover letter should show your personality. It’s your opportunity to talk yourself up without shame. Employers love to see personalized applications, it keeps you fresh in their mind and most importantly stand out from other applicants. Add why you are a good fit for the position, address the employer specifically rather than “to whom it may concern.” Let your personality shine. Tell your strengths, if you are outgoing, love learning new things, have talents that have served you well or could serve you well for the job, this is your chance to include them all.

Grammar

Grammar

If you wouldn’t want grammar mistakes in your reports to clients, college assignments, or Facebook posts then don’t allow them in your cover letter or resume. Attention to detail is included in most job descriptions. Employers want to know you are taking your time and doing your best.. Your resume is a short preview of the kind of worker you are, the effort you put into your work and the value you have for making a good impression when it matters most. Always double check your resume and fix mistakes even if it’s in the final draft stages. It’s noticeable when time and effort are put into an application.

Follow Instructions

Following instructions

Nothing is more frustrating for hiring managers when instructions are added to a job posting and they simply aren’t followed. If it asks for a short description of why you think you are a good fit for the job, add it. Say a cover letter is requested, please include a cover letter. Or maybe instead of clicking ‘apply now’ you need to send it straight to an email. If you really want the job it will make a world of difference to your employer if you can follow their instructions.

Be a Human

Be human

Well of course you’re human. Sometimes we get so caught up in making lists of things we are good at or the experience we have, we forget to be personal. If your resume is boring you, it’s probably 10 times more boring for your employer. Okay maybe not 10 times, but it will be a lot less interesting for the person reading it than it is for you. A well formatted resume is a way of adding personality rather than a blank page with a bunch of lists. It’s okay to use a template, but be sure to customize it to be your own. Don’t worry about making a lengthy resume with every single skill you obtain, but customize for the position you want. A quick tip, add where you can find examples of your work . If you’re a photographer, include your social media accounts, so they can get to know your style and you better.

It can be tough to stand out during the application process but these few things will go a long way with employers. Don’t let to the process discourage you, and definitely don’t take job rejection personally. Apply to each job seeing it as a fresh start and a new opportunity for your career.

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being productive while working from home

It’s becoming more popular for people to work from home instead, or in addition to the office. But with this freedom, comes some hurdles you may have crossed a few times or will come across as you work from the comfort of your home. It can be easy to over work, or under work when the you bring the office into your home. You don’t have distractions from coworkers stopping by your desk or clients dropping in unexpectedly, but you do have other things that can easily pull you away from your tasks. Here we’ll give you some tips that have worked for highly productive people who work from their kitchen, living room or home office.

Start Early

Alarm clock

The early bird gets the worm, and this also applies in your own home. Wake up, make a coffee and get right down to business. I find the sooner I get started in my work the less distracting other things are throughout the day. The longer you make the transition from your bed to your computer the longer it will take for your morning sluggishness to fade. Waking up early is key to being successful throughout the day and staying on track with your list of things to do.

Recreate Your Office Routine

Work from home

Without a commute to work, you have more time to get a few quick jobs done before you start work. The best thing to do to keep you on track is to create as much of an office space as possible. Work at a desk or your kitchen table instead of the couch. There you won’t have the temptation to turn on the TV. Listen to music while you work, if that’s what you do at the office. If it’s more distracting to work in complete silence turn on a TV in another room or the radio. If you like to sip on coffee or tea at work, do the same at home. I drink a lot of water at work so when I work from home I do the same, but I stay to drinking from a water bottle instead of a glass. This prevents you from leaving your computer so often and getting distracted by something else around your house.

Stay Connected

Stay connected

Keep close contact with your office, so if your coworkers need something from you they can easily reach you. The best way is to use a messaging program like Microsoft Teams or WhatsApp for the office. At Panda Rose the office is connected to Microsoft Teams so when one person works remotely you can easily contact them. It’s a great way to keep updated on whats going on in the office and still feel like a part of the team.

Keep a Schedule

Schedule

Either electronically or on paper. Keep track of your to-do list for the day. This will help you keep track of how productive you are. Actually, the busier you are the more productive you are. Once you are going it’s easy to keep going. And when you rest it’s easy to keep resting. Try to keep the downtime to a minimum and take on more tasks during the day even if they are small. It also helps make the day go by faster!

Set a Quitting Time

Quitting time

Working from home also means you can easily over work. It’s just as important to set a time that you log off as it is to take breaks from work during the day. To be the most productive during the day, take a break from screens and papers. Go for a walk, interact with other people instead of simply watching a few minutes of your favorite show. Setting a time to quit for the day ensures you are rested up for the next day. Try shutting off your computer, and closing your daily planner. Otherwise you will end up starting a task when you should be resting. Rest is just as important as work.

Enjoy Working From Home

Enjoy working from home

At the end of the day, enjoy having the freedom to work from your home. You get to drink your own coffee from your favorite mug, and wear slippers all day. You can come across just as many distractions in an office as you can at home. Learning to manage the distractions at home can be more difficult but once you get into a routine it will be just like working at the office, but better!

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySelf-ImprovementSocial MediaUncategorized

Learning

Leah Learns has been in the works for a while now. What started as an office joke has grown into a fun opportunity. We finally released a new video on YouTube last week you don’t want to miss it. It’s comical, entertaining and educational all in one!

Leah is our SM (Social Media) specialist at Panda Rose, we have started a YouTube channel challenging her each week to learn something new. We have plenty of talent within our team, and community. She will be learning skills we never knew she needed to learn.

Origami

Our First Video

Last week a video was made teaching her how to open bottles without a bottle opener. It is both practical and fun! One method was placing the bottle in the heel of a shoe and forcefully banging it against a hard surface. The momentum pushes the cork out of the bottle and the shoe prevents the glass from breaking. After many swings it was surprisingly successful! The other, more risky, method was sabering. This includes a bottle of champagne (or sparkling wine) and a knife, or in our case a bayonet.  This idea here is to follow the seam of the bottle (which is the weak point of the bottle) and carry the knife in one quick swift movement up the seam and against the top of the bottle. This force will literally slice off the top of the bottle and cork. The other way to open a bottle which unexpectedly had it own difficulties was to simply twist off the cap. The trick here is to twist left, not right.

What’s Next?

In the future we will be teaching Leah a variety of skills. It’s exciting to get to know the small businesses around the community through learning small aspects of their work. You can look forward to a new video every week. Simply Subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss out and comment on the videos ideas you have for our next Leah Learns!

youtube image

We want to hear from you! Leave a comment with an idea for a new video!

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

DSLR camera

Your product is ready to sell, and one of the most important aspects of selling a product is how you display it to your customers. Today I’ll give you some simple tips on how you can take amazing product photos on your own.

Eliminate Distractions

Remove any background distractions and place your object on a clean surface or in front of a clean bright wall. This gives your product all the attention it deserves. A clean background or surface keeps your products and photos looking crisp and professional.

Busy and distracting:

Crisp and clean:

Choose Your Lighting

Choose your lighting carefully, take a few seconds to find space near a window with indirect sunlight (natural light). Taking photos indoors can sometimes be tricky. If you’re under florescent lights your pictures may turn out more blue. If you are under incandescent lights, your picture will have more of an orange tint to them. Natural light gives a good balance and shows the products truest color. Steer clear of dark hallways or rooms as this will also distort your image and make it difficult to see the details and quality of your product.

Natural light:

Dark Hallway:

Incandescent:

Florescent:

Focus

Lets take your photography skills one step further now. A really simple trick that will set your pictures apart from the rest is to give your pictures a blurry background, called “bokeh.”  Bokeh  (BOH-kay) is the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. If you are shooting from a DSLR camera, like I am in these images, you can change whats called the aperture. On your camera it will look like this:  f/5

Changing the number higher like f/10 will give less blur but changing the number lower to f/4 will give more blur.

This image is at f/25

while this image is at f/4.5

See how the glass is blurred drawing the eye towards the mug. This feature is great to use if you are taking pictures of multiple products but want the closest one to stand out or if you want all products in focus. This simple trick takes your photography skills to a whole new level.

Choose your camera

If you take your pictures with a phone, the new iPhone’s have a feature called “portrait mode” in your camera settings that allow you to artificially create the bokeh look. Select Android phones offer this feature as well called “live focus.” Keep in mind with a smartphone camera your outcome may not always give the same effect. The trick is to keep a steady hand when using portrait mode. Shaky hands can confuse the camera and your outcome won’t be as impressive.

iPhone portrait mode (fail): Right corner of the mug has been incorrectly blurred. Shaky hands or improper focusing may have caused this. Sometimes, certain objects confuse the camera. In this case the clear glass and liquid was difficult for the camera to properly blur out.

iPhone portrait mode (success): Steady hands, focus is directly on the mug and a different background object is in place = success!

With these simple yet effective techniques you will notice a huge improvement on your images. It’s always worth the little bit of extra time to play around with your products and camera. Taking great pictures can seem intimidating. These tips will help your pictures look clean and professional, all from the comfort of your office, home, kitchen, shop, etc.

BloggingEducationMarketingMobile AppsProductivitySecurity & PrivacyShoppingSocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

In our office we share memes, eat cake and brainstorm… a lot. But there’s one thing we do even more of.

We use our phones, like a lot, a lot! We use them for testing apps, testing websites, social media management, communication, the list goes on. So with that said, we want to give you the inside scoop of what apps we love to use day in day out, and why they are vital to our entertainment, productivity, communication and lifestyle.

We wrote an article a few weeks back about some of our favorite phone gadgets. Some were for pleasure, others for productivity. If you missed it, you can check it out here as today’s article goes hand in hand. So between, web designers, developers, digital marketers and our CEO, these apps are the ones you need to download, like yesterday!

Let’s begin with entertainment.

Head phones

Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play Music, we need music like we need our coffee!

Podcast can be under entertainment and productivity as there are so many different types of podcasts out there. Our top favorite podcast apps are Podcasts (Apple) and Castbox. Castbox has over  95 million volumes of content and is available for almost all devices.

A few musicians came forward in the office and shared their favorite apps. Guitar Tuna was recommended by a few as an app to tune your guitar on the go or as a back up. It is available for both Apple and Android. Tabs is an app that has thousands of guitar, bass and ukulele tabs and chords for all your favorite songs. If you are looking to take up an instrument here’s two apps that are a go-to’s for the musicians in the office.

Audible is another app that fits into productivity and entertainment. Audible is a mobile library, with loads of books you can listen to or read.

Quora is an app to share opinions, knowledge and feedback. Ask a question and get a helpful answer.

Productivity

editing

Lynda.com is a popular app for taking online courses. You can choose a topic you would like to learn, for example: photography, web design, film, finance, interior design. The list is endless. You can also choose software you would like to learn. So if you are a photographer, maybe a course that is beneficial to your business is learning how to use Photoshop. If you are looking to get into finance industry, a valuable course might be learning QuickBooks, you can learn QuickBooks for payroll, online, for a Mac, etc.

We also have a lot of photographers in the office, so photo-shop apps or editing apps came up right away. Our favorites are Lightroom and Photoshop Fix, both are easy to use and high quality.

Our office uses Microsoft Teams to communicate and share info with each other (as well as a truck load of memes) it’s a secure way to create group messages. There are so many features within the program to expand functionality: like creating different groups, include files, planners and meetings.

If you want to create logos or invitations an extremely useful app is Canva. You can create logos, Pinterest graphics, resize images to fit other social media platforms, create business cards and so much more! We use this everyday to create our graphics, and images.

Lifestyle

Family Organization

Everyone has those apps they use regularly or occasionally that just make your life so much easier. When it comes to lifestyle, the office has a variety of favorites.

Some of us are obsessed with the weather, so we’ve got you covered with choosing the best weather apps. WeatherCan and The Weather Network are our most reliable apps we would recommend to anyone and everyone.

Cozi is a popular app for family organization. You can add shopping lists, cleaning schedules and upcoming events that your family has planned. It’s the perfect app for a busy family and even busier parents.

If you are prone to migraines which some are in the office the Migraine Buddy app is the best app according to both patients and doctors. This app helps you record and identify all aspects of your migraine. For example; what triggers them, your symptoms, medications and so on.

Headspace is a meditation app that helps you let go of stress, learn to relax and get a better nights sleep. If you don’t already have this app it’s definitely a must! Everyone can use a few techniques to reduce stress and anxiety during our busy lives.

 

What are some apps that are essential for you or just plain fun? Let us know in the ‘leave a comment’ section at the bottom! We’d love to hear from you.

 

BloggingEducationMarketingProductivitySEOSocial MediaTechnologyUncategorized

pinterest

Pinterest: An app where women find recipes and DIY projects, right?

recipes

Many people see Pinterest as an app women use to find home improvement ideas or recipes, but it has far progressed from when it was first released in 2010. Marketers are using it as a platform to drive more website traffic and increase sales. Pinterest has become a major visual search engine in the past few years. So how can you use it for your business in 2019?

 

Pinterest is 80% more viral and 3x more effective at generating leads than Twitter

traffic

1. Pinterest Drives Heavy Traffic 

Pinterest has a hover feature that when clicked it directs users directly to your site, This eliminates the amount of steps people have to take to get to your site. The other benefit is that users can pin pictures directly from your site, increasing your websites visibility.

watch

2. Longer Post Exposure

The average lifespan of a Pinterest post is three and half months,  that’s 1,600 times longer than a Facebook post. Pins last forever, meaning that it’s easier for people to search for you and easily find your latest pins. As time goes by and your pin gets shared by other users it continues to spread like wildfire. No need to re-share content and repeat your pin over and over.

3. Excellent SEO Strategy

Use keywords in your description for higher visibility and your target audience to find you easier. Continue to post with those keywords and create boards that are relevant.When a google search is made with that keyword, your pins will show up.

4. Free Marketing From Your Fans

The more your content is pinned the more visibility you gain, just like with any social media, although you don’t need to invest in content marketing, just spend time getting quality images and a good description and your pin is ready to be shared countless times. Users want to be inspired, so inspire them.

share

5. Engage Easier With Customers

Even though Pinterest is smaller than Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it is easy to engage with people on this platform. Users are eager to share, they want to send their ideas and dreams with others, so if they like your content they will be eager to share it.

 

We’d love to hear your Pinterest strategies. Leave us a comment below!

 

BloggingMarketingProductivitySecurity & PrivacySelf-ImprovementSocial MediaUncategorized

screen time

Social media nowadays is more than just a social network. It is used as a tool for businesses and a way to communicate with others. Although sometimes, we can get too caught up in the scrolling world that we don’t realize how it could be affecting our well being, relationships and even work.

As a digital marketing specialist I work with various social media platforms every day. It’s my job to scroll, to build community and relationships with people. Social media is a business tool so deleting it just isn’t an option… or is it?

The answer is yes. Yes, you can delete social media and you know why? Because it’s good for you.

community

 

The average person will spend nearly two hours a day on social media.

Want to to see if you fit the average? Take a look at your Screen Time feature (if you have an iPhone.) The results will likely surprise you. You can see which categories you spend the most time on. Entertainment, productivity, social networking etc. You can also see how many notifications you get a day and how many times you pick up your device. As someone who works on social media for work, my times may be a bit above average but I want to give you a look at what my statistics look like.

Average Screen time per day: 4 hours 33 minutes

Social networking (you will be knocked off your feet here) 24 *hours* 20 minutes! (Time for a social media detox!)

Pickups: 92 per day

Notifications: 59 per day

This is a lot of phone time! Most of it is social networking.

So here’s why it’s so important to take some time away from social media, even if you use it as a business tool. And some tips to get around the business aspect of it to put your mind at ease when you step away.

 

1. Social media tends to make you focus on others more than yourself

You mindlessly scroll, coming across a picture of how your co-worker bought a new car, or that your friends went out and had sushi on Saturday night. Are these things you really need to know about? No, not really. It’s entertaining, for sure. But this tends to just make you more concerned with what others are doing with their lives, rather than what you are doing with yours. Weekends spent working towards your personal, or business goals may not be glamorous or Instagram worthy. But it’s good for you. Taking the time away from social media means that you have to go out of your way to find out about other peoples lives. Its not just information accessibly to you. So if you need to know what others are doing you will have to be intentional.

private

2. Too public

Privacy has gone out the window, that is usually when it comes to social media. Of course as a business, keeping people in the loop about new offers or features you offer is key to your account and potential leads. But are you being too public with your personal account? Or finding it draining when others are too public with their lives? This could be a sign that you need to take a step away from the screen. Realigning what is appropriate to post on social media platforms and what is private to you or your family sometimes comes from taking a step away and realizing that you can still have a good time, without having to post about it or update your Facebook status.

3. Distorted version of reality

I can tell you that many accounts you follow on Instagram or Facebook are not all they say they are. Not that they are lying to you with their words, but sometimes it can be hard to differentiate whats real and whats not in an image. You see it in magazines, on billboards, TV ads and so many more places, especially on your own device. With the apps available to literally anyone, you can’t trust what is real or not. I can make the trees in the fall look more radiant than they actually are, my skin more glowing, even make water move in a still image. False images are thrown to you left and right and sometimes it’s exhausting. Even if you don’t realize it.

photoshop

4. Live in the moment

Ever been to a wedding and can’t actually see the beautiful bride because of all the phones popping up all over the place? Cellphones have actually changed how professional photographers do their job. Some couples have asked that people put their phones in a basket because the photographer won’t be able to get beautiful pictures without arms stretched all over the isle trying to get pictures or live videos for the world to see. We have sometimes forgotten how to truly live in the moment. Taking a social media detox will make events or scenery more fulfilling for you. Try going outdoors for a hike and just breathe in the fresh air, take in the moment.

Resist the temptation to pull out your phone to document the event or share it with your friends. Do it for you.

you are here

5. Free up your time

Now that your phone doesn’t have 410 notifications (okay maybe that an exaggeration) a day from Facebook or Twitter what do you do with all your free time? You can read a book, try yoga, go for a long walk with your dog… the possibilities are endless. You may even notice your energy go up, with removing yourself from comparison and false reality.

 

Quick tips to take a break from social media if you need it for work:

  • Get a scheduling app. Apps like Buffer or Tailwind can schedule your content for you if you need to be on top of posting for your business. Put in a bit extra time to retrieve content and caption your posts. Schedule them for times that suit your audience, simple as that!
  • Only delete your personal account to cut down on time you spend endlessly scrolling on the platform. Restrict your time limits to only work hours or only to answer messages or comments. (check in once a day for only a few minutes and avoid going into the feed. Only check notifications or places that actually need your attention.)
  • Hire someone to manage your social media accounts for you, so your account is still active even if you aren’t. This will make it easier if you want to make it a routine to get unconnected with the digital world more often.

social media

Taking a digital detox (more specifically social media) has multiple benefits to your personal well being.  The world will not end if you don’t upload a picture of your food. Allow yourself to step away from time to time. It’s becoming more and more important as social media grows to set boundaries with what’s private and what’s public. Start with one day, then a weekend, and adjust accordingly. Some can go a month, while for others, a day is just as refreshing.

 

If you are looking for someone to manage social media for your business, send us an email or call us at 780-652-1190

ProductivitySocial MediaTechnology

Here are some of our favourite gadgets for your phone. Some keep you efficient, some keep you working late, some are juts plain fun.

 

iWalk Portable Charger 

Being out for meetings all day long or at events can drain your battery and finding a plug in, isn’t always an option. We love portable chargers. These iWalk ones are about the “size of lipstick” so easily fit into pockets and bags and you can put on your phone anywhere to give it an extra boost of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SD Card Reader

I personally use one of these a lot for SD cards from my professional camera. It’s nice to be able to snap some shots on my high quality camera and then upload them directly to my phone for Instagram photos. This card reader in particular is neat because it has others options like getting data from USB cards too.

Phone Camera Attachments

Phones cameras are getting better and better but they are also still limited. There are so many options out there, but we are checking out this kit with a bunch of different lenses. Maybe a review coming soon on it?

 

 

Phone Light Ring

Yes, these are used a lot for selfies, but even if you aren’t into selfies that much they are great for illuminating people in dark places for photos of them. And the cool remote that this one comes with allows you to get in the picture with them sometimes!

 

 

 

MarketingMobile AppsProductivityTechnology

Will email ever die? Is email already dead? I have no idea. With the many different answers I have found on the Internet, it appears that as a whole, we really don’t know if email is leaving anytime soon or if it is already gone. I do however, think that texting is superior to email and that there is great potential for your business in using texting over email with your potential and loyal customers. So lets take a look at what we do know. 

 

Texting has become the popular form of communication of today. People like texting because of the relaxed setting. Texting doesn’t feel like work the same way that email does. Studies have also suggested that people say things over text that they wouldn’t say in person, its an opportunity for honesty. Texts allow for causal questions and answers without hassle. That said, here are my reasons as to why you need to look into reaching your customers through texting.

 

The stress free atmosphere that texting provides will first off allow customers to feel free to ask questions! You may have given them the ability to ask questions before, but the process of emailing feels like a hassle. Yes, I know submitting an email is easy. But people want answers right then and there. Even if texting is not actually instant, people are more likely to trust that a text was sent and delivered without complication because texting is just that basic. You could use this trust concept to your company’s advantage.

 

Let’s say a customer had a quick, generic question, they could either submit an email through your company’s website as they have been your customer on a couple occasions or they could ask Google and receive multiple answers from multiple resources along with advertising from your competitors, how do you think a person would seek out the answer? I know that if it was me, I would just Google it.

 

But, if I had been your customer before and had your company’s texting number and you had made it clear that I was free to ask questions, I would totally ditch the million answers from Google to get feedback from a company I had used before and have no reason not to trust.  

 

Another benefit of giving your company’s texting number to customers is that people use texting constantly. For you this means that notifications from you could not get ignored the way emails can, you could get away with more texts than emails and it is quick! You send a text, they take a quick glance and would know what the point of the text is.

 

Will email ever die? Is email already dead? I have no idea. With the many different answers I have found on the Internet, it appears that as a whole, we really don’t know if email is leaving anytime soon or if it is already gone. I do however, think that texting is superior to email and that there is great potential for your business in using texting over email with your potential and loyal customers.

 

Texting has become the popular form of communication of today. People like texting because of the relaxed setting. Texting doesn’t feel like work the same way that email does. Studies have also suggested that people say things over text that they would never say in person. Texts allow for causal questions and answers without hassle. That said, here are my reasons as to why you need to look into reaching your customers through texting.

 

The stressless atmosphere that texting provides will first off allow for customers to feel free to ask questions! You may have given them the ability to ask questions before, but the process of submitting a question on your website takes time. Submitting an email is easy, yes I know that. But people want answers right then and there. Even if texting is not actually instant, people are more likely to trust that a text was sent and delivered without complication because texting is just that basic. You could use this trust concept to your company’s advantage.

 

Let’s say a customer had a quick, generic question, they could either submit an email through your company’s website as they have been your customer on a couple occasions or they could ask Google and receive multiple answers from multiple resources along with advertising from your competitors, how do you think a person would seek out the answer? I know that if it was me, I would just Google it.

 

But, if I had been your customer before and had your company’s texting number and you had made it clear that I was free to ask questions, I would totally ditch the million answers from Google to get feedback from a company I had used before and have no reason not to trust.  

 

Another benefit of giving your company’s texting number to customers is that people use texting constantly. For you this means that notifications from you could not get ignored the way emails can, you could get away with more texts than emails and it is quick! You send a text, they take a quick glance and would know what the point of the text is.

 

Now they could move on and not even think about the 10 seconds they took to check the text from you, or if your call to action was enticing enough they may take a minute or two longer to click the link you gave them.

 

You can text your customers your latest deals, discounts, referral information, blog links, and reminders about shipping (imagine how your affiliates would love to simply text for you.) What I am trying to say is that you can text them anything that you are currently email them. But a text is favoured by your customers because of how low-key a it is and they would feel free to answer or ask a question without overthinking. (As a professional overthinker, I know this first hand.)

 

A factor to be careful with is to know that your customers gave you your number and trusts that you won’t abuse that privilege. Text them about things they would care about, or what ever it is that they actually signed up for. If you do this correctly you will form a relationship of trust between the business and customer, this will ensure further sales.

 

I do have one concern with your company texting it’s customers; people may expect instant replies. Now unless you have someone working your texting phone 24/7 you may want to clarify. Upfront you need to explain that it is a person with many responsibilities who is replying to their important texts. Customers appreciate humans. Messaging bots do not have a good reputation when it comes to talking with customers. If your customers know they are talking to a human and not an  incompetent robot, they would commend you for that.

 

Speaking of robots, another possibility with texting your customers is that someday a bot could do it all for you. Yes I know I just said that customers prefer capable humans to  unintelligent robots. But someday actually intelligent, messaging bots will be quite able to interpret natural language and give a proper answer. The ability for your company to have a dependable messaging bot would be extremely beneficial for you and your customers.

 

When bots are smart enough to communicate back and forth with customers, I know that these messaging bots will be the only realistic way to reach customers. Until then, I think that emailing will stick around… even though texting makes so much sense.

 

What are your thoughts on being texted by companies? Would you switch your company over to texting over emailing, why or why not? I would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Tess Houcher