International Women’s Day and Beyond

International Women's Day Purple White LogoIndustrialization was a catalyst in the evolution of social change for women. Ever since post World War I, International Women’s Day is celebrated every March, on the 8th. These days the whole of March is designated to celebrating women’s achievements and to bring awareness to supporting women in need of it. But, just because we’re nearing the end of a month long promotion of awareness, my effort to support the cause won’t end here.

In February of this year, I received the exciting news that my application to the Women’s Economic Empowerment Project for Goodness and Mercy Missions Africa (GMM) was accepted. By March, my research and brainstorming of ideas to generate economic opportunities for the project was well under way. My draft proposal of ideas is at the half way point. By the end of April I hope to present to the Founder of GMM Africa, Rev. Teh Francis, with potentially feasible processes and programs to help more women in Cameroon in the future to become financially independent; to help support their families and communities. To learn more about GMM Africa and their ongoing efforts to empower women economically in Cameroon please view their video feature by Diane Dalton on YouTube at http://youtu.be/lC0XfVdT1QM.

Being Present is a Beautiful Gift

Taking the fundamentals of yoga outside the classroom, I stopped and smelled these beautiful spring blooms while on a recent weekend jaunt around the harbour. I’m glad I did. It was a nice contrast to the usual errand filled routine. Relaxed and more mindful than usual, it allowed me to realign my goals and plans for the upcoming week after taking a moment to just be.

How many of us take any time from our schedules and routines, or look up from our smart phones, to just pause for a second and absorb, enjoy, process and observe what is happening before our eyes? If you’ve ever felt like you’ve been set to auto-pilot, savouring the moments in life, being present, can be a grounding experience. It seems to allow us to forge ahead with strength and motivation.

Accessible Space for Writers & Artists: A Blumin Idea

What was first a solution to a group of writers’ dreams for affordable and creative work space, Blumin Warehouse has evolved from pop-up shop (local art) and writer’s workshop to co-working space for local writers. Learn more about their new work space location and their latest events on Facebook www.facebook.com/BluminWarehouse. Here’s my interview with co-founder, Candie Tanaka: YouTube Preview Image

In Search of Inspiration: Taking the Road Less Traveled

Road leading over a bridge heading towards a big blue sky and mountains.Creativity is sometimes ignited by reaching outside your comfort zone, trying something new, something adventurous. Learning from great artists and thinkers who did this during their time, such as Leonardo Da Vinci, it’s sometimes about taking the road least traveled (research is optional) that allows us to see the best views and discover new territory. Like a great artist trying to find a worthy subject, one has to take a voyage to another destination to gain new ideas, perspectives and inspiration. This year I hope to fit in a journey across either pond (Pacific or Atlantic, take your pick). Road trips of a continental variety will do as well, choosing less touristy routes. What’s your next inspiring adventure?

There are many ways to find inspiration on roads less traveled, here are just a few ideas.

1. If spontaneity is not your forte, researching multiple potential paths for a trip might help.

2. Ask a concierge or local what local areas are best to hit up and explore the outer laying areas of the popular destinations along the way.

3. Even in your daily journey, instead of taking the same route home everyday, try an alternative path that passes by beautiful scenery instead.

Above all, I believe in safety first, use common sense and keep your wits about you.

2014: Keeping It Simple

Post-It note with the word "Simplify"To get organized, as I have in past years, I started to brainstorm on my home office wall 2014 goals deduced from 2013 lessons. Imagine a rainbow of post-its in tree diagram form with one to three word points per categorized goal on all four walls of a room. Early on this exercise could take a good chunk of a day, but in the last two years the process has been leaned out considerably. But, despite my efforts to make it more efficient, I felt I wasn’t getting to the point as much as I envisioned.

My partner changed my perspective on how it should be done. He also has a habit of deducting  year end conclusions and setting new year’s goals. He keeps his points very clean. His spread sheet of less than a dozen cells mapped out precisely the goals he wanted to reach for 2014, anything more and it would be a bonus. Anything less, he wouldn’t sweat so much about it and would iterate. His content described tangible ways to getting to the goals, something that is just as important as the goal itself. My first reminder of 2014 is to keep it simple.

Time-Out: 2014 is On Its Way

Clock Tower Overlooking San Francisco PierFor many fortunate souls, the holidays are a busy time filled with food and friends and family. While for others it can be a lonely event. Anyone who finds themselves feeling overwhelmed may take a time-out to reflect and regroup for the new year, for a fresh start.

Perhaps, there is someone you can reach out to and bring comfort to in 2014, to make a difference, to make others smile. The holidays should be, after all, filled with good cheer that spreads throughout the year. That is the real gift.

A Holiday Greeting | A Note of Thanks

Gingerbread People - Courtesy of BG Catering

How was your 2013? Give yourself a moment to reflect up on it. Whether it’s changes at work, with relationships or with your health and well-being, my hope is that you are able to appreciate who you are and the people and things that bring you peace, joy, love and teach you life’s lessons.

On that note, I’m thankful for all of you who have visited and stay posted on connoisseurdelavie.com. Your comments and feedback about the blog are, as always, appreciated. I wish you all a happy holiday and positively brilliant 2014! I continue to look forward to sharing more inspiring posts about business & careers, relationships, wellness, food, travel, style and technology.

Brand Awareness: A Socially Savvy Venture

Picture of a mobile phone with social media iconsBrand awareness is essential to engage customers and to let them get to know you. With a brand developed, how do you convey it to your audience? Communication is key (more on that from Harvard Business Review’s Blog). An organization’s brand should be integrated in everything from marketing collateral to a company’s employee handbooks, policies and procedures.

In today’s market, vehicles to promote awareness about a brand include social media, Twitter and LinkedIn for example, in addition to corporate communications publications distributed online, including mobile, and in print (i.e. business cards to annual reports and promotional products). Video captures attention, whether for promotion, hiring or training purposes and can be mixed with other social content platforms. Whatever media you choose that is relevant to your client base, the main idea is finding ways to communicate your brand through multiple vehicles that can cross over into each other to gain maximum exposure. It’s not only cost effective (especially with social media costs being minimal), because you’re able to leverage one piece of content to work for you in a variety of ways, it also saves time. Social aggregation platforms, such as Hootsuite can be helpful for implementation.

When you are in the midst of developing your brand and marketing communications plan ask yourself do your brand values match the vehicles of delivery? For more on hacking your brand check out my post, ” 5 Questions to Define Your Brand. At this point consulting with a professional could be beneficial. An in-house marketing communications staffer or contracted consultant is usually at the heart of communications planning, quality control of delivery and development of that secret sauce specific to the success of your brand, adapting the latest and most appropriate techniques. New to online communications? For a basic primer on how to integrate brand awareness with contemporary methods check out courses in your local continuing education listings. In Vancouver, for example the VCC offers a Social Media Marketing course.

5 Questions to Define Your Brand

YouYourselfYourBrandWho are you? What is your brand? These are seemingly simple questions, yet one that stumbles many. Why? These are often thought as generally loaded queries (as it can lead to further self-questioning of competency), leading people to overthink their professional identity.

It got me thinking about how much easier the process is when determining brand value for products, objects less personal. A restauranteur approached me to consult on his brand, and help with the marketing communications planning. It was partly through this experience that I realized specific questions that were used to identify a product’s brand value could just as easily be adapted to develop your own professional brand. Spiced with some other questions that I came across, through human resource and communications professionals and entrepreneurs, here you have the top 5 questions to ponder when building your own genuine brand.

  1. What is your name synonymous with? What makes you positively unique?
  2. When reminiscing of previous successes, what were your consistent outcomes?
  3. What are you consistently great at?
  4. What are your values? (This response can become your brand value.)
  5. Of all the responses above, how many are authentically reflected in who you are and what you do every day?

Dig deep, it’s not what you do on the surface that defines you. It’s about what you value as a human being and how you affect the world around you. Everyone’s brand is made up of professional DNA that consists of accomplishments, results and learned lessons from failures, it’s going to be different for everyone. From the responses to the questions above, identify common themes, these become brand building blocks. What you discover through this process will help form the foundation of what makes your brand special.

Seattle’s International District: Shopping Under One Roof

From the facade of the Uwajimaya Village, the store front of the MarketFor those who like a one-stop-shop experience, the Uwajimaya Village is a centralized shopping centre offering everything from produce and fresh pastries to beauty and electronic items sourced from various parts of Asia, with a majority produced in Japan. The market stocks competitively priced (to those of the prices in Vancouver, BC) products imported from all corners of Asia including Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Korea. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Uwajimaya Seattle Store
600 5th Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98104 (map/directions)
Phone: (206) 624-6248
SeattleStore@uwajimaya.com
Hours: Mon-Sat 8:00am – 10:00pm/ Sund 9:00am – 9:00pm

Picture of Kinokuniya bookstore corner entranceOne of my go to shops for Asian literature has to be Kinokuniya, think Barnes & Noble or Chapters for Japanese and Chinese literature/media. I love their shop in San Francisco, but I found even more selection in their Seattle store. I was able to pick up a Chinese translation of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In,” for my mom (she got curious when she saw my English version a few months ago), as mentioned in the 2013 Fall Reading List post.

Kinokuniya Seattle Store
525 South Weller St.
Seattle, WA 98104 (map/directions)
Phone: 206-587-2477/ Fax: 206-587-0160
seattle@kinokuniya.com
Hours: Mon-Sat 10:00AM – 9:00PM/ Sun 10:00AM – 8:00PM