Food for Thought [volume 8]

+ Most of us believe my generation, millennials spend the most amount of time on social media but what if you learned that Gen X actually consumed more content online?!

+ The majority of people equate success to wealth, status in their jobs/careers or their happiness. But is our generation of millennials redefining success differently than previous generations because of our hunger for work-life balance? Ask yourself what success means to you after reading this article by Careergasm author Sarah Vermunt.

+ A valuable reminder for us social media users to keep in mind - don't feed the trolls. Dairy farmer Tim May who does a fantastic job on his social media feeds as 'Farmer Tim,' makes a great point in this blog post that there is no point in wasting time and energy in arguing with extremists.

+ I was so intrigued after reading this piece, I ordered (and will hopefully soon!) read Canadian YouTube sensation Lilly Singh's new book - I'm sure there are going to be some awesome laughs!

+ With all the conversation around the buzzword "Fake News," I thought this was clever of Facebook to share a number of tips on how to spot fake news especially on a platform like Facebook where a majority of us derive our information from each day. This couldn't be more timely. Its hard to believe that the phrase 'Fake News' wasn't even a thing 5 years ago...

+ After recently starting to read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***, I discovered Mark Manson's podcast which is brilliant. These podcasts about "What's the Problem with Feminism" and "What's the Problem with Men" have a lot of truth to them and make you really think about the role women and men play in typical gender roles.

It All Begins With a Lemonade Stand

With a newborn, you can find me most days outdoors, gallivanting  around with the baby in the stroller, enjoying the summer sun. I always love seeing what adventures I'll get up too or things I'll encounter.

Last week, I was out for a walk in our neighbourhood when I came upon a young girl selling lemonade.

I looked like I was going to be her next customer as I was walking closer to her. It was then I realized I didn't have $$$ on me so I quickly turned around to run back home and grab change. I can only imagine the look of sheer disappointment on this girls face thinking she was losing a customer as I ran away from her. I was happy to return a few minutes later to buy a cup of her homemade lemonade.

There was nothing better than watching the pride on this young girls' face when I returned and asked her 'How much?' With the biggest smile on her face, she confidently said, "$1 please." She had all the right things going for her - a well-written, visible sign with the $1 per cup cost; she had the cute little table and chair; she had manners and spoke well; and she genuinely looked like she loved what she was doing.

And to top it off, she was so pleasant when I approached her with the baby - she even asked questions about me and the baby, the customer. Who taught this girl proper marketing etiquette at such a young age?!

It was one of those moments, as a random stranger, that you take so much pride in doing what you did to help encourage this person.

It also brought back so many memories for me as a kid... because I did the exact same thing! I held many a rummage sale and (tried) to sell lemonade to no avail.

The difference for me was that growing up in the country, trying to sell things on a random weekday in the summer, half way down a long driveway was not that financially viable or successful. There aren't that many customers who probably think stopping in a car and walking up to a young child in the country looks OK to those driving by. I get it now, but it was hard to swallow at the time.

Clearly my entrepreneurial spirit was evident already at a young age.

The acts of this little random stranger last week was an amazing reminder of what we're all capable of and how it all begins at a young age:

  • The ideas we have that spark within us;
  • How unafraid we are of big, hairy, audacious goals (and we don't even know what 'goals' are yet);
  • How we take a pretty basic product and only because of how we sell it, the product becomes a hit;
  • The complete, random strangers we are OK with meeting in order to make a sale (and a buck);
  • When we realize we can make money doing something we love or at least enjoy doing;
  • And ultimately, we have the guts to do something we have never did before (and don't know the outcome of as to whether we'll be successful or not) and we still go ahead with the idea and sell the lemonade!

It takes some serious guts as a young kid to have the motivation, confidence and persistence to want to do something like sell lemonade, while other kids are out playing with their friends.

At what age or stage in our lives do you think we lose that self-confidence and belief in our abilities that so many of us clearly have as young kids? When do we lose that entrepreneurial mindset of fending for ourselves and running with our own ideas, only to worry what others think of us and our skillset to land a job that may not be for us?

As a quote I found perfectly says, "When life gives you lemons, you build a lemonade stand and profit."

[Tweet ""When life gives you lemons, you build a lemonade stand and profit.""]

As the young girl packed up after selling me her last cup of lemonade, I encouraged her to make sure she sets up shop more this summer because I'd be sure to be back. She said she would.

I better start saving my loonies now because she has a repeat customer that will guarantee her sales for her young start-up venture (or college education) ;)

[Photo Source]

Holding Ourselves Back

I am a proud woman working in the agriculture-food sector. It is an industry that has perhaps been viewed as more of a "boys only club" but women have and continue to play an important role in the industry, especially with many women-led initiatives like Ag Women's Network getting the attention they so deserve.

I am proud to have been raised by two strong parents who taught me I could do anything I dreamed of. Watching my mom on my family's dairy farm, working alongside my dad in the barn, and seeing how my dad treated her as an equal, was very empowering.

And because of this, I am proud to now be married to a man who appreciates a strong woman who is just as strong-willed, has just as strong of a work ethic, and can have an opinion just as much as he does. Andrew is the one who pushes me to be better and pursue my business endeavors including this one at The Passionate Voice.

Because I was also the oldest of four kids, I spent most of my days in the dairy barn with my dad and my brothers rather than spending time in the kitchen. To be honest, I still love it down at the barn with the cows more than being in the kitchen. This doesn't mean I don't love cooking or baking or keeping my house clean though. I love doing all of those.. and if you ask my husband, I am a pretty decent baker and cook (thanks to my mom who can milk cows AND is wonderful at cooking/baking!).

I am proud to be part of so many wonderful organizations outside of my day-to-day job that include committees/boards that are a mix of men and women and who celebrate strong women. There are also committees I belong too or events I attend that I'm proud to be associated with including Ag Women's Network, Lean in Canada and Women of Influence. I love what these events and committees stand for but sometimes I do laugh at the fact that while we talk about 'equality' and being treated 'fairly' by men, that we don't laugh at ourselves for having 'women only' events.

I am proud to have many strong women friends and mentors who come from not only agriculture, but from many other industries and places both rural and urban. Having a variety of friends and mentors from various backgrounds creates a wonderfully diverse network that you can rely on at any time. This doesn't mean that I don't have incredible male mentors and friends. I look up to my dad who, just like my mom, helped instill in me such powerful skills that I am so thankful to have as a woman.

What has become more and more apparent for me as I get further in my career, meet more women, address the much talked about 'glass ceiling' and soon enter motherhood come May, is that while we talk about breaking through this ceiling and wanting to be treated as equals, perhaps we as women need to self reflect first and realize that sometimes the only thing holding women are back... is ourselves. 

[Tweet ""Sometimes the only thing holding women back.. is ourselves" - The Passionate Voice"]

I've never felt like I have been held back for being a woman. If I didn't speak up, its not because they didn't let me, its because I chose not too. If I didn't come across seriously enough, it wasn't anyone else's fault but mine. I think realizing this has been extremely powerful for me as a woman.  I've never looked at myself any differently than my male counterparts which has helped me be bolder and more confident in what I want to say and what I want to do and accomplish.

Women are often held back because we hold ourselves back. Instead of wondering why men aren't inviting us to the table, invite yourself and sit at the head table, not at the side/back of the room as Sheryl Sandberg offered the same sentiment in her book, Lean In. Don't offer to take notes if that is what is expected of you. If you aren't asked for your opinion, speak up anyways. Think you have a valuable idea? Self promote like men do. Don't think that its 'shameless' self promotion. It's self promotion. Period. There is a lot to learn from our male counterparts. Yes, countries like Canada and the US haven't even elected a female Prime Minister or President yet but we're making huge strides to get there. I have faith that in my lifetime, we'll see it happen.

The reality is, is that men and women are different and sometimes yes, there are different expectations asked of women. We are asked to be tough yet sweet. Motherly yet stern. Be as good in the boardroom as we are in the kitchen. All while say raising kids and/or dealing with pregnancy. There are a roller coaster of emotions that women face that men don't.  But it doesn't mean that women can't have everything (and more!) that men do.

Women, we need to speak up more. We need to be more confident in our abilities.We need to be loud and proud and in a well-articulated and well-constructed way. We can garner the respect of our peers, both male and female. We can balance it all as long as we set our own personal boundaries as to what "balance" means to each of us individually without judgement. Yes we face challenges, but we can't forget that men face challenges too. And most importantly, we all have opportunities available to us.

Women have all the talent in the world. We just have to make sure, that above all else, the only person who isn't holding us back.. is ourselves. Have the confidence to be the person you want to be and make the change you want to see. Have it all... and then more.

Happy International Women's Day, friends! #IWD2017

[Photo Source]

Start Putting Your Sh*t Out to the World

Through the personal work I do with my platform The Passionate Voice, I've always worked to help others, both personal and businesses, to harness their voice through social media work and in-person communications training. Helping them to learn how they can speak up, be heard and make impact in whatever industry they are in.

A perfect example of this is Ag Women's Network. There are so many fellow women in agriculture/food and fellow bloggers and social media users who are putting themselves out there about the topics and issues that matter most to them. Its also an incredible personal development forum to learn from each other. I recently challenged these same women to blog (or start blogging!) with me in the personal #Blog452 challenge I've set for myself this year. One month in to 2017 and I'm happy to say, I've blogged every week!

I realize putting yourself out there to the online world takes confidence and guts.. and some would shy away from this. I also realize that there are a lot of 'fence sitters' who are watching others around them do what they wished they themselves would or could do. This isn't a bad place to be in though so all the 'fence sitters' reading this, take this as your "call to action" post :)

Have you thought of starting a blog but held off, time after time, because you were worried what others would think or weren't sure how to get easily started?

Have you been in a meeting and wanted to say something but feared what others would think and so you refrained from sharing your thoughts?

Have you wanted to give a talk at the front of a room but feared what the crowd may think of you and/or how you would be able to present in front of an audience?

Putting yourself out there to the rest of the world is not easy. Once you begin speaking your mind and showcasing your passion or what your good at on a platform, it is an outlet to be quickly judged by others. Not everyone can do it nor are you ever really 'ready' for what follows once you finally do put yourself out there for the rest of the world to judge.

Putting yourself out there doesn't necessarily mean big, elaborate gestures. It can be the smallest, most simple step. It can be finally putting up your hand at a meeting and saying something. It could be sending that email to the person you've always wanted to contact with. Joining a committee, board or team after thinking about it joining. It could mean FINALLY starting that blog/website to showcase your talents and what your good at in hopes that one day you'll be recognized for those talents or to positively make a difference.

[Tweet ""Putting yourself out there doesn't necessarily mean big, elaborate gestures." #PassionateVoice"]

Putting yourself out there is never easy. But it is SO worth it once you do. Trust me, this is something I've struggled with in doing my work at The Passionate Voice. These posts don't just write themselves... and many of my posts have sat in draft form until this year when I committed to 2017's #Blog452Challenge.

But I promise, just go ahead and test the waters and you'll see what I mean.

Really, what's the worse thing that could happen..... besides crappy tweets from people or hearing crickets because you don't think anyone is reading? In all seriousness, what really is the worse thing that could happen? 

If anything, as I've personally learned, you'll be mad at yourself that you didn't put your sh*t out there SOONER.

[Photo Source]