6 Ways to Build Your Confidence

believe-in-yourself.jpgConfidence is a mindset and while it may seem difficult to achieve, there are tips and tricks you can use to increase your confidence. Being authentic and yourself is the best self you can be. Accepting your weaknesses and knowing your strengths will place you one step closer to having the confidence needed to feel great in every situation you enter. Incorporating just a few of these tips and tricks will keep your confidence up:

  1. Push yourself. Comfort zones are safe zones and do not breed confidence. Comfort zones breed complacency and stagnant individuals. When we push ourselves it feels uncomfortable but that only means something great is about to happen. If we don’t try and don’t push our limits, life is sure to become quite boring. When you see the rewards of your efforts, your confidence is certainly boosted!
  1. Increase your knowledge. As you increase your knowledge your confidence will increase as well. You will feel confident starting and maintaining conversations during networking events. You will build a trusted audience when you are confident while speaking about your product, service or industry. When you plan and prepare you will enter unknown situations with confidence.
  1. Smile. Confident people appear positive, friendly and approachable. When we smile, our attitude, mindset, and mood instantly changes. We can’t help but feel happy when we smile and when we feel happy we share that energy with those around us. People will be attracted to your energy, thus boosting that confidence once again.
  1. Dress the part. When you feel confident in your appearance you will present yourself better. Maintain a healthy balance so you feel comfortable not only in your clothes but in your own skin. Feeling great improves our self-esteem which in turn can boost confidence.
  1. Have a positive attitude. A positive, optimistic attitude helps increase confidence. When we celebrate our successes, play up our strengths, all the while learning from our failures and weaknesses, we create an environment in which healthy confidence can easily be created.
  1. Work with others who boost you up. When you surround yourself with others who build one another up, you cannot help but feel great. Work with a team and spend time with family and friends who consistently fuel your positive energy. Let their energy, confidence and positive outlook rub off on you.



Banging Out a Boast-Worthy Booth!

Last week was our last conference and trade show of the year, and I have to (proudly) say our team knocked it out of the park! Our goal was to stand out in a sea of booths and traditional giveaways and that we did! Of course it doesn’t hurt that our amazing CEO was the winner of the Innovators Den – but that wasn’t promised to us and only happened at the end of the conference.

Although there is no simple formula that we follow, one thing we do is we plan endlessly; we train our staff to work the booth, we appreciate how much the conference attendees appreciate a unique surprise and we aim to ‘bring the fun’. As a start-up we have to make a little bit of money go a very long way, so here are a few pointers to get you and your company on your way to being a booth favourite at your next trade show!

Target the Right Traffic for your Booth

Getting people to stop at a trade show booth is no easy feat. Our goal is to get people to stop in to say hi and to meet as many people from our sector as possible. Last week we demonstrated StaffStat to CEO’s, VP’s, Administrators and everyone in between. We targeted potential clients and colleagues through social media for weeks leading up to our event; our marketing magician, Megan, designed engaging and unique pre-show communication and we did a countdown to conference letting our potential clients know how excited we were to connect with them again. We also attended all events the conference held and invited people to visit us at the booth the following day. This all resulted in an endless flow of traffic which is exactly what we wanted!

Train Your Booth Staff

I couldn’t count how many people I saw sitting behind a table texting at this year’s conference. My company spends a lot of time and money on a trade show and it would be thoroughly disappointing if my employees were not able to deliver our message both confidently and professionally.

Here are just some of the ways we’ve gotten ourselves prepared to dazzle at a trade show booth:

• Our employees are Toastmasters, making it easy for them to be both natural and genuine when they network.

• Practice – we have done many smaller trade shows over the years that have prepared us for the big ones.

• Our team understands that at a trade show it’s time to over-deliver and be on point until the final minute of the show.

• Our team knows that they are still working and representing our company beyond the booth and kept up the great work well into the other conference events.

Demo Your Product or Service

Our StaffStat demonstration is short, sweet and memorable! Not only is it an amazing product, but our team is also charismatic and we truly believe in the product so we keep each demonstration interactive and captivating. We know how important it is to keep people at the booth for the demo so we keep the booth fun while other demos are taking place — this year we had a photo booth for people to play in, last year it was StaffStat selfies. We heard several times that we ‘always have the best booth at tradeshows’ – which is exactly what we set out to do!

Timely Follow Ups

The conference ended on Friday so today it’s about keeping the momentum going. My team will seize this opportunity all day – following up with prospective clients, sending thank you’s to existing clients and sharing our conference success throughout social media. The post-show follow-ups are less daunting because of the amount of networking we did and our goal is to make our follow up approach just as eye catching as our trade show booth was!

Well there it is: some of the things that we aim to do to always have a buzz-worthy booth at conferences. Let me know what works for you!

Happy Monday!

Getting Comfortable with Asking for Help

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Asking for help is something that I haven’t always been comfortable doing. In my first few weeks as a server, my managers would often ask if I needed anything and I would always tell them, “No thanks, I’ve got this” … and I mean always. It didn’t matter how busy I was or how long the list was of things that I needed to do, I would never accept the help. There were three reasons that caused me to shy away from accepting or asking for help, and I’m sure I’m not the only one:

  • The fear of being rejected or told no
  • The fear of appearing to be incapable or unable
  • The fear of internally feeling as though I’d failed

Once I started at Plan A I would never ask for help either, even when I felt overwhelmed. Shortly after starting with Plan A, I knew that I wouldn’t get very far in completing my tasks if I refused to accept help when it was offered or if I shied away from asking for help when I truly needed it.

Since then, I’ve become quite comfortable with asking for help. If I need something done right away for one of my tables or if I need a second set of eyes to read over an email before I send it out, I never shy away from asking someone who appears to have a bit of time if they wouldn’t mind helping me out. One thing that I’ve come to realize with time is the following: If someone is offering to help, it’s because they genuinely want to help. Keep in mind that everyone is living their own busy life, so if they’re offering their help, don’t feel bad about accepting it; very rarely will someone offer you their help if they don’t want to or if they don’t have the time to follow through with it!

Like I said, I haven’t always been good at asking for help or requesting a favour; it’s come with time and practice. What I’ve realized is that I would follow the same three steps every time I found myself in a position where I needed to ask for help:

  1. Realize and accept that you need the help. Not everyone realizes that they need help until it’s too late to ask and they’re drowning in their “to do’s”. If you’re able to take a few minutes and prioritize what you have left on your to-do list, this will give you the chance to see if it’s possible for you to complete everything on your list on your own. If not, pick a few of the easier tasks that can be passed on and…
  1. Come up with a list of people that you can approach to ask for help for each specific task. When I ask friends or coworkers for help, I usually ask those that I know wouldn’t mind completing the task, depending on what the task is. For example: when I go out of town, I have two cats that need to be taken care of. I have two friends that live close by, but one of them has a cat of their own while the other does not. Knowing that and that alone, I would be more likely to ask my friend who has a cat than the one who doesn’t because I know that she would be more comfortable with that specific task.
  2. Ask, but give them the option to say no. I’m the type of person that doesn’t like feeling forced to do something that I don’t want to do and I don’t like putting others in that position either. So when I ask someone for help, I usually start with, “Do you have time to…” or “Would you mind…” and then I usually finish by saying, “…if not it’s okay! I just thought I’d ask”. This asks the question, but it doesn’t make them feel as though they’re forced to say yes.

What if they say no? The response that everyone dreads. That possibility is one of the main reasons that we have so much trouble asking for help, right? It is for me anyways. One thing I’ve gotten used to is the possibility that some of the individuals that I approach for help are going to be too busy to take on the task or maybe they just don’t want to do it. Rather than taking it personally, which can sometimes be difficult, simply thank them for their time and either seek out another individual to ask for help or find a way to make the time to complete the task on your own!


Two Weeks in With Plan A Nipissing!

New on the A Dot scene, I’m very excited to introduce myself, Rachael, as one half of the new partnership that is Plan A Nipissing; operating out of North Bay as of exactly 15 days ago. You may remember my business partner, Sarah Hargan, for her blog contribution to the A Dot back in May. Sarah has been working for Plan A in various designations since 2012, and as you can read in her post, has loved every moment of her Plan A career.

With my background in business and communication, and Sarah’s practical knowledge as both an RPN and RN, I like to think we make a pretty perfect team. While this business partnership may be new for Sarah and I, the truth is that we’ve been in cahoots for give-or-take 23 years. Babies in business suits? Not exactly…We’re sisters!

While Sarah and I navigate the months and years to come, we know there will be unique challenges. We anticipate growing pains, learning curves, and valuable lessons learned along the way. We hope that by sharing our journey with you, we might be a catalyst for others, making the path into franchising and business ownership a transparent one.

As we settle in for our third Monday on the job, we thought we would share with you two realizations from our first two weeks:

  1. You’re your best as yourself, don’t fight it. One becomes an entrepreneur first and foremost because they trust themselves, in who they are and what they are capable of. While our doors may have opened on November 7th, our Plan A journey first hatched in early August. Before this, Sarah and I had both spent months backpacking; unsure of what our next steps would be. Looking back on the last four months we have experienced an identity shift like never before. As young professionals it can be a challenge to merge personal and professional roles, feeling like we’re wearing someone else’s shoes.  Already, we have realized that there is no benefit to wearing shoes that don’t fit. Am I stretching this shoe imagery? – Stay with me – We’ve found that in community interactions, interviews, and client negotiations, being ourselves serves us best.  For us, this means being honest about our strengths and weaknesses, asking lots of questions – and most important to us, making a point to enjoy it all. While we’re not claiming to have become experts at this overnight, we are claiming that we’ve discovered the importance of authenticity as a practice in both personal and professional sustainability.
  1. Knowing and appreciating the strength of your networkIf it takes a village to raise a child, we’re certain it takes at least that to launch a business. While Sarah and I may be the face of Plan A in North Bay, it is more than our strengths, wisdom and hard work that contribute to its’ success. Being a franchise, we have inherited a team of unbelievably passionate, dedicated, and smart women. On a daily basis these ladies have provided answers, encouragement, and an embodiment of what it takes to be A-Team quality.  As if this weren’t enough, we have seen a tribe of family, friends, and new community contacts who have gone above and beyond to prepare, support, and empower us. The lesson here is recognizing that we are not alone, and humbly acknowledging that all of our future accomplishments will rest on an array of external contributions.

That’s all for now, but every month or so we will be dropping back in to share highlights from North Bay, the N-Dot… Not quite as smooth, but we’ll work on it!

Until next time…



5 Tips for Effective Brainstorming

brainstorm-ideaYou led a great brainstorming session, generated dozens of ideas, and as a result, your team is mentally drained. Now what? Surprisingly, many find themselves in an odd place of not knowing what to do after the meeting. In today’s post, I will share a few tips on how to get the most out of your team’s brainstorming sessions.

  1. Keep Pushing. It happens all the time when brainstorming; everyone contributes an idea and then your team hits a wall. Instead of simply giving up and moving on, keep pushing for another few minutes. This will force you to expand your mind, think outside of the box, and develop some more great ideas.
  2. Narrow it Down. After you finish throwing ideas around, take some time to mull over each one; organize them and group similar ones together. Have your team vote on their favourites to determine the most feasible ideas. Aim to have 3-5 solid ideas at the end of this step.
  3. Prioritize. Now that you have narrowed down your ideas and committed to a few, take some time to discuss which ideas are the most important and should therefore be carried out first.
  4. Look to the Future. You thought up ideas, narrowed them down and figured out which are most important. Now you are at the point where you must determine when, where, how and who will implement your new ideas. Be as thorough as possible, ensuring you do not miss important details.
  5. Rehash. Get in the habit of taking minutes at your brainstorming meetings. At the end of the session, compile your minutes into a typed document and outline everything you have discussed and how your team will proceed. Ensure every one understands their role moving forward and the tasks they must complete to implement each new idea. Be sure to print or email the document so that each team member has it to refer back to while working on their delegated tasks.

There you have it—5 easy tips to ensure you get the most out of your creative sessions. Happy brainstorming!


6 Signs That You Might Be the Youngest in Your Workplace

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I often get asked the question, “Is there anyone younger than you in your office?” And when I answer with, “Nope, I’m the youngest. Why?” the next question I usually get is, “What’s it like being the youngest person in the office?” Today I thought it would be fun to jot down a few things that make it obvious to me that I’m the youngest in my office and that I’m sure others can relate to as well!

  1. You feel like you have to work harder to prove yourself. There is such a stereotype with people my age (those in their twenties). We’re known for being impatient, we’re known for needing instant gratification and attention, and we’re known for being ‘job-hoppers’. Those attributes aren’t very admirable to most employers. Being the youngest in the office might sometimes cause you to feel as though you have to work harder than everyone else to prove yourself – even though that’s not usually the case – and show that you’re worthy of the position.
  1. Your coworkers have kids closer to your age than they are. Just a few weeks ago my boss said that she was sitting at home talking to her oldest son, when she realized that I’m only 6 years older than he is. Like I already mentioned, everyone in the office except for one is at least ten years older than I am, and some are closer to twenty years older!
  1. You have a different sense of humour. I will often make jokes or refer to whatever is trending on social media. Some days it lands, and some days it doesn’t. For example, one of the big Internet crazes for a while was Harambe. For those of you who don’t know who Harambe is, he’s the gorilla that was shot at the Cincinnati zoo when the young boy fell into his enclosure earlier this year. Shortly after his death the Internet started a craze, claiming that it was a huge conspiracy and his death was set up by those running for the U.S. presidency. Yes, it’s as stupid as it sounds. But the memes that the Internet had come up with were hilarious, or so I thought until I explained it to a few of the ladies in my office!
  1. You feel like people don’t take you seriously. This links back to the blog I wrote a couple of months ago about my struggle as a young professional. Although it’s definitely not the case with my coworkers at StaffStat, I sometimes fear that I won’t be taken seriously if I bring something up or make a point/statement about something. As I also mentioned in that blog, I’ve come to realize that it’s all in my head; I know that I feel that way because I’m more than ten years younger than everyone in my office except for one.
  1. You’re not allowed to be tired or feel exhausted because you’re young. While this never happens at StaffStat, I have experienced it in other workplaces. We’re young, so we should never be tired, right? Despite the fact that I work two jobs, despite the fact that I’m in a volleyball league, and despite the fact that I still manage to have a social life, apparently I should never be tired! I know others who are my age who get harped on by their employers for the same thing, “You’re so young! How can you be tired?!
  1. You work differently than everyone else. The first thing that I do when I walk into the office is settle in at my desk, say hello to everyone, and then I plug in for the rest of the day. There are four of us upstairs in our office and one of the girls will usually put music on through her computer to drown out the noise from the chatter and interviews happening downstairs. Even though there’s music playing, I still need to put my headphones in and listen to music as I work. For some this would be too distracting, but for me it keeps me focused. We constantly have people coming in and out of our office and if I didn’t plug in I would never get anything done.


8 Signs You Are the “Office Mom”


There is often a ‘mom’ figure in every friend group, and in most office environments you will find a ‘mom’ figure as well. I have been dubbed the ‘office mom’ on several occasions, and as such I have created a list of signs that may help you identify if you are about to be labelled the ‘office mom.’

  1. You have all the home remedies for anyone’s ailments. If colleagues mention they have an ailment and you instantly rhyme off a list of home remedies, you are possibly the office mom. If you then find yourself administering ear drops, eye drops and medications to fellow co-workers, you are definitely one step closer to this title.
  2. Always prepared. Travelling for work happens and self-care, along with healthy eating, is a priority. The office mom brings along snacks—not only to cover her time away—but packs enough fruit, granola bars and protein shakes for everyone on her team. She also makes sure everyone is well-hydrated by lugging around water, and in the case of emergencies, she pulls out the coconut water for quick re-hydration.
  3. You are the office alert. Sometimes co-workers can be forgetful and sometimes it is necessary to make yourself a reminder list to ensure that you are on top of those who may forget. Moms like to plan ahead and be prepared for anything and everything. You may find yourself consistently asking or reminding your colleagues that the team needs to make a plan for an upcoming conference and you may even call a meeting to discuss the itinerary.
  4. The younger generations laugh at your language. If you are a mom and you refer to ear buds as ear buds, I warn that you do not attempt this in front of your office millennials. You will be looked at as though you are from the moon and quickly informed that ear buds don’t exist. You will be re-directed by those millennials that those little white ‘buds’ that are placed in the ‘bud’ of your ear are in fact called head phones (not sure when this happened, but I have been told).
  5. You watch over the younger generations. Even though those millennials chuckle and re-direct you, you find yourself watching out for them. You make sure they are included, taken care of, drive safely, stay hydrated and happy.
  6. Intuition coupled with ‘the mom look’. You know the look. It may be the look of disapproval, the look of ‘are you sure that is a good choice?’ or ‘are you sure you are being truthful?’ Moms have intuition and cannot help but have that play out in our daily tasks. If you find yourself giving these looks you are certainly one step closer to this title.
  7. You are the master of bad puns. You love a clever play on words. Your puns just naturally enter all conversations and you laugh at your own punny-ness. These are all possible signs you are or are about to be labelled the ‘office mom.’ A definite sign that this label is imminent is when the millennials of the office respond with any combination of the following: eye rolling, uttering ‘oh my god’, inserting ear buds, turning their chair back to their computer monitor or simply walking away from your desk.
  8. Your co-workers refer to you as their ‘work mom.’ If you have EVER been referred to—even just once—as someone’s ‘work mom’ then you are definitely the ‘office mom.’

If you have fallen under any of the above mentioned signs, I must inform you that you may be the ‘office mom.’ Take the title and wear it proud! Don’t stop doing what you do, share those puns as frequently as you can, give those looks and always be prepared!