BrainFood Book Club Experiment Results – 6 months later

BrainFood Book Club Experiment Results – 6 months later

In Jan 2019, I announced the Brainfood Virtual Book Club. It was a new experiment that could go horribly wrong, but I thought WHY NOT? It’d be a fun learning experience. And, I’m all about learning and trying new things.

Six Months Later, what have the results been? It’s been AMAZING! We’ve regularly meet the 1st Monday of the month, during lunch hours. Results… we’ve created a really new ecosystem of friends. That’s right. Strangers have become friends. This experiment has become a success and has become one of our new essential tools in our tool kit! 🙂

We have shared so much about our personal lives, that was stimulated by the book topic. It’s remarkable how much we have learned about ourselves through this. In fact, this monthly virtual get together has become our FUEL that gets our engines running for the next few weeks. This virtual business book club has sparked and inspired so much, from asking for help, to brainstorming to just laughter during our lunch hour. We do publish, some of the highlights & ‘AHA’s from our book club, but we edit out all our personal stuff. It’s kinda like Vegas. What happens in BrainFood Book Club, stays there.

We’ve read some incredible titles to date:

  1. February 4th, 2019: Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay-Stainer
  2. March 4th, 2019: Instant Motivation by Chantal Burns
  3. April 8th, 2019: The Three Questions by Don Miguel Ruiz
  4. May 6th, 2019: Your One Word by Evan Carmichael
  5. June 3rd, 2019: Back to Human by Dan Schawbel
  6. July 8, 2019: Best Self: Be You, Only Better by Michael Bayer 
  7. August 12th, 2019: Get Rich, Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield Thomas
  8. Sept 9th, 2019: This is Marketing by Seth Godin

Want to join but afraid you won’t have time to read. Guess what! You don’t need to read the book to join the BrainFood Book Club 🙂 We meet once a month, for 45 minutes, virtually, during lunch. It’s a great way to network, get energized and inspired. Feel free to join, it’s free, it’s fun and a great way to learn & get inspired with others. I’ve added the BrainFood Book Club link here. Feel free to share with others that might need a little extra ‘juice’ in their mojo!

We are always looking for new titles to add and we’re open to recommendations.

P.S Have you registered for the #FutureProof course? Stay ahead of the curve – https://www.sapnamalhotra.io/courses/

7 Productivity Tips for Virtual Workers

I got this question a few times, about how to work effectively virtually or as part of a virtual team. It’s like a dream.. We get more flexibility.  In the words of Spiderman- “With great power comes great responsibility”. This is a growing trend and the freedom and flexibility, do create a different layer of challenges.  I’ve always worked in a virtual capacity in one way or another, with global organizations, with boards, community groups and so on.  I tend to work longer hours and really try to provide a lot of value, so that the meetings are very productive and shows that I’m dedicated to moving the needle forward.  

Let’s be very clear, it means that your work is outcome based versus time based.  This means that you need to produce quality outputs.  Our employers are saving us time from commuting to the office, getting dressed up etc…   I want to emphasize that it’s very important NOT to bite the hand that feeds us!  We need to produce quality deliverables and outputs, because our employers are trusting us and empowering us to be more successful.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of watching TV, playing on our phone more and other distractions.

I think one of the most public one.. was when Professor Robert Kelly, was doing a live television broadcast on the BBC and was interrupted by TWO of his kids! It was hilarious and more impressive of how he kept his composure!  Here is the YouTube video  

Of course, Jimmy Fallon had to do a spoof on it as well.

Kids will be kids.. Interruptions will be interruptions. Working remotely has its many PROs and CONs, but the intent is to have a mutually beneficial relationship that enables both of us (us and our employers) to be successful!  Working remotely has lots of challenges.  

I thought I’d put together some tips to make it more feasible to navigate across this noisy and busy world.  Here are some of my favorite best practices that I've utilized. 

Calendar Control

Get a clear picture and understand of your calendar, both personally and professionally.  Those that are going to be in your work environment, let them know up front of some key meetings that you cannot be interrupted.  You need to have one complete view of what is happening around you, so that you can adequately plan to mitigate disruptions. If you need to travel somewhere, include travel time in your calendar.  If you need time to prep for a meeting, include that into your calendar. Have a clear picture of all the moving elements.

Get a morning routine

Morning Routine

Morning routines are so incredibly important.  You wake up, work-out, meditate, shower, get dressed (like you’re going to the office), make a smoothie,  grab a coffee, read the headlines, check your emails. Whatever it is.. Have a morning routine. Once your morning routine is established, over time it will go on auto-pilot, which means, you won’t use unnecessary brain power to get your day moving.  You’ll save your brain, for the harder tasks and accomplishments.

Eat Your Frogs First

One thing that I do, is that I do my key activities in the morning and save the meetings for the afternoon. I pick the hardest thing first, to get it over and done with. That way, I don’t delay or procrastinate from getting it done.  I don’t want it to sit on my mind and fester. I find that once I get the hardest thing done or the one that I dread the most, then the rest of the day runs smoothly.  Slay the dragon!   I often find, that having a couple of hours dedicated to outcome related tasks and activities are key, especially when it needs your brain and concentration.  Then, the afternoon calls are less stressful, rushed, more productive as I’m able to focus better.

Everyone deserves a break

Schedule Breaks

This one is hard one. We don’t have people to randomly chat with in the kitchen, or by the water cooler or my favorite, the coffee machine.  It’s easy to sit and work for hours and hours, without a break. We get on a roll and don’t have anyone to make small talk with. This was one thing that I was really missing.  So, I used to schedule breaks. I might make a coffee at 10am or go for a walk and schedule a catch up with a colleague. Or I’d book a lunch with someone, to get out of my house or apartment.  Make sure you schedule little breaks. Once a month, I have a BrainFood Virtual Book Club on Monday’s during lunch, so we can eat, connect and chat about our business book.  It’s a great way to Network.

**PRO TIP: If you’re working in a coffee shop or taking to someone, make sure that you’re NOT talking about confidential information.  There is ALWAYS someone listening. Remember, to respect your employer privacy guidelines.**

Another popular tactic is the TheTechnique, which is that you work 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break. You can check your phone/emails And once you’ve worked 100 minutes, you take 15-20 minute break.  It’s popular technique that was created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. You can set a timer beside you. I think it’s important to get up out of your chair and move around…

Face to Face meetings

With all this amazing technology, it’s easier to have more face to face meetings.  Skype for business, Zoom and the list goes on. It was one of our favorite things to do.. We get on video and laugh at our hair, or that one person was wearing PJs still and so on… we all know this happens.  But, we had fun with that! Face to Face virtual meetings are great because it allows us to connect and really hear and listen to what is going on. We tend to do less multi-tasking and more be more focused and engaged in the meeting.

Ergonomically Friendly Desk Environment

This sounds odd especially since I just said it’s important to get out of your chair, it’s important to have a great chair.  It’s easy to get poor posture, being hunched over a laptop. Get your station set up, so that you have what you need in order to be successful. Put a picture or two of your family or a vacation spot.  Or get an office playlist ready. Have a plant. Create a work environment that makes it your environment to be relaxed and successful. Your body and mind is important.

Clean up your desk

This one is a hard one for me.  Even in this digital world, I have clutter on my desk all the time.  I have a lot of books and reference documents that I utilize. It’s been a constant struggle and a discipline that I’ve tried to enforce in myself.  I now, ensure I clean my desk at the end of each work day, as I prepare my to-do and priority list for the next day. If you’re already great at decluttering, you may only want to do this once a week. For myself, I have to do it every day and I’ll tell you… It sets me up for success for the next day.  By the way, don’t forget to actually log-off your computer. Turn it off! It creates a barrier, to log-on again in the middle of the evening. When I get to my desk and log on the next morning, I know what my desired outcomes are going to be for the next day. Last point.. Always, purge, purge and purge!  Marie Kondo, your desk!

These are my favourite tips, that have really enabled me to be more productive and have more control in both my personal and professional life.  

Do you have some other best practices? Feel free to share and comment.  

Best Always,
Sapna

P.S.  Did you grab the Networking Cheat Sheet-  Less Effort and More Results → Avoid the 10 Biggest Networking Mistakes!

P.S.S  The Future Proof Your Career Online Course is extending their waiting list… Ready to get Noticed and Promoted?  Then make sure you’re on the list to get Early Bird Access!

How to say NO elegantly!

I get this question quite a bit… how do you say NO and not burn bridges… simple.. Be honest, scope out clearly and provide options…

IMPORTANCE OF SAYING NO

One of my mentors told me early in my career that “You can either be good at a few things or fail at everything”.  Those words have stuck in my head for my entire career, which has really enabled me to truly provide quality and over deliver.   I have always championed the idea that all I have is my name & credibility. As I’ve worked across the globe, my reputation for driving ideas into action is known and vouched for by many senior executives.

THE VALUE OF UNDER COMMITTING & OVER DELIVERING

Let’s remember what a small world it is… I’ve had many recruiters, executives and other acquaintances reach out to me and ask me.. “I see that you know Pat, what do you think of their quality of work? Their values?”.  It happens all the time.

It’s really important to NEVER OVER COMMIT & UNDER DELIVER!  It’s so damaging to your name, your reputation and your credibility.  I have worked with management consultants that have failed miserably in this area and it’s hard for me to recommend them to other clients, opportunities because of the broken trust.  When I recommend people, I am vouching for their reputation and credibility. They are a reflection of me and my word.

MATURITY

With so many demands on our time, it’s important to have those conversations with the ones that request your time. Having a discussion regarding timelines, expectations really shows experience and professional maturity.   The message that it shows is that you care about your reputation, their reputation and providing high quality outcomes.

SOME TACTICAL TIPS

You know I’m all about tactical tips.  Never commit to a request before understanding the effort and time commitment required.  I never sign a blank cheque for my time.

The key is not to say NO, it’s to provide options and help your client/boss brainstorm or even re-prioritize. If you only have 5 hours of bandwidth left, its okay to say “I have limited cycles this month, but I’ll have more time in two months after this project is completed”.  Then, it’s easier to have a dialogue. The biggest compliment, is when someone wants your help in something.

  1. Understand Intent: What is the intent of the request? Really try to understand the overall objective and where they are trying to go to.
  2. Understand Scope: Ask good questions to really understand the scope and the impact.  Is it required as an input in other activities? There could be a downstream impact on other strategic initiatives.
  3. Be Honest: DO NOT, I repeat.. DO NOT overcommit to activities and underdeliver. It’s the fastest way to lose a client and respect.   Do you have the skills? expertise?
  4. Understand Timelines:  Ask the question “When is the latest that I can get this back to you by?”.  This is key, they may only need a portion of a deliverable or request by a certain time.  Or you may think they need it in the next day or so, when in reality, they just need it in two weeks.  
  5. Break it Down: If they want everything and the scope is too big, then break them into smaller activities. If it’s still not feasible, offer a few options.   Perhaps, person XYZ could do ABC tasks.

People will respect you more for being honest with them, versus being a YES person!  People like options as it provides them with more ideas and allows them to think more broader.  

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback!  Feel free to share with others that are struggling with the art of saying NO elegantly…

P.S. Did you check out my tools & resources page? https://caninnovate.io/tools-2/

Best Always,
Sapna

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Female trailblazers that are paving the way!

What a celebration! International Women's Day is to celebrate the movement in Women's rights. Check out these amazing ladies that we have had on our podcast. These ladies are not just entrepreneurs, but they are innovating, challenging the status quo and making magic happen. They are truly role models…

Sapna Malhotra

My name is Sapna Malhotra. Born in Liverpool, the home of the Beatles. I’d like to think that’s where I get my sparkling personality from or maybe not! The first step to changing perception is to create awareness. I wanted to be inspired, challenged and embrace my curiosity. That’s why I started the CanInnovate Podcast.

I truly believe that education and awareness are instrumental in overcoming obstacles and perception challenges, both globally and locally in Canada.

Read more about Sapna

Other episodes of Sapna:

BONUS: Importance of Gratitude

E59: 3 Reasons Why Giving and Receiving Feedback is Important

E58: Vulnerability – The New Advantage

Connect with Sapna:

Website: SapnaMalhotra.io

Twitter: @ICanInnovate

Facebook: CanInnovate

Dr. Ann Cavoukian

Dr. Ann Cavoukian is recognized as one of the world's leading privacy experts. She is currently the Distinguished Expert-in-Residence, leading the Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence at Ryerson University. Her Privacy by Design framework is now the International Standard and has been translated into 39 languages. Dr. Ann Cavoukian has won numerous awards such as Top 25 Women of Influence in Canada Top 10 Women in Data Security & Privacy, Power 50 by Canadian Business, Top 100 Leaders in Identity.What is GDPR? How to turn GDPR into our next competitive advantage & avoid the penalties!

Read More about Dr. Ann Cavoukian

Other Episode of Dr. Ann Cavoukian:

E1: Privacy, the foundation of your freedom featuring Dr. Ann Cavoukian

E28: Insiders Guide to GDPR & turning it into a competitive advantage with Dr. Ann Cavoukian

Connect with Dr. Ann Cavokian:

Julie Shum

Julie is a technology-oriented entrepreneur consulting local small businesses on IT & operations solutions. Founder of online retail business of innovative adventure travel gear products. Experience managing multi-million dollar IT and supply chain projects in high-pressure environments at a large corporation.

Check out more about Julie on our anniversary special

Connect with Julie:

Website: JulieShum.io

Twitter: @juliebeyondyyz

Bethany Deshpande

Bethany Deshpande is the CEO of Soma Detect. She is a scientist turned entrepreneur who is providing dairy farmers with information that they need in order to produce the best milk.

She is from New Brunswick which have a great startup communities. It is very interesting how she end up becoming the CEO of one of the promising startups in agriculture when she didn’t grew in a farm and knew nothing about agriculture. She also mentioned that her father played an important role in the creation of the company and how her conversations with dairy farmers led her to find ways to improve their industry.

Read More about Bethany Deshpande

Connect with Bethany:

Laila Paszti

Laila Paszti is an attorney in GTC’s Mergers & Acquisitions, Business & Technology Transactions and Privacy groups. She focuses on mergers and acquisitions, licensing and other technology-related transactions, with an emphasis on software code audits and big data platform diligence. She also advises clients on privacy and security compliance  and cross-border transfers of data.

Read more about Laila Paszti

Connect with Laila:

Laura Simpson

Laura Simpson is one of the Co-founders and CEO of Side Door. She is a living large, DNA music pumping through her veins, music industry professional. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She also founded The Syrup Factory, which began hosting house concerts in 2011, offering strategies and services to artists in 2015. She’s also been an organizer in the art scene since she was 14 years old going to all ages shows and then eventually taking live music photography and freelancing.

Read more about Laura

Connect with Laura

Sarah Barnes-Humphrey

Sarah stands at the forefront of international trade with expertise in the global logistics industry, working with the private sector to build, develop and increase efficiencies in their supply chains. She has spent the past 20 years working in logistics and supply chain, most recently as Director of Sales and Marketing for ICECORP Logistics Inc, a privately owned 3PL.

Read more about Sarah

Connect with Sarah:

Angela Johnson

Angela Johnson is the Founder and President of Medical Confidence, a company that help empower individuals to be informed in their health and healthcare decisions.  She has over two decades of executive management and business leadership experience focusing on health and healthcare.

Read more about Angela

Connect with Angela


Carmelia Ray

Carmelia Ray is an internationally acclaimed matchmaker for high achieving men and the quality women they’re searching for. She’s also a renowned TV personality from Mom Vs. Matchmaker, The Real Housewives Of Toronto, and A User’s Guide to Cheating Death (Fall 2018).  She's also won the 2018 Best Dating Coach award!

Read more about Carmelia

Other episode of Carmelia

E32: Experience Digital Dating on Another Level with Carmelia Ray of WooYou App

Connect with Carmelia:

Melissa Sariffodeen

Melissa Sariffodeen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Canada Learning Code. She is a celebrated digital literacy advocate who is dedicated to ensuring that women and youth have the critical skills, confidence, and opportunities that they need to thrive in our increasingly digital world. She is a graduate of the Richard Ivey School of Business and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Education Policy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. She taught herself how to build websites from scratch using HTML when she was 11 years old and has been coding ever since.

Read more about Melissa

Connect with Melissa:

Karen Greve Young

Karen Greve Young is the Chief Executive Officer of Futurpreneur Canada, Canada’s only national organization dedicated to supporting young entrepreneurs. Futurpreneur’s unique model combines funding, mentorship and start-up programs to fuel the success of thousands of young entrepreneurs in every Canadian province and territory.

Read more about Karen

Connect with Karen:

Website: Futurpreneur.ca

Twitter: @Futurpreneur and @KarenGreveYoung

Ariel Garten

Ariel Garten is a neuroscientist, innovator, mother, entrepreneur, and founder of InteraXon. Her company makes Muse: the brain sensing headband that helps you meditate. She speaks about happiness, meditation, understanding the brain, mental health and giving her audiences the tools they need to help them become their better selves.

Read more about Ariel

Other episodes with Ariel:

E53: The Muse 2 Takes Meditation To A Whole New Level with Ariel Garten

E41: Optimize the Crazy In All Of Our Minds by Muse Founder and Inventor, Ariel Garten

Connect with Ariel:

Carole Piovesan

Carole Piovesan, a lawyer at McCarthy Tetrault. She is a respected leader in the area of AI and law. 

Carole is known to apply creativity, strategic thinking and a multi-disciplinary approach to helping clients solve complex problems associated with all these new exponential technologies.

Read more about Carole

Connect with Carole

Fotini Iconomopoulos

Nicknamed “the negotiator” as a child, Fotini Iconomopoulos has been honing her skills her entire life. For the last decade, she’s been empowering Fortune 500 executives and their teams to achieve their objectives through her expertise in negotiation, communication and persuasion.

Read more about Fotini

Connect with Fotini:

Meredith Messenger

Meredith Messenger is VERY well versed in the demands of running a one-person shop and the struggles that many startups have with developing predictable revenue. She is the founder of Selling With Soul and the host of the Selling With Soul podcast. 

She is a Revenue Coach and Sales Consultant offering revenue strategy development, sales consulting and sales team building to start-ups, small and mid-sized companies. The mission of Selling With Soul is to help more small businesses survive, thrive and impact the world.null

Read more about Meredith

Connect with Meredith

Rona Birenbaum

Rona Birenbaum, co-founder of Viviplan and the winner for the 2017 DMZ BMO FinTech Accelerator. She is also the founder of Caring for Clients, one of Canada’s first fee for service financial planning firms. She is also recognized as a wealth professional woman of influence in 2017. A financial columnist for the Medico Post.

Viviplan offers technology to help speed up the financial planning for every stage in life, from early career to early mid-life to pre-retirement, retirement and other goals.  Can turn those dreams, hopes and visions, into reality.  All you need is a little planning to achieve your life goals!

Read more about Rona Birenbaum

Connect with Rona

Dr. Chris McKillop

Dr. Chris McKillop really knows her stuff and as a pioneer in her field. She earned her degree in artificial intelligence in the 1990’s. She have an MSc in human centered computer systems, a PhD in educational technology and she, of course, have researched and published tons of articles on emotional dimensions of learning.

She has a long record of pioneering technological innovations to improve learning. Chris is really passionate about artificial intelligence, empathy and how it can help improve people’s lives. She incorporated her first company Turalt when she was 50 and is proud to be an older woman in tech advancing A.I. for the good.

Read More About Dr. Chris McKillop

Connect with Dr. Chris McKillop

Lauren Waldman

Lauren Waldman truly taps into the science, and fun of learning while maintaining a sharp approach with an intense dedication to the success of others.  Her current focus in the studies of neuroscience and how the brain learns, has played an eminent role in helping individuals and corporations navigate through the creation of what she calls “Learning Legacies.” These studies have also given rise to strategies relevant to the confusions and challenges, of the current cross-generational workforce.

Learning Pirate – Where the science of learning and the whimsical meet!

Lauren Waldman is a CTDP (Certified Training and Development Professional), has certification in the Fundamentals of Neuroscience (Harvard), is currently working on a certificate in Medical Neuroscience (Duke), is a Designated Communication Coach and Trainer, and is an advisory board member of the NCCA (National Communication Coaching Association of Canada).

Read more about Lauren Waldman

Connect with Lauren Waldman

RELATED POST:

E00: What inspired the creation of the CanInnovate Podcast

E00: What inspired the creation of the CanInnovate Podcast

Sapna Malhotra provides insight as to what drove her to create this CanInnovate Podcast and why we should all be motivated to support our Canadian Innovators. In this episode, she explains why she believes that education & awareness is instrumental in overcoming any obstacles & perception challenges both globally & locally in Canada.

Canada is known for the Canadian Brain-drain, having a cultural mosaic and a commitment to diversity & inclusion. Why is there a poor perception of Canadian brand-awareness? How can Canadians support Canadian innovation, if we don't know where we are excelling? How do we support our own Canadian economy?

This podcast is for those that want to be more aware & support Canadian Innovation:

  • For those Canadian Innovators that are looking for support – whether its from Canadian government or other sources?
    • What do they need in order to be more successful?
    • What can Canada do to help support them better?
  • For VCs & Investors looking for their next Unicorn
  • For those looking for new partners
  • For Canadians that just want to be more aware of Canadian companies on the rise

Hit subscribe & share your thoughts or nominate a Canadian Innovator. As we explore the Canadian landscape & toot the horn for all Canadian Innovators.

Connect with Us:

Facebook Page: CanInnovate

LinkedIn: CanInnovate Podcast

Instagram: @CanInnovate

Twitter: @iCanInnovate

YouTube: CanInnovate Podcast

Email: info@caninnovateh.ca

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