My 6 Travel Tips: How I travel and find deals

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Interview with Rebecca

Rebecca Jacobs is a personal stylist, business woman and social media darling. This woman does it all! She’s gaining more eyes on her effortless and whimsical style, inspiring everyone with her helpful style tips, and rocking her¬†Instagram account.¬†Seriously, this woman is #instagramgoals!

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M: Tell me about Rebeccajacobs.style. How did this business idea come about?

R: rebeccajacobs.style is a rebrand from rebecca-jacobs.com. The rebrand was a shift from the embrace of all my passion to a focus on where I feel like I have the most unique expertise and capacity to help: in women’s style.

The idea came from my own style journey. Style was an area of discomfort and stress for me. I was spending too much money or fighting against the desire to. I never felt like I had anything to wear even though my closet was overwhelmingly full. When I was struggling, I realized that it wasn’t that I was bad at style (as I had obviously assumed) it was that I was using a broken system that I was set up to fail in.

So I figured out how I could make it better for me‚ÄĒI started looking at what was really important to me to communicate through my clothes, thinking of my closet as a system instead of a collection, and started setting some frameworks for my style to thrive in…and then I realized I had found something valuable that could make a difference in more lives than just mine.

M: How do you balance your day job and your side job?

R: This is something I get asked a lot and my answer is both simple and complicated: I prioritize. Which doesn’t mean I get to do everything I would like to do, but it means I do the most impactful thing to be doing in every moment.

To me it’s a simple principle: if you know your path, and you take continuous steps towards your goal, you move forward‚ÄĒthere’s no other way you can go.

But in more practical terms, it looks like an early bedtime and wakeup, with a morning routine that sets me up for a productive day…it looks like only hanging out on one social media platform, an often messy apartment, and missing a lot of emails…

M: ¬†You‚Äôre gaining a huge following on IG and just entered the world of YouTube; do you plan ahead and strategize what you’re going to tackle next?

R: Haha‚ÄĒto one person it’s huge, but me I see it as small but mighty.

I do plan ahead in that I pick one to go deep on. I go deep on Instagram and am always hanging out there and getting to know people. YouTube is less of my next hang out place and it’s my content delivery system. I don’t have plans to add on another platform yet.

M: Your mom is a pediatrician and your dad is an engineer – where did you come from? lol How did you nurture your creative/artistic instincts and talents?

R: It’s not the first time I’ve heard that! But, the work I do‚ÄĒthe style I teach and the business I run‚ÄĒit’s art + systems. I really do have the right-brain, left-brain and I enjoy using both of them! So I guess half that is accounted for…and the other half…that’s a mystery!

M: Do you have a mentor?

R: I think what’s beautiful about the way people share content today is that we are able to have mentors from a far. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I’ve taken some online courses and consider many of these women my mentors.

M: How do you stay motivated in work and in creativity?

R: I just LOVE it. I wish I had a better answer. But I do know if I spend too much time in that energy of motivation and discipline and ploughing through on my computer, I end up burnt out. So I know I need to sprinkle in regular time spent connecting with people‚ÄĒespecially those who my work is impacting.

M: Who are your style icons? Where do you draw inspiration from?

R: I do keep some thorough Pinterest boards for inspiration! But the women who come to mind are Olivia Palermo and Blair Eadie of Atlantic-Pacific for their sophisticated but playful style. I have followed Maja Wyh since I discovered style blogs and have been so inspired by her distinctive signature style that has lasted through the years.

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M:  What is one thing every successful woman needs in her closet?

R: This isn’t very exciting but it’s the one item I can think of that is truly universal‚ÄĒit’s what I call your ‚ÄėGoldilocks‚Äô bag. It’s the one that you love and works with your outfits, but most importantly, it’s the one that¬†actually¬†holds all the things you carry on a regular basis comfortably. So often we buy handbags for the bag without thinking of the stuff that goes inside it.

M: What advice do you have for someone trying to grow their IG or social media following?

R: Growing any social following is two part:

1) Bringing new people to your profile, and 2) Giving them a reason to stay once they get there.

Depending on what you have to offer and the people you want to connect with, you can figure out how you are going to draw people in and what content you are going to create that resonates with them once they get there. Make sense?

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M:  What are your top 3 visited websites? Why?

R: Ah! This was the hardest question!! If I’m taking this question literally it is Google Docs (where I write¬†everything), my own website (where all my content lives + I’m constantly adding to), and either Pinterest or YouTube! I consume my content and inspiration through podcasts and Instagram which means my internet browser is usually where I’m being a creator instead of a consumer!

 

Interview With Grail

My friend Meg, whom I went to PR school with, began an internship at this small agency after we graduated PR school. Over the years she told me about planning amazing high-profile client events, the travelling she did for work and the growth that the agency was going through.

That little agency is called Yellow House Events, and my friend Meg is now the Director of Operations. The mastermind¬†and bad-ass entrepreneur behind it all is Grail Noble. Grail is a calm, cool and collected boss. I’ve wanted to interview her for at least 5 years now, and I’m so glad the time has finally come!

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The single key trait that I believe sets apart successful people is that they don’t work to make a boss happy. They work to make themselves happy. They set their own goals and strive to achieve them. These people work hard whether you (or any boss) is there or not, regardless of what incentive you give them, theirs comes from within.

Mahsa: Tell me about Yellow House Events and how the idea came about?

Grail: I had worked for big corporations and knew that long term, I would build a better, sustainable career if I ran my own business. Although I was in my 30s, I watched as people 45+ were let go by corporations and found it difficult to land new jobs at their pay level (particularly women).¬† My real “aha moment” came when I was 33 and was about to have a baby. We had bought our first house and we were painting the walls. That feeling of it being ours not a rental and being able to paint it whatever colours we wanted was empowering. I wanted that sense of ownership and freedom in my work life. Although having a new born is not the best time to start a business, it meant I could spend time with my baby and choose my own hours to start with. That was empowering and as it turned out, allowed me to build a sustainable and successful business at a pace that worked for our growing family.

Mahsa: Did you always want to be your own boss?

Grail: I guess you could say I did. I was always an entrepreneur at heart. When I was 7, I stocked a cupboard in my room with chocolates and cigarettes (yes it was the 70s and yes they sold to minors if they knew you and your family!). I knew my parents and their friends would pay a premium if they ran out of these essentials during a party or after hours and charged accordingly! My allowance was my “seed money” and the business kept me well stocked in candy of my own and movie tickets!

Mahsa: What do you look for in potential employees? What trait does a person need to have to be successful in the events industry?

Grail: Self management and self driven while being a team player. And niceness. The single key trait that I believe sets apart successful people is that they don’t work to make a boss happy. They work to make themselves happy. They set their own goals and strive to achieve them. These people work hard whether you (or any boss) is there or not, regardless of what incentive you give them, theirs comes from within. A true drive to do well. But that trait must be paired with caring about others and being a team player. Everything we do, every project we assign is in teams. When one person isn’t aligned with making their colleagues and the company look good regardless of who gets the glory or made a mistake.

Mahsa: Did you have mentors in the early stages? Do you have a mentor now?

Grail: I don’t have one single mentor but have a group of advisors and other female entrepreneurs I go to for advice, guidance and experience shares. Some are friends of mine who are also business owners and some are part of a formal Forum I belong to within and organization called EO (Entreprenuers Organization). Our Forum meets monthly and we talk about business, seek input and experience shares and learn from each other.

Mahsa: What advice do you have for someone who wants to make their business stand out and become successful?

Grail: 1) Find your differentiator (hint it is not your product or your price).  2) Remember that regardless of what you sell, whether it is a service or a widget, people buy from people they LIKE and respect. Build a brand around that and make sure you have a core value that all your employees can articulate and that they use as a filter for everything they do. 3) Build relationships with your customers and your vendors. You are nothing without either of them.

Mahsa:¬†What’s the most important thing you have learned in your career so far?

Grail: Do the right thing. This is actually our core value at Yellow House. It covers and guides everything. (and it is perhaps a better articulation of “trust your gut” because there are times when your gut might be telling you not to do the right thing).

Do the right thing for your customers (make good recommendations and/or make good products).

Do the right thing for your business (make good, smart decisions)

Do the right thing for your colleagues (be fair and a good team player and support and hear them)

Do the right thing in the world (morally and in your heart and be clear on what greater impact you are making).

Mahsa: How do you balance work and personal life?

Grail: That is a choice. I strongly believe that you can have a successful, fast growth company and a happy and healthy home life. You have to compartmentalize and it helps to have support at home (which I do). With a business, your work is never “done”. You just have to set a time, shut your laptop, push back your chair and walk out knowing you have done what you can for that day. Our mantra at YellowHouse is WHPH (work hard, play hard). You have to have balance. So if you work hard, you have to make time to play within the same day, or you will eventually fail. I make sure I change gears, go out, do something different after work, spend time with my family or go to most of my kids sporting events because it gives me a much better break than “getting to bed early” so that I can just go to work the next day again.

Mahsa:¬†Let’s change direction a bit, where’s your favourite place to travel?

Grail: I have a soft spot for Jamaica. We go every year if we can and my family and I think of it as a second home. We love the music, culture, food and vibe.

We also go to a family cottage in Georgian Bay every summer and have a deep connection to the rocks, trees, fresh water and the beauty of Canada. Such meaningful time is spent together there.

Also, I am South African, so obviously that is a fav as well. It’s a much longer flight, so not as easy to go as often. But once Africa is in your soul it never leaves you. South Africa’s diversity of people, landscape, wildlife, political views, food and wine is epic! We also try to do an annual trip to Europe (Greece, Portugal, Italy, France are all places we love).

If my husband and I are looking for a quick weekend get away, you can’t beat Miami. Short flight, great food and art scene, beautiful sandy beach and great American-Latino feel to it too. New Orleans is a great weekend trip as well and we love the music and passion there.

(as you can see I am passionate about travel, so hard to pick just one)!

Mahsa:¬†What’s one thing every kick-ass woman should have in her closet?

Grail: Something that makes you feel powerful.¬†And something that makes you feel pretty. Women don’t need to push femininity aside to kick ass!

(Oh and one pair of shoes that are both stylish and comfortable. No one can kick ass with sore feet!)

Mahsa: What are you most proud of?

Grail: My team, the culture we have built, the fun we have and the way we always find a way to be creative and find solutions. I am proud of the work we do and the way we do it. I am also proud of my family РI have two boys who are good athletes, funny, smart and nice and my husband and I love hanging out with them!

Mahsa: What are you three most-visited websites right now?

Grail:

Mine (Yellowhouseagency.com) – I am always looking at it to see what we can refresh

Various news aggregator sites – you have to be current to stay on-trend and ahead of the curve

TED Talks – mentally addictive!

(I would add a forth in the spirit of being very honest and that is Facebook. I love seeing what people are up to and their pictures. I know some people are critical of it, but as someone with friends all over the world, it makes me feel connected to family and friends and at least once a day gives me a laugh. Dogs on skateboards and cats on bicycles are funny!)

Interview with Kira

I met Kira LeBlanc, Sr. Communications Manager at AOL Canada, for a coffee chat after we were introduced through a mutual friend. Kira was pregnant at the time and rocking a leather jacket with her phone in her hand.  After picking her brain for an hour, I was in awe of this woman with an awesome job, a growing family and a laid back attitude. She is one of those effortlessly cool and hard-working women who is doing it all! I knew I had to interview her for the blog.

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Hard work and integrity always win in the end…

Mahsa: What led you to a career in PR?

Kira: While I was at school studying law and social studies I decided to take a few courses in marketing and communications and really just fell in love with the industry. After realizing that a career in law was not what I wanted after all I decided to go back to school to pursue a post grad certificate in PR while working in a hybrid marketing role at a large Toronto-based hospitality company.¬† It wasn’t until I begun at AOL in a sales role that I realized communications, more specifically PR within the media and tech industry, was my destiny.¬† I was able to transition into a communications role here at AOL shortly after joining the company and literally won the job lottery!

Mahsa: Tell us about your role as a Sr. Communications Manager at AOL Canada

Kira: In my role here at AOL I work within the global PR team where I oversee communications for the company in Canada.  This includes a myriad of duties such as media relations, social media strategy, executive communications and public relations for all brands that fall under AOL (including all owned and operated brands such as The Huffington Post and all B2B advertising of such brands).  There is never a slow day!

Mahsa: How do you stay motivated at work and stay on top of your game?

Kira: There are many people in this world that do more than I do with less resources, I’m extremely lucky to be surrounded with amazing people both at work and at home.¬† I work with some pretty inspirational people, I mean have you met David Shing?!¬† I believe that it is important to never stop learning so I make sure to keep up with relevant insights through courses, industry events, thought leadership, research studies and learnings from the many talented people in our industry.¬† Motivation isn’t hard to find when you love what you do, I think I came out of the womb hustling!

Mahsa: Do you have a mentor or mentors?

Kira: I have a few, I recently graduated from the¬†AMA Mentorship Exchange Program¬†and believe that learning from others’ experiences can be the best form of education.¬† I also¬†have a few close colleagues and friends that I look to for inspiration and guidance.¬† AOL’s Digital Prophet, David Shing, is a huge source of inspiration for me and I am honoured to also call him a friend.¬† He tells it like it is, and has a wealth of knowledge (I mean he is a prophet after all lol).

Mahsa: What’s the most important thing you have learned in your career so far?

Kira: That you can never proof read something too many times! But seriously, I think the most important thing is hard work.  Hard work and integrity always win in the end so I try not to get caught up in politics or emotional influences at work.  That being said, there is nothing wrong with being passionate about your work so some emotion is inevitable.

Mahsa: You have two kids now (congratulations!) and you juggle a successful career, what’s your secret?

Kira: COFFEE!¬† Being a parent is the most challenging role I have ever had and since having kids I have learned that being present – both at work and at home – is very important.¬† I try to leave work at work (which can be hard when you work in digital media) and made a rule to always have dinner as a family.¬† To be honest, I’m still working on the whole work/life balance part.

Mahsa: Let’s change direction a bit, where’s your favourite place to travel?

Kira: My husband and I like to think of ourselves as food lovers and both spent over a decade in the hospitality industry so most of our travel involves a lot of eating.¬† Our most memorable trips before kids were Bali, Indonesia and Northern Italy, most notably the island of Elba where we ate one of the best meals of our lives.¬† Now that we are a little more low key, we are obsessed with a small surf town in Costa Rica called Playa Grande and try to visit every other year with our kids.¬† It’s basic, chill and perfect.

Mahsa: What’s one thing every kick-ass woman should have in her closet?

Kira: I’ve always been more on the sporty side and like to keep it real so I would say a great leather jacket and awesome kicks.

Mahsa: What are you most proud of?

Kira: It’s so clich√© but I’d have to say my kids, I’m shocked that we created two little humans and am proud to be raising them as kind, empathetic and caring individuals. ¬†10173669_10152374440171493_7071990174483704872_n

Mahsa: What are your three most-visited websites right now?

Kira: Since I am currently on mat leave I pretty much do everything on my phone so ¬†I’m more of an app person, so here are my favourite apps: Instagram, The Huffington Post, Nike+ Running.¬† Favourite sites?¬†I’d have to go with The NY Times, The Huffington Post, and Apartment Therapy.