30 Jul

Caribana Has Come

Posted in Uncategorized on 30.07.10 by John Meloche

The time for what is arguably the biggest annual party in Toronto has come. It’s Caribana weekend, and for millions, that means that a trip to Lakeshore Boulevard for Saturday’s parade is in store. The yearly Caribana festival, which celebrates Caribbean culture, music, food and fashion, officially took flight in mid-July.

Tomorrow’s big parade, however, is the main event which sees nearly two million revelers gather on the downtown parade route. The parade is an incredible display of glamorous and elaborate costumes that different bands have been constructing since as early as April.

Last night, at Toronto’s Lamport Stadium, the annual King & Queen Show was held to award prizes to the best costumes. Crowning a Caribana king and queen has been a tradition since Caribana first kicked off 43 years ago. Last night’s affair was a presentation of some of the most unique creations in the festival’s history.

According to Caribana.com, the yearly event is the largest Caribbean festival in North America. The parade attracts so many people to the City of Toronto, it is known as the one of the city’s biggest boosters of the local economy each year. As the website describes it, the parade features “thousands of brilliantly costumed masqueraders and dozens of trucks carrying live soca, calypso, steel pan, reggae and salsa artists”.

It also explains the festival’s history: “Caribana was created in 1967 as a community heritage project for Canada’s Centennial year. Based on Trinidad Carnival, the Festival now also includes the music, dance, food and costumes of Jamaica, Guyana, the Bahamas, Brazil and other cultures represented in Toronto – the world’s most culturally diverse city.”

A number of Synergy team members are excited about this weekend’s festivities for a variety of reasons. “It’s easily the best party of the year,” said one eager associate, “There’s nothing like it. The streets are so lively, there are people everywhere, everyone is dancing and having a good time. The sights and sounds are unbelievable.”

“I can’t wait,” said a fellow staff member, “so many of my friends play mas (short for masqueraders) and I am joining them for the first time this year. It’s a long day, but it’s so much fun. It’s an exciting time for everyone. To me, Caribana is the highlight of summer in Toronto.”

If you’ve never taken in the Caribana parade, perhaps this is your year to start. If you’re in the Toronto area, Lakeshore Boulevard will host the annual parade between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., although the partying in the streets is known to carry on for much longer. Have fun and enjoy your Caribana long weekend!

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29 Jul

The Pathway To Personal Wealth

Posted in Uncategorized on 29.07.10 by John Meloche

Would you buy your own business? Strange question, right? But when you really think about it, the question should raise your own awareness about how much you believe in your own brand. Perhaps, more importantly, the question asks you to view your company from the outside. So then the question really becomes, “what do you believe others think about your business?”

Essentially, this is the question posed by TrustDesign business partners, Dan Guglielmo and Ron Ware in a recent About.com article. They specifically ask the question, “If you had $5 million in cash sitting in front of you, would you buy your business?” The purpose of the “$5 million dollar question” is to discover if you are truly making your business take care of you.

Guglielmo and Ware note that “businesses with which the owner has a healthy relationship tend to grow better over time.” With that comes the duo’s “Five Step Pathway” to convert business wealth into personal wealth. These steps, believe the partners, will help your brand thrive for years to come.

Step one is to “accept a paradigm shift”. Instead of working 24/7, they suggest that you view work as an “alternative investment model”. What this will do is allow you to designate specific times to integrate each of your company’s specialties. Essentially, this creates “an integrated specialization model.”

To make things more clear, Guglielmo and Ware explain that you should “realize personal wealth is the core of all planning.” This is the second step in the “Five Step Pathway”. They write: “Work on your business and not in it. Move away from a co-dependent relationship with the business…start to view it as a job. Your job is to run the business so that you can have both more money, and more time.”

“Get your own valuation” is step three. Discover the true value of your business so that you can better appreciate it, insist the TrustDesign co-founders. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should hire a valuation consultant, but instead enlist the services of a person who can provide a “multi-layered view of the business with scenario forecasting capabilities.”

Step four: “Engage in ‘vortical’ planning.” If you’re asking yourself what that means, don’t worry, as we were curious ourselves. Guglielmo and Ware explain that “vortical planning is a unique forecasting process that ties all business activities to personal and family wealth…Your goal is to forever retool business planning in order to continue to build your personal wealth.”

The final step is a reward, say the partners. And that is “more ‘funded’ personal time”. At the end of the day, everyone would prefer to not be at work. If you can retool your business to provide yourself with more personal wealth, you will also be gaining more personal time. This will truly help you to reap the benefits of your business, as your personal life gets happier and happier.

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28 Jul

Good Body Language Gets Jobs

Posted in Uncategorized on 28.07.10 by John Meloche

Getting a job isn’t necessarily the easiest task in the world. For many, even if they are well-qualified and experienced, the job interview process is a nerve wracking one. Some people just plain do not like to do interviews. Nevertheless, it’s a necessary step in the job-acquiring process.

For those of you who may be looking for a job, we thought it may be good idea to pass along a few tips to help you through the interview stage. With the help of QMI Agency’s Stefania Moretti who discussed this topic on The Toronto Sun’s website, earlier today, we feel that today’s blog entry just may be the ticket for some young hopefuls looking to secure employment.

According to Moretti, body language plays a big role in landing yourself a job. Be very mindful of how you are presenting yourself to your would-be employer. Are your shoulders slumped or is your posture confidently upright and attentive? Are you smiling or do you look bored and uninterested?

Moretti reveals that a recent CareerBuilder.com study that surveyed hiring managers throughout Canada found that poor body language was at the top of the list for reasons to not hire an interviewee. The report notes that 68 per cent of over 200 employers cite lack of eye contact as a top reason that candidates miss out on landing a job.

Writes Moretti: “Other frowned-upon behaviours include not smiling (45%), bad posture (37%), fidgeting (34%), crossed arms (33%) and weak handshakes (33%).” Noticeably, not much was said about the responses given during the interviews. Instead, great attention was put towards the person’s overall physical presentation of him or herself.

Perhaps, this is overlooked too often by job seekers. Said Rosemary Haefner, vice-president of human resources at CareerBuilder.com: “In a highly competitive job market, job seekers need to set themselves apart in the interview stage. All that pressure, though, may have some job seekers making body language mistakes that don’t convey a confident message.”

A piece of advice given by the website to those seeking employment is to practice your interview in the mirror or with family and friends. See what your potential employer will see and do what it takes to avoid presenting yourself as anything less than capable and professional.

Other ways to help land yourself a job include arriving on time, avoiding caffeine and being well prepared. We hope that these tips will help you land your next job. Who knows? Perhaps, we’ll see you at Synergy headquarters at some point in the near future.

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27 Jul

Internet Running Out Of Space

Posted in Uncategorized on 27.07.10 by John Meloche

The number of computers being used on Earth is practically endless, wouldn’t you say? Well, not exactly so says a QMI Agency report published in yesterday’s Toronto Sun. It’s hard to imagine that the world wide web could actually run out of addresses, however, the report claims that a new version of Y2K could possibly be on the way.

Perhaps, this bit of news fits in perfectly with our other “strange news” blogs that we have been posting over the past couple of weeks. In this case, current Internet Protocol seems to be running out of internet addresses according to Australian experts. The current protocol, says the report, will run out in the next 340 days.

Originally reported by the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, the protocol – known as IPv4 – has approximately 232 remaining IP addresses. That may sound like a lot, but with the ever-growing popularity of the internet, it is predicted that within a year, that number will be reduced to zero.

As the report explains, “an IP address is the unique numerical code assigned to a computer or device by an Internet service provider (ISP).” It also reveals that in 1999, internet experts have been working on a new protocol known as IPv6. This will allow for the assignment of more IP addresses.

If you’re wondering why it is taking over a decade to craft a service that will help to create more codes for more computers, join the club. We, here at Synergy, are curious about the same thing. However, the report notes that ISPs are reluctant to move towards the new system, forcing a slower inception of IPv6.

This is the case, in spite of Google’s chief internet evangelist, Vint Cerf urging service providers to adopt Ipv6 back in May. Said Cerf: “The regional Internet registries may be able to allocate IPv4 addresses until perhaps the middle of 2011, although if there’s a big run on IPv4 addresses … it’s conceivable that the available space will be consumed even faster.”

Cerf went on to mention that this loss of internet space will inevitably create a “growing grey or black market on IPv4 Internet space”, insisting that “we are at a cusp in the IP address space for Internet.” Even with all of the in-use computers in the world, it is still hard to imagine that there isn’t enough space for all of them.

Undoubtedly, the use of computers is popular worldwide. Quickly becoming a first choice method of communication, people all over the world rely on the internet. We will continue to keep a watch on this issue as more news becomes available. In the meantime, be thankful you already have your computer hooked up!

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26 Jul

Toronto Keeps It Clean

Posted in Uncategorized on 26.07.10 by John Meloche

One week ago, we started a mini-theme of taking a look at strange news that seemed to be coming out in the news media. We began this trend with a review of an article that refuted the “five second rule” concept. This, of course, was prefaced with a conversation that took place at Synergy headquarters between a few reps with opposing views.

Inevitably, it was determined – by both the article and most of our team members involved in the debate – that no food is really clean after being dropped on the floor, regardless of how long it remains grounded. Well, in today’s edition of The Toronto Sun, it was discovered that Toronto sports fans will not have any five second rule to worry about when buying snacks at concession stands.

According to an ESPN study, Toronto’s Air Canada Centre and Rogers Centre – homes to the Maple Leafs and Raptors as well as the Blue Jays respectively – have the cleanest stadium food vendors in all of major sports in North America. Well, there’s something to be proud of Toronto. Remember, even if your teams aren’t winning, at least you won’t be getting sick in the process of watching them play.

All jokes aside, Toronto should indeed be proud. The city’s sports venues scored and incredible 0% when it came to critical health violations. That means, not a single vendor in either of Toronto’s major sporting arenas had even one concern with respect to cleanliness of counter tops, utensils or equipment.

For many sports fans in Canada’s biggest city, this may explain the enormous costs of the food at these concession stands. According to ESPN, Canada’s worst venue was Edmonton’s Rexall Place which scored a mark of 25% of its concession stands having critical violations. Apparently, contaminated cleaning items is a concern at the home of the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers.

Down south, the situation is much worse, however. The ESPN report found that Florida stadiums were among the worst in all of North American sports when it came to health violations. At Sun Life Stadium, which is the home of the Major League Baseball’s Florida Marlins and the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins, “an employee complained small insects and other debris were being blended into frozen drinks.”

Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, scored an astonishing 100% of its vendors having critical violations. ESPN notes, however, that even in spite of all of the critical violations, all vendors did meet the basic inspection standards that allowed them to keep running.

However, Toronto sports fans can be thankful that their concession stand snacks are the most safe in the business. Now, if only the Raptors, Leafs and Blue Jays could start seriously competing for some championships, Toronto’s sports venues could sell a lot more of their clean food.

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23 Jul

Enjoy Your Weekend The Right Way

Posted in Uncategorized on 23.07.10 by John Meloche

Anyone who has read our blogs over the past several months knows that Synergy Marketing Consultants is serious about helping business owners promote themselves as best as they possibly can. In addition, our readers are also well aware that we are pretty serious about…well, not being serious!

Like anyone else who works extremely hard throughout the week, our staff enjoys a weekend off when they may relax and take it easy. And while this weekend isn’t a long weekend with any specific event to celebrate, there is always plenty that one can do to enjoy his or her time away from the office.

The key, of course, is to rejuvenate yourself for Monday morning. Not that you’re thinking about Monday morning when Friday night arrives, but it is important to know that a good weekend is marked by feeling refreshed and energized when it is all said and done.

Too often, people get wrapped up in not having “enough time” to do the many things they wish to do outside of work. Interestingly, even when the weekend arrives, these same people cannot find the time to attend to their necessary tasks because they are too busy partying.

Now there’s no party like a Synergy party…so to speak…but the weekend should also allow for some down time. Especially on Sunday, when you know you need to get up for work the next day, try your best to take some time out for yourself. Spend some time with the family, or by your lonesome for that matter. There’s nothing wrong with squeezing in some time to get a little rest.

A lot of Canadians love to go out to cottage country during the summer weekends. For many, there is no better place to unwind, relax and get away from the hectic environment that is the big city. Many members of our staff take advantage of this pastime, making many other team members quite jealous.

So whatever you have planned for this weekend, we’d just like to wish you the best. Enjoy yourself, but be safe and responsible. After all, how much fun can you have when eventually all you’re doing is burning yourself right out?

Okay, a lot of fun, we guess. Nevertheless, be sure to keep in mind that when Monday arrives, you’ll need to be at your best. Especially for those of you who have businesses to run, which likely means that your weekends are busier than ever, take good care of yourself.

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22 Jul

The Faux Pas Of Forgetting

Posted in Uncategorized on 22.07.10 by John Meloche

Today, members of our Synergy staff got involved in yet another very interesting conversation. Now, some of us have bad memories and some of us have really bad memories. This was basically the topic of conversation as some of our associates discussed embarrasing moments when they forgot the name of someone they had known from their childhood.

Have you even been in a situation where you bumped into someone you haven’t seen in a long time? You know his or her face undoubtedly and perhaps even where you remember that person from. Meanwhile, for the life of you, you simply cannot remember the person’s name? What do you do?

Forgetting a person’s name may be embarrasing but not necessarily the worst thing you can do to a person, right? Well, in the business world, such a gaff could potentially cost you and your company in a big way. Obviously, it wouldn’t be good for business owners to forget the names of important clients and co-workers.

During today’s conversation, some team members offered suggestions on how to make sure that this humiliating situation doesn’t happen to you. “Repeat the person’s name several times,” suggested one associate, “say the person’s name when asking them questions or making points. As soon as your told the name, make sure you stamp it in your memory.”

“What if the person doesn’t reveal his name?” asked another team member. And this may very well happen. Often, if you bump into someone you already know, the person would expect that you know his or her name already. “It’s always good to have a partner,” answered one colleague, “Be sure to tell your friend to ask for the person’s name for you when you introduce them. That’ll help you avoid embarrasment for sure.”

“What if you’re all alone?” asked another associate who told us of a time when he met up with a friend he used to go to school with. After a five m inute conversation, he was put on the spot when asked if he remembered his former schoolmate’s friend. His blank response was met with sheer disappointment.

It is imporant, obviously, to do your best to make this situation not become one that you experience with anyone you do business with. For some people, a forgotten name is no big deal. For others, it is a sign of disrespect.

If only people would wear name tags all the time, we’d never have this problem, right? Well, until that happens…okay, let’s face it, that’ll never happen…do what you can to show your customers and business colleagues that they are worth remembering.

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21 Jul

Three Top Tips For Business Growth

Posted in Uncategorized on 21.07.10 by John Meloche

Naturally, the Synergy Marketing Consultants Blog likes to offer its readers helpful business advice as often as possible. Being an industry leader in promotional gifts, we know the giant impact that such items have on a company’s success when they are distributed efficiently.

The need to consistantly want to grow your business goes hand in hand with the products that we offer. That being said, there are a variety of ways to also implement that “go get ’em” attitude. With the help of an Erica Olsen article from About.com, we would like to provide a few simple ways of looking at strong business promotion.

Although we have listed countless steps to build your business in the past, Olsen reveals three easy ways to expand your business. The first, she writes, is to increase the number of customers you have. Sounds obvious, right? But how do you go about doing so?

According to Olsen, the answer to that question lies in the answers to the following questions: “Who has a real need for the product/service I’m selling? Does my product meet that need in a manner that either saves money or provides additional value? How much, if anything, are they spending to address that need today? How many of those potential customers are there? How do I reach them?”

The second option, says Olsen, is to increase the frequency of purchase. Make it as easy as possible for your customers to do repeated business with you. As well, she advises that you look into providing your existing client base with additional services. This will inevitably lead to greater customer loyalty.

She explains: “If you make it easier for customers to buy from you, relative to your competition, then you will continue to win their business. This, of course, assumes your products or services are comparable or superior to your competitors.”

As well, increase the number of units sold, insists Olsen: “By default you will increase the number of units sold when you increase the number of clients and frequency of purchase. But you can also increase the number of units sold by understanding how to add value. If you want to sell more products or bill more hours, providing a value-add benefit or solution will begin to strengthen your customer relationship.”

Don’t forget to see real results, she concludes. “It is the market research, customer knowledge you already have, that is literally a hidden goldmine of profit that can grow your business and increase your company’s top line,” she writes, “It is this customer-focused information that will provide the foundation for generating more sales, retaining and cross-selling customers, and acquiring new customer business.”

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20 Jul

Pay Powder Room Powers Out

Posted in Uncategorized on 20.07.10 by John Meloche

So far, this week has had an interesting “weird news” theme. Just yesterday, the Synergy office debated the merits of the “five second rule” only to have it disproven by the results of a study reported in the Chicago Tribune this past weekend. Today, an interesting conversation developed about the concept of paying to use the potty. Yep, you read right.

Apparently some of us didn’t know – as perhaps, many of our loyal readers may not have known – that the City of Toronto installed an automated public toilet by the Harbourfront a couple of months ago. Now, we’ve all been in major need of a personal pit stop before, and for guys maybe, the location choices are more vast.

In all fairness to the ladies, however, getting to a legitimate restroom is a greater necessity. Perhaps this was the reason that many of our female employees spoke favourably about the concept of paying to use a conveniently located public toilet. Most of the male members of our team didn’t see it as necessary.

However, as Don Peat reported in yesterday’s edition of The Toronto Sun, the City of Toronto’s first automated public toilet is in high demand. So much so, in fact, that the toilet, which is located at the corner of Rees St. and Queens Quay, crapped out this past weekend!

Worth upwards of $400,000, the automated toilet generally allows for members of the public to make a pit stop for up to 20 minutes for the price of a quarter. However, yesterday, nearby pedestrians who may have needed to tinkle were out of luck.

Peat reports that the system shut down due to a problem with the toilet seat. After only two months in operation, this marks the first malfunction of the innovative restroom. As Peat writes: “the device that pulls the toilet seat into the back wall of the unit to sanitize it after each use, malfunctioned. With the retractor out of commission, the loo closed for business on its own.”

Malfunction aside, the automated outhouse has interestingly been quite successful thus far. Peat reveals that there have been about 3,500 uses since its grand opening two months ago. The only other time that the public powder room has been closed was during the G20 Summit as a “precautionary measure”.

At the time of this writing, it is expected that the pay-to-use-the-potty station on Toronto’s Harbourfront is back open for business. Our staff, however – particularly our female colleagues – are quite happy that the washroom facilities at Synergy’s headquarters are completely free to use.

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19 Jul

Five Second Rule Amounts To Zero

Posted in Uncategorized on 19.07.10 by John Meloche

We are sure that nearly everyone has experienced that “no way” moment. You know, the one when you can’t believe the coincidence of what you have just experienced, so that it prompts you to exclaim “no way!” in disbelief? Well, we had such an experience today at the Synergy Marketing Consultants headquarters.

The “no way” situation was, two-fold, in fact. It began at lunch time when an associate accidentally dropped one of his snacks. Picking it up off of the floor almost immediately, he explained that the “five second rule” allowed for the treat to be deemed clean enough for consumption. Some of his colleagues exclaimed “no way!”, disgusted that he decided to go ahead and consume the snack regardless of possible contamination.

That’s not the best part though. Later in day, another team member came upon an article that was posted in the Chicago Tribune over the weekend. Another “no way” moment was upon us. Surprisingly, an article disproving the “five second rule” had been published as Julie Deardorff reported on the findings of Clemson University food scientist, Paul Dawson.

The only rule that should be adhered to when it comes to dropping food on the floor, insists Dawson, is the “zero-second rule”. According to the report, “salmonella and other bacteria can live up to four weeks on dry surfaces and be immediately transferred to food.” As a result, previous research that claimed that we may have up to a minute to rescue certain spilled food is “baloney”.

A previous study, conducted by two Connecticut College students found that Skittles candy picked up bacteria far slower than apple slices after each food item was sprinkled on surfaces in the college dining hall and snack bar.

Interestingly, most researchers believe that it’s the location of the spill, not the length of time the food item remains spilled, that is the key to contamination. What surface do you think is cleaner, your kitchen floor or the neighborhood sidewalk?

Surprisingly, Dr. Harley Rotbart, a professor of microbiology and pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, reveals that a picking food up that you may have dropped on the sidewalk is, in fact, a healthier choice than to eat it from your kitchen floor. It all has to do with the type of germs that are found on either surface that may cause illness.

Says Rotbart: “The kitchen floor, however, is probably a zero-second zone because the bacteria from uncooked meat and chicken juices are more hazardous than the ‘soil’ bacteria outside. Ditto for the bathroom floor, he continues. “It’s a great potential source of bacteria and shorter-lived viruses that can cause gastrointestinal illness if ingested.”

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