Huddle up! Seven minutes that will Change Your Company


Meetings can be painful. A quarter of all office workers complain they spend more time in meetings talking about work than actually doing it. In fact, research suggests that unproductive meetings may be the biggest time thief on the job. But they’re not the only one.

Our e-mail in-boxes are crammed. Texts and calls stream in constantly. We try to bridge the gap with more technology, but these wonder apps always seem to come with their own waterfall of instant messages and cat GIFs. With all these distractions, who needs another meeting?

Well, there is one meeting that is absolutely worth everybody’s time. At my company, the short, intense, daily meetings we call huddles cut past distractions, align us on our goals and inspire our team members.

Huddles aren’t new. There are as many styles of these meetings as there are companies. But our eclectic, fast-paced, family-dinner-style formula has worked wonders for me and my team as my first brand 1-800-GOT-JUNK? has grown from a local business to one of four international brands over the years.

Our huddles are something we are known for. In fact, we believe in them so much that we often invite competitors visiting our office to join in. So what’s our secret to impactful huddles?

First, get everyone together (yes, I mean everyone)

At 10:53 a.m. every day, a bell rings through our office. Our seven-minute huddle begins at 10:55 a.m., sharp. That precise time is to reinforce the idea that every minute counts. It also comes at a time of day when everyone is in a mid-morning lull and needs a pick-me-up.

Visitors to our office see that when the huddle bell rings, people will drop what’s in their hands to rush to the meeting space. We’ve done our huddles every workday for 14 years and our staff knows missing them is non-negotiable. Everyone comes – typically, we’ll get about 100-200 people.

Start with good news

When it comes to huddles, we always start (and end) with high energy.

The reality is that company news is no different than anything else in life: it ebbs and flows. Sometimes there are long runs of amazing wins, other times, there are crickets. But we always try to find something to be excited about.

Even when we were in the height of the last recession, with business down, there was always something good to keep people motivated. It can be a bit of personal good news, like someone achieving a life goal. Maybe it’s a great media hit, like the company just got featured in national news.

Have fun with it. But most of all, get your people pumped up. Good news and good thoughts help produce good work.

Talk about the critical numbers

About a minute into our huddle, we’re all feeling the energy. Now it’s time to name those critical numbers. We go over online visitors, sales calls answered and jobs completed because these are the metrics that matter to us.

Different businesses have different measuring sticks, but everyone needs a visible, consistent barometer of success. My first junk-removal company floundered because I hadn’t focused enough on the numbers. Even when I worried about achieving a particular target, my people just didn’t know or care.

I launched 1-800-GOT-JUNK? with a different strategy. I wanted to create a billion-dollar business and a known brand. If you’re dreaming big, numbers matter – and so does having employees who care about those numbers.

This part of the huddle is above all about transparency and instilling a culture where people take responsibility. How are you performing? Are you trending in the right direction? The numbers tell the story in a language everybody understands.

Find out what’s new

The midway mark of the huddle is where someone new gets a 90-second opportunity to talk about what they’re doing to drive the business forward. We calls this part “in the news”. Every department gives updates on a rotating basis, and the main takeaway is that this exercise breaks down departmental silos and ensures we’re all rowing together.

I speak from experience – we’ve grown to four brands in five years and understanding what’s happening in each department is more important than ever.

Talk about broken systems and opportunities for improvement

We’re about five minutes into the huddle. Good news has amped everyone up and an employee has shared a glimpse into his department. But now we’ve got to talk about what’s gone wrong.

We get specific: What’s broken? What’s not working? Who’s making mistakes?

One time, we talked about a communication problem that was hindering our remote presentations. The issue? A $40 piece of hardware we needed to replace. Two $20 bills and two minutes of conversation fixed a tiny problem that was costing us thousands of dollars a day in missed opportunities. Imagine if that had never been brought up?

It’s not always that easy to fix something broken in your company – and the huddle is not the place to get into the specifics of solutions. However, it’s a perfect time to bring problems into the light, especially if it’s a matter of a broken system that’s prohibiting you from maximizing revenue or driving the business forward. After the huddle, staff can take problems offline and look into more detailed fixes.

The Cheer

The huddle is all about high energy. It’s the last 15 seconds. We’ve got to go out on that high note.

A team cheer can be hard to pull of without being cheesy, but it can go a long way if people commit. Every single morning, we put our hands in the middle on top of each other and bring them up as we cheer something big. That could be the name of a massive contract we just landed, or maybe a trade show in Las Vegas we’re presenting at. We keep it simple, fast and fun.

The huddle saves me hundreds of e-mails and long hours in less-productive meetings. It cuts past the distractions. It connects everyone in my company in a way that technology still can’t beat. Seven minutes a day might take up two per cent of your work time – but once you start doing the huddle, you’ll wonder how you ever ran your business without it.

Brian Scudamore is founder and CEO of O2E Brands. Follow him on Twitter@brianscudamore

Article originally seen in The Globe and Mail’s Leadership Lab:

Follow on Twitter: @Globe_Careers

Bring your winter blues to brights


The darker, cooler days of winter can make even the most positive amongst us feel less energetic. Once we turn back the clocks, and the sun begins to set at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, it become markedly harder to remain creative, let alone active around the house.

The good news? A new, fresh, and fun coat of paint can act as a great way to combat the ever-darkening days, rainy afternoons, and cold mornings.

Even better? It will make it much easier to stay active around the house, and some even say that these improvements can help fight off flue season. A much needed bonus for both you and your family!

Color therapy is a great way to remain emotionally balanced during the darker and less colorful winter months. Certain colors are known to increase energy, including red and purple, while yellow and green are mood boosters, and can make people feel more happy and upbeat.

Incorporate these colors into your home environment in these fun, creative ways:

Statement wall

This involves choosing a vibrant color that compliments the furniture and atmosphere in the existing room. The perks of doing a feature wall? Depending on the size, it takes less than half the time to paint and can be a huge lift for a space.

Find a wall in a room in which you spend a lot of your time – think the living room, kitchen, or den. Then, pick a color that you and your family enjoy, and that will provide great balance to the furniture and existing colors. Make it a fun project in which everyone can take part – that way everyone will enjoy the sense of satisfaction of a job well done, as well as the added mood boost!


Funk up your furniture with a new coat of paint. A vintage dresser, table, or chair can turn into a great centerpiece for a room.

Consider painting old chest a brilliant white, and the using it as a coffee table, or perhaps finding a large, old painting frame and then hanging it above your bed. For these projects the color options are endless because each piece can easily be re-painted when the time is right.

You never know – you might be surprised by how much you like a neon armoire!


White is no longer the only option for your ceilings! It’s time to get creative and move away from this tried and true basic.

Choosing an elegant, neutral tone in a grey or taupe will add drama to a living room or dining room, and won’t require the rest of the room to be painted. Plus it’s not too big of a change that it will cause any undue stress or a huge adjustment time.

The most important thing? Focus on having fun and creative a space that brightens up your days. If it’s a children’s room, engage them in the color selection process, and depending on the child, think about adding a little sparkle.

Vanessa Woznow is the National Public Relations Manager with WOW 1 DAY PAINTING and sister company You Move Me. Her love of color is evident in both her paint and fashion choices . Connect with Vanessa on LinkedIn.

Professional development and new media


At WOW 1 DAY PAINTING we pride ourselves on being a learning organization. One of our core responsibilities to our franchise partners is to equip them with the knowledge and skill to ensure their continued success. Built into this are on-going coaching, check-ins, and instructional knowledge transfers focused on business acumen, profitability growth, and superior customer experience.

The challenge, however, associated with this transfer always remains the same: how best to disseminate and share this information with individuals who are continually on the move throughout the day?

Most growing businesses – especially those operating in the home service sector – are field-based. There is little time to sit and read manuals, attend webinars, or take part in conference calls.

We’ve all been there – it can be incredibly difficult to see the need to crack open a binder when your schedule is packed, and your immediate focus remains day-to-day operations and sales, and dealing with major macro issues – such as your finances and customer service goals and obligations.

And let’s face it, when you get home after an incredibly long day the only thing you want to crack open may start with a b (but probably ends in –eer.)

So what is the answer to this question?

It is, as the kids say these days, all about going viral.

Make it interactive. Make it fun. Make it bite-sized and easily accessible. There are so many ways in which new media can be used for learning practices. Below I share three ways in which you can leverage media to train your partners and staff.


Business owners who spend the majority of their time on jobs, or driving in their vans can listen to training podcasts with relative ease. They are a fantastic way to deliver content in short, manageable, and actionable pieces, in a method that is easily accessible. Recording is non-time intensive; during our last recording session we completed three episodes in less than an hour.

Even better? They cost next to nothing to make.


The great thing about training via video is that not only can you film a number of instructional vignettes at once, but they can be made on a budget. Visual components can be easily branded and are a fun and interactive way to showcase your culture and EFAs (Exceptional Focus Areas). We have Franchise Partners watch the videos prior to arriving for in-office training, so they prepped for the sessions, and have already prepared questions that we can answer in person.

Videos can vary in length, although it is always better to focus on shorter when possible (think about what is it is you really want to impart in the video.)

Group Text Messaging

One of the best ways to learn is peer to peer. Colleagues can be tremendous resources for best practices on everything from hiring practices, to job bidding and expansion.

At WOW 1 DAY PAINTING we have a messenger group titled “HOW TO WOW” which is essentially a living and growing learning ecosystem. Franchise partners are able to share tips, lessons learned, and big wins, as well as reach out for help and support when needed.  This can range from a franchise partner in Texas getting technical support on a live estimate from another franchise partner in Toronto, to sharing unbelievable culture videos and pictures.

Never underestimate the power of a simple text, especially as interpersonal communication continues to move away from long telephone conversations. Texts are also much faster to send than an e-mail, can be dispatched in an instant, and on average are read within three minutes of being received. The response time can be almost instantaneous.

What are your non-traditional training approaches that can develop skill and culture? How do you use media for learning? Please share below!

Entrypreneurship: An Easier Route to BYOB (Becoming Your Own Boss)


I often get asked advice from young people who are interested in starting their own businesses, and what I tell them is, “Don’t do what I did!”

Okay, that’s not exactly true. As the owner of three companies, I’m a huge proponent of entrepreneurship as an exciting and rewarding career path. But I also recognize that times have changed. Today’s startup scene is very different than it was when I dropped out of college to launch my own business more than 20 years ago. Starting a company has actually become considerably harder for young people. Income levels have dropped while student debt has risen. Financing has gotten tougher to secure, and government regulation has gotten tighter.

Nonetheless, running one’s own business is a common Millennial aspiration, just as it was a dream of mine. Two-thirds of all Millennials, in fact, want to start their own businesses, according to a 2014 Bentley University study, and they consistently express the need for freedom, flexibility and opportunities to grow in their work – goals that can’t always be realized as employees. So where does the answer lie? Is there a third way for ambitious self-starters?

Franchising Has Come a Long Way

Now before you inwardly groan and dismiss the idea, you should know that a lot has changed in the franchise world. No longer are all franchises simply cookie-cutter business clones lacking in creativity and freedom. Franchising may still be synonymous with the McDonald’s and Subways of the world, conjuring images of assembly-line work and top-down corporate leadership. But today’s franchises, when done right, are more like startup incubators. It’s a chance for young people to try their hand at entrepreneurship with support, hands-on learning and the opportunity to collaborate with peers.

New-school franchising makes the most of modern-day concepts like crowdsourcing, peer mentoring and even the agility to pivot as new needs arise. Success depends less on conformity than on passion and creativity, the very same principle driving innovation in the tech space. Our new partners start with an intensive, two-week program where they get the same kind of education you’d find in a business incubator. We pair them up with experienced owners so they can learn from those who’ve been on the frontlines for years. We offer capital to partners who are willing to test new marketing strategies and share their results across the network. And we never just summarily impose rules from HQ; we involve everyone in decision-making and forge our way forward together.

I often refer to this new breed of franchising as “entrypreneurship” because I’ve seen it function as a gateway for aspiring entrepreneurs who otherwise don’t have access to the expertise or capital to start on their own.

A New Narrative for Business Success

Across my organization, I hear stories about new partners who were hungry for something different. They wanted a way to exercise their creativity and ambition, and to own the fruits of their own labor. They needed an entry point to the entrepreneurial world – and they found us. These stories are becoming more and more common, and there’s nothing I like to hear more.

I get that franchising isn’t exactly the same experience as starting your own business. But it is a chance to take a tested idea into a new market with the freedom and flexibility to grow it yourself. You benefit from the support of mentors, access to capital and shared best practices, all the while maintaining control over day-to-day operations in your own shop. Who knows, it may just be the start of the successful business story you’ll be telling 20 years from now.

Brian Scudamore (@BrianScudamore) is the Vancouver-based CEO of O2E (Ordinary to Exceptional) Brands, including companies 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, You Move Me, and Shack Shine. He’s an expert in franchise development, entrepreneurship, growing businesses and corporate culture.

Autumn drinks for decor inspiration


Doesn’t October feel like the ultimate autumn month? The leaves start changing, the air turns crisp and the birds start heading south. But despite the end of everyone’s favorite season, there is something wonderfully cozy about fall. To emulate these feelings of comfort that the season brings, try using your favourite fall beverages as decor inspiration.


Summer is the season of pale ales and pilsners – perfect for patio weather. But the turn in weather brings with it darker and more complex beers, like porters and stouts. You can replicate the rich, dark browns of you favourite beers by introducing leather couches, suede pillows, or grainy wood in the form of tables, bookshelves or picture frames. If you’re looking for something a little different, you could even paint the living room walls brown to get a chic yet woodsy feeling – but only if it gets plenty of natural light.


For a softer looking brown, look to the sweet mug of hot chocolate you sip on while cozying up on the couch. Plush milk chocolate blankets or throw rugs are the perfect way to add some warmth, or opt for brown dinnerware for a casual but intimate feel. To really mimic that hot chocolate and marshmallow appeal, paint the bathroom walls cream, update the cabinets to walnut and match those shades with striped bath mats and towels – once it’s complete, soak in the tub with a mug of hot chocolate in arms reach.  


One of the most picturesque aspects of autumn is curling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. The turn of the season marks a shift from light, fruity teas to heavier ones, like caramel rooibos or vanilla rose black tea. These kinds of teas often have an earthy red hue to them, which can be integrated throughout your home.


Redesign the fireplace in your bedroom or living room to have brick hearth, pillars and mantel; adorn the bathroom with cranberry colored candles and red petalled potpourri; or paint a burgundy accent wall in the kitchen.


Is there anything more quintessentially autumn than apple picking? Crisp, juicy apples are a fall staple, yet they often get overshadowed by pumpkins. But who picks out a pumpkin without a cup of apple cider in hand anyway? For a more subtle orange – pumpkin walls are not for the feint of heart – look to apple cider for inspiration.


This shade can be incorporated with placemats and napkins or statement drapes and lampshades; it’s also a perfect paint color for the dining room and you can create continuity by adding an accent wall in the adjoining living room.

Rachel Morgan is a Communications Coordinator for WOW 1 DAY PAINTING and sister companies 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me, and Shack Shine. Rachel loves to spend her free time reading, listening to music and enjoying the outdoors.


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