Love My Blog

Tips for the New Blogger

December 18th, 2016

No Comments

A Blog ?

The Holidays offer a time to relax, consider new pursuits, adjust your plan for the new year or perhaps just try something you’ve never thought of attempting before. In that regard one might consider writing a blog.

Blog Support

Sarah Smith had reached out to me about this great article and infographic that she has produced for the “new blogger”. I thought that is was certainly a great infographic capturing terrific tips for the blogger just starting out in the wonderful world of the blogosphere. Thanks to Sarah. I hope that bloggers find it useful. Cheers to the season.

Do you want to become a blogger? You might think that blogging is easy, just like what other people may have told you.  You just have to go to the Internet the entire day and write about ideas that you have in your mind. Well, the truth is, starting a blog is not as simple as it seems.

When you start writing your first blog, you will certainly realize that it is harder than what you thought it would be. You will encounter different issues that you must learn to overcome. Even the ones who have been blogging for a long time also experience some challenges or difficulties along their way.

Do not feel bad if you make some mistakes. Mistakes will not end your world. It is fine as long as you take them as a chance to learn and step up. You can also learn from other bloggers’ mistakes in the past to avoid committing such similar mistakes.

Blogging is fun and convenient for some people, so we want to help you make it a bit easier to start with. We have prepared this amazing infographic that contains a list of generally known mistakes a beginner blogger usually makes.

See the image below and gain information from the list. You can also follow the team on Twitter at Start Blog.

 Be aware of these common mistakes in blogging so you can avoid them when you start to create your own blog. Our website http://www.startbloggingonline.com can provide you with more helpful and simple blogging tips that you can also share with your friends.

beginning blogger mistakes to avoid

 

Goodness and Joy

Spreading Goodness and Joy this December

December 4th, 2016

No Comments

The month of December and the final month of 2016. It makes me think of how powerful this month would be, if we all could think of how we could bring some goodness and joy into action; each day coast to coast to coast.

Canadians have such a worldly reputation as “caring people”. We are seen as philanthropists, those who help, ready to give, peace keepers. When traveling, people know that Canadians bring light hearted fun and joy to the conversation. We light up the room. We have the humor and disposition to bring out the best in people. Does that resonate with you ?

Here at home, we have our own issues. What a wonderful month, in the spirit of Christmas , to step up and out with a little more goodness and joy for those who are in a time of need.

With that in mind, I did a quick search on some of the agencies and outlets that are found across our great land; with some goodness and joy in mind. I realize that there are many more examples that could be added to this list. Please feel free to add your favourite charity or not for profit to this list as well. Let’s spread the word about goodness and joy in our community.

This December, lets help spread some goodness and joy to help those who are in need. For many of us, this is a season of happiness with family and friends. However, for many, it is one of the toughest times of the year; as they face personal issues and challenges in making ends meet. When others are celebrating “good times”, I can only think that it must be very lonely and dark for those who are less fortunate.

Let us join together this December in helping Canadians bring some goodness and joy to our communities. Whether it is some pocket change to a person on the street with hat in hand, a donation to a charity, a box of food to the food bank, a Christmas tree bought via the boy scouts, a five dollar bill in response to the ringing bell of the Salvation Army, or a bag of “old clothes” from the closet – there are so many ways that we can help make a difference this December for an individual or an organization in their time of need.

Some Highlights of Goodness and Joy

Victoria – British Columbia

Starting on the west coast of Canada on Vancouver Island, I can’t think of a better place than to consider challenges for the homeless. Given the climate, it is a natural place for people to seek the street, away from the harsher weather realities of other parts of Canada. However, the street is not a  place that any Canadian should find themselves. Hats off to the Greater Victoria Coalition to end homelessness. It is but one example of services that are spread across Canada in support of those who are faced to meet the challenge of life on the street.

Lethbridge – Alberta

Ever thought of missing a meal? Many people struggle with making ends meet, but the challenge of being able to feed their loved ones remains a fundamental challenge for some families. Food banks continue to be challenged on their supply, with the explosion of those in need. In Lethbridge Alberta, I point to the Lethbridge Food Bank Society as a great example of making a difference in generating food for those in need. Food banks abound in all communities, most fire stations accept donations, if you see that as an action in your day today. Here is a link to food banks across Canada.  You will find one close to you.

Regina – Saskatchewan

Ability is often something that able-bodied persons take for granted. However, those who have lesser ability are truly challenged with access to public buildings, events or just entering or exiting a restaurant or store. Thanks to the fine work of the Saskatchewan Voice for People with Disabilities Inc., those who have challenges with ability have an advocate in their corner to support them. We can all rise to the challenge of considering all persons in an inclusive context. What action might you take to ensure that physically challenged individuals can enjoy what you anjoy without any barriers for them to confront? How can we make it easier for access to our communities?

Southwest Manitoba

Westman Dreams for Kids is a wonderful organization in support of answering the dreams of kids in Southwestern Manitoba. It is a wonderful example of people coming together to make a difference for youth who face difficult challenges and situations in their lives. A little joy can go a long way in bringing comfort to kids with their own health challenges. Hats off to the Children’s Dream organizations across Canada.

Toronto – Ontario

There are now a multitude of support networks and charitable organizations to support families and loved ones who face challenges with their own ability. Over the years Variety Village, the childrens’ charity, has continued to perpetuate its wonderful facilities and programming for youth and adults in need. Variety Village remains a pillar of support for individuals with physical and mental challenges, and their caregivers and support network. With facilities spreading over 160,000 square feet, an indoor pool, track and common space, Variety Village continues to be a wonderful community institution, serving the Greater Toronto area.

Sherbrooke – Quebec

La Grande Table is a terrific resource in Sherbrooke supporting families in need. They are a resource to ensure that families are fed, but extend to broader support and services for those families with little income or find themselves in an occasional precarious situation. They offer services that demonstrate open listening and then personal recommendations for support. A wonderful community asset. Merci pour votre effortes La Grande Table.

Moncton – New Brunswick

Volunteering is such a wonderful opportunity to give back. Often times people may feel that they cannot give financially, or through gifts in kind. One of the greatest and most impactful ways that an individual can give is to give of their time. Through volunteerism, you can truly make a difference in supporting a cause and the work that they undertake in their community. The Volunteer Centre of Southeastern New Brunswick, based in Moncton is an example of one of these resources. They welcome individuals who have a desire to lend some time to making a difference in their community. Young, old, able, physically challenged – we can all participate in volunteerism and help to make a difference in our community.

Charlottetown – Prince Edward Island

An example in Charlottetown of the critical care provided by hospices across Canada is Hospice PEI – “A Community of Care”. Sad as it may be, when someone is faced with dying; they and their families need extra support. Hospice PEI is committed to easing the pain and assisting with comfort for those involved in dealing with matters at the end of life. It is but one example of the tremendous care and support that is provided by hospices, their staff and volunteers across Canada. Thanks to all who work to bring comfort at this fragile final stage of one’s life.

Halifax – Nova Scotia

You might find somewhat of a reoccurring theme related to homelessness across our land.  Adsum House in Halifax offers a range of services and support to women, families, youth and trans persons during periods of homelessness. Adsum operates four Halifax locations: an emergency shelter, second-stage housing and two apartments complexes where housing is supportive and affordable. Adsum also has three condos that are rented, as permanent supported housing, to women-led families. They shelter or house up to 80 people each day and more than 400 persons in a year. They provide services and support to more than 1,000 people each year. A treasured resource to help meet the challenges of individuals and families in a time of need. Thanks to those who support and work in thousands of shelters across Canada.

St. John’s – Newfoundland and Labrador

As we jump from the Maritimes to the far eastern province in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador the theme of water safety strikes me as so appropriate for this Atlantic Canada province. What greater need than the assurance that youth know how to swim and how to be safe near our coastal waters. This is obviously true for any community in Canada, however particularly relevant and strong this close to and surrounded by the Atlantic ocean. The Lifesaving Society does wonderful working in educating the public about basic life-saving skills. If you don’t find the resources on their site, they have plenty of affiliates to whom they will re-direct your inquiry.

Nunavut

Circling back up northward and west toward Nunavut I turn to the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association. It is so important that culture, arts and crafts continue to flourish in all communities. In Nunavut the association is all about promoting the art and artists of Nunavut. What a wonderful organization supporting the creativity of artists in this fascinating part of our great country. It is but one example of how people in our communities across Canada can help to promote the arts and encourage our youth to be actively engaged in the arts.

Northwest Territories

The Aboriginal Sports Circle in Northwest Territories is focused on engaging all aboriginal people in NWT to ensure that they have the opportunity to participate in sport and recreational activities at a level of involvement that they find meaningful and valuable. They foster community involvement in sport and recreation encouraging involvement from initiation to high performance. They work to integrate Aboriginal culture and traditional values in sport and recreation activities. We can all embrace our First Nations people coast to coast to coast.

Yukon

Teegatha’Oh Zheh is dedicated to promoting community inclusion by providing meaningful support services, and advocacy for individuals who have a developmental disability. Their vision statement captures the essence of their work in the Yukon. Teegatha’Oh Zheh envisions a fully inclusive community in which all individuals have dignity, rights and respect and are encouraged to reach their full potential.

Your Month of Goodness and Joy

These are but a small list of organizations across our great land that are making a difference in the lives of Canadians. Feel free to add your comments and favourite outlets that demonstrate acts of goodness and joy in our community. Here’s wishing you and yours the very best this holiday season, and I hope that you will extend a helping hand to someone in need this December, and every month that follows. Be well, stay warm. @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Always a story

November 26th, 2016

One Response

OK, I know that our Thanksgiving (Canada) weekend was many weeks ago. But, with so many American friends and such close neighbours, and Black Friday spill…I felt that a Thanksgiving post was in order. As you sit with family and friends this weekend in the comfort of your homes, I hope that we can all be thankful for our good health and harmony in our lives. And when we have challenges, we are thankful for a supportive network of family and friends. Let’s remember and give thanks for our blessings and remember those who have suffered or are suffering in this world today. Let’s also remember that we never know “the story” that might stand behind those around us. This is but one example I just felt I had to share.

Always A Story

My daughter and I were traveling across northern Ontario the past few days and stopped in a great little restaurant  for dinner one night. The meal was outstanding and the service magnificent.
In fact, we had large portions and requested “to go” containers.
When the woman serving us returned with the styrofoam containers, she pulled out a pen and placed a “happy face” on the top. What a wonderful little gesture and farewell to traveling guests. It appeared to be somewhat of a unique design and I asked her if she was an artist.
She exclaimed “no” and then asked if we would indulge in her story. Obviously, there was something to my question of her artistry. We were also intrigued to hear a story on our journey and asked her to please go ahead. She said the last time something like that was said was when a woman customer told her, “if that’s a happy face, it is a good thing that you are a server and not an artist”. As humorous as that might be on the surface, our server says it really struck a chord with her.
In fact, she exclaimed to the woman; my four-year-old son used to make those happy faces. The woman being waited on then said “well yes it looks like something an adolescent would do”. The server then told her the sad story. He used to say that happy faces were made with numbers. He’d draw a large zero to start, add in 6’s for the eyes, zero’s for the pupils of the eyes, a 7 for the nose, a nine for the mouth and 11’s or two one’s on each side for the eye lashes. The server explained that she always likes to use this happy face to remember her four year old, because unfortunately he drowned when he was 12 years old. Apparently the woman then curtly, asked for her bill and left.
Did you have the kleenex handy?  The woman (server) went on to tell us more about this heart wrenching story. She said that her son loved to fish. He had wanted a new fishing rod prior to the day he drowned. When shopping for the fishing rod he asked his mother if he could find a book on “angels” because he had dreamed about angels the night before.
When she was leaving her son to stay a few more days, at her son’s request with grandma; the boy rang back out to the car hugged and kissed mom and said; “I just want you to know that I will always love you”. She said, “I know, see you Saturday” and he said “good-bye”. Tingle down the spine starts now…
She then went on to tell another story about the funeral. At the funeral, a woman kept waiting around until the end. At the end of the exhaustive funeral service this stranger approached “Mom” to tell her a story about her son – the day before drowning. In fact, her son had saved their daughter from drowning when their young daughter had ventured into the water to catch a toy that had blown into the water. The young boy had pulled the girl from the water and she was revived and was saved thanks to the heroic efforts of the 12 year old boy.
The next day the young boy, at age 12, was lost by drowing in the waters while fishing.
So. It is often said, to “judge not”. There is certainly almost always more to a story on the other side. Each person has something that they are dealing with that certainly strangers don’t know, and sometimes those even close to them do not even realize what might be on their mind.
Next time someone does a little act of kindness or a gesture, like a “happy face”, just receive it for what it is and be thankful. This world would be such a better place if we just all gave a little more kindness and goodness to each other each day. I’m sure glad I asked about whether the woman was an artist. Her story certainly left us with much to be thankful for in our lives, and deep sympathy for the family, loved ones and friends of that young boy so many years ago.
Thanks to this wonderful woman for her story. Again, we express deepest sympathies to her family and friends for their loss and thanks for the memory of her son, and his courageous act of saving a youngster from drowning, the day before he drowned himself. No doubt he is now with the angels he dreamed about.
May we all give and express our Thanks at this time of year.
CEO Social Networking

CEO Social Networking

November 21st, 2016

No Comments

Your CEO Social Networking. Do you cringe? Do you embrace the thought? Do you hope the CEO won’t read this headline? Or are you a CEO who is sitting there thinking “it is time and I need to get on with this”?

Do you cringe? Do you embrace the thought? Do you hope the CEO won’t read this headline? Or are you perhaps a CEO who is sitting there thinking “it is time and I need to get on with this”? All worthy provocations.

I just read a Marketing Magazine article posted by Cision the following:

“this year’s Signal Social CEO Index revealed that only 53 per cent of Canada’s top CEOs are on even one social media platform, and only 16 percent use two or more networks. With 78 percent of Canadian journalists using social media for work purposes, an executive’s absence spells missed opportunities for brands.”

Further information related to the Signal Leadership communications article can be seen in full here.

As a Chief Corporate Affairs Officer for Molson Coors Canada, I had the early support of our CEO early in 2007; and the Chief Legal and Corporate Affairs Officer. They gave me permission to explore and engage in social networking for the business. I was leading corporate communications and the concept of social networking was starting to explode. In fact, we created a blog with initial counsel from Dr. Mary Donohue, given that traditional media wasn’t necessarily carrying our message about all the good that was being done for multiple decades via the Molson Coors Donations Fund. I digress.

Two Factors for Success of C-Suite Social

For me, there are two critical factors at the C-Suite level when it comes to social media. First, the support by the C-Suite for the communications team to fully engage, explore and ignite social networking in a buisness. Second, for the CEO to actually take a role and play a part in that social networking activity. I think that the Signal PR report points out the gap that is most apparent in the second factor.

It is great to have C-suite support for your communications initiatives. It is even more powerful when that team of C-Suite executives actually take a role in the communications effort.

I would also want to dig deeper into the “53% of CEO’s engaged in social” to truly find out who is managing their content. I applaud the CEO who decides to step into social. It takes courage and it is not a natural role to assume. I celebrate the CEO who steps into the space with their voice, their thoughts, positions and their actual participation and engagement in the network.

A strong and successful social networking strategy will be set up for success when the CEO and communications team work together, rather than independently, on the CEO social strategy and action plan.

Managed by Communications Folks

Don’t worry communications teams, I am not suggesting that your CEO or C-Suite folks take on social networking in isolation from you and your team. In fact, the CEO should be as strategically relevant and “on message” as anyone else in the organization. Let’s face it, they set the tone from the top for all the other aspects of communication and business strategies. Why would we change that here?  Better yet, why would they think any differently?  This should be a collaborative strategic extension of marketing communications if the CEO is actually speaking out from their position in the business.

CEO’s directing their Communications

Building on working with the communications team, the CEO can powerfully add their voice and their humanness to the social networking for the business. Simply posting what marketing feeds them, or what PR approves is not truly authentic. A CEO that talks a bit about their education, interests, hobbies, family, weekend adventures, travel interests, passions for food, use of their business products; will help build engagement with the CEO social networking and a human side of the business that they are leading. The CEO as a champion and ambassador for their brand can be a valid, believable place on the team.

Respect for the Medium

A caution for all who consider taking a role in social networking for their business. From the CEO through to the delivery person, remember to have respect for the medium. Please understand that what you post is public. I liken social media to traditional media. How would you respond to a call from a reporter at the Globe and Mail? It is likely that the CEO would confer with their communications or PR counsel internally. If there is not internal support, it is likely that they would call their agency supporting them in PR and communications. Naturally, there would be an assessment of how that response to media and story told would show up in the press. Social media is no different. Social media is actually posting to a social media network. When it is posted and out there – it is in the world of media. Recall also that from the Signal PR report that 78 percent of journalists using social media for work purposes. You can follow relevant journalists and they can easily follow you. If they are interested in your business, they are likely already following or observing.

Plan the Journey

As with marketing, media relations, sales, business development, strategy, logistics – the social networking strategy takes planning. Let’s face it, your CEO social networking is a pretty sensitive concept – right ? Setting up the profile and entering the network takes minutes. Actually doing it strategically takes some planning. What to post? When to post? Why to post? Who to follow? How to respond? How to monitor? How quickly to respond? All of these are good questions. The answers are not necessarily standard. Much of it may depend on the personality of the CEO. Some of it may depend on the business and some of the regulatory peculiarities of that business. Best practices? It is up to you to create what is the best practice for your business and the personality of your CEO. An integration into the overall communications for the company will need to be reviewed. This is so that the CEO is not just some isolated, independent extension of all else going on with the business. There does need to be a plan.

CEO’s in social networking can be a powerful asset for the business. Your CEO social networking can truly position your business for leadership in your sector or category. Your CEO social networking can also be a disaster if there is not a well thought out plan in place. At the Devins Network, I’d be pleased to engage further with any CEO who might be interested, or with any communications team that might be entertaining the thought. I have passion and commitment for your success. Let’s start that conversation.

Thanks to Marketing Magazine, Cision and Signal PR for raising the matter. A gap worth closing in the corporate communications mix. @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Obstacle Course Racing World Championships – Make A Wish Canada

September 5th, 2016

No Comments

The team at 365 Sports are continuing to build support for our community as they partner with Make A Wish Canada and the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships in October. Hats off to everyone for helping to make a difference for the lives of youth in Canada. Well done!

365Sports and OCRWC Make a Wish

365 Sports, Inc. and Adventurey, LLC., organizers of the 2016 Obstacle Course Racing World Championships (OCRWC), the premier independent championships serving the burgeoning sport of Obstacle Course Racing, have announced a new partnership with Make-A-Wish® Canada in support of their efforts to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. “There is no better fit for our organisation than Make-A-Wish,” said OCRWC Founder & CEO Adrian Bijanada. “For me and many others on the OCRWC team, this partnership is a dream come true, both professionally and personally.” As part of the partnership, OCRWC organisers and partners 365 Sports, Inc. will introduce and Open Division on Sunday of World Championship weekend, for which Make-A-Wish® will serve as a beneficiary. Additionally, 365 Sports and OCRWC will also be working with Crowdrise to drive interest, awareness and fundraising efforts on behalf of the wish-granting organisation.

How it Will Happen

“During the open run day on Sunday, October 16, a portion of each registration will be donated directly to Make-A-Wish,” said Tony Smith CEO of 365 Sports Inc. “As participants take to the obstacle course, they will be proud to know that they are making a difference for countless youth who face their unique challenges. With our participants’ generous support, our goal is to raise $25,000.00.”

More about OCRWC

The Obstacle Course Race World Championships is a single event created to unify, promote and increase participation in the sport of OCR, while celebrating its amazing athletes and community. This year’s competition, held October 14-16, will draw more than 2,000 athletes from over 30 countries to Blue Mountain Resort located outside Collingwood, Ontario.

This is the first time that the world championships have been held in Canada. With the splendour of fall colours in the Blue Mountains, the team at 365Sports are certain to be pleasing the world as they compete at this event.

@365Sports @OCRChampionship  @ BlueMountainResort @MakeAWishCA @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Disclosure – 365Sports is a client of Devins Network Inc. I am proud of the work that they do in our greater community and their model for getting Canadians coast to coast to coast more active. FD

5K Foam Fest Moving Across Canada

July 11th, 2016

No Comments

Believe me – It is FUN !

Ok, I must admit, when I first got the call from Jesse Fulton at 365Sports “an enthusiast for adventure and action sports” asking me to chat with him about public relations and social media for their 5K Foam Fest; I was lacking a little on knowledge of this particular “race scene”. But…after spending some time with the team and taking in the event first hand at Sun Peaks Resort in British Columbia, I am a believer. And my gosh, is it fun.

Yes, after a few months of working with the team at 365Sports, I have come to have a great deal of respect and admiration for what they are executing in 14 stops from the west coast to Atlantic this summer in Canada. People are hopping off their couches, leaving their “devices” at the “gear check” and experiencing one heck of a fun event.

The event is also partnered with Habitat for Humanity and all proceeds from the Gear Check go to the local chapeter of @Habitat

The 5K Foam Fest is a fun-filled day of “participation” that puts fun seekers of all ages in a challenge against 20+ obstacles, a lot of foam, and some personal challenges. It is not a competition. It is all about completing the course. And…complete it as you see fit. If you don’t like the obstacle, go around it ! The minimum age is 8 years old, and teams are made up of all ages, families, workers, colleagues, fitness enthusiasts and some who are just simply seeking to accomplish a personal challenge set out by the 5K Foam Fest course.

I had the pleasure of visiting the festival event at Sun Peaks Resort in British Columbia near Kamloops British Columbia. I also had the opportunity to walk the course and witness the fun and frolic of participants as they faced their obstacles, mud, foam, hurdles and water! Walk Ferg ? Well yes, I had work to do…smiles.

The obstacles are plentiful as you leave from the starting gate moving your way cautiously through the foam that surrounds you. Here is a quick photo collage of  “the course” during the Sun Peaks 5K Foam Fest in British Columbia in June 2016. I have also included a couple of shots from the Winnipeg event.

The Course

The starting gate is quite a remarkable experience to witness as participants queue up behind the foam ready to lunge forward into the engulfing light white foam that awaits them.

IMG_0106IMG_0105

 

A chamber of foam awaits participants after a quick run out of the starting gate.

IMG_0117 IMG_0150

There are several obstacles set up to test the crawling ability of participants. Many choose to crawl under, but some choose to be more cautious and step over the awaiting web.

IMG_0153 IMG_0155

Several water stations re-hydrate participants along the course.

IMG_0165

Many are in awe by the awaiting “mud” obstacles. The Mocha pit and Mud Crawl were two beauties !

IMG_0174 IMG_0183 IMG_0187 IMG_0188

The tube crossing looks easy…but a mud bath can easily consume the fun seekers.

IMG_0191

Several “run and dives” welcome participants with a slope into foam and wetness.

IMG_0194

A log roll like foam filled obstacle is unnerving as folks try to slip and slide over the rounded logs covered in foam.

IMG_0200 IMG_0204

Mud pits abound…this one was particularly interesting with snow piled on each side of the obstacle.

IMG_0215

The Lily Pads look so easy to cross but have been known to snag participants at the ankles dragging them into the water below.

IMG_0217

Monkey business seems pretty standard but can be quite the challenge at this stage of the #5KFoamFest experience.

IMG_0223

Foam brings smiles to faces along the way in at various obstacle stops.

IMG_0238

Up and over never seemed like so much fun.

IMG_0241

At the 3/4 mark, the body washer is a welcoming refresher for participants.

IMG_0246 IMG_0247

A large version of a standard hurdle makes for a quick climb.

IMG_0254

The “Death Drop” has them screaming down the slide on this “world largest” inflatable slide.

IMG_0260

Naturally, there is still “more foam” as participants near the finish line.

IMG_0263 IMG_0264

Much joy of accomplishment is seen on the faces of those completing the course and being awarded their towels and medals.

IMG_0282

IMG_0285

IMG_0900

Each course is fully equipped with showers to freshen up at the end of a wonderful #5KFoamFest experience.

IMG_0286

And…if you have not had enough of a thrill through the course, you can always experience “Sky Fall” on site !

All in all the #5KFoamFest produced by the team @365Sports is an experience worth taking in this summer. Be sure to check and see which stop you might experience as the team travels coast to coast this summer in Canada. Check it all out at www.5KFoamFest.ca

Be sure to tweet all about your experience @FoamFestCanada. We’ll be waiting to hear about your experience. Or join the over one hundred and fifty thousand fans now following the team on Facebook.

Have an awesome summer !  @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

I Walk for Bladder Cancer

May 4th, 2016

No Comments

We all have our causes, our not for profits, our charities, our volunteer involvements and our community engagement initiatives. One of my priorities is Bladder Cancer Canada. In early 2014 I was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer. Thanks to an attentive general practitioner, whom I had seen for years, and a wiseacupuncturistt, whom I had also seen for years – I was referred to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Urology. I had two high grade non-muscle invasive tumours removed from my Bladder in March of 2014. Bladder Cancer is known to have a high incidence of recurrence, thus I have maintained regular three month check ups and a series of “BCG Treatments” since surgery.

I am a survivor of Bladder Cancer. I was also well informed and supported along my journey by the fine work of the Bladder Cancer Canada organization. They had strong and accessible resources, and people who had gone through this before me. For patients, that peer support and understanding ear and person to turn to is a wonderful opportunity to seize.

As a patient facing Bladder Cancer, and I’m sure any cancer or disease – one can feel quite alone in the battle. Bladder Cancer Canada certainly helped eliminate any risk of feeling alone through their tremendous support network.

In September of 2014 I organized a walk for Bladder Cancer Canada in Kenora, where we have our summer home. I joined the board of Bladder Cancer Canada in the spring of 2015, staged the second walk in Kenora in September of 2015 and then accepted the challenge of becoming National Walk Lead for Bladder Cancer’s September 2016 effort.

I walk because I know that the funds that I raise with you will make a difference. It will make a difference in supporting patients and caregivers. It will make a difference in raising awareness to help others get help early. It will make a difference by generating funds to channel for bladder cancer research.

I walk because bladder cancer is the fourth most prevalent cancer amongst men, twelfth amongst women but funded below twentieth in research funding.

I am walking because I know that my efforts, with you – will make a difference.

Please join with me in supporting the Bladder Cancer Canada Awareness Walk in 2016. You can register, volunteer and or donate at bccwalk.ca .

Thanks !  @FergDevins

PHOTO CREDIT – Clark Devins Photography

Bladder Cancer Month of May

May 1st, 2016

No Comments

It is #BadderCancer Month in Canada. The Board of Directors of Bladder Cancer Canada have declared the month of May as Bladder Cancer Canada Awareness month. Although things are kicking off in a rather modest way this year, we are calling upon our volunteers, patients, families, urologists, oncologists, nurses, general practitioners and the public at large to join with us to bring attention and awareness to this fifth most prevalent cancer in Canada.

Some of the milestones this month will include a May 6th lighting of Niagara Falls in yellow, with a touch of red. On May 14th the CN Tower in Toronto will be lit yellow, with a touch of red. BC Place will also be lighting up yellow, with a touch of red at some point during the month.

I am personally proud to shout out the #BladderCancer awareness activity as a bladder cancer survivor myself. I had two non-muscle invasive tumours removed in March of 2014 and have been diligently carrying out my follow up cystoscopies and BCG treatments, since surgery. I’m now at a “six month” check in protocol and so far “all clear”. I’ve taken the active step of getting involved with Bladder Cancer Canada as a board member and in a new role this year as National Walk Lead

YOU can help us this month by wearing yellow as part of our #ShowYellow effort to raise awareness coast to coast to coast in Canada for #BladderCancer. Feel free to retweet @BladderCancerCA or post on Facebook. We also have local Facebook pages in the twenty walk communities across the country. You can also gain more information about Bladder Cancer in Canada at www.bladdercancercanada.org.

Thanks for helping us gain great awareness for Bladder Cancer. And for wellness sake, if you See Red – See Your Doctor !  @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork 

PHOTO CREDIT: Special Thanks to Cory McCrindle for his Photograph of Jamieson Fregeau during the 2014 Walk in Kenora Ontario

Get Your Network Working

April 23rd, 2016

One Response

A Network

This visual from the Sunnybrook Trails in Toronto reminded me of our structure of social networks. Roots that sink deeply into the forest bed, paths that wind in different directions. Branches that spread out in many directions with various twigs and buds emerging. Some branches overlapping, interchanging, seemingly collaborating. In the distance, blue skies of opportunity. All held together in its own eco system and community networks.

Have Purpose

The social networking world can seem to some to be very ominous. I’m also convinced that, regardless of age or stage of life, everyone can benefit from the right social network designed for the individual with a purpose in mind.

If you think of your current role and how you might benefit from a stronger use of social network, you might be pleasantly surprised at what nuggets of opportunity arise. Even if there is not a “role” for you in a formal context. Think of your interests, your passions, your dreams, your travel, former friends and colleagues, the old home town.

Let’s think of a few examples of purposeful social networking

Possibilities of Purpose

Professionals, Business Folks, Not for Profit Leaders, Students seeking a new job opportunity in the work force, Mid-Career changing Individuals, Community Leaders; the one sure place that you need to be networking is LinkedIN. LinkedIN offers a world of connectivity and an opportunity to lay your profile out in a very professional setting. You have the ability to join groups, search conversations and interests and even take a peek at their constantly updated job boards. A sure bet for professional networking.

If you travel, TripAdvisor is just such a wonderfully rich catch of information, reviews, suggestions, photos and interesting insights from those who have gone before you. Once you’ve seen the power of TripAdvisor you might like to add your own reviews to help others in the pursuit of travel insights.

Quilters may find great opportunities to connect via Pinterest or Instagram as they share the joys of the various works of art. Extend that to any number of artists and their communities.

Artists may also find the outlet of blogging a wonderful way to express their works of art and bring attention to their creative genius and works. I use WordPress but there are many platforms to assess for blogging. There are also a lot of web design tools. Frankly, I’m just not that technically suited so I had the folks at JIB create my website.

Those in public service or community influence are likely to find that the news feed benefit and keyword search and #hashtags on Twitter is an easy wasy to keep an eye on what’s new. It’s no surprise that just about every news cast and newscaster has resorted to profiling their Twitter handles, when reporting the day’s news.

I would suggest that anyone can find a purposeful advantage on Facebook. Facebook is just so large and far reaching. Who can deny that there might be a place with a number of different purposes to engage. Whether you create your own group, with specific interests and privacy – a page for a specific cause or undertaking – an event in your community where you can create a special event and invitation page – or perhaps a page for your business or cause. Facebook also provides a very reasonable “boost” to pay for advertising and targeting those within the Facebook world that you might like to reach.

Google+ is terrific for building a following and community and grouping within specific interests. Google has a wonderful set of applications and suite of business tools including a special drive, google alerts, YouTube etc. Google Apps for work is a great place to check out tools for your business.

Speaking of YouTube, you might well have your own collection of moments; or your own special stories to tell via video and collect them on your own YouTube channel. YouTube is also such a huge resource to find out how to do just about anything. From learning to play your favourite tune on the piano, to building something of interest for your home or cottage – you’ll find it all on YouTube – get in there and search something out!

If you are just looking to “listen”, you might find Blab or Periscope or Vine applications of interest to you on a given subject matter. You can participate, or just watch and listen. Video is just simply a powerful way to communicate. The one “caution” is not to make it too long. In my humble opinion, you’ll lose the viewer after a few minutes max (if recorded, different if live streaming of course).

One more network that you will find is more youth oriented, for the time being that is. Until the parental units catch on to how much is being communicated via this platform (smiles)  SnapChat. SnapChat offers a quick, casual, easy way to keep in touch and share photos, collections or quick videos with friends “in the moment”. There are also a number of ongoing features and newsfeeds through SnapChat.

In closing, don’t forget that your email and contact list continues to serve as a critical foundation of your social network. Keep those contacts neat and tidy. Keep them updated with today’s relevant information. Attempt to include social networks along with phone and address. You’ll find fax numbers less important and Twitter Profiles more use today. Along with your email service there are a number of email tools to utilise for list outreach and campaigns. Mail Chimp and Constant Contact are just two of many services available.

Get Your NetworkWorking

All in this is just a nudge for you to get that network working.

Whatever your interest, passion, cause or focus – there is bound to be information, people and learning that you can find and network with, across the social channels.

Have fun engaging. If you need more direction or support, I’d be happy to chat further on some ideas best suited to you and your business or cause.  Ciao for now !  FERG @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Calling All Farmers To Social Network

March 21st, 2016

No Comments

Farmers ? Yes you bet !

I had the privilege of speaking at the Central Ontario Agricultural Conference a few weeks back and was very intrigued by the opportunity that exists for the farming sector in social media.

In a room of close to 40 people, I was first struck by how people were reluctant to see themselves as being engaged in “social media”. I was quick to remind them that prior to the formal channels of social media, they were likely some of the pioneers and drivers of what social was all about. Let’s face it, the traditional weekend “farmers’ market” is a pretty long-standing weekend “social” event for their business.

Farmers’ Market – It’s Social

If you take the concept of farmers’ market to the web – you have a wonderful platform for Farmers in Social Media.

I was also intrigued by the number of people in the audience (farmers as well as a collection of other small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs) who fully embraced the need for a website – but had not necessarily considered multiple channels in their social networks. It seemed to me like people felt that the website got their story out there. Where I see opportunity is telling the story through the utilization of social networking.

Start with Purpose

Naturally my first two premises for engaging in social media are:

A – Have a purpose for getting into social media and

B – ensure that you are going to commit to what resources you will need to do it well.
Please don’t do it because you read this prompt, and certainly don’t do it because someone said you should be on Twitter. YOU need to truly feel that building social networking into your marketing and word of mouth plan is done with purpose and outcome identified.

Some Examples

So Farmers? If you consider that many farms today rely on a mix of wholesale and consumer direct sales, there is a wonderful opportunity through social networks to get closer to and engaged with their audience. Depending on the farm product, there are quite possibly many audiences that already exist in farming. This article from BEEF back in 2012 was clearly pointing to the opportunity for cattle ranchers. Here is another great article from Australia that talks about livestock opporutnities in social media. It does speak a little bit about social media taking over traditional channels. I’m not going to get into that debate. What I will say is that social media can serve a role, within your overall integrated communications strategy. Another article compares how articles of the past in a specific trade magazine related to corn can be applied to how you converse through social media. The point being made here is about developing “trust”. “Agriculture More Than Ever” has some terrific resources for telling the agricultural story.

Find Your Conversation

One real advantage of social media is that you are actually engaging in a conversation. Let me re-phrase that. One of the opportunities of social media is that you can actually start to engage in a conversation. Through conversation, you can get to know your customer, supplier or associates. Through conversation, you will understand each others’ needs better. Through conversation, you will start to build trust and understanding. Isn’t it true that we tend to buy from those we trust? This is an advantage of social media for the farm community.

Accept the Nudge

So, I am calling all farmers to social media. Take a look at your online presence. See how you are performing in your particular category. How are your competitors showing up in this social media space? What are your customers saying about your business in this space? What conversations are taking place now on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Instagram or through video posts on YouTube that you should consider being part of.

Here to Help

If you’d like a little coaching on these questions, I’m ready willing and able to help you out. Cheers to the next conversation that you find yourself in and I hope that it moves you towards new growth in your business. @FergDevins  @DevinsNetwork