Our Team

At Project House, we really celebrate and appreciate the incredible people who have joined us on our business journey.  It is because of our ever-growing arsenal of professional, talented, bright, and hardworking employees and subcontractors that we are able to tackle the variety and volume of work that we take on.  Our team members come from a range of different industries, educations, talents, and backgrounds, and without them we would not be able to work as hard, serve our clients as well, innovate as much, or address the growing needs of the amazing companies we work with.  When people ask Crystal and I “How do you do it all?!” the answer is easy:  our team makes us smarter, faster, better.  With them, we have over 20 hands instead of just 4!

In order to show off our team, we decided that it was time to expand our website in order to introduce some of the people who support us with a wide range of projects, services, and business goals.  A few weeks ago, we wrote about our Photo Day, where we gathered some of our team members together for a day of head shots, complete with hair and makeup, food, and music – really, everything we could do to make a photography session fun for everyone.  Not everyone loves having their picture taken, but you can’t tell!  Everyone looks fantastic, and we’re so proud to share them with you.  Rounding out the team are Keegan and Cassidy, our four-legged friends, because they are a constant part of our everyday work lives!

Click here to see our Team page!

Happy Paperback Book Day!

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Which Screw to Turn

Which Screw To Turn

A few months after starting our new business, I was in the throes of a new life as an entrepreneur and a business partner. Everything was new: looking for new clients, articulating my skills and experience, fielding questions about our services, delivering projects, building a team and a vision with a strong partner I admire, developing a business plan. Learning and doing. Head up, shoulders back, confident smile. Fielding questions and developing answers and process around our services and skills, our growing team, and our hourly rates, each day brought moments of both pure joy and raw panic.

Lunch with a trusted friend during this early period led to a candid conversation about the pangs of self-doubt that plague consultants and small business owners, especially around the topic of services and their value. I mentioned how conflicted I felt about calculating the worth of my services and how difficult it is to decide what to charge for my time. I also mentioned my unease with PR – as a woman, and a Canadian, I felt ill-prepared to sell my services and set my fees with confidence. My friend, who I have since thanked many times over, told me a story that I had never heard before.

The essential nature of the story is this: A retired, long-time employee of a large printing company is called in by a manager to fix a sudden problem on the floor that has brought the entire conveyor belt system to a complete standstill, and that none of the current technicians are able to solve. The former employee looks around, and goes to a small panel at the back of the manufacturing area. He opens the panel and adjusts one of the screws. The machinery starts up again and order is restored; the company is out of danger. The manager is thrilled, and asks what the cost of the fix will be. The expert, without hesitation, says $10,000. Flabbergasted (albeit grateful), the manager asks for the calculations behind the high cost, and the expert explains that it’s $1 to turn the screw, and $9,999 to know which screw to turn. Satisfied, the manager pays.

According to my online research, this is either a story that Tony Robbins told about the founder and CEO of FedEx, or it’s about a large newspaper company in Chicago. Regardless of its origins, it represents an effective and simple lesson about the value of experience and expertise.

Yes, it can be relatively straightforward for me to help a client with a human resources or management issue. It can look like the answer is easy because I sometimes have it in my pocket to use. The reason for this, however, is because I have over 20 years of experience working with project delivery and people management, and because I have expertise and training in HR, and because I have seen and done much of what I am tasked with before, either for different clients or at different companies. It is also because I have always been curious about people and what makes them tick, and I am always reading, learning, asking questions, looking for feedback, and putting my knowledge and experience into practice. I am still learning, but I know which screw to turn, and that means I can occasionally walk into a room, hear about a big problem, and go directly to the solution. I can sometimes make it look easy.

As both a consultant and co-owner of a small business, I understand that to save money, I need to wear a lot of hats, but I also acknowledge the value of outsourcing tasks that are outside of my expertise, my interest, or my experience. The more we move out of start-up mode into “we don’t need to do it all” mode, the more we appreciate the skills and experience of the people who support us and the value of investing in their contribution.

Want to learn more about how we can help you grow your business by wearing some of your hats? Get in touch at hello(at)projecthouse(dot)com.

Happy Etch a Sketch Day!

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Putting your best foot forward

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I have been accused of (and sometimes admired for) not giving a flying hoot what people think about me. Looking back, even as far back as high school, I never felt like I had to be someone other than who I was. What I have come to realize is that I do have a threshold though. What I mean is this: while I don’t care if people like me all the time, I do care quite a bit about what others think of me when it comes to how I present myself and how my business is presented. I care about how I project myself out into the world as an individual, and I want to come across as well put together, polished, composed and professional. This doesn’t mean I need to conform to any particular fad or set of rules, I believe strongly that a person should always be putting their best foot forward and I feel quite strongly that the best way to do this in business, is to have a strong brand.

To me, a strong brand is made up of layer upon layer of little details, images, nuances, colours, and sayings that you weave and intertwine into your company’s image, all tied together with a little matching bow (if your brand is into matching bows, that is).

When it came to deciding on our brand for Project House, it was more than just designing a logo and coming up with a nice font. For us, portraying our image of being professional yet approachable and fun was extremely important, whether someone was checking us out online, seeing our posts on social media, or meeting us in person for the first time.

When it came to the photos, fonts, icons and colours that would represent our company and brand, we spent an enormous amount of time painstakingly looking for the right kind of visuals. We have chosen items that are fun and whimsical, but they are by no means amateur; rather they were professionally taken photographs, custom icons and paid fonts, which we felt, were well worth the investment. If we had thrown our kids into costumes and taken some pictures ourselves, or used stock icons that came with a web theme, they would not have had the polish I wanted.

As we are a startup, we don’t have a lot of bells and whistles yet, but if you visit our office, you’ll see little touches of our brand everywhere and we think it suggests consistency, comfort, ease, and approachability. It is carefully chosen but not restrictive. It shows up consistently, but we have fun with it, and it is both approachable and professional, which is our ultimate goal for our company.

The last major piece of our brand was our photos, and it was really important that they be right. Of course you always want great photos of yourself… but we also wanted them to fit our theme of “approachable and professional,” which is a hard combination to achieve. Heidi and I went through three rounds of photography before we finally got them right to our standards. With the help of Kevin Shoesmith of Biografica (read more about Kevin here), we finally have a set of images we love. When it came time to do photos of our team last month, we absolutely knew we had to go to Kevin again. He is fun and professional, intuitive and talented. He suits us and he “gets” us, and that’s very important when trying to capture the essence of a person or a company in an image.

We’re not saying everyone needs to go to Kevin (sorry Kevin!), as there are lots of amazing photographers to choose from, but my big takeaway for you is this: I think it’s most important that you put your own best foot forward when it comes to company photos. While the end result will be different for everyone, I do believe professional photography goes a really long way to giving an authentic and professional impression and this, in itself, is worth its weight in gold.

When it comes to choosing a photographer, it’s important that you find someone who can encourage and capture the kind of charisma or personality that you want to portray, in order to match your brand, be it goofy, funny, super corporate, or somewhere in between. Interview your photographers as seriously as you would a new team member. Do you feel comfortable with them? Will your team feel comfortable with them? Are they open to sitting down with you and talking through your aspirations and goals (and concerns) for your photos? If not, then keep looking. I can’t wait to share the new photos on our team page very soon – and when you see them, I hope you’ll agree they are awesome!

When it comes to your company brand and image, what does “what you’re putting out there” say about you and your business? Does what you’re projecting match how you actually want to be seen? Ask trusted colleagues, friends, or clients what they think and get some honest feedback. And if you need help adding some polish or defining your branding and image goals, you know who to call!

PH Beyond Compare Workshop Recap

2015-06-18 15.41.34On June 18, Project House Business Solutions hosted our first PH Workshop, led by Lauren Bacon, called “Beyond Compare: Free yourself from comparison and succeed on your own terms.” Our workshop attendees came to us through a wide range of places and brought great energy and enthusiasm, and Lauren led a great exploration of our tendency to compare ourselves with others, and showed us how to identify and work through qualities we admire and envy.

When Crystal and I first started Project House, our goal was to create a business where our personal and company values matched, and to show these in everything we did. One of our values is Community, and we are invested in doing everything we can to strengthen and support our neighbourhood, our City, and what we call our “village”, whether that village is made up of local business owners, working women, or anyone trying to define and create their own success for themselves, their families, and others. We also want to connect people with opportunities, ideas and each other, and part of this vision has been the creation of a speaker/workshop series that we hope to host a few times every year, with a variety of topics, speakers, audiences, and formats as the series evolves.

For our inaugural event, we looked around at our amazing circle of friends, colleagues, and other partners in crime, and we decided that there was be no better candidate for leading our attendees than our trusted neighbour, friend, and all-around high achiever Lauren Bacon.  Lauren is smart, funny, compassionate, generous, interested, and accomplished.  She is a community builder and supporter, a local entrepreneur, a businesswoman, and a fellow parent. Plus she said yes to us and she was willing to volunteer her time and her considerable energy to this project.

On June 18, we had a full house of generous, open, eager, and friendly women, and they made Beyond Compare so much more exciting and rewarding than we had hoped it would be. Our thanks to them, and to Lauren, for helping us kick off our PH Workshop Series so beautifully.