Girl Power!


This week our team had the absolute pleasure of attending the awards ceremony for The Influential Women of Northern Ontario. We watched and celebrated as our fearless leader, Sheri Tomchick, was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year. We sat among a room full of successful and outstanding women contributing to business and their communities. Each seat at our table sat a beautiful, strong, perseverant, intelligent, committed and dedicated woman. I was honoured to be among such brilliance and thought to myself that each and everyone of us is beyond fortunate to have the support and encouragement of the women that surround us.

There is much to say for women who influence and support one another, building one strong leader after another. My favorite part of being part of a strong team, meeting other influential women and learning from them is that I have an opportunity to share these experiences with my daughters, whom I know will grow to be strong leaders themselves and will want to change the world!

Here are a few reasons I believe women should continue to build one another up:

1. One woman’s success is an inspiration for another. Attending the Influential Women’s Award Celebration allowed me to listen to many ladies share their experiences and their inspiring stories of perseverance. As women we need to grasp the idea that we can be influencing others around us without even knowing we are doing so. Strong women build one another up and trust that a hand will be there when help is needed.

2. Everyone has a story. Every single person you meet is either fighting a battle or has fought a battle you know nothing about. There is strength in a smile shared with another; kind words, encouragement and compliments go a long way.

3. Amazing things happen when women support and encourage one another. When we can trust and rely on the powerful women around us, we are inspired to rise up and push ourselves out of our comfort zones. The world needs more of this; far too many women feel inferior. Regardless of a woman’s role, all women should support the decisions of those among them, support, encourage and celebrate success.

I am so fortunate to be surrounded by a multitude of strong, resilient women who celebrate the success of those around them. Each and every one of us should pay more attention and strive to share our influence with others. Practice self love and be sure to appreciate and value those around you. If you do, good things are sure to come!


Who You Were, Who You Are and Who You Will Be


I enjoy watching people stretch themselves out of their comfort zone. I appreciate it when someone believes in something and carries on against all odds, demonstrating grit and determination. When I read the following quote, I published it on ALL of my social media platforms: “Who you were yesterday, who you are today and who you will be tomorrow are 3 different people.” THIS however, requires you to allow that change to happen. It means that you challenge yourself. It means that you grow from failure and it insinuates that rejection is just another notch in your belt of drivers toward the next ‘yes’.

Here’s how I see it: you can go to work, clock in, work the ‘grind’, collect your paycheque and be done with it. OR, you can rise and shine, and I mean, really shine. But how do you go from banging your head against the wall to being someone who LOVES what they do?

1. Love the leader: When the person at the helm inspires you with their words, their actions and their ideas, it’s easy to not only want to go to work but to go the extra mile. I don’t care if you’re a barista, a janitor, an administrative assistant, a business consultant or a CEO. The person that is the driving force behind the company guides the mission, the vision and the passion of the team. Most mornings, I usually start with a 1 hour chat while walking with our founder and have brilliant conversations. Sometimes, we’ll touch base with a quick meeting or over lunch. We connect on hours and off hours. The key is, rather than rolling my eyes when the text, the email or the call comes in, my face lights up because I know it’s likely a call which includes a new concept, a challenge or a congratulations. The right kind of leader impacts the entire company from the top down. When you feel like one of your goals is to bring success to the company and the person at the helm, you know you’re exactly where you should be. Find that spot.

2. Find solutions: There will ALWAYS be problems. I capped that because it’s inevitable. If there’s a day of complete smooth sailing that raises a red flag; not enough people are using your service or product for you to hear about something that could be better or some little bug that requires a fix. The point here is if you’re unhappy and unmotivated, you’ll take every single problem and focus on it. You’ll go home and complain to your significant other or whoever will listen about how everything is going wrong at work. Why can’t they get it together? Why can’t they find the solutions needed to make your day to day easier? On the flip side, when you’re working and you’re inspired, you’ll be solution driven. If a policy, process or procedure requires fixing, you’ll take the reigns or participate in finding the answer. You’ll go home feeling like you’ve made a difference, a tangible difference. What’s even more, you’ll grow from that experience.

3. Learn from everyone around you: I’ve been on journey of self discovery for the past 4 years. Circa 2012 I was in a dizzying spell of ‘staying the same’. I’d hit the proverbial brick wall and felt like there was nothing more to achieve. Making the move to a new company and spreading my wings as far as I possibly could drew out more opportunities than I can count. What got me from that brick wall to the road of endless possibilities? I’ve taken on tasks that I would never have touched with a 10 foot pole in the past. The difference is, I take on any challenge, I get educated and I do my best to get it done right. That means learning and pulling from my networks’ strengths. Where I’m weak (and knowing where you’re weak is essential), I find knowledge and experience wherever I can. I don’t shy away from emailing or calling someone and asking for advice. Odds are, their help will be the difference between my success or my failure.

Find something that drives you to move forward in ways you never thought possible and see what happens! I guarantee you will be grateful for taking the leap and moving from what you were to what you are and ultimately to who you can and should be.

Ignite your Passion – 3 Job Related Benefits to Having a Creative Outlet


Fifteen years ago, circumstances led me to connect with Nancy Palladino, who I now call my soul sister. We decided to form an acoustic duo called ‘Chicks with Picks’. We booked our first gig at a place called Mr. J’s Roadhouse and the rest is history. Since 2001, we’ve been playing guitar, strumming and harmonizing at weddings, festivals, bars, restaurants and private parties.

40-60 hours/week I’m immersed in my full-time job (either thinking about it, working it directly, on the phone…). Having a creative outlet allows me to get out of that head space and focus on something completely different, even if only for a few hours. What follows are the 3 reasons having a creative outlet or any other hobby/passion outside of your work makes you better at your job.

  1. Networking: Whether it’s painting, music, sports or any other activity, view it as an opportunity to meet, chat and practice your networking skills. You never know who you’re talking to and you never know where a conversation can lead. Either way, networking while having fun and meeting people you otherwise would never encounter makes for an interesting job related benefit. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting nurses (who I, in turn, encouraged to apply to Plan A), talking to individuals in the health care industry (who have given me insight I otherwise would have never considered) and met some interesting people with whom there are definitive synergies. It’s all about taking advantage of every opportunity in shaking hands and having conversations.
  2. Stress Relief: Sure, having a full plate can be seen as stressful in and of itself. Personally, I play a maximum of 3 times per week (otherwise, I get that overwhelmed feeling). I know what I can handle and to be quite honest, once I start strumming, I’m in a completely different frame of mind. Imagine being immersed in a book or painting and being so involved that nothing else is real (for a little while anyway). When I’m singing, the world sort of disappears for a bit and I’m able to get lost in the music, the lyrics, the applause and the fun of entertaining a crowd. It’s a pretty cool feeling and I love that when things feel stressful, I can pick up an instrument, strum and relieve that pressure.
  3. Applying Skills Learned to Your Job: I’ve already mentioned networking and it is indeed a fine example of a skill you can learn while partaking in an outlet. Here are a few other skills I’ve learned along the way:
  • Commanding an audience: Before we start, we have to introduce ourselves, introduce our songs and come up with some quick quips from time to time. We can either opt to be subtle or take the reigns and have an impact. I prefer impact to subtlety in this case and while it takes practice to get an audience’s attention, it’s a must.
  • The fine art of balance: Sometimes, we’re background. We need to read the crowd and determine if we’re going all out or if we’re going to take it easy and let everyone enjoy a meal with some relaxing music in earshot.
  • Memory: I need to practice, learn and memorize chords, lyrics, melodies and harmonies. Being able to put it all together on ‘game day’ is a definite test of performing under pressure and remembering your ‘stuff’.
  • Getting creative: When we cover a song, we can either cover it the exact way the original performer recorded it OR we can get creative and come up with our own version. It can take time and it can be quite the process but this is the route we usually take. It forces us to get creative and it allows us to practice thinking outside the box.

Agree or disagree? What’s your passion or outlet? How does it help you with your everyday job?







5 Ways to Freshen Up Your Website in Seconds


Websites—every business should definitely have one, even if it’s just a place for your visitors to gather basic information from. There are so many design options that are both time effective and cost-friendly to help you develop the perfect website. But, many businesses create websites ahead of their launch and never bother looking at them again. Why? Your website isn’t doing you any good if it’s outdated and stagnant. If you haven’t touched your website in a while, consider these following few tips to freshen it up!

  1. Update page copy. All text on your website should be reviewed. If the copy on your website is too wordy or if it fills up the whole page, trim it down and keep only pertinent information. Look for spelling and grammar errors. Add new information as required. Make sure every date is current; I often see “upcoming events” on webpages that are months or even years old. If you don’t have time to stay on top of a section on your page regarding current news or upcoming events, then you should perhaps seek an alternative solution such as posting that type of information on your social media page, or adding a feed for your blog, Twitter, Facebook page etc.
  2. Add a feed. As I just mentioned, a Twitter or Blog feed may be a great option for streaming to-the-minute content to your visitors. Moreover, it’s very simple to add one as they exist as plugins on most website platforms and you can add them to your website in seconds; you can also create a widget directly from Twitter and add it to your website by following the steps outlined here.
  3. Update images. This is a very simple method of adding some spice to your website in a matter of seconds. Your whole website can get a face lift by simply adding new images to your page. Check out my blog featuring a variety of free stock photo websites to help you get started.
  4. Make it mobile friendly. The number of individuals who access the internet from their phone surpasses those who access it using their computers/laptops. If you’re not able to reach your audience through a mobile version of your website, it may easily dissuade them from visiting your website in the future. There are many tools that exist in website editors to help you create a mobile-friendly website, or view how your current website looks on a mobile device. Keep the mobile version of your website extremely user-friendly and streamlined.
  5. Add a call-to-action to your website. Every page on your website must serve a purpose. If your main goal is to have individuals apply for a job via your website, ensure that they can navigate to the form and that it is easy to do complete. If you want visitors to book a demo, make sure they can sign up for one in a matter of seconds.

These few tips should give your website a much needed makeover. Set a reminder for yourself every 8-12 months to take a second look at your website, give it a haul, and to consider improving its functionality. Strive to make important changes on an as-it-happens basis; for example, if you acquire two new customers, add their logos ASAP to build your brand’s clout.  Good luck!


Under My Umbrella-ella-ella

img18When I first started Plan A five years ago I had no idea of the other congruent business ideas that were about to come into play.  Five years later, we have irons in a lot of fires and because I am asked frequently about our different services, today’s blog post is going to clarify the why, what and who of each of those undertakings.

Let’s start with Plan A Health Care Staffing Solutions—North Eastern Ontario’s first and largest health care staffing company.  With a primary focus on Long Term Care, we have paved the road to exceptional supplemental staffing in our nursing homes.  Many have tried to be like us but it’s hard to compete with the high level of customer service we offer, the quality of our staff pool and the laser sharp focus we have for bringing the most compassionate and dependable solution to LTC at the most reasonable price.  Don’t get me wrong, our prices up front are not the cheapest around BUT we can guarantee by using our service that our clients will have to spend less and less money.  The reason for this is because with our recruitment efforts we are only hiring the best of the best in the North.  These people work very hard to get themselves on our pool.  We also have rich partnerships with the likes of NORCAT, the Innovation Mill and our clients, and together we’re developing ways to scale our processes and get our pool of staff into the homes AT NO CHARGE to our clients.  They skip the very expensive step of training because we make this part of getting on the pool for our staff.  And what that gives us is people who REALLY WANT TO BE PART of our vision.  All in all not every body wants to work with Plan A and not all homes want to use our services.  At the end of the day we do have 15 large contracts that we are providing services to with a pool of 325 screened and oriented staff…and we’re growing.  Presently, we have a 100% success rate at keeping our shifts covered and our clients are happy, their residents are safe and their staff is supported…and that’s exactly what we want!

Now for StaffStat — the quicker, cheaper and better way to get down a call-in list.  As a former RN at the hospital who received calls on every day off and the founder of Plan A, who spent 12 hours a day making calls, I knew there had to be a better way to get people to pick up shifts.  StaffStat is a unique and proven solution to one of healthcare’s biggest pain points:  calling down the list!  Turning our custom designed software into a separate entity all happened serendipitously but it’s now taking off and there’s no turning back!  If you or anybody you know spends more than 3 minutes calling down a list on any given day, you need to connect with us.  What StaffStat allows our clients to do is get shift information out accurately and timely with thorough reporting and all union language considered.  It’s a game changer for any organization.  It makes staff happy and gets administration staff to work doing things that are purposeful and that creates momentum in their place of work…and who doesn’t want that?

The newest addition to my vision is called Plan A PlatinumPlan A Platinum is a high level private service that involves tailor made care plans, a small personalized team of healthcare professionals responsible for delivering that care plan and a guarantee of no missed hours.  We’re growing slow and steady and although you may not hear much about it in our marketing, it’s already proven to be a much needed and successful concept.  We rely on word of mouth to let people know that we offer this service or it would be impossible for us to live up to our no missed hours guarantee.  Slow and steady wins the race for Plan A Platinum.

Plan A Plus is coming down the pipeline.  Think of it as the ‘Uber’ of supplemental staffing in the North.  Although it’s very similar to our Plan A Staffing model, Plus is done on a larger scale.  We’re focusing our resources on minimizing our training bottle necks, using technology for scalability and creating innovative methods to get the most helpful information to our recruits.  It’s an exciting concept that proves to be a much needed service across the North now and especially in the future.

These are our 4 big focuses at the moment.  As we continue to evolve you will see us expanding to training for Home Support Workers, creating pools of allied health care professionals to service the LTC sector and bringing our software to other provinces, countries and sectors.

The list of congruent ideas are limitless and the bigger picture always has the same focus:  making sure our aging population has access to the best care we can find!


3 Tips to Consider When Transitioning to a New Role

Within the upcoming weeks I will be transitioning from my role as Director at Plan A Health Care Staffing Solutions to a role at our sister company StaffStat. I have an abundant amount of excitement, energy and enthusiasm for my new role. Before I jump in with both feet running, I know that for my peace of mind and in the best interest of the company I must ensure that the role I am leaving is in proper hands. We have hand picked an ideal person and the training began immediately after the decision was made for me to transition.

Some tips to consider to ensure a smooth transition are as follows:

Start the training process immediately. Provided your new recruit has already been chosen, I suggest to start training as soon as possible. At Plan A we were fortunate enough to have had hired an individual who we felt would be an ideal candidate. She was already working within the company and clearly understood the company’s mission, vision, culture and values. We ran through my job description and trained each step, we sat together and problem solved incidences’ as they arose, and she was kept in the loop with decision making while she was being trained.  Soon enough, our new Director was embracing her new role and doing an excellent job at capturing every moment of her new day to day.

Be flexible. I was willing to start learning my new role as I transitioned out of my old one. With my replacement, who has also jumped in with both feet running, I am currently able to hover over both positions. I can attend demo/training sessions for my new position and connect with and send out information to prospects and soon to be customers.  I am also considerate of the transition period for my new replacement and check in with her and review and double check on tasks that she is now responsible for.

Communication is key. This is essential at all times in business; however, as I transition I know that there cannot be anything left undone. I ensure that all clients and staff are aware of the transition and any current projects are communicated off to the remainder of the team. They are also aware that I am available to them should they have a question or concern they were unable to work through in my absence. I have full confidence in the team we have constructed and know they will carry out the vision of Plan A and build upon an already successful business model.

Some say change is difficult; we decide to embrace it, learn from it and get excited about the possibilities to come. After all, the words change, transition and shift are all synonyms for EVOLUTION and where would we be without that!?



5 Pieces of Advice for New Recruiters


Since this month marks my one year anniversary with Plan A as a Recruiter, I thought it would be fitting to reflect back on what I’ve learnt over the past year and pass on some of that knowledge to Recruiters who are just starting out. Being a Recruiter isn’t easy work; there are a lot of expectations placed upon your shoulders. Give this post a quick read to learn about some of the things that I’ve learned to practice over this past fun-filled, action-packed year!

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Being a Recruiter isn’t easy. If you read one of my older blogs “So You Want To Be a Recruiter?” , you would have learned that there are a lot of expectations involved in the position. Sometimes it gets overwhelming to get everything done by yourself. Asking for help is something that I struggle with. I constantly think to myself, “I don’t need help. I can do this all on my own”. But that’s when things start to get missed and quality starts to dwindle. Don’t be afraid to ask your co-worker or manager for help!

2. It’s okay to say no. When asked to take on extra tasks, it’s okay to say no. Saying no and having the task passed on to someone else is better than taking it on yourself and not having time to complete it to the best quality possible.

3. You don’t know what you don’t know. My boss always says, “You can’t be good at everything, but you can be great at something”. If you don’t know how to do something, it’s okay! Not everyone is good at everything. Admitting when you don’t know how to do something is admirable! Admitting that you don’t know how to do something or that you’re unsure of a particular process also creates a great learning opportunity for you. This will give someone with more experience the chance to walk you through the steps or stages that must be taken in order to complete the project successfully.

4. Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. The expectation that employers have of their employees to be serious and professional is normal, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Take the chance to laugh at yourself whenever the opportunity arises. If you work a full- or even part-time position, you spend the majority of your life working in that role. If you don’t take those opportunities to laugh at yourself (or whatever situation you’re dealing with) when they arise, you will never be happy. And who wants to spend the majority of their lives being unhappy?

5. No suggestion is a stupid one. The position that I’m in as a Recruiter with Plan A gives me the ability and autonomy to make decisions that I feel are best for the department and the company as a whole. This allows me to tap into creativity that (honestly) I didn’t even know I had. Sheri continuously encourages me and everyone else in the office to tap into our inner creativity on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions that may seem crazy or impossible to achieve. Strange ideas often snowball into something great!