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

Saturday, May 19, 2018

shifting retail industry/ scaling your business

Nov. 25, 2017 "Braving the tides of a shifting retail industry": Today I found this article by Merge Gupta-Sunderji in the Globe and Mail:

The rules are changing for those who aspire to carve out a place for themselves in the online marketplace

Sears and Amazon – two retail giants with remarkable track records of financial success – yet, one is now at the doorstep of demise and the other is on a trajectory that seems only to be moving upward.

If the online marketplace has rendered the traditional in-store shopping experience on the brink, then how are the rules changing for those who aspire to work in the retail environment?

Since it is Grey Cup weekend … Consider the role of the quarterback. There was a time when quarterbacks would almost universally complete passes from the pocket, relying on the offensive line to protect them, so as to stay upright and pass downfield without much risk of being hit or injured by the defence.

The most important skills for a quarterback were a great throwing arm, accuracy and the ability to scan the entire field for players who were open for the touchdown pass.

In the world of professional football today, the expectations on a quarterback have changed.

Sure, the fundamentals are still important, but it’s just as essential to be mobile to avoid pressure from the defence and, if necessary, complete the big throw downfield while in motion. Nowadays, with a few notable exceptions, most typical quarterbacks are valued more for their athleticism and speed, for their agility in adapting quickly to changing situations on the field.

That, when you think about it, isn’t that much different from what is happening in the world of retail. If you’re a worker relying on skills that made you successful a decade ago, then you may also find yourself, much like Sears, at the edge of extinction.

What will it take to thrive in retail? So what exactly are the career skills needed to adapt and thrive in the changing retail landscape? While the clichéd welcoming smile and positive attitude criteria may still be true, it’s certainly much, much more.

When comparing Sears with Amazon, the obvious shift is that traditional retail is being replaced by options that promote less interaction with people and more interaction with systems.

That means digital skills – web support, software development, even the ability to write code and program – are paramount. In other words, invest in more technology learning.

In an online world, writing concisely and compellingly becomes crucial.

The ability to write is, essentially, the ability to communicate online. Whether you’re composing web copy, sending e-mails or even documenting telephone interactions, how you write matters.

Like it or not, people make assumptions about your intelligence, your ability to get the job done and your credibility based on your writing . So learn how to write and you’ll position yourself as a valuable asset in a technology driven retail environment.

Another key proficiency: thoughtful, yet agile, decision-making.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, has pinpointed two kinds of decisions – Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 decisions are not reversible and, therefore, require great care before action.

Type 2 decisions, on the other hand, are like walking through a door: If you don’t like the outcome, you can always go back. Your career success will lie in being able to differentiate between the two.

There are two other factors that are particularly relevant in increasingly system-driven environments, such as retail.

First, an immense amount of data are being amassed and classified; that means that it is essential to be able to rapidly absorb and analyze vast quantities of information, to separate the necessary from the nice-to-know. So find ways to demonstrate and showcase your cognitive abilities.

Second, a growing shift toward collaborative decision-making. While working in teams is certainly not new, what is gaining prominence is intellectual humility: a willingness to consider and accept that other people have valid (and perhaps even better) ideas and solutions than you might. If you can demonstrate intellectual humility, coupled with a problem-solving mindset, you offer a very powerful combination to the world of retail.

Dec. 15, 2017 "How to transition smoothly when scaling your business": Today I found this article by Sheetal Jaitly in the Globe and Mail:

Founder and CEO, software design and development company TribalScale, Toronto.

You don't scale a business from zero to 100 employees in under one year without experiencing some bumps and growing pains along the way. Starting a company is exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time, and growing your business without breaking it is tough.

It's even tougher when you realize that there's no one playbook for every founder and company to follow.

Here are five steps we took to ensure we transitioned (relatively) smoothly while scaling our business and team.

Have rituals

At 9:15 every morning, someone rings a gong in our office. All employees gather in a standup circle to share pieces of news, kudos, individual failures or screw-ups, and announcements.

Even if that gong doesn't ring at 9:15, people still gather to do morning standup. Call them rituals, practices, processes, whatever you want, just make sure you have them right from day one. Do the things that make sense for your team and business. Create and foster them so that no matter who comes or goes, you will always have them.

Hire fast, fire faster

Adding the right people to your team as you scale your business is critical. A bad hire won't only set you back productivity-wise, it can also be harmful to your ever-changing and developing culture.

To avoid being stuck in this vortex, adopt a hire-fast, fire-faster process. This sounds ruthless, but consider it one of the pain points you'll have to endure if scaling quickly is your top priority. In the long run, everyone is better off.

Have a solid plan …

To ensure we didn't break on the finance and operations side, we laid out a comprehensive road map across the business that covered top-line sales/revenue, expenses, and even head count.

Even today, we're always closely tracking the health of the business and how we're moving toward the aggressive growth targets we've set for ourselves.

… But plan for the unexpected

More importantly, however, is understanding that all businesses evolve in ways you just can't plan for, so maintaining a high level of adaptability and flexibility and being able to course-correct quickly is key to scaling without falling apart – an "expect the unexpected" state of mind.

Work hard, play harder

If you're in one, you know all too well that they don't call it the "startup grind" for nothing. But just as it's crucial to work hard and "hustle," it's also important to put work down and have fun. We host quarterly team events such as beach days, boat cruises and karaoke nights, and Friday socials, because we know that team building is incredibly important, whether you're a team of five or a team of 75.

Anyone can start a business, but it takes a huge amount of effort and guts to scale the business up. Every company is different and, like most things in life, there is no one true way to ensure yours doesn't break when scaling. The path forward is challenging and fraught with uncertainty, but I promise it will be one of the most exhilarating and rewarding experiences of your life.

social media influencer/ five mistakes to make

Nov. 22, 2017 "What will I earn as a social media influencer?": Today I found this article by Jared Lindzon in the Globe and Mail:

The role

The relatively new label of social media influencer doesn’t have a precise definition and can be measured in a number of ways.

Some believe it has to do with the number of followers one has on social media; others suggest it only applies to those who partner with brands to market or advertise to their followers, no matter how many they have; while others believe it applies to those who have committed to building, promoting and marketing their online presences full-time.

Further muddying the definition is the fact social-media influencers come in many different forms and speak to many different audiences: from fashion bloggers and makeup artists to travel writers, professional athletes, industry insiders, singers, chefs, connoisseurs, entrepreneurs, models, photographers and just about anyone else who has the attention of one or more audience groups via social media.

“That’s the issue: It’s very vague and it will remain vague for as long as it’s not accredited or institutionalized,” said Alen Palander, a Toronto-based photographer, videographer and social-media influencer with nearly 130,000 Instagram followers.

Different types of influencers will focus on reaching their audiences through different types of content and on different platforms, but most spend a majority of their time creating and promoting content and connecting with brands to partner with for sponsorship opportunities.


Because there is no agreed-upon point when a social-media user becomes an actual influencer, nor when an influencer becomes an actual celebrity, the salary can technically range from nothing to millions. In fact, by some definitions, Canadian pop star Justin Bieber is a social-media influencer, not only because of his significant social media following, but also because he got his start posting music videos on YouTube.

“You can’t just say, ‘I want to be a social-media influencer,’ and start making money,” said Mr. Palander, who built his social following over the past half decade.

“The first step is creating that following, and that takes a lot of time; for some, it takes years, and others get lucky and amass that following in months.”

Mr. Palander said that what separates those who are making lots of money from those who aren’t isn’t just a matter of how big their following is.

“The people who are making good money off of social media aren’t just influencers, they’re business people. They understand how to work with an industry, but also lead an industry,” he said.

Mr. Palander added that salaries differ, depending on perceived influence, partnerships and relationships with brands and the type of influencer.

For example, makeup, fashion and luxury-travel influencers are supported by industries with significant advertising budgets and appetites for partnerships with influencers.


While there are no educational requirements for being a social media influencer, certain educational backgrounds can be of benefit. First and foremost is having an above-average knowledge of a field. For example, attending a culinary school would likely be of benefit to a foodie influencer, but is by no means mandatory.

“It’s very important to have an educational background that teaches organizational and analytical skills,” Mr. Palander said.

“I came from a design and urban planning background where we were taught many interdisciplinary skills, like how to create proposals and work with clients, but also manage our own business as freelancers.”

While social-media influencers have a wide range of educational backgrounds, some training in business, marketing, social studies or communication can be beneficial.

Job prospects

Social-media influencer is a very competitive job and while some will flourish effortlessly, others can struggle to gain traction.

“It is a very competitive industry for anyone who wants to do it, but it also has a lot to do with luck,” Mr. Palander said.

“It’s calculated luck: It’s about following trends, but also breaking trends and starting trends. Those things take time and sometimes people don’t get lucky and do it for years and don’t get anywhere with it.”


While some effortlessly fall into being social-media influencers by monetizing popular online presences, others set out to be influencers and ultimately fail to amass significant-enough followings.

Why they do it

Those who are able to earn livings as social-media influencers often feel as if they’re getting paid to follow their own interests and passions, while cementing themselves as celebrities of sorts among communities they care about.


One of the greatest misconceptions about social-media influencers, according to Mr. Palander, is that it’s not much more work than maintaining any other social-media account.

“People think that you literally wake up, take a photo, share it and that’s it,” he said.

“This is a full-time job, meaning that you spend just as much time on your phone and computer, if not more, than the average person with a nine-to-five.”

Dec. 13, 2017 "The five mistakes every entrepreneur should make": Today I found this article by Brian Scudamore in the Globe and Mail:

Founder and CEO of O2E Brands, which includes home-service companies including 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

Early in my career, I remember asking one of my mentors what mistakes I should avoid as a new entrepreneur. My young business was going strong and I was afraid to do anything to throw it off balance. If I knew then what I know now, I would have asked a very different question.

If we use them right, mistakes can be our biggest learning experiences. They are not something to avoid – they should be embraced as a part of the journey. Here are five mistakes every entrepreneur should make if they want to build a successful, long-lasting business.

1. Using money as a motivator

I started hauling junk for one reason: I needed a way to pay for college. When the business took off, I wanted to become a millionaire as fast as possible. But using money as my primary source of motivation backfired – big time.

I overlooked the importance of culture and hiring happy, passionate people. I didn't prioritize my relationships, both in and out of the office. I failed to take time for myself away from the business. As a result, the business, my marriage and my health suffered. It was rock bottom for me, but it was an experience I had to go through to learn what truly mattered.

My priorities have changed a lot since then. Now, I'm motivated by building something special that extraordinary people want to be a part of. I focus on relationships, personal development and self-fulfillment, and it's made all the difference.

2. Hiring the wrong people

In a startup, your team might be a little lean. It's easy to jump at any opportunity to bring people on board. My criteria for new hires used to be: can you lift at least 50 pounds? If the answer was yes, that was good enough for me.

As we grew, I had to tighten up on hiring. But five years in, I realized I was still making mistakes. I was hiring people based on experience, but I overlooked culture and personality fit. The environment in our office became so toxic that I started avoiding it altogether.

I knew had to make a drastic change – I fired all 11 employees in one day and started from scratch.

I learned the hard way what can happen when you compromise on the people you bring into your organization. Now, we've adopted an "it's all about people" philosophy, and we only hire passionate people who are aligned with our values and our goals.

3. Trying to control everything

Entrepreneurs are notorious for being control freaks, especially when they're first starting out. I used to refuse to give up control of anything. Marketing, sales, operations – you name it. I helicoptered over it all.

I get it: your business is your baby – why shouldn't you be involved in every part of it? What I've learned though, is that's just your ego talking. If you've hired the right people, you should be able to trust them to do what they do best. Bonus? Letting go frees you up to focus on the bigger picture, for instance vision and strategy.

4. Trying to kill the competition

It's only natural for new entrepreneurs to want to disrupt their industry, wiping out competition. I used to have that mindset, too, until I realized my energy was better used elsewhere.

Six years into 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, my top employee quit – and started a competing junk-removal business. At first, I was crushed. Then, I became obsessed with shutting him down.

I believed there was only enough success for one of us. Ironically, my desperation to put him out of business came at a cost to my own company: for the first time, our growth was at a standstill.

Now, I know there's more than enough success to go around. Everyone benefits when you share ideas, even with the competition.

5. Not trusting your gut

If you're starting your own business, chances are someone (or everyone) has told you it won't succeed. This happened to me when I decided to franchise 1-800-GOT-JUNK?; my mentors told me a junk removal business couldn't be franchised. I almost listened to them – but then I decided to listen to my gut instead.

Yes, the odds were against us: there were hundreds of mom-and-pop junk haulers who had been in business for years, and anyone with a truck was a potential competitor. But we had something no one else did: a vision and a passion to make an ordinary business exceptional.

We found a way to set ourselves apart by professionalizing a fragmented industry. Along the way, we proved how scalable the junk business can be. The next time someone says you can't do it, trust your gut and prove them wrong.

There's really only one mistake I do advise all aspiring entrepreneurs to avoid: not starting in the first place. The biggest cause of failed businesses is that people are too afraid of failure to try.

"Healing the lonely"/ "Friends are the antidote"

Sept. 9, 2016 "Healing the lonely": Today I found this article by Katie Hafner in the Globe and Mail:

BLACKPOOL, England — The woman on the other end of the phone spoke lightheartedly of spring and of her 81st birthday the previous week.

“Who did you celebrate with, Beryl?” asked Alison, whose job was to offer a kind ear.
“No one, I…”
And with that, Beryl’s cheer turned to despair.

Her voice began to quaver as she acknowledged that she had been alone at home not just on her birthday, but for days and days. The telephone conversation was the first time she had spoken in more than a week.

About 10,000 similar calls come in weekly to an unassuming office building in this seaside town at the northwest reaches of England, which houses The Silver Line Helpline, a 24-hour call center for older adults seeking to fill a basic need: contact with other people.

Loneliness, which Emily Dickinson described as “the Horror not to be surveyed,” is a quiet devastation. But in Britain, it is increasingly being viewed as something more: a serious public health issue deserving of public funds and national attention.

Working with local governments and the National Health Service, programs aimed at mitigating loneliness have sprung up in dozens of cities and towns. Even fire brigades have been trained to inspect homes not just for fire safety but for signs of social isolation.

“There’s been an explosion of public awareness here, from local authorities to the Department of Health to the media,” said Paul Cann, chief executive of Age UK Oxfordshire and a founder of The Campaign to End Loneliness, a five-year-old group based in London. “Loneliness has to be everybody’s business.”

Researchers have found mounting evidence linking loneliness to physical illness and to functional and cognitive decline. As a predictor of early death, loneliness eclipses obesity.

“The profound effects of loneliness on health and independence are a critical public health problem,” said Dr. Carla M. Perissinotto, a geriatrician at the University of California, San Francisco. “It is no longer medically or ethically acceptable to ignore older adults who feel lonely and marginalized.”

In Britain and the United States, roughly one in three people older than 65 live alone, and in the United States, half of those older than 85 live alone. Studies in both countries show the prevalence of loneliness among people older than 60 ranging from 10 percent to 46 percent.

While the public, private and volunteer sectors in Britain are mobilizing to address loneliness, researchers are deepening their understanding of its biological underpinnings. In a paper published earlier this year in the journal Cell, neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified a region of the brain they believe generates feelings of loneliness. The region, known as the dorsal raphe nucleus, or D.R.N., is best known for its link to depression.

Kay M. Tye and her colleagues found that when mice were housed together, dopamine neurons in the D.R.N. were relatively inactive. But after the mice were isolated for a short period, the activity in those neurons surged when those mice were reunited with other mice.

“This is the first time we’ve found a cellular substrate for this experience,” said Dr. Tye, an assistant professor at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at M.I.T. and a senior author of the paper. “And we saw the change after 24 hours of isolation.”

John T. Cacioppo, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago and director of the university’s Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience, has been studying loneliness since the 1990s. He said loneliness is an aversive signal much like thirst, hunger or pain.

“Denying you feel lonely makes no more sense than denying you feel hunger,” he said. Yet the very word “lonely” carries a negative connotation, Professor Cacioppo said, signaling social weakness, or an inability to stand on one’s own.

The unspoken stigma of loneliness is amply evident during calls to The Silver Line. Most people call asking for advice on, say, roasting a turkey. Many call more than once a day. One woman rings every hour to ask the time. Only rarely will someone speak frankly about loneliness.

Yet the impulse to call in to services like The Silver Line is a healthy one, Professor Cacioppo said.

On a recent afternoon, Tracey, a Silver Line adviser, listened as a caller in his 80s embarked on a nostalgic trip down his list of favorite films. The next caller serenaded Tracey with “Oh What a Beautiful Morning,” on his harmonica.

Using data from a large national survey of older adults, in 2012 Dr. Perissinotto analyzed the relationship between self-reported loneliness and health outcomes in people older than 60. Of 1,604 participants in the study, 43 percent reported feelings of loneliness, and these individuals had significantly higher rates of declining mobility, difficulty in performing routine daily activities, and death during six years of follow-up. The association of loneliness with mortality remained significant even after adjusting for age, economic status, depression and other common health problems.

Dr. Perissinotto is also interested in examining the link between loneliness and suicidal thoughts, as there has been little research in that area. She hopes to study The Friendship Line, a 24-hour, toll-free, loneliness call-in line run by the Institute on Aging in San Francisco that is also a suicide prevention hotline.

It takes place in the United States, Britain remains well ahead in addressing the problem.
“In the U.S., there isn’t much recognition in terms of public health initiatives or the average person recognizing that loneliness has to do with health,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, whose studies also link loneliness to deteriorating health.

Age UK, an organization similar to AARP in the United States, oversees an array of programs aimed at decreasing loneliness and coordinates efforts with fire brigades to look for signs of loneliness and isolation in the homes they enter.

Another charity, Open Age, runs some 400 activities each week in Central London — sewing circles, current events discussions, book clubs and exercise and computer classes, held at church halls, sport centers, housing projects — and its employees also visit people in their homes to try to get them out and about.

“We try to work out what it is that’s preventing them from leaving the house,” said Helen Leech, the organization’s director.

Men and women differ greatly in how they grapple with loneliness. Seventy percent of the calls to The Silver Line are from women.

“We have this kind of male pride thing,” said Mike Jenn, 70, a retired charity worker who lives in London. “We say, ‘I can look after myself. I don’t need to talk to anyone,’ and it’s a complete fallacy. Not communicating helps to kill us.”

My opinion: On the internet, the article is a bit longer like this part:

Mr. Jenn runs a “Men’s Shed” in London’s Camden Town district, which aims to bring older men together in a more familiar and comfortable environment — working side by side in a woodworking shop. The concept began in Australia and has since spread to Britain: There are now more than 300 Men’s Sheds throughout England, Scotland and Ireland.

Keith Pearshouse, 70, a retired school principal, discovered the Men’s Shed near his home after moving to London from Norfolk, England, in 2007 and recognizing he was lonely.

“I was a bit anxious walking into a roomful of people,” said Mr. Pearshouse, chatting amid the din created by a table saw, router and lathe at the Camden Town shed, a 700-square-foot workshop in a local community center. “But I immediately thought, ‘Yeah, this is a place that would work for me.’”

Mr. Pearshouse, who had never worked with wood before he discovered the Men’s Shed, showed a visitor a delicate wooden jar he was finishing. The pieces he produces are gratifying, he said, but not nearly as gratifying as the human connections he has made.

While Mr. Pearshouse is still a long way from sharing every little ache and upset with his friends at the shed, he said his life would now feel much emptier without the shoulder-to-shoulder way of confiding he has come to know. As he spoke, he took the lid off his jar, and it gave a slight pop, signifying a perfect fit.

Jan. 9, 2017 "Loneliness can be deadly for elders; friends are the antidote": Today I found this article by Paula Span in the Globe and Mail
The circle shrinks. As the years pass, older people attend too many funerals. Friendships that sustained them for decades lapse when companions and confidants retire or move away or grow ill.

These days Sylvia Frank, who moved into an independent living residence in Lower Manhattan in 2014, can email or call one longtime friend in Florida. Another, in Queens, is slipping into dementia and will most likely exclaim, “I haven’t spoken to you in months!” when, in fact, they talked the day before.

But even at advanced ages, new relationships take root. Ms. Frank’s son kept telling her that a colleague’s cousin, Judy Sanderoff, was about to move into the same facility. They sought each other out.

Now, Mrs. Frank, 91, and Ms. Sanderoff, 96, eat breakfast together almost daily; they have dinner, à deux or with other friends, many evenings. Ms. Sanderoff spent Thanksgiving with Ms. Frank’s family in Brooklyn.

Together, they have signed up for bus trips to the Museum of Arts and Design, to historic sites in Harlem, to a Pennsylvania casino. With Ms. Frank speaking into her friend’s good ear, they talk about news, politics and their families.

When Ms. Frank didn’t come downstairs for breakfast one recent morning, Ms. Sanderoff was on the phone to ask why. For her part, Ms. Frank (sounding as if Neil Simon writes their dialogue) has been scrutinizing her friend’s diet.

Ms. Frank: What’s the point of taking blood pressure medication if you’re going to douse everything in salt?
Ms. Sanderoff: So don’t look.

But seriously. “At this age, it’s said you make acquaintances,” Ms. Sanderoff told me. “But I feel I’ve made a true friend in Sylvia.”

I’ve been talking, in this season of auld lang syne, with older people who have formed friendships late in life. Though they mourn their losses, they are grateful for the capacity to still find warmth, shared values and interests, understanding and trust from former strangers.

“The need we’ve had our entire lives — people who know us, value us, who bring us joy — that never goes away,” said Barbara Moscowitz, senior geriatric social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The way we prioritize friendships may evolve. Laura Carstensen, a Stanford University psychologist, developed an influential theory called “socioemotional selectivity”: As people sense their remaining time growing brief, they shed superficial relationships to concentrate on those they find most meaningful.

“They invest more in their remaining connections,” said Gary Kennedy, director of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center. “They optimize friendships, rather than try to maximize them.”

A tide of recent research underscores the importance of such bonds. Social isolation and loneliness can take a serious toll on elders, psychologically and physically. (Over 75, almost a quarter of men and nearly 46 percent of women live alone, the Census Bureau reports.)

We can understand the risks of isolation and an underpopulated, disconnected life. “For a host of reasons, no one is addressing the individual’s daily needs — food, medication, medical appointments,” Ms. Moscowitz explains. “The refrigerator is empty, but there’s no one to call. People suffer despair, humiliation.”

They also suffer higher mortality rates and increased risk of depression, cognitive decline and illnesses like coronary artery disease.

But people who aren’t isolated can still feel lonely, a more subjective state. “My friends moved to Florida and California and said, ‘Come visit!,’ ” said Shelley Youner, 79, who recently moved into the Hebrew Home in Riverdale, in the Bronx. (More dialogue by Neil Simon.) “I could have heard from President Obama sooner than my friends.”

Loneliness brings its own dangers; studies have shown associations with higher blood pressure, with nursing home admissions, with risky health behaviors like inactivity and smoking, and with dementia.

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, followed 1,600 participants (average age: 71) and found that those who reported loneliness were more likely to develop difficulties with activities of daily living. Even when the study controlled for socioeconomic status and health, the lonely had higher mortality: Nearly 23 percent died within six years, compared with 14 percent of those who weren’t lonely.

It’s heartening, therefore, to hear Ms. Youner kvell about her new friend, Shirley Zweibel, 87.

“We’re constantly having a conversation,” Ms. Youner said.
“Shelley can’t stop talking, that’s the reason,” Ms. Zweibel bantered. But, she added: “When you’re a kid and say you have a friend, you don’t even know what that means. At this age, it goes deeper.”

In fact, older adults have probably developed important relational skills, said Rosemary Blieszner, distinguished professor of human development at Virginia Tech and a longtime friendship researcher.

“They’re pretty tolerant of friends’ imperfections and idiosyncrasies, more than young adults,” she said. “You bring a lot more experience to your friendships when you’re older. You know what’s worth fighting about and not worth fighting about.”
I couldn’t help noticing how many of the elders I spoke with had benefited from living in retirement communities and nursing homes — the very destinations so many people dread. They can provide proximity, shared activities and a larger pool of prospective friends.

Flo Jakubiak, 85, left her condo in Sun City, Ariz., a year ago, when she felt herself growing socially cut off. “Nobody there knew I existed,” she said. In an independent living center, she has found friends with whom to share meals, movies and canasta games.
But happenstance plays a role, too.

Sandi Schwartz met her two closest friends a few years back when she ran into an acquaintance at a bus stop in Fair Lawn, N.J. Ms. Schwartz’s partner had recently been institutionalized, she told the woman, confessing to loneliness and depression. A stranger sitting at the stop took Ms. Schwartz’s phone number, said she would call — and did.

“I always tell her she saved my life,” Ms. Schwartz said. Now she and two close friends, all in their early 80s, are on the phone daily and go out weekly.

With strong evidence that friendship does, indeed, help save lives and promote health, social workers and researchers wish we could pay more attention to its central role. Activity directors, senior center staff members and family caregivers: Are there better ways to help elders stay in touch with the friends they care about, or meet new ones? We’re all willing to drive relatives to doctors’ appointments; driving them to spend time with friends may matter as much.

“I’ve seen those tender moments,” said Sylvia Frank’s younger son, Michael Lasky. Last spring, Ms. Frank developed a serious heart problem and spent two weeks in a hospital, then another two in rehab. By phone, Mr. Lasky kept a worried Judy Sanderoff apprised of his mother’s condition.

When he took her home after a month, they found an unexpected welcome. “Judy had put balloons on my mom’s front door,” Mr. Lasky said. “Then she came downstairs and they hugged each other for a good 10 minutes.”

My week:

Sun. May 6, 2018: It was busy at work.

Mon. May 7, 2018: It was very quiet at work.

Tues. May 8, 2018: I got called in today to work because J was sick.  It was still quiet.

Wed. May 9, 2018: Today was my day off.  I did one job interview in the morning as a kitchen helper.  I did an interview in the afternoon as a server.

Thurs. May 10, 2018: I worked in the other department.  It was quiet.

There was a social event I was going to go to, but it was cancelled.  That's fine.

I then watched Riverdale ep called "Chapt. 34: Judgement Night" and it was the 2nd to last ep before the season finale.  It was crazy.  All the characters were put into real and present danger, and they were all almost hurt and killed.

Fri. May 11, 2018: It was finally busy at the restaurant.

Sat. May 12, 2018: It was busy.  I also went out to dinner with my family and 2 family friends at a Chinese restaurant called Good Buddy.  I was there back in Oct. 2017 for dinner.

I did 2 job interviews this week.

Sun. May 13, 2018: Mother's Day was very busy.  We were prepared for it.

Mon. May 14, 2018: It was very quiet today.

Tues. May 15, 2018: 

Summer TV shows:

Reverie: I read this in the Edmonton Journal.  This show is coming out on May 30.  I will definitely check out the pilot.  There is a high chance I will watch it.

A former detective specializing in human behavior is brought in when the launch of an advanced virtual reality program has dangerous and unintended consequences.

Shades of Blue: This show is coming out with the 3rd season in Jun.  It's the last season.  I really like it:

Harlee Santos, a single-mother New York police officer, is forced to work in the FBI's anti-corruption task force whilst dealing with her own financial problems.

Zoo: This summer show got cancelled.  It was average, but it was fun to watch:

Wayward Pines: This summer show got cancelled.  It's good.

Midnight, Texas: I'm surprised this show got a 2nd season.  It was a fun supernatural show to watch.

May 16, 2018: 

The Exorcist: 

ABC cancels other shows: They cancelled Deception after 1 season and Quantico after 3 seasons.

Right now, I'm writing my reviews for fall 2017 TV shows.

Marie Diamond Feng Shui Fest: I have been posting this on Facebook.  You can listen to all these audios about feng shui.

It has inspired me to declutter paper.  It's mainly me writing about those reviews for fall 2017 TV shows.

I was also writing about the job interviews I've been to.  I write about all these things on scrap paper and then put it on my emails/ blog posts.  I then recycle the paper.

May 17, 2018 The highlight of the week:

Karimah Stewart: She interviews Joe White and it was very inspirational.  To build massive wealth:

1. Mindset.
2. Strategies and actions- massive, consistent and persistent action.
3. Skills.

Deborah Fryer:

The Marie Diamond Feng Shui fest is really good.

I liked to write about those TV show pilot reviews. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

"Run a business while raising a baby"/ Amy Charity

Dec. 4, 2017 "How to run a business while raising a baby": Today I found this article by Tea Nicola in the Globe and Mail:

You may have to push some workplace boundaries and give up some of your control
Co- founder and chief executive officer of WealthBar, a robo- adviser service.

I’m sitting in an early morning, investment banker meeting in the boardroom with a couple of buttoned- down money- men in pinstripe suits. A stray moment of doubt puts a wrinkle above my right eye as my irrepressible two- month- old bouncing baby boy latches on to me for his second meal of the day. Did I make a mistake? Is it about to get awkward?

I’m the co- founder and chief executive officer of an online wealth management company based out of Vancouver – and I love my job. Strategizing, publicizing, raising capital, putting out fires and setting off sparks of innovation – I’m happy when I’m working.

But I’m also the mother of a baby and a six- year- old daughter. My kids are my life, even on days when they’re doing their absolute best to drive my husband and me completely crazy.

It’s a struggle, as every working mom knows ( not just CEOs), but along the way, I’ve tested out a few ways to nurture both my real family and my fintech work family.


Because it’s going to happen. You might as well make the best of it.

Getting back to that scene in my boardroom: As it turned out, the kind gentlemen sitting across from me at the meeting weren’t rattled at all. The truth is that they were overjoyed to have a baby in the room. It was the highlight of their day.

Right after we were done with the negotiations, these proud fathers were opening up their smartphones to show me pictures of their own kids, while cooing and making funny faces at my newborn. It was such a blast for them. Far from being awkward, it set the stage for a happy and productive meeting of the minds with these stakeholders.

I’m not saying it’s a brilliant idea to bring your baby to every important meeting on your calendar. But, as a mom, don’t be afraid to push the limits of corporate decorum. The men and women you’re dealing with in business settings weren’t born in sterile cloning jars. Life happens – and with a little understanding from both sides, it can be a very positive thing.


Within hours of being a new mom again, I went into a hyper-controlling mode. It’s hardwired into our hormones to throw virtually all attention and energy into keeping our baby safe. That’s a good thing!

But eventually, you return to a more balanced mindset where you’re not spending literally every second of your day paranoid about your child’s wellbeing.

Still, I could totally relate when another top executive mom- boss I know well came to me, totally exasperated. She was practically in tears. This strong, intelligent, resourceful woman told me about how she was running out of steam, trying to manage her kids and her job, basically trying to control every possible variable at work ( and leaving nothing to chance with her team).

I recognized the mindset she was in, because I had been there. That is probably why she was willing to listen to my advice. I told her that, when you do have that important meeting where you need to focus and not bring the baby with you, leaving the baby with a care provider is not the end of the world. Your kid still may make it to Harvard if they miss a nap or have apple pie for dinner.

Don’t be flaky. Set rules, but allow for exceptions. While we, as parents, assert boundaries for our children for their well- being, straying from those norms once in a while will not break your baby. My kids are living proof of that.

At the same time, don’t bring that controlling mindset into the office. Your team will be there for you. That’s true even if that means they step in as your kid’s brand- new aunt or uncle for five minutes while you jump on a call with your biggest client; okay, especially in that case.


The people from the agency seemed pretty surprised when I showed up to the big rebranding meeting on Day 2 of being a new mom. ( To be honest, so were some of the people on my team.) But that was my choice.

It was an important moment for our company, on the verge of achieving an important milestone; as cofounder, I had to be there.

But for the women at my company, this is not the standard. And knowing how this particular instance might look, I wanted to make sure they knew it.

I convened an impromptu meeting to discuss this aspect of our company culture. Hilariously enough, for me at least, all of the ladies on the team ( about half of the company) nearly ran for the exits when I brought up the prospect of them having babies of their own. Must be a generational thing!

Well, if they do change their minds, all of my employees know that they have my full support. If they want to take time off to be a parent, I want them to do that and welcome them back to our work- family as soon as they’re ready to keep growing with us. I don’t have all the answers.

And to be honest, there are times when being the Mom Boss can feel overwhelming. If there’s anything you can take away from my lessons learned, it’s that you’re not alone. As a founder, your company might be your baby. But if you’ve hired right, you’ve got a family to make sure it grows up right.

Dec. 8, 2017 "Pedalling down a risky path": Today I found this article by Guy Dixon in the Globe and Mail:

A low point in Amy Charity's racing career was when she had to spend a night sleeping in a cellar, on a deflating air mattress, next to a teammate, with a cat on her head.

An even more painful one, but still drawing her infectious laugh, was when her shoulder ripped up in a crash. There she was, having quit a career in finance to race bikes full time, recovering from a severe acromioclavicular shoulder tear for eight weeks, when she desperately needed to get back on the bike.

In bicycle racing, particularly women's racing with its smaller sponsorship money, every race, every result not only counts toward possible selection for the national team, each counts toward the team even extending a racer's contract for another season. Eight weeks incapacitated are excruciating, to say nothing of the many other crashes.

In order to race full time, Ms. Charity had left everything she had worked for professionally during her years of climbing the corporate ladder in the financial sector.

"In my mind at the time – it's so funny to think about it – but there was nothing in the world I wanted more than to be a professional bike racer. It was worth trading off everything," she said by phone from her home in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

By all accounts, Steamboat Springs is wonderland, an unspoiled ski resort during the snowy season, an idyllic cycling town every other season, with endless, beautiful roads and Denver a distant three-hour drive away.

But Steamboat Springs is also a hard place to find professional work. And Ms. Charity had a financial-sector job, a good one, working in investor relations for a $2-billion hedge fund, "essentially talking to potential investors, and finding new investors and answering the first line of questions that they had."

She loved the job. She had spent nine years before that, fresh from university, working her way into senior management with the credit-card company Capital One, a job that moved her to various cities, including Nottingham, England, where she met lasting friends and her future husband, and got into cycling as a hobby. Having grown up as a swimmer, she got serious one year and competed in Ironman Switzerland.

Yet her financial career remained her priority. After returning to her home state of Colorado, she took the job with the hedge fund. "Things were really, really good."
Then came the summer of 2013, and cycling took over.

There are times in everyone's life when an alternate path becomes a possibility. And there are a million reasons why we don't follow it: reliance on a steady paycheque, a pension. Maybe a spouse's career or kids override the dream. Maybe accepting a steadier existence becomes the dream itself.

Ms. Charity's dream unfolded when a friend suggested trying an uphill race, the Lookout Mountain Hill Climb in Golden, Colo. They drove through a snowstorm to get there.

It was her first race, so she competed in the novice Category 4. "And I ended up winning that. I was like, 'Wow, that was so fun.' I just got the bug for it. So I spent the rest of the summer doing every race that I could," she said.

She rose to Category 2 by season's end, which is no easy feat. In many races, Cat 2s will compete with the pros. The next year she was Cat 1, the highest level of racing without a professional team contract. She was competing in events such as the five-day Tour of the Gila stage race in New Mexico against top women's teams.

"That's when I started sending my résumé to pro teams. I got rejected by all of them," she said, again with her infectious laugh. Most teams ignored her, despite her stellar showing at races. One team, though, did get back to her, noting that Ms. Charity's age at the time, 35, was the only reason that it didn't sign her.

But a fortuitous friendship with the U.S. head of the Wilier bicycle company helped introduce her to the small Vanderkitten women's team.

"I was not a paid rider my first year. They said, 'You'll get bikes and everything you'll need,' but that was it. It was terrifying," she said. Her hedge-fund employers also said she needed to choose between finance or full-time racing.

"It was the hardest decision," she said. "In my whole life after college, I had health insurance, potential bonuses, a salary and a lot of comfort. And all I had when I left that job was a contract that said, 'Here are the races that we'll do, and you may or may not race in these races.'"

She ended her first season in the red, having spent thousands more out of pocket to get herself to races than the actual prize money the team shared. She came closer to breaking even in her second year, a season which included competing for the U.S. women's cycling team in Europe, the highest level of pro racing. She was a domestique, a role in which she had to shelter the team leader and do everything to keep her in a good position in the pack of riders.

In her third year, Ms. Charity had joined the larger, dominant North American cycling team Optum (now Rally Cycling) and was given a nominal salary. Not enough to pay the grocery bill, "but at least you can sort of get by."

She had to rely on her savings. Her husband, Matt Charity, had been a competitive cyclist in Britain in the early 1990s, so he understood. He was encouraging, but her racing career required both to adopt a minimalist lifestyle. "I became the most frugal person ever. In hotel rooms, I was like, 'Awesome, free shampoo.'"

At the end of 2015, in her late 30s, she retired from cycling after a significant accomplishment, competing at the 2015 world championships in the team time trial. She has since written a book about her cycling years, The Wrong Side of Comfortable, gives talks and works for a non-profit organization promoting Steamboat Springs.

She's also retiring at a time when cycling suddenly has other options for talented riders to make money in mass-start events, such as Gran Fondos (long, timed rides for mass participants in which the front tends to be a competitive race, like a city marathon) and gravel grinders (the same idea but on gravel and off-road).

It's a way for pros and retired pros, especially those who remain in the public eye such as Ms. Charity, American Alison Tetrick and Canadian Emily Batty, to earn prize money and sponsorship fees.

It's different than the pressures of fulltime team racing. "I have to tell you that racing is so hard, when you're in that lifestyle. There were days when I was like, 'I can't wait to sit at a desk and drink a coffee,'" she said. Still, "I didn't want to be 50 or 60 years old and say, 'I had some talent as a cyclist. I wonder if I could have raced in Europe.' You don't want to live with that could-have-been in the back of your mind."

My opinion: Now this woman is really following her passion.  You have to really love and be passionate to be doing this, cycling.

I have passion to get my TV script The Vertex Fighter produced.  I was mainly putting time and effort sitting in front of the computer and sending my script pitch to TV production companies across Canada. 

It was mainly mental effort.  I did put money with my Professional Writing diploma.  Amy Charity puts money, time, and effort to do this.