On this beautiful “Saskatchewan Day” holiday, a meditation from “Beautiful Mess”

As we enter the eighth month of 2022 and on a beautifully warm, “Saskatchewan Day,” I offer a meditation from Barb Heite, founder of “Beautiful Mess, a Women Connection Group,” on social media. The meditation is for everyone, not only for women and not only for entrepreneurs or newcomers.

Heite calls the meditation

“A few things to do in the second half of the year”: 

  1. Take a moment for yourself. Stop everything, find somewhere quiet, close your eyes and just breathe.

2. Acknowledge what you have been doing well so far. Life has been a lot lately, but you are making progress in many areas. Own it.

3. Take note of the lessons you’ve learned so far and what you could improve upon in the future. No judgment. Just wisdom.

4. Reach out to people you love and thank them for being in your life.

5. Know without a doubt that whatever comes your way, you’re going to be okay. You’ve got this.

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Are you still glad to ‘live on this earth?’ On summer renewal in the July edition of ‘Tell Your Story Newsletter’

July 2022 Vol 4 Issue 7
Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):

Specializing in Entrepreneurial and Organizational Storytelling
Let me tell your story!

Welcome Mid-July, 2022!

In sharp contrast to June, the last week of July has brought us hotter than seasonal temperatures in Saskatchewan, including one day of 36 degrees Celsius! But gardeners whom I know have been relieved to get some heat, after the cool and rainy days of June. Summer on the Prairies does not feel
“right” somehow, without at least one heat wave!

In Article One, in this issue, I share a new story from a different–more spiritual–perspective than usual. It features a recent visit to my church’s ecumenical camp on the southern shores of Christopher Lake (45 minutes North of Prince Albert, SK). Facing exhaustion and with depression looming on the horizon, I opted to carpool to camp, in order to “unplug” from teaching, writing and to generally escape urban life!  The insights from those five days have been an unexpected gift that I’m delighted to share with you.

In “Storytellers’ Corner,” I share what sounds like a hilarious grammar game (an oxymoron, you say? Maybe not . . . ) from American grammarian, Mignon Fogarty.

And in “Shop News,” I take an “artist’s date” along Valley Road and, in addition to the delights located there, I promote three unrelated businesses which do much to improve the lives of their clients and prospects.

My wish for all of you, good readers, is that this summer will give you time to renew relationships with family and/or friends; to restore your minds with creativity; and to leave you grateful for the blessings and benefits that grace our lives, even in challenging times.

Happy summer.

Sincerely,
Elizabeth

Principal
Storytelling Communications
www.elizabethshih.com
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IN THIS ISSUE:
ARTICLE 1: Are you still glad to live ‘on this earth?’: on summer renewal

STORYTELLERS’ CORNER: The grammar game, ‘Peeve Wars’

SHOP NEWS

ABOUT US
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Article One: Are you still glad to ‘live on this earth?’ On summer renewal

As an ESL teacher and business communications specialist who also contributes many hours as a family caregiver, I’m not someone looking around for things to do!

But coping with burnout and lost productivity, while also wanting to avoid the messiness of air travel in this (Covid) summer, I surprised colleagues by signing up for five days of “helping in the kitchen” at the camp of my church (St. Andrew’s Presbyterian).

Please understand that it’s not that I feel I’m “above” helping out at camp. It’s more that I haven’t expected what happens there to be relaxing–that is, a space of toddlers’ smelly diapers, kitchen fires and chaos, angry wasps, voracious mosquitoes and so on. But, hoping for something better and “itching” to leave town (haha), I made some calls . . . .

My church camp is simply called, “Camp Christopher,” and was started in the 1940s when the church purchased land on the southern side of beautiful Christopher Lake (45 minutes north of Prince
Albert, SK). For decades, the camp has run gatherings of women, men, children and families, as well as provided the meeting space for other, secular groups and organizations.

And entrepreneurs learn and gain so much when we can participate in charitable activities that are organized by capable staff. The time or labour we invest often exceeds any monetary value or payment, on both sides.

Camp Christopher is based on a spirit of “ecumenism,” or openness toward faith perspectives. Every summer, the camp provides (as its mission statement says) a “safe, caring community where all may explore faith, celebrate creation and grow in relationship with Christ.” Rooted in Christian faith, but without lapsing into dogma, fundamentalism or evangelism, youth and children’s camps are designed to build the skills and character needed for the “leaders of tomorrow.”

The camp offers a wide variety of supervised water sports, art classes, photography, movie and reading times, delectable food (three square meals plus yummy bedtime snacks!) and more. There is even “tuck,” where campers can enjoy candy and treats that return them to early childhood.
(Remember “Mr. Freezies” and blue whales, anyone?)

Camp programming has meant much to generations of youth and families, over the past 80+ years. For instance, two of the camp’s most mature counsellors–two indigenous young men from Prince
Albert–are coming into their own. Yet they declined other, more financially lucrative, summer job prospects, in order to return to camp, for a final year. Thoughts of “reconciliation” between indigenous and settler communities were open for meditation and discussion.

Donna Wilkinson (Camp Administrator, runs a group home for autistic men in Regina, working shifts that allow her to finance running the camp) and Nicole Lindgren (Camp Director and head facilitator for children and youth, who administers the property between May and October, and has worked with
youth for years) are deeply talented, resourceful women. They are also delightful to spend time with.

Hearing their memories and the camp’s “success stories” can make your hearts glow. As I found, volunteering at a grassroots camp (that still needs camperships and funds!) can help us to get “back the basics” of our lives while also helping campers to experience life-altering programming.

Camp Christopher helps participants to return refreshed and better able to make critical decisions, whether on career or family.

My five days at camp involved hard work: I helped the talented, red-seal chef Bev Redman in the kitchen (what she jokingly termed a “sous-chef” position), set tables for meals, and cleaned up afterwards. But the dramatic change of scene from Saskatoon and simple repetition of tasks helped me to feel restored, emotionally and spiritually.

I lived the comment shared by meditation expert, Sam Harris:

“Just look around you and take a moment to feel how
blessed you are—
you get another day to live on this earth.”

I hope, good readers, amid the long daylight hours of this season, that you have an opportunity to pause from the rushed pace of life, to observe summer’s unfurled beauty, and to store its warmth in your minds.
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To visit Camp Christopher, inquire about this summer’s schedule (camperships are still available), or to donate to its programming, please contact Donna Wilkinson at (306) 535-6916.

And now it’s your turn: How are you finding renewal this summer? Please share your experience with me; I’d be delighted to use it in another issue of “TYSN!”
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STORYTELLER’s CORNER . . . .

 

 

 

 

Words, Stories, Riddles and Jokes on Writing and Editing . . . The grammar game, ‘Peeve Wars’

Looking for another summer escape, without leaving the patio or pool deck? Grammar and writing specialist Mignon Fogarty recently announced that she’s developed a “card game for summer fun.”

It’s called “Peeve Wars.” The object of the game is to collect the highest number of grammatical “pet peeve” cards, to annoy your opponents to “death!”

“Hi, yous all,” “I seen that already,” “Irregardless, I’ll participate,” are only three of many, offending examples that come to mind.

Only grammar heroes such as lexicographer “Noah Webster” and the game’s resident librarian will protect you!

The game can be played by two to four players, requires strategy and promises to be “different every time.”

It’s available for $15.99 (USD) from The Game Crafter.

Do you have a story, riddle or joke on any aspect of communications? Please share it with me; I’d be delighted to use it in an upcoming issue.
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SHOP NEWS: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROMOTIONS and SHARING . . .

Since summer is best when it involves R&R (see “article one” of my time at camp), I thoroughly enjoyed a visit last week to Floral Acres on Valley Road, only a few days after returning from camp! Although we are now late into gardening season, with both annuals and perennials struggling in their
greenhouse, Floral Acres also boasts a huge selection of (happier!) houseplants, and lovely trade items that pertain to indoor and outdoor plant life!

Capping off the afternoon with a stop at The Berry Barn for some of their wonderful Saskatoon berry cobbler, I felt the time was what writer Julia Cameron calls an“artist’s date.” But in this case, it was enjoyed with a like-minded friend!

Have you explored Valley Road, lately?

In addition to the places we visited, it is home to Black Fox Farm & Distillery (with its famed wildflower farm), and the Robertson Valley Farm, a great source of fresh garden produce.

If you cannot leave town for long this summer, do please explore these businesses to leave behind the concrete and tedium of urban life!
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I’m delighted to update you on the success of digiSMART, the latest programming from Saskatoon’s own Praxis School of Entrepreneurship.

DigiSMART allows entrepreneurs of all kinds to “upskill” their digital knowledge.

The program’s first cohort has finished and are fast at work applying what they’ve learned.

Now: be honest. What skills do you need for your business, but haven’t had the time or money to invest in?

Taking digiSMART training has been made possible by provincial funding and so is even available FREE for business owners in and around Saskatoon!

Select from a range of 40 modules: Basic, Strategic and Specialized. Register for just one or four or 40 and build your skills toolbox.

It’s not too late to register for modules in Cohort 2, running from July through October!

Training is held at the start of the business day, from 7:15 am to 8:45 am, at 131 Wall Street (PSE Office, Saskatoon).

Going to the lake, you say? No problem! Join digiSMART via Zoom!

Special, in-depth seminars on SEO, cryptocurrency/ blockchain, podcasting, blogging and social media will be offered as the summer progresses (including by facilitators like me).

Contact Elaine (elaine@globalinfobrokers.ca) or at (306) 664-0500 to get the outline of modules and for information on how to register.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity of the summer (that will last long beyond): digiSMART!

And spread the news to other business owners who want to upgrade their tech skills in order to grow their businesses!
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A shout-out this month to freelance office furniture expert, Rory Perron, a fellow alum of the “startSMART” program at the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship.

Having years of experience in selling office furniture, Rory now leads “Local Liquidations,” acquiring and selling top-quality (pristine), matching pieces of hotel and commercial furnishings, at affordable prices.

He has the experience also to advise on layout, and can arrange for delivery and installation.

Cubicles and filing cabinets as well as smaller pieces (desks, chairs, window coverings, etc.) are available.
Rory is also appreciated for collaborating with others, including entrepreneurs at Prairie Office Moving and Installation (earlier featured in this newsletter) and has been known to run a marathon or two!
Find Rory at localliquidations.ca, or by phone at (306) 230-4177.
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Closer to home, I am enjoying teaching ESL students, involving detailed conversations spanning topics from the history of modern cinema (with a major on director, Ernst Lubitsch), to European opera to classical singing with my student, Eliane, who lives south of Paris (France).

I also teach the fundamentals of English grammar (focusing on reading and writing) to a newcomer student, who is a refugee from Eritrea.

ESL can involve such highly diverse teaching and students that I often wished I’d entered it before 2021, when I first received certification (from TEFL.org,
Inverness, Scotland).

I continue to be encouraged by TEFL’s professional webinars and blog postings that share some of the field’s diversity with those building experience, like me.

There are always new businesses and entrepreneurial programs to promote. Please write me to share your stories . . . . . .But this is a wrap for mid-July!
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ABOUT US:
Between 2011 and December 2018, Elizabeth Shih Communications chronicled the stories of B2B marketing and communications on the Prairies and across the country.

Effective January 1, 2019, I rebranded as “Storytelling Communications.” I now help newcomers to Canada to secure better jobs by improving their language skills; I help small- and medium-sized businesses to close more sales by communicating more effectively; and I help major companies to
tell their legacy stories.

Interested in learning more? Please contact me through my CASL-compliant
website (www.elizabethshih.com).

After I receive your message, I’ll be pleased to discuss projects with you!
Please visit my website for more information (www.storytellingcommunications.ca)

When to knock on your prospect’s door . . . . and wait for their response!

 

In a recent blog posting, marketing genius (and entrepreneurial visionary) Seth Godin warned  about the limits of communication:

“Knock, knock” is a fine guideline for what communications documents need to say, he says:

“The purpose of most communication isn’t to completely explain yourself–Too often, we get stuck relieving tension, making our case and closing the door on the discussion.

The purpose is to open the door to interaction, learning and action. ‘Who’s there?’ is a fine response to hope for.

Communication is a process, not an event.”

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More specifically, communication should not be an invitation to an event where all of the salient details (and then some) are outlined without a chance for the reader/prospect to respond.

For instance, I recall promoting my writing and editing services in a letter of introduction I sent to prospects,  ten years ago. After I inserted the logo (in reduced size) and provided my contact coordinates, the body of the letter itself spilled onto a second page.  Hmmmm, I thought, at the time. They do say “less is more. But . . . . . ” I thought the ideas were so important that I allowed a 1.25 page letter to go out via Canada Post (which I used to avoid anti-spam legislation)!

Only three out of about 25 prospects responded and for most, I don’t doubt,  the length made the letter too much to process.

In more recent years, I provided a reference letter for a mentor who was nominated for an annual award.  Then I recognized that human attention span and intensity are shorter than we may think: as a copy or content writer, you will be far more deeply involved in the service you describe than the assessors of it will be (and care to be)!  Less truly is more—without exception—whether or not you have a logo that gobbles space!

Beyond that one page limit, too much content detracts from the reader’s impression. You don’t need all that detail!  A finite promotion is not a legal report or government legislation!

As Godin says, “relieving” your tension as a writer, making a “foolproof” case  are me-centred, not prospect-centred,  strategies. 

Such writing does not stop with the “knock, knock,” but assumes the admission and meeting to come,  all without the prospect’s consent!

Don’t delude yourself that you’ll “blow the reader away,” when you’ll more likely tire them out!

A cardinal rule of copywriting is to remember that the prospect comes first.

So when preparing your next cover letter, focus on the employer’s needs, not your own.

And when preparing your resume, don’t tell your life story! Only the highlights that pertain to the job posting will matter to the hiring committee. Think a maximum of two stories/storylines for a two page resume.

Leave all of your impressive ideas for the job interview (and for the job!) that you’ll more likely secure by keeping your document to a  “knock, knock.”

And now it’s your turn: Have you read a communications document recently that fails to stop in time? Please share your experiences: I’d be delighted to hear from you.

“Zoom, zoom, zoom, we’re going to . . .” paid accounts (to teach ESL online)?

Any adults who have become parents or otherwise worked with young children in the past 20 years, will likely be familiar with that “earworm” of a song, “Zoom, zoom, zoom; we’re going to the moon.” Small children everywhere (or so it seems) have been singing (sometimes shouting) the lyrics, while playing, eating, and—well, pretty well everything else. Often children sing these words at a pace double or triple that of the YouTube video (above)!

Did you miss the “Zoom” song? Consider yourself lucky, as it has “earworm” potential rivalled only by “Baby Shark, Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo” and the Muppets’ classic ditty (that no one has ever really understood), “Mah Na Mah Na, doo doo da doo doo” (capitalization, original).  But I digress.

The rest of the world envies you, if the “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom song” song has escaped your ears and mind. Consider yourself blessed!

Of course, the word “zoom” itself (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) historically has meant “to move or travel very quickly.” And certainly the online meeting software, “Zoom.us” is a platform that “very quickly” connects individuals across the globe, after they take a few short steps. “Zoom” has connected millions of people professionally and personally through Covid times.

Covid has made it especially urgent that entrepreneurs and learners of all kinds meet via online platforms, such as Google Hangouts, FaceTime, MS Teams, Skype, etc.,  and other custom-made software platforms that many companies use.  But for my teaching and meeting purposes, I’ve found that Zoom outperforms most  if not all of these.

As a certified ESL instructor with about a year’s experience teaching online, I frequently rely on Zoom to meet my students (of all ages and areas of specialization) from around the globe. Some of these meetings have lasted only 30-40 minutes. Others have run over one hour. 

Even if my interviewees haven’t known the platform, Zoom is so user-friendly and intuitive that most of them have run with it, from the start. It is true, of course, that you need a webcam and a microphone (built into most small devices, these days) to use this software. (And it needs to be said that for ESL students who are refugees or other newcomers to Canada and who find themselves short of funds, the cost of tech equipment and  software subscriptions can be prohibitive.)

Even prior to working as an online ESL teacher, I used Zoom to record interviews with various people for writing projects, such as for the 30th anniversary of the local Praxis School of Entrepreneurship (PSE).

So, for more than two years, then, I’ve thoroughly benefited from using a “basic” account on Zoom: meeting anyone one-on-one for an hour or longer was totally free and seamless.

Then recently, Regina tech consultant Brandi Good, of BLG Business Solutions, burst that bubble by warning Zoom users over Facebook that effective May 2nd, 2022, Zoom would impose a $20/month charge to “basic” account holders even for one-hour, one-on-one meetings (i.e. not to be cut off after a new 40 minute limit). The next level above the free (“basic”) account would be the “Pro” ($20/month to subscribe to).

Zoom explains its policy here:

https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/5809097508109-May-2-2022-Free-account-meeting-duration-changes

A paid account on the “Zoom” platform will not quite take you “to the moon” (as the song goes, although space tourism with the likes of Elon Musk and Richard Branson are trying), Zoom is (imho) the best online meeting software out there and is intuitively designed for those who lack technical prowess.

Zoom has received a lot of messages from users (including me) complaining about the new charge. As a PR strategy, the company initially offered a small, temporary discount (now passed), so that subscribing to a “Pro” account this week cost only $10/month (until November 2022, when the cost will double).

For those of us on budgets, the situation is disappointing, but we all know that in this digital age, subscription fees for software are to be expected. Revenue from advertising was Zoom’s earlier way to pay for our free accounts. Now the company wants more. Inevitably, other online meeting software companies will follow suit, if they don’t already charge.

So, as the children’s song has it, we just may have to get “onboard” Zoom’s “Pro” account rocket, if we want the work we do, to ignite off our launch pads:

“Zoom, zoom, zoom. We’re going to the moon! Zoom, zoom zoom. We’re leaving very soon. So if you’d like to take a trip, come aboard my rocket ship. Zoom, zoom, zoom. We’re going to the moon:

5, 4, 3, 2, 1: BLAST OFF!”

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And now it’s your turn. What do you think about the costs of subscribing to tech software for pandemic friendly teaching and meetings? Please weigh in; I’d be delighted to hear from you!

 

Seth Godin: “Modern marketing and hustle,” or how service outpaces hustling

Some 18 months after discussing the term “hustle” with Praxis School of Entrepreneurship program administrator, Elaine Mantyka, agreeing that the term carries too many negative connotations for entrepreneurs to use it, I read this blog posting  from Seth Godin:

Modern marketing and hustle

Hustle uses shortcuts and effort to bend the conventions of society to get more than the hustler’s fair share of attention. Hustle burns trust for awareness. Because it’s a shortcut, hustle might deliver in the short-run, but hustle is notably non-consensual. Few people want to be hustled.

Marketing is the work of helping people get what they’ve wanted all along. Marketing is about establishing the conditions for a small group of people to eagerly spread the word and build connection. Modern marketing changes the culture by establishing what the new norms are and does it in a way that makes things better for those it serves.” 

“Taking [i.e. Demanding] attention vs. storytelling and service. Sometimes it feels like the shortcuts and depersonalization and scale are the only option; then a great marketing project comes along and we’re reminded that in fact, we can do work we’re proud of ” (all emphasis mine).

As I spell out to my business ESL (English as a Second Language) students, who sometimes need to hear it, our marketing methods can and should always be ethical.

And yet the “hustle” of “shortcuts and depersonalization and scale” fill our newspapers and social media, quickly collapsing into self-promotion, “flash and glam” that “play” the solo buyer, who is quickly outmaneuvered in the exchange

  • a high-end mattress is delivered, soiled and dusty, to a colleague in Toronto, who paid for “basic [not elite] level of delivery”
  • a friend laments mistreatment in hiring a company in a hard-to-regulate industry, moving and storage, who damaged and lost his property and then denied and concealed it
  • a generous natured relative is “totally ripped off” after (carefully) pre-booking a fresh-cut, boutique flower arrangement at a reputable, upscale florist

While these “hustles” elicit anger (or rage) and frustration, by contrast, Godin’s “modern marketing” in “storytelling and service” can be found in the work of friends locally and nationally, including these: Katrina German and her team analyze how “Ethical Digital” is not an oxymoron and what it involves; Monica Kreuger and the team at the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship have developed entrepreneurial training that embodies strong values, not cheap profits; and Patti Pokorchak teaches sales with decency and rigour, in her innovative classes at Ryerson University.

These women (and their teams) have no interest in “hustling” in their portfolios.

So, with a nod to our friend, Seth, I recommend that we subvert the term “hustle” and all of its connotations to these women’s alternative kind of true marketing—the “storytelling and service” we provide to make life better for others, that keep us working late hours to fulfill, and of which we can rightly be proud.

And now it’s your turn. . .What has the term “hustling” meant to you, in your experience? What steps do you take to prevent it in your business or work?