Why banks should care about beauty vloggers

You know what’s really interesting? The rabbit hole that is YouTube beauty videos—monthly favourites, Sephora hauls, get ready with me’s… that slice of the internet.

It’s addictive. I can watch someone apply eyeshadow with 14 indistinguishable brushes for hours, knowing full well I’ll never try it myself. My idea of a ‘smokey eye’ is mixing two shades of skin toned beige I’ve owned since university, and I’m OK with that. I am not the product hungry teen these videos are targeting, and yet, here I am.

I know I’m not alone because these videos have millions of views. Beauty vloggers are building tiny empires on our support. They’ve changed the entire industry. They’re a new breed of celebrity.

And it’s fascinating.

Why? What makes a girl who doesn’t even own eyeliner watch a 20 minute smokey eye tutorial? I’m sure there’s some good psychoanalysis to be done here, but I’ve noticed it’s the personality I’m watching more than the content. ‘I don’t really care what you’re talking about as long as you’re the kind of person I’d want to hang out with on the weekend’ sort of thing.

It’s magnetic.

Do you see how influential that is? It might feel like passive entertainment, but think of what I’m subconsciously absorbing and how it’s affecting me. I mean, Wow.

If a stranger on the internet can keep my attention for 30 minutes on a topic I’m not even interested in… that’s powerful.

My question is how could you harness this magic to make topics that are traditionally a snooze fest, like finance, accessible? What can we learn from these content creators who have millions of teens hanging off their phones waiting for the next upload?

The way people consume content has changed, and the finance industry needs to pay attention. Banks thinking the YouTube beauty vlogger phenomenon doesn’t apply to them isn’t just stupid, it’s suicide — how do they think they’re going to get their next generation of customers?

P.S. In lieu of a somewhat-passably-relevant stock photo… Please enjoy this snap I took of pretty colourful things like flowers in Chinatown, New York. 

Are you a moderator or an abstainer?

I’ve been thinking about the whole Moderator vs. Abstainer thing. Is it just another label, or is knowing which side you fall on useful? Could recognizing it help you become more productive? Happier?

I always thought I was a moderator because I can do things like eat 2 squares of a chocolate bar and save the rest (Crazy, I know).

However, if I’m honest with myself I approach most of my life with an all or nothing mindset. I’m in or out. Full steam ahead or… no steam. But I act like I’m great at moderation, and that’s what gets me into trouble.

I should be able to watch a couple YouTube videos while eating dinner then get back to studying. I should be able to text back Sarah without checking Instagram. 

Guess what? Doesn’t happen. Like, ever. If I open YouTube I will still be there two hours later, probably watching a grooming tutorial for the dog I don’t own. And I can’t even tell you how often I find myself 48 weeks deep in some meme account on Instagram… Sigh.

I keep doing the exact same thing, genuinely expecting a different outcome. Because, “You should be able to do this Kate!”

What if I stopped trying to fight it? Instead of putting all this energy towards finding a balance I’m not wired for, what if I set up my life to take advantage of my all or nothingness?

I mean, it seems kind of obvious now that I’m thinking about it…

Consider how this might apply to different areas of your life—diet, work, fitness habits, or even the way you spend money. For example, maybe you think you should be able to go to the mall without buying anything because Jane can do that so Hey! You can too right? You keep going to the mall every Friday after work, because “this time will be different!”, and every Friday you buy stuff you don’t need.

Hmmm… Maybe instead of trying so hard to change your reaction to the environment, you should just change your environment altogether. You’re not Jane, accept and move on AKA stop going to the mall every Friday.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Instead of trying to fix our weaknesses, what if we put that energy towards leveraging our strengths? 

P.S. In lieu of a somewhat-passably-relevant stock photo… Please enjoy this snap I took of cream puffs my Mum made last Christmas. I know, I’m sorry.

You only have to do one thing today

You know what sucks? Ending the day and feeling like you’ve accomplished nothing. Especially when you were busy all day (Hi, emails).

You know what’s worse? Ending the week, month, or even the year *gulp* feeling like you’ve accomplished nothing.

I’m all about the to-do list. ALL about it. And I’ll have days when I’m ripping through that list at an admiral speed, but I’m not actually working towards things that really matter to me. The things I’ll look back on in 5 years and go, “2016 was the year I ran a marathon. I’m so glad I did that!”

By babying my to-do list I’m hiding behind a false sense of productivity. I know that because I’ll look back on yesterday, or last week, and struggle to think of what I accomplished. Like what the heck did I actually do on Wednesday?! Have you ever had that? Totally sucks.

It’s a real kick in the confidence to feel like you’re constantly moving, but not moving forward.

So what I’ve started doing (on the advice of some podcast, and surprise, I can’t remember which one) is nominating one thing I want to accomplish each day. One main task. Maybe it’s a step towards a bigger goal, or maybe it’s finally finishing those socks I started knitting months ago… whatever. The rest of my to-do list will have to fit around it.

There’s something about saying to yourself, “This. Today if nothing else I’m going to do this,” that makes you much more likely to do the work. Especially if you’re having a crazy day or feeling down, it gives you direction and a place to focus your energy. And then when you do it, when you get it done, you go to bed with this cool sense of check-me-out-getting-ish-done-all-functional-like.

It gives you permission to feel like you’ve done enough, that you’re enough. It’s trackable proof that you’re working towards the life you want. So the next time you’re feeling low and that voice pops up saying you’re useless and going nowhere you can be like, “UM, NO. Let me direct you to all the things I did last week it was great and I’m great!”


But seriously, it’s good stuff people.

Try it.

P.S. In lieu of a somewhat-passably-relevant stock photo… Please enjoy this snap I took of a boat in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. It’s all kinds of beautiful out there.

Is procrastinating a procrastination hack?

Now I haven’t been experimenting with this for very long, BUT, I think procrastinating might actually be a procrastination hack.

Hear me out.

I’m in the kitchen making my 11th tea of the day (I have a legit problem) and my brain hits me with remember-the-thing-you-promised-yourself-you’d-finish-every-morning-for-the-past-week-and-you-haven’t-yet-because-you-suck-geeze-what-a-loser-you-can’t-get-anything-done-you’re-hopeless.

And I’m faced with two options.

A: Do the work.

B: Grab some cookies to dunk in said tea and proceed to YouTube to figure out once and for all how to build a capsule wardrobe.

(I’ll give you one guess as to which I that’s-right-Option-B)

But what about an Option C? What about, “OK fine. You don’t have to do the work. You don’t have to write that article. Instead, you can choose from any of the following pre-approved procrastination activities: read a book, go for a run, paint something, cut out that dress pattern you’ve been meaning to sew” etc.

You’ll notice ‘watch YouTube haul videos’ is not on that list. The key here is differentiating between what I’ll call ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ procrastination. The former is legitimately good for you and works on a skill. It’s probably a hobby you wish you did more often anyways, like running. The latter is whatever your personal brand of procrastination looks like. For me that’s YouTube, Instagram, Netflix, and obsessively cleaning and organizing. (I know that last one seems like a good thing but trust me, me with a duster is flat out procrastination.)

This will, of course, look different for everyone. I like to think of healthy procrastination as things you’d find on your list of New Years resolutions—read more books, run a 10K, learn how to code, start meditating because the NY Times says it’s what successful people do… and so on. Organize my desk isn’t resolution worthy for me because Lord knows I don’t need a reminder to do that more often.

Somehow by doing this, but letting myself procrastinate and work on something that might not feel directly related to the article I have to write or whatever it is I’m putting off, I actually start to gain confidence. I feel good about myself and after a while, I’ve built enough momentum that my brain is like OKAY might as well get crackin’ on the real reason we’re all here…

I can’t properly explain this Jedi mind trick just yet, and I’m sure it’s riddled with caveats, but the results so far are pretty freaking cool.

P.S. In lieu of a somewhat-passably-relevant stock photo… Please enjoy this graffiti snap I took of some alley in Kensington Market, Toronto. Man, I love that place. 

Whatever you’re scared of, do that

Ahhh the midlife crisis. Or quarter life crisis. Or this week crisis. (?)

We’ve all been there. And we’ll all be there again. That super fun feeling of being completely, utterly stuck and not knowing what to do next.

But you know what the cool thing is? You do know. You do know what you need to do next.

It’s whatever you’re afraid of.

It’s the thing you casually (or maybe not so casually) day dream about like running a marathon or starting a YouTube channel or selling something you made on Etsy. It’s the thing you get a rush imaging before you shut yourself down with, “I can’t”.

You know the thing you don’t think you can do because you’re not good enough or you don’t have the right connections or people will think you’re stupid? That’s exactly what you need to be doing.

And if you’re honest with yourself, you know it.

So look for that fear. Actively seek out what makes you scared and uncomfortable and do that. Not all at once, not all in one day, but start working towards it. Instead of dodging the idea (because you know it’ll just come back) lean into it. If you dream of running a marathon, start today by walking around the block. Because the littlest step towards a goal is better than no step, right?

Look for the fear.

And lean into it.

Photo taken at The Whistlers in Jasper, Alberta.

Procrastination is a habit we can change

Oh, what’s that sound? Just me eating my own words.

As it turns out, that stirring declaration I made about writing a blog post every day for two weeks (no excuses, Kate! It’s only 14 days, Kate! Everyone has 30 minutes, Kate!) didn’t stick.

My inner procrastinator found a friend in my perfectionist tendencies and, well, here we are a few days later. Sigh.

It’s never good news when those two get together.

Procrastination is a funny thing isn’t it, because it’s not like you don’t know how things are going to turn out. You know you’re going to regret it. You never surface from a Netflix binge, covered in chip dust, thinking, “Fantastic use of my time! Couldn’t be happier that it’s midnight and I haven’t started studying for tomorrows exam!”

You know what’s at stake. And yet…

The great thing here though is that procrastination isn’t some inherent trait you live and die with. It’s a habit, like exercise or being on time. It’s a self-fulfilling narrative. “I’m such a procrastinator. I’m always late. I never work out. I’m so indecisive.”

It comes down to habits, and habits can be changed.

How? That I don’t know (obviously) but I suspect momentum is key—because that feeling you get when you push through and do the work is always worth it.

P.S. In lieu of a somewhat-passably-relevant stock photo… Please enjoy this snap I took in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Home of my future art studio.

Treat your life as a series of two week experiments

This. This I can do.

Committing to an indefinite lifestyle change is, well, daunting. “I’m going to start waking up earlier! I’m going to start running! I’m going to start eating healthy!” Somehow the larger the undertaking feels, the easier it is to keep pushing the start date.

“I’ll start tomorrow!” turns into months, or even years, and that’s when the shame sets in. And shame is a total confidence killer. The cure? Action. Stop think-hoping-wishing and start doing

Tim Ferriss was talking about this whole thing on his podcast recently (Can I find the episode? Of course not, sorry…). But hearing about it just clicked. It took the pressure off a few things I’ve been building up and putting off, prompting me to start my own two week experiment… blogging.

There’s no reason you can’t find 30 minutes (heck even 10) from the next 14 days to try something new. Packing your lunch, meditating, journaling… whatever it is.

Two weeks. Fourteen days. That’s it.

We’re not talking a lifetime. Make a commitment to yourself and honour it, knowing you can re-evaluate the whole thing when you’ve finished.

Think about it, we’re keeping the stakes pretty low here. What do you honestly have to lose? More importantly, what do you have to gain?

Thought so.

P.S. In lieu of a somewhat-passably-relevant stock photo… Please enjoy this snap I took at White Point in Cape Breton Island. Just your standard back yard… Sigh.

Just Start

Easier said than done, right? Don’t I know it.

I’ve had ‘write first post’ on my to-do list for months.

Here’s what I’ve realized—and it applies to a lot more than starting a blog—we’ve got to stop using the details as an excuse.

“I can’t start my YouTube channel until I have a proper camera. I’ll reach out to clients once my business cards are printed. I’ll start running once I buy the right shorts.” You’re just stalling. You don’t need a DSLR to record video, you can start with your phone, right? And the running shorts? Come on.

So in this case, what’s the most important thing? What’s the thing without which the blog couldn’t even exist? The writing, duh.

You know what doesn’t matter at this stage? Everything else. Themes, logos, colours, categories, about pages, twitter links… There’s plenty of time to deal with that later.

Because honestly, the perfect theme colour isn’t going to make you feel any less vulnerable.

Stop overthinking and just start.