Getting Through the Grind: Toronto Influencer Denise Chow Shares Her Daily Rituals

Rituals matter.

Just ask any young professional how they get through the day and they’ll be able to breakdown all the practices that make them perfect.

The perfect example? coffee.

Fresh. Hot. Coffee.

So when we found out that McDonald’s was opening up its second standalone McCafé (in all of Canada) in Toronto’s Exchange Tower, we knew we had to send a few driven millennials down to check it out.

Enter Denise Chow, a public relations pro for Gap Inc. in Canada. Which means she gets to put Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy into the world across various news outlets. Not bad.   

Read more to learn about her career path and her take on the new McCafé.


What was the inspiration for your career route?
I had a slight panic attack after graduation (as one does), not knowing what I wanted to do, so I applied to be an intern at a magazine, knowing only that I loved reading and would try out the publishing industry. It was such an eye-opening experience and I learned so much, but I realized that I was much more interested in planning events and how editors received brand information. I took my PR certificate shortly after and as luck would have it, my former boss referred me to my PR job at Gap Inc.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Does taking a selfie with Lady Gaga count? Because that was pretty awesome. I’ve had some really fun and memorable highlights in my career but nothing can beat the first time I saw all my PR efforts show up in a daily national newspaper, and then, after that, the first time I saw my hard work in the form of a fashion segment on TV. That feeling of scoring a hit – it’s a PR high for sure that I still get to this day.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
A little snooze button never hurt anyone and I am guilty of doing it a couple times when I wake up. After that, any PR pro will tell you, your phone is an extension of your arm. So first things first, I check my personal and work emails for anything urgent. Then I get to the most urgent matter of my morning, Instagram, where I proceed to tag my friends in all my favourite puppy photos. I do read up on any viral news that happened the night before as being in-the-know actually pertains to my job. Finally, I get up and begin my day with a wealth of knowledge already in my mind.

What’s the best part of your day?
I’m lucky in that I have some really great coworkers I can call friends, so it’s a joy to go into work. However, I really do love my after-work me time, when I often head out for a run to clear my mind, followed by a night of cooking up a fun recipe, and therefore cancelling all my workout efforts. Everything in balance!

What’s your favourite afternoon pick-me-up?
A latte and on a particularly hectic day or “treat yo self” day, soft baked cookies!!!


How would you define the perfect coffee break?
The perfect coffee break is grabbing my co-worker/ work wife and going for a walk to pick up coffees and treats and talk about anything other than work! Then we slowly make our way back into the office, pausing once or twice or three times in the surrounding clothing stores… for competitive analysis of course. 🙂

Does your routine change when you know it’s going to be a long day at the office?
I definitely get an extra-large coffee and less sugar when I have a long day, especially when we have early morning TV segments. And surprisingly, I don’t snooze the alarm, I just curse it and hop into the shower quicker to wake up. When I have events after work, I find I am running on adrenaline and don’t even notice how tired I am until I get home and zone out on my couch!

What’s your favourite on-the-go meal for lunch?
For someone who loves carbs as much as I do, surprisingly my go-to meal for lunch is a robust salad with lots of fun ingredients. I live for it! But when cravings kick in, give me that McChicken and fries please.

How has your daily routine changed since you’ve grown older?
I’m definitely more conscious of trying to obtain healthier habits – whether it be eating, exercising, my skin/makeup routine, and even reviewing my desk/chair/TV ergonomics. You know you’re older when you enjoy talking about furniture and ergonomics (but seriously, posture is sexy!). I’m definitely a morning person – I can’t sleep in past 8am anymore (no matter how late I’m up partying), so I have a lot more time in the morning to clean the house and run errands before noon.


What are the rituals you have during a work day?
At my job, no day is really the same so my rituals aren’t as set. But at the start of every work day, I clear and respond to my emails and review my calendars for the day (yes, I have multiple!). I’m notorious for putting everything in my online work calendar, and on my wall calendar. Call me old fashioned, but I remember better when I write it out myself .One important ritual I have is to get up and walk around every other hour so that I can stretch out and relax my computer-strained eyes a little. Luckily I work for a fashion retailer, so I head into the showrooms to peruse items for future pitches and get in a little stretch as a bonus. I also drink a lot of hot water throughout the day so I am always getting up to fill my cup and I must have it when I get into the office. I find it very soothing and calming. And finally, I am also consistently writing /doodling To Do Lists so I know what projects/tasks to look forward to. Oh, and we also used to have Karaoke Fridays with the team in the late afternoon … I should definitely try to revive that.

How do your rituals differ from the weekday to the weekend?
I still wake up before 8am on the weekend but tend to be slower getting out of bed. I also love weekend brunch, so often times I’m heading out to grab brunch with friends, and if not, then I will actually spend time cooking a great meal in the morning since I never have time during the weekdays. To me, weekends are all about meeting friends and family, lazily exploring the city and not looking at the time, so my favourite weekend schedule is no schedule at all.

What does the word notable mean to you?
To me, notable means using your talents and generosity to help make a difference in other people’s lives, no matter how big or small

And to celebrate McDonald’s second standalone McCafé in all of Canada, we’re inviting 3 of you (and yes, you get to bring a plus one) to the exclusive launch event on January 13th (from 6-8pm) where you’ll be joining us, Denise and a few others well known in the blogosphere, for some good music, delicious food, drinks and giftbags for the road home.  All you have to do it fill out the form below.


* Attendance will be confirmed via email.