Saturday, August 31, 2013

Girlfriend power

It is incredible just how much stuff you accumulate in 28 years.  Before we even put the house up for sale, I was clearing out; being brutal I thought.  But now surrounded by boxes, clearly not brutal enough.

 But before we totally dismantled the house, I wanted to have one last party with my girlfriends and this Tuesday we gathered together, reminiscing about parties of the past – like my “I’m not 50 party”    held the day before my 50th birthday when some of my older friends served up “advice from the crones.”    

Ten years later, I had a “I’m not 60” dinner party and then there’s the surprise party my daughter held for me after my cancer treatments.  There she had assorted photos posted to the walls, which
appeared to have been selected based on the criteria that only bad photos of me could apply.

Recently I was asked why I like spending time with girlfriends, and my response was because we have a good laugh, and we all know that laughter is good for you. 

But actually it is more than that,  we share the ups and downs in our lives with each other, often nodding in agreement having experienced the same thing or pitching in to help when needed.  Men would likely be shocked if they knew exactly what we do share with each other, but the power of intimacy and the opportunity to just be yourself, is very empowering.J

But on Tuesday, it was old and new friends coming together, some meeting each other for the first time, others already connected to one another. It struck me then that I am so lucky to have such bright, fun women in my life.

Although I’d become friends with them through different jobs, volunteer work or activities, and we covered a wide age-span, the women just clicked and we had lively discussions from food, travel, meditation, to the state of education in Canada and porn.   You name it, we had opinions on it.

The sad thing is, we don’t do this often enough.  We wait for a special occasion or in my case, a move, to come together and that’s too bad, because it is those relationships that carry you through the hard times, lightening the load and creating fun in your life.

So cheers ladies.  Let’s do this again.  Soon.  Maybe when I’ve unpacked all the boxes at the farm, we can celebrate my living full time in the country.  I am sure between us we can come up with an excuse to party.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting out of your comfort zone

Have you ever worked on a project that suddenly takes on a life of its own, expanding by the minute and becoming an entirely different being to the one you embarked on?

That’s what happened with our 5 Days to Feeling Fabulous.  It started back in April with just a few people gathering at The Clarity Centre as part of the Health Providers group within Company of Women. Fay Chapple, the CEO of Clarity, ever the gracious hostess, was talking to the women about getting the word out about what they do and using video as the medium.  

By the end of that meeting, we were putting together a Health Summit and over time, as the excitement and buzz grew, so did the group. 

Fast forward just five months and we have hosted our first Health Summit, with 30 experts and over 530 people who signed up to participate.   Incredible.  Who knew?

It just shows you how when you have a dream, you can make it a reality.  For many of the health providers this was, quite frankly, a real stretch.  Some didn’t have websites but were told they had to have one to participate, otherwise what was the point as people couldn’t reach or check them out.  Many had never done workshops before, let alone in front of a camera.

As the providers arrived to do the taping at Clarity, they were visibly nervous and yet when they were finished, you could see that a weight had been lifted and the process was not as painful as they first feared.  They realized they could do this and there was a sense of empowerment, and a bounce to their step as they left. 

However the real kudos has to go to Fay and Spenser Chapple. This tech-savvy duo set up the website and turned the videos into the summit. This took countless hours and their hard work in doing that for all of us has to be acknowledged. 

This week as the positive feedback flows in from people who have watched the webinars, I can see we have all grown so much through this project.  There’s a certain air of confidence emitting from the providers who lent their expertise to the program.  They’ve come a long way… in fact you could say it was Five Months to Feeling Fabulous.  How cool is that.

PS - You can still watch the webinars, just register at

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Working to your strengths

I always seem to be behind with the trends.  I find out about a great TV series in the re-runs, never catching on to a program when it is first aired.

And the same is true for the Strengths Test done through Marcus Buckingham and Gallop.  Several people had mentioned his name and book over the past few months, so much so, that I actually started to pay attention.

So when someone else I respect talked about the book and the approach to focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses, I actually did it.  I not only bought the book, Now Discover Your Strengths, but after much searching, managed to find where you could take the online test.

For those of you, who like me, had never heard of this test, it is based on a Gallup study of over two million people and the research has produced 34 dominant themes.  Through the StrengthsFinder Profile test on the Internet, you answer numerous questions ranking your answers based on those that most agree with you.  It takes approximately 35 minutes and you have a limited time to answer each question, which means you really have to give your gut reaction, not the answer you think you should be giving.

Within minutes of completing the test, you get your results – the five themes (strengths) that are most unique to you.  Now I am sure you are all waiting with bated breath to learn what mine are. Or maybe not.  But I will share them anyway as they seemed pretty relevant to me.

My top theme was communications, which as an author, blogger, speaker and one-time community developer, was good to know.  I am on the right path.  My next ones were Activator and Achiever – which means that I have the energy and drive to take an idea and make it happen.  Yup, sounds pretty accurate to me. 

Then there was Empathy which talked about helping people to connect to their feelings and each other, which is certainly what I try to do.  And the last was Maximizer which means that I strive for excellence not just average.

So all in all, I was pretty impressed with the outcome.  The book also gives you information and advice on how to handle people from the different themes, which makes sense because if you want people to succeed, how much better that you give them opportunities to play to their strengths.

If you haven’t already checked this out, and likely many of you have, you may want to learn what unique strengths you have.  You get the code for the test when you purchase one of the books by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Voting myself off the email island

I have spent the past three weeks unsubscribing from all the lists, email newsletters that seem to have found their way into my inbox.

It was when I came back from vacation and had over 2,000 emails awaiting my return, that I knew I had to do something.

It’s been a freeing and interesting project.  Half the emails I don’t even know the person, product or service, yet somehow, without my permission, they have snuck into my inbox. 

I find that annoying as I take great care with my own online marketing to ensure that my list is permission based.  Further, I am less likely to feel friendly towards that company because in a way, they have invaded my space, uninvited.

Then there are those where, yes , I did sign up for them.  In a weak moment I likely thought I would have the time to read the material, but truth is I haven’t. 

As the owner of a member-based organization, I am also on the lists of many of my members and for years I almost felt obliged to receive their stuff, but like the others that I don’t read – I have unsubscribed. Nothing personal ladies.

It is also interesting to see how easy it is to unsubscribe.  Usually you can just scroll down to the bottom, click and it is done.  Some may ask you why but on the whole I didn’t bother to respond. 

But there were those that had nothing to click on so you could get off the hook.  Not good practice.  Another irritant is when you have unsubscribed, to still keep receiving their darn emails.  That’s one of the reasons I like Constant Contact, they manage all that for you, so once someone opts out, they automatically are removed.

Now I didn’t get rid of everything – there are some emails I still like to read – like Seth Godin’s or Danielle Laporte’s Truthbombs – and part of their appeal is they tend to be short, pithy and have something worthwhile to say.

I’ve also continued to subscribe to my newspapers as they help inform me and I use their material on a regular basis to share with others.

But there are some lessons to all of us involved in online marketing:

1.            Get the permission of the person to add their name to your list.
2.            Send information that is useful and not just self-promotion
3.            Have your unsubscribe option easily available.
4.            Make sure when they have unsubscribed, that you do take them off your list