It’s hard meeting a new team. It’s harder when the five of you are scattered across the province.
On September 14th, I rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth, took a shower, got dressed, made the commute to my desk and logged onto a Zoom call with over 250 other new hires.
A few weeks earlier, I’d been offered a job with Communitech to join the Digital Main Street Future Proof program, an initiative that assists businesses with identifying new markets, pivoting their business models and implementing digital transformation plans.
After a morning of training, we were shepherded into smaller video chats where we could finally meet our respective Digital Transformation Teams.
I was nervous. I had to nail my first impression. I ran a hand through my hair, clicked on the link and watched the little white dot above my screen ignite as my webcam buzzed to life.
And suddenly, I was facing the four people I’d be getting acquainted with for the next few months.
Murdoch Irwin. A second year Architectural Engineering student at the University of Waterloo. The baby of the bunch. Our fresh-faced, square-jawed Graphic Designer.
Khalid Hussein. A graduate of Conestoga College’s Information Technology and Innovation Design Program. As our User Interface/User Interface Designer, it’s his job to make sure that everything fits together. And over the next couple months, I’ve watched him fulfill that role—in more ways than one.
Manjinder Tour. Previously, she graduated from Sheridan College’s Information Technology and Resources program. Now, she’s our Web Designer. I’d call her the strong, silent type, but that’s inaccurate. Strength doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Tajwar Rahman. A third year Business Management student at Wilfrid Laurier University. Our Digital Marketer. Our cheerleader. Our advocate. Our most outspoken spokesperson.
And then, there’s me, Michael Seguin. A paddle board mastering, perpetually-twitchy, graduate of the University of Windsor. WEtech Alliance’s In-House Storyteller. Windsor Life Magazine’s Journalist. And now, Team 10’s Copywriter.
Our In-House Storyteller, Michael Seguin (top left) – also known as “You”, apparently – with his Digital Main Street Future Proof colleagues
And I still had to nail that first impression.
“So,” I began. “How’s everyone doing today?”
“Me, I’m doing okay. I’m excited to get going.”
Nothing. I started to sweat.
“So… have they, uh, assigned us a client yet?”
“Your microphone’s off,” Murdoch said.
“Oh.” I fiddled with some buttons. “How about now?”
“Nothing,” Tajwar told me.
I toyed with my system settings.
“Anything?” I asked, hoping they wouldn’t hear my voice crack.
“Maybe try rebooting?” Khalid suggested.
And that was Day One.
As luck would have it, our first client was a local one. For me, anyways.
Lora Colautti is a yoga teacher and studio owner, a wellbeing mentor, coach and influencer based here in Windsor. Her studio, Yoga with Lora, offers yoga at all levels in a supportive, encouraging and fun environment.
She radiates positivity the way I radiate a caffeine dependency.
Lora came to Digital Main Street wondering how she could incorporate her Yoga with Lora business underneath the larger Lora Colautti brand, which would shortly expand to include services such as a workbook, ebook and digital membership subscription.
“In the last couple years, I’ve started to bring on more teachers and support,” Lora explains. “And I’ve started to feel that it was time to broaden beyond the brick-and-mortar business. And so, once COVID came around, it just inspired me to start putting stuff into place. I wanted to offer more services online, and transition to more of a wellbeing studio than strictly a yoga studio.”
The team and I got to work finding ways to help Lora best accomplish her objectives.
She came to us with questions. It was our job to supply the answers.
But, we had a pressing question of our own. Who would serve as the liaison between the client and the team? This required serious deliberation. Who would speak for us? Who could best address the client’s needs and the team’s capabilities?
“I nominate Michael,” Murdoch chimed in.
“Yeah, it should be Michael,” Khalid agreed.
“Michael.” Manjinder said.
“Definitely Michael,” Tajwar said.
“Whrrrrt?” I was eating a doughnut.
“The team was a delight to work with. It really was this collaborative endeavor.”
We ended up meeting with Lora four times over the course of four weeks. Each time, her enthusiasm was even more infectious.
“The team was a delight to work with,” Lora exclaims. “It really was this collaborative endeavor. I felt incredibly heard and respected. My vision was my vision, and they were there to support that. And their enthusiasm meant a lot to me. They were working on something for somebody else, yet they were just as excited as I was.”
During our final meeting with Lora, she thanked us all for our hard work and for the goals.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen the team smile so wide.
A couple weeks ago, I asked the team to summarize their biggest takeaways from the DMS contract so far.
“Getting more hands-on with what’s going on in the world,” Khalid states. “Seeing how these businesses have been effected and how we can help.”
“The point of co-op is to give students different experiences with different jobs,” Murdoch explains. “But my program, Architectural Engineering, doesn’t really relate to Graphic Design! But, I like art, and that’s one of the reasons I went into my program. But, it was cool to explore a different career path that diverged from my field.”
“I’m getting professional experience working with DMS,” Manjinder states. “I’ve learned new technical skills and gotten to work with new types of software.”
“Our biggest takeaway has been being able to work with the clients themselves,” Tajwar stresses. “Working with clients is obviously different than working with textbooks. We can accumulate all the knowledge we want, but working with clients directly in the field has helped us grow much faster.”
I concurred with everyone. Personally, I think I’d learned more from the team than I did from working with the client. But, I guess my biggest takeaway was that—surprise, surprise—I did have an atom or two of leadership skills floating around inside my skull.
A gem of a person
“One more thing,” Tajwar cut in. “I want everyone to know that I’ve worked with Michael for two months now, and I want to say that he’s a gem of a person. He’s great. I think that we’re one of the leading DMS teams because of the way Michael has guided us.”
My eyes misted over.
“Guys,” I said. “I just want you all to know how much working with you the past couple months has meant to me.”
No one said anything. Perhaps they, too, were moved past the point of words.
My microphone wasn’t working again.
Our still clearly muted In-House Storyteller, Michael Seguin (top left), waxes poetic sans microphone as his Digital Main Street Future Proof Team 10 colleagues look on in bewilderment.
Michael Seguin was born with a pen in his hands and too many words floating around his skull. Since then, he’s worked tirelessly to get them out. Unfortunately, more keep taking their place. After university, he began dabbling in marketing and journalism. At the age of 26, he became the first in-house writer at Windsor Life Magazine, an esteemed local publication. As the newest member of the WEtech Alliance team, Michael is dedicated to lending a voice to the tech sector around Windsor and Chatham-Kent.