Evoking emotion and influencing action through clear, clever content

Category: Write-or-Die Girl Rants

Write-or-die girl

Since embarking on this teeter-totter ride of full-time business ownership last year, I find myself evolving into a keener observer and more confident risk taker. My personality hasn’t changed much—a bevy of quirks complemented by a bizarre 35-year raw-tomato addiction—and I’m physically healthier, now that I plan my work schedule around my gym schedule.

If you haven’t guessed yet, this post is about me: Write-or-die girl. I figured it was time I introduce myself.

So as I was saying, 95 per cent of my business comes from my super-duper spectacular repeat clients, and kind colleagues who refer me to their peers. I’ve been very fortunate in my career, thus far, to come across people who have looked past my demure demeanor, recognized my passion and chutzpa, and given me a chance to prove my worth.

When I’m not writing—for business or pleasure—or volunteering, I practice yoga, lift weights, and attend spinning classes, usually five days a week. I also delight in Chinese buffets and AYCE sushi, ergo the hyperactive workout schedule.

Now I’ll get to the part I’m sure you’re (at least a teensy weensy bit) curious about.

I chose Write-or-die girl as my blogger pseudonym for two reasons. The obvious reason is that writing is my raison d’être. I love what I do and that I can help people by doing it—it is my gift to give.

Secondly, it’s a play on words. In urban culture, a “ride or die” is basically someone who’s dependable and loyal for the long haul. I am dedicated to my art and committed to exceeding the expectations of my customers in a timely fashion with artistic finesse.

Write-or-die girl just seems fitting.

Coffee Shop Etiquette

Most reasonable professionals are aware that there are certain behaviours that are inappropriate in an office setting. For example, whistling while you work is likely to irk your neighbours, and poor hygiene is just plain icky!

Alas, there don’t seem to be a set of etiquette rules for independent workers at my headquarters where the average office space costs a cup of Joe an hour. Fortunately, I have created a top ten list of coffee shop etiquette rules for the mindful, modern-day worker.

10. Order something. We all know Starbucks has an open-door policy, but don’t take advantage of the chain’s kindness, or you might ruin it for the rest of us. If you’re going to park there for three hours with your laptop, at least order a coffee. Really, it is the classy thing to do.

9. Remove your garbage from the table when you leave. No one should have to clean up after you when they arrive.

8. One table/seat per worker. Please don’t make someone have to ask you to remove your backpack from the chair or table beside you. Be considerate, and only use the space you require.

7. Share the outlets. If you are fortunate to be sitting beside a power outlet, use one socket, and leave the other for your neighbour.

6. Wash your hands. According to many research studies, office work spaces carry an extraordinary amount of germs. When you work where you—and others—eat, washing your hands on washroom trips just makes sense.

5. Use your indoor voice. No one wants to hear you barking orders at the top of your lungs into your cell phone. You can chit chat; just tone it down a bit please.

4. Be tolerant. Believe it or not, coffee shops do not cater to starving writers and college students exclusively. Expect some noise and commotion from families with children and bad-mannered boneheads (they usually don’t stay for very long, anyway).

3. Avoid conversations with people wearing headphones. Generally, when people have their headphones on while they’re working in a coffee shop, it means they are trying to block out noise and focus, you know? They might even be in the (sacred) zone.

2. Eyes on your own laptop screen. It might be tempting to peek at your neighbour’s screen and check out what (s)he is working on, but it’s also rude. If you’re really curious, and (s)he is not wearing headphones, simply inquire (in a non-creepy way). You might just make a friend or meet a future business associate.

1. Proper hygiene still applies. Do I really need to explain this rule? Icky, remember?

Do you care to add to this list of politeness policies, or dispute a rule in this new set of civility bylaws? Please submit your cases for review below. 😉

Networking in the 6ix: My triple-threat advantage

Still high off the motivational vibes from last Saturday’s Avanti Women’s Career and Networking Expo, I gained much more than I had bargained for with what I’ve coined my triple-threat advantage : the priceless opportunity to receive coaching from, and ask questions to, three influential and fascinating female professionals, each successful in her own right, on her own terms.

Giving forward

Avanti Women identifies itself as an organization that “gives forward,” due to its numerous charitable initiatives and, more importantly, its mission to move women forward professionally and personally.

It wouldn’t be the Avanti Women way (nor would it be very thoughtful of me) to hoard my newly-attained leadership knowledge for myself. So in the spirit of giving forward, I’m sharing the top three insights I gained from my experience at Avanti Women’s annual event.

Karen Elkin

1. We create our reality through our perception. Karen Elkin, certified leadership coach and workshop facilitator at Karen Elkin Leadership, hosted a workshop about energy leadership for career development. She taught us that we can affect positive change in ourselves and others through self awareness and mindfulness.

“If you look at people through the eyes of compassion versus judgment, you will see them differently,” she explained. “Similarly, they will feel your shift in energy and respond accordingly.”

Cher Jones

2. When it comes to personal branding, a “mullet” is never in style. Cher Jones, social media trainer at Socially Active, gave the ladies a lesson in online personal-brand management. She strongly advised us to Google our names to see what information the public can view, and then audit our social media pages to control the message.

This isn’t to say that we can’t show off our fun and fabulous personalities, Cher assured us. In fact, she noted, displaying a healthy mix of our professional and personal lives makes us appear more trustworthy in the eyes of employers and clients—but we must find the right balance.

Having an uber-professional LinkedIn page simultaneously online with a Girls Gone Wild-esque Facebook profile is “the mullet of personal branding: all business on the top, and a party in the back!” she joked. “You can show that you’re a real person with an exciting life, but professionalism must ring throughout.”

Lissette Edward

3. Make sure your personal brand is in line with your values. Marketing and communications leader Lissette Edward facilitated a personal branding Goddess Lean-In Circle. Through guided discussions, she assisted a small group of women in determining our unique personal brands. She also shared her own journey in crafting her brand.

“If you’re not confident in your personal brand, you will start doubting yourself,” she warned. “You must be able to say to yourself, ‘this is my brand essence, and it will guide all of my professional interactions.’”

…So back to that dreaded N word (a reality check from last week’s post)

The good news is that, by attending Avanti Women’s annual event, I developed a diverse range of solid, applicable leadership skills from three inspirational women that I will practice in my career going forward.

Not so impressive is that, including the friend who accompanied me to the expo (and a couple volunteers I asked for directions), I probably “networked” with about six other women, only two with whom I exchanged business cards.

But I’m starting to understand that that’s not the point…

I get the feeling if I keep showing up—which, in fact, proved to be the hardest part of the Avanti Women eventand showing a genuine interest in professional development and intriguing people, networking will get easier and more natural, and conversations and connections will occur organically with like-minded professionals.

Fortunately, with my triple-threat advantage, I’m armed with new knowledge and a little more courage to face networking situations with confidence and grace.

Stretching my way to a holistic brand identity

Lately I’ve been really into yoga. For those who don’t know, yoga is a gateway activity that can lead to all sorts of far-out hippie beliefs and bizarre holistic health practices, many of which I find myself exploring with an eagerness to become more deeply enlightened.

When I put it out to the universe that I would transform my modest freelance writing practice into a thriving, well-established communication services company, I knew I wanted my brand to clearly reflect my value proposition and values as an individual.

Energized imagery

Every hardcore yogi is aware of the seven chakras, which are defined by The Chopra Center as swirling wheels of energy that correspond to massive nerve centres in the body.

“Each of the seven main chakras contains bundles of nerves and major organs, as well as our psychological, emotional, and spiritual states of being,” the Center explains.

The blue symbol on the left side of my logo is representative of the fifth chakra, Vishuddha, aka throat chakra.

“To be open and aligned in the fifth chakra is to speak, listen, and express yourself from a higher form of communication,” according to The Chopra Center gurus.

‘Nuff said, as far as I was concerned!

Storytelling with fonts

Fonts also played a large role in the telling of my brand story. The word write is displayed in cursive, which is meant to be symbolic of traditional media, including newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and other forms of print publications. As a J-school grad of Humber’s class of ‘05, my primary focus was magazine writing and editing. I even began my writing career as a freelance trade magazine journalist whose work graced the pages of publications like Canadian Plastics and HazMat Management (thrilling, indeed!).

A year later, I was hired as the communications specialist for a large corporation and learned digital content writing on the job and through a number of professional development courses, hence the font of the word reaction.

Holistic awareness

The use of these fonts, together with the throat chakra, is intended to illustrate my holistic understanding of effective traditional and digital communications. And just in case the visual doesn’t hit home with some folks, the tagline, Evoking emotion and influencing action through clear, clever content, should leave no doubt of the brand identity I strive to uphold.

So… was understanding my brand as simple as holding dancer’s pose for 30 seconds with your eyes closed? 🙂 You tell me!

Until next time, Namaste.