Saturday, December 3, 2011

Crowdsourcing Christmas - Day Seven

The narrowing down begins! This is where the potential for marital discord can threaten the very possibility of the trip happening.
Not true. We're not fighting yet. Although I DO want Paris, and Mike's main argument against Paris is that there won't be any markets open. I doubt that's true. And Christmas in Paris would be a sight... (And just THINK of the shopping!)

It's now down to Hawaii (Maui for surfing, snorkeling + volcano biking), France (cuz it's France!), or Spain, with Spain being a possible blend between Barcelona (we know some guitar makers there) and the Canary Islands, where we have some lovely home-exchange friends.
There are some wonky flight options this time of year so now the fun logistical search begins. Neither of us is particularly detail-oriented, which is why I liked the original idea of just showing up at the airport. We were wisely advised not to chance it with hotels over Christmas.

And being the true patriot that I am, the idea of two weeks in Quebec, split between Montreal, Quebec City and Sauveur, still feels very lovely. And think of all the extra money we'd have for wine, fine food and shoes!
Will keep you all posted,

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crowdsourcing Christmas - Day Four

We're sweetening the pot. Four days in and we're overwhelmed by all the great ideas. Now we are starting to search flights, travel times and accommodation in earnest.

So here it an effort to entice you to connect us with your overseas friends, we are offering CASH AND PRIZES (no wait, just prizes) to the person whose idea or connection we ultimately use.

We promise to bring back the coolest, most vivid, most evocative souvenir we can find, just to thank you for your efforts. Or at least a really good bottle of wine.

So...who wants to play?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Crowd-Sourcing Christmas DAY TWO

We are thrilled with all the ideas we are getting on Facebook. The following locales have been suggested: Bhutan, Budapest, Barcelona, Brazil, Bali, Greece, Venice, Hawaii, South Africa, Australia, Dubai, Prague, Tokyo.

Maybe it will come down to a vote?

We've also had offers to connect with friends in Whitehorse, Nepal, Japan, the U.K. and various American cities. Best offer so far: Canary Islands, Spain! An open invitation to a friend's home. But hoping for something that doesn't require three separate flights!

Two interesting ideas: David C. suggested a long train ride in a sleeper car (east or west?). Lindsey F. suggested we show up at the airport and fly to the cheapest overseas location. Love both of these!

Here are a few of our limitations:
-We can't do Africa without our kids;
-We can't do Greece as it's been promised to our youngest;
-We don't want a flight that takes longer than a day, because our holiday time is limited;
-And let's be honest...we'd prefer a suggestion that involves free or very cheap accommodation - swaps welcome. (We're happy to keep our hosts in wine and good food!)

We'll keep you posted as we narrow things down.
We want to hear from you!
Kathy and Mike

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crowd-Sourcing Christmas

Today Mike and I started Day One of our Christmas adventure. We are letting our friends, via social media, determine where we travel over Christmas this year. Our plan is to show up at the airport or train station ready to travel on December 26th (passports, carry on and credit card). So far on Facebook, we've had amazing suggestions ranging from an African Safari and the Greek Isles to Hawaii and Barcelona and beyond.

We plan to blog most days about the progress we are making in deciding where to go. Ideally, we are looking for more than ideas; as experienced Home Exchangers, we're looking for introductions and invitations! We'd like referrals to friends for house sits, couch surfs or spare room layovers. We have a lakefront cottage that might be an enticement for a summer getaway for an interested foreigner...

So, what do you think? Do you know someone, somewhere, who would love the company of two grateful Canadians just after Christmas? Decent conversation, some maple syrup and good wine guaranteed.

Now, any takers?

Kathy and Mike

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Babies and students and teenagers...OH MY!

I just found out - I mean JUST found out - not two minutes ago that one of my best friends in the entire world is pregnant. I can't stop crying. A million thoughts race through my mind about all that is she is about to face in the coming months and years. Another of my favourite people in the world also told me this week he and his wife are expecting. I can't even describe the strange, giddy, empathetic joy I feel on their behalf.

It's mingled with some grieving on my part. I am almost - officially later this year - the mom of three teenage sons, my youngest being 12. And I fight with these feelings that my work of being a mom is nearly done. I know, I know...people will claim they need me now more than ever. And I understand the whole guidance thing. But it's different. I'm raising Cameron to be self-sufficient enough NOT to need me. What an odd job. It's like a charity working to put itself out of business by raising enough funds to end a disorder. And it hurts sometimes.

And then one of my amazing students wrote me a card last week calling me his "second mom" and again there I was crying my ridiculous eyes out.

The kids we give birth to (or adopt) aren't our only chance to parent. We can take genuine care of nieces and we can help friends with their babies when they are sleep deprived and on the edge of insanity. And soon there will be grand-babies (but not TOO soon! You hear me MP and CP?). And then there are my students, who sometimes need a mom more than they need a lecturer.

I have a lot of kids.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Free-Range Kids

Lenore "Free Range Kids" Skenazy is my hero. Her controversial article in the NY Sun about allowing her 9-year-old to take the subway in NYC resonated with me. As a college prof, I see first-hand the results of over-parenting in helpless students needing to be handheld, spoon-fed and experiencing great anxiety over every challenge, disappointment and instance of bewilderment. "What should I do?" they decry, and I wonder how many times their parents replied with, "Just figure it out". My teaching -and life - mentor Danielle Van Dreunen told me she tried never to tell her son what to do. Moms: you know what a herculean task this is.

One of Lenore's most popular blogs is about how cell phones turn us all into babies. "I'll be home in 2 minutes." "I'm nearly home" "I'm getting groceries", and her refrain of "Don't call me from the car because you're bored" rings true. Best of all is her story of her 11-year-old son calling her five minutes after she left for work asking if he could have a piece of banana bread. I'M NOT HOME, she replied. Have chocolate and marshmallows. Have a vodka smoothie. Enjoy your GD freedom!

"Pretend it's the 90s and I'm unreachable."
I want that on a t-shirt.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Social Media Crankiness

I have been so immersed in reading about social media - case studies, best practice, how-to, critiques, analyses - that I've just about reached saturation. Not that I now know everything (click here to see why that's impossible) but that I've hit a point of crankiness when I start reading the same thing over and over AND when I start to see a repeated lack of complete common sense.

It comes down to this: make an amazing product, people will buy it. Think LuluLemon and their yoga pants which any woman will SWEAR takes ten pounds culture be damned. Think Starbucks, the company I hate to love: Absolute consistency in product, service, atmosphere. It's just smart.

Have all the fans, contests, games and apps you want. A bad business will fail because people talk. Word of mouth is still word of mouth; social media has just amplified the review.

I'm reading a Harvard Business Review social media series and an article (Dec 2010) on the updated "consumer funnel" and it's a load of B.S. I choose restaurants differently than cars and skincare. There is no formula that fits all buying decisions, or all consumers, in all cases.

Being smart with social media is no different than being smart in direct mail, on TV or on a billboard: Get attention, make a compelling promise and then - here's the tough part - DELIVER THE G-D promise! This is where companies DON'T invest. They hire the cheapest talent they can and don't invest in those folks. They cut corners and then wonder why people bad mouth them on social media.

Rather than spending gzillions on a slick campaign, just keep your word. And invest in world-class talent who will help you keep your word.

Now pass it on.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Free Social Media Plan

I've developed a new process for helping small businesses develop a smart, simple social media plan. I'm looking for one or two local small businesses who are willing to be a guinea pig for this process in return for receiving a free plan (regular price $999). Client will agree to offer feedback and be featured in case study/white paper. I will choose the client based on "right fit" (ie: B2C is better for this process).
For more information please email me at

Happy Marketing!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ten Types of Businesses and a Twitter Use for Each

This comes from my "100 ways series" that I use in workshops:

1. Consultants, advisors, coaches, speakers, trainers, 'experts' and wanna-be gurus: Share valuable content, connect followers, offer how-to info from respected blogs, and generally make 'em want more.

2. Retail (especially those stores that have really beautiful product): Photos...and lots of them. Flickr is your friend.

3. Travel brokers, agents, tour companies and accommodations: Sell-offs (and prices with no hidden extras).

4. NFPs, community organizations, associations: Acknowledge publicly your volunteers, board members and donors (with permission, of course). Post events with pics and post-event video.

5. B2B: Exchange war stories, RFPs, recommend suppliers.

6. Professional service firms: Customer service questions, deadlines, new legislation.

7. Restaurants, cafes and bars, etc.: Daily specials, local food on the menu, draught on tap, server suggestions, menu requests.

8. Homeowner services: Tips and free advice.

9: Businesses that teach or train: mini "how-to" videos.

10. All businesses: events, 'mention this tweet' contests, link to blog, job openings, kudos.

Did I ignore your business category here? Post a request and I'll reply.

Happy B.I.T.L.
(badminton in the living room)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Newsletter or Blog? A Question Posed on

Do you find it more effective to communicate with customers and prospects through a blog or through an e-mail newsletter? Asked on

Kathy Patterson | 2 minutes ago
This question is classic apples and oranges. While they are both valuable communication tools, a blog requires a "pull" technique whereas a newsletter is "pushed" to select customers/prospects. The decision comes down to whether people are looking for the information in your blog (ie: an IT exec writing about trouble shooting) and therefore find the blog via search, or if they are not looking, and therefore need to be direct marketed. The decision needs to be based on your very specific objectives, the content, and where your customers are in the buying cycle (awareness through to action). More and more businesses of late are using a blog wisely as a communication hub that all social media efforts and SEO points to. A major benefit of a blog is the ability to pose questions and elicit response and two-way dialogue. However if a newsletter offers a collection of information of use to a prospect, it can still be relevant. And why not integrate all? Push out a newsletter of value, and pull readers to a blog to comment. That's the best of both worlds...

Friday, January 7, 2011

10 Ways to Be Cool in 2011: a meticulously researched and peer-reviewed list.

1. Eat food grown by local farmers. This is becoming increasingly easier as amazing people such as join forces to gather and deliver local produce, meat, breads, and much more to local restaurants, foodies and concerned eaters. I'd like to see Wendy's Market set up depots in Kingston to reduce their delivery stops. I'll sign up as the first depot!

2. Make something! And buy more handmade. Check out the amazing jewellery made by a 12-year-old friend of mine Scroll down to the bracelets. Even her photography is wonderful. You can find amazing handmade goods at If you haven't checked this site out yet, you are in for a treat. Great source for handmade gifts.

3. Buy less cheap crap. Go for fewer, quality items. My mom's motto was "I'm too poor to buy cheap." As a depression-era thrifter, she was frugal before it was trendy. She would spend a month's salary on a coat because she knew it would last a decade. The global economy (read: cheap offshore labour) means we can buy 20 $5 shirts. Local garment-makers can only flourish if we buy one or two $30 shirts. Check out

4. Sleep more, sleep better. I'm a big fan of sleep. I never boast at needing only four or five hours because I don't buy it. It's a major cause of health problems and grouchy co-workers. Check out this amazing blog post about ditching your alarm, a little hippy, but worth a read

5. Work less, play more (unless - like me - you really really like your job and consider it play). This is only possible if you can live on less money, so refer back to rule #3, and cut up your damn credit cards. Most people I've talked to can't manage them and get trapped by them. If you want to learn how to manage them, check out Cheesy reality show? Maybe. Dead smart advice? Absolutely.

6. Bike wherever possible. Am I the only one who feels giddy on my bike? My bike is my prozac. And if you're worried about looking dorky, check this out (keeping #3 steadfastly in mind). Forget the Prius; ditch the suburbs and buy a bike.

7. Focus less on your weight, receding hairline, wrinkles, insert major source of insecurity here _________, and focus instead on someone else. is a great way to donate to another actual human being and follow their progress. If money is tight, you can always donate your time (although for me, time is tighter than money, because I sleep so much). Check out if you are interested in supporting an entrepreneur, or Big Brothers and Sisters if you want to make an even more meaningful contribution.

8. Join the Badminton in the Living Room movement. There is no link because, well, I started this. But it really is worth joining, honest.

9. READ! Want to feel smarter? Log off Facebook and read something. Whether it's Dickens, Maxim or Jodi Picoult on a Kindle, just do it. Great blogs make for great reading. I enjoy the curmudgeonly musings of one D.J. Berger. So funny

10. Sit, for a minute or two, and just look at and admire your kid(s), dog(s), mate(s), self(ves) or bike(s). Just marvel for a minute. This moment is all we've got. Hope this read was worth it.

Can you add to this list?

*No individual, organization or company mentioned or referenced on this blog has either reimbursed, or even given consent to, the author. In fact, most will never realize this was even published. Her bold pronouncements and promotions are strictly her own.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A great big messy creative contented life...

I had another of my usual stimulating discussions with Lindsey Fair yesterday, a very talented Kingston artist, marketing expert and social media enthusiast. I lamented to her that my blog was schizophrenic....I want to write about marketing, parenting, art, education, creativity, a messy life...all the things I am passionate about; but this jumbled mix is tough on readers. She is facing the same issue as she revamps her website into "right brain" and "left brain" activities, but then realized the common thread for everything she does is creativity. Ditto. She nailed it.

So I unapologetically proceed with my random blog about all things above and more. One thing I promise: clear titles, so my friends can ignore my marketing posts, and my clients can ignore my parenting rants. Fair? Fair.

Thanks Linds!
p.s. how's this for a random pic? Taken during a recent jaunt to Montreal. And we thought we were going for the fine french fare!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New media

Mike has been reminding me that although I have a million ideas for blogging, I have been devoting more of my time lately to Twitter than to substantial blog posts. Now that I have built up a reasonable number of followers on Twitter, and experienced how Twitter can benefit small business, I can recommit to blogging.

As a tip to fellow bloggers and social media enthusiasts: brief, relevant blog posts can be cross-promoted using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. They each, however have distinct uses, which I can discuss in a future post. To be honest, there are other things I would rather write about (art, parenting, learning, relationships) but I have experienced a surge lately in people inquiring about using social media for their business. I will use this space to help as many businesses as possible.

Tip of the day: promoting an event? Consider programming a QR code onto your event promotional materials so interested folks can simply scan the code for more info, rather than needing to remember an event website. Programming QR codes can be done using online apps, or you can contact a local company such as 14Theories which specializes in web development and online marketing.

Watch this space for more free tips on cost effective ways to build your business.
And for occasional random ramblings...