Author Archives: Cynthia

5 Business Lessons You Can Learn from Teachers

business lessonsLet’s be real: we’re all wondering what is the best way to educate our kids. The traditional classroom leaves lots of gaps in kids’ skills, and parents, teachers and employers all know it.

The best teachers are working hard for students in the existing framework, changing what they can and making an impact every single day. Making more with less, getting community support, and finding creative ways to encourage learning are just some of the skills teachers use to support their students.

Ready to make significant steps forward in your business? Take some lessons from teachers.

5 Business Lessons You Can Learn from Teachers

1. Celebrate Your Victories

Teachers do a great job of inspiring students by celebrating milestones with class parties, ceremonies and even recruiting parents as cheerleaders. Celebrations support learning and connect students to what’s happening in the world.

What would it be like to celebrate your small victories this week?

Whether it’s getting those invoices out, clearing your inbox or finishing a lagging project, celebrating small victories will have a big impact on your momentum.

2. Go All In

From teacher sweaters to seasonal accessories (snowman broach, anyone?), teachers use every available opportunity to squeeze some learning in.

image via @sciencefriday

image via @sciencefriday

Can you squeeze in more ways to serve your clients?

Sharing an article, writing a blog post, or recommending a service or product are all ways to stay connected with your clients. Strengthen your client relationships by showing that you are invested in the work you do.

3. Be Enduringly Compassionate

The job of a teacher is not defined by a single moment, but a culmination of work that moves learners forward.

Teachers know that their job is to teach, pick up and try it again from a different angle, for every student, even the stinkers.

Especially the stinkers.

Where could you show some compassion in your business?

Often, we are our own worst bosses, with never-ending to-do lists, impatience with sales and marketing and not-so positive feedback. It’s hard to stay energized and motivated without some compassion and care where it’s most needed.

4. Tell Your Story

My teacher pals are wickedly funny. They have seen the most awkward, funny and endearing moments, and have learned how to tell those stories.

What story do you tell about your business?

Learn how to tell it well. Good stories can reinforce your credibility, make you relatable and memorable…the best kind of marketing.

5. Rally the Troops

Teachers are exceptional at rallying the troops.  They shuttle a battalion of kids from class to class, monitor the late night escapades of tween dances and are busy organizing the next graduation trip. Teachers keep things together and moving forward.

What support do you need for your business?

Check the areas that seem a bit frayed, or that you want to completely ignore. Support can come in the way of a little more attention in that area, pivoting approaches, changing goals and even pulling in specific helpers.

In your business, you are working hard to get and keep your customers, balancing operations with marketing, all the while pushing forward towards your next set of goals. Just like teachers are engaging students, balancing classroom management with standardized testing, and staying in line with mandated curriculum.

What business lessons do you think can be learned from teachers?


The Best Gifts I Received This Holiday

What gifts did you love to receive

Will you join me for a little exercise in gratitude and a small drop in the happy-for-what-I-have bucket? Oh, and a final nail in the 2013 coffin too?

A part of you just wants to get the holidays + 2013 behind you. It’s a fresh start! See ya later suckas! My sugar addled body and hangry toddler temperament hear you loud and clear.

However, packing up from a month-long trip to Thunder Bay for homestead Christmas, I am feeling resistant to toss away 2013 so quickly. After my 2013 Annual Review, and while carefully packaging up the presents I received to take them safely home with me, I’m mulling:

What gifts did I really love to receive this holiday?

1. A Kiva Card

Not a big supporter of gift cards (just give ‘em the cash!), receiving a Kiva Card over the holidays, made me giddy! My gift is a micro loan that I can give to any Kiva borrower and support the startup, growing business, or vulnerable group that I want! Blowout gift!

2.Enabling Gifts

A crafty, knitting, baking, foodie-artist, I loved receiving gifts that inspire and enable those passions. A knitting bowl, scarf pattern book, must-have kitchen essentials and handmade necklace made giddy when I thought of the beautiful people who know me well and fuel my passions.

3. Consumables

Let’s be real, I lurve food and all manner of beverage. Thank you for the bottles of wine, handmade caramel, shared appetizers and holiday drinks. Yeeeeees, I shared some of those consumables.

4. Doing Stuff Together

Whether it was saying a big F.U. to sending out cards at the office and having a pizza party instead, spending the afternoon snowshoeing with my sister, or baking and sharing an unholy amount of sugary treats every day, the time that I got to spend with the people I care the most about was fantastic. More stuff, be damned! Do stuff.

5. Time 

A great gift this year was the time that I gave myself over the holidays. Haha! See what I did there? 3 weeks at home in Northern Ontario was enough to get past the hurry and sink into every-day with my parents, siblings and niblings. Some yawning days to watch movies, pile wood, and play outside worked out any residual squirrelliness and brought me back to what’s real.

So, before you throw out the tree, dump the last of the shortbread and sniff out that lingering carton of eggnog, I wonder…

What gifts did you receive this holiday that you really loved?

Tell me in the comments. And don’t say it was underwear.

Unless you got some really kick-ass gitch, or a stockpile from your mom.

Dream Boards: The Secret to Kick-ass Vision and Focus


Over the past 5 years, I have spent time each month working a dream boarding process. It’s a special time that I set aside to breathe deep and consider the things I want to bring into my life and business. An intuitive process, guided by images, words, and colours that connect with me, oftentimes I don’t completely understand the vision of the board until the month has passed.

Ohhh, all of those mountain pictures from last year meant…Aha! 

Spending time considering and connecting to the ultimate vision of your work, finances, home, art in a non-linear way helps you lean into all of your creative resources, guides your decision making and works in line with your own values.

This quick video tutorial takes you through how to create dreamboards! In this tutorial, we cover what dreamboards are and how to create your own in low tech version: using scissors, glue and old magazines.

I have moved away from scissors and glue most months and use the incredible images on Pinterest to assemble images for the month. I use Photoshop (you can try somethink like Collageit if Photoshop freaks you out) to collage the images into a screensaver.

Voila! Inspiration on your desktop!

A Weekend Celebration

The last few weeks have been full of growth and movement. Lots of ‘clicking’: seeing business patterns and receiving support from friends who are super-skilled in the areas that I am crap, sitting down and being accountable to some big goals, and generally nudging things forward.

Thankfully, Canadian Thanksgiving had arrived and I was ready for a long weekend celebration!

Saturday brunch with serious eggs benny at Okanagan Street Food. From the freshly baked english muffins to the tangy and light hollandaise, it was freakishly delicious.


Moving on to Epic Friend Potluck! Super comfortable, with wine on the table and toddlers playing under it, everyone contributing their best effort to the meal, and laughing and eating for hours. (I rocked it like a Ukrainian for my contributions: perogy and cabbage rolls.)

my what pretty spartan apples you have!

Family Dinner at the Z’s. My aunt (Zia is Italian for aunt) is an incredible cook, so no potluck here. My kitchen adventure was a new recipe for apple pie made with recently picked local apples. Amazing. Music, stories and old friends and family.

Tragically, this is the Z’s favourite new song:

Holiday Monday ended in front of the fireplace with the latest episode of Downton Abbey and a new knitting project. Heaven.


This Thanksgiving I celebrated…

Connection. Collaboration. Art. Fun.

What did you celebrate this weekend?

write a letter to your 10-year-old self

Last week, I found this little video on Soul Pancake. What a precious exercise, writing a letter to 10-year-old you!

Can you remember what it was like to be 10-years-old? In Grade 4 or 5, just hurdled past multiplication tables, maybe puberty is looming on the horizon…

What does present-day you have to say to that little you? I am willing to bet you have some very interesting things that little you would have loved to hear.

Get out your crayons, sharpen your pencil and write a letter to that little you. I did!

connection + gratitude

The first month of this year has been joyfully unfolding. One of my favourite parts of the past few weeks has been a gratitude practice, inspired by Superhero Andrea.

A wonderful woman that I was fortunate to meet last year at Startup Weekend Okanagan and I have been exchanging 3 things we are grateful for on a (ahem) daily-ish basis. Across the mountains, there is an open door and we pass little notes of thanks, tidbits of our lives, and gently get to know each other’s hearts.

Connection is what anchors us. Are you feeling disconnected? Try this out and let someone see into your heart.


P.S. The perfect song to go with thoughts of gratitude:


journalling from the (he)art

Reaching into all of your available resources immediately makes you a super power.

Whether those resources are people, groups, education, opportunities or your very-own-brain: spreading out into the things that can support your learning instead of flying solo will have you moving in ways you never thought you could!

That’s why dream boarding is so powerful: visual and kinesthetic learning reaches into your beautiful brain and allows for expression of desires that verbal language can’t quite articulate.

Taking dream boarding to the next level, you might want to try Art Journaling . A reflective and creative  process connects directly to your heart and turns the chaos in your head into order.

Wonder how to start? Get the how, what and why to get going here in heart journaling. It is the perfect solo or group activity over the holidays to reconnect you to what is important to you.

I would love to see some of your (he)art journaling pages: upload them and share for a super power-punch!

Sweet November Dreaming! Plus Free Download

Happy November my friends! With the change to winter time, it’s dark mornings and early sunsets, I felt the need to kick up the sparkle, focus on what’s moving and shaking and what I want to bring more of in my life and work. Soooooo….I did  my Full Moon Dreamboard a week early.

For those of you looking to start a dreamboarding practice, here is a quick tutorial about how to whip together the board of your dreams (the lo-fidelity version).

I have been using Pinterest for the last year or so to create my monthly dreamboards (so much inspiration, so few paper cuttings to clean up!) and suggest you give it a try too!

Here is my November Dreamboard:

I am feeling a lot of warmth and home-y-ness, sparkle, light and love in this board and can’t WAIT to see how the month evolves around these images. What do you see in this board?

Using this dreamboard image as my screensaver for the month keeps me fully engaged with my vision. If you would like to download a copy for your own screen, it’s my gift to you!

Happy dreaming!

3 Reasons to Be Like The Cookie Monster

Cookie Monster is a kick-ass muppet. Not only is C for Cookie (and that’s good enough for me), he gets to play with all the cool kids. Song of the summer 2012? The Top 40 Version of Cookie Monster’s remix “Share it Maybe” topped the charts for kids and kids-at-heart.

I love that furry little cookie-eating freak and here’s why you need to get in touch with your inner Cookie Monster:

1. Fierce Intensity:  Coffee cake with frosting, doesn’t phase Cookie Monster. He loves cookies. Cookies, dammit! What if you loved, learned, lived and led with that sort of fierce intensity?

Laser focus: Cooooookie. *pew pew* (<–laser gun noises)

He’s going out to get his cookies.

2. Gluttonous Satisfaction: The website 1000 Awesome Things named Eating Cookies Like Cookie Monster it’s #935th Awesome Thing. According to 1000 Awesome Things:

Eating cookies like Cookie Monster is great because, more than anything, it represents freedom. Yes, free thought takes you to the pantry, free will makes you grab that cookie package and sit down on the couch, and free Wonder Years reruns keep you company while you sit down and enjoy. You’re the Executive Chef in your personal Dessert Kitchen here. Just tell me that’s not liberating.

It doesn’t need to be cookies, but what do you just go to town on because it represents freedom? Paint? The dance floor? Sunday gameathons? Y’know what I am sayin’?

3. Love love love: Amongst pieces of cookies flying, mashed into his black mouth and tossed overhead in the revelry of cookie acquisition, there is always a moment with Cookie Monster. The moment when he realizes that he has been in a cookie-makeout coma and that there are other friends (plush, virtual or other) around. His googley eyes say:

Oops. Sorry, I got caught up there. Want some of the thing THAT I LOVE MOST IN THIS WORLD?

For that, you are a muppet among mice, Cookie Monster. May we all share so willingly.

Happy Friday. Get fiercely intense, gluttonously satisfied and give love, love, love.


Change of Seasons. Plus Free Download!

Do you have a dreaming or visioning practice? As a coach, I work with a lot of folks to just take the time to sit and take inventory of what the next big picture looks like.

That’s part of why I am such an advocate of dream or vision boarding practices. (My personal blog is even called The Living Dreamboard!)

image via creative commons


And sometimes people draw, collage, sing, and glue the things that they cannot say. These writings, collages, songs, and glue-covered things turn the chaos: all of the things running through our brains, into order.

This is my dreamboard for September: interpret it as you will. It feels light and inspiring, adventurous, playful and wise. Thank you Jamie Ridler, for reminding me September is a special month for dreaming: with two full moons.

As you get back to school and work and routine, it is a great time to check in with yourself and your goals. Even taking 15 minutes to reflect on what you would like more of in the coming month is a step in YOUR direction.

Want to download my dreamboard? I made it into desktop wallpaper for myself and thought I would share!

Happy Change of Seasons!