A Day in The Life of Me


My friends and family often ask me, “So what do you really do?” In response, I usually give them a quick synopsis of my day-to-day responsibilities while at work, but I never really take the time to explain in detail what I do. So, today I’ve decided to take you through “a day in the life of me”…


My alarm goes off at the same time every morning. I really could wake up fifteen minutes later, but when would I have time to check my social media? We all know how much exciting stuff happens on Facebook during those hours that we’re sleeping.


My work day starts! When I first come in I check my emails, return phone calls and prioritize what has to be done for the day. Being a Recruiter, I receive resumes, reference checks and employment inquiries through the night via email. First order of business is to review all emails…which sometimes rolls into the next day. During that time I also screen new resumes, add reference checks to candidate files, respond to employment inquiries and much more.

When screening resumes, there are three points I look for:

  1. Designation – Depending on the designation, the experience and education differs. Once I know the designation, I know what else to look for.
  2. Education – According to the Ministry of Long Term Care, all Personal Support Workers must have obtained a Certificate from a post-secondary school and all Nurses must be registered within the province of Ontario.
  3. Experience – It is Plan A policy that all staff have one year of experience working within their designation prior to hire.

If all three points check out, I proceed to booking the interviews.

While answering my emails from the night before, I also conduct up to six interviews throughout the day; three in the morning and three in the afternoon. These interviews take approximately half an hour to complete, and once complete, I call out to their references.


Lunch time! Or should I say, ’Eat at my desk and finish my emailing’ time?


The afternoon interviews begin. By this point, all of the emails that I had responded to in the morning now have responses. Time to do it all over again!

When I have time to spare, I often try to reconnect with old staff who I have not been in contact with for a while. Although I don’t always have time to reconnect, I feel as though it’s an important thing to do. Without our staff I wouldn’t have the position that I do!


Marks the end of my day. It never seems like there is enough time in the day to finish your work, does it?

I forgot to mention that, in addition to interviewing, emailing and calling, I also keep up with weekly blogging, update and create job postings, implement policies and procedures, respond to shift requests and more.

I wonder what else I left out?


How The Perfect Job Means Finding the Perfect Team!


As individuals grow into adulthood one of the most prominent questions on their mind is “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?”   Some people, from the time they could walk and talk knew what they wanted to do.  Whether they classify it as a ‘”calling” or a “dream”, they just knew.  Others have a vague idea, and some have no clue at all – that was me…sort of.

I grew up having too many ideas!  Too many dreams, too many interests, too many things I enjoyed doing and could see myself doing as a career, but I just couldn’t decide.  I thought it could have been indecisiveness or just plain old fear of commitment, but there was one thing I knew for sure…  I wanted to find a job and a working environment that suited me, and not have to compromise who I was to suit a job.

On some level you need to be able to make compromises in the workplace – that goes without saying.  But what I wasn’t willing to compromise on was working for a business that actually cared about people, and not just their bottom line.  I’ve always believed that if you make people your priority, treat them with respect and always tell the truth, you will be successful in whatever you do.  And in this dog-eat-dog world, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

During one of my first team lunches here at Plan A, one of my co-workers and fellow bloggers said “We don’t really have bad days.”  Another went on to say “I’ve had rough moments but everything always works out, and I end the day on a positive note”.    Sheri, our fearless leader, piped up and said “Come on guys, we have bad days!”   And that moment really stuck out for me.  What a rarity; an employer was actually trying to convince her employees that their team wasn’t perfect.  Her staff is so happy with their work environment they see every day as a good day.  How many business owners, executives or managers can say that?

I once read somewhere that Richard Branson (entrepreneur and billionaire) said “Your clients do not come first.  Your employees come first.  If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.” and “The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your clients.”   I’ve worked for a few people in the past who probably wouldn’t agree with these statements, but I’m going to take a shot in the dark and say that’s probably why they aren’t billionaires…

Basically, what I’m saying is that I now realize why I couldn’t decide on a specific career.  Even a dream job won’t be truly fulfilling if you’re surrounded by selfish individuals.  I know now that a happy work life has more to do with the people you work with, and not the career you choose.


The Anatomy of a She-E-Oh


I’ve come across blogs, talks and articles that insinuate that even if you’re busy, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything.  They suggest that we should start ‘being’ instead of ‘doing’. I read these and feel that I am being scolded. Many of them relate to gratefulness and a minimalist approach to living (you know, the whole ‘less is more’ concept). I’m here to tell you that there IS such a thing as purposeful busyness. In the meal that is life, I like to keep my plate full and the following, while personal, illustrates why having a full and busy life can translate to happiness. It’s a balancing act and it’s sometimes overwhelming but at the end of the day, it’s possible to have it all—I know I do!

Let’s talk about sleep: I’ll preempt this with a big “I am not a doctor or anyone from the health community”.  I am in no way suggesting that anyone should follow my lead.  I sleep, I swear I do!  I typically get 6 hours a day. That’s what I need to run.  I need 2190 hours of sleep per year! Twenty-five percent of my year is dedicated to sleep. When someone suggests that I don’t get enough sleep, I explain that everyone is different.  While some individuals function at peak performance when getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep, I just need a little less. I am not saying that anyone who gets more sleep than me is less productive or capable. What I am saying is that I require 6 hours of sleep per night and feel great 90% of the time. Anymore than 25% for me would feel like too much. Next…

Work… Running a startup means that you don’t work the typical 9 to 5. I plugged in a good ole’ 28% for work. My work for me is a passion. I love everything that I get to do on a daily basis. Some tasks are tough and some are pleasant but all provide a learning experience. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the education you get at this stage of building a company is priceless. I get to problem solve, provide a solution, look for innovative ways to get our vision and mission out into the world and I get to do all of that while perpetually pushing myself. Every time I’m out, I’m talking about my work; I’m finding a way to connect with someone who may have something to offer or vice versa.  I read a book a week (usually out of the motivational/learning/sales realm) and take any opportunity outside of work to brush up on any skills that might impact my work life in a professional manner.

This next category is an absolute necessity to my well being and sanity. I am a true believer that everyone needs a creative outlet to ensure that they have somewhere to let any bubbling stress or any built up emotion go. It’s a way to release everything and pour your heart/hands/emotions into something different! I personally do this on 2 levels… I partnered with my sister a few years ago and we own a photography business. We take all types of pictures (newborn, maternity, weddings, milestones, event photography and anything else you can imagine) and get to take part in some of the most meaningful life moments.  I’ve held more newborns than I can count, I’ve corseted dozens of brides, and I’ve watched love up close and personal and sometimes from afar while clicking away.  I provide the service of memories which is a pretty cool feeling.  I am half of an acoustic duo by the name of Chicks with Picks.  We play at venues, weddings, bars, festivals casinos and private parties.  We get to sing our little hearts out and have a great time doing it!  Both of my creative outlets fill most of the blank spots on my calendar and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Beyond everything I’ve already mentioned, I’m the mom of 2 teenage boys (I see them daily but I keep up with them, on a real level, by scheduling monthly one on one dates with them).  I have a loving and supportive husband who taps me on the shoulder every now and again and reminds me that we should go eat somewhere downtown, share a fabulous bottle of red and eat some delicious food! I have a large group of friends and plan/attend plenty of social functions. The key: I LOVE everything that I do. When I look down at my calendar, I’m not negative, sighing and wishing I had said no…I say, “OK Mel, let’s do this!”  I’m busy and I wouldn’t have it any other way!


Smells Like Team Spirit


I work with a very solution driven team.  We are always on the lookout for ideas that will make life easier.  We aim to improve processes that speed up the most mundane tasks.  We implement initiatives that keep money where it needs to be.  Our emphasis is on giving everyone purposeful work that complements their skill set and keeps them motivated.  I often get told how lucky I am to have attracted such a dynamic team and I wholeheartedly agree!  Here are some tips that we use to build the team spirit in our office:

It starts with communicating our vision, mission and values.  By ensuring that our team understands our vision they also understand the part that they play in helping us get there.  They know their role is significant in the success of our journey.   We’ll never get to where we’re going if someone does not understand our direction; with each new hire we start by simply explaining the bigger picture so that they can see how their new position is congruent with our vision.

Another important quality in our team is that we are cohesive.  We speak in the same ‘work’ language even though each person has a completely different position.  We communicate often, celebrate successes, support failures, enjoy the feats and move forward together.  This cohesiveness keeps us attentive to our work for ourselves AND each other, and as our vision evolves so does our team!

Next, we are goal oriented.  Through my business plan we focus on the five main components of any business: financials, marketing, growth, HR and operations.  At the beginning of each year we’ll have a review of the previous year’s goals and outcomes and use the results to help guide us in the upcoming year.   We come up with wish lists (which are lofty) and tasks (which are numerous for mere mortals) that set us on our way.  At the same time this exercise gives our team a thorough understanding of the end goal so that we are all working in unison to accomplish it.  Everybody walks away from this exercise knowing where we’re going, what we need to do to get there, how we’ll make it happen, who’s responsible for what and why we are doing this…which again, leads us back to that vision!

Lastly I would say trust is a big component in our organization.  Our office culture is built on trust and all of the qualities that go along with it: honesty, transparency, accountability, and dependability as well as traits like vulnerability and empathy.  These qualities allow us to depend on each other and ensure that we can each be relied upon to get things accomplished.  These characteristics also build respect and loyalty, as well as a supportive and safe work environment. The trust we have adds to the spirit of the team in our office and the end result is a productive and jovial place to work.

These are the ways we keep the team spirit alive in our office.  This doesn’t mean we don’t have our share of tough times.  Rough patches are as inevitable as they are unpredictable in business.  What it does mean is that our team has the connection, the creativity and the caring to get us through anything.



CPrfyUvWUAUFuOk.png“Please state your 15 digit order number…Sorry, we did not understand your response.  Goodbye.”  We’ve all been there—trying to navigate through the twists and turns of automated telephone menus, desperately wanting to hear a live person, only to be hung up on after being on hold for 45 minutes.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get an instant solution to your burning question?  Better yet, wouldn’t you want to extend that same level of care to your customers?

According to Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report, almost half of all consumers are turning to social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter to learn about brands, seek advice, and express (dis)satisfaction about products and services; one third of these individuals prefer to seek assistance over social media versus using the telephone.  Attempting to provide great customer service over social media may be daunting to businesses, but the following points can provide insight as to just how critical social customer service really is.

  • Social media is the way of the future. I’m sure you’ve heard it before—social media is exploding, forcing businesses to adapt.  With more than 30% of the world’s population owning social media accounts, it’s important for companies to be present wherever consumers are.  Even if you end up only assisting one customer, that’s one customer who may turn out to be a lifelong one.
  • Your page is an access point for information. Many individuals often research products and services before they make purchases.  People will likely be deterred from making a purchase if your page is filled with negative comments and unanswered questions.
  • Customers always have other alternatives. If you choose not to respond to a customer’s complaint on social media, they’ll likely take their business elsewhere, resulting in a loss of future potential revenue for your company.
  • You’re under a microscope. Your actions (or lack thereof) on social media are completely transparent.  Current and potential customers will likely see how you choose to handle any situations that come across your page.  To make a positive impression on your audience you’ll want to be diligent in responding to their concerns.
  • Your reputation is on the line. People are more likely to remember a bad experience than a good one.  Word of mouth comes into play here—you do not want your brand to be remembered as one that does not care about their customers.

Being active in social customer service may seem like a large commitment, but your customers will probably thank you when they don’t have to hear that dreaded dial tone anymore!


Where the Magic Happens


Since I started at Plan A in late April, I have noticed that it’s a frequent topic of conversation to “push yourself outside of your comfort zone”. Naturally, the first time I heard that phrase I was nervous and unsure and downright scared. At my first networking event I was terrified. How do you talk to people you don’t know? How do you even approach the situation? Do we shake hands? Do I talk first?

I know. I’m a Recruiter who deals with people everyday and a Human Resources graduate, so it should come naturally to me, right? Wrong. I’ve served for years and I find it easy to talk to the public in that sort of setting, but networking is different. It’s more professional. Fewer questions asked and more conversation to be had.

As with anything else, the more I practiced and the more networking events I attended, the easier it got for me and the more comfortable I felt. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is truly where the magic happens; fear comes first, but the magic always comes after. The growth you notice in such a short period of time is amazing. You can almost feel it happening. Never be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. A positive outcome is the only result. You always come out a better, stronger, able person in the end.


Making Sense of Work-Life Balance

CPiHDZjWsAAsb1tFinding a good balance between work and family has always been a top priority of mine. Life’s calendar quickly fills up with a full time career and two busy little girls. I have learned now more than ever that finding an appropriate balance between it all is an absolute must…and the only way to stay sane!

But wait a minute! Is it even possible to have a perfectly organized home, perfectly organized career and maintain a perfectly organized state of mind? Here are some tips I’ve learned about getting real with the concept of work – life balance.

  1. I quickly had to accept the fact that I needed to embrace imperfection. With working 40 hours per week and maintaining a busy schedule for my children, perfection is impossible to achieve. Prioritizing quickly became my main priority!
  1. Let go of the little things. Hanging onto the little quirks or to-do’s can really bog you down. An unswept floor, a few extra dishes, slow service, little irks or bumps in the road can alter a plan or produce negative energy. Letting little things go certainly takes some re-programming, some deep breaths and some inward dialogue about what really matters and what really deserves our focus and energy.
  1. Practice mindfulness. I practice being mindful in the moment. Whatever it may be that I am working on I put my entire heart into it. Whether it be a project for work or a Lego session with my girls, I try my best to be mindful of the moment I am in. It is difficult and takes some training as we live in a fast-forward world. When I find my mind wandering from the moment to my to-do list, I tune into the sights and sounds of the moment reminding myself that this is my only opportunity to fully experience this moment.
  1. Marry a man who has your back! Having someone in my life that works hard and wants all the same things I do has helped tremendously. His efforts at helping me keeping home and extra curricular activities organized has allowed me to achieve what I feel is a good balance between work and life!