Evoking emotion and influencing action through clear, clever content

Author: trisharichards (Page 1 of 3)

Thinking Creatively to Cultivate Career Accomplishments

Creative thinking helps us uncover new and innovative ways to look at situations.

“Our careers are no exception,” explains Michelle Warren, a creator and facilitator of interactive communication, leadership and innovation workshops. “By looking at things through a different lens, which creative thinking fosters, we are able to find new avenues to pursue, which benefits us and our employers.”

Although folks with careers outside of creative industries may feel like their jobs don’t allow for much creative expression, Michelle insists that there are some simple ways to tap into our imaginations to facilitate innovative solutions to all types workplace challenges.

Here are just a few:

  • Set aside some time, perhaps even 15 minutes a day to consider alternatives. “Once you start the habit, keep at it,” she says. “Be patient with yourself, especially if this is a foreign concept, and see what happens.”
  • Try free writing. “It’s an excellent way to tap into different mental reserves,” she shares. “Take a pen and paper and write what is on your mind, or try brainstorming alone or with others, in a non-judgmental, free-form manner.”
  • Be curious about everything. “Curiosity will help expand thought patterns and foster creative thinking,” she says.
  • Avoid feelings of judgment and frustration. “Keep your emotions in check,” she warns.
  • Don’t evaluate your output immediately. “Give yourself space and time to explore options,” she advises.

Brain Training

“Think of creativity as being a muscle – the more you practice using it, the stronger your creative mindset will become,” Michelle encourages. “Just as we become physically fit with practice, dedication, and hard work, so we will become more creative with regular brain training.”

Michelle reminds us that not every creative idea will be worth investigating, but with time, we should find one for consideration, and leaves us with this final thought: “Encourage creative thinking in others – in your team, with your colleagues,” she advises. “Creativity breeds innovation, and that is what we all need to foster in today’s workplace.”

~Write-or-die girl

Inspire & Influence with Business Storytelling

Stories are sticky and remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone, according to cognitive psychologists. It should come as no surprise that smart professionals use business storytelling to drive change in their organizations.

Ron Tsang, author of the Amazon best-selling book From Presentation to Standing Ovation, urges leaders from all walks of life to take advantage of the power of storytelling to improve their job performance and further their careers.

“Decision makers may first decide with their emotions, and then rationalize with logic,” he explains. “As a result, data alone may not be enough for you to get buy-in from key stakeholders.”

Storytelling Methodology

Effective storytelling can help professionals quickly share their vision, inspire bold action, and even build trust, Ron explains, but there is a formula to crafting effective narratives.

“A GPS helps you reach your destination more quickly,” Ron shares. “My storytelling methodology allows you to craft your stories more quickly.”

Here are the five most common business stories:

  1. Origin Story
  2. Product or Service Story
  3. Customer or Stakeholder Story
  4. Brand Story
  5. Inspirational Story

“Full stories, or journeys, include a clear beginning, middle, and end,” Ron says. “On the other hand, anecdotes could simply be a slice of life, without any formal narrative structure.”

An effective anecdote may include these six Cs:

  1. Context
  2. Characters
  3. Characteristics
  4. Catalyst
  5. Conflict
  6. Connection

To describe a complete journey, ensure that it includes these 10 Cs:

  1. Context
  2. Characters
  3. Characteristics
  4. Conversations
  5. Catalyst
  6. Conflict
  7. Complications
  8. Climax
  9. Conclusion
  10. Connection

Storytelling Efficiency  

Professionals may wonder if they have time to tell a complete story, especially during a status update or brief presentation. The answer is “yes,” according to Ron.

“Stories usually involve a transformation which can be quickly described as before and after,” he explains. “Even a short before and after narrative can show your audience a new perspective or provide a new possibility.”

However, Ron warns that stories may be less effective if they are missing one or more Cs from his storytelling methodology. “For example, business stories must connect to a relevant message or a key takeaway for your audience,” he says. “Otherwise, your stakeholders will wonder: what was the point?”

Ron likes to quote this Indian proverb that clearly illustrates the benefits of effective storytelling: “Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”

~Write-or-die girl

7D Wellness

The key to being healthy in the holistic sense is realizing that your physical body is just one fraction of seven dimensions that comprise your whole being. Discover how to nurture each interconnected area of wellness and maintain balance among them for the betterment of your entire self.

Emotional Wellness is our willingness to be aware and accept a wide range of feelings in ourselves and others. We can properly care for our emotional health in a number of ways, including gaining perspective in tough situations. In most cases, the challenges we are faced with are not ‘life-or-death’ circumstances. Once we realize that, coping in those situations should become much less stressful.

Environmental Wellness is our willingness to actively participate in and contribute to efforts to protect and renew the environment. The best way to maintain wellness in this area is simply to find ways to connect with nature on a daily basis, which gives us a break from the hustle of everyday life and helps us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves.

Intellectual Wellness is our willingness to engage in self-directed behaviours like the pursuit of continuous learning, self development and creative hobbies. Ways to keep our intellectual selves stimulated include attending sporting events, movies and live concerts.

Occupational Wellness is the personal satisfaction and enrichment we experience from our jobs. A high level of work engagement has been linked to positive emotions and higher job performance. We can increase our work engagement by focusing on the things we like about our careers, rather than concentrating on the negative.

Physical Wellness is our willingness to pursue an active lifestyle and treat our bodies with care. Frequent exercise, ample rest, healthy eating habits and regular doctor visits all help to improve the quality of our lives.

Social Wellness is our willingness to actively participate in and contribute to the common welfare of our communities. Research indicates that people who have more meaningful social relationships are healthier, happier, and even live longer, so eat dinner with your family more often, hang out with your friends frequently and volunteer some of your free time now and then.

Spiritual Wellness is our willingness to seek meaning and purpose in human existence, to question everything, and to appreciate the things which cannot be readily explained or understood. Ignite your spirituality by implementing deep, slow breathing or meditating for as little as five minutes per day (free meditation guidance apps and online videos are easy to find).

If one of these dimensions is out of whack, it can easily throw one of the other six areas off balance. Be vigilant in your commitment to fostering your 7D wellness and, chances are, your odds of living a long, happy life will multiply.

Article sources: Wellness definitions courtesy of the University of Guelph Wellness Education Centre; tips for maintaining health in the seven dimensions of wellness courtesy of Alive magazine

~Write-or-die girl

Transitionistas Unite to Support Each Other Through Change

If you didn’t attend the most recent Avanti Women gathering, Women in Transition, you missed out on one heck of an empowering, knowledge-packed evening.

Chill, though: I rounded up my key takeaways for women going through transitional career periods—hence the term ‘transitionista’—from each leading lady to share with you, my enterprising readers.

Siobhan Brown, the keynote speaker, hosted a lively presentation entitled ‘Myths and Monkeys of Tough Transition’. She reminded the ladies that they can’t expect their transitions to happen overnight. “When you look at somebody else’s life and think, ‘I want to be where they are’, know that there were probably many sacrifices that had to be made to get to where they are,” she explained. “Oftentimes, they’ve been working towards their goals for 10, 15, or 20+ years, while you’re just starting off from ground zero and comparing yourself to them—that’s not a fair comparison.”

Alosha Paranavithana gave advice to help young adults transition smoothly into the workforce in her Goddess Lean-In Circle, ‘Backpack to Briefcase’. Her key piece of advice for our women’s group centred on setting goals, yet being flexible with the prospects.”Do you know what you want? That’s a big question,” she said to the crowd. “You need to know the answers to those sorts of questions but not have the expectation that things will go exactly the way you planned them because there will be obstacles and challenges down the road.”

In the Goddess Lean-In Circle ‘Immigrant Story to Success’, Maha ElHindawy shared her experiences and insights on selling international work experience to the Canadian job market. “Study when you get to Canada, and I don’t mean necessarily going back to school—study the society, study the community and scan the field that you’re getting into,” she advised. “Be resilient because you will get a ton of ‘nos’ before you get a ‘yes’.”

Lisa Mitchell talked our women’s group through the experience of moving through fear and uncertainty to pursue their true professional passions in her talk,’Discover Career Possibilities’. She told her Lean-In Circle attendees to stay focused on the potential positive outcomes of their career transition, rather than psyching themselves out by the possibility of failure. “When we’re considering a transition, we’re wired to start our thought process with, ‘what if it’s just a disaster?'” she said. “Flip it! Start by asking yourself, ‘what if it all works out?'”

In Lissette Edward Copperi’s Goddess Circle on ‘Branding’, she stressed the importance of being mindful of what you publish on social media. “Every single posting you make really shapes people’s perceptions of you, one way or the other,” she warned. “And now more than ever, it is common practice for employers to check out candidates on social media first to weed out the people who are not a good fit.”

Kate Hodgson taught women how to shape their professional stories in a way that engages potential clients and future employers in her ‘Storytelling’ Lean-In. “When you’re telling your story in a professional sense, the end should always demonstrate the lessons that you learned,” she shared. “How do you reflect back on your experience? What are the things you don’t do any more?” she posed to the group. “What lessons came out of the entire experience that you now absorb as a part of who you are and can offer to somebody else.”

In the Goddess Lean-In Circle, ‘Advancing your career’, Teresa Gabriele spoke to our women’s group about the importance of knowing themselves thoroughly and using that information to enhance their job searches. She stressed the importance of being authentic and consistent in way you present yourself. “Make sure any employer that’s going to be creeping on you—and I’m sure they will—is going to see the same story that you’re selling on your resume, in your interview, or at an informal meeting at a coffee shop,” she advised. “It’s amazing how many people you will meet just randomly that will check your LinkedIn profile, so have the right communication theme about who you are and what you bring to the table.”

Your Turn to Share

Did you find these transitionista tips useful? If so, be sure to leave a comment below and share socially with your friends and colleagues!

***

This post originally appeared on the  Avanti Women blog. Avanti Women empowers women to develop themselves professionally and personally so they can move forward in their careers and lives. As a volunteer on the communications committee, I contribute content of relevance to the membership monthly.

~Write-or-die girl

 

The Avanti Woman’s Guide to Dating in the Digital Age

Laura Bilotta

With all the digital resources available to help us meet smart, funny, cute and compatible mates, many women find themselves feeling disconnected in today’s hyper-connected society.

Laura Bilotta, founder of Single in the City and one of the GTA’s top matchmakers and dating coaches, attributes this lack of love luster to what she calls the “paradox of choice.”

Why should I limit myself to dating one man when I can date 10? Why settle for the first man who I connect with when I have access to so many?

So What Gives?  

“We’re bombarded by dating apps, online dating sites and social media,” she says. “When we have so much choice, we’re almost reluctant to make a choice because we’re afraid to make the wrong choice.”

The dating game can also be downright dubious. “There are plenty of people on dating sites that are just out there to waste your time,” Bilotta explains. “They’re bored at home on a Friday night, and they want to see how many people they can talk to and what kinds of reactions they get.”

Oftentimes, though, we’re too weary from bad past experiences or unaware of the impressions we’re making that we sabotage ourselves. For example, Bilotta recently helped a young lady understand why her online dating profile wasn’t generating more interest from the opposite sex.

“First of all, she led with the tagline, ‘No games. No bullsh*t.’, and her entire bio read like, ‘This is what I want, and this is what I don’t want,” Bilotta recalls. “Most guys who read that will think, ‘Whoa, this girl’s jaded. Too much drama—I’m outta here.’”

Learning to Spot the Spotty Profiles

With 15 years of industry experience, Bilotta has helped 1000s of people overcome their dating shortcomings. This Valentine’s Day, Avanti Women shares Bilotta’s top tips on navigating the murky waters of the web dating pool.

  • Don’t wait to be approached online. “A lot of women still have that old school mentality about waiting for men to make the first move,” she says, “but great guys don’t stay single for long, especially as you get older.”
  • When sending your introductory message, mention something you read in his profile. “So often, people send messages that are empty, like simply ‘Hi’,” she explains. “Remarking on information that is shared helps to break the ice and is more conversational.”
  • Avoid people with incomplete bios. “Partial bios usually indicate that a person is not serious about meeting someone,” she says. “They may also be new to online dating or just testing the waters, in which case it’s best to let them test the waters elsewhere.”
  • Don’t choose someone based on a picture. “Some people just don’t photograph well,” she shares. “I’ve met several people throughout my career that may not have had the best profile pictures but looked great in person.”
  • Stay away from profiles with only one or no photo.  “And if they refuse to send you any photos, chances are they might be a scammer or not who they say they are,” she advises.
  • Avoid anyone who brings up sex right away. “It’s clear that’s what they’re looking for,” she warns.
  • Limit your messages to two or three before suggesting to meet. “You’re just wasting your time sending messages back and forth for weeks,” she says. “Get on it, if you’re serious about meeting someone.”
  • Move on from someone who refuses to meet in a timely fashion, keeps cancelling plans, or doesn’t keep his word—for example, “he says he’ll call or text you but doesn’t,” she illustrates. “Don’t waste time with people who are just wasting your time.”

Courting Counsel

“If you understand the red flags, online dating won’t be as exhausting,” Bilotta reassures.

Stay in the know on the evolution of dating, sex, love, relationships and everything in between by tuning in to Bilotta’s Dating & Relationship Radio Show on Sundays at 9 p.m. on AM640 and checking out her book, Single in the City: From Hookups to Heartbreaks to Love & Lifemates, Tales & Tips to Attract Your Perfect Match.

This post originally appeared in the February 14 Avanti Women blog. Avanti Women empowers women to develop themselves professionally and personally so they can move forward in their careers and lives. As a volunteer on the communications committee, I contribute content of relevance to the membership monthly.

Happy Valentine’s Day! 😉

~Write-or-die girl

 

Discover a Colourful History

Daniel Rotsztain

Toronto’s vibrant history is characterized by its historic buildings. As part of the City’s TO Canada with Love celebrations, Toronto’s iconic historic sites have been captured in the pages of a beautifully rendered colouring book.

The initiative was inspired by artist and cartographer Daniel Rotsztain, a self-proclaimed “urban nerd” but fondly known by the public as The Urban Geographer.

Rotsztain previously drew all 100 branches of the Toronto Public Library in a colouring book project he describes as a “love letter to the library system.”

Although his library sketches began as a personal project three years ago, they proved so popular that fans pushed him to produce a trendy adult colouring book. Drawing Toronto’s historic sites seemed like a natural next step.

“I have always been interested in historical spaces; they may be old, but they’re very much alive,” he explains.

Rotsztain’s mission was no small feat. From July to early September of last year, he biked across the city and sketched all 95 buildings that comprise Toronto’s historic sites.

“I was intent on cycling to each site so I could explore the lesser-known boroughs that make up our picturesque city.”

Rotsztain also hopes to teach Torontonians with his colouring book.

“As I conducted research on the project, it was very important to me to delve deeper into the sites’ histories and tell the diverse stories associated with the site, not just the ones about the men whose names are in the history books and enshrined on street signs and park benches,” he explained.

Visit the gift shops of the Toronto History Museums to pick up your
copy of A Colourful History Toronto, a fabulous Christmas gift for the cultured and creative individuals on your Christmas shopping list.

This article originally appeared in the City of Toronto’s fall/winter 2017 edition of Toronto History Museums magazine.

How one family caregiver used grief to reinvent self & help society

In her mid 40s, Mary Bart became the primary caregiver for her mother, with Alzheimer’s, and father, with cancer. For 10 years, often seven days a week, Mary drove 40 minutes south to her parents’ home where she did “all the things that daughters do,” she explained.

A day in the life of Mary included taking her folks to medical appointments, cleaning the house, doing laundry, keeping the home stocked and meds on track, and generally ensuring her mom and dad were as clean, healthy, safe and comfortable as she could.

“Sometimes I’d take a day off, usually a Sunday,” she said. “And when I did, my dad would be very upset, and all kinds of guilt would be thrown my way.”

Needless to say, maintaining full-time employment while fulfilling her caregiving obligations was not an option for Mary. She left her corporate gig in the technology field to focus on caring for her parents.

A woman’s job

Caregiving has been described as one of the world’s most challenging jobs. Yet, many are thrown into it with little warning and no training, on top of demanding 9-to-5s.

Women bear the brunt of this burden, as two-thirds of all caregivers are female, many of whom feel that they sometimes have to choose between being a good employee and being a good daughter.

It is estimated that, every year, Canada loses the equivalent of nearly 558,000 full-time employees from the workforce due to the inability to manage the conflicting demands of paid work and care.

Mary’s alternative

Many days, Mary felt honoured to care for her parents, as they once had for her. But other days, she nearly went out of her mind. She also dealt with a common caregiver issue: guilt.

“Early into my caregiving journey, I freed myself from any guilt,” she explained. “Today, I miss them dearly, but I have no guilt; I can clearly separate grief from guilt, two very different things. I did the best I could, based on my energy and resources.”

About a year before her mother passed, Mary knew her mom’s path would soon end. In her 50s, and out of the workforce for a decade, she decided to reinvent herself to find ways to add purpose to her life.

“I had no desire to go back to the corporate world,” she said. “I thought, ‘there must be other caregivers out there who are experiencing what I have.’”

Caregiving Matters

Like any purposeful pioneer, Mary identified a need in the current market and sought to fill it with her expertise. In 2008, coupling her 18-year professional technology background with a recent decade of personal, hands-on caregiving experience, she founded Caregiving Matters, an internet-based registered Canadian charity offering education and support to family caregivers.

Ninety per cent of the charity’s efforts are driven through its website, which features full-length articles on relevant topics, blog posts, video workshops, podcasts with industry experts, and more.

“We leverage technology in everything we do to ensure a greater reach and sustainability,” Mary explained. “Users from more than 64 countries visit our site.”

The other 10 per cent of the charity’s resources are focused on live educational events in the GTA and surrounding regions.

“We tend to deal with tougher topics and ones that don’t get a lot of attention, like financial and legal issues among families,” said Mary. “We are honoured to work with lawyers and accountants who volunteer their time to share their knowledge.”

Caregiving Credibility

Eleanor Silverberg, owner and director of Jade Self Development Coaching, has been a grief specialist helping family caregivers cope for nearly 20 years, 10 years as a social worker for the Alzheimer Society of York Region.

She, too, was the primary caregiver for her mother and father, while raising teenagers—a circumstance she refers to as being a part of the “sandwich generation.”

An author and a recurring guest speaker on Caregiving Matters podcasts, blogs, and at live events, Eleanor finds the Caregiving Matters platform beneficial to industry professionals, in addition to caregivers in need of assistance.

“I just referred a podcast to my support group last week because we were talking about financial and estate matters,” Eleanor explained.  “It’s great that there’s a resource where I can send people to get answers on issues like that.”

Care for the Caregivers

Canada’s aging population is growing and fuelling caregiving needs across the country. By 2030, seniors are projected to account for close to one in four people.

Mary’s long-term goal is to raise awareness about Caregiving Matters and build upon its pool of resources to meet the growing demand for family caregiving support.

As Mary explained, “it’s a grassroots effort based on love and giving back, and it reaches a lot of people at a challenging time in their lives when they really need it.”

If you or someone you know is providing primary support to a family member, spouse, or loved one, visit the website and join the social communities:

I am a volunteer for Caregiving Matters. If you’d like to get involved, view volunteer opportunities.

~Write-or-die girl

The Market Gallery: Where Toronto’s Art, History & Culture Intersect

Nestled on the second floor of St. Lawrence Market, overlooking bustling crowds of shoppers, is The Market Gallery. This multi-purpose space occupies what was once Toronto’s original 1845 council chamber. Part of a network of municipal museums, The Market Gallery is a treasure trove of artworks collected by the City since the late 19th century.

“We have records that go back that far, starting from about 1855,” explained Neil Brochu, supervisor of Collections and Outreach at The Market Gallery.

“When anyone requests artwork from us, either for publication in a catalogue, to display in a civic building or office, or to borrow for another exhibition, we can easily pull those files and usually provide quite a deep historical record related to each piece.”

The gallery debuted its collection of more than 2700 works in 1979 to demonstrate Toronto’s rich artistic history. A large portion of the collection is comprised of official portraits of mayors and public officials. Also featured are landscapes, streetscapes, and works that capture the spirit of the city.

“Our mandate has always focused on collecting works about Toronto,” said Brochu. “Most of the artists are from Toronto and, by and large, the vast majority of pieces depict historical figures or places which document the changes in our city over time.”

The top floor of the gallery is devoted to administration and storage, including a work room where the team frames and mats pieces for display, and a purpose-built vault which houses pieces too large or valuable to display in municipal buildings. Also onsite is The Market Kitchen, a special-programming venue.

Currently on display at The Market Gallery until late November is Maple Leaf Forever: Toronto’s Take on a National Symbol. It features classic sportswear and Toronto memorabilia, military objects, items crafted for British royalty, and much more. It is presented as part of the City of Toronto’s TO Canada with Love program, marking Canada 150, and is funded in part by the Province of Ontario.

For new exhibits, tours, and special events, check toronto.ca/marketgallery for updates.

This article originally appeared in the City of Toronto’s fall/winter 2017 edition of Toronto History Museums magazine.

Canada Cooks, Toronto Eats

Canada has a unique flavour that differentiates it from all other nations. In Toronto, this essence is best exemplified by the diverse cuisines and unique culinary experiences that have become synonymous with its culture.

As part of the TO Canada with Love program, marking Canada 150, the City of Toronto will host Canada Cooks, Toronto Eats, a participatory celebration of Canadian food culture.

All Canadians are invited to share their most appetizing recipes, interesting culinary and dining traditions, and unique feasting experiences on the City’s dedicated blog, torontoeats150.tumblr.com.

Participants can also submit their recipes in person at any of Toronto’s History Museums, before or after discovering some of the incredible stories and stunning artifacts that illustrate the city’s history.

In addition to having their recipes memorialized on the blog, some lucky participants will have their entries published in an electronic cookbook, making Canada Cooks, Toronto Eats the perfect opportunity to share and preserve those special family recipes for generations to come.

As the icing on the cake, the City of Toronto is offering all Canadians the opportunity to taste the country’s rich heritage food for free. On the weekend of November 4 and 5, drop by any participating museum site to enjoy samples of recipes from the blog, live cooking demonstrations, and presentations. Each site will feature a different theme inspired by the museum’s historical time period and surrounding communities.

Keep an eye on the Canada Cooks, Toronto Eats blog for recipe submissions, information about downloading the e-cookbook, and the November food-themed weekend event.

Until then, bon appetit!

A version of this article originally appeared in the City of Toronto’s fall/winter 2017 edition of Toronto History Museums magazine.

Squash Unforeseen Co-Owner Contentions with a Shareholders’ Agreement

Alex Koch

This week on Write-or-Die Girl, lawyer Alex Koch schools small business owners on preventing future shareholder squabbles by firming up company terms in writing.

All individuals starting a business set out with best intentions. However, most businesses go through both good and bad times, as circumstances change along the way.

When a company is owned by more than one person, preparing a shareholders’ agreement can help business owners ensure a smoother resolution to any issues and reduce the impact of these issues on their business.

The best time to set a road map for how to deal with disputes is at the earliest possible time — when the co-founders are on the same page.

How do I know if I need an agreement?

A shareholders’ agreement isn’t simply an issue to be considered by a company with co-founders. In certain circumstances, even solo business owners should consider having a shareholders’ agreement (or a shareholder’s declaration) prepared—for example, when a business owner is preparing for future expansions or is trying to provide clarity on what happens should the solopreneur pass on or become permanently disabled.

There is no legal requirement for any company to have a shareholders’ agreement; however, it is in the best interests of the shareholders, as well as the business itself, to have one in place.

Shareholders’ agreements typically cover the following areas:

  • Company decision-making
  • How disputes are to be handled
  • How additional individuals can become shareholders
  • How existing shareholders can exit the company and transfer their shares
  • How dividends are paid by the company
  • What happens when existing shareholders pass on, become permanently disabled, are bankrupt, or go through a divorce proceeding

The cost of preparing a shareholders’ agreement will be insignificant if it helps prevent or diminish a future dispute. There is no such thing as a “model” shareholders’ agreement, as these documents are flexible and allow shareholders to negotiate their rights and obligations.

Contact Insight Legal if you’d like to learn more about shareholders’ agreements and whether your company needs one.

Alex will be at the CNE’s Innovation Garage this weekend, August 18-20, ready to answer questions about the legal aspects of your small business. Drop by, and be sure to tell her Write-or-die girl sent you. 😉

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