Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, October 23, 2017

"Innovation takes more than quick-fix ideas"

Jul. 29, 2017 "Innovation takes more than quick-fix ideas": Today I found this article by Dave Wilkin in the Globe and Mail:

Applying two simple acid tests to your organization can ready your cultural ecosystem for the next generation of critical thinking DAVE WILKIN Social entrepeneur and founder of Toronto-based Ten Thousand Coffees

If organizations are not tapping into the next generation of ideas and talent, they won’t exist in 10 to 15 years.

Unfortunately, buying Ping Pong tables, hosting quarterly hackathons, installing whiteboards and throwing away your old dress code isn’t the quick-fix solution. Leaders see these tactics and convince themselves they are ready for innovation when, in fact, the critical ingredients of innovation are missing.

Executives often have the de facto ingredients for innovation but are missing the critical cultural-ecosystem readiness and mindset to change. These two tests will help any manager or executive evaluate whether their culture is primed and ready for the next generation.

Problem vs. solution

The test: Survey your employees and ask them to articulate the single most important problem your organization is solving in 140 characters or less.

Are employees defining a solution or a problem?

Believe it or not, in 2000, Reed Hastings, founder of Netflix, flew to meet the chief executive of Blockbuster to propose a partnership and got laughed out of the room. Now, Netflix is worth more than 10 times more than Blockbuster in its peak years. Nice work, Reed.

Blockbuster was obsessed with its solution and not the core problem. It was never about video rentals at a local store; it was about making it easy for consumers to access entertainment.

When employees understand the problem, it provides them with the ability to think about the 10-times solution, which may be completely different than what the business is doing today.

It creates permission to develop ideas and products that may be competitive with their current business and share these ideas openly with their colleagues, managers and executives.

When you’re obsessed with your solution and not the problem, thinking differently and dreaming big is limited by the parameters of your current hero product, which is unlikely to be around in 10 years anyway.

Organic collisions

The test: How many collisions have your employees had in the past two weeks? Ask employees who they have had lunch or coffee with. If it’s with someone they functionally work with, or are already friends with: not a collision.

If it’s a new colleague that recently got hired, someone they want to learn from, or a colleague from a different function: it’s a collision.

In 2000, Pixar purposefully designed its office to have different people physically colliding.

Ed Catmull, president of Pixar, worked with Steve Jobs and shared specifically why they did this: “The philosophy behind this design is that it’s good to put the most important function at the heart of the building. Well, what’s our most important function? It’s the interaction of our employees.”

We call these experiences “collisions.” They are created when two people, from different backgrounds or skill areas, come together to share an idea, build a relationships and mutually learn.

Serendipity is not enough – organizations need to help every employee build diverse relationships, think differently, ask questions and continuously learn from colleagues outside of their day-to-day.

A collision strategy will help every employee connect with new colleagues pro-actively; it’s the single most important driver of innovation and creativity. Ready to take action? Next steps you can immediately apply

1. Survey employees and ask them to define your biggest problem in 140 characters or less. Turn this content into a leadership opportunity to articulate your priorities and focus areas.

2. Create an organized program where every employee meets someone new, for a collision, every two weeks.

Collisions are critical and, despite an open concept office, people do not do this on their own. We like to use coffee, as it keeps it organic, authentic, yet effective.

Jul. 31, 2017 "Want your company to be more innovative? Hire co-op students": Today I found this article by Steven Murphy in the Globe and Mail:

Steven Murphy is dean of the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Here’s a reality many business leaders confront at some point: corporate cultures can eat innovation strategies for breakfast.

The inertia and siloing that can settle into any workplace can be antithetical to the boldness and flexibility required to drive innovation. So, what realistically can be accomplished?

Large organizations typically try to be more innovative by setting up initiatives outside the “mothership,” with mixed results. (Many large teaching hospitals, for example, have adopted this approach).

By spurring innovation outside the organization, companies might be able to create incremental change and innovation, but they could have difficulty leveraging these wins in the larger company culture.

General Mills, Nestle and Pepsi recently went through experiments with outside incubators, with mixed results. Despite the uncertain evidence, we’re at a tipping point where if you’re not linked to an incubator, your business is seen as falling behind.

Here’s another way to catalyze innovation in your business: bring in innovative students.

Tech-savvy, resourceful, purpose-driven and unburdened by the baggage of corporate culture, students can inject the exact kind of adrenalin a company needs to spur innovation from within. But such initiatives need to be carefully managed or else they risk being “one-off” PR exercises.

CIBC Mellon recently collaborated with Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management with this very idea in mind. Five Ryerson students were partnered with five CIBC Mellon employees for four months in an incubator space, the Business Innovation Hub, set up within the financial services firm.

The hub was given a mandate to identify and find solutions for business opportunities and challenges the company was facing.

The students came from a range of academic backgrounds – business technology management, accounting and finance, entrepreneurship and strategy. One of the students, Brendan Corney, even came from an environmental biology background and Anisan Luxmekanthan came from chemical engineering.

The CIBC Mellon partners were just as diverse: senior fund accountants, client relations, a business development proposal writer, a technical support specialist in record-keeping.

A plan as novel as this required some rules of engagement:
  • True partnership: The Ryerson students and CIBC Mellon employees were treated as equals. If we expected students to have ownership of the tasks at hand, then we had to give them the same trust and credibility that we did for the company’s employees. This required and received senior management buy-in.
  • Freedom to fail: Innovation flourishes when employees have the freedom to experiment and fail. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella demonstrated that spirit in an e-mail he sent employees following the failure of a project they were working on: “[The] key is to keep learning and improving.” All 10 members of the hub had the freedom to fail safe, and fail fast.
  • No boundaries: No idea is a bad idea; no question is a stupid question. All hub members had access to all business units and the leadership team at CIBC Mellon. They could reach out to anybody within the company to ask questions, request data or set up a meeting. Nothing was off limits.
What were the results? When the Ryerson team’s fresh approach combined with the seasoned insights of the CIBC Mellon team, they came up with some big ideas:
  • Ideas to standardize fee-billing processes to enhance consistency, efficiency and revenue;
  • Opportunities for an upgraded enterprise-wide communications tool to foster further collaboration among the company’s employees;
  • A vision for a virtual reality augmented tool to help employees and clients assimilate complex data.
Those are tangible, implementable wins accomplished in a breakneck-paced four-month experiment. More importantly, the hub created a “buzz” at the company and got employees motivated about getting involved and being innovative.

To say that CIBC Mellon’s leaders were pleased is an understatement. As for the students, they had the best experience of their lives.

The buzz extended well beyond corporate headquarters and the campus. In the coming days, we will be announcing an expansion of the Business Innovation Hub model to other leading Canadian companies. Stay tuned.

This new model of experiential learning is about so much more than simply letting students gain work experience. It’s about unleashing the energy and imagination the students embody, to drive innovation in the workplace and help solve the corporate leader’s conundrum of how to shift corporate culture and embrace innovation. B

it by bit, corporate culture is best challenged from within.


Co-op students are an amazing resource and an excellent "try-before-you-buy" method of testing new job positions, infusing energy and galvanizing activity in the workplace. Like any employee, they need clear directions and a supervisor who has the ability to give feedback and assist with the prioritization of work tasks. Best is that you have co-op coordinators with you during the entire process.

We all have a responsibility to support and develop our workforce. Be one of our employers who gives back and creates opportunity for the next generation of talent.
Check out our national Canadian Association of Co-operative Education website to learn about our members at
Heather Workman
President, Association of Co-operative Education BC/Yukon
Use this link to post a co-op position at all 15 accredited BC institutions:


Genius! So I don't really need employees anymore. I'm sure my existing ones will be pleased as punch. They're all obviously losers and couldn't appreciate real innovation if they saw it anyway.
These Gob and Pail management articles are great for their humour value.
1 Reaction

5 days ago
Tend to agree - usually promoting the latest "innovation" fad .-(
Been a co-op myself and later in my career hired co-op students ( STEM ). I myself was innocent of industrial realities and certainly my later co-op employees ditto.
HOWEVER .... co-op is the best way to start new graduates-to-be on their career paths, after being inoculated with reality serum. Certainly weeds out the snow flakes .-)
I wished we had more co-op programs in our education system, because it speeds up entering your career aspirations.
2 Reactions

5 days ago
I would agree.
I've been with two companies (hard STEM) that made a point of taking on co-ops and putting them to work on projects where they were managed well and given the resources and opportunity to do genuine work and make real contributions. We tended to hire the good ones in the next year or two after they graduated. It worked out well for everyone and it sounds like this company is approaching it the same way.

But I've also been with a large Canadian company that handled co-ops as a complete after thought. Managers had the attitude that they were being saddled with them. It reflected much of how the company was managed overall. Its spectacular flame-out in the 2000's (you know who it is) didn't surprise anyone who had worked there.
So if you're going to take on co-ops do it right.
1 Reaction

5 days ago

"The inertia and siloing that can settle into any workplace can be antithetical to the boldness and flexibility required to drive innovation."
We were always taught that laziness killed the workplace. Oh, sorry. That's exactly what you meant? Our bad.

"Drop these terms from your work lexicon"/ innovation

Jul 12, 2017 "Drop these terms from your work lexicon": Today I found this article by Guy Dixon in the Globe and Mail:

The millennial label stereotypes young workers, and it’s skills and not job titles that are most important now

It seems there are many no-no’s when it comes to talking about millennials and baby boomers at work.

Specialists in workplace trends even suggest dropping the overused “millennial” label, in particular, from the discussion altogether.

And while we’re at it, they suggest dropping job titles too, or at least refrain from overemphasizing job titles on résumés, since many of those titles belie how rapidly job roles and functions are changing.

That was the broad message from two recent panel discussions, one on millennials, one on boomers, held during The Globe and Mail’s human-resources summit, Solving Workplace Challenges in the Modern Economy, where the 2017 Employee Recommended Workplace Award, which recognizes companies that put the health and wellness of their employees first, were presented. The award was co-created by The Globe and human-resources consulting firm Morneau Shepell.

Despite the different needs of both age groups (boomers looking to transition into later stages of their careers and to find a sense of legacy in their work; millennials seeking new ways to find careers having purpose and meaning), there are nevertheless many trends that cross generations.

For one, there’s the attitude of just saying no to the status quo regarding job titles.

Companies hire based on what they anticipate they’ll need five years from now, but “the reality is that none of those skill sets will ever make any sense on a résumé,” said Dave Wilkin, founder of the career-networking service, speaking at the panel on millennials.

In other words, titles and formal résumés can be meaningless. It’s what employees can do that’s more important, since jobs are changing so rapidly.

“Anybody who looks at their parents and says, ‘What should I do when I grow up?’ will never get an accurate response, because the jobs that existed five years ago don’t exist today,” he said.

That’s of course an exaggeration. But “what that means is that we need people to be creators and not managers,” he said. It means figuring out “how can the next generation actually create their own opportunities, be it creating their own companies, or actually creating opportunities inside their organizations?”

The stereotype is that younger people are more nimble and tech savvy and therefore have technical skills that employers need. That may be true, but it’s an assumption that only goes so far. As said Mary Barroll, president of the job-listing service Talent Egg, employers “believe they can teach technical skills, but they can’t teach character.”

Employers are looking for signs of leadership, she said. “They are looking less for a person who fits a particular slot, but really it’s more about the person.”

Similarly, Jacqueline Foley, chief marketing officer at executivesearch firm Odgers Berndtson Canada who also helps run the CEO for a Day program – allowing students to meet and shadow chief executives for one day – noted that the real job interview doesn’t come when candidates are being formally interviewed. It comes “when we have lunch or a social function afterward, and all the partners come in, and we’re all just chitchatting. And that’s when you really see how they interact with people.”

Work and career building (or career transitioning later in life) is about the experience of work and being able to handle many different functions, they suggested.

The panel on baby boomers stressed this even more for older workers.

“A big part of it is separating your title from your skills, and it’s actually advice youcan give to any age group,” said Eileen Dooley, vice-president at VF Career Management. “When I take a look at a résumé, for example, I always ask, ‘What on here are you good at, but that you don’t want to do any more?’ ”

Her advice for those entering a new, later stage of career is, “Only focus on what you want to do, and that you’re good at.” (This of course assumes a certain amount of economic viability, that doing what you want pays enough.)

Another key element is knowledge transfer. Younger workers need the institutional knowledge and wisdom of older workers. Older workers seek legacy, although here too is another no-no, argued Lisa Taylor, chief executive officer of Challenge Factory, a consultancy and analytical firm focusing on the aging work force.

Ms. Taylor feels that knowledge transfer is too rigid. It implies the passing down of know-how in a formalized, possibly antiquated way. Instead, she said it should be more of a translation of knowledge, imparting knowledge in ways more relevant to current needs – in other words, forgetting the generational divide and any sense of stiff mentorship for more of freer-flowing mentorship and reverse-mentorship interaction.

“As an organization, you either have a culture of collaboration, or you don’t. If that person is resisting collaborating or sharing information, chances are that’s a pattern that has existed over the course of their career. And it’s either something fostered within the culture of the organization, or it isn’t,” she said.

Some of this resistance can come from how older workers are treated. “We know in Canada that training for older workers starts to decline at the age of 49. That’s very, very young. We know that subtle cues start to be given through organizations, that it’s kind of time for them to start thinking of moving somewhere, not here,” Ms. Taylor said.

But that’s a flawed approach. All workers, young and old, former employees and retired ones, inevitably remain brand ambassadors for the remainder of their lives. So, companies should make that a positive relationship, as much as possible. Here, once again, it’s about the experience one has at work, regardless of generation, job title and skill set.

Vanessa Cohen, senior vicepresident in the technology practice of Environics Communications, put it succinctly for both millennials and boomers: It used to be about promotions and titles. Now it’s about who you are and what you want to be.

Jul. 28, 2017 "Sticky notes and whiteboards don't equal innovation": Today I found this article by Brian Moelich in the Globe and Mail:

Managers drawn to surface-level tools don’t realize that creative problem-solving requires much more than simple instruments

Seeing whiteboards with doodles and sticky notes all over them in corporate offices is quite common these days.

These are typically the result of an organization integrating innovation practices such as design-thinking with the hope of driving new growth or instilling a customer-centric approach to problem-solving. The problem is that organizations get caught up in the theatre of these practices (the aforementioned hoopla of putting sticky notes onto a whiteboard) and mistake that theatre for being innovative.

Let’s be honest with ourselves; going to an experiential workshop to learn a way of thinking that gets you out of your chair and in front of customers while building a mountain of sticky notes is a lot more entertaining than a seminar on optimizing the efficiency of your supply chain.

That’s the problem. Managers get drawn into the surface-level tools of these practices without recognizing that being innovative requires more than just tools.

From my experience on the front lines of corporate innovation in Silicon Valley, I’ve identified these three requirements for the successful implementation of innovation practices.

Adoption of innovation practices needs to be a company-wide initiative

Change at any organization is dead on arrival without buy-in and prioritization from leadership, as well as a willingness to participate among the employees.

Leadership needs to clearly articulate to the organization what innovation means, how it is practised and where to focus innovation efforts.

Without a common language, practice and focus, there is a strong probability confusion will take root. When confusion starts to seep in, employees become disillusioned with leadership and new initiatives are viewed with skepticism.

Once employees see that their leaders are championing the new practice, they will feel comfortable using it themselves, which in turn spurs comfort with bringing their own ideas forward and a willingness to participate in something new.

The tools need to be directed at meaningful problems

Further to the point that your innovation efforts need a focus, the problems you choose to solve also need to be meaningful to both your customers and the organization.

Organizations need to recognize that if the solution you’re pursuing, whether entirely new or an improvement on an existing one, isn’t solving a meaningful problem for the customer, it’s just a waste of resources.

Why is your customer going to care about the new widget you bring to market or a new whizbang feature if it’s not helping them?

On the other side of the table, your innovation efforts need to solve problems relevant to the organization.

Figure out what keeps leaders up at night and what their strategy and goals are, because it’s far easier to garner buy-in for a new idea or change if you can remedy an organizational challenge.

One last point on this: It is always better to start with a problem and build a solution, than to start with a solution and find a problem to solve with it.

Use innovation practices to facilitate deeper thinking

Most organizations are outcome-focused and view going through a workshop as an outcome, equating that with progress.

Unfortunately, a single workshop only touches the surface of a problem and doesn’t drive the hard work of thinking deeply about organizational challenges and envisioning future solutions.

View a workshop as a first step, something to spur your thinking and imagination. The most important thing is to come back and iterate on your thinking.

Take the outputs from the workshop, whether ideas of what the problem might be or potential prototypes of a hypothesized solution, as assumptions that need to be proven true by testing them with customers.

Remember, you need to be solving meaningful problems for your customers, and the only way you’ll know if you are is by testing your outputs with them. Once you’ve learned something from customer testing, revisit your thinking from the workshop and iterate using the new information.

Successful innovation requires more than the theatre of sticky notes and whiteboards. These are just tools to drive deeper thinking on meaningful problems and their success is reliant on company-wide buy-in of the new practices.

"In Brazil, Class C now stands for 'crisis'"/ "I'm not cut out for this"

Sept. 24, 2016 "In Brazil, Class C now stands for 'crisis'": I found this article by Stephanie Nolen in the Globe and Mail today:

Families that climbed out of poverty with government help over the past decade are today drowning in debt and desperation

In 2009, Flavia Fernandes and her family moved from a rented apartment in a poor and violent neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro to a small house they bought in a coastal suburb. It was a physical move, and much more than that: Furnishing a home of their own, something that once seemed unimaginable to her working-poor parents, they were part of a huge change in Brazil.

In the course of a decade-long economic boom, more than 30 million Brazilians moved out of poverty, and it was families such as Ms. Fernandes’s who saw the biggest shift in their lives.

They benefited from the rise in wages (the minimum wage, which her parents earned as a domestic worker and a bus ticket taker, rose 77 per cent in real terms over the past 13 years) under the left-wing Workers’ Party government. There was new access to credit, such as the government-backed mortgage that allowed them to buy their house with no down payment.

Ms. Fernandes, now 29, won entrance to a prestigious state university, which charges no tuition, to study biology and education – the first person in her family to pursue higher education, confident that she could delay working because of the opportunities that awaited her.

But the Brazilian boom sputtered to a rude halt midway through 2014: Brazil’s gross domestic product contracted by 3.8 per cent last year and is expected to finish this year with a decline of an additional 3.2 per cent.

Nearly 12 per cent of the work force is unemployed, and there is pervasive unease and uncertainty about the future, which was little relieved by the impeachment of the president earlier this month.

The crisis, as it is simply called here, has had an impact across all of Brazil, but it is felt most keenly in Class C, as families such as the Fernandeses are known here (monthly household income of $425 to $1,400).

Brazil’s wealthy elite had assets to shield them when the recession hit, says Renato Meireilles, founder of a demographic research firm focused on Class C called Instituto Locomotiva.

That’s why upscale restaurants still have lineups on weeknights and flights to Miami on the “Disney Shuttle” are still full. In fact, the highest-paid group saw their income rise 2.4 per cent this past June, compared with 2015.

The poorest, predictably, have been hit hard: Those who earn less than the monthly minimum wage of about $270 (informal workers, such as street sellers) saw a 9-per-cent decline in their income on average in June compared with the same month last year, according to the latest data from the Institute for Applied Economic Research. They struggle to continue to pay for basic necessities.

But it is Class C families who saw the most dramatic change in their standard of living since the good years: They have no asset cushion, and were most likely to work in the manufacturing, construction, retail and service sectors, where the bulk of jobs have been lost.

Many are reeling both under the struggle of day-to-day survival and the emotional impact of watching the startlingly fast erosion of the gains they made.

More than 50 per cent have taken on a second source of income, either a formal job, when they can be found, or informal work, such as selling snacks or occasional driving for Uber.

Twelve per cent of families with children in private school shifted them to the lower-quality public system this year; Amabile Pacios, director of the National Federation of Private Schools, says virtually all of those are Class C families who had put their children into lower-end private schools, “something that was a dream and a first priority for all the people in this group when they had more income.”

The same shift is happening in health care: In the year from March, 2015, 1.3 million Brazilians cancelled their private health insurance, according to the National Health Insurance Agency, and turned to using the underresourced public system, either because they lost their coverage when they lost their jobs or because they can no longer afford payments for a private plan.

Caixa Econômica, the main lender to Class C, says the number of foreclosures by the bank nearly doubled from 2013 to 2015.

Cristiane Curcio, who heads the National Association of Borrowers, which provides legal assistance to people who are facing foreclosure, said the great majority of those affected are first-time owners such as the Fernandes family.

The association gets the most calls from the industrial heartland of Sao Paulo, where factory towns are now “frozen,” she said, and from Rio de Janeiro state, where the impact of more than 170,000 layoffs by the state energy company Petrobras has been devastating.

Renan Ataíde Mariano, 28, is fighting to stop the imminent bank auction of the home he bought in Valentim Gentil, a small town in Sao Paulo state.

Mr. Mariano is a heavy-machinery mechanic whose work has dried up in the past two years. He and his wife, a cleaner, bought the house in 2012, when both were earning steady salaries; this year, they fell six months behind on their payments, but they cannot persuade Caixa to renegotiate, and commercial loans are exorbitant.

If the bank were willing to cut their $200-per-month payments in half, they could probably manage, he said.

Across the country, people are drastically reducing their spending, said Renato da Fonseca, director of research for the National Confederation of Industry, which regularly surveys Brazilians on their spending. They have cut back on the quantity and quality of food they buy; turned to public transportation; and cut down or eliminated travel, entertainment, dining out and clothing purchases in an effort to make mortgage payments, service debts they ran up in the good years and pay the bills.

Ms. Fernandes’s mother came out of retirement and went to work in a daycare centre. The family stopped eating meat regularly. She can’t remember the last time she bought new clothes; when her phone broke, she didn’t replace it.

They have appealed to their lender in the hope of relief on the house payments. She lost the paid internships she had. Her degree is dragging on because the professors and staff, who aren’t getting paid by the broke state government, keep going on strike for months at a time.

“I’m qualifying as a teacher in a state that can’t hire teachers. … I could work in the
environmental sector, except that in this economic situation, these are the first programs to be cut,” she said. “The future is so uncertain. … Everything hurts, in this crisis – it’s hard on the mental health of everyone at home. Because everything in our life has changed now.”

Mr. Meirelles, the Class C researcher, said this group feels the crisis most acutely because of the newness of what they are losing. While this isn’t, statistically, the worst economic crisis Brazil has ever faced, almost everyone in this demographic says it is when surveyed, because in previous periods of steep recession, they weren’t consumers and they didn’t feel the change, he said.

There is a vicious-cycle aspect to the curtailing of consumer spending. In the good years, Ms. Fernandes’s family bought furniture, a big TV, computers, a fridge. That kind of hunger, for white goods in particular, played a huge role in Brazil’s boom.

Consumers contributed an estimated 50 per cent of the GDP growth during the decade to 2015. But today, consumer confidence is barely half of what it was five years ago; no one is buying.

“There’s a new aspect to this crisis, which is that people have had access to credit and now they have debt: In the past, you had a crisis, you had income but you didn’t have a lot of debt – because of inflation you bought everything with a lump sum,” said Mr. da Fonseca from the industry association.

“The recovery of growth in Brazil is going to take much more time because consumption is not going to come back as fast as it did before, because families are more indebted.”

All of this puts additional onus on the government’s recovery plan: President Michel Temer, who took over after Dilma Rousseff was impeached, ending four successive Workers’ Party governments, has pledged a stringent fiscal adjustment designed to boost investment.

He has pledged to cut spending (the majority of which is fixed by law on health, education and pensions) and reform labour laws and social security, particularly Brazil’s generous pension plans.

That’s an additional source of stress for everyone newly struggling in Class C. Ms. Fernandes’s father fears that his pension will be reduced. He is disabled, and relies on a range of medications that the family now receives free through a federal government program. She fears that may be cut too. “And then we will left choosing between eating and taking care of health.”

Renan Barreto, 26, lost his job at a Rio IT company in March, when the firm saw its clients evaporate. He, too, was the first in his family to get a college education; he was able to attend thanks to a student loan program that funded his whole degree. (Mr. Temer suspended this program in one of his first acts as President).

Now, however, Mr. Barreto has loan payments, as well as all the other expenses of life; his family recently signed up for a food basket of basic necessities for people in need. He spends his days applying for any job he sees advertised.

“It’s like two lives: the one I had at the beginning of the year and the one I have now. Everything is just flipped upside down.”

My opinion: I find this article interesting because I studied Brazil for Social Studies in jr. high school.

Gr. 7: Japan
Gr. 8: Brazil
Gr. 9: Russia

Nov. 29, 2016 "I'm not cut out for this": Today I found this life essay by Melanie Scott- Delz Cruz in the Globe and Mail:

The idea of unemployment as a blessing came on slowly. It crept up on me while I was spending my days writing, uncovering who I was when freed from others’ expectations; picking my daughter up from school and taking her for long afternoon walks in the park, watching her pull silky milkweed seeds from opening pods and letting them slip from her fingers, feathery snow swirling around her as she ran ahead on the trail.

The dog got his walk every day. There was time to help with French homework and make home-cooked meals: butternut squash soup and baked sweet potatoes with black beans. The Jamie Oliver books came off the shelf.

The anxiety was there. Curled up like dark smoke at the back of my mind. It came out to keep an eye on my fun, asking tough questions.

How will you pay your bills? Curb your spending? Live on one salary?

When it was irate, it reminded me writing would never pay, my husband would resent me, my family and friends must think there was something wrong with me.

Maybe I had a bad résumé, did poorly in interviews, didn’t perform well on the job, so the contract positions I’d taken never kept me on.

The anxiety led me to find a temp job. That, and the exhaustion of overinterviewing for permanent positions, going through excruciating final stages: three, four, once five interviews for one job. Spending time on company questionnaires and writing tests, only to find polite rejections in my inbox.

So the pay for my temp job wasn’t great. So it wasn’t in my field. So it wasn’t remotely what I wanted to do. Not everyone gets to do what they want. I’d be working.
And in that there was something.

The job hit me like an icy lake in the early days of summer. One day, I was planning my writing schedule, leisurely sipping green tea with a dollop of honey, and the next, I was madly ironing work shirts, figuring out packed lunches and tutoring schedules.

My time was snatched away from me. I was in the backyard yelling at the dog to hurry up, so I could help my daughter with her hair and get myself ready.

After work was worse. My daughter went to after-school care and her school day became the length of a workday.

Somehow, we had to accomplish tutoring, homework, baths and dinner in the two hours before her bedtime. Planning dinner was painful.

My husband and I texted like teenagers, repeating: I don’t know, what do you want to do? It always ended the same way: greasy takeout or grilled cheese. I thought I’d have time to write, but by the time my daughter went to bed at eight o’clock, I fell into my own bed, picked up a book and was asleep within the hour. 

When I realized I couldn’t write at the end of the day, I fantasized about getting up at four and writing for two hours before starting my day. It never happened. How do people do that?

The job was an administrative position at an insurance company. I managed my boss’s calendar: She received invites all day long, which conflicted with other meetings and appointments. I had to magically rearrange them, catch her as she rushed from one meeting to the next and ask her which was more important.

If my calendar looked like that, I’d move to Belize and drop every laptop and phone I owned into the ocean, then sell oysters on the beach. I imagined happiness resided in far-off places. Sometimes, I was a chocolatier in Switzerland.

“I never ask my admins to get me coffee,” my boss said to me. It hadn’t crossed my mind that I might have to do that.

One day, I wondered why there was no hand sanitizer left in the office, no tissues, no pens, before realizing it was my job to order them.

I was bad at the job. Not because I minded doing those types of things, but because I’m dizzied by spreadsheets, folders and fine details. I’m a dreamer, not an organizer. Creative people thrive in chaos, don’t they? That’s what I told them when I quit.

I’m looking for something more creative, something more aligned with my personality and skill set. It’s not you. It’s me. I want to write all day long with my dog curled up beside me, pick my daughter up at school, laugh in the evenings with my husband without feeling the sickening stress of the next day.

Time is an extravagance I haven’t earned.

I don’t think I deserve it more than others. My husband hasn’t had the chance to pursue unpaid dreams. So I live with guilt over the disappointment I may have caused him and the financial burden I lifted only momentarily like a tease.

I doubt myself, wonder if I’ve lost my work ethic.

I know I had it. I got through many jobs that were not my calling and was happy enough to have a paycheque.

At least I know the value of time.

I’ve seen the beautiful things that can be unveiled in its presence; when everything else is stripped away and there’s nothing left to do but discover your truest self.

My opinion: I like this life essay, because I can relate to it.  I like writing.  I also have worked in jobs that I'm not really that interested in or like, but as long as I get paid, that's all that matters.  I'm sure a lot of people can relate to that.

My week:

Oct. 19, 2017 Fast food place: I have to write about it so I can get over it and move on.  I had gotten a job at a fast food place at the end of Aug.  I was hired there because there were a couple of workers who were going back to school full-time and they will work in the evenings and weekends.  I'll be working there in the days.

I worked there for 5 weeks and was laid off due to lack of work.  They couldn't give me any shifts.  I gave them my cap and 2 shirts, and that they can call me anytime.  They also said I can have them as a reference.

Job interview: When I went to the interview, I talked to the two bosses/ owners.


1. The pay was like min. wage with tips.  The tips depends on how many hrs you work.

2. Free food.  There was a free staff meal at each shift.

3. The co-workers and bosses were nice.


1. None.

My opinion: I was hired at the interview.  They told me that they liked my resume.  I had passed it to them in person 3 weeks before and I had passed it to them in another location.

Also, if my boss from my 1st restaurant job asked me to come to work that day and my Fast Food job scheduled me, I would say to the 1st restaurant job that I can't come to work for the 1st restaurant job.  However, the 1st restaurant job never called me.

When I work there, I am only 1 of 2 people working there.  It was pretty quiet when I worked there.   

I also made a friend Tr.  He is 20 yrs old.  We had some good discussions like:

Should illegal drugs like heroin be legal?:

Tr: Should illegal drugs like heroin be legal?  The addicts who use it aren't criminals, they have an addiction.

My opinion: I don't think they should be legal.  However, I do support those safe injection sites so medical professionals can supervise people from overdosing.

Staffing agencies:

In 2007: I went to Spherion staffing agency, after 1 yr at MacEwan.  Soon afterwards I got to do a test for Statistics Canada for a call centre job.  There was a math test where you use a normal calculator (and not a scientific or graphing calculator).  It was like gr. 8 and 9 math.

I had to get 20/30 questions right to get the job.  I didn't pass and I didn't ask what the exact mark was because I didn't want to know.

In 2008: After I graduated out of MacEwan, I went to Manpower staffing agency.  I did a test and an interview at a company.  I didn't get hired.

In 2013, I got the job at the company on my own.

In 2008, I learned that staffing agencies aren't good.  My dad told me not to go there.  They aren't here to help you get a job, they are here to help the company find the employees for them.

In 2017, I did give my resume and interview to Express Employment.  They have not called me at all.  It's been months.  My resume now is really different from 2008.  I would say it's more impressive because I have 2 office jobs since then.

My opinion: You can pass your resume to staffing agencies.  However, don't expect much from them.  They are not here to help you the employee, they are here to help the company.  
I remember talking to my co-worker Je about it and he was in his early 20s and said he didn't know much about them.  He did say: "Why should I go to the staffing agency which is a middle man, when I can go straight to the company that is doing the hiring?"

Some companies outsource their hiring to staffing agencies and that's the only way you can apply.

Job interviews: I have nothing bad to say about working at the Fast Food place.

At least I did 2 job interviews at Clothing Store #3.  I had gotten hired at the Fast Food place, but I had already scheduled those other interviews.  I decided to attend to them anyway, because I was curious to see if I would get hired.  I didn't get hired.

Some of you guys may have cancelled those interviews.

However, I got an email from a café in downtown.  I didn't email them back for an interview.

I got a call from an Asian restaurant in downtown.  I didn't call them back for an interview.

Call centre: I got an email from this call centre.  It was temporary 4 month job.  It was far away.  I asked if there was another location, and there was only one.  I turned them down for an interview.  

How old is this woman?:

My opinion: I'm guessing she looks 25 yrs old, but she is really 50 yrs old.  I was right.

Oct. 20, 2017 Pooch Café comic: On Oct. 14, 2017, there was this comic.

Panel 1: The dog Poncho and a Bird are watching TV.

Bird: I don't know how much more TV I can watch.

Panel 2:

Poncho: Hey, if you're gonna be friends with someone, you have to respect the
other person's interests.

Panel 3:

Bird: Worm chip?
Poncho: Get that outta my face. 

My opinion: It reminded me of the friend I had accidentally offended when I made a light
and fun joke of one of her interests.  I do respect her and her interests.

It also reminded me of my sister.  I wrote about this before:

Tracy playing with a panda bear: I have written about this before, but it wasn't on that blog post.  It was that time when I was 13 and my sister was 15:

S was reading a magazine and Tracy was playing with a panda bear.  
Tracy puts her thumb on the panda's nose like the panda is giving S an angry and dirty look.
A few moments pass as the panda continues to give S a dirty look.
S angrily snatches the panda out of Tracy's hand.
Tracy: Hey!

S might as well be saying: Get that outta my face.

JLo and A Rod raise $35 million:

Finally, some good news for Puerto Rico as it continues to recover from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria last month.

Entertainment superstar Jennifer Lopez, singer Marc Anthony and baseball great Alex Rodriguez's joint efforts have raised more than $35 million for the island's rebuilding. 
NBC announced Monday that the "One Voice: Somos Live!" telethon raised that staggering amount in pledges during the Oct. 14 event, which was broadcast on dozens of outlets including NBC, Telemundo, Univision and Viacom channels.

Performers included Anthony and Lopez — who were married from 2004 to 2014 — as well as Demi Lovato, Maroon 5, Ricky Martin, Maxwell, Gwen Stefani, Stevie Wonder, Chris Martin and Mary J. Blige.