E 106: What’s My Excuse?

E 106: What’s My Excuse?

Happy New Year! 2020… Crazy, how time flies by. 

The holiday season just flew by, one minute I was preparing for it, next it was over. I do love the holiday season. Stay tuned for the end of the podcast episode, because I have a little gift for you. It should help you orient yourself for 2020.

 There is something magical about the holiday season. I always end up crying in commercials/ movies, you name it, my heart literally skips a beat.  

I was thinking about the holidays and why is it the time of year that get people choked up. The spirit of generosity, kindness, love, family, compassion, triumph and magic – and then it dawned on me the magic word “INNOCENCE”. Seeing things through children’s eyes. It brings out the inner giant in everyone of us. The age of Innocence where good always beats the bad. Santa is real. Elf on the shelf are really Santa’s helpers, the joys of wishes and the idea that wishes could come true. With a simple letter to the North Pole. Human Connection, it truly is something gives us hope. Belief… That’s it… 

The holiday season reminds us to believe in all the things that we normally forget. To make time for those that we love (let’s be honest, we are all so busy these days & we hope everyone understands), to help the less fortunate. How is it that we are more giving during this time of the year? 

Does anyone remember Charles Dickens timeless classic, A Christmas Carol? I found this incredible article where Time describes Charles Dickens as the “Inventor of Christmas”. The story is from 1843. Can you believe that? The story is 176 years old. 

I’ll be honest, I was always a fan of Bill Murray’s Scrooged. It cracked me up and still makes me giggle. What I loved most about these stories, is how he visits the Christmas Past, Christmas Future and then goes back to the Present to change things! There is always time for reflection, in order to move forward. So, definitely take a moment to reflect, before you start planning out your goals. I’ve enclosed a gift for you, so that you can also take a moment to reflect back into 2019.  

So, in keeping with the holiday spirit, a look back to my 2019. I’m pretty excited. 2019 has been another incredible year, that I’m extremely proud of and have learned a lot.

  • I launched my 1st book – Connect the Dots – how to turn strangers into meaningful relationships. I nearly fell out of my chair, when it hit the Amazon Bestseller List! I’m still stoked! I’m already planning my next book. There were so many learnings from this entire experience. Getting the book formatted for ePub version has different formats based on online reader – Kindle/Kobo/tablet etc…  I tried to use Fiverr to get the book interior designed, which just became a nightmare. There was extra spaces and new dashes everywhere. Every time, one person would fix the mistakes that I found, 5 more new errors would just show up. Then I finally just did the interior formatting myself, took over two full days but it was just easier than outsourcing. Lesson learned, If I’m going to outsource any activities, it might be better for me to send to 4-5 in parallel. Hedge my bets, instead of sending to 1 person & then it being a disaster and then wasting more time to find someone else. I think this task, took nearly 6-8 weeks longer for me to complete things and I was just getting more and more frustrated each time! Ugh… So, outsource to 4 or 5 people at the same time or just do it myself. 

  • As per my goals, I also launched and held a few different webinars. I did a sales webinar on how to optimize your sales proposals. I still see so many poorly written sales proposals. It really astonishes me, that people don’t see that this is the first touch point that that a client receives from you. Need to make sure it provides an ideal experience.  I’ll make sure the link is available. Remember, that this is the first official deliverable that your client is to get from you. We need to think, what is the experience that we are delivering during the honeymoon phase. 

 

  • Brainfood Book Club was just an experiment and it has been the BEST experience ever.  There are a few of us that meet virtually every month at lunch time to discuss the book.  Honestly, the book provides the topic and it enables us to apply and discuss so many other discussions (both professionally and personally). We record the episodes, HOWEVER, I take out the other personal banter. The non-book relevant stuff. This virtual book club has developed new friendships, deepened existing ones and we are really dedicated to helping each other grow. We really love our monthly virtual social.  SO much laughter. You can hear our discussions or even join us.. It’s free! 

  • Teaching Consulting 101 at George Brown College. Which has been an absolute joy.  I’ve been teaching for the past few semesters and really enjoy every minute of it.   However, I’m ready for something new.

 

However, in looking at my goals for 2020. I’m ready to learn something new. Both personal & professionally. I’ve recently taken on a new role that has been consuming a lot of my time.  There are lots of teaching & coaching opportunities. Which means, I need to balance myself out. I need to learn something new. It’s like that Yin/Yan – Give & Receive. Everything needs to be in balance.  

So, here we are 2020. I remember writing about where the industry would be in 2020 and now it’s here! I definitely have a lot of goals for 2020, but more importantly, I have a lot more courage. No excuses, and I’m ready for 2020… game on! This year I’ve decided is to be filled with lots of new experiences. 

CanInnovate podcast features timeless professional development secrets & essential business life skills, that management consultants have been using for decades. We are unapologetically curious!

I wanted to start this year off right by providing you with some inspiration. I want everyone to be unapologetically curious & courageous!

It all started off when I was watching one of my guilty pleasures. Yes, I was watching X-Factor Celebrity. I think I'm drawn to it because people are trying something new and taking a chance. But, this season I was drawn to it, because these are people that already have a following or known in their particular geography, but not well known globally. So, them entering a singing competition is a little bit like a ‘fish out of the water’. Which I absolutely love! That’s how innovation happens.

But, I need to tell you about this one particular contestant that had this amazing story and literally stole my heart and probably everyone else that heard it. So, of course I want to tell you about it.

Allow me to introduce you to Martin Bashir. Martin Bashir is known as a very well respected and hard nosed journalist. He’s interviewed everyone from Princess Diana, to Michael Jackson too many politicians. So, it came as a surprise for a 54 year old professional journalist to enter a singing competition. A Complete ‘fish out of water’ indeed.

Then he mentioned that his late brother was the driving force behind the inspiration. His brother was 29 years old, when he lost the battle of Muscular Dystrophy (MD). For those that don’t know what Muscular Dystrophy is a group of muscle diseases that results in breakdown of skeletal muscles over time. Just heartbreaking. 

Then Martin shared the wise words of his late brother Tommy. I hope it inspires you as much as It did for me.

“When you grow up with a child and you fight over toys. At age four,  he never fought back and, by the time he was 13 he couldn’t feed himself, you feel that you have no excuse for turning down opportunities.”

 

Martin said: “Every time I have faced a challenge I have heard him whispering saying, ‘What excuse do you have? You have no excuse.”

I was at a Raptors game (for my international listeners, its a basketball game) and one of the folks that I was with, secretly really wanted to get a picture with Super Fan. I probed a bit and discovered that they were a SUPER FAN of Super fan! So, off we went to get in line to get a picture! Don’t let being shy or fear of judgement hold you back. Why would you want to miss out on opportunities?

Every time you try something new, you learn a new experience and will have a new story to share. The best stories are actually those that don’t exactly turn out the way we want them to turn out. So, enjoy the roller coaster and a new adventure. 

I really hope that 2020 really provides you the courage to be curious. In the words of Tommy, “What excuse do you have? You have no excuse.”

I really hope that 2020 brings you lots of goals, inspirations. Take time to reflect. In fact, I’ve got a little freebie cheat sheet for you.  It’s my gift to you, as you embrace 2020.  Revisit the Christmas ghost of the past in order to help you figure out where you want to go in the future.  

Be unapologetically curious & courageous in 2020! Be bold, brave and adventurous.  

 

ALL my best,

Sapna 

me@sapnamalhotra.io

 

P.S.  Here is the link for gift or  just click the image below – all free: Reflections Review 

#FutureProof Course

Learn management consulting timeless secrets that will always keep you ahead of the curve.

Connect the Dots:

How to turn strangers into meaningful network relationships.

Cheat sheet:

Optimize the networking benefits with less effort? Less effort, More results and so much more.

E 105: How to book your flights in a smart way with Hopper’s CEO, Frederic Lalonde

E 105: How to book your flights in a smart way with Hopper’s CEO, Frederic Lalonde

Frederic Lalonde is the CEO and Co-Founder of Hopper, the smart way to book travel on your phone. Combining massive amounts of data and advanced machine learning algorithms, Hopper predicts and analyzes future airfare and accommodation prices to save users money and enable them to travel more often. Hopper has ranked as the #1 travel app in over 55 countries and has ranked as one of the top 10 travel apps in over 120 countries. It has received accolades such as Fast Company’s Most Innovative Company in Travel 2018, the Google Play Award for Standout Startup of 2016, and Apple’s App Store Best of 2015.

 

This episode is for anyone that likes to travel for either work or pleasure. I get to sit down and chat with Frederic Lalonde is the CEO and Co-Founder of Hopper and WOW!!! He blows my mind! Hopper predicts prices with 95% accuracy up to 1 year in advance. Such an amazing overview of the BOOMING travel industry and the stats & insights he shares, WOW! Did I say WOW already?

 

In this episode:

  • How we don’t need to wait for those so called Airline SEAT Sales – Hopper does this for us 
  • How Hopper becomes the eyes behind our head when it comes to flights & hotels
  • Travel Industry is a $1.4 TRILLION dollar industry – that’s 4% of Global GDP, where the ride sharing industry (i.e. Uber/Lyft) is only $40 Billion
  • How they design with customer in mind.. In fact they only send true VALUE added push notifications
  • Tips for how to get the best deals & how others are saving $1000’s of dollars
  • Hopper utilizes a Jeff Bezos model/philosophy
  • Hopper is doubling in size every 6 months – lots of cool jobs which we will be including on our newsletter!  
  • And so much more!

You’re going to love the energy in this episode!

About Hopper: 

Hopper is made up of hundreds of smart, creative, and inspired humans working to fundamentally change how the world books travel.

Hopper is the smart way to book travel on your phone. Combining massive amounts of data and advanced machine learning algorithms, Hopper predicts and analyzes airfare and accommodation to save users money and enable them to travel more often.

Since its launch in 2015, Hopper has become one of the fastest growing travel apps ever with over 30 million installs to date. It is now the most downloaded travel booking app in North America and travelers have booked hundreds of millions of dollars in flights and hotels around the world using Hopper.

The app has received accolades such as Fast Company’s Most Innovative Company in Travel 2018, the Google Play Award for Standout Startup of 2016, and Apple’s App Store Best of 2015.

 

Connect with Frederic:

Hopper.com | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter: @fredlalonde @Hopper | LinkedIn: Frederic Lalonde and Hopper

 

 

#FutureProof Course

Learn management consulting timeless secrets that will always keep you ahead of the curve.

Connect the Dots:

How to turn strangers into meaningful network relationships.

Cheat sheet:

Optimize the networking benefits with less effort? Less effort, More results and so much more.

E 104: The Power of an Informational Interview

E 104: The Power of an Informational Interview

This is probably the most overlooked area. We tend to think about interviews in terms of getting a job. How about gathering information that really provides great insights.  I used informational interviews everywhere, not just in podcast recordings. I use this approach everywhere. I use it to build new relationships, to ask for advice & guidance, build networks and it truly helps one see different dimensions and aspects about a particular topic.

It’s an approach that Management consultants have perfected. How many times have you heard “We hired consultants and they just validated everything that we knew.” The difference is that the management consultants go in to chat with people with the intent of gaining information & valuable insights to a particular area and they compare it with other companies/individuals that have faced similar situations/obstacles and/or challenges. 

Management consultants often refer to this as discovery questions. There are no shortage of reasons to use this approach.  

Here are a few typical use cases:

  • When you start a new department or company, you want to meet some of the key players (also known as stakeholders) to understand the current challenges in the environment. It provides us insights of what these individuals expect of us. Another ‘AHA’ moment

 

  • When you have a new business idea or potential concept, many of the innovators on the CanInnovate podcast told us that one of the greatest sources of information. They were able to test whether their idea was a problem or opportunity that others would pay for. Providing insights into their potential go to market, their target market, their key messaging and so on. It provides them with such valuable feedback that allows them to fine tune their business idea and potentially gain a few early adopters.

 

  • When you’re looking into jobs and want to know about company culture. What a great tool to use to dive in to understand more about the company. People really enjoy talking about the pros and cons of their company, as its an extension of their values.

 

  • Inspiration & Curiosity. You meet someone that is brilliant and would like to know more about them. They have gotten your attention and you’re curious to know more about them and their journey. Maybe it’s just because you are looking for a little bit of ‘juice’ for inspiration.

All of these different uses, give you an additional benefit. You will get collaboration and actually develop relationships.  People that you’ve engaged, will want to be part of your journey. They are a little bit invested in your success. In my book, Connect The Dots: Turn Strangers into Meaningful Network Relationships, I talk about the study that confirms a positive link between asking for a small favour. It’s called the Ben Franklin effect! 

The reason why I wanted to talk about the informational interview, was because this is also part of the overall design thinking principles. Asking “What If’, experimenting and testing early, hearing and understanding (Human Empathy) gathering feedback early in the process, focusing on the user experience mindset and most of all, collaboration. Information Interviews really enables you to humanize the problem/situation and possibly identify additional opportunities by TALKING!

There is no shortage of benefits of using information interviews. But, you know me – I like to get tactical.

  • Plan: What do you want to learn about or discover? What is the context the purpose – put together 3-4 questions. Don’t forget that you may need to break down questions into smaller questions to reframe questions. Think like a journalist. You’re just getting information and looking for little clues. Don’t forget to prepare a little mini-intro about you & what is the objective for the meeting. 

  • Warm Up: Meet the person and make sure that you take a few minutes to do some warm up questions. Getting to know them. People love talking about themselves. You can ask about how did they get into this field, or what does a day typically look like for them or talk about a hot industry topics. Just make sure you take the time to warm up the conversation. 

  • Conduct:  Conducting the informational interview. Be open to go off script. This is a big challenge for people. The idea is to pick up clues, not to be perspective. You’re trying to discover what you don’t know. 

  • Thank you: I cannot express this enough. We need to take a few minutes to say thank you and be grateful for the time. I did an entire blog post about the value of gratitude. I’ll add it to the show notes. Send a handwritten note or email. Just to thank them for their time and the value that they provided. Do NOT ask for favours.  You’re just starting to build relationships. You can touch base with them, throughout your journey and give them a little bit of an update.

One thing that I’ve learned, is that people want to genuinely help. However, they also want to know specifically what it is that you want. We get so many requests for our time, so we need to prioritize. Don’t ask for 4 hours of their time, ask for 25-30 minutes over coffee and BE SPECIFIC. “I’d like to learn from you, about what it’s like working as a Business Analyst at Company XYZ” or “I’d like to get your advice and perspective, of how to get more hands on experience with Blockchain technology”. 

Information Interviews is another essential business life skill. I’ve got some freebies for you.

I hope you found this helpful and useful. I look forward to hearing from you. Feel free to share the content with others and leave comments. I love feedback.

 

Best Always,
Sapna 

FREEBIE ALERT! 

Connect the Dots Companion Workbook.  To help put your networking and objectives into perspective. This workbook will help you identify who in your network to engage and more importantly, how to engage and what are some topics that you want to talk about.  This will help provide you the basis, for your informational interviews.

 

Other links: 

Importance of Gratitude

3 steps to a perfect informational interview

How to get the most out of an informational interview

#FutureProof Course

Learn management consulting timeless secrets that will always keep you ahead of the curve.

Connect the Dots:

How to turn strangers into meaningful network relationships.

Cheat sheet:

Optimize the networking benefits with less effort? Less effort, More results and so much more.

E 103: Trailblazer Natasha Koifman shares her story from PR Executive to Angel Investor

E 103: Trailblazer Natasha Koifman shares her story from PR Executive to Angel Investor

Founder and President of ​NKPR​, Natasha Koifman has built one of North America’s top PR and marketing companies. Natasha’s strengths as a marketer, communicator and relationship builder have earned her an award-winning reputation for successfully growing North American and global brands across many sectors.

Recognized as one of Canada's most powerful and innovative women, Natasha has been honored with awards from the Women's Executive Network (WXN) and BizBash, recently completed a TEDx Talk and had been profiled in top-tier publications that include FORBES, The Globe and Mail, and Marie Claire.

In this episode:

  • How she built one of North America’s top PR and marketing companies working with big brands and big CELEBRITIES
  • Difference between PR & Marketing
  • True Entrepreneur DNA 
  • How she’s inspired by EVERYTHING
  • How it was a natural fit and evolution to become an Angel Investor
  • Difference between VC & Investor
  • How she’s been able to combine all of her personal and professional interests
  • What the ‘F Word’ podcast is all about and so much more…

About NKPR: 

NKPR is a 30-person agency with office in Toronto and New York and we're always looking for talented people who share our passion for great work. As part of the NKPR team you will work alongside the brightest in the field. With the support of a strong team, NKPR is a great place to keep learning, stay ahead of the curve and advance your career.

They offer ongoing training, employee appreciation events, comprehensive dental and health coverage, endless snacks and DJ Fridays. Everyone is encouraged to support each other and to give back through the NKPR 26 Acts of Kindness program.

Connect with Natasha:

NKPR.net | Facebook | Twitter | NKPR on LinkedIn | Instagram

#FutureProof Course

Learn management consulting timeless secrets that will always keep you ahead of the curve.

Connect the Dots:

How to turn strangers into meaningful network relationships.

Cheat sheet:

Optimize the networking benefits with less effort? Less effort, More results and so much more.

E 102: Riverdale: Design Thinking Approach Wins Big Viewership & Respect

E 102: Riverdale: Design Thinking Approach Wins Big Viewership & Respect

I’ll be honest, I’ve always been a Brandon Walsh girl over Dylan McKay! I have to say, I just watched Netflix’s Riverdale episode, and how they honour Fred Andrew (who was played by Luke Perry). I have to say… WOW! They really nailed it!

How they handled Luke Perry’s death, was absolutely beautiful. The writers truly honoured Luke Perry and the audience that grew up with him. We got to truly mourn his death (here is a little photo tribute). My sister and I were bawling throughout the entire episode. These writers were definitely thinking with their hearts and that level of empathy was so evident. We actually felt like we attended his funeral and got to say goodbye to him. They invoked so many memories and really helped us along the journey. There were a few hidden surprises, that just took our breath away.  

This got me thinking about how this is a great example of design thinking. First of all, we all hear the words design thinking but it’s hard to envision and understand. Design Thinking is Human- Centered design, versus system centered. The Riverdale show writers, really understood their target market. Having all the Riverdale parents being teen idol stars from the 80’s, we know from Luke Perry, Molly Ringwald, Mark Consuelos, Skeet Ulrich, Robin Givens & Mädchen Amick

They really kept the audience in mind when writing this episode. They really understand & understood their target audience and the different audience personas. Which means that every piece of content speaks to the audience personas. Which is exactly why this Riverdale episode and the funeral of Fred Andrews (aka Luke Perry) was such a big deal. How they handled this so tastefully, will encourage even more loyalty.  

Design Thinking provides a hybrid approach to problem solving. It does not just look at data analytics and science, it also uses emotions and intuition. Design Thinking really provides a hands-on-approach to problem solving. Not just researching on a computer or google to problem solve. It wants you to get out their on the field to talk to people to ‘hear’ & ‘understand’. Less talk and more action. It’s an iterative process, where we seek to understand the user, challenge ‘same-old’ assumptions , and redefine problems to identify additional opportunities. Design Thinking is a total shift to the mindset.  

There are lots of times that we get caught up in meetings and not actually talking to people that would be impacted. We make decisions without doing early testing. Designing the solution in real-time with the actual end users (aka  people that will be using their solution), is where you will hit that sweet spot.

Here are some tips for you to start to embrace design thinking

  • Know thy audience, including audience Personas – get to truly understand your audience. What are they struggling with? What are worked well before? What doesn’t?
  • Learn from Failures – so try and test early. Get out there and listen and learn. Don’t just sit there and google to do research. Design Thinking goes beyond a computer, it goes back to the basics (pre internet time). Just get out there and talk to people!
  • Embrace Ambiguity – don’t be afraid of not knowing things. This is where many folks fall victim to ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Look at the gaps and unknowns as clues. Play detective and enjoy the mystery. It will allow you to be open to hearing and exploring new possibilities. One of my favourite quotes “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”Thomas A. Edison
  • Iterate & continuously improve – don’t develop something and go into a black box, until you finish developing everything. Touch base with your customers/target audiences frequently, grab their feedback to improve things throughout the process.

I hope this helps. I’ve also included a free little checklist to help you find questions to gather feedback. Just click here REFLECTIONS AFTER ACTION REVIEW. It takes 10 minutes to do a reflection to thinking.

 

Let me know what your thoughts are. 

Best Always,

Sapna

 

Links:

Innovation Training – Design Thinking Mindsets

What was Luke Perry Cause Death

Luke Perry Fiancee Wendy Madison Bauer Tribute

Luke Perry's life in photos memorable moments

Riverdale parents 80's TV shows

#FutureProof Course

Learn management consulting timeless secrets that will always keep you ahead of the curve.

Connect the Dots:

How to turn strangers into meaningful network relationships.

Cheat sheet:

Optimize the networking benefits with less effort? Less effort, More results and so much more.

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