What’s your story?

When you reflect upon times spent with people whether it is a sales presentation or a mug of tea with a favorite aunt – you remember the story they told you.

My key learning is that you need to wrap facts in a narrative.

As was the case of an impactful business presentation. The story of a day in the life was used to tell me how a particular technology could be linked together with the customer experience. The end to end story resonated with me and I left the meeting with a vision of how this strategy could change the business.

I learned over the mug of tea from my aunt that my dad used to ride their horse to a local bakery to pick up stale bread for free. One day the horse took a shortcut through an empty clothesline — my dad was literally clothes lined. My aunt said the result was ” that there was bread and Edgar all over the place”. Despite the humor in the story, I reflected, my dad, the oldest in his family, had started early in his life caring for family and that they had been quite poor – without it ever being said.

Our lives – work life and home life – are overflowing with communication fed via a plethora of communication channels. There are a lot of stories out there … so how do you get people to hear your story? Find the right channel for the narrative by getting to know your audience.

Each one of the photos at the top of this story represents a story or 4 from a day out of my life. This learning experience has also taught me that this is a good time to have alot of stories to tell and perhaps I should get on that.


The County is a Thing

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PEC or ‘the county’ as it is now commonly referenced by folks far hipper than I, is a parcel of lovely arable agriculture land jutting into lake Ontario.

Prince Edward County was named after the 4th son, 5th child of King George III (the same king who is featured in Hamilton) and Queen Victoria’s father. Many United Empire Loyalists would migrate to this area and call it home at the end of American Revolution. All of which conjures up images of small town bakeries, local farm stalls and preserves.

That is until Jeff Stober and the Drake empire went country or maybe, that should be went county. In 2012, Jeff Stober purchased property in the village of Wellington and began to redevelop an old foundry and outbuildings into a hip boutique inn and restaurant on the shores of Lake Ontario. However, we are still in a bucolic farming area.

So how do you attract the Toronto Queen West crowd all the way to ‘the county’ with such success that reservations are difficult to find even in blustery November. Queue up the Drake marketing and social media team. I think this team has truly nailed the branding of “the Drake’ experience – through all of their channels — projecting a sort of cool quirky approach to everything.

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Their artfully crafted Drake-Devonshire web experience located at https://www.thedrake.ca/drakedevonshire/ , provides customers with a bold graphic approach, much like the artwork at the hotel. A fully digital experience – links to images of the room, events and experiences at the Inn along with e.commerce ability to reserve your room.

#thedrake is the instagram account for all of the Drake properties which showcases the consistent brand experience a customer can have at any of their locations. It has some nicely curated images along with customer shared images. The marketing team has developed a lengthy list of #tags to associate with their images to capture anyone searching for a vacation in the county area.

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The Drake Devonshire team has also engaged with the media like https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/travel/prince-edward-county-canada.html to support engagement through more traditional channels to drive interest in a very funky inn in a village called Wellington.

Anyone can make a difference.

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Fort McMurray burning.

I can remember watching the news that night – May 4th 2016. Fort McMurray was on fire. I knew the landscape from a business trip the year before – there is one road — you go north or you go south but you all go on one road. My heart was in my mouth watching the largest peace time evacuation in Canadian history occuring.

Then my mobile rang.

It was 8 pm – I answered and it was one my customers. They provide an emergency service for events like Fort Mac. They were calling for help because situation had escalated so rapidly – and they had found my direct number. They needed to have a virtual callcentre set up immediately – could we help. My team worked regular business hours.

But I found one of team members online and I asked for her help. She immediately agreed to assist our customer. Our solution would help to connect the evacuees with information for aid, help to connect them to families and document that they were safe from the fire.

My five member national team volunteered to work around the clock to ensure that the residents of Fort Mac had a number to call and a solution to provide information. They balanced this emergency with their other work and never skipped a beat.

In the moment there was no realization from our leadership that our service was underpinning the disaster’s communication link. The team was motivated by the opportunity to make a difference – which we did.

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My pony named Trixie.

Growing up on a farm you learn early in your life the value of binder-twine. Not only was this what held bales of hay and straw together after it’s initial job it could be used to do just about anything – for instance in this picture I have braided it to make a halter and some reins to take my pony for ride.

Reflecting on this photo – some of my best qualities are illustrated -creativity, tenacity and resourcefulness. And if you have ever worked with ponies, you will also know that I must be resilient.

Engaging teams to work through project challenges requires a leader whom welcomes creative approaches and whom can foster creative dialogue. As a project manager I put my resourcefulness to use to work through roadblocks impacting project deliverables.

Continuous learning and reinvention are life habits for me. It is what makes me an asset to my team and my organization. As it turns out large horses require the same amount of resilience as ponies.


Stakeholders, Customers, Partners – Oh My

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As a project manager within a technology services company – planning communication and engagement with your audience is a key underpining to leading a project to success.

Getting to know the project sponsors is important to me so that I can plan and determine the most effective method to communicate updates on my projects. I research my project stakeholders by reviewing information available to me within my companies intranet listings, and by using the linked in app to learn about their background.

Meetings with stakeholders and related teams assists me to gain insight into their teams objectives and how it may relate to this project. It can also highlight to me any challenges or areas of concern which will need to be addressed to continue to have support, Looking at the broader scope of requirements to communicate change from a project, I need to be aware of any requirements for e.Learning materials. As well as updating internal web references with any new information and ensuring communications distributed via email reference refreshed links. ring my meetings with the stakeholders for a project

Boil It Down

I love to turn juicy sun ripened fruit into preserves.

Life in a northern climate means there is a short focused window for harvesting berries and turning their sunny sweetness into jars of summer for a grey winter day.

Did you thoughts drift to a warm summer day where you were picking fruit? Or to a time when you helped make a batch of jam in your mom’s kitchen? I hope so .. this would be part of my learning from this week to create the connection with your audience partially by capturing their attention with a headline, an image and a narrative which is relatable.

The synthesis of material aka boiling it down is a key area to focus on to create social media consumable stories for our grazing audience. Reviewing the articles this week increased my self awareness of how consume material on the cooking blogs which I love to visit.

If you like this post please share.

Other material on improving your social media writing style:



COM0014 _Winter2020_Post 1 Hitting Pause

“And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.”

John Muir

Hit pause.

Definitely the feeling I have when standing on the shore of a lake each summer.  I have hit pause on my usual life and I prepare to reset myself.

After the long planning season, which starts each spring, as we anticipate and dream about summer days.  I am finally standing on a gravel shore staring at the layers of green dense forest, a dark blue lake and hearing silence for a moment.

Before I hear my name and it is back to the fray. The next phase begins – cramming our canoes with belongings, and all our necessary gear. Canoes filled to the gunnels with bear bags full of dried meals, backpacks crammed with the essentials and a bit more along with our tents.

After a quick huddle, we are picking our paddles, stepping into the cold clear water, balancing ourselves and pushing off from shore – eager to start our annual adventure of back country camping in Algonquin Park.

Within a few strokes of our paddles our minds are singularly focused on assessing and following the invisible path out of the access point. We yell from canoe to canoe – what rocks to watch for or if it is a clear path out. Soon there will be open water and we will be on the hunt for a perfect campsite.

After a long paddle, perfection was found on the shore of the North Arm of Lake Opeongo. The list of qualities for perfection is really a few broadly defined items: a sandy beach for watching the sunset, a large flat area for our tents and no signs of resident bears. We seem to hit the mark every year. This site could have used a few more trees with lower big limbs for hanging bear bags but that is not on the list.

After a brief rest, we set to work on establishing our camp – putting up tents, unpacking our gear, establishing the kitchen, stowing our bear bags and setting up our gathering place – the campfire. The heart of any campsite.

We filled our days with adventures – paddling Lake Opeongo, traversing the forest, soaking up the sun, toasting the sunset, dining on our beach and attuning ourselves to the outdoors. Our evening campfires warmed up the dark night. We fill the air with singing, stories and laughter until the stars come out. Then we are silent – all gazing upward.

Soon it will be time to pack it all up and return to our usual lives and press play again.

Is it time for you to hit pause?

Here are some source for more information on canoe tripping in Algonquin Park: Friends of Algonquin Park : The park website as published by the Friends of Algonquin Park. Excellent source of information about the park and links. Ontario Parks Algonquin Park Page : The official Ontario Algonquin park website. Algonquin Adventures : A great independent interactive site of information sourced from Algonquin park enthusiasts. Canadian Canoe Routes: Canoe routes across Ontario as well as other provinces.