Change Your Game With a Great Mentor

mentormind.jpgYou’d better like guessing games if you want to succeed with a start-up.   I can’t count the amount of mistakes I have made (or rules I have bent) in an effort to figure out my business.  I often wished I could have a boss for just one day!

And then it happened!  I met the mentor of my dreams; a successful entrepreneur (a local celebrity actually), who because of his business experiences, understood the advantages and the disadvantages of the start-up journey all too well.  When “you don’t know, what you don’t know”, a good mentor can help you make clever decisions and avoid crucial mistakes.

Here are 6 ways my mentor helps me.

  1. He’s an expert.  His areas of expertise are in my areas of inexperience.   I can get right to the meat of my concerns and he can delve directly into those conversations with valuable advice.
  2. He’s a successful entrepreneur.  He’s walked the walk.  He’s experienced the North, East, West and South of everything business.  He’s living proof that anything is possible.  And as a successful entrepreneur he truly wants to see me succeed!
  3. He’s action-oriented.  Actions speak louder than words and my mentor comes up with great suggestions to help me get to the goal I am focused on.
  4. He’s direct.  He tells it like it is even if it’s not what I want to hear…all in the name of support!
  5. He’s available.  Not night and day or anything, and he travels a lot.  But if I do have a question or need a sounding board I know he’ll get back to me as soon as he can.
  6. He gets excited.  When I have accomplished a goal I have been focused on, he’s rooting for me, supporting my decisions and cheering me on!
  7. He has connections.  Since meeting my mentor my business network has expanded and my business team has grown to include the very best lawyers, bankers and accountants in our community.

Meeting the right mentor at the right time can be a game changer.  Mine has been an incredible coach, a true inspiration, a supportive friend and a devil’s advocate all at once.  There’s no shortage of mentors out there but you can’t be afraid to ask!


The Art of Customer Service

Regardless of the job title on my business card, I am always a customer service representative. From my time spent as a waitress in a banquet hall, my hours worked in the drive thru serving donuts, my stint as an administrative assistant, my 10 years as a case manager, my role as a director to my current position as the President and CEO of a starter company, I am first and foremost, a representative of my company to my customers. The first call I receive or make will be the basis of my entire relationship with my customer. Every minute they waste on hold, every time they feel misunderstood, every time I choose to focus on the problem rather than come up with a tangible, logical and win-win solution, I risk losing my customer.

We need to come to terms with the fact that a customer is not a number/sale. A customer, if properly dealt with, is:

  • a testimonial
  • a mouthpiece for your service
  • your best advocate/ your devil’s advocate
  • the one who can help steer your product or service in the right direction

The following infographic emphasizes the importance of customer service (again, in ANY industry and in ANY role) by providing some surprising and some not so surprising stats:

The Art of customer service


How to Use #Hashtags

If you’re using hashtags like Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake do in this video, chances are, you’re using them wrong.

Hashtags are a great little tool to help amplify your brand in many ways; you can promote a product, brand or event, capture new fans, start conversations around your brand, and even create buzz about your company using a simple keyword. Unfortunately, I often see many individuals and companies misusing hashtags which can result in your message reaching a smaller audience. To ensure you’re properly using hashtags, follow these simple tips:

  1. #NoSpaces. This may seem obvious, but some individuals use a separate hashtag for each word. Group words together if they make sense. For example, individuals will likely search #MarketingTips, because #Marketing or #Tips are very vague keywords on their own.
  2. Stay away from LinkedIn. This social network doesn’t support the use of hashtags. If your audience can’t click on the hashtag, there’s no point of using them.
  3. Watch out for lowercase letters. It’s not written in stone that you absolutely have to capitalize the beginning of each word in your hashtag, but doing so increases readability and also minimizes the potential of having your message skewed. #TheATeam is easier to read than #theateam
  4. Keep it short. If you’re promoting an event, try to use an acronym when Tweeting. #TheGreatestMarketingConvention2016 will use up your followers’ 140 character count quickly. Opt for something simpler, such as #TGMC2016.
  5. Research your #hashtag before you use it. Make sure you know exactly what your hashtag means before associating it with your brand. A negative image about your brand can quickly develop if you’re piggybacking on keywords that have a controversial or crude meaning that you knew nothing about!
  6. Make sure your hashtags relate to your brand and vision. Don’t use what’s trending if it doesn’t align with your company. If your an insurance broker, don’t Tweet about #TheBachelor or #NationalToastDay because it will just muddy your company’s voice.
  7. Spelling is important, punctuation isn’t. Double and triple-check that your hashtags are spelled correctly before you Tweet! Improper spelling looks bad on your part, but it also will likely render the hashtag useless. Additionally, go against any lesson you’ve ever learned about punctuation; don’t use it in your hashtags!

I hope these tips encourage you to increase your hashtag usage…correctly!


How to Keep Your Resume Out of the Shredder

Blog - Feb. 24.jpgOne part of my job that takes up a large bulk of the Recruitment Department’s time is screening resumes. We are a company whose largest and busiest department is recruitment, so there are always countless resumes to read through. I review resumes that are four pages long and I also review resumes that are half a page long. Many of the resumes that I read through are well done, while some look as though they were created in less than a minute.

In one of the blogs that I wrote a few weeks ago, “How to Write a Killer Resume”, I discussed a few things to consider when creating your resume. I mentioned to check spelling and ensure that certain points were covered, but what I didn’t mention was what NOT to include on your resume. Today I am going to discuss a few common mistakes that I have noticed people tend to make on their resumes since starting in my position over a year ago. Depending on the position that you are applying for, some of these may not apply, but for the sorts of positions that I review resumes for, they do!

  1. Do not include photos of yourself.

Putting anything on your resume that makes you look self-centred does not make for a very good first impression. Sure, if you’re an actress applying for a certain role or a model looking to be chosen for a shoot then maybe a photo would be appropriate. But when applying for a position in business or healthcare, do not include photos of any sort. An interview will take place and they can see who you are then.

  1. Do not include quotes. 

I’ve seen people include quotes at the beginning or the end of their resume that they feel portray who they are, but it is, for lack of a better word, tacky. A resume is supposed to give a short synopsis of who you are as an employee; there’s no need for extras like photos and quotes.

  1. Leave out your ‘hobbies’ and irrelevant achievements.

Unless your hobbies include volunteering at an organization that’s similar to the one that you are applying to, possible future employers don’t need or want to know. Employers don’t need to know that you play volleyball every Sunday or that you like to go for bike rides with your family. They also don’t need to know that you won a pie eating contest back in 2009. They want to know if you would be the best candidate for the position, so only include information that will convince them of that.

  1. Do not use fancy fonts. 

As I had mentioned, screening resumes takes up a large bulk of the Recruitment departments’ time. So when we receive a resume that is difficult to read due to their font choice, it can be very frustrating and time consuming. Use something simple like Arial or Times New Roman.  Not only is it easier to read, it looks much more professional.

  1. Exclude irrelevant experience.

Irrelevant job experience is another piece of information that should never be included on your resume. It’s information that isn’t going to help you get the position and that should be your complete focus. You can take time to explain during your interview that you have experience in other sectors, it just wasn’t relevant to the position that you’ve applied for.

  1. Leave out personal information.

Employers do not need to know your weight, your age, your religion, your sexual orientation and whether or not you have children. In some cases it may sway the Recruiter to be more in favour of you as a candidate, but in most situations it is relevant and can be somewhat controversial.



Importance of Vacation Time


If you are anything like me, you have difficulty turning off your brain from work when you are outside of business hours. My to-do list often rotates through my mind daily. I’ve recently read that the secret to increased productivity is taking personal time off.

It is easy to fall into a trap of overscheduling and over-doing, which prevents you from moving forward and can ultimately lead to burn out. Stepping back and slowing down will actually increase productivity, strengthen creativity and rejuvenate your motivation making you all the more effective.

I’ve listed some of the reasons I believe that personal time is important.

  1. Rest = Increased energy. By taking your mind away from routine one can focus on other happenings. By resting our brain’s from the day, we receive an increase in energy and output is improved upon return from a break. Unplugging from the daily distractions will allow you to focus inwards and improve your problem solving skills and creativity.
  1. Stepping away from the everyday puts all else into perspective, such as reminding us of the simpler things in life and enjoying the quiet of a moment. Often, we get lost in the day to day busyness and forget to be mindful of our moments.
  1. Self Care. We often don’t pencil in time for ourselves when we are going about business. We must ensure we are taking the time to energize and rejuvenate, spend time with loved ones and simply unplug. Those who practice self care exhibit less signs of stress and tend to cope more effectively when demands arise.
  1. Vacation = Happiness. Planning a vacation and looking forward to that getaway will definitely put a smile on anyone’s face. I have read that vacation time increases serotonin, our happiness hormone and reduces stress, which can lead to happier people returning to the office after vacationing.

More hours spent working does not equal better work.  When we step away from the hours spent working, we can produce better, more quality work when we return. I guess everyone needs a little reset every once and a while. Your personal time and vacation time is just as beneficial to your employer as it is to you. Be sure to use it and use it wisely!



Workplace Exercise

“Those who think they don’t have enough time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley.

More research is suggesting that our sedentary lifestyles are contributing to the chronic illness epidemic.  As a nation, Canada is dealing with a health crisis and one of the reasons is due to lack of exercise.  So, why aren’t we listening to the warning signs and incorporating more physical activity into our day?

When I ask individuals why they don’t exercise on a regular basis they often say “I don’t have time to exercise”. Yet, according to David Patchell-Evans, owner of Good Life Fitness in his book Living the Good Life “numerous studies have shown that, at a minimum, you are 20% more productive if you exercise.  That means you create 33 more hours per week by exercising.  Your decisions are 20% faster, you have 20% less anxiety, your sleep is 20% deeper”.  If you invest 1.5 hours a week to exercise you will gain 33 hours of higher productivity.”  That’s a great Return on Investment (ROI).

If you are still struggling to find even 1.5 hours a week to exercise then I would suggest “Deskercise” or Workplace Exercises to help you incorporate physical activity into your busy work day.  Squeezing even a few minutes of exercise into your day will be beneficial and will contribute to the recommended 1.5 hours a week of exercise.  If you work at a desk (or even if you don’t) here are a few “Deskercises” that you can start to include into your busy day.

  1. Desk Push ups – to increase upper body strength, stand up in front of your desk a few feet away and place your hands on the edge with your feet firmly on the floor. Keep your core engaged and slowly lean in towards the desk and push back up.  Repeat 10-15x
  2. Standing Leg curl – to increase strength in your hamstrings, stand in front of your desk with your feet close together. Slowly lift one foot up towards your buttocks and lower back down.  Repeat 10-15x and then change legs.
  3. Abdominal pull ups – while sitting up tall in your chair, hang on to the armrests or place hands down next to your thighs and pull your knees up towards your chest. Repeat 10-15x
  4. Back Twists – standing with your back to the desk, twist till you can touch the desk with at least one hand and look behind you. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat on the other side.
  5. Head tilts – standing up, grab under the desk with one hand while you gentle tilt your head towards the opposite direction. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat on the other side.

You can also include cardiovascular activities into your day by taking the stairs as often as possible and making time for brisk walks during your breaks (you may have to force yourself to take that break).  By incorporating as many physical movements into your busy work day, then you don’t have to say “I don’t have time to exercise” because you’ve already fit it into your day.

Once again, the choice is up to you.  You can decide to make time for physical exercise or have to make time for illness.  It should be an easy decision.

Lisa Lounsbury, President and Founder of New Day Wellness

6 Moments Happy People Know to Have Every Day

HappyHave you ever wondered how happy people stay so happy? How is it that some people walk around with a grey cloud hanging over their heads and other people walk around wearing pink colored glasses? I’ve worked with both extremes; the Negative Nancy and the Happy Hannah types. I like to think of myself as sitting somewhere at the ¾ mark on the happy side of things. There it is, I am a happy yet realistic optimist. How do I maintain my ‘happy’ state? Here are 6 moments I embrace daily to ensure that I benefit from being a ‘glass half full’ kind of gal:

  1. A Moment of Laughter

“We don’t laugh because we’re happy – we’re happy because we laugh.” — William James

There’s physiological evidence that shows that laughing puts you in a better mood. Take time every day to laugh and you’ll find it’s both contagious and uplifting. Surround yourself with funny people, find opportunities to laugh at yourself, and laugh your way to the top. Imagine going to work every day, looking forward to the next laugh attack. It’s not only possible but also conducive to a productive work environment to have a few moments every day where hearty laughter is around you and coming directly from you.

  1. A Moment of Gratitude

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” — GK Chesterton

Take a moment each day to express gratitude you have for the people in your life, the experiences you’ve had and will have, and the world around you. You can’t physically feel angry or upset and grateful at the same time. Just taking a moment of gratitude will make you happier. I write one handwritten thank you card per week and either hand deliver it or mail it out. I reflect on gratitude via my gratitude journal every night. I frequently post about moments of gratitude on social media. All are great ways to feel grateful and benefit from the peace and happiness it offers and produces.

  1. A Moment of Celebration

“Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed.” – Mia Hamm

We don’t take the time to celebrate small successes enough – or even big successes. At StaffStat, Inc., we celebrate every single success. Every inch we gain is recognized;  every new sale, every new renewal, every moment worthy of mention is celebrated. We celebrate and we continue to push higher, harder, stronger… How can you take at least one moment per day to celebrate the good in your life? Figure it out and make it happen.

  1. A Moment of Reflection

“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

We all lead such busy lives. It’s important to be able to take at least one moment each day where we do nothing but think. Put your phone away, get somewhere by yourself and simply reflect on the day that was and the day that will be, about decisions to come and about what you’ve learned from the past.

  1. A Moment of Pride

“All your life, other people will try to take your accomplishments away from you. Don’t you take it away from yourself.” — Michael Crichton

A lot of people associate the word “pride” with something negative. But you have so much to be proud of. You can afford to take a least one moment each day where you sit back and appreciate all that you have done and the good person that you are. Take pride in the little things you’ve accomplished in the last day.

  1. A Moment of Humility

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” — C.S. Lewis

Pride in your accomplishments is great, but so is a moment of humility, in which you appreciate your tiny role in the profoundly large universe around you. When we take a moment to appreciate the amazing world around us, it’s hard not to be happy for all that we have.