Using Inspiration to Grow Your Following With @FarzanaJJ

I met this beautiful girl a few years back, and I’m proud to count her, today, among my circle of closest friends.

She’s one of those people, who, despite being pretty much good at everything, and being successful at a young age, is still ridiculously down to earth and super real. We have a lot of fun together, working, yoga-ing, and having foodie adventures.

farzana jaffer jeraj

I remember giving her some coaching a few years back on Twitter, and how to use it. I remember the day she walked into the coffee shop where worked and said “I got 1,000 followers!”

Since then, her following has surpassed mine. She went from 2,000 Twitter followers to 100,000 in just a year,  and she’s done it by inspiring people. She began tweeting out “Farzana-isms” as she calls them, little inspirational tidbits during the day.

I asked her to share her secrets with us, and of course she did. Because she’s like that.

Most people create a twitter account to promote their businesses. I was no different. I did it because everyone said that this was what I was, “…supposed to do in my line of work.” “You can’t be an entrepreneur without being on twitter…” You know, the usual hop-on-the-social-media-badwagon.


Admittedly, being on twitter hasn’t hurt business one bit, but things didn’t start out that way. Initially, growing a ‘following’ was very challenging. Everything was a struggle and nothing seemed to work. I had all these things I wanted to share, but I wasn’t connecting with people.


I believe that it was my mindset that held me back from growing a ‘following’. It’s the mindset of ‘having a following’ that holds many people back. It’s this idea of celebrity and a need to have more ‘followers’ than people you ‘follow’.
farzana jaffer jeraj

If you’re wondering why I keep putting the word ‘following’ in quotes, it’s because I really prefer to use the word community. Community has always been at the crux of what inspires and feeds me. My community is the reason I do what I do and they are often the source of my inspiration. It is has been said that the 5 people you spend the most time with are a direct reflection of your success and happiness. It is the people who accept me as I am, unfiltered, and see my greatest potential that encourage me to be my very best self.


Being able to share my personal insights and positive approach with others in a way that inspires growth in them is the only thing that matters to me. I approach every interaction as an opportunity leave every person better off than when I first met them. It is this desire to connect with a community and more importantly to be a contributing member of the community that has made all the difference.


Farzana’s rules for inspired community:


1. If a real, respectful and kind spirited person shakes your hand, shake theirs back. Translation: follow back real people.
2. Stop caring about having more followers then you follow. Community isn’t about stature or ego.
3. There is no such thing as competition. Those you perceive as your competition are usually your best connections. These are the people you share community with.
4. Be real and be yourself always.
5. Commit to adding value.
6. Stay consistently positive.
7. Support your community. Translation: retweet and favourite others.


Farzana Jaffer Jeraj is a hypnotherapist, keynote speaker, coach, and yoga instructor. She will be publishing her first book soon, entitled, I Cheat at Meditation. You can learn more about her via her website, or by following her on Twitter.


Using Content to Grow Your Following With @EvanCarmichael

When I was at Sage Summit at the end of July in New Orleans, I met a ton of really cool people. Among them was Evan Carmichael, a guy, who, like me, works in the social media space here in Canada (although Evan is based in Toronto).

I was intrigued by what Evan does and how he has grown his following. With over 200K of twitter followers alone, this guy is a true influencer. He consults with big business, he speaks, and he inspires.


It was this last idea that intrigued me the most. I have another friend, Farzana (whom I’m interviewing later this week) who also grew her Twitter following exponentially by being inspirational. Evan’s entire modus operandi is one word: Believe. It’s his brand. It’s what guides him and his business on a daily basis.

We met via Google Hangout the other day, and here is our conversation below. I hope you will find it as interesting and inspiring as I did.

Here are my key takeaways from our talk on using content to grow your following:

  1. Many businesses market by listing the benefits of their product or service, but before we do that, we should focus on Core Selling: what does your business stand for? This is incredibly important, and so deeply overlooked by many businesses.
  2. People want to know what you stand for before they purchase from you.
  3. You must be authentic. You can’t just make up some inspirational thing to sell product. People’s BS detectors are very finely tuned these days, and if it’s not authentic, they will know!
  4. The more value you provide, the more money will follow.
  5. Your values help you to make all your decisions: what clients to take on, who to work with. Many people stress about this, because they are afraid to not take a client and leave money on the table. But the quality of your work, and the enthusiasm that you have for it will always be much higher if the people you are working with share your core values.

To learn more about Evan and what he does, please visit his website at


Reflections on Digital Detox

“Online” is my life. It’s not strange for me to spend easily 8 hours of my day on my computer, then go to work and teach other people (on computers). There are some days I spend 12 hours online–in social media, or on my computer–writing, updating, emailing.

It’s all good. I love my work, so no complaints. But this spring has been especially intense and very, very busy.

So to say that it was a relief to get off of my computer for a week or two is a big understatement. The last 10 days, I have been at at remote cabin on a lake on the Sunshine Coast. There’s no electricity. There’s no wifi. And my phone, at the very most, had 2 bars of service at any given time.

One of the great things about my job is that I can work anywhere there is a wifi connection, as long as I have my computer. I love that. But sometimes I just don’t want to work, y’know?

Who needs to stare at a phone when you have this awesomeness in front of you?
Who needs to stare at a phone when you have this awesomeness in front of you?

So, yes, I took my computer with me to the Sunshine Coast. I could hotspot wifi when needed, and one day I went into town and worked at a Starbucks for a couple of hours and got a bunch of stuff done. But during the time I was there, I only turned my computer on about 5 times–and a couple of those were to download e-books so I’d have something to read.

I kept my phone on “airplane mode” most of the time, as constant push updates drain the battery, and I wanted to have to tap into the solar- and gas-generated electricity as little as possible. I’d check in to FB, Twitter and Instagram a couple times a day, and text my son, who was staying at his Gramma’s on the Island.

My days were basically filled with three things: reading, eating (and associated chores), and swimming. That was it. There was no schedule. No rules. Just get up when you feel like it, drink coffee, nap, eat, swim, read, go to bed when you feel like it.

It wasn’t a 100% digital detox, but it was as close as I get.

It was a very interesting experience. I have alarm bells in my head that go off every 15 or 30 minutes if I haven’t checked my email or my Twitter or my Facebook. Like many of you, I have my face in my phone all the time. If I’m waiting in line, I’m checking Instagram.

So, it was weird, at first, to fight that urge to look at my phone all the time. But then I started to get used to it, and then something strange happened. Facebook started to feel trivial. Yeah, there was stuff about Josh Duggar and Ashley Madison, and Donald Trump. But it all started to feel immaterial.

A second odd thing that happened was that I stopped talking about my life on social media. I must shamefully confess that yes, I post stuff on there to make my friends jealous. I’m a food blogger, I love to travel, and I love to share my experiences with my friends online. They post stuff, I feel envy, and vice versa. And, even though I was in a beautiful place, cooking beautiful meals and having great experiences, I didn’t feel compelled to share them on Facebook. I wanted to keep them for myself. Or maybe, I wanted to really experience them, rather than experiencing them through the lens of my camera. I did a lot of just sitting and looking, rather than sitting, looking, taking photos and sharing them on Facebook.

It was great. So relaxing. And chill. Really, exactly what I needed.

I’m back now, and it feels weird. As weird as it was to be off of social media, now that I’m back where I could be all the time, I’m not really that interested. Last night, I went to pick up sushi (the one thing I really really missed while at a place where there were no restaurants), and, instead of checking out Instagram or Twitter while I waited, I sat outside and people-watched. It was kind of nice.

I don’t consider myself to be a slave to my iPhone. I always have tried to use it mindfully. But it’s easy to get reeled in.

If you feel like you’re a slave to your phone, here are some tips for a modified digital detox:

  • Set a timer. Get on to FB and Twitter for 15 minutes, then get off when the timer dings.
  • Turn off all push notifications, or at least turn off any beeps. On my phone, I have badges only for notifications. I like to be able to determine when I want to check, not when my phone commands me. I only have sound notifications for phone calls and text messages (which could be related to work or my son).
  • Turn your phone on silent at night, or put it on airplane mode. Read before bed–not on your phone!

Here are some tips for a digital detox by friend Vicki, who does one yearly. She does the real deal, not a modified one like mine!

Have you done a digital detox? Let me know in the comments below!