What’s So Wrong With Email?

It is a common issue in our office and, I’m sure, many offices across North America, that email is the preferred form of communication.

I am part of this “issue” (if it really needs to be considered an issue), I fully admit, but I think it is an old school problem. People who started in business before email existed, or even when email existed but before it was trusted, have a mind-set that for real communication to happen it has to be done on the phone or in person. Is this still true in our information age?

When it comes to work, I often hesitate to pick up the phone, mostly because I feel like I lack the skills of telephone conversation, but I can often get my point across better when I have thought it out and put time into writing my message in an email. And I don’t usually have a problem with this form of communication.

Some people do have a problem with it, though, and I find that those people usually conform to the “old school,” a world where technology can’t be trusted and business can be done on a handshake.

So when my dad/boss says to me, “why don’t you just call this person,” I say, “I am a much better communicator via email,” and isn’t that what it’s all about, being able to effectively communicate?

I understand the value of a telephone conversation, as well. Sometimes you just need to get a hold of a person to relay a quick or urgent message or for clarity, to fully understand the message. I think talking to a person on the phone has value, but it’s not the only way, and it’s not always necessary.

I am, here and now, making a stand for email as a positive form of communication (without knocking the telephone) and long for a world where I can send emails without judgment and expectations of a call to follow.


From Childcare to Client care

In the past few months of having a new job, I have found that I have really enjoyed the change of pace. I found that when doing childcare, I was constantly running around after children and the job was very draining. The 6 1/2 years of running a daycare was the best choice for our family at the time – I was able to be home with my 2 daughters and teach them the way I wanted to. Now, however, they are both in school, and it was time for a change for me. I am now working with adults and I love the change. I find that I am picking my girls up from school with energy to spend time with them and loving every minute of it. I also find that my work does not exhaust me in the same way it used to – probably because I truly enjoy the work I am doing. I get to do a job I love and have time and energy for my family – I think I have found a great balance and I look forward to continuing.


Its been 10 years

Unbelievable as it seems Impact Group has been in business 10 years. As we currently sit, my wife Cheryl, our three daughters, Kate, Jenny and Vicki, Kate’s husband Mike, his sister Heidi and her husband Chris, as well as Jenny’s friend Sheena make up our company of nine people.

I did not see this strange configuration of family and friends coming together and all being in one business. Many would say we are nuts. Others say “you must be living a dream.” I would suggest that neither are accurate. Working with family members can be the best and worst of times. My belief is when its good its good for both (the family and the business) and when its bad its bad for both. So the risk of something happening at work that affects the family is certainly there. But that risk exists in every family whether they people work together or not.

Many people say “my spouse and I could never work together.” Fortunately Cheryl and I work well together and the reason is logical. The things we bring each other that have helped us be balanced and happy in our marriage for 33 years are the same things that keep us balanced and happy at work. And when one of us talks about work, the other can certainly relate because its the same work, same people, same clients, same goals, same frustrations and hopefully, the same retirement date. I would never suggest this can work for others but I’m very pleased its working for us. And the nicest part is how Cheryl’s talents have blossomed and she is contributing in ways that surprise her. And that is true of every single person in our company. Its very nice to see.

And then there is agriculture. When I left the farm I tried my darnedest to get out of agriculture. It didn’t happen and I am thankful.  I am so proud to be making a living in agriculture. And I’m lucky. When I left the farm I could not possibly imagine the joy and pride I now feel 25 years later because I stayed in ag. But I am. And now my city raised children, and their relatives and friends are benefiting from it as well. Who would have thought. I didn’t know. But God did. He always does.

Thanks to all our clients who have trusted us to help them. Thanks to farmers and their determined spirit. Thanks to all those who choose to serve in this industry. Thanks to my family who is our company and all who have chosen to join us. And thank God for the many, many blessings!



Introducing myself

If you have called Impact Group in the past few months, you have most likely heard “Impact Group, Heidi Speaking” and probably have wondered who this new person is. Well, I would like to officially introduce myself: Hello, I’m Heidi!

I have recently started working for Impact Group as an Office Manager. My family moved to Calgary in April of this year. My husband, Chris, also works for Impact Group as a Web Specialist. We have two wonderful daughters aged 7 and 5 years who are in grade 2 and Kindergarten.

Our family moved from Abbotsford, BC where I used to run a daycare out of my home. Some have said that I must have had the easiest job – all I had to do was play with kids all day. Playing with kids was the highlight of my days, but in case anyone is wondering – running a daycare is so much more involved than that.

I have found the job change from running a daycare to being an office manager actually requires many of the same skills…

Running a daycare involves organization, patience, planning, cleaning, patience, business management skills, playing, and have I mentioned patience yet?

Being and office manager involves organization, patience, planning, and business management skills.

I have found the biggest difference between the two jobs is…the amount of patience required (and the amount of diapers changed) when working with 7 children 6 years old and younger versus working with adults.

Overall, I have really enjoyed the change of jobs and the move to Calgary. And I look forward to meeting and working with you all.


When do the holidays really start?

I would say that I am one of those people who gets excited for the holidays as soon as there is snow on the ground.

In my house there are rules. I am not allowed to watch Christmas movies before November 1st. Well, I guess that’s really the only rule, so I should consider myself lucky.

But why is it that people get sick of holiday paraphernalia?

To me, the holidays are more about the attitude. The spirit of giving (not gifts) to others. A reminder of how lucky I am and that I live in a pretty beautiful city.

Whether your holiday spirit is spending the extra time at Tim Horton’s to ask the cashiers how their day has been, making a stranger smile by letting them go ahead of you in the checkout because they have less items than you, or maybe shoveling your neighbours walk, the important part of the holiday season is that we change our attitudes (for a short time as least).

I tend to slow myself down a bit more during holiday times. Obviously, I usually have some time off. But I think that people should look at how the holidays make them feel. If you don’t like the holidays because you think they are expensive, busy, overly joyful, or too sparkly then maybe you need to adjust the way you look at them?

Hopefully we can all try to carry the holiday spirit into 2013.




“Marketing happens every time you engage (or not) with your past, present, and potential customers.” Quote from UnMarketing by Scott Stratten

I have been working on rewriting portions of our training programs for the last few months, which has driven me to read countless books on varying subjects. One such book, UnMarketing: Stop Marketing, Start Engaging by Scott Stratten, contains many great points and is one that I would highly recommend.

This book is about the changes that are happening in business marketing and communications driven by the need for more interaction, engagement and transparency through the use of social media. For the most part I enjoyed Scott’s take on social media and the effect it can have on a business especially if it’s bundled with those things we already do to create real and personal relationships with our customers.

If you would like to have a greater understanding in how social media could work for you and your business, read this book.



Now you’re thinking Air Canada

A first for me. A cell phone free zone in the Air Canada lounge. And its pleasant. Almost serene. I can use more serene in my life. So i’m sitting here, in a small section of the lounge with my cell phone off  and no one around me forcing me to be part of their phone conversation that I have no interest in.

And its kind of funny, but when I first saw the sign, I thought it was a no smoking sign but then realized that there hasn’t been smoking allowed in the lounges for 10 years. And then I thought, will cell phone use be viewed like smoking in a few years. As a violation, and even pollutant of our personal space. Or maybe even…. oops, gotta go, my phone is ringing!  Kidding.


The English Evolution

I had a professor in University who was very concerned with the evolution of language that is happening in our society today. It is inevitable, of course, and has been happening since the English language began, but what we are reducing some things to, today, I agree, is a bit alarming.

Some of the most common words we use on a daily basis aren’t even words. For example, “OMG,” “WTF,” “LOL.” We’ve reduced our language to a few letters. Are words really that complicated? I understand that we use this language because we type more than we speak, but soon no one will be able to read classic literature because it uses English words that won’t have meaning to the general public anymore.

Webster’s Dictionary, the most commonly used American dictionary (not to be confused with the Oxford English Dictionary) has now included words like “Youtuber,” “sexting,” “bazinga,” “butt-dial,” “slanglish,” etc.

It has also included “misjustice” as a word with the definition “injustice.” Just because people can’t seem to figure out the proper word, we have to create a new one? What was wrong with “injustice”? This is a literary injustice, if you ask me.

I get that if language didn’t evolve we would all still be saying “thou” instead of “you” or “shalt” instead of “will,” but are there no bounds to which something can be deemed a proper word?


Social media reveals online crowds

No one likes standing in line for things, but here’s a funny thought process I went through at the Calgary Stampede this past summer while walking through the food truck area and happening upon a disproportionately large queue.

“Wow that’s a long line-up for (I forget what it was… I think it had seaweed on it)”
“I’d hate to be standing in that line-up.”
(Walking a few paces–eyeing the food truck menu).
“Must be good though!”
“I think I’ll try it.”

And so I got in line.

It’s funny how something as off-putting as a line-up can actually draw people in. In fact, I’ve often wondered if restaurants use this to their advantage–any time I’ve visited the Chill Winston, a cool pub in Vancouver’s Gas Town, I’ve always waited outside in a crowd beside a hostess whose exchange rate on actual wait time versus estimated wait time is at least 4 to 1. The resulting crowd ends up being very effective marketing, intentional or not.

I think it makes for an interesting illustration when it comes to the web. You can’t really ‘see’ all of the other people who have used the website you’re surfing–until we add social media. Page discussion, social tags displaying how many people have shared it–these reveal online crowds. I think the principle of increased traffic proportional to increased interest holds true here. Best of all, no one has to wait in any lineups!


License to Grouch!

This summer Evansburg, Alberta, hit the news headlines, not only locally, but nationally as well. This town of 880 people west of Edmonton has been holding elections for Town Grouch since the 70’s but this year they hit the big time.

This contest struck interest in the entire country with its uniqueness. Most towns elect a Strawberry Queen, or an Apple Princess, to celebrate their summer festival not a grouching, mop topped miner!

The winner of this esteemed crown is given license to grouch as they see fit, without fear of reprisal or recrimination, through the entire year. To become Town Grouch the candidates must raise money by pestering everyone in town demanding donations. The one to raise the most money wins the crown (miners costume) and bragging (grouching!) rights for a year. Armed with a pickaxe, coveralls, a miner’s hat and a curly orange wig it’s hard to miss this “grouch”!

With an address of “10 Frowning St” and a town park bench to grouch on, this icon has been a hit in Evansburg since 1979. And now that the idea has been shared with the rest of Canada, I think some people may be thinking of moving to Evansburg so they can compete to have the right to grumble and grouch with respect!