Building Your Brand

LinkedInAre you one of THOSE people? You know the kind I mean… the kind of person who only goes on LinkedIn when they’re in between jobs and looking for their next opportunity. It’s actually how I stay informed on who’s out of work; suddenly their name pops up in my newsfeed as they feverishly share content among their contacts so they can become more visible.

You’re doing it wrong.

Working your LinkedIn profile only when you’re looking for a job is like calling up a contact out of the blue after several years and asking for a reference. Who are you? Yes, I vaguely remember you. Why should I give you a reference?

Relationships don’t grow by themselves. They need nurturing and require time to be set aside to connect to people, and to build trust.

It’s almost amusing how many people log onto Facebook daily and share articles and status updates, yet they let their LinkedIn profiles languish, treating it almost as an afterthought. Oh look, Mary Lou is having a work anniversary. I think I’ll log in and send her a “Congrats!”

You have it backwards.

Facebook isn’t going to help you find a new job. Facebook is where you keep in touch with family and friends, sharing jokes and recipes and the occasional funny cat video. (By the way, don’t share those on LinkedIn – it’s really unprofessional and that’s not going to make you look good.)

Have you read an interesting article lately that pertains to your line of work? Maybe it was something about a style of business you admire or a new innovation in your field. Why not share it with other professionals? Over time, your contacts will get a fairly good idea of the type of person you are, what you’re interested in, your concerns for your profession, the type of self-development you’re pursuing, and the direction in which you’re heading, just by the articles you’re reading and sharing. This is an important part of building a relationship with your contacts.

We are constantly selling ourselves, to our customers, to our current employers, to our next potential opportunity. You need to market yourself and build your own personal brand so your contacts will know who you are.

Contacts that will be so important when you’re looking for that next opportunity.
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Building Your Brand by Suzette Seveny is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Who’s on Trial?

Is this abuse?

I’ve been following the Jian Ghomeshi trial and have an admission to make – when I listened to the evidence provided by his lawyer about the first two accusers, I thought “Who sends flirtatious emails to someone who has attacked them?” Immediately I doubted their credibility.

Then I thought more about it.

Isn’t that like asking an abused woman why she stays with her abuser? Let’s use Ray Rice as an example. The woman he beat very publicly has since married him. I don’t know why; I cannot fathom marrying someone who has hurt me for ANY reason. The fact that she married him though does not mean he did not beat her. Like millions of other people, I saw the video, it cannot be denied.

Who’s on trial?

So, if I use that same logic and reasoning, does the fact that Lucy DeCoutere sent emails, even flirtatious ones, to Ghomeshi afterwards mean that he didn’t abuse her? One of them, sent just a few hours later, expressed a desire to have sex with him and his lawyer Marie Henein said those dispatches prove the attack never happened. The former Trailer Park actress (turned armed forces captain) claims that she was trying to “normalize” the situation. I can understand this. Did Lucy DeCoutere think that his rage was caused because they DIDN’T have sex? I think as women, we are conditioned to be people pleasers and when unpleasant things happen – whether it’s the break up of a relationship, abuse, infidelity, whatever, many of us automatically start doubting ourselves. What did we do to cause this? What did we do to set him off? Maybe I just need to try harder, be better, be careful.  Only once we are away from the situation, in distance or in time, does the fog lift and we start to see it for what it was – abuse.

The fact that a woman would remain in contact with someone who hurt them speaks more about our lack of self-worth than it does about absolving the abuser of his (or her) actions.

Abuse comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s someone who puts you down, constantly criticizing you for your looks, your weight, your cooking, your cleaning skills. Someone who makes you feel like you’re not good enough in some way. Sometimes it’s someone who takes advantage of you, cleans out your bank account, steals money from your purse. Sometimes it’s someone who lacks the ability to be supportive or empathetic. Sometimes it’s someone who manipulates you to doing things during sex that you’re really not comfortable with – I think almost every woman has heard the line “but if you loved me…”. Sometimes it’s someone who hurts you physically.

Is this abuse?

Abuse takes many forms.

I remember when I was younger and just starting to work, not only was I subjected to what I now consider to be abuse on a couple of occasions, but I continued to work in those situations. I would face these people every day and act as if nothing had happened. I thought maybe I was giving off the wrong signals. I was trying to “normalize” the situation.

Where have we heard that phrase before?

There were enough women who came forward with allegations about Jian Ghomeshi, women with no previous connection to each other, each telling a similar story, enough to make me remember the phrase – where there’s enough smoke, there’s gonna be a fire. Ghomeshi admitted he liked rough sex and he claimed it was consensual. All of these women say they never gave consent. He showed the CBC photos of a woman he’d had “rough sex” with, complete with bruises and broken ribs. Can anyone really consent to that kind of abuse? Do any of the accusers have a history of liking rough sex? Sometimes it wasn’t even sex – Lucy Decoutere did not have sex with him. So what does that make it? Come on… connect the dots.

Let’s remember who’s on trial here.


#ghomeshi #cdnjustice #ibelievelucy #IStandWithLucy #truthmatters #rapeculture #cdnjustice

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Ok, let’s talk: A response to the Bell Let’s Talk campaign

Today is Bell’s Let’s Talk Day. I agree, but there’s more to talk about than Bell would like to admit.

This is my first time actually re-posting another blog post, but what it says is so important. You need to read it.

Vision Passion Action

This post was written by Danielle Landry. She teaches Mad People’s History as part-time instructor with the School of Disability Studies.

A drawing of a road side stand with the words "psychiatric help 5 cents" on top. Inside the stand there is a person with a blue text box. The bottom of the stand reads "The corporation is in"Ok, let’s talk.

Let’s talk about how those two new workplace scenario commercials only reinforce the idea that it’s unsafe to talk about mental health to your boss or co-workers, instead of establishing that employers in Ontario actually have a duty to accommodate disabled workers, including those with psychiatric disabilities.

Let’s stop positioning disabled people as charity cases through a-nickel-for-every-text campaigns.

Let’s talk about the erosion of our social systems through corporate greed.

Let’s ask why Bell hasn’t instituted any programs to support its low-income customers, such as if they need a reprieve from paying their bills during a hospital stay.

Let’s talk about why it’s not okay that we have to rely on corporate sponsorship to sustain our mental health system. Let’s ask if corporate influence serves to…

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At What Cost?

This may be a deep, thoughtful subject. It’s definitely going to be a controversial one. It’s also definitely a conversation worth having. It’s a conversation about choice and the right to make your own decisions. It’s about the end of life.

I read a blog a few days ago about a husband and wife, scientists from Australia, who had decided when and what their end of life would be. They made no secret that this is what they had planned. I read it, then watched the video, then did a lot of thinking.

The Big Sleep

I thought about my pets, and how I loved them too much to let them suffer. I respected when it “was time” and let them go, though it broke my heart. Sometimes it seems we have more compassion for our pets than we do our loved ones.

And I thought about some animals in the wild, who wander off when it’s time to die, so that they can be alone and not weaken the herd or pack.

Then I thought about some people I have met in nursing homes, incapable of seeing, hearing, communicating; being kept alive on machines, mind and body long deserted.

And I thought, “At what cost?” We can make people live much longer than ever before, but at what cost? Are we keeping people alive against their will? Quality of life must factor into the equation at some point.

Taking into consideration that there is a great cost to society dealing with an aging population in nursing homes, if they do not want to continue living, why are we doing it? For the families? Because we’re afraid to lose them? Isn’t that like letting your beloved pet suffer because you’re not ready to let go? Isn’t that kind of selfish?

Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m definitely not saying “Kill all the old people”. I’m saying if someone whats to end on their own pre-defined terms, whether because of chronic illness or progressive dementia, do we have the right to force them to continue? At all costs?

I don’t know the answer. I’m not saying this is right for me and you may say it’s not right for you. I’m saying we need to think about this. While we have developed the means to keep people alive, maybe we also should be respecting people’s wishes to die – within reason.

You may notice that I’m leaving God and religion out of this discussion. MY God never wants us to suffer. Having been brought up Roman Catholic, the explanation always given when someone dies is that God called them “home” and that it was God’s “will”. Well, if someone is dying (God calling them home) and we force them to stay alive through artificial means, are we not circumventing God’s will?

We all need to think about this – it’s a huge moral and ethical question and it needs to be discussed more as a human right.

2016 – The Year of Living

new-year-resolution-c-carouselHappy New Year 2016!

I’m not a fan of resolutions, as I think they set us up for disappointment and self-loathing. Setting a resolution tends to make us over-critical of ourselves, as if somehow we aren’t good enough just as we are. Sure, we can all get healthier, lose weight, quit smoking, etc., but those are things we should be doing all the time anyway without needed to start self-hating. At the end of the year we can look back on everything we didn’t accomplish and feel even worse about ourselves. Resolutions are not necessary or healthy. For example, I quit smoking a few years ago and I didn’t make a resolution to do it. I just did it.hobbes

What I’d like to do is set loftier goals. What are loftier goals you ask? Good question. I am going to aspire to be a nicer person, and a happier person. I’m going to set some realistic goals for myself that are based more on personality development, and then on the first of every month, I’ll revisit my goals. I can pat myself on the back for the ones that I am actually doing, I can re-commit to some others by re-thinking how to achieve the goal, or I can completely discard the goal if I don’t think it’s realistic, or if my interests have changed. No long-term commitment – this is like a month-to-month lease.

I want to be more conscious of what I’m buying and eating, and I’m not talking diet. My purpose is to buy Canadian products whenever and wherever possible and share my Canadian finds with as many people as I can. I think this is a good way to raise awareness of where our products are grown, produced, manufactured, etc. and might have a positive influence on Canadian jobs. If I can’t find a Canadian product (for example, pineapples don’t grow in Canada), I’ll look for products from the USA.

foot in mouthI also want to be a more positive and less critical person. My purpose is to try to elevate my moods by spreading kindness around. Some people do this by paying it forward at a coffee shop drive through. I don’t use drive throughs though (I actually think they’re the best example of laziness and disregard for our air quality), so I’ll do it by trying to say something nice about most people I meet. I’ll try for three a day. It might be to compliment someone on their appearance, or thank them sincerely for good service, etc. I’ll smile more too – smiling is infectious. Before I make a comment, I will try to ask myself, “Is it helpful?” “Is it supportive?” “Is it necessary?” I’m going to try to be more patient and remember the golden rule – if I can’t say something nice, say nothing at all. Not terribly hopeful on that last part, but I’ll re-evaluate how realistic it is after a month.

I want to disconnect from a lot of social media as well. The town I live in has several Facebook pages, and so many of the comments on them can be very negative. I have a tendency to try and correct misinformation, but I now realize that ignorance truly is bliss for most people. A friend recently pointed out to me that most successful people aren’t on Facebook very much and I realize that’s true. It’s also true that the people who are on Facebook most of the time, don’t have much else going on in their lives. Please don’t let that be me!

I’m going to put a limit on my Facebook activities and even leave some of the groups that I’m a part of because of the negativity. All town information will be on a need to know basis and I don’t need to know about other people’s negativity and close-mindedness. It just makes me lose faith in society. Along those same lines, I’m going to learn to walk away or set boundaries with negative people or people who consistently upset me. I don’t know if they do it deliberately or if it’s just how I’m perceiving it, but whatever the reason, I will no longer accept that negativity in my life. It’s bad for my chakra*.

Since I’ll be disconnecting from Facebook more, I’d like to devote some time each week to writing. I find writing elevates my mood, and allows me to connect with my inner spirit. I’ve already started writing more with this blog and by joining a writing group, so I’m well on my way! I’m also going to spend some time each week reading. I find I’ve been spending more time reading news lately and not recreational reading. I have a list of books I’d like to check out – some e-books and some physical books, but reading a novel for even for 15 minutes a day will be relaxing for me.

And here’s a weird one – I’d like to watch more television shows/movies. This is something I’ve stopped doing over the past year and like reading and writing, it’s a way for me to relax. I’m not going to expect to watch television every evening or go to the movies every week, but I’d like to go to the movies at least every two months if there’s something worth seeing, and watch recreational television for at least an hour or so a week.

I’d like to try something new at least once a month. It might be colouring, a drum circle, wine-tasting, bus trips, whatever – just something to get me out of my stale routine and keep life interesting. If I hear that friends are going to be doing something different, I’m going to speak up and ask if I can join them. I’ve met some really nice, positive people over the past few months by doing this, and it’s definitely a positive thing. I’d like to try yoga and meditation for example. Maybe I can find a friend who would be interested in these things as well. I’d also like to go to Toronto on a Friday evening for storytelling. I used to go years ago and really enjoyed it, so I’d like to do it again and maybe introduce some friends to it.

When I get stuck in a rut, I start to become afraid of change. I need to get out of my comfort zone and stretch my wings a bit. Life’s too short just to go through the motions and soon I’ll be another year older. I’m now at the age where I never know how much time I have left. Time to learn to live.

So here’s a summary of my list of goals:Growing

  • Buy and promote Canadian products (because this is important to me)
  • Say something nice to 3 people a day
  • Be less critical and impatient
  • Avoid negative people
  • Limit interactions on Facebook
  • Make time to write
  • Make time to read (aim for 15 mins a day)
  • Make time to watch TV (aim for an hour a week)
  • Go to the movies at least once every 2 months
  • Try to do something new or different at least once a month
  • Try yoga and meditation
  • Re-visit the goals on the first of every month

Welcome to 2016 – I’m looking forward to the journey!

*This is the first time I’ve used the word “chakra”. It just felt right. I looked it up after I used it and it definitely is the word I wanted to use.

Back to School

I’m going back to school!

In Canada, September has always been synonymous with the start of the school year for most students. My heart swells with pride as I remember my daughter’s first day of school in North York, Ontario. New dress, new shoes, new backpack, snacks packed, kisses given, tears streaming down my face as I left her at the school and walked away. I think it was harder for me than it was for her. Was she having a good time? Were the other children nice to her? Was she making friends? Was the teacher patient? Would the teacher recognize what a special gem she had in her class?

Every year brought more challenges. New schools, new friends, sometimes drama with friends, sometimes drama with teachers (hint: they’re not all nice!), new goals set, new expectations. I didn’t like school. I loved education though. Wasn’t it Mark Twain who said “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.”? Life is just one big school – lots to learn out there.

Secondary education (high school) was better than primary education (elementary school), and college was even better. I’ve always been like a bit of a sponge, constantly looking for things to learn. Even when I worked two jobs in my 20s, I found time to go to night school so I could learn more about accounting and improve my French.

I didn’t take any courses for several years after my daughter was born. The company I worked for though believed in career development, so I was kept busy taking company sponsored courses – sometimes about their products, sometimes about time management and management development. In my current job, I’ve taken courses to learn more about mortgages and finances, but I haven’t taken any formal courses for the past couple of years. I kept myself busy with Toastmasters though, which in a sense is still a learning environment.

But now I’m going back to school.

Online. I’m taking a course called “The Science of Happiness” at Berkeley University, through edX.  Through all those years of taking courses, I’ve become a very serious person and if you asked me today if I was truly happy, I don’t know how I’d answer you.

For anyone who’s interested, you can just google edX and browse through their courses. Or you can follow this blog as I share with you how the course is going.

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