small business

Welcome Happiness, by Drew Stewart

Ever find that it is sometimes the smallest things in life that can make you happy? Things like an elevator arriving to your floor the moment you push the button. Turning on the tv and finding that your favourite movie just started. Or how about taking that first sip of your favourite drink? All are pretty good things that at the very least crack an inward smile to those of us that experience these events. About a week ago, I found out what my little slice of random happiness was…

Finding a lemon meringue pie on the discount bakery cart at the grocery store.

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Christina had mentioned that she hadn’t seen me smile all day, but damned if I wasn’t grinning like a Cheshire cat when I saw that pie with the 50% off sticker on the top of the packaging. With the kind of laser focus that writers hyperbolize elite athletes of possessing, I lunged forward, grabbed the delicious package and secured it in my cart. I felt like my day was done after that, I had reached the highest of peaks.

Truth is however, I have had a lot to be happy about lately. Some of these things are not even food related either! As a father, I have had the opportunity to watch each of my three children participate in something they are passionate about. For a parent, seeing your kids not only enjoy what they are doing but having a measure of success at it, is overwhelmingly satisfying. I have been happy because we have been fortunate enough to close off a couple of recruitment searches and thereby giving individuals an exciting new opportunity. Being a small part in a life event for someone is an extremely rewarding experience. Contrary to what Christina might think, there is something that even makes me happier than seeing that discounted pie. Our team at Praxis is growing.

Within the context of things that are a “problem”, being busy (as a business owner) is a good one to have. I am happy to say that we are bringing on two wonderful individuals who will make Praxis even stronger and allow us to continue delivering the quality of customer service that we pride ourselves on. Lindsay Roberts and Erin Heeney are joining the team as the Director of HR Services and Program Coordinator/Facilitator, respectively. Aside from also living in one of the most beautiful corners of the country, we all share a passion for helping organizations build their best possible teams. It is rare that you meet someone for the first time and walk away feeling in complete alignment in your vision and values. We had that feeling with both Lindsay and Erin after our initial meetings. They are going to bring enormous value to Praxis and to our clients and I couldn’t be happier to have them onboard…like discounted lemon meringue pie happy.

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My Unplanned Plan by Christina Stewart

It’s no secret that I’m a planner.  I’m organized and thoughtful about the future and I set goals regularly. So, of course, I take care to plan accordingly.  In my own business we have business plans from each year, strategic plans, marketing plans and goals written down on several whiteboards dotted around the office. I have to-do lists and to-day lists. I have lists for each kid (colour coded of course!) and lists for the house, for groceries, for our dogs and for my husband and me. I have notebooks filled with goals and plans and ideas stashed in each vehicle, each room of our office and home and I’m sure there are a few under couch cushions too.  I’m a big fan of planning.

I tell my clients that planning is a tool that serves both themselves and their businesses.  It is a path to follow that allows for the energy, resources and time of your business and your employees to be in alignment. A good plan will not only tell you where you are going but how you are going to get there.  This is a maxim that I live by in my work and in my entire life. This is what my clients pay us to do for them, and we do it very well.

And yet, we’re about to enter the spring of 2017 and I have no idea where Praxis is going this year.   Seriously. Even typing that sentence gives me chills.  But it’s true.  In November last year, my partner, Drew and I took off to Vegas for a few days to do some 2017 strategic planning.  Except, we were in Vegas and away from the kids and our regular life for the first time in years.  So, we slept and ate and didn’t do any planning.  Then around came December and January – our biggest and busiest months in the life of our business. Followed by a productive February, filled with sick kids, sick adults and playing catch up on all the stuff we didn’t get done in December and January.  You get the idea. Life is busy.  A good busy – a great busy, but still busy.

Week after week, I write down that our priority for that week is “strategy development.”  I write down “we need to define who needs us this year” and I write down “How are we going to let business who need us know we exist?” and I write down “how are we going to best help our clients reach their goals.”  And yet, here we are with no plan.  But here’s the fun part: That has become my plan.

Starting my own business has pushed me in ways I could never ever have foreseen.  I am challenged in a new way almost daily to be creative and put myself out into the world in interesting ways. This whole “no plan” has become part of this adventure for me.  I’m understanding what it’s like to live by an organic system. I’m learning to let the flow of my business dictate where I expend my energy.  It’s a fascinating, unique and developing feeling for me.  It makes me uncomfortable – but there is a huge part of me that is learning to live with discomfort and to actually flourish from what I discover while I am uncomfortable.

I’m not sure how long this departure from my normal will last for me – at the core of who I am, I am a planner and I know that will surface and win out again. Plus, I know that setting goals is actually a sound business practice, but for now, I’m going to let it ride and see where we end up.