What is it they say about change?!

It’s hard to believe how fast time has gone by… almost three years ago I sat down to write a post that talked about the many changes that were about to happen in our lives – crazy! I’m about to do the same again…

No (big) decision is easy – or shouldn’t be anyways – and this one was right up there with being one of the hardest Brent and I have had to make. No, we’re not having another baby (give your head a shake!) but it does involve our fourth child – our company, Inspire Marketing. Or I suppose one could say it was our first, as ‘technically’ it was founded before we had Abby!

I’m proud to see Inspire evolve into what it has – my vision over 8 years ago when I created it could not have told the paths I’ve travelled down, and the new ones being forged. When we made the decision for Brent to join me full time, it wasn’t easy – and what the two of us have accomplished is incredible. So when an opportunity presented itself – one that has the stars align and the moon (ok, enough of this…) it was pretty darn great, and as much as I love having him on this journey with me – passing on this would be a mistake.

I’m excited to announce that Brent has joined the fantastic team at McKeil Marine, here in Hamilton as their Marketing Manager. We’ve talked a lot about relationships – the importance of them, mutual respect and collaboration, and this is no different. After over 20 years in the marine industry, Brent left the Hamilton Port Authority and joined me at Inspire, all the while maintaining these relationships; so it speaks volumes that when this opportunity arose, he was sought after.

I’m looking forward to what the future holds – this new journey Brent will be taking, and the one that Inspire is continuing. I do foresee many (many) more #AmandaLatte’s in my future for the interim at least, as I’ll be burning the midnight oil – but in all seriousness, these are exciting times!

So, with that – I’ll leave you all with this, aptly fitting quote:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. 
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. 
Explore. Dream. Discover.” 
Mark Twain

 

Say cheese… That’ll be ten bucks.

Instagram has announced some developments around copywriting and ownership of photos. This should come as no surprise in the wake of their purchase by Facebook. Controversy around Facebook privacy and content ownership is nothing new. Our digital footprint is something we need a greater awareness of, the longtail of communications reminds us that posted content and ways in which we’ve engaged via social media are there for the long term.

Much as copy write laws surrounding the Napster debate and subsequent lawsuit by Metallica in 2000 created sweeping change in the peer to peer music file sharing, so is change in today’s idea of who maintains control (or how to maintain control) of your content online. While some may not like to hear this; the fact remains that if you willingly post content to any of your social sites you have effectively defaulted to conceding it will be viewed publicly, shared among those connected to you and in some cases, stolen by others. Being mindful is the order of the day when deciding to post pieces of content or not. While we think about how this affects us from an ownership position, remember; if you’ve posted it, you’ve taken ownership for the fact that others will too.

 

The word inspire is, well…inspiring.

I’ve seen many instances where the word ‘inspire’ has been used in advertising lately, perhaps it’s due in part to being tuned in to the very word that is our company name. If I’d called myself anything else I’m certain the word would still resonate. Each time we cross paths with people, places and things we hope to be inspired. Driven to take action, to get involved and hopefully to make a positive difference from our actions. Hamilton seems to me to be an inspired city. It might be the city’s food truck revolution, the waterfalls and hiking trails or maybe the new condo towers springing up all over the lower city. It really doesn’t matter what the inspiration is, but it matters tremendously to BE inspired.

Businesses are being attracted to the city to start and eventually grow here; examples of collaboration and celebrating success are everywhere. The fact remains that healthy economic growth will drive healthy lifestyles. Need is everywhere around us, from food banks to shelters to after school care; we all have a role to play in a prosperous Hamilton. The Christmas season brings this need to the fore more than any other time of the year but I’ll submit that perhaps challenging ourselves to carry the momentum throughout the year will foster sustained improvement. Get involved in a cause, lend some time and expertise and put back into the city that gives us a source of pride. That action to me is the very definition of inspiration.

Go ahead… Be Inspired!

Running on empty but filling back up…

Mind your manners…

I’m truly amazed that some companies are still in business. Well unless you consider bad business good business… or something like that…

The lack of good (heck, mediocre I’d settle for at times) customer service at, what seems like more and more places, is astounding. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that when I pick up the phone – or enter a room, send an email, light up the sky with my bat signal – that everyone is going to drop everything because – don’t you know WHO I THINK I Am?! And be at my beck and call – but I do expect said people to not be rude. I mean, I can (have and will) take my clients business and mine elsewhere.

The simplest things – like the tone of your voice when you answer the phone has a huge impact in how the rest of the conversation is going to go. And when you didn’t hear me say who I was (my name, not ego part) and you didn’t catch it – replying by yelling at me in a snippy tone with: ‘WHO??’ – isn’t going to win you any points either… Remember I’m contacting you to give you my business; if this happens more than once, I will find somewhere else. Smiling helps too… for example in the morning when I’m ordering a latte and muffin and you’ve already had yours – but I haven’t; having that sour look on your face will ensure I find somewhere else to frequent…

I suppose my intent in writing this post was as much for me to (vent) talk about really terrible customer service – and why it’s important to not offer that; but also to point out how even the simplest of things can go a long way; please and thank you, you’re welcome, hi, great to see you! – If my twin 4 year olds can master that – I’m guessing you can too!

And because no post would be complete without a quote, this can be applied to everyone… (And we’re ALL important) – “It’s nice to be important – but it’s more important to be nice. “

Be Inspired ~ Amanda

Reid’s Story

“We never know the love of the parent; until we become parents ourselves” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Isn’t that the truth? I thought I knew everything (just ask my Parent’s they’ll tell you…) At first when Abby was born, Brent and I thought we were busy (ha…) new first time parents, you know the drill. Then we had (surprise!) twins… I say surprise because I was half way through my pregnancy when we found it there were ‘two of them in there’ I think we’re still in shock! Then I went into labour early – it was a pretty scary time. I’m grateful for the healthcare and top notch hospitals we have in Hamilton – I wouldn’t be here writing my witty note, and my beautiful babies wouldn’t be gracing my Facebook pages – without them.

After we (I won’t say got over, because frankly I’m never going to do that) the shock of us having twins, we had to deal with the reality that one of them was pretty sick. Ashlan and Reid were born 4 weeks early via an emergency C-section that saved their, and my life – and while they were terrific sizes (A: 5lbs 7oz R: 6lbs 1oz) they spent some time in the NICU at St. Joes and McMaster Sick Kids.

When Ashlan was released from the NICU at St. Joes at 3 weeks, Reid was transferred to Mac for another 3 – where we discovered he has a heart and lung condition called Pulmonary Valve Stenosis (PVS) – something no parent ever wants to hear. My son now has a Cardiologist… I thought you had to be ‘old’ for one of those. Joking aside – the first year of his life was spent in and out of the hospital – we decided we should just have a dinner party and invite all the different departments so we could get all the testing done and over with at once (I wish…)

Once we got the all clear from Genetics (again, no parent should have to deal with this… nice, incredibly talented and intelligent Dr., but no thanks.) we decided that Reid was made up from the same stuff as his Daddy. Needless to say he’s not going to be 6’5” and 300lbs. Ever. And parted ways with all the other testing. Except the Cardiologist – that wasn’t a choice to abandon her.

Things were rolling along fine – we knew the symptoms to watch for (or so I thought…) and were told that he will be the person they’re referring to when giving the heat warnings and he won’t be able to play competitive, contact sports (again, I’m ok with that…) but that surgery wouldn’t be needed. I went in with this mindset last October for his yearly Echocardiogram and EKG – just the regular check up I thought. To say we were caught off guard when the results came back that the obstruction in his valve was now at the point where they needed to do something – He was at risk for a heart attack – is an understatement. I don’t think I will ever fully recover from that news.

(Side note: this is where I’m nominating myself for ‘Mother of the Year Award – I’ve won, so everyone else, back off.) All those times we walked to the park – ok Starbucks – and he told me he was tired, and I said ‘no you’re not’ – well… yes, yes he was. In fact, he couldn’t breathe… see: winner!

In addition to McMaster, we are so very lucky to have Toronto Sick Kids so close. ALL the staff (from the Surgeons to the Parking Attendants) are simply Amazing. I could write about just that experience alone. Reid had day surgery (that is amazing in of itself.) to (in effect tear open…) the obstruction 4 days before Christmas. On Christmas day, his energy outlasted his Sisters – THAT was a miracle.

We just had his follow-up from the surgery and I’m so happy to say that his Cardiologist has given him two thumbs up… they are pleased with the results – and while they’re still monitoring that valve and another one that is a bit smaller than it should be – they don’t need to see him until next year. Yes, that’s right – next year. I can breathe now…

We weren’t going to put a team into the Big Bike this year… The whole ‘Donor Fatigue’ thing. We participate in so many things – which I am very honoured to do – but also realize that we’re not going to have any friends left if we keep asking them to support us… Then we realized how silly that was. It’s the Heart and Stroke Foundation – the very organization that is there FOR OUR SON!! You support those you love and care about. Those you like and respect. Those who, even if you don’t know them – you can empathize with them and, god forbid when you truly need the (support, in whatever way) you hope that someone is there for you – and created #ReidsRiders. Out of all the things we are part of – THIS ONE – really, truly is, close to our hearts. Want to donate – or join our team? CLICK HERE!

So from the bottom of our – mine, Brent, Abby, Ashlan and Reid’s – hearts, we thank you. Thank you for all your support for us, your notes, messages, dinners, wine – and your time and donations – thank you.

<3 Amanda

@InspireHamilton

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go” – Dr. Seuss

 

Tweetstock V – June 16, 2011 “Art of Community”

I had the great honour of being asked to talk at Tweetstock V back in June – and for all the talking I do (and like to do!) let me tell you this… I was nervous! 

I love my Community, I love living in such a great City and I{love} that I am a part of it. So when I was asked if I would come and talk to a room full of people that I engage with everyday on ‘the twitter’ – I said yes immediately… then proceeded to sweat over what I would say. 

When you watch the video (and you’re all going to watch it right?!) you will see that I was so nervous, I clearly need to brush up on my 80’s music… Note to Trivia Players: think twice about having me answer these category questions for you! That aside, I was thrown off track by the two minute warning, (Clearly 2 minutes meant I needed to wrap up immediately and NOT finish!) that I didn’t get out the most important part of my story. The message I wanted to leave everyone with was how important it is for us to be a part of our Community.

Here is my {complete} talk:

I like to talk a lot. So when my husband and business partner @Brent Kinnaird suggested we get on ‘the twitter’ I reacted like many have: I was hesitant & thought he was crazy – you want me to talk to strangers? And secondly – what do these people care what I have to eat?! (I’m grateful that you do – as I just cracked the 3,000 follower mark! – thank you!)

We created our accounts the same day Brent has close to 5,000 tweets and I have close to 29,000… Proving to all my school teachers that yes, I do talk A LOT .. BUT apparently people do care what it’s about!

Never did I imagine that in such a short period of time Social Media would become such an important part of our business, as well as resulting in meeting a lot of really fantastic people who have become great friends.

I love quotes & I think this one is fitting for why I talk about my Community: By Dr. Seuss “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to happen it’s not.”

The key is engagement and offering good content. Building your brand is important… Brand = Sum total of experiences, beliefs and stories about you.

I wanted to share a few examples of how Social Media has impacted Inspire Marketing and my Community.

Personal interests have translated into new relationships. We live close to Locke St â all I need is within walking distance, including STARBUCKS, and you all know my love affair with them.

I talk about all of these things A LOT! Not because I have to, but because I want to and i’d like to think that by doing this, it brought attention to my community and attention means people -specifically bringing people into it, and that’s a good thing.

Starbucks & #AmandaLatte

The folks at Starbucks have been kind to me again, I talk about them not because I have to, but because I want to. And as a result, they have sent me some pretty nice packages because they found out I was put on a Starbucks Budget thus creating the AmandaLatte using my Tassimo – And they missed my smiling face..I’m hoping that if I talk enough about my #AmandaLatte they will put it in their menu â and the day that happens, you had better believe I will be tweeting about that!

Now for the part I didn’t get to:

Another example â how you can help others and find ways to work together:

Mission Services & Coach & Lantern

I have a shellfish allergy so eating out is difficult â something I often talk about on twitter. I’ve discovered some great restaurants because of this â The Coach & Lantern is one.

After tweeting about my allergy, I received a note from Andrea at the Coach & Lantern assuring me I would be safe to eat there – Brent and I went up one Friday night and not only had a great dinner, but also fantastic conversation with Andrea – who sat with us for a half hour, but also made a new friend.

As result of this new relationship, when we received a call in Early December 2010 from our friends at Mission Services saying their Christmas Hamper Program was in desperate need of donations – they had the highest number of families signed up to get one, and they were at the lowest ever for donations – was there anything we could do; Brent and I called Andrea and asked if she could help us with our Toy drive.

Without the help from The Coach & Lantern – who generously allowed their restaurant to be the drop off location for new toys, as well as handed out bookmarks to their customers, we would not have been able to deliver close to 200 toys matched with books donated by Inspire Marketing and $300 in cash donations. ÂTHIS is the true meaning of a Community coming together.

For me, engaging in Social Media has brought some great exposure to my company & our clients we are talking to people that live and work in our community and getting them along with others excited about it. #HamOnt

One last quote to sum up me on Twitter:

It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice…

Thank you once again to Trevor, Kevin & the entire tweetstock team for inviting me to participate in your event you should be very proud of it’s success & i’m honoured to have been asked.

Amanda

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Surround yourself with Inspiration…

Spontaneity without question drives creativity. Some of the best ideas and most inspiring moments come when least expected. I’ve never been a fan of contriving, however I do believe there’s much to be said about being prepared; and building an environment to be inspired. My bike and my feet have always offered me the best escape and environment to let my mind go. So start by finding your oasis, surround yourself in a place or engage in an activity that you love. It’s amazing the power of a positive environment.Go where others can’t easily reach you, turn the phone off or leave it behind. We all deserve an hour of uninterrupted time. The mind can swirl almost instantly with a long list of ideas. Always have a way to record them. It’s easy to tuck away a little notepad or keep your mobile device handy for recording a few quick thoughts. There are several good dictation apps available (I like Dragon Dictation) or simply type a quick note or email with your thoughts. Music is a great motivator…short playlists with your favourite inspiring tunes can also help to get your mind going in a creative direction. What are your ‘must-hear’ playlist tunes?

Think of this as your meditation time, reflect and dream big. Too many hours in front of the computer screen do me in, probably do the same to you! Consider taking this time in the early morning hours before the day gets going, step away on a lunch break or even carve out some early afternoon minutes. The real bonus is you have the power to build an activity into your day wherever it best fits. Finish the day strong, harness the creative energy and inspire yourself to new heights.

Cheers!
Brent

One little word…

Inspire. ÂYes, that is my word. ÂI want to. I want to learn from others that do. I want to be Inspire(d). ÂOne little word #olw, and it’s Inspire. ÂPretty big meaning behind this one little word.

I am taking part in Ali Edwards “Big Picture Class” One little word… because, as she puts it: A single word can be a powerful thing. I had to chose a single word (yeah, this was hard for me… ONE.SINGLE.WORD!) that sums up what I wanted for myself in 2011. ÂHeck, I have enough trouble with full run-on sentences when talking, never mind choosing ONE WORD to describe what I want in 2011!! ÂBut I did it… after choosing 2 different ones – but knowing they weren’t quite right – I went back to my original… Inspire. ÂPretty fitting I think since it’s the name of My Company – and it’s something that I hope to do more of.

I am hoping that my One Little Word will evolve into many big things… I can hardly wait!

“Figuring out who you are is the whole point of the human experience” ~ Anna Quindlen

Amanda