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Leveraging your leadership strengths

Despite what many may believe, people are not born leaders.


Learning to lead, especially in the business world, is something that can be taught.


“In most organizations, especially in small businesses, we assume people will just figure it out and they don’t,” says Murray Smith, Principal of The Achievement Centre (TAC).  The centre has a mandate to assist business organizations in creating a planning strategy and then providing leadership development to achieve those goals.


Murray will bring his expertise in this field to our next YIP Growth Learning Series session – entitled ‘Being an Authentic Leader’ - in February.


During this two-hour session, Murray will focus on several areas related to leadership including communication, trust, and development.


“In training development, we always put an emphasis on technical training,” he says. “We don’t do much on what it means to lead people and train people on the human side of the business and it’s a big failing.”


Murray says in many professions, continuing education is a major requirement but not for many businesses.


“The human side of the business is the most expensive and it has the most impact,” he says, noting it can be tough for those handed leadership roles in smaller organizations.


“You switch from being the buddy on Friday to the boss on Monday and suddenly the dynamic changes.”


Murray says in these situations, quite often employees will ‘test’ their new boss to see what their boundaries are, which a new leader may not be expecting due to their previous relationship as co-workers.


“Often the response from the brand-new supervisor or leader is very defensive and they become very bossy,” he says. “It’s a distinctive defence mechanism because we didn’t train them (new leaders) and didn’t help them through that learning curve.”


Murray says many organizations have a ‘blind spot’ when it comes to leadership training, assuming it’s something new leaders can learn on the job, which isn’t the case.


“Most small business owners are entrepreneurs who don’t have an MBA, or a HR degree,” he says. “Most of us have energy, passion and drive, but that doesn’t make us good business leaders.”


Through his discussion, Murray hopes participants at this YIP learning session will get a better understanding of their own strengths and leverage them to be better leaders.


“Be the leader you are, don’t try to be another leader,” he says.


‘Being an Authentic Leader’ will take place Thursday, Feb. 13 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce office. The session is sponsored by Deluxe Payroll.


For information, or to register, please visit:

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Harnessing your passion to overcome obstacles

A great idea and money aren’t the only two things required to start a business, just ask Angela Englander of Ways To Wellbeing.


Angela, a trained psychotherapist who specializes in trauma therapy and now operates offices in Cambridge and Tillsonburg, says passion is just as important.


“No one just starts a business. You start it because you’re passionate about something and you want to take a risk,” she says. “You start it because you want something to be different.”


But sadly, Angela says, many people who go into business for themselves often lose sight of what inspired them to take that plunge in the first place.


“I feel people get exhausted, or burned out,” she says. “I think so many people have that vision and as they enter that threshold and go beyond to start their own business, but quickly realize there are a lot of hoops to jump through.”


Keeping that vision in focus will be the topic of a discussion Angela will lead entitled ‘Harnessing Your Passion to Achieve Your Purpose’ in January. Part of our continuing YIP Growth Learning Series, her talk will look at ways for business owners to find inspiration as they overcome obstacles when it comes to achieving their dreams.


“Sometimes, people just get discouraged and they need to find that passion again to push through those hurdles and obstacles and realize they’re on the right path,” says Angela, explaining her session will feature a ‘Hero’s Journey’ component in which a journey to success is laid out in various stages leading to a transformation.


As well, she will ask participants to outline what motivated them in the first place to start their own businesses.


“I will be using that to help you find your own guiding light towards where you’re meant to be,” she says, adding people sometimes need to ‘readjust’ when they realize they’ve strayed from the original path they set out for themselves. “It’s hard for people to adapt.”


Angela says some business owners may feel isolated, assuming that others are much more successful.


“Life throws everyone curveballs,” she says. “We all have obstacles to face.”


Angela says she will encourage participants to look inside themselves to determine what was their original vision and purpose for going into business, noting the answer will help them get out of the ‘hole’ they may feel they’ve stumbled into.


“We’ll look at what originally got them into this, because that’s going to help them climb out,” she says.


‘Harnessing Your Passion to Achieve Your Purpose’ will take place Friday, Jan. 10, at the Chamber office from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. This event is sponsored by Deluxe Payroll.


For more information, or to register, click here

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Yes, You Really Do Belong!

We’ve all been there.


Do you remember sitting in class as a youngster working on a group project with some smart classmates and asking yourself: “How am I going to fit in here? Don’t I belong with another group?”

That sense of not belonging forms the basis of our next YIP Growth Learning Series entitled ‘You Don’t Belong – And Other Lies You Tell Yourself.’


Andrea Cartwright, Chief Escape Officer of Breakout Escapes in Cambridge and Brantford, will lead this session and discuss ways to set yourself up for success and how to avoid the ‘Imposter Syndrome.’


“It’s one of those things that is so very common, and nobody talks about it,” she says, explaining that kids in school and new parents aren’t the only ones who struggle with this ‘syndrome.’


She says feeling like a ‘fraud’ is very common for those in the business world, especially women.

“I’m a CEO of a corporation and I’ve dealt with my fair share of being talked down to,” says Andrea. “You start to doubt how others see and perceive you and that it’s indicative of your performance, which it’s not.”


She says it’s easy to doubt yourself and abilities, especially if you’re dealing with businesspeople whom you may perceive as being more experienced and capable.


“One of the biggest things I like to tell people is that you should never be the most experienced person in the room because then you’ll never learn,” says Andrea. “If you’re an expert, then you’re not learning.”


This is one point she intends to stress for series participants, whom she will encourage to be more open to learning.


“When you put a positive spin onto the negative thoughts you’re processing there are ways around feeling like you don’t belong,” says Andrea, who has developed seven successful games between her two Breakout locations which employ 10 people.


She says marketing yourself in a positive light to highlight your work when you introduce yourself to others in a business setting is key.


“If you position yourself in that manner, you’ll feel a little bit more comfortable about yourself and less like an imposter when you’re speaking with others at a higher level.”


Also, Andrea says asking others what words they would use to pen a bio about you would likely reveal some surprising and very positive results. 


“We’re all our own worst critic,” she says, noting changing the way people think of themselves will be a key takeaway from her talk.


‘You Don’t Belong – And Other Lies You Tell Yourself’ will take place Friday, Nov. 29 at the Chamber office from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The event is sponsored by Deluxe Payroll.


For information, or to register, please visit:



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Selling yourself key to business success

The answer to finding greater success in business can begin with one question: How does the world see you?


But achieving that answer may not be simple according to Michael Jennings, president of the marketing firm, who will lead a presentation May 8 focusing on ‘The Art of Selling Yourself.’


Part of our ongoing YIP Growth Learning Series, Jennings will tackle a variety of topics including building trust, authentic engagement and customer care.


Jennings, who for more than a decade has led a team of marketing experts in helping clients navigate an ever-changing digital marketing landscape, says it can be difficult for young professionals to ‘sell’ themselves and their ideas due to the immense amount of competition.

“There is just so much competition out there,” he says. “Smart, young well-informed professionals are often competing for the same or similar roles.”


As well, Jennings says these young professionals also face competition from more entrenched and experienced professionals.


“Add to that the competition from online,” he says, explaining that most consumers are now doing their own investigation before having any interaction with a salesperson or organization.


“Therefore, it’s critical to know your products and anticipate what shoppers are really looking for because if you don’t know, the next person does and the internet definitely does, and now you’re playing catch-up.”


Lack of preparation, says Jennings, is one of the biggest stumbling blocks people face when they try to sell themselves in the business world.


“I can’t tell you how many times I encounter a salesperson who knows little to nothing about their own products and is quickly thrown off when asked any details about their product or service,” he says, adding poor communications skills among young professionals has become an issue. “Many are well educated and well meaning, but they cannot articulate their own propositions, or stumble when facing challenging questions they can’t just look up online.”


One of the topics Jennings will touch on during his presentation centres on technology and how to use social media and traditional interactions to provide value to clients and influencers. He says the emergence of social media, particularly Linkedin, has become key when it comes to selling yourself in business.


“Employers, potential customers, and colleagues will all refer to your Linkedin profile,” says Jennings, adding it should contain a professional headshot rather than a cropped or blurry ‘holiday’ photo.


He also recommends the profile reflect the young professional’s passions and expertise, not to mention their relevant roles and education, in effort to convince a potential employer or customer they should have a conversation.


The importance of not just networking, but ‘giving back’ to a particular cause or association, will be another topic Jennings will discuss at his presentation.


“There is such competition in the market for young professionals that they need to stand out and differentiate themselves,” he says, noting volunteering for causes that reflect their passions can accomplish this. “Also, try working for companies that align with your career direction, even if it means providing contract services if no positions are available.”


The Art of Selling will take place Wednesday, May 8, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce office, 750 Hespeler Rd.

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Email Etiquette

Sending a business email is not the same as sending a personal one. Funny gifs and slang like “brb” is not exactly wise when you’re trying to get people to take you seriously. That’s why we’ve listed these 5 important tips to help you keep things professional without having to second guess yourself. 


1. Use a signature


Using a signature is imperative if you want anyone to get back to you. For instance, if you are sending an email inquiry to another business and it’s only signed with your name, whoever’s reading your email is going to wonder why a stranger is asking such specific questions. Once your work email is set up, the first thing you should do is set a signature that includes your name, position, company information and any additional ways to contact you. 


2. Think before you reply


Once we’ve read an email, many of us shoot off a quick response without realizing we’ve hit reply all. If there’s one way to annoy your coworkers, it’s reply all. Nobody likes being a part of a chain of emails that has nothing to do with them. So next time you receive an email that has half the staff cc’d, remember to hit reply and save yourself a lot of passive aggressive emails. 


3. Proofread


Nothing says unprofessional like an email containing grammar mistakes. Again, many of us type quick replies in order to speed things along, but the quality of the email counts just as much as the speed it takes to reply. Read the email over and then over again to make sure you’re message is getting across. 


4. Have a clear subject line


Ah, the lowly subject line. It's the one space in the email that is almost always forgetten, yet is the most important! Your subject line alerts recipients as to what your email is about and whether or not they want to open it. With the amount of spam that ends up inside of our inboxes, an email without a subject line might be misconstrued as spam. Ensure that you not only include a subject line, but that you in some way indicate what your email is about. 


5. Address the correct person


Depending on the type of email you are sending, there are many ways to begin an email. If you know the person’s name or title, use it. If you don’t know the name or it is a general email address, “to whom it may concern” can never steer you wrong. 


Another tip when sending an email is to put the recipient’s address in once you have finished your message. Although this is not an etiquette tip, it will help you not send an unfinished email by accident. 


Thanks to technology, there are now more than one way to make mistakes at work, so next time you hastily type an email, use these 5 tips and you will be well on your way to fashioning a very professional email.

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Pets in the Office: Yay or Nay?


Everybody loves having a pet, whether it be a dog, cat or any other kind of animal. Coming home to a loving, bouncing animal that just wants to play with you isn’t too bad a feeling. In fact, according to a number of studies, including on done by the University of British Columbia, dog therapy or an increased interaction with dogs, has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. 


That's why some offices have begun to integrate dogs and other pets into their work spaces. Normally, the only pet that was allowed into the office were service animals. However, the idea of allowing dogs into the office has become increasingly popular. Not only can it allow employees to feel more relaxed, it has the potential to increase productivity. However, with every pro there is a con, and when considering the institution of an office pet, there is more than just one con.


The first and biggest consideration is liability. Pets are a lot of work, even the well-behaved ones. In the case of personal injury due to an office pet, the employer could be held responsible for damages. There is also the issue of property damage. If an office pet has caused damaged to the property, either the employer or owner of the pet could be held responsible. 


Seeing as most offices contain a larger number of employees, allergies are something to consider. Depending on the number of employees and layout of the office, more than one employee could be effected by the presence of an animal. There are ways around this, but a thorough knowledge of employee allergies before integrating a pet would be the only way to ensure the health of the employee.


Lastly, landlord approval is something that should be considered first and foremost. Many landlords prefer a pet-free office, so if an employer is seriously considering adding a pet to the office, they should be checking that it is okay with the landlord first. 


Obviously, there are many things to consider when it comes to integrating a pet into the office. Like any big decision, there are pros and cons. Ultimately it is up to the employer as to whether an office pet would be suitable, but I say why not? Who else are we going to blame for the stains on the carpet?


Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @yipcambridge!





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How to Mentally Commit to your Job


You’ve looked and you’ve looked and finally, you’ve found the job you want. Assuming you got the job, you soon become a member of the workforce. You’re no longer looking for a great job because you have one! Yet, it seems as though accepting it is the hardest part.


For many people who have been looking for a job for an extended period of time or are used to jumping from job to job, the idea of a permanent postition can take a while to get used to. This mentality has the potential to harm your performance at work and negatively impact the job that you've worked so hard to get. 


In order to succeed at your job, you have to commit to it. Commiting to your job means that the work you do will be done with focus and passion, but it's going to take work. Here are 3 ways you can learn to accept and commit to your job: 


1. Decorate Your Office Space 


Whether it be a cubicle, a desk or an office with four walls, decorating your workspace can do wonders for your subconscious. Not only will you feel more comfortable, you will have admitted a sense of permanence to your situation. It doesn’t have to be much, just add something that makes it your own. 


2. Share Your Accomplishments


Often times, if you plan on leaving a job, you don’t really care what you accomplish and therefore don’t share anything. By choosing to share your accomplishments with friends or family, you are allowing others and yourself to feel pride in your job. I hate to say it, but it’s only a step away from actually caring about what you do. Get used to it. 


3. Stop Searching 


The search for a job can easily turn from casual browsing to compulsive cruising. Day and night your eyes fixate on the screen of your computer, scanning various positions in the hopes of finding something without the word "burger" in it. You want to look away. You want to stop but you can’t! Must. Find. Job. 


Silence that inner job gremlin by closing the laptop. Stop searching. If you get in the habit of constantly thinking there’s something better out there, then you will never be satisfied with any job you have. 


Commiting to your job may not be an easy task, but it's an important one. If you ever want to succeed in what you do, you have to be willing to put your eggs in one basket. If you aren't, then it might be time to re-evaluate what you really want.

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Why Young Professionals Should Blog

The term “blogging” did not come about until the late 1990s. Since then, blogging has taken many forms. What began as an online diary, an account of a person’s thoughts, feelings and actions, has since developed into a carefully crafted online corkboard of topics and information. 


You see, once the world realized that it had yet another platform to reach people, it separated from its wholesome purpose and morphed into a springboard for personal branding and still, the occasional thought. 


As a young professional, blogging may seem like an older practice. After all, you can reach out and talk whenever you’d like through a multitude of outlets – outlets designed to take 60 seconds or less to get your message out. Blogging on the other hand, takes time and effort and proofreading and thoughtfulness and a whole slew of other considerations.


Although those are all valid reasons to stick to social media and avoid the continuous blogging circle of doom, there are many more reasons why you should. 


Longer Word Count


Everyone loves to talk, especially business owners. It’s the only way they get the job done. On Twitter or Instagram, length is limited, which means you’ll have to leave out some key points from your statement. Over time this can get frustrating. 


Blogging’s double-edged sword is its almost infinite word count. You could post an entire essay on a blog and no one would bat an eyelash. Take advantage of that and use the space to get out as much information out as you can.


Easier to Organize Thoughts


When you are pressured to put out a short but sweet message, the original meaning might get muffled along the way. Thanks to the lack of word count issues, blogging makes organizing your thoughts easier. 


For instance, subheadings are very common in blogs - just like this one! Not only is it more

appealing to the eye, subheadings highlight key points that often get lost in chunks of messaging. Blogs allow the separation of ideas. 


Builds Relationships


By blogging, readers are able to get to know you better and get a feel for your thoughts and ideas. If you are a business owner, this is a great way to become familiar with your customers in a unique way. 


Remember, it’s okay to express some emotion in your posts. Personalize them and make your blogs synonymous with your brand. 


For more YIP related content, make sure to follow us on social media!


Twitter: @yipcambridge

Facebook: YIP Cambridge



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Is Listening to Music at Work Productive?


Short answer: yes. 


Listening to music has often been thought of as a distraction. That may be in large part due to the dancing that it encompasses. Regardless, people listen to music almost anywhere they are. They listen to it while they’re studying, taking a walk, driving or even sitting at their desk at work. Whether it be out loud or through headphones, more and more employees are listening to music at work and it doesn’t seem to be impeding productivity.  


According to a study by WebFX on the effects of listening to music at work, dance music improved proofreading speed by 20 per cent and ambient music improved data entry accuracy by a whopping 92 per cent. The idea that music lowers productivity simply isn’t true. More people are listening to music, yet the same amount of work is getting done. 


Benefits of music


Music has been shown to be extremely beneficial to the body. Not only does it encourage movement through dance, it can reduce stress and anxiety, increase motivation and act as an overall mood enhancer. It can also improve sleep quality, better than any other tactic. In a study involving 94 students, it was shown that listening to relaxing classical music improved overall sleep quality, and the same results were found in a study involving an older demographic.


By maintaining a healthy body and mind, you will be able to focus better, resulting in a more productive day. 


Type of music matters


Now that the benefits of music have been established, it's time to define what kind of music is the best to induce productivity. Although music does help our minds and bodies and increase productivity, the wrong kind of music can do the opposite. 


Music with lots of lyrics can often be distracting, causing us to lose focus on the words we're typing to pay more attention to the words we're hearing. It’s also best not to listen to new music while working on something that requires a large amount of focus. It’s almost impossible not to listen to a new song. That’s why, when it comes to choosing what music is best to listen to, try something familiar and without a lot of lyrics. 


Best places to find music


There are many places that offer music, online and offline, but not all of them are designed to provide music that will help you concentrate. Two really great resources are Spotify and YouTube. 


Spotify offers a wide range of playlists without lyrics that are designed to be calming. If you have a mood, Spotify has a playlist for it. Browse through their mood section and get a feel for what works for you. 


YouTube’s options are almost unlimited. With so many playlists and live streams available, it might be hard to choose. One popular genre that is designed for concentration is lofi-hiphop, also known as “chill beats.” Many of these are live streamed and offer continuous soft beats that change throughout the day. 


Try either of these options and you will boost your mood and be more productive. So, turn up that radio and enjoy your work day!

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How Bullet Journaling Can Help Your Business


The idea of bullet journaling came from Ryder Carroll, a New York dweller and digital product designer, who designed bullet journaling as an alternative way to stay focused and organized. This method stemmed from Carroll’s early learning disability diagnosis, leading him to explore alternate routes of staying organized.


If you're not familiar with the idea, the point is to use bullet style or short sentences to write down tasks or lists. You can also add a calendar or tracker to track your daily or monthly activities and patterns. 


As technology continues to develop, creating astonishing advances that many of use on a daily basis, paper has become less common, or has it? According to, US sales of notebooks and planners have seen an 18 per cent increase since last year, along with the tools to use them. It seems the old way of doing things is coming back - with a twist. 


For many, in order to remember and stay on top of daily tasks, a physical copy of what needs to be done is essential. This applies to not just personal life but work life as well. The bullet journal is the perfect way to combine both personal and professional goals while adding a creative flair. 


There are three primary ways that bullet journaling can help your business stay organized. By putting all tasks and dates in one place, enhancing readability and encouraging creative techniques, the right bullet journal can take the way you operate to the next level. 


The bullet journal is a place where calendars, lists and other notes can be stored in one place. The best part is that it’s up to you where each of these go. If you want to layout your ideas on a monthly basis, you can. If a daily approach is preferred, you can do that too. There are many ways to mix and match styles that it could change month to month based on what you need. This helps keep plans fluid and relieves the stress of feeling as though you can only plan in a certain way. 


When using a standard planner, all of them have a pre-set design printed on the inside. Now, there are many versions designed to fit the needs of the user, but it’s impossible to explore all versions. With a bullet journal, the way you want to see dates and times and lists is completely customizable. Often, meetings are forgetten simply because it wasn’t seen in the calendar. The beauty of a customizable planner is the lowered risk of misunderstanding your planner, and yes, that is a thing. 


The most fun part of using a bullet journal is the creative element. For many bullet journal users, the use of colourful pens and creative designs is a large draw. Having something beautiful to look at is a lot more enticing than something plain. 


Many of us don’t put a lot of thought into our planners. We jot things down, close it, open it, maybe throw it in a bag sometimes, but we never take the time to sit with it and go through it. The bullet journal encourages thoughtfulness, something we could all use in our day. The more thoughtful you are with how you plan, the more thoughtful you will be at work. Anything that encourages calmness and creativity can only bring positivity to your workday. A bullet journal not only makes planning easier, it can open you up to new ways of thinking.


Still not sure what bullet journaling is? Take a look at this Youtube video on the basics of bullet journaling.



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Brian Rodnick
January 14, 2020
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Lisa Durocher
September 14, 2018
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