Canada's Top Productivity Hacker Tiffany Lam

Canada’s Top Productivity Hacker: Tiffany Lam

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Profile

Name: Tiffany Lam

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario

Education: Biology @ Queen’s University

Occupation: Client Strategy Manager @ PATIO Interactive


Tell us a little bit about your history. From Biology to Media & Marketing, how did that happen?

I grew up pretty stereotypically nerdy;

loved math and sciences, fell in love with helping people as a lifeguard, thought I’d move on to becoming a doctor… Stepping into university, my creative and artistic side really started to bloom as a pursued photojournalism alongside my academics.

I was just constantly searching for a way to express my creativity, and I couldn’t find room for that within the data-driven mathematics and objective biology. Fast forward to today, my passion for storytelling and problem-solving still lives, but through advertising and marketing communications.


Can you give a little insight into your occupation?’

This tech world… it’s a really cool place to be.

I primarily run the New Technology Division at PATIO Interactive, which basically involves creatively leading and project managing various virtual reality and augmented reality projects.


What kind of tasks do you take on?

We’re a small boutique 10-person startup based in Toronto and as one of the senior leads, I do have to wear a lot of hats. That’s startup life; you’re never limited to anything. Internal operations, creative direction, proposal writing, project management, business development, social media, and photo/video editing are some of the tasks I carry on. Being able to help out in all different areas is a huge advantage as I get to understand the business to its core.


When you graduated, did you expect this kind of lifestyle?

I knew I wasn’t going to do Biology as a career, but I had no idea where else I’d land.

I was always very self-driven with multiple extra-curricular engagements and leadership initiatives throughout university, as well as beyond university (my music site, Into The Crowd Magazine).

I lucked out working account management/operations for a cool tech company called JUST EAT a few years back, which was a nice middle phase as to where I am today. Eventually, my drive for change and challenge wasn’t being met anymore, so I left. After being where I am today, I don’t think I could ever go back to a big corporate, monotonous or routine 9-5pm.

Friends have always said I would someday start my own thing, but it’s definitely not an easy task. Running a profitable company is a lot of work.


Where does your drive stem from?

I’m not sure honestly. 

I think it’s part creative innovation, part curiosity, part wanting to do something different and stand out. I’ve always been a problem-solver and a tech nerd. I love the creative ideation process and I love helping people in new ways. When I share or show someone something new, and they get excited, it’s like an endorphin feel-good feeling, and you just keep craving more of it. Making people happy and inspiring them to think differently.

Some days I get bored of not “working” and crave creative thinking, so I’ll either whip out my notebook, spend the day editing videos, or talk shop with someone and brew new ideas. The drive comes easy when it’s something you’re into.


What are your preferred tools for keeping organized?

Our systems are all Google-integrated, so I really rely on Google Mail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Spreadsheets, Slides, etc. Google Calendar is my ultimate productivity tracker. I slot in every hour at work to make sure I’m staying on track. I hate the feeling of looking back at empty slots in my calendar and wondering what on earth I did in that time.

Asana for keeping track of projects and tasks. Slack for easy communication with our teams. Toggl for reporting hours (awesome visual charts & graphs). Desktop digital Sticky Notes (PC user) for Quick Reminders and lists, as well as goals for the week. Lastly, my notebook for creative brainstorming or just general notetaking.

 


What’s the biggest difference between your university self-compared to yourself today?

To be honest, not a whole lot has “changed” but I’ve exponentially grown in more ways than I can recall.

I’ve always been pretty independent but I’ve since learned not to let society dictate my future or confidence. I trust myself a lot more today, and that’s a major key to getting where you want. It’s what allows me to fully chase my passion.


How do you get into focus mode?

Discipline

A clean desk and a clock (time check).


What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to face in life?

I remember the time in university when I really lost hope in my future.

I grew tired of my field of study and started avoiding academic time with extracurriculars. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, what would happen to me after school, what my fate was going to be.

In terms of career, for a long time, I kept pushing the safe, vanilla route – get good grades, get a 9-5 job, rinse & repeat the day.

I realized I wasn’t going to be cut out for the normal routine job and that I needed the freedom to pursue something else. Coming to terms with that was so important, despite potentially letting my parents down. I had to get past the fear of failure and learn to trust my gut.

It doesn’t feel that big of an obstacle today because I overcame it, given it was always something I knew I had to face and push through, but I remember back then it felt like the worst struggle and it had a pretty significant impact on my mental health.


Where does your source of learning come from?

People, mistakes, stories, networking events, books, news articles. There are so many different sources I endlessly learn from every day.

A lot of personal growth lately is through podcasts. One of my favorites is “The School of Greatness” series by Lewis Howes. They’re incredibly insightful and very diverse.


How do you like to network?

This constantly changes.

I don’t get out as much anymore but my networking typically involves presence at industry conferences to social gatherings with friends. In our industry, we heavily rely on referrals for leads, so shop-talking and sharing what I do with friends is a great way to educate and expand my network. Even though I might not be of service to them, they might know people.

Sometimes that’s all it takes.


Hard work will lead you to success. True or False?

Absolutely true, no matter what.

It takes years and years of hard work and experience to reach success. Put in some effort and with time, you’ll see results.

But it’s not just about working hard, it’s equally about working smart.


Any tips you’d share with others to boost productivity?

1. Cut drinking out, or reduce it to 10%.

Being a 20-something in the city often has connotations that you have to drink to party and have fun with friends, but it’s expensive and unhealthy. I rarely drink anymore and when I do, it’s only about a glass. It keeps me clean and healthier, and my mind clear in the morning. I hate the feeling of waking up exhausted, with headaches or “hung-over” and wasting the day recovering in bed. I had a birthday party recently with about 50 people, it was a super fun time and I was sober the whole evening. I woke up the next morning and felt great, ran errands, was productive.

I still go out and it seems like a foreign concept around my area in Toronto, to go out sober, but it’s quite easy to still have fun when you’re around good people.
It’s okay to opt for the Ginger Ale sometimes.

2. Try Meditation.
A lot of my friends meditate and while it’s not routine for me yet, I do occasionally take breathers and moments to clear my mind and regain clarity. Especially in times of stress where I’ve got too much on my mind or on the go, it really does help taking a step back.

You can get in touch with Tiffany at tiffany@patiointeractive.com or @tiffanyljphotos on Instagram.