Blog 7: Who better to share them than me?

My main takeaway from this course is that storytelling is less about the writer and more about the reader. While diligently crafting, refining, and sharing content is important, the critical piece of the puzzle is ensuring that our messages are read, seen, or heard by those we wish to reach. In order to grasp our audience’s attention, we must understand them and write for them instead of to them.

Do you remember the book that a loved one read to you when you were a child? Maybe, but the odds are that what you reminisce upon is how you felt: safe, warm, loved. The quantity of digital content in our society makes for a competitive environment, but storytelling allows us to engage the reader and make them feel our content instead of simply acknowledging it.

The content I create will be guided by storytelling because I have learned that it is a powerful tool for delivering messages and an even greater tool for understanding and feeling messages. Moving forward, I will continue to break out of my shell and tell the stories I’ve never shared before. My hope is that my stories will resonate with an audience that feels something when engaging with me – whether it be grief, joy, sadness, peace, or understanding.

While vulnerability does not come easily to me, my greatest strength lies in the fact that the stories I have are mine and mine alone. Who better to share them than me?

Blog 6: Who am I?

Most people don’t know my story because it isn’t easy for me to share.  Born to a young, single, bipolar mother and adopted by my father at the age of four, I had a tumultuous childhood that often ebbed and flowed with my mother’s mental illness. Growing up in an unstable household was likely a contributing factor to my desire for control. This led to me being a perfectionist and a competitive child who grew into a people-pleasing, anorexic teenager. Despite being well into recovery now, many of the typical traits remain. I am still an over-achiever, a people-pleaser, and a poor boundary creator. Those are traits that belong to me, but they are not who I am.

Can any of us truly share the story of who we are? Isn’t the beauty of life that who we are today does not have to be who we are tomorrow, that we are constantly reinventing ourselves, that it’s never too late to start anew?

Twenty years ago, I was a scared child. Ten years ago, I wanted to disappear. Today, I am grateful for my life and discovering how I want to live it. Who will I be in ten years? In twenty? In thirty? My hope is that the answer to this question will differ greatly and wildly each time it is asked, for that means I am growing and evolving into the person I was always meant to be.

If you’re racking your mind trying to understand who you are today, try again tomorrow. You may be someone entirely different – that’s the beauty of life.

Blog 5: You deserve to be happy

Everyone deserves to be happy. This is my firmest and most sincere belief in life. It bleeds into everything I feel and believe, and into how I carry myself everyday.

I’ve recently accepted a promotion into my first managerial position in the public service. While I initially feared that my caring and empathetic nature would be a barrier to achieving results for fear of being seen as too soft or a push over, I’ve quickly learned that it is one of my greatest strengths.

My genuine desire for others to be happy has allowed me to propose and implement innovative changes which have created a healthy workplace and improved satisfaction. More importantly, the personal brand I’ve demonstrated have created an environment in which others can propose changes without fear of being dismissed and share their thoughts and feelings in a genuine manner.

Who else can do a better job at being me than me? While some leaders are admired for being decisive and others for being firm, I strive to use the same qualities I feared would disqualify me as a leader to be the best one I can be. We all deserve to be happy, and we (albeit unfortunately) spend the majority of our waking hours working.

By tapping into our most vulnerable traits and by being genuine as people and leaders, we can truly create a safe and rewarding environment for those with whom we spend most of our lives. We all deserve to be happy.

Blog 4: Take my money

There are no shortages of businesses involved in B2C selling in today’s digital and consumerist Western society. There is, however, a broad range of methods that these businesses use to engage with and sell to current and potential customers.

In my opinion, Sephora’s Instagram presence is particularly successful for three distinct reasons: engagement, representation, and alignment.

Sephora first creates an abundance and a variety of content to attract a wide audience, then engages with the audience. Not only do agents respond to questions in the comments of each post, employees also post makeup tutorials and other videos. Because the campaign focuses on diversity in terms of race, sexual orientation, and physical ability, their target audience is represented in their advertisements.

The variety in product offerings and emphasis placed upon representation create a look, feel, and experience that feels well aligned with and authentic to the brand. This creates the hook for B2C selling, which is then complemented by the numerous deals and sales they offer in their Instagram stories.

Ultimately, Sephora’s approach appears to be successful because their Instagram page is more than a digital advertisement for their products. They’ve created a digital community in which artists, creators, and customers alike can engage and take away what is most useful to them, such as a discount, knowledge about new products, or an application technique.

Sephora has blended corporate branding with personal branding to create an environment that is truly conducive to B2C selling.

Blog #3: Those crazy bikers

In light of the bitter cold in Ottawa over the past few weeks, I have found myself reminiscing on the warm summer days that seem to come so slowly but disappear so fast. My husband and I love motorcycles. Warm summer days spent on the open road seeing new landscapes bring us so much joy.

Motorcycling is an expensive hobby. Everything ranging from the bike to the parts to the equipment and memorabilia cost a pretty penny, so firms within the space must understand their target audience in order to reach them and engage with them.

The target audiences for motorcycle advertisements are, in my opinion, two distinct groups which we can generally coin as the old timers and the thrill seekers. Understanding the demographics and psychographics for each of these groups plays a critical role in the way they are reached.

The old timers are typically men and women above 40 who enjoy motorcycling as a type of social activity to engage in with friends. They are likely the target audience for the majority of messaging as they constitute the largest market segment. This is demonstrated throughout the Harley Davidson website. Understanding that this target audience is more likely to visit a website or a physical store, the messaging in those environments is geared towards the old timers.

The thrill seekers, on the other hand, are typically men and women under 40 who look toward motorcycles for a sense of adventure and thrill. Modern means of communication such as social media are useful tools to reach this target audience. For example, the St. Jerome Harley Davidson Instagram page often shares announcements about motorcycle stunt shows hosted at their dealership.

Successfully reaching an audience depends on defining and understanding the group in order to craft messages according to their unique preferences.

Blog #2: I’m a sucker for grandma’s stories

From the hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt to the theater of medieval times, and everything before, in between, and after, it is clear that we, as humans, have always had a desire to recount stories and share our own.

In the digital age of the 21st century, we have the means to distribute our stories globally and are now focused on perfecting the art of storytelling to reach the masses and to genuinely engage with our target audience. The same technology that enables us to reach our audience also makes it harder for our unique and individual stories to be heard. Social media provides many accessible and cost-effective opportunities for storytelling but is so inundated with messaging that content creators are competing for the audience’s limited and decreasing attention span.

The first step to truly reaching our audience is creating a consistent and compelling style. Factors such as clarity, conciseness, grammar, spelling, and punctuation play a key role in delivering an effective and engaging message.

Ensuring that our stories reach and resonate with our audience enables us to create opportunities to have meaningful two-way conversations with our audience. The ability to engage with our audience then allows us to create deeper bonds with our viewers and readers all while reaching a larger number of them.

What is your favourite example of storytelling, past or present, and why do you find it meaningful?

My favourite storytelling memories are those of my grandmother reading to me. The words never mattered as much as the feeling of safety and love she conveyed in the time we spent together. I am certain that these memories sparked my appreciation for storytelling that conveys emotion.

Blog #1: Until we meet again, Niagara Falls

Blog #1: Until we meet again, Niagara Falls

With the onset of the pandemic and endless restrictions, vacations have been replaced by a constant, nagging reminder that we should stay home. While I certainly miss the exciting activities that were so commonplace a few years ago, I am reminded that I am lucky to have a home in which I am comfortable. It wasn’t always like this, though. My partner and I previously lived in 300 square foot apartment in what is objectively the worst part of town. We spent many years dedicating ourselves to building our careers while juggling second jobs and scrimping to save up for the purchase of our first home. Our former lifestyle makes choosing a vacation quite easy, as I’ve only taken one.

After having achieved our goal of purchasing and moving into our first home, we decided that we deserved a vacation. We chose to visit Niagara Falls, Ontario, in the spring of 2018. It was the first seven-day period of fun in nearly as many years. We stayed in a run-of-the-mill hotel located steps away from Clifton Hill and became tourists in our own province, exploring the sights and attractions of Niagara Falls.

Over the course of the first few days, we recited interesting facts to each other at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Odditorium, stood among a star-studded cast at the Movieland Wax Museum, and spent an embarrassing yet exhilarating sum fiercely competing and playing side by side at the Great Canadian Midway. A shot glass redeemed for an exorbitant quantity of tokens remains my favorite souvenir. Evening entertainment included marveling at Greg Frewin’s magic show and trying our luck at both of the casinos to no avail.

Relaxed and rejuvenated, we spent our final days witnessing Niagara’s best attractions: those surrounding the waterfalls. The kilometer stretch of boardwalk along the White Water Walk allowed us to see the rapids up close. The Journey Behind the Falls provided a damp yet outstanding opportunity to understand the particularities of the falls during a guided tour. As luck would have it, we were sheltered from the rain by the rock face during the only rainy period of our entire vacation.

My favorite attraction, however, was undeniably the Hornblower Cruise. Draped in tacky plastic ponchos, we stood in awe as the nearly empty boat approached the Horseshoe falls on a Tuesday morning. Our faces were dampened by the force of the water and I couldn’t help but be amazed by the incredible sight right before my very eyes.

In that moment, I realized that the very water before us had cut through rock, not because of its strength, but because of its persistence. Much like the falls I so admired during that sunny spring week four years ago, our persistence and determination to abide by the public health measures that rob us from vacations now will allow us to enjoy them later. In looking back, I am grateful that I only have one vacation to share, because the sacrifices we made many moons ago now allow us to stay in a safe, happy home when it matters most. I am also grateful for those seven days spent in a truly magical place where we built memories that are carrying us through to our next vacation.

I’d like to know where you’ve been, and I’d love to know what it taught you.

Be kind,