The View from The Niagara Guide

General observations and musings on how we can make Niagara a better place.

In Memory of Tom Masek

Mark Kawabe - Monday, October 04, 2010

It is with a sad heart that I learned about the passing of Tom Masek, member and director at the Garrison Little Theatre. There was an article about Tom in this week's Niagara This Week. The address for the online version is below.

Our thoughts go to Zdenka Cole, Tom's partner in theatre and life. Zdenka is also the PR director for the Garrison Little Theatre and we work closely with her keeping the Garrison Little Theatre website on The Niagara Arts Guide up to date.

Why "KNOW it ALL" Niagara?

Mark Kawabe - Friday, September 24, 2010

So "KNOW it ALL" Niagara was voted the Best Networking Organization of 2010 by Canadian Networker magazine.

My question is "Why?"

After all, there's BNI - who's founder "wrote the book" on Word of Mouth marketing.

There are countless Chambers of Commerce that qualify.

The Small Business Club Niagara and others like it are well-established groups that offer networking.

What makes "KNOW it ALL" Niagara so special?

Well, in a nutshell, it's the vision of the founder Carrie Matthews that makes "KNOW it ALL" Niagara the networking dynamo it is.

The quality of networking events is pretty good. Groups are generally small so you get to meet everyone and spend more 1-on-1 time with them. I have personally found that the relationships built through "KNOW it ALL" Niagara have been stronger and have led to quality referrals from the linkers.

In addition to the events, there's Carrie herself, who worked at the West Lincoln Chamber of Commerce for years before embarking on the "KNOW it ALL" Niagara journey. From the outset she planned to make KIAN a better type of organization for business owners by providing a variety of marketing vehicles for her linkers. Little things like "Linker Minutes" - allowing you to send two marketing messages to the rest of the group EVERY MONTH at no additional cost. The local chambers charge for this service as does the Small Business Club.

There are many things that make "KNOW it ALL" Niagara stand above the networking organization crowd. It's fun, personable and effective networking - when you use the system provided. Just as with any group, if you can't work the system, it won't work for you. For example, I can't make the Business After 5s provided by the various Chambers. Consequently being a Chamber member doesn't really provide much networking benefit for me. If you don't use the Linker Minutes or attend meetings or provide Carrie flyers so she can market your business for you then her system won't work and you won't benefit.

However, the fact that "KNOW it ALL" Niagara keeps growing - even counting the Niagara Falls Chamber as a Linker - is a testament to its effectiveness. That's why it was voted the Best Networking Organization in 2010. Here's looking to the future successes of Carrie and "KNOW it ALL" Niagara!

Diane Doneff Presented with Community Achievement Award

Mark Kawabe - Monday, September 20, 2010

Addictions Ontario in partnership with The Niagara Addiction Treatment System held their Recovery Awareness Breakfast on September 8 at the St. Catharines Golf & Country Club, as part of their provincial Recovery Campaign.

Kathie Scott, Executive Director of Community Addiction Services of Niagara welcomed an enthusiastic crowd to enjoy food and fellowship and to celebrate addiction recovery. Diane Doneff, founding Director of Women’s Addiction Recovery Mediation, shared her own personal recovery journey.

Diane’s personal journey started 30 years ago when she found a program and people who believed in her until she could trust herself to live a sober life, one day at a time.  Diane was given the tools and processes by which to heal her past wounds. For the past 20 years, Diane has felt privileged to share these tools and processes while supporting other women and their families in their journeys of recovery through WARM.

Norma Medulun, President of Addictions Ontario presented Diane with the 2010 Community Achievement Award in recognition of Diane’s commitment and outstanding service to the field of addiction recovery.

For more information call Claire Duthie at 905-871-9195 – extension 822 or [email protected]

Niagara Nutritionist Now Online

Mark Kawabe - Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm the first to admit I don't eat as well as I could.

So, I'm really happy to welcome Craig Bowman, Registered Holistic Nutritionist to The Niagara Health Guide!

Craig offers 100% guaranteed customized nutritional programs for a variety of conditions, including cancer support, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and multiple sclerosis, to name a few. There is a wealth of evidence to support his claims that changes to lifestyle via diet, nutrition and exercise can halt the progression of many diseases and bring people back to a healthy state.

We are also fortunate that Craig has allowed us to add his articles to The Niagara Health Guide article database and these will be added over the coming weeks.

If you're in need of nutritional support, you owe it to yourself to contact Craig today at Road to Recovery Natural Health.

Your Latest Good Idea . . .

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, September 15, 2010

. . . is worth nothing unless you do something with it. Now. Immediately.

It's easy to have good ideas. That's why it's important to do something with them. There's no shortage of good ideas. There is a shortage of people who can turn those ideas into reality.

What CAN You Do?

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I've heard it said that whether you think you CAN or think you can't, you're right. Your mind will act upon your thoughts and your actions will reflect your attitude.

So, it only makes sense to eliminate the "C" word from your vocabulary. In case you don't remember it, the "C" word is CAN'T.

How do you do this? Simply rephrase your thoughts to something more positive and embrace the possibilities.

"I can't get more customers." --> "I'm working on getting more customers."

"I can't get my head around this issue." --> "I haven't figured out how to solve this issue, but I'm working on it."

"I can't understand my teenager." --> "I need to improve my relationship with my teenager."

Okay - I'm not a therapist ; ) but you get the idea.

Remove the negativity and the absolutism of the "C" word and you'll be amazed what you CAN do.

How Stupid Are YOUR Customers?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I saw a Lysol ad on television the other day advertising their new touchless soap dispenser.

The reason it was touted as a must-buy product is because it eliminates the need to touch the soap dispenser. You see, touching the dispenser means you're potentially transferring germs from the previous user to YOUR hand. That's unhealthy.

But wait - why are you touching the soap dispenser? To get soap. Why? So you can wash your hands. What do you remove when you wash your hands? GERMS!

Thinking about this product's main USP (Unique Selling Proposition) for five seconds reveals it to be a sham.

This product's a solution for a problem that doesn't exist.

Is there anything you're marketing that's like this? If so, it's time to re-think the problem you're trying to solve OR how you're marketing the product.

If Lysol had promoted the product as a "cool" addition to your bathroom or kitchen, that would have been more plausible. It was a nice design, after all. Otherwise, they must think their prospective customers are pretty stupid not to see through their USP.

Seeing stuff like this makes me glad I don't watch television more often.

5Linx Event with Andre Maronian

Mark Kawabe - Monday, August 23, 2010

Here's a guy who's made his money with 5Linx and he's coming to town to show you how to do the same.

Here are the details:


  • He has already accomplished the goal of complete financial freedom thanks to 5linx.
  • He will offer insight into the lifestyle that ONLY residual income can offer people.
  • He will demonstrate the Globalinx application on the new Ipad.

If Bill Gates wanted to demonstrate the power of Micro-Soft, or Wayne Gretzky offered to teach you hockey, would you hesitate? 

Success is yours, if you want it.  Take advantage of this opportunity.

Thursday August 26th, 7pm, 754 Barton Street East, Hamilton Ontario

You can also visit 5Linx in The Niagara Guide for more information on your local representatives Donna and Frank Mous.

Looking Past Appearance to Find Value

Mark Kawabe - Monday, August 23, 2010

"You never get a second change to make a good first impression."

"Never judge a book by its cover."

Both sayings have their applications, but we all know that as a society, we tend to go by appearances.

I bought 42 peaches for $5 the other day. Despite the fact I went to the source - the farm - this was a bargain by any measure. The reason they were so inexpensive? They were "seconds".

What makes a peach a second? In this case, as far as I could tell, the only thing "wrong" with these peaches were blemishes. When we ate them that night, they were juicy and flavourful, firm and satisfying. Nothing "wrong" with them once they were peeled. The last time I checked, people peel their peaches before eating them, so there was no way to tell they were "seconds".

When it comes to the search for value, appearances can be deceiving. Something to think about as we slog through another Monday.

Striving for Excellence

Mark Kawabe - Sunday, August 22, 2010

I went out with a relative a few nights ago to The Lazy Lizard. I haven't been there more than a couple of times in the years I've lived in Niagara, but I'd heard they have good chicken wings. I've eaten chicken wings in many places around Niagara, so I was expecting the "usual" when it came to wings.

What a surprise then to find arguably the BEST wings I've had in years. Big. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. At $0.75 a wing they weren't the least expensive wings I've had, but they were 100% worth the price.

As we sat and enjoyed these wings, I thought about the other places I've had wings around Niagara and throughout the GTA. I have had little, tiny dry wings for $0.20 and "average" wings for more than $1.00 per wing at chain restaurants that couldn't hold a torch to what The Lazy Lizard offered. They were truly excellent wings in my opinion.

It got me thinking about what "excellence" is. It's subjective, isn't it? If I think the wings at The Lazy Lizard are excellent, that's fine, but what about for you? You might not like them as much as I do. You might prefer the wings elsewhere. If excellence is subjective, how can you design something that everyone will consider excellent?

I think they key is to follow the internet maxim: Ready. Fire. Aim. As Seth Godin says: Just Ship. Do it, and tweak as you go to make it better and better over time.

What are you doing to aim for excellence today?


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