Evoking emotion and influencing action through clear, clever content

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. 😉

The Change Leadership Conference: Responding to Change Better & Faster

A diverse group industry leaders recently flocked to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to hear two of this planet’s most in-demand speakers on leadership and innovation—John C. Maxwell and Jeremy Gutsche—as well as some of Canada’s foremost change agents, discuss leading change successfully in today’s business environment.

“Without change, we remain stagnant, expose our organizations to financial losses, and lose our relevance in the marketplace,” explained the event’s host Yvonne Ruke Akpoveta, CEO at OliveBlue Incorporated, which presented The Change Leadership series.

“Change is dynamic and unending, and now it’s happening at such a fast pace.”

Key learnings

Seven speakers and panellists took to the stage to share their experiences and insights on change leadership. Here is a roundup of some of the most impactful thoughts that were presented.

“Your company culture has to demonstrate that you earn leadership because you’re the best, not because you’ve been there the longest; if your culture protects that kind of environment, nothing is going to change.”

~John C. Maxwell, global leadership expert, speaker, author

“Forty-four per cent of Canadian companies said they had courage, but only 11 per cent of companies in Canada actually had courage (statistics cited from Deloitte’s 2016 report The Future Belongs to the Bold)… They need for us to step up as leaders.”

~Paul Alofs, president and CEO, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation

“I think diversity is one of the most important issues in terms of innovation and creative thinking. There’s an old saying that, if you and I think alike, then one of us is redundant.”

~Jeremy Gutsche, disruptive innovation expert, speaker, author

“There are things like agile fatigue. Some people thrive on being agile, and others hit the wall. As leaders, we have to be aware of that, and figure out what we have to do to get those employees ready.”

~Gail A. Serverini, divisional vice president, Change Management, Holt Renfrew

“Relevance is not just about having a customer focus but also an employee and community focus…  At RBC, we have a very healthy paranoia about being and staying relevant.”

~Laura Fisher, vice president, Human Resources Shared Services, RBC

Intrapreneurship applies the same tenets of entrepreneurship: ask why, and mobilize people around a vision.”

~Dr. Steven Murphy, dean, Ted Rogers School of Management

“We rally employees behind the vision of us being a tech company that offers banking services.”

~Helen Wang, vice president, IT Lean Program, Scotiabank

Go forth and lead change

Despite the fancy titles of some of the presenters, the most important message conveyed at the event was probably that a person needn’t be a vice president, CEO, or business owner to lead.

“Anyone can learn to lead,” Maxwell told the audience.  My favourite quote is ‘one man with courage is a majority.’”

This post originally appeared in the August 1 Avanti Women blog and e-newsletter. Avanti Women empowers women to develop themselves professionally and personally so they can move forward in their careers. As a volunteer on the communications committee, I contribute content of relevance to the membership monthly.

~Write-or-die girl

Working your website hacks

Opal Gamble

Are you fascinated by HTML? Would you like to deepen your understanding of website coding?

Me neither. I just want my website to generate some business every now and then, and not crash in the process.

I met Opal Gamble, website whiz and all-around-amazing human being, last year when I started volunteering for Caregiving Matters, an online charity. She developed and maintains the charity’s comprehensive website, and subsequently walked me through the site’s back-end interface so I could contribute to the charity’s internet marketing strategy.

Around that time, I was also building this website and in desperate need of a little guidance. I figured as lady with such a generous heart, Opal wouldn’t mind sharing a little free advice on basic website upkeep and lead optimization—and I pegged her perfectly!  Here’s a handy cheat sheet of the knowledge she dropped on me.

  • If your website comes equipped with a content management system, perform all the updates –including ones for the program and plug-ins—when prompted. “This might sound pretty obvious, but many people ignore these messages for weeks or longer,” says Opal. “The programmers roll out these security updates constantly because they’ve found vulnerabilities in their programs that they’ve patched. If you don’t do your updates, you’re a sitting duck for security problems.”
  • Make sure each page on your website has at least 300 words. “This is the word count at which Google’s search engines start taking you seriously,” she explains. For vloggers, her suggestion is to transcribe their videos so they achieve the 300-word minimum. “As someone who is not a huge fan of video, I think it’s also a great idea to give your audiences options. Don’t hold us hostage to your videos.”
  • Your website should be constantly changing. “The advantage of a website is that it’s nimble,” Opal points out. “If your website is stagnant, search engines have no reason to come back.” Blogging regularly, updating your portfolio, and adding new services are all great ways to keep your website evolving, she adds.
  • Your website must be mobile friendly. “That’s non-negotiable,” Opal warns. “For most people, more than 50 per cent of their website traffic comes from mobile devices, so you’re just throwing away business if your site is not loading properly on a cell phone or tablet.” The simple housekeeping rule is to check your website on multiple devices periodically, especially after doing the updates mentioned in tip number one, she adds.
  • Target your website content at your top 10 per cent of clients that generate the most business. “This is probably the best website advice I’ve ever heard,” she shares. “If you focus on those people and generating more business like theirs, logically you’ll increase your income and continue to grow your business.”

Opal Gamble is the front-end web developer and project manager at Design & Develop. Connect with her through her website.

~Write-or-Die Girl

The savvy entrepreneur’s step-by-step guide to starting a business in Ontario

Alex Koch

I sure wish I had known Alex Koch, founder and principal at Insight Legal, when I decided to pursue my passion as a full-time profession. Don’t get me wrong: entrepreneurship has its perks. But the legalities involved are pretty prosaic, for a right-brained creative like me. In this week’s Write-or-Die Girl column, Alex breaks down business-starting steps into bite-sized, digestible morsels.

The Province of Ontario presents entrepreneurs with many opportunities to start businesses, firstly as a host to a significant portion of the Canadian population, and secondly as a province offering its residents some of the country’s highest incomes. For this reason, many entrepreneurs are seeking to commence their business ventures in Ontario; however, it is not always abundantly clear where these entrepreneurs should start and how they should proceed.

To help guide these entrepreneurs, I have compiled a list of steps involved in starting a business in Ontario.

STEP 1 – SELECT YOUR BUSINESS STRUCTURE

Prior to starting any sort of business operation, entrepreneurs must choose the appropriate business structure for their business. If entrepreneurs are seeking to start a business on their own, they will consider operating as a sole proprietorship or a corporation. Alternatively, for entrepreneurs seeking to start a business venture with one or more co-founders, they will consider operating as a partnership or corporation. You can click here for a discussion on how to choose the appropriate structure for your business. Each structure will carry with it different registration and legal compliance requirements, making it one of the most important steps in starting a business.

STEP 2 – CHOOSE YOUR BUSINESS NAME

Choosing your business name carries with it two aspects. On the one hand, businesses want to choose a name that suits their business and can attract customers. On the other hand, business names must meet the criteria of certain legal requirements.

Sole Proprietorship/General Partnership

Depending on the name chosen for a sole proprietorship or a partnership, business owners may have to register their business name with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. To operate a sole proprietorship or a partnership using only the name(s) of the founder(s), the business name does not need to be registered and the entrepreneurs are free to commence their business operation. For instance, if your name is John Galt, you can operate a sole proprietorship called “John Galt” without registering the business name. Likewise, if two founders are seeking to start a partnership and their names are John Galt and Bunbury Smith, they can operate a business using their names only without registration. If however, business owners are seeking to make additions to their business name, for example “John Galt & Sons,” the business name must be registered.

There are certain prohibitions relating to business name registration, for instance, the words “Limited, Incorporated, Inc., etc.” cannot be used since they imply that the business is incorporated. Likewise, neither a sole proprietorship nor a partnership name may imply an association with a government entity. If companies do not comply with these registration requirements, they may be fined.

Corporation

All corporations in Ontario must have a name. Companies are able to choose between two types of corporate names: (1) a numbered name automatically chosen during the incorporation process; and (2) a chosen name. If an entrepreneur is choosing his/her corporate name, the name must comply with certain standards. Specifically, the name must be distinctive and it must not be misleading or likely to be confused with names used by other organizations and businesses. Further, the name must end with a word indicating that the business is incorporated such as, Inc., Ltd., Incorporated, Limited, etc.

STEP 3 – CONDUCT A NAME SEARCH

Sole Proprietorship/Partnership

Registering a sole proprietorship or partnership name with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services does not guarantee exclusivity of the name, meaning that businesses with identical names can be registered. Using a name that is the same as another business or is confusingly similar to another business name could result in a lawsuit from an existing company using that name. For this reason, it is prudent for business owners to conduct a name search prior to registration to determine whether a chosen name is already in use by another company.

Corporation

Companies that chose a corporate name (and not a numbered name), must obtain a NUANS (New Upgraded Automated Name Search) report that is not older than 90 days on the date of registration. A NUANS report lists names of companies using the same or similar name to the chosen corporate name. Unlike with sole proprietorships or partnerships, corporations are not permitted to register identical names to another business unless a company can provide satisfactory evidence that the two businesses will not be confused by consumers.

STEP 4 – REGISTER YOUR BUSINESS

Once an entrepreneur has selected the business name and conducted a name search, the business is ready for registration.

Sole Proprietorship/Partnership

To register a name with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, the entrepreneur must provide the Ministry with: (1) the name and address of the business; (2) a description of the business activity; and (3) the entrepreneur’s name and home address. If a partnership is being registered, the names and homes addresses of the partners must also be included. There are many options for registering a business name; the registration process can be completed online, in-person or by mail. Once a name is registered, the business will receive its Master Business License which acts as proof of business name registration and the entrepreneur may commence its business operations.

Corporation

To register a corporation, entrepreneurs can submit their application for incorporation to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. The application must include: (1) the company’s Articles of Incorporation which outline the name and nature of the business, the directors of the corporation, the share structure, etc.; (2) a covering letter that outlines the name and contact information for the corporation; and (3) the NUANS report pertaining to the corporate name. Companies that submitted their application for incorporation in Ontario are only provided with name exclusivity in the province meaning that businesses with identical names can incorporate in other provinces. If this poses an issue, the entrepreneur should consider a federal incorporation.

It is possible for corporations to incorporate with one name and to operate their business under another name. If that is the case, the corporation must register its name with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services in the same manner as a sole proprietorship or a partnership registers its name.

STEP 5 – APPLY FOR LICENCES AND CERTIFICATIONS

Once a business is registered, the business must now register for whatever other licences, registrations, or certifications required to legally operate a business in a particular industry. Depending on the nature of its business, a company may need a business licence to operate. Likewise, a company may need Workers’ Compensation Insurance or to collect HST. In general, if a company provides taxable goods or services and earns over $30,000 per year, the company must register for an HST number with the Canada Revenue Agency and remit the HST it collects to the government.

STEP 6 – RENEW YOUR BUSINESS REGISTRATION

Once a business is operational, there are various ongoing requirements with respect to registration. For instance, sole proprietorships and partnerships must renew their business name every five years. On the other hand, corporations must make annual filings with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

If you have a business idea but are unsure about how to turn your idea into reality, contact Alex Koch at Insight Legal.

Sizzling Summer Volunteer Opps

Volunteering during tanning season while your girls are sipping cocktails by poolside doesn’t have to feel like a prison sentence.

Why not gain some resume-worthy skills, diversify your professional and social network, and get VIP access to some of the hottest summer events in the city?

Taste of Toronto: Do you have an appetite for exotic eats and entertainment? Taste of Toronto is the perfect festival for a hardcore foodie to indulge in some appetizing volunteer action. If your schedule’s clear from June 15 to 18, check out how you can get a taste of the action here.

Pride Toronto: With promises of wild costumes, funky choreography, and colourful displays of fabulousness, Pride Toronto is one of the largest parades of its kind in North America. But it’s no easy feat to pull off a diversity celebration of this magnitude without a flock of volunteers who are down for the cause. The not-for-profit organization has a variety of volunteer roles that need to be filled before the main event on June 25. Check here for details.

TD Toronto Jazz Festival:  With soulful performances by artists like Aretha Franklin and Joss Stone, we’d bet jazz aficionados would be willing to pay some pretty good coin to attend the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, from June 23 to July 2.  Keep your cash in your wallets, and fulfill your do-gooder duties, while grooving to the rhythmic vibes of the 31st-annual Toronto Jazz Festival. Just fill out the volunteer application to be considered.

Toronto Fringe Festival: “All the world is a stage,” wrote Shakespeare, empowering any and every one to unleash her or his inner artist. The Fringe Festival features more than 155 indie shows in every genre of theatre. If you believe in the relentless pursuit of self-expression, find out how to get involved here.

Fan Expo Canada: Volunteering at Fan Expo Canada—the largest comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming event in Canada—might just be the equivalent of fangirl heaven. Running from August 31 to September 3, the event has featured celebs like The Lord of the Rings’ Elijah Wood, comic book legend Stan Lee, and several cast members (including the well-renowned heartthrobs) of The Walking Dead. Fantasy seekers should look no further than here to get involved.

Of course, Avanti Women is always on the lookout new volunteers with a variety of skills and interests—and a passion for fun (that’s essential!)—all year round. Let us know if you want to spend your summer joining us in our mission to empower women to move forward.

This post originally appeared on the June 1 Avanti Women blog and e-newsletter. Avanti Women empowers women to develop themselves professionally and personally so they can move forward in their careers. As a volunteer on the communications committee, I contribute content of relevance to the membership monthly.

~Write-or-die girl

Write-or-die girl

Since embarking on this teeter-totter ride of full-time business ownership last year, I find myself evolving into a keener observer and more confident risk taker. My personality hasn’t changed much—a bevy of quirks complemented by a bizarre 35-year raw-tomato addiction—and I’m physically healthier, now that I plan my work schedule around my gym schedule.

If you haven’t guessed yet, this post is about me: Write-or-die girl. I figured it was time I introduce myself.

So as I was saying, 95 per cent of my business comes from my super-duper spectacular repeat clients, and kind colleagues who refer me to their peers. I’ve been very fortunate in my career, thus far, to come across people who have looked past my demure demeanor, recognized my passion and chutzpa, and given me a chance to prove my worth.

When I’m not writing—for business or pleasure—or volunteering, I practice yoga, lift weights, and attend spinning classes, usually five days a week. I also delight in Chinese buffets and AYCE sushi, ergo the hyperactive workout schedule.

Now I’ll get to the part I’m sure you’re (at least a teensy weensy bit) curious about.

I chose Write-or-die girl as my blogger pseudonym for two reasons. The obvious reason is that writing is my raison d’être. I love what I do and that I can help people by doing it—it is my gift to give.

Secondly, it’s a play on words. In urban culture, a “ride or die” is basically someone who’s dependable and loyal for the long haul. I am dedicated to my art and committed to exceeding the expectations of my customers in a timely fashion with artistic finesse.

Write-or-die girl just seems fitting.

Heightening creativity at home with geomancy

Melonie Arscott

Last Tuesday, I was forced to work from home because maintenance men were entering my suite (I always assume their fingers get stickier when no one is watching).

With a bad case of brain paralysis, I reached out to Melonie Arscott,  geomancer, feng shui specialist, and intuitive life coach, at Melo Spaces, to get some tips on pimping my home office to heighten my creative mojo.

“The physical elements of our environments and how we subconsciously process them can strongly influence our states of mind, including our productivity and creativity,” she told me. “If you make tiny adjustments to your office, you’ll set yourself up for fluid inspiration generation.”

Ummm…yes, please. I’ll have some of that!

I took detailed notes, as she spoke.

  • Nix EMFs: “First and foremost, cut down on high levels of EMFs; they make you tired and your brain foggy,” she advised. The easiest way to do this is by introducing plants—which reduce air pollution and noise— and flowers—which bring about chi—into a space.
  • Auditory arousal: “There is nothing more soothing than the sound of flowing water,” she said and suggested placing a mini water fountain in my office. She also recommended fast-paced classical music—Baroque period, for example—as it stimulates brainwave activity.
  • Colour psychology: “Colour ignites the mind and revives the spirit,” according to Melonie. Yellow and orange work the best to get the creative juices flowing. Small hints of colour, like on a mouse pad or vase, are sufficient to trigger fresh ideas.
  • Guiding light: “Expose your office to as much natural light as possible. The sun is nature’s antidepressant,” she joked. But if natural light isn’t available, she recommends opting for full-spectrum lighting.
  • Crystal light: “Hanging a spherical multifaceted crystal by a window so it can reflect sunlight light will bring more yang (active energy) into a dark room and promote motivation,” she added. Even if you don’t have a window, you can hang it somewhere where your room lighting will bounce off of it.
  • Scent stories:Essential oils can also awaken your inner innovator,” she concluded. “Peppermint oil is great for headaches when dabbed on the temples, and simply breathing it in relieves fatigue, but keep it away from your eyes.” Additionally, orange oil decreases anxiety and elevates mood levels, while cinnamon oil reduces frustration. These particular oils should not be applied to the body, though—best to invest in an aromatherapy diffuser.

For best results, Melonie recommends having a customized consultation and environmental report prepared. She is currently rebalancing the energy on her website (that is, it is under construction) but feel free to reach out to her for more info at info@melospaces.com.

Items listed in this post, like crystals, essential oils, and aromatherapy diffusers, can be found at crystal, new age, and health food stores.

~Write-or-die girl

Blogging for Google juice

Bob James

While millions of fierce business competitors are salivating for just a sip of sweet, rich Google juice to quench their SEO thirsts, one small business owner has managed to keep his cup overflowing.

“You can bolt to the top of Google’s search rankings by consistently publishing fresh, authoritative content that other people want to read and link back to,” shared one of my favourite bloggers Bob James, president and chief storyteller of Bob & David James, who coined my favourite new marcom term: Google juice!

The secret, he advised, is to not fill your posts with industry keywords that are too competitive. Instead, hone in on keywords that are niche-specific to grow a targeted fan base.

Blog Cents

With more than 10,000 loyal blog readers, Bob should know. For the past 10 years, he has blogged everyday, minus a vacation day or two, to enhance his small business profiles. In fact, several of his long-term customers started out as fans of his blog, or friends of fans.

“If you’re looking for an audience of prospective customers searching the web, blogging is one of the best, if not the best, ways to do it,” he said.

“They may never do business with you, but they will know who you are, and influence other people.”

Credibility at no cost

There maybe 1000s of bloggers in your industry, but probably very few with the same niche, which gives you a tremendous competitive advantage, according to Bob.

“Your only real investment is time,” he explained, “and your payoff is the opportunity to differentiate yourself as an expert, and establish credibility in your area of specialty.”

Know your niche

It helps to determine in a word or two what your blog is about, Bob advised, but it isn’t easy.

“I blogged for five years before realizing my blog is about persuasion, as in the phrase, ‘the art of persuasion’,” he admitted.

Knowing what your blog is about helps you stay “on course,” he added, and makes it easy to explain the value of your blog to others.

If you’re wondering how Bob finds fresh story ideas to share with blog followers 365 days a year, he shares his inspiration on LinkedIn.

For an informative, bold, and witty perspective on persuasion in marketing, communications, and events, check out Bob’s current blogs: The Mighty Copywriter and Explorer’s Journal.

Cheers,

~Write-or-die girl   

Page 0 of 2

Trish@WriteReaction.ca

416-721-4101

Prices are in Canadian dollars, international friends!