Finding Your Customers

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Most company executives understand that the better they understand their customers, the more likely their business will grow. The problem often becomes defining customer base. For instance, I often have clients who want me to “spread the word” about their products and services through both traditional and social media channels, yet I quickly discover they don’t have a good handle on who their customers really are.

You can have the best products and services. You can have the best messaging to explain those products and services, but if the right audience does not receive those messages then you haven’t accomplished anything.

Lets take an affordable cell-phone provider as an example – if someone asked executives at the phone company, ‘Who is your typical customer?’ they might say something like, ‘Well, our typical customer is Millennials and teenagers hooked on technology.’ I realize this is really general, but you get the point. Most people can define their target audience with some careful research. Knowing the age, gender, income, personality, likes, dislikes, and behaviours of the people who would most likely be interested in your product or service is crucial to your communication efforts. Of course, the wider your customer base, the better chance your message will do what is it supposed to do – encourage people to act.

Some companies are lucky in that they deal with a specific sector, but have a wide customer base. I will take up and coming energy company, Sparta as an example. Sparta focuses on advancing the capture, conversion and optimization of energy. If you asked their executive team, ‘Who is your typical customer?” They would likely say, ‘Almost anybody’. This is because Sparta is about more than one product or service; it is about using various tools and technologies to address the needs of customers in many different industries when it comes to reducing their energy consumption. This is the great advantage Sparta has – there is no limit to the Corporations potential market as the vision has been to constantly adapt and add products and services that clients need in order to help them remain competitive – be sustainable. When Sparta spreads their message they have a massive customer base to target.

No matter what sector you are in or how broad your customer base may be, giving careful thought to exactly who your customers are is more important now than ever before. We are living in an increasingly competitive world so it makes no sense to spend time, energy and money on crafting a message that doesn’t get seen or read by the right audience.

While there are many ways to examine your typical customer, one of the best ways to start is by looking at your current customers and asking yourself, what do they like, dislike or what works for them and what doesn’t. From there check out the competition, who is buying from them? Soon you will start to build what is referred to as an Avatar; a representation of what your client looks like.

Grounding – The impact on the human body

 

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

 

A few years ago I wrote an article for a health industry client on the subject of “Grounding.” The research I conduced at that time was really my first foray into examining the process of removing excessive charge from an object by releasing it into the ground. Walking barefoot is an example of grounding. Since that article I have learned a lot more about electrons playing a significant role in the cellular process that takes place in our bodies.

As reported in the U.S National Library of Medicine, multi-disciplinary research has indicated that electricity contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth produces interesting effects on our health. Studies show the effects relate to inflammation, immune responses and wound healing. Some research even suggests that grounding can prevent and treat chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. While this is still a relatively new area of research, what experts at the University of California and the University of Oregon have discovered is that grounding an organism can produce noticeable differences in concentrations of white blood cells and other molecules involved in inflammatory response. Physiology professors say grounding reduces pain and alters the number of circulating neutrophils and lymphocytes. Neutrophils are white blood cells important in the defense against infections. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that are part of the immune system. There are two main types of lymphocytes: B cells and T cells. The B cells produce antibodies that are used to attack invading viruses, bacteria, and toxins. Lymphocytes are high if you have an infection.

Grounding is really any system that allows for frequent contact with the Earth. This includes while sleeping, sitting at a desk, or walking outside. There are conductive systems such as sheets, mats, wristbands, ankle bands, and even adhesive patches. These applications are connected to the Earth through a cord inserted into a grounded wall outlet or attached to a ground rod placed in the soil outside.

A couple years ago a group of researchers, including some from the University of California and University of Oregon, looked at the physiological impacts of grounding from various perspectives. Their work has led to over a dozen studies being published in peer-reviewed journals. A peer review is a process that subjects an author’s work or research to examination and scrutiny of other top experts in the same field, before a description of the work can be published in a journal. The fact that the grounding research has been peer-reviewed and the actual studies show grounding could be an effective healing method has opened up new and promising avenues for research, particularly in the area of inflammation. Some suggest that it could have broad implications for health prevention and public health.

Despite the current research, all of this may still sound odd to some people, but think about it this way: We are all living on an electrical planet and our bodies transmit many frequencies that help run our muscles, our heart, our nervous system and our immune system. Many years ago it was perfectly natural to sleep right on the ground, and it was common to walk the Earth in bare feet. In our industrialized world, we rarely walk around without leather shoes and we do not sleep on the ground unless we are camping. In reality we are all disconnected or ungrounded. Considering that this disconnection may contribute in some way to illness may not be as far-fetched as many of us think.

Protein Supplements: Do you need them?

Contributing Writer: Michael Cameron

 

I was with a friend last week, talking about our diets and the challenges that I face with mine. Carbs, no carbs, low fat, high fat, and a million other variations were passed between us. Eventually we began discussing protein supplements and whether or not I should be using them. My friend, Rob Sinclair of Cross Fit Solid Ground, has a wealth of experience in the area of health and nutrition. Besides owning a Cross Fit gym, he also has a B. Sc. in Biology with a minor in Exercise Science, is a certified personal trainer, as well as a nutrition and wellness specialist, so when he speaks, I listen. For him, it is very simple – “Know your protein requirements, figure out if you’re meeting them and if you have a protein deficiency, then you should be taking some type of protein supplement,” he said.

Rob went on further to explain that my body uses protein to build and repair tissues and to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is ultimately an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. He said if I wasn’t getting enough of it, my body wouldn’t be able to function properly and I may experience the following:

  • Food cravings,
  • Muscle and joint pain,
  • Slow recovery from injuries,
  • Fluid retention,
  • Regular illness
  • A cloudy mind

So, how much protein does a person need? The average person needs about .8 g of protein for 1 kg of body weight but there are certain exceptions and in fact, certain groups of people are susceptible to not meeting those needs, resulting in protein deficiencies. Check out the following categories below:

  • The elderly. As we age, our bodies become less efficient at processing our food.
  • Many sports require levels of high energy, strength and muscle.  Protein plays a key role in that relationship.
  • If you’re injured or ill, you need about 1.5 times your regular protein requirements to recover.
  • If you are stressed, you breakdown muscle and tissue faster than if you weren’t.
  • People that try to lose weight and cut calories.

Now I know how much I need and I know why I need it, but how do I figure out if I’m getting enough protein in my diet? I learned there are great meal tracking options to figure out if you are getting enough protein (I like myfitnesspal.com). If you use one and figure out that you’re not getting enough protein, there are a lot of really great options for increasing your protein intake. For instance, eating more whole foods (meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables) and fewer processed foods (carbs and sugars), minimizing stress by learning how to meditate or manage your anxiety through other means and finally, if you don’t like traditional sources of protein like meats, soy, peas, grains, then taking a protein supplement.

Contributing Writer, Michael Cameron is a martial artist and avid sports enthusiast who loves to spend time with his family, as well as write about sports and recreation in his spare time.

What Fake News Means to Future Generations

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Fake News might seem like just another voguish term, but its unlikely to slip from the North American vocabulary any time soon. The problem is that thanks to people like Donald Trump using the term inaccurately, there are a lot of people who don’t really understand the term.

Fake news is not the practice of well-trained, well-educated, competent journalists. Sure, at times things can fall apart in any news organization to the point where an editor or reporter exaggerates or leans too far to one side (left or right). While I would never condone this, it can’t be labeled as fake news. Fake news is the shift that has occurred in our social media era and it’s due to the dizzying speed of tweeting, posting etc. online.

As a former broadcast news reporter and journalism teacher, I can tell you that the majority of trained reporters take the golden rules of quality journalism very seriously. Those rules include being objective, focusing on the facts (just the facts), and using multiple, accurate sources to back up those facts. Fake news is the opposite – it is falsehoods, lies, subjective, and not backed up by any credible sources.

The problem with fake news according to psychologists is that the human mind only has so much time to process the myriad of information coming in and then make judgments about what parts of that information to keep. Humor, shock, and the unusual – all of these tip the scales in favor of being remembered and recalled, whether it is real or fake.

Here is where I find it scary. Fake news can be extremely damaging to all aspects of life. I have a daughter who is about to turn 20. She has grown up in the digital era. I think of her friends, as well as my nieces and nephews attaining and processing news. What they need to know is that fake news can hurt them. If they were to ask how? This is what I would share with them. Suppose someone said you were responsible for another person’s death and this was untrue. Can you imagine how this would impact your reputation, your career and your personal life? It has happened. A known trash magazine alleged that American Senator Tom Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. When Donald Trump talked about this allegation, the story spread like wildfire. There was no stopping it. The Washington Post and other reputable news agencies launched an investigation and determined that these allegations were “untrue” but the damage to Cruz was already done.

There are many other examples where fake news can negatively impact you financially, emotionally and physically. There have been a number of fake news cases that have led to civil unrest. Your purchasing of goods and services and your decisions about investing can have a devastating impact on your wallet when based on fake news.

Scientific studies show that when only 10 percent of the population holds a strong belief, the majority of society will always adopt this belief.

This is not meant to insult anyone, but the truth is that people are victims of their own ignorance, unwilling to fact check what they hear and read. Many will argue that they don’t have time to fact check and this may be true. Guess what? That is what we have trained journalists for. Unless we start speaking up to save real news organizations, your generation will have one of two choices: spend all your time fact checking so you can decide what to believe and repeat to others or live in a world where you make very bad, very damaging decisions about your life based on fake news.

 

 

Children’s Books Every Adult Should Read

Contributing Writer: Keelin Mayer

If you are a book lover then you probably find yourself reflecting on your childhood reading from time-to-time. Well, just because you are an adult doesn’t mean you can’t relive the various themes and life lessons in those great books you read as a young person. Here are six books that every adult should consider reading again or for the first time, if they haven’t done so as a child.

Charlotte’s Web – An uplifting story of friendship, the tale of Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider allowed me to believe in something bigger than myself; adding an element of wonder and hopeful possibility to my childhood. I learned that it is important to stand up for what you believe in and to embrace the commonalities and differences between yourself and your friends.

Anne of Green Gables – The story of Anne with an “e” will forever be a part of my soul. A classic, magical and timeless tale of friendship, perseverance and love Anne taught me that it is important to build your own life path. It is a story that warms my heart and reminds me to never give up – regardless of the obstacles before you anything is possible.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Harry Potter walked me through the universal childhood challenges – the need to figure out who you are as an individual, the desire to be the same as everyone else and the realization that you can only ever be yourself, and ultimately the quest to find meaning in life. It is an entertaining book that captured my imagination and made tackling childhood fun.

The Secret Garden – A story of finding oneself by helping others, I found The Secret Garden to be an illustration of how a person can change when placed within new circumstances and offered new understandings of life. The metaphor of the garden is a visual component of the book that drew me in, allowing me to connect with the story through a personal familiarity of the beauty and tranquility of gardens. Opening your heart to the unexpected is the message I took away from the tale of Mary and Colin.

The Outsiders – The sad circumstances of the characters of this story were heartbreaking. Offering me a window into a realm of life unfamiliar to me, the poverty, underlying message of the need to fight to survive, and the lasting impact of split second decisions spoke to me of lost innocence. The book was a product of its time with a message that still resonates today.

The Story of Ferdinand – With a message of non-violence and pacifism, The Story of Ferdinand introduced me to the concept of internal struggles stemming from external sources. Ferdinand’s resolute determination to smell flowers instead of participate in bull fighting suggested that we all make our own destiny; it is not necessarily determined by the circumstances of our birth.

Reading at any age is an opportunity to step outside of the day-to-day routine. The life lessons learned from books read as a young person have the ability to stick with the reader, ultimately influencing their decisions and helping to shape their world view.

Contributing Writer, Keelin Mayer is passionate about writing, yummy food and nature. She spends her free time exploring forests and mud puddles with her husband and two young sons.

Kickboxing: A Different Kind of Workout

unknown-4

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

It is becoming a popular form of exercise for a number of reasons – it doesn’t require heavy investment in equipment and you can pick the routine up at any time. I am referring to kickboxing. Once a man’s sport, more and more women are now enjoying it and here’s why:

  • Helps you break a sweat within minutes
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Helps you develop lean body
  • Great stress reliever
  • Increases confidence and self-esteem
  • Great for self-defence
  • Good for the heart

Aside from these health benefits, anyone who has ever taken a kickboxing class will tell you that it is a whole lot of “fun”.

One of the nicest parts of kickboxing is that you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy it. People from all walks of life and from all fitness levels take part in this form of exercise. Most kickboxing studios have beginner up to advanced classes. Some places offer one on one lesson.

Kickboxing has its origins in the 2,000-year-old discipline of Muay Tai fighting. It was initially developed as a self-defence tool, but slowly developed into a sport when unarmed combat in warfare became less effective. Today kickboxing is the national sport of Thailand.

Sara Madaleno is a kickboxing instructor and my niece. Sara spent several years as a competitive athlete, specifically in the sports of hockey and soccer. With a degree in psychology and sports studies, as well as a diploma in pre-health sciences, Sara combines her knowledge of human behaviour and her love for fitness to help students at “ilovekickboxing” in Vaughan, Ontario gain confidence in themselves and learn fun, invigorating kickboxing moves. Who can participate in kickboxing? Well, both men and women of all ages. At ilovekickboxing clients range from 13 to 70 years old.

“For some people it is not just about burning hundreds of calories- it’s mentally transformational,” Sara has said.

If you are interested in having a lot of fun, toning those muscles or shedding some pounds, Sara tells me that ilovekickboxing is always offering specials. So take some time to check them out.

http://www.ilovekickboxingvaughanon.com

 

What not to do at work

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Work can be incredibly satisfying. It can help us learn and grow in ways we never imagined possible. It can open our eyes to new ideas and opportunities, as well as lead us to financial rewards that help secure a good life outside of work. Let’s be honest though, not every day or every work experience is fantastic. Even those people who appear to have it all (at the office) are sometimes dying inside.

Whether you are one of those people who are silent and dying inside or someone who wears stress and frustration on the outside for everyone to see, there are certain things you must keep in mind when you are at work.

Both psychologists and employment experts agree that while you can’t keep everything bottled up inside all the time, you also have to be diplomatic in your approach to all that is office related.

Here are five things the experts say we should never do:

  • Speak or quit out of anger – it is not unusual to feel a wide range of emotions on the job, especially it you feel strongly about your work. Showing you care is a good characteristic, but losing it and acting out from rage always ends up being regretful. This behaviour is often grounds for firing and it simply makes you look unprofessional. I have to confess, when I was still a television reporter, I once screamed at a producer in front of everyone and while I did not get fired, I am certain I lost the respect of some people in the newsroom.
  • Lie – people tell lies when they think that somehow the truth will do them terrible harm. The truth about a lie at work is that you will likely have to do a lot of scurrying  to cover up your lie and in the end you will get figured out anyway. I remember the first time I caught a co-worker in a lie and I felt not only betrayed, but I no longer felt comfortable working with the individual. I just did not trust him.
  • Tell people you are unhappy – when you admit that you are miserable in your job, it doesn’t benefit anybody. It tells your co-workers and possibly your boss, if it gets back to him or her, that you don’t fit in. Additionally, it drags others in the office down.
  • Burn bridges – no one survives at work without other people. It’s all about relationship building and working together to make the project or company successful. We need each other so don’t burn bridges. Protecting work relationships can be a real asset.
  • Retreat within – while spewing your anger, frustration and negativity throughout the office is not the right move, keeping everything bottled up inside is not healthy. If you have a legitimate concern, discuss it in a professional way with a superior and be ready to offer up a possible solution. Also, think about talking to someone outside the office, such as a career counsellor or psychologist who specializes in work-related stress. Mounting stress can have both a physical and mental impact when it is not dealt with. Some people who are stressed-out due to work find that they become forgetful, which can hurt their work performance.

A study conducted in Canada a few years ago indicated that 51 percent of respondents felt work was a moderate to major stressor in their lives. In the United States the number of people calling in sick due to work-related stress has tripled in the last couple of decades. This is something that not only workers but also employers have to take a serious look at. Studies show that unhappy workers are 10 percent less productive.