FUZE Conference 2014: Inspiring action – The power of community

FUZE2014Quality professional development opportunities are important to helping professionals  offer value to their clients or their employers. We must continue to learn and grow.

I am lucky enough to live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where world-class marketing and knowledge mobilization experts live, work, and play. It is my privilege to access their experience and knowledge by making more of an effort to take part in learning opportunities right here at home. The 2014 FUZE Conference is one such opportunity.

Let me tell you about it…

What is FUZE?

FUZE is the result of a collaboration between two of Saskatchewan’s best professional organizations: the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), with a growing membership of 139 Saskatoon based business communicators, and the Saskatchewan Professional Marketing Association (SPMA), which boasts a growing membership of over 100 Saskatchewan marketers and creatives. In its second year, the FUZE Conference brought together 180 of Saskatchewan’s marketers, communicators, creatives, and thinkers to inspire each other, share their experiences, and to learn from the marketing industry’s world class experts.

Where and When?

Saskatoon is no longer the quiet oasis of western Canada. It is has grown into an active centre for business and community where families live, work, and play in a booming city with a small town feel. As more and more businesses begin to set up shop, the need for professional story tellers also increases. On April 2, 2014 creatives from all over Saskatchewan gathered at the Delta Bessbourough Hotel in Saskatoon to learn from the experts and each other.


Story tellers gather together to inspire, share, and learn from each other. Success stories. We share our experiences and discuss the challenges we face in helping businesses, researchers, and others clients tell their stories in an increasingly digital world and work to get their messages heard in a very noisy digital space. We do this by gathering together and IABC (Saskatoon) and SPMA have made it all that much easier to gather in Saskatoon by bringing a world-class conference to our very own back yarn. FUZE conference 2014 offered us the opportunity to mingle with each other, create connections that matter with accomplished professionals, and learn from the experts.

What did I learn?

The 2014 FUZE Conference explored effective ways to engage audiences and create community advocates. Four international speakers and a panel of successful Saskatchewan entrepreneurs shared their successes, discussed the challenges faced along their journey to success, and showed us the indisputable benefits of connecting to people and tapping into the power community.

  • Maureen “Mo” Douglas, owner of Mobilize Strategies
    • Hugging the Angry Mob: An Enlightened Approached to Community Engagement” delivered tips and processes that effectively engage community, even if members of the target community are resistant to a new plan or idea. Douglas drew on her experiences gained by working on several high-profile projects, including the Vancouver and Sochi winter Olympic games. She emphasized the importance of communication, transparency, and follow through. Her SHARE concerns and engage with RESPECT philosophies give values for positive engagement that we can all carry out right away.
  • Leanne Bellegarde, Director of Aboriginal Strategy with PotashCorp
    • “The Future of Aboriginal Relations: Engaging Saskatchewan’s Fastest Growing Population” showed participants the value in engaging Saskatchewan’s Aboriginal population. Ms. Bellgarde provided insights into building valuable relationships with Aboriginal communities and the benefits of engaging with and investing in these communities. She drew on recent examples from PotashCorps’ own highly successful Aboriginal engagement and community investment initiatives to show the power of community in action.
  • Khayyam Wakil, Chief Belief Officer of Thynk Taynk (Twitter)
    • “Video Killed the Marketing Star. The Content Revolution” showed participants how multimedia elements are revolutionizing the way brands and companies engage with their customers. Marketers are now making use of innovative technologies, like 360 video, to get their message heard in an increasingly noisy and fast paced digital world. Customers are now producing their own video content as a way to let their voices and opinions be heard. This two-way conversation is the new way we engage with each other. Video helps us tell our stories, share our concerns, and connect with each other. It is the power of video that drives innovative marketing strategies across the world.
  • Aaron James Draplin, Owner of Draplin Design Co.
    • “Tall Tales from a Large Man” shared the value of doing what you love. In Draplin’s case, graphic design is his first love. Draplin shared stories from his own experience as a freelance graphic designer, how his line of Field Notes Brand came to be and continues to be successful, and his freebie Friday philosophy. He has worked with clients both big and small, which include designs for Red Wing Farms (owned by John Hughes, film maker), Target, and Barack Obama. Draplin shared his experiences through expert storytelling. He put the power of good storytelling to work and engaged this audience from start to finish.
  • A panel of local experts that included:
    • “Saskatchewan Entrepreneurs: A Panel of Changemakers”Bryan McCrea from 3twenty Modular;Natasha and Elysia Vandenurk from Three Farmers Camelina Oil; and Kendal Netmaker from Neechi Gear
    • These Saskatchewan entrepreneurs shared their stories. They not only spoke about their success, but addressed many of the challenges they faced along their own unique journeys. Each panellist told us how they developed and implemented marketing strategies that were not always successful. They spoke about their marketing challenges, missed opportunities, and the community support they received while starting, building, and managing their businesses.

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