A Monthly Ritual

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On the last day of every month, I sit back, look at everything that’s happened over the last 4 weeks and set my sights on what’s ahead. I pick up a pen and write out my goals for the upcoming month. Some are personal, some are professional, the key here is that every line I write is important to me. Whenever there’s anything that I can share that might make a difference for someone’s self-motivation, I’m always game and this blog post is just that; me, sharing a habit that has a positive impact on my life.

The Ritual:

  1. Details matter.

I set monthly goals. Again, this is a personal choice. My projections at work layout my yearly and monthly expectations (that helps me determine what my professional goal will be for the month). As an example, I’ve set a goal to personally add 1,000 users to our platform in the month of July and that’s what’s on the monthly goal list. From there, I break down that goal and specify the ‘who’ and the ‘how’.

  • Who – what customers, specifically, do I plan to bring on? Where am I at with each of those people and what will it take to get them on our platform?
  • How – looking back at the last question above, I take into consideration timing, method and resources and plug away.

In other words, it’s great to list that you want to lose 10 pounds this month but how do you plan to achieve that? Meal plans? Workouts? When will you workout? If you add details and thought to the goal you can guarantee 2 things. First, you care enough about this goal to flesh it out. Second, you’ll have a detailed plan to help you achieve or maybe even exceed your goal.

  1. Include things that matter to you.

Fleshing out a goal and divvying it up across your month as a plan can be done for anything: saving money, losing weight, career advancement and the list goes on. What’s important is that every goal you list has a legitimate reason for taking up space as a monthly goal at all. I list things from date nights with the hubby to which books I plan to read. I think of my career, my family life and my home. I have goals to advance and/or nurture each one of those. While my focus might shift slightly from month to month, I always ensure to only add things that matter to me. When you care about the ultimate outcome, you’re bound to put the energy needed to check those boxes off at the end of the month.

  1. Push yourself.

Most people have heard the term ‘SMART goals’, right? There’s one letter in that acronym that bothers me, the “A” for achievable. Depending on what article you’re reading, it stands for different things but overall, it always comes back to setting goals that you know you can attain. That, to me, is the wrong way to go. If you think you can save $1,000 this month, push yourself to save $1,200. Why even bother to write it down if it’s a safe assumption and achievable? What satisfaction will you gain from checking it off if it was a given anyway? I’m a believer in pushing yourself beyond your limit. Our limits are set by what we allow ourselves to believe. Why not try harder, believe a little bit more and come out ahead?

There you have it—Mel’s goal setting 101.

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Rise Together

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There’s no doubt that StaffStat has seen its fair share of success over the course of the last few months.

  • Innovator’s Den winner at the OLTCA Fall Conference
  • Ahead of the Curve Innovation Award – Business With Brian Awards
  • Innovation Award – Bell Business Excellence Awards
  • 2017’s Intrapreneur of Year Award – BPW

Of course, recognition, above all else is something we strive for. It’s wonderful to win an award but being nominated in and of itself is something to be proud of. The best part about this entire journey is when someone else comes around, taps you on the shoulder and says “Hey, I think you deserve this nomination”. We’ve been lucky to have the support of our entire community along the way and this blog post goes out to them!

I want to encourage everyone to be a cheerleader! I know this sounds like fluff and it may be something that you feel you have very little time for however, helping someone else rise oftentimes comes back to you (not that I’m suggesting this is why you should do it)!

Here’s what I know: since we’ve launched StaffStat, everyone is obsessed with the concept of competition. Questions like: “Who else is out there that’s doing what you’re doing?”, “How easy would it be to replicate what you’re doing?”, “Are you worried about who’s coming down the line with a similar product?” are frequently asked. Don’t get me wrong, the wise thing is to always be aware of what’s going on in your space and we would be fools if we didn’t acknowledge that we keep a pulse on anything and everything that’s similar. However, what I am suggesting is that beyond keeping your eyes peeled for the threats either to your own company or someone elses, remember to keep an eye out for what’s happening around you; what’s innovative, what’s up and coming and what you can help elevate by supporting!

Based on what we’ve experienced personally here at StaffStat, I can say with 100% certainty that when you receive encouragement, it can be a game changer. That can be in the form of mentorship, nominations and/or advice. It doesn’t cost a penny to take a little time out of your schedule to help someone else. The feeling you’ll get from helping someone else will long outlast and will undoubtedly outweigh doing nothing at all.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. When you hear of upcoming awards, consider the people you know and nominate someone that fits the bill. Just a few minutes of your time could have a major impact on that person and their business.
  2. If you’re ever asked, take the time to meet with budding entrepreneurs and provide them with sound advice based on your experience. Do this without the expectation that the person will follow your advice but with the knowledge that something you say may trigger and impact that person’s company for the better.
  3. Become an official mentor. Here in Sudbury, places like the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce and the NORCAT Innovation Mill are open to seasoned entrepreneurs providing mentorship to startups. If you’ve got the goods, you can certainly lend your expertise to someone who may have little to no knowledge regarding some of the aspects of running a successful venture.

Above all, open your eyes and your mind to the possibility that the next best thing could benefit from your help. Why not be play a role in that? Rather than focusing on what can threaten an up and coming company, let’s focus on how we can help each other and rise together!

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It’s OK to Make Mistakes

MistakesEvery business, every employee, and every leader fails at some point in their career, but the difference between a success and a failure is what you learn. Mistakes are a valuable resource that should never be overlooked — here’s why:

  • It’s ok to make mistakes – seriously. As an entrepreneur I try to look at every mistake as a lesson. I want to understand why the mistake was made and how I can avoid making the same one in the future. More importantly, I want to understand how that mistake has changed or affected our business. Whether it’s a significant error in judgment or a minor oversight, I try to find value in the outcome.
  • Mistakes teach you to forgive. When a mistake is made, especially a big one, forgiveness is an essential aspect of moving through it.  Most of the time there is no malicious intent by the person who made the mistake (us or others).  Sadly, we tend to spend and waste a lot of time and energy either with blame or resentment, instead of focusing our attention in a more productive, positive, and healthy direction — forgiveness. If we can remember that most of the time we’re doing the best we can (as are others), we can hopefully get off our own backs and allow ourselves to be human (which means we aren’t perfect, nor is anyone else).
  • Mistakes fuel you. Once you make a mistake you are determined to do better. Mistakes help you better yourself. Mistakes push you in ways you never knew you could be pushed. No matter how many mistakes you make, you will have chances to make them better. You need to make mistakes to encourage and inspire you.
  • Mistakes help you grow as a person. Making a mistake seems like the end of the world, but it’s not. It means that you have to fix it and start over. After making a mistake, the best thing you can do is try to fix it. You can reflect on your decisions and learn the right way from the mistakes you make. They help you learn more about yourself and grow. Inevitably, they help you realize what is right and wrong to you. You can’t learn anything without messing up and trying to put things back together.

Ultimately, when mistakes are made 1. Learn from them, 2. Own them, 3. Fix them, and 4. Put safeguards in place to ensure the same mistake will never be repeated again. Don’t engage in days, weeks or months of self-blame or battering your self-esteem because you should’ve known, should’ve acted differently, or should’ve been an ideal person; you’re not, and neither am I. That’s just life.

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Early Adopters, My Favourite Kind of People!

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Early adopters, they’re easily some of my favourite people! StaffStat could not be where it is today without them! Some people need everything new now! Others can’t stand the risk of newness and hand the ‘risk torch’ onto others, allowing them to lead the way. It’s pretty simple to determine which camp you belong to. Just ask yourself the following conversation: a revolutionary product is launched into the market. Do you buy it right away, or wait until more information is available on its features and shortcomings? If you’re in the former group, you are an early adopter. You see the appeal of new products and invest in their potential to become something bigger. Because I’m a huge fan of early adoption, I give you three reasons why it’s beneficial to be an early adopter.

  1. You have a say in product advancement. By jumping on board, you forge a direct connection with the companies that invent these products. Companies greatly value your feedback and honest suggestions. By doing trial and error on the product and sharing your thoughts, you become a crucial player in the growth of the product. In other words, you have the power to shape and influence the product as it pushes through the evolution cycle. It’s a satisfying feeling to have your voice heard.
  2. You get bragging rights. Equally satisfying are the bragging rights for being the first owner(s) of a product. You have a conversation piece to discuss with co-workers, friends and family and you become a kind of “go-getter” for anyone with questions about the product. Even if a product becomes more popular over time, you can say that you owned that product before everyone else did.
  3. You become a thought leader. Not only do you forge contact with companies, you also create connections in the product circle – other people who, like you, are enthusiasts of the product. You have the ability to share the benefits and disadvantages of the new gadget, app or software at hand, creating buzz for a larger community of consumers, from fellow early adopters to late followers.

As they say, the early bird gets the worm. By providing first-hand knowledge on new products, you get the advantage of helping a product evolve and improve over time. While many products eventually become a household item, they would not have gotten there without people like you who are passionate enough to invest in them in the first place. As an early adopter, you don’t follow the crowd – you lead the crowd and for that, I say “Thank You!”.

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That Was Then… This is Now

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A quote from my personal Facebook Page one year ago:

“There’s this little known software company by the name of StaffStat, Inc. It’s changing the healthcare sector and our phone’s been ringing off the hook! Before 11am yesterday, we booked 4 demos and scheduled 2 meetings with prominent corporate prospects! We helped to cover an average of 58 shifts PER DAY last month. That’s 58 times PER DAY that because of StaffStat, more people were made aware, more people offered to come in on a day off and help out to work with a vulnerable population that would have otherwise been under-serviced! THIS, my friends is not a sales pitch; it’s a full-blown realization. We ARE making a difference. We ARE changing the status quo. We ARE from Azilda. We ARE women and we are monomaniacally focused on bringing our much needed solution to a HUGE problem. You heard it here on May 10th, 2016… StaffStat is going places and I am more than happy, proud and blessed to go along for the ride.”

I love Facebook’s “On This Day” feature because it allows me to reflect back on where we were, how enthusiastic I’ve always been for our solution and how far we’ve come!

Updates on the above include the following:

  1. I don’t think I would exactly describe us as “little known” anymore. We’ve seen consistent growth and as we continue to cruise the healthcare sector, the response “What do you do?” has been traded in for “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of you guys!”. That’s a solid trade-in if you ask this girl!
  2. Three of those four demos are now customers of StaffStat and one of those prominent meetings led to the signing of our first corporate contract.
  3. We’ve grown 380% in terms of our shift coverage! That’s right, StaffStat helps to cover 221 shifts per day. That’s an average savings of 165 hours/day that StaffStat puts back into long-term care, community supports and hospitals. Those hours are now being used to provide additional care, to ensure safety for residents and employees, and to improve processes in admissions and discharges. It’s a massive impact and we’re proud to put it out there! Imagine where we’ll be next year?
  4. We’ve since moved to Sudbury but we’re quite liberal about saying that we got our start in the A-Dot!
  5. We are still a team of women (we’ve actually added 3 fabulous ladies in a full-time capacity since this time last year) but we do have some testosterone in the office in the form of a placement student courtesy of Cambrian College of Applied Arts and Technology for the next 8 weeks (so glad to have you on board Amit!).

Some things, however, never change: We are making a difference across all of the sectors we serve. We are changing the status quo and I thank my lucky stars every single day that I was not only asked but was permitted to take the lead on this amazing project!

The moral of this blog post is this… if you’re into social media, take advantage of the memories, look back and be amazed at how far of you’ve come every now and again! If you’re not a social media ‘updating the world’ type of individual, keep a journal to write out where you’re at every now and again. Open last year’s journal from time to time and compare your ‘then’ and think of your ‘now’. If you’re in a better place and happy, you’re on the right track. If you’re not, it’s never too late to change the entry for today, start anew and compare again on this day… next year 😉

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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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She-E-Oh Unplugged Part 2/3

FullSizeRender.jpgAs I sit in the shade of a Palm tree in sunny Varadero, I’m completely thrown off. It’s strange, nothing to discuss, no problems to resolve, no customers to call upon. It’s our last day here and we’ve made some friends, we’ve lived the Cuban nightlife, we’ve had a really great time. Nonetheless, I’ll be the first to admit that my mind has wandered, more than once to home, to our team, to the company. I can’t say that I’m surprised. I do however know that there are definitive benefits to the “turning it off mode” that I’m currently experiencing and here are the top 5:
1. Self-Care: I represent an amazing company. The one question I keep reminding myself of as I do my best to relax is: what good are you to a fast moving and growing company like StaffStat if you’re tired? If I lack energy, so do my conversations with customers. If I lack motivation, so does my team. It boils down to this: how I feel affects everything; customer service, sales and operations. Feeling “tired” isn’t an option and this time away has provided me with the much needed rest my body’s been craving!
2. Reconnecting: It’s been a long time since I’ve just sat there with my husband and talked about ‘nothing’. It usually always comes back to business, the kids or the household. Just walking around Varedero, holding hands and talking about the weather was a nice and welcome change of pace for both of us.
3. Being in the moment: I mentioned in my previous blog that we’re part of a society that spends more time looking down at our phones than we do looking at the person sitting across from us at the table. During our short stay in Cuba, I’ve opted to leave my phone in the safe. Other than Spotify playing music for us every now and again, it’s been powered off. It made for an albeit different week but a great one. We had our GoPro and that was the only thing we brought along. We went to clubs, saw some live bands and we had a posh dinner in town. I’ll admit that I thought to myself on each of those occasions that “this would look amazing on Instagram”. I shut that down and admired the view, the presentation of the food and the bands without a phone in my hands AND I survived!
4. It’s worth it: I don’t give myself many opportunities to turn it off. Weekends, after hours… I’m always thinking, strategizing and plotting the next call. In this case, I forced myself to not think of the one thing that’s always on my mind. It was hard but it felt good. Scratch that… it felt strange but in the end, I know that it’s what I needed.
5. It was necessary: April, for our Team, is a month that requires tons of energy. We attend 2 conferences where we lay eyes on every single customer and  prospect we’ve been connecting with over the course of the year. When I say we need to “bring it”, that’s an understatement. It’s essential for each one of us to feel great and have the energy to have clever and meaningful conversations. That’s hard to do when you’re running on empty. The timing of this trip was purposeful. It was meant to allow me to power off because I know that in 3 short weeks I’ll be required to power on in a huge way!
When you represent a company, it’s easy to trade in your well being for growth and success. Of course, you want nothing more than to see your product or service thrive. If this past week in Cuba has taught me anything it’s that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds and that unplugging every now and again is actually an investment, in me and that translates to an investment in the company I represent.
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