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Entrepreneurial

Changing the Lives of Toronto Youth

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Canadian Telecommunications and Collaboration for Business

I pride myself on connecting people with their calling—but there are kids in Toronto who haven’t even had a chance to figure out who they are before facing huge challenges. The Pinball Clemons Foundation has an Ambassador School Program here in Toronto that helps kids who have been plagued by destruction find the opportunity to finish high school and set their lives back on a successful track. Children are the future, they are the next generation, and they are the bright minds of tomorrow. The Ambassador School Program provides a safe space for kids to discover themselves, their passions, and their purpose.

In partnership with the Children’s Aid Foundation, the Pinball Clemons Foundation Ambassador School Program is empowering youth in Toronto to discover hope through the completion of high school, valuable life skills, and goal setting for a brighter future. Each year, this partnership ensures that 15-20 students aged 16 to 24 have access to a safe learning environment that provides a curriculum unique to their needs, career counselling, tutoring, nutritional education, financial literacy, adult and peer support, and public speaking opportunities.

The Victory Charity Ball is an event that raises money to support the Pinball Clemons Foundation Ambassador School Program. Last year’s event was sold out and raised a total of $234,000.00, which funded one full year of the program and started a scholarship fund. Victory Charity Ball 2017 will be on June 1st this year and a Wish Group associate, Kevin Lawler, will be one of the business boxers fighting at this event. I am proud to work with incredible individuals at Wish Group each day, and Kevin is no exception. He puts 100% into everything he does and he has been training hard to put on the best fight/show of his life. Matt Ley from The Streaming Network caught up with Kevin to do an interview where you can learn more about the event, the Ambassador School Program, and how to get involved.

Watch the interview now to learn more about this unique event and program that is changing the lives of Toronto youth and cultivating the leaders of tomorrow.

Growth Hacking Your Way to Success

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Growth Hacking Your Way to Success

There may not be a shortcut to success, but there are techniques that can make the path a little smoother.

Entrepreneurs are usually bootstrapped in terms of their time and money. A fallout from this can be the lack of marketing know-how or the ability to hire a marketing professional. This is where growth hacking can come in handy.

What is growth hacking?

Growth hacking is the use of out of the box thinking and technology to achieve massive growth in a short time.” It involves a lot of experimentation with marketing and product or service development to identify the best ways to grow your business as quickly as possible. You will want to try a lot of ideas, track their progress and move quickly from one to the next if one isn’t working.

There are some things to keep in mind before you try growth hacking:

Make sure your product or service solves a problem

An example of this is Uber and their ability to offer people who don’t have cars an alternative to the traditional taxi system.

Offer something for free

When Dropbox got started, they offered free storage to each person who joined and they continue to offer 2 GB of storage for free. People love getting things for free, and when you need them to try a new product or service, you want to remove the barrier of cost so that they try it and then realize it is worth an investment.

Make your product or service easy and fun to use

In today’s world, we have choices for everything and people tend to prefer a product or service that is easy and fun to use.

Be the best

There may be a lot of competition in your space, but your chance of survival depends on your ability to be the best and to communicate your differences to your target market.

Use competition to your advantage

Collaborating with your competition can give you an edge. Airbnb used to advertise on Craigslist to expand their reach, and Instagram allows cross promotion on other social platforms to maintain their position as the go-to photo sharing platform.

No customer is too small

Keep all of your customers in mind and cater to the small ones because they are key for your growth hacking strategy. Eventbrite continues to show support for their smallest customers by offering free service for any event that is free to attend.

Be scalable

Before you try growth hacking, you need to be prepared to grow. If your business isn’t ready for growth, it can have a negative effect on the quality of your product or service, which can negatively affect your brand and drive customers away.

Growth hacking won’t work for every business, and it may depend on the stage your business is in. There is no one size fits all formula, so have your goals in mind, try growth hacking strategies and continue to learn as you grow.

Focus on where you’re going, not where you are.

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Focus on where you're going, not where you are.

There are reasons why a business that gets started in a garage becomes a massive success. One is that they are unapologetic about being a start-up.

Apologizing for where your business is at as you’re building it can distract you from reaching success. You want to make sure your organization stays disciplined in bootstrap or start-up stages.

Watch Episode 3 of Bootstrap: Don’t Apologize For Yourself to learn more.

A Successful Company Has Asked “Who” before “Where”

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Who Before Where

As an entrepreneur, you probably like taking on tasks and doing things to move your business forward. Recruiting talent is one of the most time consuming processes. If you’re not enjoying it, or not as proficient at it, it’s a good idea to start a partnership with a recruiting company. Jim Collins, author of the book Good To Great, compares a business to a bus and the company leader as a bus driver. He underlines the importance of asking who you need in each specific seat when it comes to identifying the talent that you need to grow your business

Strategy Play

I think of my company like a sports organization. There is a difference between teams that are in a rebuilding phase versus teams that are very close to a championship. The talent you acquire will be different based on your goals to make a run for the championship or to rebuild your team. A start-up company is similar to a team that is in a rebuilding phase; it’s not a 9am-5pm environment, you’re developing systems and processes, you’re creating infrastructure, and players on the team are wearing a bunch of different hats.

The role that recruiters play in an unfunded start-up is to identify passive talent, people who aren’t necessarily on the market looking, and to do the time consuming work of screening applicants for job positions. Peoplesource Staffing Solutions is part of the Wish Group portfolio, and they are the best resource when we’re looking for more talent to join our team. Recruiters will already know where some of the top talent is specific to your industry. You can set up a partnership with them where they are identifying and funnelling in talent for you to review, or they can be more heavily involved throughout the entire process.

When you identify and acquire who you need to have in each seat, you won’t be as worried about where your business is going, you’ll be able to see how far your business can go.

Watch Episode 1 of Bootstrap to hear more of my insights about People, Recruitment and Hiring Best Practices. Let’s see how far your business can go!

http://bit.ly/BootStrapPeopleRecruitmentAndHiring

Boot Strap People Recruiting And Hiring

5 Mistakes Leaders Make

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5 Mistakes Leaders Make

There isn’t one right way to be a good leader, but there are a few mistakes to avoid.

1. Losing the 10,000-Foot Vision:

As the leader, your vision needs to be the main source of inspiration for your company. In the Bootstrap series I talk about stepping back from your company to get the 10,000 foot view. Sometimes being too close to your company can cause you to change or lose your vision to accommodate short-term goals. Take the time you need to get clear about your company’s vision, and return to work with renewed power.

Toronto, Entrepreneur, Frank Cianciulli, Wish Group, Business, Vision, Boot Strap

It’s common for employees to get consumed by their tasks of completing short-term goals and lose track of the company vision. One of the most important jobs as a leader is to create time to remind team members about the long-term company vision and show them how their day-to-day short-term goals are contributing to the overall vision.

As the leader, your vision sets the tone for your entire company.

2. Building a Lopsided Team:

All teams are built from employees who have strengths and weaknesses. We are all human, no matter what we say in a job interview, we have areas that we are trying to grow in. If an employee thinks they don’t have any weaknesses or areas to work on, they’re not going to grow within your company anyway. So accept that your team has strengths and weaknesses, and focus on building a team that is filled with employees who can support each other.

Toronto, Entrepreneur, Frank Cianciulli, Wish Group, Business, Vision, Boot Strap

On sports teams, players are brought in to fill specific roles. While your company may be a start-up that requires employees to fill multiple roles, you need to recognize each employee’s strengths and weaknesses as they relate to their roles. As the leader you need to manage the strengths of your team to maximize productivity, and you will also need to manage the weaknesses of your team to understand where your team has opportunity to grow, and the skills you will need to acquire to fully round out your team.

3. Being too Business Formal:

As the leader it makes sense that you want to leave your personal life at home, but our workplaces are such a big part of our lives. You cannot be impersonal with your employees and expect them to enjoy where they work. You need to allow for some personality to grow within the company and make employees feel valued for what they bring to the workplace.

Toronto, Entrepreneur, Frank Cianciulli, Wish Group, Business, Vision, Boot Strap

Acting too impersonal can also keep a barrier between you and your team, which makes them hesitate to bring important matters to your attention. As the leader at Wish Group, I like to walk around the office and speak with everyone. These interactions allow me to connect with Wish Group associates; they’re informal so we’re able to talk about work or personal things, and they open up a two-way dialogue that lets my associates know they can approach me about anything.

Get out there and talk with your people on the ground floor to build personal relationships.

4. Discouraging Innovation:

Many leaders claim they foster innovation in the workplace, but when you look into their culture you don’t find any room for innovation. It is one thing to say that you want your team to be innovative, but if you don’t give them room to tinker, try things out, and make mistakes, you are not fostering a culture of innovation. Not all innovation will succeed, so you need to motivate your team to keep striving when they don’t achieve instant success.

5. Forgetting to Celebrate Milestones:

You may not think it’s a big deal to forget a birthday or work anniversary, but to many employees it is important to be recognized. These milestones will be important to your team members, so get creative with how you alert the company. Celebrating birthdays or work anniversaries builds a sense of belonging, company morale, and motivation.

Sending out e-cards for birthdays is a good way to get started!

Toronto, Entrepreneur, Frank Cianciulli, Wish Group, Business, Vision, Boot Strap

Remember that there isn’t one right way to be a good leader. The best way to improve is to be open with your team and accept their feedback. As your company grows, new employees will be added to your team that require unique leadership. The job of a leader is never done and it is always changing.

If you have any tips to use or avoid as a leader, share them in a comment below.

Frank

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How Company Culture Creates Big Success

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How Company Culture Creates Big Success

We can talk about the importance of company culture and the type of culture you want to build into your business, but the only way to establish and build your company culture is to work on it.

That’s a big reason for our annual Kick Off meeting. Wish Group gets together as a whole company, we talk about what happened in the previous year, we celebrate accomplishments, we talk through what we’re working towards in the New Year, and we spend time connecting with each other. Kick Off is about building connections and building the culture of Wish Group together.

Kickoff 2017

Leadership is about leading by example, and serving others by bringing the best out of them. As a leader, my focus is on finding the right people who will excel in the Wish Group culture, providing them with avenues to grow within the company, and empowering them to be part of the culture. I am not the type of leader who needs to be seen daily to drive results; my company is filled with people who are self-motivated and strive to be better than they were last quarter.

“Good people are not just crucial to a business, they are the business! Finding them, managing them, inspiring them and then holding on to them is one of the most important challenges a business leader faces.” – Richard Branson

One of the keys to Wish Group consistently appearing on the Profit 500 list and winning other company awards is the way my people build and drive each other. I work each day to grow the company and connect with people who will benefit from Wish Group, and it is the people I have working in the business who help keep the day-to-day momentum going. Kick Off and Summer Reunion are the two big events at Wish Group where I work to motivate the whole team, reinforce the vision I have for the company, discuss what’s been working or hasn’t been working, open the floor for direct feedback, and recognize all of the individuals who make this team what it is. I find these events are just as motivating for me as they are for my team!

If you’re a business leader, and you’re not connecting with the people in your organization regularly, you’re not going to see big success.

My experience at Darome Teleconferencing, before it was bought by Bell, is what inspired me to start my own business, and what continues to drive me to build the company culture at Wish Group.

Company culture is not something that happens organically, it requires hiring the right people who will fit in with your culture, managing people in a way that motivates them as individuals and a collective, inspiring them to want more for themselves and their colleagues, and holding on to people who not only fit your culture but embrace it and work to build onto it.

At Kick Off this year, Wish Group celebrated employees who have been with the company anywhere from 6-10 years! I am so proud to have these people as part of the team. While I understand and support employees who leave for other opportunities, I continue to work towards building a company culture that makes my employees excited to get up on Monday mornings, encourages them to learn and do more, and is open to feedback from employees who are living the culture.

Frank quote for Monday Mornings

I believe that you get what you work for, and Wish Group supports each employee to grow as much as possible. It is those employees who take the opportunities for growth that continue to work with us and some even develop their own business to grow within Wish Group.

We have a unique environment here with amazing people. You can build your company culture into a thriving environment as well, but it takes hard work and constant improvements!

As the leader of Wish Group, I am visible, but I’m not the star of the show. At Kick Off I sat at the front of the room to take notes and ask questions. I learned from my people because they are the ones I hired to be the best in their area of expertise. We learn from each other, we learn from our successes, and we learn from things that haven’t gone as planned.

Building a company culture based on transparent growth and a learning environment fosters more creativity, more opportunity for employees to take control of their own destiny, more growth and more happiness.

What are some of the ways you work to build company culture? Share them in a comment below.

Frank

Burning Out at the Beginning

By | Wish Group, Entrepreneurial | One Comment

As I covered in a previous blog series, your mindset is your money maker. Without a growth mindset that is always on and aligned, you will be limiting your success.

Another important part of your mindset is making space for recharging physically, mentally and spiritually. Here we are, working into the second week of the New Year, but if you had a busy holiday season, you might be rushing full-speed into a burnout.

Your business is demanding more and more energy as you work to get 2017 off to a great start. So how can you de-stress quickly without taking time off work?

Here are 5 Simple De-Stress Hacks to Prevent Burnout:

1) Micro Break

I know, I know. We just got back from the holiday break, but if your “holidays” were anything like mine, you were rushing around to get to parties, scheduling time with all of your friends and family members to squeeze in a visit with everyone, and hosting big dinners. You managed to survive the first week back to work, but I bet your energy level is low and your brain might even be starting to feel a little foggy.

You’ll need to know yourself to make the most of your micro break, so pick a solution that will work for you. If you’re more of an introvert, plan a walk through nature, a spa experience like a facial, pedicure or massage. If you’re more of an extrovert, have a pub night out with one person so that you only have to focus on one conversation, but you get the full experience of a busy atmosphere. A micro break could also be scheduling time for you to be creative, like colouring in an adult colouring book, painting, sculpting, etc. Getting creative engages your brain in a new way and can lead you to breakthroughs rather than burnouts.

2) Disconnect

Even with a micro break, you should consider a full disconnect. We are constantly distracted with our devices because they keep us too connected to our business and the outside world, and we’re distracted from our own minds. Your mind is where your power comes from! If you’re overloading yourself and your mind is starting to feel foggy, you’re setting yourself up for wasted time, missed opportunities, and burnout.

3) Sleep

It is so important to get the amount of sleep that your mind and body needs. We are all different, some people only need four hours of sleep to feel fully refreshed, and others need closer to eight or nine hours to feel like their best selves. Either way, make sure you’re not skipping sleep to “power through” the start of the New Year, because the only thing you are powering yourself up for is a total burnout. You may feel like a super hero with your goals planned out and an action plan already in the works, but your money maker (aka your mind) needs you to be asleep to rest and regenerate.

4) Time With Loved Ones

Again, I know we just got back from the holiday break, which was most likely filled with time spent with your loved ones. This time, I mean select a small amount of your loved ones that you need to reconnect with. Our relationships keep us grounded, loved, and secure enough to dream bigger. If you have a significant other, you probably spend a lot of time together, but how much of that is true quality time? Plan a special date just for the two of you and disconnect from your devices so that you give your undivided attention. You’ll be surprised how refreshed and inspired you can be from taking an interest in building your closest relationships.

5) Me Time

Even if you’re more of an extrovert and you love being around people, there is a part of you that needs to be alone to recharge. Me time can be part of your micro break, or a separate occasion. Our time is constantly being taken up with meetings, handling projects, planning new ventures, and more. When is the last time you had a moment to yourself? My biggest tip for finding me time is to schedule it in your calendar and consider it a very important meeting. During your me time you could disconnect and go for a walk, go to the gym for a workout, read a book, pursue a new or old hobby, write in a journal or do any other activity that you enjoy.

Do you use any of these hacks already? What are some other ways you de-stress? Share them below in a comment so we can all find new ideas.
Let’s de-stress so that we can push forward with strength.

Frank

5 Quick Tricks to Make You More Productive in 2017

By | Wish Group, Entrepreneurial | One Comment

5 Quick Tricks to Make You More Productive in 2017

The first day back from any holiday can be the hardest.

We all have days when we don’t want to get out of bed, and the first day back to work after the Christmas Holidays can be tough to jump into!
If you’re lucky, your New Year’s resolutions have you revved up and ready to tackle 2017. If you’re not feeling as energized as you were hoping, I’ve got some simple hacks for you to trick your mind into being more productive.

1) Accomplish One Quick Task

Making your bed is the first and easiest task to complete; this one is a no-brainer. Once you start your day, complete one quick task that is on your to-do list. Ideally this will not involve emails, and it will be something that you can complete in about an hour. Accomplishing one quick task sets you up for success and gets you feeling more motivated to continue working.

2) Disconnect from Distractions

We all have necessary things that actually distract us from being productive. For some people this is emails, or the noise of their cell phone, or people chatting in the office. Discover the things around you that are causing distractions and find ways to disconnect from them. If your emails are a distraction, turn off the desktop notifications and set up certain times throughout the day that you will check/respond to emails. If your phone is distracting you, put it on do not disturb mode or silent and even consider putting it in your desk drawer. If people chatting in the office is distracting for you, use noise cancelling headphones or earplugs, or move to a quiet space in your office.

3) Reward Your Wins

No matter how small the win might be, you need to reward yourself so that your hard work always pays off. Did you accomplish that one quick task? Take yourself out for a coffee! Rewarding yourself will keep you positive and motivated. The days and years of business are filled with large and small tasks; all of which need to be accomplished little by little. You can keep yourself motivated throughout larger tasks by breaking them down and rewarding yourself as you accomplish smaller steps.

4) Get Moving

Making time to get moving each morning will help energize your body and your mind. This can be as simple as a 5 minute routine before you get dressed, a walk outside during your lunch break, or a tough workout. Making time to get moving helps to clear your head, which will leave you feeling fresh and motivated.

5) Watch Bootstrap

One of the best ways to set yourself up for success in 2017 will be to join me in the new Bootstrap series. This is where I will be sharing my secrets to replicating success, the business practices that have helped me scale multiple businesses, and much more.

GET FREE VIP ACCESS

There are many more ways to set yourself up for a productive day. Share some of your favourite tricks in a comment below, and let’s kick off the New Year with productive minds ready to take massive action.

Frank

You Can’t Buy Time, But Wish Group Can Gift It

By | Wish Group, Entrepreneurial | One Comment

You Can't Buy Time, But Wish Group Can Gift It

The holiday season is right around the corner. Many of us are busy evaluating how our businesses performed over the past year and making plans for building success in the New Year.

At Wish Group, we try to stay focused on the people in our organization and in our community during this busy time. We know that the best part of the holiday season is spending time with the ones you love and creating memories that last a lifetime. We like to think of our company as a family, and we hold two events each year that are meant to bring us closer as a team and build our trust and skills.

This year’s Holiday Party was as fun as ever!

The Holiday Party begins with breakfast and coffee, followed by a catered lunch and time spent catching up with each other, and we finish our festivities with a game of Rude Santa. This party is all about good people, good food, good fun, and creating great memories.

Throughout the years, Wish Group has worked to be a socially responsible member of our community. Three years ago, we learned that some of our clients and employees had loved ones who could not make it home for the holidays, due to distance, cost or health issues. Something we value closely is spending time with the ones we love over the holidays and creating memories that last a lifetime. This value is what started the Holiday Wish contest.

Our holiday wish is that everyone is able to get home to be with family, and each year we send out a form to all of our clients to nominate someone who needs a little bit of help to get home for the holidays. In our first year, we helped members of a family fly home to be with their loved ones, and last year we flew someone home to be with their family. Time is something that money can’t buy, but with some help from Wish Group, we were able to give the gift of time spent with family over the holidays.

We are so happy to say that we are helping another family this year, and we will share that story with you once we get them home.

Enjoy the time that you will have with your loved ones over the holidays, and let’s spread happiness!

Frank

Success Can Be Replicated

By | Wish Group, Entrepreneurial | 2 Comments

Success Can Be Replicated

If you’ve been reading my blog posts, you probably know a little bit about who I am. I’m going to fill you in with more information and unveil a project that my team at Wish Group and The Streaming Network has been working on.

As an established entrepreneur in Toronto, I am proud to say that I have launched and co-founded multiple successful businesses over the past 15 years. A brief summary of Wish Group can be seen here: http://wishgroup.ca/about/history-and-awards/. Through this summary, you can see that success can be replicated! I have had many mentors over the past 15 years, and they had a strong positive impact on my knowledge, growth and success. I want to multiply my ability to mentor others and spread the seeds of success.

Over the past 15 years I have been asked many of the same questions from aspiring entrepreneurs. Each time I answer these questions, it may provide the knowledge or the spark that sets someone else’s business journey on fire. I want to share my passion and my success with as many people as possible, so my team has helped me create a video series called Bootstrap. These videos provide insights for the self-funded entrepreneur, including ideas of how to get started, best practices for business, strategies that have or haven’t worked for my businesses, how I’ve scaled my business without the benefit of venture capital or bank financing, and so much more.

Including other people on my journey through success has been something that keeps me inspired. No one achieves success completely alone, and you cannot celebrate success alone either.

Join me on a journey towards your own success; sign up to gain VIP access to the Bootstrap series! Bootstrap is scheduled to launch Wednesday, January 11th, but you can get the videos before anyone else. As a VIP member you’ll get the first video directly to your inbox January 4th, and after that, you’ll receive each video a full week before it’s launched.

Not only are the videos delivered to your email for convenience, you get an edge over the competition!