All Weather Windows Sales Awards Gala

We get it, special events are nice to have, not the need to have and are typically the first thing to get cut when challenging times face an organization. In the hierarchy of business needs, events wouldn’t even make the top 10 for most organizations.

It’s because of this reality that we appreciate organizations like All Weather Windows that still take the time to host an annual Awards Gala for their sales team. This year’s awards gala was done virtually and although people said they wished they could have been together in person, many people commented that they were proud and happy to see the organization still host the event!

The All Weather Windows team has been doing this annual event for a long time and is a highly functioning and efficient team. With only 3 weeks from ED joining the team to event day, we assisted with the virtual world insights on how to produce an awards gala. What’s the best part of an awards gala? The live reaction of the winner of course! There are many ways to capture the reaction and what was best for this team and their event was to have fake meetings scheduled with the winners that the leadership then hijacked and shared the big news. Those meetings were recorded and highlight reels were created to share during the awards program.

This event was 100% pre-recorded and produced in advance of the event, which pushed the planning and timeline up even more. The in-studio recordings were done 1 week in advance and the rest of the content came together just in time to preview the entire show the day before. Having the event fully pre-recorded was partially a decision based on health and safety of their staff during COVID and also it allowed the MC and other speakers to fully engage with attendees in the chat and networking rooms during the event.

I had the opportunity to move around the networking rooms before and after the awards presentations and the energy around meeting new team members, seeing colleagues from across the country and celebrating the award winners was an honour to see. The team is committed, resilient and as their mantra has been, they are ‘All In’!  Congratulations to all of the winners.

Stock vs. Reality

While working on ED’s website, our team had an enthusiastic discussion about whether or not to use stock photos or ‘custom’ photos on the site. I mean we all have a phone with a camera, how hard could it be to take a few ‘true to life’ photos for the website? Can’t be that hard. 

Turns out it’s not that hard (HA!), but we liked stock images better – mostly. 

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Who doesn’t have 2 large bowls of fruit in their kitchen? Tell me, where’s the dirty dishes in the sink? The mess on the counters? The screaming kids yelling that they want apple juice, not orange juice? This does not look like my house at all!

Stock images have been used in marketing materials since the 1920’s and are mostly fictionalized versions of real or ‘real-ish’ situations meant to circumvent paying a photographer to build or create a true-life shoot to capture an actual situation. Instead of paying a photographer thousands of dollars to build that specific product shot or commercial office tableau, we marketers often choose to pay a few dollars per picture that captures ‘close enough to reality’ to work in a particular design. The irony is that often there is very little ‘reality’ in stock photography. A quick search of ‘parenting’ on popular stock photography sites will show the stark contrast between the reality that parents know to be true and the clean, mess-less, highly staged, slightly unfocused stock photos of calm, polished parents and their pristine children. 

BUT the conversation around stock vs. reality inspired a powerful discussion about the reality of our lives; the messy, beautiful, productive, loving chaos in which we live and work. We had a good laugh around the idea of a stock vs. reality photo series on our blog and social media. When the laughter died, in true Erin-stir-the-pot style, I said let’s do it. The silence on the Google meeting was stark. *cough* “Um. You want me to take a picture of my ACTUAL desk?”

The vulnerability of showing our true spaces and faces is terrifying. We are a team of very different, highly accomplished, driven women. We each wear approximately 100 hats EACH, on any given day. That’s a lot of hats, and they’re everywhere, well at least mine are. Why in the world do I want to bare my shit show of a soul to everyone!?

Here’s the deal though, we’re bad asses. No really. I didn’t say we’re perfect. I didn’t say we’re not business blouses on the top, fuzzy pants and animal slippers on the bottom. I said we’re bad asses. We are dedicated, driven, passionate and REAL. The REAL in us is what we love about each other and what we want our clients to see and appreciate in us. 

Are you ready to get real with us?

April Stock vs. Reality Challenge

Each week in April, we’re going to share a stock photo on social media. It might be work or life related –  ‘home office’,  ‘bosses’, ‘healthy lifestyles’. Each Tuesday we’ll share the stock photo and pair it with a shot of our reality and we invite you to join us. At the end of the month we’re going to do a draw for a prize from the names of those who participated. More details on the prize to follow shortly!

Rules of Engagement:

  • Be nice. Reality is ducking vulnerable. Don’t be jerks. If your reality is being a jerk just keep scrolling
  • Share 1 reality photo for each week’s stock photo as a comment or tag (Instagram) on the social media post for that week. Social media posts will be on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. 
  • 1 entry allowed per person per weekly photo shared. But if you share your photo on all 3 social media platforms, you can get 3 entries!
  • Contest closes April 30th, 2021. The winner will be announced on May 3, 2021 by random draw. 
  • Disclaimer: your submitted photos will not be saved, used or shared by us for any reason. This contest is not sponsored or administered by any of the social media channels. Sharing the post is not required for an entry. (But we’d certainly appreciate if you do share!)

As usual I’m kicking myself a bit for my big mouth, but I’m committed to the outcome. There’s enough ‘stock’ in this world. Let’s get real.

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels
Why are some stock photos so weird?

The Fath Group – 2020 Years of Service Awards

WRITTEN BY KELSEY WILLIAMS | JANUARY 2021

A long-standing career with the same organization has become rare and the average length of time someone stays is 4-5 years. We’ve had the pleasure of working with The Fath Group for close to 10 years and we have always admired their support and appreciation of their staff.

Annually they host a Years of Service Awards event and every year they have people being recognized for 25, 30, and 35 years! This is a high impact and important event for the team, their culture and the staff being recognized.

There are a number of simple touches that make this event special. The invitations are personalized with staff names and award recipients receive a unique stamp on their invite showing that they are an honoured guest this year. At the event, award recipients are recognized one by one by the owners of the company and are presented with a plaque and gift certificate based on their number of years of service. Recognition starts at 10 years and goes up in 5 year increments. Photos are taken with management and the owners and everyone gets in on the cheering and congratulations for their fellow colleagues. 

You would think that working with people for this many years you would know everything about them, but we try and have a little fun with an interactive trivia game during the program where guests use their phone to vote on which award recipient matches the trivia fact. The best trivia facts are the most obscure things that their colleagues might never know about them and it makes for great conversation starters at the tables during the meal.

Although this event is a short 1.5-hour luncheon, the focus is on the guests of honour and sharing in their success. Not all events need to be grand productions with large budgets and lengthy programs.  Find what is of most value to your employees and recognize them in a way that is meaningful to them. That’s a successful event.

Canadian Western Bank HR & Corporate Communications

Surprise Appreciation Event 2021

Theme: Yearbook 2020

Many people say there are few surprises in life but we are happy to share that the majority of the Canadian Western Bank HR & Corporate Communications team was truly surprised when they joined what they thought was their regular weekly team meeting.

As you can imagine, working in HR & Communications during a pandemic was especially challenging. This CWB team worked tirelessly to make sure everyone was supported and had what they needed to succeed. With the emphasis always being on taking care of other people, the leadership team wanted to ensure their staff knew how vital their work is and how much the organization appreciates them.

A surprise event is always a nice change from doing the typical invite list, invitations and RSVP reminders and all of the pre-event guest work. Instead, we went into stealth mode and were only able to correspond with select people that knew about the planning of the event and had to make sure all of our communications emphasized that it was a SURPRISE, SO DON’T RUIN IT!

We developed a Yearbook 2020 theme for their appreciation event to commemorate the past year and the challenges they overcame but also to graduate and mentally ‘move on’ to the next chapter. The short 1-hour virtual program consisted of a commencement address, a year in review and yearbook messages from the CEO, Executive, and numerous colleagues across the organization that benefited from the team’s work.

As you would find in a yearbook, the MC shared about some of the social clubs within the group, for example the Pets Club who always had their pets in view on Teams calls and the Travel Club who was struggling to find new stories this year. Using online live polling, the Most Likely To winners were also crowned in areas such as most likely to hug a teammate when COVID is over and most likely to use a GIF during a Teams call.  To add to the fun, the MC was a great sport and wore a gown and cap and used the custom-made Teams background we supplied to make it look like he was on a graduation stage. We even used their corporate values as the symbols on the banners of the stage!

Although graduation and a yearbook are more of an annual occurrence, recognition and appreciation is best shared regularly amongst the team and the entire organization. Going forward, staff were challenged to add a calendar reminder every Friday to send an email or two of appreciation to a colleague. Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams

Shoes for the Shoemaker’s Wife…. Finally!

There’s an old proverb that can be traced back to the mid-1500s ‘the cobblers wife/children have no shoes’. It is referenced in some variation in German, French, English, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese and it even transcends industries – the cobbler and his family are shoeless because they focus all their efforts, product and knowledge onto their customers and, in a more modern version, the plumber’s house has a dripping tap. I feel many an entrepreneur can relate to these sayings, the ED team included.


The proverb aptly describes what has been happening in ED’s digital life for at least the last 7 years if not longer. The shoemaker’s wife has long been poorly shod in the digital world – our ED website was a great investment…in 2010 and has been in dire need of updating and attention for at least the last 8 years. In the proverb, the shoemaker’s wife spends her days surrounded by beautiful, well-crafted shoes, meant for other’s feet. The ED team has always been hard at work on behalf of others and we rarely make the time and space to work on our own ‘shoes’ (aka brand). We have worn the outdated shoes of the cobbler’s wife long enough!


Like was the case for many in the event world, the pandemic put a heartbreaking hard stop to all our work in the Spring of 2020. The ED team stumbled along like everyone else stubbing our toes in the dark as we tried to comprehend the incomprehensible. For a bunch of planners, it was torture (and very hard on our toes!)

Standard issue pandemic foot wear


After a few laps around the pandemic dance floor, we found the joy of a slower pace; bike rides and family time, close-to-home stay-cations and five star take-out. Through the summer we consulted on the important projects of a few brave clients but we were still wearing our worn out shoes, standing on the sidelines at the dance.


As September came, the leaves turned and began to fall, we found our bearings in the world of virtual events and have again begun to thrive. We found our groove – and the old, worn out ‘digital’ shoes just could not keep up anymore.


We are so excited to introduce you to our new, beautiful, shoes…I mean website!


Thanks to a lot of hard work of the incredible Kelsey and Jen we have a brand new website that, in this humble ‘shoemaker’s’ opinion, beautifully captures our passion and work with our amazing clients. We invite you to have a look around, let us know what you think and we can’t wait to dance the night away with you again soon.

The shoes I can’t wait to wear after the winter and pandemic!


Also connect with us on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram – yes, those shoes also got some much needed attention.

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