Wise Words

I've had two experiences recently that have reminded me of the power of our language. With the click of most of our smartphone keyboards, our words are now auto-corrected and fixed for us. This has allowed us to "lazy up" on our language skills and need not worry about how to spell words, let alone check a dictionary to expand our vocabulary. We aren't choosing the most sophisticated words to reflect our thoughts and feelings anymore. 

To say our vocabulary as human beings is becoming quite basic in this social media, technology-driven age is an understatement. Its probably why I enjoy reading books as much as  I do. I love the lessons a good book can impart and the rich words that good writers use to tell a story.

When I started my career, I had a flip book in the top of my desk drawer. I would try and find a new word a week and write it in this flip book to learn and refer too as a way to expand my vocabulary and better my writing. It was a helpful exercise (that I have since stopped doing) but it was a great way to continue to learn and expand my personal dictionary of words. 

Recently, I engaged in a conversation on Twitter that I thought would be productive but it began with words from the other party that were quite abrupt to start off the conversation. These words didn't help to foster a productive conversation, or at least make me feel like we were going to have a positive experience and engage in meaningful dialogue.

It was a good reminder. If you want to have a productive conversation with someone, don't tell them their opinion is bad by using words that aren't conducive to the conversation. In order to have a conversation, people must go back and forth with words. The words you choose to use can alter the direction of a conversation quickly - both in a good direction and bad. 

[Tweet ""The words you choose to use can alter the direction of a conversation quickly." - The Passionate Voice"]

Productive conversations, regardless of where you stand on an issue, includes language that is inclusive, respectful and meaningful. Using words that insults a person, aren't respectful in nature, or aren't used in the right tone can turn someone off from having a conversation with you the next time.

The second example includes a night of playing scrabble with my family at our cottage.

I haven't played scrabble in years. Scratch that. I couldn't remember the first time I played scrabble. I must have been bad at it when I first played otherwise I would have remembered the experience vividly (#SoreLoserAnyone?!) Off topic, sorry...

While playing scrabble, it reminded me of that first experience earlier on Twitter and how an expanded vocabulary doesn't hurt anyone.s 

Playing a game like scrabble teaches you words you didn't realize you could even come up with let alone know the meaning for. Until you are asked to put together words with 7 of the most random letters of the alphabet and you have a killer instinct to want to WIN, it can be an exciting challenge for your brain. Scrabble made me think of words beyond the basic Twitter speak, smartphone auto-corrections and the latest acronyms like FOMO and YOLO (you only live once for those who have to google it like I first had to do!)

Examples of words from our game that you may be surprised to learn the meaning for, like I was....

Fid - a thick peg, wedge, or supporting pin.

Yucha variant of the word yuck..

Xi - the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet (and yes, it can be used in the game of scrabble!).

An expanded and robust vocabulary only helps you to better articulate your thoughts and feelings... oh, and wise words just makes you sound smarter. Go figure! I may just be pulling that flip book back out again to continue to add to my word bank. 

On a side note, the photo of the books above arranged by colour has totally inspired me to want to do the same with the zillions of books I've collected over the years. Problem is, I need to find wall/bookcase space in my house. On to my next project!

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The Two-Way Street of Communicating

I gave a talk at the end of March about my concept of feeding the goldfish when it comes to communicating. At one point during my presentation, I discussed just how valuable communication is as the most fundamental skill we possess as human beings.

We discussed how effective communicators, especially in agriculture in the social media age, are able to connect on such complicated topics, with audiences that have no understanding of a topic. One of the ways they are able to do this is through being relatable - they somehow connect with an audience on a mutual level. An easy way they do this is by finding common ground and finding out what the audience thinks and feels before they share their opinion and perspective.

One of the lessons I imparted with the audience of enthusiastic agriculturalists was the following idea:

Communicating is a two-way street, involving listening AND talking.

So often, we think communication is about talking, when it fact communication is a two-part process involving the most important part of the process... listening.

We all know those people who forget this concept.

The people who do a lot of talking but don't care to listen to what others have to say. Or those situations we all have been in where you are speaking with someone and you recognize early on, they aren't even genuinely listening to you, they are already thinking of the next thing they want to say.

You can see it in their facial expressions; their head is nodding but you can see behind their eyes that their wheels are turning, already thinking about the next thing they are going to say back to you. And you can tell instantly with their initial response, whether they sincerely took in what you said before they spewed out what you knew they were cookin' up.

Yes, we as human beings like to hear ourselves talk.

But the best communicators are those who take in what people say and listen.

Those communicators get the most out of conversation because they genuinely care about the people they are conversing with and what they have to say. Through listening FIRST, they are able to find common ground and mutual respect so the person/people/audience listens back to them.

As I shared that day with my audience, communicating is in fact a two-way street - try and not only be the driver, but the passenger. People will respect you for it and you'll be a better communicator because of it.

#2017 Check In - Q1 (Jan-Mar)

A majority of companies and businesses measure annual performance, broken down in 3 month increments in terms of Q 1/2/3/4. By setting goals for the year and reviewing them every 3 months, it allows for a consistent check-in to ensure things are on track to meet annual goals, sales figures, performance measures, etc. Goal-setting and check-ins are part of corporate culture, but we don't look at 'check-ins' the same way we do with our own personal goals we've set for ourselves.

Most often times, holding ourselves accountable can be the main reason whether we achieve our goals (or not).

We all start with the best of intentions at the beginning of a new year - or for some, in the springtime or in September with the start of a new school year -  but if we don't have mechanisms to hold ourselves accountable, another year can pass like the one before and that passion project can be shelved for another year.

Unlike the work world where you know your performance is going to be measured, your boss will check in, performance reviews take place and/or your salary may be impacted, if your serious about the intentions you've set for #2017, you'll be serious about holding yourself accountable to achieve these goals.

I shared these 2017 goals/habits at the beginning of the new year. Using this as my 'Q1 check in', I'm happy to report I've committed whole-heartedly to two of my goals - blogging once a week using #Blog452 and doing #365DaysofGratitude (which I realize I need to share more about!). In terms of the other 3 goals I've set, I already have the personal development course in mind I want to attend later this fall which I will be registering for this month; I have tons of ideas (and the equipment ready!) to get the podcast up and going (slowly but surely!) and travel plans are in place (hopefully, if all goes well with the arrival of Baby A!) to explore new destinations later this summer.

What I'm most proud of in the first 3 months is the 5 habits I've really tried to stick too - getting up early to enjoy the outdoors; weekly meal planning; consuming less TV; being more strategic about social media consumption; and so far, I've loved the weekly coffee dates I've been able to fit in to help stick to my #Blog452 goal and client work.

One concept that has really stuck out for me recently, as I'm almost through Neil Pasricha's The Happiness Equationis how we all have 168 hours available to us in a week. If you sleep on average 8 hours a night x 7 days a week, that's 56 hours gone right off the top, known as the first '56 bucket' (and the most important of course!). If we work on average, a 40 hour work week, plus factor in commute time, extra hours worked, prep time, etc, a second '56 bucket' can be established. Its the third and final '56 hour bucket' that is ours to do with it what we want. THAT is where working on your #2017 goals/habits kicks in.

Yes, goal chasing can be overwhelming and daunting. Yes, some days are more productive than others. Yes, some days you're ahead feeling great, and other days you just need to watch Netflix to let yourself have a break. Yes, some days you hear great feedback and other days there are crickets. With only 3 months off the top of 2017, I've been able to learn to take small, actionable steps each day/week to work towards the goals I've set.

If you make this type of commitment (it really isn't rocket science, just sheer willpower), you can and will see your goals through to fruition.  And just think, we still have 9 more months to go, what an awesome feeling!

As I get ready for my biggest life-changing moment yet, in May (motherhood!), I already can't wait to report back on Q2 progress.... I suspect its going to be the BEST life experience. How are you making out with your #2017 goals, I'd love to hear from YOU!

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Conferences to Consider Attending

One of my 2017 goals this year is to attend a personal development course or conference. I realized the other day that I better get on this because once May comes and Baby A arrives, my time *may* be limited. Unless I decide to do a conference or course in the fall once I've *adjusted* to this new exciting, scary thing called motherhood.

With warmer temps recently and the feeling that Spring (may) just be around the corner, it has me feeling rejuvenated to want to learn and take in new things, a lot like how the New Year makes me feel.

I love attending conferences, not only because of the people and networking, but because while I'm there, I usually get so many ideas at conferences that leaves me feeling excited about new ways of thinking; taking new approaches to ideas; and adding to my side business and brand.

I've had a few people recently mention to me that they are looking for a conference to attend this year and I wanted to share some of the conferences that I either follow, engage with on social media or have found online, if  you, like me, are looking for a conference to attend this year.

March

  • Advancing Women's Conference West - March 6-7- Calgary, AB (Created for every woman who wants to achieve success. Whether you are a crop, fruit, vegetable, dairy or livestock producer, own your own small or large ag business or in a career path with an ag organization or association - this conference is for you. Gain or hone the skills that will bring you success in your career, family life and community.)
  • Peterborough International Women's Day Conference - March 8 - Toronto, ON (The Women Business Network of Peterborough is hosting Peterborough’s first full-day International Women's Day conference, bringing this global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women into our own community).
  • Dx3 Canada Technology, Digital Media & Retail Event - March 8-9 - Toronto, ON (Dx3 is Canada’s largest conference and trade show dedicated to digital marketing, advertising and retail. Dx3 connects the world’s top technology brands including Facebook, IBM, Samsung, Microsoft and MasterCard to Canada’s leading consumer brands, retailers and agencies by curating engaging content, immersive experiences and platforms that enable meaningful face-to-face commerce.)
  • Women in Leadership & Business - March 27-28 - Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (What do successful business people know and do that you can take and immediately put into action to jump-start, re-focus and re-energize your business and career? Join Leaders, Senior & Middle Managers, Business Owners and Entrepreneurs)

April

  • The Art of Marketing - April 3 - Toronto, ON (The Art of Marketing is a thought-provoking conference that explores the power shift in brand-consumer relationships. It puts the spotlight on how business models are being disrupted and, as a result, how marketers need to rethink how to achieve their goals.)
  • The Art of Leadership for Women - April 5 - Vancouver, BC (one day conference features five internationally renowned bestselling authors and thought leaders, who will share an exciting blend of cutting edge thinking and real world experience on today’s most critical leadership issues.)
  • WNORTH - April 19-21 - Whistler, BC (boutique-style conference is focused on providing a forum for women who are the next generation of senior leadership in their organization to come together to enhance their leadership training, engage in high-level networking and witness inspirational talks from leading women in business.)
  • B Connected Conference - April 22-23 - Toronto, ON (Canada’s Digital Influencer Conference, is open to influencers, small business owners, charitables organizations, not for profit associations, and major brands, looking to enhance their social media and blogging skills. BDigital. BInfluential. BConnected! This Conference aims to help you achieve an interactive learning experience within the social media and blogging industries. It’s a fun and intimate event for influencers, brands and speakers alike!)
  • Atlantic Farm Women Conference - April 28-29 - Halifax, NS (In the past, Farm women sought out these conferences as a unique way to work collaboratively and help move agriculture forward. We plan to pair some serious discussions with some light and fun activities!  We'll send you home stuffed with new knowledge and rejuvenated to continue in this industry!  You'll meet women from across Atlantic Canada who love this industry as much as you AND you're guaranteed to have fun doing it!)

May

  • Leadercast - May 5 - Held virtually in 100+ countries (Leadercast Live is the largest one-day leadership event in the world. Broadcast live each year from Atlanta to 100,000+ people in hundreds of locations around the world, Leadercast Live brings together many of the world’s most recognized and respected global leaders to create a leadership experience unlike any other.)
  • Globe and Mail Small Business Summit - May 9 - Toronto, ON (They are the disrupters. The leaders. The brightest entrepreneurs in Canadian business. The Globe and Mail has invited them to share their insights during an inspiring day of keynote talks, workshops and networking. Walk away with new ideas and actionable tips on securing financing, acquiring talent and expanding sales, and take your business to the next level in this rapidly changing marketplace.)
  • Canadian Public Relations Conference - May 28-30 - Kelowna, BC (The 2017 National Conference embraces and celebrates what it means to illuminate. For starters, our host city Kelowna is illuminated constantly thanks to 2000 hours of sunshine each year and breathtaking Northern Light displays. Then, during each session, expert presenters will illuminate new concepts, enlightening delegates by providing deeper understanding of public relations.Finally, as the crown jewel of the CPRS, Illuminate 2017 will serve to maintain our illustrious status as leaders in the Canadian public relations and communications industry.)

June

  • The Art of Leadership for Women - June 13 - Toronto, ON (one day conference features five internationally renowned bestselling authors and thought leaders, who will share an exciting blend of cutting edge thinking and real world experience on today’s most critical leadership issues.)

September

  • Blog Podium - typically held in September but date & location still TBD (BlogPodium is a series of conferences and small workshops designed to connect people together, encourage collaboration and sharing, and of course, have a great time. We are Canada’s Conference for Design and Lifestyle Bloggers)
  • Inbound Marketing - September 25-28 - Boston, MA (INBOUND's purpose is to provide the inspiration, education, and connections you need to transform your business. This November, we will host thousands of marketing and sales professionals from almost every industry imaginable and from all corners of the globe at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

October

  • Advancing Women Conference East - October 30-31- Niagara Falls, ON (Created for every woman who wants to achieve success. Whether you are a crop, fruit, vegetable, dairy or livestock producer, own your own small or large ag business or in a career path with an ag organization or association - this conference is for you. Gain or hone the skills that will bring you success in your career, family life and community.)
  • Food Bloggers of Canada - October 20-22 - Ottawa, ON (FBC2017 is Canada’s only national conference for food bloggers.  It’s a fun, intimate event for bloggers, brands and speakers alike.  We focus on providing professional development for our members and other interested bloggers; an intimate atmosphere to foster blogger to blogger and blogger to brand networking; great food; and fun)
  • Tedx Toronto - date still TBD - Toronto, ON (Tedx Toronto is Canada's largest Tedx event, a platform for exceptional ideas and a catalyst for profound change. In our seventh year, TEDxToronto is Canada’s largest TEDx event, a platform for exceptional ideas, and a catalyst for profound change. The annual, one-day conference draws a diverse and passionate array of speakers, performers, demos and audience members)

*Each of the descriptions about each conference  were taken directly from conference websites.

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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.

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