Women of Vancouver is an editorial series featuring stylish and professional women in Vancouver. WofV producer and stylist, Jason Sarai of Style by Sarai, recently interviewed the co-founders of Jive Communications, Lindsay Nahmiache and Almira Bardai for this exclusive in-depth photo editorial.
I’m one of the co-founders and owners of Jive Communications – co-founded and owned with Lindsay Nahmiache. Jive is a boutique PR firm, providing PR and social media services. But what do we really do? We’re in the business of storytelling – finding those great untold stories, polishing them and presenting them. And ultimately, we want to do great work with our team, and create unforgettable work for our clients.
Jive will always be a boutique agency – we like the style, culture and innovation of a boutique-sized company. But we’re a boutique-sized company with big ideas, and the desire to tell stories and do unforgettable work. That will mean growing more offices, be it Canada, US or elsewhere.
From an industry perspective, PR has changed so much. At its core, we still tell stories, but the delivery is different. We’re growing by leaps and bounds in our social media offering, and integrated PR/social approach and are also deepening our digital capabilities.
Years ago, I received some of the best advice. “It’s 20% planning and 80% doing”. In following that approach, it was actually quite easy to start a business – we literally just did it! Of course there was some planning, but we planned as we went along.
Our working relationship hasn’t been as challenging as you’d expect – we are very different, but there’s a huge respect for each other’s different thinking and approach. Probably because we realize the benefit of it – we literally balance each other out, because one sees the other side of the coin, that the other may not have thought of. When we come to each other for the other’s perspective, it’s to find those other ideas, the other way of thinking, and as a team the two of us have some powerful and creative ideas.
Every day, we say how lucky we are. Lindsay and I didn’t start out as friends who recognized an awesome opportunity to do something awesome together, and kick ass. Over the years, we’ve grown to be soul mates. At the heart of our amazing relationship, is the inherent trust we have in each other, and we have the same work ethnic. There’s never a question that one is doing more work than the other, and we trust that each other’s areas of business are well-run. And of course, when we need support, the other one is right there. So far, we’ve outlasted all the other business partners we know.
Growing the business. Like anything, the entrepreneur wears so many hats in the business, and as you grow, you seem to wear more hats. It’s a balancing act (or more accurately a juggling act), in keeping all the balls in the air, and flowing smoothly. Plus spending times with friend and family, taking care of ourselves like doing yoga or running.
Putting together our incredible team. The Jive team is an incredible group of inspiring, talented and skilled individuals. And while each person is very different from the other, we’ve embraced it and are stronger because of our diversity.
We’ve been really lucky to attract such great team members – together it creates an inspiring, empowered and fun culture at Jive. Every day is filled with creativity and fun, and it’s a great place to work.
Stand out. Be smart, be different. The PR/comms industry is a competitive one, so you need to be able to stand out.
An entrepreneur is the driver, the vision and the momentum behind an idea/product/service. An entrepreneur has to be a good leader, and lead the vision and their team, to do great things.
My job is to run the business, oversee the team, and oversee the brand side. I’m up at about 6:30 a.m., and start my day with meditation, a short yoga practice and exercise. I’ll get a handle on the morning emails as well, particularly connecting with the Toronto office. If I don’t have a morning client meeting, I’m at the office by 9 a.m. for daily huddle, and then right into it. My days are spent overseeing our team, liaising with the bookkeepers/accountant, working with our Director of Ops on company operations/HR, and attending client status or strategy meetings. It’s an intense day, but a fulfilling/rewarding one.
That’s the challenge of every entrepreneur. I’m not so sure you ever do. Particularly being in PR, where we may have client events in the evening (to either run or attend), networking events, it’s definitely hard. And being a business owner, your brain never really turns off. I never used to be a morning person, but the lightbulb finally turned on that the only way to get consistent exercise was to wake up early. By doing that I get “me” time, and then I also get to create my day. I’m learning to do a better job of balancing my professional life and personal life. I’m incredibly lucky to be surrounded by a support system of friends and family who “get it” if my brain is a bit occupied with work, or if I go visit my parents and have to bring work with me.
My role in the business is to run the company/oversee business operations and our team, as well as to manage the brand client side of the business. With Jive being a national agency with offices in both Vancouver and Toronto, I travel back and forth every month between the two, spending anywhere from one to two at a time in Toronto. I love the energy of energy, it’s dynamic and exciting. In the summers though, my heart is at home on the beach in Vancouver.
I used to live in London, U.K. and travelled all over the world for my job. My wanderlust took me to Sydney, Australia and I worked there for a while. I’ve also worked in South Africa. I’ve been lucky that my career has been full of travel.
In two weeks, Lindsay and I are off to MIPTV (global TV trade show) in Cannes – so fun to get to go to the South of France on business!
I’m a devoted yogi – I spend a lot of time in class, workshops, and just learning & reading about yoga. I find it very grounding. I also love to read, love spending time with friends and family. I’m a summer addict, so you’ll find me biking, at the beach, on the seawall, all summer long.
Yoga is a big one. It’s a lifestyle for me, not just a form of exercise or grounding. I spend a lot of time taking workshops as well, did my yoga teacher training, and even teach when I’m in town. I’ve developed a love for teaching yoga.
I also love golf. There’s a group of girlfriends, including Lindsay – we all love it. We’ll tee off at 6am before work – do the back nine and then go to work, or golf after work or on the weekends. We golf a lot with clients, so it’s become important for business. It’s just a great way to start or end the day, or spend time with people.
And my absolute passion is travel. I couldn’t live without seeing the world and it’s cultures.
I volunteer with the Passion Foundation, that trains, support and empowers young women both locally and globally.
I also mentor team members/committees with Starlight Children’s Foundation.
And I’ve done professional volunteering with the Aga Khan Development Network and Aga Khan Foundation Canada. I was lucky enough to go to Kyrgyzstan two years ago, to develop a communications strategy/framework for the organization and also mentor their communications team.
I mentor other female entrepreneurs, in either launching or running their companies. And I’m a mentor through SFU Beedie School of Business. Mentoring is obviously of huge value to me. I’ve had some incredible mentors (and continue to do so through EO), and it’s important for me to pay it forward.
I’m also a member of EO – Entrepreneur’s Organization.
I recently got involved with Passion Foundation. I was a finalist in YWCA’s Women of Distinction Awards last year, and at the finalists’ reception, I met Loretta Cella, the organization’s founder and executive director. The organization’s work just spoke to me. In the process of being recognized as an entrepreneur, and as a successful female entrepreneur, I had begun to realize that I have a responsibility to other women/young women, who may not have had the same and opportunities that I have had, to help them soar.
Giving back has always been important to me, hence my work with Starlight Children’s Foundation, AKDN and AKF. From a human side, those of us who are lucky enough to live in privileged countries like Canada, have a responsibility to help those less fortunate (be it in our own backyard, or as I have done, internationally). I’m lucky enough to have a skills set in a needed area of expertise, so I’m happy to lend my time when I can.
Giving back is a key core value at Jive. The neat thing is is that while and Lindsay are very much into giving back, it didn’t stem from us – our team is heavily involved in giving back and volunteerism on their own, so it was something that the team brought into our culture. Whether our team is sitting on boards, managing communications for a non-profit that they are involved in, or Jive doing pro bono work, giving back is something that it important to all of us.
As a team, Jive mentors kids in the Vancouver Canadians’ Foundation League – a partnership between the Vancouver Canadians Baseball team and the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Coast BC, which gets kids, who would not otherwise get to play baseball, play for six weeks in the summer. The kids get bussed in, get batting helmets, bats, gloves, shirts, are served meals, and get to play on the iconic Nat Bailey field. The Jivers coach the kids on how to play ball and cheer them on. It’s incredible to see them grow throughout the summer, in not just baseball skills, but self-esteem.
Saturdays are gym days, or yin yoga, and then spending time with friends and family, and Sundays are yoga day. I also try and see my parents every Sunday for dinner. I try not to travel on the weekends, so that I can spend time with family and friends – but the hilarious part is that I spend so much time in Toronto that I have to then catch up with those friends when I’m in town!
Ask for Luigi is a definite favourite of mine and Lindsay’s. We go there often just together (we joke that it’s our date night), or with clients. Our clients love it. It’s a great atmosphere – really fun, and fantastic energy. And of course the food – I could go on forever!
We also love Bambuddha, Rodney’s and Fairmont Pacific Rim for drinks. I live in Kits, and I’m currently addicted to Tractor – it’s healthy and tastes great.
EVERYTHING! We have yet to no like something.
Absolutely favourite for drinks is Fairmont Pacific Rim. We’re also members of the Vancouver Club, and love their bar and the roof terrace. We spend many winter evenings in the downstairs bar and summer night on their patio. We’re always outside in the summer, so Bridge’s and Granville Island Hotel are mainstays. We spend a lot of time on Granville Island.
I love doing beer PR – I’ve spent so many years doing it, and it’s a big passion. I love the industry, the camaraderie, the brewing process. The whole thing fascinates me. When Lindsay and I merged our companies, to form Jive, GIB was our first client, and they remain a client to this day.
I was going to GIB when I first came from Australia, in 2006. I pitched them in 2008, and then Lindsay and I merged, so when I got the business, it became Jive’s first account. We’ve worked with them for so long, they’re like family to us now. That’s the neat thing about Jive really – to this day, we’re still working with the clients we’ve had sine we opened, and it means a lot to us. The faith that our clients have put into us, and the relationships that we have with them, are one of the best thing about Jive.
Try the small batches. It’s GIB’s innovation series and they put out a new small batch every six weeks. And don’t be afraid to try the dark beers and the happier beers. Some people are intimated by these types of beers, because of the strong tastes or aromas, but they’re my favourite. You need a sense of adventure when trying and enjoying a craft beer.
I think of my style as classic or elegant. I think others would agree, and also add sophisticated. People remark that we’re always well put together.
Style is what you evoke, how you feel. If you feel you look good, you have more confidence, and for us it adds to the confidence in communicating ideas, concepts, campaigns. We live in a world of brands, and we’re all our own brands. Our Jive brand has it’s own great style, as do both Lindsay and I.
We get to be curious and learn about different industries every day. Whether it’s a film festival, a new beverage or a social cause initiative – we get to work with the coolest companies in the world and help them build their brand through public relations and social media. We get to do this creative and high-paced work through, Jive Communications, a national award-winning boutique PR company we founded in 2009.
I love the diversity of what we do. Every single day is different and I learn something new from everyone I meet. The thing I love most about Jive are the people on the team – it’s a family-like environment where everyone shows up fully and has fun every day. They are without a doubt the secret sauce to what makes Jive so successful.
I see us continuing to have the fun, crazy and successful relationships with clients that we currently have today, only with more family members and in more cities. We are currently in the process of opening our third office in a new country – it’s a very exciting thing to be a part of.
The challenge of starting a business is that there are only 24 hours in a day. We learned very fast that the only way to succeed is by adopting the 20/80 rule (20% planning, 80% doing). If you plan too much, you fall behind – it’s better to be agile and adapt rather than perfect and slow.
Working with a business partner is like navigating any successful relationship – it requires constant communication, attention and respect. Our best advice is to find someone whose skill set complements your own so their strength can balance your weakness and visa versa… it is also essential to have a similar work ethic and aligned core values.
I love that I have a constant support system in place. When I need to talk through a work challenge there is always someone there to listen to me who has a vested interest in a successful outcome. I also love that I have someone to point out my blindspots so I can keep improving and be better at what I do.
Tripling our staff in six months. It brought on a whole new set of challenges that we had not faced before. It was almost like starting a new business from scratch. It stretched us to think differently and create new systems.
Our greatest accomplishment is our long-standing relationships with clients – we are so grateful that we still work with the clients that started with us when we opened in 2009. Our business has grown alongside theirs and we’ve built some incredibly strong friendships as an extra bonus!
Listen before you speak, ask great questions and always take risks.
To me the word ‘entrepreneur’ means a drive to do things differently. An insatiable curiosity and determination to make a difference in the world.
Haha – there is no typical work day in communications but here area few things you can expect to have happen:
I learned that if I can keep my mornings for ME time, the rest of the day always goes well. I wake up at 5 a.m. and don’t look at emails until 7 a.m. From 5 to 7 a.m. I do whatever I feel like doing for me – I read, I meditate, I exercise, I stare absently into space and come up with creative ideas, I do whatever I want as long as it is exactly what I want to do. I am then fully charged and ready to take on the rest of the day.
With offices in three cities and client and industry events in countless others, everyone at Jive is constantly on the move. Whether it’s an ‘all team’ meeting in Vancouver that everyone flies in for or a ComiCon Conference in North Carolina, travel is part of the job description at Jive.
I love to be in nature, whether it’s hiking, biking, running or walking – being outside recalibrates and inspires me. I also love having great conversations with good friends over wine and food.
I love to read. My favourite invention of all time is Audible.com (Amazon’s audio book service). I have access to a full digital library I can listen to when I’m driving, in-between meetings or exercising. I also love traveling to new cities and getting lost wandering the streets – some of my favourite memories have been made this way – you never know what you are going to find when you aren’t looking for anything.
I started a non-profit called Projecting Change Film Festival 7 years ago – it’s a social cause film festival meets TED Talks, it’s amazing what a provocative film followed by an intimate expert discussion can do to inspire you.
I’m a founding member of the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation Young Leaders Board.
I’m a mentor for the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs
I’m actively involved with the Pacific Autism Family Foundation
I also am very passionate about teaching entrepreneurship and financial literacy to youth – I built a financial literacy app for kids aged 2-4 that teaches them the importance of saving from a young age Pogo Pig Savings.
I get involved with all of the charitable organizations I work with by surrounding myself with amazing people who are doing cool things in this world. It’s incredible what a passionate conversation can lead to. When you meet someone who lights up inside when they talk about an organization they are involved in, take notice, ask questions and if it resonates, find out how you can get involved too. Passion is contagious.
Giving back is important for so many reasons. It sparks creativity, it gives meaning and purpose to my life, it surrounds me with positive like-minded people and it genuinely makes me happy.
A typical weekend involves waking up early, savouring a cup of coffee, going for a long walk somewhere beautiful, meeting a friend for lunch, running a few errands, and meeting up with friends or family in the evening.
Luigi’s (great intimate vibe with incredible food).
The Nook on Denman (again, intimate, community vibe with delicious food).
The Cauliflower – it is OUTSTANDING!
I love the Granville Island Hotel patio in the summer, it’s an undiscovered gem of Vancouver that looks out onto the seawall. I also love Bridges – It’s a classic, I remember going there with my mom when I was a little girl and I still go there today as a big girl.
I love taking friends from out of town into the Granville Island Brewing Taproom – it’s always a bustle of activity and you can see the beer actually being brewed.
I first started going to GIB when we partnered with them for their 25th Anniversary 6 years ago. We put on a whole bunch of fun events at the taproom to celebrate the milestone. More than events, they were experiences where people really got to interact with GIB and the brewmaster. We have continued working with GIB since then and the taproom has become part of my routine. Every time I walk into the Taproom I can’t help but smile as everyone is in a great mood and there are lots of people from out of town coming to taste local craft beer.
The sampler! You get a little taste of everything in-season. Plus they all come with fun little profile summaries so you can really learn about what you are drinking.
Classic chic … I love taking classic staples and shapes and giving them a chic twist. It’s approachable yet unique. Comfort is also key, I need to be able to move and feel free.
In the world of communications style is about being effective and strong, while maintaining your individuality that keeps you authentic. You can apply this philosophy from the words you use to the way you dress. It’s about unique presence that leaves people understanding what you are about from more than just what you say.
Style to me is a personal signature, it’s the way you dress, it’s the way you listen, it’s the way you make people feel. Your style is your essence and it adapts as you grow, develop and experience more of life.
FEATURED WOMEN OF VANCOUVER
ALMIRA BARDAI & LINDSAY NAHMIACHE
WOMEN OF VANCOUVER TEAM
Producer & Stylist
STYLE BY SARAI
STUDIO ORANGE PHOTOGRAPHY
Hair & Makeup Stylist