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, January 10, 2017

"A primer for social entrepreneurs"/ BMeaningful

Nov. 11, 2015 "A primer for social entrepreneurs": I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on Nov. 4, 2015.  It's about working and making social change in the world to help people.  I like that:

Getting Beyond Better
By Roger Martin and Sally Osberg
(Harvard Business Review Press, 248 pages, $37.50)

Societal change often comes from business or government, as they challenge orthodoxies and move us forward. Yet some challenges aren’t well suited to either business or government.

Business-led transformation, after all, is limited to customers or customers-to-be and driven by profit.

By contrast, government-led transformation can be mandatory rather than voluntary, is aimed at citizens, the scope is wide, and the purpose is social benefit. Social entrepreneurship fills in the gaps, Rotman School of Management professor Roger Martin and Skoll Foundation chief executive officer Sally Osberg point out in their book, Getting Beyond Better.

Social entrepreneurs adapt principles and practices from both government and business. Sometimes they are seeking profit, but mostly they are embarking on a social mission. Unlike the many social agencies around us, they are not content with just alleviating the problems of a narrowly defined group of people. They want to reach broadly and transform society.

One of the best known social entrepreneurs is Muhammad Yunus, who worked with villagers in India still mired in poverty despite the many programs aimed at them over the years. By offering them small loans, paltry amounts really, he helped them to create sustainable businesses for themselves. He never expected to be paid back but was, with interest. His effort was not charity – he felt charity was a way for people to shrug off problems – it was voluntary rather than government-mandated, and originally aimed at a small number of people although microcredit is now widespread.

The broad formula that social entrepreneurs follow is not that much different from any successful change. They try to understand the world around them, envision the future, build a model for change, and scale up their solution so that it benefits more and more people. But within those parameters, the authors uncover some useful techniques.

Social entrepreneurs need to intimately understand the status quo they are trying to transform. In doing so, they encounter three powerful tensions:

1. Abhorrence versus appreciation

Usually social entrepreneurs feel that something is horribly wrong. But that abhorrence isn’t sufficient to make a difference and change the equilibrium of forces currently entrenched. Social entrepreneurs must appreciate the system that they wish to change – why it exists, what holds it in place – in order to find the levers of change. “Without a balance between appreciation and abhorrence, they are likely to seek to ameliorate rather than transform a miserable condition, to rush to what seems an obvious but simplistic answer, to overlook some fatal flaw in an appealing idea, or to fixate on a single influential interest or actor rather than the ecosystem – all common actions that fall short of equilibrium change,” they write.

2. Expertise and apprenticeship

Social entrepreneurs often come to the problem they wish to fix as an expert in a specific area – Mr. Yunus, for example, was an economist. But that is only a starting point (and a trap, if the world is interpreted though just one perspective). The book’s stories of social entrepreneurs show how they apprenticed themselves to others who understood the situation better, assuming a position of naivete and learning. Being both expert and apprentice enables the individual to see what others don’t, and devise the path ahead nobody else has glimpsed.

3. Experimentation and commitment

“Social entrepreneurs feel confident in their understanding of the world but also recognize that there is much they don’t know. Rather than being paralyzed by the significant gaps in their knowledge, they design and run experiments to fill in these gaps,” they write.

Many social entrepreneurs fail by not being able to take their impact beyond the first small group of individuals they set out to help.

The most successful think right from the start about how to grow bigger and bigger. That involves designing an economic approach in which unit costs will fall with volume. “It is extremely difficult to scale an enterprise, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, if unit costs stay flat or increase with volume,” they point out.

Training a dog to sniff out land mine explosives, for instance, can cost upward of $40,000 (U.S.). But Apopo, a social action group founded by Bart Weetjens, learned the job can be carried out by trained rats for one-quarter that price tag – and those costs decline yet again when more rats are trained.

My opinion: That's good.

Working with others helps, notably choosing to be open source, sharing the approach and allowing others to build upon it. Nandan Nilekani, who co-founded Infosys, set out as a social entrepreneur to develop a unique identification number for everyone in India so that 400 million people would no longer be non-persons, unable to drive, work or vote. He gave away the enrolment platform he developed to about 30,000 partners to help create the massive scale needed for the venture.

The book offers some valuable insights and many fascinating stories for those seeking to understand social entrepreneurs or to join their ranks. But when the authors move from storytelling to theories, it can be slow going, with abstract concepts and academic-consultant language.


In The Global Code (St. Martin’s Press, 290 pages, $31.50) consultant Clotaire Rapaille looks at how a new culture of universal values is reshaping business and marketing.

The Elephant in the Boardroom (Career Press, 224 pages, $31.95) by leadership coach Edgar Papke shows how leaders can manage conflict to attain greater success.

Management Lessons from Taiichi Ohno (McGraw-Hill, 164 pages, $32.00) by former Toyota Taiwan President Takehiko Harada gleans lessons from the founder of the famed Toyota Production System.

Jan. 13, 2016 BMeaningful: I cut out this article called "The right social connections" by Elisa Birnbaum in the Edmonton Journal on Sept. 9, 2015:  

They’re taking over your office — yes, even the corner one with the view — so you best be ready. Millennials, the post-Gen X demographic group with birth dates ranging between the early 80s and early 2000s, at 29 per cent, are the fastest growing segment of Canada’s workforce, the Canadian Management Centre notes. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says by 2025, millennials will represent 75 per cent of the global workforce.

Amanda Minuk, co-founder and CEO of BMeaningful, a career platform founded in 2013 that helps employers in the impact sector showcase their work and connect with job seekers looking for more than just a paycheque, contends this workforce shift should be of particular interest to entrepreneurs offering “impact careers,” because many millennials are attracted to the idea of business with a dual bottom line: financial and social.

However, despite their affinity for purposeful work, many in this generation don’t pursue the opportunities, Minuk said, citing lack of awareness of alternative career options beyond traditional charitable work. “We’re trying to act as an insider guide that bridges the information gap between wanting the impact career and finding one.”

This summer BMeaningful launched Toronto’s Most Meaningful Summer Internships, profiling social enterprises offering summer internships and their recipients. “Today’s interns are tomorrow’s leaders,” Minuk said. The goal is to highlight career opportunities in the sector and answer questions around things such as work culture, impact, growth potential and day-to-day responsibilities.

Graduates these days are selective, she said. “They want to make money but they also want to know that their work matters, that it’s important to the purpose of company.”

Arlie Millyard, a 21-year-old intern at Summerhill, a company that delivers energy efficiency programs, says the internship may not fit her long-term career but, passionate about environmental issues, she’s been working there part-time since graduating high school. When her search for summer work in her field — she’s a graduate in biochemistry and psychology — was unsuccessful, she jumped at the internship.

“I used to do more administrative [work] but now I’m getting to do project management,” she said, crediting the internship for giving her transferable skills. Her duties include outreach, client management and video production, a task some would find daunting but Millyard’s a millennial (“I have a video blog”).

“Subject matter is less important to me than culture and I love the culture of Summerhill, there’s a really good group of people, all here for different reasons but pursuing the same goals,” she said. “I get frustrated if I don’t work with people who are committed to what they’re doing,” she adds, saying people going the extra step to help each other out is essential.

“If it wasn’t such a supportive environment, I think I’d be feeling very overwhelmed right now.”

The pay helps too. “There’s a lot of talk about unpaid internship which I think is a travesty,” she said. “We pay thousands of dollars to go to school and they expect us to work for free, it doesn’t make sense.”

It’s one reason Summerhill president Ersilia Serafini liked the BMeaningful program. “It was a way to get recognition for something we’ve been doing for a while,” she said. “I think more people should be celebrating the successful internship where you get paid for meaningful work.”

Where they can take you is important too. Internships at Summerhill are often a training ground, a critical part of recruitment for full-time employees. Serafini started at Summerhill as a summer student 15 years ago. “I see a lot of people come through our doors that are more desperate for work experience,” Serafini said of applicants with far-ranging backgrounds who are less concerned about whether jobs align perfectly with their course of study.

But what millennials bring to the table — aptitude for things such as social media and computers — can prove invaluable. Serafini is a fan of hiring the young, “I feel really strongly about it, particularly in organizations where we run and design programs and organically grew over years; it’s because of people like me coming out of school with energy and enthusiasm and a desire to change the world.”

Jocelyn Mackie, vice-president of operations and general counsel at another BMeaningful program partner, Grand Challenges Canada, a federally funded organization that supports innovators in global health in Canada and around the world, enjoys the fresh optimism and openness new, young staff bring to the organization. “They shake things up in a way that’s important,” she said.

Intern Kulsum Khan, a 24-year-old graduate student of social work who arrived at their doors with extensive mental health experience looking for an opportunity in global mental health. Securing an internship at a leader in the field was a real coup, she said. As opposed to jobs where you’re expected to apply what you already know, Khan said internships are about skill-building and learnings. That’s why the opportunity to get a close-up view of the 64 mental health projects that GCC oversees has been so important.

Then there’s the responsibility. “They’re not just sitting behind the desk, they’re out front and centre,” said Mackie. Millennials, like anyone else, want a sense of ownership. The one distinction may be they’re asking for it, demanding it even, more than previous generations.

Khan would probably agree. “I’m an equal team member, I’m not seen as intern and that makes a huge difference,” she said. “I’m completing my masters in social work, I don’t want to be doing data entry, filing folders, running out and getting coffee.”

Of course, there’s a potential downside to that, one Serafini has witnessed particularly with post-grads: Many aren’t willing to take on administrative tasks or entry-level positions. And, if they do, they often expect a promotion within a few months or they leave.

“We want a career that’s more than a career, not something we’re stuck in for the rest of our lives but something meaningful,” Khan said. “We enjoy doing what allows us to grow and learn and have fun at same time, working with people we like to be with, not just a nine-to-five thing.

“For my father, you’re in social work, you see clients, you come home. For me it’s something much more than that.”

Jan. 27, 2016 Volunteering when retired: I was reading the Globe and Mail and there was an article about volunteering when you're retired. It talked about a high school teacher who is retired and now volunteers at the YMCA and teaches English as a second language to new immigrants.  He feels good when he hears that they landed a good job in their field because of his help.

Feb. 4, 2016 McBride Career Group: I found this company online and called them and asked if it was a staffing agency.  The woman on the phone said no, it isn't.  The government funds their operation as the company helps people get jobs.

The government: I was reading the newspaper and there's lots about the government and politicians helping people and the economy.  That seems to be deep and meaningful and has an effect on lots of people and their jobs.

Jun. 3, 2016: Maybe I should volunteer at a charity like a soup kitchen by cooking.  I have no interest in getting a social worker degree or even a 2 yr diploma to become a paramedic.  I can do my small part by volunteering my time and effort.

Jun. 15, 2016 CharityVillage: I was looking for a job and I found this website where they hire people for a non-profit charity:

At CharityVillage, we understand how difficult it can be to hire a rockstar employee, all while dealing with both a limited budget and limited time for hiring.

That's why we're introducing a new and improved job posting service for the Canadian nonprofit sector. This is easily the biggest announcement we've had at CharityVillage in our almost 20 years of working with the Canadian nonprofit sector!

My week:

Jan. 2, 2016 Day off: Today was my day off and I didn't get any newspapers delivered to my home.  I read some of the Sat. news.  I watched a Timeless ep and the movie Avatar

Avatar: I never saw Avatar until now.  It was average.   It was beautifully shot, but the story was not original.  It was like Europeans coming to America for the first time and meeting Native Americans, but in the future.  Maybe people can really empathize with the Native Americans.

Jan. 4, 2016 Incorporated: I can't watch Incorporated on

"A man attempts to thwart a giant corporation that seems to have unlimited power."

Job Search Results | I was looking for a job and then I found this website when the application asked where I heard this job from.  It listed lots of job sites I haven't heard of. only had 2 Alberta jobs.  That's not a very good site for Alberta, at least not today. This is more of an American site and it's all technology jobs.

Jobster: This is American site again, and I did go to the advanced search.

Thank you for your interest in Job Choices!
Although Job Choices is no longer available in digital format, NACE members can access
many of the articles (and more!) through the Grab and Go service on NACEWeb.

NACE - Search Results: I typed in Canada and got 2 results. I tried to look for a job, and when I put in my postal code, it said it wasn't a valid US postal code.  Here is another American website.

"Market. Manage.  Move up in your car."

Social distribution: I can't find a job here.

iCIMS Social Distribution is an all-in-one social recruiting tool. Social Distribution powers social recruiting on all networks at all levels, from corporate to individual, and leverages all social recruiting approaches.
Social Distribution:
  • Powers social recruiting on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and 300+ other networks.
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  • Covers all social recruiting approaches including referral hiring, social media optimization, and automated job publishing, talent networks, and team recruiting.
  • Empowers companies to successfully attract and hire employees in all industries at a fraction of the cost of other approaches.

Job search: Maybe it's the new year feeling, but I feel more motivated to push myself in this job search.  In the morning I looked up those job sites listed above.  When I got home from work, I put in 1hr of applying to places.

Jan. 6, 2017: This is another US job site.

Canada Prospects: I'm reading this career magazine I got 2007-2008.  It mentioned this site, but it seems to be a blog.

This site doesn't work:

Jan. 7, 2016 City Centre: I was thinking about my highlights of my week and not just my job search.  On Wed., I did a little shopping at City Centre.

1. HMV closed down.  My sister told me that.
2. Urban the clothing store closed down.  I went on the internet and see that it's open in Commerce place.
3. Artemis is opened.  It sells Chinese home décor like fountains.  Fountains are good feng shui.  The store used to be in West Ed mall.
4. Calendar Club.  I was at the mall mainly to look for an agenda.
5. The food court looks good.

6. Eddie Bauer is closing down by Jan. 22.  I put that on my Facebook status update.

Work: On Thurs. I got a call from my 1st restaurant job to come to work, and I was really happy about it.  They pay more with the tips.  I called my 2nd restaurant job and they said I could go there.  I did leave a message telling my manager at the 2nd place that they can be fine without me.

Friend: I bumped into my old friend C on the bus.  The last time I saw her was in 2015.  We worked at the Office Job together in 2013.   When I told her about Eddie Bauer closing down, she was a little sad about it.   

Emerald City: Today I watched the pilot that came out last night.  I liked it.  I will record the series and watch every episode in a span of a week.  I saw this movie in 2012.  I wrote about The Wizard of Oz in Jan. 2013 on my blog:

Get Him to the Greek/ The Wizard of Oz/ Devil


"A modern reimagining of the stories that led to 'The Wizard of Oz'."

The TV show Once Upon a Time did their version of it too.

I saw this too:

I saw the pilot and really liked it.  The actress Adria Arjona reminds me of Jessica Alba:

There is Oliver Jackson-Cohen who plays the Scarecrow character Lucas.  I was watching him for a min. and then I was like: "Wasn't he on the TV show Dracula that came out in 2013?"  I checked and I was right.

Timeless: I watched this show all week.  I was talking to my co-worker E about it and how I missed an episode because it got deleted.  She told me since I had Telus, I should go to On Demand and I got to see the ep.  It's a fun show about time travel.  You should check out the pilot.


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