Monday, November 28, 2016

Black Friday

Yes it seems that the idea of Black Friday has now moved up to Canada as well as in the United States. Through the last few days we have been emailed about pre-Black Friday sales, now it is the emails for Black Friday sales. The malls are also open early so that people can get the deals before everyone else.

Black Friday originally was something that was only in the United States but as a means of keeping people here in Canada the retailers decided it wold be a good idea for us to have some sales at the same time. What they really aren’t telling us is that the sales we are getting really aren’t that great but at least they are on sale, or at least this is my feelings.

One example of the sales that really isn’t a sale is for some yarn that is on sale in the United States but wait it isn’t on sale here in Canada at Michaels. So here is the comparison in the U.S. it is 2 for $10 and the normal price is around $7 be ball of yarn. Now here in Canada the regular price is $12 a ball and yes on Black Friday the price is $12. There have been a lot of other yarn sales that have been talked about through social media and all I can say is that even when something is on sale here it is still a lot more than down the states. Here is what I am thinking the price should be on this yarn for today here in Canada given that we do have an exchange rate to consider. So how about 2 for $13 for even just Black Friday to keep some people here in Canada instead of them running down to the States and going to Michaels, JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby. There is the other comparison, they have three different craft stores and we have one.

Black Friday also means that a lot of the malls here in Canada open early to try and attract people to come do their shopping and see what the sales are. The malls are normally busy during the Christmas season and I have already seen it for this year as it started last week for us. I am very glad that we have been able to get most of our shopping already done so that we can avoid the malls as much as possible over the next month.

We decided that we wanted to try and go shopping today so went to one of the malls and the results were we drove into the mall parking lot, drove around the parking lot looking for a spot for a bit of time and then left. Yes, the malls around the city were all crazy and the decision to leave the mall without actually going shopping was probably the best thing we could have done. There are still going to be sales happening between now and Christmas and dealing with all the crowds today to save a few dollars wasn’t worth it.

Black Friday can be an interesting experience but fighting all the crowds may not be worth it. I know that we could have driven around and around looking for a spot but considering we weren’t looking for anything particular just walking around the mall wasn’t something we were going to do without a lot of frustration.

Is Black Friday really worth it? I am not sure if you aren’t going to buy something anyway, the sales that you see, may or may not help with the decision. There were things that we saw, at another store, were a good price but they weren’t something that we needed so we left the store without the deals that we saw.

Black Friday can be a good deal if you already wanted the item. The item needs to be something you need not just something that was a good deal.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Showing others who you are

Everyone that I know has a bunch of sides to them and you don’t get to see the various sides of them a lot of the time.

What is interesting is seeing little bits of the various sides of a person and seeing that you really do have a lot more in common than you first thought. As an IT individual we go to quite a few events and meet a lot of people and have some wonderful discussions. It means that we get to know that person from the IT side of the world and that is where they normally belong.

I have had a couple of very interesting experiences because of individuals that I have met through going to various IT event. One of the experiences that I really enjoyed was a few years ago. I have been going to TASK for a while and there was a lady that I got to talk to there a bit and then I also got to talk to her at another IT focused conference. I figured that was going to be the circle that she was going to belong to and there wasn’t going to be any other interaction with this person. Well, that didn’t last too long because I went to my monthly get-together of cross-stitchers and guess who sat down beside me. Yes, the lady that I knew through TASK and the other IT events was also a cross-stitcher so we had a great time and we found that we both had another side to ourselves not just IT related.

IT events is one of the areas that I do get to meet a lot of individuals that that makes me happy. Another situation that was interesting was when we were at an IT event and we ended up talking with one of the regulars that we see. It ends up that his girl friend is also a major crafter like I am and we have a lot of those things in common. The girl friend also has the super sensitive ears like I have and I think even worse so I understand her. It means that this guy that we met at an IT event has become more than someone we see just an IT events. He is someone who understands me and sees that there is more to me than just the female that goes to the various IT events.
one of my drawings

For me one of the fun experiences was when we were among a bunch of our friends and they finally realized that I drew. A lot of people have never seen anything that I have drawn and it was fun when the bunch realized that yes I do that as a hobby. I had my sketch book with me that time and I was asking one of our friends, who is an artist, for some help with my drawing. It made for some wonderful conversations when people started looking through my sketch book and saw a different side of me.

So many people see one side of an individual and they don’t think that person is more than that. Yes, I have various sides to me and you just need to spend a bit of time around me to see that I may not be just the one side you see most of the time. A person normally has a lot of different interests and just sitting down and talking to them you may find out you have more in common than you first thought. Don’t be afraid to show others the different parts of you because that is how you will develop those good friendships and be able to talk about more than the original reason you got to know each other.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Being Creative

When someone asks me what I do in my spare time I say I enjoy being creative.

Being creative can be a lot of different things to people. The end result of being creative can be something tangible or it can be something that isn’t tangible either. There are times that ideas are created and those cannot be seen or felt for quite some time. Yes, being creative normally means you are doing something that can be seen by others.

For me being creative is sitting and relaxing and spending a little bit of time doing something with my hands. Of course, the creativity varies depending on the day or even the minute as I can sometimes start working on a thing and then I end up putting that down and working on something else. Through my creativity I am able to express myself in different ways which is what I really enjoy. Being creative can also be applied to my work as writing is another form of being creative. You are taking a very small point and developing it into something a lot larger.

The method of being creative can vary depending on mood or even available time or energy. There are times that a simple doodle that I have done will inspire me to either create something out of that doodle or it will help me figure out that project that I haven’t been able to figure out for a while. The doodle can also inspire a story or a blog idea and those are things that I love when they pop into my head. One of my most common doodles is a little character that I have been drawing for years. He has finally been given a name of “ME” standing for Mischievous Entity. This little character appears quite often when I am just sitting and drawing and sometimes he is doing something and another time it is just the basic outline of him.

Being creative is a great way to let your mind wander in various ways and can be a break from the normal day to day routines. Being creative can also be a way of solving those issues that you have been dealing with. There are times when I have been sitting relaxing and the solution for something that I have been working on during the day appears. Those are the great times when you can actually figure out a solution for something when you aren’t focused on solving the thing.

Creativity will vary by the individual and most people are creative in their own way. Not everyone fits into the same mold and that needs to be remembered. You may create wonderful drawings and someone else may create beautiful bowls. Each of you is create in your own ways and you should never put down someone else being creativity because everyone is different and finds enjoyment in their method.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Our website

It is amazing how many people have told us that our website is out of date and old.

Yes, I admit that our website doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that some other sites have, but we are happy with our site. The goal of our website is to communicate what we do and not with a lot of flash or things that will distract from the main message. I know that there are going to be people that say we need all the latest and greatest things, but what they aren’t checking is if we are happy with our site.

A couple of the other things that people aren’t understanding that the fancier our website is the more questions we get asking about designing and managing websites. For a lot of people once you say that you are either in IT or you do Technical Writing they figure that you will do websites for everyone. There are a lot of people that design and manage websites and we want to leave that focus to them. Another thing that we are doing is ensuring that our website is safe and is harder to hack and install the latest and most problematic hostage wear on. Some platforms as so easy for hackers to attack and we want to ensure that our website isn’t set up so that is extremely attractive to those individuals.

Every website is designed with a purpose and knowing what the ultimate purpose of the website can make a big difference. I understand that a lot of the marketing people will say our website is old but that is fine with me.

It is always interesting when people look at our site and they mention that they liked how simple it was and easy to find things on. Of course, these are some of people that we like working with because they also don’t want the bells and whistles that are not always needed. We like the KISS principle when it comes to our website as it makes it a lot easier to manage and we can do it ourselves. Yes, we could add more flash to the website but that isn’t what we want our site to look like.

We also recently did a booth at a Small Business Forum and one of the feed backs we got from a marketing person was that our brochures were mostly text and didn’t have a lot pictures in it. Yes, our handouts were a lot of text but that again is what we wanted for our booth. No, it wasn’t the tri-fold pages they were basic pages but they gave you the information about us. Sure brochures have their place and I understand that and maybe we could have had more pictures on our pages but then the number of pages would have increased and the message would have started to disappear.

Our website and even our handouts were designed to work for us, so that we can communicate our message. We are simple and skilled people that enjoy working and are not going to make people use the latest and greatest features or equipment if it isn’t what is needed.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Vendors and First Impression

Email received from a vendor:
Subject: Initial Reach Out
Wanted to quickly reach out because you visited the XXX booth at a recent conference.
Were you just swinging by to grab some goodies, or is there a chance you’re looking for new tools to protect your network?

My reply to vendor email:
As a consultant we are always trying to keep informed as to what is out there for our clients.  We are trusted advisors.

We do not drop by a booth just to pick up some goodies as I do not believe that is what the goodies are there for. Yes a lot of attendees will do that but unless we have had a conversation with someone at the booth we do not pick up stuff.
There are times that I think that vendors really need to think about what they are saying when they write an email to an attendee at a conference. The email that I received was from a vendor/booth that I did not get my name tag scanned at or leave a business card with. The vendor may have received my contact information from the registration for the conference but that was it.
There are a lot of people that go to conferences to just grab the free stuff that is being handed out but a vendor should never start out a first contact asking if the only reason I stopped by the booth was it to get the goodies. What else is interesting about this entire situation is that both my business partner and myself were are these conferences and I was the only one that received the email. Now, maybe it was because I replied as quickly as I did saying I wasn’t happy about the email. Maybe it was his contact information was lost in the pile or maybe it was because I am a female that I received this email. I will never know why I got the email and my business partner didn’t. What I do know is that if you are trying to make a good first contact you never mention the goodies.
There are a number of booths are conferences that we do not stop at because we know that they are not a fit for our business or our clients. If I didn’t stop by our booth don’t tell me that I did. If you received my contact from the registration list then just say “when you attended xxx conference”. Now the issue with using that list and saying you attended the conference is there are a lot of people that are unable to actually attend the event after registering so you are going to look bad again. If you have a scanner and are collecting who you actually talked to them yes you can mention about stopping by the booth but otherwise that is bad practice.
A vendor and the first impression can make a big difference if I will consider recommending them to a client or not. For this vendor, I can honestly say that I will not be recommending them to any of our clients and I can’t wait to go to one of our monthly meetings to see how else got this email. Some people will not have paid attention to it or the wording but I know some of them that if they did receive this email will not be happy.
For me the goodies are the various booths aren’t the reason that I stop at a booth. I am stopping at a booth to find out about a particular product or I can saying hi to someone that I know that is manning the booth. There are only so many pens, flash lights, umbrellas, etc that I can us and I don’t need any more of any of those.
Vendors if you really want to make a good first contact with me, remember, I may not have stopped by your booth, you may have received my name from the registration list and oh, I don’t stop by the booth just for your goodies.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Stating the Obvious

There are times when stating the obvious needs to be done.

We recently were at a conference and saw a few issues that could be addressed and improved for next year. Yes, we want to see the conference improve and also want to ensure that we can add a little bit of value to the conference. I want to show that making comments to the right people can go a long way.

The conference was wonderful and I did enjoy it and had a great experience helping out at a booth for a community group. What problems there were, weren’t large, but fixing them would make the booth better for next year and give the group a little better imagine and that is very important.

The issues that I saw quickly were:
  • The location was not identified in the book so no one knew what it was for.
  • The tables were not in an ideal location because not everyone saw the tables if they weren’t going to specific rooms for sessions.
  • Our community group didn’t have anything to identify it was at the table. Another organization had a table cover which helped.
  • Nothing was visible to show that a lot of the table was for user groups.
  • Ensure people manning the booth understand the user group.

Some quick solutions that were done during the show:
  • Individuals at least from our group had an addition to their name tag to show that they were part of that table.
  • Taped a flyer onto the computer to help it be identified.

Improvements that can be done for next year:
  • Have location identified in the book so that everyone knows where it is.
  • Banners and/or table skirt would help attract attention to the groups that are there.
  • Have something eye catching so that people want to come over and talk.
  • Have some notes for everyone that will be managing the booth so they have the information and can answer questions.

The ideas may be obvious but when I was talking to one individual their response was “those are obvious”, so if they were so obvious why weren’t they done prior to the event. Another individual was very happy to hear the improvements for next year and asked if they could be documented. If I had only listened to the first person with their response I wouldn’t have said anything else. I am glad to know that the person that is more in control of the booth and how it goes, is happy that we talked to them.

There are going to be times when “those are obvious” are really just that, but this time by stating them we give some positive feedback and we know it will be improved for next year. There are always going to be individuals that are not going to accept suggestions openly but when you find the right person you know the type of response you will get from them. I knew as soon as the first person was talking to me that the response was going to be quick and dismissive.

Stating the obvious can help sometimes because things can be missed and they need to be stated to help move things forward. Yes the things might be obvious to people but when you are handling many different things even the most obvious can be missed.

The outcome of me stating the obvious may have given me the job of "booth mom" at one conference which I am happy to do.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembrance Day

The first chapter of In Flanders Fields and Other Poems, a 1919 collection of McCrae's works, gives the text of the poem as follows: (wikipedia)
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

November 11th is Remembrance Day in Canada.  Please take a few minutes to remember those people that went to war to protect us.  Many of them never came home and some did.  We need to remember all of those that put on a uniform to support our country and all of those that still put on a uniform for us.  Thank you for what you have done for us.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Giving yourself permission to play

I think everyone needs to give themselves permission to play every now and again. I don't mean this in a bad way. What I am meaning is that everyone needs time to just do some of the silly things that we all want to do from time to time.

Maybe your play is sitting and drawing and not caring about what it is or what others think of it. It could be running around in a backyard and doing silly things. The word play means basically just taking a bit of a break from the day to day routine and do something out of the ordinary.

For me time to play is sitting with my sketch book and drawing different things and seeing how they turn out. I really don't care that they aren't perfect I just care that I have enjoying doing it and no one can say anything because this is my enjoyment. It also means giving my mind a break from the routine and doing other things that I would love to try out. I know that I walk through Michaels sometimes and look at all the different things and say i would like to try that just once to see what it is like. Yes that is some of the play that I would like to do. If I could pick up some modelling clay and just have fun with it and not care that would make me very happy. I think I even have some of it at home so maybe this weekend I will find a bit of time to play and see what happens.
Little clay bear

Well I did pick up some of that modelling clay and had some fun and am very glad that I did. It gave me the time to play and no one could say anything about how things turned out. These projects were for me and I am happy with want I did. The little clay bear isn’t perfect but I don’t care because I had fun making him. The yarn bowl that I made isn’t totally smooth but I am happy with how it turned out because I made it and painted it.
Inside of yarn bowl

Yarn bowl
Your don't need to ask someone else permission to do the playing that you want. It is your own time and your space so why should someone else have to allow you to do it. The permission you need is from yourself so that you can enjoy the time. What you need is just a little bit of time to do something and see where it goes. You may find that something you thought was play becomes something that you enjoy doing and you will do in more often in the future.

Give yourself permission to play, dream or whatever you want but remember you are the only one that can give you this permission so go for it and enjoy the time.

Monday, November 7, 2016

My favourite sport

For me, I think I have two sports that are my favourite and that is because I can watch them at different times of the year. The two sports are baseball and hockey, but I don't play either of them but I do enjoy watching them.

Hockey would be the first sport that I remember watching because my mom was a very big hockey fan. Hockey was on the television on Wednesday and Saturday evenings in our house when I was growing up. Of course, we didn't have all the channels that are now available so you got to watch the broadcasts that were available and that meant hockey basically two nights a week. Growing up, I also got to like some players and what makes a lot of people laugh is when I say that I had a blue and white room when I was a kid with a giant maple leaf painted on one way of my room. I was a Toronto Maple Leaf fan growing up but it was because of Dave Keon and also that was the team that was on most of the time in our house based on the broadcasts. I also got a Leaf jersey when I was 9 so I wasn't complaining about that either. Yes, I was a girl that loved hockey and went to hockey games from a very early age. Now instead of saying I am a Leaf fan, I say I am a hockey fan because there are a lot of players that I like so I don't cheer for one team. Also with the new channels we get, it means that there are a lot more teams that we can watch on a weekly basis.

My other favourite sport is baseball and that is since I was a teenager when Toronto finally got it's own baseball team. I loved being able to go down and watch some of the games and enjoyed going to both Exhibition Stadium to see some of the early games and then the Skydome/Rogers Centre later on to see games. I have to admit that I am still a Blue Jays fan and have never switched to another team which is something for me. I may like a player or two on different times but the Jays are still the team that I will cheer loudly for.

These are the two sports that I will watch all the time because they are the ones that I love and understand. The other things that I will watch are the Summer and Winter Olympics to see how Canada does during each of them. Now, the Winter Olympics are the ones that I watch a little closer and maybe that is because we are stuck inside a lot more when they are happening so they are a lot easier to watch.

Sports are something that I do enjoy watching and if I am watching them on television I am normally doing something else as well. Either one of these sports can be found on our television at home most of the time and you will see that I will probably be crafting while watching them. No, I don't play sports but at least I can enjoy watching them.