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Happy building in portland

Portland Oregon: A Lesson In Purple Cows 

Have you ever had a Blue Cheese and Pear Ice-cream cone? How about a Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper Ice-cream cone? Or maybe you have tried Carrot Cake Batter & Pralined Hazelnuts Ice-cream? That’s not a typo, Salt & Straw has been making Ice cream like this since 2011 in Portland Oregon. And people freaking LOVE it. 

You must be asking now, why the hell do they sell such weird Ice cream? The answer is simple, because people LOVE it. They don’t “like” it, most people “like” Ice cream. But if you are going to travel across the city, pay for parking, wait in line, there’s something special about the Ice-cream. People who go to Salt & Straw LOVE Ice cream and they can hardly wait to try the next crazy concoction the Ice cream gods can think up.

I’m telling you about Salt & Straw because every time we past one in Portland there was a lineup outside the door 15 minutes long at the very least, an hour long at peak times. The Ice cream was priced reasonably, $3-10 cones and bowls. That was the most unique quality that we saw again and again; businesses don’t charge an arm and a leg for unique products in Portland, they’d rather charge an honest price and create mass amounts of demand.  After all, a lower allows many more people to try your creation!

(Yes I spoke with a women who got the Blue Cheese and Pear combination, she loved it, weird.)

Salt and straw portland

But it wasn’t only Salt & Straw that had a completely ridiculous lineup every time we walked by, the famous Voodoo Doughnut was just as bad.

The famous Voodoo Doughnut was a very unique experience. We waited in line for 20 minutes, finally at the front we look at the menu expecting you know, $10-20 maybe? Like you know what you’d find at a fancy Doughnut Delicatessen? Nope, most were under $2 other than the fancy ones.

How peculiar! Any MBA worth half their education would say, “Raise your prices! You could be making WAY more cash money!”. The obvious response to the MBA: “then it wouldn’t be special anymore!”

The reason Voodoo Doughnut is so good is that it isn’t easy to get. You can’t just go buy one from any old store. You must wait in line. But the price point is so anyone can afford it! A brilliant concept, charge an honest price, do something amazing. 

The best part about the entire experience was the box (shown below). The box is a piece of art you want to put on display. You don’t pay extra for it, everybody gets one and as soon as you leave Voodoo it turns into a Social Object (people talk about it).

Voodoo Doughnut Portland

“Good things come in pink boxes”.

Next was the advertising. Some amazing displays of creative work, travelling through Portland will have you kinking your neck a lot. The Lyft billboard shown below was a monstrosity in downtown Portland, our Uber driver pulled over so I could take this picture!

The elephant in the road

Portland is going through a change. You don’t see a lot of super cars. You don’t see a lot of suits or people looking down their nose at you. It’s a very laid back, friendly, west coast vibe. They like to have fun and businesses are not afraid at using humour in their messaging. See below.

Marine Layer Portland

Marine Layer is a clothing company started on the coast. They have fun (like this sign), staff is really friendly and “it’s an Airbnb. (seriously)”. My favourite part.

Welcome to “Nike Biketown USA”

Nike Biketown Portland

A week before we arrived in Portland Nike and the city had arranged a $10 million bike share program in the downtown core. You sign up online or on the app, connect a credit card, and you have a bike for $2.50 per hour. What a brilliant idea! They have stations all over so you don’t have to return your bike to the same place you rented it. Amazing.

I believe they stole this one from Europe, what an amazing service. 1,000 bright orange Nike bikes are all over Portland.

The vast majority of these weird Purple Cow places had several things in common

  1. The best ones had a unique characteristic (Superpower) that they are now known for
    Unconventional Ice-cream, best chicken and waffles, completely original doughnut flavours, and entire library full of whiskey.  
  2. They weren’t expensive
    The restuarnts that had a wait time (Mother’s, Pok Pok, Voodoo Doughnut, Salt & Straw) were very affordable if not considered “cheap” price point to other establishments close by.
  3. They were inclusive; you see all walks of life frequenting the best places
    One of our Uber driver summed it up for us; “you don’t see many suits anymore, people don’t care about the money, they would rather be comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, big money isn’t looked up to here.”

So what did this little ol Canadian from the prairies learn? Location isn’t an excuse. Portland has never been a major tourist destination until the last decade. They are forward thinking with government policy (this attracts the young people). Without the young people you aren’t growing. But the to attract young people it has to be affordable, Portland is. And finally if you want to be a world renown place, company, or even Airbnb, find your superpower. Embrace your superpower.

All the best places in Portland had something special about them, something weird.

Now go find your Purple Cow, your social object or superpower, whatever it is don’t be afraid to be different.

How do you pick a website domain name

How To Pick A Website Domain Name

How do you pick a website domain? 

Two words: chat roulette 

Kidding!

YES, finally someone answers all those questions we’ve had over the past two years about domain names and best practices for picking a URL. It’s changed so much because of how competitive search engine results have become.

At one time you could have bought the domain name “www.ReginaWebsites.com” and you’d get all the organic traffic for people search for websites in Regina. Times have changed. You can’t just “get” to the front page by setting up a keyword heavy domain name. Yes there will be exceptions to the rule and if you’re on the front page of Google with very little work it won’t last long.

Make it brand-able and pronounceable

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I can

There Are Only Two Types of People In The World: “I cans” and “I can’ts”

Which one are you?

When a new challenge comes along do you jump on it? Do you tell yourself you can do it instead of the opposite? Good, I like you.

Or…

When someone asks you something to do and you’re unsure of, do you immediately say “NO”?
When someone asks you to do something uncomfortable do you try to avoid it?

You could be creating very detrimental habits that are going to affect your life in the future

When someone asks you to do something and you say “I can’t” you’re doing terrible things to your brain on multiple different levels. Your conscious mind likes the decision because you don’t need to try anything new, staying the same is easy. If all you do is seek out and perform tasks that are “easy” you’ll never learn.

Doing what’s easy or safe affects your subconscious mind too. Your subconscious mind thinks that any task you say “no” to is now something you can’t do, just because of your attitude not your ability. You’re creating a precedent for your mind to say, I can’t, I shouldn’t, I’m no good at that. Think if that was your attitude as a child? You wouldn’t have learned very much at all! In the long run “safe” doesn’t help anyone.

The Elephant and the Rider: your Conscious and SubConscious mind

Chip and Dan Heath from the book Switch tell us to be wary of what we tell our subconscious mind.

The now famous Heath Brothers compare your conscious and subconscious mind to that of an Elephant and a person riding it. Your conscious mind (the rider) in the grand scheme of your brain is quite small and relatively powerless compared to your subconscious (the Elephant). The catch is the Elephant (your subconscious) doesn’t choose what to focus on, it simply listens to the conscious mind. Hence the “power of positive thinking”, affirmations, goal setting, all have the same goal in mind, to tap into the power of your subconscious. 

Be very careful what you ‘tell’ your brain

A coach at a volleyball camp when asked to do an underhand serve said those horrible, horrible words. I CAN’T. Basically saying “I have no courage, I can not even fathom doing this incredibly difficult task you have given me!” ANY volleyball player can do an underhand serve, let alone a coach!!!!

Then I realized I couldn’t convince her otherwise. She’d put up a wall to learned new things. Whatever her conscious mind told her she couldn’t do, her subconscious believe through and through. This is why this attitude is so bad for anyone.

When you say ‘no’ you’re telling people not to ask you ever again

As much as you probably don’t believe the Hollywood Blockbuster “Yes Man” movie, it’s a brilliant thought experiment. Saying ‘yes’ to as many opportunities that come your way is a great way to show others you’re willing to try new things, that you’re spontaneous, and that generally fun to hangout with.

When you say %22I can't%22 it's like you've given up, it's a defeatist attitude. And people don't want to associate with defeated people

When you say “I can’t” it’s like you’ve given up, it’s a defeatist attitude. And people don’t want to associate with defeated people.

NO MAN! NO MAN! NO MAN! NO MAN!

The opposite is that one friend you have had that never wanted to try anything new, that never would join the group or try anything new, every time you ask they have an excuse as to why not. Get far, far away from these people they are toxic and you don’t want to learn any bad habits from them.

Big Idea Camp 2.alright alright alright-regina

Big Idea Camp 2.Alright Alright Alright

Last year’s Beta version of Big Idea Camp blew our expectations. The participants, the companies involved, and the sheer creativity these students brought to the camp was inspiring enough to grow it even bigger.

Enter Big Idea Camp 2.Alright Alright Alright!!! 

4 days, 8 competitions, 9 corporate sponsors, 2 teams going head to head in the wildest, most creative business competition in North America.

All the fun starts August 2nd and goes till August 5th. Thanks to Cowork Regina for the office space they generously donated for the week. Some of what to expect for the week:

  • The Carmichael Outreach Diaper Challenge. Who can acquire the most amount of Diapers and donations for Carmichael Outreach!
  • The Creative Options Regina (COR) Postcard challenge. Who will design the winning postcard that we’ll print for COR on behalf of you! 
  • The What The Food Truck Downtown Regina challenge. Who will win the Chop style “cook-off” in the park for lunch! 
  • The Capital Auto 30-second spot competition. Which team with create the commercial that Capital Auto actually uses for their marketing material?!? 
  • The Association of Regina Realtors Snap Chat Challenge! Who will complete the Snap Chat Scavenger Hunt first?! Get your filters ready!!!! 
  • The #PulseCity Challenge. How do you sell an amazing superfood that widely unknown but a staple in our local farmers fields? 
  • Financial Friday! A trip to Conexus Credit Union for several competitions with the topic being financial literacy! How well do you know #FinLit? Test your teams knowledge not only on financial literacy but also teamwork and creativity. 

Huge thanks for all our sponsors who make Big Idea Camp happen. Conexus Credit Union, Association of Regina Realtors, The Home Expert Team, Carmichael Outreach, Capital Auto Mall, Creative Options Regina, Regina Downtown, Cowork Regina, and of course Strategy Lab. 

Want to learn more about the funnest week of Summer? Check out the Big Idea Camp Schedule here.

You Have Time, You Just Don’t Know It // eps 53 #inthelab

I was going to start this blog with a quote about how precious time is, but after a quick Google search for “time quotes” that seemed kind of unnecessary. Just about every majorly quotable person has said something about time and how we use it (or don’t use it) and it seems pretty clear that we’re all on the same page: Time is the most valuable, fleeting commodity we have and, much like Bill Murray movies, there never seems to be quite enough of it. We all marvel at that select group of high-functioning individuals who seem to be able to achieve so much with the exact same 24 hours afforded to us every day. Perhaps my favourite response to “I don’t have time” comes from Gary Vaynerchuck. There’s some language that’s a little NSFW, but the sentiment is real: Everyone has time, stop watching f***ing Lost.

Now, does this mean you should live your life like a non-stop automaton, never allowing yourself a second for personal growth or relaxation? No. But it does highlight the importance of taking real stock of how much of your time is spent inefficiently, probably without you even knowing it. Now I’ve never been a big fan of the “self help” mentality, but over the past few weeks I have challenged myself to follow three things to make better use of my time and so far I gotta tell you, they’re helping a lot.

digital marketing regina 2

1. Stop Procrastinating

As an avid, life-long procrastinator I know full well that this is easier said than done, but completing tasks immediately as opposed to letting them pile up can take a mountain of stress off your shoulders and save you time in the long run. Things always seem to take longer when you leave them until the last possible minutes. Start with small things. Wash a dish right after you use it. Make a phone call you need to make when you think of it, not a few hours later. You’d be amazed at how these small behavioral patterns will eventually form broader habits that will save you time.

2. Identify your “Peak Times”

I have never been, and will likely never be, a morning person. Between the hours of 9 and 10:30 am I might get a half hour of real work done on a good day. My most productive hours fall between about 7 and 9:30 pm after I’ve worked out and had a few hours to wipe my brain clean from the rest of the day. This is when I get the most work done, so this is when I work the most. It seems logical, but I’m sure you’ve felt it. The restless dread that comes from knowing you have the motivation to do something but convincing yourself that outside of your nine to five isn’t “work time”. Figure out at what point during the day you’re likely to achieve the most and DO IT. You’ll find yourself getting three hours of work done in one simply because of your mental state.

3. Make a Checklist

Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and actually writing out exactly what you need to get done in a given week is just what the disorganized monkey in your brain (don’t kid yourself, we all have one) needs to find a track and stay on it. The more detailed and step-by-step the list, the quicker you will accomplish the task at hand. Imagine you’re putting together Ikea furniture if that helps. With a few vague illustrations and a general idea of what the thing is suppose to look like, you’ll probably be able to put something resembling a dresser in a few days. Throw in some actual detailed instructions and you’ll have that puppy done in an hour.

Write yourself better Ikea instructions.

Well there you have it, my three ways of skinning the cat that is the average work week. I can’t imagine a point in the foreseeable future when any one of us will get more that our allotted 86,400 seconds in a day, but what we do get is to choose how we manage those seconds in order to get the most out of our day and ultimately, our lives. Time is precious and, much like change in the couch cushions, we typically have more of it than we think. It’s just a matter of believing that and knowing where to look when the pizza guy arrives.

Why Podcast?

 

Over the past few years the podcast as a content piece has seen a major resurgence. Much like the rise, fall, and rebirth of blogs (remember the early Blogger sites?) podcasts have found new life. But why should you as a business or as a person care? Why should you podcast? If you’re reading this instead of listening to the recording above, you’re probably a little skeptical. Here are six reasons why you should stop reading right now and hit that “play” button!

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7 Buzzwords You Need to Stop Using at Business Meetings & in Life in General

7 Buzzwords You Need to Stop Using at Business Meetings & in Life in General

We all have come across those winners in meetings that love to use the latest business buzzword. You know the ones? They recite words and phrases you know they just heard for the first time while watching the Dragon’s Den last night.

You realize soon after school that the vocabulary you use has very little to do with your life and is more so correlated with pretentiousness. Yet the words below are used everyday, some times more than once, in offices and during meetings all over the world in hundreds of different languages. Well I’m sure other languages have their own overused meaningless terms that tend to follow the commerce crowd.

Before you start remember these are just opinions, please don’t be offended. Instead add your own overused word or phrase. Heck lets make this list longer!! Comment below with yours!!

Let's form proactive synergy restructuring teams

1. Synergy

The obvious one. Just stop it. Nothing says I’m a first year business student than using Synergy on purpose in a sentence. The exception to the rule you say? There is only one. Unless you work in the Easton Hockey stick Museum and you’re referring to my gold 2001 Easton Synergy Hockey stick you should never ever use the “S” word in a sentence.

 

2. Networking

Just a fancy term for people who don’t know how to make friends. Pro tip, stop networking and start doing things that matter. Volunteer, run for a board, help a non-profit, coach, be a big brother, do something that isn’t easy. Just showing up to an event and putting on a name tag isn’t hard. Volunteering countless hours for a great cause is a brilliant way to make new friends.

Do ANYTHING other then go to specific events just to “meet” people for the sake of a business relationship. Yuck.

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hr sucks and what to do about it

Why HR Sucks & What To Do About It

Why HR Sucks & What To Do About It 

Presented at the Disrupt HR event put on in May 2016 in Regina, SK. My very first Human Resources Presentation.

HR Sucks & What To Do About It

Organizational charts suck.
Company hierarchies suck.
The traditional HR part of business sucks.
No one loves dealing with peoples problems, so HR is the hardest department in any company. Think about it, they have the hardest job out of anyone!!

HR Sucks the traditional business model sucks.
But it doesn’t have to suck.
HR doesn’t have to suck.
You can do it differently.
You have to do it differently.
You don’t have to be traditional at all.
Break the rules.
Don’t have a company hierarchies.
Use the Virgin Model of company hierarchy (one visionary at the centre and everyone else a spoke in the wheel).
What if everyone is equal?

Stop trying to tell people what to do. It’s annoying. Who actually likes being told what to do? NO ONE! So why do we do it? Ego. Instead of telling people what to do, inspire them to want to do it. This is a lesson that took me 8 years of coaching volleyball to learn. You can’t tell anyone what to do….for very long. Sure you can do it once or twice to correct bad attitude or behaviour, but if you keep doing it you’re pushing your staff away.

There’s a better way to manage in 2016 and it has nothing to do with managing at all. It has everything to do with leading. Leaders do the right thing even when no one is looking. Leaders serve others. Leaders do the hardest job possible and never look for credit. Leaders never boast, leaders care for others. Leaders build you up and give you confidence. Leaders allow you to fail because that’s how humans learn. Leaders are what we all strive to be.

pay people for what they do not the title they hold

Pay people for what they do not the title they hold.

What if we got paid for what we do not what title on the door or letters behind our names? Yes it’s much easier to hide behind a title or be lazy because you have 10 letters behind your name. But in the new world no one cares how many degrees you have. That’s not a definition of intelligence anymore. A degree simply means you have an above average memorization skill. Ones’ number of acquired University degrees tend to have an inverse relationship with ones’ social intelligence.

Use policy with caution. No great company was made because of a “policy”.
Have a strong set of values and stick to them. All successful companies have a strong set of values.

We don't need factory workers

We don’t need factory workers anymore!

Be more flexible with your people.
Be friends with your staff.
Have mental health days.
Don’t have a limit on holidays.
Talk about culture or no one else will.
HR is nothing if it’s not a mission. (thanks Hugh)
Don’t wait for someone to do it for you or your organization. Step up, take initiative and do something.

be the change you want to see in your hr department

Be the change you want to see in your HR department.

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