Dine like a Diplomat

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If you think something like having dinner with your classmates can’t make you nervous, probably is because you have not been together to an etiquette class!

Last week we took a “Dine like a Diplomat“ workshop as part of our Event Marketing program and it was a great experience that I think most of our class was really interested in having!… however once we were there I think we also got a bit nervous because they were showing us the right way to use our silverware, to have soup, our main course, dessert and how to drink water, wine, tea or coffee.. everything!

So here you have three little things I would like to share that might be useful to you next time you have dinner with your boss, or maybe during a networking event… and maybe even, who knows, when meeting your new in-law’s! 😉

1. If you are a guest: wait, if you are the host don’t wait too long!

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If you are at an important event the correct thing to do is to wait to have dinner until the host has the first bite. However, if you are the host, is important that you know people is looking at you to know what to do, so don’t keep them waiting for too long!

2. Rehearse to be effortless chic!

Imagine you are in a conference and you only have a few minutes to have a small talk with other attendees. Chances are you are going to have a few appetizers and something to drink as well. How do you manage to hold everything together and look like you have everything under control?.. answer: rehearse! Try to hold the glass on one hand and the appetizer on the same hand and keep the other one free so you can greet people and maybe even hand them a few business cards!

3. Less is more and more is… well… over the top.

Don’t try to impress anyone ordering the fanciest plate on the menu!… and don’t try to other something fancy just because you think it is expensive. Try to keep it simple so you don’t have to worry about having to wear special silverware (imagine ordering snails at a french restaurant or lobster.. those are big no-no’s). Stay away from spinach as well and other meals that might get in between your teeth and cause someone else smile back at you… and not exactly in the best of ways!

And well.. this was indeed fun! Hope you find these tips useful!

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IAB Canada Fall MIXX Conference

Charlene Li IAB Conference 2014

Speaker Charlene Li. Photo by me.

Last week we were invited to the Fall Conference organized by the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada (IAB Canada). We had the chance to learn a bit more about different aspects of marketing and digital marketing in particular.

The first session by Charlene Li was one of my favourites: The Secret to Digital Strategy Success: Putting People First, Not Technology. I think  this is something brands (and people) tend to forget when  they are trying to deliver a message. We usually think: hey, let’s send this message on our social media channels… oh, there’s a new social network, let’s join and be super popular and have new millions of fans that will become our customers and we’ll be rich!… BUT it is far more complicated than that… because… *drumroll*… you need to connect with people!

And here is where everything gets a bit complicated because just as in real (old-school, 2D, face-to-face) life, you want to have lots of friends BUT they need to like you, right? So, it is exactly the same way in the digital world. Brands have to  connect with people and let them know why they’re the cool so they can become the popular guy, have lots of friends, likes, sales, etc.

All this analogy of marketing and high school is actually mine but I think it illustrates the point of why I liked Charlene’s presentation. When you put people first, technology becomes a media to connect with them. Then of course you have all the advantages of the new times and you can know who is following you, their age, where they live, what kind of content they prefer (like when you want to know everything about your crush) and in that way you can engage better and grow your community. In other words: you need to understand data!

It was surprising to hear Annette Warring, one of the speakers, talk about how this is the end of digital media. Especially when we were all tweeting during the conference and having our phones handy. I don’t know if I agree completely to this but I like the idea of being challenged to think out of my comfort zone. On the other hand Annette made a point when she said digital itself was not as groundbreaking as it was before and now the real media is creativity… any thoughts about this?

Studying Event Marketing

Seneca Event Marketing First Week

 All pictures by Chris Bacchus. Except picture 3, by Carla Rojas.

I’m not gonna lie. Last week was kind of an emotional roller coaster: meeting new people from around the world, the professors (hi there!), knowing that we all eventually will become colleagues can be a little bit overwhelming if you think about it (so don’t!… ok, ok, think about it but be cool 😉 ).

In my particular case this program was something that I had wanted so badly since I found it a couple of years ago and I was a bit nervous but I’m glad to say everything has been just as I imagined.

First we did a couple of icebreakers and different dynamics to meet the classmates. I mean, we are going to be together for a while, right?!

There was one activity in particular that was interesting to me: The Marshmallow Challenge.

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One of the teams working on their challenge. Photo by Chris Bacchus.

Professors divided the class into groups, gave us a bag filled with 20 spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string and one marshmallow (imagine our faces when we saw that!) and one simple instruction:

  • To build the tallest free-standing structure with that materiall… oh, and the marshmallow had to be on top.

The tricky part is spaghetti is very fragile and you need to work as a team to think how you are going to put the marshmallow on top without making your masterpiece collapse. Trust me, the marshmallow is not your friend here. It may look innocent and sweet but it weights like a ton compared to a thin spaghetti.

 Anyway, our team managed to have the tallest and most stable structure!

Marshmallow Challenge

Now I don’t want to sound like a grinch but I am hardly impressed with team dynamics. I mean, usually you do an excercise and most of them finish with a cheesy message of how good it is to be together but this time it was all about creative thinking, and of course teamwork, but I really liked the part focused on being creative when solving a problem. Here is a TED talk about this, and the official website of The Marshmallow Challenge if you want to check more about it.

During our first week at Seneca we were also invited to visit the head office of Luminato Festival and (hold your breath) the Pan Am Games. In case you are not familiar with this, Pan American (and Para Panamerican) Games are very important to the athletes of the whole American Continent and the Caribbean because competing here means you are one step closer to being in the Olympics. So… it is a big deal and Toronto is hosting these games next year!

We had the opportunity to see from the inside the dynamics of these events and to ask all we were curious about which was truly interesting due to how relevant (and massive) they are. Plus: at the Pan Am office we held the torch that was used in the Olympics of Vancouver 2010!

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Me holding the torch used in Vancouver 2010. Photo by Chris Bacchus.

And well… keep posted cause this is going to be an interesting year!