Tuesday, 30 December 2014

There Actually is Crying in Baseball

It was a funny line in a great movie.  "Are you crying?  There's no crying in baseball!" said Tom Hanks' character in A League of Their Own.  It became a popular saying for awhile; I've used it myself.

A favourite boss of mine used to use that line at work.  "There's no crying at work!" he'd say to preempt any tears he might encounter.  I'm no therapist, but sometimes I wondered whose emotions he was attempting to suppress.

There is crying in baseball, there is crying at work, there is crying when and where tears come.  In moderation and appropriately, it is not a sign of weakness.  Although less likely to, men may cry.  And ladies, it has nothing to do with the way we were raised that we don't cry often and freely.  We're men, that is the way we are, this is how we deal with it.  Deal with that.

Someone gets fired, a favourite co-worker or boss for example....I've seen tears and heard choked up announcements.  I've seen tears provoked by anger and by frustration, by pleading on behalf of another, and I admire the passion.  Eyes well up when bad news is shared, when good news is shared.  A catastrophic illness or the death of a team member or customer can bring tears in a close workplace or team. I cried when a direct report told me she was pregnant because I knew she and her husband had wanted that baby for so long; I don't think that makes me weak.

Let 'em flow....but then get back to business.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Be Nice to Your Boss

I have had a few bosses in my 38 years in the work force.

Just in the last 10 years I have had bosses whom I absolutely adored, the best boss I've ever had, the worst boss I'd ever had, a boss with whom a subordinate relationship shouldn't have worked but remarkably did, and a boss whom I consider to be a personal friend.  I would suspect that in three decades in management I have been one or all of these to others myself.

At some point in my career I learned to stop fighting the boss.  I can tell you exactly when it happened.  When the cross-section of professional responsiblity and personal maturity intersected, I realized that I had a duty to support my boss in every way I reasonably could.  That sometimes includes telling them when I think they're wrong, and sometimes included stopping by their office to pay them a compliment or provide some other word of encouragement.  It damned sure always included telling them when they'd pissed me off, and why.  And it always meant that engaging in gossip behind their back was a bad idea.  I'm not saying I never did it.  I'm saying I profoundly regret it because it absolutely accomplished nothing, and actually set us back and made the boss's job harder.

Look, I'm not the perfect employee - everyone of those boss's listed above would agree on that.  I like to believe I have always played full out.  What I write here is what I believe, although I was accused by former co-workers of being a self-serving liar and thief the last time I expressed loyalty to my boss.

To them, I invite them to (expletive edited) themselves hard.  And have a happy holiday.

Be nice to your boss.  It's been a long time since I reported to one who wasn't trying hard.

PS - I used some very rough language up there.  Not very deacon of me.  I feel a bit bad about that.  And.....I'm over it.  

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Dad's Advice

Lately I've been seeing posts on Facebook on how to be a man, how to be a better man, how to be a gentleman, all sorts of advice on manliness and masculinity.  The trouble is, with few exceptions they are all mostly written by women.  This is the feminization of men and we would be fools to fall for it, the occasional snippet of good advice notwithstanding.

I'd offer my own advice to young men, but only my sons can tell you whether or not it's any good, so instead I'll share three things I learned from my father.  Dad was never going to be father of the year but I don't doubt he did what he thought was best, so in that way we're a lot alike.

Here's what I learned from my dad:

1.  Learn how to shake a man's hand.  Learn how to shake a women's hand.  You can tell a lot about a man by the way he shakes your hand.  Stand up when you shake someone's hand.  Look him in the eye.  You can tell by the way a fellow shakes your hand if you have his trust, and he yours.  All that in one lesson.  All that in one handshake.

2.  It's not how much you can drink that makes you a man.  It's about whether you show up to work the next day, on time, not complaining, clean and properly dressed, and ready to put in a full and productive day.  That applies to everything.  Play full out, period.

3.  A woman is not an object like a new car (or a used car as the case may be.)  You don't get to take her out for a test drive first.  If you love her enough to move in with her, then you love her enough to make a commitment and marry her.  And then you stick by your promise.  It's no different with your friends, your job, your kids.  You make a promise, and then you do your best to keep it.  Period.  No exceptions.

Oh, and here's one from my mom:

4.  You can tell a lot about a man by his shoes.  Keep them clean and polished gents.  According to my mom that's the first thing a lady notices.

I think mom used the word "lady" very deliberately.

Thursday, 27 November 2014


In the 80s I had a room in a house with 7 other people.  One of my roommates was a talented playwright who wrote a musical called "Waiting".  It was about the waitstaff in a restaurant who aspired to be elsewhere and otherwise, most of them actors waiting for their big break so they could get out of the restaurant biz, so they could stop being waiters (get it?)  It featured a catchy tune I can still hear in my head more than 30 years later..."I don't want to wait...forever"

And yet that's what so many sales people do.  Wait for the phone to ring, wait for the customer to walk in the door, wait for the prospector or business developer to turn over a hot lead, waiting for their big break....

Hey, I know it's hard, but fewer and fewer customers are walking through the door these days, whether it be the door of the telephone, or email, or an on-line inquiry, or the actual door of a retail establishment.  You don't want to wait forever, do you?

The successful sales person of the future will not rely on location, advertising, marketing or anyone other than themselves to find the client and develop the biz.  

All those things will only be sales support.  The rest is will be up to you.  But here's a hint...

It already is.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Yes, Good People ARE Hard to Find, but.....

Good people are hard to find, I think we'd all agree.  A personal recommendation from a trusted peer goes a long way.  I have a friend who's business model is based on personal recommendations from employees to social media contacts.  Check out Careerify here:  http://www.careerify.net/

Recently two different acquaintances asked me to connect them with the right people for positions they were considering in different, well-known companies.  It happens that I know executives in both companies and contacted them asking for these candidates to be considered.  The least I had expected was that they would be acknowledged.  Both execs said they'd pass along the names to HR.

These  brand-name companies pride themselves on outstanding customer service. HR response was, to say the least, not remotely connected to the excellence demanded of the front line.

Nothing.  Nada.  Bupkis.  No response.  Having a connection did not get these two candidates anywhere - neither the slightest hint of good manners nor even an acknowledgement.

There is little hope of me recommending candidates to either company in the future, or more to the point, recommending either of these companies to applicants.

Look - we may not hire everyone we're asked to meet, in fact for sure we won't.  But we don't know who they know and for darned sure we should treat like gold recommendations from employees and friends.  We may wish to have applicants as customers someday, or keep them if they're currently a client.  Every interaction with every person by every person in our company creates an experience by which both parties form opinions.  If HR finds it reasonable to ignore an applicant, it speaks to the direction of management that has either supported such rudeness, or implicitly supports it.

Our work is our resume, every human contact a reference check, for better of for worse.  And believe me, I speak as one who has been both.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Dr. Oz, Bill Cosby Prove Twitter Is Still a Dangerous Game

Dr. Oz, Bill Cosby Prove Twitter Is Still a Dangerous Game.

Here's a great, short blog post that shows the dangers in leaving yourself wide open on social media. Seems to me if you're going to open the door, you should imagine worst case scenario first and then decide if you're willing to risk it.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Bad or Unfriendly Service?

In the last month I have experienced incredibly bad service in so many places I actually wonder if I'm on Candid Camera.  But lately I've been beating myself up for allowing bad service for close to 20 years in our business relationship with our insurance provider.  I wondered whether it was because of preferred pricing that we, my wife and I, disregarded our own professional standards of providing outstanding service, always.  Did we sell out to save a buck?

When Family Gets Screwed...
It was the poor treatment that my youngest son received that has us looking for a new broker.  Simply put, you can treat me like dirt all you want, but when I refer a client, a client who is my son, and you treat him poorly....well, it's game over.  Dear broker, you embarrassed me.

But it was a CBC Radio interview with a Nova Scotian woman that got me thinking.  She was describing a situation of bad service.  I wondered how it could happen; weren't all Nova Scotians naturally polite and friendly?  And then it hit me - she hadn't received unfriendly service, she'd received bad service.  So often we lump the two into one.

It is possible to get incredibly friendly service, but it be bad all the same.  Picture a forgetful and disorganized waitress with a friendly, outgoing personality.  You may be able to forgive bad service in that case.  Our insurance broker has been somewhat unfriendly over the years, but pretty damned efficient most of the time, I have to admit.  Good service, unfriendly encounters but never, I am confident in saying, was she ever deliberately rude to us.

Until my son experienced bad, unfriendly and downright rude service.

There is a difference between bad and unfriendly service with one thing in common.  Neither is acceptable.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

November 11 Should Not be a Stat Holiday

Right now there is a suggestion that November 11th should be declared a statutory holiday in Canada,
a sentiment no doubt fueled by the killing of two Canadian soldiers on Canadian soil just weeks ago.  It would be offensive to suggest that this NDP backed bill is calculated to ride this wave of sentiment, but not beyond the pale to acknowledge that the timing couldn't be better for those who agree, and uncomfortable for those who don't.

Here me out and don't question my patriotism.  Don't you dare.  I would suggest that not speaking against this misguided move to declare November 11th a statutory holiday, if one believes it shouldn't be, is unpatriotic and counter to what our soldiers died to defend in the great wars and conflicts since; freedom to think and speak; to be heard.

I have celebrated November 11th every year of the last 50 or so, but not always at the Cenotaph.  Many years it had to suffice that I was part of an entire workplace or school that stopped for a moment of silence at 11 am.  Just last year a conference I attended and helped organize gave one of the most moving tributes to Remembrance Day that I have seen in five decades.

If November 11th 2013 had been a stat holiday, that conference would not have happened over those dates and that tribute would not have happened at all.  I don't think I'm reaching to say that most, if not almost all of the participants would not have had any such experience had they been enjoying a day off, hiking, raking leaves, or at an American mall shopping; the usual Canadian Stat holiday experience.   A November 11th stat holiday actually has the opposite effect of what is presumably intended.

Pausing to Remember
A statutory holiday on November 11th will lead to a watered-down and soon forgotten celebration of what must never be forgotten, and what better way to drive home the importance of our soldier's sacrifice than to pause commerce, school, traffic; to reflect on 2 minutes of inconvenience to our modern lives and perhaps to feel just a bit of guilt when it slips by unnoticed, unintentionally.  To think of kids in uniform...(kids dammit!) who died on foreign lands so our cash registers could ring the other 1438 minutes in the day.  To watch the grade 7s at a Remembrance Day assembly start to internalize the truth that in a different time it would have been their older brothers off to war, perhaps never to return.  To be 18 and think, "it could have been me."  For some in my generation it was about a grandfather they never met.

Effect on the Economy
Secondly, and this is important, the loss to the economy is estimated to be in the billions.  Don't kid yourselves folks, our soldiers died defending not only democracy, but capitalism and commerce.  In my own business right now I am looking at trying to accommodate a major piece of business that will be lost to our destination if we can't find alternate dates that don't include a mid-week stat holiday in November.  These are union folk, I guarantee none of them is going to miss a paid day off no matter how important the conference or meeting.  I say that without judgement - it is how it is.

I urge Members of Parliament to pause and have a complete and thorough debate at a time when emotions have subsided, and to consider the cost vs benefit of Remembrance Day being declared a Statutory Holiday in Canada.  It may not be what it may seems.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Roughly Speaking

The big news in Canada is that a nationally famous CBC radio host has admitted to having consensual "rough sex" with women.  He has lost his job because it is becoming apparent that it may not have been quite so consensual, and although he has been tried and found guilty in the court of public opinion, at the time of this writing he hasn't been charged with anything.  Kudos to Christie Blatchford of The National Post for being the sole defender of his presumed innocence.

He has brought the topic of BDSM (look it up, I'm not going to define it) into the mainstream.  No really, he actually wrote about it on his Facebook page.  The Globe and Mail, Canada's National Newspaper published an article explaining it, describing it as healthy.  It's only time before it becomes part of the curriculum in Ontario schools, probably in Grade 3 (Why Does Mommy Have a Whip?) and flags are flown at City Hall, parades held....

I haven't read an article, blog post or status update from a Facebook friend that condemns the practice, consensual or not.  And yet I'd wager most people are sickened at the thought of it happening to someone they love or care about; a sister, or a friend or your mother, for example.

The dominance of another human being, and the wish to be objectified by another is not respectful of God's creation - us - we imperfect people, perfect in His eye.  There is something terribly wrong to wish to inflict pain, subjugation, humiliation and forcible restraint, and conversely to wish it upon oneself for sexual satisfaction.

And no, I'm not pushing my religion on anyone.  That one chooses not to believe in God doesn't change truth.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Is Everything Under Control?

My old friend Deacon Ray died last week.  He was old.  I'm sure when I'm that old (if I'm ever that old), I won't think I'm old.  He was 88.  I actually think that's pretty young.

Ray used to see me in different places, like funeral homes and hospitals and clergy days and always greeted me by asking "is everything under control?"  I loved seeing him coming because I knew that would be his first question.  Things almost always seemed a little more under control right after he would show up and ask that simple question.

Keep an eye on me, sir.  Keep an eye out for me.  God bless you.  Everything's pretty much under control.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The No Card

When I was studying at the seminary to glean my calling to be a deacon we were advised to "prune, prune, prune."  In other words, drop out of everything and concentrate on this one thing.  Naturally that didn't apply to family and work, but to all things church.  That was hard for most of us - dropping out of the choir, out of committees, out of a whole lot of busy work to concentrate on the important stuff.  (More about the freedom of discipline and liberation of obedience another time)

After ordination we were encouraged to play our "NO card".  Lots of people are going to ask us for lots of things, and being charitable souls our inclination is to say yes.  With a NO card you don't have to give it a second thought or toss and turn over "whether to or should I?"  You just play the card and go back to the core mission.

What was true of my spiritual vocation has also been true in my professional vocation and maybe in yours.  We get asked to take on increasing roles of responsibility in our associations if we've shown the slightest hint of enthusiasm and success in our committee roles - and that's OK.  But how do we know when enough is too much?  When is it time to say no?

I am a member of an organization that has seen at least 3 volunteer presidents in the last five finish out their year with shattered marriages.  It may not have been the tremendous work load on top of a tremendous work load that caused the marriage to fail, who knows what underlying issues were already in play? - but it certainly didn't help.

This is not to say that many, many people haven't been very successful in extending their passion at work to their entire industry through their professional association - I've met them and seen it done.  I admire them.  Their industry is better for it.  The reason they do it so well is that they also have a NO card which they play in other places at strategic times.

Not sure how to say no?  Here's a helpful blog from Adrian Granzella Larson with some tips...  http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2014/09/15/just-say-no-7-canned-responses-to-use-at-work/

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Baby, What a Surprisingly Great Presentation!

It has been said that "Baby, What a Big Surprise" by Chicago is perhaps the best pop song ever recorded.  (I said that, so take it with a grain of salt.)  But I have also heard that Utopia's "Set Me Free" might also lay claim and I'm going to have to add "Call Me Maybe" to the list - not because any of these are particularly artistically magnificent, but because they follow a simple, catchy formula.  Could we learn a thing or two about that formula in our next sales presentation?

Jason (no last name given) writes on Gearslutz.com that the elements of a good pop song include
  1. song structure
  2. melody
  3. harmonic underpinning
  4. lyrics
Let's concentrate on the first - structure.  Most presenters tend to focus on lyrics ahead of structure almost every time.  In other words, in preparing to present we worry about what we're saying at the expense of how we're saying it.   But what if we followed the pop-song structure?  

Verse --> Chorus --> Verse --> Chorus --> Bridge --> Chorus

Let's translate that for business presentation purposes:

Verse - answers the 5W's of the presentation.  The words may change as we tell the story, but the message is consistent
The Climb - leads up to the chorus, builds interest
Chorus - answers the question "why should I care?"
Bridge - keeps it interesting by providing the alternate point of view, the unasked question, the "what if?"
And back to the chorus - brings it all to a satisfying ending

(These steps also bring joy to other human interactions, but I digress)

All this with a few words, a relevant picture, very little animation, simple graphs and charts, and as few slides as possible.  And practice, practice, practice - the audience wants to hear their favourite pop song presented live exactly as recorded in studio - flawless.

Listen here:
Baby What a Big Suprise  http://youtu.be/w0xcr93xx3A

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Your Buddy's Rec Room

I was enjoying one of my favourite vinyl albums recently, featuring the most perfect pop song ever written.  "Baby What a Big Surprise" by Chicago (seriously - I wish more reports and presentations would follow this simple formula - 3 verses, a recurring chorus and a bridge between the 2nd and 3rd verses).

Maybe more on that later, but in preparing the album for play, I reflected on some simple social and business skills maybe missing from those who've never heard an album in their buddy's rec room.

Care and Attention  The vinyl album is very delicate, taking only a piece of dust or a percussive movement (like a heavy footstep near the turntable) to cause the needle to skip and potentially ruin the album.  We learned to take care, holding the album by the edges to avoid fingerprints on the play surface, making sure it was clean before playing, and treating the area around the turntable as a strict no-go zone during album play.

I've dropped my mp3 music device so many times I've lost count.  I've thrown a CD into a box without it's cover.  Yeah, you can damage it but not usually on the first try.  Albums were a lot less forgiving.  It was someone else's life's work.  Someone else's album.  Someone's favourite song.  We respected that.

Good Manners and Hospitality  Someone had to host the album-playing get-together.  Someone had to get up and flip the album to the b-side, and then take it off and put it away.  And the guy standing next to the turntable inevitably turned to his guests and asked, "any requests?"   Yeah, it was his (parent's) rec-room, his stereo, and his collection.   Sure, we brought a few albums of our own, but the host set the tone.  In asking for requests he showed respect and good manners.

Man, I'd love the next board meeting, or committee meeting, or department meeting to work like that.  "I'm done with my personal agenda, thanks for indulging me.  Anyone else have a thought to share?"

New Music  We didn't all listen to the same music.  I heard some great albums I would never have purchased myself, and frankly never did.  It was enough to know a friend who had that album and would bring it along if asked.  Decades later I've finally bought artists' music that friends introduced to me.

Respect  Only the owner of the album could take the plastic off a new album.  Some people left the plastic on to protect the cover.  Bad idea.  Common wisdom was that the contracting plastic might eventually damage the vinyl inside.  Even if your friend was foolish enough to leave the plastic on, it was the full extent of your responsibility to point it out, and then shut the hell up.  People don't always see the obvious, and that's not our problem.

Great Conversation  There were no phone interruptions.  Sometimes someone would join the rec-room session in progress, but mostly it was just two or three of us, maybe with a bit of whisky in hand, listening to rock (it wasn't called "Classic Rock" yet, and we didn't always listen to rock) and solving all the problems of the world.  And sometimes just sitting there silently and appreciating the artistry.  Passing the album cover around to stare at the artwork, to read the credits, and sometimes to clarify the lyrics.

People at work should be treated with such respect for their time, their work, their opinions and their company.

"These are the best of times"  sang Styx way back when.  There's no reason they can't be now.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Sales and the Golf Course

Hey - this isn't what you think.  This is not a post touting the value of a good golf game towards building relationships in sales.  That's a no brainer - a sales person should be able to golf believably, if not necessarily well.

Not long ago I golfed in a best-ball golf tournament (in which each move forward advances on the strength of the best shot of the foursome) with a co-worker and few customers.

"I don't understand!" my co-worker said in frustration, as her ball once again worm-burned down the fairway a few yards. "I put all my strength into it and I still can't move it very far!"   "Welcome to sales," I answered.

It's the ongoing frustration of the best sales people and with me, too.  We do our very best, give it 100% with enthusiasm and still sometimes we get caught in a slump.  It's hard to stay positive.

But our golfing partner with a the fabulous swing summed it up a little later.  "You know," he told my friend, "with a few lessons you could send that ball a mile."  Translation - she's got what she needs to be successful except she keeps doing the same things that are keeping her from success.  She doesn't know what she doesn't know.

That wasn't lost on me.

Being open to continuous improvement is the key to a good game, whether in sales or on the golf course, and if it's a particularly good day, both at the same time.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Call Your Association

I'm an active member of four associations professionally, and several others personally.  I'm actually considering membership in another, and recently contacted them on a business matter.  The service, to say the least, was lacklustre and had been on the few occasions we had interacted in the past.  I don't blame the individual with whom I was dealing, although I don't condone bad manners.  I blame the management who haven't engendered an institutional philosophy of service - be it the volunteer board or their only employee - the Executive Director through whom all other employees are hired, and keep their jobs.

These are the people who speak for us as a group.  They lobby politicians and influence votes on laws that affect our industry - your industry, whatever it is, if you are a member of a professional association.  When the press needs a comment on something that affects your industry, the executive director of your association will likely be first person approached.

If the hired professionals, be they many or be they few, can't provide a level of courtesy that reflects that of your organization, maybe it's time to rethink membership.

Or get on the board and change things.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Advice from a More Experienced Blogger Than I

Warren Kinsella wrote a nice piece on how to deal with on-line trolls.  This is a person who says negative things anonymously - generally just stirring things up.  I was accused of being a troll once, which helped me to be a little more careful about any comments I make on-line, and to whom.  (I wasn't technically a troll since I identified myself but the clever blogger turned my last name "Tyrrell" into "Troll."  She's so smart.)

I've been the victim of trolls in the past, but for the most part what I write is so inconsequential you'd have to be a really bored troll to notice.  Cowardly and anonymous?  Yes.  But undeniably bored if you're reading this drivel.

Here's Kinella's piece.  I completely object to the term "human garbage" in the body of his essay, but I suspect he doesn't care what I think.  http://goo.gl/FgrAuP

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Swing and a Miss?

It really depends on how you look at things.  Is this great idea a hit or a miss?

On July 1st a major Chinese buffet chain in Canada offered a free meal to any Canadian citizen who could prove their citizenship by proffering a passport, birth certificate or a citizenship card.  A hit?  You might think so, with line-ups around the block, with reportedly at least a two-hour, and as much as a four-hour wait to get in.  But why did they do it?  How did this fit into their overall marketing plan?  What was the benefit to the company and to the franchisees who ate the cost? (pardon the pun.)

Let's reverse engineer the activity to the goals, not knowing what the goals were but applying some probable outcomes as though they were planned.

  • Goal #1 - No Sales:  Assumption:  Sales will be very low, as guests who didn't know about the free buffet will decide it didn't make sense to pay for a meal when everyone else in line is getting it free.  Mission accomplished!
    • In fact, it's safe to say there were next-to-no sales
      • In fact, it's safe to say that anyone planning to go there and pay for a meal took one look at the line and chose another restaurant
        • In the hotel biz that's called "compression" - when clients don't get their first choice of property because it's full, so they go somewhere else
          • which is fine if it's full of paying guests
            • and is just plain silly if people are eating for free
  • Goal #2 - Trade off Zero Sales on July 1st for a huge increase in sales the rest of the year:  Assumption:  Sales will grow in the coming year 
    • Because everyone in line was so grateful they'll pay to come back next time
      • Really?  The only people who would wait four hours in the hot July sun are there for a free meal, and probably won't be back until the next free meal deal
        • This isn't the same as McDonald's free coffee offer, which is meant to convert customers from Tim Hortons at the start of their "Roll Up the Rim" offer
  • Goal #3 - Increased Incremental Sales.  Assumption: Patrons who saved money on the meal instead spent an equal amount of money at the bar, or left it in tips for the serving staff
    • Ummm....does anyone really believe that?
      • Bueller?
        • Bueller?
  • Goal #3(a) - Happy Staff
    • see above
  • Goal #4 - Create awareness
    • Are you still trying to guess the name of the unnamed restaurant chain I deliberately haven't referenced?  If so they failed to create awareness.
    • If you have one of these restaurants in your town, you already know it's there.  It's the biggest Chinese buffet.  No further awareness of the fact that they serve food is necessary.  Period.  Now, had the promotion revolved about a corporate charitable endeavour, like a portion of the price of the meal on Canada Day going to support Sick Kids Hospital?  Another story.  It's just not this story.
    • We spent about 10 minutes discussing this in the office this morning, so I guess they were successful in creating awareness after the fact.  
      • none of us knew about it before it happened
        • maybe we're not their target market.  So who was the target market?
  • Goal #5 -  Reward and Recognize only Canadian citizens - (the target market)
    • and piss off immigrants who had to pay. 
      • because everyone likes to feel like a second-class citizen when they go out to lunch
        • no they don't
  • Goal #6 - Anger fellow strip mall tenants and other business owners
    • the line-ups extended well past the front doors of the other businesses, and presumably there wasn't a parking spot to be found as this restaurant's patrons would have occupied all available spaces for a disproportionate amount of time, most of it in a line-up waiting to get in
  • Goal #7 - Create an internet buzz
    • it didn't trend
    • about half of the tweets were negative, referring to the long line-ups (in fairness, the other 50% were either positive or neutral)
      • if they thought to provide water or otherwise make the wait a bit more comfortable, no one tweeted about it (a missed opportunity)
        • and what if Grandma had face-planted into the asphalt in the heat?  Would that have created a buzz?
          • Yes.  Yes it would have.  Especially if someone posted it to YouTube or Vine.
            • They say there's no such thing as bad publicity
              • They lied
  • Goal #8 - Disillusioned Franchisees:  The franchisees paid their staff time-and-a-half for the privilege of not making any money that day.  In fact, they lost money.
    • how is that a good idea?
      • Isn't this the same chain that jacks up the prices on other stat holidays?

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Last Time I Did That I Got Yelled At

"Last time I did that I got yelled at!"  No you didn't.  No you didn't.  Well, probably you didn't.

I sometimes hear that from the people I work with.  "I got yelled at.  I got in trouble."  No you didn't; in the last 20 years in the work force the only time anyone raised their voice was to be heard over the laughter.

Statements like that are indicative of a deeper issue - whether they red-flag a buried issue between supervisor and direct report, or a thin-skin.

Sue Shellenberger, in her blog post "How to Take Criticism Well" suggests that the ability to take criticism is a well-developed skill.  She includes a nifty chart on how to react, and what to do if you react badly.

Read the full article here:  http://goo.gl/uqmzj6

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Corporate Sociopath

I started working full time and in earnest in the 80s.  It was a different time.  Unnecessarily long hours.  Cutthroat workplace competition for the next promotion.  C-Level by the age of 30!  Absolute fear of committing a CLM (career limiting move).

At one point early in my career I found myself working side-by-side with a corporate sociopath.  I didn't know it until I happened upon an article describing her qualities to a tee.  Armed with that information I was able to share it with others who were in danger, which was frankly, anyone standing between her and her goal.

The attached article lists the signs of a sociopath.  She displayed easily 5 or 6 of them.

The good news was, as long as she didn't report to you, you were safe.  Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE who she ever reported to ended up unemployed as she plotted her upward mobility.  Those of us who reported to her, which I at one point I did, were perfectly safe as long as she detected no threat.

The truth is that the few years we worked together were the most productive of my career mostly because I knew her game and I played my part well enough that she gave me leeway.  I was, in no way, a threat.  In fact, working around her corporate sociopathic idiosyncrasies I gained many skills I wouldn't have otherwise, such as learning to recognize her many great qualities and to work together to achieve our departmental goals.

Is there a corporate sociopath in your workplace?  It doesn't have to hurt you, necessarily.  Read the article here: http://goo.gl/gNVcgU

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Cold Call Hell

I like getting cold calls from sales people.  I learn a lot from them.  Some of them are very good and walk me through the buying process expertly.  I literally take notes.

I always try to return calls to sales people who leave me a voice mail.  I know how frustrating it can be to not get a call back.

Sometimes, and frankly not very often, a really bad sales person will call.  Today was one of those days.  The guy launched right into his spiel for a product we could never possibly use, and after talking a mile a minute for about 3 minutes he asked me if it was something in which I'd be interested, a direct question that invited a direct answer.  Not a "how does that sound?" open ended question, but a closed yes or no question.  "Is this something that interests you?"

I gave him a chance to clarify.  "Are you asking me if I'd be interested in buying your product?"  "Yes," he said.  "Is this something you could use in your operation?"

"No," I responded politely.  "No, it's really not."  I waited for him to probe a bit, try again, restate his case...anything.  After a prolonged period of uncomfortable silence he finally thanked me for my time and hung up and went back to his misery of unsuccessful cold calling, probably wondering why nobody's buying.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014


Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein
You never know what happens when two people from different vocations get together.

Who knows what these two were talking about?

Meet someone new.  Before you do that, read this: http://goo.gl/4xkECi

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Man in the Mirror

Say what you like about Michael Jackson, his song "Man in the Mirror" perfectly addressed matters of conscience, and judgement.

Recently there was a heated and frustrated conversation in our office regarding the obvious dishonesty we had encountered from sources outside of our venue, and thus far beyond our control.  On our team it is understood that misrepresentation of product or circumstance is not tolerated or supported.  What that means, practically, is that if we tell you we have someone else interested and we need you to make your buying decision it means that we have someone else interested and we need you to make your buying decision.  It isn't a tactic.

When I first started traveling for business I did so with people on a per diem.  They didn't need to collect receipts for meals.  That wasn't my situation - I paid for everything on my personal credit card and submitted an expense report.  One of my peers offered me his receipt, worth a few bucks more than my actual meal cost.  It happened again a couple of weeks ago - a dinner receipt worth more than what I actually spent.  The idea was that I'd claim the higher amount and pocket the difference.  I'm told it happens a lot.

I'm not saying I'm a saint, I'm not saying I wasn't and haven't been tempted, but I do know this.  It's  already not pretty when I look in the mirror.

I don't want to make it any uglier by seeing a liar staring back.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

In the Company of My Peers

I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days with an elite group of men and women, less than 20 in all of Canada who specifically do what we do.  I realized a few things.

I'm not the smartest guy in the room.  Never have been.  I'm sometimes I'm amazed to find myself in the company of some of the people in whose company I sometimes find myself.  From co-workers to board members to regular folks with common interests, I'm usually in awe.  But if I'm smart enough to get into the room I make it a point to shut up and to listen.

I don't have all the answers.  See above.  But I do have lots of questions, and I sure do learn a lot when smart people get talking to each other.  The trick is to stay engaged by contributing, asking a few questions and seeking clarification, and then repeating back what you think you've heard.

I don't fake the answer if I don't know.  That's painful, and I don't mind asking someone to explain an acronym or forgive my ignorance.  I admire people who rattle off stats from the top of their head, but if it doesn't help me achieve my goals, I don't waste a lot of gray matter on it.  Not a lot available.

A good laugh goes a long way.   And I'm occasionally funny.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Dad Brags

My son will have written his last exam at university by the time you read this.  He's the youngest of our three who all attended university.  He may well go on for even higher education, his choice, and I am confident of his and all of my kids' success in their careers and in life.

Here's why I'm bragging.

  • All three of our children chose programs they really wanted and stayed at home while they studied.  That can't have been easy as normal household life did go on, although we did try to accommodate around crunch times, exams, etc.
  • Our kids paid for their own education  (they had part-time jobs through high-school and university and saved their money)
  • They all finished university debt free without having taken loans for tuition
  • They're pretty darned normal - not bookworms or lifeless study hounds.  They had active social lives.
Their mom and I are average folks in an average income bracket - so not a lot of help there.  I attribute their success to a few factors, as well as to their own drive.
  • A stay-at-home mom for most of their lives, who was relentless in her support of their education
  • My kids like and support each other
  • An outstanding Catholic education system that provided a solid moral compass
  • Mass together as a family, weekly (with occasional exceptions for work, travel or frankly, let's admit it, post-Saturday night blues)

Claire and I are kind of proud of them.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

It's Your Thing

"It's your thing, do what you wanna do.  I can't tell you who to sock it to"  Isley Brothers

It takes all kinds.  Here are three things I've learned from people I don't normally run into socially, but have had the pleasure (and occasionally the displeasure) of interacting with professionally.

1.  Your thing is not necessarily my thing.  I'm as much into inclusiveness as the next guy, but it's hardly inclusive if all we're doing is tolerating each other's presence.  I may not understand or embrace your cause, but I get that you do.  If we're going to do business, the faster I appreciate your enthusiasm the sooner I can get you to open your wallet and share a little of what's inside of it with me.

2.  "Let's not make a thing of the thing until it becomes a thing."  My old boss used to say that to remind us not to escalate a situation prematurely, but that doesn't mean she wasn't perfectly capable of doing so if it was called for.  No need for confrontation, but that doesn't mean acceptance.  I don't buy the "if it's not hurting anyone..." argument; dig deeper - what's the real story?

Some people you just can't do business with, and that's OK.  Just don't assume, but when the decision is made, commit.

3.  Good things may come to those who wait but good things come sooner to those who go out and get them.   There are all sorts of potential customers out there, and going through the usual channels just puts you in line with every other sales person going through the usual channels.  Read a newspaper, watch the local news, pay attention to your community.  There may be business walking right by the front door because we haven't asked them to come in.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Nobody's Buying!

"Nobody's buying!"  I've heard sales people get together and whine about it.  Hell, I've done it.  Sales are down ergo the world is to blame.  The weak can always find someone to commiserate.

That's too bad.  There are lots of mitigating factors that can affect sales, many (most?) out of our control.  The price of the dollar, the state of the economy, the peace of the nation....But I am also reminded that excuses don't put bread on the table.

If what I'm doing isn't working then I have two choices.  Change how I'm selling or change what I'm selling.  Neither is easy.

Nobody's buying?  Maybe.  Sometimes if feels like nobody's selling.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Focused Effort

One of the cool things about social media and general sociability is keeping in touch with like-minded individuals, discussing business and learning from their success and failure.  I freely confess I have had the knack of knowing which of my peers' best behaviours I should imitate, even if their business is completely different than mine.  Someone else's good idea modified to fit my situation is potentially a great, new and innovative approach.

With permission, one of my successful friends has agreed to let me share the three steps he took to hit some very steep sales goals last fiscal, which I shamelessly emulated (copied).

  • He kept his eye, and his team's eyes, on the goal.  The sales target seemed impossibly high, in fact it was common knowledge that there was no way for the team to achieve it (they did).  He eliminated all distracting behaviour with one simple question, "will this help us to achieve x$?"  (the annual sales goal).  If not, the intended activity was not approved.  As he likes to say, "strategy exists so we can say 'no' to some very good ideas." 
  • Measurable activities were broken down into manageable daily goals.  X number of prospecting calls per month meant X number per day, a more achievable goal.  Same for sales calls, trade show leads, you name it.  Do the math.
  • Time periods are front end loaded.  Want to make X number of calls in a month?  Do the math, dividing the number by 15 days (3 working weeks) instead of 20 days (4 working weeks) so even if you fall a bit behind or have to do other activities that take you away from the phone, you're not scrambling in the last week (along with all the other mediocre sales people dialing for dollars).  The same for the year - divide the annual sales goal into 11, not 12 months and spend the last month with maybe a bit of catching up instead of desperately begging your customer for a signed contract just to hit the sales target.
What I noticed most was what he didn't say.  None of the old "if you believe it, you can achieve it" horse crap plays into his plan.  It's all about straight up focused effort and uncompromising vision.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Writers, not Actors

I took some clients to see John Cleese's one-man show, "Last Time to See Me Before I Die", a few months back.  You remember him - tall, lanky, straight-faced funny guy from Monty Python.  He told a story of how Monty Python stayed together as a comedy troupe in an industry where others had fallen apart.  He didn't deny there was the occasional argument, very vehement arguments between them about the material (which is funnier - a goat or a sheep?  His firm assertion and the final say in a 20 minute argument was that when used as a chandelier, with lights in it's hooves and mouth, clearly the goat was going to get more laughs.)

Cleese suggested that the reason the team was so tight and produced such good results was because they were a group of writers.  They got together to write a sketch, and never deviated from the script during performance.  Only after hammering out the script did they decide who would play which parts, and always for the sake of the material.  Sometimes that meant a small part, or no role at all.  Other times it might mean a very large, starring role.  Characters and roles were agreed upon according to what would serve the end goal - great comedy.  They were writers first.

If the Pythons argued about anything, it was the material.  Cleese says he has seen shows and troupes fail because instead of a group of writers coming together to write and perform, they have been a group of actors coming together, each with his own agenda, to perform that which they wrote.  Egos ruled in the actors' group.

Which team are you part of?  Are you actors thinking only of your own contribution and recognition, or writers working together in the direction of a common goal?

I know which team on which I'd rather be.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Checking Out

I have long maintained that once an employee begins seriously looking for a new job, he or she has already resigned from his current position.   Once the employee has posted an application and accepted an interview with another company, he already works there.  At the very least, he no longer works for his current company.  All that remains is for the new employer to make it official.

There's no fault in that - today's career path in anything but a straight trajectory.  My old boss used to say, "you've got to move to improve."  It's OK for people to quit.  They just shouldn't drag down the team on their long, slow departure.

I have seen the pattern repeated time and time again.  People show signs of checking out long before they actually leave.  They come in late, they avoid team activities, they miss deadlines and exhibit many other behaviours that are unexpectedly out of character, or widely divergent from the employee you once knew.  They appear to be disengaged.  It is a rare person who can keep his head in the game until the final hour.

Biz Magazine, published by Town Media, in their 2014 Q1 issue published these "tips and tricks" to spotting a "job hopper" within your own organization:

  • A noticeable change in attitude (formerly enthusiastic, now indifferent)
  • Long lunch breaks and frequent absences (no longer invested, going on job interviews)
  • Missed deadlines and increased errors (lost interest)
  • More professional attire (dressing up for a job interview at lunch)
  • A drop in productivity (gradually disconnecting from the job)
The astute manager recognizes these signs and acts with respect in the best interest of his customers and his company and frankly, the departing employee himself.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Who's My Bad Boss?

Had one.  Been one.  Hopefully in remission.  Working on it.

I look at all bad situations; a bad boss, difficult subordinate relationships, a challenging board; as growth situations.  That, however, requires an indefatigable positive attitude; an anticipation of success despite all evidence to the contrary.

Beyond the resume building aspect of surviving a bad work relationship I like keep it in perspective by factoring in "The Sitcom Factor."

It works like this.  When I'm at my wits end with someone I remind myself that if this was a sitcom and not real life we'd need a character like bad boss (or difficult employee, or angry customer, or demanding stakeholder) to move the plot along.

And then I go to a metaphorical commercial and take a break from the drama.

Here's a link to an article about bad bosses.  Read this:

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Go With Your Gut

It was painful to watch.  Not the obvious failure of the presentation, but the look on the face of the chief of staff.  It was clear from his reaction that he had anticipated it might not go well and now the worst case scenario was happening in front of a select audience of their best customers, and that it could have been avoided.  The presentation was tanking and the boss was the one holding the bag.

Afterwards the chief of staff confessed he'd had little confidence in this particular segment of the presentation and had second guessed pulling the plug several times.  He was absolutely devastated that he hadn't.

It didn't make him feel any better when the boss accepted his confession and apology.

"Next time, go with your gut," said the boss.  "That's what I pay you for."

Enough said.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

To Sleep, Perchance to Get Rich (or just plain live longer)

It may have started as far back as Dale Carnegie, but the self-improvement trend started for me in the mid-eighties, when I committed to merely thinking about growing rich.  No need to work for it.  Just imagine it, and it will happen.  (That didn't happen.)

Fast forward through a career of working, really working for "it", the elusive goal of success, ever changing.  Success defined and redefined.  Trends and fads.  4-Hour work weeks (as if work was bad).  Minutes and habits, one and seven.

The latest fad is to limit one's sleep to as few hours a night as possible.  Recently I listened to entrepreneur Robert Herjavec and radio host John Tory one-up each other on how late they work, how early they rise, and how little sleep they get.  Extreme time management.

Not for me this time, I'm not falling for it.  Eight hours sleep as many nights as I can swing it.  An afternoon nap if I can get away with it.  Some shut eye on a long haul flight.  A few moments of peace wherever I can find it.

"Good quality sleep keeps your appetite hormones in check, cools those inflammatory chemicals that promote heart disease and cancer, keeps your waist line trim..."  Joy McCarthy, Holistic Nutritionist

Lack of sleep is tied to diabetes, depression, lapses of attention and in a 2010 study, researchers from the University of Warwick in Coventry, England found a connection between early death, and too little (or too much) sleep.

So go ahead Herjavec, count your money.  I'll count my sheep, thank you very much.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Be Alert! (We need more Lerts)

After many years in the hospitality, franchising and sales business I have become quite attuned to watching for potential theft.  It's not that I think the worst of people, it comes after watching franchisees try and duck royalties, or bartenders pad their own pockets.  Here's a few scams I observed in businesses over the recent holiday season that could spell trouble for you and the business if left unchecked by management.

  • The old "cash drawer open" trick you'll often see in bars, coffee shops and especially in variety stores.  The clerk "rings in" the purchase so an amount shows on the screen (this works best if it's only one item and you're paying cash), announces the total and then calculates your change manually.  He then deletes, or voids the purchase.  
    • Result: money in the clerk's pocket, not the business'.  
    • Signs of this scam:  Cash drawer left open between purchases.
    • Victim:  The franchise organization which collects a royalty on sales, the bar/restaurant/coffee shop owner, you - because prices creep up over time to cover such losses. You the taxpayer - since the shortfall in sales tax has to come from somewhere.  I have observed this time and again everywhere from Mac's Milk to Second Cup.  
    • How you can help?  Ask for a receipt.  The clerk has to complete the sale and then if it is voided later there is a record of it.  It's up to management, head office or CRA to find it from there.
  • The old "do you have a loyalty card?" scam.  I saw this in a major drug store chain, where the clerk had already entered her own loyalty card number manually before she even started ringing in my purchase.  
    • Result:  Had I not produced my own card, the credit for the sale would have gone to her, or a family member's account.
    • Signs of this scam:  You have to be paying attention, but watch the screen and see if there is already a card number entered before you even begin, or if her fingers start dancing across the keyboard between customers.  Another sure sign was that when I produced a card and she had to delete the information already entered.
    • Victim:  You.  If someone asks if you have a loyalty card and then doesn't offer to get you one right away, even if they're not scamming they are wasting an opportunity to create future business and save you money.  
    • How can you help?  This one you have to call them on right away, which you can do politely but firmly.
  • The old "gift card" scam.  The clerk pretends to use the gift card at the cash register, and then tosses it into her garbage can.  If you're not alert, you then pay full price on the "remaining" balance, and she retrieves the unused card later from the garbage.  I saw this effectively done on a $200 grocery bill with a $25 gift card - easy to not notice with amounts that large.
    • Result: clerk retrieves card from the garbage after you've gone and gives it to a friend or family member to use
    • Signs of this scam:  The clerk makes no mention of the gift card.  Typically she should ask you if you'd like to reload it, or if you'd like the card back.  Throwing it away without discussion is a big red flag.
    • Victim:  You.  This one relies on you not to pay attention to the cash register screen and not to check your receipt before you leave the store.  Even if you do, and catch the "error", she innocently apologizes and pulls the card out of the garbage, thus further maintaining the illusion she wasn't scamming in the first place. 
    • How can you help?  Pay attention and ask questions. 
  • The old "taxi credit card" scam, where the taxi driver uses his own iPhone app to run your credit card instead of the system in the cab, to avoid paying 3% or higher on the credit card transaction.  
    • Victim:   You or your company, if you're expensing the ride.  The iPhone account comes with a $4 or higher transaction fee which you pay.
    • How can  you help?  Unfortunately in many cities cabs are not yet fully regulated in this regard, so you have to be aware and challenge the cabbie.  The other variation on this is when the cabbie claims his credit card processor isn't working and insists that you pay cash, just to avoid the credit card transaction fee.  I feel for the difficult position these cabbies are in, but that shouldn't come at your expense.  The system needs an overhaul.
    • Other potential solution?  Use Uber to book your ride.  It's an on-line app that will get you a black car (limo) for about the price of a cab, is fully automated and your credit card is automatically charged complete with tip, and you get an emailed, detailed invoice.
These are just 4 separate occurrences that I observed in the month of December alone.  In each of these it is possible to alert management without accusing anyone - and indeed it may all be a misunderstanding or a genuine error.  However, if there has been a pattern with the employee in question you are helping to resolve the issue.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014


"Unfriend"  What a nasty word to describe the process of releasing one's on-line Facebook contacts from the burden of seeing another status update about your baby, puppy or hip replacement.

Disconnecting from the social media connection doesn't necessarily mean a friendship has ended, although I suppose it could.  Here are some other reasons one might "unfriend"
  • You're a one-trick pony.  The only thing you ever post about is your cause, whether it be environmental, your sexual-orientation, politics, unions or all of the above if you're a member of the NDP.
    • Unless your one trick is sports.  Then it's kind of cool.
  • Your bring us down.  You're negative and judgmental.  You're soooo hard done, by everyone you come in contact with:
    •  your mailman, 
    • the lady in front of you at the supermarket, 
    • your waiter/front desk attendant/housekeeper/anyone making minimum wage, 
    • the guy texting in the car beside yours (while you update your status).
  • We wouldn't recognize each other in public - either literally since we only see each other on Facebook, or figuratively if one of us doesn't want anything to do with the other in real life.  If we can't be friends in real life, I'm not sure how we can call each other friends on the world wide interweb. 
That's why I don't get all bent if I notice I've been unfriended.  I hope I'm not guilty of any of the above, but perhaps, in someone's eyes, I am.

It's cool.  I'm still good for a coffee, in person.

Read this great article

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Pedal to the Metal

I have often wondered if, in the course of an intense sales challenge, there is something to be said for just backing off and riding the wave for awhile, if only to catch your breath.  Even if you have achieved your sales goals, I can think of three acceptable times to slack off and forget all about work, and their exception.
  1. It's your day off
    1. Exception:  you have a hard and fast rule about working on days off, which includes but is not limited to not working after 5, in which case you may need to rethink your sales career
  2. It's your vacation
    1. Exception:  you have knowingly left a mess for others to handle while you're away, in which case you really need to get your act together
  3. You're dead
    1. Exception:  They revive you, in which case we'll be needing you back at your desk on Monday.  We miss you.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Breaking the Rules

I guess the only other time I got accused of cheating in sales was when I sold cars.  As a rookie I was trained and authorized to sell new cars only.  Used car sales require an enhanced skill set of negotiation, product knowledge, tenacity and closer attention to the bottom line.  They also pay WAY more in commissions, so the experienced guys were reluctant to share the lot with newbies.

On the day in question I saw a young man wander into the showroom, and I met him at the door and began the qualifying process. I learned he was interested in looking at a used red Pontiac Firebird like the one in the picture, out there on the lot.  He had been into the Pontiac showroom next door (I worked for Saturn on the same lot) and no one had acknowledged him, let alone paid any attention to him.

To put it charitably, he didn't look like a millionaire.  I have no idea if he is or was, but I did know a thing or two about customer service from many years in the hospitality industry.  I broke all the dealership rules, and hunted down the keys to the Firebird in the Pontiac show room next door while the sales people gawked at my audacity, and went with the customer on a test drive.  He drove straight to his bank and went in for awhile.

Long story short, the young man had withdrawn cash.  He didn't want to negotiate the price, he wanted the car.  Back at the dealership I grabbed my manager for a little assistance, and a short while later later this guy drove off the lot in his dream car.

From that day forward I was authorized to sell any car on the lot from either dealership, and as you've surmised, it didn't have a lot to do with my limited sales skills.  It had everything to do with my customer service skills.

I took a lot of heat from the Pontiac sales guys about how I had cheated, broken the rules, didn't deserve the commission, etc.  All I know is I'd actually paid attention to a guy they'd viewed as a waste of their time.

The whiniest people I know are sore losers.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Read my Lips: No More Rats

In 2003 I unsuccessfully ran for city council.  I came in fourth out of four - dead last place, having had my ass handed to me by the two incumbents and the one other candidate.  I was the first candidate to register for the municipal elections in all of Ontario, as soon as the doors to City Hall opened on January 2nd.  It was a long and grueling, and rewarding 10 months until a disappointing election day.

One of the reasons I lost was my platform.  While most of the other 25+ candidates across 5 wards campaigned on a "no new taxes" mantra, I never promised not to raise taxes.  If I was to run again I wouldn't promise zero tax increases, and I would probably face defeat again.

I have no issue with raising taxes for the right reason.  I have no issue paying increased taxes for the right reasons.

If I ran, it would be on a campaign of  "no more rats".  NO rats.  Total eradication of the disgusting creatures in the city of Windsor.  This isn't the only issue, but it's one of the biggest issues threatening our city.

Our city is infested and has been for decades, and yet no politician will speak of it.  It's a quality of life issue.  It's a health and safety issue.  It's preventable by enforcing property standards, and regulating garbage pick up and back alley food sources, just for a start. 

If the city could rid your neighbourhood of rats by increasing your property taxes by just $5 a month, would you go for it or stick to the "no tax increases" party line?  What if it was $5 a year?

That's the problem with focusing on taxes only. 

  • It places value on taxpayers, not citizens.  Not all citizens are municipal taxpayers.  Children, for example, are not taxpayers.  The next politician who says (s)he is working for the taxpayer should be made to go and spend some quality time with a homeless person (also not a taxpayer but no less a citizen).
  • It doesn't speak to quality of life.  
  • It isn't even a vision for the future.  It's short sighted, and unfortunately while we will be "enjoying" the sixth straight year of zero tax increases in 2014, we will also be "enjoying" another year of rats, homelessness in the downtown core, abandoned houses, decreased services and a declining quality of life.