My Thoughts

Work from home forever? No thanks

I fundamentally disagree with all of the organizations who have made public statements that they will be moving to a permanent work from home model. This early decision seems to be based on appeasing workers fears in the current pandemic. Already Shopify, Twitter, Square and others have announced policies that extend beyond the end of the pandemic. But is this the best decision going forward?

I for one think that the benefit of the office is something that people underestimate. Think of all of the friends in your network you’ve met because of going to work. Maybe even relationships or perhaps you met your spouse in the office or at least, through co-workers. You might have moved cities and experienced parts of the world through travel because of your office location. And think of all the social interactions you have on a daily basis just by being in a different location than the one in which you live.

It will turn loyal employees into gig workers

My main concern is that the notion of loyalty will disappear. By sitting at home and limiting physical and real connections, and I don’t mean through video chat, but real connections to people and the physical office, I truly believe that the notion of employment will rapidly shift from people who were once loyal, to more of a free agent model. As employees get bored and lose interest because of the day-to-day monotony of working from home, they will ultimately be more open to shift jobs more frequently for some of the more basic reasons, specifically money!

Basically, my point is that for people to work from home without an ability to go to an office, it will be incredibly difficult to define and maintain a culture. For the employee that means not feeling that they belong to something bigger than themselves. For employers, a challenge in that they lose one of their main assets that attracts and retains employees. Have you ever been to the campuses of one of the tech giants? If you have you, then will completely understand what you would be missing not going to the office. Snacks, scooters, cafeterias full of conversations, and the ability to just get up and walk to connect with people.

Would it still be as interesting if you couldn’t do all of that?

Listen to my podcast as well and let me know what you think by subscribing to my email list. I hope you enjoy listening. If you have any ideas for other interviews or topics, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

EP9 – Starting a new job in a pandemic

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It’s completely natural to be nervous when starting a new job. New people, new office, new commute, new culture… new coffee. But in the age of the pandemic, more and more people are starting their new jobs from home. Alone. With no direct connection to their new team other than through screens.

So what happens when your first day is remote? What if many days, weeks and even months after that are also remote? What if you aren’t able to meet your boss, your colleagues and your own team for a while? How will you get to know your coworkers, get up to speed on how to do your job, or even know who to contact when you have questions?

Remote work and remote onboarding are the current norm and it just might be that way for the long term. In this episode I talk about my own experience starting my new job in March, and also speak to two others who went through their own remote onboarding experiences. Len Ball and Dean Guest have some great insights and recommendations on succeeding through a remote job start. Key to remember, you aren’t the only one adapting to the new way of work. It’s important to remember that your team, your boss and your customers are too.

I also had the chance to speak to Evan Hallward, co-founder of a new startup, Aboard, which is focused on assisting organizations in creating virtual onboarding programs. Given the current transition of the workplace, they just might be onto something big!

Listen to the rest of my podcast as well and let me know what you think by subscribing to my email list. I hope you enjoy listening. If you have any ideas for other interviews or topics, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

EP8 – Will we ever step foot in a gym again?

A recent poll posted to 2,200 Americans by Statistica asked one simple question to try and see the impact of the coronavirus on consumer sentiment about going back to the gym. The results weren’t all that surprising. 69% of respondents said they were much less likely to go to the gym and a combined 75% somewhat or much less likely. That’s a pretty scary set of numbers for studio owners.

Based on what you know about the coronavirus, are you currently more or less likely to go to the gym?

Given those numbers I decided to ask someone in the industry how they are preparing for a post coronavirus world. That someone is Jonathan Fagg, head of Digital and Media for GoodLife Fitness, the largest fitness company in Canada and the fourth largest in the world with 1,500,000 members, over 400 clubs across Canada, and over 13,000 associates.

Jonathan and I discuss the convergence of digital and physical in the new world of fitness, and how the definition of a customer is changing and will include members that might never step foot inside one of their studios. This digital only customer is a new phenomenon for GoodLife, but not for companies like Peloton and newer entrants like Tonal.

As part of GoodLife’s initial foray into a more digital first approach, they have launched a new digital gym called #GoodLifeAtHome to help Canadians discover new and different ways to live a healthy life and stay #CanadianStrong while staying in. As part of this initiative, all Canadians will have access to the weekly schedule of free workouts, wellness tips and free live classes on GoodLife’s social channels (@GoodLifeFitness), designed to keep everyone active from the safety of their own home. Check them out at www.goodlifefitness.com.

Listen to the rest of my podcast as well and let me know what you think by subscribing to my email list. I hope you enjoy listening. If you have any ideas for other interviews or topics, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

EP7 – Think Global and Watch for Opportunities with Michael Tamblyn, CEO Rakuten Kobo

It was 1999 and I was early in my career, VERY early in my career. I had started as a product manager at a “stealthy startup” and found myself working for a really smart and charismatic individual, Michael Tamblyn. Michael was in charge of product and I was there to learn.

Flash forward a decade or two, and I now sit at my computer with a microphone and headphones, and in my screen is a slightly more mature Michael Tamblyn in a much different role. This time, as the CEO of Rakuten Kobo, Michael and I sit down to talk about his experiences leading and growing a Toronto startup through a global expansion and acquisition by a not so likely suitor. Not a venture fund, not a valley power-house, not a wealthy family…but the largest e-commerce player in Japan, Rakuten.

Michael gives some great tips for leaders in any business to consider. First, use your competitors as your distribution channel. Imagine, books being sold electronically through retailers that sold the traditional print versions of the same product. Second, remember it is a lot easier and cost effective to find a market adjacency for your existing customer base than to build a new customer base from scratch. Third, taking the physical out of the mix of your business can simplify and create new opportunities for expansion. And fourth, if you can get your customers to build your product and content…well the outcomes are obvious.

How would Michael’s tips from his experience at Kobo apply to your business? Why not listen and try to figure it out.

Listen to the rest of my podcast as well and let me know what you think buy subscribing to my email list. I hope you enjoy listening. If you have any ideas for other interviews or topics, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

EP6 – The power of the LinkedIn platform

I consider myself a “power user” on the LinkedIn platform, having had my profile used in sales pitches by LinkedIn sales representatives over the years. I love the platform, it’s power and it’s ability to maintain my professional identity. I have used it to get jobs, make meaningful and valuable connections, to help others in their own career endeavours, among many other useful purposes. 

I had the opportunity to speak with Diana Luu, Head of Marketing Solutions Canada & Business Services North America at LinkedIn about LinkedIn and some useful tips and tricks we can all use (and should).  Here is a quick synopsis of some of our discussion.

Tip 1 – Update your profile as you accomplish things, your LinkedIn profile should always be changing.

Tip 2 – Accept anyone credible even if you haven’t met them – you never know when you might need that connection.

Tip 3 – Have a completed profile (don’t forget the pic as it makes you 21 times more likely to get a view).

Tip 4 – Personalize the background image – it says something about YOU!

Tip 5 – Add personal elements to your summary and see what happens (PS I like funky socks). 

And the NEVER do’s

1. Don’t lie – this is your professional identity of record.

2. Don’t have an incomplete profile.

3. Don’t overshare (and make what you share relevant).

4. Don’t share for the sake of sharing, have an opinion even if it isn’t that of others – be authentic.

5. Don’t be negative and derogatory

 …and don’t forget my tips on using LinkedIn as a business development and research tool – listen in for the secrets.