This Confidence Boost Helped My Personal Style

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I recently attended a Mad Women of Toronto event (hosted by the ICA and Microsoft Canada) and one of the primary topics was how women dress. A panel of women, which included one of the authors of the new bestseller Women In Clothes, Sheila Heti, engaged our group of 75 young professional women on the topic of dressing for success.

I don’t consider myself to be without style but, personally, I feel I could do better. A snag in my tights, an undone manicure, I felt I was always short of the finish line in terms of looking ‘my best’. When Q&A time began, I raised my hand and asked my question to this panel of women whose collective experience with style would no doubt shed light on this.

“Is it normal to always feel like I’m only 85% there with my style?” I asked. I went on to explain how a touch of Shellac remained on my nails and how my Canadian winter boots didn’t necessarily match my outfit, with my white sock visible around my ankle. The question seemed to raise a stir with the panel and the audience.

“Is it normal to always feel like I’m only 85% there with my style?”

“I don’t think you should ever be 100% there. That last 15% is subjective. Who’s to say you aren’t already reaching your full style potential?” Answered Heather Mallick, Toronto Star Columnist and one of the day’s panelists.

photo 2It struck a chord. So many dialogues and commentaries nowadays talk about dressing for success and for the job you want, not the job you have. The requirement to dress well is more prominent than ever. Is that why I felt inadequate? My Chelsea boots from The Gap were this season’s, I wore a dress I ADORE and which has been in my collection for years, and my hair and makeup were tasteful. Why did I only feel like I was meeting the standard and not exceeding it? The learning was clear: maybe I just had to rethink the standard.

The requirement to dress well is more prominent than ever. Is that why I felt inadequate?

Sheila Heti further answe red my question with a personal story. Isabella Rossellini, daughter of Ingrid Bergman and overall fashionista/stunner, was once at a meeting with Heti’s friend. Her friend recalled the flawless Rossellini to be all but perfect, save for the fact she was wearing thick gym socks with a fancy outfit – the kind of socks that pulled up past her ankles. But no one even blinked. Rossellini pulled off the look with the utmost confidence.

And confidence is what it’s all about. That is the secret to the last 15%. The learning was clear: maybe I just had to rethink the standard. And it has stuck. Own whatever style you are wearing with confidence and others will feel like you are at your 100%, even if you have doubts.

You can read Melanie’s blog at or follow her on Twitter. Add your comments below – how does confidence affect your personal style?

Children’s Motrin among brands helping moms help each other

New research from Rutgers University says that a woman’s happiness is more important than her husband’s when it comes to keeping a marriage afloat. Meanwhile, more branded support systems have started to appear. Marketers are trying to help women help each other, specifically moms.

Walmart Canada has long been studying the role of Mom and how to talk to her, fully versed in the realities she faces every day. Every year, Walmart asks other moms (and the general public) to vote and recognize one mom as “Mom of the Year.” The program gives an outlet for Canadians to say thank you to moms in their lives, awarding one but appreciating all. It came to fruition after JWT learned that Mom doesn’t always feel appreciated for all she does.

Now, a campaign for Children’s Motrin in the U.S. is encouraging moms to reach out to each other and ask for help and tips to make them unstoppable. Kelly Ripa is the spokeswoman for the “Unstoppable Moms” campaign, and she’s featured in a series of videos that aim to help Mom out in her daily life. This ensures the brand’s relevance is credible and not jarring. Brands are enabling the conversation and helping to make life a little easier and happier for Mom.

My post originally appeared on JWT’s Anxiety Index.

How To Fix Common Social Media Blunders

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Having worked on the front lines of social media for a considerable amount of time, I see people who are, day in and day out, afraid they are making irreversible mistakes on social. But instead of living in fear, seemingly big booboos can be easily remedied with swift action.

An error in a YouTube video

YouTube does not allow you to change a video once uploaded. But there are ways to fix problems without removing your video and annihilating your view count. Does the problem occur at the beginning or end of your video (like a slate or an incorrect super in the end)? YouTube allows for front and back trimming so you can cut out those problems. Annotations also allow you to control where click thrus occur, so you can lead your audience to new content when you choose. You can also update the thumbnail on the video if it’s not to your liking. Meta problems can be remedied by fixing title, description copy and tags.

Allowing/Disallowing YouTube comments

This one can be tricky. If your comments are turned on and unwanted trolls are creeping your comment section, you can turn off comments and remove any that already exist. This also deletes anything that was replied to. But the move is permanent and comments will not come back if you opt to turn them on again.

A Facebook post gone wrong

Facebook is a handy social tool for blunders. Like Google+, or even a standard blog post, it allows you to edit copy that has been posted by clicking the downwards arrow at the top right of every post. It is best to do this immediately after the error was noticed – proofread posts before and right after they are posted to ensure this is solved in a timely manner. If a post was overlooked, community managers can back date a post to make it appear on a different date.

Death by Tweet

There is no way to edit a tweet once it’s been sent out to the twitterverse. Your best option is to delete it immediately and repost the correct one without any errors to links or without typos. Odds are no one will have seen or noticed the error but, if your following is rather large, you can avoid embarrassment by owning up to it. Say “We were all thumbs in that last tweet”, delete the error, then your next tweet should be the correct one.

A WordPress AutoTweet

Blogs often allow you to automatically generate a tweet from a new post you’ve created as soon as you hit publish. But what if that tweet is too title-focused and not social enough? Within your post, you can select the settings of the tweet and update the content before you hit publish. This ensures that the correct hashtags and language is used for your post before you publish. If you keep forgetting this step, disable this feature so you can be more in control.

Like everything, your comfort level will grow once you become more familiar with the social media platform you’re working on. Dive in and get messy!

For more social media tips follow Melanie on Twitter @MelanieReiff.


The One Thing You Should Never Procrastinate On


When I think of procrastination I picture Indiana Jones sliding under the trap door and reaching back to grab his signature hat seconds before he could lose his hand.  Somehow, he always makes the decision to run for the exit at the last second, despite some opportunistically slow-moving trap doors.

However, there is one thing you should never procrastinate on: helping others. 

When someone asks for your help, either at work or in your network, it is in both of your best interests that you provide whatever advice you can to them sooner rather than later.  Why? Help is something people have difficulty asking for.  In fact, according to an October 2009 Harvard Business Review article, people may be afraid to look dumb when they reach out for help.  Stalling on your answer will only decrease their confidence.

Help is a two-way street

When you offer your assistance to someone in need, be it career advice, a chance to connect two people from distant networks, or even providing day-to-day assistance at work, you build trust.  You build yours and their confidence.  It will also never be forgotten.  Helping people is a two-way street; you do something for someone, they will repay you down the road.

Assess the level of help you can give

Obviously we cannot say yes to everyone.  Help doesn’t have to mean saying ‘yes’, it can mean saying no, but providing a better option.  If you can’t donate $100 to your best friend’s daughter’s third grade school supply rally, suggest other ways or things that could help.

Get scrappy

You know the solution.  A person reaches out because they don’t just need a straight answer, they need guidance.  If your friend is looking for a place to stay in Australia and knew you stayed there with someone you know, the answer might not be to send them to your contact, who they don’t know, it might be to point them to that great hostel you also stayed in.  Carefully consider their question and determine how you can provide help.  You are a wealth of knowledge.

Melanie is a specialist in Communications and Marketing, with her own personal site on advertising and lifestyle,  Leave a comment or like this post! Or make a new Twitter friend @MelanieReiff.

Photo: Free WHD

The Way We Pay Rent Is All Wrong

Holley Hates Valentine's Day

Every 17th of the month I look at my bank account and think the same thing. It’s still in there. My rent from the first of the month just squats there like a dollop of raw cookie dough, looking mighty tempting but not moving… in my sight but so far from reach.

In the early days when this happened I’d email my landlord around the 15th and remind him to cash the b^*@d% cheque. He’d make up some excuse about not being able to get to the bank at all (in truth, this man is a very busy chain-smoker who spends a lot of time on the sidewalk outside my building conversing with anyone who feels like talking about the nuisance of installing fire-safe windows). I digress.

According to The Canadian Payroll Association, many Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque. I hate to admit it, but I am one of them. It boggles my mind, to be honest. When rent comes out at the beginning of the month, the other half of the month’s money should be all mine (insert evil laugh), but it never seems to be the case. That money goes to playing catch up to the last month’s expenses and so on. It’s a vicious cycle. So perhaps it’s not us that’s the problem, it’s the system in place.

So, what if the way we pay rent is all wrong? What if we paid two months’ rent at once? This would have to mean that we were paid our salary once a month as well. Other countries can handle it, why can’t we?

Let’s see what happens:

Say Johnny makes $4,500 a month and his rent is $1,500 a month. If we tried this new formula, he’d pay $3,000 a month for two months’ rent on January 1st and have another $1,500 to get through to the next payday. Then, the following payday he’d earn his $4,500 and it would be all his (aside from other expenses, obviously). So, I ask, what if?

We’re questioning other been-there-since-forever societal staples like the 5-day workweek and using pavement for roads, so why not this? Perhaps it will see to a reduction in debt and better planning of funds for the immediate future.

Let’s start a discussion, what do you think? Add your comments below and like this if you liked it!

You can also follow @MelanieReiff on Twitter.

Photo credit: Nina Goldman’s cat

The Three Things Vogue’s 15 Coolest Neighbourhoods Can Teach Us About Creativity


Vogue released its list of the world’s 15 coolest hoods – proudly, Toronto’s West Queen West is on there – and each area seems to have many things in common with the next: cafés, trendy bars, galleries, and a general artsy nature. Bustling districts like financial hubs or laid back suburban blocks do not make the cut. Why? Because it’s all about creativity. Freedom of expression, individuality, uniqueness and a rebellion against the mundane are all commonalities. By allowing creativity to dominate, once-misfit or forgotten pockets are earning their stripes. And it’s a lesson we all should learn.

Creativity isn’t always original. Fifteen global neighbourhoods that do not share a common postal code, let alone 1,000km radius, overlap with so many traits. Why? Expression is about originality, but the art of that expression is not rare at all. The risk-takers share a common drive with other risk-takers – to be a risk-taker. Creativity is more about taking risks. Don’t worry much about what others are doing, too.

Creativity challenges the norm for good. Whether you are the creator or the benefactor, a distinctive vibe manifests in each of these 15 neighbourhoods. It’s a pleasant out-of-the-comfort-zone feeling where acceptance is the one true tolerance. The freedom to graffiti walls in Toronto’s Graffiti Alley and the pixação in Brazil doesn’t just attract (what some might consider pesky) street art anymore. The unwanted has become the wanted and therefore attracts the original adapters and new talent.

Creativity is the underdog we’re all rooting for. Given some extra city funds, I believe most of us would support neighbourhood gentrification that includes a more designed, original approach (after all, up in Canada we have to look at our streets in their finest grey backdrops for half a year). But, we end up with glass towers and manicured grass strips where our dogs can relieve themselves. Queen West breaks this mold and gives us what we really want – a different and rarely implemented way of life.

Vogue concluded that ‘reality trumps fantasy’. Creativity combines them.

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The One Crucial Practice To Thought Leadership Your Organization Can No Longer Ignore


Successful organizations are teeming with talent; those whose perspectives and individualities are the reasons why there were hired in the first place. However, organizations are not devoting enough effort or attention to giving their employees the platform to express their thought leadership to the public and, in turn, the chance to even more positively reflect your business’s brand.

The Follow Through is a crucial piece to sustaining thought leadership in your organization. Allowing and encouraging your talented staff to reflect on their opinions or discuss recent experiences (at conferences, in boardrooms, at the water cooler) that have happened to them in business increases your platform of expertise. Not to mention highlighting the brilliant minds themselves and their introspection on news and trends.

Did you send Alice to a summit on technology and innovation? Habit-forming follow through behaviours such as producing an article or video blog post-experience are important to foster in your employees whose experiences yield thought provoking responses. And you’ll have proprietary useful content to share with your stakeholders.

Follow through by setting up a 360 degree practice that allows your talented staff to create their own retrospective pieces following any type of experience related to your business and sustain a successful thought leadership practice in your organization.

Who else has given up on comedy?

The more I think about it, the less comedy I watch. The shows categorized as comedy on my Netflix suggestions do little if nothing to entice me. Just a little troupe of 22-minute cable shows with laugh tracks that rely on somewhat witty one-liners and circumstantial humour to be funny. All are recipes for good comedy, but the recipes are old and dusty.

Modern Family swept the Emmy’s this year.  It is a funny show but not THE funniest.  I was rooting for Silicon Valley, a new HBO show whose humour is certainly not for everyone but has managed to attain itself a loyal audience of ‘tip-to-tippers’.  The show has a story – a startup, founded by a nerdy computer programmer, is destined for greatness if only it can get over its bad management, extreme competition, and hilariously arrogant and obnoxious supporting characters who seem to do nothing but impede on success.

But it has a story.  It wasn’t just comedy.  I was glued to the sixth and final episode of season 1 to see the outcome, not just to laugh.

Are dramas the best kind of television?

I just assume most people are like me.  They glue themselves to a show, binge-watch every waking minute on their weekends, and become completely immersed in the story, told so elegantly on the small screen.  Hannibal, The Killing, House of Cards, Breaking Bad, these shows have done something to me, or to my expectations of great TV.