Are we truly in this together?

“Women across the globe have been disproportionately affected by the Pandemic, representing 70% of all job losses. In addition, 56% of women workers held occupations in the 5C’s category: caring, cashiering, catering, cleaning and clerical functions. Many of these positions are essential workers, which means more women than men have had to risk their health and safety for the overall good of our community.”

Melissa Coomber-Bendtsen

This is a quote from the CEO of the Regina YWCA at this years Women of Distinction awards.

Once you see it, or hear it, you can’t un-see it, or un-hear it! This is not an untold story, but it is not a fully told story! It felt staggering to me.

We are clearly not in this together!!

I am a woman entrepreneur and I too would like to be called an “entrepreneur” with no identifier, but this is an example of how far away we are from equity in the workforce, on boards and in the 5 C’s.

Sometimes I grow weary – equity and injustice weary!

But weariness has never stopped women.

And so we carry on, finding opportunities to make change. Women and men together until we are truly in “this” together!

Do Something Unscalable

What can you do for one of your customers that is completely unscalable? I know the buzzword right now is scalable, not unscalable, but stick with me for a minute.

Think of the one gesture, which immediately has you and your team saying “Well, we can’t do that for everyone!”

Think show stopping, I can’t believe it, outrageous, kind, thoughtful, out-of-the-box, hilarious, unexpected, empathic, differentiating, unforgettable, and purpose driven.

What can you package up, send over, create, do (covid friendly mariachi band serenades are on the table here) to delight and surprise (in a good way) your customer.

Yup, it is so outrageous you can’t do it every day, that is the beauty of it!

I am convinced this unscalable action will become a scalable story.

I am sending one out the door today…I wonder where it will land 🙂

I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!

Kind Acts, the value of Constraints and the Art of Propelling Questions

I have a beautiful, big, journal that I bought at the most amazing store called Paper Umbrella.  It’s a local store filled with so many treasures!!! I am inspired every time I go into the shop, not just because they have such an irresistible array of paper goods, sassy cards, and drool-worthy pens, but because the owners Theresa and Brad provide an experience that always lifts my day. They understand community in the purest sense.

All through the pandemic they have held imaginative and kind activities. One of my favourites was “letter love” where they encouraged us to write a letter to a senior in a care home. Brad and Theresa would deliver them to various homes and the notes would find their way to those who needed to know they were being thought of.

When we couldn’t go in their store we could order and have curbside pick-up. Our paper bags always adorned with a personalized note splashed with beautiful calligraphy.

Then there was the “daily dose” a five-minute video every day on something you could craft yourself and you could count on it like clockwork. They showed up to cheer us on and cheer up others. I won’t ever forget that.

Back to my journal….

I keep all my notes for blogging in this journal.  It’s a fab “evening azure ocean blue colour” (Can you tell that I always wished I had a job where I could name colours and paint!)  There is something about being able to sketch out a blog on paper first that appeals to me, and then I translate that using a keyboard.

But today my tried-and-true system is unavailable. I’ve broken my right wrist, so the keyboard and the journal will be getting dusty for the next little while.  This is my very first voice-dictated blog.

I feel a bit like I’m flapping in the wind, in freefall gripping the armchair with my one good hand, reaching out for something that is familiar.

Then again it is 2020! Working within a constraint has become familiar! A broken wrist? No problem just another constraint!

Constraints have been shown to lead to better practises, to the transformation of businesses, and the invention of vaccines! (Which last year we never even knew we needed.)

I admire so deeply the many businesses who have had to change their business model on a dime, and be nimble enough to respond to even the most remote opportunity to rewrite what is possible. These businesses chose to believe in a narrative that taking small steps forward would pay off.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Aimee Schulhauser, owner of two restaurants (Tangerine, Slice), a cooking school (Schoolhause Culinary Arts) and a catering business (Evolution Catering). Infact she opened a new restaurant right at the start of the pandemic! As you can imagine she has been hard hit.

“The fact that we are so nimble really paid off for us”, says Amy. “We were able to respond very quickly to the needs of not only our customer but our community. When we could no longer seat people in our restaurant we thought about how we might be able to help. At that time many grocery items were hard to come by. We opened up a mini-grocery with items like flour and yeast and some fresh fruit. We expanded our takeout with what our customers wanted, which was not our trademark salads. They were looking for mac & cheese and meatloaf! We became very determined to just keep showing up however we were needed.”

We are not in control of the constraints put upon us by this pandemic, but we can control the ambition and inventiveness it can generate in ourselves and in our business. Despite this, not every business story or personal story will end well.  That reality hurts our collective hearts.

So how do we move forward?

I think the first step is accepting the constraint, changing our mindset to remove some of our traditional ways of solving problems, and asking new questions. 

The type of questions you ask yourself can change your direction. Try asking yourself propelling questions. A propelling question is defined by linking together a bold ambition and a considerable constraint. It is a hopeful question challenging us to find the right idea. The practice of asking propelling questions can be used at all levels of business.

Some examples include:

How can I maintain relationships with our customers when our business is closed?

How can we expand our business when we don’t have an advertising budget?

How can I elevate the customer experience and reduce my expenses?

How can we prevent layoffs when our sales have slid?

Asking propelling questions will introduce tension and discomfort and make us examine what we thought we knew. I believe it will also propel us to new solutions.

Like voice dictating a blog. 🙂

 

*this blog is not endorsed or sponsored it is simply an opportunity to cheer on purpose driven brands

why is it dangerous to play it safe right now?

Don’t wait for normal to return, it is not coming back.

Take chances now.

Playing it safe right now is too dangerous a strategy.

If you are trying to play it safe you are missing a significant opportunity to stand out. And you need to stand out!

I gave this advice at an event this spring at the dawn of Covid. And about a month later one of the participants messaged me to say that she took my advice. She said, “I quit my job and started the journey that I always wanted to take, but hadn’t really had the courage to do it.” Now was the time.

Now is the time to invest in yourself, relying on yourself as your most valuable asset.

Understanding who you are, being able to articulate your purpose, and how you can use your genius work to help others; this is your portable equity and it is worth gold!

It is easy to lose ourselves right now, and yet the opportunity to find ourselves is the one we need to say yes to.

If you are ready to invest in your portable equity and declare your purpose we can help!

Do you want to be perfect or brave?

Ahh, the brutal truth of self-awareness. Sometimes our best traits, when in over-drive, don’t serve us well.

My Mom said, “if it is worth doing, it is worth doing well” and I heard her! I have lived by it. I don’t like half way – ever. Generally, that works for me and I love pushing myself. But sometimes too much of a good thing sends me right to perfectionism and procrastination. Which is really fear dressed up in 2 different costumes.

And wow – Fear, I am so done with you!

C’mon Brave – let’s get to that party now!

Would you rather be brave or perfect?

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