New Business Cards by Moo

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I needed new business cards to match the new theme I launched this year on Ride the Tempo. I thought regular cards were a little boring and had too much white space. I really wanted something simple with my name and e-mail address. I previously had my cellphone number on there, but I didn’t always want to give it out when people asked for a cards.

I looked to Moo Cards, a company I discovered via my Klout Perk for 10% off. The perk never seemed to expire so I thought I’d finally use it! I liked their selection of cards and the Mini Cards were perfect. I also opted for the “Luxe” option which added a bit of thickness and a stripe of black.

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They arrived two weeks later in a lovely packaged box. What I like about Moo is that while one side must remain stationary you can actually have however many designs on the other side. This means that if you have multiple people working for the same company, you can share the batch! I am going to send some to my writer Mark as a surprise.

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These cards are thick so will stand out from regular sized business cards. I’m excited to have them around during NXNE this week!

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Finding the Time to Blog When You Have a Full-Time Job

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For a while, I was just living the freelance life and underemployed. That meant hours were flexible and I had a lot of free time to do whatever I wanted when I was between projects. My blogs and sites were active and fruitful.

Recently, I have obtained work that is more time consuming and has unpredictable office hours. This made it more difficult to schedule time in advance to blog, because time seemed like a scarce luxury. Obviously since there are still posts churning out on all my content streams, I have found ways to adjust to this new transition. Here are some tips:

Find out what your internet policy is at work. This is an important first step if you want to blog at work (during downtimes/breaks of course). Some companies don’t allow you to use internet services outside of work purposes and you must abide by those rules. Personally, I don’t blog at work because I have way too many other things to be doing so the next few steps are more useful.

Schedule Content in Advance. To keep my music blog alive and active, I schedule a lot of content in advance. There’s always a period of time where I’m like OKAY LET’S SIT DOWN AND BLOG on weekends or evenings and I churn out a bunch of content and schedule them over the next few days. This works better for posts that aren’t particularly time sensitive.

Carry a notebook. I always have a notebook in the vicinity to brainstorm things I want to write about the moment they come up.

Find inspiration everywhere. This applies most when it’s a personal blog and therefore you can post whatever you want – food, photos, projects, inspiration, thoughts. The blog is about YOU after all. Life changes constantly, and there are tons of exciting and thought-provoking things to write about at every corner.

Take advantage of your Smartphone. By now, most people have a smartphone. Whether, it’s an Android or an iPhone, there is a wealth of apps that sync to the cloud. There’s even a WordPress app on both platforms. These can be great for long commutes. Personally, I use OneNote on my iPhone because it syncs with the version on my laptop. I draft a lot of posts while on the train. In fact, this one was partially written on a commute.

Don’t stop. The moment you stop actively blogging for a while, it becomes tough to start again as each day passes. It’s all about finding new ways to fit writing into a new schedule. Sometimes when you have a free half hour, you just have to make yourself sit down and write. It’s totally possible, you just have to stop giving yourself excuses and do it.

 

I originally published this post on Medium.

What’s Your Evil Plan?

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“Evil Plans- Having Fun on the Road to World Domination” is a cleverly titled book from comic writer and entrepreneur Hugh MacLeod. In fact, I actually discovered the book because it was sitting in the discount book section at Chapters and it sounded both adorable and intriguing.

To those unfamiliar, MacLeod is the artist behind gapingvoid.com. He creates original art for businesses in hopes to spark creativity, not sit in the background like the majority of mountain-climbing motivational posters.

In Evil Plans, he encourages those who are unhappy in their careers to take the risk of leaving and to figure out their life calling aka “evil plan”. The book is written in short chapters, or tips which are then elaborated on with examples and anecdotes. Oh and of course MacLeod’s signature comics.

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I think my favourite tip by far was:

 “Don’t worry if you don’t know absolutely everything before starting out.”

It’s something many of people struggle with (I know I do) when changing career paths, or starting their own businesses. However as MacLeod states later in the chapter,

 “Interesting destinies rarely come from just reading the instruction manual.”

We may not be the most skilled or talented in whatever it is that we enjoy doing, but it doesn’t validate whether we’re able to do those things. The choice we can make is to find something that matters to us and well, just do it.

What is your evil plan?

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The Power of Habit

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In The Power of Habit, Chris Duhigg looks at how the smallest act of habit can have a huge impact on our lives. It also delves into how businesses build marketing plans around our studied human habits. For example, when you walk into a grocery store the first thing you see are fruits and vegetables. They are purposely arranged this way so that we will buy healthy things first and can later convince ourselves to buy junk food.

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He also looked into how Febreeze began from failure to a now conscious habit as well as how Target knows what you want to buy, before you even do.  There’s plenty of unlikely anecdotes from Starbucks to Martin Luther King Jr and the Indianapolis Colts.

 

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At the end of the book, there’s an appendix that teaches the reader how to integrate some new habits in their lives. There are 4 overall steps:

  1. Identify the Routine – Look at any bad habits you want to change or a good habit you want to add in your life
  2. Experiment With Rewards – Why did you do the bad habit? Did it give some type of satisfaction? Identify how to gain that sensation another way, or to replace it with another reward.
  3. Isolate the Cue – What makes you keep up the habit? Perhaps a friend? Location or time of day? State of mind (ex bored)?
  4. Have A Plan – figure out exactly how you are going to rid a bad habit or add a good one.  When will you start? 

The Time I Met Johnny Cupcakes

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I’m 25 so I’ve already sat through many lectures as a university student, college student and the conferences of music festival. By far the most inspirational has been Johnny Cupcakes‘ talk during Toronto’s NXNE. I could be biased because I am a huge fan of the T-shirts myself and it has become a large part of my own personal branding. However, I’ve seen a lot of my favourite bands, labels and companies speak over the years and few have come close to being so memorable, not to mention hilarious.

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I had not planned to go to many panels this year during NXNE. I didn’t even look at the schedule. I thought I would need the sleep or extra time to edit photos. However, I ran into @plafleur and she had saved me this Johnny Cupcakes history booklet she found on the ground. Apparently it was in all the delegate bags (with exception to the media ones). I then looked at the program and discovered THE Johnny Cupcakes was doing a panel. Of course I HAD to go.

I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve done festival conferences before and most panels just say what everyone else is saying (THE CLOUD IS THE FUTURE etc etc) or gloss over fancy points. Johnny Earle aka Johnny Cupcakes taught us to think outside the box, and showed us examples of how he has integrated this philosophy with his brand.

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Johnny Cupcakes making his signature face and I!

Johnny began by telling us his history. He told us how at a young age he tried to make money in different ways such as selling his father’s tools at yard sales (he got in trouble of course) and selling candy, lemonade, whoopee cushions and yearbooks. The name Johnny Cupcakes was something random that co-workers at Newbury Comics had given him. He played with the idea and that’s how the shirts were born. He began selling these shirts to friends and it spread by word of mouth.

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Johnny Cupcakes now has stores in Boston, LA, London and of course online, where they ship internationally. The stores all look like bakeries and smell like frosting. Everyday somebody walks in mistaking it for a place that sells food. Delivered packages look like presents and often come with trading cards. You’re meant to be treated like it’s your birthday. Johnny had set out to sell more than just cupcakes. He wanted to give people an experience and it’s a huge reason why he has been so successful. In fact, he even gave the audience members a glimpse of the experience. At the end of the lecture, he told us he had put little gifts under our chairs. When we reached down there was a little packet of stickers, buttons, candy and a trading card. He had even gone to the trouble of making sure we each had different trading cards so that we could trade with our neighbours. After the lecture, he hung around and took pictures with fans old and new.

There was candy, but I got hungry that week and ate it
There was candy, but I got hungry that week and ate it

Anyways, I had written down a lot of the things Johnny said in a notebook but I lost said notebook on the streets of Toronto. It was later picked up by some American musician who brought it home with them. Long story. Here are a few important points I did remember about entrepreneurship and about life:

Building a brand is hard work, Johnny Cupcakes mentioned that he doesn’t do drugs, drink or play video games. He had put all his energy on video games. He even hired his family to help.
Connecting with people is important. When he sold things growing up he always went back to the people who had purchased something form him once. Then when he started making T-shirts it was their word of mouth that got things started.
Small details make a big difference. If you buy a Johnny Cupcakes the tag is an oven mitt. Online boxes are patterned and in-store ones look like cupcake boxes.
Name 10 things that make you unique. It’s good thing to brainstorm for both job hunters and brands.
Weird is Good. It gets people talking. Johnny Cupcakes has sold breakfast themed t-shirts with breakfast, put shirts inside icing jars and much more.
Make things exclusive and limited edition because people like what nobody else has. Johnny had declined offers to mass produce his shirts because he didn’t want to be another fast fad like Ed Hardy T-shirts.

and most importantly:

“Real success is being happy doing what you love”

How to Win at the Genius Bar

My iPhone 4S’ wifi stopped working. I decided to take it in yesterday and ended up getting a replacement phone for free. I was in and out of the store in around 20 minutes.

Here are some tips to make your trip to the Genius Bar efficient and productive.

Backup your device. That way if you get a replacement product, you won’t have to waste time typing all your contacts and losing your photos. Also if the Genius Bar guy needs you to restore it, you can do that too.

Do your research. If there’s something wrong with your iPhone/iMac/iPod (or any other Apple product), make sure you read the Apple support site and try some of their suggestions. At least, know what those suggestions are so you can fire them at the guy saying you tried them before he tries to suggest them to you. Although there should really be something wrong with your device if you’re looking for a replacement, because they will fight you hard.

Be persistent. I wasn’t going to let the guy talk me into any solutions that were temporary. I assured him that nothing he suggested was going to work.

Prove it. From the beginning of my appointment, I showed him my phone did not detect wifi. He opened it up and said nothing was wrong. Then I proceeded to let him restore it, which temporarily fixed it. I knew in 5-10 minutes it would fail again. So we sat there. And waited 5 minutes. Sure enough, the phone had disconnected from the wifi and did not detect any networks.

Whether it’s a replacement or a repair you’re after, make sure you are prepared when going into the Apple Store. It will make your visit quick, efficient and less likely to end up in multiple trips!

Unfolding the Napkin- The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures


I’ve been intrigued for a while now by Dan Roam’s series of books about visual problem solving. I purchased Unfolding the Napkin: The Hands-On Method for Solving Complex Problems with Simple Pictures, without realizing it is actually the workbook for his first book The Back of the Napkin. However, it doesn’t really matter as it works well as a standalone book.

The book is geared towards business people who want to improve their presentations by including pictures that encourage audience involvement. The techniques are simple enough that they can be used by anybody who want to be a better visual thinker. Unfolding the Napkin is full of fun doodles, exercises and real life examples of where pictures were used to solve a major problem in major corporations. The book is divided into 4 lessons (complete with lunch breaks). The four parts make up the steps of visual thinking: Looking, Seeing, Imagining and Showing. The most helpful section to me was the Imagining section which introduced the SQVID method of thinking. It stood for the different ways of imaging how to solve a problem (although I’m not entirely what the acronym stands for).

SQVID on opening a wine bottle

The book explains how modern day presentations all suck because they are often hundreds of pages of Power Point slides that mean nothing. It also delves into the psychology of how when something is computer generated and perfect, we tend not to question it. In contrast if we doodle an idea or a plan, there is imperfection and people will comment and give feedback. There is definitely truth in that idea, and hey, I like to doodle.

I recommend this book to anybody who makes presentations of any kind and wants to look beyond just Powerpoint. I’ve always been a visual learner and I think I may dive into some more of Dan Roam’s books. I’m especially interested in Blah Blah Blah which is geared more towards personal thinking than the board room. PS. I haven’t stopped on delivering you guys doodletastic posts. More to come soon.

Book marked places to take a lunch :)