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, February 13, 2017

"A few good men"/ Happy Love Day!

Jan. 16, 2017 "A few good men": Today I found this article by Erin Anderssen in the Globe and Mail. 

This is my 150th job email/ blog post since I started posting these articles since Jan. 2015.  This is my 6th "deep and meaningful job" email/ blog post this year.  I posted the first one around 2015.  This is the 7th "deep and meaningful job" email/ blog post in the whole blog.

In the classroom at Ottawa’s Algonquin College, at a bed by a window, Morgan O’Dell, 19, reaches out a tattooed arm to delicately wash the nether region of a floppy-haired mannequin. O’Dell’s classmate, Hamza El Hilali, 24, steps in to keep a white blanket in place, to guard their “patient’s” privacy. Her name, they have been told on a slip of paper, is Miss Howard, she has weakness on her left side, and their assignment is to take turns practising giving her a partial bath, working as if their plastic patient were a real person.

O’Dell and El Hilali stand out in the room, two of a handful of male students in Algonquin’s one-year personal-support worker program, which is dominated, as is the profession, by women.

Indeed, El Hilali says his friends were baffled when he chose the program. But he was drawn to the field after seeing his mother care for his grandparents. He is the eldest, and his sisters are much younger, and the care of his own parents should “fall to me,” he says. “Gender doesn’t matter.”

O’Dell, with his bushy hair and tattooed arm, describes the same motivation: He is close to his grandparents, who may need his care some day. Also, he notes, there are jobs in health care. “There are better opportunities here.”

He’s right: As boomers age, and health-care workers retire, jobs in the field will open up. Debates about how to find the workers needed to staff the long-term care residences or to help seniors live longer in their homes – both a preferred and cheaper option – are increasing across the Western world, in countries such as Britain, the United States and Canada.

Yet there remains an untapped pool of workers, some 50 per cent of the population: men, who comprise still only a tiny fraction of the paid caregivers in Canada’s economy.

There’s been a big push by schools and governments to get women into the traditional male-dominated fields of engineering, science and technology, and for good reason: These are growing fields, women are a pool of untapped talent, and they should have equal access to these professions. But there’s been far less focus on moving men into caregiving jobs, which are still overwhelmingly held by women. In Canada, men represent around 6 per cent of registered nurses, and only about 3 per cent of health-care aides, also known as personal-support workers. These are the staff who cover daily needs such as bathing, dressing and, in the home setting, even cooking.

The failure to draw more men into these jobs is a missed opportunity. As boomers age, a more gender-balanced work force will better serve the increasingly diverse demographic of seniors requiring care. For young men with less education, unemployment rates have risen and wages have fallen – they need to look beyond disappearing manufacturing jobs for work. Meanwhile, gender divisions around caregiving persist, leading to care being undervalued. (Studies have found that, even in female-dominated professions, such as nursing, men still out-earn women.) There’s a reason why many personal-support workers don’t make much more (and some even less) than a cleaner. Meanwhile, providing care to a population living longer with more illness has become more medically complicated.

The presence of a few good men won’t fix this. But young men such as O’Dell and El Hilali are debunking a stereotype. “We shove care into a corner,” says Emanuela Heyninck, Ontario’s pay-equity commissioner, “because it’s seen as a female job, and it’s just not a skill that society is used to paying for.”

That has a trickle-down effect: If a job is considered women’s work, then men can feel and look out of place, then patients, raised in that same society, are more likely to prefer women to provide intimate care, to assume a feminine touch is required. Low pay, low status, lousy hours only make the prospects less appealing – to men and to women.

Workers, for instance, are often asked to work casual hours, or split shifts, making their already low income more precarious. This leaves some personal-support workers piecing together a collection of part-time jobs that may not come with benefits. Recognizing this issue, some provinces have recently raised the minimum wages of support workers – in Ontario, it is now $16.50.

“It’s a great first step,” says Deborah Simon, the chief executive officer of the Ontario Community Support Association. In addition to better pay, she says, people need to recognize the contribution that personal-support workers make to daily living. “Some people assume they are there for cleaning services,” says Simon. “They are trained way beyond that.” (Solving split shifts is more complicated, since the bulk of the work peaks at specific times of the day, particularly when patients wake up and when they go to sleep.)

Peter Kellett, assistant dean of the nursing program at the University of Lethbridge, studies gender and paid caregiving. On his office wall hangs an 1990s recruitment poster featuring a group of men standing in masculine poses – a martial arts black belt, a biker, a rugby player – who also happen to be (surprise!) nurses. The slogan, still used today, reads: “Are you man enough to be a nurse?”

Kellett believes this message is counterproductive, unintentionally reinforcing sexist tropes about caregivers. (What’s the reverse? “Are you woman enough to be an engineer”?) When he started nursing 20 years ago, he says, men were there to serve as muscle or security guards more than to provide comfort. Even today, he says, men in nursing are less likely than their female peers to hug patients, lest their actions be misinterpreted. “Society is moving much more slowly on gender than we like to think.” In reality, Kellett says, men take on the job for the same reason women do: “They want to care for people.”

This was the appeal for Marc Sebreno, 35, who graduated in July from Algonquin’s personal-support worker program. He was laid off from his previous job, driving a bus for Greyhound, and, with the advent of self-driving cars, he doesn’t figure those kinds of jobs are coming back. Looking for a new career, he thought about his mother, who has multiple sclerosis, and the importance of good care in her life. “It aligns with my values,” he says. He would like to work in the community he says, because “it gives me more time to spend having a conversation or a laugh.” To offer that kindness to an isolated senior, or a cancer patient, he says, “it doesn’t matter if it is a man or a woman.” But at a few interviews he says his gender has been greeted with surprise.

In the classroom, O’Dell and El Hilali are finishing up Miss Howard’s bath. In response to a question about the mannequin’s new diaper, O’Dell quickly says, “Oh, it’s not a diaper. It’s a brief.” That’s a more respectful term, El Hilali explains. Together, they list of what they call DIPPS: dignity, independence, privacy, preference and safety. “Our job,” says El Hilali, “revolves on those principles.” Some day, a real-life Miss Howard will be grateful.

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at leadershiplab.

As a business leader, if you’re focused on cultivating hard skills at the expense of soft skills and emotional IQ, you’re doing it wrong. Identifying employees with the right soft skills is crucial to building a strong talent mix and setting your team up for success, and yet leaders are struggling to find and nurture these skills.

Beyond compromising morale, there’s a financial risk to neglecting the right skills when building a team: Bringing in – and having to let go of – the wrong person can cost you six to nine months of that employee’s salary to replace them, according to a study done by The Society for Human Resource Management. So, which skills in particular should you be on the lookout for? Our research found the most important soft skills for Canadian managers are teamwork, problem-solving and communications.

Here are three reasons why hiring for and cultivating these skills among your employees will pay dividends long-term:

Keep your company nimble

The past few years have been hard for Canadian companies with the declining dollar and an uncertain economic environment. As we face the long road to recovery and the economic landscape continues to shift, it’s more critical for business leaders to lead by example and remain flexible in the face of the unknown.

The tools and hard skills you value most to deliver your product or service may shift, but building a team of adaptable problem-solvers with proven strategic chops will help you pivot as required and keep up with the pace of change.

Build better business relationships

In today’s era of constant communication where any misstep can go viral, it goes without saying that we must be especially conscious of how we’re communicating with colleagues, employees and clients. And yet strong communication skills are often undervalued in the workplace. According to the Mitchell Communications Group, miscommunication costs businesses $37-billion in the United States and Great Britain every year.

Your employees are the frontline of your organization and shape your customer experience and how your brand is perceived.

People want to do business with those they like and trust and it’s on company leadership to empower their teams to build these positive relationships or risk damaging your reputation.

Consider clarifying your company’s view on communicating internally and externally. Hire employees with the specific communication skills and experience that match your company’s views. Invest in training on collaboration and communication for your existing team.

Ultimately, boost your bottom line

There’s also a strong financial case for soft skills. Communication, interpersonal skills and time management were found to be worth an extra £88-billion ($144-billion Canadian) to British businesses. According to Joshua Freedman, a leading expert on emotional intelligence, business leaders and employees who rated highly in this category had more successful relationships with their teams, clients and customers, leading to improved productivity and sales.

As leaders, we need to ensure that we entrench an appreciation for soft skills and screen for these qualifications from the beginning. You might need an exceptional mobile developer or expert in systems management, but if they can’t collaborate or problem-solve, they probably aren’t the right hire.

Learning is a continuous process. Once you’ve built an emotionally intelligent, collaborative and strategic team, offering continued opportunities for mentorship or training, whether in person or through online courses such as LinkedIn Learning, can help continue this momentum.

The implications of doing so are clear – well-rounded individuals who possess both the practical knowledge needed to succeed and high emotional intelligence are integral to the long-term success of your business. Jonathan Lister is vice-president of sales and country manager at LinkedIn Canada.

My week:

Feb. 5, 2017 The A Word: I was checking out what's on TV and this came on.  The episode was called "The Sleepover" and it starts off with a 5 yr old boy wearing his headphones and listening to music and singing.  He is holding a toy mushroom.  I thought: "Does he have autism?"

It turns out he does.  That's good to have a show about a character like that and how the family deals with it.

I know The Big Bang Theory has the character Sheldon who has Aspergers.

The Degrassi: The Next Generation has Connor who has Aspergers.

The A Word has a 1st season of 6 episodes and it has a second season coming out.

Feb. 6, 2017 Autism: The beauty of having a blog is that I can see how often I wrote about a topic.  It seems I have written about it 22 times.  I have some more emails and blog posts saved into my drafts, but I have not published it yet.

I am looking at everything like there is a job.  There are jobs to help people with autism like special needs teachers.  There are high-functioning people with autism that do not need help.

Telus World of Science: I was looking for a job and this place was hiring.  I emailed one of my friends with a science degree.  She emailed me back:

"I have some friends who worked for them. They don't pay well, overwork you, and it's a toxic environment."

Benefits specialist: I wrote about this job interview before.  I was going through my notes, and it turns out I did a phone interview with them in 2015.

Today I did another interview that was pretty similar to the one above.  The only things that were different was:

1. It was at another company.

2. The company was going to pay for the education to get the licenses.

However, I did another interview for an administrative assistant position at this company.

Feb. 8, 2017: The man who interviewed me was nice and thoughtful.  He said if the benefits specialist wasn't a fit for me, he set up another interview after that so I can talk to someone else at the company to be an admin assistant. 

He didn't have to do that, but that was nice.  I thanked him.

Tues. Feb. 7, 2017: It was busy.  The night before I got a call from one of my bosses An to come to work because one of the workers was sick.  I then worked there in the morning.

Kitchen helper job interview: After that, I went to a job interview.  It was average.  I then got home and was tired.

Wed. Feb. 8, 2017: Today I went to work again because the worker is still sick.  It was kind of busy and I was there in the morning and afternoon.

Thurs. Feb. 9, 2017: I went to work from 8am-1:30pm.

Feb. 10, 2017 Law of attraction: It's about what you focus on, you get more of.  I wrote about jobs like vet, mechanic, and personal trainer a couple of weeks ago.

Vet: Then when I was at my 2nd restaurant job, this guy who works there says his girlfriend is studying to be a vet.

Mechanic: I was at the bus stop and there is this guy who I haven't seen since Sept. 2016.  He told me that he was a mechanic for 8 yrs and then stopped.  He was only getting paid by the car and not the hours.  He can be at the mechanic shop for 8 hrs and not get paid by the hour.  A car comes and he fixes it and then he gets paid.

Personal trainer: The he told me he went to NAIT and studied to be a personal trainer for 1 yr and a half.  This was back in 2002 and he was getting paid like $7 something.  Back then the min. wage was $5.90/hr. 

He also worked at a warehouse and American Eagle Outfitters with his personal trainer job.

My opinion: I find that if you went to college to get a career, you should get paid a living wage.

The Globe and Mail: I found this:

Salary: The money starts at about $20 per hour for trainers hired on staff by fitness clubs and can increase to more than $100 per hour for those with their own personal training business. Some trainers who work with celebrities or professional athletes can earn hourly rates closer to what lawyers charge, up to about $400 an hour.

I wrote the below for myself.  I just called them today and I didn't get hired.  That's fine.

Feb. 7, 2017 Kitchen helper job interview:


1. Good pay: $13.50/hr.  30 min unpaid break.  2 10 min paid break.

2. It's 50 cents a day for a meal.

3. Full-time 6am-2:30pm.

4. It's in downtown, so it's easy to get to.

5. Health benefits after 6 months.

6. Work ends early in the afternoon so I can still look for another office job.


1. It may be too much work if I work 48 hrs a week at both my jobs.

2. The manager's accents is kind of hard to understand.  Maybe miscommunication.  However, I will ask her to repeat and I will spell things out to make sure I heard it right.

3. It was kind of intimidating with all these cops.

Physical therapist: This is a deep and meaningful job.  It falls into the medical field so it's hard.

Educational Requirements

Before they are allowed to practice, physical therapists must have earned a graduate degree from accredited academic program in physical therapy. These programs typically culminate in a doctoral degree and take at least three years to complete. To gain admission to a physical therapy program, students typically need to earn a bachelor's degree, complete science prerequisite courses, gain volunteer or observation experience in physical therapy, submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, and maintain an acceptable grade-point average.

Massage therapist: This is a deep and meaningful job.  It's in the medical field, but it's only 2 yrs to become one.  I looked at the courses and there is science involved with the anatomy.

Feb. 12, 2017: Today is a Sun. and I worked all day.  I'm pretty tired.

Feb. 13, 2017 #GrabYourWallet: I found out about this movement last week when I learned that the big US department store Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump's products from their stores.  Was it Trump haters boycotting the store or was it because Ivanka's products were not selling as well?

"The #GrabYourWallet boycott began October 11, 2016 in the wake of the Trump Tapes when a brand strategist and a grandmother simultaneously realized they could no longer in good conscience shop at retailers that do business with the Trump family. Never having met, Shannon Coulter and Sue Atencio joined forces and announced on Twitter they'd be boycotting any retailer that carried Trump products, with the goal of motivating those companies on the list to stop doing business with the Trump family.

They published a short list of such retailers later that same evening and on October 14th, Shannon introduced the #GrabYourWallet hashtag -- both as a response to Donald Trump's infamous hot mic remark and a reference to women's epic consumer power. The hashtag and the movement exploded on social media and has been viewed over 700 million times. Since then, the #GrabYourWallet boycott has grown into a movement and central resource for the flexing of consumer power in favor of a more respectful and inclusive society. It's been reported on by The New York Times, Vogue, Washington Post, The Guardian, Cosmopolitan, CNN, MSNBC, Nightline, and BBC among many other media outlets (see below). Notable figures who have amplified or supported the movement include Don Cheadle, Greg Louganis, Lucy Lawless, Roseanne Cash, Neko Case, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Reich, Pam Grier, and Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry's). /// To get in touch, send an email to shannon (at) grabyourwallet (dot) org."

"Pressure on Trump after North Korean missile launch": Today I found this article by Kanga Kong and Isabel Reynolds in the National Post in the Edmonton Journal:

"Reuters reported Saturday that Sears Holdings and subsidiary Kmart will discontinue online sales of 31 items from the Trump Home collection."

Trump's Inauguration: I didn't watch it because I don't like him.  If I watched it, I would get angry like if I was watching a paternity test on the Maury Povich show.

I'm sure some of you guys are laughing at this part.

News: When I read the national and global news and there is Trump, I skim and scan it really fast.

The same with the business section if he's in it.

Happy Love Day!: I got this from The Simpsons where this card company needs to create a holiday to make more money.  The Simpsons celebrate Love Day.


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