One phone call can change everything. Four weeks ago my partner’s cell phone rang. She couldn’t take the call at that moment, so I did. It was our family doctor. She asked me to have my partner come to the phone.
Laurie and I work together. We sit on opposite sides of the same work table at our studio in Port Hope. I watched as she listened to what the doctor was saying. When she put down her phone, she put her hand up like a stop sign so I would not ask anything. She didn’t even raise her eyes to look at me. She knew I was anxious to know what was going on.
We work in a small but busy office. A few minutes later Laurie packed up her computer, picked up her briefcase and left the office. I followed her outside. We got in the car and as we went home I heard what the doctor had to say. Laurie has breast cancer. This was on a Friday. The surgeon’s appointment was already scheduled for the following Monday.
We had dinner plans that night with a group of friends. Each month a different person takes a turn to cook and we share a meal together. It is always a lot of fun. A different signature dish, a few drinks and a bunch of laughs. We went. Laurie did not want to discuss her news even though we were surrounded by friends. It was a little too soon for her to talk about and I, of course, respected her decision. I, on the other hand, wanted to talk openly right away. I felt removed from the events of the evening and had very low energy. Our hosts had cooked a beautiful meal. It was as if I was having an out of body experience. I was there, but not really.
We talked and cried and sometimes sobbed on Saturday and Sunday. I’m not sure why we took it so hard. My partner is not dying. She has cancer. She is not dying! We have a bumpy road ahead of us. Laurie will have to take a few months off work so she has time to recover. But that’s all. She will be fine.
We went to her appointment on Monday with the surgeon. Laurie had a long list of questions to ask of the surgeon. Fortunately for Laurie, both her sister and brother in law are doctors and they had armed her with a lot of questions to get the information she needed. In summary, he told us Laurie would have surgery followed by chemo, if necessary, followed by radiation – a 10 month process, perhaps less. We left his office feeling confused and frightened.
Thursday of that week we left for Austin, Texas to attend our daughter’s wedding. We had originally hoped to take 10 days, rent a car and tour around Texas after her wedding but our thirst for the open road had diminished. Everything was different now. We reduced our trip to only a few days. Long enough to meet her now husband’s parents and his children and enjoy their ceremony.
While we were away, we arranged for an appointment with a different surgeon to get a second opinion. She told us very much the same thing as the first surgeon did, but we felt more connected to her. When she came into the room to meet us she pulled up a stool and sat right beside Laurie. She started drawing diagrams and graphically explained the process, the possibility of different options and gave us her recommendations. Perhaps because she wasn’t the one delivering the bad news for the first time we felt better, I don’t know, but we opted for surgeon number two.
As the word filtered out, first among our family members and then our friends and colleagues, a friend of Laurie’s sent her an orchid with a note that said I FUCKING HATE CANCER! These are powerful words from a young mother of two small boys whose name, Grace, describes her. The card made us stop in our tracks. We instantly knew that we had a community of support behind us. As the days followed there was an outpouring of affection and caring from everyone around us.
Surgery is now complete and we are both feeling strong and hopeful for a speedy recovery. We are still waiting to find out the next steps in this journey but, regardless of what difficulties life hands us, we will be fine, thanks to great friends, loving family and our caring community.
The Social is a very small – and very cool – restaurant on Ontario Street in Port Hope. I am delighted to be one of its owners. The space had been a restaurant before we opened but had been closed for four or five months before we moved in. The only experience I have had in restaurants is eating in one but the idea of opening a 30 seat restaurant was not overwhelming. On the contrary: it was exciting!
I knew I had to hire a good manager with plenty of experience and preferably one with a local network in the industry. I hired a young man I knew; I had patronized several of the restaurants he had worked in over the years and had always been impressed by him. Jeff Bray is competent and interesting and engaging. He is professional and knowledgeable and well respected in the industry. It’s been interesting to watch his career develop over the years and I am delighted he is working with us.
We opened within two weeks of Jeff coming on board. For my part I had negotiated the financials, the licence and the permits and dealt with the administration. Jeff developed a business plan and budget. He hired a chef, Isaac Meadows, and a competent team. He and the chef created an edgy, moderately priced menu. The restaurant has an open kitchen so it is its own entertainment. It has a small bar and a few tables – it is intimate and friendly. It has a pleasant vibe to it, it is embracing and warm.
Interior designer, Sheilagh Fletcher gave us design suggestions and colours. Tracy Kerr, Art Director for Cats Media created the branding, signage and menus. Jeff used his strong local network to coordinate a flurry of activity which included chair cushions being reupholstered, table tops being built, walls and ceiling painted, light fixtures being installed, a TV moved and shelves rebuilt. Isaac worked off his notice with his previous employer at the same time cooking and cooking and planning and cooking for The Social after his shift was over. Collectively we pulled together a tight, fun team who understand food and service; we created a fresh and functional space and an interesting menu that is moderately priced in a very short time. We opened a restaurant we are proud of. That makes it all worthwhile.
Many thanks to Jeff, Amelia, Isaac, Caity, Andrew, Dave, Cameron, Meghan, Kiera, Sheilagh and Tracy – and to all our friends and colleagues who helped us open The Social. www.thesocialph.ca
How many times have you thought that it would be easier to walk away from the promise of a project or abandon it part way through the plan? Sometimes things get too difficult or too onerous, sometimes we lose enthusiasm and sometimes we get so crippled by fear of failure we can’t make another move. But abandoning a project, whether at the beginning or part way through, has far more negative consequences than it being just an unfinished job. If a project doesn’t get completed our business suffers unnecessary risk. Deadlines are missed, client expectations are not met and cost overruns are incurred.
Sometimes a project doesn’t get finished because we have too many options, or nothing can ever really be good enough, or we are perfectionists and we don’t want to settle for ‘well overall it’s pretty good’. When that happens it is important to evaluate our entire performance on a project. Budget overruns, missed deadlines and not achieving client goals are costly to our companies, not only financially but also to our reputations. If you are on time and on budget and have achieved the goals the client laid out then you have succeeded.
Sometimes projects never end because we haven’t thought far enough ahead. We need to embrace the end of every project by planning the next steps. How will we be launching that website we just developed and monitoring the traffic going to it? What will we do to market and brand that product we just produced? Or how will we use the strong branding we just created to market the client’s next events? If we are excited about the next steps in the project the completion will come quickly.
There are times when we simply lose enthusiasm and energy on a project. If you abandon a project there is no benefit to you, your company or your client. All of the energy and time you have put into it so far will be lost. The best defence is to set realistic goals and deadlines. Ask your colleagues to help you to stay accountable with regular update sessions. Where practical, let them assist in the process in order to achieve the desired outcome. You’ll be surprised at how quickly that energy and enthusiasm for the project returns!
Collaboration and teamwork make every project more enjoyable. Our colleagues become our clients when we are working together on a project. They rely on you to do your part just as you rely on them to do theirs. Similarly we need to partner with our clients and keep them informed of the project at every critical step. It is not our job to magically create a finished product or solution to their problem. It is our job to develop a relationship with them, listen to their needs, guide them through the creative process, help them stay on track. It is our job to meet their expectations. If they have been part of the process all along there will be no surprises when we get to the end of a project. It will be congratulations all around.
1. Envision the future | Business and technology has fused into one system, one conversation, one strategy for one world. This is central to understanding the future. Strategic leadership is having the ability to think ahead, to study industry and to seek out what opportunities are available. Leaders have to search for future gains and advantages.
2. Be conscious and aware of your brand | Understanding and developing one’s own personal brand can build the same equity as a good business brand. To do so we have to set goals, develop a mission statement and then define a personal vision and value statement. The integrity of your brand must remain consistent and solid but the message it sends out must stay fresh and vibrant, otherwise it will not stay top of mind.
3. Innovate to create new opportunities within your industry and beyond | Entirely new industries will be formed by innovations yet to be brought to market. Innovations are about new business models, marketplace collaboration, and knowledge engineering. At least 20% of your time and your company’s resources should be devoted to innovative services or products.
4. Embrace disruptions in your industry | Disruptions are coming in the form of emerging markets, new technologies, and changing customer demographics. Embrace these changes and demand a cultural change within your own organization.
5. Understand that human capital is your most valuable resource | Hire only the best. Once you have hired, do not accept mediocrity. Hire for attitude, then train, mentor, nurture, and coach to develop skill. Make it a policy that everyone who works on your team is one of the best in their industry. Make sure your best people are highly visible and are in positions of influence. They should be where they can contribute the most. That way they will help to attract the culture of great talent you are striving for.
6. Refuse to maintain the status quo | Leaders must think critically. Challenge everything. Find better ways. Leaders must change current mindsets and current methods. The most important thing is that as leaders we must constantly strive to make our processes, products or services better and better.
7. Always keep learning | Never stop talking to other professionals. Constantly encourage feedback and dialogue with those around you. Keep reading and stay in touch with your industry. Knowledge is power. How you get that knowledge or where it comes from doesn’t matter; what matters is that you do. Keep trying. Keep learning. When you make the decision to lead a company you make a commitment to your staff, customers and suppliers. You make a promise that you will continue to grow and learn.
8. Take a vacation | There is nothing worse than a leader who is bored. We all periodically reach a point where we should be doing something other than work. Vacations help us put everything back into perspective, they help us refresh and relax. It doesn’t matter how much work you have to do, you’ll do it much better and be a more interesting person if you take a break.
9. Build on your strengths – don’t focus on your weaknesses | Build on your strengths instead of spending time working on your weaknesses. Whatever business you are in, focusing on weak areas takes energy and effort away from building on strengths. Your strengths will suffer; they will be in danger of becoming weaknesses. Trying to be well rounded, or all things to all people, doesn’t set you apart. Great strengths, and a little lopsidedness, does.
10. Analyse and make decisions | A good strategic leader holds steady. Don’t jump on new thoughts or waves until you’ve analysed the market, opportunities and trends. Thoughtfully review options. Make a decision before you become paralyzed by too much information and too much time to think about it. Have an opinion and take a stand.
11. Motivate your team | Good leadership involves building trust with your team and engaging key players. Even when different points of view exist, good leaders can bring the cause to the foreground and make a difference. Good leadership respects the rights and dignity of others. Good leaders are not self-serving. They are keenly aware of how their decisions affect others. Good leaders create a desire in others to be self-sufficient by empowering them. Good leaders motivate others and put the needs of the team ahead of their own. Great leaders don’t overshadow others – they elevate others.
12. Be your own mission statement | Who you are and how you behave every day is your company’s mission statement. You are your company. When clients deal with your company their focus is on you. When you dress professionally, deal with people openly and honestly, treat your colleagues with respect, pay your suppliers on time and contribute to your community, you are your company’s mission statement. If you are belligerent at parties, if your favourite word is not printable, if you engage in gossip or manipulative behaviour… that will be your company’s mission statement.
13. Build on your strategic plan | The starting point for a growing business is always a strategic plan. Once you have a strategic plan, stick with it. Strategic plans are meant to evolve, but not to be thrown away. Tossing it always results in repeating again and again the process of getting there. Leaders with vision will take the plan, implement it step by step and nurture and embrace its evolution.
14. Step outside of your comfort zone | The most dangerous place to stay is in your comfort zone. It is the least safe place for anyone to be. If something outside your zone grabs your attention run with it. If it gives you an opportunity to shine – do it. You never know what you may discover.
People want companies to communicate in a human like manner. They want a conversation with the organization. That is why social media has become such a powerful tool. Social media can create a sense that a company is being authentic. It enables people to interact with and also to have an affect on each other. It decentralizes authority and allows information to come from all directions, not just top down. Social media allows information to be shared at breakneck speed across all types of networks; older forms of communication can’t hold a candle to it. However, there is a downside: social media is fraught with risk.
Social media can leave your organization having to constantly deal with opposing views and values. Instead of concentrating on your own message, you may have to concentrate on disputing or disproving that of others. You may find yourselves dealing with fraudulence, a vulnerability to hacking, or worse: it’s very easy for someone to set up a Facebook page and claim that it’s you.
It’s time to find other methods to communicate. Young people have already started drifting from forms of media they made successful, particularly Facebook and Twitter, because their parents are listening. And those with jobs are concerned that their colleagues and bosses are listening. We can’t go backwards – any new form of communication must be Internet based –– but is must be a secure and safe environment in order for the conversation to continue in an authentic and transparent manner.
Ford’s life or death choice
The Ford Nation is his yesterday. The Ford family in his future. Councillor Doug Ford must — with all those who love Rob Ford as family — intervene and demand that he follow them home. Not a leave of absence, but outright resignation.
Further, as an expression of brotherly love and common political sense, Doug Ford should resign his council seat immediately and the two should leave the building, not in retreat politically but in common cause to rescue their family from humiliation and to save Rob’s life, quite specifically.
Rob Ford is a human being. And Thursday, on television, his desperation (maybe his despair) cropped up.
In his reaction to the latest video he plaintively said to the crush of reporters — referring to his own “very, very inebriated state” in the video — “I hope none of you ever get like that.” A telling, heartbreaking insight.
Rob Ford is a human being. His political life is over. Probably forever. And, for him, that is a good thing. He is obviously lacking personal insight until he finds it, resilience until he learns it and fundamental judgment as to his public role, until he sees what that is. In the moment of which I speak, the mayor was otherwise speechless. As if seeing a video of his own nightmare from the outside in. Having worked in the hot house that is city hall, having been around politicians much of my adult life, I suggest it is time for the Ford family to step in.
All members of the mayor’s blood family and those friends not associated with politics or crime must be unified in confronting this man with two realities:
One, to save his life — not his political life — but his life, he must resign outright, leave Toronto and Canada in 2014 for the sole purpose of physical and emotional renewal. He must then return thinner, calmer, happier and resolved to do good work outside elective office. This is possible, not yet plausible, but within the realm of what could happen.
Two, for this purpose, he must go to the United States for extended residential-based care at a highly discreet location and disappear from public view to escape the humiliation of the pictures of his own behaviour and the caricatures now sweeping the Internet and plaguing his family.
Urgently, Ford needs access to the expertise of clinicians who can diagnose, treat and manage the dual occurrence of drug and alcohol abuse, on the one hand, and mental distress and disorder on the other. This is a potentially lethal combination that must be disconnected, and resolved.
Common mental illness increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, perpetuates obesity and can cloud judgment. Ford must become a new man.
On Thursday, Ford literally ran out of words. Unless he leaves city hall now to get medical, psychological and physical care — a real overhaul — he may well run out of time.
As for his critics, your point has been made — by him. Now he needs love — tough love if need be — and compassion from those closest to him.
Without knowing the family, I don’t know if there is someone for this purpose. But his brother could show the kind of courage and strength Rob Ford needs by his side, by walking, with him, out of city hall — now and maybe forever.
Bill Wilkerson is the executive chairman of Mental Health International, a Canadian not-for-profit corporation that promotes mental health in the workplace, internationally, building on the pioneering work of the Global Roundtable. Wilkerson is also familiar with Toronto City Hall, having served as chief of staff for Mayor Art Eggleton through the 1980s.
Port Hope is home to one of Canada’s largest environmental cleanup projects, garnering international attention, attracting skilled labour, and creating a cluster of expertise unlike anywhere else in the world. On Thursday, October 24, 2013, at the Port Hope Recreation Centre, Port Hope and District Chamber of Commerce held its inaugural Trade show and Conference: Small Community → Global Impact: Economic Opportunities and the PHAI.
The conference had two goals: to educate industry and to explore the huge economic opportunities that relate to the Port Hope Project.
In order to engage young people and young professionals at the conference the Port Hope Chamber arranged the following:
- Six members of Port Hope Young Professionals assisted in various capacities, one of which was the role played by Bill Daly, Vice Chair of PHYP: he was ‘master of ceremonies’ for the day.
- 40 high school science and business students toured the tradeshow during the morning.
- Six Fleming college students were registered for the full day conference, generously sponsored by industry
- At the closing reception more Young Professionals joined in for the networking opportunity cohosted by PHYP and Conference Executive Sponsor, Tervita.
Another, and equally important, focus for the Chamber was to ‘attract and engage new entrants to the business community’. Registered at the Trade show and Conference were 120 delegates and exhibitors: 35 from Port Hope and 85 from Ontario, Nova Scotia, Alberta, New Jersey, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Minnesota, California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Fountainbleau, France. The trade show and conference truly had an international reach.
Key note speaker, Heather Kleb, Vice President of the Canadian Nuclear Association and formerly of PHAI, impressed the delegates with her `big picture` view of the Nuclear Industry in its global context, her knowledge of the project and positive outlook for Port Hope`s economic future. Delegates were able to choose from the following breakout sessions:
- PHAI: Project Background and History
- Understanding Radiation and Radiation Safety
- Cameco: Past, Present and Future
- CNSC 101: Roles and Responsibilities of the Nuclear Regulator
- Contracting and Procurement: AECL, PWGSC, OSME, Chamber Portal
- Fleming College and the PHAI project
- Guided bus tour of the Port Hope Project cleanup sites
The highlight of the conference was the dynamic panel discussion. Panellists represented academia, industry and economic development. They discussed the spin-off opportunities that will arise from the Port Hope Area Initiative, both during and following the project. The panel consisted of Facilitator Heather Kleb, Vice President CNA; Mike Anderson, Director of Environmental Programs, Jacobs; Dr. Brian Ikeda, Associate Professor Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science, UOIT; Walter Van Veen, Port Hope Project Director, PHAI; and Dan Borowec, Director of Economic Development & Tourism, Northumberland County.
The Port Hope and District Chamber of Commerce is committed to hosting an annual conference focusing on business successes and economic opportunities in and around the community. Beginning immediately we will be reviewing feedback from delegates and exhibitors and planning next year’s event.
Last week I listened to a webinar featuring Andy Paparozzi, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for the National Association of Print Leaders (NAPL), presenting the State of the Industry report 2013. Industry, in this context, refers to the PRINT industry.
The report consisted of at least 45 minutes of wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth doom and gloom evangelism. “The print industry will never be the same again! We will never get back to pre- Great Recession numbers!” Mr Paparozzi, talking about the industry to which both he and his listeners belong, continued in this negative fashion. “Between 2010 and 2013 sales in the industry have pretty much remained the same but that is still more than 21% below pre-Great Recession levels. As an industry we are not getting worse but there has not been enough progress. Conditions are not better. Business is a slow tough grind, it is uncertain and a roller coaster ride. Many organizations are revising sales down for the year. “
Mr. Paparozzi’s message was not exactly motivating. Some of my key employees were also listening to the webinar; they said it made them feel deflated and anxious. But at the same time they were a little bewildered because we at Cats Media are busy! There are times when we can’t hire fast enough. Why were they hearing so much negativity?
Mr Paparozzi went on to tell us that there are dramatic variations of performance from company to company and that the industry leaders are doing well, some with increases of up to 54%. In order to compete we have to change our mindsets. He then provided a laundry list of things we could do, such as ‘think creatively, meet more clients, listen better, be flexible and critique self’. Sorry Mr. Paparozzi but you are wrong. Those suggestions are in no way creative and are not going to get anybody very far.
On one thing, however, he is right: we do need to change our mindset but not the way he suggested. In my opinion the print industry is a dinosaur. In fact I don’t even believe that there is a print industry left. It’s gone! Print is no longer an industry it is simply a service. It is one component of a total package. It is definitely profitable in the right context and still sought after by the right clients for all the right reasons. But it is just a small part of the big picture and the big picture is MARKETING. We have to be marketing service providers, not printers. That is how we must change our mindset.
If you have yet to change the culture in your organization then you should put a sign saying ‘We are not Printers!’ at the front of your building for every employee and client to see. Eventually the message will get through. And if you are worried that this sign may make you lose sales then your mindset definitely needs work!
Everyone wants to increase the number of hits on their websites. The easier it is for a visitor to find your website the better your chances for a sale or a connection. The result of a sale is obvious; a connection improves your chances for positive interaction. An accessible website is becoming the cornerstone of successful marketing strategies. In order to achieve that success it is critical to understand how search engines work so you can build your search engine results. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be hugely complex requiring the assistance of an expert, or it can be very simple; it all depends on the complexity of your organization and website. If you own a small business it’s a given that you must have a web presence; you owe it to yourself to make it effective.
Here are a few basic SEO rules for small business owners:
Monitor your results: check google analytics every month and know what your results are. Take a look at how you are doing from a hits perspective. Know what words are being used to find your site. Know what geographic area you are pulling hits from. If you don’t monitor the results every month you won’t be able to monitor the success of your strategy.
Place keywords in your site: use key words in title tags, page headers, in the actual content and as image names. If you aren’t sure what your key words should be, check out your competitors’ websites and see what they are saying. Refrain from using the same word over and over; use a synonym if you can’t think of something else. Overdoing the key words will backfire and you will get labelled as a spammer. Keep it simple.
Use text in your website: search engines can only search text, not photos or images – just text. Visitors like to look at pretty pictures so if you want to improve your SEO add captions to your gallery of products or photos; make sure you tag your images with key words. Also, a caution to franchise owners, or those of you who purchase industry specific web content: content duplication is not well received by search engines; search engines look for fresh content.
Avoid Flash: it may look pretty but it handles text poorly and does nothing to improve your SEO. Flash is not searchable if you only have a small website. Don’t waste your money on it.
Content needs to be fresh: blogging is a great way to keep the content fresh and updated regularly. It’s also a great way to keep your audience engaged, support your brand and make your company stand out from the competition. Make sure your titles are under 70 characters long and use words pertaining to the content. If the title is too ‘clever’ it won’t help build SEO.
Social Media: distribute links to your fresh content across social media platforms. Tweet and re tweet, create regular updates for Facebook and join LinkedIn groups. Send out your fresh content, when it makes sense, to attract new visitors from other platforms and link back to your site.
Link to others: reciprocal links are an easy way to direct traffic to your site. Ask if you can include a link on the websites of the organizations you belong to and other well-respected sites. Be reciprocal; link those sites back and everyone wins.
Market your website: building a website isn’t enough. You have to market it and direct people to it. Put your domain on your business card, email signature, newspaper ads, rack cards, brochures and all your marketing and advertising materials. If you send out eNewsletters include a link back to the pertinent section of your website. Use every opportunity to direct people to your website.
Keep SEO top of mind. Following these simple guidelines will help improve your results each month. It’s an opportunity to get the best bang for your website buck!
The Port Hope and District Chamber of Commerce Conference and Trade Show is the first annual showcase of businesses in our catchment area. The theme of our 2013 Conference and Trade Show is:
Small Community → Global Impact:
Economic Opportunities and the PHAI
The Port Hope Area Initiative (PHAI) represents the Government of Canada’s commitment to the cleanup and local, long-term, safe management of historic low-level radioactive waste in Port Hope. As part of the Port Hope Project implementation phase, the waste will be excavated and relocated to the new Port Hope long-term waste management facility.
Today’s society and economy is dependant on the sharing of information and the development of opportunities. At the Port Hope & District Chamber of Commerce we work closely with the Municipality, the PHAI and other groups, to create, and sustain, a positive business climate in our community. This year’s conference will showcase the work we are doing relating to the Port Hope Area Initiative.
The PHCC’s inaugural event will highlight how the Port Hope Project will generate opportunities to form new and creative partnerships. It will offer Chamber members and others the tools to grow through interaction with other businesses, and a chance to combine the strengths of local organizations to best serve our community.
The 2013 PHCC Conference has two goals: to explore questions that relate to the Port Hope Project and to educate. With the assistance of renowned speakers and presenters from inside and outside the community, this conference will clarify concerns and help residents and business owners access the information they need. It will introduce them to opportunities they didn’t know existed.
Who will attend?
The 2013 Port Hope Chamber of Commerce Conference and Trade Show participants and delegates will include:
• business professionals working in and with the nuclear and waste management industry
• business owners who would like to profile their products or services
• contractors who would like to work with the Port Hope Project
• residents who are interested in education and information about the PHAI
• young professionals interested in gaining exposure to the project and networking with industry experts
Take this opportunity to support Port Hope’s business community by becoming a sponsor or exhibitor at the 2013 Conference and Trade Show. Join us on October 24, 2013!
Call us at 905.885.5519 or email email@example.com , or visit us at www.porthopechamber.com.