Tuesday Thoughts

Well hello, there!

I've wanted to blog for a few weeks' now but never knew where to start. Isn't that something we all struggle with? Where to begin? What to do first? What to stick with? What to love the most? What to get rid of and leave behind? So much has been going on as of late, its hard to know where to start and what to share.

Springtime

There is something about this spring that has awaken me to so many new things. New things about the world around me, about people, but most importantly, about myself. The new greenery and flowers blooming, even the fresh smell of spring has awoken me in a different way than the last few years. I've happily welcomed this.

Motherhood/Back to Work #onthecampaigntrail

Its an overwhelming bittersweet time for me personally right now. I'm transitioning from my year off on maternity leave, entering back into not only the workforce, but the campaign trail. Ontario's provincial election is 23 days away on June 7th. When I began working 4 years ago in politics at Queen's Park, I knew this election time would come eventually, I just didn't think it would come this fast. Much like my time with Blake. Where did this past year really go?

Because of the transition heading back to work, it has meant closing the book on being a stay-at home mom for the past year. It has meant starting a new chapter of watching Blake transition to day care. I'm also preparing to move back home to Peterborough for a few week's while I work #onthecampaigntrail. I promise to blog about this exciting adventure in a separate post.

What the last few weeks has taught me is about sacrifice. Loving what you do for a living, while you have to watch what you've did for the past year fade into the sunset. Knowing that while it is hard to watch your child grow up, this is what life is all about.

I've been trying to soak up as many friend hangouts, family catch up's, sunsets on the dock and coffee shop visits before reality sets in next week when I officially go back to work.

I love me some routine

I've enjoyed setting up a productive routine for the past little while, knowing full-well that, that routine is going straight out the window now that the campaign has started. If there is something I have learned about myself, its that while I love new things and discovering the unknown, I thrive on routine. Don't we all as human beings? I've learned this the most from watching Blake. He loves meeting new people, taking in new things, not going to bed on time once and a while, but he pays for it a few days later. He sleeps better, eats better and you can tell he's just an overall more happier baby when he's in his routine. This is us as adults too, we just don't like to admit it.

Learning Overload 

I've been the type of person that has 100 tabs open in my browser; articles saved to read; and so many random notes about motivational TED talks written down in my notebook but it hasn't been until recently that I've wondered... is it too much? I'm not saying I want to stop learning but at some point, is it too much? If I want to speed up in the areas of my life I want to succeed it, does it mean I have to slow down in other areas of my life that don't allow me to grow? If anything, Blake has been the greatest reminder for me to slow down.

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7 Ways to Manage Your Digital Footprint

If you visit here often or we follow each other on social media, you would have noticed some changes last fall to my photography and branding.

It was just some simple, subtle, yet positive changes that helped to spice things up around here and on my social platforms. Hello, new headshot! :P 

Its like when I re-arrange furniture in my house when the seasons change, it is the simplest thing to do and the BEST feeling when its done. In the social world, you really always have to be changing it up to keep fresh, continue to evolve and be noticed as you and your brand grow and evolve.

The intended change was good because it made me realize how you have to take continued stock or inventory of your digital footprint. Simply put, you have to keep track of all your social profiles. Sounds easy but it isn't.

Even if you’re not rebranding, having all of your passwords and log-in information in one place is a good place to start. This made things SO much easier for me when I went to do my rebrand and proudly post my new headshot across all my social platforms last fall.

This blog post can serve both individuals or even businesses and social/digital managers that manage their company's corporate communications and brands. Here are 7 things I learned last fall with my rebrand for how you too, can easily manage your digital footprint at any point in time.

7 Ways to Manage Your Digital Footprint

  1. Create and maintain a locked password document (that requires a password to get into the document). This should contain all of your social media platform passwords. This is an easy way to keep organized, period.
  2. Establish and set your brand guideline. This will ensure you execute your brand with consistent colours, fonts and look/feel across all social platforms you use. It is best to create a mood board and then a brand board to always refer back too. I've provided my latest rebrand branding board below for your reference :)
  3. Once you've set your 'look and feel', hire a professional photographer to capture your brand - it’s a wise investment and some of the best money you will spend!
  4. Have a consistent logo/photo/headshot across all of your social platforms.
  5. When/if you decide to change your logo/photo/headshot, take the time to update your bio and descriptions with the same consistent wording and put this across all of your platforms.
  6. Update your website or your blog at the same time to reflect any of these new changes and introduce your new rebrand.
  7. Review your analytics on each of your social platforms and website/blog to determine what platforms are working best for you. When you rebrand, its a perfect time to add new platforms, change the function of existing platforms or decide altogether to stop using certain social platforms if you find you're not getting the ROI for the value you're putting in. Your followers on each of your social platforms will tell you a lot about what they consume from your brand.

If you have questions about your own social media profiles, need help in rebranding or want to know more about the analytics behind your social platforms,let's get in touch!

Processing Random Thoughts

I've found this week to be draining for some odd reason. I alluded to this yesterday on Instagram.

I'm not sure if its the lingering hangover from Daylight Savings time or a flurry of ideas that are sitting in my brain. Regardless, that aching feeling of wanting to get the ideas out is enervating. I shared the photo of paint splatter as a way to try and capture what I {think} my brain looks like on the inside right now. I was glad to hear from other on instagram who could relate.

And so, to find a solution, I figured I would share some of these random thoughts. The thoughts that are swirling around in my head. Expect some blog posts to come from these:

Positivity. This is the basis to the world functioning better. There can't be enough of it in the world and I'll admit, some days, the realist in me sets in more than the optimist. I'm not sure if research supports this (send me any papers you find if it does!!) but am I wrong in saying that millennial's seem more positive than baby boomers (cue the tomato throwing now, I'll duck). It is so refreshing (regardless of age) when you sit down at a table and have a meeting or conversation and sharing of ideas when it is all positive. Positivity, or the lack there of sometimes, is why I sometimes question if more millennials are not pursuing careers in the sector I work in, Agriculture. So many thoughts on these two ideas - millennials being more positive and positivity within the sector I work in and how millennials view it.

Millennials. In keeping on this same topic, I am one. A millennial. I talk about them a lot here on the ol' blog. And they seem to be a conversation starter. Scratch that, its all people have been talking about for the last 5 years or so, since it became apparent that we as a generation weren't going away. When people recognized that we're going to leave a profound impact on this world and not to mention, we have surpassed baby boomers as the largest generation now. Well, at least in the US according to this article. Millennials seems to be at the forefront of many of the conversations within my social circles and network recently for some reason. Especially when it comes to career conversations. Things like the role of millenials on Boards; what millennials value that differs from baby boomers; and is the workplace ready to evolve to these values. Either way, I have lots to say from my experience (both professionally and personally) so look forward to blog posts upcoming!

Motherhood. Is it OK to feel that you want to go back to work earlier than expected once you realize your baby can now breathe, eat and sleep on his own and perhaps doesn't need you like he use too? Blake's crawling away from me tells me that he is going to be just fine come May (his first birthday). Also child care, why doesn't anyone talk about the beast that is finding child care? :S

Personal Brand. Ok, one more millennial thought. It seems that every millennial has or wants too establish their own personal brand along with maintaining their role/jobs within a company in their 9 to 5 job. This can be done, but with a bit of sacrifice on the millennials part and the company depending on expectations. Where previous workers/generation were so loyal to their company's brand, are workplaces ready for this millennial "selfishness" as I've heard it called? And even more, are workplaces OK with millennial's side hustles perhaps taking the spotlight away from the work millennial's do in their 9-5's?!

Creativity overload. As a creative entrepreneur, how do my fellow CE's quiet your thoughts? How do you stop, or should I say, harness, the creative ideas waterfall that can come on the most random days? Do you write everything down on paper and pen? Put it in your iPhone notebook? How do you orgnaiz the thoughts? How do you tell your brain right at bedtime to stop thinking and put the ideas to rest? Literally. I would love to hear your tips!

Productivity. I am almost done this book and it is hands down, one of the best books I've read in a while. An easy, simple yet thought-provoking read, it has calmed my mind as a women but also fueled my motivation to want to do better, but in a more efficient way. Grab your copy, you won't be disappointed!

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Why #IWD2018 is Different This Year

Empowered. Powerful. Unstoppable. Unique. Confident. Brave. Motivated. Creative. Inspired. Different. Honest. These words on my shirt in the picture above couldn't sum up more perfectly, what today is all about.

This year's International Women's Day feels different for me.

Its probably because since last year when we celebrated #IWD2017, I have since become a mom and am now raising a boy. Some days, the task of motherhood can seem daunting. To know I am raising a child that will go out in the world, makes me want to do more than I know is possible - to help foster a world that when Blake grows up, he is proud of. A positive place that will leave him with endless possibilities and limited barriers.

Why do I talk about Blake on a day like International Women's Day?

Its because today in particular, I am so grateful for being a woman, becoming a mom, and in particular, being a mom to a boy in hopes that one day when he's old enough, he too will empower women.

Today, I am celebrating what we collectively have done as women, including the powerful women before us that blazed the trail. Today, I am celebrating everything we CAN do as women and ARE doing and what the men around us CAN do to help and ARE doing to help. I'm choosing to not look at the obstacles ahead, and instead, today I celebrate why I am able to reach my goals as a woman. And how, through living that reality, it will help to teach Blake the utmost respect and equality for the women in his life.

I have 7 things in particular that I want to acknowledge and be grateful for on a day like today. These things allow me to be able to do this new thing called parenthood while also being a working woman:

  • A strong partner who is firm in who he is, believes in everything I do and is strong in his conviction as seeing us as equal partners and parents. Andrew's commitment in wanting me to be the best version of myself and pursue my dreams is why I continue to push boundaries and do what I love. Thank you Andrew for loving me for who I am #WontheHusbandLottery
  • We never know what type of baby we'll get (after all that planning, come on! ha) but I am so thankful that Blake has allowed me to do what I have done since he arrived 9 months ago (and yes I admit, some days, it has seemed a bit crazy). I'm thankful that Blake travels well, is a happy baby and has allowed me to get back on my feet quickly. He has been there through the 'happy' and also the days of tears as I've learned just what it meant to figure this crazy new 'mom world' out. He thankfully can't judge me (yet!) but he's never cared if I've put on mismatching socks on him, sang off tune way too loud or sounded weird when I talk to him. He just loves me. There is nothing better than that and boy, am I grateful for his affection and warm smiles when I've needed them most.
  • A supportive family has provided me with the love and help when I've needed it or when I've asked for it. They've allowed me to fit into my "new mom shoes" on my own terms and at my own pace. I am so fortunate that these are my 'peeps' who just get me and who have shown Blake, in a short time, just what true family is all about.
  • Something I would have never thought of before a child, but quality, affordable childcare (aka. our babysitter Brooke, thank you Brooke!) has been something I have never taken for granted. Finding that person who just 'gets' your child and is always there when you need them is a true treasure.
  • My friends, colleagues, industry associates, my network, groups, boards, sponsors and mentors who, whether female or male, have engaged in the gender parity conversation and are always looking for solutions. I've never felt like since becoming a mom, I've had to sacrifice who I am because of gender expectations and my new found role with a child. These people have never made me feel bad for a being a mom, they've allowed me to embrace it and love it while I follow my passions. Thank you to these people for helping me continue to be me :)
  • Small things that I may not have appreciated before a baby but now, I treasure. Things like accessible coffee shops and stores for baby strollers (right, Lyns?!), random strangers that stop and ask about the baby or hold open a door, salespeople who offer to hold your baby (yes I know, they're complete strangers!), flexible work schedules, support through social media, or emails and calls from friends - these small gestures have meant the world.
  • And most importantly, self care. Its something over the past year that I've learned to take way more seriously. I realize now, it was definitely something I neglected in the past. I've embraced the oxygen mask analogy of "put your mask on first before you take care of others." There is something so healthy about taking care of yourself first so you can give your BEST self to the world. Coffee dates by yourself, reading a book outside, getting a pedicure or massage, making a tasty homemade smoothie, taking a walk or hitting the gym - self care is truly the best medicine of all.

To say I have a full heart on this International Women's Day is an understatement. I am grateful for the opportunities I've been afforded; the paths I've been able to venture down; what I've been able to say and contribute; and the people I've been profoundly impacted by. I hope I am doing the same for my fellow women (and men).

To my fellow women who are out there pushing boundaries, doing your thing, and just enjoying being yourself (you bada$$ women!!), YOU ROCK. And to all the men out there helping us women #pressforprogress, THANK YOU for being equal partners.

Happy #IWD2018 :)

Why 'STEM' Should Be 'STEAM'

Today marks Agriculture Day in Canada.

I’m not sure how many Canadians knew this day was being celebrated by people like myself - a dairy farmer's daughter whose passion for agriculture and communications (with politics thrown in there) led to an agricultural communications role working in provincial politics at Queen's Park.

Agriculture is an industry I really love working in.  

According to my Instagram poll late tonight, which includes a mixed audience of both those in and outside of agriculture, thankfully 67% (or 130 respondents) knew it was #CdnAgDay.

Whether you knew it was Ag Day or not, or work in agriculture or not, we all have one major thing in common - something we can relate too - and that is food.

The other thing we can all most certainly relate too, is having a job.

We all need food to eat and most of us have a job or aspire to have a job. So there, we at have at least two things in common now to continue this productive conversation.

On a day like today, in some instances, it feels like we in agriculture across Canada are a passionate group of people..... who preach to the choir.

It is on days like today, I am reminded of how our industry needs to position ourselves in a way that catches the attention of the 98% of Canadians who do not come from a farm or know anything about agriculture-food.

We need to sell our agri-food industry in a way that is cool and makes young graduates and people WANT to come work with us, much like how the STEM movement has captured the attention of many soon-to-be high school graduates and young career professionals.

Its why I think the movement around STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) should actually be called STEAM, with the 'A' proudly standing for Agriculture.

I am fascinated by the conversation around STEM-related careers. Even here in Canada, we have made it a trendy topic, promoting STEM jobs to Canadian youth. Our Canadian government even launched a campaign in 2017 to encourage young women to choose science. Bravo!

In a fast-paced digital society that is becoming more of a knowledge-based economy, attracting top talent to our agri-food sector will be imperative to fill the more the more than 100,000+ jobs we are going to need to fill in the next decade.

The crazy part? The demand for students with an agriculture-related degree far outweighs the supply of graduates! Just read this University of Guelph report that states "there are 4 jobs for every OAC graduate entering Ontario’s food and agriculture sector."

In all the excitement discussing STEM, we're missing a critical industry that continues to push the envelope in innovation. Agriculture.

An industry that really, in some instances, combines science, technology, engineering and math ALL in one. Agriculture and food combines practical know-how, research and application to create things that we use every day and perhaps take for granted. Things like environmentally-friendly coffee pods, the Yukon Gold potato and for some Canadian dairy farmers, an app for their smartphone that helps farmers monitor and treat ketosis in their dairy cows. How cool is this?!

[Side note, people maybe don't even realize just how tech-savvy farmers really are and how actively they use their smartphone to do business and participate on social media! If you're looking for some examples, just ask me for some savvy farmers and agri-food professionals, I'd be happy to share]

These examples above are just a few that showcase leading-edge technology, research and innovation that takes place every day in our Canadian agri-food industry that consumers and industry benefits from. Examples that combine science, technology, engineering, math and agriculture to produce some pretty awesome results.

Agriculture has even embraced the conversation around the much-needed role of more women in our sector. Groups like Ag Women's Network in Ontario and Saskatchewan Women in Ag, have created a positive atmosphere to promote more women getting involved in agriculture and food. In fact, in the 2016 Canadian Census, the proportion of women who are farm operators increased to 27.8%, for the first time in 15 years! Its been a breathe of fresh air to see this movement take off.. and its a movement that is here to stay.

Canadian agriculture and food needs more savvy individuals to help us in our sector.

Enthusiast individuals and young graduates who can help us grow food; create sustainable and sound food policy; get food from farmers to processors; work in trade so more Canadian-grown food can be exported around the world to address food security; get food from processors to consumers; communicate agriculture's message to the masses; and market food more effectively so it eventually ends up on consumer's plates.

I know why this gap most likely exists in attracting top talent.

Its because we don't make our sector attractive enough or 'sexy' enough to market it and attract young graduates from non-farming backgrounds.

Much like the picture above of me in front of Queen's Park, when you think of agriculture and food related jobs, you probably don't picture someone like myself. This is the game-changer of our industry - you don't have to look like the stereotypical farmer with the straw hat and pitch fork in hand to work in agriculture and food. And you certainly don't need to come from a farm to work in agriculture and food.

Gone are the days where these stereotypes exists. Or at least, they should be by now. Its 2018.

We in the agri-food sector are savvy, sophisticated and passionate people who believe in what we do. Everyone along the value chain is playing a role to ensure the highest-quality, safest products are delivered 365 days a year to Canadian consumers and consumers around the world. For many of us, agriculture and food isn't just an industry we work in but a lifestyle we enjoy 365 days of the year. Not many industries can say this.

It is time we embrace the STEM movement and begin to promote STEAM.

This way, many needs are addressed - those of our agri-food industry who needs top, innovative talent; those of young millennial graduates looking for exciting new careers in an already tight job market; and those of our Canadian consumers who continue to need/want the best food possible.

Its a win-win for all. Now let's get out there and promote STEAM!#MakingAgriFoodCool