“Together we are strong,” “be a helping hand,” and “never lose hope” may not be the sort of words one usually associates with a customer loyalty program, or its operator. But then, Sofia Simeonidis isn’t like most people I’ve met. Her focus, after all, is on our happiness and our financial well-being.
Sofia is an Independent Lyconet Merchant Marketer, which is affiliated with myWorld, a vast network connecting businesses to customers who can earn cashback and use interchangeable loyalty points wherever they shop. It’s about everyone getting the most out of the shopping experience — on both sides of the ‘register’. The program is powerful, but it’s Sofia’s warm personality that really shines as she extols the benefits of living well and shopping smartly.
Sofia served as a treasurer and bookkeeper for the ISCO (Intercultural Society of Central Okanagan), the Kelowna chapter of Toastmasters, and the parental advisory of her children’s school. Her sunny nature is matched by her ability and determination. In the words of one of her local clients, “Sofia displays a level of creativity, wit, and analytical thought unmatched by most. Her research skills are phenomenal, and when Sofia is on task, nothing will stop her from reaching her goal.” Socially, many will know Sofia from her online trail-walk videos, which she begins joyously: “Good morning, world!”
Good morning, Sofia! Let’s talk about your business. What is myWorld and why is it so powerful for businesses and customers — over other loyalty programs?
MyWorld is a global marketing agency, which is active in fifty-four countries so far. Our main focus is to help small- and medium-size enterprises grow and attract more customers.
Customers receive both cashback and points with each and every transaction. No other loyalty program offers both at the same time. These points can be redeemed on special deals with locally owned businesses, throughout the world, and not only in the location where they were received.
The distinctiveness of myWorld is that business owners can create all of these deals, and any other promotion they would like to, without any extra cost to them. Also, unlike other rewards programs, there is no monthly cost to being a Partner of myWorld.
How much room is there for individual businesses and customers to tailor the program to their particular needs?
We have an amazing CRM system that gives business owners the ability to connect not only with their loyal customers but also to existing customers who have not yet joined the program. Owners have access to sixteen million existing members around the world, at no extra cost, which is amazing. Business owners can also track their strongest and weakest days and hours, and plan their marketing accordingly. These are just a couple of examples of how the program can be used — there is so much more that can be done.
And customers have an amazing app in their hands that can be used on more than one hundred thousand Partners around the world. They can do their shopping online, at big box stores, or at locally owned businesses — through one app. All their loyalty cards are combined, and there’s no need to clip or print coupons.
There are so many opportunities, and so many more coming still!
Let’s go back a bit. What drew you and your family to the Okanagan Valley? Did you come directly from Greece?
In 2005 we lived in Canmore. During an Alberta Family Day weekend, we took a road trip and visited some friends in Vancouver. On the way back we stayed at a motor inn on Gordon. An early bird, I went for a walk before everyone else was up, and was amazed. I saw a flower that looked just like this one back in Greece; my eyes could see every little similarity. I then looked up, exchanged a friendly wave with someone walking a dog across the street, and shouted, “Kalimera!” before quickly changing my greeting to English: “Good morning!” That was it — I was sold!
I find it exciting and encouraging that the valley is becoming more and more diverse. What insights did your time with the ISCO give you about respect and togetherness?
I grew up in a country where discrimination, especially back then, was very strong. We are all children of the same God, so we ought to treat each other as family members. Global Citizens Events — which was always the ISCO’s main activity sector — organizes events for the whole community during the month of February. The most vital events, though, are the ones designed to educate school-age children: teach them how other kids around the world grow up, and teach the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. It’s interesting to see their reaction and hear the feedback we receive afterwards from their teachers.
The impact these events have on them is amazing. These experiences teach them to teach us, the older generation, how they want to be treated, and how to treat others who are different from us, culturally or otherwise.
GCE’s mission is to “Entertain, Educate and Inspire to Action.”
Your trail walks are always enjoyable to watch. You often raise ponderable points, or just fun thoughts. What compelled you to start these videos?
You can tell I love nature, and I was getting a lot of comments on the pictures I was posting over the years. So, I inspired others to join me on my walks, and we created a walking group — a multicultural walking group.
Also, while many say I am an extrovert, I was, and still am, shy when it comes to talking to people about business, taboo topics, or subjects I’m not familiar with. By creating these videos, I push myself to get out of my comfort zone and talk about things I wouldn’t normally talk about and do so without giving a s***, lol, or without worrying about how I look or sound.
What do the words balance and well-being mean to you?
Life can become so complicated, if we let it be.
We are always looking for that extra thing we can accumulate, that extra thing we can achieve, and many times not because that is what we like, or want, but how others might perceive us. I don’t believe one can be on cloud nine all the time; however, I feel that many tend, or choose to stay, in a lower level of happiness. We are so blessed to live in an area that offers such a diversity, where there are so many activities and choices. By being grateful, whether by seeing a bear in our backyard or running to Superstore, one can get out of the gloomy state and see life with a more positive eye.
To me, the glass is always half full.
Tell us something about yourself most wouldn’t know — a fun fact, interesting perspective, or telling story.
Well, this memory came back to me a few days ago. I was probably in my early teens, and I decided to clean some of our household debris. It was summer, and so everything was dry. I went at the far corner of our property and started a fire. Unfortunately, I burned more than household garbage — though, luckily, not my uncle’s house. The fireman who saved us said that fires during such hot weather can be started even by a mouse running. True or not, I was relieved for many different reasons, and I learned a better way to be a helping hand.
Tom Kernaghan, owner of Oak Writer
I write stories about people, businesses, and communities so that people will remember what makes them uniquely powerful.
Tell me your story!