October 12, 2010

Would you date your Google results?

Posted in Social Life, social media, Work-Life at 2:16 pm by Jennifer

Sitting in a slightly crowded and dimly lit lounge, you see an attractive stranger. They smile at you, you smile back at them and then a conversation kicks off. If it goes well at the end of the night you might have a name, a phone number, a business card or an email address. And then as is only fitting for modern courtship, we do the unthinkable – we Google.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to dating in the digital age.

As a single working professional living in Toronto social media has been an amazing way to meet new people, to get myself invited to events and to do research relevant to my career and interests. I’ve looked into things for clients (like trying to find a giant blue garbage bin), kept on top of industry news, I’ve found great recipes and I’ve been alerted to the grand opening of Snakes and Lattes. But when it comes to dating, has social media helped or harmed us?

When I Googled my name I learnt that there is a writer named Jennifer Ouellette who wrote “Physics of the Buffyverse” and yet another who designs hats and headbands, some of which were featured on the TV show Gossip Girl. Then there were results that actually traced back to me – my LinkedIn profile, Twitter and this blog you happen to be reading now. Not a terrible Google outcome, but is it all that descriptive of “who I am” or what I’m like in person?

Allow me to use a few examples from my personal life to illustrate the new face of dating. One date began talking about interests that I had but hadn’t told him about. When I was caught off guard by his pseudo-psychic tendencies he admitted “I Googled you”. I immediately felt like I had been cyber-stalked by the next coming of a tech savvy Patrick Bateman. I have been told that I look nothing like my pictures and that I photograph badly. (Is that supposed to be a compliment!?) Another date had been surprised how “laid back and creative” I was because (apparently) my online presence makes me look “very corporate”. (…. really?) Well there’s a simple reason for that ladies and gentlemen… I work in a professional field! My online presence is a part of my “digital resume”, and I’ve made the conscious decision to keep it that way. But I think that I still keep my own writing style and unique “voice” in everything that I do.

The truth is only certain aspects of my personality are online. Not everything is always relevant to what I’m writing about or the conversations I’m joining. I’m not really going to blog about the fencing class I’ll be joining in the new year, about my favorite arcade games, about which paintings at the AGO take my breath away, about my irrational fear of spiders/things with more than four legs or about which musical compositions are able to move me to the point of tears. Personal information is something I usually prefer to keep in me and share on a case-by-case basis.

But this all leads to interesting questions for social media users; is it better to break more boundaries and project all of yourself online or nothing at all? What weight should we give the Google results of someone we thought we were interested in moments before making that search? What impact does social media have on couples, on relationships, on first dates and on breakups?



October 1, 2010

Making an Impression on the Toronto Fashion Scene

Posted in events, Just for fun, Social Life, trends at 10:20 pm by Jennifer

Joe Fresh made a lot of fans when it launched in 2006, selling a mix of wardrobe basics and fashion forward pieces at relatively low prices by industry standards. It was created by Joseph Mimran, co-founder of Club Monaco and I’ve been a fan for a while now. I love being able to update my wardrobe without hearing my Visa scream out in pain.

While I still lean mainly towards stores like Zara, Banana Republic and Club Monaco for my work wardrobe Joe Fresh has added to my closet some of my very favorite outfits for after work drinks, dates and dinner with friends. So I was pleasantly excited to be invited and have a sneak peek at the recent Joe Fresh Runway Sale, partnered with Lou Lou (love this magazine). I knew a few pieces that I had my eyes on from the fall collection and was hoping to get my hands on them.

The event promised food, wine and fashion – who could possibly pass that up? Apparently, no one could! It was packed full of Toronto fashionistas scanning the racks like seasoned veterans. Being one of the first 20 people in the store I luckily found and grabbed what I wanted then snuck over to the change rooms and avoided the crowds.

Then to my pleasant surprise, the man behind the brand himself made an appearance. Joseph was friendly, approachable and walked around consulting with girls giving style advice – I briefly met him and was amazed at the relaxed confidence he exuded, cool yet completely approachable.

Planning events for clients is never an easy task, and I think overall the Joe Fresh pop up event was a hit. Some things I think could have been done better:

  • Crowd control. At one point the store was way too crowded, huge lineups for the change rooms and the cash registers. A larger space could have solved this, with areas dedicated to nibbling, socializing and sipping wine.
  • Sizes. Apparently they ran out of small/extra small in the first hour (or so I heard). Luckily I was able to get the things I wanted in small before the crowds hit.
  • No men’s clothing. Not even a little bit. I saw a few men in the crowd and felt they were left out.

But what was done exceptionally well made all of the difference. The staff was all very friendly from the people in the fitting rooms to the catering staff handing out (surprisingly good) canapés and dry white wine. I was amazed how quickly they passed through the crowd again and again, with new things that everyone got a chance to try.

The biggest bonus from an event standpoint IMO? Joseph Mimran attending. There is nothing that creates more credibility with a brand and makes an impact on customers than being able to speak with a CEO or the head of a company one on one. Making these impressions can be time consuming, yes, but they really work and create lasting impressions on your target market. Authenticity and a friendly attitude can go a long way to creating brand loyalty.

– BB

September 7, 2010

A tweet can cost you plenty

Posted in current events, Social Life, social media, Work-Life at 3:17 pm by Jennifer

Love it or hate it, Twitter is steadily gaining in popularity and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Celebrities, athletes, CEO’s and everyone in between are communicating these days in short sentences, but 140 characters is still enough to get into big trouble.

Professional athlete Stephanie Rice may have won big at the Olympics, but when she tweeted an offensive statement during a heated rugby match she immediately experienced international backlash. Despite making a public apology and taking down the offending tweet, Jaguar soon dropped their endorsement of Stephanie.

Jaguar spokesman Mark Eedle released the following statement on the issue; “We have terminated our agreement with her. It’s to do with how we want to associate our brand and unfortunately this … is not an association we want to have going forward.” (Source: AP)

While I firmly believe that in many instances a person’s private life should remain private and outside the realm of corporate/public scrutiny, when you enter into certain careers or accept corporate endorsements you accept the terms and the level of public accountability that come with it. Tiger Woods is another example of companies making a judgment call and ending endorsements based on the personal life of their spokesperson – and he lost a lot more than his wife over his scandal. Stephanie may not have meant to offend anyone and chose her words in the heat of the moment, but the result is a lesson for all of us.

A few lessons learnt;

  • It’s good practice to brief your clients in social media usage and etiquette, even as a refresher. People have varying levels of experience in understanding new mediums of communication.
  • If your company or client sponsors and/or uses individuals as spokespeople, they are linked to your brand. It’s important to know what they are saying/doing in the public eye as well as messages they are sharing through their public profiles.
  • When in doubt, don’t post it. While you can “remove” things there is always an online trail, and you don’t know who may have seen the information before you had a change of heart.
  • Offensive, racist or derogatory words? I’m of the opinion they’re never okay no matter the context.

 Do you think Jaguar was justified in terminating their endorsement over her tweet?


July 20, 2010

How long is your to do list?

Posted in Social Life, Work-Life at 8:45 am by Jennifer

I keep a running sheet of work related tasks and deadlines on my computer desktop, a print version on my desk… stuck on post its… everywhere really. The list always seems to grow but it keeps me on track. Things get done in the structured-chaos way I like to think I have perfected over the years.

But over the past week I’ve been thinking about another “to-do” list, the list of things I have always wanted to do but never find time for or pushed myself into. Topping the list for me right now?

  1. Make indoor rock climbing a weekly thing
  2. Salsa Dancing lessons (I’m still on the fence for this one, but have always wanted to try)
  3. Regularly go to Yoga
  4. Take an expert cake decorating class (I blame Cake Boss for making me want to do this.)
  5. Take more photos and try new photography techniques
  6. Dog. Training. Classes. (My dog looks sweet an innocent, but he’s a little terror.)

Those are only a few that I can think of for myself right now. The point is, sometimes it’s way too easy to fall into a routine, crossing things off of a list at work and then curling up at home with the latest season of Mad Men. But by listing things you have always wanted to do but never have, you force yourself to face them every day and will be more likely to actually cross them off.

My 3 year old pug, Rambo