Like a punch in the face

leadership mindset Jun 28, 2021

Like a punch in the face. 

That’s what the pandemic has felt like at times yes? And I would know. I’ve been punched in the face. 

I used to be a boxer (first kick-boxing, then boxing for more than a decade).  As things start to re-open, I feel like we have ducked another punch (for now).  

I also turned another corner on Friday - After two consecutive terms, it was my last day as a Director on the Board of Boxing Canada.  Amateur boxing has so many things to offer people of all ages. The sport has taught me many valuable lessons that I have carried with me into my professional career.  In looking back, I sum it up into these top seven: 

  1. Fight your fight.  The real competition is yourself. Aim to be better than you were yesterday.  Be aware and adapt to external forces but always follow your own game plan.   
  2. It’s ok to lick your wounds after a defeat. There is no shame in failure. Review the tale of...
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The Pitfall of Results: How to know when the journey itself outweighs the outcomes.

leadership operations Jun 11, 2021

The desire for results is deeply ingrained in well-established strategic planning methodologies. What gets measured gets done; set your rocks; review quarterly goals and outcomes. The pitfall of this hyper-focus on results is that the process of doing and learning as the outcome can get lost.

Many industries and organizations face an urgent need to rethink how they create and deliver value in a digital economy. Articulating any major strategy shift is the first big hurdle. Still, anyone involved in bringing that strategy to life knows the biggest challenge by far is the process of continual implementation. So, what happens when your organization requires not only a significant shift in its strategy but also a significant shift in the way it executes that strategy?

In other words, the organization can be adept at identifying where it can “win” but will often fail at understanding the organizational barriers that will need to be broken to make that strategy a reality.


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Five to Thrive: Five things to keep in mind when considering a major transformation



At Differly, we work with many organizations that are facing an urgent need to rethink, how they create and deliver value to customers in a digital economy. Some will call this a transformation (if there are many initiatives to manage at the same time to make the shift) and others will call it a continual process of innovation.  Either way, it's really not about technology but rather a business strategy. 

If you're a leader thinking about or embarking on a major shift, here are five guiding principles to focus your efforts

1. Always put the customer at the heart of the transformation

Customer behavior is arguably the biggest shift of the digital revolution. How can you design and deliver a better end-to-end experience leveraging both on and offline channels seamlessly? Can you leverage digital technology to remove any barrier, friction, and continually deliver additional value? 

2. Align on vision

Before determining the pain points,...

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What I've learned from 10 years worth of journals

leadership mindset Jan 22, 2021

I have 10 years worth of journals and it's been one of my most precious business and personal assets.  

I think success is largely a game in self-awareness. That's why I’m religious about my morning routine and have been for years.  Up at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. allowing me precious alone time to meditate, visualize, set my intentions for the day/week and practice gratitude. 

This is when I do most of my reading, which often leads to a stream of consciousness writing and reflection.  I’ve kept those journals because I love to look back, assess my growth and see how my intentions/goals at the time have played out.  

I was flipping through them this week and found 8 recurring themes, largely about success,  leadership and mindset that are true for me and thought I'd share with my community:

1. Ditch the “balance” for a Dashboard:  

Work, kids, family, relationships, health… Everything in perfect...

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Are you stalling?

I am a fan of frameworks, as a way to organize complex thoughts and providing a map to follow. I have created my fair share over the years.  It gives us a way to start and guidance. But it's just that, guidance. It's not absolute.  You might have another way to frame things that is just as good. It's  your vision of the world or your way of approaching this problem. Great, let’s compare and contrast and choose one way to approach things. 

There is no absolute certainty in a framework and looking for it only delays the hard work that needs to be done. The world we seek to create doesn’t exist yet. The technology we’ll be living with in 15 years, hasn’t come to fruition and its full impact is yet unknown. 

The uncertainty of it is the point. The important thing is to start. The risk of doing nothing almost certainly outweighs the risk of doing something. 

Steeping in your own expertise for too long can keep you stuck in...

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Five fundamentals to reimagine the workplace and why "worklife balance" is a setup for failure.

For every survey I’ve read stating that over 70% of people are looking forward to getting back to the office, I’ve read another stating 70% would be willing to continue working from home.

These results should come as no surprise, as it is not - and has never been -  a black and white issue. Shopify’s recent news, along with many notable tech firms, to be digital first and 100% remote will create much needed discussion but it does not have to be an “all or nothing” proposition.

This shift in the nature of work (e.g. teleworking, remote work, gig economy, virtual work, flexible work programs) was occurring way before the pandemic. Many organizations – granted mostly in high tech -   such as Buffer, GitLab and Zapier – which were already 100% virtual, are proving that the model does work and some of their practices can translate to more traditional industries and corporate cultures.

However, what we are seeing now is a crisis-induced...

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How Trust will Shape the Future of Work

I was speaking to a friend last week who works for a large software company that, in pre-pandemic reality, had no remote work options. In the last staff update, the CEO admitted that with 100% of the staff working remotely, there has been no significant drop in productivity (other than the first two weeks of the “adaptation” period).  

There is a pervasive belief or perception that if you can’t physically see someone sitting at their desk doing work, you just don’t know if they are getting anything done.  Seth Godin said it simply in one of his last blogs: there is only three ways to tell if people are hard at work:

  1. The boss can watch them go to meetings and they can watch each other in meetings
  2. The boss can watch them sit at desks in an office or
  3. We can make promises to each other and keep them.
  4. I will add an insidious fourth way, inspired by a recent New York Times article stating that demand has surged for employee monitoring software...
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How to harness your big ideas, especially in a time of crisis

Which type of leader are you: a visionary or an operator?  Every business needs both as one cannot succeed without the other. Very few leaders are able to see the big picture and manage the details.  

 Visionaries are those that see “what could be” and come up with new ideas regularly.  As an entrepreneur and CEO, I put myself squarely in the visionary bucket as I’m constantly jotting down new product or service ideas, new ways of creating value for my own business and for others. I journal every morning as a way to channel that energy and document my thoughts.

Generally, this passion has served me well. However in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, this “idea engine” can go into hyper drive.   Why? Because visionaries tend to see challenges as opportunities. Opportunities to create solutions, adapt and pivot into new drivers of value.

The challenge is this:  If a visionary jumps on every new idea without...
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Three key questions to get your business back into gear and moving now.

In my conversation with other leaders and business owners who must adapt how they deliver products and services or must shift their business models entirely, there is one analogy that resonated with me the most: the hierarchy of needs. 

If you’re like us at Differly, most of our services tend to be at the mid-to-top of the pyramid of needs. Meaning if a company is doing fairly well in terms of stability and revenue, it now looks to scale and grow impact or reach. Perhaps they want to develop a loyalty program, accelerate operational efficiency, supercharge and modernize sales and marketing or develop a digital transformation road map. 

Cue COVID-19 and everyone is now operating at the bottom of the pyramid.  Meaning, if your product or services don't help to address the continuity of a business or address an urgent need, your pitch is likely falling on deaf ears. Even if you’re one of the lucky companies with rising revenues at the moment (we need you...

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COVID-19, the game changer that will push us all into the digital revolution.

COVID-19 is first and foremost a human crisis, requiring companies to protect their people. Amid this human impact, companies are also coming to terms with the impact of the pandemic on their businesses, in particular small and medium size enterprises.

The pandemic will be hitting small businesses the hardest. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) reported that 42% of surveyed SMEs depend solely on face-to-face contact for the majority of sales

COVID-19 might be the game changer that pushes us all into the digital revolution, digitizing services, and forcing us to shift to digital business models.

Although there are many more pressing issues, such as ensuring elderly parents are safe or balancing home schooling, while managing a business and a remote team (I am in the thick of all those things), challenging times also present opportunities.

Here are some concrete strategies to engage your customers via digital channels and potentially create new revenue...

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