Friday, November 23, 2012


Dancing in the Moment

Why Dance can change your life

This week I am taking a little short cut from the Series Blog I am doing business. Why?  Because, I wanted to share my latest experience with all of you.

Joy Of Dance 
Recently I was contracted by Joy of Dance in Toronto to help them with their social marketing and business development. Part of the arrangement was and is that I get my butt back into class so I can round out the experience of being here.  OK. Got it.  I have a long and solid background in dance so it is familiar territory – or is it?  I haven’t been a class of any kind for over 7 years and although I love to B Bop around the house it’s not the same. 


The Total Package

First I have to say that I’ve been working within the environment of Joy of Dance almost every day for the last 2 months and it is truly is unique on a lot of levels.  It goes beyond the dance studio, the variety of classes and number of teachers toward something intangible but palpable.  It’s a place people – students, teachers and staff – call home.  There is magic here that works on you from the inside out as well as the outside in.  And it’s fun. 

The Benefits of Dance

So now I’ve had my second class within the Ballroom and Latin-dancing genre.  I was working through the steps with Mark (the par excellence teacher) when it hit me.  My body needs this, my mind needs this and my soul needs this.   I’d forgotten the Joy of Dance and what it taught me. I’d like to share of few of those things with you.

  •       Your physical presence is better.You walk better, stand better, sit better and damn it all- you look better. There is a confidence and elegance the grows

  •      You have a total sense of accomplishment.  Getting the choreography or the step when you thought you couldn’t is amazing.   It is real life proof that anything is possible

  •        It’s a great way to get in shape.  Dancing is a total work out.  You use your whole body so the muscle and tone is different than you get in a gym. But have you seen the pros on Dancing with the Stars?  They are lean, ripped and strong.  Plus it is so much fun.

  •        Focus.  People always tell me that my focus is razor sharp and rather extraordinary.  I have to say I owe that to dance.  Like any sport, you have to be present and pay attention in order to get better.  Dance is about reading your teacher, reading technique, reading choreography and being aware of your body all at the same time and in the same moment. 

  •       It is social. You can take group classes or private ones. It’s your choice but either way you will meet some great people and relationships will build.  How great is that

  •       Your never too old and it’s never too late.  With dance it’s true.  I see people at Joy of Dance from 3 to those over 60.   Now the older individual may not be doing Ballet or Hip Hop but I watch and marvel at their ability to master the steps and technique of ballroom. It’s keeps them fit and young. 


Maybe dancing isn’t for everyone but I think it is worth a try or at least consideration.  You never know, we might see you tripping the light fantastic at the local Tappas hang out.  

So stepping up, and keeping time until next time.  

Ellen Smith at Encourse.ca 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stop Chasing The Money

Rule # 3.  Have aBusiness Plan.  

The Fear Factor

I know this sounds like ano-brainer but you might be surprised at how many businesses don’t have a  plan other than a spreadsheet if even that.  What this creates is a primary  focus on weekly/monthly revenue. A certain myopia sets in not to mention paralyzing fear.  You stop paying attention to what else your business needs and that catapults you into a reactive state of mind.  Not Good. 

A Business Plan is Your Friend

A business plan done correctly is your friendand it’s not only about the numbers. It is the engine that drives because quitesimply it causes you to look at every aspect of your business; what’s working as well as what’s not, what needs to be strengthened, what needs to be eliminated, and more. Even if you are tiny (as in one person). this is still a criticalstep.  You’ll find that you startthinking about the End Game or another way of putting it is what it looks like when you are successful; who are your primarypartners who help you get there; what the market is out there and what you doand don’t know about it.  It doesn’t haveto be an over-whelming exercise- but it needs to be done.  Financials are important of course but ifthat’s all you look at you’ll never grow because you’ll be stuck on that bottomline. Mike Michalowicz suggests in his book The Toilette Paper Entrepreneur, that you break it down into quarters and call it a prosperity plan.  I happen to agree because it's an excellent idea that makes sense.  By doing this, you can set goals that time triggered and measurable which sets you up for an action plan that you can achieve.  

A business plan really doesn't have to be a big, cumbersome document that never gets looked at again.  It can be simple and to the point and doable.  I encourage you to set yourself up for success and get one done. 


Ellen Smith 

Encourse Marketing 

Your Success is Our Business


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

EnCourse Connect:

5 Rules to Growing Your Business


As an entrepreneur and small business owner I can honestly say that I have made every mistake in the book. Am I proud of this? Not terribly proud, no, however I have learned some invaluable lessons that I’d like to share with you.  What’s even better is that others who have been very successful have authored some incredibly good books that deal with how to do it better and t hose I will share with you as well. These people I don’t know personally (yet) but view them as mentors through their writing, videos and webinars. 


Rule # 1: Get out of Your Own Way

By getting out of your own way, I mean stop letting your ego dictate.  If you are intellectualizing what successful people are telling you then you’re not listening and if you find yourself still struggling, over-worked and frustrated then it’s time to look at why.  Chances are you are well entrenched in the fear factor and saying to your self “I can’t possibly do that” meaning getting rid of bad clients, low return practices or resources or refusing to chase the money.  As one of my real life mentors: Jeff Lord of Logograph has said to me over and over; Tell the Truth or if you can’t face it then you can’t fix it.  I can’t tell you how many times I ignored him or worse, believed I new better. Well he’s been making real money for a long time so you would think I would pay attention. 

I think the one thing that really hit home for me was sitting with him in a Montreal CafĂ© over (several) glasses of Pinot Noir when he just came out and said it. What’s it?  Ellen you’re an idiot. You’ve thrown away millions by not doing what I told you to do.  He was right. That's right, I said it. He was right!

Having been a very successful Senior Executive at a Multinational, I held the belief that I already new how to do this and I also hung on to the “stuff” that comes with position. You know what I"m talking about; car, house, money, status.  Now maybe you aren’t coming from that place but trust me when I say running something on your own is nothing like working for someone else and what you used to enjoy as proof of your success can leave fairly quickly. You are watching the money as well as chasing it, working 24/7 and doing a lot of it yourself- well - you know.  You have to be OK with that kind of shift nd firmly understand that stuff comes and goes and it will come again only this time with a new attitude. 

Stay tuned for rule # 2: Play From the End Game. This is Ellen Smith at EnCourse signing off for now. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

EnCourse Connect: HOW SMALL BUSINESSES REMAIN SMALL

EnCourse Connect: HOW SMALL BUSINESSES REMAIN SMALL: 6 WAYS TO SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT Often small businesses have trouble growing or surviving. If they do manage, often they get stuck ...

Monday, September 17, 2012

THE CMO TODAY AND TOMORROW:


WHAT IS THE DEFINITION A CMO TODAY

A CMO is part of the executive team and leads the entire marketing operation. This includes advertising, brand awareness, brand communication including public relations and analytics. However, there is a shift and that is a return to the 4 principals of marketing or the 4 P’s.  In my opinion this is long over-due (anchored in sound strategy) and a shift I look forward to seeing the future unfold in this area.

EXPECTATIONS OF A CMO


Recently good friend or mine and President of the American Marketing Association, Craig Lund was interviewed on the future of marketing and marketers, notably CMO’s . There were several points which I liked and would like to share:

  • Today’s CMO is expected to know it all which is a tall order and one which needs to be defined carefully and aligned to primary accountabilities (vs.responsibilities)
  • There is a trend back to establishing a sound strategy that is integrated across platforms so that consumers are engaged in a way that is relevant and rewarding
  • An ROI can be clearly and definitively measured.  There are a glut of measurement tools and what is needed is a Dashboard where ROI measurement can be consolidated
  • Experience in understanding the difference between strategy channel tactics is critical
  •  A CMO is often pulled in terms of their focus as CEO’s and Business Owners get caught up in tactics i.e. latest new thing
  • CMO’s are starting to demand a stronger voice and place at the table in tersm of setting strategic direction
NOW FROM A CMO’S PERSPECTIVE   

In a February 2012 study amongst CMO’s the findings state that they there is an optimism in terms of spending especially in social media, CRM and analytics.  This mirrors what Craig was touching on in his Podcast. Also noted in this survey is that the traditional emphasis of CMO is moving toward a more strategic role
 

Another study “CMO’s Agenda” report from strategic marketing consulting firm CMG Partners conclude four other core trends affecting CMOs. I source this directly.  

  • Strengthening the CMO/CEO relationship: Interviewed CMOs report that they are strengthening their credibility with the C suite, and CEOs in particular, through best practices that include framing recommendations in ROI terms (beyond creativity and the marketing budget’s P&L); educating themselves and top management on how marketing can contribute to the company’s growth/business performance; documenting where marketing opportunities exist and might be captured; and highlighting risks while laying out how those can be mitigated. Successful CMOs are also building relationships with fellow senior managers and creating intra-company alliances based on their ability to demonstrate marketing’s impact on their co mpanies’ performance.
  • Social marketing: Social media are not only transforming traditional principles of brand-building and customer loyalty, but altering human interaction fundamentals. CMOs are best-positioned within their organizations to lead the mission of understanding and mastering these complex trends,however, by virtue of their ages/backgrounds, few are “native social-media speakers and are mastering these challenges through “generational seeding”:
  • Managing Millennials: Millennial-generation marketing employees are critical because of their inherent understanding of social media, however their lack of experience in presenting with a crisp logic that is aligned to the busienss can be lacking and therefore but their insights are too often dismissed. A CMO invested in strong leaderrship will spend the time helping millennials “connect the dots” to unlock crucial learning in this area
  •  Demand creation: Successful CMOs realize that the ability to position themselves as the rightful keepers of the “innovation flame” – the critical, differentiating mission of creating the perception among consumers that a brand is delivering what they need/want even before they know it themselves – is extremely powerful, and the key to advancing their influence within their companies.
I think marketers are finally recognizing the absolute power the consumers have especially with the internet and social media.  You can be made or broken with a tweet and that consumer control is not going away which leads me back to brand basics.  What makes you unique, what is your positioning, what is your point of difference and what is your promise?  How are you relevant and how do get the consumer to say “they get me




Tuesday, September 4, 2012

HOW SMALL BUSINESSES REMAIN SMALL

6 WAYS TO SHOOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT

Often small businesses have trouble growing or surviving. If they do manage, often they get stuck and look for the quick fix. In a video posted by Watch Me Franchise Amanda covers off the 10 top mistakes businesses's make but I'd like to focus on 6.  


http://i4.ytimg.com/vi/HJZs5ClYE6w/default.jpg

Recently I was contracted to work with a company to develop their business and help them grow. Now in their 11th year they have not cracked the 3 million dollar mark. When I started to dig I began to understand why and then began to understand that they really didn’t want to hear it. Just fix it. This was the mantra for the contract duration and impossible to satisfy without their collaboration, support and participation. With this learning, I want to share some tips for doing it wrong or six ways to shoot yourself in the foot.

1. DON'T HAVE A VISION

Having a vision for your business is one of the foundations that set’s the path for your future. Without it your brand will remain undefined and uninspiring to anyone who comes in contact with it.


Your vision statement is a clear articulation and declaration of where you want your company to be in the next 5 or 10 years and without it, it’s like being in a sailboat without a sail or rudder and hoping you’ll get “there” eventually. A vision statement aligns your team and keeps you on course. Without it you and your team get caught up in the day to day without having a clue what you are headed toward. Innovation which is critical is often non-existent because there is nothing for innovation to stick to.

2. FORGET THE BUSINESS PLAN. JUST USE A SPREADSHEET


Bottom line is important however if your business plan is only a spreadsheet you will find yourself being a bit myopic and reacting constantly. It is thinking small in a major way. Why? Because your focus will be on money and sort-fall not growth. A spread sheet may have targets attached to it but goals and strategy are missing. Should you have investors and a spreadsheet is all you have by way of a business plan then count on being hounded constantly and getting a big huge ulcer.

3. DON'T MARKET. JUST FOCUS ON SALES SALES SALES!
Whether you are just starting up or you’ve been around for 11 years don’t assume people know you are there. An article posted in MarketingProfs Today talks about this and it’s worth the read, The company I was working with , while doing good work when they got it was flying under the radar therefore getting a sale was a long and often slow and expensive process even for an experienced sales person and especially one making cold calls. Let people know you are there and engage them. If you don’t have a large budget that’s OK you can create a sound strategy that connects with your audience all the same. Social Media is an important tool. Either invest in learning how to do it right or hire someone to do it for you. While this company does have a Twitter and Facebook presence they are not creating inbound marketing opportunity or engaging their community. They do have a decent website. Too bad no-one knows it’s there.

4). CHEAP OUT
By this I mean several things. If you pay your suppliers late you can rack up late fees and penalties. If you decide not to pay them for whatever reason it is the kiss of death. Either way the word spreads and people will not want to do business with you or they will demand strict terms if they do. Companies that are cash strapped in low volume periods often resort to this to buy time. It really isn’t a good strategy. The second thing is mark-up on top of your fees. I know a lot of people do this however, I am not sure I agree with it. If you have a fee model that builds in profitability you shouldn’t have to mark up for the few extra bucks you will make. Marking up on fees is double dipping and you can be known as expensive. I can’t tell you how much business this company lost because their pricing was too high for this very reason

5. TREAT YOUR PEOPLE BADLY AND FOSTER BAD POLITICS

Under-pay, over-work and threaten them, yell at them publically and threaten them with the loss of employment and see what that gets you. I can’t believe that the leaders of even the tiniest business thinks that fear is effective. It affects not only the quality of person you hire but it also affects the quality of work delivered. At the end of the day costs you money through attrition or lost business. Need I say more?

6. DON'T LISTEN AND PLAY THE BLAME GAME
This happens a lot. A business in trouble will ask someone like me to come in and fix it and then steadfastly refuse to listen, collaborate or participate. It’s much easier blame your staff, the client, the latest consultant or coach than it is to actually take a hard look at the inner workings of your business, its philosophy as well as leadership than do the work. This lack of responsibility will again cost you money but hey – it was someone else’s fault right? And that kind of thinking will in the end stop your business dead in it’s tracks.

This isn’t the only company I’ve seen struggle with these issues. There have been large ones as well as small ones and the thing is, something can be done about it. If any of the above hit’s home then maybe it’s time to explore the flip side.


Ellen Smith: Change Maker
@encourse
www.encourse.ca

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Planet Earth. Is Anyone Paying Attention?

I was watching the CTV National News at 11 the other night when somethingcaught my attention.   One of the major stories was how Harper is promotingbusiness alliances with foreign countries to develop our North and the Arctic.  Chinaapparently has a keen interest.

That story was immediately followed by a bunchof headline mentions that were evidently not worth covering in any greatdepth.  Buried within those was a scientificreport on the alarming and accelerated rate at which the ice caps are melting.That was it.  I less than 4 secondmention.  So once again, greed, and power onceagain trumps life. The thing is that I KNOW that this is a fact of life so Iwas amazed that I was amazed.

I rememberAl Gore's book and video about all of this and it’s potential for somethingthat is really not good for our way of life as we know it. It created aninitial flurry and then kind of went away. Too bad really.  Among otherthings he talked about was what happened when fresh water meets ocean saltwater and how at this rate a natural disaster is inevitable.  No-one reallydisagreed. Yet this fact doesn’t seem to be registering in the media.


Over thelast several years more attention has been given to the planet throughorganizations such as WWF whose Advocacy With Elegance takes a non-partisanapproach to the problem and encourages business to do the right thing. Theyhave made progress. Then there is Greenpeace which is good and active but too aggressivefor some people.  I have to give themcredit for getting the job done.  Andthere are countless people who are taking small measures in their own way toclean up the environment and reduce greenhouse emission.  But is it enough? I am not someone forconspiracy theories but the more I dig the more I realize how much we aren’tbeing told, Very simply, it’s bad for business. Yet there are those businesses that have made huge inroads in creatingproduct that contributes to our planets immediate need. And that I believe isthanks to the people who are making some noise and consciously choosing to notdo business with those who are not on board. I would encourage everyone to keepmaking those choices whether its computer companies are those who sell catfood. Hold them accountable and certainly demand to know more. 

When I was speaking to a friend about this the comment wasthat it is frustrating because one voice get’s us no-where.  Well if there are enough of those speakingand following through the noise becomes fairly loud. 

 My ex is someone who I put into the category of lovingbeauty with one foot stuck in the past. His stock answer (as is the case with many), is that nature has alwaysrighted itself.  Well that’s true and itwill likely do it again.  We may just notlike how.

 Our planet is a living thing but even it has itslimits.  WE have assaulted it over andover,   Why not give it and ourselves alittle help because it cannot sustain us at the rate things are going.



Well, this might be a rant but I just knowthat I had to add my voice to the mix. I hope you do the same in your own way.  


Planet Earth. Is Anyone Paying Attention?

I was watching the CTV National News at 11 the other night when somethingcaught my attention.   One of the major stories was how Harper is promotingbusiness alliances with foreign countries to develop our North and the Arctic.  Chinaapparently has a keen interest.

That story was immediately followed by a bunchof headline mentions that were evidently not worth covering in any greatdepth.  Buried within those was a scientificreport on the alarming and accelerated rate at which the ice caps are melting.That was it.  I less than 4 secondmention.  So once again, greed, and power onceagain trumps life. The thing is that I KNOW that this is a fact of life so Iwas amazed that I was amazed.

I rememberAl Gore's book and video about all of this and it’s potential for somethingthat is really not good for our way of life as we know it. It created aninitial flurry and then kind of went away. Too bad really.  Among otherthings he talked about was what happened when fresh water meets ocean saltwater and how at this rate a natural disaster is inevitable.  No-one reallydisagreed. Yet this fact doesn’t seem to be registering in the media.


Over thelast several years more attention has been given to the planet throughorganizations such as WWF whose Advocacy With Elegance takes a non-partisanapproach to the problem and encourages business to do the right thing. Theyhave made progress. Then there is Greenpeace which is good and active but too aggressivefor some people.  I have to give themcredit for getting the job done.  Andthere are countless people who are taking small measures in their own way toclean up the environment and reduce greenhouse emission.  But is it enough? I am not someone forconspiracy theories but the more I dig the more I realize how much we aren’tbeing told, Very simply, it’s bad for business. Yet there are those businesses that have made huge inroads in creatingproduct that contributes to our planets immediate need. And that I believe isthanks to the people who are making some noise and consciously choosing to notdo business with those who are not on board. I would encourage everyone to keepmaking those choices whether its computer companies are those who sell catfood. Hold them accountable and certainly demand to know more. 

When I was speaking to a friend about this the comment wasthat it is frustrating because one voice get’s us no-where.  Well if there are enough of those speakingand following through the noise becomes fairly loud. 

 My ex is someone who I put into the category of lovingbeauty with one foot stuck in the past. His stock answer (as is the case with many), is that nature has alwaysrighted itself.  Well that’s true and itwill likely do it again.  We may just notlike how.

 Our planet is a living thing but even it has itslimits.  WE have assaulted it over andover,   Why not give it and ourselves alittle help because it cannot sustain us at the rate things are going.



Well, this might be a rant but I just knowthat I had to add my voice to the mix. I hope you do the same in your own way.  


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

EnCourse Connect: BOOMERS VS. MILLENIALS- Who's Zooming Who

EnCourse Connect: BOOMERS VS. MILLENIALS- Who's Zooming Who: Ageism in the workplace is an unfortunate fact of life these days although legally this kind of discrimination can't be named. So, we'll cal...

BOOMERS VS. MILLENIALS- Who's Zooming Who

Ageism in the workplace is an unfortunate fact of life these days although legally this kind of discrimination can't be named. So, we'll call it Boomers vs. Zoomers.  It's been on my mind lately because as a Boomer I'm running into it everywhere.  If it doesn't pop up on an interview it shows itself as many companies are systematically getting rid of their over 40 + people.   

In a recent article by Money Wise Women the question was asked if it is age descrimation or attitude.  Good question and an interesting point of view.  In it Sherry Edwards compares the perceptions that go with both sides/  To name a few












Boomers are considered rigid and stuck in their ways, afraid of new technologies, slow to embrace new concepts and too expensive. 
.
Millenials are viewed as being stuck with fads and believe their way is the only way (sound familiar),slow to understand concepts outside of their experience, prefer social or email to actual face to face meetings and have bit of a you owe me attitude which can translate to in at 9 - gone at 5- no weekends and if you ask more than that and don't pay me I'm gone.

These are generalizations of course and their are exceptions yet this generalizations are put into effect every day and in every moment.

Cam Marston  of Marston Communications talks about the 4 generations in the work place today and the primary characteristics and values behind each.  His statistics are US based but I think it's safe to say they translate to the Canadian market place.  His point is that there is a way to bring these groups together effectively and in a way that is collaborative which means reduced attrition, which means money saved and maximizing the skills and experience each brings to the party.

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http://youtu.be/aGKhcQlCX14

I think the idea has merit and would love to see more companies embrace this notion rather than what I see happening.  One major media agency in Toronto has the reputation of being the under 30 club and recently got rid of virtually their entire executive team over 40. Seemed like a good idea but I understand they have quite a mess on their hands as those leading business are quitting and new hires are so green that their usefulness is questionable.  Another media vendor made it known that their preference was to hire young (and cheap) with most of their experienced sales staff let go within three months.

And now we have 25 Jennifer Kaiser promoting the future of marketing being shaped by the under 30's.  While I agree that their is  some exceptional and creative young talent out there experience does count. These group is just beginning to create theirs and perhaps should not write off what they can learn from people who have been put through their paces, made their mistakes and earned their stripes.

I believe we are at a tipping point and it's not necessarily a healthy one. What is also interesting is that those old stick in the mud boomers who are being forced out of their jobs are getting with the program. They are becoming very conversant with technology and social media as they search for the next opportunity. Expensive, well you might be surprised there as well.  When you've been forced out and have no immediate source of income perspective changes quite a bit.  So now you have savvy millenials that are creative and less costly as well as savvy boomers who can match that  criteria with an older face. 





I think employers should think again and look to see how both sides can bring value. They can  and do get along. One of my very good friends and an icon in the industry was let go this year.  People were upset especially the younger group because she is considered a great mentor because she has experience, is relevant and has depth.  Her replacement? Well let's just say that the grass did seem greener at the time.

Ellen Smith
Encourse Marketing and  Communications

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

THE INTEGRATED MARKETING AND BRAND STRATEGY GAME

While I haven’t beenactively blogging for quite some time, I have been busy in the land ofdeveloping brand strategies and integrated marketing for everyone else. Well, I’m backand this is the first of many blogs about strategies and solutions to grow yourbusiness, integrated marketing, tips and anything wonderfully interesting Imight run across.  But first let me tellyou what I’ve been up to. 

AGENCY LAND

 Being a communications andintegrated marketing strategist is a passion and  I love it.   It’s intense and fast. It's mufti-dimensional and mufti - platform with multiple players that you have to juggle and manage. It's left brain right brain thinking plus you are a brand strategist and a project lead all rolled into one.  You have to be knowledgeable on just about everything  but know when to get out of the way and let your team do their magic. Above all you have to make it seem seamless and not add time or concern to an already over worked client's life.   So where have I been living and breathingover the last few years. Well for starters at MediaCom Canada working onintegrated platforms for P&G’s Gillette Drafted partnered with The Score aswell as others.     From there Iwent to StarCom/MediaVest Canada and developed integrated initiatives for SilkSoya Beverages in Quebec- Savor the Difference, Kellogg’s Kashi with  Les Chefsas well as Best Conversation Ever with Wind Mobile nationally. This is just toname a few.  But more on these in futureblogs. 

 LEFT TURN TO EXPERIENTIAL

 For the last year I’ve beenserving as Director of Development at Speed XM an Experiential Marketing Agencyin Toronto.What I learned here was invaluable in terms of do’s and don’ts which are alsoto be shared in the near future. What I will say is that Experiential Marketingis an area that more marketers are starting to look at because it not onlybrings social to life it in a weird kind of way but it  was the fist kind of social networking beforethe social media explosion hit.  Now itintegrates the tools, and can provide some kick ass branded content along theway. 

So now I’m back and EnCoursestill lives doing what we do best: Providing great Strategic solutions that growbusiness and deliver results.

 I look forward to chattingwith you. Until next time.

 Ellen Smith. 


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