Three (full) months on…

…Thank you!

If you’re reading this, it means you’re part of my now three-month-old journey of full-time self-employment.

You’ve stopped by my site, followed me on social, dropped a line of encouragement, acted as a sounding board, offered counsel or assistance.

You’ve helped. So, thank you.

The past three months have flown by.

I have had the chance to work with new people, old friends, and old friends in new ways.

I have come to know, and become inspired by, organizations that are doing great things – some for many years and each in their own way – to serve people and change the world for the better.

I have attended conferences, networking events, and courses. I have met interesting, impressive people and emerged with new insights, new contacts, and new skills.

I have joined new professional associations.

I have also formed a great new strategic alliance with my BFF and an American friend. Together, we’re lining up some truly exciting, even game-changing things. (Stay tuned!)

An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.”

— Roy Ash, WWII veteran and Litton Industries co-founder

There has been much to chew on over the last three months.

At times, it has felt surreal. At points, it has felt almost overwhelming. But not once – not even for a moment – have I felt regret.

Here’s why.

Because over the last three months, not only have I become a better communicator, a better strategist, and a better business person. I have also become a better partner, a more present son, brother, uncle, and a more engaged friend, yogi, and volunteer.

I’m busier than ever. But I am a better busy. A fully energized, firing-on-all-cylinders busy. It’s a busy-ness that shows no sign of letting up, and I pray that it doesn’t.

I have so much to do and so much to look forward to.

And each of you still reading has not only got me here, you’re part of what’s next.

So, thank you. Sincerely. I am forever grateful.

The power of storytelling

Does this goldfish look smug to you? She might have good reason to be.

At 9 seconds, the attention span of the once-lowly goldfish is now longer than the average adult person’s (8 seconds), according to a 2015 study.

Look familiar?

While that study could be more fish tale than fact, there’s no denying that modern attention spans are pulled in all sorts of different directions.

Just look at these numbers:

  • 700,000 : Google searches performed every minute
  • 100,000+: Digital words a person processes on average, every day
  • 5.3 trillion: Online ads shown every year

Human brains are amazing organs. In computer terms, they’re capable of performing 38 thousand trillion operations per second. (The world’s fastest supercomputer can only do 0.002% as many.)

But even brains have their limits.

For messages to capture attention, create trust, and inspire action, they have to transcend informational clutter like never before.

That’s where storytelling comes in.

Stories have the power to cut through the noise because our brains have hard-wired attraction to narratives.

Character-driven stories with emotional content result in a better understanding of the key points a speaker wishes to make and enable better recall of these points weeks later.” – Paul J. Zak, Center for Neuroeconomics Studies

But that’s only one of several science-based reasons stories stick.

  • Stories activate cortex activity, unlocking the senses and more areas of the brain than basic facts alone.
  • They release dopamine, which encourages greater and more positive memory.
  • They also allow audiences to connect to their own ideas and experiences – a process called natural coupling.

Stories shape messages into meaning.

From a business perspective, stories also create more valued experiences for audiences and better ROI for brands.

So, what’s your story? And how can we help you tell it so it penetrates a hyper-charged communications environment to produce results right away?

Three easy steps for you to follow right now:

  1. Fill out the form on the contact page to schedule a conversation.
  2. Allow us to create for you a customized storytelling plan.
  3. Let’s execute the plan together.

News Release: June 3, 2019

WINSTON WILMONT FORGES NEW STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS

OTTAWA, ON (June 3) – Winston Wilmont is going global. Building on our national and international experience, Winston Wilmont President Chris Day today announces a strategic partnership with Las Vegas’ Magellan Marketing and Ottawa’s Tiger Lily Marketing.

The announcement comes as Tiger Lily Founder and CEO Kimothy Walker pitches the 2019 Canadian Export Challenge (CXC). CXC is a 1-day global accelerator and pitch competition tour presented by Startup Canada, in collaboration with UPS​, Export Development Canada​, ​and the Canadian ​Trade Commissioner Service.

The new partnership will take advantage of Canada’s status as the most connected G7 country and accelerate our access to the global market.

“Winston Wilmont is about adding real value for clients at every interaction; that’s part of our brand promise. This partnership with Magellan and Tiger Lily will increase our collective reach, enhance our service offerings, and create exciting opportunities for clients around the world.”  

Chris Day, President, Winston-Wilmont, Inc.

The partnership announced today seeks to:

  • leverage connections across two of the world’s leading industrialized economies;
  • maximize our unprecedented access to world markets, including emerging and developing economies; and
  • create sustainable, rewarding, and authentic experiences for the people we serve.

ABOUT WINSTON WILMONT + CHRIS DAY

Winston-Wilmont, Inc. is a bilingual, boutique consultancy specializing in integrated marketing communications, public relations and issues management, government and regulatory affairs, and event management and support. Founded by Chris Day in 2016, Winston Wilmont benefits from his extensive executive-level experience in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Chris has worked in and/or travelled to 77 countries on six continents (including work with both foreign affairs and immigration as a senior government advisor) and as such he forged deep connections around the world. Based in Canada’s capital city, Winston Wilmont has the knowledge and expertise to help global clients find success however they define it. Winston Wilmont adds value at every client interaction as part of its brand promise. A member of Ottawa Tourism, Winston Wilmont’s Live Local and Capital Concierge business lines operate at the intersection or business and leisure travel, with a focus on forging meaningful connections and creating memorable experiences.

ABOUT MAGELLAN + MICHAEL GOLDSMITH

Michael Goldsmith is a respected industry veteran with more than three decades of strategic destination marketing and management, aviation, hospitality and global tourism development experience.   Working with some of the most recognizable travel brands in the world, Michael has established a network of accomplished professionals to provide guidance, counsel and thought leadership to destinations and entities looking to create economic opportunities through tourism in a strategic, responsible and sustainable manner. Michael is a prolific global traveler and frequently shares his knowledge and experience as a featured speaker and panelist at international conferences and events.

ABOUT TIGER LILY + KIMOTHY WALKER

Kimothy Walker, a former network TV anchor and producer of 25 years, has been bringing together executive level consultants to provide clients what they need, when they need it through KWC Inc. and Ottawa Media Group (OMG) since 2014. Now going global with Tiger Lily Marketing, Kimothy is assisting clients who require strategic business development supported by effective marketing strategies and integrated services—from strategic planning and crisis communications to video production, social media and website development. Her team, with the combined experience of hundreds of years, has deep connections in Canada and around the world.

ADDITIONAL INFO:

Chris Day

Michael Goldsmith

Kimothy Walker

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Brand and the customer experience

Brand is holistic. Much more than a name, logo, or tagline, brand involves people’s every experience and perception.

While brand is a business’s most important asset, your brand is for your audiences first. Ultimately, it lives (or dies) based on how those audiences feel.

So the customer experience today is vital to brand promotion and protection. Perhaps more so than ever before.

Stanford researchers recently confirmed empirically that social content which embodies and conveys “brand personality” (like humour and emotion) leads to higher engagement than content that is purely informative. (Given the shift of advertising resources from traditional media to social, the findings are reinforcement gold for marketers who have to fight for promotion dollars.)

But when it comes to customer experience writ large, putting all your customer experience eggs in the social basket can leave your customers feeling scrambled, and fry your brand protection efforts.

Recently, I have had two experiences as a customer that have driven this point home.

After an atrocious ordering experience to get the computer I am using to type this post, my two-week old hard drive decided to simply stop working.

After more than two hours of trans-oceanic telephonic ‘technical support,’ I was still no closer to a resolution. Out of pure frustration, I posted to Twitter:

A near-instant reply was followed by a flurry of direct messages from a Twitter handle called @DellCares. After a couple of minutes of private exchanges, a new hard drive was being overnight couriered with a promise it would be installed by midday the following day.

Props to the issues managers @DellCares. Their handling of my Tweet was textbook quality resolution.

But if my initial order and subsequent technical issue had been better handled along the way, there wouldn’t have been a social issue (or public hit to the Dell brand) to resolve.

If anything, the company’s apparent willingness to move heaven and earth the moment a customer complains on a social platform may be counterproductive. It may in fact encourage public brand bloodletting. (I certainly wouldn’t have wasted more than two billable hours of my workday on the phone had I known that I could get action with a well-worded, 140-character complaint.)

Now contrast that example with another company’s approach.

ReTrak makes portable tech accessories; I recently bought one of their selfie-sticks to make it easier to shoot videos. When I got it home and unpackaged, however, I found it was defective. I sent an email to an email address that I found in the instructions asking what could be done (selfishly to avoid a return trip to a big box store on a Saturday). Within a couple of hours, I received an email that apologized for my inconvenience, and an offer to ship me a replacement, no questions asked.

Okay, granted, we’re talking about a 25-dollar stick, not a 2500-dollar machine. But the approaches could not have been more different.

Quick, seamless and courteous resolution in private vs. a maddening, inefficient, and ineffective customer Hell-loop.

One of the Dell people I spoke to suggested at one point that his company treated technical support as separate and apart from customer service. They’re different departments, he told me. I reminded him that to customers every interaction with a company ought to be considered customer service.

In my case was a brand hit avoidable? Absolutely. Who knows how many others have had similar experiences to mine? Does Dell capture that data and/or measure brand impacts?

Clearly, Dell has chosen to devote resources to rapidly address complaints on social. The company can, and ultimately did, offer good service. Arguably, though, it was too little, too late.

It may be more cost-effective in the short term for Dell to organize itself as it has, but I am left wondering how brand effective that approach is long term. (Several people I’ve told this story to have wondered why I didn’t just go with an Apple laptop. I certainly wondered that myself at certain points.)

And that’s the bigger point: what is the price of undermining one’s brand by failing to keep the customer experience in mind at every step of a company’s process and during every interaction? That may sound easier said than done, and it is. Yet plenty of organizations manage to get it right. (We all have stories of our own, no?)

I will assuredly buy another ReTrak product given their swift, effective action. But I will seriously consider purchasing another brand of laptop next time.

These two experiences have certainly made me think about my own customer experience practices, and how I will organize Winston Wilmont to assess, meet, and surpass my customers’ needs. I will strive to make every customer experience a positive one, and to add real value at every interaction. That’s why clients opt for boutique consultancies, after all. (Early feedback has been positive on both fronts, thankfully.)

The intersection of brand and customer experience is fascinating to me. I genuinely believe that getting ‘CX’ right every time will ensure long-term success, and reduce brand promotion and protection costs long term, regardless of your organization’s size or sector. So…

How is your organization doing in serving your clients? Do you have a brand promise? If not, why not? If so, what are you doing to live it daily?

Feel free to get in touch to discuss further.

What’s in a name? A lot.

Brand is everything for a business.

It’s not only a business’s most fundamental asset – something to be protected at all costs. It is also expressed in, shaped by, and subject to every single interaction a business has with its customers.

Brand is a holistic thing. It’s how people feel about your products and services. And that’s why it’s so hard to get right. You can only control so much of it…the rest is up to the people who you hope will keep you afloat.

We will be sharing some thoughts about branding in the coming days and weeks.

But, to us, a great brand story starts with the name.

Here’s the story behind ours: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6531188470604402688

The intersection of marketing communications, public relations, government relations, and more…and getting to success, however it’s defined.

Next steps in the journey

Anyone who’s travelled with me knows I love solo morning walks on the beach.

They are, for me, moments of quiet contemplation and deep introspection. In short, they are when I do some of my best thinking about life and living.

One recent walk confirmed for me a series of decisions that began with a jolt in February.

Courtesy: USGS

My partner JF and I were in Guayaquil, Ecuador having just scratched a visit to the Galapagos Islands off our travel bucket list. Early one morning, a powerful earthquake and several strong aftershocks rattled the city and sent us into the streets with shaken locals. (Ecuadorians experience frequent tremors so their concern was telling.)

While not a major event by any means, the quake did shake loose some thoughts that lead me to today.

As we left Guayaquil, I found myself thinking through a number of ‘what if’ questions. Ultimately, my answers to those questions over the days and weeks that followed compel me to make a professional change.

I started Winston Wilmont back in 2016 mainly as a side hustle. An opportunity to work with clients I like on projects of interest, here and there, where I could make a difference.

My main focus, though, was on my busy full-time gigs in senior leadership roles first in the health sector and most recently at Canada’s national housing agency. I loved both jobs, the people I worked with, and the purpose of each organization. I learned and grew professionally and personally. I was content.

That said, all those ‘what if’ questions of recent months have confirmed for me that I need to fuel my entrepreneurial passions. I need to stake out new ground.

Winston Wilmont will now be a full-time venture for me.

Whether it’s integrated marketing communications…public relations…government relations and regulatory affairs…issues management…events… I look forward to collaborating with great people and trailblazing organizations doing amazing things in their respective fields.

So, let’s chat…let’s explore what we can do together…and here’s to the journey ahead.

One year and counting…

Canada’s next federal election is now less than a year away.

Recent provincial writ periods saw some important undercurrents among electorates come to the fore. Federal politicos should be taking note.

Voters have shown themselves hungry for change, open to new ideas and ways of doing, and willing to consider new political options.

The result: more electoral volatility than we’ve seen in decades.

Demographic, socio-economic, and geopolitical developments – some of them underway for several years – favour neither incumbency, nor complacency, nor political expediency. 

Recent provincial polls seem to show voters are craving real solutions to the issues that matter most to them and their families. They crave authenticity. They assign no primacy to the status quo (least of all for its sake alone). They want action furthering their interests and respect for their values and beliefs.  

If that means putting the keys to power in new hands, even temporarily, so be it. Fake it and you’ll fail. Break faith at your peril. (Some may wonder why it took so long for us to get to this spot, yet here we are.)

Political parties of all stripes are looking to navigate the current reality.

For people and organizations with solutions to problems big and small, this is a time of real opportunity.

Giving voice to the needs and wants, concerns and preoccupations, of voters while at the same time connecting dots, filling gaps, offering solutions, can get you a seat at the table, and perhaps even a place in electoral platforms.

The clock is ticking. Make the most of every moment.

Winston Wilmont | The blog

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I am truly excited to officially launch Winston Wilmont and winstonwilmont.ca.

Not only am I looking forward to working with corporate clients to ensure their communications and public affairs needs are well met, I am also really stoked to welcome people to Ottawa – my hometown – as part of our visit and event management services business line.

I love our city. I can’t wait to share that passion with others.

If you’re coming to Ottawa on business, our Capital Concierge service is for you. We can help you plan and stage great events. We can help you ensure your corporate meetings really work. And we can take care of details big and small throughout your stay to give you a leg up with clients and decision-makers.

Regardless of whether your trip is for business or pleasure, our Live Local itinerary planning service will make your visit unforgettable. Canada’s Capital Region is more than stately buildings, great museums and poignant landmarks. It’s a thriving, multi-cultural urban centre made up of vibrant, accessible neighbourhoods. And, in Ottawa, spectacular, natural experiences are never far away. Let us help you experience both in a way no guide book or tourism website ever could – with personalized plans crafted just for you and your fellow travellers.

Winston Wilmont knows Ottawa. Let us help you get to know it, too!