Philosophical A/B Testing

The abundance of information readily available has given us a certain degree of laziness to reading, interpreting and conceptualizing information. Let’s face it, if a video doesn’t grab you in the first three seconds you go on to the next, if the first 2-3 sentences of a book aren’t captivating you look for another. I’d even argue that it only takes the first 3-5 words to lose us when it comes to online content… And this is why storytelling is a key platform in which we communicate. It simplifies the art of reading and interpreting, it connects that a story has a beginning middle and end, and if you hold on you will go on that roller coaster with guarantee. A good leader, a great marketer, and the most brilliant authors and philosophers need storytelling to captivate people in order to hold them long enough to inspire.

story

Let me give you an example, call it ‘philosophical A/B testing’. Below I will communicate a simple message on what it takes to have success, one will use storytelling, the other a more general means.

In the end I hope you reflect on which one resonates with you more, which one you are drawn to, which one you would share with a friend as an anecdote.

1. We achieve great success by wanting it as much as we want air. A person must persevere in today’s society and push beyond their limits to obtain what they want. The possibilities will be endless once a goal is set and the mindset aligns with it. Are you still reading this? Kind of boring? You’ve read something like this before right, where you feel the author is speaking at you from a pedestal instead of taking you on a shared journey.

Lets try this another way…

2. A young man asked Socrates, an ancient Greek philosopher, the secret of Success. Socrates told the young man to meet him near the river the next morning. They met.

Socrates asked the young man to walk with him toward the river.

When the water got up to their necks, Socrates took the young man by surprise and ducked him into the water. The man struggled to get out but Socrates was strong and kept him under water until he started turning blue.

The young man struggled hard and finally managed to get up. The first thing he did was to gasp and take a deep breath.

Socrates asked, “What did you want the most when you were under the water?”

The man replied “Air”.

Socrates said: “That’s the secret to success. When you want success as badly as you want air, you will get it. There is no other secret”.

 

Let me know what you think? How do you use storytelling?

Otilia

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Dear Mentor, thank you.

We underestimate the power of influence, intentional or not.

I’ve had several influences that have made steps, better yet bridges in my life, however I have lacked an intentional mentor. I look up to leaders who’ve made difficult decisions, leaders who took the time to listen regardless of title, managers who envision business goals and align not only their team but others to meet them, and several of my peers who put an effort and dedication beyond the call of duty.

So here is an open letter to a mentor who I hope will see themselves in my path to becoming a great leader.… But it is also a message to the proverbial ‘mentor’ that many seek to find but seem out of reach; you’re intimidating to approach, because you are what we envision success to look like. Help take someone under your wing, there is no obligation, but I hope you will find fulfillment in knowing that you’re preparing someone else with your toolkit to success.

Dear Mentor, Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 4.57.54 PM

Thank you does not express my appreciation for your guidance, but it’s a start.

I thank you for the pushes in the right direction, the straight unbiased truth and the feedback that helped build strong a strong leader.

Your insights are not taken for granted, nor are they undervalued, but even so I thank you for letting me make my own decisions; celebrating in their successes and helping me learn from the failure.

I’ve learnt from your actions but also, and just as importantly, from what you don’t do. I appreciate your candid feedback, the push out of routine and the comfort that no matter what decisions I make I have someone who will help guide me back to success.

Thank you for moderating my fear of failure, but encouraging just enough to push through defining moments.

Sincerely,

Otilia

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Employees – The Forgotten Customer

If social media has taught us anything it is that a company’s reputation is more transparent than ever. We can connect much more easily with other consumers to get to the truth. Social media in a sense has brought about the power of the consumer voice, as well as a sense of validation. But what about the voice of the employee?

Building a reputation, inside out.                                                                                                Companies are so focused around the voice of the consumer that they sometimes seem to forget the internal voice of the employee. Employees are an effective source for building a reputation from the inside out.  Awards such as “Canada’s 50 best managed companies” and “Canada’s top 100 employers” have a significant impact on reputation. There are two sides of the employee spectrum; one feeling as if you have a (valued) voice and conversely one where you are a worker bee, forgotten in the sea of nameless employees. The employee experience, based on this spectrum, will undoubtedly affect how a company is perceived.

People talk.                                                                                                                                           People are more likely to share their experiences in two occasions; it was a really great experience, or it was a really bad experience. Take notice that these experiences are not exclusive to a consumer, but should also include the employee. Effective leaders are those who have experienced both during their career and decided to not perpetuate the forgotten employee.

Missed opportunities.                                                                                                                    The most impressive c-level staff is one that is approachable and engaging. Networking within your department and cultivating a dynamic atmosphere is just as important as networking with the outside world. You’d be surprised at the connections people have. I’ve seen countless times when a ‘friend of a friend’ needed the service of the company they were employed with, but because the employee was mistreated they advised their friend to go elsewhere (and most likely a competitor). Oh the irony …

No one says you need to hold the hands of your employees, simply that you apply the same paradigm that you use with customers – to some extent. Being proactive and aware of how valuable an employee is in building your reputation is a significant step in the right direction.

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Job Searching Insights: The Not-So-Typical

Job searching can be stressful. Due to hiring freezes, contract terms and a risky economy job security isn’t well founded – especially in entry to mid level roles … everyone is replaceable.  Now here we are job searching and interviewing; your personality, intellect, education, manner of speaking  etc …  an accumulation of your achievements, demeanor all determined within roughly 15-30 minutes (actually, more like first 15-30 seconds).

So here are a couple of tips and insights to keep your head up while searching for that dream job:

Interview-CartoonDon’t take it personally!                                                                                                         It’s hard I know, I mean how can you not take it personally? A simple mind thinks ‘they don’t want me  – what’s wrong with me?’. This is a very self-destructive train of thought. Be thankful and have trust that the hiring manager knows what they are doing. There are so many other factors involved in getting the job; are you a good personality fit, do you have the same vision, do your skills align well with the position? And at the end of the day the hiring manager is the middle person who can determine the big picture. It’s not you … well actually it is you, but it’s also them. That’s somewhat comforting, right?

Narrow down your search & relax.                                                                                   Just because you were a Product Manager or an Administrative Assistant before does not mean that you need to apply for only jobs with those titles. This may sound obvious, but I think once we lose a job for whatever reason anxiety and panic sets in, again another self destructive mechanism that we are almost programmed for in these situations. But really expand your search, thoroughly read the job description, titles can be misleading, the job description ultimately reflects the nature of the job.

Post wrap up – learn from your interviews.                                                                 There is so much to learn from the interview process, it’s an experience that brings you one step closer to that dream job because it narrows down what you are looking for and defines the environment you want to work in.  Just as you would with a post project write up, do the same with an interview. Collect your thoughts, think back as to what was effective, how your answers were received and what you need to bring attention to if you were to have a second interview.

Look for opportunities to stand out and be unique.                                                   Have you ever had one of those random questions thrown at you? I.e. If you could be a fruit what would  you be? … Who’s your hero? … What’s the craziest thing you’ve done looking back? …   These types of questions gauge personality, and personality fit is just as important as your skills set. These questions give you the opportunity to show character and stand out. It’s your chance to be memorable, so be witty, be charming and be yourself – tell them about how you adopted a gray wolf, and how your hero is Donald Trump and Oprah, don’t be afraid to be unique.

Welcome feedback (in context).                                                                                        This can sometimes be a little awkward and from experience not many interviewers will give it you once you are not selected to continue in the interview process. You hardly get a call back saying you were not chosen for the position, so requesting feedback and getting it is truly a great learning opportunity. BUT!!!! And this is a big but, that many people overlook – take it in context. Let me explain, there are certain comments you’ll get back that can be applied generally, however take the feedback you are given in context to that interview. If Sociology has taught me anything it’s that although we can theorize and categorize as much as we want too, each individual and case is unique to its own circumstances. So if you interview and you know it was a position you weren’t exactly interested in, the environment didn’t feel right etc. don’t be surprised if you are given feedback saying you did not seem motivated or that the personality fit wasn’t right. Above all, similar to the first point, don’t take it personally.

Last but not least ….

Get excited.                                                                                                                                     You are presented with such a wonderful opportunity to reinvent yourself. Don’t settle, find exactly what you are looking for and pursue it with passion. Life is too short to be in a docile toxic environment. Be proactive about what you are looking to accomplish.

 

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Multitasking: The activity of doing more than one thing at the same time, to save time?

It was earlier today I found myself reading the same sentence for a third time, causing this impromptu blog post. My first thought was ‘I need my coffee’ (hate when people say that, but I said it!).  I stopped for a moment to take a sip and realized that not only did I have a tomato bisque cooking video playing on YouTube, but also had the TV on, music playing on my IPod and had just plugged in a curling iron on my desk to start curling my hair. Talk about a run on sentence, this should foreshadow the point of this blog post; we try to do too much.

When did life become a juggling act of so many little things and where did the value of your time and quality go? We have been so caught up in a world of efficiency and technology that we no longer can give that undivided attention to moments of hidden opportunity.

Self-awareness is difficult because it is a proactive instinct that goes out the window when we are bombarded by projects and schedules. And therein lies a hidden catch 22: we try to do too much so we can get more; be it money, advancement, time etc..  but end up missing steps and overlooking opportunity and thus create more work/time spent.

Trying to do more results in more work: Reading the same sentence 3 times when the first time should have been enough without the distractions. Oh and that tomato bisque, all I know right now is I need tomatoes … The movie playing on TV, Inception- guarantee it needs your undivided attention if you want understand it.

These are just trivial examples, but the point I’m trying to make is give value to your work. There is definitely a time and place for that juggling act, but as the expression goes ‘be three steps ahead, not do three at once’.

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You are 9861 days old – In other words 1408 weeks and 5 days

tillster2Birthday (Sept 30) – aka. Your opportunity baseline.

Oh it’s here – Happy birthday to a 27 year old Miss. Tilly. Let’s see … by now I thought I would be running my own business, started a gray wolf conservation program and finished writing a book – also had hoped to grow a couple more inches (but still not going to hit the runway at 5”2). At the end of the day there are goals that I’ve accomplished and others that are still far out of reach. I’ve learned that priorities change, and this is not a bad thing – only a reflection of how we naturally change and adapt. The important thing is to celebrate every blessing and obstacle life throws at you. I’m thankful for the people I’ve met and the opportunities that have come my way, every challenge that has come my way has served its purpose.

“You were born, and with you endless possibilities―very few ever to be realized.  It’s okay.  Life was never about what you could do, but what you would do. ”

-Richelle E. Goodrich

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The not-so-average ‘what inspires you’ answer

I was recently asked ‘what inspires you?’, that in itself spun into a conversation about something that could easily take 5 minutes to answer … and of course an ideal topic for a blog post.

You know what inspires me?  Success in all its forms. I was once downtown walking through the financial district and every time I saw a company sign, be it TD, CIBC, Scotiabank, Deloitte, KPMG, etc … I got goose bumps and this giddy-like feeling that you get before going on a date. I caught myself smiling about thoughts of one day working there, and with this a rush of excitement. It is not only indulgent of wishful thinking but of aspirations to be in the realm of successful people, that facilitate successful companies.

inspire

Examples of success are all around you and it is such a fine line between appreciating them as a source of inspiration versus a cause for pressure – let me explain.

I once interviewed for a marketing position at a law firm, I was interviewed by these 3 beautiful women, who were full of confidence, smarts and charm. I entered the interview ready to let them know I was the best thing that walked into their office, and I left the interview quite the opposite. I started questioning, how can I be like them, will I ever reach that level of confidence, charm and wit? There is nothing more difficult than to see exactly what you want to be right in front of you and have it not be in the mirror. This is where your mind set needs to spark change, at least for me it was. I have made a conscious shift between the pressure of being who I want to be and instead admiring the person I want to become (read that again, it will makes sense!). To do that it’s important that you surround yourself with an environment where that person can develop. Trust me there is no multiple personality disorder going on here, simply a mind over matter exercise where you need to actively visualize your goals in a positive light.

This blog post was not exactly to answer the question of what inspires me, but how to go a step beyond and answer how to handle and what to do with what inspires you.

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Find Your Career Path – The Alternative

A career path is no longer ‘set in stone’. When I was 6 years old I wanted to be a bee keeper, I actually remember catching bees in flowers and putting them in mason jars to study them and watch them make honey (or so I thought). It was soon after my mom freed the bees that I got stung and realized that I no longer wanted to make this my lifes work. Then, at 11 years old I decided I was an entrepreneur; I started my own babysitting business – “The Sitters Club” (I wasn’t too creative with the business name).  It didn’t last long when I realized parents didn’t exactly trust an 11 year old to look after their kids. At 15 my competitive nature and passion for ‘being right’ made me realize that I should be a lawyer, of course!

A career path is no longer set in stone because we have the privilege of being guilt free in diversifying our interests. There is the security of government aid, and outreach/training programs that give you the capabilities to make that leap of faith into un-chartered career territory. What do I want to be now? … That’s a hard question because a Marketing Coordinator in one industry could be a completely different job description in another. I do however know what I love doing and I’m very self-aware of what I need to be doing to be motivated and content in my career. I am a nerd at heart, I love working with data, conducting research and making sense of it for the end user. I enjoy being creative and working with different people on a day- to-day basis. Also, I am very focused on customer service, because in a selfish way I receive validation once someone else tells me I’ve done a great job.  I enjoy social media because it is this strange mix of all my interests put together, you can work with an abundance of data, create marketing campaigns and deliver excellent customer service (with instant feedback, and some would say gratification).

So here it is, you no longer need to know what job you want to do (although if you do – great! You’re one step ahead), but you do need to know what you love doing and what you need to be doing to be fulfilled in your career. 

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Acts of Kindness

In a world so big we sometimes forget just how connected we really are to one another. Actually, scratch that – it’s not just that we forget how connected we are, but that we overlook the opportunities we have to connect. We are so focused on what we can do for our own advancement and happiness that we over look the small rewards in others happiness. Here are a couple acts of kindness that have come my way, I hope it inspires you to do the same and start the cycle.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
– Plato

  • It was my first year in University, I was struggling with my debit card to purchase a bus ticket for VIVA blue. A man came over and tried to help me, the machine was just not cooperating. He then said ‘you know what here’s a ticket, I had someone do the same for me once, I’m just repaying the favor’. I was so grateful, yet I never saw him again.
  • I was at a Tim Horton’s drive through, saw the man pulled up in front of me grab his order and wave at me through the window. I didn’t think much of it and drove up to get my coffee. The lady in the window said the car in front of me had bought my coffee. I was confused and drove away with a big smile on my face. I never saw him again.
  • I was studying for my Anthropology test, reading through chapters on kinship and social organization when I came across a note that said “you are beautiful – smile”. I don’t know who wrote it, but I smiled.

Acts of kindness don’t need to be creative or extravagant; opening the door for someone, letting someone in line go in front of you, donating clothes, listening to someone in need, leaving the mailman a thank you card, sharing your story, putting a nickel in a donation box … anything … a smile! Can you imagine how much impact you can have on someones day with such little effort ?

Below are a couple more examples of touching acts of kindness I came across online:

 I’ve put together a couple random acts of kindness, email oantipa@live.ca to get your assignment, pick a number from 1 – 30 in the subject line ❤

Random-acts-of-kindness8

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Know Thyself

Screen shot 2012-09-30 at 10.05.45 AMYou are not ordinary, you are an accumulation of decisions and experiences. Your perception of the world is shaped by these decisions, experiences and the people involved in them along the way.

I would not have a fear of heights if it were not for falling off the monkey bars and ending up in the hospital at 5 years old. I would not have a strong sense of empowerment if it were not for strong female role models. I would not be scared of whistling indoors if it were not for my grandmother filling my head with superstitions that if I do so I                                                                         will never get married … Thanks !

When people say they are trying to figure out who they are (which I myself have said countless times) I stop and think: a person is ever-changing, you simply are who you are now. There is no end date as to who you are supposed to be, who you are should not be judged by an unknown future, but simply by owning your past. I have trouble with following my own advice, I worry that what I’m doing isn’t in harmony with who I am supposed to be and that in itself is irony because there is no logic in thinking you are supposed to be anything! Goals and a perception of who you would like to be are great, but to assume that you have failed at being who you are supposed to be because you have not achieved them is unfair to you. Being flexible with where life takes you is a beautiful thing.

The method to my writing is really a back and forth conversation between my own contradictions, so if this post has done nothing but confuse you than I have achieved my goal! To inspire you to have these conversations with yourself and challenge the ideology of ‘Who am I?’  Give yourself a break, accept that who you are ‘supposed’ to be is YOU at this very moment, there is such relief in accepting that.

And this is my gift to you.

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