Hockey Canada Celebrates 100 Years

December 4th is a memorable day for #CanadasGame, with Hockey Canada celebrating 100 years as an organizing body in Canada. With hockey as such a significant sport in our heritage and DNA as a nation, it is wonderful milestone to be sure, in Canada.

At the Devins Network we have been proud to be supporting the Hockey Canada #CenturyTour caravan , as it has been criss crossing the nation since June 26th.The #CenturyTour has been visiting communities, festivals and events. We have been to communities large and small, through celebrations already established and at a number of official Hockey Canada events in Canada. December 4th marks a mid way point for #CenturyTour as the caravan will continue to weave its way across Canada through to the end of May. Check out when it is coming to your community through regular updates on the Hockey Canada site.

The #CenturyTour is made possible by the tremendous support that it has received from its partners at Heritage Canada, Canadian Tire, Respect Group, Samsung Canada, and TELUS.

IMG_8772We wish the team at Hockey Canada and all of its associates from coast to coast to coast the very best, December 4th, as Hockey Canada celebrates 100 years.

Hockey Canada is a remarkable network of volunteers, leaders, thought leaders, officials, coaches, parents, supporters and partners that, through their joint efforts, keep this wonderful sport of hockey alive and well adn continuing to grow as #CanadasGame. Congrats on the richness of programs that you provide.

So happy birthday, happy anniversary @HockeyCanada. May the next 100 years bring with it the joy that this nation has witnessed through #CanadasGame and may we continue as a nation to cheer on our national teams and continue to have the opportunity to take part. We can all take part, whether playing the game, supporting our kids or family who partake, sponsoring, volunteering or just spectating with a big heart for what has become known as #CanadasGame.  Cheers to another 100 years Hockey Canada !  @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork.

Good Morning

Two simple words. "Good morning", seems to be pretty easy to convey. What really struck me, on Tuesday morning, was the less than 50% response rate that I received as I proceeded on an early morning walk through mid Toronto. OK, the sun wasn't quite up, it was pretty darn cold, the wind was blowing and between scarves and headphones people are a little distracted...but less than 50% saying good morning back or, at the very least, a grunt ! This isn't the first time I've noticed this kind of lack of basic interaction. I've seen it in other commnunities as well, when I've taken to a morning walk. I just wonder what holds someone back from a basic return of "good morning". Not to judge too quickly...someone might have had a bad day, a rough start, missed breakfast, dealing with a job they don't like, an issue with their finances, missing a loved one, lost a loved one, facing a personal crisis, dealing with a health issue. All of that said my good morning is truly intended to just ride in over all of that as a good morning wish to my community. Heck...the dogs I've seen are better than 50% at wagging their tales and sniffing each others...ya right ! I'm going to keep pushing my good morning greeting - maybe it will offer someone hope or put a smile on a face or help lift someone from a depressed or distressed thought. And oh yes, thanks for the good morning greeting back from those who reciprocated. You helped me get a great start to a good morning. @FergDevins

we are our community

Have you ever thought about what your community is ? My provocation is that, "we are our community". We can sit back in our armchairs (vs. summer lawn chairs) and throw snowballs at "them", those folks, the entities, leaders or thought leaders that just aren't living up to our expectations. Or,  we can embrace the opportunity of affirming and taking action on the premise and platform that "we are our community".

I suggest that this thought is grounded in my small town upbringing. Some might find that smaller communities drive them to seeking greater privacy. That's fine and that is respected.  For this guy,  it was an open and whole community experience. I chose to be involved and to be active, as did so many of my friends. I am blessed to have had that upbringing.

Whether it was politics (because you intimately knew your Member of Parliament, Member of Provincial Parliament, the Mayor and several councillors, and school board leaders),

Education - (there were just two high schools in town and you either knew your peers in school or the rivals across town),

the Business Community (they were truly the thought leaders in business and the shopping environment and local economy and were truly the engine of "Main Street"),

Neighbours, (in small towns you actually knew everyone on your street and many folks in other pockets of town),

Family, (given that you would know people through your family, others would know you back through their families)

Social Events, (this is what brought people together socially at various points throughout the year),

Church, (given that for me, in the 60's,  that was just part of what it was like growing up, off to church school, youth groups, cubs, scouts, music festivals, Christmas concerts, Christmas eve ceremony),

Sports,(depending on the sport, the team, the competition in the community and across the region, whether an organized team or slo-pitch tournies on weekends),

Charity, based on interests or challenges in the community or even - in my case - the Terry Fox marathon that rallied our community in anticipation of Terry's arrival (unfortunately he ended his marathon 5 hours to the east of Kenora in Thunder Bay...but a long lasting world class inspiration, to this day, none the less!)

As I look back on the small town upbringing, in some ways I have "clicked and dragged" all of that forward; to embrace the reality that we are our community. In a larger centre, such as Toronto, we really are living in a collection of small communities. Our neighbourhoods and social aspects of our community mirror that of a smaller centres - just amidst a larger entity.

We are our community, by just making a decision to get involved. We are our community, by deciding to be active on issues, in political action, in decisions in our community small - medium or large. We are our community, by deciding what charity or not for profit has "meaning" for each of us...offering an opportunity to reach out and make a difference - by volunteering time or making a donation.

We are our community, by truly embracing that stepping forward is how we can impact our community, rather than sitting back and "hoping" that someone else will make that difference for us. Isn't "hoping" such an action lacking verb ? It reminds me of "try"...smiles. Thanks to Robert at Legacy Transformational Consulting many years ago for distinguishing for me "try from do".

So, given that we are our community, how might you decide to take action ? Some thoughts would be to join a political party, get involved with a local councillor's advisory group, attend a community meeting, assist with the school Christmas or Holiday seasonal fair, ask a senior if they need a "ride"...and don't accept when they say "no we're ok" that it is there final response...smiles, volunteer to make a few calls for your local charity, volunteer for your kids' sports team, ask your friends if they need help in any way at all, pledge to someone who is already involved in a cause, put the "bag" out for that cause that calls for used clothing or household items, put some loose change in the hand of a homeless person reaching out for comfort on a cold winter's day, speak up - step up - make a difference.

We are our community and one way to make a difference is by getting involved and taking action, in whatever small or large way you see fit. What might seem trivial to you/us...could make a world of difference to someone else in their time of need.

I'd love to hear how you're involved, and whether this has just given you that little nudge to help convince and engage you in believing that we are our community. Cheers !

@FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

You are a Brand

You are a Brand

Good provocation !? "You are a Brand", provokes a rather interesting and diverse response from those to whom I pose this question. My provocation is that You are a Brand.

In a world of social "media", I propose that individuals are brands. What do I mean by brand ? Well, I think of the individual as a persona, offering something to the world, bringing value to their community, providing a service or product, being a voice with opinion and their stance on issues. You are a brand.

Whether studying in college or university with an eye to your future, whether mid career, whether semi-retired or fully retired. You are a brand, and a brand worth paying attention to and developing. Brand reputation ? Got it ! also have a reputation. Because you are a brand.

I am also convinced that through social networking and conversations, how people relate to you is in some ways similar to how people choose other brands of choice. With the risk of sounding somewhat static or cold I do think that people do people choose you. They choose to engage with you, buy from you, hang out with you, socialize and in many instance develop a relationship and friendship with you. Why ? The relationship is due to common thinking, shared interests, community like mindedness, perhaps a political or religious association or a connection through your kids school or walking a dog. But in all of this there is a brand essence of you in that relationship. You emote character and persona and that is the basis of your brand. You are a brand.

So..that said, you can do something with that foundation, or just let it be what it is in its most simplistic form. If left under developed your brand has a good base, but is not directed by you - it is more likely directed but what is going on around you. I propose that you can build a brand for you, whether in business within someone else's business or some other entity, in your own business or as a solopreneur. (I like that one). You are a brand.

Another thought is that you likely offer certain things to your community. You may be a leader or a follower or an observer. You likely have certain interests and thus show up with those interests emotionally. That could be as a hockey fan, a parent, a coach, a philanthropist, a care giver, an executive, a line worker. Whatever "you are doing" that is part of your brand.

If you work for a large company, medium business or for someone - that is also likely part of your brand. A good example of this was me at Molson Coors for 30 years. My twitter profile was @MolsonFerg (now @FergDevins). I transferred for Molson Coors attributes of their values, their business, their brands and their presence in community. After leaving Molson Coors I maintained a strong commitment to community, a desire to help others, and some industry involvement. So those brand attributes of Ferg Devins carry forward...but I continue to evolve and establish my own brand - communicator, collaborator, community leader, volunteer, conversationalist, lobbyist, marketer etc. But all of this is now as Ferg Devins and Devins Network...rather than an extension of brand Molson Coors.

Am I making sense ? If this triggers something for you great. I think that each of us has an opportunity to build our own brand, to connect with our community, to work our social networks to add value to our communities and to lead. You are a brand.

So what might you do on this little nudge to better develop your brand? Do your social networks have a common thread could they possibly look like four or five different people ? Is there synergy ? Is there alignment in imagery and what you stand for ? It's work in progress, but you are a brand.

What brand do you see in your mirror ? Have some fun with this. Hopefully "on brand" I've started a conversation for you. Cheers !
@FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

Public Relations - Essential on Your Team

In recent years, it feels like public relations, community relations, social media have become a bit blurred. In fact I see that some organizations still tend to group these various "communications strategies" in different silos of their organization. Some choose to place public relations in a corporate affairs group, some pull it into overall marketing and communications. I've also seen public relations largely "out sourced" and more of a "crisis management" call when needed. I like keeping communications leadership and strategy inside where they are close and "on the ready" when needed. Living the culture and knowing the people is an essential part of effective responsiveness.

Frankly my perspective and stance on the matter is that public relations (which I would suggest included PR, social media, corporate reputation and community outreach) is a critical role that should have high profile and some influence within and organization. They need to be in the "know" to have the greatest benefit for your business.

In a world where the news is instantaneous and on "twitter" within seconds, organizations need to be nimble, responsive and open to engage in conversations quickly on line and in the media to manage the impact to reputation. The old days of calling back the reporter, assessing their context, asking them when their story would run, completing a fact check, digging in on the "real intent of the story", offering the "key message" have long since passed us by. However, the principles and protocols of that procedures are now accelerated to unfold in minutes. Thus, the role of the public relations or communications individual or department within the corporate or business structure is critical.

Would you turn that "twenty something" over to the business reporter calling in from the Globe and Mail or National Post ? I think I know your answer. So...let's make sure that your business in paying real attention to how well equipped and ready that "twenty something" is to respond to the conversations that will unfold in the social media channels. It sill requires a trained professional communicator that understands public relations and has the total backing of the c-suite to ensure that reputation of the business (small, medium or large) is protected.

Further...for public relations and communications must take the stand for your position and role. Playing the victim role of "they call me too late, I'm called in at the 11th hour, they leave it too late" are all excuses that your could have challenged and changed. Educate the leaders in your organization about the "new media". Help them to prepare for the possible conversations that could unfold in social channels. Like you would have prepared for various situations that might happen in the business, you can prepare potential responses so that they are ready when you need to respond within seconds to a conversations in social media channels.

Cheers to conversations and being part of them - it takes listening and a state of preparedness to respond. Public Relations - essential on your team. @FergDevins