BusinessCareersEducationMarketingProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Two simple rules that will LITERALLY save you millions of dollars going to an Ivy League school for an MBA

While there is a massive amount all of us can learn about business from a MBA program, I have found that two lessons I’ve learned from my exposure to these programs have been incredibly fruitful in helping me manage strategy and tactics while growing a business and navigating through both good and difficult times.

Don’t be Married to Your Business

If you haven’t learned about the Sunk Cost Fallacy , I recommend you read over the linked site. Just open it in a new tab. It’s ok, I’ll be here when you get back.

Basic gist of this fallacy goes as follows “the more you invest in something, the harder it is for you to stop investing in it.” We are all guilty of this. That significant other you spent over a year longer than you should’ve trying to keep the relationship together when you knew it was long over. That degree you finished because “well, I’m already 50% of the way through it,” and then proceeded to follow an entirely different career path in which everything you learned has been tangential to your current life. Even the business you’ve been working on for years, but never got any traction with.

When you are working on a business plan, or developing a business, you will find only after you have invested a lot of time, sweat, money, blood and tears into it that, unfortunately, your original vision was not that good. At which point you have a sticky situation, should you keep investing in the idea, or is it time to spin things down? I have seen many, many people stick to an idea long past it’s sell-by date, and the history of business is littered with business folks who went to the grave still trying to get that “great idea” to start to pay off.

Here’s the thing, sometimes your idea does suck.

Yep, sometimes it just isn’t as great as it felt it would be once it is built, and all the polishing and reconfiguring of the original idea might make no difference at all. It just is not going to take off as it exists.

So what does that mean? Well, luckily there isn’t a holy covenant between you and your company or your business direction. It is not a mortal sin to decide to drop that original business idea. In fact, that is the sign of a good business person.

YouTube, originally started as a dating site. Yep. Their selling point was that you could upload videos of yourself so people could get to meet the “real you,” before deciding to date. At the time, it seemed like a great idea. Dating sites were hot and making money hand over fist. However, in a very short period of time, it was clear that it was not the brilliant idea the original creators thought it was. Now, they could’ve superglued themselves to the original idea and simply tried to polish it further, making the video interface cleaner, making the matching algorithm better, a whole list of minor perfunctory changes. They could’ve decided that they were married to the original idea, ’til death us do part.

But they were good business people, and decided instead to concentrate on what was working and what wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, they tried almost everything to get stuff working. They even went onto Craigslist and offered women $20 a video to join and upload videos. Still no one came forward. So they said, screw it, let’s let people upload anything they want, forget the dating aspect. The first video ever was this one. YouTube took off and they sold themselves to Google for 1.65bn. If they were married to the dating site idea, they likely would’ve gone out with a puff of smoke, but because they were willing to divorce themselves from that idea and see what else worked, Chen and the other original team are doing quite well for themselves today.

Stick to your Guns

In short, this rule means: Don’t give up so quickly, just change your tactics and keep trying. The fact you built the tech to begin with and the fact that you’ve invested so much in it means that there is something there. However, there are so many external factors that lead to your plan not working. In some cases, the market simply is not ready yet for your product. In other cases, the strategy you are using to sell you product is not properly targeted to the sector in which you would do best. In a surprising number of cases, it’s simply bad luck in finding the right investors, employees and clients. If you stick with it, you are more likely to succeed.

As my father always told me as a kid, “You miss every shot you don’t take.” I hear that some other great hockey player may have said this as well… Might’ve played for the Oilers for a while. Since they haven’t won a Stanley Cup in a long time, I’m guessing that’s why the name evades me, probably Kelly Buchberger. Kellys always have great ideas.

However, I can hear you all screaming at your phone: “Doesn’t this rule fundamentally contradict the previous rule?” Oh, I can see why would think that. The previous rule says that if something isn’t working, you shouldn’t continue to bury money into it. That’s the entire point of the sunk cost fallacy. However, I am not saying you continue doing something that is not working. I am saying you should look at what you have already done, learn from it, and adapt accordingly. Do not give up now that you have learned so much from lack of success. You should look at what you have built and then go, what can I do with what I have built.

You know what doesn’t work.

Which means that the category of possible actions that will work is smaller and easier to choose from. Sometimes the pivot is as major as what happened with YouTube, where the whole model was dropped, but the technology was kept. They stuck to their guns, the technology they had developed that worked and worked well. They got rid of what didn’t work, the original business idea. In the end they were very successful.

Take the chance, invest in the technology, build your ideas, but be willing to fail fast and pivot. If you are not getting traction with your current strategy, there is nothing wrong with changing tact. In fact, that is how most of largest businesses today have got to where they are.

EducationSEOUncategorized

Understanding Local SEO

Local search engine optimization is a tool for local small to medium businesses that want to target a regional market.  The goal of local SEO is to make it that when somebody is searching for services you provide, you’re the one that shows up first.

Note: If you’re more of an auditory learner, you can also take a look at our Youtube video on this subject.

You’ve probably heard of local search engine optimization because you’ve received *that email*.  You know which one I’m talking about.  The one that says “I took a look at your search engine optimization and I’ve attached a report for you.”  It has performance, search engine optimization, and a variety of other different rankings and under SEO it usually says something like C- or D, sometimes it even says F.  Unfortunately, this is usually true because most people’s search engine optimization is not optimal.

example rankings from SEO reports
You’ve probably received a view reports that have something that looks like this…

However, the person who sent you that report doesn’t know much more than you from that report because he used an automated online search engine optimization report such as SEOptimer to generate the report quickly, print it out, and send it to you. He probably hasn’t even reviewed the report. In fact, when you look at the second page of the report, you’ll see a section that usually says keywords and in that section, you’ll see something like ‘5 PM’ or ‘clock.’ Now, unless you’re actually making clocks or watches, I’m pretty sure these are not your keywords. But when you run an automated report and it is not being reviewed with your business in mind, those would be the keywords that you would see. So, what does this all mean?

Well, for one: He’s right, your search engine optimization needs work. So you need to take a look at your website to make sure that the technical details there are correct so that Google properly ranks you for your business in your region. But you don’t want to spend your time on somebody who doesn’t care about your business or simply doing keyword stuffing to fool Google into putting you first.

Google wants your site, or anybody’s site, to show up first when it is the correct site for the search that is being done. So if somebody’s toilet is overflowing and they have a bit of an emergency on hand, and they search for “plumber my toilet is overflowing.” Google does not want to be showing them YouTube videos of hilarious toilets overflowing. What Google wants to show them is a local plumber they can call right away so that their toilet can get fixed.

sandbox with toys
It’s not quite as fun as when you were a kid

There is a type of SEO out there called Black Hat SEO, where the goal of it is to fool Google into putting you at the top regardless of whether you are credible or authentic to that industry. These are the people who recommend things such as keyword stuffing, paying for backlinks from blogs that have nothing to do with you, and investing in “link farms”. Sometimes these methods work for a while. That’s why black hat SEO exists. But in many cases once Google finds out that you are implementing these methods and trying to find a way around their system, you get penalized.  In the worst case you can get what’s called “sandboxed” in which case you don’t show up on Google at all until you can go through an appeals process.

So how to you show up on top legitimately?  Well, there’s over 400 different factors that we’re aware of that Google considers to determine its page ranking. This is why there are many SEO firms out who can help achieve these high rankings. That being said the three factors we’ve discovered over our many years of doing SEO are:

  1. How authentic are you?
  2. How credible are you?
  3. How appropriate are you to the keywords that are being searched for at that time?

Authenticity

If you are doing it correctly and since all of you probably own legitimate businesses, this would be the obvious way of doing it. You want to target both the authenticity and the credibility side as well as all those technical aspects. Now, what is authenticity? It’s things like:

  • How long has your business existed?
  • How can we know that your business is a legitimate business in the region?
  • Where is your business located?
Toy robot
Google’s a bit fancier than this robot though…

Google’s a robot. They’re not hiring people to go and check every single business, call every single number. They’re looking at existing directories and then from those directories determining whether or not the business has been around for a while, determining whether or not the business is established, and determining whether or not the business is well known. So if you want a good ranking on Google, you need to make sure your Google Business page is set up correctly. You need to make sure that you go through the verification process, where they send you a little postcard with a little code on it, you type in the code and now Google goes “Okay, you exist and you exist at this address. Awesome.” Sometimes Google actually will call you too, but that’s a different edge case.

Google also looks at these aggregators who look at all of those directories online to try to generate which companies are out there. These aggregators pull from other map sites. So once you have your Google business site set up correctly and verified, then make sure you have a Facebook page set up with the exact same address as your Google business site. That means if your address is 123 Someplace Street and you spell it out S T R E E T, then your Facebook page should say the exact same thing. It should not say St. It should say S T R E E T because while Google can compensate for minor differences, we have found that the closer to an exact match everything is, the better your ranking will be.  It makes sense.  Because if you care about your business, if you’re authentic, you’re going to make sure that all of your directory listings are the same.  This is especially important if you’ve moved because from Google’s perspective if it sees two completely different addresses, it doesn’t know which one is correct. You need to spend the time to make sure they match.

Once you have your Facebook page set up then I would recommend you set up a Bing Places page, which sounds silly. Why would Bing influence your Google ranking?  Because Bing gets picked up by the aggregators and the aggregators feed Google.  So it’s very important to make sure that page is set up correctly as well. It’s also worthwhile getting a Yelp page setup if you can.  They will call you endlessly trying to sell you advertising. You don’t need it for most industries. It’s not worth following through on. that’s just their business model. It’s a perfectly reasonable business model but just being listed on Yelp is the important thing.

Outside of that. There are hundreds of other directories that get picked up by these aggregators, including your local Chamber of Commerce, which, if you’re not a member of, I highly recommend you pick up your phone and give them a call. Join Chambers of Commerce, they’re awesome organizations. Once you have all that together, Google can go, “this is an authentic site..” for a lack of better words for that

Credibility

Next Google looks at your credibility. This is your Google reviews, your Yelp reviews, and your reviews on your Facebook page. Google aggregates all those and goes, “Is this a good business? Are a lot of people going to and reviewing it positively?” Interestingly, having a couple of negative reviews can actually help you a bit in this case, because there are a lot of people who will review stuff., that will give an unusually high number of stars for their review and Google goes, “well, that looks a little iffy. Maybe we’ll dial them back a bit.” If you have a couple of lower reviews, it looks more natural. Google isn’t worried about spam.

How do you get reviews?  In this case, it’s really simple: every time you do business for one of your clients, you can write them afterwards with the invoice and go, “Thank you for your business. Please, we would love it if you would review our business.”  You can put a little link to your Google page and allow them to review quickly.  If you want, you can contact us and we’ll show you how you can get that link quickly to send with your emails. This will allow you to naturally and organically get those reviews and help build up the credibility side of your page ranking.

Keyword Targeting

archery target

Now on the third side, keyword targeting, there’s a whole list of ways.  It’s a very intensive environment. But the most important thing to get everything working correctly, is to make sure your site is accessible by as many different devices to as many different people as possible.

If you have images on your site with text, Google doesn’t read that text because Google is programmatically going through your site.  So make sure those images with text either have proper alt tags so that the text has a programmably readable version, or you get rid of those images and make sure you have just plain text on your side at that point. This is very important, not just for Google, but for any potential customer you have because if, for example, you have a blind customer visit your site, they won’t be able to see that image either. So it’s absolutely imperative that you concentrate on making sure that your site is accessible by as many different people as possible, which will also boost your ranking.

Google also takes into consideration how well your site runs on a mobile app, on a mobile phone, which means you need to make sure that your site is responsive so that when somebody goes to your site on the phone, it’s readable, it’s usable, it works well.  Since so many people these days use their phone to look up a business; if they get to your site and they can’t find your phone number because it’s in tiny little text, it’s of no use to them.  So Google is not going to promote that site. Once you get these things done, there’s all sorts of other factors. But just those three things will make such a difference for your SEO that you’ll probably actually notice an increase in your organic traffic if you do this correctly.

However, you have a business to run. You don’t want to be spending all of your time doing the technical work. If that’s the case give us a call. We can sit down with you and figure out something that works within your budget so that you can concentrate on growing your business and we can concentrate on helping you.

Uncategorized

Internet cafe

Microsoft has unveiled their new version of Microsoft Edge.  Over the years, they’ve released a lot of new versions, but this is the only one that’s got our development team excited.  Why?  Because, if you haven’t heard, Edge now runs on Chromium, an open-source project based on Google Chrome.  This means that instead of being some ugly mess, Edge now has a lot of the same functionality as Chrome.

So I figured I’d give you my Outlook (pun intended.  Sit tight, there’s a lot of these) on the whole situation.  Hope y’all have your Notepads (see what I mean?) out.

what has this done to the landscape of the great browser war in this Age of browser Empires? (…okay, that one was a bit too much of a stretch.  I apologize.)  Honestly, probably not a lot right now.  I’ve currently got Chrome installed on my work computer and Firefox on my home computer and I’m happy with them both so I probably won’t go through the trouble of switching my preferred browser.  While the new Edge …edges out the competition in a lot of ways (especially Chrome), it’s not a big enough advantage for me to switch right now.  That being said, when I eventually get a new home computer I’m 99% certain I’ll just stick with Edge.

With all that out of the way, here are the advantages that the new Edge gives.  Keep in mind, that I haven’t done any in depth research on this topic yet.  I’ve only done a quick Visual Basic scan of the new info that’s out there.

Privacy

a large number of security cameras

Word on the street is that the jury’s still out as to whether or not Edge is better for privacy than Firefox.  I kinda suspect the opposite will be true.  But Edge definitely beats out Chrome for now.  While Google is starting to focus on privacy, it hasn’t quite caught up to it’s fellow browsers, which honestly isn’t that surprising.  It is Google, after all.

Better Power Consumption than Chrome

Low battery warning light

Another advantage that doesn’t really affect Firefox.  But as anyone who has used Chrome on a laptop can tell you, that thing kills battery life.  Microsoft managed to find some fixes so for now it’s better than Chrome, though they did the kind thing and made their fixes open-source so it’s only a matter of time before Chrome includes them too.  That being said, all the Power points go to Microsoft

Performance

100 meter dash lane

Edge has now managed to beat out every other browser in terms of the number of performance tests it wins.  That being said, they’re all pretty close.  There’s only ever a tiny gap between the winners.  So while edge is better here, it’s not a dealbreaker either way.

Business Needs

business laptops and papers

This is where Microsoft Excels.  The integration that Edge has with Windows and other Microsoft products means that in a large company you can find the file you need on your company’s shared server just by searching Edge for it.  Even if all you know is that Bill from Engineering made the document last week.

The new logo

new Microsoft Edge logo
Microsoft Edge logo? Or Tide pod?

I wouldn’t count the logo as an advantage except for the fact that since someone pointed it out to me, I can’t unsee the fact that it looks a bit like a tide pod.  One Note I have to make is that this could actually be a disadvantage if it results in a dead meme coming back to life.

Thank you for making it through this exploration of the new Microsoft Edge.  If you feel like it was just an excuse for me to make Microsoft puns, just be glad that you get these little Windows (sorry, not sorry) into my life.  My coworkers also want you to know, you should be glad you don’t work in the same office as me.  Though at least they have it better than my wife….

CommunicationMarketingSEOUncategorized

Dictionary

One of the most confusing parts of working with a digital marketing company is understanding what in the world they’re telling you.  It ends up sounding like they’re telling you to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.

John Cleese
If you’ve never seen Monty Python’s Airplane Pilot sketch, you definitely need to.

Or in the words of the great John Cleese, “The scransoms above your head are now ready to flange. Please unfasten your safety belts and press the emergency photoscamps on the back of the seats behind you.”

To that end, I’ve compiled a short list of 13 of the most common digital marketing words.  Hopefully it helps you make sense about what the marketing experts are telling you.

 

Backlink – A link from someone else’s website to yours.  If it’s a reputable website this link will increase your search result rankings.

Bounce Rate – the percentage of people viewing your website who leave after only seeing one page.

Conversion – Someone who performs an action as a result of viewing your website or ad.  Such as signing up for a mailing list, taking a survey, buying a product, etc.

CTR – Click-through rate.  The percentage of people who see your site somewhere (usually search engines) that actually click through to your website.

Follow/No Follow – Whether or not search engines will follow a backlink to your website, boosting your rankings.

Keyword – a word or phrase that internet users search for on search engines.  The more specific the term, the more valuable it is since people searching for something specific are more likely to click through to relevant sites.

Remarketing – Advertising that targets people who have already interacted with your website.

Schema – A way of telling search engines what all the content on your website is.  Such as the title, author, and/or ratings and reviews of your website or products.

SEO – Search Engine Optimization.  In other words, ensuring that Google and other search sites

SERPS – search engine results pages.  Where the results for a search show up.  Ranking higher on a SERP means that you show further up on the results page.

Sitemap – a file that lists all of the urls for a site.  Search engines can read these to find urls they wouldn’t otherwise know about.

Tags – Tags can refer to two different things.  In blogging it refers primarily to relevant words or phrases to your article so that people interested in those things can find similar blog posts.  In SEO it refers to things like the title of your page, metadescriptions, headings, alt-text, no-follow tags, etc.  Don’t worry if you don’t know what those are.  Part 2 of this series will have a lot of the most common tags in it.

Phone bookWeb Directory – a website that provides lists of other websites.  Most directories require manual submissions of entries and usually include more details like contact information.  They are the easiest way to build up backlinks.

 

If there are any terms you’ve heard before and you have no idea what they mean, let me know and I can include them in a part 2.

EducationProductivityUncategorized

Rubik's Cube

Wolf pack
The big city was of course, the upstairs of grandma’s house

As children, we loved to play games.  Childhood is the age of games.  “Let’s play house,” “Let’s play a board game,” or “Let’s play family of wolves who are having trouble finding food because of the encroaching big city.”  Okay, maybe that last one was just me and my siblings…  The point is that children primarily learn through games.  The most effective way to get a child to learn something is to turn it into a game for them to play.

 

Eventually, we grow up.  Games are something that must be put away in favour of more somber pursuits.  They’re too unstructured for regular life, which requires rules and regulations to keep things running smoothly.

 

Monopoly money
What? No, that’s not monopoly money in my glass. Why do you ask?

But what if I told you that’s not quite true?  Games don’t have less rules than real life.  They just have different ones.  In real life, the rule is that in polite society we walk upright.  But in “family of wolves who are having trouble finding food etc….” the rule is that you walk on your hands and knees.  It’s a different rule but it’s still a rule.  Taking all my monopoly money and stuffing it into my coat is fine, if a bit strange, in regular day-to-day life, but when playing Monopoly it’s called cheating.

This cuts to the heart of why games are important.  They give us the ability to try out several approaches to a problem, also known as lateral thinking.  Lateral thinking is one of the most important tools for problem solving and sadly it’s one of the most overlooked, in part because our brains just aren’t naturally good at it.  Our brains love routine and lateral thinking forces them to step back from the rules we’re accustomed to so that we can see if there is another way to solve the problem.  Because we always do things a certain way, it’s easy to continue doing things that way, but when you play a game you have to step outside of that routine to embrace a new set of rules.

Of course, I’m not saying that you should get your boss to pay you to play Monopoly. Even if you don’t like board games, or card games, or word games, or any sort of game at all, you can still turn things into games.  Even work can be turned into a game.  If you take a goal or task you have to complete and make a game out of completing it in the most efficient way possible, in addition to the obvious benefit of work being a lot more fun, you can step outside of your work routine and look for what exactly you can do differently to boost your efficiency, since ultimately that’s what a game is.  “What’s the best way to do this thing as soon as possible.”  Whether the goal is bankrupting your opponents in Monopoly, getting more goals than your opponent in a game of hockey, or even figuring out the best way for your pretend wolves to get food from the fridge upstairs without getting caught, gaming teaches you how to achieve your goal with an (often) arbitrary set of rules and conventions.  It’s a quick jump to being able to use the same tools you build in the game world to achieve your goal with the rules and conventions of the real world.

I’ll leave you with this lateral thinking puzzle.  The answer will be in next week’s post, so try not to Google it until then.  A man walks into a bar and asks the barman for a glass of water.  The barman pulls out a gun and points it at the man.  The man says ‘Thank you’ and walks out.  Why?

BloggingMarketingProductivitySocial MediaUncategorized

So you’ve hired someone to manage your social media accounts. It takes time to manage so many accounts and see growth and that’s time you just don’t have as a business owner. While social media is widely used for sharing funny memes, and picture perfect content, your social media manager should be doing much more than that when it comes to their clients.

Marketing Objectives

marketing

You social media manager should know and ask about your marketing objectives and follow them. There could be many marketing objectives for your business and it’s important your social media manager is knowledgeable in all of them. This is after all what is going to make it worth it in the long run.

Tracking progress

Statistics

Keeping up with how many followers you gain each week or month is great but not all of these followers will be potential clients or customers. Tracking how many organic engagements you are getting, will give you a greater understanding on how your day to day strategy is working rather than being swayed by the big numbers your ad gets. While ads are great for exposure, the insights may not be as relevant. Ads show the number of impression your content is receiving, but did you know some ads count impressions where if one account has been shown the same ad 100 times this counts as 100 impressions. So while the big numbers may look great, the organic ones are where you want your social media manager to focus their energy on. Being smart on how you track your progress and statistics is just as important as the insights themselves.

Engagement

engagement

If your social media accounts aren’t active this may be a big concern. One of the biggest parts of hiring a social media manager is to get the activity on your account that you don’t have time for. This is a time consuming part of the job and extremely important. Just as importantly the content being published needs to be engaging to your audience. You social media manager should be researching and learning your audience and what interests them, as well as their needs and how your business can help them. Along with being active on your accounts, your social media manager should be keeping track of inquiries and directing them to the right people or resources within the company. If someone is inquiring about a service you offer they should make the initial contact with the customer, then direct them to the professionals in your business if they can’t answer the questions, or feel it’s better left to the experts in that area.

Scheduling & Calendars

calendar

Scheduling content is not just a trick of the trade, it’s necessary. This is how content can be posted at any and all times, based on your insights of optimal times to post. Keeping a calendar of content planning is a habit your social media manager should be doing. This is key to not only organization, but to have a plan for future content. Your social media should have a goal, and planning in advance helps you stay on track. A content calendar improves the efficiency of your social media specialist, so your content isn’t being left to the last minute, rushed to get out and susceptible to simple mistakes.

Content Curation

content

Content is another one of the biggest jobs for a social media manager. This is probably one of the main reasons you hired them in the first place. You didn’t have time to find or create content, and still don’t. Finding info to share that meets your audiences needs and interests is a very important part of a social media managers job. While your social media specialist doesn’t have to be a professional photographer, they should be creative in the kind of content and images to capture. They should also be somewhat photo savvy or have connections to a photographer they can work with, as making an attractive Instagram account etc. is part of their job. If your social media manager works remotely, they should at least be sending you content ideas that are easy enough for you to take yourself, or for a hired professional to take, and they should not be using only stock photos on your account.

Customized graphics

graphics

Part of branding is being recognizable. Your business colors are a big part of who you are, as is your brands voice, and logo. All these things should be used as much as possible. Don’t be stuck promoting others graphics, or words. Your social media manager should get creative and create a template that you can post quotes on, or promote sales. This helps increase brand awareness and makes your content original and shareable, let others promote your business and graphics not the other way around.

Trends

Trend

Your social media marketer should be keeping up with the latest trends for your industry and on social media. This also means keeping up with algorithms on social platforms. If video content is doing the best, your social media manager should be encouraging videos. If other businesses in your industry are active on Youtube, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc. then you should be too. Your social media manager should be keeping your business in the loop so you don’t miss out on opportunities to be seen and heard.

Research

Research

This may be overlooked by some social media mangers, and definitely shouldn’t be. Research should be done on your business, on the things you offer, and the people you are selling to or targeting. This is actually an important part of their job as well, if they don’t know what you offer and the people you are targeting, how will they be able to cater your content or ads to the exact people that want and need to see your business.

Social media managers are extremely important and helpful for your business. As social media is growing… and definitely not going away anytime soon, you will want your businesses social media presence to be made known. Your social media manager should be posting content that is relevant to your industry, they should be doing their homework on your business so they are sending out content that is appropriate to your industry. When done correctly, social media managers can help increase brand awareness, sales, grow digital presence, generate new leads, retain existing customers, along with so much more.

ProductivitySelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Habits to keep you organized at work

A tidy work place not only looks good but actually helps you stay focused and productive. We’ve all spent time looking for things that get lost in the mess, so keeping a tidy desk will help reduce clutter which in turn reduces stress. Did you know that a clean desk actually saves you time, spurs on creativity and communicates professionalism. That’s right, it might actually have more of a benefit than just looking neat. These are some ways I like to stay tidy in the workplace.

What I organize constantly:

My deskDesk

I have a specific place for my bags when I come into the office at the beginning of the day. I keep one water bottle or glass of water on my desk, during the day, there’s no need for more than that really (unless I’m drinking coffee, then you can find my coffee cup as well.) I keep only one pen, and one highlighter along with my daily planner on my desk. Anything that comes out of my desk goes back right after I’m finished with it. My biggest tip is to clean off your desk at the end of the day so you have a fresh start the next morning. Keeping only the things you need on your desk eliminates unnecessary clutter.

 

 

My daily planner

I like my day to be planned out in front of me on paper. Once a task is completed I check it off or highlight it. This helps me balance my work load throughout the day. At the end of the week I make a plan for the next week (so I don’t forget tasks over the weekend) and when I come in on Monday I eliminate the ‘Monday fog’ and have my day already planned for myself. I update my planner frequently during the week and balance out my work load if any new tasks arise.

My Computercomputer

Instead of keeping all tabs and programs open, I like to filter through the things I am absolutely finished with, save and close them. If I have a few things on the go I simply minimize the programs until I am actually working on them. This way I don’t tempt myself to jump back and forth between projects. But can focus on one thing at a time and close projects when they are completed. I go through my emails/voicemails (like most people) at the beginning of the day and throughout the day I reply to the ones that require my attention as well as delete any junk mail that may come through.

 

What I organize occasionally:

Files

My whiteboard

I have a whiteboard on the wall by my desk and this is where I jot down things that I need to look at daily. I don’t update this as often as some things are analytics, strategies and reminders. I do however make sure that when I jot down things on my whiteboard, since they will be there for a while, that I keep it looking neat and legible.

Computer Files

This is something I will admit that I need to be more organized with. I have a tendency to save documents or pictures in the ‘all files’ or ‘all pictures’ category. I do however still go through and move files and pictures into their correct places. Just like your paper documents this keeps the clutter out of your computer files.

Desk Drawers

Desk drawers are sometimes a dangerous place! If you want something off your desk it gets thrown into a drawer as fast as possible, out of sight out of mind right! Cleaning out your drawers may be more rewarding than you think! You may find your favorite pen that you were sure was lost to the darkness behind your desk. I’m curious what the craziest thing was that you found in your desk drawer you didn’t even know was there!

Organization bonus:

Since I am the social media specialist at the office, I definitely organize my social media accounts. Going through your social media and cleaning up old tweets, Facebook posts or Instagram photos is a great habit to get into. Keeps your accounts looking fresh and professional. Once a year I go through the accounts that I follow, and I unfollow accounts that no longer serve purpose to me, are spam, or accounts that hinder my mental well being.

 

Share some things you like to do to keep organized or if you have some tips for me leave a comment below!

BloggingSelf-ImprovementUncategorized

Gratitude

As humans we seek happiness everywhere we go. In the people we are with, the things we buy, the jobs we work at, the music we listen to and so on. But do these things make you the happiest you can be? When you are away from the people who make you happy, can you still be happy? When you retire from the job you LOVED, can you still find happiness? And if the radio doesn’t play the perfect song on your commute, can your day still be just as happy? The simple answer is yes. In fact the answer is gratitude. This goes with you no matter the people you are with, the job you work at, or the weather that day.
grat·i·tude
/ˈɡradəˌt(y)o͞od/
noun
the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
As Marc explains it; ‘Happiness is an inner feeling, focusing on yourself, whereas gratitude is an outer quality, focusing on others.’
gratitude
Gratitude creates happiness, but with better outcomes. Happiness may lift your mood, or improve your day, although gratitude improves your life. With Thanksgiving this weekend, it’s a great time to start practicing gratitude daily. Five minutes a day may not seem like it’s doing all that much, but over the span of a few months you will definitely start to notice the benefits.
Being grateful actually encourages patience, humility, and wisdom!
Say someone cuts you off in traffic, you can choose to be angry or you can be grateful you weren’t harmed and arrived at your destination safely. At times it may be more difficult to show gratitude, but this is when I feel it makes the biggest impact. When something doesn’t go our way, most of the time we let it affect us negatively and this has a ripple affect. Stop a bad day in it’s tracks and instead think of all the good things that have happened to you already, this will ripple out into other areas of your day and make a way better impact!

My Challenge To You

So my challenge to you is to start showing more gratitude in your everyday life! Start with the people who are close to you. Do something thoughtful for them, like offer to help clean up after the Thanksgiving meal! Give them a compliment on something you appreciate or admire about them. Don’t stop there, do something for people you interact daily with, like give a generous tip when you pick up your coffee, or bring flowers to a co worker and leave a note telling them they are appreciated and doing a good job. And definitely show gratitude to the people who challenge you. This might be listening to what they have to say without telling them they are wrong. Maybe you can use it as a lesson to practice patience, courage and compassion.

Gratitude Journal
A great way to practice gratitude is to keep a journal, write down the the things you are grateful for. Try it in the morning to set the mood for the rest of your day. According to Greater Good Magazine, it may be more beneficial for you to journal occasionally rather than everyday.
“One study by Lyubomirsky and her colleagues found that people who wrote in their gratitude journals once a week for six weeks reported boosts in happiness afterward; people who wrote three times per week didn’t. “We adapt to positive events quickly, especially if we constantly focus on them,” says Emmons. “It seems counterintuitive, but it is how the mind works.”
In conclusion, I think we all need a little more gratitude in our lives, and the best way to achieve it, it to be the one who practices it! It’s a ripple affect, showing gratitude and kindness to others will encourage them to do the same. You may not see it directly or right away, but your actions make a difference!

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” —Zig Ziglar

BloggingEducationMarketingMobile AppsSocial MediaUncategorized

Social media for your business

Most have a good understanding about what common social media platforms offer. Some think the more the better (target as many people on all corners of social media and you’ll reach more potential customers), but with social media this isn’t necessarily the case. The best way to approach social media is to find channels that are the most beneficial to your businesses unique needs. Each platform attracts different age, gender and even industry demographics. Depending on your target audience you want to be present on the platforms your audience is using most often.

Facebook: facebook

This is the best platform to start on for any business, it has the widest range of age demographics, and currently has 2.38 billion active monthly users. This is a great platform to make connections and build community. You can easily share important aspects of your business, and find potential customers. On this platform you want to post videos and curated content. Although if your business is targeting a younger audience, ages 13-17 this age group spends less time on Facebook than 18 and up.

 

Instagram:Instagram

Instagram has quickly become a massive platform, with 1 billion active monthly users. This platform is great for product based businesses, as it is highly visual and just recently released the shopping feature making it even easier for customers to buy your products. Instagram is focused on creativity and building community. If your target demographic is under 35 this is a platform you cannot skip. 63% of users are between the ages of 18 to 34, and to make it even better its virtually an even split between male and female users. On this platform you want to post good quality aesthetically pleasing images and stories, use this platform to become more personal with your customers.

 

Twitter:Twitter

Twitter is the go-to platform for being updated on the latest news and trends, it is fairly fast paced so posting often is key. This is another great platform for sharing interesting information, or contributing to a conversation about your industry. Studies show that tweeting content with visuals does significantly better than without, although other studies show posting your traditional “one liner” tweet is just as good (we’ll leave it up to you to decide for your business on this one.) This platform also tends to have a younger audience 38% user are 18-29. But with that said, still a high number of users age 30-49 are active on Twitter making up for 26% of adult users. Both male and females are active on Twitter so if your business targets one or the other, or both this is a great platform to gain exposure on.

 

LinkedIn:LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the best platforms for professionals. This channel is best used for business-to-business brands aiming to make interactions with the decision makers of a business. Gender demographics are well balanced here as neither male or females are more active on this platform. Businesses are looking for certain industries or job titles rather than ages or genders. This is a great place to post job openings, update other business owners and professionals on company changes and share professional content. 34% of users between the ages of 18 to 29 and 33% of users between the ages of 30 to 49 are active on LinkedIn.

 

Pinterest:Pinterest

Pinterest is a platform that is often overlooked as it used to be a community of home makers sharing recipes and DIY projects. While this is still true, the user base is more female dominant on this platform, 50% of new accounts are being made by males. Pinterest should be seen as a search engine more than a social media platform as 2 billion searches are made every month. It’s a great site to direct traffic to your website and gain exposure for blog post, and products. The content on this platform is highly product based, as users on Pinterest are usually searching for a product.

 

There are so many more platforms you can choose to be active on but these are the biggest ones you want to focus on as they are highly popular. Social media is a great way to reach more people and build rapport with customers. It’s a way to show off your aspects of your business that may otherwise be looked over.

Tip: remember to be social on the accounts you have, respond/leave comments,  and share things you find interesting. Whatever your company culture may be let your content also express this same energy to your viewers. Your account can be whatever you want it to be, not just what everyone else in your industry is doing!

Uncategorized

Search Engine Optimization is hard.  Balancing optimizing your results right now with preparing for changes to the Google algorithm, you sometimes start to wonder how other people do it; how they keep pace in an ever-shifting world.  I know that I do.  That’s why it’s always good to seek advice from other professionals in the industry to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  And while you can’t always personally ask every Search Engine Optimizer for their advice summed up into one quick sentence, that’s where the power of the internet comes in!  Here are 7 great quotes, six of which are from people with lots of real world SEO experience and one is from Douglas Adams because let’s be honest, who doesn’t love Douglas Adams?

1. “Good SEO work only gets better over time. It’s only search engine tricks that need to keep changing when the ranking algorithms change.” – Jill Whalen

2. “The objective is not to “make your links appear natural”; the objective is that your links are natural.” – Matt Cutts

3. “Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.” – Wendy Piersall

4. “You wouldn’t buy pills from someone who sends you a spam email so why would you do that with your SEO?” – Kelly J. Rose

5. “It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than by doubling your traffic.” – Jeff Eisenberg

6. SEO is a marketing function for sure, but it needs to be baked into a product, not slapped on like icing after the cake is baked.” — Duane Forrester

7. “A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.” – Douglas Adams

Hopefully these quotes can help you achieve SEO Success, or at the very least help you know what SEO Success actually looks like.

CommunicationEducationUncategorized

I love riddles.  Give me a book of riddles and my productivity tanks as I spend the rest of the day thinking about them.  I love old riddles, new riddles, and I especially love creating riddles.  My wife and I will try to stump each other with riddles for hours and we even created our own riddle game where one of us thinks of a punchline for a joke and the other person has to create the setup.  (It’s great for long road trips.)  But why do we riddle?  What purpose do riddles serve?

Riddles Unite Us

Sumerian Mosaic

Riddles serve to pull us together.  Throughout human history, riddles have been a part of life.  All cultures have them and many riddles have been shared across cultures and languages.  The riddle of the sphinx comes from Greece originally but versions can also be found from Estonia and even on the Marshall Islands.  This connection with people across cultural and linguistic divides helps us to understand them and to see how similar they are to us.  it transforms them in our minds from the Other to the Same.  Riddles even bridge the gap of time.  As long as there as been English there has been people telling riddles in English.  But going back to the dawn of written language we even have riddles from the ancient Sumerians.  Here’s an example:

A house based on a foundation like the skies
A house one has covered with a veil like a secret box
A house set on a base like a goose
One enters it blind,
Leaves it seeing.

The answer?  A school.

So in a sense, we ask riddles because we always have.  Asking and answering riddles is a part of the human experience.  It unites us across cultures and eras and helps connect us to them.  We can now say that the Sumerians valued education just as much as we do.  All from one short little riddle!  That still doesn’t really answer the question though.  The unity riddles give us is a powerful effect of riddles, but it is only one effect. It is not the purpose behind them.  What is that purpose?

Why Tell Riddles?

Oedipus and the Spinx
Um… Uh… A really weird cow?

Ultimately, riddles teach us.  They teach us essential problem-solving skills when we’re young and they help us enhance those skills when we’re older.  Sometimes riddles teach you that the answer was hidden in plain sight.  Which word in the dictionary is spelled incorrectly?  ‘Incorrectly.’  These sorts of riddles rely on double meaning.  What can travel around the world while staying in a corner?  A stamp.  Some riddles rely on clever metaphors.  The riddle of the sphinx is a classic example.  What walks on four legs in the morning, two at mid-day, and three in the evening?  A person.  No matter what trick the riddle uses, when you’re told a riddle you know it’s a trick.  You know the answer is hiding right behind it waiting to be discovered.

There’s an even greater challenge in creating a riddle.  A good riddle is solvable but not too solvable.  If there isn’t an answer, then it’s not really a riddle.  If it’s too easy to find the answer, the thrill of the chase is gone.  When you create a riddle, you have to solve it yourself without any clues.  You need to figure out what the twist is going to be and then build the riddle around that.  And once you know the answer to your riddle.  You just have to figure out the question.  So both solving and asking riddles requires creativity and helps us train our brains to think laterally.

Riddles in Life

The lateral thinking that riddles give us is essential to success in the modern world.  Unexpected problems crop up all the time and they usually require unexpected solutions.  If you’ve trained your brain to be prepared to think laterally, to step outside of the box and wrestle with your problems, you’ll be better equipped to solve them.  Whether it’s figuring out what’s wrong with the code in your program, discovering a way to stay under budget in your department, or even finding the best angle to chop down a tree, lateral thinking and problem-solving skills are essential for success in life and enable us to take charge in our lives and deal with our problems head on.

A very real example comes to us from the 19th century.  Until less than two hundred years ago it was a point of professional pride for doctors to never wash their aprons since they showed how experienced they were.  To make matters worse, they’d only wash their hands at the end of the day since they knew they’d just get them dirty again.  The high infection rates in hospitals were attributed to stale air but the real source of the problem was completely unknown even though it was right in front of them.  Along came Dr. Joseph Lister.  He was able to step outside the box of accepted medical practice and so he realized that the lack of hygiene was the real culprit.  He was gradually able to convince others and the changes he made to the medical industry saved countless lives and he is now called the father of modern surgery.  If he wasn’t able to think laterally, how many more people would have died from easily preventable causes?  While the situations we’ll be faced with in our daily lives generally won’t be that dire, lateral thinking is still just as necessary for us now as it was then.  Without keeping our brains sharp we won’t even know what problems we’re missing, let alone how to solve them.

The Bayeux Tapestry

As a final thought, I’ll leave you with this Anglo-Saxon riddle from the book of Exeter.

I am an eminent thing, known to nobles,
and I often abide, notorious among the people,
both mighty and poor, traveling widely,

standing a stranger at first 
to my friends, a plundering hope—
if I must keep hold onto the profits 
or a brilliant good in the cities.

Now wiser men love me the most,
my companionability. I must reveal wisdom
to the multitudes. They never speak there,
any of them across the earth—

Although the children of humanity,
of the land-dwellers, pour over
my tracks, I conceal
my footsteps from every man
at times.

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.