Gift Books for Entrepreneurs and Creatives

Gift Books for Entrepreneurs and Creatives

It’s that gift-giving time of year. Are you scratching your head as you stare at your list? Out of ideas? A great book is always a good option, whether for a coworker, friend or family member – and if you buy from a local bookseller, so much the better!

We’ve decided to help you out by interviewing some of the most avid readers in our ACE Coworking community. We asked for their recommendations for the best books for creatives and entrepreneurs. Here you go…

Essentialism, by Greg McKeown

“Do you have friends who always answer ‘super busy’ when you ask ‘how are you?’ This gift is for them. In this amazing book, McKeown explores the conflicts of identifying what is actually essential in a world full of things to-do. It provides effective solutions for anyone who feels that 24 hours are not enough!” 

– María Virginia Anzola: Co-founder, The FlipSide Plan

The Surrender Experiment, by Michael Singer 

“This is not your typical business/entrepreneurship book. Of course, there is the requisite story of how Singer built a billion-dollar public software company from scratch. But the real impact comes from the author’s spiritual awakening and willingness to let life’s flow help determine his business decision-making. Throughout, he demonstrates how a very successful external life is perfectly consistent with achieving profoundly deep states of inner peace and freedom.”

– Mark Fornasiero, Meditation & Business Coach 

Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert

“This is the book I read and re-read regularly, talk about too much, and think about often. It’s about creativity, but it’s also about a philosophy of living. It inspires me to move beyond fear and see my life as a creative adventure guided by my curiosity. Anyone I’ve ever gifted it to feels the same way.”

– Diliana Popova: Copywriter/Founder,  Spell Book 

The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

“We are either living in the memories of the past, or worries of the future. In both cases we attract the emotions of these thoughts, which eventually affect the present moment. The Power of Now tackles the idea of how to live in the moment and stop worrying about the future or regretting the past. This transformative book has actionable strategies to start living in the present – everyone should read it!”

– Moatassem Moatez: CEO, MYCourier Inc.

Play Bigger, by Lockhard, Ramadan, Maney & Peterson

“If you have a true entrepreneur or innovator in your life, then I’d recommend Play Bigger. Written for those who want to build legendary and enduring companies. (Yes, we’re talking about companies like Apple, Salesforce, Blackberry…) The authors teach about the new discipline of “category design” for companies that are creating new market demand for products or services where none existed before, and show how to keep those customers wanting more. The Kindle version is great so you can easily highlight and download the numerous insights scattered throughout this book.”

– Rina Carlini: CEO, Optimal Innovation Group

Who Moved My Cheese?, by Spencer Johnson, M.D. 

“This book has been around forever, but is still a classic. I’ve given it many times, and there’s even a version called Who Moved My Cheese? for Teens, which I’ve gifted to my own kids. It applies not only to career situations, but also to the ups and downs of life itself. How will you react to the inevitable changes you’ll face on your journey? In this enlightening parable, Spencer describes 4 types of “mice” who are challenged in various ways – any reader is sure to identify with one (or more) of them. Bonus: it’s a quick read!” 

– Kevin Palmer: CFO, Greywolf Animal Health 

If you’d like to get more inspiration and education from the staff and partners of ACE Coworking, sign up for our monthly newsletter. You’ll also stay up to date on the events we run and the amazing promotions we often offer!

Time Management Tips for Busy Professionals

Time Management Tips for Busy Professionals

Coworking is great because so many diverse professionals and experts gather under one roof! We often invite our member-experts to share their knowledge during our informative Lunch & Learn series so we can all learn from one another. Most recently The FlipSide Plan presented to us on the topic of Time Management. They offered us all sorts of great tips at that session, but perhaps the most useful was their advice on establishing “Opening and Closing Routines.”

contributed by Maria Virginia Anzola

Time, time… we all need more time!

In households with small children, getting ready for school takes a lot of time. (Teenagers might take even longer sometimes!) In afternoons, parents are often like glorified chauffeurs with so many extracurriculars in the mix. Then comes homework support, pet care, cook – eat – clean-up, plus preparation for the next day still needs to happen. Phew.

Even without the responsibilities of family life, the demands of a workday can add up. Whether it’s due to long commutes, endless meetings, or unexpected snafus, rushing about becomes our norm and “I’m swamped” becomes the regular answer to “How are you?”

Planning is Everything

When we wake up without a set morning routine and rush to get to work or scramble to get kids to school, we are very likely to arrive at our desk, open our computer and dive headlong into emails without a plan. This is how our days become chaotic. Similarly, at the end of the workday, when computers are abruptly shut down and today’s problems are left for tomorrow, we have a hard time relaxing in the evening and winding down. Winding down is so very important for our mental health and optimal performance. We want to avoid bringing our work home as much as possible!

Is there a solution? Absolutely.

Magic of an Opening Routine

The first thing we recommend to our clients is to create an “opening routine.” This is not the same as a “morning routine” –– rather it’s a plan created specifically for the start of your workday. Each of us will have specific activities for that routine depending on our jobs and workstyles, but here are some ideas:

  • Start by opening your planner (if you have one) or your computer calendar. Review your to-do list, which should have been written the night before. (More on that later.)
  • Check your emails but don’t reply to any of them.
  • Read emails and identify which need immediate attention and which can wait.
  • Mark those that you won’t address as “unread.” (We love to use this technique to make sure we don’t lose them in our busy inbox.)
  • Check your scheduled meetings, appointments, calls so you can fully visualize your day.

Once all this is done you can get started! It’s a short and sweet routine: 5, 10, or 20 minutes. There’s no magic number. The important part is to block this time in your calendar, so that you’re not required to go into a meeting or a call. This is a morning routine for work purposes – respect the boundary!

Let’s remember that life happens. Having an “opening routine” doesn’t guarantee your day will always go as planned. But having a routine to follow at the beginning of your workday will provide you with clarity on what you can expect from your day. This way, even if things derail at some point, you’ll have a solid plan to return to once the chaos is over.

Closing Routine: Must-Do

The next tool we absolutely depend on for calm and sanity is the “closing routine.” Why is it so important to wellness? Because the unfinished tasks of our workday claim the mind’s attention during the evening, affecting how we rest or sleep. It’s called the “Zeigarnik effect,” named for the early 20th-century psychologist who studied this phenomenon.  

Avoiding the Zeigarnik effect is simple: at some point well before bedtime, take 10 to 20 minutes to set up for the next day. Most importantly, plan (in writing) how and when you will finish your unfinished tasks. 

The closing routine is the perfect time to create a to-do list for the next day(s). It’s also the time to look at what you already have on the schedule and ensure that your list can realistically fit into your agenda. Review your inbox and catch up on any unanswered emails or identify those that will need your attention tomorrow. Get organized so that you can fully leave your office, WFH desk, or coworking space, confident that things will be taken care of in the morning.

Remember, time management is a skill that can be developed and personalized one day at a time.  Being firm but flexible is key. If you are truly interested in making it work, and can commit to consistency, you will start seeing results very soon that will last a lifetime.

ACE Coworking members, Rosana Fernandez and MV Anzola, are the co-founders of The FlipSide Plan. They are credentialed professional coaches known for designing, managing and delivering top-notch corporate wellness workshops and programs on health and productivity. Follow ACE Coworking & The FlipSide Plan on social media to stay up-to-date on our regular co-hosted Lunch & Learn Workshops, which you are welcome to attend!


Oakville Small Business Owners: Best Resources

Oakville Small Business Owners: Best Resources

It’s Small Business Week: always a good time to reflect on how we operate as a local small biz in Oakville, how we can improve on delivering our service, and how we can help other companies deliver theirs…

Looking back to when we first opened our doors in January 2018, and reflecting on our journey since then, we feel incredibly fortunate to have had the support of many local organizations that have provided us with help, support, and encouragement. Really, we couldn’t have done it without drawing on the larger community of local entrepreneurs, and both the public and private organizations in Oakville whose aim it is to see small business succeed.

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely career path but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re running a small business, or thinking about jumping into the world of entrepreneurship, get to know these organizations and especially the committed people working in them. They are there to support the small business sector in our area and can be the difference between your business being a success or a failure.


If you’re lucky enough to be located in a “Business Improvement Area,” your BIA office is a must-get-to-know. BIAs work to collaborate, extend market reach, and connect their members to one another. There are three BIAs in Oakville – Downtown, Bronte and Kerr Village – and they’re all awesome.


The Halton SBC is a treasure trove of supports for entrepreneurs. They run many learning programs to increase your technical and strategic business skills. “You get what you pay for” is often true – but in this case it’s not. The programming at the Small Business Centre is both low-cost (or free) and excellent.


BDC offers various financing and funding options to small and medium-sized companies. They’re also a great source for strategic advice. We’ve had the chnace to partner with BDC to bring educational programs to our members, and they’ve always been a super informative resource.


Digital Main St. is a grant program offered by the province of Ontario to support small businesses to incorporate digital assets into their business operations. They also offer useful free webinars. This has been a fantastic resource for ACE as we have continued to digitize more and more of our operational and marketing functions, especially this past year.


Both MP Anita Anand, and MPP Stephen Crawford have been supportive of our efforts to start a new business here in Oakville (especially during the pandemic). We have found their offices to be very responsive to our requests. Your local members of parliament want to help you and see you succeed. Don’t avoid reaching out for help when you need it. And while you’re at it, get to know your local Municipal Councillors – ours have been amazing cheerleaders as well as go-to experts on many local issues that affect our business.


Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses is a membership-based organization that advocates for all independently-owned businesses in Canada. They are the voice of small business and work to influence government to understand our needs. They also have many resources you can tap to support your company.


Last but not least, this organization led by a superb team of dedicated professionals, helps hundreds of local small businesses owners connect, learn, grow, and succeed. There are membership fees to join, but with over 70 annual events to participate in, and an extraordinarily supportive culture, it’s well worth the investment. More about the Chamber here.

If you’d like to get more inspiration and education from the staff and partners of ACE Coworking, sign up for our monthly newsletter. You’ll also stay up to date on the events we run and the amazing promotions we often offer!

How to Overcome Writer’s Block

How to Overcome Writer’s Block

In this monthly series, Ask an Acer, we invite one of our talented members to share their expertise with you. February’s post comes to you from Amanda Lee, a skilled freelance journalist and copywriter.

When you have content to create (and don’t we all these days?) you might have a budget to hire a pro like Amanda, but very often we find ourselves facing that blank page on our own and we just don’t know where to start. In this post, Amanda explains three reasons why we might be experiencing writer’s block and gives her pro tips about how to beat it.


1) You’re not a writer 

Here’s something I learned through spending years writing everything from press releases to snappy tweets to feature stories: Writers are rarely born, they’re made. In his book, The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell explores the 10,000 rule – the key to success in any field, including writing, is to practice.    

Solution: Start now    

If you feel compelled to write, that is all the reason – and permission – you need to put pen to paper to fingers to keyboard and share your thoughts and ideas with the rest of the world. Don’t be put off by thinking you have to put in thousands of hours of practice before sharing a blog post.  


2) You’re self-critical

Expecting words to flow onto the page like maple syrup on warm, fluffy blueberry pancakes is unrealistic. Sure, sometimes they do. Writers get into the zone and the words do flow. Other times it’s as frustrating as trying to squeeze the remaining ketchup out from the bottle. Author, Neil Gaiman said, “Perfection is like chasing the horizon.” Self-criticism is a sure path to writer’s block.  

Solution: The sh*tty first draft  

In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott makes the case for the sh*tty first draft. “All good writers write them,” she notes. I was first given this piece of advice by another (real life!) author I met years ago at a reading. Professional authors embrace the sh*tty first draft. As Lamott says, “This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts.”  So get some words down on the page – any words. You’ll improve on them in later drafts.


3) You have nothing to say

Chances are, you’re an expert in your field. You know things about the real estate industry, or branding, or creating a sales funnel that your clients don’t. You may think you have nothing to share, but you do. We all do. 

Solution: See writing as an act of generosity 

To quote Lamott again, “If you give freely, there will always be more. …This is what the writer has to offer.” Inspiration can hit in the shower or while walking your dog. Jot down any ideas you have for a blog post, an e-booklet, or to share on social media. Write about the things that interest you. Write about the things your clients want advice on. Share your knowledge and your unique perspective on the world generously. 


These tips should get you started on your own – but if you want to hire an awesome copywriter instead, then Amanda would be a great choice! Besides writing magazine pieces on topics such as travel, parenting, finance, arts, and culture, she has experience writing content for businesses in every sector imaginable. (This native Australian has also earned an MFA from The University of King’s College and is working on a narrative non-fiction book called Finding Opal.)

Check out Amanda’s writing samples here.

Passionfruit Communications Website


Expert Hiring Tips You Need to Know!

Expert Hiring Tips You Need to Know!

In this monthly series, “Ask an Acer,” we invite some of our talented members to share their expertise with you. February’s post comes to you from HR expert, Craig Bissett, a long-time ACE Coworking member and president of Hire Results Ltd. He’s also the creator of the Hiring Assessment Web Enabled Tool which allows organizations to test-drive candidates before hiring them.

Craig has just published a book called My Worst Hire & What I Learned From It, in which he interviews 50 business leaders who relate their stories of hiring mistakes and the lessons they learned along the way. Here Craig shares with us a few vital nuggets from the book – tips that are sure to help you in your next hiring moment!

Beware of Compromises

When hiring at the management level, never ever compromise. If your #1 candidate turns down your offer, resist the temptation to hire your #2 candidate. Instead, you should go back to square one and search for the next #1 candidate. The cost of hiring second-best, if that person is not the right fit, will be multiplied throughout the team.

Culture is Key

If you have a company mission and culture/value statement, don’t leave it hanging on the wall. Rather, take it into the interview process. Assess the candidate based on what your company believes in. Keep in mind what you want to promote in terms of culture at your company, and make sure you address these topics in the interview. A candidate may have all the required skills for the role, but if they don’t fit your company values, you will end up with a major mistake on your hands.

Size Matters

Be extremely careful when hiring someone who is from a different sized operation. For example, if you are a small company and the candidate is coming from a large, well-financed firm, make sure that person is ready to roll up their sleeves and do the grunt work required for your growth plans. Whether they are transitioning from a large operation to a smaller one, or vice versa, it’s your job to ensure new hires know what they are getting into. 

If these tips have left you wanting to learn more about making a great hire, you can get more info about Craig Bissett’s book here: or reach out to him directly on LinkedIn. He would love to hear from you! 

(Special launch pricing on the book lasts only until Feb 2, 2021)




4 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

4 Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing

Lucky you! We’ve asked some of our talented members to share their expertise with you each month. In this series of posts, you get to pick some super-smart brains. Our first contribution comes from Roger and Sarvy Van Maris, of Piece of Cake Digital Marketing and E-Commerce.

Image by Renata Pollock

It’s About “Click Through”

Remember this term. It’s the primary purpose of every good email campaign! You can’t sell or convert from an email. But what you can do with an effective email is entice your reader to “CLICK THROUGH” to your website for more information. That should be your #1 goal. Include just enough enticing content in your email to interest your reader to visit your site. There they can
find all the detail they desire, which will hopefully lead to a possible sale or conversion for you.

Focus on a Singular Message

Do you often receive emails with multiple offers, numerous information items, and/or a list of great articles? We do, and we cringe. All this variety only serves to confuse readers and lose potential conversions. The days of the rambling newsletter email are gone – your audience is trusting you to provide concise and valuable information and insights. Focus on a single specific purpose and call to action. You might highlight a product, a tip, a promotion, an article… but pick just ONE, not all. Besides making your message clearer, focusing on just one thing allows you to track your results very precisely. Bonus!

Keep it Short

It’s an act of generosity for a subscriber to give you their email, so don’t punish them with 1800 words to read! (Even 500 words may be too much.) Make the content easy for them to understand so that they quickly click through to your site. Connect – Recognize a Problem – Build Interest – Transfer Momentum. You can do this in 4 sentences!

Minimize Selling

Limit your sales-oriented emails. A sure way to reduce your email list is to constantly put “Awesome Promo!” or “Get it NOW!” in front of your subscribers. Alternate your sales messages with helpful content and interesting information. A solid ratio we recommend to our clients: for every 1 sales-related email, send 2 non-salesy emails. Remember your purpose is to drive readers to your website where you do the sales promoting anyway.

These tips will get you started, but if you want to learn more about how to optimize your Digital Marketing efforts, feel free to reach out to POC at or 905 257 8698. Set up a free 20-min consult on Zoom or meet them face-to-face at ACE Coworking.

No project is too large or small for Piece of Cake Digital Marketing, which has over two decades of internet experience. This dedicated team of professional online strategists, designers, programmers, SEO specialists and SEM marketers is extremely passionate about empowering their clients to prosper!