en-GAGING With You

Attributes of Influential Leaders

 Leadership, defined as the process of guiding a group of people to accomplish a shared goal, is an art. Effective leaders skillfully empower and motivate their team to achieve success. Here are 5 attributes that keen, influential leaders possess:

Humility

 It is very important for a leader to be humble and to not see themselves as better than others. With this quality, influential leaders take the time to learn and benefit from others. They can recognize the strengths of others and channel it for the greater good of the entire team. As well, humility allows great leaders to acknowledge their own faults and weaknesses. In doing so, a good leader is able to recognize opportunities for growth and improvement. Humility allows leaders to succeed because they are less likely to overshadow members of their team and they create a productive and collaborative work environment where everyone feels heard and appreciated.

 Confidence

 Another important trait in a leader is confidence. An effective leader is confident in both themselves and their team. A leader who wholeheartedly believes in themselves and their team is one that generates a motivational environment for everyone to thrive and prosper. Confidence in a leader is reflected through passion and will encourage others to feel the same way. A confident leader will accomplish their tasks well. A leader who has confidence in their team indirectly conveys to them a sense of trust and respect.

 Authenticity

 Down-to-earth leaders are often more well-respected by their peers and team. By being genuine and authentic, a leader shows that what they say, how they feel, what they believe in, and what they do are all aligned. This allows the leader to share a real and true objective with their team. A leader who is genuine with their objectives and goals also instills a sense of confidence in their team. In being authentic and true to one’s self, a leader also gains credibility.

 Courage

 Courage is also a very valuable quality in an influential leader. A great leader cannot be afraid to take informed, calculated risks. Big risks may at times produce a bigger payoff. By being a courageous leader, one is able to discover new opportunities, establish new partnerships, and invest in new ideas. Despite some risks ending in failure, being courageous also instills resilience in a leader. A courageous leader motivates their entire team to be just as courageous and be willing to share their ideas, no matter how far-fetched they may seem.

 Forgiveness

 Lastly, forgiveness is a central attribute that makes an influential leader successful. It is important for leaders to remember that they and their team are only human, which means that mistakes will be made. The path to completing a project or reaching an objective is a journey, one that could include many bumps along the way. A leader should be able to forgive others, as well as themselves. By acknowledging mistakes and channeling them to be motivators for improvement, a leader is able to create a nurturing and forward-thinking environment. A forgiving leader allows mistakes to be lessons for the future, not barriers to progress. Forgiveness also allows for the leader to strengthen their bond with their team, which will inevitably serve to benefit everyone.

 It takes time and effort to be a great and influential leader, however by embodying these five attributes, one will be better equipped for success! 

Realistic Tips to Help You Run a Business

Running a business can be tough… especially if it is your first time in the business world. Here are some realistic tips to help you succeed in your current or upcoming business ventures. 

1. BE PASSIONATE 

If you do not love what you do, it is highly unlikely that you will achieve your desired results. As an entrepreneur, you have to put in a lot of time and make sacrifices for the success of your business. So, if your business is something you are passionate about, putting in those long hours will not seem like a sacrifice anymore! 

2. SET ACHIEVABLE GOALS 

When most people start thinking about pursuing a business venture, they often imagine the big picture…the final goal. It is often something like “I’m gonna set up a business and be very successful”. However, they do not imagine the steps they need to take in order to get there. This is why you need to set achievable goals…short term goals if you want to put it that way. Start off with small goals that then lead up to your final goal…the big dream. Think of this as a giant jigsaw puzzle, your short term goals are the puzzle pieces that you need to put together to finish the puzzle. 

3. IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE 

If you start a business and do know who will be consuming your product/service, then you will most likely not get any success in your venture. It is always crucial that you determine who your product/service is meant for. This will give your business a direction and lead you to success. 

4. ENCOURAGE CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM 

Do not assume that your business is perfect because if you do that, you will have no room to improve. Always encourage your customers to give you feedback. That way you can get a better understanding of what your business lacks and you can work towards making your business better than before. 

5. HAVE STRONG NETWORKING SKILLS 

Having a strong social network is very crucial if you want to expand your business. Think about it….you could discover numerous opportunities just by talking to other people! Now that you are an entrepreneur, you have to remember that nobody is going to know about your business unless you tell people about it. If you talk to people and advertise your business, and if they are impressed they will likely tell others about your business too. Then those people will tell more people and then they will tell others. So yes, your business could become more recognized by a simple conversation! 

Most importantly, have faith in your dreams and never give up on your ambition!

3 Great Opportunities to Network and Learn More About Business

Business is a subject that sparks an interest in many young people, especially high school students looking for careers to pursue in post-secondary. But the term, business, can be confusing because many people do not know about the several fields it involves. 

If you’re wondering how you can learn about these fields? Or how to know which one is the best fit for you? Make sure to pay close attention to the following resources. 

In Canada, a number of companies offer programs for high school students to get involved in their communities, network with professionals and use their creativity to create new products and services. Here are 3 of the biggest organization programs available for you:

#1. CPA Ontario’s HAP (High School Ambassador Program)

This free program offered by the Chartered Professional Accountants organization allows students with an interest in accounting to learn about the CPA designation and participate in their famous No Limits conference. Students from different areas in the country can network with CPAs and partake in their InstaChallenge, CPA Showcase or their Write to Ignite essay competition to win money prizes.

#2. DECA Program

DECA competitions are designed by this non-for-profit organization to prepare future leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. They help students implement class content by finding solutions to real life business cases that companies face on a daily basis. Their competitions also come in different levels, regionals, provincials, nationals and the ICDC (International Career Development Conference). 

Their programs are specifically designed for 2 different groups: high school students and post-secondary students. Note that their competitions are not free, but there are many opportunities for you to learn new content, skills, win scholarships, network with professionals and meet individuals from the US, Canada, Guam, Puerto Rico and Germany. 

#3. Junior Achievement Canada 

This global non-for-profit organization offers free programs which focus on teaching both elementary and high school students about business. Some of their services include webinar series and online courses about personal finance, the trades and how to start your own business. 

On the other hand, they also offer hands-on learning programs. These include online competitions exclusively made for high school students all over Canada with a potential to win scholarships. For example: the Investment Strategies Program or the JA Titan Challenge. Last but not least, valuable skills can be gained by joining the JA Company Program: an 18 week after school entrepreneurship program where students join groups to start and run their own business with guidance from professionals. 

These are only 3 of the many programs you can be a part of. For more information make sure to visit their websites and find out if your school has a DECA club or partnerships with these organizations. Talk to your teachers, get engaged, and if your school doesn’t have any, introduce them yourself. Remember that by taking this first step you not only gain skills and knowledge yourself but you can also help other students experience such opportunities as well. 

Why we should stop using the term “Girl Boss”

“Girl boss”, it sounds so empowering and hopeful doesn’t it?

As if we’re headed toward gender equality in the workplace, or maybe even all around the world.

Yet once you start to consider why we use this term, we seem to take two steps back after the three steps forward we thought we were taking. Why must we put girl in front of the word boss?

When we refer to men in control at work we never think to say boy boss. In fact, I bet most of you would assume the title would become man boss instead of boy. It’s because for years we’ve seen females as ‘girls’ and males as ‘men’ and no one ever thinks twice about it. Even looking back to the 80’s where women were dressing in pant suits with shoulder pads; clothing that made them look more boxy and ‘masculine’ just to look like they belonged in the workplace. Well guess what, women do belong in the workplace! So why is it that when a woman is bold enough to strike out in the world of business we give her diminishing titles such as girl boss?

And it’s not the first time we’ve done this, look at Super Girl. She can fly and save the world, yet she’s still Super Girl, while her male counterpart is superman. It’s time that we stop this madness. Instead of calling women girls bosses, why don’t we simply call them bosses. If you’re complimenting them, just say they’re successful and talented. Don’t degrade them simply because “it’s a catchy slogan.” Embrace their fearless attitude and celebrate how well they’re doing. They’ve worked hard for their success and should be respected like any man would be. 

An interview with the owner of Black Dog Pottery, Marc Lemieux

Marc Lemieux owns Black Dog Pottery (https://www.blackdogpottery.ca) in downtown Kingston and is a member of the Kingston Potter’s Guild. I chatted with him over zoom on Thursday, October 15th to talk about investing in a start-up, cherishing the advantages of owning your own business and the importance of always seeking out new learning opportunities. The following are excerpts from the interview.

Elizabeth Lee (EL): To start off, can you tell me a little bit about Black Dog pottery and why you started your business?

 Marc Lemieux (ML): I’ve been here 21 years now, and originally, I got into pottery out of luck. I took a class with a girlfriend in university and I didn’t do it for [the next] few years. Then, I was looking for a hobby so I joined [The Kingston Potter’s Guild] and just started enjoying it more and more. The more I did it, the more I liked it, so then I started taking workshops in different places. After four or five years, I decided I wanted to do this full time. At the time, I had a construction business, and so I needed some time to improve. Then I went out West and did a degree in fine arts and ceramics in Vancouver. And then I came back here and set up my shop.

EL: I read in the bio on your store’s website that the year before you opened your store, you spend a lot of time “hunkered down in your parents’ basement”. I get the impression that that was a year of a lot of hard work and determination in preparation for opening your studio. Can you tell me a little bit about some of the challenges you had to face during that time?

 ML: [During that time,] I was lucky that my parents were selling their house, so they weren’t there. The agreement was that when I came back, if I took care of the house, paid the taxes and the utilities, I could live there. Slowly, I built up a body of work.

 I wanted to find the right storefront that I could afford, and I couldn’t afford new equipment—I had two student loans at that point–but I did know how to fix the equipment and things like that. The first year, it was hard, because I was by myself—my parents were away—and I was getting established at galleries so I was producing a lot of work. When you’re in school, it’s great, but you can afford to spend a lot of time on a single piece. When you go through the gallery system at first, it’s hard because you’re giving up a large percentage [of your profits]. I was trying to kind of balance efficiency with being creative and making top quality work.

 So, I’d say that the first year in my parents’ basement it was just a lot of long hours. I was working construction on the side, just to keep paying bills and pick up equipment. I was doing anything, pretty much. I was shoveling my neighbours’ driveway like I did when I was a kid, because it was twenty-five bucks cash for an hour’s work. That would just go right into my bucket to open a storefront.

 I knew I wanted a storefront, and not an industrial workspace. I wanted to be able to talk to people and see humanity. That was one thing that working in my parent’s house for the year taught me: I didn’t want to be isolated. A lot of artists like to be isolated, they like to work in a studio and focus. I like to see people, and sunshine, and talk to people as well. I realized I don’t want to work at home, and I appreciate human contact so I’d rather work in a shared space, or a storefront type of situation.

EL: Starting a business is a big financial risk, on top of already having to pay off student loans. What was it like knowing you were having to put a lot of money into something that you weren’t sure was going to be successful, in addition to already having chosen and paid to get a degree in pottery?

 ML: I guess my approach was to not invest a lot. In a business, you have to make some minimal investments, but I knew from my experience in construction that not everything you buy is going to build your business—if you buy a new truck, it doesn’t make you more money than your old truck. You just have a new truck. To me, to buy a new kiln that might be three or four thousand dollars, taking out a loan didn’t make sense, which is why I’d buy an old kiln for a hundred dollars and fix it up. I’ve always tried to kind of minimize the layout so then there’s less risk. Some people would go the opposite way and say, “Get top end equipment, get everything new, throw a bunch of money into the start-up,” but in my case, I didn’t feel comfortable doing that.

 And I had the benefit of knowing that I could work in construction still. The reason I came back to Kingston was because it was where all my friends were—I grew up here—so, if I needed some money, I could easily call up a friend and say “Do you need a hand for two weeks?” For the first couple years I had the store I was balancing the two. My store was open from Wednesday to Saturday, and then I would work on the side, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. As the scales tipped and I could afford to just work in my shop, that’s what I did.

EL: When the scales did tip, and you were finally able to just work at your store, how did that feel? Was it rewarding?

ML: I mean, it’s wonderful. But it’s also super challenging, though. I think the biggest thing that I like about having my own business is knowing that the decisions I make are my decisions. For good, or for bad. I make lots of mistakes, but I can’t point the finger at anybody and I can accept responsibility for that. But also, I like that when I make good decisions, and I know I put in the work, and things work out, it’s exceptionally rewarding.

 When I first started, the hardest part was trying to make things you like, and, because it’s my income, try to make things I like that will sell. Sometimes I get this brilliant idea that I realize wasn’t so brilliant because nobody else liked it except me. [Laughs] To me, the real reward of an entrepreneur is knowing that your destiny is in your own hands, for better or for worse, but there’s no blame to scatter, and if things work out, that’s your own victory.

EL: Is there a vision for the future that you work toward, or anything else that motivates you when times are difficult or you just are encountering challenges?

 ML: One thing I’m big on is still learning. All throughout my years, I’ve always continued to take workshops with other potters that I admire. Now with the advent of more computers—when I graduated computers weren’t really a thing—I’ve taken a lot of online courses, I’ve taken some ceramic engineering materials courses through the states, there’s a lot more access to information, and that really keeps me interested and gets me fired up.

 There’s a whole world out there that didn’t really exist fifteen years ago, and I kind of ignored, and now I’ve kind of gone the opposite way where I’m in a bunch of glaze research [and other] Facebook groups, and things like that. It’s really beneficial that you can reach out to your peers and things like that. Right now, I’m just loving that. I’m actually spending more time on glaze chemistry than I do on actually making pots, because that’s just what I love doing right now. I think it’s just important to keep changing and evolving as things change, to keep your interest up.

EL: Do you think you’ve gained or improved on any skills since becoming an entrepreneur, and why have they been important to your business?

 ML: I think I’ve definitely learned to manage my time a lot better. I’ve learned how to find a balance work with the rest of my life, which is quite nice. I don’t know if in the beginning you can really do that, unless you have a whole whack of money to start out with. But I certainly make sure I enjoy the aspects of my work that are available to me.

 You know, you work really hard, you get really tired you get frustrated, but then I just step back a minute and think: “Well wait a minute. Sure, I have to work late, but my dog is here. And I can play some music. And I’m doing something I really like. I don’t have to deal with meetings or bosses or anything like that.” I’m a lot better at, when I’m tired, taking a step back and recognizing why I do what I do. That just makes my whole life a lot more enjoyable.

 When you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a lot of long days. It’s a tough way to go, especially in the beginning, and I think it’s important to remind yourself why you’re doing it, and to take advantage of the benefits of being an entrepreneur.

EL: Just before we wrap up, is there any advice that you would have for an aspiring entrepreneur?

 ML: I can only speak to what I do, but the basic thing in the back of my head in a lot of cases is to always write it down. It’s great to think “I want to be a potter.” The minute you write it down, you suddenly start thinking, well how am I going to be a full-time potter? And then you start thinking, if I’m going to be a full-time potter, what kind of full-time potter? As you write things down, it helps to build up your thoughts. I think that when you just think of an idea, “I’d love to have a storefront!” It’s not tangible. It’s just an idea. The minute you start writing it down, you start making a plan. I think it’s important to have a plan, when you’re starting out, especially.

 And the other side of that is to do the math, and figure out if your plan is viable. And If you’re not sure, ask your friends, ask your family, say, “Take a look—here’s my idea.” It doesn’t matter if it’s making t-shirts, or pottery, or what all, does this sound like it’s viable. And get advice from people who are good at what they do.

 And I think it’s important to know what you’re good at, but it’s really important to know what you’re not good at. And don’t just shelve those things, but get help on them and learn about them. If you’re not good with books and math, get some advice from a friend who is, and spend a week learning how to do your own books. And that will save you money every year you’re in business, you’ll save five hundred dollars.

 So, I think that you should write down your plan, don’t be afraid to show it around, and get people’s advice—people have lots of great ideas. If there’s a part of your business you aren’t adept at, either learn how to do it or get someone who is.

3 Podcasts for Entrepreneurs

The following podcasts are available for free on the Apple Podcasts app, Spotify, or wherever podcasts are found.

Chatter that Matters

On Chatter that Matters, each week host Tony Chapman interviews a new entrepreneur about their business and seeks advice from three experts on how to improve. These experienced guests make detailed, highly personalized recommendations to make the business more successful, from creating a more clear brand image to giving away company equity. For any student interested in entrepreneurship, this show will demonstrate the importance of being resilient and always seeking new ways to improve. Chapman also includes a discussion about the founder’s inspiration and how their business is serving their community, highlighting the fact that entrepreneurship is not just a job, but a way to change the world.

Not only will you learn about purpose-driven ventures, but you’ll also learn about how businesses are grappling with COVID-19. The podcast gives insight into the ways that the pandemic has impacted a variety of industries, from hospitality to food, and how businesses have adapted to the ever changing situation. One especially appealing thing about the show is that it features many Canadian entrepreneurs, making it a convenient place to discover new businesses to support. With knowledgeable guests, an intelligent host and plenty of inspiring entrepreneurs, Chatter that Matters seamlessly blends educational business tips and heartfelt discussion into one great show.

Startup – Season 1

The podcast Startup is an award-winning show all about starting businesses and the resilience, courage and passion it takes to succeed. The show has covered several different ventures over past seasons, including a church and a charter school, but its debut season is its most fascinating. Season one follows the creation of the podcasting company now known as Gimlet, hosted by founder and now-CEO Alex Blumberg. Startup began as a podcasting company about the making of a podcasting company, which the host himself even described as “Meta, right?” 

For any student pursuing entrepreneurship as a career, season one of Startup will show you exactly what happens behind the scenes to get a business up and running, from investor pitches to dividing up a company’s capital between its founders. Blumberg not only explores the nitty-gritty details of starting a business, but also reflects on how the project affected his personal life. Startup airs intimate, candid discussions between the founders and their spouses, Blumberg’s financial worries and even the nagging stresses keeping him up at three AM. Despite the fact that at the time of taping, the livelihood of the host and his family was on the line, the show still manages to maintain an upbeat, positive tone sprinkled with humour. Ultimately, Startup is a rare but heartfelt portrait of starting a business, and it’s the perfect

podcast for anyone who wants to gain an honest understanding of what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur.

Under the Influence

Under the Influence is a show all about the power of advertising. This CBC podcast proves in each episode that a good idea can only get you so far in the world of entrepreneurship, and that no business can succeed without a marketing team behind it. Each half-hour episode focuses on stories from the marketing industry that all center around a common theme—door-to-door marketing, tourism ads and brand mascots have all topics covered by the show. Under the Influence is hosted by co-founder of Pirate Radio and Television and award-winning copywriter Terry O’Reilly, whose own three decades of experience in the industry is frequently sprinkled into episodes. Not only will you learn more about what makes successful advertising and get an insider perspective on the most important moments in marketing history, you’ll also learn fascinating stories about the brands you know and love. Do you know how Ski-Doo got its bizarre name? Have you heard of the legendary sibling rivalry surrounding the brands Puma and Adidas? Or the story behind the epic failure of Target Canada? Check out Under the Influence to find out.

5 Things to You Can Do Right Now to Prepare for the World of Business

If you’re a student dreaming about that white-collar business career but have no idea how to get there, you’ve come to the right place. A few years ago. I was in that exact same position, with worries about the future lingering 24/7 on my mind. But with time, I’ve collected a plethora of ways to immerse myself in business, some of which I’m sharing with you today. I hope that these tips will give you the push you’re looking for to start your journey into the corporate world.

1. Gather as much knowledge as possible

Business is a multifaceted field. So unless you’re some sort of crazy Renaissance kid, you cannot possibly learn everything about it overnight. Instead, remember that learning is about consistency. By learning something new every day, the result is like a flywheel — it takes time to get it going, but once it does, it’s unstoppable. In other words, the more you can learn about business (or any other subject) consistently, the more it gathers momentum.

Just as a heads up, there’s a caveat to keep in mind before you dive in, which is that gathering knowledge is only half of the story. There are thousands of hours of content that you could possibly absorb, so try not to jump down the rabbit hole. Rather, keep in mind that the end goal is turning your knowledge into projects in the real world.

That being said, here’re some quick links to get you started on your business journey:

For more links, check out the Resources section of our blog 😉

2. Reach out to prominent businesspeople

One problem might appear during your info-search, which is that the business advice you find isn’t tailored to your circumstances, and therefore is not as helpful to you. That’s why it’s important to engage with people who’re actually in the business world, not only to learn from a personalized perspective, but also to practice your networking skills.

Most of the time, the people you see in podcasts and videos have their emails or LinkedIn accessible, so just do some googling and reach out! Tell them a bit about your status as a student, what you love about their work, what you want to know, and close it with genuine gratitude. Not all of them will respond, but those who do would be happy to help you. After all, many businesspeople were in your position years ago, curious about the industry and reached out to professionals. Most of them would be delighted to repay the favour.

Yes, networking is absolutely terrifying. But if you never ask, the answer is always no. Turn that 100% rejection rate into 50% by simply asking. You’ll never lose out, so don’t let the opportunity fly by.

3. Learn how to make things look pretty (+ coding for bonus points)

If you want to become an entrepreneur, you need to know how to make a website grab attention, how to make apps easy to navigate, or how to make a slideshow to look appealing to investors. If you’ve got even more time to kill, learn coding, especially in regard to web development. No, you don’t have to become a computer whiz if you don’t want to — just learn enough to be able to market your business without bringing someone else in.

Here’re the best resources to guide you through the fascinating world of design. Don’t get overwhelmed by the hundreds of options within these websites — just pick something and get started.

4. Practice your public speaking

Public speaking is a complex skill that I may go into more detail about in another post. But its importance is self-explanatory so I’ll keep this short. Two main things you could do to improve your public speaking:

  1. Join a speech-related club or class (eg. Toastmasters, debate class)
  2. If the above isn’t your cup of tea, google “public speaking games” and practice a couple every day. It takes 5 minutes of your time, but makes a huge difference in the long run.

5. Join business competitions and programs

Like mentioned earlier, simply soaking up information like a sponge isn’t enough — you need to do something with your knowledge. Some perfect ways to get started are business events for students that’re low-cost and accessible:

  • DECA (obviously): Compete in business events pertaining to entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, and business administration. (https://deca.ca/)
  • FBLA: Similar to DECA, growing quickly in Canada. (https://www.fbla.ca/events)
  • Betacamp: Build a startup in 12 weeks (https://www.beta.camp/about-the-program)
  • EMGirls: Organization that hosts many entrepreneurship events and competitions annually. (https://www.emgirls.org/)
  • + Many others! Just do some digging around social media and you’ll find the competitions that you like best.

Even if you don’t win anything, you gain knowledge, writing, and speaking skills along the way. No one can take that away from you.

And that’s it!

Some simple, affordable, and efficient ways to set yourself up for a business career. If this all sounds like too much, that’s perfectly fine. Trust me, even I sometimes don’t follow my own advice, even when I should. Just remember that this is neither an exhaustive nor a definitive list of everything you should be doing. Ultimately, it’s up to you to pick and choose the activities that best suit your goals, that’ll best prepare you for the business world.

We want to start en-GAGING With You!

Welcome to our first post on our blog, en-GAGING With You!

en-GAGING With You is a national online platform where youth can interact by viewing, liking, and commenting on posts created by our Writers located across Canada. The blog consists of 4 main categories: Profiles, Resources, Opportunities, and Opinions. 

The Profiles category will cover different entrepreneurs and their stories, along with local, provincial, and national events related to business, entrepreneurship, and career development. 

The Resources category will include articles describing different digital and community-based support that individuals can reach out to for a variety of things. 

The Opportunities category will contain different chances for students to involve themselves within events and organizations across Canada. 

The Opinions category will consist of different opinion pieces on topics within the areas of business, entrepreneurship, and career development. 

You can search for category-specific posts by searching the category’s name, or by clicking on the three dots on the right-hand side of our website’s header.

Interested in becoming a writer for en-GAGING With You?

We would love to have you join the team! Make sure to follow our Instagram (linked here) to stay up to date on all of our hiring information.