COM0014- Blog #5: My personal brand.

My personal brand is offering help, inspiration, and problem solving to others that have a love for home decor and renovating a home. My blog is about home decor, do it yourself projects, and home renovations. The ins and outs, the frustrations, the mistakes, the grit of it all and not just the view of the perfect end result.

Something that sets me apart from my peers is that I am always the first to acknowledge my mistakes, learn from them, and offer assistance to others. That is what my blog is about, helping others learn from me along the way. I do not offer the beautiful photos at the end but emphasize everything along the way. I want to be considered a close friend that is into decor and all things home that you go to for advice.

Crates Mounted On Wall
Image Source: Lisa Fotios from Pexels

I help others to realize that loving where you live is not unattainable and can be done at any type of budget. My place on the internet will not be a place for people who have large budgets but something that can be done will a little bit of money and imagination.

With blogging, something that can set people apart and make them memorable is their photography. In the past couple of months I have invested in a better camera and have received some assistance from a local photographer who is always open to answering my questions.

One of my best traits is problem solving. I am very goal oriented and if my plan a does not work I am always open to trying other options. This applies to renovating, deigning and do it yourself projects. I do not ever start a project without finishing it. I want my readers to gain the same inspiration by reading my blogs. It can be achieving goals not only with the home but in all aspects of life.

I am proud of how many do it yourself projects I have come up with this summer. The best projects have been seeing expensive decor and replicating it on a budget successfully.

I think my consistency, reputability, and openness offers something new and different in this blogging space. I am able to offer amazing content and content that others can replicate.

COMM0014 – Blog #5 – Experience is what sets me apart.

I am an artist that likes to wear a tie, the quiet gentlemen that listen to metal music. I am the pacific guy that trains to fight every week and a couch-potato that runs ultra marathons. I am patient and easily gets excited with new projects. When you hire me, you are not only getting a photographer, you get a partner that will help you realize your project and document it in a way that will write history, your story.

My experience is what sets me apart. I had the honour of working as the official photographer to the Governor General for 4 years (2007 to 2010) and, now, I continue to work as a photographer, documenting our Mounties.

I have photographed countless of historical events, including a number of state visits, the Olympics in Vancouver, the aftermath of the Earthquake in Haiti and our troops in Afghanistan. I got to bring my camera to over 26 countries and most of our own country and to photograph many known and unknown personalities.

One thing that I am the most proud of is the exhibit that I had the pleasure of putting together for Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada. Click here to see it. 


This panel explains what the exhibit is about and a little more about me.

Considering that I continue to be staff photographer for our federal police, I am fortunate that I do not need to promote myself very aggressively. It fits well with my brand, to be discreet and make noise with my megapixels.

COM0014 – Blog 5: Personal Brand


Credit: Brad Whitehorn

I consider myself a Career Development Professional, despite the fact that I do not work with end-user clients, nor am I in management.  I specialize in resources for the career development industry, but I am not an agency information officer.  Within the industry I am kind of an anomaly; many of the jobs in Career Development have pretty clear-cut descriptions, but there are very few companies that offer the same things as the company that I work for that distributes, publishes, and conducts independent research.  My number one goal in my position is to find the most appropriate resources for Career Development Professionals to use with their clients.

What are some personal qualities or characteristics that set you apart from your competitors?

I like to have conversations; be it in person, over the phone, an email, or even in a blog post, I like to feel as though I am sitting down and talking over a coffee.  Personally I hate it when people start into a sales pitch without me actually saying what, if anything I am interested in.  When I write blog posts, I like to write very casually, and leave lots of room for feedback.  I’ve developed a lot of great business relationships this way, because my clients know that when they talk to me, I’m not going to push a product on them, and move on.  I have a competitor that is big into self-promotion, and comes across as a sales person.  I know that this attitude has just sent more people my way.

What have you done lately to make yourself stand out?

I have spent a lot of time listening on a couple of industry-specific social media pages, but now I am starting to get my name out there.  As well, up until fairly recently I have been using my company’s social media fairly anonymously.  However I have now started putting my name on things.  I have been blogging about areas and materials that I consider myself an expert at under my name.

What would your colleagues say is your best trait?

I work for a small company, so my clients are my colleagues.  I would say that they appreciate my honesty, and my willingness to follow through.  I will not sell them something because it makes me a more money, I will recommend what works best for them.  As well, when I they ask me something I don’t have an answer to, I will do some research.  Sometimes this means that I don’t make a sale, but it does mean that my customer will return in the future.

What do you do that you are most proud of?

Recently I wrote a couple of blogs on career assessments, and shared them on the Facebook group of a national organization; the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and it gained some new customers.  The posts were also picked up by yet another national industry group, and was included in their recommended blog posts.

COMM0014-Blog#5 Personal Brand

So much importance is wrapped up in making that first impression.  How others perceive us will have a huge impact on how they relate to us as well as who they believe we are.  Corporations recognized the truth of these statements decades ago and began creating an image for themselves that we know as branding.  When referring to branding I don’t just mean what Nabisco calls its various cereals.  Branding today includes the notion of the various lines within a company’s offerings as part of the overall Brand of the company.  The” who we are and the what we do” is the branding that I’m referring to in this piece.

With the advent of the internet and social media, branding has now become an essential element in the lives of individuals.  What we once knew as our reputation is now measured and witnessed by others in a diverse number of platforms known as social media.  Its no longer just what you do in the meeting room or at a client’s office.  Today, your reputation, your brand is the culmination of your Facebook posts, your twitter posts, Instagram. blogs, vlogs and emails.  All of this social information, this permanent digital footprint is now a part of your perceived character whether at work or at play.

Coming from my demographic background and being a somewhat reluctant student of the digital world, I’ve struggled to deal with this concept that so much information now makes up what image the world has of me.  I’m never really sure, or for that matter comfortable with where my personal brand ends and where my professional brand begins.  If you were to search around you would find a couple of half started attempts at professional pages and abandoned blogs.  These fossils are the remnants of past efforts to forge a new brand or perhaps better define what actually I am doing right now.

As a Field Sales consultant to Healthcare Practitioners I prefer to be known for my relationship and consultative approach.  I deal with clients as a resource provider and a coach who is there to support and help them build their practice and business.  In both my personal life and my business life I’m known for reliability, knowledge and common sense.  At work I utilize the knowledge gained from 20 years of industry experience, training and education to support my colleagues and clients.  I know I’m not a strong speaker or lecturer so I don’t strive for that role but I am a person that people come to when they need advice. My time in the field and knowledge of the business allow me to play the role of trusted adviser and mentor, guiding others to success while allowing me to advance as well.  Colleagues would tell you that I’m a wealth of information with a great sense of humor. After all, we can’t be serious all of the time!

My down to earth approach to life and my desire to learn more and share what I know are what make me a go to guy.  That’s why I’m taking this certificate program.  I want expand my knowledge and my skills so that I can help others achieve as well. Although I don’t share many views or political thoughts with the well known activist Malcom X, I do believe in one phrase he is known for …”Each one teach one.”

COMM15 – Blog Post #3 / Networking Your Social Networks

Everything you put on social media is part of a brand.

Whether it is your business’s profile or it’s your own personal account, everything that is tweeted, posted, commented and favourited is a contribution to the overall development of a brand identity. Who and what you choose to engage with constitutes your social network – the schoolyard playground, so to speak, within which your brand develops and is actualized.

I have had plenty of experience in developing and maintaining various networks across several different brands – both personal and professional.

I’ve had the exciting opportunity to become quite invested in digital content in the sport industry, specifically in tennis, as a result of the networking I did on Twitter – all while using a completely different account from my personal one. I created a “tennis account” where I could follow and engage with tennis journalists, high-profile bloggers, players, and other key stakeholders in the industry. This engagement landed me a volunteer position at Rogers Cup in Montreal, which in turn landed me an internship at Tennis Canada in Toronto, which in turn has allowed me to explore various freelance opportunities within digital media across multiple sports.

On my personal accounts, I take a different approach. The network I’ve developed for myself on Facebook and Instagram, for example, constitutes largely friendships I’ve developed in person prior to engaging with them on social media. My brand of humour is at its best on Facebook, Instagram, and my other Twitter account – and I use that for my personal networking (and who knows, sometimes personal networking can become professional!)

Professional networking is best done in person – there’s no doubt about that. With the amount of options and images and words and people and profiles and everything on the internet, networking “irl” is the job interview you wouldn’t have got online – but that’s not to say there’s not something to be gained professionally in the digital space. In fact, there’s plenty to be gained.

LinkedIn is the number one social networking service for professionals. While I would hesitate to look up a prospective employer or employee (from a recruiter’s perspective) on their Facebook (which should be private and inaccessible anyway), I wouldn’t hesitate to research them on LinkedIn. The networking services that LinkedIn provides are paramount, giving you suggested connections on both real-life connections as well as connections that are aligned with your professional experiences and skills.

My personal commitment to the next several months of networking is to engage more with these platforms at a more frequent rate. It’s easy to let go of your digital presence when real life takes the wheel – and that can’t always be helped. But when it can, maintenance of your social networks is paramount. While I haven’t always been consistent in my posting across all my channels, particularly on LinkedIn, the more engaged I have been the more results I’ve seen in terms of growing my networks and getting myself out there – everywhere.

Virginia St-Denis: The evolving brand

While a brand helps ensure a consistent image of a person or corporation, it is important that the brand evolve to keep up with the times.

For 25 years, my personal brand has been as a publishing professional — writing, editing, photographing, desktop publishing and (in the past 12 years) managing newspapers, magazines and journals. While some may say I’m a Jill of all trades and master of none, I prefer to think of it as having a broad overview of the entire publishing process and being able to understand and plan all of the elements. This makes me unique; this makes me an invaluable member of a team of one or more people on most any print serial publication.

However, with electronic publishing and social media weakening traditional publications, I am taking steps to keep up with the times and expand my horizons and my brand. Along with my print publications, I focus more on the three websites I maintained and the monthly e-newsletter I launched than I used to focus on years ago. To help me standout in electronic publishing, I am in the fourth of five courses in Algonquin College’s Social Media certificate program and expect to graduate in February 2017.

More and more people are developing social media skills, so I plan to build on these skills by taking the Social Media Compliance Management certificate program next. Being able to create and implement policies that will not only help build a social media brand, but also address privacy and security issues and manage risks should continue to set me apart from others in this growing field.

The combination of these courses and others I’m taking illustrate that I have an interest in learning and I’m able to acquire new skills. That’s one of my best traits, and it can’t be taught.

COM 0015 – Assignment 5 – Event Participation

Professional Development 2-for-1: that’s how it happened for me….

      Trying to figure out what would be the best professional development ‘EVENT’ was a tricky one.  Where do I go? What do I do?  What do I say about it?  So… I did two events in one  day… and lived to tell the tale: in blog format, no less. 🙂

For years now, I’ve been working towards pursuing a career as a freelance superhero, writer and possibility creator.  An active part of the Ottawa Writing Circle’s Meetup group, I have attended several of their workshops, social mixers and I finally decided to venture out of my comfort zone to see what their OWC WRITE IN event had to offer.  I have always been a very solitary figure as a writer.  True, I’ve had my share of group writing and editing opportunities over the years, but this opportunity was a little bit different.

When I met up with our coordinator, Averill (@averillelisa), there were two more participants pecking away at their respective writing projects.  Prior to our meeting, I had mentioned the event on Twitter– Thank you @Averillelisa for giving me my first Twitter conversation in real-time!!  Not only did we mention each other by Twitter id: it also gave me an opportunity to learn new conversation skills with someone who actually Twitter talked back.


The write-in group included such writing personalities as Averill Eisa Frankes (bottom left w/ me), Alexandra, Ariel, Belle Alvine, James W. Cook, Michelle Human, Nick HJ, Sanna, Tamara and me.  (all mentioned are profile names for our Meetup Ottawa Writer’s Circle Group)

      Writers periodically dropped in and introduced themselves and we did have a discreet ongoing conversation; politely asking how it was going when we caught someone blankly staring at their screen. Averill did forewarn me that there were no outlets or wifi at the world exchange plaza foodcourt, so I had made a game plan in advance. I went with my trusty fully charged MacBook Pro and I used my iPhone to call up any images that I needed to play with. Airdropping stuff from my phone to my computer has become a regular practice for me— way less grunt-work!

“Can’t edit a blank page,” is one token of writerly wisdom that Averill left me with: short, sweet and to the point.

       Same day, different location…

45 minutes after leaving the world exchange food-court?  Yeah… I managed to haul myself and my amazing computer all the way home with a quick, portable fre-fab food that I picked up at Sobey’s with roughly 5 minutes to spare.

       When I initially signed up for this online event, I thought that it might have video or some sort of interactive discussion.  They’d been reminding me via text and email and I’d even built it into my calendar as a backup.   I’ve done a whole lot of reading of a whole lot of books and listened to audiotapes with these fine fellows.  Luminaries and philosophers and authors all rolled into one: they have distinctively different appreciation for social media.


So, I rushed home and plugged my trusty MacBook pro into my television so I could see everything hi-def… and then, it turned out that their ‘BEAUTIFUL CHAOS: How to find meaning in a messy world’ (link for encore presentation) was audio only via internet that combined the sharing power of Deepak Chopra with Eckhart Tolle’s Power of Being perspective.  Bummer.I sucked it up and listened and took notes anyway.  The simplicity of the presentation worked well: zero technical glitches or distractions throughout.

Common narratives revolved around the power of transformation on the other side of catastrophe and their usual ‘this is how you can build power from powerless’ mantra.  The one super interesting part of their presentation talked about the tole of social media in our society at large and how it can be used to make a positive impact.

Eckart made an interesting analogy to Narcissus, touching on the superficial, facade based practices of social media.  Admittedly, he doesn’t really use it much at all.  On the other side of the coin, Deepak Chopra sees the power in social media for human creativity: becoming  “a catalyst for collective awakening.”  He brought an interesting perspective to the conversation.  Talking about the power of luminaries to share their knowledge and experience with the world, Deepak sees social media as the opportunity to have more luminaries present on the world-stage.

Left exhausted and inspired by the onslaught of creative input and my own interpretation of how challenging and rewarding this social media rich, professional developmental day could be for me: my plans for a luminescent empowering career path took shape.  I’m continually proving to myself that I am willing to try the impossible.  Let’s face it, in my world ‘Impossible’ is what a scaredy cat says when confronted with something that seems too big to conquer.  Giving up the ‘im’ part of that equation is what transformation is all about–

Transform the IMPOSSIBLE into a POSSIBILITY!!




COM0014 – Blog # 6 – My Story

I am a personal chef. This means that I cook for people – for a living. The funny part is, I haven’t always cooked. It’s a relatively new thing for me. In fact, when I first met my husband, I didn’t cook at all.

When I was growing up, I really didn’t need to know how to cook. Both of my parents were excellent cooks. Sure, they taught me some basic things, but I wasn’t jumping in to contribute in the kitchen.  I preferred not to.

When our two children were born I was fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with them when they were babies and toddlers. Apart from the new mommy jobs that occupied my time, guess how I filled my days? By playing in the kitchen.  At first it was out of necessity. I found it difficult to get my toddler son to eat veggies. So, I learned all kind of ways to hide them in his food. Then, soups became my specialty. I could load a soup with all kind of wholesome goodness for my family. I was making huge stockpots full of soups and stews and curries, and then freezing them and giving them away to friends and family. I started getting all kinds of compliments, which encouraged me to keep going and to try new things. One friend in particular encouraged me to try this as a business. So I took her advice and earned a certificate from the United States Culinary Business Institute as a personal chef.

So, I guess you never know where life will take you. I certainly never set out with intentions of becoming a personal chef. Some basic interest, practice and cheering from peers, led me down this road.

COM0014 – Blog #5 Personal Brand

Trying to distinguish your personal brand can be challenging at times, especially in the communications field. Everyone is always trying to be the first to do something or distinguish themselves from the crowd.

I think when I try and describe my personal brand, I always like to start with thinking about the items I have accomplished, and what I am hoping to accomplish in order to decipher how I stand out.

I think I am very realistic and reliable in my communications approach. I am upfront about what I can and can’t accomplish on a job, which certainly can distinguish me from those that over promise and under deliver. Being reliable and upfront, allows me to build trust. Once trust is built someone is more likely to employ you or work with you over someone they don’t trust. 

My colleagues would agree with that statement and probably say that I am a very energetic but knowledgable person, who is always bringing fresh ideas to the table. You can’t afford to be stagnant or happy with the status quo in communications. I think you need to constantly bring new ideas to the table, and it is something I try and do to stand out from the crowd.

I think something I have done recently to stand out from the crowd is take this course and work towards my certificate in social media. Social media is constantly changing and it’s important to keep up with the changes just to fit in. By having a certificate in social media it helps me distinguish myself from those who may have only taken a quick class or seminar on social media. Many companies know the way of the future is social media, and having this certificate will help me stand out. 

If I had to sum up my personal brand in one sentence I would say; I am a reliable and professional communicator, who is a savvy social media advisor and I am someone who is constantly developing her trade to provide the best communications possible.