Eddy and Tina Swinging with the stars

How To Raise $100,000 In One Night 

You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose site of the shore.

Swinging with the stars

I met her a couple years ago, she was an outgoing student with a smile you could pick out a mile away. Kelsey Stewart is an inspiration to me, here’s why. 

Kelsey works at Hope’s Home in Regina. She came to us a few (just 4) months before the big event saying, “I got this idea…”. We instantly loved it. Though a bit courageous trying to pull it all off in such a short time frame. Why not wait till next year and plan out a “proper” event? Kelsey proved you DON’T need years to plan one of these events, you just need, well, Kelsey.

We had worked on Swinging With The Stars in Saskatoon. The firm we worked with spent two years planning their event, Kelsey had four months. FOUR MONTHS!!! The folks in Saskatoon had done it before, Kelsey and the Hope’s Home team have never tried it before. After our first meeting I still remember saying to Brandon that “she’s crazy and that’s definitely not enough time to pull it off!!”. That’s exactly why we wanted to help.

Parkinson’s Law

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the anthropologist

How We Start Every Project, Being “an Anthropologist” // eps 58 #inthelab

When we start projects at StratLab we like to understand the organization we’re working with, the best way we’ve found is to be what David Kelly would call The Anthropologist. The most success we’ve had (and still have) is really getting to know an organization. Going to the Annual General Meeting, Christmas Party, Golf Tournament, Fundraising dinner, basically anything they will invite us to we’ll go. You get to know people on a different level when you see them out of the office in the “wild”. Don’t ever be afraid to get out from behind your laptop to do some hands-on research.

One of the most successful projects we worked on was with the Regina Police. It was an internal marketing strategy where we were to change their core values, vision and mission to better reflect their current culture. It took Six months longer than we thought because we really didn’t want to rush the research process of interviewing every level of different Police officer. It was amazing

From David Kelly’s 10 Faces of Innovation, the Anthropologist is the face of discovery and understanding.

To observe without judgement. To develop an empathetic understanding of the organization. You must look at the tiniest of details, the most mundane things can have a major impact on what the end consumer takes away in their experience.

From the book:

The Anthropologist is rarely stationary. Rather, this is the person who ventures into the field to observe how people interact with products, services, and experiences in order to come up with new innovations. The Anthropologist is extremely good at reframing a problem in a new way, humanizing the scientific method to apply it to daily life. Anthropologists share such distinguishing characteristics as the wisdom to observe with a truly open mind; empathy; intuition; the ability to “see” things that have gone unnoticed; a tendency to keep running lists of innovative concepts worth emulating and problems that need solving; and a way of seeking inspiration in unusual places.

Look into a company as if you were Sherlock on a case

look-into-a-company-as-if-you-were-sherlock-on-a-case

Asking questions, becoming very curious, always asking “why” and never excepting “that’s just the way it is here.” The Anthropologist needs to uncover the hidden story behind what the client isn’t telling them. Remember what Sherlock Homes said, “the devil is in the smallest of details.” -or something thing like that. The little things matter. Pay attention to the little things.

Create a company “idea wallet”. Much like your wallet that you carry money around in, your companies idea wallet is where you think and pitch ideas.

how-do-you-get-to-know-an-organization

How do you get to really know an organization? 

By asking questions of course you silly nilly!!

Any question that leads you closer to the central purpose of that organization, generally it’s not your run of the mill questions that are going to get to the bottom of things. People never simply open up to you, you must gain their trust first. Be positive, listen to their answers, and be very respectful (no judging). You need to get creative, the more out there the question is, the more people have a chance to show you their personality. See some ideas on research questions you could use.

Vuja De thinking (from Practically Radical)

Seeing a problem for the first time, through a new lens. The definition of Deja Vu is seeing something you’ve seen before in a ridiculously clear manner. Vuja De thinking is approaching problems like you’ve never seen them before. Trying to solve your organizational problems with novel solutions we’ve never thought about trying. The next time you want an “expert” to solve the problem instead why not ask a beginner to take a stab at it, you may surprise yourself!

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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how do you create a visionary city

How Do You Create A Visionary City?

It needs to be remarkable

If you were Seth Godin you would say it needs to be remarkable! You know, your “Purple Cow” idea that will spread like wildfire.

 

You need a big hairy audacious goal

If you were Jim Collins’ you’d start with a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). Cities like Las Vegas, Austin, Amsterdam, Paris, even Victoria, all have a created visionary cities by doing something big, hairy and audacious. (they’re all REALLY good at something, or have something they are known for).

You need a social object

If you were Hugh MacLeod you would come up with a social object. Something people would have to talk about, have to share with their friends, it’d probably be really cool.

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The importance of accepting anothers point of view

The Importance of Accepting Another Person’s Point of View // eps 51 #inthelab

“I now appreciate public transit.” -Conrad Hewitt, 2016

Trying to see peoples’ points of view isn’t something that comes natural to humans. As we’ve evolved, the softer skills in life have become much more important to our survival than the hard skills (fight or flight) as of the last hundred years. In business it’s even more rare. Empathy is a word that is not often discussed in the board room. Love, Kindness, generosity, all words never uttered in the corporate world. Until now.

There are many unforeseen benefits of seeing the world through another persons eyes here are three.

  1. It’ll cause you less stress. You don’t need to constantly be “right”. It’s counterintuitive when you think about it. Usually we go into a discussion to be heard or to get our way, but if you’re smart about it you’ll go in trying to learn and adapt your point of view based on the new knowledge you discover.
    The next time someone tries to argue with you try and agree with what they’re saying and come up with a better solution all together.
    The smartest people in an argument will change their mind, one of the hardest things to do, on a topic to see the issue through a different lens. This take willpower, empathy and some mental Jujitsu but it a very powerful tool.
  2. Your clients perspective is a great reflection of your business. Your brand is what your customers say about you. Every interaction is showing others a reason to like or dislike your organizations brand. Smart organizations are asking customers what they think, how could they do better, and what they love about their service or product.
    You gain empathy when you show empathy to others, when you truly know how people feel about you.
  3. You’re not the most important person in the world. The sooner we all come to grips with this the better. It’s easy in a moment of lost baggage rage to freakout on the airport attendee, afterall, you needed your bag for tonight! Get over yourself.
    Nothing can happen to you that is so bad that you have to ruin someone else’s day over it.
    Remember, you aren’t the most important person in the world and that service worker that you’re about to reem out about an over charged phone bill could be having the worst day of their life. You never know when showing someone kindness could mean the wo rld to them.
    The next time someone thinks you’re about to get really mad at them do the opposite. You’ll see it in their eyes, that priceless look of a genuine human ‘thank you’.
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Better and Faster Book

Better And Faster: The Proven Path To Unstoppable Ideas [7 Quotes]

No matter what business you’re in, to thrive you must fight the presumption that you know your customer

“No matter what business you’re in, to thrive you must fight the presumption that you know your customer.”

As soon as you claim to “know your ideal customer” you’ve lost. You no longer try to impress, you develop a standard operating procedure, you try and stream line your operation at the detriment of your customer. Always, always, ALWAYS ask for feedback and never shut down a customer from speaking their mind, even if you disagree. The fact that you are willing to open yourself up to feedback it a step ahead of everyone else.

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Capital C the Movie

The Sharing Economy: The Biggest Change Since The Industrial Revolution

Presented Nov 24th at the Regina Realtors Association Business builder day. Here are some of the videos we had a look at.
From the documentary on Netflix, Capital C comes the story of “Freaker USA”. One of the coolest Kickstarter success stories.

Freaker Kickstarter from freakerusa on Vimeo.

Next to put into perspective what goes on in a given year of search on Google.


Finally when you get depressed about when someone says something bad to you online watch this:

Country Music artists read out angry tweets written about them.

I don’t think you can find a better song about the new online world. And Alanis Morissette just had a way speaking to my soul. Hope you enjoy!

 

Want to see a brand new website the @Stratlab team just launched? Welcome to Normanview Dental

At Normanview Dental we want to see you smile-dentists regina

Authentic Weather App Screen Shots

9 Apps That Will Make Your Life Better and/or More Entertaining – Eps. 20

A couple years ago, 60% of apps were never even downloaded. That’s a startling stat. I’m sure it’s not exactly that bad now but geez, when it comes to apps we sure do have a choice, A LOT of choices. Before you demand your marketing department to “make a company app!”, make sure you do your due diligence. Before you just hop on the app ban-wagon make sure you’re solving a problem or entertaining us. Otherwise you’re boring us.

There are only two reasons people go online

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90-percent-of-the-data-in-the-world-today-has-been-created-in-the-last-two-years

9 Lessons Learned Volunteering on Not-For-Profit Boards

1. The world is changing faster than you can imagine.

“Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”

-IBM

On a single day on the Internet there are:

  • Over 2 million Google search queries

  • 48 hours of new YouTube videos

  • 684,000 bits of content shared on Facebook

  • More than 100,000 tweets

  • $272,000 spent on e-commerce

  • Source: Webopedia

If you disappeared tomorrow, who would miss you? What distinct advantage does your organization create? Why is your mission a noble cause? Ask these questions early and often or else you may find your organization obsolete. To the Not-for-profits that take advantage of the changing online landscape and embrace technology your audience will adore you and you will attract a new smarter customer who (if you do your job right) becomes a loyal evangelist.

2. Every year, every month, every day, people have less attention than they did last year, last month, and yesterday. How are you getting peoples’ attention?

There’s a new not-for-profit starting up tomorrow who’s mission is better than yours, who help more people than you and who can do what you do for cheaper. What are you going to do about it? How will you stand out? How will you be remembered? How do you get to the point where people seek YOU out? If you don’t standout you definitely aren’t going to be remembered. You need to create a “Social Object” that people can associate with your cause.

3. You’re only as smart as the feedback you’re getting.

Not-for-profits are really bad at this. Trying to get feedback as an organization is a very forward thinking endeavour. Not-for-profits are not very forward thinking entities(rash generalization but true). Every year they talk about what they did last year and how well it went. No critical breakdown of what happened, no holding people accountable to goals set last year, and no wants to change in the future to get better. It’s that last part that bothers me the most. Because these aren’t profit generating entities it doesn’t make sense to adapt and innovate and strive to lead a market.

The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.

The only thing more risky than changing is staying the same.

Everything about business is changing at an alarming rate right now, your only hope in survival is ensuring you’re getting feedback from your customers and employees.

Since we were children, feedback has been the only way we learn. Why is that any different for not-for-profits? You need a feedback strategy, and an honest one. If you have a 56 Question Questionnaire providing your feedback for you, just know you’re basing your information on the sick twisted person that would fill out a 56 question Questionnaire.

4. You can’t change what people say about you, but you can influence it.

“Branding” in 2014 is what people say about you behind your back. As a Not-for-profit if your members smile to your face but bad mouth you behind your back that’s a terrible brand. If you have complete board turnover every year that’s bad. IF you have past board members that refuse to be contacted, that’s bad!

Your reputation precedes you. Google your name, what comes up? You have a personal brand whether you like it or not, most people don’t understand they can influence it if they want to. Not-for-profits usually have an advantage here, your reputation is what you’ve done, the people you’ve helped and the impact you’ve created. The RedCross is one of the most recognized “brands” in the world and I would argue it has nothing to do with their messaging (though the logo is pretty ubiquitous), it has everything to do with their impact. Otherwise when you see the infamous Red “+” sign you wouldn’t immediately attribute positive characteristics.

5. Face the brutal facts. 

Yes this is stolen from Jim Collin’s book Good To Great. You must face the brutal facts about your organization and marketplace. People don’t have time to care about your organization, no one does. You have to pitch why your not-for-profit matters. I’ve been on a board where we only talked about the good things we did, how great every event was, and never brought up any criticism or created an urgency to get better.

Confront the hard facts, the longer you put off the truth the worse it gets when it finally becomes a reality. Business changes, Not-for-profits change. The only ignorant thing to do is assume we know what we’re doing and not seek out feedback.

What if we don't change at all and something magical just happens?

6. You can tell people’s priorities by the way they allocate their resources (time, money).

I’ve met people who give their time selflessly year in and year out. I look up to these people, they truly understand priorities in life. They put relationships before money. People before work and organizations over themselves. These people are the builders of our communities. You have no idea how much these selfless people have given in time to ensure that people they don’t even know get to enjoy (insert community event, sports team, or club here). From Brownies and Scouts to Hockey and Basketball organizations, boys and girls clubs and sports clubs. The one thing they have in common is people like you and me built them.

The unsung heros are the people who tirelessly volunteer their time to work, coach, organize, plan and do all the things that it takes to make Not-for-profits tick. If you meet someone who’s been a part of a Not-for-profit for a while just assume they’re amazing, you have no idea how much they’ve given.

If you want to find out about someone’s work ethic ask somebody they volunteered with on a board or an organization. Reputations go a long way. I find myself recommending people I’ve volunteered with and coached with a lot. You trust someone on another level when you know they believe in giving their time back to help others.

7. At any given moment, one or a few people can ruin it for everyone, you must ignore past these people.

People love to complain. You have to constantly remind yourself that it’s easy to be a critic and it’s hard to take negative feedback and actually act upon it. On volunteer boards I find this to happen a lot. People LOVE to complain without offering any other solutions. People love to tell you you’re wrong. People love to say “it won’t work”. You have to ignore these people.

Create a culture of proactive feedback, never are you allowed to say “I don’t like it this way!” without providing another plausible way.

8. There’s nothing more important than having a clear vision that everyone understands.

Those who built the visionary companies wisely understood that it is better to understand who you are than where you are going – for where you are going will almost certainly change.

-Built to Last by Jim Collins & Jerry I. Porras

Many business folks I’ve met underestimate the power of a vision. But most companies try to explain “everything we’re good at” without “pissing some department” in their mission statement. Effectively making it useless. Einstein said you only truly know a subject when you can explain it to a six year old. that’s my philosophy when it comes to your organizations vision, simply down to a few words that you could explain to a six year old. 

Examples:

Regina Volleyball Club: Lets grow Volleyball

University of Regina Alumni Association: Build Pride 

Regina Police Service: Public Servie First

Creative Options Regina: Gentle teaching

9. Fun can be a competitive advantage.

In the future the best organizations will have done the most important thing, attracted the best people. To attract the best people you have to have an amazing cause, but not just that, you have to create a work environment that people would seek out. A workplace to love. People will take a pay cut and make other sacrifices just so that they can work with people they like, and people we like are the people we have the most fun with.

Fun can be a competitive advantage

Fun can be a competitive advantage.

Think about it, at a board meeting have you ever asked: “how could we make our meetings more fun?”. Most don’t bring that up because they still think doing what they’ve always done is enough to attract younger, smarter, better talent. If your meetings are fun it’s going to be easier to attract better people in the future.

If you encourage your employees to have fun more often they will respect the workplace more, tell people about how great it is to work there, and when shit really does hit the fan, employees you’ve encouraged to have fun will be there for the organization. It’s when we’re at our worst our allies matter the most. Make strong supporters out of your members, encourage them to be themselves and have fun.

NYTimes Innovation Report

The Leaked New York Times Innovation Report and Why It’s Important

The New York Times (on purpose or not) leaked an innovation report which ended up being a scathing analysis of how far behind the times the Times really are. From one of the worldwide leaders in Journalism comes a humble look at their own efforts digitally. They recognize how behind they really are but it seems that they have a plan to become more relevant to a larger audience in the future.

Some important highlights of the 90 page report:

  • Competition is increasing and some of their competitors are producing some massive numbers. EG: Flipboard getting more traffic to the New York Times’ own articles than the Times’ receives to its’ own site.
  • The journalism industry is being “disrupted” with a cheaper easy to find version of “news”. The example given in the report is strikingly similar to Clayton Christiensen’s The Innovators Dilemma. In the book he talks about when entities get too large within their own industry, smaller, faster more nimble businesses innovate to create the future product offerings.
  • They’ve named and provided stats on some of their competition. Some very familiar names on the list such as: Huffington Post, Flipboard, and Buzzfeed.
  • The mentioned the NY Times “Influencers”. Every organization at one point will needs to know who their influencers are and how to leverage them.

The NewYork Times Audience:

  • 30M web readers in U.S. per month
  • 20M Mobile readers in U.S. per month
  • 13.5M News Alerts audience
  • 11.3M Twitter followers
  • 6.5M E-Mail Newsletter Subscribers
  • 5.7M Facebook followers
  • 1.25M Print Subscribers
  • 760K digital subscribers

The Proposal:

  1. Discovery – getting our work in front of the right readers at the right place and at the right time.
  2. Promotion – we need better advocates of our over work.
  3. Connection – our readers are perhaps our greatest untapped resource.

This seems more like a game plan for ANY organization that wants to grow in this new digital world. They’ve identified that is has to start at their core if they hope to have any chance of surviving the disruption that the journalism/publishing industry is facing.

Some important quotes from the report:

“Digital staffers want to play creative roles not service roles.”

“We need makers, entrepreneurs, reader advocates and zeitgeist watchers”

“Evergreen content is appealing to readers if resurfaced in a way that is smart”

“The newsroom can fall into old habits about experiments like this one, raising concerns about  turf, quality control and precedents.”

“One-offs are laborious, so we should focus on making such efforts replicable and scalable.”

 

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