My graduation…

Tonight is the night before my graduation.  Tomorrow I will be an official graduate of the Seneca Post-graduate Social Media Program, and I feel incredible and emotional.

For me, it’s not only an academic graduation, it’s a culmination of the achievements I have worked for and been blessed with in my life.  A big part of this has been the journey to build or perhaps even rebuild myself in recent years, and that is what I am reflecting on this evening…

The last few years have been a rollercoaster, and if I had to define my journey in one word, it would be “change”.  Change has been the constant factor and the changes themselves have been positive or negative depending on my mindset and perspective at that time.  Looking back though, I realise that if it wasn’t for all those changes, some small, some big, I would not be where I am today.  I am so thankful for the journey and what it has brought me.

Over recent times I have brought my authentic self forward and have worked very hard to get to know her by listening to her guidance and trusting the strong intuition I have in my gut.  In doing this, I have found a part of myself that I actually forgot about, and in rediscovering this part of me, it has become stronger than ever and is now an integral part of my everyday being.  I’d like to define this part of me as my zest for life, my energy or my belief in myself.  This part of me is attracting more and more like-minded people who share my energy and zest, and I love it!  I love what this part of me brings to my life because what it brings is integral to my happiness.

My happiness is no longer defined by other people’s reactions to me, or aspirations for me. It is now defined by what I feel and I want (based on the intuition that I trust), and is driven by following the dreams I am excited by.  I have found a deep acceptance of and love for myself, and with this has come the beautiful gift of accepting others in my life exactly the way they are.  It’s so liberating and I feel at peace.

So, the night before my official Graduation, I want to acknowledge that I am also graduating (very successfully) from the lessons learned in the recent, most turbulent, yet most rewarding years of my life.  I want to thank each of you for being there for me on my journey in the way you have been.  Some of you have held me up, some of you have taught or guided me, some of you have made me laugh so hard I couldn’t even breathe, and some of you have let me be and/or feel whatever I needed to be and/or feel.  Most of all though, all of you have respected my journey, loved me through it and have inspired me each day.  I am so grateful.

Here’s to Graduation.  I can’t wait to see how the rest of the journey unfolds!! xx


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And that’s ok too…

I have recently been on a quest to find positivity in everything, and whilst this journey has been incredibly rewarding, I was reminded over the weekend of the importance of balance in our lives, and how even if I don’t want to see it, we all can be and are impacted by negativity in our lives to varying degrees.  This has been on my mind ever since as there was a lot of truth in the statement that was made, and the conversation that followed.

We live in a time and an age where perfection (although unattainable), is sought in every aspect of our lives.  The fact that we are striving for the unobtainable can be detrimental to us on a number of levels.  With this in mind, when I made my conscious step towards living a positive life, I felt that I had to embrace it in every aspect of my life because if I didn’t, I was somehow failing on my mission.

I ‘Liked’ new things on Facebook and therefore my newstream changed which presented me with more and more positive quotes and images that I thought I needed to live by so that I could succeed on my journey.  In reality and on reflection, this actually put pressure on me to feel as if I had to feel and behave in a particular way if I wanted to remain positive and view myself as successful.  I tried to be aware of, and look for the positive in all my conversations and interactions with people.   This sometimes meant that I was not honouring their feelings and letting them feel, experience, and share what they needed to, and this may have been unfair of me to them.  For that I am sorry.

I have been impacted by relationships in my life that existed with people who were negative about everything, and I believe that I wanted to move so far away from the way that those relationships made me feel, that I tried to go completely the other way without realising that could impact me too.

On reflection, I now feel that the quest to find positivity in everything was not the right thing for me.

Balance is essential in my life.  Sometimes I am going to have a bad moment, bad experience, bad day, bad whatever, and that’s ok.  I need to work through it, and grow from, it if I can.  This does not mean that I am a failure.  It means I am a real person.  By letting myself feel what I need to feel is also being part of being authentic.  If I don’t have the negative, I may, one day, not be grateful for the positive because the positive will be my 100% norm, and I don’t think I am ok with that.

I am who I am.  Sometimes I will be positive, and that’s ok.  Sometimes I will feel negative, and that’s ok too. And sometimes I may even be somewhere in the middle.

I need to be kinder to myself by letting myself be and feel whatever I want/need to be and feel, and I also want to be able to share whatever my feelings are with those around me without labelling myself or my feelings.  There is no rule book or judgement here. There are just opportunities to be, to learn, to grow and to enjoy.

Finding happiness in simplicity

For the last few of weeks, since I saw this piece in the UK’s Stylist Magazine, I have been thinking about colouring-in books!  I was drawn to the simplicity as well as the nostalgic element as I spent a lot of my childhood colouring-in, painting and doing various other arts and crafts activities.  Whilst thinking about these things, I realised I missed not having them as part of my life.  On Saturday, I decided to change that!

As a woman who likes to be efficient with her time, and get as much on to her “done” list as possible, I combined by shopping with my work out, and walked a few kilometers to Indigo, the beautiful haven where I was to purchase my books. It was a lovely walk on a sunny morning and I really enjoyed it.

I turned up to Indigo feeling so excited (and slightly sweaty!) and couldn’t wait to find ‘my’ books.  I found a wonderful sales assistant who got as caught up in my excitement as I was.  As I was explaining what I was looking for and she led me to one of two (yes, two) colouring-in books for Adults displays, people were drawn to our conversation, and seemed as delighted as I was by the prospect of colouring-in.  It was magical! The choice of books was vast; there was something for everyone.  I (reluctantly) decided on one book for myself, and one for a very close friend’s birthday present (in the hope we can colour together!).

As I was leaving, the sales assistant who has helped me came running up to me to tell me that I was surrounded by rainbows and needed to see what was around me.  I couldn’t believe the beauty that was all around me at that moment.  I felt incredible in so many ways, and could not wait to get home and start colouring.

I started that night, and I can’t even express how lovely it was to sit in my wonderful home and colour.  It was escapism, meditation, therapy and creativity all in one.

The next day started with a call from one of my lovely friends from London.  During our two-hour catch up, I told her about these books and how magical they are.  She got so excited that she wanted to get herself some as soon as she could. She literally just messaged me the first page of her creation, and it’s beautiful.

I went to see my parents for lunch and told them about how I had been colouring-in.  My Mum (my biggest supporter and best friend) was so drawn to the idea so I promised to bring my book over so we can colour together.

There is definitely something here.  I don’t know if it’s the magic, the simplicity, the nostalgia, the creativity, the escapism or what, but these simple books generate peace and happiness.  I am making them part of my daily practice.  Want to join me?


Redefining my Visualization Board

I am happy.  I am happier than I have been for a very long time, and this has made me curious as to the reasons why this is happening, so that I can reflect and ensure I remain this way for as long as I possibly can…What I have realized is that this level of happiness I am experiencing is 100% in my control.

I have spent years and years trying to define my happiness by other people’s reactions to me; unconsciously seeking validation, approval and love.

Driven by something deep inside me, I have recently managed to rise above this need for approval and validation.  Don’t get me wrong, I still care, so very deeply, for the important people around me, and still and will always respect their opinions.  The difference now is that I am so comfortable with the me, who is unmasked and authentic, that reactions of others to me no longer matter as much as they used to because I define myself by me, and not by them.

As recently as 6 months ago, I was creating Visualization Boards to attract the ‘perfect’ partner.  I spent hours reflecting on what I wanted in a partner.  I made it pretty.  I coloured it in.  I drew pictures.  I wrote inspiring notes to myself and I read every book imaginable on how to get and keep the perfect man.  I physically cleared space in my life for that man (even before he manifested), and made room in my home shortly after meeting what the Universe sent me.  In hindsight, I realised I started going about the journey the wrong way a long time ago because what I ended up manifesting was not only wrong for me, it was the culmination of what everyone else wanted for me.

I never spent time thinking about what I wanted or needed.  I just went blindly along with what I thought I was meant to have (because that was the norm and that’s what I thought I should want).  I changed myself in line with what was demanded (to avoid conflict) rather than being true to myself when the core of me was saying “there is something not quite right here.  Please listen and act accordingly.”  I was constantly on edge, trying to please someone who could never be pleased, and ignoring the voice that said “you deserve more than this.”

I am very thankful for the journey I have been on.  I now understand a few more things now, like, for example, we allow ourselves to be loved the way we think we deserve to be loved, and also that everything around us is manifested by our thoughts.  I have also seen that like attracts like, and we have to be on the same energy frequency to attract the same back (in every area of our lives). This period of reflection has been, and continues to be incredibly powerful.

So, as I sit here, in my beautiful home (and all it represents to me), I am starting a new Visualization Board.  This time, it’s all about me; The things I love about Myself, What I can give to the Universe, What I contribute to the World, What makes me Happy, Who, What and Where I want to Be.  For me, this is the most powerful exercise of all because as I am doing this, I am shedding the layers of pressure, expectation, pain and frustration, and revealing my most authentic Me to the World (who is embracing her arrival).  This board will not only have colour, it will have sparkles!  It will be in 3D and it will be evolving as I learn and experience new things…

I am shelving every self-help book I have on meeting my match blah blah blah because I am loving and living the most powerful, important relationship of all; the one with me.

Since unconsciously starting this journey, I have been attracting the most incredible people into my life.  People who shine, radiate energy, and inspire me with hope that there are so many more of us out there who live authentically.  I look forward to discovering more of you, soon…






The importance of a brand…

It goes without saying that we are all hugely influenced by brands in our day-to-day lives, from the things we choose to buy, eat, drink and wear, to the places we go and want to be seen in.  The value of a brand, and what it means to us is huge, and the brands themselves capitalize on their value or perceived value by, perhaps, positioning themselves as an aspirational, a cool or an exclusive brand.

How does this relate to our professional lives though?

In my career so far, I have worked with some of the biggest brands on the UK (Emap, Sky and Age UK to name a few).  I have also worked with smaller brands such as the National School of Government and Travel Weekly, and have also had my own start-up businesses in the UK and abroad.

I have to say, the excitement (from yourself and those around you) when you work with a known/big brand is amazing and somewhat infectious, but, in my experience, what you learn from working in smaller teams, on smaller brands, far exceeds the benefits of working with larger brands.

I love and thrive on the ownership you experience when you are part of a smaller team.  For me, I learned more and progressed quicker.  In addition, I gained so much more in terms of my soft skills and confidence.  Having an open door into, for example, the owner of your company, shapes you for management for more quickly than having 2-3 years at a Marketing Executive level in a larger company where you may be one of 10 Marketing Executives.

In addition, I often hear my friends speaking about how hard it is for them to progress in larger companies.  It is as if they are stuck in a rut which is hard to get out of unless you have an excellent manager who supports your hunger for growth.

The reason I am writing about this today is because I had an amazing meeting earlier with the Markham Board of Trade.  The meeting was about the possibility of a field placement/internship with them.  Coming from entrepreneurial roots, I was drawn to this Social Media position as I felt I could use my previously gained experience, and newly acquired skills and knowledge.  As soon as I walked in, I felt that familiar feeling/heard that voice in my head saying ‘this is where I need to be right now.’

I felt welcome, happy and appreciated as soon as our discussion began.  It was wonderful…The scope of the role and the opportunities ahead are, quite frankly, second to none.

When considering my field placement/internship options, I had the choice of being seduced by some of the larger brands available on the list or via my personal contacts.  Without a doubt, big names look great on your resume, but what they give you in terms of experience and exposure can’t always match what smaller, hungrier brands offer.  I am now set to put into practice everything I have been learning in School and on my own since beginning my Graduate Certificate in Social Media, and I can’t wait!

In addition to numerous other roles, I will be writing (which is a huge passion of mine) for the Markham Board of Trade, using social media platforms, analysing the effectiveness of current social media activity, using Google Analytics, creating, advising on and driving strategy and looking at opportunities for growth.  It’s like every one of my favourite elements of my experience have combined themselves into one perfect role for me.  I am so thankful…

I hope Tuesday comes around really quickly :)


Being present and connected…

I was so struck when I saw this video earlier this week:

It reminded me of a couple of things; firstly, how invisible I feel when I am with people who are constantly checking their phones for emails, updates, newsfeeds, social media updates etc.  Secondly, I felt guilty for the times I have not been actually present when I have been actually somewhere; I have been virtually somewhere else (thanks to my smart phone), and for that, I am sorry.

We all miss so much whilst looking down onto our screens, and we all do it every day.  Yes, it feels good to see Likes and Favourites on our posts, but that will never feel as good as a hug, or someone looking at you, with so much love, wanting/hoping to engage.

So, this post is my vow.  I vow to disconnect when I am with those who love me enough to want to spend time with me, and respect me enough to also disconnect* (*emergency exclusions apply!).

My favourite hour in my day is when I workout.  I think one of the reasons that this hour is my favourite is because it’s the one time I disconnect.  I leave my phone upstairs and I let myself be and feel whatever I need to.  It’s kind of sad that I have to give myself permission to do this, but it works for me. I find this time in my day to be the most peaceful, reflective creative and productive.  And, I. Love. It.  I come back Zenned and happy on a number of levels.

It’s good to disconnect and just be; enjoying who you are, where you are and who you are with.  Maybe we can all try to do it a little more.

I’ll let you know how the fulfilment of my vow goes :) x

Video source:


Social Media Roles within Organizations

How would Governments, Non-Profits and Private Companies structure their Social Media Team to maximise its effectivenes? Generally speaking the Social Media Roles required within each organization type is the same. If there were five members of staff, the roles would be as follows:

• Community Manager/Social Media Manager
• Campaign Manager
• Social Analyst
• Content Strategist
• Website Manager/Designer

The Community/Social Media Manager would be responsible for over-seeing all cross-platform social media activity. They would be responsible for managing the organization’s presence on social media and would build organizational presence online by engaging with communities.  It would also be their job to look at competitors if that was applicable. They would be responsible for engaging with clients, fans etc. They are the voice of the organization and would also manage the social media calendar.

The Campaign Manager would report to the Community/Social Media Manager and would be responsible for delivering campaigns and providing support to the Community/Social Media Manager. They would run the promotions on the social media calendar.

The Social Analyst would analyse performance and work towards achieving pre-defined targets. They would also be responsible for listening to the conversations and advising the Community/Social Manager of the sentiment of the conversations as well as other indicators of engagement such as Facebook Likes and Re-Tweets etc.

The Content Strategist would work with the Community and Social Media Managers to deliver content that meets the objectives of the organization.

The Website Manager/Designer would be responsible for delivering the look and feel of all online, cross-platform presence.

The above five roles take care of all elements of Listening, Responding and Engaging we have already discussed.

In addition though, as we have also discussed previously, Governments, Non-Profits, and Private Companies have needs that are specific to the types of organizations they are. This means that in a team of five people, some tasks may have to be doubled-up.



Private organizations need a Business Development Manager and Customer Services staff. This is essential for them because without a Business Development Manager who sits as part of the Online Team, social media strategy may not be incorporated into the day-to-day running of the business. Customer Service is also crucial to the success of the business as people like to hear a voice or have human contact, especially when it comes to buying or considering buying something. If you have a query, you want to speak with a person. For this to be achieved in a team of five people, the Community/Social Media Manager would double-up as the Business Development Manager, and the Website Manager/Designer could double-up as the Customer Services representative.

Non-profits and Government should be fine with a lean five person Social Media Team, but all staff should be prepared to take on board Customer Services elements to their roles should the need arise. Government Agencies may need Customer Service representation, and also, depending on the nature of the agency and its objectives they may also need a Business Development Manager. That would need to be ascertained as and when the need arose.

The most important thing to remember is not the number of team members you may have in your Social Media Team that determines its effectiveness, it is about how engaged they are in your organization and what that engagement itself allows them to bring to your brand/organization. Ask if your Team are Ambassadors both within and outside the workplace. Motivate and lead them. These things matter, regardless of what your organization does.


Different sectors require different content strategies, or do they?

When it comes to social media, the primary objective of any organization, whether you are from the Government, private or non-profit sectors, is to ‘Listen, Respond and Engage’ with and to your audience. Whilst the objective may be the same, the overall strategy may be very different. Let’s look at the potential differences in the design of each sector’s content strategy.

Starting with Governments; their primary content strategy would be to inform. The Internet is arguably the best way to disperse information to the masses. It is quick, cheap and effective. One of the main reasons the Government may use the Internet (as you may have seen on this blog post) is to give out information on public health. For example, it’s flu season at the moment, and to save long-term costs, the Government is campaigning to raise awareness of potential risks of contamination as well as to educate people that they can get their flu shots.

Another way that Governments would plan their content strategy is around listening. They need to be dynamic, responsive and current. One of the ways they will achieve this is by monitoring feedback, and posting current information in a now-anticipated timely fashion. An example of this could be to publish a list of recalled items on the Health Canada website.

This means that for Government, their content strategy will be built around informing and listening.

For non-profits, their content strategy must start with engagement. It’s a very competitive world out there, and given the state of the world economy, it is becoming harder and harder to get donations to fund non-profits, and this means creative ways need to be sought to engage audiences. The reason for the emphasis on engagement is because the objective is that the engagement will lead to awareness and potential donations. An example of this would be the ALS Challenge (I know I use this example a lot, but it’s been such a success story it’s the first one that comes to mind and to Google!).

This doesn’t mean that they are not listening as well. They absolutely are listening to their audience, and watching what other non-profits do.

What about private organizations? The purpose of private organizations is to make money, so their content strategy would be all about driving sales or awareness that leads to sales. This quote puts it really succinctly:

“Content marketing is like wrapping your sales pitch in bacon,” said Lauren Patrick, Marketing Content Manager, Urjanet. It’s not an advertisement. It’s not, ‘Buy me now! Here’s why.’ It’s, ‘Here’s a really interesting problem, and here’s a way to solve it. Here’s our solution.’ ”

Lead generation is crucial to the content strategy of all private organizations, but they cannot get the leads without engaging the audience i.e. there has to be a reason for the audience to part with their details. What is in it for them?

In summary, all organizations need to Listen, Respond and Engage, but the emphasis on each of these three factors is different for the type of organization you represent. It is all about what you want to achieve. Governments have to Listen and Inform. This is different from non-profits who have to Engage and convert. Private companies have to Engage, get information on clients and convert them to prospective clients. All organizations must respond to their audiences to enable growth and success.

As always, I look forward to your comments on this post.

If Google was my boyfriend…

So whilst in class last night I started thinking about how it would be if Google was my boyfriend. Initially when this random thought came into my head I started laughing (as I often do at myself), but then, when I thought about this further, I realised that this topic is one that requires further thought.

If Google was my boyfriend, what kind of boyfriend would he be?

– Would he make me feel secure?
– Would he be controlling?
– Would he be helpful?
– Would he watch my every move?
– Would I love him, and more importantly, would he love me back?
– Would he randomly change his expectations of me?
– Would he always be there for me, wherever I am in the world?
– Would he understand what I needed?

I have to admit that as I write this, I am quietly giggling to myself as I imagine the personification of Google as my boyfriend (yes, in my mind he is hot, and not at all like the Alexis from the Google WebMaster video viewed last night!). Joking aside though, I think that having Google as my boyfriend would be a fairly complex relationship:

– He would watch every move I make, but he would understand what I need and learn from my behaviour.
– He would be so helpful, but would control my behaviour.
– He would know what I needed in seconds.
– We would have an equal relationship; I would search and he would deliver.
– Without a doubt, I would love him with all of my heart, but I do not know if he would love me back, and, in the worse case scenario, I do not know if he would be faithful to me (I could be one of millions not one in a million).
– He would always be there for me though, but could randomly change his expectations of me if we got SEOrious.

I think if Google was my boyfriend, it could be great because he would be so helpful, and give me what I needed 24/7. He would learn from my behaviour and properly get to know me. He would have everything I needed and literally be an ‘open book’ for me to get the most out of him (complete with tutorial videos!), I would just need to know where to look. He would be efficient and always there for me. The flipside would be that he would be controlling, he would watch my every move, he would think he knows me better than I know myself (and give me things accordingly), and the worst thing would be that I would be one of many.

Based on this, am I happy to continue my relationship with Google?

The answer is yes. I need him. I love him. He is there for me like no other. I have to be honest, I also have a very healthy relationship with YouTube (owned by Google but more like his brother; gosh, that sounds so bad) and I have very occassionally used Bing, and does that also mean that I am also being unfaithful?

Does the fact that Google is watching me make my life better? I think it does (in this virtual context only!) because this means that what he gives me is thoughtful (based on my behaviour) with an occassional random ‘gift’.

Does the fact that he has strict parameters in our SEOrious relationship make him controlling? Yes it does, but Google is a responsible entity and I like to think his first priority is protection not control. As long as you play by the rules, it’s a great relationship.

In conclusion, I think that if Google was my boyfriend, we would have a very happy, secure but ‘open’ relationship where both our roles, responsibilities, and expectations of each other are clearly defined.

So, Google, shall we check some rich snippets and head out for dinner sometime???

Image source