Moving back to Saskatoon // Live. Connect. Engage.

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Moving back to Saskatoon // Live. Connect. Engage.

In Feb 2018 I'm moving back to Saskatoon, SK, after spending almost 2 years in Vancouver, BC. Moving there I'm Interested in contributing to social and environmental causes in addition to community building.

MovingBackYXEFeb2018.jpg

I'm an experienced marketing strategy professional using my passion and skills to build healthy and strong communities. I recently developed/implemented a very successful marketing strategy for Mr. Bannock - Vancouver's first Indigenous food truck launch which was sold out in under 1.5 hours with over 700 visits!

Hoping to reconnect with the Saskatchewan family and community members building on past successes and looking forward to the future opportunities. Read my bio and selected portfolio here.

While I will be physically located in Saskatoon however some of my work will be based out of Metro Vancouver Area, Lower Mainland, and Vancouver Island, BC.

Feel free to contact me below with ideas for collaboration or questions.

Much love

Vic

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Celebrating the Feminine - Helen Oro // Live. Connect. Engage.

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Celebrating the Feminine - Helen Oro // Live. Connect. Engage.

Today is International Women's Day. On this day we celebrate the feminine. Feminine is just not restricted to the gender, but qualities as well.

I would like to highlight my friend Helen Oro. Helen is an Indigenous sister, fashion designer, mom and a great model for our community. CBC Indigenous just highlighted Helen as part of their storytelling of 13 Indigenous women from across Canada for International Women's Day.

Photo taken by me June 2014

“Helen Oro is Nehiyaw Iskwe fashion designer from the Pelican Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan.”. She takes her traditional First Nation beadwork and adorns modern day accessories such as heels, sunglasses, clutch purses etc. not only does Helen create one of a kind creations but creates opportunities for indigenous people aspiring to pursue careers In the fashion/model world. Internationally recognized for her designs and work Helen aims to create a positive image for indigenous women everywhere. [From CBC & Helen's website]

In June 2014 I had the opportunity to do some collaborative work with Helen in as part of her promo video and a poster for Independent Dog Face Indigenous Festival. It was great pleasure working with her.

This day celebrate the feminine, wherever you're, however you do it.

Check out my other photography work here.

 

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Moving to Vancouver, B.C. // Live. Connect. Engage.

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Moving to Vancouver, B.C. // Live. Connect. Engage.

So finally bought tickets to Vancouver - flying out from Saskatoon on May 22!

I have been planning this move for sometime now and was carefully weighing my options. My good friend JP offered me a temporary place to live - how kind of him and family! People have asked me what am I gonna do over there? Well I will be continuing work helping build conscious brands and social enterprises with Unite. So if you are interested in collaborating I would love to hear from you!

In addition I plan to immerse in evolving consciousness through yoga and community building.

I lived in Saskatchewan for the past 10 years, you might say my formative years. I have so many good friends and memories. Hope to stay in touch.

Much love.

Contact Me

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Photography in Vancouver, February 2016 // Live. Connect. Engage.

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Photography in Vancouver, February 2016 // Live. Connect. Engage.

While in Vancouver, BC, I was fortunate to have my camera during golden hour at Crab Park, which is very close to downtown/Eastside. Thanks to Paola from Groundwell Community for the tip. Below are a few photos I was playing with my camera and objects. Note that the ocean, mountains, snow, all are visible in this photos, which is quite a delight.

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Strategic Community Building | Vancouver February 9, 2016 // Live. Connect. Engage.

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Strategic Community Building | Vancouver February 9, 2016 // Live. Connect. Engage.

I am honoured to present a short talk to Groundswell Community aspiring change makers and community builders on February 9, 6:30pm.

Abstract

Below is a blurb about my talk.

Environmental and social issues today have challenged change makers to solve these issues through skillful means, while providing worthwhile and meaningful employment. To make effective and long lasting systemic change people and resources have to be mobilized which form the foundation of our community.

Community building starts with a story, people connect with stories. What unique stories we tell as change makers to build our community determine our long term sustainability. In addition to connection with stories, space, tools, resources, and support are equally important for communities to grow and thrive. In this informal inspiration we will discuss examples of strategic community building for change makers, which will serve as a foundation for Groundswell cohorts to make effective and long lasting change.

I will be in Vancouver February 9-15. If you would like to chat about digital strategy, and execution for your art or organization please contact me.

Contact Me

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6 Things to Consider Before Launching Crowdfunding // Live. Connect. Engage.

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6 Things to Consider Before Launching Crowdfunding // Live. Connect. Engage.

Happy New Year 2016! Let’s talk crowdfunding.

Let’s talk crowdfunding.

In addition to traditional fundraising approaches organizations are embracing alternative models, such as crowd funding and direct donation. These models tap into the “power of the crowd” by leveraging individual donations to achieve a funding target. This new year many of you might be thinking of launching a crowdfunding campaign. I have been involved with several traditional and crowdfunding campaigns in outreach, planning, and strategy capacities. Below I will provide six tips for reality check before you launch a crowdfunding campaign, based on our experience. I hope this checklist will help you decide if crowdfunding is right for you, and when is the right time.

1. Crowdfunding compliments a traditional fundraising campaign

Crowdfunding taps into “the power of the crowd” and leverages the reach and sharability of the internet. However I recommend crowdfunding to compliment your traditional fundraising campaign, not replace it.

In additional to being sensible of having a mix of fundraising approaches, most brands are still maturing to online community building and campaigns.

2. Do your research

Researching your target demographic is very essential before you launch the crowdfunding. This will guide your storytelling (below). Elements of a target market research should include demographic/socioeconomic, geographic, psychographic, behavioral and product related understanding.

3. Get your story right

Story is the means by which people can connect with you. If your story is not unique or weak there is a big possibility the campaign will not gain traction. Researching your target audience will hugely guide this step.

Below is the example of strategic community building through storytelling by Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). MEC is Canada’s leading specialty retailer of clothing, gear and services for active outdoor lifestyles with 4.3 million members across Canada. Their We Are All Outsiders story (image below) ties all members in a common thread of encouraging and inspiring fellow members to be active outdoors.

4. Know the strength of your community

This point can’t be emphasized enough. A strong and well knit community is needed to make your crowdfunding a success. Communities amplify your story, and do the asking on your behalf. Communities are built over time, they need stories to connect to, space and resources to grow, and support to nourish. Hence know the strength of your community.

A good example of a strong community is Escape Sports. Escape Sports is a local alternative sports shop that is owned by two brothers. The Storey brothers have a passion for and encourage their community to embrace the outdoors. Over time this outdoor community is built through connecting with their story of #EmbraceYXE, providing space and resources for growth (e.g. stand up paddleboarding (SUP) lessons, paddleboards and related equipment for sale and rent, SUP fundraisers for mental health awareness), and support (e.g. paddleboard equipment repair and maintenance) to nourish. The screenshot below from Escape Sports’s Facebook shows how strong their community is.

One practical tip: If you’re unsure of the strength of your community, first verify strength by running a mini (awareness) campaign and measure it.

5. Know there is donor fatigue

As in traditional fundraising campaigns, crowdfunding campaigns can suffer from donor fatigue. Often times we attempt to re-target and sometimes this might expose the vulnerability of donor fatigue in our community. This issue can be addressed by running crowdfunding campaigns less often as annually or longer.

6. Hire a Professional

Lastly, there is value in hiring or seeking help from a strategist. This professional brings a perspective from their experience that your internal team might have blind spots to.

 

(First published on Unite, January 28, 2016)

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Shubh Diwali - Shine Your Inner Light // Live. Connect. Engage

It is Diwali! What does it mean for our practice? This is a time we are entering the dark winter days. Lighting a lamp or candle helps us draw on the energy of fire element, so we have the potential to create light. In essence, that is drawing on our inner strength to create light or potential from within darkness.

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Digital Strategy | Bonjour Montreal, Oct 25-31 // Live. Connect. Engage.

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Digital Strategy | Bonjour Montreal, Oct 25-31 // Live. Connect. Engage.

I will be in Montreal, QC, Oct 25-31, 2015. If you would like to chat about digital strategy, and execution for your organization or business, I will be available. Please contact me via email or the form below for scheduling and rates.

I'm offering an hour of complimentary strategy consulting time for members of CWCF or member of Réseau de la Coopération du travail du Québec or attending the CWCF conference, first come first served basis.

I have extensive experience working with cooperatives, social enterprises, non-profits, and organizations and businesses making social and/or environmental impact. Whether you're thinking about a engaging your community, telling a story, selling products (or services) online, or create positive change, I will be able to help.

You can learn about my work here.

Some organizations I've worked with on digital strategy, and execution are below.

Email Me

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Shakti the Divine Feminine // Live. Connect. Engage.

Navaratri (nine nights) is a very important time for awakening Shakti or the energy of the Divine Feminine. Qualities such as caring, loving, collaboration, patience, peace, etc., are attributed to the Divine Feminine. On Sunday let us practice these qualities on the mat, and then in our real lives, where these qualities are much needed.

10:30a Sunday, October 18, 2015

115 3rd Ave S, Saskatoon

(Drinkle 3 Building lower level)

victordas.com/yoga

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Saskatoon CarShare Co-op Expansion Crowdfunding Campaign // Live. Connect. Engage.

I'm glad to help Saskatoon CarShare Co-op with a strategy to crowdfund the expansion of their fleet.

Thus far we have raised over $3,000 from 53 people and counting. Our strategy has resulted in engagement, media coverage, and having two businesses (Drinkle Building and Sun Country Highway) come on board to support our campaign. The campaign aims to raise enough money for two new vehicles (possibly electric), associated hardware and software for expansion to downtown and City Park, Saskatoon.

I will provide an update when the campaign is complete.



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Growing Awareness Launch Oct. 4 // Live. Connect. Engage.

Growing Awareness is launching on Sunday, October 4, 2015, and I'm very excited!

About two years ago I felt an aspiration to grow, learn about practices that could help me develop awareness, and be of benefit to the society. Learn more here.

With the support of all beings I bring you authentic teachings and practice to develop awareness for the connected age. 

Growing Awareness means growing understanding of yourself, and your surroundings, forging deeper and more meaningful relationships, balancing your life to cultivate serenity, and be of benefit to the society.

Growing Awareness is a 6 week course where we practice authentic teachings from Hatha yoga and the Buddha to help you expand.

Sunday 1030a // Thursday 530p
$10 per class or pay what you can
Mudra School of Performing Arts
115 3rd Ave S, Saskatoon

Beginner to intermediate, everyone welcome.

This is a course involving gradual progression, so commitment is recommended. However considering our busy lives, drop ins are welcome.

The session will be about an hour long, starting with spiritual mantra, then on to asanas (yoga postures), pranayama (conscious breathing practice), and then dhyana (silent meditation).


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JasFest 2015 // Live. Connect. Engage.

Happy birthday Jaspreet!

Jaspreet Singh, from a non-musical family, studied sitar under the legendary Padamshree Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan: the maestro that inspired him to begin the very difficult and magical path of the sitar. He has won multiple national awards for sitar performance and is known for his vibrant and soulful interpretations of the ragas. He graduated from Punjabi University in Patiala with many honours and distinctions in both sitar performance and teaching the many different Hindustani instruments including sitar, tabla, surbahar, veena, vocal, rabab, harmonium, dilruba, and others.

Wanna see the birthday boy play sitar and a bunch jam with him? Come out tonight.

LIVE MUSIC // MEDITATIVE + TRANCEDANCE CONCERT

AUGUST 4th ::: 9pm till 12pm

[[[ sitar, didge, tabla, accordion, beats, flutes, dance music, etc ]]]
@ Saskatoon Academy of Music
<<Address: 629 1st Ave N

==== By Donation ===========
This event is FREE, but if you feel so inclined to help out with a monetary contribution it will go towards our plans of starting a World Music Academy in Saskatoon, and also it will help fund Jaspreets trip back to Saskatoon! He is going back to India on August 15th.
==========================

To view more of Jas' performance videos check out Vlad's website.

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Happy International Day of Friendship // Live. Connect. Engage

Today is International Day of Friendship. I would like to thank friend Will Kaufhold to be part of my life. 

Will and I met several years ago at his concert at Amigos. Since then we've good friends. We've grown together in happiness and sorrow together. Viva Will.

Tell us about your friendship...

Photo from February 21, 2015

Photo from February 21, 2015

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Tenacity Works - My Worker Coop Conference Experience // Live. Connect. Engage.

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Tenacity Works - My Worker Coop Conference Experience // Live. Connect. Engage.

CWCF Group Photo

CWCF Group Photo

I was very fortunate to attend CWCF annual meeting and conference 2014 held in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. I'm very grateful for Affinity Credit Union for providing funding to avail this opportunity.

The conference was a great opportunity and meeting ground for exchange of ideas, and best practice. I spoke about cooperative marketing in the digital age. The talk was well received including discussion with audience asking about specific strategies.

Speaking on "Cooperative Marketing in the Digital Age"

Speaking on "Cooperative Marketing in the Digital Age"

I was also involved with a bit of strategy to get CWCF membership to register early, which was a great collaborative experience with CWCF team.

I had a great time reconnecting with old friends from the worker coop world, and meeting new friends such as Dario Farcy and José Hernán Orbaiceta Zubeldia with Argentinian Worker Cooperative Federations, Eoin McGinnis of Urbane Cyclist Worker Co-op (Toronto), and Seth Leon from Alberta Community & Co-operative Association. One of the very important things I learnt was membership engagement strategies (within worker co-ops) from award winning Careforce Personalized Home Health Care Worker Co-op.

Overall this was a great opportunity for learning, connection, and solidarity.

Looking forward to 2015 conference in Montreal!


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Happy Birthday Canada - A Photo Journey of Our National Parks // Live. Connect. Engage

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Happy Birthday Canada - A Photo Journey of Our National Parks // Live. Connect. Engage

The National Parks of Canada, numbering 44, is a legacy of our love for natural spaces. I'm an amateur photographer taking photos of what inspires me. The photos I took are mostly from Prince Albert National Park in northern Saskatchewan. My blog post is just a humble contribution, a recognition of my awe and wonder. To check out more photos from other contributors check out National Geographic.

Sunrise at 4:26am

Sunrise at 4:26am

Filming with my friend Jannica for Grey Owl International Film Festival at Waskesiu

Filming with my friend Jannica for Grey Owl International Film Festival at Waskesiu

Parks Canada branded red chairs

Parks Canada branded red chairs

A poem by Robert Frost resonates with me:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
— Robert Frost (Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening))

Our forests, natural spaces, and their inhabitants are indeed at risk now due to over population (humans, duh), climate change, and several other factors. It might need some reimagining our future in order to create a sustainable living space we call home.

To be continued...


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Why You Need An Email Marketing Strategy (Tips) // Live. Connect. Engage.

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Why You Need An Email Marketing Strategy (Tips) // Live. Connect. Engage.

On a daily basis, we interact with about 11 brands through multiple emails. How do your get your email noticed?

- Stats

Email has become an easy and convenient means of communications. As ease and convenience increase, so does your inbox gets crowded with (often times poorly drafted) emails. How do you make sure your email gets noticed, and the desired action(s) taken? Below I discuss how it is very important to start with a strategy.

1. Start with a Strategy

What story do I tell?

Throughout history humans have engaged other humans through storytelling, whether it be oral transmission, books, or through multimedia. If you're trying to engage an audience in electronic music you're probably not going to tell them a story about the benefits of workout? Once we have figured out our story, then we turn our attention on how to present it. The screenshots below from an email from David Suzuki Foundation illustrate the importance to capture the imagination of your audience through short storytelling.

Notice how the email starts with a story, "Did you know that Canada has the world's largest Greenbelt?" Now David Suzuki Foundation is an environmental organization, so their story telling is about species conservation, sustainability, and toxicity, among other topics. But for you, what is going to be your story and style?

David Suzuki greenbelt

Who is my target audience?

Understanding your target audience is very important, parameters such as socioeconomic and psychometric analysis helps us guide our strategy in a very specific direction.

What is the Call to Action?

I can't emphasize enough on having a clear call to action. Having a clear call to action based on your objectives is very crucial in achieving desired end result(s), whether it be getting brand exposure, or selling products online. I will illustrate the email from David Suzuki Foundation again.

David Suzuki call to action

The Foundation's primary objective is for you to take action, i.e., submitting your comments to the Ontario government before May 28, 2015. Placing the call to action strategically (in the form of a clickable button), makes it easier for conversion. People are taken to a website where you can read about the issue, and then if convinced you sign the form.

What value do I add?

The question you've to ask before working on your strategy is "what value do I add with my emails?" If you're not adding value, you're most probably adding to the digital noise.

To illustrate this let's take the example of Death to Stock Photography emails. As the name suggests, designers are usually upset with the quality of stock photography for projects, and a bunch of them actually decided to give away authentic, good quality photos, delivered to your inbox every month.

Justin death to stock photos

The catch is if you like their free monthly assortment of photos, you might like their premium collection (see screenshot below).

Death to Stock conversion

Death to Stock is definitely adding value here to their target audience (designers) by emailing them once a month a link to download good quality, authentic photos for design projects.

2. Emailing Schedule

Following a schedule to email your audience is a very important practice, it prepares you for content for the future, and gives your audience an idea of the frequency of your emails. I suggest you working the schedule on something simple as a spreadsheet.

3. Other Important Considerations

Email Marketing Software

I suggest using an email marketing software. For small business owners good news is some email marketing software offer free service for some, e.g. if you have less than 1000 subscribers it is free to use their service. I personally prefer to use Mailchimp because its easy to use, designer friendly, and measurable. Some of our clients in the non-profit and advocacy sectors use NationBuilder.

Subject line

Do not forget the subject line. Chose a subject line that fits as to show up on the email client/browser. A subject line properly chosen can invite your audience to read the actual email. Let's discuss the example of subject lines by David Suzuki Foundation and Death to Stock Photography.

In your inbox, the information about sender (David Suzuki Foundation and Death to Stock Photo), the subject ("Got two minutes to protect the Greenbelt?" and "Justin's Lake Adventures - Monthly Photo Pack #13") and a bit of preview from the email shows. This is enough information to get you interested in clicking on, or not. Hence pay very careful attention to these elements. Test your email (see below) to make sure these elements are up to standard.

Truncate Text

How many times have I seen marketers and business owners have the main text body so long it looks like an epic novel? Several times! I suggest you to consider avoiding this practice. Your audience has limited time and attention span. Try to capture their imagination in the first sentence, the rest of the story you can truncate, and link it to your website or blog for further reading.

Screenshot of an email by one of our clients. Observe how the text is truncated and hyperlinked to their website for further reading?

Read More link from San Francisco Zen Center email takes us to SFZC website, where people can read more about the program, and if interested register.

Use a Designer

How many times have I seen business owners do their own design and it turns out to be really bad? Several times! I suggest you to consider avoiding this practice. Hire a good designer. If you can't afford a good designer, try seeking their help to design you the email templates. Email marketing softwares such as Mailchimp make it easy for you to customize the templates (not design it though). But the template design is still very important to give it a consistent look of the brand.

Embed Media

If you have a powerful piece of multimedia e.g., videos, photos, embed it. Most email marketing software allows you to embed media. If you can't embed video, take a screenshot of the video, and hyperlink it, instead of just hyperlinking text.

Test the Email Before Sending

Test your email for look, content, and all other elements. It is very important that the audience gets interested when the email shows up in your inbox, so they click on. Most email marketing software allows you to send yourself a test email to view how it would look when sent. This lets you troubleshoot, and edit contents to adjust look and feel.


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Our Actions Make a Difference // Live. Connect. Engage.

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Our Actions Make a Difference // Live. Connect. Engage.

Our Actions Make a Difference

Today is Buddha Purnima, this day commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and death of Gautama Buddha. How can the Buddha's example inspire us to act?

The Buddha taught about non-attachment (shunyatha). This teaching has be beautifully interpreted by Yoga/Zen teacher, and social activist Michael Stone. Non-attachment really means not clinging to fixed ideas. He describes non-attachment as engagement, a deep intimacy, of opening up to the inherent interconnectedness of all things. Intimacy is the byproduct of giving up fixed views. Fixed and rigid views are the enemy of intimacy. How many times have you noticed how fixed and rigid ideas shut down personal and business relationships?

The world is both stunningly beautiful, and also a brutal devastation. Practice is how to hold both. Opening up to the interconnectedness means acting on issues that matter to all of us, climate change, violence, health and social inequality, etc. The world needs us, and our actions make a difference.


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victor identity

Photo taken on April 17, 2015, in Newtown, Kolkata. This is a photo of water lilies, growing wild in irrigation canals.

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Digital Strategy | Let's Meet in Vancouver April 23-27 // Live. Connect. Engage.

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Digital Strategy | Let's Meet in Vancouver April 23-27 // Live. Connect. Engage.

I will be in Vancouver, B.C., April 23-27, 2015. If you have any questions about digital strategy, and execution for your organization or business, I will be available to chat. Please contact me via email.

Whether you're thinking about a engaging your community, telling a story, selling products (or services) online, or create positive change, I will be able to help.

You can learn about my work here.

Some organizations I've worked with on digital strategy, and execution are below.



Photo by Gord McKenna, some rights reserved.

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