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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Illustration depicting startup business woman using a laptop

 

When I originally started this blog, I wanted to discuss the qualities that make up a great entrepreneur or even a little how-to guide which led to me into a rabbit hole of TED Talk videos from entrepreneurs themselves. They all started out with pros and cons of being entrepreneurs, long hours are required but you can take vacations whenever you want. You don’t have to work for someone else… you’re your own boss! The passion you have for your product/service will outweigh how much money you make, because it’s all about you making a difference – and that is what Entrepreneurship is all about right? Well in my opinion, not really.

 

I feel like these days everyone is an entrepreneur from small businesses to social media influencers, however I beg to ask the question… what is the definition of an entrepreneur? Do we really know what it actually means to be an entrepreneur or has this “job title” become a buzzword for many people carrying out creative ways to make money? This led me to look up the definition of an entrepreneur and according to Merriam-Webster the definition is:

 


One who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.


 

This changes the way we identify entrepreneurs, doesn’t it? I have been extremely lucky over the years to meet many individuals who are entrepreneurs, I also have been very humbled to meet individuals who identified themselves as entrepreneurs, however based on the above definition they would fall under the category of self-starters – in my opinion of course. I have had the opportunity to work with many start-ups during my career path and without a doubt the entrepreneurs I’ve watched grow over the years have held the title with reverence.

 

As I mentioned the perks of entrepreneurship earlier on, I found most articles I read on the subject did not outline the requirements of an individual involved with being an entrepreneur. Some of you reading may be thinking about starting your own business and some of you likely already have. So, let’s break down the most important requirements of being a successful entrepreneur.

 

Perspective

Being an entrepreneur is no joke. The amount of work and responsibility that falls on business owners require you to always be on point. When starting out your business not only do you need a great idea, you also need to ensure that people are going to buy into your product – you need to make a profit to be sustainable. So yes, you will find happiness in your success, but you do also need to make money, and typically in the early stages of your business making money is not something you’re going to do. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have the ability to maintain perspective on their business as whole and work extremely hard through the tough times, they understand the importance of the flexibility required to be a self-starter and continue to break through barriers against all odds.

 

Thinking Lean

A couple years ago I read a book called The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, and it really did change my outlook on entrepreneurship. Instead of me attempting to relay the movement in this blog I’m going to leave this video here for you to digest. I highly recommend the book and suggest you read it as well:

 

 

Re-Investing

Once you’ve established yourself as an entrepreneur and your business model is now profitable, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is not spend all of your profits on your personal life. It’s tempting I know, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to continue to re-invest into your business. Look for areas to improve, whether it be product development, support materials, marketing efforts, etc. If you get into the habit of putting some of your profit back into your business, your return will be far greater in the long run.

 

Educating Yourself

Being an entrepreneur does not stop at “I know this thing and I’m just going to run with it forever.” It is crucial for businessmen/businesswomen to practice continuous learning. Whether it’s learning new management skills, industry trends in your field, attending workshops in areas that aren’t your strong points. To be a successful entrepreneur requires you to have overall knowledge, it requires you to always be informed, by improving your skill set you’ll accumulate better results for your business and prepare yourself to scale effectively and efficiently.

 

Taking Risks

This one is probably the most important of them all. It’s imperative that you take risks. Keep in mind that I’m referring to calculated risks. Make use of your network, have advisors and coaches in your pocket to help you evaluate risks before you jump into something – but at the end of the day, the greatest entrepreneurs take risks and come out smiling in the end!

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Sanj's profile photo

 

We have a new team member and he’s pretty great! Sanj has joined our team and has already brought an abundant amount of knowledge, character and laughter to our REM family. We can’t wait for you to meet him too! In true REM fashion, Sanj has provided us some details about who he is and we thought we’d share!

 


 

At Work

Role at REM: Business Development & Digital Marketing.

 

Education: B.A. Sociology from the University of Waterloo. Several marketing, web design, and digital marketing certifications.

 

Work Experience: Built my first website from scratch in 1999. Worked for PriceWaterhouseCooopers in London, England as the team leader for the IT training department. Worked for RIM in Technical Support. Worked for TRUX Route Management Systems in Cambridge, ON as Technical support then transitioned to web design and marketing. Owner and Creative Director at Jelly Triangle for web design and digital marketing.

 

Something That Makes Me Smile at Work: I am weird in that I get as much joy from manipulating data and code as I do from drawing and designing. But my favourite part is working with clients. Each new business is a whole new opportunity with different challenges so it never gets boring. What makes me smile is watching a client’s face when we overcome those challenges, especially the ones they thought were insurmountable.

 


  

Favourite

Web site: I spend a lot of time on dndbeyond.com as I play and DM, but I also have several Nerf modification sites I visit regularly. Also, I love to browse Etsy for painted Nerf guns for inspiration for my own designs and mods.

 

Books: All time favourite book is Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay, but I love Feist, Gemmell, and other fantasy writers as well.

 

Food: I love to cook and I love a lot of different kinds of food. My signature dish is egg-yolk ravioli in a burnt butter and sage sauce. My favorite foods to eat are Vietnamese (vermicelli bowls), Japanese (sushi), and then Mexican (fish tacos).

 

TV Show: I have watched a lot of TV over the years, for example I have watched the Friends seasons HUNDREDS of times over. But my favorite show of all time is still probably Parks & Recreation (I wish I was Ron Swanson).

 

Musical Artists: I was asked this recently and because I have such eclectic tastes, it was all over the place. Favourite bands: Metallica, Sun60 and Wilson Phillips. Favourite artists: Prince, Cher, and probably too many others. I currently am into listening to Tuvan Throat Singing, specifically a band called Yhat-Ke.

 

Time of Day: Morning. The earlier the better!

 

Season: Spring and Fall. Love watching the world change.

 

Places in the World: New Orleans, Chicago, Mexico.

 

Recreational Activities/Hobbies: Being ADHD, I have about 1100 hobbies…Drawing, Nerf, R/C Cars, Wood working, Zombie Survival Training and Prep, and so many more. But my favourite activity is spending time with my dog Pakora.

 

Sport: Ball hockey, Archery, MMA

 

App: Match 3 games (Puzzle Combat is my current addiction)

 


 

Least Favourite

Food: Lentils and Beans (the texture…ugh)


Activity: Singing or dancing in front of people

 

Time of Day: Late evening


Season: Summer (damn you mosquitoes!)


Place: Wedding Receptions (don’t care where they are held lol)

 


 

More Info

Best Thing Someone Said to You: Fear and Excitement have the exact same physical responses (increased heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline, etc.) the only difference is your attitude.

 

Life Motto: Make sure you can live with the decisions you make. Make those decisions with a good heart and good intentions.

 

My Hero: Steve Yzerman (Captain of the Detroit Red Wings for decades). He never changed teams, always put the team ahead of himself, never held out over money, and worked hard both on and off the ice to win multiple championships. One of the most respected players (especially by other players) to ever play the game. I hope someday the people in my life feel the same way about me.

 

One of the Things I Find Fascinating: I’m an empath and I am always fascinated by the number of negative emotions people carry around with them on any given day and how unaware they are that they are carrying that weight.

 

Most People Don’t Know This About Me: I like to work on bio control skills. For example, I never get a song stuck in my head because I know a hack to make it stop. I never get the hiccups because I can stop them at will. I’m only ticklish when I allow myself to be ticklish, otherwise tickling has no effect on me. I used to be a late-night person and trained myself to become an early riser.

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Children playing the piano

 

One of my favourite things about the month of March is the promotion of music education within our schools. I for one am all over this – I love music.

 

My grandparents immigrated to Canada in the early 70’s from Guyana and with them came their South American/Caribbean culture, a culture that was rich with music that made you want to stop everything you were doing and dance – soca, dancehall, reggae, calypso, and so much more.

 

When I started school, I naturally gravitated towards all music classes and learned a lot in the process. I was already playing piano for a year when I added the standard recorder to my repertoire of instruments and throughout the years added violin, cello and acoustic guitar.

 

In 1986 the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) proposed the month of March to be a celebration of music in schools and during this month I learned a lot about music from different decades. With the pandemic among us, and kids not in school I figured to celebrate this month, I’d provide you with some of my favourite artists, throughout the decades – feel free to pass them along to your kids!

 

1920’s
Louis Armstrong

 

1930’s
Benny Goodman and His Orchestra

 

1940’s
Bing Crosby

 

1950’s
Sam Cooke

 

1960’s
The Beatles

 

1970’s
Jackson 5

 

1980’s
Guns N’ Roses

 

1990’s
Mariah Carey

 

2000’s
Destiny’s Child

 

2010’s
Adele

   

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Exercise equipment in the background with a white box

 

I found it to be rather refreshing this year that I was not inundated with advertisements for gym memberships as we rang in the new year. 2021 surely started off differently and I assume resolutions look a lot different now as well. For me, this year is focused on my overall health. Not a numerical value in mind, just to feel good.

 

At the start of this journey, I invested in some weights, a treadmill, a yoga mat, exercise ball and a resistance band. I scoured YouTube to help build an at home routine that leaves me feeling energized. I’m not working out extensively like I would normally do at a gym, this time I’m moving in ways that make me feel better about myself, and this is empowering.

 

I think the best part about the 2021 resolution that I have made for myself is that I have created time each day to solely focus on feeling good, and the best part about this, is I’m in the comfort of my own home. I don’t need to go to a gym to feel like I’ve had a successful workout, I just needed the time for myself.

 

In addition to the time that I’ve carved out for myself, some of us at REM have Fitbit’s and make use of the weekly challenges. This keeps us motivated, and as a competitive bunch – it keeps us moving and laughing – the smack talk get’s quite entertaining at times.

 

I know we have all been stuck at home, some of us can get into ruts (I know I did) but making the most of it can be rewarding.

 

I’d love to know how you have been turning these series of unfortunate events into something great, please share your stories with us!

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Todd playing foosball in the office

 

Let me preface this blog with the fact that I cannot play foosball. It’s not that I don’t want to, or I don’t care to it’s simply just one of those games that I cannot succeed at. I’m a klutz by nature with absolutely no hand-eye coordination so playing the game of foosball just never fared well for me.

 

However, I do love how much joy it brings my teammates, I desperately miss the sounds and laughter of my colleagues over lunch challenging each other. Whether or not each individual chooses to play, it’s an important part of our culture at REM and gives us a little bit more than just a lunch hour break.

 

When asked why Foosball is such an important part of the REM culture our designer Christine had a lot to say:

 

“Foosball at REM builds comradery between coworkers and teaches us good sportsmanship, friendly competition and owning up to mistakes, while being silly and goofing around. It adds excitement in our office, we cheer loudly for our coworkers when we compete, which builds confidence in other areas of our lives, like our jobs. Foosball gives us an opportunity to laugh and witness aspects of each other’s personality we don’t normally see and is a great way to 'break the ice' and welcome a new team member into the group. It encourages us to create strategies and 'think outside the box,' thereby stimulating the innovative, problem solving parts of our brain.

 

"Besides the emotional and mental benefits, it’s also physically good for us and here’s why – Foosball encourages us to get up and move, even if it’s mostly our arms that are moving. We use quick, powerful motions with our arms and wrists during the game, which loosens our forearm muscles, helps circulation and relieves tension. It also increases our heart-rate, promoting good health. We’ve proven this by looking at our smart-watches with heartbeat monitors. One time, Sean S. was super dialed into the game and his heartbeat rose to more than 120 beats/minute (that’s in the fat burning zone!).”

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Home office with white walls and chair

 

With the continuous increase of COVID cases in the KW region, our small but mighty team transitioned back to fully working from home until further notice. The WFH lifestyle is definitely something that I’ve struggled with in the past and I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to share some tips and tricks I’ve come up with over the past year to help keep myself on point.

 

Create a dedicated workspace

Whether it’s in your basement, a second bedroom turned office, or a closet turned into a desk - having a dedicated workspace makes all the difference in the world. It was incredibly important for me to create a space that allowed me to be productive with little distractions, a place that I could go to and remove myself from when needed. If you’d like to see what our workspaces look like check out our Battle Stations blog!

 

Breaks

One of the things I struggled with at the start of working from home was breaking. I felt that when I was working from home, I needed to be accessible 24/7 and it caused me to burn out. It’s important to allow yourself to take breaks. This time around I have kept the same rest/work cycle as I would at the office, and it really has helped me. The only thing I miss is hearing the team playing foosball (we’ll get to this in another blog).

 

Get Dressed

I remember the days when I would say “I could totally just wear pajama’s all day and work.” Yes, I can but I really felt a dip in my mood and productivity when I didn’t get up in the morning, have my coffee and get “ready” for work. Rolling out of bed and turning the computer on did not work well for me. I have now reverted back to my routine and take the time to prepare myself for the day ahead.

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

Home office setup with a glitchy effect

 

It’s been quite some time now that most of our team has been working from home, we miss each other and our awesome office. 

 

One of the most important things when working remotely is having a dedicated workspace to stay engaged and ready for action. A well-armed, personalized, organized, ergonomic home office makes all the difference when battling one’s foes, also known as daily tasks and routine. For most of us who are nerds and/or gamers, we wanted to show off our sweet setups, complete with multiple monitors, LED lights and peripheral equipment/devices. There are some perks to working at home for me – I get to snuggle with my dog on my breaks and make really good lunches!

 

We decided that it would be great to share what our at home “battle stations” look like and give you a few ideas for yours!

 

 

Sean S.'s home office setup

Sean Sanderson

 

Christine's home office setup

Christine Votruba

 

Sean L.'s home office setup

Sean Legge

 

Sean M.'s home office setup

Sean McParland

 

Ryan's home office setup

Ryan Covert

 

Rob's home office setup

Rob Matlow

 

Todd's home office setup

Todd Hannigan

 

Matt's home office setup

Matt Stern

 

Shauna's home office setup

Shauna Ramsaroop

 

 

 

For more tips on how to create a great workspace, check out this blog post: “A Streamlined Work Environment

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

A row of matches burning in succession

 

As we all navigate unknown waters in the world we’re living in today, there are a significant number of factors that could potentially cause you to burnout and sometimes we don’t recognize we’re doing it to ourselves. Whether it be the result of working from home around the clock, changes in childcare or lack thereof, some of us are working multiple jobs. Right now, it’s easier than ever to run ourselves to the brink of a burnout – I thought I would share some time tips on how I blow it up!

 

  1. Hydrate – I know this seems like a no brainer, but instead of reaching for that 2nd or 3rd cup of coffee, drink water. When I started back at REM, I was coming out of an extremely demanding job that I found I was pumping myself with far too much caffeine and not enough water. It wasn’t until one of our Sean’s and Rob said “Shauna – you need to drink more water”. They were right, something as simple as water helped reduced my headaches, gave me more energy and most importantly helped me focus on tasks at hand without suffering from caffeine dips throughout the day.
     
  2. Schedule “Me Time” – also known as breaks. Force yourself to get up and remove yourself from the screen time throughout the day. It’s exhausting constantly on your computer, on your phone, answering emails and phone calls, being in Zoom meetings. Be diligent in reviewing your schedule at the beginning of the day and scheduling in 5-15-minute breaks for yourself. Stand up, stretch, go for a quick walk, be conscious of how much time you’re actually spending in front of the screen and interrupt it. You’ll notice less headaches and you’ll see an increase in productivity.
     
  3. Breathe – I know this one may sound silly we all breathe. However, do you ever take 30 seconds to really dial in and focus on your breathing? It’s a great exercise and helps you connect your mind and body. Especially if you’re troubleshooting an issue or working on a problem take 30 seconds and pay attention to yourself breathe, take deep breaths in and out focus on your diaphragm and how it moves with each deep breath. It helps you re-centre your frame of mind and alleviate stress!
     
  4. Talk to your Manager/Boss – If you feel yourself burning out, odds are so is your direct report. Sit down and chat with them about it and I bet they are full of advice on how to manage your schedule, shine a light on tools that you probably forgot are available to you to help manage your time. At the end of the day, our managers want us to succeed – when we are performing at our best, business is good, and they are there to help.

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

A graphic that says Happy Thanksgiving

 

Being raised as a first generation Canadian by my Guyanese grandparents meant that food was not something to take lightly. My grandmother raised and fed three children and three grandchildren - she really had a knack for feeding us all on an extremely tight budget. This meant that Thanksgiving became quite a tradition in our home. It was a meal that we all looked forward to each year, it brought us together and it was always elaborate. For as long as I could remember it was the one meal that my grandmother cooked for us that we had in common with everyone else we went to school with. Which naturally made me very grateful when marching back to school with a lunch made purely of leftovers just like everyone else.

 

Over the past 10 years I personally have taken over the task of cooking Thanksgiving dinner, filling my home with our loved ones and serving up everyone’s favourites including my own – Mashed Potatoes. I have perfected my recipe which is an amalgamation of my grandmother’s and mother’s and makes me drool just thinking about it.

 

 

As I plan out this year’s meal, I figured I might add something new into the mix, so I asked the REM team for their help – for them  to share with me their favourite thanksgiving foods and why:

 

 

“My favorite food is the Turkey that Kim (my wife makes).  I am not just saying that for brownie points.  She does a great job with it.  In fact, the entire thanksgiving meal she does is a yearly cuisine highlight!” – Rob Matlow

 


 

“Like many people we have a turkey meal on thanksgiving, but when it comes to my favourite part, I would have to say it’s pumpkin pie. Now when I say pumpkin pie I don’t mean a slice of pumpkin pie on a plate with a little shot of whipped cream on top. I mean a slice of pumpkin pie located somewhere beneath an avalanche of whipped cream. Basically, the rule of thumb is if you can decern that there is indeed pumpkin pie located somewhere on the plate then you need more whipped cream.” – Sean McParland

 


 

“All things pumpkin! Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie ice cream, pumpkin seeds… Because it’s PUMPKIN! Do I need to say more!” – Todd Hannigan

 


 

“Pumpkin Pie – If I ever leave room for it, its been my favorite since I can remember. It usually only comes around once a year and is a tradition for my mom and I enjoy, even if we are the only ones that ever like it.” – Sean Sanderson

 


 

“Because I’m Filipino-Canadian, my favourite Thanksgiving food are traditional Filipino ones such as lechon (roasted pig), pancit (stir-fry noodles) and lumpia (deep-fried spring rolls). We eat a traditional Filipino feast to celebrate Thanksgiving.  We gather as a family and serve the dinner as a pot-luck, that way each family has to contribute one type of food to the party; there’s always plenty of leftovers the next day because I have a lot of relatives!” – Christine Votruba

 


 

“Cranberry sauce. The jelly kind. I don’t like finding bits of cranberry stems in my sauce.” – Ryan Covert

 


 

“My favourite Thanksgiving food is the whole meal- from the Turkey to the cranberries.  But most of all is the time spent with family.” – Matt Stern

 


 

“My favourite thanksgiving food is carrots and neeps. It’s a delicious dish that my Granny started making for our Thanksgivings, then my father took over, and now I’m making them. So, it’s a bit of a family tradition now!” – Sean Legge

 

 

As you can see, I have a fair amount to work with, but I would love to hear from you! Please comment and share your favourite Thanksgiving eats – who knows, it may work its way onto our Thanksgiving table next year!

 

Everyone here at REM would like to wish you and your family a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

 

Please note that REM will be closed Monday, October 12th and will re-open on Tuesday, October 13th.

 

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This is a headshot of Shauna Ramsaroop.

White arrows on pavement

 

Just over two years ago I made the personal decision to leave REM Web Solutions. After 3 years of growth and development I felt that I needed to try my hand at a new adventure and see where life would take me. In my two years away, I had the opportunity to work in two positions that have given me an abundant amount of skills and provided me with some interesting life experiences.

 

In my first position post REM I had the opportunity to work with dozens of early stage tech startups. I learned the ins and outs of the challenges they face at different stages of their growth. I was lucky enough to guide them through programming available to them in the region while assisting them in building their business plans, completing market research, and preparing themselves for the long journey ahead while supporting their passions. I learned how to speak in front of large groups of people, spent significant time with the graduating classes of University of Waterloo’s MBET program and meeting some pretty cool people like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau! My time in the role was very humbling, sitting with small to medium sized business owners and watching their struggles while they put their livelihood on the line gave me new perspective on life and business.

 

My second position post REM was a whirlwind to say the least. I decided I wanted to try something that wasn’t as customer focused, I became a project manager for a local automation company. Hardware was completely new to me, from the very start I couldn’t believe how much there was to learn but I had a fantastic team of PM’s and Engineers who took me under their wings and guided me along the journey. I learned project management best practices, I learned how to communicate with different cultures as majority of my clients were overseas, I learned how to build project schedules, use industry driven tools and most importantly I learned that there was no challenge I was not willing to take on.

 

I thrived in both positions and learned a lot but no matter what I did, the connections and friends I made, neither role or company felt like home. In early June an opportunity presented itself for me to come back to REM and without hesitation I said yes. As wonderful as both jobs were, and as grateful as I was to have the opportunity to work at both companies, it was time for me to return. REM Web Solutions was where I started in the tech industry. It’s where I built relationships with my colleagues that I consider family. We offer a wonderful product, our clients are amazing and at the end of the day I feel accomplished, inspired, and most importantly happy to be home.

 

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Contributors

Shauna Ramsaroop
51
May 5, 2021
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Rob Matlow
104
April 1, 2021
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Christine Votruba
28
January 15, 2021
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Ryan Covert
48
July 26, 2019
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Sean Sanderson
63
July 23, 2019
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Matt Stern
4
July 16, 2019
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Sean Legge
1
June 28, 2019
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Sean McParland
17
June 28, 2019
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Todd Hannigan
47
November 13, 2018
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