A Review of the Sights and Flavors of Vancouver B.C.

Potatoes, cheese curds and brown gravy are, admittedly, three kinda boring ingredients. However, when you put all three of those items into one dish, you have the trifecta of a mouth-watering, comforting and highly addictive dish. Yes, I’m talking about poutine and I’m a fan. So big a fan that I almost subtitled this post Adventures in Poutine, but thought better of it.

The one regret I carried home from my November trip to Vancouver, B.C. (like a sad souvenir) is that I only indulged in poutine four out of the five days I was there. I mean, dang it, I could’ve had a perfect record!

Despite my waxing poetic about those gravy and cheese smothered fries, I wasn’t just in Canada for the iconic comfort food dish. Our trip to Vancouver was a nice getaway over Thanksgiving week, and the trip was almost a year in the making.

Since we stayed in downtown Vancouver, we opted not to drive and instead take the Amtrak in. I’d never traveled by train before, and, although there were numerous delays on both the trip to the Great North as well as on the way back to the U.S. of A., overall, it was a comfy way to travel. Not to mention, I enjoyed the view of the mountains and water, as well as towering cityscape and sweeping countryside landscapes along the way.

 

During our time there, we of course, as dedicated beer geeks, tried out a few breweries. Our first stop was at 33 Acres Brewing, where we enjoyed a flight and a round of cards. The following night, we hit the warm and cozy Yaletown Brewing for another flight. The day before we left, we ventured to Tap & Barrel for a flight and the spacious Craft Beer Market, which boasted over 100 taps, but didn’t allow custom flights, so we enjoyed a pint instead.

Being that I’m married to a shutterbug, we did a fair amount of wandering during our stay. We walked to the upscale False Creek neighborhood and strolled around Coopers’ Park, found our way to the Vancouver Lookout for 360 views of the city, I did some writing at the Vancouver Public Library, and we even took our frugal selves to Costco for lunch.

Besides sight-seeing, poutine-gobbling, brewery-hopping and snapping pictures, we also:

  • Stumbled into a curling club
  • Ate LOTS of street food
  • Indulged in Tim Horton’s famous donuts
  • Had total strangers in a brewery offer us part of their nachos (Score, free nachos!)
  • Got lost twice
  • Almost climbed a mountain.

Yeah, about that last one…we planned to hike the super challenging Grouse Mountain Grind Trail, an almost 2 mile trek with an elevation gain of 2,800 feet. The trail is tough because it’s considered “nature’s stair master.” If one is able to hike the grind, they will have managed to have hiked the equivalent of taking the stairs to the top of a 200-storey building, or a distance that is twice the height as the Empire State Building.

We didn’t make the whole climb, we only achieved about a quarter of the distance before turning around due to us unwisely bringing a hefty backpack and some other reasons. Even though we didn’t complete the climb, it was a fun once-in-a-lifetime thing to have at least tried.

Despite not getting to do everything we’d hoped, and not having the best weather, this was one of the best trips of our lives and we can’t wait to return to Vancouver for more exploring in the future.

 

 

Empowerment Marketing – A Story Strategy Sample

I created a brand strategy for the final project in my Content Creation: The Power of Storytelling class, the first class in my three part certificate program in Storytelling and Content Strategy through University of Washington.

The brand strategy method was based on a storytelling strategy outlined in the book Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs, creator of viral brand videos such as The Story of Stuff and The Meatrix.  Jonah’s strategy is all about empowering our audiences through our brands, by utilizing the power of story.

As part of the project, I developed a character who is the ideal audience for the brand, tapped into what she’s thinking, feeling and doing before coming into contact with the brand, then outlined how she can feel empowered through the brand and what it stands for.

The YouTube video below is a video of the PowerPoint presentation I created of the brand strategy.

My Summer in Pictures

Hello over there! The past couple of months have passed like the blurred scenery one can glimpse from the window of a fast-moving train.

In June, I started freelancing again. I’m writing for a lifestyle site called South Sound Talk. I enjoy being a journalist, it engages so many aspects of my personality: writing, meeting new people, taking pictures and learning people’s stories. In my freelance role I write features about businesses/places in the Tacoma area.

One of the perks of being a journalist is writing about restaurants. This soup and salad was every bit as tasty as it looks.

Also in June, I launched a blog called The Womanhood Honor Project. It’s a place that I envision coming alive with women’s truths. You know, the kinds of things we all feel, think or believe that maybe keep us stuck in life or keep us from being our most authentic selves. I want this online home to be a place where women can talk about things that impact their lives, their world, but also, I want these shared stories to uplift each other, support each other, and let other women know they don’t have to walk their journey alone.

Rocking the power pose, but so many women rock the “Wonder Woman” pose, even if they only do it mentally. While it’s awesome that we can dig deep and be Wonder Woman when we need to, I know too many women living their whole lives feeling stuck in the dichotomy of either being Wonder Woman or being a failure. I hope my blog can change that.

In July, I started an internship with a non-profit. As the communications intern I’m working on press releases, updating social media, taking pictures at events, going out “into the field” to gather stories and use those stories to spread the organization’s mission, as well as to use in fundraising appeals. I’m also trying to do a bit of outreach for this organization, because I really believe in the work they’re doing and I want more people to know about it so they can benefit from the tools they offer.

I was lucky to get to attend National Night Out as part of my internship. It was an inspiring experience, seeing so many people in the community coming together for a common cause.

In my “free time” (ha!) I’m spending time with my hubby taking walks, reading books on storytelling to prepare for my online certificate program that begins in October, and, of course, I’m working on my personal writing.

What have YOU been up to this summer? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

Practical Marketing Tips: Five Ways to Grow and Sustain Your Reach

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m preparing to enter a certificate program this fall through University of Washington. The Storytelling and Content Strategy program will boost my storytelling skills and teach me the tools to think about communicating in a more strategic way across all platforms. With the fast-paced social media world we live in, honing both my storytelling and strategy skill sets is key.

One way I’m preparing for my program is reading a lot of books on storytelling, as well as volunteering and with a summer internship.

Recently, I met with a non-profit I’m working with, providing advice on marketing best practices for some upcoming events. During the meeting, I threw out several approaches on how to reach their target audience, both for their existing audience and potential audience.

One piece of advice I gave them was that they should expand to new areas in order to reach new people. This sounds so simple, but it can be a struggle not just to keep up with all the different platforms available to use, never mind taking the time to ensure you’re fluent enough in those platforms to be effective.

I feel like the particular ways in which we can now reach people have created this kind of paradox. It’s simultaneously easier and harder to spread messages to more people than ever. I go back and forth with this paradox a lot, and it usually looks something like this:

Me, grinning: There are so many ways to reach people now!  Also me, with my thinking cap on: There are so many ways to reach people now.

I get it. If you are a writer, entrepreneur or other business professional scratching your head trying to come up with a marketing strategy, I know your struggle. I’m a communications professional and I can see how the idea of which format, which medium to use, can cause a huge case of overwhelm.

The hard fact is if you want to reach a new audience, or even your current one (hello, algorithm changes!), you need to use more than one format. That could look like a combination of any of the following:

Website/Blog: I know far too many people say blogging is dead and, probably because of that, so many blogs are abandoned, or just never got off the ground. Here’s the thing: a blog provides a space on the internet belongs to you. That is gold. Post short updates about your business, feature type articles about your employees, or develop a series so that you can create one format and re-purpose it with content over a specific length of time. For instance, if you’re a writer working on a book, you could create a series of blog posts about your process: how you outline, the ways you self-edit, how you found beta readers, etc.

Social Media: There are tons of social media sites out there. That does not mean you have to be on all of them. Pick two to three that work the best for not only your personality, but also your business, and then rock those two to three platforms. For example, a musician could share videos on YouTube, (obviously), but also utilize Facebook to share where their fans can catch them performing live and use Instagram to take pictures of them at the mic while recording or use Instagram stories to share snippets of music that hasn’t been released elsewhere yet.

Video: This can seem daunting, and maybe even an expensive way to tell a story, but thanks to technology, it’s totally doable. A good smartphone or decent digital camera can capture amazing, high quality video. This type of storytelling is vital to someone in the fashion or beauty industry, but also people in real estate, home repair and even the food industry.

Podcast: Maybe writing, video or pictures aren’t your thing, but you’re super knowledgeable about your industry and maybe even prefer to be “behind the scenes.” Podcasting could be a way to break into another area and reach a new audience. Getting started is pretty easy, and there’s loads of helpful tutorials out there, like this one.

Infographics: Infographics can be such great tools. They tell a story using data and facts, but are usually aesthetically pleasing and can be read quickly, which is part of what makes them so popular. They’re also perfect for sharing on your own website and social media channels, especially Pinterest.

These are just some of the ways you can find your audience online. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but if you give some of my advice a try, I do hope you’ll come back and let me know how it worked for you!

The Allure of Wonder Woman – Or the I CAN Do It All Myth

The Womanhood Honor Project

In her amazing book Year of Yes, superstar TV writer Shonda Rhimes talks about a theory out there that women can boost their confidence by gazing at themselves in the mirror while standing in the Wonder Woman pose.

So, of course, after I heard of this theory, I had to test it out. Honestly, it does work. I love the empowerment that rolls through my body as I stand, hands on hips, bold, brilliant smile on my lips, looking the world in the eye and saying Bring. It. On.

This power pose is amazing but…well, while I realize the need for us to hold on to the feeling we get from posing like Wonder Woman, from harnessing our badassery, our strength and amazing power, I have one issue with the Wonder Woman theory.

Me, testing out the Wonder Woman pose.

My issue isn’t so much with the idea that…

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Nuggets from The Storyteller’s Secret by Carmine Gallo

There’s this funny thing that has happened to me throughout my life. Well, maybe it’s not really ha-ha funny. It’s probably more…of an a-ha moment funny. Anyway, over and over again I have noticed this pattern that the Universe shows me. It’s that when I discover something and it resonates with me, that thing will keep appearing again and again and again. Like a giant neon sign lighting my path saying, this is the way.

I know this happens to a lot of people, but seriously, things will keep showing up, keep showing me, here, this is the path, so many times, probably because the Universe realizes I have no sense of direction. No, really. My sense of direction is so lousy that I can sometimes get turned around when I’m visiting the small town I was born in and have lived in on and off throughout my life. This is a town of less than 10,000 people, so it’s really small. But, I digress…

One thing that has been showing up consistently for me for several months is the word storytelling. Now, that’s not to say I didn’t know about it. Nope, I knew what storytelling was, intuitively, it just wasn’t a word I used a lot.

I’m all about it, and always have been, but I didn’t know to use that term. Since I registered for an online certificate in Storytelling and Content Strategy, I’ve been doing a lot of research on what defines storytelling. I found some books on it through the library, read a few articles about it, listened to some marketing and business podcasts and have even thought about some ways to integrate storytelling into my social media presence.

I listened to the audio book The Storyteller’s Secret recently and pulled my pen and paper out to take notes more than once. As a writer, communications professional, plus with my upcoming certificate course beginning in the fall, I am deeply interested in the phenomenon of storytelling and ways to improve narrative.

Back to the book. Here’s the Three G’s I found most important when relating to storytelling:

  1. Grab your audience’s attention with a question or something unexpected.
  2. Give your audience an emotional experience (share a struggle that you’ve overcome).
  3. Galvanize your audience with a call to action.

Of course, there was a lot more I gleaned from The Storyteller’s Secret, but I won’t go into it here. If you write, own your own business, are in marketing or are just interested in how stories are used in our every day lives, I highly recommend checking out The Storyteller’s Secret.

 

Royally Fascinated

Pinkies up! This blog post is just that fancy.

Who says tea parties are only for children? My friends and I decided to celebrate the royal wedding between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry by getting together to watch the event after the fact (because, time zone difference, yikes!).

Since we’re a fun group that loves nothing more than a good themed event, we decided to go all out for this gathering. I mean, it is a wedding, and a royal one at that.

We each brought our favorite teas, fancy, delicate cups and delectable tiny foods to eat. Of course, we also had to dress for the event. Which meant tiaras, feather boas, and of course, fascinators.

Did you have a royal nuptial watch party? I’d love to hear about your party in the comments!