Partial Victory

We went through an internal audit of our workplace a month or two back, and one of the questions was: "how you do measure success". While it was an interesting exercise to compare answers as a workplace about our business practices, I think I got more out of it examining it at a personal level. I think success is always being able to distinguish a need from a want, and always being able to supply the first, and practice wise judgement on the second. I believe success is achieving goals, celebrating them, and setting the next goal. I believe success is being surrounded by family - both in the literal and figurative sense. I believe success is knowing what brings you enjoyment in your life, and taking the time to appreciate it.

But my thoughts on success are very philosophical. It's hard to always tell if you're succeeding in real life. On the one hand, I'm being very successful in my Lenten goal of abolishing the snooze button. I am getting out of bed within a couple minutes of the alarm going off (sometimes you just need a quick morning snuggle), I'm having time for breakfast and I'm even getting in a bit of exercise. From that angle, my goal seems to be a success!

On the other hand, my brain still seems to have found a magical loop hole in this whole Lenten challenge. I'm not allowed to lazily doze for half an hour AFTER my alarm goes off, so my body decides to wake up half an hour earlier to lazily doze for that same period of time. I can't seem to avoid that 30 minutes of lying in bed, dreading the day, festering over problems that are likely not to happen, but seem inevitable in the hazy grey of morning.

I'd start getting out of bed that half an hour earlier, if I didn't fear that my brain would awake half an hour before that, and the trend of lazing and loathing would continue on. Instead, I'll reason it's only been a week, and maybe, with time, my body will learn to sleep fully until it is time to wake up. It's best to celebrate the partial victories than to focus on the partial failures.

How you do measure success?

Cardigan Vs. Blazer: The show down

I laughed when I read Taylor of It's My Cardi's post which started out: "I cannot believe that until recently I was missing out on the blazer as a completer piece to any given outfit. I owned a couple, but typically preferred a cardi. (Hence the blog's name.) But for some reason I have been picking up blazers left and right as of late."

Being a blazer girl, I spent the week trying to prove the benefits of both.

I still advocate for the benefits of blazers. Why?

They add shape to a shapeless outfit. As Sheila commented last week, "I have to admit I struggle with cardigans, being a woman with curves and boobage. They can make me look very lumpy and saggy." While I don't have curves or boobage, I struggle for similar reasons - they lack the definition provided by a blazer.

Secondly, the simple addition of a blazer takes an outfit from "uninteresting and unpolished" to "posh and professional" in a way a cardigan just can't.

Can you tell I'm getting rid of empire waists?

Ugh - nothing worse than writing up a whole blog post about a shirt you want to give away, only to realize you can't take a picture of it because you've already given it away!!!! You'll have to use your imagination

A friend gave me this shirt when she was weeding out her closet. I think she said she gave it to me because it was too girly for her. I'm completely "meh" about it now. I think I just don't like empire waists. Good thing to remember for the future.

Why did I take it?
It was cute and girly, and I was still in the giddy "love" phase where I felt I had to be cute and girly.

Why did it work?
It's not a blousy empire waist that doesn't work on me. It's just rubberized dots, stitched or woven.

How have I worn it?

I know I've worn it more - just never blogged about it. And it's barely visible in this picture. It's black with purple dots, comme ├ža:

What will happen to it?
Went to my sister - haven't heard back from her about it.

Feb 18-24th

It would be easier to post pictures of my week if I could post pictures of my niece - we hung out 3 times this week, which is pretty much more than I hung out with Scott. We had fun - feeding the vultures (aka her cats), building block statues and eating pancakes

I also had a very weird day waiting for the bus. Not only was Queen Elizabeth wandering the street with a couple foot guards (a common sight at Winnipeg Jets games), but all transit information was down, leaving countless amazed and confused.

And of course, there was a massive dump of snow right before I was set to drive to my parents place. While the roads mostly cleared up (the roads themselves were good - the snow reducing the visibility above them was not), I needed my energy for the drive. I slipped into the nearest McDonalds... only to discover my usual treat of a happy meal now came with the itty-bittiest size of fries. Yes, I realize childhood obesity is a horrifying reality, but come on! What about us kids at heart who only spoil themselves once and a while?!?!

(Note: I did not take either picture while my vehicle was in motion. And the snow picture? That was from the day before. I would have rather driven through that)

When an Ooops?! becomes OOOH!

I distractedly started a knitting project while watching a hockey game one night. It was about a third into it when I realized the neckwarmer was about twice the width than what I had wanted. I took a chance and kept going. When it was the appropriate length, I cast off, and tried it on. It was perfect - for a giraffe.

A couple buttons later, I had a solution - a collared neckwarmer!

Cardigans & Blazers Part II

The outfits from Tuesday's posts were some what of a struggle for me. I liked the idea, but didn't feel as pulled together as I like to be, especially compared to these outfits

Next week, you'll get a chance to see how switching out a blazer for a cardigan changes the feeling of the outfit!

Motivation fail.

I haven't done anything even remotely exercise related in a long time. I'm so out of shape, I'm pretty sure I pulled a muscle holding my friend's newborn baby over the weekend.

Pants as limp as my intentions
I've stopped buying snacky foods, but find myself making cookie dough in "single serving" sizes, just to eat it raw (1 part butter, 2 parts sugar, 3 parts flour, a smattering of chocolate chips - doesn't bake up well, but so little effort, and tastes great raw. Shhh... don't tell Healthy Cara I told you the recipe!)

I've made Tim Hortons a fairly regular stop while I wait between buses.

These weekly "Wednesday Wellness" blog posts should have been decent enough motivation, but we all know how non-exercise related they have been as of late. Accountability? What's that? (Did anyone else get some Blink 182 stuck in their head just now? No? Just me who is stuck in 1999?)
I've even gone so far as to buy a pair of pants that SHOULD fit me, but are a smidgen too tight. Even knowing 8 glasses of water and a dozen or so squats a day will get me into these pants in less than a month is failing to motivate me.

Instead, I'm resorting to religious tradition. Today marks the first day of Lent. As penance for my lazy and slothful ways, I have decided that I'm going to use these 40 days as an opportunity to begin healthier, productive habits. Specifically, I am giving up my snooze button. Waking up and getting out of bed a full 30 minutes earlier (ok, 27. My snooze button only provides a 9 minute reprieve) should not only give me enough time to, say, get in a glass of water and maybe a dozen or so squats, it should also give me plenty of time to eat a balanced breakfast.

What do you do when even the best of intentions falls short?

Cardigans & Blazers Week

After doing a rather thorough tidy this weekend, I decided to count my blazers. Twice. I didn't quite believe the number the first time. Sure enough, both counts came to 15. When I recounted the tale to my mother, she commented that maybe I certainly took Stacey and Clinton's advice on creating structure and fit to heart. I mused on that thought as we perused my preferred Value Village location, carefully avoiding the oh so tempting blazer section.

Again, I mused on this point as I edited the outfit pictures from the last week. Of the four pictures, I had a strong preference for two outfits that featured blazers, which made me feel powerful and pulled together over the two outfits that featured cardigans that made me feel shapeless and schlumpy.

Today, I'll show you the cardigan outfits, taken out of comparison with the blazers, in order to examine them in their own merit.

And yes, the pink with the red belt was my Valentine's day outfit, worn in participation with EBEW - despite posting a week late, and therefore not eligible to link up, I still played along!!

Check back on Thursday to see the blazers. I will note, that since taking count, I did weed out 4 blazers... expect to see those on a Monday post soon!

What to Pack on an Extended Business Journey

Knowing what to pack on an extended business journey has never been an easy endeavor, and now with the stricter regulations on what you can take onboard an airplane it is more difficult than ever before. If you really want to get through security quickly and with no problems, then it is important that you understand how to pack efficiently. One important key to successful packing is to determine early on what you are allowed to take on the plane and what you will have to leave behind.

When it comes to packing for a business trip, there are certain things that are common sense, such as clothes, a first aid kit, and the required toiletries, but there are a few other things that are important to carry along which this article will discuss.

First of all, it is a good idea to bring along a backup charger as one is simply not always enough. This is especially important if you rely heavily on your gadgets and can't afford any downtime. It is a good idea to carry both a plug in charger and one that is battery powered, just in case the airport outlets are filled.

It's a no brainer that you need to pack enough clothes for the trip, but what you may not expect is for them to become wrinkly. You may not always have time to iron if you are on a tight schedule, and who likes to spend their precious free moments in a new environment stuck inside pressing clothing anyway? New sprays for relieving wrinkles can be a time saver as you only need to spray them on your clothing and hang them up in order to have them looking newly pressed. These sprays work best on business casual clothing, so if you have a suit that is wrinkled you may still have to press it.

Another thing that is good to take along on extended business journeys is copies of your travel identification, this includes passports, driver's licenses, green cards, and so on. These extra copies can really come in handy*if you lose the originals someplace, especially when you are travelling to a distant country. You might want to leave an extra set of copies at your permanent residence as well just in case.

It is also important to write down all your emergency and customer service telephone numbers, even if you have them backed up in your cell phone. If you lose your phone or the battery dies, you will not be able to retrieve your saved telephone numbers, so having them written down in a convenient location is important.

Last but not least, be certain to bring along a USB memory stick so you can back up important documents, presentations, and anything else that you may need on your business journey. You can even use it to have hard copies printed up at a print shop when necessary. One that attaches to your key ring is preferred to help you from losing it.

Why Facebook Is 2015 Not 2010: From Strictly Social to Business Casual

Facebook's platform landscape is beginning to change from strictly social to business casual. A corporate website was once the most important digital presence a company could own, but the new trend could reduce it to second - a choice branding source. Why? Because websites are now being replaced by social platforms such as Facebook, where you can easily be discovered, the platform and unique URL are free, and you can promote your brand more effectively.

Current digital research shows that Facebook has benefited from this social trend. Facebook receives approximately 41 percent of all social networking traffic (with over 500 million members worldwide), and the number of people joining Facebook in the United States grew by 145 percent in 2009. Facebook now produces more search results than Google.

Some of the largest corporations in the world have a Page on Facebook, and by doing so, increase their brands' awareness and audience engagement locally, nationally, and globally. For example, Barnes & Noble has recently developed over 600 Facebook "Pages" targeting niche markets in the United States. While this would seem overkill for some companies, it is a great engagement strategy for the large or small business because it is cost-effective (free); you can localize your message to specific niche audiences. The Facebook FHTML feature also provides you with the flexibility to design pages specific to your consumer and community. FHTML is easy to use, is browser-friendly, and has the search engine optimization of HTML.

Still not convinced that there is a shift away from corporate websites' exclusive hold on a brand's digital traffic? Then look at the following corporate web pages:

Pepsi on Facebook

Disney Facebook Page

Porsche Facebook Page

And the Pages of these small businesses:

Plush Facebook Page

Musicians Toys Facebook Page

In the future, the corporate website will either give way to the social platform, or become a referral page for a deeper audience experience on a social media site. It's a natural fit, because many of their customers are already on Facebook or LinkedIn, and a marketer's goal is to engage the customer. Further evidence of this trend is smart phone sales; they have now surpassed computer sales. Most consumers who own a smart phone are using apps more than the "phone" itself.

For an example, take a look at the Volkswagen Facebook Page. VW no longer uses its website to interact with consumers, they engage and listen on Facebook.

Once you have created a Facebook company Page you can engage with your customers in several ways. If approximately one third to a half of your ad budget is wasted because poor performance, then hypertargeting is the method you need. What is hypertargeting? Hypertargeting allows you to become very specific in your approach to targeting who sees your advertisements. For example, relationship interests, location, gender, age, education, employment, relationship status, and interest keywords are all variables with which to test your demographic.

Because search advertising produces your advertisement at the moment a person is looking to make a specific purchase, it can be very effective. What about those hard-to-reach passive buyers? They can also be reached by social advertisements even though they are not looking for your product or service. Have you ever purchased something in a store even though you did not intend to buy it on the way in?

Finally, for those niche and newly introduced (unknown) products and services, and even for startup companies looking to break into a market, Facebook hypertargeting can be the best advertising approach. Unlike AdWords, hypertargeting taps into latent interests by passive consumers and decreases spending on ad impressions.

Your small business or startup can target geography, college, and interest, and hone its messages going forward.

Online social engagement "staying in the real time conversation" and traditional outreach methods are both currently important engagement strategies, and will be going into 2011. The space between digital and traditional community outreach is also fading, as companies such as Groupon and Yelp help to bridge the technology gap between digital and traditional outreach.

While understanding the rules of social online engagement is important, marketers should also embrace iterative feedback, because good listening is a precursor to good marketing. The demand for ongoing audience engagement and listening by brands will prompt the release of new social monitoring and analytics tools in 2011 and beyond.

Global engagement is going to be an important feature in your marketing campaigns going forward; many large companies such as Pepsi and Yahoo have already built or are in the process of creating global digital "centers of excellence." So if you really want to get the most out of your digital marketing and PR practice, make sure you have your social engagement team armed with an experienced global digital strategist with real hands-on working knowledge for campaign localization purposes.

Why is global marketing experience important for today's digital strategy if you are not an international brand? For the following three reasons: 1) digital campaigns naturally connect with international audiences; 2) you can quickly increase your unique page views through PR and marketing campaigns; and 3) you can increase your company's SEO strength through link-backs and other optimization strategies.

While eyeballs are not enough in today's ROI-driven social media practice, the global strategist can also build an engagement strategy that is future-driven instead of shortsighted. They can also prevent or correct unwanted PR buzz through their understanding of foreign cultures even on a local basis.

Because social media engagement is an important basis of Google search ranking and optimization (SEO), your brand should be in the social game and you should learn to guide the conversion. This is demonstrated by the fact that 33% of top search results are consumer-generated by blogs, comments, links, and other digital processes.

Finally, many companies are actively using reward-based linking (a form of crowdsourcing) to expand a brand's audience awareness. The typical rewards are coupons and other discounts to consumers. Reward-based linking requires the consumer to do more of the company's marketing process, and is the result of consumer involvement and control over a brand. Consumers and brands know that there has been a shift in who controls the branding process: it is now in the hands of the consumer.

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