Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Why Your Gut Instinct is Smarter Than You and You Should Listen

It was back in 2010 when I was watching How I Met Your Mother and came across this awesome inspirational passage of dialogue between Ted and Lily.

From How I Met Your Mother
Season 4, episode 24 – The Leap

Lily Evans:
Architecture is killing you Ted. And it’s killing us to watch it killing you. You’re like that goat with the washcloth. You want it so bad and every time the world tries to take it away from you, you keep grabbing it. It’s just a washcloth, why do you even want it?

Ted Mosby:
Because! I... I have to be an architect! That’s the... plan!

Lily Evans:
Screw the plan. I planned on being a famous artist. Marshall planned on being an environmental lawyer. Robin planned on being a TV reporter. Barney planned on being a violinist. You can’t design your life like a building. It doesn't work that way. You have to live it and it will design itself.

Ted Mosby:
I should just do nothing?

Lily Evans:
No. Listen to what the world is telling you and take the leap.

Obviously this dialogue did strike something in me because I actually rewound the episode (well, moved the bar back on the computer more like,) wrote down every single word and posted it as a Facebook note. At the time of hearing this, I was currently having the worst year of my life. Seriously, everything was going wrong. I wanted to get a great entry level human resources job so badly and I just couldn't seem to break into the field. The job I DID end up getting at a company called SQM was practically a hostile work environment.

So I did what I should have done. I listened to my gut, I listened to Lily Evans and I listened to what the world was telling me. I moved over into marketing and since then have been loving life and eventually started my own marketing company, Business Marketing Den. If I hadn't listened to any of this I might still be searching for that dream job in human resources and enjoying life a whole lot less.

So what does this say about gut instinct?

Well, if you've been living on planet Earth long enough then you've probably heard a few choice sayings. Like to always 'go with your gut' or 'listen to what your gut is telling you.'

Although that sounds like it might be a good idea, your conscious rational mind tells you that you can't just listen to your gut without thinking the situation through. After all, what does your gut know? It hasn't had time to weigh all the pros or cons like your conscious mind wants.

Actually, that isn't exactly true.

Your gut instinct is way more than just an intuition. It is your subconscious minds' way of giving you the information you need well before you've had a chance to think it through. Your 'gut' is the subconscious picking up on all sorts of observable cues that you have been learning to associate with people and situations since the time you were born.

For instance, think about the last time you met someone new or watched someone do a presentation. Within the first thirty seconds of meeting them or perhaps before you even spoke with them if you observed them from a distance, you had probably already formed a first impression.


This is simply your subconscious picking up on things your conscious mind hasn't yet had time to process. Things such as posture, body language, style, facial features and composure.

I recently spoke with a Realtor who had previously worked as a recruiter in human resources for 19 years and was talking with her about marketing her website. Although we had just met we were both very open with each other and there was clearly an element of mutual trust between both of us. Near the end of the meeting she said that she could tell I was genuine and she 'had a good feeling about me.' This was great to hear and I could honestly the same about her. There was no real reason for either of us to feel this way other than gut instinct and I firmly believe that intuition shall prove to be right.

I'm not saying to not put any thought and consideration into a situation, but the next time you have a difficult choice to make, listen to what your gut is telling you. After all, it's probably smarter than you.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Why Become an Entrepreneur? The Joys of Self-Employment

WARNING! This blog entry is a post about my life. You have been fairly WARNED!

A couple of months ago I was let go from my old job as a social media coordinator at Hooplah. I was pretty frustrated about it the day it happened but it was just the regular ego-deflating frustrations that come along with any unpleasant situation like this. The truth is, besides not having had been able to already quit on my own terms, I was quite happy about this happening.

Many people may look at losing their job as a loss of financial security, but I saw it as a means of financial freedom. In all honesty, I was growing pretty bored of my position there. It was the same routine day in, day out. Nothing was changing for me, but more to the point, I felt like I was being tied up in a straight jacket and being let go untied the knot.

You see, the one thing that I've been discovering about myself over the past couple of years is that I have a very entrepreneurial spirit. I think that's something that comes from my family. Many of my cousins, aunts and uncles are successful entrepreneurs running or have run businesses such as 4Print, Tundra Technical, Design Plan Services and Irwin Seating. Even my own parents run their own business Keystone Steam Supplies.

I always remember my dad telling me how one day he just realized, he wasn't meant to work for someone else. He wanted the independence and freedom of owning his own business. At the time I felt that was crazy! There has to be so much pressure and stress of running your own business right? Why would anyone want to do that?

Well as it turns out, I do. And I figured it out a lot younger than my dad did.

So as of June, I have launched my own business called Business Marketing Den along with my business partner Cathy Kovacic. I've always had a wide variety of skills and interests from creating videos, to marketing, to public speaking, so why not put all of them to use under one roof?

After all, the Joker said it best.

And guess what? Lo' and behold, it turns out my dad wasn't crazy after all! Although there is certainly quite a bit of stress and pressure associated with it, running your own business is a very rewarding experience. Here are just a few of the things I like about it in contrast to how it felt working for someone else.
  1. Running your own business is rewarding.  When you work for someone else, no matter how big or how small they are you will always carry the feeling of just being a cog in a machine. The motivation is your pay cheque but it doesn't really extend beyond that. When you're running your own business, a happy client and a job well done directly reflects on you. Of course the same can be said about a poorly done job, so try to avoid that.
  2. You decide the direction of where you want to take things. This was one of my main frustrations working for other people. I always felt like I had great ideas and like I could do a lot more if I was given the opportunity but the opportunities either never came along or my ideas were always turned down. When you're doing it for yourself, your ideas can always be implemented. If they don't work out, then it's a learning experience for you and at least you will see for yourself why they failed.
  3. There's more money in running your own business. Paul Tobey from Training Business Pros is my key influencer on this one with a quote that sticks with me. "You will never get rich working for someone else". It's true. Even if your annual salary is over $100k, becoming a successful entrepreneur gives you the opportunity to make that much or more in a month. Of course the key word here is 'successful'. Things can always go the opposite route if you aren't careful or committed.
  4. There's more variety and exciting things to do when you run your own business. Some days I'm attending sales meetings, some days I'm working on the website and other days I'm brainstorming new ideas in the pool. Sure, certain jobs do offer more variety than others but nothing offers variety like being an entrepreneur.
  5. Being an entrepreneur gives you something to be proud of. Telling people I was a social media coordinator for a digital agency was always just a conversational piece and never really something I ever wanted to go into a deep discussion about. Telling people I run my own business and explaining to them what I do is something that puts a huge smile on my face. And seeing those business cards with your name and Owner, President or CEO on it is definitely an empowering feeling.
Yes there are quite a few reasons I'm very happy and excited to have started Business Marketing Den. I can't say for sure that I know where it's going to go but I am absolutely looking forward to finding out!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

What to do with your hands when you are speaking

Have you ever been speaking in front of an audience or even just standing somewhere and talking with someone and all of a sudden felt unbelievably conscious of your hands? It's bizarre, isn't it? It seems like the more unfamiliar or nervous we are in a particular situation, the more suddenly aware we are of these two giant limbs that are attached to our body day and night. And man, do they feel weird.

The question is, what do we do with them to make them look natural? Well, here's a good rule of thumb. And I warn you, it is completely contradictory to everything that seems logical. Which ironically, is exactly why it works. Here it is.

The more awkward your arms feel the more natural they look.

Stand up and raise your arms up above your head - DO IT. Now let them fall down naturally right to your side - STOP. Hold it right there - that pose. It feels wrong. It feels awkward and unnatural. You are extremely aware of your arms just sitting there doing absolutely nothing. And THAT contrary to what your brain tells you, is the most natural looking way to stand you will ever see.

Want further proof? Alright.

Stand up and cross your arms. Feels pretty natural right? Well you probably already know that standing with your arms closed is one of the most closed and potentially hostile stances you can take. Yet we're compelled to stand this way because it just feels so... normal.

Look at the image I chose to use for this post with three people standing. Who in it looks the most natural? Who looks the most unnatural? The man and the woman on the sides look pretty natural standing there with their arms by their sides. The woman in the middle doesn't seem 'closed' as the arms might suggest, however she does look like the only one posing and seems likely to be the most unapproachable of the three.

Finally, have you ever paid attention to what a professional speaker does with their arms when they ask the audience if there are any questions and/or when they receive a round of applause? Chances are probably not, because we only tend to remember things when they are off - not when they work. You'll always notice hearing the wrong note played in a song, but when the right notes are played the music just flows smoothly. 

A professional speaker will extend their arms and bend them slightly towards the audience in both of these situations to demonstrate that they are open to receiving questions and/or applause. And it works! When a speaker is standing like this, a question always comes along and we feel more obliged to enthusiastically applaud. Yet, try actually standing this way. You think keeping your arms to your side feels weird? That's nothing compared to the feeling of standing with your arms outstretched in this fashion.

It's strange, uncomfortable and beyond all logical understanding. Yet it absolutely, truly, one-hundred percent works.

Try it.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Getting More Engagement on Facebook

When it comes to getting massive amounts of engagement and clickthroughs on your content, there's no place like Facebook. Sure, you can get something to go viral on Reddit, Digg, Stumbleupon or any of these other social sharing platforms. But there's a fine line between what makes it and what breaks it on any of them. Because those are all community driven sites, submitting links to your own website or blog while it may seem like a good idea to you, often comes across as spam to others.

Facebook on the other hand is a different story.

With Facebook, it's almost expected that you're going to keep pushing content to your own domain (although it certainly isn't the only thing you should do). And the best part about Facebook over social sharing websites like Reddit is that you can build up your own audience and keep delivering great content to the same people by having your own Facebook page. Facebook essentailly becomes your social media mailing list. But now more than ever, especially with Facebook having converted to its timeline format - there is a very fine line between what kind of social posts will make it, and what kind will not.

An example of a good Facebook post. Simple text that asks a question, a catchy image and fantastic engagement.
Here's what you need to know.

First of all, just because someone has clicked "Like" on your page doesn't mean they are going to see your post! Facebook has a complicated algorithm that determines who sees what. Think about it - how many friends do you have on your personal Facebook account? Are you seeing updates from all of them? Probably not. What you're most likely seeing is updates by the people you interact with the most. People you give likes to or who give like to you. People whose page you visit and people whose posts you interact with.

Actually, this isn't even the only thing that determines how and what you see. Relationship updates typically have a high priority in your news feed regardless of whether or not you interact with that person. Also, posts with images will typically show up higher in your feed than links; or worst of all - text only posts.

An example of a bad Facebook post. Hashtags, there could easily be an image. And it has poor grammar.

And all of the same applies to Facebook pages. So your feed doesn't get bombarded with posts from all of the pages you give a "Like" to, Facebook only shows you content from pages you have recently interacted with. For page managers, this is a problem. Luckily, there are some best practices you can implement in order to ensure that the people who "Like" your page, actually see your content.

13 Best Practices for Facebook Postings

  1. Post frequently, because the more often you post the more chances people have to engage with your content and therefore see your posts in their news feed. Once a day is a good rule of thumb, but two or more can be great as well.
  2. Post fun "always-on" content! This is the type of stuff that people are going to want to click "like, share" and leave a comment on. It's the fun engaging stuff that may not necessarily be about your brand or your website but will drive up engagement on your page and keep the conversation going.
  3. Use an image for your posts. Facebook converted to Timeline because they realized things were going very image-heavy and wanted to capitalize on that. Posts with images show up higher in the news feed than posts without images.
  4. Find posting times that work best for you. There will be a huge difference in the traffic you get if you post at 1pm versus 1am. Obviously you don't want to be posting that early in the morning but experiment and find out what gets you more likes, 1pm or 3pm?
  5. Have a weekly feature. For instance, Telus used to have TELUS Tuesday where they partnered with other companies for special discounts on Tuesday and even had their own hashtag. If you don't want to give discounts then you can always do something fun like "Lifehack Thursday". Having a weekly feature gives people something to look forward to - especially if it becomes fun and popular.
  6. Don't be too wordy. People have short attention spans and information is everywhere. Get their attention with a nice catchy title for your post and keep it simple. This goes for images too. Images are meant to be images. Not a place to put more text.
  7. Make your posts through Facebook. Don't use a third party app like Hootsuite to manage your Facebook postings. Do everything through Facebook itself, there's even a scheduler option for pages now! Facebook likes you using them and will penalize your postings in the news feed if you go through a third party app.
  8. Talk like a human being. People don't want to read your mission statement. Posts that show there's a human behind the brand put everybody on the same level.
  9. Ask questions in your posts. I'm sure that there are stats out there that show how much more likely people are to engage with your post if you ask them a question. I can definitely tell you from my own personal experience managing several large pages that this is certainly the case.
  10. Use a URL shortener. Whether it's a bit.ly, an owl.ly or any other shortened link - it just looks more professional. Similarily...
  11. Don't use hashtags in your Facebook post. Seriously, Facebook and Twitter are two very different places and it's very annoying to #see #hashtags #on #Facebook. It looks horrible and doesn't do anything.
  12. Link to pages and people that you mention. Did you know that you can tag other Facebook pages by typing @Page Name? (I just learned you can do this on Blogger too apparently). The page you are linking to will get a notification that they've been linked to when you do this. Who knows, they may come visit and you might get some new page likes! As a page manager you can not link to individual Facebook fans in your post - only other pages.
  13. Pay for advertising. Facebook has three types of advertising options, regular ads (like the ones you see on the right side of your profile), sponsored stories (Your friend liked this page! Maybe you should too?), and sponsored posts which make it more likely for people who haven't recently interacted with your page to see your latest posting. A few hundred dollars can easily result in quite a few hundred extra page likes and is one of the easiest ways of getting them. What you do with those page likes at that point is up to you.
That's it! Follow these best practices and you will see an improvement on your Facebook engagement. Happy socializing!

Friday, 1 February 2013

The 10 Most Inspirational Videos on the Internet

If there's one thing that brings out the absolute best in all of us, it's the emotions that come associated with feeling inspired. And let's face it, when we're inspired we are absolutely at our best. We are kinder, more considerate, happier and more productive.

What I wanted to do here is put together a list of what I consider to be the 10 most inspirational videos on the Internet. Each of them is inspirational for their own reasons.

Watch one, you'll feel better.
Watch three, you'll feel amazing.
Watch five, you won't stop smiling.
Watch all ten, and nothing will get you down.

Let's start with #10.

Inspirational Videos #10: Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen

What's it about? It's a cross between a music video and a speech. It's a song based on a famous essay that gives fantastic advice which has no basis in fact, other than the writer's own meandering experience.

Why does it inspire us? Sometime's we just need to forget our problems and hear nothing but a positive message. Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen delivers by giving us exactly what we need to hear.

Inspirational Videos #9: Evolution of Dance

What's it about? A few years ago, inspirational comedian Judson Laipply shocked his audience by pulling off some epic dance moves to songs transcending several generations. The video went viral. The only thing it's missing by being a few years old is Gangnam Style.

Why does it inspire us? Because it brings together years and years of great music, showing us that as much as things may change - people have continually developed some awesome stuff. It might also inspire you to take up dancing.

Inspirational Videos #8: The Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

What's it about? In 2007, Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch delivered a fantastic speech about how he got to do all of the things he wanted to do as a child, including becoming an imagineer for Disney and experiencing a zero-gravity state. What really made his lecture inspirational was that he begun by explaining how he had multiple tumours and only about six months left to live. However, he was completely and legitimately upbeat, happy and positive for his entire lecture.

"If I don't seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you."
- Randy Pausch

Why does it inspire us? Because Randy shows us that you can do and achieve everything you want in life if you put your mind to it and stick to it. No matter how bad things get, here is someone who can look death in the eye, and tell others how they can lead a more fulfilling life.

Inspirational Videos #7: Susan Boyle - Britain's Got Talent

What's it about? Onto the stage of Britain's Got Talent walks the not so great looking, unknown woman named Susan Boyle who promptly claims that she wants to be a professional singer. The skeptical and disbelieving looks she gets from the audience and judges are very quickly cast aside as jaws are dropped when despite her looks, she manages to sing I Dreamed a Dream with one of the most incredible singing voices ever heard.

Why does it inspire us? It's a fantastic reminder of the old saying "don't judge a book by it's cover" for all of us. Despite the whole room being against her, Susan held her head up high and WOW'ed everyone in attendance and watching their TV's at homes with the single biggest inspirational moment ever seen on reality television. Feel bad about your own looks? Don't. Believe that anything is possible because anything is.

Inspirational Videos #6: Dr. Seuss - Oh the Places You Will Go

What's it about? Dr. Seuss's book probably means more to us as adults then as children. It's a series of positive "can-do" messages delivered in the famous author's poetic and rhythmic style. Page after page of awesomeness.

Why does it inspire us? Similar to the sunscreen video, the messages are exactly what we need to hear. They are positive affirmations of the power each and every one of us has to succeed in life.

Inspirational Videos #5: Dolphin & Dog - Let's Be Friends

What's it about? It's a music video set to Song of the Seas by Vangelis about a dog who sees a dolphin swimming in the water one day and wants nothing more than to form a bond. It's short, artistic and beautifully done.

Why does it inspire us? You have to look at it metaphorically, but it goes to show that true friendships can withstand any barriers (land & water) and you will always be there to help each other out when needed. It's simple, plays on our emotions and makes us feel good.

Inspirational Videos #4: Universe Epic Zoom Out
*NOTE: Change to 1080p HD, put your headhones on, and make this full screen for maximum viewing enjoyment.

What's it about? This epic zoom out takes gives us an awesomely realistic 3D animation starting at planet Earth and zooming out all of the way to the edge of the known universe and then zooming back in again.

Why does it inspire us? Ever feel like your problems are too big? Watch this video and they will shrink away. It shows us how small we really are and how incredible our universe and science is in our cosmic place and time. How far we've come since the Big Bang and evolved to where we are now. And how much farther we still have to go.

Inspirational Videos #3: Where the Hell is Matt?

What's it about? In 2006, Matt Harding released his first viral video called "Dancing 2006" which was later changed to "Where the Hell is Matt?" featuring him dancing in various locations around the world. Since then he has developed two more viral videos called "Where the Hell is Matt? 2008" and "Where the Hell is Matt? 2012".

Why does it inspire us? Because it breaks down international barriers and brings us closer together. Because it shows off various cultures of the world in the best possible way in one short 3-5 minute clip. It also brings shows us the positive cultural side of countries we hardly ever hear anything good about like North Korea and Iraq. It eliminates racism and shows us that we are all alike as one human race.

Inspirational Videos #2: The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes

What's it about? In 1992, a 12 year old girl named Severn Cullis-Suzuki spoke at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, delivering a message about environmental issues. After she floored the audience with her words, the video would eventually become a viral hit on YouTube.

Why does it inspire us? Because despite being filmed over 20 years ago, the message she delivers is still highly relevant today. It's refreshing to hear someone as innocent as a child deliver something so powerful that singles out adults who take things for granted and put them in their place. It's inspirational because rather than patting yourself on the back, it makes you re-evaluate yourself and think about what you can do better.

Inspirational Videos #1: People are Awesome

What is it? There are several videos of this name that all feature a series of clips of people doing the type of cool action stunts you would typically only see in the movies or in video-games. Except it's all real.

Why does it inspire us? Because we love to see people doing really cool things. We enjoy seeing the human body being pushed to it's limits. We admire the potential and realize that these things can be done in reality and it encourages us to strive to do crazy-cool things ourselves. People are awesome and we love each other for it.

So there you have it, my picks for the top 10 most inspirational videos on the Internet. Got any others you love? Share them in the comments. Hope you feel inspired!