What I Learned at The Honest Conference

Last week Strategy Lab partnered with our good buddies at Pidgeon Social to present the first ever Honest Conference. The idea for the conference was simple: Get some amazing marketing leaders in our community together to have a frank and honest discussion about they know and even what they don’t. I wasn’t personally involved in a lot of the planning, so I don’t feel too bad about tooting the team’s horn when I say it was absolutely amazing. The lineup of speakers was the best I’ve ever experienced and the amount of value they offered was unreal. there’s no way I could even begin to cover each speaker’s background and presentation (head to honestconference.com for more info on that), but I felt it was important to jot down some of the big ideas from the day:

Create First and Improve Over Time

One of the big common threads that tied together all of the presentations was the idea that doing something is always better than doing nothing. If you have an idea idea for something you can create (be it a vlog, an Instagram, or a jewelry company), just do it, even (or especially) if it’s not perfect. Over time, you’ll figure it out and get better, but the first step is just to try. As human beings we have an unlimited capacity for talking ourselves out of things that have virtually no downside. Changing that is one of the first big steps towards doing something amazing.

Always Ask for Feedback and Act on It (in Moderation)

This feeds nicely into the idea of feedback which just about very speakers touched on at some point as well. As marketers, business owners, and people, we’re always wondering what we should actually be doing to succeed, when in reality the answer is very clearly right in front of us in the form of feedback from our people and our customers. Asking these people what we can do to improve our product, customer service, or marketing tactics gives us the road map to success. Now, this piece of advice comes with a caveat as not all feedback is helpful when you’re trying to innovate. As Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

(Photo credit: Sprout Catering!)

If You’re Uncomfortable, You’re Probably Doing Something Right

This is another idea that seemed to emerge somewhere along the way in each presentation. Hillberk and Berk COO Mary Weimer got some laughs from the crowd when she revealed that she is in a perpetual state of discomfort, and never really knows for certain the right thing to do. The truth is, comfort is the cost of doing something that will never really move the needle. Justin Reves’ “80% and Go” rule of thumb I think sums this up perfectly: Get to the point where you’re 80% sure of something and then just go for it  (as Richard Branson would say, “Screw it, let’s do it!”)

Always Keep it Human

Whether it was HB&B’s policy of giving their employees sparkle balls to give out to strangers, or Wheelhouse’s “Wheel Mile” of encouragement at the Queen City Marathon, the stories that really resonated with people at HonCon were those that demonstrated honest to gosh humanity and compassion. In other words, the companies that succeed will be the ones that genuinely treat the people around them (customers and non-customers alike) like human being and not just numbers, dollars, or “stakeholders”. This was particularly evident when the Roughriders’ marketing coordinator Miriam Johnson spoke about their recent influencer campaign during the opening of the new Mosaic Stadium. They did a deep dive to find out what was important to key people in their community to find out what they truly cared about, then customized swag packages for each person along with a handwritten note specific to their lives and personalities. There was no hard-sell or expectation, just a true sense of caring and a desire to do something awesome.

At the end of the day HonCon was a tremendous success. I strongly believe that each and every person in attendance walked away having learned a lot about what other people in this new marketing world are doing to succeed, not only from the fabulous lineup of kick-ass speakers, but from each other as well.

Queen City Hack

5 Reasons Why You Need To Come To The Next Queen City Hack

I had the pleasure of judging the last Queen City Hack hosted by Gas Buddy. I was BLOWN AWAY! These teams created some amazing applications, working applications, applications designed beautifully, ALL IN 24 HOURS!!! I couldn’t believe what these teams created and was incredibly surprised! I left inspired, the future is looking very bright. Here are 5 reasons you should get involved with the next Hack-a-Thon:

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be weird be awesome be loved

One of The Most Remarkable Non-Profit Organizations in the World

“Be weird. Be awesome. Be loved!”

This was the latest sticker COR had printed and left out in a container on a table just inside their office. A circular container that has the likes of stickers, postcards, magnets, stress balls, pens, you name it. All with similar bright colours and uplifting messages. The table they are on is located by the pinball machine, just down the hall from the coffee bar and to the right of the foosball table, and PS4 complete with beanbag chairs for optimum gaming comfort.

This isn’t your regular not-for-profit organization

I’ve never met anyone with the same consistent energy. COR has its own unique culture and brand. Talk to their employees family members, even people who don’t work there any more, you’ll hear nothing but amazing stories about how gentle teaching has changed their life. They don’t run the organization like a regular non-profit, they do things different and they don’t apologize for it. COR is a breathe of fresh air in an industry that was getting stuffy.

COR is an inspiring organization. You don’t have to go far to hear some of these stories:

“Being WITH one another is one of the main lessons I have grown to appreciate since being introduced to Gentle Teaching.”

“Gentle Teaching has pushed me to be the best support and friend possible”

“A culture of gentleness for me has come naturally by genuinely caring for the three gentlemen I serve.”

Or check out one of their “COR Cribs Episodes”

COR Cribs: Episode 2 from Creative Options Regina (COR) on Vimeo.

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Queen City Pride 2017

Queen City Pride Parade 2017

The video footage was shot by Brandon and Andy, then Andy edited the same day. What an amazing result. As a part of Strategy Lab it’s moments like this that really make you smile and reflect on why you do what you do. We’ve had a long relationship with Pride Week (long relationship for @StratLab, Ha!), so this ended up being the best support we could have ever offered Dan and his crew. Even with the rain Pride Week Regina pulled off an amazing day.

We couldn’t have been more proud to put the video together as well as capture some amazing stills (photos thanks to Lauren, find out more about her on our About page). You can see by her work she does some amazing work behind the camera.

Pride Week Parade 2017-1 Pride Week Parade 2017-7 Pride Week Parade 2017-4 Pride Week Parade 2017 Pride Week Parade 2017-2

Regina Pride Week Parade 2017 Pride Week Parade 2017

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Why You Won't See Any Blouses or Ties at the Stratlab Office

Dress Code? Nah. Why You Won’t See Any Blouses or Ties at the Stratlab Office 

In Ricardo Semler’s Maverick he tells the story about the first few times he came in on a weekend. The first thing he noticed “people dress differently when they come in on the weekend, why is that?”. They did it to be more comfortable. But don’t we want everyone to be comfortable when they are working all week long?

The dress code era at Semco was ended.

The executive dealt with the obvious backlash. “What if someone doesn’t want to do business with us because of the way someone is dressed in a meeting?” Ricardo’s answer; “if someone doesn’t want to do business with us because of the way one of our employees ‘looks’ then that’s probably someone we shouldn’t be doing business with”. Wow, that’s leadership.

Isn’t that simple? Why do you try to make your staff conform? Because you’ve always done that? That’s not a good reason why. Ask your staff, what they think, you may stumble upon a smart way to make your company culture better.

The original dress code disobeyer

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whens the last time you bought something from a salesperson that you weren’t in the market for

If you want donations to your cause don’t ask for money 

If you want me to buy something the last way to do that is by trying to sell it to me. What you need to do is pitch me your why. 

I still remember the Tweet. It was from Kayla Kozan, she said “Someone trying to sell you a watch is probably a watch sales-person.” Meaning, if someone is trying to get you to buy something you should simply say no because they obviously have an interest in you buying it from them.

How do you sell in a world where Vacuum Cleaner sales people no longer exist? 

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Learning Friday

Learning Friday(s) 2017

We want to be one of the most caring, smartest, driven companies in the world. How can we do that? By working on the team!

Every Friday after lunch our team gets together and learns something about work at @StratLab. We invite clients to learn with us and so far it’s been awesome!

Week one was “All About Dat Measurement”

This coming week (January 27th) is “Learning About Your CreativEddy” -with your favourite @edwardoalvaro.

  • Learn how he uses Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Learn what goes though his mind when he posts on Instagram
  • Learn how to put simple text over a photo as well as make simple edits
  • Delve into the awesome world of Edwardo Alvaro

February 3rd – 5 Minutes Question Roundtable, no question is off limits.

Business Card-goes good with your face

February 10th – Eddy (Illustrator) Alvaro is leading down another creative rabbit hole. 

  • Reviewing Photoshop quick keys (lets make a checklist!)
  • Troubleshooting in photoshop
  • Creating freaking amazing Instagram moments

Photoshop Phun

 

February 17th – Creating your own business cards/team building

  • You business cards should reflect you, your personality, your beliefs. Let’s create some!
  • Similar to the Hugh cards, we make personalized business cards by illustrating and putting quotes on the back
  • What’s on the front you ask? Well lets decide as a team!

February 24th – Brooke on how to create a following on Instagram

  • How do you make pictures look GOOD?
  • What frequency do you post at? Time of day? Day of the week? Are those annoying questions?
  • How do you gain a following?

March 3rd – Andy on how to make you a better videographer with 5 tips

  • How can you take a simple video, add music, a title and post, AND still make look good? ………..You can’t.
  • How do you prioritize what to do when creating a major video? (Walter Scott as an example)
  • What have you changed your mind on in regards to video in the last three months? What trends are happening currently?

March 10th – Conrad on how to be a better, faster, smarter writer

February 24th – Brandon on how he designs a website and where websites are going in 2019

Life's too short not to have fun

The “P” Word In The StratLab Office // eps 57 #InTheLab

It’s about time we talked about the “P” word.

“Positivity”.

Stop being afraid of it and call out the pink Elephant in the room. Why is being positive looked down on? In a business setting if you come into the room excited, grinning ear to ear, people will ask if you’ve gone mad. I think we should encourage people to be happy, excited, down right ecstatic to be there. Why not, life’s too short not to have fun.

Why do we tolerate people in society that think life is about being “serious” and “professional”. Two adjectives this author doesn’t do very well with.

Bee happy

There’s a psychological side to being positive as well. Studies show that a positive mindset allows your brain to be more creative as well as increases white blood cell count helping strengthen your immune system. You can’t argue with science! Being happy keeps you healthy and makes you smarter.

In the @Stratlab office if someone is being negative, gossiping, talking ill of someone else, or just in general being a negative Nancy, we won’t tolerate it. We blow the horn of negativity.

Yes you read correct. Born out of Big Idea Camp as a way to keep everyone positive, the Horn of Negativity is an air horn that rarely got used. We started it as a joke and it’s lasted ever since. The team knows now not to be negative, no gossiping or else they’ll get an ear full.

Lastly, it’s easy to be negative. It’s easy to be a critic. It’s easy to sit at the sidelines and complain. It’s easy not to put in any effort and just expect change to happen. But that’s not how life works.

It’s much harder to try to change things. It’s much more difficult to help look for solutions, to not complain without being willing to be a part of the change.

Take the difficult path, be a positive change agent in society. Man we need now more than ever.

the-people-who-are-crazy-enough-

A 2016 @stratlab Year in Review 

Those who think they can change Regina are the ones who do.  -@Stratlab, 2016

What a year it was! The StratLab Fam had some ups and downs but all in all it was a stellar year! We said goodbye to Miranda, Jeremy, and Braedon. With a big smile we welcomed to the team Anastas, Brooke, Addison, and Marc. Whether it was some amazing new non-profts we got to work with, the visits to Fort McMurray before and after the fires, or hosting another wildly awesome Big Idea Camp, it was a another fun filled year.
Some New stickers, some old ones too!

 

A few amazing trips to Fort McMurray for Brandon, Eddy and Jeph this year. A horrible tragedy but an amazing community rebuilding itself. A month after the fire Layers Wellness held a “Wild Fire” party, to celebrate the community that wasn’t broken, only made stronger.

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