3 Steps to Capitalizing on Mistakes: Admit, Act, Access (Raptors & Startups)

Mistakes happen. The question is, when they do, what are you going to do about it?

Customer service skills are crucial for startups.  Whether you’re in validation phase building your base,  beta testing, or are about to hit your one millionth user, your customers matter, and bad days are going to happen. Servers go down, orders go missing, a team member blows it with a client, etc. Whatever type of bad day your startup is having, or mistake you’ve made, the world won’t end.

Here’s a quick three step guide to stepping up on mistakes. Admit. Act. Access.

  1. Admit There’s a Problem

The Raptors whimpered away from the Milwaukee Bucks in one of the most lopsided losses in  NBA Playoff history on April 20 (104-77, Game 3, Round 1 – not that we want to remember).  All-star point guard Kyle Lowry could only be honest in saying “we got our ass bust.”

Sometimes that’s all it takes. Whether it is to a customer, a client, or a team member, they just need to know you know there’s a problem. No excuse, no explanation, just admit there is a problem.

You can handle that right?
Your business won’t close, you wont lose (many) customers.

You won’t.

In fact, Salesforce states that making mistakes can be can be the perfect path to customer loyalty.  But you can’t start the journey if you don’t own the mistake.

2. Take Action to Solve Problem

Social media makes spectacles of companies that don’t own their mistakes fast enough and don’t lay out out appropriate action plans to remedy the problem.

Amy Gallo of the Harvard Business Review article, “You’ve Made a Mistake. Now What?” states, “Focus on the future. How will your misstep be remedied? What will you do differently going forward?”

This is a good reference for how to frame your relationship and what you will do in the future. Action is often demonstrated by learning something from your mistakes you can use to to remedy similar situations that arise.

Referencing the Raptors, DeRozan talks about learning from the teams mistakes in their colossal loss and how they will “use it as motivation… [to] be back and ready for Saturday.”  The Raptors took action and won their next game 87-76 tying the series at two games a piece.

You’re a startup. You’re lean.  What action steps do you have to do to fix your mistake? Move the pieces around, look at your processes. Are you trying to do too much, is someone in the wrong role. Take a look, develop an action plan, communicate it, then rock it.

Make sure you act effectively and fast to show that the problem matters to the stakeholder and that you’re taking steps to fix it.

3.  Be Accessible

While there are different sizes of mistakes, there are few that won’t give you the opportunity to rebuild trust, but that means being accessible. Whether its a follow up email to see if your action steps resolved the issue, supplying your affected customers some type of feedback tool, or being active on social media being accessible is really important.

After the Game 3 lop-side loss, DeRozan pinned his 2010 tweet “Don’t worry, I got us…”

Mistakes happen.  What are you going to do about it?
You got this.

– – – – –

Further Reading / References:

Demar DeRozan Twitter

Gallo, Amy. You’ve Made a Mistake. Now What? Harvard Business Review.

Grothaus, Michael. United Airlines Has a Social Media Nightmare On Its Hands, Fast Company.

Shukle, Ravi. Why Making Mistakes Is The Perfect Path To Customer Loyalty, Salesforce.


Performance Assessment Crossword – 2015

Rumor and research states that crosswords help you get information OUT of your head.
For tomorrow’s exam – here’s a crossword to help get all the info you’ve read on Witiger.com over the past three months  for CCT224 – Performance Assessment out of your head and on to the paper.

Best of luck and see you tomorrow.

CCT 224 Crossword

Download a print-friendly PDF copy of the crossword here:   CCT 224 Crossword – Download File


When is it OK to be a Wild Card at work?

2014 Wild Card World Series

Tomorrow evening, two wild card teams face off against each other for the MLB World Series Championship.  If you’re in to baseball, it’s a bit of an odd and exciting pairing with the Kansas City Royals facing off against the San Francisco Giants. The Royals definitely didn’t look like a playoff team in April, but a brilliant second half of the season, and an epic 16-2 run through the playoffs to get this far has definitely shown they were a worth investment in Vegas at the beginning of the season.  Veteran loaded San Francisco Giants seem to have an October magnet in their pocket, no matter how good / bad, high / low the previous season has been, they bring it together to play ball in October and this year they’re back at the big show for the third time in five years!

In sports, there is room for comebacks and stories of grandeur, but when you have to slug it out every day in the work place, many employers would agree that they appreciate consistency.  While it would be a dream to consistently have top performers, its unfair to assume an employee won’t hit a slump that they need to bounce back from or have a ‘building year.’  A wild card in the work place could be potentially identified as a cowboy or a creative type who goes after company objectives in a colourful way. Wild cards could also be people who often work hard but can’t seem to quite close a sale they’re working on, yet can land a whale.  Or wild cards could even be someone who comes out of left field with a brilliant idea. Having been seen as both a wild card, a utility player, and a veteran, in the work place here are a few things I’ve learned about when it is okay to be a wild card at work.  

It is OKAY to be a Wild Card at work WHEN:

1. You play well with others
If your game is a little inconsistent at times, but you’re a contributor to team projects, work well with your team mates, forgiveness flows more freely.  Even if you think your boss is a jerk, they’re likely intelligent enough to see your efforts contributing to the team and see your value through your contributions.  So if you know you’re a wild card, make sure you’re also a team player!

2. You communicate with your stakeholders
We likely see our work mates more than our family and friends and as such you have to be open and communicate.  Life happens and slumps can come from just about anywhere; personal illness, family/marital issues, death of someone close to you, car trouble, accident…  Being open and explaining your situation to your boss and your team doesn’t make a drop in performance ‘okay,’ but if people understand where you’re at, you allow them to be in a position to support you best so you can get back to your A game asap.

3. Your crazy idea backed by hard work pans out (or doesn’t)
Effort matters.  If your known to have crazy ideas but back them up with hard work, effort is appreciated, even more so if it pans out as a win for the company. However, there comes a time when too many crazy ideas in a row without results does not make it okay to be a wild card (#lifelessonlearned).

4. You make it to the World Series
Forbes states that the San Fran Giants are currently worth “$1,000 M” and Royals ticket sales have jumped 12% this year and are expected to make a mint next year in ticket buying power increased sponsorships.  While a big win likely won’t get you a reserved parking spot forever, being a wild card and making it to the World Series will definitely increase your company credibility in the foreseeable future.

What do you think about wild cards in the work place?
If you are one, what are some tips you could give to others to help them be World Series wild cards!?

A bit of baseball:

New York Times: Royals & Giants Make It A Wild-Card World Series
ESPN: Welcome to the Worst World Series EVER

3 Lessons from 1984 Oilers (Leadership, Wayne Gretzky)

Wayne Gretzky - Toronto StarAll feels right with the world when The Great One is trending on Facebook and Twitter in Canada.

The “1984 Dream Team” reconnect in Edmonton this  week to celebrate 30 years of winning the Edmonton Oiler’s first Stanley Cup.  To be fair, I was 2 when this incredible season happened and had to do a little bit of research to find out what made this team special. To say I was absolutely blown away by what I found out is definitely an understatement (thanks for the facts Wikipedia – 1984 Oilers Season).

Here are three things I learned about being a Dream Team from the 1984 Oilers:

1. Push the Barriers of GREATNESS.
In 1984, NHL Hall of Fame legend Mark Messier didn’t even make the top 5 scorer’s list.  MARK MESSIER!  When you share the ice with  Mr Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Mike Krushelnyski and Glenn Anderson, great takes on a whole new meaning.  With a team pushing to be their absolute best, great things happen.  Encourage and inspire your teammates to push their limits, be creative, it’s not about ‘more’ work, it’s about ‘great’ work! 

1984 Oilers -2. Common Goals MATTER
The front line’s objective is to score, but when you have a defensemen scoring four goals in one game (Paul Coffeey), and your two main net minders have a season save percentage of 88.9% – you’ve got a team firing on all cylinders towards one goal.  Make sure everyone knows the goal and is willing to go all in pursuing it.

3. Lead by EXAMPLE
There was no “Alternate” captain on the 1984 Oilers. They didn’t need one with Wayne wearing the C. On and off the ice, with and without the puck, Gretzky was rated the most sportsmanlike player by his peers and league MVP more times than any other player in history.  The Oilers knew following their buddy Wayne was the best play they could make. It’s hard to be a leader day in and day out, but no matter what role you carry on your team, you can lead by example and make a positive difference and be part of your corporation’s dream team!

Some GREAT quotes from Wayne Gretzky this week:

Have fun with your friends:
“Charles Barkley sent me a text and said, ‘what does it feel like sleeping with a grandma?’ I said, ‘pretty good.’ ”  (Toronto Star – quote & photo credit)

Share wisdom and honour where due:
“Thankfully, in my youth I had the best financial adviser a son could ask for: my dad Walter.” (MoneySense)

Have fun being who you are:
“Glen Sather used to say to us all the time, `you guys don’t know how good you are.’ We were kids. We just played. Nobody thought about winning trophies. Nobody thought about being in the Hall of Fame. We were having so much fun.” (CBC Sports)

LinkedIn Pulse (Beta Testing)

LinkedIn Pulse App DownloadThis morning I received an email to download the new beta LinkedIn Pulse app for Android.  While the newest version has been available on iTunes for almost two weeks, and is celebrating their weekaversary on Android today, I think the “Beta” line is their nice way of saying “there may still be bugs.” (although I haven’t found any yet)

If you haven’t seen the app yet, it is a central location to display LinkedIn’s customizable newsfeed that allows you to follow news, trends, tech, and Influencers from the LinkedIn community that contribute to the Pulse news feed. Yup, the same newsfeed you see on your profile.  What I often like about Pulse is that the writing is often very blog friendly and personal containing life hacks, business insights and tips / behind the scenes look at people I want to be when I grow up. If for some reason you didn’t want to put this app in your ‘news’ or ‘social network’ folder, it could wind up in your ‘productivity’ folder because it makes it quite easy to find the info you want, without having to scroll through your feed, thus making for a faster reading experience when you have a few minutes on the train, or in the bathr… wait, never mind.

Customize LinkedIn Pulse AppWhile the customization options on the LinkedIn Pulse app are pretty extensive, one  great feature to add would be the ability to follow anyone who contributes posts, not just Influencers or Pulse News. Currently I follow a few Influencers; executives, ‘life hackers’ and a few young marketing geniuses that I think are doing some cutting edge work, and they show up in my app, but most of the Torontonians business persons of interest and other consultants / interesting people I follow do not.  While commenting on an Influencers post (with 6,000 other people) is great, I’m more interested in my community, with 200 comments.

Something I’ve been noticing wiLinkedIn Join the Conversation - Pulse Appth LinkedIn Pulse articles, is that a lot of my connections comment or like the same articles I see. As someone preparing to graduate from the Digital Enterprise Management at UofT next year, I definitely want to become a more involved in conversations surrounding future trends, and LinkedIn is creating a professional space for these conversations. The LinkedIn Pulse app makes commenting quite easy and will definitely help you be more engaging.

LinkedIn Pulse HomeThe one thing I’m wondering though, is the Pulse news still shows up in my LinkedIn app – do I really need two apps?

As I play with the app a bit more, I’m thinking it may replace Flipboard (my current go-to newsfeed  app). While essentially LinkedIn Pulse is their version of Flipboard, the opportunity to engage with a community I can connect with and to makes the concept more appealing.

While it’s great to see LinkedIn continuing to innovate the app market, I would have preferred to see the iPhone’s “Job Search” app make the leap to Android (with full Canadian support), but I can wait six months for that one!  For now, I’ll enjoy reading and engaging, and preparing for what’s next!

To download the current version of LinkedIn Pulse visit:
Google Play

Pinterest Evolves Again (Messaging!)

Pinterest Messaging goes live
Pinterest Messaging goes live. (photo from my inbox!)

In a game of “The most connected survive” Pinterest has evolved again increasing the relevance of their social media platform.

In the busiest summer of any of the SM platforms; Pinterest has grown to help their users become more connected.  A quick peek at what’s been added during the past sunny season:

April 9, 2014New ways to add Pin It buttons to your website
May 15, 2014 – Promoted Pins (Pinterest monetizes)
June 5, 2014Official Promoted Pins and analytics upgrade
July 8, 2014New Follow button
Aug 7, 2014MESSAGING

In watching Pinterest’s 24 second Youtube teaser to “messages” it is sooo simple, clean, efficient and does exactly what you think it would. While I’m not an avid Pinterest user; a quick test drive this morning left me beyond impressed. Messaging is light, simple and super intuitive, nothing really to ‘learn’. Personally I like it better than Facebook’s newest mobile messenger app, and it absolutely blows Twitter’s DM out of the water (which is in need of a serious upgrade my opinion).

And let’s be real, they have one of the greatest views in the world in Pinterest’s full intro video (2:11), so what’s not to love!  If you’ve given it a test drive – let me know what you think of the experience.

Pinterest Video Toronto Skyline
Pinterest Video Toronto Skyline

Pinterest Blog – Start A Conversation



Maximize Opportunity (others drop in your lap)

In line at SportChek Stockyards

What did I do on my long weekend? Stand in a line for SportChek Stock yards grand opening sale.

Standing in line with a bunch of strangers isn’t my ideal Saturday off, but a pair of $125 shoes for $45, yes please; or at least that was the plan…

With a $1,000 gift card up for grabs, the line started at 9pm and the winners left with 7 stuffed bags of sporting goods and TONS of socks. For 3 college age kids with their fold up chairs; the $80/hr in loot they walked out with was likely well worth the wait. Waking up a bit lazily on the long weekend I was about number 120 in line at 0830, which I was OK with.  One gift card with a minimum value of $25 each, one card per household, I still had a shot of saving $25 extra off  the 50% shoes I wanted.

Being in line got me thinking;

“Why aren’t all the stores in the plaza maximizing the opportunity SportChek is giving them!?”

By the time 10am rolled around, there were literally 300+ people in line. A major local radio station was there chatting up the crowd and giving live plugs for the grand opening over the airwaves, and the line kept growing. The parking lot was baron, except for SportChek customers.

Stockyards PlazaStockYards is a new plaza with new stores opening every week and most people don’t even know which stores are open yet, except for sandwich boards on the sidewalk.  I feel a lot of the Stockyards tenants missed a big opportunity to connect with their community. After standing in line for hours,  people might need coffee from Second Cup tucked around the corner, or Mechies frozen yogurt to help cool off. With Chipotle and Hero Burger “Coming Soon” – this was a great chance to tell the neighbourhood “Hey, we’re coming here’s a coupon for when we’re open!” and get the crowd SportChek brought to their doorstep to become their customers.  (Personally I would have loved it if Menchies came around with trays of those little sample sized 1oz yogurt cups, and a coupon… but that’s just me)

This was an eye opener to always be aware of your surroundings. It’s a principle as true in business as it was in the Marines. If there’s an opportunity,  take it.  SportChek sent out 50,000 flyers within a 5km radius of the store announcing their Grand Opening creating a perfect marketing opportunity for the plaza’s other vendors, many of whom are franchisees and may have smaller marketing budgets.  It doesn’t matter what size business you manage, you always need to focus on being innovative with your marketing, customer service, pricing and products to get to the front of the line of competitors in a customer’s head.

Drake OVO / Bounce  Branded Lint RollerA great example of maximizing a marketing opportunity came for IKEA in Toronto earlier this year. During Game 2 of the Raptors NBA playoff win, just about  every Canadian news agency captured a photo or video of Raptors’ Global Ambassador Drake lint rolling his pants during the game. The next day,  Ikea announced they would be outside the arena handing out lint rollers for the following home game. Ikea’s  publicity stunt prompted an official response from the Raptors stating they were not in relationship with Ikea. What they didn’t say, was that Drake’s lint rolling was setting the stage to hand out promotional OVO / Bounce branded lint rollers in the 416 section at Game 5 #nolint. Ikea’s quick response maximized an opportunity Drake dropped in their lap and stole the show before the official promo was announced. (Photo credit – Toronto Raptors Twitter) Read the Toronto Star’s coverage of the lint rolling here.

Back to SportChek – would you believe the gift cards ended two people in front of me! Their marketing worked and I still ended up getting the shoes.  More importantly, I wrote most of this blog while in line because I realized a valuable lesson:

Always push to innovate by maximizing every opportunity your competition,  friendly or otherwise drops in your lap.


Innovate Summer! #CoolestCooler

It’s Friday, and I am beyond ready for the weekend!  In fact, I was ready for the weekend on Monday when I had the idea for this post.

Yesterday the “Forbes Thought of the Day” came from Charles M. Schwab,
“the best place to succeed is where you are with what you have.”

Coolest Cooler
The Coolest Cooler (Kickstarter Photo)

It’s very likely a thought like that which inspired Ryan Grepper to innovate summer and come up with the “Coolest Cooler.”  That’s what I thought, a Cooler cooler?  If you haven’t seen it yet; this cooler comes with a blender, bluetooth speaker and USB charging station and is built for an awesome summer day out.  Grepper took we he had, an sunny summer day, a sucky cooler and an innovative idea and put it all together to make the coolest cooler.

According to Kickstarter with over $7 MILLION in pledges, the Coolest Cooler is the third most funded Kickstarter campaign ever, and it still has over a month to go!  But it was no picnic for Grepper to get to this stage.  As a self proclaimed “professional inventor,” in his first attempt at kickstarting the cooler, Grepper staked his reputation on The Coolest Cooler 1.0 (video Coolest Cooler 1.0). His plan was to use his model and success as an example to other inventors he was training. But then he got the Kickstarter grey line of death… Coolest Cooler Fail 2

I guess that’s what happens when you try to launch a cooler in the middle of winter.   After being a backer of 23 projects, including six that had to do with summer, Grepper felt he had his pitch ready to go.  If you check out Coolest Cooler 1.0 ( #failedattempt ), you’ll notice that it has a lot in common with the latest iteration of the Coolest Cooler, except yCoolest Cooler Failou had to order in November / December 2013, for delivery in August 2014.  In December I’m thinking about Christmas presents, not summer planning.  This round you order in summer, for delivery next winter…  “Timing” will likely be the most popular chapter in Grepper’s Ted Talk and book (as that’s where most Kickstarter rockstars end up).  Stonemaier Games blog has actually given this some thought in their “Kickstarter Lesson #109: Seasonal Timing” post – worth a read.

Kicktraq estimates that the Coolest Cooler will be the MOST funded Kickstarter campaign with $21 million in sales, based on current volumes.  With the long weekend coming up, who knows.  To double pledges of the #1 Pebble, and #2 OUYA, would be quite a feat, but we did see both of their sales take dips after fast launches and huge finishes.  Timing may not ALL be on Grepper’s side as he goes for the record.

The full version of this blog, including some interesting points on Bunch O Balloons and an extended version of “Reality Check” can be found on my Linkedin Profile or check out my other posts here on innovation (warning – one’s a rant).


Reality Check: I used to think of myself as an “ideas guy” until I discovered most of my amazing ideas were already taken! Crowdfunding has really helped people get their ideas to market, like with the Coolest Cooler and Bunch O Balloons.  While we aren’t all inventors, we all have different areas of skill and expertise that are ripe for innovation, just like summer, and summer has been around FOREVER!   Never stop believing, never. stop. innovating.


Contribution Breeds Intrapreneurship

Disclaimer: This blog starts out as a bit of a rant but can hopefully lead to some successful results in every area of your life by contributing!

If you were given the opportunity to choose which industry you worked in – would you take it? What if you were given the resources to build a product to showcase to a perspective client or employer and you could select which industry you wanted to target?  Do you think you would have a better chance creating something where you get to choose your audience, or when someone else chooses for you?

That’s exactly what I thought!  Well at least I thought everyone would jump at that opportunity to choose what industry to work for, but apparently I was wrong; I mean, 23 – 1 wrong.

This week the second half of the ‘summer semester’ at University of Toronto began and my first class was “Advanced Web Design (CCT460),” held at Sheridan College.   I began to get excited as the instructor listed off the semester’s team projects: build a widget, build a theme, build a plugin, build and present a website.  What a great opportunity!  As a marketing manager, these were all things I had contracted out in the past and I was now going to learn pieces of the process of what it was really like to build these tools.  And the best part, we got to choose which industry we wanted to create these tools for, giving us the opportunity to add something to our creative portfolio we could showcase to future prospective employers.  At least that’s how I thought it was going to go when the instructor said that for our team projects we could:

A. Choose our own industry to develop projects for.
B. Choose from a list of industries the instructor would provide.
C. Be assigned an industry by the instructor.4% Chose To Contribute

Out of 24 in the class, 23 chose B and I was the only one to choose A!  To say I was flabbergasted was an understatement.  How could / Why would you not take the opportunity to choose your own adventure?

Being fair I understand that it is an academic environment, but this is the best time to practice life; when the stakes are controllable.  My theory is to never pass up an opportunity to contribute.   Dan Schwabel, in his Forbes article Why Companies Want You To Be An Intrapreneur, writes about how contribution leads to innovation and intrepreneurship.  Some of his examples are pretty big deals; 3M Post-It Notes, Google Mail, and aircraft designs at Lockheed Martin, all came from employees contributing ideas, fuelling a culture of innovation.  Thinking on my past ten years of work experience, it’s amazing how many times I’ve sat in meetings and the question “does anyone have any ideas” was responded to with crickets.

Harvard’s MBA website states, “in every case, class, event, and activity, you are asked not only to study leadership, but to demonstrate it.”  So I’m taking that as a personal challenge, and encourage you to do the same.  In every case, class, event and activity, how are you leading, contributing and innovating?

My activation for the day: putting together six industry sectors and a couple of sub-sectors that the six groups in my CCT460 group can choose from (to potentially be added to the list our instructor puts together).

    1. Entertainment
      Music / Concerts
      Movies / Television
      Professional Sports (league / team) *
    2. Government
      Municipal / Provincial / Federal
      (sub categories are literally endless)
    3. Transportation
      Commercial Travel (vacation / airline / train / bus) *
      Commuter Travel
    4. Technology
      Data Management
    5. Medical
      Home Care
      Independent Dr / Dentist Office
    6. Financial
      Investment Firms


Linkedin Professional Publishing

Linkedin Professional Publishing Invite
Linkedin Professional Publishing Invite

It finally came!  Remember when Gmail was by referral only?  While a student at MiraCosta College in Southern California, my world changed when a friend from Berkely invited me to Google Mail in January of 2005, it felt like I had to wait forever for it.

Now after Linkedin Professional Publishing has been out for four months… I finally got my invite!  Check out my first test post on Linkedin’s publishing platform.  It’s not WordPress, but it’s also not meant to be; the same way Linkedin isn’t Facebook.  Even the name “Professional Publishing” carries on with the Linkedin brand of being a place where professionals connect.  I’m very excited about this new content oriented direction Linked in has finally chosen to take.

(PSSST – if YOU want Linkedin Professional Publishing – CLICK HERE)

While every social media platform seems to be in constant flux with new features, new privacy policy, new layout, etc, Linkedin has primarily stayed the course.  There haven’t been too many dramatic shifts with Linkedin, or at least it doesn’t feel that way, which is refreshing.  To be fair, I haven’t been an avMy First Linkedin Publishing Post!id Linkedin user and only truly paid my profile the attention it deserved after entering my third year at the University of Toronto. As a Digital Enterprise Management student I was inspired by one of my management course facilitators, Professor Parveen Gill, an HR professional, when she stated Linkedin was a ‘must have personal branding tool.’

Being the millenial that I am, I always felt Linkedin constrained users, “you can say what you do” and that was about it. There was no real place to add legitimate content.  My resume is what it is; a collection of interesting jobs and extravagant experiences that don’t seem to fit together. To be fair, not many people know what to do with someone who has an athletic, military, non-profit, event planning, and media / marketing background, but if I can get to the interview phase, that is my time to shine :).  I feel this new Linkedin Publishing Platform will give me the opportunity to pre-interview and hopefully be able to showcase my skills and knowledge in a new light.

Check out my first LinkedIn post and let me know what you think of the platform.