Opportunity Zone

North of the 49th | Amway

Best Dress


Category: Amway, Canada, images, speechwriting

My daughter loves dressing up. She loves playing with accents and doing impersonations. She loves playing different roles — often spending tonnes of time in her room creating elaborate scenarios with her seemingly never-ending supply of Barbies (I'll admit it, she's spoiled..)

I don't think that this is a rare phenomenon. All of her friends love doing the same thing — and when our house is overwhelmed by eight-year-olds, they tend to do so dressed up in all manner of costumes.

So what happens when we're older? Why do we stop? In my case, I'm not sure I ever have — I just get to dress up in a different way now — through writing. In fact, I'd argue that many of us still do dress up — just in more subtle ways than we may realise. And it's probably something you already do in your business without being consciously aware of it.

I'm sure there's a psychological argument out there stating that by trying on different costumes and playing different characters, kids are exploring their own identity — refining it through role play. As we get older and grow comfortable within our own skins, my thinking goes, there's less of a need to don other identities. Hallowe'en's a big deal for kids and they love the opportunity to dress up; for adults, the idea of a costume is more of an annoyance than anything else.

Yet, I still get a chance to be other people almost on a daily basis. Part of my role here is to craft speeches for others in the company. Even my on-line writing can change. For example, I'm pretty much true to myself on this blog (as I promised). Yes, there are more aspects to my personality that I don't feel appropriate in sharing on here (I'm a touch more acerbic and sarcastic in person. My humour [and language] can also run a little more vulgar at times.) But that's my old journalist training coming through about knowing your audience.

The @AmwayCanada Twitter account? Same thing. For the most part, I can be me — but I hazard a guess that there are things that I would retweet to friends which I'd never dream of putting on a corporate account. After all, this isn't @JayMenard; it's @AmwayCanada and I'm aware of the difference.

Speechwriting, though, is where I get to play dress-up. When I write a speech for someone, I get to put myself in their shoes. I try to direct my text towards the person's style. A more serious person wouldn't be believable in a rah-rah, jovial setting. Nor would the reverse hold true. There are certain words or phrases that I know one person would use, while another would phrase it in a different way. I guess it's like an actor subjugating themselves into the role — becoming a vessel through which the message is delivered.

We all have different faces we show to various audiences. You're likely different with your family than you are with your workmates. You probably act differently with your best friend than you do with your boss. That's a normal part of life. So I want to hear from you about how that applies to your business. 

Is there a role you take on when meeting with customers or prospects? How do your change your message or its delivery depending on your audience? Are there archetypes you emulate in your approach (i.e., business is supposed to be formal, so you take a stern, sombre tone)?

Essentially, tell me how you play dress up now. The Barbies may have been left far behind in the past, but I'm sure you still play the odd role now and again!

*And please don't forget our continuing efforts to support the Haitian relief efforts. Click here to read my previous request and to get the links for our on-line $10 and $25 donations.

Comments are open! All the best,


Both Sides, Now


Category: Amway, Canada, Montreal, Perspective, images, photographs, photos, words, writing

I've never really liked that whole, "a picture's worth a thousand words" adage. And it's not just because I'm a writer and I don't want some photo trumping my prose — it's more the fact that I don't wholly believe it.

Yes, a picture can be worth a thousand words, but which words are they? Are they superficial expressions or do they get in depth? A picture can show a situation, reflect a person, but can it reveal their innermost thoughts and feelings? The really good photos can, but the majority can't. 

Of course, the same can be said for prose. Really good prose can set the heart soaring, it can bring men to tears or cause people to laugh out loud. Really bad prose can bring forth laughter too — for all the wrong reasons.

I was thinking about this as I was showing my parents some of our photos from our vacation. I say some because I ended up taking about 1,000 photos in a two-week trip to Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City. Many of them were of friends and their kids, but others were designed to be more artistic in nature, showcasing my Montreal, my view of these cities, and the images that resonated with me.

But each picture was accompanied by a story. Sure the photos were good (practice really is making perfect — or at least much better… that along with a shiny new Nikon DSLR…), but each one was better illuminated by the words used to outline the situation, relate an anecdote, or share a story.

I love writing — I have for almost two decades now. And although my passion for photography was of a little later onset, I truly appreciate the opportunity the medium offers (plus, I can't paint or draw worth a lick. My stickmen commit suicide — erase themselves, one might say — out of shame). But if I had to pick one medium, it would be writing.

Think about it — when you watch a movie that's based on a book, most times you'll come out saying, "Oh, that wasn't as good." The thing is, the films are good in their own right — it's just that a well-written book gives you so much more than a film can. It delves into inner thoughts and it allows for character perspectives. Unless you're offering a bunch of stage monologues or narration, a film is challenged to do the same.

The great thing about life, though, is that you don't have to choose. Pictures or words — whichever you prefer is fine. Some people are aural, some are visual. Me? I prefer a combination of both. I think images can complement the text, and I usually find that I translate images into words — creating a narrative for the image before me.

A picture may be worth a thousand words; but a paragraph can be worth an equal number of images. What's important is finding the medium… or media… that best expresses your thoughts and feelings. That way the real story is able to come forth.