Why I Love Asynchronous Communication (a.k.a. Emails)

I love to write, and emails are a breath of fresh air.

No editing.
No fancy words.
No issues over length.
No need for profundity.

It has been almost five years since I left Bell Mobility to pursue a career in marketing, and one thing that has drastically changed is how often I communicate via email.

I miss the simplicity of it all.
I miss reaching out to my clients daily.
I miss the back-and-forth motion that builds connection.

At Bell, I had so many great relationships; I used email to build better ones along the way. It was just so damn efficient. Templates allowed the writing to take shape quickly. In mere minutes, I was sending off concise and compelling messages. Over and over again. Each email was re-read once, at most twice, and then sent so I could continue to the next case. It was a beautiful workflow, and it was all supported by Salesforce.

The strategy behind it? Starting, stopping, continuing. Perpetually. The true definition of email really—asynchronous. This is also marketing. For a later topic!

And by the way, I am trying to write more like Seth Godin. Also, finding my way back to my university days. My favourite professor and mentor, Paul Woodrow, graded an essay I wrote on the fallacies of Coca-Cola, commenting in tiny writing and bright green ink, “Swift and punchy, Chona!”

So begets my email manifesto –

I will always try to write swift and punchy. 

If I can remember to, that is.

Alas, I have a pop quiz for y’all.

I want you to decide which entry below is authentic, meaning not edited. And which one is “fake”, as in completely and utterly revised from its original style + tone.

How can you tell?
What gives it away?
Which is written better?

Ah, so many questions to ponder, but if only we had more time.

Off to bed, now, enjoy the exercise!

Entry 1

For all my years as a Corporate Account Manager at Bell, some of my fondest memories included writing emails. I loved how fluid and uncomplicated it was to craft messages on the spot without spending copious amounts of time editing. I would not mind working on some ideas to “wow” our current and prospective customers with something easy to read, memorable, and impactful!

Entry 2

I spent many years as a Corporate Account Manager at Bell, crafting friendly and professional emails. I thought it was so exciting (yup, I love communication!) to be able to write something on the spot that didn’t require any editing. It’s an art form really. Would love to work on some ideas to incorporate more emails into how we communicate with our customers.

It’s Time!

(A poem about AI or conversely celebrating My New Job)

As cryptic as it may be, the time has arrived.

Surprise!” it squeals with utter delight.

After all that hard work, you’ve finally made it here.

I’m ready. She’s ready. She’s finally prepared!

“Where are you going?” it asks quizzically.

Well, I am headed toward reality.

It’s bursting at the seam from being grappled for so long.

I’ve been waiting, hankering, perfecting my song.

“Do you know where you’re going?” it asks once again.

Well, I certainly have an idea. The spot is a delight. Filled with smiling faces, happy circumstances and scenarios of hard work.

“Well, welcome home then, I suppose!” it pats my back congratulatorily.

Why, thank you, my friend! Now, let’s pencil this in!

A little explanation:

On Monday, March 14th, 2022, I had a wicked phone interview that started with a compliment about the same content you’ve been passionately reading here on ChonaBLOX. Swiftly, I was scheduled super bright and early the next day, Tuesday, March 15th, 2022, to meet the CEO and Operations Manager of Clearbridge Business Solutions. I walked away from that interview, thinking I had done horribly. And as I arrived at work, I furiously texted my husband, saying, “Man, I’m worried. I don’t think I did that well.” But it turns out I did because I received a phone call within minutes saying they wanted to offer me the job! So, it’s done. I’m starting a new journey with my new company, Clearbridge. So excited! This is going to be a lifetime experience. Can’t wait to get started!

What’s new with you guys? Drop me a line anytime!

Measuring Change

It takes a lot to muster up the courage to change.

Understanding.
Acknowledgement.
Compassion.
Kindness.
Curiosity.
Ambition.

Then once we decide it’s the route we want to take, we build a process to get there.

Preparing.
Taking time.
Committing.
Rooting.
Transforming.
Loving.

Day to day, I think of ways to express the importance of change. How it can help guide us toward growth. How by honouring and trusting in it, we can start to thrive.

Still, we have such a hard time adjusting our habits. They are formed and a part of who we are, though not always good for us.

What happens when you start the process of change and go backwards, reverting to previous habits, undeciding that you’re brave enough to follow through and succeed?

These are the questions I am constantly asking myself. What will be the conclusion? How come we’re not there yet? Will we ever arrive?

And so, as change is constant, we can only continue on our quest, taking the small steps to bring us closer toward our goals.

As you search, tell yourself you’re alright. Then, document your actions and take time to examine how you got to each stage. As Deepak Chopra says, “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” Chaos being –

Obstacles.
Limitations.
Fear.
Doubt.
Shame.
Laziness.

Despite these things, with intention, inner strength, and a mission you can stand by, you will stay on track; you will arrive.

Make change happen, guys!

Agtech Career Series

I am so passionate about educational marketing. It inspires me to look beyond the standard expectations of my role. For this project, I tried to situate myself in the mind of a teenager reading a presentation about a job in farming. It’s so much more than that though. It’s igniting their energy with thoughtful and calculated design. It’s creating flawless headlines and engaging copy that will leave them fascinated and motivated. More urgently, it’s about arming that younger generation with the knowledge to pursue a rewarding career in an ever-growing and transitioning industry.

Our primary call-to-action invokes us to – farm smart start today. We’ll provide you with the education and the technology to succeed. To change your operation for the better. To help the planet survive. So let’s band together and fill each other with hope to prepare ourselves to fight with our minds and hearts to beat global problems like a growing population, food waste, and climate change.

I hope to participate in more projects like this in the future and maybe even join the classroom for some face-to-face interaction and hands-on teaching!

Read more about the project I launched here. Alongside a blog series, these are the assets I designed for the students:

And here are the blog graphics that were used to complement the content. I mimicked a rainbow effect because the colours of a rainbow positively impact our brains, affecting emotions, mental clarity, and energy levels. We all know long nights of studying could take advantage of a rainbow or two!

How Ad Imagery Could Translate Into Product Packaging

The stack of magazines was impressive. Elle, Vogue, Architectural Digest, Bon Appetit and People. As a 13-year old, I just wanted to fixate and rip, fixate and rip, fixate and rip. Slowly, I was adding to my expanding wall collection, and I was proud. How were the ‘best’ images selected, and what made them ‘iconic’? What mattered to me at the time—creativity, originality, colour, composition—made it onto my closet doors, locker and school binder clear insert. If I could think of these images in my sleep, they became iconic. I will never forget one in particular. The triangular red and white logo juxtaposed against a black and white photograph of a girl pouting while a man anticipates… 

What intrigues us about this image? Almost instantly, we find ourselves peering in, linked to the experience. We sense she is in the wrong place; however, we do not feel that she does not belong or would rather be elsewhere. Time and space are interrupted. We ask ourselves, “Will it occur?” But the chain of events does not matter. What matters is that we are suspended in a rare and captivating moment. And because the image is black and white, we are transported to the exact scene where the ‘film’ unravels. Then the bold red of the typeface and the logo bring us back to life, and we are suddenly alive; the advertisement has won us over…without a guess!

If we know that people can impact an ad’s efficacy, should we consider using people on food packaging? Could we use the interaction between a man and a woman on a coffee bag, for example? In my opinion, yes. Imagine this. A tired corporate executive finds herself standing in a Whole Foods Market. There is no one around. Soft music flutters in and out of her ears. She is standing in the coffee aisle, looking at bags and bags and bags. There’s so much unique packaging, she’s not sure what to choose. But then she sees it—a couple set in black and white. The photograph is beautiful; the packaging seems bound by eternal love as the image wraps fully around the product. It portrays something the executive longs for on a deeper level. “I’ll go for this,” she thinks, grabbing it to pay.

Using people in ad imagery is not a new concept, but could potentially be an innovative idea in the food and beverage domain. We know that ads are geared to make us think and feel. And there’s a whole range of themes emotional ads can trigger, from love to empathy to excitement. I don’t think I’ve ever spent valuable time and money on a product that didn’t trigger an emotion somehow. Even if it may go unrecognized—the power and influence of an emotional experience are unforgettable.

Should packaging portray a feeling using images of people? And if so, what are the most effective ways this can be executed?

DFS Valentine’s Day Campaign

How to Impress My Valentine

A great campaign is built on a solid concept. It can stir our emotions and set our souls free to dream. Recently, I had the opportunity to put together a Valentine’s Day video campaign for DirectFood.store. It was a fantastic experience, and I am proud of the output. Here is a little bit more about it.

DirectFood.store is a DTC online grocery store delivery platform that sells fresh, local and organic food from local farmers and vendors to the community. As a brand, DirectFood.store aims to inspire and empower consumers to eat healthily, buy local, and learn more about the farm-to-table concept. Priority is placed on ensuring high-quality products, affordable pricing, and easy ordering, plus free delivery direct to the doorstep. 

For this particular campaign, our objectives are:

  • Increase brand awareness 
  • Connect with our target audience (young, millennial couples and families with kids; age 25-34 / baby boomers drawn to compelling video and who will purchase something based on its value; age 45-64)
  • Promote interest in our platform and products
  • Provide entertainment
  • Create a need for buying local, fresh & organic food from local farmers and vendors with free delivery direct to the doorstep

The campaign features BC blogger and influencer Chelsea Helm. We find her wondering how to impress her Valentine. While pondering an answer, she suddenly thinks of DirectFood.store. She decides to put together a thoughtful and delicious dinner for her partner. The campaign follows Chelsea through her decision-making process. She orders the ingredients, and they arrive at her doorstep. We then capture her preparing a steak and salad, setting the table and signing a Valentine’s day card. Will her Valentine make it in time? Will they be surprised? Ultimately, she shares with the audience that through DirectFood.store, you can make something special for that special someone in your life.

I wanted the advertising tone to be fun, happy, thoughtful, romantic, youthful, and vibrant. Our primary message is that consumers identify with our brand, and our products fit their lifestyle and choices. I think we hit the mark, and best of all, the campaign was completed on brand, on time and on budget. Now to see how it performs as a Facebook ad!

I hope you enjoyed the video. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out!

A Poem About Differentiation

A differentiator is what sets you apart from the competition.

It’s playing sports vs playing ball.

It’s smiling when life throws you those base curves,

because by the end of the day, everyone will remember.

In marketing, a differentiator makes people revel.

At times in silence, but that silence is awe.

You have differentiated your product when,

people know your name by your vision,

your philosophy, your mission statement.

Your audience begins to recognize your slogan,

they begin to identify with your colours.

You are en route to differentiating when,

you feel nervous and yet grounded.

At the end of the day,

you feel like you’re taking a risk

like you’re in trouble for something because

it pushes boundaries, it causes discussions,

it breaks the rules but never forget,

you are leading the group.

A true differentiator cannot be physically realized, because it has infinite gain at infinite frequency – Wikepedia

Digital reach is UNLIMITED. How does art make a difference? COOL is an UNLIMITED concept. Take that back to the couch when you break. Like someone in sales talking about sales, talking about art takes vision. It takes direction and you must be a leader through and through. I am obviously trying to push myself. Always, always tryin’ ta be that purple cow. Let’s remind the crowd again –

Purple cow:

The concept of the Purple Cow was introduced by Seth Godin in his groundbreaking book by the same title.  Recently I read it again because it is full of ideas and case studies on how to make your business remarkable. When you drive by a heard of cattle they all look like cows and it doesn’t seem out of the ordinary.  But if you drive by a heard and standing in the field is a Purple Cow you have to tell someone because it is so different.  When something forces you to remark on it, by definition it is remarkable.  This is what your new business strategy should be focusing on, finding ways to make your customers talk about your products to their friends.

I write about differentiation in light of the launch of DirectFood.store, an online platform that enables local farmers and vendors to sell their products to consumers, restaurants, and care homes. The food is fresh. SO FRESH. The food is local. SO LOCAL. And you get it right away, to your doorstep, the next day. DIRECT TO YOUR DOOR.

I helped to develop the brand identity which you can witness on our recently revamped website. And I run our social media campaign, which is meant to be fresh, in the definition of COOL, like Will Smith Fresh Prince of Bel-Air COOL, that shirt is sick COOL, those kicks are dope COOL.

COOL is just one aspect of the brand, obviously my favourite. But DirectFood.store is also about:

  • Supporting local businesses
  • Engaging the community
  • Spreading the good word about fresh, healthy, organic & local food
  • Promoting a good cause for the good of all people

Just wanted to share some graphics I created that are live on the website. And you need to follow us on Instagram, to check out the REAL DEAL grid. 2 posts per day. Slammin’ balls against the ground. ALL BALL SPORTS. It’s bold. It’s cheeky. It’s collage. It promotes our core values + image. It’s inspired by a retro van, who needs a name…any ideas?

I AM STILL AN ART DIRECTOR. PERIOD.

WHY DOES RANTING END BEFORE YOU’RE FINISHED?

Never let anyone sway you otherwise. If you’re capable, you’re capable. You don’t go back in time. You move forward. And forward-thinking people, know the game. But they’ve got their own game going on, and other people play that. That’s it. Goodnight.

PS – Props to Gurwinder!

PPS – A little lightness. I am lovin’ my work, my day, my grind at i-Open Technologies!

Delivering Real & Sustainable Technology Solutions for a Better Planet. Hi Ray!

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Being Creative in a Productive State 

Hi everyone!

First, some definitions relating to this post –

Being = Choosing / Creative = Motivated / Productive = Happy / State = Requirement

Doing = Accepting / More = Drive / Less = Realization

Emotionality = The observable behavioral and physiological component of emotion. It is a measure of a person’s emotional reactivity to a stimulus. Most of these responses can be observed by other people, while some emotional responses can only be observed by the person experiencing them. (Wikipedia)

My aim with this post is to decipher emotionality, its key drivers and relationship to day-to-day environment and circumstance, including but not limited to, home and work life.

So, let’s start!

Key Drivers

    • My location
    • Wake up time
    • Grooming time
    • Good coffee
    • Food

We moved to Abbotsford. I woke up at 6:30 AM preparing for my day. I go about the motions of getting ready – shower, makeup, hair, coffee – and in the process, I am lost. My mind is buzzing, yet it is shut off. I recognize for a brief second, but I haven’t found the reason. You could say I am slightly aware that I have not found my happy place. Too early in the morning, I suggest. Shrugging imaginary shoulders, I am okay with this, because I am just getting ready to go to work. This whole process takes time, it could probably arrive sooner (happiness) if I was paying more attention. Oh, and I should probably mention that my overnight oats make a significant difference. In making me happy. Funny, they don’t always taste so good!

Relationship to Environment

    • My car
    • My commute
    • Routines, like socializing
    • Wellness activities, like yoga
    • What’s for dinner
    • Time for bed

I’m in my car, driving my new 8 minute commute. I feel rushed, but it’s okay, it’s not really bothering me. And so, this is my experience from weekday to weekday. The urgency in the situation is that I must recollect reasons why things are going well in my life. New job, great boss, opportunities for team work, collaboration. Fun, yet challenging projects. A ton of writing, well editing really. Weekly touchpoints. My Pinterest strategy. Our marketing video. Learning, growing, the usual stuff. But then, the things that aren’t going so well surface. I haven’t established a workout schedule, I left my yoga mat at the other place, I am stressed over what we’re going to have for dinner and about sleeping early – because that’s my new thing, sleeping at 9:45 PM. I used to be a runner. I just keep thinking about the scale!

So, my day is a choice of two states – happiness or sadness. As simple as it sounds, this is a product of my environment and circumstance and something that I have to track to ensure that I’m making choices that move me closer toward happiness. Smiling, breathing, accepting. Working, writing, being. These are just a few good things.

Relationship to Circumstance

    • Busyness
    • Priorities
    • Deadlines
    • Time for evaluation
    • Energy level
    • Motivation level

At work, I am beginning to see that in an endless sea of assignments (which I am able to complete), the intention of the work becomes lost stacked upon other projects, priorities and deadlines. We should always go back, perhaps a week or so later, and evaluate the work once again. Scrap that. We need to re-evaluate more often, like every other day. What was it for? Did you enjoy working on it? If not, what element made it obtrusive? Was the project completed on time? Will it be put to greater use? Will it lead to larger successes in the near or distant future? I shake my head in disapproval as I re-read this. That’s not the point, Chona. The point is, you have to do, then do again, then do more and finally rest.

Home and Work Life

    • Choosing states
    • Selecting work
    • Writing
    • Conceptualizing
    • Analyzing
    • Generating ideas
    • Generating answers

In one example of choosing states, I’ve selected an image. Next, in pursuit of my happiest state, I decide to post it onto social media. The main two reasons being – I realize others will read my post and view my image and this makes me feel satisfied; and two, I am able to practice writing, designing and conceptualizing ideas and this makes me feel pleased.

The image will be broken down and some sort of analysis will occur. In this post, I have chosen a graphic image with text and the idea that I developed in my mind was pertaining to a milkshake. So, let’s call it The Milkshake. Magic. Something that obviously begets certain levels of pleasure, and contributes toward overall happiness, perhaps even eradicating sadness on the spot. A milkshake does that, as I’m well assured you are aware.

So, have a read and let me know what you think! I know we will all want a milkshake on a daily basis after this. Wink!

The Milkshake

Do we start with the milkshake or whittle it down to the ingredients? In my opinion, productivity starts with desire (I want a milkshake), then the identification of key components (organic strawberries and maple syrup), a timeline (this will take 3 minutes), a deadline (well, it’s 7:45 am so that gives me 2 extra minutes to get to work) and result/outcome (this tastes great, could use some spinach).

A Doing More with Less stance claims that we don’t necessarily need to examine details (should I add spinach), but instead take a bird’s eye view (look at these 30 options), using creativity to discover (strawberry banana, strawberry raspberry or strawberry pineapple), contribute (let’s add maple syrup) and further existing strategies (let’s add flax and hemp seed) that may or may not need review (is this milkshake healthy).

This is where creative direction or management comes in. I will listen or be the one to direct, but know that these roles are significant.

Also, I will always argue that creativity contributes toward success on a larger scale. We may not be marketing for the milkshake company, but the nutritiously delicious and beautiful milkshake we drank at the beginning of our day or in middle of this post contributes toward performance and our overall well being. Expectations.

If an image (content + creative) has power, does it come from the creator or within? What does that say?

This post ends with a 3. That’s my mood, not a 4, not a 5, but a 3. And I do appreciate that it’s Valentine’s Day. Perhaps the issue is just that I move too fast, so I’m actually way ahead of time. Yes, that’s what it is. Exactly. Sip, sip!

Thanks guys!

Recent Work – Presentation

Hi everyone!

At my new job, we run group presentations every Friday. This is my first contribution, which talks about 2 useful acronyms that can be leveraged in content marketing. Let me know what you think!

 

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