This Is How I Get It DONE
Welcome Season 5 of our series This Is How I Get It DONE, where we take a moment to interview members of the PR In Canada & Profectio community members to find out more about the person behind the desk, how they got their start, their current role (and everything in between). For our third episode of Season 5 we talked to Franceska Dion, President, Founder of Agence FDM [TCO].
For the last few days, I have been working on organizing a virtual show to be held on November 26th and we have confirmed one of the greatest singers in Quebec so it’s a project that excites us, especially as the company for which we are organizing this campaign is a company that I love and always used! Great pride!
Otherwise, the pre-Christmas blitz every year is pretty intense and luckily this year is no exception! Lots of great campaigns and projects to come!
One word to describe
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I have an atypical background. I will always remember my ploys to get accepted into university. I was not accepted in the PR program and will never forget how I felt the moment I walked out of my meeting with the program director. I said to myself, he is wrong, one day he will see! From that day on, I went for it and I did not let the refusals stop me from achieving my dreams and especially my passion for the communications and marketing profession! Following this refusal, I combined three certificates to obtain my bachelor and today I think it will have been the best thing that has happened to me as I made my first contacts in my advertising classes! After completing the advertisement certificate which confirmed the rest of my career that I know today, I chose the Marketing and International Trade certificates.
What made you start your own company?
The mixture of two factors: 1. My desire to do things my way and 2. My young age and my limited risk of “losing something”. I was 24 years old, I had 2 to 3 years of experience which I completed at the same time as my bachelor. I had nothing to lose so I just thought I might as well get started right away! The worst that could happen was that I would close my company and find myself a job in an agency!
What is a typical work day like for you?
As I am a young mother of a little girl of almost 2 years old and with the new reality of working remotely, my routine has changed a lot in the last few months. Lately what has been working well for me is ending my day with an hour I like to call “miracle hour” to reread my emails and make sure everything is answered! In the morning, I have the chance to start as soon as my daughter is in daycare. At 7:30am I’m in my office, I start with all the notifications in our agency discussion group, review my schedule as I am the champion of “double booking”, review my priority list for the day and I take advantage of this start of day to complete contract drafting tasks, file follow-up that are urgent or to make follow-up calls with clients or members of my team! Now with the new reality of working from home, I told myself that I was going to save a lot of time as I used to travel to clients or media partners at least once or twice a day. Now, I can make 10 or 15 calls per day without counting dozens of emails! My days are a lot more productive but give the impression that it is the other way around as there is a lot changes to be made in reaction to the new government rules! Before, we used to plan 6 months, 1 year and even 2 years in advance, and now we like to wait as long as possible in order to adapt our message, our event or our communications to be as relevant as possible!
You launched your agency in 2011, when did you know you had something>
The first two years were really difficult although I accumulated great clients despite the company’s short history. I felt like I was an impostor and every day I wondered if I had made the right decision. My mother often told me, “Go for it, call a client, hit the road and meet people. I told her it was difficult and she told me it’s because it’s difficult that not many people do it, so go for it.” Luckily I listened to her! In 2014, I took the risk of renting my first office and the monthly payment was huge compared to my income. In week 1 that I took possession of this office, I ran into a client who in just one week alone justified this rental! That’s when I realized that I was going to have to take big risks to move forward and grow.
What was a moment in your career that really helped define how you work today?
At first, I was a “one woman show”. My parents who are also entrepreneurs told me that it was very risky to build a business based on one person. These words resonated and it even motivated me to register the name Agency FDM when the legal name is my personal name Franceska Dion Média.
Yes, I bring my signature, but today I am proud to say that Agency FDM is the strength of 20 professionals in the fields of communications, press relations and graphic design! There is a whole team behind the success of a business and that is what I think makes our campaigns successful!
How do you balance family-work?
It took me 3 years to conceive my daughter and to get there we had to undergo several fertility treatments. I remember at that point, one of my biggest fear was the reaction of my team and my clients to my pregnancy and then to my new role as a mother but honestly it didn’t change a thing! Probably the growth was affected during my absence but again that did not prevent the company from continuing its activities and my clients from trusting us! In fact, I confirmed one of our biggest mandates literally 2 days before giving birth!
Today, the combination of the two roles is going well. You have to be flexible and creative, but it’s not impossible! Far from it!
9-5 is LONG gone, what is one shortcut or life hack that works for you?
Being an entrepreneur is much more than a 9 to 5 schedule. If there is an issue with the company, I will be in solution mode regardless of the time or day of the week. On the other hand, I impose a work-life balance on myself. During the early years of the company, I would often work 70-80 and 90 hours per week. I have never counted my time and I will put all the necessary efforts to achieve my goals, however I believe that it is important to achieve a balanced life. Unless exceptions, I rarely work evenings and weekends.