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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“I Can Get It Cheaper” 

Few phrases say more about an individual than those five words. So much is communicated when one judges a product or service based on the price alone.

The fact that you can find anything these days for a cheaper price shouldn’t come as a surprise. The surprising part is people still use price as a major factor in decision making, when they verbalize their frugal attitude it labels them.

1. When you say the words “I can get it cheaper” you seem, well, cheap. 

We don’t look up to cheap people. Do you have a friend or family member brag about a “deal” they got at Walmart? Probably not because that’s not something to brag about. We look up to people who are generous, who don’t count the change after some one gives it to them, who tips more than they should, who doesn’t make a big deal about money ever. Those are the people I look up to.

In the creative field you can always find someone who’s willing to do what you do for a cheaper price, but that price comes with a cost.

Just because it costs less at first it may end up costing you a whole lot in the long run. I find in my old age I’d rather pay a good price for something and get a great product in return. Every now and then when cutting costs you get burned. Ever buy something just because it was cheap? Tennis balls, never buy the cheap tennis balls, I’d much rather pay more for a better quality ball.

Pizza, sure you can get cheap pizza but c’mon Sparky’s isn’t even that much more but the taste!!

As a kid it was hockey sticks. You could buy a cheap stick at Superstore but it won’t last long.

I wrote about this 7 years ago, labeled it as “Walmart Culture” cheapest prices for the cheapest products, it wasn’t sustainable. Now in 2017 it has become extremely apparent some people will always use price as their major deciding factor.

price is a calculation value is a feeling

Price is a calculation, value is a feeling.

Be careful not to confuse the two, value is a much bigger topic for another day.

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whos your hero

Who’s Your Hero? 

When you were young up it may have been famous people, superhero’s, maybe Jesus, your parents, the Fresh Prince of Bell-Air? Maybe a grandparent, I thought my grandpa was a hero. My parents were hero’s, my brother was a hero most of my life growing up. A few teaches at a young age, Ms. Davis and Mr. Hall in elementary school made it possible to think outside of what was possible, they truly changed me as a person. They were hero’s.

Superhero’s are those special individuals that make the impossible possible. They do what others can’t conceive of. Sure sometimes they fly or turn green, but more often than not Superhero’s are the ones who’ve been through the most, they’ve been down and out, horrible things have happened to them, but still some how they survive. They’re resilient. Not indestructible, resilient. It’s the destructible nature that makes them a hero, the immense possibility of failure is the precise reason it creates greatness. Superhero’s are all around us.

Why do we forget about our hero’s at one point? Why do we just try to live life without striving to be a modern day Superman? 

I think we need to bring back hero’s. Life sucks some days, life REALLY sucks some days, if you have a hero, you’re subconsciously shooting for something, you want to be your favourite hero. Life doesn’t suck so much to the young kid dreaming about being Wonder Women. I say dream away, set a crazy awesome goal, trying to be something in the future builds confidence. Confidence leads to self-esteem, that’s very healthy.

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how to Save Money on Groceries and Drugs

How To Save Money On Groceries and Drugs

Stop Buying Brand Names!

Ten years ago as an angsty little marketer, I wanted to explore why I was leaning more and more towards “No-Name” Products, so I wrote this; The No-Name Strategy. You know the No-name brands, every supermarket has their “own”. At Superstore: No Name, and President’s Choice. At Safeway, Select (my Grand parents never bought regular pop), at Sobey’s it’s Compliments, at Costco it’s Kirkland. 

Almost every grocery store has their own brands which tend to be cheaper than their comparable branded counterparts. So why are we buying the more expensive one? Do you feel you trust it more? What bad stuff could be in the generic version?! For a long time I’ve bought generic pop citing that I still can’t taste the difference. Though teaching my first class I did divulge the fact that when I first moved out of my house and living with a roommate, we used to purchase no-name pop for the house but branded Coke or Ginger Ale if we were going to a party, why in the heck would we do such a thing?

It’s moments like this that I love marketing for, moments that make you feel so humble, so, well, dumb in moments of pure showing of ego. 

The fact that we didn’t want to be seen at a party with “No-name Cola” was a sign of where our confidence was at. After all, you know what the studies show, the larger the brand name on your chest, the smaller the ego. Or what the economics community calls Conspicuous Consumption; buying things to signal to others your wealth. Not a healthy practice to be into, I know because for the majority of my life I loved brands, wore brands, and had to have the new “cool” thing.

Buying quality products is one thing, refusing to purchase items because they are unbranded is silly. The problem with that is it’s not sustainable and teaches the wrong lesson. Life’s not about stuff. It’s about impact, experiences, and love. Things help you measure your status, but the moment you purchase something just because “you can” doesn’t mean you should. Humility goes much further than the person with the newest “thing”.

If peeing your pants is cool, consider me Miles Davis

You aren’t in the in crowd unless you’re doing what the cool people do!  Who decides what’s “cool”? Since the dawn of time some people have just been better trend setters than others, those that understand it know what to look for. They easily convince us to buy the next iPhone, headphones, Xbox, TV, etc. The best brands are the ones to trust…..right? You can’t possibly buy the generic brand, can you?

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You can judge a company based on how many thank you cards they get

You Can Measure Success by The Amount of Thank You Cards Received

We have a row of cards at the StratLab office we keep there as a reminder of why we do what we do. A hand written thank you card is something so precious because you rarely see them anymore. Think about the times you’ve given away a hand written card, and think of the times you’ve received one. Those moment are very special here’s why.

It’s hard to fake a thank you card. Generally people who give a hand written note REALLY mean it. You never write a nice thank you note because you “ran out of time to thank someone”, or “you couldn’t figure out what to get them!”. No you wrote the thank you note because you actually care. Something very rare these days.

It’s hard to take time out of your day to write something using your thoughts, that’s why it means so much more.

In a world where a tweet, snap or post on Facebook is so simple to do, write a hand written note, you’d be surprised as to how far it goes.

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!

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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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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Once you understand everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.

The Most Important Thing You Need To Learn That Will Change The Way You Think

The Plasticity of your brain

Steve Jobs talked about it, the best educators understand it, and it’s a powerful fact rarely talked about. The fact of the matter is you can learn new things and change the makeup of your brain well into the later years in your life. The “plasticity” of your brain refers to its ability to change it’s makeup.

A professional violinist will have many more neurons firing around where their hands control the bow and violin in the brain. Mark McMorris’s brain would have many more neurons firing where his brain controls balance, and foot control being a world class snowboarder. A NewYork Times Journalist would have thousands of neurons firing in the parts of their brains that control writing, story telling, and reading.

Whatever your brain focuses a lot of time on, your brain will build up sufficient muscle around that particular area. Whether it be conscious or subconscious, you’re constantly making your brain smarter or dumber(if you’re not doing anything of future benefit to your brain).

Common knowledge has always been, what you’re born with is what you get! So if you were born “dumb” or didn’t have a good upbringing, you’re destined to fail. Wrong!

It’s those who realize that they can learn, practice and teach themselves many different skills and ideas that begin to truly flourish in life.

Learning doesn’t stop after highschool or university. This is how our society has been brought up. You go to school, learn, then get into the real world and work till you retire, then die board to death.

What if that’s the wrong way to think about it? What if we were meant to learn throughout our life? What if there isn’t a hard and fast “way” to do it? What if we could keep learning and adapting as we go becoming increasingly more valuable with every new experience?

You can learn anything

Yes you can’t go to the NHL after a certain point, the physical nature of the sport will hold you back. But that doesn’t mean you can’t train a coach, assistant coach, be a trainer, etc. It’s all in your mindset.

We’re great at telling ourselves “we can’t”. “That’s impossible!” a small part of our brains are extremely protective over what we can and can’t do. We love to quit before even trying, after all that is easier.

At Least I Tried

See this print at GapingVoid.com.

Start thinking the opposite. Start thinking you can do anything you want. It’s difficult at first but it’s the same idea as affirmations, the Tony Robbins’ system or “The Secret”. A positive attitude can literally move mountains.

I love the jobs quote from Steve Jobs:

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. And the minute that you understand you can poke life, when you push in something will pop out the other side. You can change it, you can mould it. That’s maybe the most important thing.” 

-Steve Jobs

Remember, anything is possible.

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