The Story of The Baker

A story we often tell when we get asked what Project House is all about, is one about a Baker who loves to bake pies.  We’ll call him The Baker.  The Baker made pies all of the time.  His pies were well-loved by his family, who demanded pies for every conceivable occasion.  His pies were delicious and better than anything available in a shop.  Over time,  The Baker started making pies for his kids’ fundraising events, for his friends and their friends, and before he knew it, his pies were in such high demand that he had a business on his hands and he needed to hire some helpers and find a community kitchen space several days a week just to keep up with the orders.

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Taking Time to #Unplug

You may have heard of a day urging everyone to “Unplug” – it’s a simple idea: put away your devices, look up from your phone, laptop, or games, and go outside, spend time with family, unwind.   There’s even a National Day of Unplugging each Spring that was started by Reboot, a nonprofit Jewish community who were inspired by taking a break on the Sabbath.  Good idea you say, and yet you are likely reluctant to hide your phone or tablet for even a few hours!  For many of us, the importance of stepping away from technology grows along with our dependency on it.

At Project House, we feel it’s important to take a regular tech break and smell the flowers/walk the seawall/stare deep into a dog’s eyes.  

Now if you’re like me and the idea of being away from email for 24 hours gives you heart palpitations or if your job is remote or online and you don’t really have the choice to take a whole day off, remember that every small step counts. Meet a friend for coffee and pledge to leave your phones in your bag.  Sign off from social media for an afternoon and take a walk outside. Make a ‘no phones at the table’ rule during meals.  Read a book in one room and leave your phone and computer in another.  Dare yourself to post your blog a day late.  The goal is to disconnect for a period to relish the freedom from the never-ending information overload and focus on your surroundings and yourself.  You’ll be amazed at what might stand out as important and what your brain can dream up when not faced with the constant stream of other people’s ideas and updates.  Problem solving, motivation, and organization – these all stem from a clear mind, and you might just find the inspiration you were looking for inside of you, instead of on Pinterest.

Need some tips on starting small?  Schedule a weekly “unplug” hour or afternoon.  Keep your phone in your bag when you’re with friends.  Keep your phone outside the bedroom when you go to sleep.  Set up a “I’ll get back to you soon!” autoreply for emails, so you’re not a slave to answering right away.  And next Spring, remember to pencil in the National Day of Unplugging. You can take the Unplug pledge at (and they’ll even send you a sleeping bag for your phone!)

We Love Being Part of Your Team

Last year, one of our clients went through a significant leadership change. We had enjoyed a great relationship with this client, and we felt trusted and effective, providing strategic and operational support regularly and easily. When our primary senior contact informed us he was leaving the organization, we wondered if our work with this client would continue, or if the new leader would be looking to make their mark by handling these pieces differently. We focused on ensuring a smooth transition from one leader to another, making ourselves available to bridge processes and systems, and support continuity.

After this initial transition period, once the new leader had an opportunity to assess their own goals and priorities and set their own tone with the team, he reached out to us. Happily we were asked to step even further into the organization, to spend more time 1:1 with employees, and to make ourselves known and trusted members of the team.

Months later, we are still spending regular time in this client’s office, dipping in more often when there’s a big project to deliver.  We are able to support them in a way that is effective and positive for us as well as the team, sharing our expertise and learning from each other.  When a challenge looms, we can head it off at the pass, or lend our extra muscle in the moment, before it gets too big to handle neatly.  We can help support and nurture the team culture as it evolves.

When this client grows to a size where they need to hire full-time employees to take over some of our services, we may shift into a more traditional consulting role where we lend a hand occasionally in areas where we can add value.  It will be great at that stage to already know and understand the business and to have developed trust with the team.  We will be able to provide training and support, and know that we’ve made a positive impact on the business at its various stages.

We love getting calls from clients who have a big challenge that needs tackling.  By giving us an opportunity to work closely with your team early on, we can help you mitigate risk and solve small problems before they escalate.  We can get to know your employees at every level and we can see your culture in action We can share our skills and experience, earn your trust, and become a valuable member of your organization.  All without breaking the bank or working more than you need.

The Story of Project House

Crystal and Heidi Project House

Crystal and I started Project House Business Solutions almost three years ago, after years of being friends and next-door neighbours.

Our purpose when we launched our business was to create a flexible way to do what we love and excel at, and to help women who looking for meaningful and challenging work.  There are so many women who, for a variety of reasons, want fulfilling part-time work.  Perhaps they are striving to return to the workforce after having kids, or they don’t know what they’re good at, and hope to increase their experience and skillset. We want to create opportunities, confidence and a network for these ladies (while some of our talented team members and partners aren’t ladies, most are), and we meet them everywhere we go.

Between us, Crystal and I have 5 kids between the ages of 3 and 15.  We both gave up a lot of time with our families in order to build up our careers, and together we decided we didn’t want to compromise any more – we wanted flexibility, autonomy, joy, and control.  We wanted less ego, less judgment against passion, emotion, and empathy, and less unhealthy bullshit overall.  We want our kids to understand that working, striving, learning, trying your best, and adding value to your community can be an ongoing and joyful endeavour.

When we first started our company, Crystal and I took an assessment that told us how we might be as partners.  One hint it provided was that Crystal would have to give me room to talk through things, and I would have to keep myself from being overly sensitive to Crystal’s straight shooting.  We got a lot of information and insight that has helped guide us as we make decisions and face obstacles.  We have done this type of assessment with some of our team members as well, and this helps us to communicate better with different personalities.

We have since taken more tests and assessments, and each time we are blown away by how opposite and complementary we are. While I have learned to be more cautious, I like people and their challenges, teaching and coaching, thinking out loud, and working with people to solve a problem.  Crystal likes to analyze and synthesize a huge amount of detail quickly and well, diving into a budget and numbers, and she is always in action and accomplishing.

I am a hugger, she is not.  I am all about relationships, optimism and “who’s going to be there” and she is adventurous, fearless and independent.  We both flex in each other’s direction, but we are also getting better and better at articulating what we don’t like doing, or even what we like doing but aren’t great at. I LOVE building a barn and putting on a show.  I don’t really care how big a barn, how many seats, or even what show, which is where Crystal with her significant eye for detail and data becomes invaluable.  Also sometimes I don’t really want to put on a show OR build a barn, I just want to sing in the show and say hi to everyone once it’s built…  I don’t score as high in stress tolerance or independence and she doesn’t score as high as I do in empathy or flexibility.  She’s way more fun and much more likely to take risks, and I’m much braver when she’s in the room.  In combination, we are stronger, smarter and faster, and we are constantly evolving and sharpening our purpose and our message.

Project House clients are diverse, and their needs span all of our services and drive new ones.  In the past months, we have worked on employee policies with Earnest Ice Cream, done space planning and furniture procurement at the head offices for Lush Cosmetics, trained managers in performance and feedback at Capcom Vancouver Game Studios, and designed a brand new logo and website for an architect, a beauty salon, and a family law firm.   Our clients come to us from many different industries, and nearly all of them find us through referrals and recommendations from our network.

Project House offers a lot of services, and we feel they are very inter-related.  We help companies find their voice and put their best foot forward, whether it’s a well designed and constructed website, handbook or onboarding program, support and training, a kind approach to terminating, an efficient way to manage clients, a beautiful office space, or a gorgeous new logo.  We combine our team’s skills and experience to help companies be better, treat people better, use better systems, present themselves more clearly and beautifully, and add value to their employees, clients, and workspace. 

I have to pinch myself sometimes – Crystal and I are entrepreneurs, business owners, and employers.  We feel both the joy and the weight of responsibility, and we are definitely at our best (in our “flow”) when we are working together with clients who are action-focused, community-minded, and in need of our varying skills and strengths.  This doesn’t always work out, but we getting wiser and more understanding when the relationship comes to an end, either because we’ve done our job to get them to the next level and they don’t need us anymore, or because we recognize we are not the best fit for each other.

Crystal and I love to learn new things and discover a new approach to our work.  Next month is exciting for us, because we are taking a 4-day intensive training program to be certified in Emergenetics, which is a neuro/strength/ preference assessment that we will then be able to offer to our clients, with an eye toward improved communication, understanding, and productivity.

We continue to be supported and inspired by successful, strong, funny, vulnerable, kickass, powerful, kind, generous, smart, and talented women, and we are filled up by providing even a fraction of this to others.

Some of what we need from our “village” we get already: support, ideas, wine, friendship, partnership, services, referrals, and wine.

Our “asks” this year continue to evolve:

  1. We want help getting great clients and exciting work: the juicy stuff! (Like companies who need high quality websites, teams who need training and coaching, clients who are fun to work with and open to our business model);
  2. We want opportunities to share our story – we want to tell people about our company and what are creating for women who want to work in a flexible way, enhance their skills, make money, learn about business, grow their resumes, or meet other professionals – whatever they need to get where they want to go;
  3. We want to hear your stories! We learn by doing, but we also know that many people have already solved some big problems and developed best practices – we’d love to speed things up by getting some advice and by learning from your experience.  We enjoy getting tips and tricks and discovering what you have learned, what mistakes you have made, and what makes you tick;
  4. We want to help you. The speed of trust is amazing – so if there are things you need from us, people we can connect you with, or ways we can cheer you on, please let us know.

And that’s our story – – – so far!  We want to do all of the things – this isn’t so much a balancing act as it is a mad dash while juggling plates – sometimes everything is spinning beautifully and we are dazzled by our own skills and grace, and sometimes it is a f–king disaster with a little bit of crying…  And every day we learn a little bit more about what we want, who we are, and what we’re capable of.


Hello January!


There is an eagle in me that wants to soar, and there is a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud.
– Carl Sandburg

It’s January again – time for some people to leap out of the house for the Polar Bear swim, and for others to pull the covers back over their heads and stay cozy for just a little while longer.

Either way, it’s a new year, full of promise and opportunity!  Whether or not you are a fan of making New Year’s resolutions, the team at Project House would love to be part of your business solutions, big or small.

What are you going to tackle this year?

  • Perhaps you want to make your office space more effective and inspiring?
  • Give your website a makeover?
  • Breathe new life into your company culture or brand?
  • Organize training for new managers?
  • Create a thank you program, or hold a Spring event for clients or staff?
  • Break a big business goal into manageable pieces?

Is there a project you’re itching to kick off?  Whether you’ve got a Big Hairy Goal, or you just want to ease into things and enjoy the journey, we’d love to help – please reach out to us at hello(at)projecthouse(dot)ca.

The Power of Assessments



About 2.5 years ago, before Project House was even really conceived, I was doing some business consulting for a client and was introduced to the idea of assessments for employees.  I know that in many circles this kind of thing is perhaps old hat – but for me, coming from an industry that didn’t place a lot of value in this type of thing, this was a revelation to me and one that I found quite interesting.  Over the course of several months, we conducted a number of assessments with employees, and during this time, I decided to participate in one myself.  I really enjoyed reading what it had to say about how I perceive things and what drives me, and since then have participated in a number of other types of assessments that, in combination, have allowed me to gain a much deeper self-awareness.

With Heidi’s background in HR and software, she has seen these tools used widely and often to help teams communicate better and more effectively, and to give employees insight into how they make decisions and process information.  The more I look into these tools and the more insight they give me into different perspectives, the more I appreciate how complex everyone is, and how beneficial it is to be able to see things from someone else’s point of view.

What I find the most satisfying is that, even while you can know yourself quite well, it is often challenging to explain yourself and what makes you tick.  Having my “personality” articulated in new ways really opened up a different world for me.  I have gained insight into why I react a certain way and work a certain way, and how I approach projects and problems.  This new understanding is really allowing me to drill down into the kinds of work I enjoy doing and am good at, versus what I really should learn to stay away from. Each of the various assessments I’ve taken over the last couple of years has given me another piece of the Crystal Puzzle, as some are more focused on behaviour, some on what my deep-rooted needs are, what I’m talented at, what kind of a leader I am, and also the various areas where I have blind spots and need to gain more self-awareness.

Why should you care about this stuff? Well… as far as I’m concerned, knowledge is power.  If I know more about my team, how they work, how they interact, and what makes them “tick”, I can use that information to communicate better, give more effective feedback, pair team members with the right types of projects.  The bottom line for me is a happier and healthier team, and one that is motivated and doing their best work.


Here is a brief overview of our favourite assessments (so far!):

PPA by Thomas International

Thomas International is a global provider of objective management systems and work-based assessment tools. Their combination of assessment tools and consultants can help to reduce attrition, maintain a high level of employee productivity and engagement and more effective leadership (from their website).

Thomas offers a variety of assessments.  We have used the Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) tool quite often, and we find it to be very simple and useful.  About the PPA, Thomas explains “Thomas Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) provides an accurate insight into how people behave at work, giving you a greater level of certainty when recruiting, identifying where to maximize your learning and development budget, and understanding where to boost morale to avoid staff turnover.”  The Thomas group also offers a General Intelligence tool, a 360 feedback tool and an Emotional Intelligence Tool.  Heidi and I toyed with the idea of trying out the General Intelligence tool but got too scared that one of us would be smarter than the other so we decided not to take it!!


From the Emergenetics site, “Emergenetics is rooted in the concept that who you are today is the emergence of your behavior, genetic makeup and life experiences. Emergenetics provides a clear way to understand this intersection of nature and nurture through the Emergenetics Profile, built on four Thinking Attributes and three Behavioral Attributes that every person exhibits.”

In Heidi’s blog about Opposites in Partnership, she mentions some of the attributes that she and I identified through this profile, for example our level of Expressiveness, Assertiveness or Flexibility and whether we are Structural, Conceptual, Analytical or Social.  This assessment is very useful to help identify your preferences in receiving and processing information.

Emotional Intelligence

From the EQi site:  “Emotional intelligence is the unique repertoire of emotional skills that a person uses to navigate life. EQi is a psychological assessment of the individual’s emotional intelligence as it relates leadership capability in areas of authenticity, decision- making, stress management, interpersonal relations, and overall well-being.

This is a fascinating test that contains a list of qualities that are believed to make up your “Emotional Intelligence” such as Empathy, Independence, Problem Solving, Stress Tolerance, Emotional Self-Awareness, etc. and reveals the areas where you are the most and least comfortable.

Motivation Factor

Developed in Switzerland, this assessment tool is relatively new to North America (especially Canada).  This assessment program is used to pinpoint what motivates you, by identifying your needs and talents. The idea is that if you are meeting your needs and using your talents, then you will be able to stay highly motivated.  I found this one especially fascinating, because once my needs and talents were made clear to me, a lot of things made more sense.  For example, one of my strongest needs is for Order.  This shows up everywhere for me, and I know my brain is happiest when things are organized and in order, both at work and at home.  I gravitate towards complex, colour-coded calendars, and once everything is neat and accounted for, I am better able to focus and enjoy things. Even the idea of a cluttered countertop makes my mind foggy.


StandOut is an online strengths assessment tool from author and management expert Markus Buckingham that is paired with his book, StandOut: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution.

The StandOut assessment delivers a customized report based on 9 StandOut “roles:” Advisor, Connector, Creator, Equalizer, Influencer, Pioneer, Provider, Stimulator, and Teacher.  Each participant is assigned a primary and secondary role based on their test.  Once again, Heidi and I scored exactly opposite:  my top 2 (Pioneer, Influencer) roles are her bottom two, and her top scoring roles (Teacher, Advisor) are my lowest.  A few other members of our team have also participated in this assessment, and we are really enjoying the reports, which summarize information in really practical and clear ways.

There are so many more assessments that can be used to identify strengths and make communication and working together easier.  Please let us know if you’re interested in finding out more, and we’ll be very happy to talk with you and your team about what you need.

It’s a brand spanking new year! Time to set some goals.


The beginning of a new year is always an interesting time.  You are often feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and excited about the year ahead, and perhaps also inspired to think about what you want to accomplish.  It is also a time of reflection on the year that has passed.  Did you accomplish what you had set out to do? Did something in your business work well that you’d like to duplicate? Did something not go as planned, and you’d like to make an adjustment for the future?

Heidi and I held an all day strategy session on Monday where we discussed some goals for PH for 2015.  We have been working with a business coach to help us develop a more comprehensive plan for our company, and we had lots of homework to do and many items to discuss!  We didn’t get through it all in one day (we have another session set for next week!) but overall I’m happy that we are making progress as I’m a huge believer in setting goals and then checking in and tweaking as you go.

Someone special in my life has ingrained in me since I was young “if you don’t have goals, you won’t get where you want to go”. It’s a philosophy that when I was younger I didn’t give much credit to, but now as I grow and develop as a person, mother and business owner, I truly feel the significance of these simple words and I try to live by them.

Whether it’s setting a simple goal such as getting a task accomplished by the end of the day, a more ambitious goal like wanting to train for a marathon, or something more complex like setting strategic long term goals for your organization, without setting the goal in the first place how would you ever be able to set out on the path to achieving it??

Given that it’s the beginning of the year, we thought it might be a good time to pass along some tips on how to go about setting good, tangible goals. Before you even get started, it’s important that you are first feeling motivated to set, and reach, these goals. Without this motivation, you are likely to fall back into old habits or lose sight of the end goal.  Try to think about what the benefit of reaching these goals will be: building your business, making more money, or freeing up time to spend with your family because you have successfully delegated some tasks to other people or other companies.

Feeling motivated? Here is a how-to process for setting goals, and it all starts with 5 simple letters: SMART.

All goals must be S.M.A.R.T.

1. Specific – Clearly define what you want to accomplish.
Is it specific? Have you clearly stated what you wish to accomplish and how you plan to accomplish this goal? Also ask yourself why this goal is important to you? It is sometimes easiest to start with a general goal or objective and then move into the finer details or specific tasks that might be needed to accomplish the larger goal.

2. Measurable – Identify targets and milestones to track your progress.
Is it measurable? If you have not made it measurable and set yourself clear targets and milestones, you will have no way of checking to see if you are going in the right direction. It can be very frustrating to find that you have ploughed ahead on a series of tasks only to discover that you should have made a course correction weeks back.

3. Attainable – Your goal is realistic and manageable.
Is it attainable? Make sure you give yourself the opportunity to reach the goal. You could break each goal down into smaller tasks and make sure you have the time and resources available to meet the timeline you have set for yourself. Setting unrealistic goals will only set you up for failure, and nothing is more defeating then never attaining your goals.

4. Relevant – Identify a goal that fits with your business or overall philosophy.
Is your goal relevant? Your goal should fit with your business, your mission statement if you have one, or your market, client base or industry.

5. Time-Based – Identify a specific period of time for the goal.
Does your goal need to be achieved by a certain date? Make sure that you set a realistic time-frame for your goal, and you must set a deadline!  It is often tempting to leave a goal open-ended, but the danger is that you will never actually achieve it and then give up because it hasn’t worked or because you’ve now decided that goal setting is a waste of time!

What sorts of goals might be appropriate for your business?

• Writing a business plan – it doesn’t need to be overly complicated, but it is important to make sure that you are not setting yourself up for failure.

• Ways to improve your bottom line – whether it be ways to increase profitability or ways to reduce your company costs, or looking at ways to improve your cash flow.

• Becoming more productive – this is very important for small business owners. Learn how to use your time efficiently and effectively. There are many tasks that, although not profit centre activities, directly affect your ability to become profitable as they take you away from core business functions (for example manually doing your payroll each month).

• Making use of technology – there are many free or economical programs on the market these days which can be used to assist with aspects such as accounting, billing, and task management.  These programs can greatly reduce admin time, giving you the opportunity to concentrate on your core business goals.

We hope that this inspires you to set a meeting with your company’s key players, your employees, or maybe even your family, to set some SMART goals for 2015.  We wish you the best of luck in setting and achieving these goals, whatever they may be!

A Letter to Myself

person writing a letter

Just over a year ago, Crystal and I joined forces to create Project House. Our goal was to launch a company for us, and for other women like us, in order to use our skills, energy, and experience to help other businesses focus on what they do best. We also wanted to create opportunities and connections for others and to give back to our community, including women, local businesses, and other entrepreneurs.

Six months ago, I had the great fortune to take part in Minerva’s Learning to Lead weekend as a Community Leader. The weekend was full of discovery, partnership, inspiration, and hard work, and I loved every moment of it. At the end of the weekend, we were asked to write a letter to ourselves, capturing our hopes + goals for our “future selves”. The letter was sealed and kept on our behalf for 6 months, then mailed back to us. Last week, my letter arrived, and this is what it says:

Dear Heidi,

What an exciting, amazing year!
I’m so proud of you for embracing your dreams and for not giving in to fear.

I’m sure by now your business has grown and evolved, and I’m sure you’ve refocused in response to that change and evolution. Please don’t forget to celebrate all of the little successes as well as the big ones, and try not to sweat the small stuff or obsess over your mistakes. Keep learning + pushing forward, keep taking risks and following your heart, and I know everything will (and has so far) work(ed) out the way it’s supposed to.

Your clients appreciate you and refer you to other like-minded businesses. You have learned how to say no. You have figured out how to offload the tasks that you hate. :o)   You are clear about your values and PH’s values, and you are living these harmoniously and successfully.

You are travelling more.

You are seeing the rewards for risks taken.

You are more energized.

You sleep more.

You are more in love with yourself, your family + your friends than ever before.

You are recognized for your spirit, skills, and success by your community, but mostly by yourself first.

You have accepted the things you can’t change, and you are pursuing the rest like a graceful, beautiful bat out of hell.

I love you.

When this letter arrived, I had honestly forgotten all about it, and had no recollection of what I’d written. I was so pleasantly struck by the positive and caring tone of the letter, and by how excited the “me of then” was to encourage the “current me”. Obviously not all of these things have come true yet (sleep more?!), but I can appreciate that committing these goals to paper has given me a subconscious path to follow and re-find, should I wander off course.

Hey, it’s a new year. What would your letter to yourself look like? This is an easy way to try: Write a letter to yourself that contains a list of goals or objectives, in whatever format or language suits you. Seal it in an envelope, tuck it into your calendar on a page six months from now, and forget about it. In six months, read it and think about what you accomplished, where you met your goals, and where your goals changed or evolved. What steps did you take to get closer to what you wanted? What surprises you about what you wrote to yourself? And what would your next letter say?

Extra Muscle, Rocket Fuel, a Clear Course

Project House is a company that offers a diverse range of solutions, tailored to your business needs. We love talking with business leaders about their companies and their challenges, because we are passionate about being part of their solution in a variety of areas including staff, organizational change, office space, websites, social media, event planning, and more.

In a phrase, the core of our business is helping you focus on the core of your business. Once you grow out of start-up mode (and you will!), many of the hats you’ve had to wear will become a burden, and we are here to take some of them for you. Until you want to hire employees to help you with your load, our team can help.

That’s why we’ve been really happy to share our three brand images to more succinctly explain our business:

Extra Muscle speaks to our desire to help you with all of the projects that keep falling to the bottom of your to-do list, whether it’s because you don’t have time or because you’re unsure of where to start. This might be hiring staff, creating effective policies, tackling your neverending to-do list, organizing an amazing client event, helping you organize or move workspaces, or designing a beautiful card or website.

Image 2a

Rocket Fuel refers to our ability to help you get where you want to go, but faster. We love getting things done, whether it’s helping you and your team get organized or unstuck, bringing technology into your process so you don’t have to keep working on things from scratch, or talking you through your business and your priorities to see if there’s a different or more efficient way of looking at a problem.

Image 3a

A Clear Course is our way of saying that we can help you chart a more direct line to getting what you want out of your business. This includes working with you to create a business plan, understand your hiring needs, help you articulate your vision and goals, and engage your team.

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At Project House, we will custom tailor a solution to your unique challenges.  Our team is highly skilled in a wide range of areas, and we are able to bring the right person to the job at the right time.​