Never Dull Your Shine

IMG_5201.JPGI’m not one who typically or comfortably discusses the fact that I’m a “woman” entrepreneur. I pride myself on dropping the adjective before that noun and simply think of myself as an individual who proudly leads a company that offers a software solution. However, a few weeks back, I was asked to and delivered a keynote at an event called “Women Techmakers”. I dived in and started by telling our story. This was followed by my thoughts on the challenges of being a woman in a leadership role representing a tech company. The audience was filled with men and women alike and I don’t think anyone was shocked by the following:
  • Women in tech as a whole are too few and far in between. This point was later reiterated by some pretty impressive lady coders, programmers and developers.
  • Raising capital is more challenging. You can look at stats, you can read stories and you can talk to plenty of women who have felt at a disadvantage walking into a bank meeting (traditional or not) and/or when speaking to VC’s or angel investors. While I don’t like it and fail to understand the reasoning behind that reality, women receive less funding and are likelier to be denied the capital needed to get their startup running without the backing of a male counterpart.
  • You’re bound to be objectified. Suggestive comments based solely on what you’re wearing and unwanted invitations to sit on someone’s knee are an unfortunate yet oftentimes inevitable part of the package.
The following story is just one example of situations I’ve seen or been a part of: Our team attended a conference last year and as we sat in the Lobby Bar (post-event) we engaged in conversation with 2 men. They asked what we did, we told them. There were other software companies around and the conversation was pleasant enough and went on for about 5 minutes before one of the men got up and made his way to the bathroom. The second gentleman (and I use that term sarcastically), looked at us and said: “If you’re going to waste his time (meaning his friend) and not go up to his room, don’t bother talking to him”. My jaw dropped (this only lasted about 2 seconds) and I then proceeded to give him a piece of my mind.
My response: “If we were 2 men sitting at this very bar, having the exact same conversation, would there be any type of expectation other than a few drinks shared between acquaintances? Because we wear heels and not loafers are we expected to engage in anything other than friendly conversation? Or, better yet, are we expected to wear loafers and “dull our shine” so as to not entice this kind of expectation from the opposite sex? Are we not allowed to look good without insinuating that we’re not serious?”
I’ve got a pretty strong personality and this type of interaction doesn’t typically get me riled up but I was honestly completely thrown off by the entire situation and couldn’t help myself. Safe to say, man #2 came back shortly thereafter and both of them left promptly.
I want to point out that this behaviour is from a few and not the masses. I’ve met plenty of people in this industry who’ve become wonderful friends and great allies. The problem is those few sometimes derail a woman from moving forward confidently with her venture and her sanity in tact.
Here’s the takeaway: if you’re a woman with a great idea and you feel like it’s worth banking on, do it! Those “few” are not worth your discouragement. You’re a woman and there are certain situations that will arise in your journey that would never happen if you were a man. That being said, your success is based solely on one thing: your ambition, not as a woman entrepreneur but simply as an entrepreneur. It’s not about what you are, it’s about who you are.
If you love the idea of becoming a software developer or a graphic designer, don’t let the ratio in your classes get you down. Instead, prove the nay-sayers wrong and kill it.
If you walk into an opportunity where the goal is to raise capital, do it with your head held high and your solid projections in tow.
Lastly, If your team is attending an event and you have some unfortunate run-ins with a creep (or 2), let them know that you’re there to engage in meaningful, business related conversation.
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It’s the Little Things

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I’ve been suffering from a serious case of writer’s block lately. Not only am I struggling to come up with topics, but I’m also struggling to come up with content when I do happen to think of a topic that our readers will take time out of their day to pay any attention to. Rather than focusing on something work-related for today’s post, I thought I would introduce you to a book that I’ve recently read.

A couple of years ago I came across a book called The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha at Chapters. It was on the sale rack and a quote on the front cover caught my eye, so I grabbed it on my way out. The quote read, “Little things, it turns out, are extremely important to happiness, and The Book of Awesome will remind you of a thousand little things that will make you happier”. I’ve had this book for three or four years and it was honestly just a dust collector until I found it recently as I was doing some spring cleaning. I was going to get rid of it and I’m so glad that I decided to keep it around instead. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I hadn’t read any of the reviews on it and I hadn’t opened the book since I bought it, but as soon as I finally started reading I couldn’t put it down.

When people think of the things that make them happy, they usually think of money, or vacations, or having the perfect house or vehicle. We often forget about the little things that make us smile. We often overlook the things that happen every day that seem so small and insignificant, but we’d miss if they didn’t happen. Today I wanted to share with you a few of my favourite “awesomes” from The Book of Awesome:

  • Page 50: Tripping and realizing no one saw you•

If you say this isn’t one of the best feelings in the world, you’re lying. This is something that almost every Northerner can attest to during the winter months I’m sure. There is nothing (or very few things) that feel worse than taking the biggest tumble of your life, only to look up and see that someone got a front row seat to the show.

  • Page 61: Waking up before your alarm clock and realizing you’ve got lots of sleep time left•

I think that this was one of my favourite “awesome moments” from the book and it’s because everyone can relate to it: that feeling of waking up and feeling like there’s no way you’re going to be able to function that day, only to roll over and see 1:57 AM on your alarm clock. Back to sleep I go!

  • Page 133: Your family car growing up•

I still remember the old light blue, Mazda MPV minivan that my mom, dad and younger brother took to Thunder Bay for doctor’s appointments, to Toronto and back home to Hornepayne countless times, out East to P.E.I, New Brunswick and Quebec for a family vacation and to the States for music festivals every summer. We had that van for years and whenever I see a Mazda van or a vehicle of the same color, I take a quick walk down memory lane.

  • Page 135: Eating a free sample of something you have no intention of buying•

Costco. That’s all I have to say about that.

  • Page 174: Your favourite old, comfy T-shirt•

My favourite old, comfy T-shirt is a very faded, grey Kellogg’s T-shirt with the Froot Loops cereal logo and a picture of Toucan Sam on the front. I remember begging my mom to buy four boxes of Kellogg’s cereal so that I would have enough codes to enter in online and get two free, Fruit of the Loom T-shirts: one for myself and one for my younger brother. That was around ten years ago, and to this day it’s still my favourite old, comfy T-shirt!

  • Page 255: Successfully moving all your clothes from the washer to the dryer without dropping anything•

This is something that doesn’t happen to me very often. No matter how hard I try, a sock or two always seems to sneak out! I’ve had it happen once or twice, and I will definitely agree and say that the feeling is awesome!

  • Page 294: Sweatpants•

Need I say more?

  • Page 357: New Socks Day•

I never buy socks for myself because I know that every year, on December 25th, I’m going to be getting my new socks in my stocking. I’m sure having more than one “New Socks Day” each year is satisfying, but just take a second to think about how exciting it is for me to wake up on December 25th and know that that day, 365 days later, I get to put on a brand new pair of socks!

Have you read The Book of Awesome? If so, what were your favourites? If not, go to Chapters and pick yourself up a copy! You won’t regret it!

Tessa-NEW

When in Doubt

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If you’ve been following our franchising journey then you know that Plan A is now up to 6 locations across Ontario – with inquiries coming in every single day.  Who would have thought?  It is so exciting to have people see how important and relevant and forward thinking our business model is and want to bring it to life in their own community.   Our franchisees are all in different stages of their business.  Some are just building their pool, others have signed their first contract and are just waiting for the fun to begin, one has just signed her fourth contract and another just bought their second franchised territory.  It doesn’t matter where you are in the stage of this game, the rules are the same.  Below is my advice to our franchisees and anybody else who is thinking about bringing our inevitably successful tech solution for LTC to their area:

Trust – We’re not claiming to be perfect but we have been doing this for 7 straight years.  We’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly when bringing our business to life.  You started this journey because you trusted.  Keep on trusting.  We promise, you’ll get there.

Patience – This is a huge one.  Our clients are not buying a pair of shoes (which can happen in seconds if you’re me).  They are engaging in what could be a life-long contract between you and them if you do it right.  Many of them are learning just as much as you are about staffing and they are obligated to make sure the process is as seamless as possible for their staff and residents alike.  Be patient.  They are dealing with unions and boards, regional directors and the even higher ups.  They have a lot on their plate and although one of them is us, they are putting out a multitude of fires every day.  They will get there with you but you have to be patient.

Stay Cool  – Starting a business is an emotional roller coaster…especially when you’re not exactly sure what you’re doing.  Make sure to be the master of your own emotions.  As the president of our franchise we are all doing our best to help you get your business going but you have to keep your cool.  Find ways to manage your emotions such as exercise, reading some motivational reading, get in touch with our life coach, etc.  Learn to control your emotions or your emotions will control you.

Accountable – It’s nobody’s job to make your business successful but you.  Turn every bump into an opportunity for learning and ask yourself ‘what can I do better the next time?’.  At the end of the day our business model (as techy as it is) is about people – for people – from people.  Learn to put the onus on yourself and your game will swiftly change.

Focus on Solutions – Let problems become the foundation on which great ideas for your company are born.  We’re a solution-focused organization and believe that there is an answer to every problem.  Don’t look at every problem as a step back, rather look at it as a way to get two steps forward!

Get out in your Community – Unless you’ve already opened a business or two in your community, you are a stranger to the business world.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone and find every opportunity to get to know people in your community.   Join your local Chamber of Commerce, become a Toastmaster, attend events, do some volunteer work, introduce yourself to your local innovation mill, get into your post-secondary institutes to connect with professors and teachers, send out a press-release, etc.  People need to know you first before they will start trusting and referring your business.

Starting a business is never easy but we’ve proven that if you follow what we do you will be successful.  So take our lead, keep the above in check and you’ll be off to the races in no time!

Happy Monday!

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Happy Ears

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I am new to sales and of course I know, value and love the product I sell. So, I figure that everyone else should fall in love and sign on the dotted line instantly. I have come out of meetings, demos and conversations thinking I had the sale in the bag, that they love me and they love the product, only to later find out that the “timing isn’t right” or “we don’t have the budget for this.”

I have added prospects who seemed interested to my “guaranteed to sign” list only to continue chasing them, listening to and challenging various objections. This is when my ‘Happy Ears Syndrome’ was confirmed and I realized I needed an antidote. Our team was fortunate to receive some sales coaching which led to later discussions on how to overcome this issue. Happy Ears seemed to impact all of us at some point in our sales journey.

Listen. I have learned to listen attentively to hear the whole story and not just what I want to hear. Those who have been guilty of having happy ears will hear all of the positive in a sales call and assume a customer who says “Great presentation, this might be a good fit, follow up next week” is an automatic sale. Needless to say, there can possibly be many hoops to jump through before a sale is closed; therefore, it is important to ask those specific questions.

Ask questions. Asking questions will eliminate any misunderstandings, verify interest and the prospects’ intentions. Asking these questions will ensure only qualified prospects are in my pipeline and I am not projecting false commitments. Those prospects I thought were a definite were a hit to the confidence; although, I have also learned too that my role in sales requires me to grow some thick skin (that’s a blog topic for another time).

Remove the rose-coloured glasses. I am a positive person with an optimistic outlook. However, there have been times that those rosy glasses have altered my perception. I have since learned that being overly positive can lead me from seeing potential road blocks or obstacles. Instead, I have traded in my shades for a little bit of doubt and skepticism, which has guided me to ask more, inquire more and prepare for possible obstacles. Which, in turn, will help me ensure my pipeline is filled with prospects who will become closed sales.

To keep my pipeline in control and my confidence in check, I have learned to watch out for those ‘happy ears’ and look beyond face value of what is being said. It’s easy to fall into this trap, however, it is essential to stay focused and confident until you see that ‘happy signature.’

Cheers!

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I am Lucky!

My name is Sheri-Ann Morin, owner of Plan A Algoma. Today I have decided to take the plunge and share with you what led me to open a Plan A in my community.

I was always content with my job within the school board. I cannot remember ever thinking “I don’t want to go to work!” I will tell you, however, that I was always looking forward to summer vacation. When you work in an environment with 700 plus kids, the need for a break is almost always on the back of your mind—always! It was like clockwork; just a few days into summer vacation and I would find myself bored and needing to do more.  I wanted to create a life for myself where I didn’t always want to be on vacation. One day, I asked myself a simple question: “Sheri, when was the last time you were most happy and doing what you love?” I instantly had my answer: I knew I wanted to be my own boss again. I’ve been an entrepreneur in the past, and I was still attached to this feeling. The problem with being an entrepreneur is coming up with a good idea. I wanted to do something that would not only change my life in a positive way, but also better the lives of others, too.  This is when I found Plan A, a company based on helping Long Term Facilities with shortages in staffing. Brilliant! Why didn’t I think of this? I read a book recently that said “Good entrepreneurs are not, per say, lucky or smart, they are just smart enough to realize when they are getting lucky.”-Bo Peabody.  This quote signifies my feelings of my partnership with Sheri Tomchick, founder of Plan A Health Care Staffing Solutions.  Plan A is a fundamentally innovative and morally compelling company with passion, energy and activity which I am grateful and proud to be a part of. When I purchased this model/franchise, I was not sure what to expect, but the process has been nothing more than exceptional and smooth. The continuous support and passion for me to be successful shines through in an authentic, caring way. The Plan A Sudbury Team has gone above and beyond. I want to thank Sheri Tomchick of Plan A and her A-mazing team.  You can clearly see the passion when a team really, really cares about doing what they are doing, and the natural by-product of this is quality, excellence, impressed customers, happy employees and a new franchisee owner who is smart enough to realize that I am lucky!

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-Sheri-Ann Morin, Owner of Plan A Algoma


Have a case of the “entrepreneurial itch”? Dreaming of becoming your own boss? Now’s the time! Open a Plan A franchise in your area! Our staffing agency is the first of its kind to use StaffStat – revolutionary shift-filling software – to connect health care professionals to open shifts in Long Term Care homes in their community! No need to call down lists to fill shifts – simply focus on the exciting day-to-day tasks of running your very own business! For more information about this inevitably successful opportunity, please connect with Sheri Tomchick today at opportunity@planahealthcarestaffing.ca. To learn more about our dynamic businesses, visit http://www.planahealthcarestaffing.ca and http://www.staffstat.ca.

 

25 Lessons I’ve Learned in 25 Years

twenty-five.pngI just celebrated my 25th birthday yesterday! Yup—I turned a quarter of a century old! I’m sure many others have said the same about their lives, but I feel like I have experienced a lot in 25 years. From moving a few times, making the most out of high school, experiencing loss, graduating from college (twice) and university, and landing my dream career, I’ve had so many great (and not so great) things happen to me in what feels like the blink of an eye.

In today’s blog, I’ve decided to share 25 of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in 25 years.

  1. Always be curious. As a child my parents said that I was extremely curious and inquisitive. I asked thousands of questions (sorry mom & dad!) and genuinely had an interest in learning about everything. Now, at 25 years old, I truly believe I still have that same thirst for knowledge and I am always willing and excited to experience new things and expand my skill set; I think that traits such as these are extremely valuable to possess.
  2. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, your intuition is probably right.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say “yes”… When I was 22, I was presented with a short-term job offer hours away from my hometown. Without hesitating, I jumped in! The job didn’t turn out to be all that was promised, but I enjoyed my spring & summer living somewhere I may not have had the chance to otherwise and made some pretty amazing memories.
  4. But also learn when to say “no” (and don’t feel bad about it). This one was hard to learn, but it’s okay to be “selfish” sometimes and turn down opportunities, offers, or anything that does not serve you. If thinking about doing something causes uneasiness or feelings of stress, don’t pursue it; this goes back to #2.
  5. It’s okay to be an introvert.  Growing up, I was always shy and extremely quiet, yet I still excelled at certain “extroverted” things (such as presentations, group projects, etc.) the older I’ve become. Being an introvert really isn’t the end of the world, and I don’t feel that it’s ever put me at a disadvantage. Being quiet and independent has helped me in my career as I am able to put my head down and work diligently on projects and stay focused on tasks.
  6. Learn to let go of friendships/relationships that are not mutually beneficial and/or are extremely one-sided. Surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you and vice versa.
  7. Everything happens for a reason. I know—cliché, but it’s 100% accurate. Think about one pivotal moment in your life and all the things that that one moment impacted. Now think about how different everything would be if that one moment didn’t happen. Whether good or bad, everything that happens is meant to.
  8. Quality over quantity. I apply this concept to many aspects of my life—friendships, work, possessions, etc.
  9. You can get through the worst day of your life. I can count two instances in my life so far where I felt like the world was literally crumbling around me—both instances dealt with loss. What I learned was that with a great support system and some time, you will be able to get through it and smile again—no matter how impossible it may seem in the moment.
  10. Moments not things. You’ll always remember amazing memories, events and adventures. Don’t spend time and money collecting stuff that you will likely forget about as time passes.
  11. Snap a lot of photos of loved ones and moments. Always try to document absolutely everything. Don’t ever be left feeling that you should have spent more time capturing certain moments—you can’t go back.
  12. Treat yourself. Yes, it’s wise to save your money, but you should also reward yourself sometimes, especially when achieving goals you have set for yourself.
  13. Read/watch/listen to the news. Educate yourself on what’s happening in the world and learn to formulate your own opinions.
  14. You just can’t please everyone — and that’s completely okay.
  15. Sometimes you just need a good cryNicholas Sparks’ movies/books can help you with this.
  16. You’re on your own path. Don’t concern yourself with what everyone else is doing. If it makes sense for you, do it.
  17. Moms really are always right. I still haven’t figured out how this is possible, but it is.
  18. Dogs are the best ever. Seriously.
  19. Your parents can end up being some of your best friends. I know mine are. Take it easy on them; they genuinely want what’s best for you.
  20. Forgiveness is important. Don’t hold onto grudges. Learn to forgive, let go, and grow.
  21. Being alone is healthy. Take time time for yourself to enjoy some R&R; it’s good for you.
  22. Don’t take everything at face value. Oftentimes there’s more to something beneath the surface.
  23. It’s good to get away. Staycations or vacations, just change your scenery.
  24. Always be grateful for every moment of every day.
  25. Do what you love and forget about the rest.  It’s your life to live, not anyone else’s.

And there you have it! A list of things I’ve learned throughout a quarter of a century. I’m extremely excited to see what I learn in the next 25! Cheers!

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