Making the Switch 

It’s been a few months now, but I recently shifted gears in my career. In April 2017, I decided to leave my job of four years. It might not seem like a massive deal to most, but this had been my first taste of working full-time after university. In 2013, I began my career as a Communications Specialist FedNor intern at NORCAT. I was an eager university graduate who thought I could take on the world. I quickly jumped into a newly created role, and started molding the job. Not only was I an intern, I was in a brand new role; at first this seemed daunting, but only afterwards I realized how rewarding this would be. I was twenty-one, had just moved back in with my parents, and had to start putting my pricey paper to work. That first year had taught me more than anything I had learned in university.

Fast forward a few years… During my time at NORCAT, I had always felt a sense of pride in my work. I had successfully implemented several inaugural programs, had grown social presence, and had organized more events than I can remember. However, a mentor once told me that “all progress takes place outside the comfort zone”.  Sure, I absolutely loved my job… over the course of four years, I had built invaluable relationships, lasting friendships, and hit personal milestones, but as my mentors told me, “Don’t be too comfortable. You’re only 25”, I knew it was time.

For a few months it had truly been bittersweet. I had been a summer student, an intern, and full-time employee with NORCAT. I had friendships, clients, and projects that were very close to me, but I knew that if I was going to make a change, it had to be now. During my time at NORCAT, I had been exposed to so many entrepreneurs making that same decision, which I realize now, only motivated me to follow suit. Of course it’s a major decision; it’s hard to leave something you’re so familiar / comfortable with, but opportunities to expand your career don’t present themselves every day. I’m thankful for my time at NORCAT; the experience truly shaped my career, and gave me opportunities I probably wouldn’t have elsewhere. Although, my new journey is still getting started, I’m still that eager university student at heart.

HAILEY-1
Hailey Short, Marketing and Communications Coordinator – Greater Sudbury Airport

Husband of a She-E-Oh

Husband of  a She-E-Oh.jpg

First of all, I don’t exactly have the ability of writing wonderful blogs like my wife and her colleagues do on a regular basis, so please bear with me on this one. Second, this is my first ever blog post and I have to say, it’s not exactly an ideal way to spend my long weekend. But okay, seriously, I’ve never religiously followed blog postings by anyone other than my wife. I have read a couple of the other blog postings that were very nicely written by her co-workers at Plan A and StaffStat, and I must say I do enjoy some of the topics they discuss week to week. These women really know how to get their ideas across to the reader and I applaud that. Great work ladies.

Now getting back on topic… Now that I’ve humbled myself and promised to write a wonderful blog about being the husband of a she-e-oh, here’s my story.

There are times where I think that what makes someone so committed to their work or so committed to what they’re doing is that they’ve had to put certain things on hold. They might be on hold just for a moment or maybe for a while, just to make sure that they are on the right path or to make sure everything is how it’s supposed to be. It’s only one in a million… okay maybe that’s a tad exaggerated. One in a thousand… ok that’s too little… Once in a while you get a person who is so dedicated to their job because they actually love what they do.

Every morning and every afternoon I try and stay in tune with what Mel is going through at that moment. After being with her so long, I get these “hunches” and I can tell how she might be feeling. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the day starts with a “looking forward to the day” kind of feeling. We talk about regular stuff, give each other a hug and a kiss and be on our way. This usually takes place after the excruciating task of getting our teenage boys up and making sure they don’t miss the bus. Somedays this is an absolute nightmare, as we are also tired and don’t really feel like dealing with it at the moment. The other one percent are the days where she worries about things; things about the company and what the next steps are. This is where I become “Curtis the Criticizer”. I’ll purposely ask the tough questions to try and get her going. Good thing this woman loves me because if I were a stranger I think she would boot me out the door. But this usually becomes an understanding, a “mutual respect” type of thing, where she has very legitimate answers for my unnecessary questions. Her knowledge and ability to answer my unnecessary questions never ceases to impress me.

The afternoons or after-work periods are not necessarily times to relax or unwind. As most of you know, she also has this band thing happening and she does photography with her sister too, both of which she excels at. In saying that, I truly believe that whatever she puts her mind to, she pours everything she can into it to make it the best it can be.

This now brings me to the time we have together. It’s precious. It’s what I look forward to, week in and week out. As a shift worker my schedule doesn’t help the situation. It’s hard to get quality time together, but we find time, and the time we do have, just her and I, is wonderful. We have meaningful conversations, we prod into each other’s lives, and we want to know what’s been going on with one another. Still after all this time together, we’re getting to know each other and I’m good with that. Our lives have purpose and our lives mean something to one another. Our days always seems to end with a smile or a chuckle and that’s perfect to me.

I have composed a list of 5 tips for other husbands of busy wives and they go like this:

  1. Support her every move. I cannot stress this enough. It’s important to let her know you’ve got her back no matter what the situation is.
  2. If she loves what she is doing and spends a lot of her time doing it, you should love what she does too. This enhances what you’re doing in the tip #1, and it also keeps things positive and confirms for her that she is doing the right thing.
  3. Find time to have “dates”; date night, date day, date-whatevers. This is the necessary break you both need to unwind, take work off the table and have meaningful conversation. I personally always look forward to the next one.
  4. Do your part around the house – sometimes even take on extra. As a husband of a she-e-oh, I sometimes have to do more around the house because of her busy schedule. This doesn’t bother me, it is what it is. The last thing she has on her mind after a hectic day is to come home and do chores. As a shift worker I have days off during the week, so this is where I try and catch up on the extras.
  5. Enjoy life, period. Try not to let work rule the household conversation. When you walk in the door, close the books and pay attention to each other. Sometimes a humorous story will pop up in your head about something that happened at work and that’s fine, but keep it like that. Nobody wants to hear how “Bob” screwed up at work and made everyone angry. Who really cares about those things anyways? Keep conversation about work upbeat and funny and leave the negative stories in the dark.

Thank you for reading and enjoy the rest of your day. May your fellow employees treat you well and may your employment be meaningful. You have one life to live, so live it to its fullest! This world is beautiful and there are people in it that make it wonderful, and the main one for me is the one I married.

 

My 1st Blog

My name is Stephanie.  I am not the type of person to share about myself or voice my opinion (unless of course I know you and then you can’t stop me), so blogging is something new to me.  I am a pretty down to earth kind of person who doesn’t need much in life.   I enjoy consistency, knowing exactly what my day is going to be like, where I’m going and what I’m doing. I’m happy when I have a plan.  Not to say I don’t enjoy doing something spontaneous, getting out in the world, meeting new people or doing new things, but I am happy to stay home, work in my garden and play with my kids. I like living in, what I call, my “bubble”.

I’ve had so many secretary (and no, I don’t find that word derogatory) jobs in my life but they were all temporary. I had no consistency in my work life, no job that I could call my “career”.  Then I started, what I called, my favorite job of all time.  I was a Ward Clerk (secretary) on the surgical floor in our local hospital for 9 years and truly loved my job!  I could do my job with my eyes closed even though the floor I worked on is one of the busiest and most challenging floors in our hospital.  It was nice to have just one job that I did exceptionally well (or so I was told).

Then one day life decided that I needed a change.

I started working as a secretary for Plan A Health Care Staffing.  I knew a lot (or so I thought) about the business because it was my best friend’s “baby” and I had been around the Plan A Vision since it was born.  The difference between being around a company and working for it is very different. For me, after being in the same job for 9 years, going to work and knowing exactly what to do, was comforting; having to learn the ins and outs of a new job, however, was frustrating. Ever-evolving policies and procedures, client care, interviewing, hiring and dealing with staff, making sure our files were up to date, organizing orientation, taking care of bills and making sure the office ran smoothly…there was so much to learn!

After 2 years, I am happy to say I can again do my job with my eyes closed and I can talk about Plan A with confidence!  Working at the hospital gave me first-hand knowledge of what happens when not enough staff is there to take care of a patient and the same goes for Long Term Care residents. I love the Vision we bring to our community;  helping our elderly receive the care they deserve in their homes makes the change and challenges of learning a new job worth it. There is nothing more satisfying than watching our shifts disappear because the staff that we hired understand our vision and want to make a difference in the lives of our elderly too.  This is a “career” that makes me feel that I am making a difference in the world even if it’s just a small one.

Well guess what…. the girl who loves consistency is changing it up again!!

I was asked to take on the role as the Franchise Coordinator for Plan A Long Term Staffing and Recruitment Inc.  Again, I am going to have to learn a new job and a different type of position, too. I’m now going to be in charge of, technically, a new business.  I have to be more than the secretary, I have to be in charge of every aspect of starting a new business.  Learning how to run a Franchise from the ground up without policies to rely on (I’m big on policies) is difficult but I am pushing myself “outside of my box” and learning as I go. I am so lucky that I get to work with my best friend who is now also my mentor.  With her guidance, knowledge and business background and my administrative skills and an affinity to following the rules, I am confident that this new venture will be challenging and rewarding.  I have finally found my new favourite “career”!

Steph Candid

How We Put the PRO in Productivity

We all know the feeling: Monday morning, halfway through your first coffee… thinking you have a manageable day ahead, and them BAM, things get crazy. Deadlines, problems to be solved, errands to be ran. Your to-do list is growing by the second. 

Here is how we manage our time to make sure that everything gets done, and done well:

The Trusty Notepad: We would be lost without our notepads. The messy scribble that lives on their pages helps us to get all the little ‘to-do’s’ out of our heads while we are focusing on other tasks.

Our best practice? Each night we create a to-do list for the next day; things that were not completed that day, appointments, projects – the big things. That way, when we come in the next morning we don’t waste anytime refocusing. We know what we need to do and what the day should be dedicated to.

Have you heard of Bullet Journalling? This method is entirely focused on helping you do more in less time. This is something Sarah and I have just learned about and are looking to implement into our daily lives. If you find yourself trying to squeeze more and more into your jammed packed days I encourage you to read up on the method here: http://bulletjournal.com/ Let us know how it works for you!

Mini Meetings: In our small office, it is easy for me to turn to Sarah whenever I have a question or would like her input on something, but these little interruptions seriously inhibit our productivity. We realized this pretty early on and decided to swap in our constant chatter (read ‘cooonstant’) for a few ‘Mini Meetings’ each day, where we check in with each other, discuss any problems, and share feedback and ideas.

Not only does this allow us to concentrate more fully on our individual tasks for the rest of the day, but it helps us to only ask the important questions and to collect our thoughts more fully before bringing them to the soundboard.

Furry Friends: We love having our office pooch, Simcoe. While it may seem that having a dog in the office would inhibit productivity and be a bit of a time suck, we find it is just the opposite! 

Apart from Simcoe being a major stress reliever, having him in the office with us forces us to to get outside and take a breather. Giving yourself proper breaks is so fundamental to productivity, but it is often the first thing we deprive ourselves of, especially as business owners.

By taking time to get out of the office and re-collect our thoughts, even if it is just for 5 minutes, we come back feeling refreshed and more motivated to tackle the rest of the day.

And… did I mention he is adorable?

That’s it for me. What helps to keep your day running smoothly? I would love to hear your tips and tricks! 

Rachael

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!

Kevanna Portraits

-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.

 

What It’s Like Being in Business With My Sister

fullsizerender-2One of the questions Rachael and I get asked most often is what it is like working with our sister. People ask a range of sibling related questions: “who is older?”, “are you twins?”, “do you always get along?”, and so on. While Rachael and I are relatively new to business, family run business is something we have always been exposed to through our parents. With this combined experience, these are a few of the considerations we have taken, and observations I have made:

  • Skills matter most: While it may seem like Rachael and I are a pair out of convenience, it’s not true at all. Our individual talents and strengths are actually quite different and complementary! With my background in nursing, and Rachael’s background in business, we very naturally gravitate to different areas. Besides the obvious, there are other aspects of business where our natural skills have expressed themselves over the past several months; Rachael for example is very natural in customer service while I gravitate more intrinsically toward hiring and training. Recognizing and allowing for this has been such an energy saver. While developing new skills (especially the ones that don’t come easily!) is important, having a business partner that complements your existing skills, while bringing new ones into the partnership, is synergy at its finest! Rachael and I do share many sisterly qualities, but recognizing and nurturing our differences is serving us, and our business, very well!
  • Sometimes we’re not family: Anyone with siblings can appreciate that sometimes in our closest relationships familiarity can inhibit consideration. Looking back to August, when the idea of ‘Plan A Nipissing’ was vague and abstract, this was the first conversation Rachael and I had. We recognized that in order for our partnership to be successful, we would need to respect each other constantly, not allowing ourselves to take the liberties siblings often allow themselves out of frustration or tiredness. Rachael and I have been diligent in treating each other with the respect you would naturally afford a co-worker. While it may seem obvious or simple, this has been a newly learnt behaviour, and a complete game changer in many ways.
  • Partners since birth: One of the biggest benefits of knowing my ‘business partner’ intimately has been the ability to have truly honest conversations. While boundaries must be created and respected, being sisters also means that Rachael and I have been working together for our whole lives. In this, we are comfortable being a sounding board for each other’s ‘rough draft’ ideas. We constantly discuss ways to make our business better and more efficient. I think that being comfortable initiating conversations about unpolished ideas, knowing that 8/10 times the idea may go nowhere, has benefited us greatly!

If you are considering entering into a business partnership with a loved one I would encourage an honest assessment of the following: are your natural talents different and complementary? Are you both committed to maintaining respect for the other, especially when it is not easy? And, are you prepared to both give and receive feedback in terms of an honest sounding board? So far, these have been the major contributors to our successful and enjoyable business sister-ship! Oh, and in case you too are wondering: I am older, we are not twins (but people ask often!), and we almost always get along – we are sisters after all! 😉

Sarah

 

 

 

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…

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