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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"The value of strong partnerships"/ "How to break out of your comfort zone"

Jan. 17, 2016 "The value of strong partnerships": I cut out this article by Andrea Goertz in the Globe and Mail on Oct. 2, 2015:

Strong, independent and successful business leaders inevitably discover this simple but universal truth: No matter how effective you are, there is a limit to what you can achieve on your own. The pace of technological change, coupled with the complexity of major projects, makes it difficult – and often impossible – to deliver game-changing results for your business in a silo. To be successful, leaders must seek out meaningful business partnerships.

Four key elements form the basis of all symbiotic business relationships:

Know what you bring to the table

Before searching for partners, you must first articulate your vision and consider the guiding values that will take you there. Next, what are your leadership strengths? Which qualities do you need your partner to embody: Your commitment to urgency? Your unyielding attention to detail? Your flair for creativity? Determining where you and your partner must align will quickly bring your project’s goals and gaps into focus.

When we set out to develop Telus Garden, our new LEED Platinum home in Vancouver, we wanted to create a space that authentically reflected our brand, culture and commitment to the community. We knew from the outset that bringing on partners who shared our commitment to driving transformative change and pushing the boundaries of sustainable real estate development was fundamental to creating a commercial, residential and community space that reflected our passion for technology, innovation and design.

Choose your partner for the right reasons

I have a unique role that gives me an opportunity to bring together one of the most diverse teams at Telus. My responsibilities stretch from real estate and sustainability to government relations and privacy. I am not an expert in every field, but I know that to achieve the highest level of success, we must set audacious goals and assemble a diverse and talented team that can tackle large complex projects head-on.

Selecting subject-matter experts who complement your strengths will make for a creative team and promote diversity of thought, while driving growth and developing new competencies. Partners become an extension of you and your brand, so choosing the right ones, especially on high-profile projects, demands careful consideration.

For example, protecting customer privacy continues to be an important focus for us. Whether we are helping businesses improve efficiencies by connecting multiple IoT devices or personalizing our customer interactions using data analytics, privacy is paramount. As the data environment continues to evolve, we sought legal expertise to support our privacy commitment to our customers and engaged Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. Together, we are creating a comprehensive data governance model to ensure we continue to treat data, and personal information in particular, with transparency and accountability at all times.

Recalibrate early and often

With clear communication, you and your partners will be set up to tackle hurdles swiftly. Empowering a team to bring issues forward and either resolve them or “fail fast” not only prevents unplanned issues from unnecessarily dragging on, but also provides an opportunity to share real-time learning across the broader team, preventing future issues. Establishing a common vernacular, particularly on technical or complex projects, and setting a solid communications framework is essential to gain and maintain alignment.

Over the past decade, Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions has been a maintenance partner on some of our network sites. While our relationship was transactional at first, we soon recognized an opportunity to innovate to our mutual benefit. We invested time educating our partner, implemented shared strategic metrics that aligned with our Network Reliability and Customers First mandates; agreed on a more innovative, performance-based compensation structure; and came to share transparent long-term strategic objectives. Brookfield is now a key customer of our products and services and has worked closely with our people and culture team at Telus to adopt many of our HR practices and processes within their organization.

Trust Everyone

Trust is non-negotiable and must be reciprocal between partners. It goes much deeper than surrounding yourself with people who are honest and forthright; explicit trust extends to every facet of a project including decision-making, acting in good faith and addressing challenges.

We undertook a thorough process to ensure we selected the right partner to develop Telus Garden. Ultimately, we chose Westbank Corp. because its focus on quality matched our own. We shared a mutual desire to elevate the standards of design excellence as they relates to aesthetics, function, beauty, environment, technology, innovation and more. We set out to do something that had not been done before, and it was vital that we foster, and maintain, explicit trust in one another throughout the process. Not only did we trust that the team would speak up and resolve issues as they arose, but we also constantly sought to improve the project while it was well under way, trusting that opportunities raised were driven by our collective desire to excel. Our relationship has been so successful that we chose to work together on our next development, Telus Sky in Calgary.

As a leader, building and maintaining successful partnerships requires significant time and energy. The end result creates value for our team and our community, and is well worth the investment.

"How to break out of your comfort zone": I cut out this article by Fiona Lake Waslander in the Globe and Mail on Oct. 2, 2015:

You’ve reached a point where you know everything you need to know to effectively get the job done. Meetings progress without fanfare, milestones are met, but you don’t feel the pressure to perform the way you used to and, in general, you are operating on autopilot.

If this sounds familiar, there is a good chance you are in the career comfort zone. This may sound ideal to some, but it means you are stagnating. The risk of being in the career comfort zone is that your performance will start to waiver as complacency and boredom kick in.

The desire for personal growth has propelled my career from management consulting firms, Silicon Valley tech companies, and back to Canadian soil to manage talented sales teams at Vicinity. Since I’m the only person looking after my career, I need to be in tune and look for opportunities that will take me to the next level.

Some people are hard-wired to take risks but, if that’s not your nature, there are key signs that it’s time to make the next big leap. The best-case scenario is to see it coming so you can avoid entering the career comfort zone altogether. But if you find yourself beyond that point, you can still take stock and focus on getting out of it. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to break out of career stagnation.

I have a quick checklist I measure myself against: am I bored, am I running out of room to progress in my role, am I being passed over for new opportunities, projects, and responsibilities, does my role lack pressure to perform and prove myself? If the answer is yes to any of these, it’s time to take action.

Where to start?

Start by developing a plan. Once an outline is in place, it’s easier to identify opportunities that are going to take you to the next step. Key ways to get started:

  • Identify people whose careers (and personalities) you admire and seek them out as mentors. Learn from them and listen to what advice they have to offer. Their career road map might prove a great route for you to take, too. At the very least, you might find inspiration.

  • It’s important to be engaged in your industry, keep track of what’s needed in the job market and identify ways you can fill in the gaps. This is what led me to Vicinity. I looked at the market and compared it to my resume. Even though I had already been a general manager, I saw this as an opportunity to build upon my experience in a sales-driven environment.

Making the right move

Keep in the mind that finding the next opportunity can take time. Don’t jump into job that is slight variation from the work you do now.

Secondly, your career does not have to take a 180. Keep one variable the same when making a career change. Consider changing industries while keeping your job function the same. Alternatively, changing your function within the same company can be another good bet.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway: Look for opportunities that are going to push you to tap into a higher level of thinking and performance. We achieve great things when there is pressure to perform. My first job after graduating as a civil engineer was in consulting. With little experience, I was suddenly in boardroom meetings with senior level executives. The pressure to prove I deserved to have a seat at the table drove me to find mental strength I didn’t know I had.

It’s not just about you

While it is everyone’s job to manage their own career, as a business leader, you want to do what you can to make sure your team doesn’t hit the comfort zone, either. This could impact the goals for the team and the company. Those who are not engaged don’t push themselves to do great work. Those who don’t do great work don’t move up in their careers. Without making a change, these folks can find themselves feeling stuck and unfulfilled, and it can drag the team down.

Look for opportunities to give staff new roles that build in new functions. This is easier for large organizations but if your team is small, look for projects that will give employees opportunities and room to expand. Helping others out of the career comfort zone helps get you unstuck, too.


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