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Dancing with Butterflies

I spent a recent rainy dreary foggy morning at the Cambridge Butterfly conservatory. It was in preparation for an event that will be held there in a couple of weeks that I will be overseeing for a client.

It was a wonderful way to spend this dreadful day. We opened the waterfall room door and were immediately greeted by warmth, a lush greenery and butterflies of every colour floating by. It was enchanting and it was magical.

I found myself spinning to catch sight of butterflies ducking in and out of the vegetation and up and around the waterfall.  And giggling. Honest to goodness giggling as I stuck my hand out to try and touch one as it floated by. Art on wings.

Butterflies kind of became my thing when I went through my divorce seven years ago. I came across the saying: Just when the caterpillar though the world was ending, he became a butterfly. And it spoke to me as I had returned to my maiden name and as a result, had to change my business name. Rebirth.

That’s usually what we’re dealing with as we move through the seasons, going from winter into spring into summer. Watching as the trees and gardens all bloom and unfold before our very eyes. Even our long-lost neighbours emerge from hibernation and start hanging around the sidewalks and porches to talk and share a beverage and maybe even bbqs.

Re-emergence and reinvention…they are good for the soul. And good for business too. I’m taking the time today to re-evaluate and reinvent. To return to what I love doing – and that includes dancing with butterflies.

 

Butterfly

I’m baaaaccck!!!

 

I’m baaaack!! Yes, getting back into the groove of
back-to-school, back-to-work routines. Getting back
into my business after taking some time away.
Just getting back on track as so many of us do at
this time of year. Fall has a way of doing that for you.

It’s been a very busy year. I was named IABC/Toronto’s
Boutique Agency of the Year!
  This was the fifth time I’ve
been named an agency of the year and it is always a tremendous
honour to be selected. At the same ceremonies, I was awarded
an IABC/Toronto Ovation Award of Excellence in Issues
Management and Crisis Communication for work I did on
the closing of the Strub’s pickle plant in Brantford. I also won
an international IABC Gold Quill award for the same project
and a Gold Quill in Leadership Communication for work I did
with transportation company Fastfrate.

I was asked to be a member of the Gold Quill Blue Ribbon Panel
of judges this year, one of the five international panels. And I just
finished being a judge for the IABC Canadian awards program,
Silver Leaf. I find the opportunity to see what other communications
professionals are doing across the country and around the world truly
enlightening. (And no, I don’t get to be anywhere close to my own award
submissions! LOL!)

Another highlight of the year was being named Guelph’s 2013
Woman of Distinction in the Business/Entrepreneur category.
It was a wonderful surprise, an unexpected honour, and an evening
filled with celebrating the fabulous women that help to keep the city
of Guelph running in various ways.

I was also selected to be a presenter at the annual IABC World Conference
held in New York City this year. I pulled together a panel of fellow
entrepreneurial experts from around the world: Dr. Amanda Atwell-Hamilton
from Africa, Amy Carroll from Switzerland and Suzanne Salvo from Italy to
discuss starting your own business. Interesting how it was a panel of women….
as I started the session by saying, forget Sex and the City…we are successful
women in the city!!

Planning is already underway for the 2014 IABC World Conference
and it is being held in Toronto next June.  I was recently invited to be
a member of the Program Advisory Committee for the conference,
joining 15 other esteemed communicators from around the world.
We just held our first team meeting and it promises to be an exciting opportunity.

And on top of all that, I became a full-time stepmom as opposed to an
every-other-weekend stepmom, and got married.  In that order!

I know that we all kick off a new year with anticipation; January arrives
and we feel a newness that comes with the start of the next calendar year.
And yet, I have always felt that September is just as often a beginning tooa crispness to the days, a sunny freshness, the start of school and activities…I’m feeling it even more so this year – my first ever getting someone off to school on the first day — and looking forward to the new adventures that are sure to come.

Gold Quill NYC

Shoemaker’s children…

 Why is that I always feel like the shoemaker’s children?

I am, of course, referring to the fact that while I build
programs and make recommendations for clients, stressing
the importance of social media, and blogging and being
consistent and regular, my little blog falls to the wayside.

My clients get fantastic blog entries and thought-provoking,
dialogue-generating communication and my poor little blog
sits exposed on the internet with last year’s worn out shoes.  Sigh…

My new year’s resolution was to be more consistent.
It really was. And I’ve had a million ideas and started writing
in my head many, many times. But then a call came, or meeting
prep was required, or a writing deadline was looming…and once
again, my child was patted on the head and told, “I’ll be back soon.
No really. I promise.”

Tonight, as I researched and wrote my client’s blog, I could hear
my baby calling for me to come and play. And I felt guilty. And so,
even though I have 3 other deadlines, a growling tummy
(man, I skipped lunch again!) and a need to just stretch and
get away from the desk, I am writing and posting this blog.
And smiling. Because it feels good and reminds me of why I
started this in the first place.

Another year draws to a close…

Where has this year gone?!!  It’s December already.
I can’t believe it.

Time: never enough when you need it, but, oh
too much of it when you’re waiting for something!

At this time of year, I believe in stopping, reviewing and
being thankful for the achievements of the current year
and taking a moment to consider the goals for the next.

My first year as Diana Degan & Associates is almost done.
I launched my new blog, DDA, on my revamped web site.
I was fortunate to win another IABC international Gold Quill
Award. I was honoured to be recognized by Cambridge
Who’s Who as their Professional of the Year for Public
Relations & Marketing and featured in their magazine.

I started working with several new clients including the
Responsible Gambling Council. And I have been selected
as a speaker at the IABC World Conference to be held in
Chicago, IL next June.

The next year looks brighter than ever. A new project with
Storck for their Werther’s candy promises to be especially
sweet. I’ve just been asked back to Loyalist College to
speak to their Post-Grad PR program — my 6th year!
And I have a trip to Chicago to look forward to.

I wish you all the happiest of holidays and a very successful
2012. I thank you all for your support, your advice and
your friendship and look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

Today we remember…

Ten years ago today I had an appointment with a headhunter
in Toronto. I had been let go from the last agency I worked for
about four weeks earlier and while what I really wanted to do was
start my own company, I was looking for a full-time job with a
steady paycheck.

I had the TV turned on to see what the traffic into the city was like.
I was in the bathroom doing my makeup when I heard a commotion
on the TV and came to see what they were talking about. As I watched
the live program, the second plane flew into the World Trade Centre
in New York. I watched as the plane hit the building and like the rest of
the world, was stunned.

My first thought was that there must be a problem with air traffic control
at one of the local NY airports. Why else would two planes hit massive
buildings? Your mind tries to make sense of what it is seeing. Very quickly
the reporting told a different story, although no one really understood what
was happening.

I still had to drive into Toronto. It was an absolutely beautiful day, with
blue skies and the occasional floating cloud. The perfect fall day.

My appointment was in Yorkville and as I parked the car and made my
way to the building, people walking around me were on cell phones and I
could catch snippets of conversations. “Have you heard from….” “I can’t reach….”
“Can you get me a flight home?” The film festival was in town
and people who might otherwise have been in NY or who knew people
in NY were desperately trying to connect and reach loved ones.
 

There was an almost eerie feeling to Toronto that day. I thought it rather
ironic that as many people were trying to get out of the city – because who knew?
Toronto
might be next – I was driving into it, and right through the
heart of the financial district.

The world was changed that day.

For me personally, several really interesting jobs I was considering dried
up because the tourism market was impacted so severely. I turned down
several jobs because I recognized that their expectations were completely
out of line in what was going to be the new business reality over the next
year. And I decided to see if I could make it on my own.

Here I am, 10 years later. It’s been a decade of immense change.
 

I’ve won 18 business awards in the last four years alone and been named
Small Agency of the Year three times. I value my family and true friends
more than ever. I embrace the opportunity to work with clients that look
for ways to incorporate social responsibility and helping and educating
others to make changes in small and large ways. I strive to meet new
people, enjoy new experiences and help others find their way. I look for
ways each and every day to bring kindness, grace, wisdom and learning
into my life and to those around me. And I take the time to enjoy my life
and live in the moment, for today…even if that is a simple as taking my
morning coffee out onto the porch to check out how the new baby mourning doves in
the nest in my hanging fern plant are doing.
 

Today, I take a moment to stop, reflect and remember.
And to wish you all well.

 

Ideas pop up all over the place…

 

I love it when you read about a marketing idea
that makes you smile. I just had to write about this
in my blog and post it immediately because that’s
what having a blog is all about right?

Every day I get two Marketing Magazine email
news brief updates. And in this morning’s was a
story about how everyone is getting in on the
upcoming Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).
Last week, the airport welcomed TIFF in their own way.

On an average busy day at the airport, the luggage carousel
light and buzzer sounded and then all of a sudden
1,000 boxes of popcorn poured onto the carousel.
The look on the people’s faces is priceless.
The smiles, the chuckles, the snapping of photos,
the munching of popcorn … you can see it all.
And it makes me smile. You have to go check it out for yourself.
http://www.marketingmag.ca/uncategorized/watch-this-pearson-pops-surprise-for-tiff-promotion-35313?p=35313?utm_source=EmailMarketing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=marketing_daily_AM

You know as a marketer that the impact was great that day,
immediately touching those in the area, and there were people
on hand to pass out the boxes to travellers to extend it a bit further.
But the reach goes WAYYY beyond that…. the PR component kicked
in today as I read the story, viewed the video they obviously shot that
day and smiled.
And blogged about it. Nice job guys.

Happy Birthday to me!

Actually it’s a double birthday of sorts. Yes, today is
my birthday.  But it was 10 years ago this month that
I was laid off from my job as a Vice-President of a
public relations agency in Toronto, and decided to
start my own company. And now my baby enters
double digits. Wow! (I think I’ve actually had my company
survive longer than the agency I was let go by. How’s
that for karma.)

I have been very fortunate to find what I love to do early
in my life. And I have had the opportunity to learn and grow
and stumble and fall and get back up off my butt and learn
to keep pushing forward. I have worked with some amazing
people and I have worked with some…um…not so nice people..
ok, let’s call a spade a spade, horrible people. You learn lessons
from both.

I’ve learned that it really is true that when one door closes another
one opens…sometimes it can be hard to see the open door through
the tears, but it’s there. You just have to look really hard for it.
Mopping the tears up a bit helps by the way.

I’ve realized that the lessons never stop and that we often continue to
make the same mistakes over and over again until we finally learn our
lesson. I was recently told that if I let go of an opportunity I was trying
to force, another more beautiful one would come along. My mentor
was right…I let the one go and was rewarded with landing the
Responsible Gambling Council as a client. We’re working together on
their Problem Gambling Prevention Weeks happening this fall. I saw
a little more karma surround my win, so it was even sweeter.

I have had the good fortune to work with some great clients through the
past 10 years and I thank each and every one of them for their trust,
their confidence and their support. I look forward to working with more
great clients for the next 10 years.

So happy birthday to me times two!! I’ve been blessed and given many
gifts in my life.  And today seems like the perfect time to acknowledge it.
And if that’s not Drop Dead Appropos, then I don’t know what is.

D.D.A……Drop Dead Apropos

Welcome to the very first issue of my new blog, D.D.A.! Or Drop Dead Apropos. 

It’s been a long time coming. I’ve been in business for 10 years this summer and for many of the past five years, I have contemplated starting up a blog. But I also wondered whether I would have anything to share. What could I say that wasn’t already being said by a host of other bloggers out there? And yet, I still had this little niggle in my brain.

Then two months ago I attended an IABC/Toronto presentation on Social Media by industry expert Randall Craig. And I specifically asked the question if I should start up a blog. His response: absolutely!! No waffling, no hesitation, just unequivocally…absolutely!

So, here I am!!

As with anything, just making the decision isn’t enough. There is a lot of strategy, planning and implementation that goes along with it. Kind of like when I decided to change back to my maiden name last year. Making that decision was one thing; actually making it happen was another. (That’s a WHOLE other story.)

The biggest realization was how to integrate a blog into my existing web site. And like a game of dominoes, one thing leads to another to another…In the end, my “web site guy”, Mike Lush of Masterplans and I decided the best thing to do would be to overhaul my existing web site and move it to the new Web 2.0 platforms that are apparently the way of the future and going to make everything else look outdated.

Well, we’re almost there. Nothing like tackling new business proposals while your web site is under construction!  Ah well, what’s that saying? The only thing that is constant in life is change.

Oh…the name.  Why Drop Dead Apropos?  I originally considered not having a name and then realized my newsletter has a name and it seemed kind of lame to just refer to “my blog.”  I thought it would be interesting to see if I could use the first letters of my company name, Diana Degan & Associates — DDA.  But unlike when I started my newsletter, I couldn’t find one word with all three letters that really worked. So I started looking for three words. Drop Dead popped out at me as I was doing research. Which just left me with finding an A word. Hmm….and the word Apropos snuck into my mind.

Apropos…okay, first I had to look up how it was actually spelled. And I found that it could be an adverb, an adjective, and a preposition. Interesting. It means at the right time, by the way, fitting the occasion, relevant, in connection with, being at once opportune and to the point. All of those meanings were perfect as far as I was concerned for a blog about my day job, PR and marketing communications. And it worked with Drop Dead. So the blog was named: Drop Dead Apropos. And on a really rough day sometime in the future, I can just say, with as straight a face as I can manage… “ya sure, Drop Dead…Apropos, my blog..check it out.”