Destination Quebec City: Canada’s Eastern Wonder

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Situated deep in the heart of French Canada, Québec City is one of the oldest European settlements in North America. The city is the capital of Québec, the second most populous of the thirteen provinces and territories that make up Canada. It is also the second largest city in the province after Montreal, and the eleventh largest in the country. 

The economy in Québec City is going through something of a boom, with the city currently experiencing its lowest unemployment rate in decades. Such a thriving economy helps create exciting opportunities for businesses, key industries and entrepreneurship. The city’s prosperity helps contribute to a diversified economy throughout the province.

Québec City is strategically located in Eastern North America, making it an excellent location for business events and conferences. Nearby Jean Lesage International Airport, the eleventh-busiest in the country, is a world-class facility meeting the very highest industry standards, and providing an excellent experience for passengers.

Conveniently located in Old Québec, the Québec City Convention Centre is central in driving the city’s economic activity, welcoming over 200,000 national and international visitors for conferences and events each year. In 2006, the International Association of Congress Centres named it the Best Convention Centre in the World.

When visiting the city, Old Québec is the perfect place to kick off the trip. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this walled city on the banks of the Saint Lawrence river is filled with quaint, winding streets, towering fortresses and lavish castles, as well as a selection of charming cafés and antique shops.

Historic attractions such as the Citadel make the area a fascinating place to spend a few hours. The largest British-built fortress in North America, the Citadel took thirty years to construct and has been active since 1850. Equally impressive is the breathtaking Notre-Dame Basilica, one of the oldest cathedrals in North America and a favourite of visitors to the city.

Perhaps the best way to get started exploring the city is to take part in a walking tour with Tours Voir Québec, a dynamic and attentive tour company that has been welcoming tourists from across the world since 2004. Choose from a variety of fascinating tours including the Grand Tour, the Food Tour, and a river cruise around the city.

A visit to French Canada just wouldn’t be the same without experiencing the region’s love for ice hockey. The Québec Remparts team plays in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and can be watched at the impressive Videotron Centre near the city’s Lairet area, the seventh-largest indoor arena in Canada.

Equally important to sample is the region’s cuisine. If you go to Québec and don’t experience the uniquely French Canadian dish of poutine (fries, gravy and cheese), then you’ve certainly missed a trick. In Québec City, the traditional dish is tourtière, a meat pie best experienced at Aux Anciens Canadiens, a restaurant specialising in old-fashioned Quebecois cuisine.

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Hiver Auberge Saint Antoine

Our accommodation provider of choice when staying in Québec City is Auberge Saint-Antoine, providing farm-to-fork dining and luxury accommodation in the heart of historic Old Québec. Find out more at www.saint-antoine.com.

How General Data Protection Requirement (GDPR) is affecting email marketing

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Marketing managers across the globe have been losing sleep since the introduction of the EU GDPR. But what is it, and how does it affect email marketing?

Ever since the European Union rolled out its email spam laws in May 2018, the General Data Protection Requirement (GDPR) has been a focal point for businesses worldwide. The introduction has also created a plethora of dilemmas for many organisations: does their business have to comply? If so, how? Will compliance affect customer acquisition and retention?

Companies will have had to work tirelessly to ensure the transition to GDPR compliance was as smooth as possible, while also affecting the way their business is conducted within the European Union. Naturally, companies relying heavily on email marketing will be especially affected.

Until recently, email marketing was a simple-to-implement yet highly effective marketing strategy. Now that the GDPR has been rolled out, it’s an area requiring much more consideration.

How does the GDPR impact email marketing today?

While personal data protection laws were already in place, the EU has effectively updated these laws to further protect consumers from unwanted digital junk mail.

The overall reach of the GDPR is perhaps the most significant change to the previous laws. It’s not just EU-based organisations that the new laws apply to, but any company storing or processing personal data of any European citizen.

So, what constitutes personal data? The GDPR states a name, photograph, IP address, medical information, or indeed anything related to an individual is considered personal data. As registering for an email account often requires divulging a wealth of personal information, an email address is a prime example of the type of personal data the GDPR aims to protect.

How many emails are being circulated globally?

In March 2018, the Radicati Group estimated the number of active email accounts worldwide to be 3.8 billion, with over 281 billion emails sent daily. According to the research organisation’s calculations, the number of daily emails will rise to 333 billion within the next four years.

Just as most households regularly receive unwanted junk mail through the post, so too do our electronic inboxes. Statista.com state that 60% of emails sent in September 2017 were spam. Although anyone who occasionally checks their spam folder could testify to this statistic, this is a significant decrease from recent years. Statista found that 71% of emails received in April 2014 were caught by spam filters – meaning almost three-quarters of emails were unsolicited digital junk mail.

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That’s a lot of emails – and exactly the reason GDPR regulators have updated their spam laws. Since the update, businesses will now require the consent of their recipients or other legal means to send marketing emails.

The new rules now stipulate that even an email sent to a specified group of recipients from a personal account is considered email marketing.

With such stringent rules in place, it’s important for all business owners to understand how they may be affected. To help your business comply with the new GDPR rules, here are some of the processes you will need to implement.

1. Acquiring permission from previous subscribers

The most often asked question regarding new GDPR laws is whether subscribers obtained prior to 25th May 2018 can still be contacted.

The answer is twofold. If your subscribers chose to opt-in to your list, then you may continue to send email correspondence. However, if your subscribers were automatically opted in – through a purchased list, a pre-checked box, or other means – then you must obtain consent again.

Thankfully, regaining consent is as simple as asking your subscribers. In fact, seeking permission then storing a record is the basis of the GDPR. Consider running a ‘re-permission’ campaign to obtain permission from subscribers.

2. Obtaining new subscribers and email permissions

Most marketers assume that prospects who have submitted their email address can be added to a marketing campaign list. While this may have been common practice prior to 25th May, it is no longer allowed.

You cannot pre-tick a box to acquire an email address, nor can you simply hide your communication policy somewhere in your privacy statement. Since the new regulations came into force, prospects must now explicitly agree to receive marketing emails or newsletters from you.

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It’s up to you to ensure you’re GDPR-compliant

Perhaps due to its convenience and relatively low cost, email remains the marketing medium of choice for Business-to-Business companies. However, you must ensure you and your organisation comply with the GDPR rules or face a hefty fine for each breach of protocol.

Despite the recently updated regulations, email marketing is here to stay. While the GDPR may appear complex, there are steps you can take to make sure your email marketing campaigns comply with the new regulations:

  • Ensure marketing emails are only sent to subscribers who have explicitly chosen to opt-in
  • Direct a re-permission campaign to existing subscribers to regain their consent
  • Refrain from using automatic decision-making methods using your subscriber’s data
  • Make it easy for your subscribers to unsubscribe from your email lists
  • Provide a method for subscribers to manage their content options

It’s important to remember that the GDPR is about managing and providing content to people who explicitly choose to receive correspondence from you. This will almost certainly mean losing a portion of your subscribers who don’t open and read your emails – although, in marketing terms, these are the people you should be removing from your lists anyway. It’s the people that explicitly opt-in that you should be focusing on, to ensure your email marketing campaigns are productive.

While these new regulations may appear intimidating, complying to these rules will lead to improved open rates and higher overall revenue. Rather than being fearful of ensuring GDPR compliance, look forward to the resulting improvement in your email campaigns.

Senka Pupacic is the founder of Top 10 SEO: www.top10insydney.com.au.

Dr Richard Hames: The expanded now

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A world-renowned entrepreneur, strategic futurist, mentor and author, Richard Hames is amongst the world’s most influential thinkers, described by Forbes Asia as one of the smartest people on the planet. Dr Hames has successfully predicted a number of global events such as the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, and the Arab Spring. Dr Hames spoke recently with Executive America’s publisher Jesse Landry for the Landry.Audio podcast.

“There are a number of different kinds of futurist,” Dr Hames explains. “There are pop futurists, who look at patterns and trends, and try and predict what’s going to happen next year, or the year after. [Then] there are the academic futurists, who try to invent tools and methods for being better able to anticipate the future.”

Dr Hames’ profession falls into a third category, the strategic futurist. These futurists study deeper global patterns and trends across society, establishing how these underlying patterns create a different kind of society and attempting to make sense of these changes.

“What we do these days is to use AI to take a question – or a theme, a topic, an industry, something that’s in a state of change at the moment – and we ask the question of a propriety algorithm, who then scans hundreds of millions of documents that are available online to try and answer those questions or bring us information that’s relevant.”

The result is an information pack that provides the futurist with a starting point. That pack is sent out to around a hundred people, taken from a pool of nearly 3,000 trusted global sources, and bringing together feedback from a variety of industries and viewpoints.

“[These people] have a different lens on that kind of information. When we get that back, we then sort that into scenarios, we create different stories around different contexts, and input different kinds of possibilities. Then, we start making predictions about what the future could hold in each of those environments.”

This process allows the futurist to present a set of probabilities and possibilities, narrowed down to specific events or patterns that are likely to be influential. The problem remains, however, that experts and strategists tend to put little stock in these predictions.

“Conventionally, futurists haven’t been taken too seriously. Foresight isn’t regularly included in strategic planning. People find it difficult to put their minds around what might happen tomorrow, when all of their training and the emphasis they have to focus on is on today – it’s very myopic, very short term thinking.”

The result is that long term thinking in most walks of life is not generally undertaken with any degree of accuracy or quality. The lag in time that futurists deal with, sometimes a decade or a number of decades into the future, is not attended to sufficiently in many industries or by many strategic planners.

“From a quantum science point of view, there is no such thing as future. It’s really all now. What I’m trying to do is pull the deep future and the deep past into what I call the expanded now, where we can pretend to freeze time, so that we get a more expansive view of patterns and trends, and a deeper understanding of how society works and what probabilities therefore exist when those patterns interact in particular ways.”

One of Dr Hames’ most well-known predictions was the correct forecast of the GFC in 2008. This came about when he was asked to speak on the future of the global economy at a luncheon for Wall Street bankers in the United States. Research done in the lead up to this talk began to raise some concerns.”

“We started to identify a number of things. Then we started to connect the dots, and saw that the potential for collapse of the global economy hinged on just a few factors. So we put a slide together and brought those things to the attention of my audience in New York, and that went on the public record. That was about 3 years before Lehman Brothers went under.”

Since then, Dr Hames has continued to make bold and accurate predictions that have caught the attention of the watching world, including Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States. There’s no denying there is an element of the macabre in many of these predictions, as Dr Hames suggests with his final remarks.

“We have noted the rise in pandemics, and the likelihood of pandemics,” he concludes. “The experts in the field are saying exactly the same as the experts in the field of warfare, that sooner or later a pandemic, like a nuclear accident, is absolutely likely. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter a when.”

Are you cut out to be a board director? Ask yourself these 7 questions

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There are millions of board directors in the world. Every company and organization has them. Let’s be honest, many of them deserve their seat at the table. They bring huge value. Unfortunately, many do not.

“Just because you think you can be a director, doesn’t mean you should.”

Before getting started on a boardroom career, there is one question that every potential director needs to ask themselves: “Am I director material?”

There is no simple way of telling whether you will cut it, but there are certain attributes and skills that those who make a successful go at it tend to have in common. To help you answer this simple, yet direct, question, I’ve broken the it down into seven questions.

Please don’t think you must tick every box to make it as a board director. In fact, you don’t even have to tick any boxes. There is not one way to measure your readiness but, if you are leaning towards the “correct” answers on most of the questions below, you’re going to be at an advantage when it comes to being an effective director. Good luck!

Question 1: Do you prefer to work alone or with others?

If you answered the latter, then congratulations, the boardroom could be for you. There is a bit of solo work in being a director (for example, your meeting preparation) but most of it is working as a team. Oh, and don’t expect the team environment to be plain sailing all the time. Hopefully, they’ll bring a diverse set of views and skills and this could lead to some healthy debates. To quote management expert and author Ken Blanchard: “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

Question 2: Do you have time to spare?

I haven’t met many who say they are not “busy”. I’ll admit to using the word. What impresses me are those that aren’t busy, or are trying not to be. This might sound harsh, but busy isn’t a badge of honour.

As a director your time commitment is not just board meetings. Your time includes sub-committees, planning days, networking events, stakeholder representation, training and building relationships.

Every board is different but assume, for a non-executive role, between 5-50 hours per month, with most boards needing an average commitment of 10-20 hours per month. If this is something you can spare, you are ready.

Question 3: Do you like to learn?

True, we are starting to see more and more young board directors but the majority are still senior. They could be forgiven for thinking that they know everything they need to know. Not anymore! We live in non-linear and dynamic times with increasing pressures from many more quarters. As a board director you cannot remain static. Yes, you’ll have skills that you bring to the table and you might even be top of your game. But, you also need to learn new skills to round out your role.

This isn’t just financial skills. Increasingly you need to be across customer-centric design and be up to date on the latest technology impacting your company (and soon your job). What are the latest marketing or HR trends? This makes it easier for you to ask good questions, provide the right level of support and remain relevant.

Question 4: Are you used to getting your own way?

Yes? Then get out of here. The boardroom is not the place for dictators. It is the place for influencers but as part of a team, you’ll often need to put your ego to one side and be open to having your mind changed, or to go with a majority view. There are too many egos in boardrooms, we don’t need anymore.

Question 5: Do difficult decisions impact you?

As a director, the buck stops with you. You must be willing to make tough choices and make decisions.

However, it is a bit of a trick question. If you think no is the best answer, then you perhaps do not care enough to be a director. If it’s yes, then perhaps you don’t have the steel to make the tough choices you’ll have to make. Boards often have to way up competing priorities and stakeholders. You cannot please everyone all the time when “acting in the best interests of the company”.

The ideal answer is “Yes, they impact me, but not for long”. This means you have a nice balance of mental toughness and empathy to handle the burdens of being a director and contributing to decisions that will affect many people. Balance is key. Try not to dwell on decisions, you’ll probably not have the time.

Question 6: Do you prefer to listen or talk?

This is a bit of a trick question. Listening is important as a director. Listening to management and their needs, listening to the views of your fellow directors, listening to the needs of your stakeholders (which extend beyond owners to your staff, customers and community). Yes, listening and analyzing what you hear is vital. But, so is talking. Having a view, when it’s qualified, is your job. Asking the right questions at the right time. Being considered, helpful, challenging yet supportive is the role of a director. Can you “communicate with two ears and one mouth”?

Question 7: Do you take pleasure from helping others?

Simple answer please. Yes! Being a board director is all about being in service to others. You’ll give your time and skills, often for no financial reward. The reward is the service.

Remember though, it’s not just others that gain from you being a director. You do too. You’ll learn new skills that will make you a better person, better employee, better director. You’ll meet new and interesting people and who knows where that will lead. You might get paid but if you don’t you’ll probably earn more elsewhere because of these new skills and relationships.

How did you do? As stated at the start there is no right and wrong way to be a director. There are rules that govern the job. There are also expectations that will vary from board to board.

Paul Smith is the Co-founder & CEO of Future Directors Institute, www.futuredirectors.com.au.

Peter Robinson: Writing for Reagan

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A research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Peter Robinson spent six years working in the White House in the 1980s as speechwriter for both George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. He was the man behind Reagan’s famous Berlin Wall speech, one of the most memorable in modern politics. In his interview show, Uncommon Knowledge, he has had the opportunity to speak with some of the most interesting people on the planet. Mr Robinson chatted recently with Executive America’s publisher Jesse Landry for the Landry.Audio podcast to discuss his time on the staff of the President of the United States.

“It’s not as if speech writing for a president is a civil service job,” Mr Robinson says, discussing the way he found himself with a position in the White House, “for which you train and go through regular entrance examinations and so forth. I got in on a fluke, and that is the way politics works.”

After graduating from Dartmouth and spending two years in the UK at Oxford, Mr Robinson needed a job. After writing to people he thought might be able to help him, he received a reply from journalist William F. Buckley Jr., who put him in contact with his son Christopher, the Vice President’s speechwriter.

“I presented myself to Christopher Buckley, in the summer of 1982. Totally unbeknownst to me, Christopher had put in his notice and was planning to leave in just two weeks, and his replacement, who had been lined up for some time, had just fallen through. So the Vice President’s office needed a speechwriter in a hurry, and I walked in the door.”

Mr Robinson was just twenty-five years old when he joined the White House staff, with a background in student journalism, having written on politics at both Dartmouth and Oxford. The Vice President’s office needed somebody with experience of handling professionals, and Mr Robinson fit the bill.

“I worked on [the Vice President’s] staff for a little less than two years, before these openings occurred on the President’s staff. Before the President’s staff hired me, they wanted to test me out for a couple of weeks. So there was a couple of weeks when I was writing for both the Vice President and the President, and that was a lot of work.” 

After getting hired by the President, Mr Robinson took his leave from working for VP George H. W. Bush, who he describes as “one of the nicest men I have ever known,” and began working for President Ronald Reagan. He describes Reagan as a man who, unlike his Vice President, was never satisfied with the status quo.

Mr Robinson remembers Reagan as a complicated man. At times he was genial and warm, attentive to others and determined to put people at ease, especially in the Oval Office. He did this by telling jokes and looking around the room, making everyone feel included. At the same time, there was a noticeable remoteness about the President. 

“I heard from a number of sources who knew him in the old days that he had one very close friend in Hollywood. In my experience, I could see only one person whom I would have considered a friend of Ronald Reagan’s, and that was a man who was briefly the National Security Advisor, Bill Clark.”

It appears Reagan only had two very close friends during his lifetime. It was his marriage to Nancy that represented the tightest relationship of his life, and the two were a self-sufficient unit. Politically, Reagan was aggressive. He thought things through carefully, reading in detail about certain ideologies, and had strong conservative convictions. 

“Reagan was just right for that moment,” he explains. “Reagan pushed, applied all kinds of pressures, on the Soviet Union, and broke it. You could say it tumbled in on itself, but even at that it was at least in large measure because of external pressures that Reagan, helped by Thatcher and others, applied.”

By the time Mikhail Gorbachev became leader of the Soviet Union in 1985, Reagan was already into his second term. After trying unsuccessfully to play the same old game of nuclear cat-and-mouse at a summit in Reykjavik, Gorbachev had to quickly concede that the Soviet Union needed to change.

Until its collapse in December 1991, the Soviet Union was a country formally committed to a worldwide communist revolution, with part of the country’s written documents mandating it to subvert other nations until communism triumphed everywhere. Mr Robinson is happy to see no sign of this attitude in today’s Russia.

When Reagan delivered his speech at the Berlin wall, written by Robinson, in which he used the famous words ‘Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall,’ he was telling the Soviet Union that they could no longer use half measures in their movement towards liberalization, upping the ante for the eventual fall of communism.

“Reagan loved giving speeches,” Mr Robinson says, “that was how he was President. Holding meetings, going around to members of congress – he would do that when his staff asked him to, but to him that was the price you had to pay for the central act of governance, which was moving the American people, explaining yourself to the American people.”

Reagan’s background in acting helped him maintain the highest level of public speaking. He was famous for saying, albeit tongue-in-cheek, that he couldn’t see how anyone could be President without having first been an actor. Mr Robinson remembers that he was a master of the technical aspects of public presentation.

“From the time he talked his way into a job as a radio announcer in his early-twenties, through the rest of his career, he was always addressing himself to ordinary Americans. There was a lot going on in his mind [when making a speech]. He would be smiling and waving and acknowledging the applause at the same time that he was in charge of the technical aspects of what was taking place. He was technically very, very adept.”