The Significance Of Work Efficiency

As humans, we have a limited number of hours each day to get our work done. No way around that. While we have no power over time, we do have control over how efficient we are. At ElementIQ, we work with a variety of clients in different industries, so making sure we put our best foot forward every hour is something we have to get right every time.

I sat down with our in-house Web Developer Kevin Hashimoto to discuss how he likes to tackle the challenge of maximizing your effort in a given time-frame. Take a look below.

Stivian: Hey Kevin, thanks for joining me today. You’ve had a pretty extensive post-secondary background so far, mind sharing what you’ve studied?

Kevin: I went to film school, business school and then I went into programming. I’m currently dabbling in design, so it’s been quite the range of experience.

Stivian: What do you like about development? Is it scratching that creative itch or getting to think strategically?

Kevin: A bit of both, actually. With development, it’s not so visual, but I love creating things from scratch. I’m a very do-it-yourself kind of person. If I need something and it doesn’t exist, I’ll just make it.

Stivian: Have you always had an interest in work efficiency?

Kevin: I think so. I’ve always wanted to work as efficiently as possible. It bothers me when things aren’t going as smoothly as they can be.

Stivian: Have you seen things at ElementIQ that could be more efficient?

Kevin: With ElementIQ, it’s more that everything’s always in the process of change. We’re continuously improving processes as we find them. There’s a lot to improve on, and there’s a lot that we do well.  

Stivian: What’s something you’ve seen implemented at ElementIQ that’s made a big difference in how we work?

Kevin: Me joining is one. *laughs*

I think how we structure our project management with Teamwork. Since we don’t have a dedicated project manager, getting organized with that tool has been keeping projects in order. If we misuse it, our communication gets disorganized and projects get chaotic.

On the design side, Invision has been really good. There’s a lot of tools inside of it that help with development workflows.

Stivian: How do you get ready for the day? Does your routine start in the morning or at night before work?

Kevin: I’m a night person, to be honest. I just work so much better at night. Somewhere from 10 PM to 2 AM is my sweet spot. My morning routine is pretty relaxed. I wake up and hang out for a bit until I get in the mood. I’ll eat some granola bars, drink a protein shake, check out Instagram and get to work. I’m not a morning person but I’ll get up and do what I need to do to prepare.

Stivian: There you go. I know you freelance on the side, do you find working at an agency 9 to 5 and working on the side to be difficult?

Kevin: Oh yeah, totally. Even if I were to be just freelancing full-time, it’d be really difficult because it’s so volatile and unpredictable. Juggling a full-time job at an agency and then freelancing right after that is pretty tough but I’ve got goals I want to get to, so they keep me going.

Stivian: Nice, what are some of these goals?

Kevin: I’m launching my own branding agency, and my other goal is working fully remote, preferably on a beach somewhere.

Stivian: That’s the dream. What’s the Pomodoro technique? I’ve heard you mention it before.

Kevin: It’s a technique where you work for 25 minutes at a time and take a 5-minute break, and so on. The urgency of the timer keeps you focused because you know you don’t have a lot of time. I find I’m more focused throughout the day with the 5-minute break in there. It’s a good power-hour.

Stivian: I guess you could call it a power-25. How do you like to spend your 5-minute breaks?

Kevin: I like to get up, get a glass of water and walk around a little bit. I don’t want to be in front of my computer waiting for the 5 minutes to expire, as I need to refresh my brain for the next session.

Stivian: Have you been using this technique for a while?     

Kevin: A little while, yeah. I’ve been experimenting with different times blocks, just because development has a different workflow. I tend to work for longer than 25 minutes at a time.

Stivian: What are some of the challenges with being a web developer compared to previous jobs you’ve had?

Kevin: Thinking ahead is a big one. You need to structure how you develop things ahead of time. You need to make things scalable and maintainable so you’re always considering the future when building.

Stivian: That makes sense. What does the ideal workflow set-up look like to you?

Kevin: In terms of development, I like to have the design finalized before I touch development, just in case things change because I have to go back and re-do my work. Getting everything finalized before actually building anything is ideal, and it’s what we’re in the process of standardizing here. On the design side, you want the scope of the project before you get to work. Having clear steps detailed before getting to work makes for smooth projects.

Stivian: At ElementIQ, we work two days of the week from home. How do you find remote work? Do you find yourself more productive or focused with the extra time to rest?   

Kevin: Honestly, it’s a mix. Some days I feel more productive, some less. Some, I’m more focused, others not so much. I find the flexibility to work at my own pace and catch up after 5 PM a bonus. It’s also a little more relaxing working from home. Some days I go to a café, grab a warm drink and some pastries and work from there.  

Stivian: That sounds pleasant. What do you think are your best habits that have resulted in professional success?

Kevin: Being straight to the point, and not too humble about things. When you sugarcoat some things, your points might not get across at times. I used to be pretty humble and sugarcoat everything, just because I wanted everyone to like me. The way this comes back to efficiency is if you want things to change, you can’t sugarcoat them.

Stivian: I agree. I think it’s important to acknowledge the difference between dishonest harmony and being truthful for the sake of productivity. Were you a disorganized person before? Did you have to work hard to develop good habits?

Kevin: I think I was pretty disorganized. In terms of school, I never liked it so I was disorganized from the beginning, but my accumulation of experience and experimenting with different methods has brought me to where I am today.

Stivian: Do you have any advice for people who might be disorganized and are trying to build good habits?

Kevin: Every person is different. I’d suggest exploring different methods of working and finding that zone that you’re comfortable in.

Kevin has recommended this video series from InvisionApp that goes over workflows for design teams, a must watch for anyone involved in design projects!

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CMPNY Coquitlam And The Importance Of Coworking Spaces

ElementIQ has a fairly unorthodox approach to where we work. We currently spend two days of the week remotely, and the other 3 are spent at CMPNY, a coworking space in Coquitlam.

Wondering what a coworking space is?

Coworking spaces are shared workspaces with desks in the open, private offices, and meeting rooms making up the majority of the floor. The flexibility, price point, and amenities offered are stealing entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small businesses from traditional workspaces.

We had the chance to sit down for an interview with boss lady Alicja Mazur, Director of Communications and Community at CMPNY to discuss how these innovative hubs are creating opportunities and fostering communities for teams of all sizes.

Stivian: Hey Alicja, thanks for doing this. Tell us a little bit about your professional background.

Alicja: I started out in retail, as we all do, where I perfected my salesmanship skills. Then I became an Executive Assistant for a software development company, whereupon I started working for the Port Moody Arts Centre as a Communications Manager. Then I landed this gig, where I was a Space Manager for about two years.

Stivian: Word on the street is you recently got a promotion?

Alicja: Yup, I’m now the Director of Communications and Community.

Stivian: What’s that gonna entail?

Alicja: It’s an experiment! I’m hoping to grow the community in Burnaby and Coquitlam. I’m going to come up with a strategic plan for us in regards to communicating the benefits of coworking.

Stivian: That’s exciting. Big role. Tell me a little bit about CMPNY, what you guys do, and what your values are.

Alicja: CMPNY is a coworking space that primarily focuses on shared office space, shared desks, shared meeting rooms, etcetera. Our clients are small business owners, entrepreneurs, contractors, freelancers and the like. They can share among the resources of CMPNY and the community to grow their business and look more professional to their clients, and be in that continual phase of growing and acquiring knowledge.

Stivian: Makes sense. Is there anything behind the name? You guys were Spacekraft before, right?

Alicja: We were Spacekraft before. That was a stylistic choice because we wanted to represent innovation. That being said, we felt that we’ve grown quite a bit from our original choice, so we rebranded as CMPNY. The reason it’s CMPNY with no vowels is because it’s such a striking visual. If people recognize the brand, that’s the first step to success.

Stivian: It’s a strong name, I like the look. What sort of impact have you seen CMPNY have in the local community?

Alicja: The impact we’re having in the Tri-Cities right now is that we’re getting people used to the idea of coworking spaces. What we’ve noticed is that most people in the suburbs either commute all the way downtown or work from home. There’s very few local jobs that allow people to commute in 5, 10 minutes, and the people that work from their homes are comfortable doing so. Something that CMPNY’s doing right now is making sure that talent comes here because that brings the zest of business relationships, and that grows the businesses inside the coworking space.

Stivian: Nice. Why do you think businesses are coming here? What’s drawing them in over traditional working spaces?

Alicja: Well, there’s scientific-based research that says that working remotely isn’t healthy for people. People who work remotely are more likely to experience depression, they’re more likely to be divorced, and people who commute long hours downtown typically experience decreased life satisfaction overall. So for those able to work remotely, over the internet, and not having to be at a workplace, all of a sudden you have this opportunity to be at a workplace. You might not want to work at your house, per se, because there’s so many distractions there.

Stivian: That makes sense. I think the whole loneliness thing, being alone Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, that’s got to have an effect on those working from home. I guess some people can pull it off but…

Alicja: Well that’s why you see an increase of people working out of coffee shops. They want to be around people because we’re inherently social creatures.

Stivian: So you get a lot of freelancers and solopreneurs, do you guys do anything to build a community for them?

Alicja: Yes! So, one of the main missions of the Space Managers, and one of CMPNY’s main missions is to make sure we host events that people want to go to and make connections. Not necessarily rigid business connections, but more-so friendly, neighbourly, communal connections. I come from a Political Science and Communications background, so the value that people get out of micro-communities and micro-villages is stupendously strong and influential. That’s where you form friendships. That’s why the eradication of neighbourhoods causes so much panic.  

Stivian: Are people enthusiastic about the events? Do you see them come out pretty often?

Alicja: Yep, we have really great turnouts and we usually have a bunch of different people that come out to them. We have a mix of social events, and their primary reason for existing is for people to get to know one another. We have education programming where we bring in an expert on a certain topic so you can learn more and bring a new tool to your arsenal. Next week we’re doing a lip-sync battle. It’s just one of those things where if you can lip-sync in front of a bunch of strangers (who might be friends now), you now have the confidence to do that pitch in front of an investor that can take your business to the next level.

social lunch
One of CMPNY’s beloved social lunches.

Stivian: If you could organize one event – your DREAM event, what would it be?

Alicja: If I had unlimited funds, I would take all the CMPNY folk on a 7-day retreat cruise where we would talk about professional development, and bring in a business coach, a life coach, a psychologist and a business planner, and have each person go through that, and go through it together as a community. That would be a cathartic experience.

Stivian: That’s better than what I had. For some reason, my brain jumped to bringing in like 12 llamas to the office. So the Digital Nomad movement has become very popular within coworking spaces, do you get a lot of these people coming through?

Alicja: Absolutely. Again, it’s one of those things where you want to connect. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Digital Nomads usually specialize in specific areas, and while they might be able to Google a resource or call a colleague in Alberta, it’s way easier to just talk to somebody face to face. That face to face interaction is key to improving and learning better. If somebody shows you how to do something, as opposed to reading a blog about it, that’s much more likely to stick.

Stivian: Has the industry changed a lot since you started at CMPNY?

Alicja: The industry has changed quite a bit. A little history of coworking – the connotation of coworking started with the dotcom movement in Germany. A bunch of hackers rented a basement and were like “…This is pretty sick. It costs us all virtually nothing and it’s fun working together.”. It then migrated to Silicon Valley, where it was more of the bean-bag chairs recreational area and developing personal relationships. You can see that at Google’s headquarters where they have a bunch of benches, a cafeteria, ping pong, and things like that. And then it came here because there was a need for it. With the whole Digital Nomad movement and the fact that office spaces were becoming increasingly more expensive, why not work out of coworking spaces?

Stivian: That’s a big impact. Last question. What role do coworking spaces play today and how do you see them evolving in the future?

Alicja: Coworking spaces right now fill a niche for community building and a lack of affordable building space. I see coworking spaces expanding like franchises, similar to Starbucks and McDonalds. People want to work close to home, as they’re increasingly starting to value work-life balance. For parents who have careers that are demanding, it’s important to spend as much of your time with your kids as possible. You want that balance.

I think coworking spaces are going to be a-dime-a-dozen, and what that’s going to mean is they’re going to really differentiate themselves. For example, there’s L’Atelier downtown that’s primarily catered to creatives. For us, 10 to 15 years down the road, I can see us having a coworking space primarily for Digital Marketing people, a coworking space specifically for engineers, a coworking space for X, Y and Z. It’s just going to silo.

Stivian: That’s really cool. Any last words you want to add?

Alicja: CMPNY is cool. We love ElementIQ. #love.   

The Importance of Call Tracking

What is call tracking, and why should you care?

You’ve probably heard that call tracking is important for your business, but why is this the case?

Online marketing campaigns typically drive traffic through multiple channels, such as paid search, email marketing, and social media. These channels work together to drive people to your website, where they can take any number of actions.

As a business owner, you want these people to eventually become your customers. However, when they reach your website, this probably won’t happen right away. Instead, they might show their interest or try to do more research before determining if your business best addresses their needs. Only then will they hand over their hard earned cash.

To understand and improve your marketing efforts, you need to be able to clearly visualize what is working for you and what isn’t. You need to know what activities are causing people to show more interest in what you have to offer, as well as understand their behaviours and how your internet presence can influence these behaviours.

One way of capturing marketing data is by tracking content form submissions. Almost all websites with contact forms will automatically track them. So why don’t we do the same for calls?

Despite the fact that we are living in an increasingly digital area, people are still calling businesses, especially when they’re interested. In fact, the number of calls to businesses is only increasing as smartphone capabilities improve. Phones now, making it easier to call a business than ever before. As well, according to digital marketing expert Neil Patel, calls convert 10 to 15 times more often than web leads.

If you don’t track calls, you are losing valuable data. Calls are far more important than you think.

How Does It Work?

Call tracking provides you with data that shows which marketing efforts are driving calls to your business. In fact, if you don’t track calls, you might not be tracking up to 80% of your conversions. Without accurate conversion data, you can’t appropriately allocate resources towards your most effective marketing efforts. You’re basically throwing money at all sorts of channels, with no idea of which ones are giving you the best ROI. You won’t have any idea which pages, tactics, and campaigns are effective and ineffective, as you will only be seeing part of the picture.

Check out this handy infographic we made to visualize how this works:

 

To track calls from different sources, digital marketers use something called dynamic number insertion. What this means is that your leads will see a different phone number to call, based on the channel and geographic location they are on. All of these numbers will lead back to your actual number, so the visitors will contact you directly. However, the usefulness of this is that you will receive data about the referring URL, search keywords, landing pages, and ads the caller came through. As well, the tracking code will remember the original channel for each visitor, so they will see the same tracking number each time they visit your site.

When Is It Useful?

Unlike traditional marketing, online marketing has the ability to clearly demonstrate which activities are yielding specific results. When you have this information, you can then make adjustments as needed and optimize your activities.

Imagine you’re working on an email campaign for your business which redirects visitors to a unique landing page. There might be a form on there for visitors to fill out, but there might also be a phone number at the top. If you only track the form submissions, you’re completely missing data about the email campaign. You won’t know how many people called your business because of that specific email. Call tracking will give you that data so you can see how successful the campaign is, and learn and make improvements for the next email campaign you do.

Call tracking can track calls from a wide variety of platforms. If someone calls your business from directly accessing your website, an ad campaign, Google My Business, or even from Yelp, you will know and be able to see exact data. This data will then allow you to better understand your consumers, drive conversions, and help your business flourish.

How To Avoid Common Networking Mistakes

avoid networking mistakes

Even the most seasoned businessperson can find themselves in the midst of a networking nightmare. It doesn’t matter how much practice you’ve had, there’s always room for improvement. When it comes to professional development, networking events often come to mind.

Whether it’s your first day navigating a company party or you’re representing your brand at a nationwide event, there are a few simple things you can do to avoid networking mishaps. Here is a list of common networking problems, and how to correct them!

1) You’re A Wallflower

As tempting as it is to stick to the sidelines, networking is an inherently social activity. It may seem a bit daunting at first, especially if this is your first networking event. However, it is vital to get out and circulate the room. If you appear visibly nervous or anxious when meeting new people, take a few deep breaths and try to calm down. Force yourself out of your comfort zone with these simple steps.

Find A Common Connection

The fastest way to break out of your bubble in a sea of strangers is to find someone in the room who you already know. Look for a friend or co-worker, even someone in your same line of work and start a conversation. Have your friend or colleague introduce you to their friends and so on. When you have a mutual friend introduce you to others, it’s an immediate conversation starter.

Appear Open To Communication

Convey open and welcoming body language and personal confidence will follow. When you carry yourself well, people will sense that you are approachable and open to interaction. Here is a useful article about how to convey positive body language while networking. Don’t forget to smile. It is the single most important way to appear relaxed, approachable and friendly (even if you’re nervous.) There was also an interesting study done by Scientific American that noted that smiling can actually make you feel physically happy as well. Use a natural smile to both ease your nerves, and convey to others that you’re approachable.

Make The First Move

Have confidence in yourself, step out of your shell and make the first move. There will be those who find that connecting with others comes naturally to them, but there will also be a lot of people in the room who probably feel the same way as you! If you do not recognize anyone in the group, simply approach a group of individuals or someone standing on their own. Introduce yourself and state where you work. They will do the same.

2) You Aren’t Sure What To Say

This point is closely connected to the previous point. It can be difficult to start a conversation with someone who you don’t know. In general, you may simply not know what to say to them.
Even when you’ve planned out things to say and conversation topics the night before, there’s always the dreaded mental blank that happens mid-conversation.

Don’t Overthink It: Say Hello

Every conversation starts with a warm “hello.” This simple greeting breaks the ice, it lets the other person know that you are interested in talking to them and it will help you feel more comfortable since it is a word that you use every day.

Listen Instead

If you are at a loss for words, focus on listening instead of being the one speaking. If you listen to the conversation long enough, you can craft questions based on things that were mentioned. People love to talk about themselves and what they do. You’ll be seen as a good listener. When you are actively listening and genuinely interested in a conversation, your questions and responses will flow naturally.

Find Common Ground

A great way to segway into a conversation with someone is to make a general comment. You can compliment the person you are talking with. Or simply start by discussing the networking event. Is there food being served? Was a lovely speech just made? Find a common ground with the person you are talking to and let your general statement flow naturally into a more in-depth conversation.

3) The Conversation Doesn’t Feel Natural

Often, when you are at an arranged networking event, it can seem a little awkward at first. If you took the first step and made the introduction, there is still no guarantee that the conversation will flow smoothly. It can take years of practice to master the art of conversation, but there are still a few things that you can do to make the conversation come more naturally.

Relax, Feel At Ease

There is a good chance that your conversation doesn’t feel natural because you feel unnatural. To put that in different terms, you may not feel entirely at ease. Stay calm and try to follow the natural flow of the conversation. Do not overanalyze yourself as you’re talking. When your mind relaxes, you’ll appear more relaxed.

Be Authentic

There is a lovely, recent article from The Huffington Post about networking that I recommend to anyone looking for quick tips on networking. In the article, they discuss what they term “authentic networking.” In essence, this means that you should be “present” in every conversation you have with someone. It will feel much more natural if you simply turn off autopilot and become genuinely interested in connecting with the person you are talking to.

4) You Forget Names Easily

If you’re anything like me, you forget names almost immediately after you hear them. Trust me, you’re not alone. This is a common phenomenon, but also, one of the most awkward ones. Forgetting someone’s name can come off as disrespectful. It seems like you don’t care enough about the person to even know their name. But at networking events, there is so much going on. There is background noise, you are often multitasking and names simply escape you! Here’s what to do.

Do Your Research

At larger events, there is often a list of attendees and speakers either online or on a welcoming brochure. Use these to your advantage if you can’t quite place the face to the name.

Sometimes name tags are also worn and in this case, you have nothing to worry about. But if you’re really bad with names, you can always simply share your business card and ask that they do the same. You should be collecting business cards anyway for follow-ups so this is your best bet when you know you’ll forget the name.

Connect on LinkedIn if the timing seems appropriate. That way you can easily place a face to a name for future reference. You may also bring a small notepad and pen. Jot down names immediately if you are prone to forgetting. You can also write down other essential information like phone numbers, company names, and industries.

5) You Don’t Listen

Practice describing what you do in no more than 2 sentences. We all know you’re a busy person, and you manage multiple different tasks throughout the day. When you are preparing for a networking event, keep in mind that the others mingling may not know specific industry terminology or details. Have a general description of what you do prepared beforehand and summarize it. Do not drag on about your day to day tasks. You could end up boring the person you’re talking to. Try and ask as many questions as you answer and let the other individual talk as well.

6) You Feel Under Or Overdressed

It is always a good rule of thumb to be overdressed rather than underdressed. When you are unsure of the dress code, play it safe and dress for a corporate environment, suits, collars shirts, and blazers. If you are still unsure about what to wear, the easiest way to find out is to take to social media.

Research Past Events

Research the company hosting the event and visit their Facebook and Instagram pages. You can infer their level of formality from images they post of company events.

Layering

Keep in mind that you should dress in a way that you want others to perceive you. If you are attending this networking event in hopes of finding a new job, you should dress for the job that you want. There is nothing wrong with being slightly overdressed. A good rule of thumb is to overdress but wear layers that you can remove if the atmosphere is more casual. For example, wear your dress shirt with a blazer so that you have the opportunity to remove the blazer if you feel overdressed.

7) You Don’t Follow Up

Stay connected with your new contacts after the networking event. Send an email or follow up with a friendly call, reminding the person where you met, your company and what you spoke about at the event.

Timing Is Everything

It is most effective to follow up with those you meet at a networking event within 24 hours of meeting them. Your follow up message doesn’t have to be lengthy. Simply remind the individual of your name, position and your reasons for connecting. Share your contact information or reach out on a professional networking service like LinkedIn.

Get Out There And Meet New People!

Hopefully, these quick tips can help you ace your next networking event. If you have any personal tips you want to share about networking, write them in the comments below! You can network anywhere, including formal business events or summits. Here is one of our accounts of a marketing summit, if you are interested in learning more about the process.

Digital Nomads: The Ability To Work From Anywhere

Digital Nomads

You see them in coffee shops, scattered around the power outlets, working away on a laptop. They’re in hostels, or local diners, networking with everyone around. They work from the sky, on airplane wifi. This unique group of people are unified by one thing, freedom.

The rise of technology in the 21st century has expanded and improved our ability to do pretty much everything. It is most noticeable, however, in the ever-shifting landscape of job opportunities.

Digital Nomads are individuals who use technology to their favor in order to live a nomadic lifestyle, free of traditional constraints.

Digital nomads are not tied to a specific working location. They travel freely, or simply work from home, earning a living completely online.

What Are Digital Nomads?

20 years ago, the thought of working alone, tanning with a view of the beach and an acai berry smoothie bowl in your lap was unheard of. But it is becoming an ever growing norm as Millennials and Generation Z enter the workforce.

These tech savvy generations are liberated by the technology they’ve grown up with. Generation Z is actually said to be the first generation that has grown up without knowing life outside of modern technology.

These generations have a sense of global awareness generated from a lifetime of access to the internet.

As a result, they are waving goodbye to cramped offices and cubicles, exchanging them for a lifestyle that incorporates a cohesive blend of work and travel.

You may have heard the term before. Digital nomads are people who work from wherever they please. Their jobs are often cultivated and modified to accommodate the ability to travel freely.

Traditionally, in the past, this style of living was exclusive to niche careers by influencers or travel writers. It was not a common way of living.

Whereas now, most jobs that simply require a computer can effectively allow for a nomadic style of work.

Common Jobs For Digital Nomads Include:

  • Influencers/ Brand Reps
  • Digital Marketers,
  • Jobs in Social Media, YouTubers
  • Vloggers, Professional Bloggers, Writers
  • Global Tourism
  • Developers
  • CEO’s
  • Freelance work
  • Language Teachers
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Artists, Craftworkers, Photographers and Graphic Designers.
  • (And Spies obviously)

Many of these careers didn’t exist two decades ago. There are also countless careers that aren’t listed here. These jobs allow you to travel and go where you please, no longer limited by the toil of 9-5. You are not expected to show up in an office every day. You can pick the hours that you work.

Is Digital Nomad-Hood A Sustainable And Viable Career Choice?

Do you have to enter an office in a suit and tie every day in order to pay the bills? In short, the answer is no. However, your grandparents may continually ask you what exactly it is you do for work.

Be prepared for disapproving looks at family get together’s. But the truth of the matter is that people can make a considerable amount of money from these positions.

Many digital nomads have experience working in a traditional workspace. They either felt that the structured environment wasn’t for them and changed careers paths.

Or discovered a means of doing what they do in the office, entirely from their computers, remotely.

In essence, you can become wealthy as a digital nomad, but it is very dependant on the individual circumstances. It requires a keen ability to budget and utilize the resources available.

In general, the key to living a high travel lifestyle when you are not exactly jet set is finding patrons, crowd funding, and sponsorships through companies.

There are some key cost benefits to a nomadic lifestyle. In general, the career move comes naturally with living a more minimalistic life.

You do not need to budget for a car or a mortgage when you travel constantly. This enables you to save money, where most people spend the majority of their earnings.

However, you need to plan ahead before you can confidently live off the grid. It is best to keep emergency savings at all times during your travels.

Definitely have a budget and savings plan in place beforehand. Being free of the office space does not mean that you are free from monetary responsibility.

Just as you would budget your life living 9-5, it will likely take even more planning to properly budget in order to live a nomadic lifestyle.

Benefits Of Travel And Work

Digital nomads have the unique ability to experience a life of travel and independence that generations before them did not.

They are liberated by technology and have an excellent opportunity to see the world. If you work in a field that gives you this option, it is always something to try. Even if it is something you simply do for a month or a year.

If a full career as a digital nomad sounds slightly daunting, you can still gain an international perspective and try working a year abroad.

An international work environment increases perspective in so many ways. You have the ability to connect with a global community of like-minded individuals.

It gives you insight into other cultures and languages that you likely would not have found entering the same office every day.

Resources For Nomads

There are many excellent resources online for those who are looking into this style of work. A core component of living a nomadic lifestyle is finding a place to live and work temporarily, from country to country.

Get To Know A City

Sites like Nomadlist are very helpful for getting the “feel” of a potential city. The site gives short descriptions of everything from the access to wifi, to the best local places to eat and visit.

Find A Place To Stay

Airbnb is another easy way to quickly find reliable housing, from people all over the world. It is now more affordable than ever to find places to stay.

Airbnb is unique in the sense that you stay with local people. They can share unique, local knowledge that you would not learn in a hotel.

Additional Resources For Digital Nomads

There are plenty of resources and blogs that offer advice about managing your finances while you are traveling.

There are many apps that actually let you find temporary work opportunities, based on the country you are visiting.

Hubstaff Talent is an excellent resource for freelancers and businesses of all sizes. You can build and utilize a remote team or work remotely with companies world wide. It’s also completely free.

Living A Nomadic Lifestyle? Share Your Thoughts!

Be sure to comment about your own personal experiences living a life free from the office. Share resources and opinions that you have on the topic!

At ElementIQ, working in digital marketing, it is possible to work remotely. It is certainly an experience that we encourage others to try!

Proven Method To Learn Anything Fast

proven method to learn anything fast

The 10,000 Hour Rule to Mastery?

malcolm gladwell outliers and 10000 hour rule

We’ve all heard about the 10,000 hour rule to mastery in a field. But how long does it take to be good at something? I transitioned into the tech industry a year ago and there seems to be an endless amount of things to learn. After mapping out the skills, I went on a quest to find a systematic approach to learning anything fast. Here’s what I’ve found.

 

Become a Lifelong Learner

become a lifelong learner

You must first learn to embrace the learning process. Lifelong learners are more likely to enjoy the process and be fulfilled. I personally found it liberating when I learned to enjoy the process rather than the results. Doing so helped me to be action-driven and to focus on developing my skills rather than being discouraged by the amount of learning that I needed to do. Conveniently in the information age, there are tonnes of resources in the format that you wish to learn from books, videos, podcasts, mentors, seminars, to a classroom setting.

 

Why? Share It!

why? share it with others

Why did you decide to learn this skill? People who identify the reasons and the purpose of learning a skill are more likely to stick to the plan.

When I started at ElementIQ, I identified the company needs, my interests, and what I can offer. I aligned it to my long-term goal to become a conversion-focused UX/UI Designer and shared the learning opportunities with the team. The team was on board with the idea and they equipped me with the projects and the resources to succeed. Having a supportive team helped me to stay motivated to develop the skills as I had the opportunity to apply what I learned right away.

 

Deconstruct

learning curve
Adopted From Josh Kaufman’s The First 20 Hours

The best part about learning a new skill is that there’s a likelihood that someone that has already done it. Identify these people and find out how they did it and learn from them. They’ll help you shorten your learning curve by teaching you the shortcuts and the best practices. There are plenty of online resources to help me become a conversion-focused UX/UI Designer but I went to RED Academy, a tech career-focused school to get a formal education from industry experts. This investment helped me save so much time as opposed to learning on my own without any guidance.

As Tony Robbins puts it: “Many great leaders have proven that the fastest way to master any skill, strategy or goal in life is to model those who have already forged the path ahead. If you can find someone who is already getting the results that you want and take the same actions they are taking, you can get the same results.”

 

Practice Deliberately

the first 20 hours steps

According to Josh Kaufman’s book The First 20 Hours, to learn fast one must learn just enough to self-correct. First, research the best practices then take action. Then, instead of perfecting the technique right away, try practicing it. Find out what’s working and what needs improvements then hit the resources again.

Kaufman summarized it as “Instead of trying to be perfect, focus on practicing as much as you can as quickly as you can while maintaining ‘good enough’ form.”

 

Apply the Pareto Principles

Pareto principle in learning the English language

In learning any skill, self-proclaimed “human guinea pig” Tim Ferriss asks himself “Which 20% of the blocks should I focus on for 80% or more of the outcome I want?” For example, there are around 250,000 words in the English language according to linguist Paul Nation. However, 2,000 words cover 80% of the written text. This suggests that instead of trying to learn all 250,000 words and being overwhelmed, you’re more likely to gain competency if you identify and focus on learning the 2,000 words.

 

Sleep on It

Sleepy Baby GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

A Harvard study suggested that dreaming may reactivate and reorganize recently learned material, which would help improve memory and boost performance. In addition, light sleep stages 1 and 2 have been shown to be important in helping the brain being plastic to learning new material. After stretching yourself to learn new materials, take a nap or get a good night sleep and your brain will consolidate what you’ve learned throughout the day.

Not only sleep will help you maintain learned information, it helps you in other areas of your life from being more alert, have more energy, experience less stress, and improve overall happiness.

 

What Will You Learn Next?

what will you learn next

Today’s society is unique as the internet enables us to learn anything that we want. To learn fast, devote yourself to become a lifelong learner, find the reason why you’re learning the skill, identify the 20% that is accountable for the 80% of the results and practice deliberately. You can learn anything, but you can’t learn everything. What will you learn next?

 

Staying Organized In The Multi-Tab Lifestyle

In today’s world, it seems impossible to not multitask to some degree. And with multitasking comes distraction, with distraction comes disorganization. While I’m in no way the most organized person, I’ll share some of my secrets, habits, and routines for keeping organized.

Get Motivated

I start my day with a simple accomplishment. Any simple accomplishment will do. Making the bed, doing some chores, something that needs to be done every morning.

That way you start the day with a small, satisfying feeling of completion to motivate you in your tasks ahead.

That was more of a motivational tip, but one of my habits that truly keeps me organized is taking little steps throughout the day to stay on top of things. I make an effort to read every email, spam or not, and properly deal with it. I seldom leave an important email un-replied to as soon as I’ve read it.

Stay Organized

When I make a file, I don’t let them pile up on my desktop and lie to myself about cleaning it up one

weekend. I always spend the time to save it to the proper folder, and to name the file correctly (as opposed to slamming my keys randomly while naming it).

Even at home, I take the time to organize out of place objects, no matter how small or insignificant. This helps me to save myself from a weekend full of cleaning. It also gives me peace of mind.

I find the cleaner my work environment is, the more organized my work tends to be.

It’s really just a mental state, but the initial effort it takes to justify “wasting time” by naming your files correctly pays off by eliminating laziness and creating an organized workplace in the long run.

To-Do

Another approach to organization is having a to-do list, but not in the typical way people normally use one. To start, don’t stick to large, broad topics on your to-do list.

Get specific. I even find that I’ll write little instructions to myself when making my to-do list, as it helps me remember exactly what to do.

That way I feel accomplished checking off upwards of 10 items on my to-do list per task, and each item was completed with a very tight focus. I also find myself hiding all other tasks except the task I’m currently working on.

I keep my to-do list in Google Docs and I change the text color of upcoming tasks to white, which I find invaluable in keeping me focused on the task at hand.

When I organize it this way, I feel much less stressed than when I’m worrying about other items on my to-do list.

Some apps I like to use for keeping track of my tasks are Trello, Google keep, Google docs, and a whiteboard.

Trello is great for helping me see a project’s entire scope from start to finish. It helps prioritize what is

necessary. It allows me to quickly prioritize what needs to be done, lets me see if a certain aspect of a project is nearing completion and motivates me to finish it off.

Google keep and Google docs are my go-to for short notes, reminders and small tasks for myself.

I make it a point to not let tasks pile up, and I let older tasks cycle up to the top of the list.

Write It Out

The whiteboard is great for writing down quick, temporary notes and to-do items, and I try to have everything on it completed and erased at the end of the day. Plus, physically writing notes down makes it a lot easier to remember them.

Vigilantly using the methods above throughout my day makes me just that more organized than before. I find work not only being done faster but with more enthusiasm and satisfaction.

7 Benefits Of A Co-Working Space

Co-working Space

Wave goodbye to cramped office spaces and claustrophobic cubicles. The traditional workspace is becoming an outdated thing of the past.

There’s a new player in the game and it’s a glamorous, new alternative to what used to be the standard “office.”

Bean bag chairs and hammocks replace the traditional lunch room. You can write on the walls in your next board meeting as you drift in and out of the shared desks, or switch to standing desks during the work day.

Co-working spaces are taking over the classic office archetype. They infuse life and youth into a rigid construction of the past.

Everyone in your company can benefit from the many unique aspects of a shared space environment.

1) Join A Community And Get Collaborative

The nature and layout of most co-working spaces naturally promote a highly social atmosphere.

Several different specialists from any number of fields fill the workplace.

This means you have immediate access to a variety of talented professionals working around you.

You have an unmatched opportunity to expand and collaborate within your network. This leads to faster, more effective, and successful work.

The benefits of such a dynamic setup are entirely unique to co-working spaces. Make time to get to know the people within your workspace!

2) Increased Freedom

Your shared space may have the general 9-5 administrative hours. However, you don’t need to be in the office during the stated times.

Most co-working spaces allow their clients access to come in and out freely. You may need a special access key or certain permissions, however, these are normally discussed when you join the space.

This means that you can show up to work at 2 pm and start your day if that’s what is most convenient for you. Co-working spaces make it easy to work within the hours that fit your schedule.

You have a higher level of mobility in a shared space. You also have increased freedom in the sense that you do not have to worry about long and intricate office leases.

If you are new to an office setting and do not want to commit to a year’s worth of rent in a traditional workspace, a co-working space is an ideal solution.

Rental plans can be month to month which makes it easy to accommodate professionals with all kinds of budgets and schedules.

3) Opportunity For Entrepreneurs And Startups

Co-working spaces are an exceptional place to start if you are a smaller sized company, working as a freelancer or an entrepreneur. You may not need the space of an entire office if you are working alone.

You’ll be immediately connected with a like-minded group of people, with resources that you may not have had while working on your own.

If you are a freelance worker or solo founder of your company, you can still enjoy the social aspects of coming to work every day. When you are working alone or out of your house, it can be easy to get distracted or feel lonely.

In a shared space, you have no need to worry about feelings of isolation. If there are days where you need a more secluded office space, many co-working companies have private rooms available for booking as well.

4) Shared Resources

With co-working spaces, there is no need to worry about the more minute details of running your office. Everyday necessities like coffee, printers, projectors, monitors, scanners, composting and general cleaning are included when you join the space.

You will also not be in need of administrative staff as there is usually a talented manager or administrative assistant to manage the front desk of the co-working space.

You’ll have the motivation and resources to pursue your goals with a more communal and inspiring atmosphere.

5) Get Things Done

There’s no need to worry about getting distracted or daydreaming. You may think that a shared workplace would be loud or make it difficult to focus on your work. Yet, it is the complete opposite.

It can be very motivational to look around and watch other professionals hard at work. In a co-working space, everyone is focused on getting their work done.

Your productivity, as a result, will go up in these inspiring environments. It gives you the incentive to keep up and maintain a nose to the grindstone work ethic for the duration of your day.

It can be incredibly helpful when you feel part of a productive office space. You can sit back and really focus on getting work done, as your peers do the same.

6) Get Involved In Clubs Or Extracurricular Activities

Many co-working spaces actively promote a sense of community and belonging for all of their members.

There are plenty of chances to mingle and network in group meetings and events.

There are often clubs to join and office events that you may not have the chance to partake in while working alone.

You get to feel like a part of a team, even if they are not co-workers within your company.

Whether it’s an outdoor BBQ or a meet and greet social, you can’t ignore the collaborative aspect of coworking. It seeks to improve the well-being of its members and promote a sense of interconnectedness.

7) Optimal Locations

Co-working spaces are a relatively new concept and have only really started becoming prominent in recent years. They are quickly taking hold however and are appealing for their dynamic, liberating nature.

Old office spaces become a thing of the past with the progressive style of working that shared spaces promote.

They are cost-effective and allow for a large group of people from vastly different sectors and backgrounds, to collaborate and learn from each other.

The open concept offices inspire, rather than confine their occupants. Many shared space offices are popping up in urban, city areas, where there is a high demand for office space.

Entrepreneurs, freelancers and small businesses have the opportunity to work in city centers rather than from home.

CMPNY for example, a co-working space in BC, Canada, actively cultivates a progressive atmosphere within its two central locations in Burnaby and Coquitlam.

It gives people from all over the world the opportunity to work in the heart of the city.

See For Yourself

Co-working spaces introduce a completely new and innovative way of working. They are perfect for freelance workers, consultants, small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs.

They are often situated in desirable, high-traffic, urban areas, and allow smaller companies a central location base

Occupants gain all aspects of a traditional office space, with the added benefit of a modern, liberating take on the traditional setup.

Let us know what you think about co-working spaces. Share your experiences in the comments below.

Does Uber Stand A Chance Of Success In Vancouver?

does uber stand a chance of success in vancouver

Uber’s been hot after the Vancouver market in hopes of extending its ride-sharing service to our west coast hub.

They’ve run massive campaigns targeting Vancouver highlighting the economic potential it can have for the city.

Its entrance into our market has had a number of obstacles: The lack of a reasonable regulatory framework, the enormous pushback of the taxi industry and little political buy-in.

Their targets are clear: Win people over and empower them to pressure Vancouver City Hall and the Province of British Columbia to create clear regulations for ride-sharing.

The History Of Uber

Uber App Screenshot
Screenshots from the Uber App

Uber was founded in 2009 by Garrett Camp and Travis Kalanick. They were trying to hail a cab and simply were not able to.

That bred the idea – why not press a button and get a ride? With technology as advanced as it is, they set out a vision to make this very idea come to fruition.

The ride-sharing startup received their first stage of seed funding, a cool $200,000 that same year. In 2010, they received more funding – $1.2 million and by the end of 2011, Uber had raised $44.2 million!

Opposition To Uber

With any movement, there are going to be opponents. When it comes to companies offering rides on the road, there’s one major opponent: The taxi industry. Companies like Uber and Lyft are a threat to taxi companies.

This resent for Uber has been evident all over the world. Berlin banned Uber in 2014. Taxi drivers in Berlin, London, Paris and other cities staged a massive protest on June 11 of that year.

We’ve seen taxi companies become increasingly frustrated with the possibility of Uber coming to Vancouver.

Vancouver’s Taxi History

Vancouver is a relatively young city but its taxi industry has been around for as long as the city. Harry Hooper became the first taxi driver, way back in 1903. Just seven years later, he opened Vancouver’s first taxi company, Harry Hooper Ltd.

The lack of a regulatory framework in the 1920’s led to the Canadian Taxi Wars. The result: Present day’s set of regulations. Much of this strife occurred because too many people were just starting up taxi companies out the ying-yang.

The larger companies that made sizeable investments in establishing systems and metres were having their market share eaten into.

So what exactly ended ‘the Wars’? The imposition of a minimum wage, standardized fares, liability insurance, taximeters and limits for new entrants to the industry.

This perfectly sets the stage for Uber’s significant efforts to enter markets all around the world, particularly Vancouver where challenges persist.

Uber’s Efforts To Get Into The Vancouver Ride-Sharing Market

In October 2016, Vancouver City Council voted to extend the moratorium on issuing new taxi licenses to next year. Regarding Uber, their position has been that it’s up to the Province to conduct a review of the taxi industry to determine whether it can co-exist with ride-sharing companies, like Uber.

Vancouver City Councillor Geoff Meggs told CBC News: “We all agree more service is warranted. But no one is I think keen to put out new taxi licenses if they’re not going to be economically viable in the face of ride-sharing or any other changes the provinces could impose.”

Uber knows that Vancouver would be the testing grounds for getting into other Metro Vancouver municipalities.

However, they also know that the Province of British Columbia can set overarching ground rules for ride-sharing companies, like Uber to play by. That’s also what Uber is counting on – a provincial framework.

Uber’s Marketing Campaigns In Vancouver

Uber has made one giant campaign to get into Vancouver’s market but tapping into sensitive areas in the taxi industry, like wait times.

A series of Uber ads in 2016 highlighted the long wait times for taxicabs in Vancouver and Victoria. One ad even showcased a fictional mother who missed her daughter’s doctor’s appointment because the taxi they requested never showed up.

taxi uber wait timesOf course, it begs the question: Who takes a cab to the doctor’s office?

Yet, it also makes a powerful case for the desire for ride-sharing in Vancouver. A growing segment of the population, burdened by the rising cost of living doesn’t necessarily need cars or have the time to wait for public transit or taxicabs. The solution is Uber.

Can Uber Survive In Vancouver?

Sure, it can. With a regulatory framework that allows the taxi industry and ride-sharing companies to coexist and compete fairly, the possibilities are endless.

For example, the Government of British Columbia outlined a Taxi Bill of Rights. The Ministry of Transportation teamed up with Consumer Protection BC to lay out the rights and responsibilities of both the taxi passenger and the taxi driver.

However, many questions remain. Will similar rights be established for ride-sharing users and drivers? Will the Taxi Bill of Rights be reformed and overhauled to include ride-sharing users and drivers?

Such regulations must govern the safety and security of cars that operate under the Uber banner. Cab driver Terry Sahota has those same concerns. “Will Uber cars have a safety inspection every six months like taxis?” he asked The Province newspaper. “What about insurance, security cameras, criminal background checks?”

taxi licenses uber vancouver city hallThen, there’s the fact that driver defections to Uber will have a major impact on the industry. In other cities, drivers are attracted by Uber’s better hours, better pay, and reduced costs. A taxi company in New York claimed to have lost 40 percent of their drivers to Uber.

Taxi licenses are very expensive and controlled in supply by Vancouver City Hall. People have put their life savings into buying a taxi license. This has been a big barrier to entry into the market and is a reason why many current cab drivers are upset at Uber’s entry attempts.

Selling that license with Uber in the fold will likely result in a dramatic fall in price, nevermind the reduction in cab sales.

The Reality: Ride-Sharing And Taxis Must Co-Exist

Given the tough economic situation that cab drivers and taxi companies are threatened by, the reality is that if the demand and political will are there, ride-sharing will be existent in Vancouver. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of when and how.

An industry that has long gone without any competition now has to face the test that so many entrepreneurs encounter upon starting up their own companies.

This is how it is all around the world in the taxi industry. Vancouver is next.

What are your thoughts on Uber? Does Vancouver need ride-sharing? Leave a comment below!

5 Management Lessons Learned From Missing A Goal By 5 Days

A quote I really like is ‘Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods.’

As stubborn as we were, we missed our goal by 5 days. Were we not stubborn enough or did our flexibility let us down? That is for us to decide. But success is a product of failures and our failure to meet a recent internal goal has influenced this post.

The following management lessons can help in managing a project with greater efficiency –

Start With A Vision And Work With A Plan

planningBefore putting pen to paper, begin with a vision. For example, if you are designing a product, envision it in fine details. Imagine its looks, its feel, its use, and even its colors.

Once the project leaders can clearly visualize the end product and agree upon it, a thorough plan should be prepared to break the vision into phases, tasks, and responsibilities.

This will involve separating big rocks from the small rocks and it will help in resource planning and creating milestones.

Decide The Decision-Making Process

I can bet that we are all guilty of having spent our precious time in meetings that we have walked out of without making any real decisions.

How are decisions taken in your group or organization? Is it through a diplomatic process where everyone involved gets to vote and the majority wins? Or does the decision ultimately rest in the hands of a leader or influencer?

It is best that the decision-making process is decided upon by a group before starting discussions on any project.

Repeat After Me: “Actionable And Deliverables”

Speaking of meetings – have you ever felt that they are a waste of time? They sure can be if you don’t walk out of a meeting with actionable and deliverables.

All too often, we get into a meeting room and rant about various topics on the agenda. After the meeting, people walk off with a deeper understanding of issues at hand and possible solutions.

However, if you do not summarize the meeting and break it down into actionable and deliverables, there is a high probability that you will find yourself in the same meeting room again and experience a déjà vu moment.

Share Your Progress Periodically

Project management pro’s ensure that everyone knows what is to be done and who is in charge of what. Everyone takes ownership of their responsibilities and boom, everyone delivers as expected. Right?

Let me remind you – we lost Atlantis (if it ever existed) a long time ago. Reality is, things often fall through the cracks. It is critical that progress reports are discussed periodically to ensure that the planned milestones are being achieved in a timely manner and no stone is left unturned.

Don’t Worry About Getting It Right, Get It Done

Geoffrey Fisher said – ‘When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target’. In the real world, it is less valuable to get it right than it is to get it done. Silicon Valley is known to prophecies the concept of a ‘minimum viable product’ and it works in many cases.

The viability of that concept can vary from project to project of course. I mean, don’t launch a car knowing that it runs but without being sure that all components are working properly. Otherwise, you’ll just end up having to go through a very expensive product recall like Ford, Honda, Toyota, and GM.

But in many cases, getting it done can be better than getting it right.