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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

"The economic case for retrofitting buildings"/ Allana Williams

Feb. 27, 2017 "The economic case for retrofitting buildings": Today I found this article by Toon Dressen in the Globe and Mail.  This is a good and positive article about the environment.  However, there were some funny and negative comments below it:

Beyond social responsibility, more and more data are proving it makes economic sense for landlords to retrofit their buildings and make them sustainable and energy efficient.

Just as today’s consumers are willing to pay a little more for organic food, tenants will pay more and stay longer in green buildings.

A study of Bentall Kennedy’s North American real estate portfolio of more than 300 buildings found that environmentally friendly office properties net 3.7 per cent higher rents. In their Canadian holdings, occupancy rates in environmentally certified buildings were 18.7 per cent higher than non-certified.

The study, conducted by University of Guelph professor Avis Devine and co-author Nils Kok of Maastricht University in The Netherlands, calls tenants in green buildings “stickier” and “happier.” Tenants stay put in their space, she says, and reduce landlord leasing costs associated with turnover.

Plus, as governments move to increase the costs of carbon, which have now been benchmarked at $50 per tonne by 2022, there will be a strong incentive for building owners to reduce operational costs related to emissions and energy use.

BDC – the Business Development Bank of Canada, the crown agency that supports 42,000 small and mid-sized companies – says green retrofit “improvements usually pay for themselves within two to six years.” Deep retrofits will take longer to pay off, but they will pay off in the long term.

Couple these economic benefits with the U.N.’s Marrakech Climate Change Conference last November, and it’s clear the wheels are in motion to reduce emissions.

When it comes to the international climate change accord, our governments need to figure out how to move from words to actions to meet the 2030 net zero goal for homes and buildings. The longer landlords wait, the more punitive the price in both losing tenants and higher energy costs.

When we talk about climate change, it’s easy to point to obvious “sinners” – cars and smoke stacks. But commercial and residential buildings account for 17 per cent of the greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario.

We bought the buildings, but did it on the cheap, pushing back the real energy efficiency costs to someone else: our future selves. Now is the time to get serious: zero per cent of the cars on the road today will be on the road in 2050, but 70 per cent of today’s buildings will still be in use because we can’t rebuild cities overnight. We have to retrofit existing buildings.

Here’s the good news: in the building industry, unlike others, we have the know-how and technology to be a key player in meeting a steep challenge. Building efficiency isn’t just low hanging fruit, it’s the fruit that’s ripened and ready to fall into our lap.

Changing lightbulbs to LED and lowering the furnace a degree at night are important, but largely symbolic: renovation and retrofit are the real game-changers.

First and foremost, focus on insulation and draft sealing. Then consider high-efficiency HVAC equipment, rainwater management systems, improved window glazing, insulated piping and more efficient appliances to reduce demand for energy. Engineers and architects can help you find the greatest gains.

Talk is cheap. In March 2014, the governing council of the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA) approved the retrofit of our headquarters in Toronto, which was originally built in 1992. Our analysis shows that the additional costs of selecting a net zero retrofit is $1.8-million and will allow the building to become carbon neutral by 2018, 12 years before the 2030 deadline. We will reduce our energy use by 90 per cent and install solar panels to generate clean power on site, the combination of which will generate savings of more than $85,000 a year.

Before accounting for future carbon taxes, this renovation will pay for itself in about 20 years (and that number will drop as the cost of energy rises). The next generation of architects will be left with a building that has low operating costs, helping them in future financial planning.

To ensure retrofits deliver savings, building owners need: current baseline data on the energy and water use; recommendations for the proper equipment to reduce water and energy use; professional estimates of projected energy reductions and cost savings; and a monitoring program to collect data on the building’s energy and water use after the retrofit.

It’s also a good idea to research federal and provincial incentive programs, such as supporting loans for deep retrofits. Ontario’s green bank is a good example of how government can support the retrofitting of our building stock.

There is now compelling evidence that buildings with sustainable certification outperform similar non-green buildings in terms of rental rates, occupancy levels, tenant satisfaction scores, and the probability of lease renewals.

Retrofitting each building will have a positive effect on your tenants but also help to change the world.

Toon Dreessen is immediate past President of the Ontario Association of Architects (OAA).


1 day ago

The author left out the fact that retrofitted buildings are typically in the highly sought after and high rent areas. Which accounts for high occupancy, longer tenancy and higher rents.
The retrofits themselves are not attracting and keeping tenants, its the location, location, location!
3 Reactions

22 hours ago

Actually the cost of the energy retrofits is about 20 cents a kwh, while the cost of new nuclear at Darlington is in the 3 cents a kwh range.
Unfortunately, the current bunch of science illiterate halfwits at Queen's Park, with their law degrees and English diplomas, have overruled the province's engineers, and built a lovely infrastructure of lucrative Big Oil gas contracts backing up a worthless wind/solar infrastructure and associated up to 10 times sized transmission builds.

In the faint hope a thinking Conservative government replaces the dimwits in 2018, all those lucrative energy contracts could be cancelled and power rates cut in half.
Makes the retrofit decision a bit dicey.
Google "lawrence-solomon-if-voters-want-to-rip-up-ontarios-outrageous-renewable-energy-contracts-the-courts-wont-stop-them"
1 Reaction

1 day ago

There are studies that control for location. I.e. studies that compare deep retrofitted and cosmetic touch up properties in the same neighborhood. Deep retrofit properties win hands down. Owners charge higher rents and enjoy higher occupancy rates. Plus, tenants report that employees book fewer sick days, and are off for less time.
1 Reaction

15 hours ago

"Just as today’s consumers are willing to pay a little more for organic food, tenants will pay more and stay longer in green buildings."
HAH! Only if they have no choice.
1 Reaction

sea monkey
11 hours ago

Article sez it is about economics and yet doesn't bother with a detailed cost / benefit analysis but instead serves up a cold serving of green washing gruel.

The Ladder: Allana Williams: Today I found this in the Globe and Mail:

Allana Williams, 48, is energy manager and environmental coordinator at Whistler Blackcomb and founder of the resort’s Foundation Environmental Fund, and designs, implements and tracks sustainability programs.

I am from Kitchener, Ont., and came out to Banff when I was 18 – my first time on an airplane. Took a bus up here to Whistler, and fell in love with it.

I went to Wilfred Laurier University for business and took a psyche course with professor Doug Mackenzie-Mohr called ‘Peace, Conflict and Aggression.’ At first, you came out thinking, ‘It is hopeless.’ Then he started talking about what we’re going to do about it. That changed everything for me.

I wanted to do something in business, to be involved in the environment, and to be somewhere I loved to be. So I went to the University of Waterloo for environmental-resource studies and kept the business option at Laurier.

For my third-year thesis, to do a waste-audit review, I would come here on holidays. I switched to UBC for my final year, then sold silk-screen T-shirts, worked as a landscaper and a lift assistant, and did the environmental work on days off.

In 1997, Whistler and Blackcomb came together. I said, ‘I will save you enough money on garbage collection to justify the position.’ At the time, we were the only municipality to pay by volume so the first thing I did was to buy compactors. That saved our truck traffic by 70 per cent.

One of the VPs has a story about me coming to them and saying, ‘Hi, I am Allana and I need $250,000.’ And they are like, ‘Sorry, who are you?’ I was so young, and a woman, meeting all these [waste-management] guys. I remember being in a meeting and saying, ‘You have to talk to me, because I have the money.’

At the time, it was business versus environment. The key, initially, was to prove the business case, which gave me the cred to stay. We did it with waste – reduced the bill by almost half, then put in the recycling program. They asked how the program is going. I said, ‘Good … really good.’ That’s when I learned to measure everything.

I don’t have to go into a meeting and talk about climate change now. We’re been through the era of why, and now we’re long into the how. There are amazing, brilliant people here who figure out things that haven’t been done before.

Whistler is a forward-looking community – very green, and you work with people who love to be outside. The solutions team – they’re skiers and mountain bikers, raising their kids here. We have a lot of things going for us in terms of people being on board.

Some people think we’re a bunch of ski bums. I mean, I love the mountains, and like that we can come to work in blue jeans. But the people have kept me here for 20 years. The culture is all about striving to be the best, always willing to help each other out.

We like to try new technologies. We like to take a problem and attack it. The culture of the organization is just ‘go’ and now they are going toward the sustainability agenda. I don’t ever feel not motivated. I am surrounded every day by people who are so keen.

Most of [the job] is energy management – to reduce what we consume, be it electrical, natural gas or [other] fuel. We are looking at clean tech as well but demand-side management is less expensive. It makes sense to start there. So we started putting in solar panels, and optimizing what we have.

You have to find the common ground. If I am doing a lighting project, I want to save energy and make your space look beautiful. I took a lighting design [course], so I am not just considering the wattage, but also what it looks like. If it’s beautiful and we’re saving energy, everybody is happy.

I have a hard time letting people do things for me. You can’t grow a program indefinitely. You have to get help at some point. I’ve gotten better at [delegating], and the results are awesome.

Less energy is less work, and less work is less maintenance. It’s all about alignment.

"When business and politics don't mix"/ customer sevice tips

Feb. 25, 2017 "When business and politics don't mix": Today I found this article by Leah Eichler in the Globe and Mail:

Opportunities to make a statement are everywhere, but make sure your position relates to your company’s core values

It wasn’t so long ago that proper business etiquette dictated that one avoid discussing politics at all costs. Sure, you might have strong views on abortion or the Middle East, but if you wanted to rise up the corporate ranks or appeal to new and existing customers, the best tactic available was to simply smile and keep your mouth shut.

However, avoiding politics has become much more challenging lately and some brands or executives believe being vocal is worth the risk. They include the more than 120 U.S. tech companies that filed a legal brief condemning U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration order, or Airbnb’s overtly political advertisement during the Super Bowl.

Done correctly, taking a political stand reaps financial benefits. Late last year, Vanity Fair snubbed one of Mr. Trump’s restaurants, prompting the then president-elect to tweet a disparaging remark about the magazine, causing a backlash that saw the magazine win a record number of subscriptions in a single day.

Still, mixing business and politics doesn’t always work. Uber chief executive officer Travis Kalanick was forced to quit the President’s business advisory group this month after coming under pressure from critics, including his drivers. Closer to home, Hudson’s Bay Co. has come under fire for continuing to carry Ivanka Trump’s products.

So how does one navigate this minefield of business and politics? Take a stand only when the topic is related to your customers’ and stakeholders’ core values, according to Kate Headley, principal consultant at MsCommuniKate Public Relations in Ottawa.

She cites the National Basketball Association’s decision to move its 2017 all-star game from North Carolina to New Orleans in protest of the state’s anti-LGBT law and PayPal’s move to cancel expansion plans in the state as examples where companies used their financial sway appropriately. The risk to the NBA and PayPal was low since other states would gladly welcome them and the boost to the economy that their business would bring, Ms. Headley said.

“When assessing whether or not to take a stance, a company first needs to consider how it will affect their primary stakeholders, customers, investors and staff,” she said. The airline industry isn’t going to take a stand on the executive order about using American-made steel for pipelines, Ms. Headley said.

Even in cases where the stand feels appropriate, brands need to understand that they will never win everyone over.

“There’s no such thing as a political issue where 100 per cent of people agree with each other,” Ms. Headley cautioned.

As well, companies need to tread carefully when they wade into politics, since they are dealing with a public that’s increasingly skeptical about their motives.

“Before making a public political statement, a company needs to have an honest internal conversation about what statement they’re making, the real reasons behind it and what they hope to achieve,” Ms. Headley said.

In the case of Google Inc., one of the tech companies that filed the legal brief, it has employees affected by the immigration orders, and since it impacts their productivity, the company’s bottom line and the well-being of its staff, the company must take a stand, she argued. When it comes to the Bay carrying Ms. Trump’s brand, the stakes may not be high enough to warrant a comment.

However, Audrey Wubbenhorst, a professor of public relations at Humber College in Toronto, said companies such as the Bay should respond to the feedback they are receiving after evaluating the business case for any stand they may take on the issue. “They [companies such as the Bay] need to consider if a particular issue contravenes their corporate values. There may not be an immediate business impact, or there may even be a dip in their business results, but in the longterm it may be the right decision,” Ms. Wubbenhorst said.

Still, if you or your company is not compelled to speak out on a big political topic, the best advice remains to stay mum on hotbutton issues.

“There is an old etiquette saying to never discuss politics, sex, religion or money at a dinner party – so in that vein, I wouldn’t normally advise a client to make a public political statement. I would advise a client to be the same way they have always been – respectful, honest and welcoming to all customers,” said Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski, president and founder of Rock-It Promotions Inc. in Toronto.

“I’ve seen some brands try to make light of political situations of late and it’s gone terribly wrong. Social-media mishaps are a prime example where this happens in today’s culture. … The speed of social media is dizzying,” Ms. Goldblatt-Sadowski warned.

“Don’t try to be funny. Keep the satire to the comedians at Saturday Night Live,” she added.

Mar. 17, 2017 "A little customer service can go a long way": Today I found this article by Brian Scudamore in the Globe and Mail:

I’ll never forget a particular customer who I called to thank for letting us haul his junk away. It turned out he was a purchaser for a huge company and was shocked to hear from me. “I spend $55 with you and you call to say thank you? I spend thousands every day with other companies and I never hear from them!”

1-800-GOT-JUNK? has changed since then – I’m not on the trucks anymore – but the day’s not over until we’ve reached out and thanked our customers. Other companies might balk at the time and expense, but from my perspective, we can’t afford not to do it. These calls are a chance to get feedback, build a personal connection, and create loyalty. And loyalty spurs business growth: 80 per cent of your revenue will come from 20 per cent of your existing customers.

If you really want to blow a customer away, embrace the power of the little things. Here’s how we do it.

The opening gesture

Every company says that they care about their customers, but showing means more than telling. This starts with offering to do something helpful or thoughtful that goes beyond what you promise on paper. Just look at how car rental company Enterprise picks up their customers for free, or how online fashion success story ModCloth provides complimentary customized styling advice.

With You Move Me, our movers call when they’re en route to ask for a customer’s coffee order. It’s a simple act, but when you realize the coffee maker is packed on an already stressful day, a hand-delivered latte can feel like a small miracle. This powerful rapport-building hack costs just ten bucks and a pit-stop at Starbucks – that’s some great ROI.

The unexpected token

Waiters who include mints with their bill get tipped 21 per cent more than those who don’t. Turns out that a tiny gift is another inexpensive way to make a lasting impression. It’s all about creating a moment of delight, in addition to getting the job done right, that shows a customer you care.

Tech accessory startup HEX credits its success to the handwritten thank you note included with every purchase. Men’s grooming shop Beardbrand includes samples of their luxury beard oil in each package shipped. With WOW 1 DAY PAINTING, we leave a bouquet of Gerbera daisies on the kitchen counter after we’re done transforming a room with paint. All of these examples are affordable and more Instagrammable than a gift card (which 73 per cent of people say they dislike receiving).

The follow up

Collecting feedback is a common habit among successful companies: just asking (whether you act on it or not) drastically improves retention. Phone calls and online surveys work, or maybe you want to pull a Zappos and take customers out for coffee. We touch base with every single customer after we’ve hauled their junk or cleaned their gutters.

Ninety-six per cent of unhappy customers won’t bother to make a formal complaint, so if you aren’t asking how things went, you might never know why you’ve lost a customer – and you certainly won’t have the opportunity to make things right. The insight you gather can help your whole company recognize (and correct) problems with other customers too.

Whether it’s a bouquet or a latte, what these things have in common is that they’re a catalyst for storytelling. People don’t share anecdotes about the beige paint on their dining room walls; they talk about how it got done in a day, or how they found flowers in the kitchen at the end of it all. A satisfied customer tells an average of 42 people about a positive experience; you can get a lot of mileage from one cup of coffee. These are moments of human connection in the world of business, which can be rare. Treat your customer like a friend, and they’ll be telling your story for years to come.

hospital spaces/ "It's a roof over your head- it helps people out"

Feb. 25, 2017 "A more holistic approach to design for hospital spaces": Today I found this article by Kim Cook in the Edmonton Journal:

Health-care facilities can be stressful places for patients and visitors, with depressing waiting rooms, rows of uncomfortable seating, a blaring television. Designers of some medical spaces, however, are remedying the situation. A more holistic approach includes mood-elevating colours and artwork. Chairs are angled to look out the window. Screens offer calming nature scenes instead of newsfeeds.

There's softer overhead lighting and skylights. Sometimes, diffusers even waft a gentle breeze of lavender or citrus to mask the harsh scents of disinfectants and medicines.

Sheila Semrou, a Milwaukee-based design consultant who has worked on numerous health-care facilities, says she takes inspiration from local scenery and geography. Think big windows, natural light and a palette that reflects outside vistas.  "The results can be supportive spaces that nurture occupants and provide comfort," she says.

New research is showing that a lot of clinical design norms are hard on patients, she says. Bright, polished floors can be slippery, and create glare. Bland colour schemes aren't so much soothing as uninspiring.  "Studies suggest that some of the best environments for health and healing incorporate a variety of hues, use both warm and cool tones, and vary colour saturation," Semrou says.At the Diane L. Max Health Center in New York City, a project by Stephen Yablon Architecture, upbeat primary and neon colours were used on midcentury-style seating, facades and to define different areas of the building.

On the other hand, in the reception area of Memorial Sloan Kettering in West Harrison, New York, blonde terrazzo floors, rift white oak and chic, light blue chairs clad in walnut veneer create a serene space, designed by EwingCole.  In colder climes, a fireplace can add a welcoming feel at little cost, says Carolyn BaRoss, who leads a health-care interior design division at the New York firm Perkins and Will.

"A number of our projects in Canada and the northwestern U.S. have included fireplaces as part of the waiting areas and other lounges," she says. "We try to specify ones that look the most realistic and surround them with interesting materials. We've used both electric and gas fireplaces. They provide a source of warmth, but are fitted with a protective enclosure for safety."

BaRoss says an Orlando, Florida, project, Nemours Children's Hospital, has a "hospital in a garden" theme, with nature elements, daylight and views woven into the design. There are small "picnic blanket" designs in the flooring pattern, and child-size play areas, as well as "ceiling elements like the large flower in the dining area.

"Treatment areas are also benefiting from this kind of patient-focused design. The Florida Hospital for Children in Orlando and the Women and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, Australia, are among facilities offering the "Philips' Ambient Experience" in MRI suites.

Patients select a lighting colour, as well as audiovisual projections like nature scenes, to help ease anxiety during the procedures.At Mercy St. John's Hospital in St. Louis, an enormous vibrant butterfly greets visitors in the lobby, while patient floors are decorated with laser-cut images of animals.

BaRoss says new LED technology allows for more dimmable, flattering lighting, which can also be used to help patients find their way in a new facility.  At the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in New York City, designed by Perkins and Will, chairs face out onto the cityscape. Look out the window, and you'll also see Robert Indiana's large "Hope" sculpture on the street below. "The waiting room is typically where a patient will spend the most time. With that in mind, we took care to design an environment that's low-stress and soothing," says Dr. Brian Levine, the practice's director.

"We took advantage of the views by placing our waiting room in the brightest and most visually stimulating aspect of our floor plan. We chose light-colored wall coverings, flooring, and furniture to help reflect and carry the light throughout the room, so no patient would ever feel like they're in a 'dark corner,'" he says.Melissa Thompson, a health-care industry strategist from Westport, Connecticut, developed breast cancer shortly after giving birth to her daughter in 2015, and began a long treatment journey.

The experience got her thinking about how important physical environment was to her comfort and, she believes, even her recovery.  She didn't stay long at the first hospital she went to: "It smelled bad – like an old cafeteria full of chemicals."  But Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut and Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City were a different story. Rooms were oases of natural woods and light. Both hospitals had lounge areas where patients could relax outside of their rooms in a warm, comfortable atmosphere."I was noticeably happier, and discharged sooner," she says. 

See more at:


    Fred Piche is a resident of Ambrose Place, which reduced emergency calls by 31 per cent among its residents.

    Mar. 3, 2017 "It's a roof over your head- it helps people out": Today I found this article by Elise Stolte in the Edmonton Journal.  It was very inspirational to see the Ambrose Place help homeless people.  They profile 1 guy, but they also mention these stats:

    Up to 17 seizures in public a day. That's what Fred (Cujo) Piche was having when he lived on the street and tried to drink himself into a stupor.

    Now he has about five a week, say staff at Ambrose Place, a type of long-term care centre for the chronically homeless. They opened their doors for a tour Thursday as Mayor Don Iveson made one last pitch before the provincial spring budget to build more facilities of this kind.

    While living on the street, every time Piche had a seizure, someone would call an ambulance. Paramedics would check him out and, when he came to, he'd usually refuse help, stumbling off to have another seizure a short time later.

    Now, he's cut back on his drinking. He has seizures indoors, where nursing staff make sure he doesn't hurt himself. They've only had to call an ambulance once in 2-1/2 years.

    When he came to Ambrose Place, support worker Angela DeCoteau helped him clear dozens of criminal charges for public drinking and other nuisance offences, she said. For a while, they were in court every week.

    Since he moved in, he's only had four charges, all for drinking in public when he leaves for the day to hang out with old friends.

    "This place is a good place," Piche said. "It's a roof over your head — it helps people out. It's a home."

    Located on 106 Avenue near 97 Street, Ambrose Place has 42 units, a fraction of the 1,000 units Edmonton said it needed to build in the last 10-year plan to end homelessness. Iveson said the city will need $21 million a year for 10 years to get the job done.

    Ambrose Place is trying to help by working with elders, Alberta Health Services, Athabasca University and MacEwan University to track exactly what impact this type of housing has.

    They have 24-hour nursing staff, a kitchen, a First Nations elder and many support workers.
    For residents, they've been able to achieve a 31 per cent decrease in emergency calls, an 81 per cent decrease in days spent in a hospital ward, and a 58 per cent decrease in hospital admissions.

    Those are numbers calculated by comparing health records from the year just before Ambrose Place opened to residents' records during the first two years of operating.

    Executive director Carola Cunningham said staff are working to get police statistics as well, and translate the numbers into financial savings. The facility cost $12 million to build and $2.6 million a year to operate.

    "We're able to stop stuff before it happens," said Yvonne Kootenay-Amor, a licensed practical nurse. "We're able to listen to their lungs to see if there's bacteria before they get full-blown pneumonia."

    About a dozen residents have mental health illnesses that require anti-psychotic medication, she said. Now someone will notice if they're not taking them. The residents are no longer walking down a sidewalk in crisis.

    "It's a great concept," said Kootenay-Amor, who joined the staff three months ago to give back to her indigenous community. "It's an amazing facility and it's long overdue."

    Mar. 6, 2017 "Stitching together a future": Today I found this article by Youssef Ait Akdim in the Edmonton Journal:

    SALE, MOROCCO It is a school of last chances, both for its students and for the fading art they are learning, stitch by stitch.

    Each of the 13 young Moroccans now studying under fashion designer Fadila El Gadi had dropped out of school, whether through boredom or academic troubles. But now they spend nine hours a day in this free program, learning the traditional art of Moroccan embroidery — and the academic subjects they once left behind.

    Six girls and seven boys, ranging in age from 13 to 18, start the day at 7 a.m., taking turns making breakfast for the group. The day ends at 4 p.m. The training is expected to last two years, at the end of which, the hope is full-time work.

    Bent over an embroidery frame, 18-year-old Nadia is among El Gadi’s most gifted students and is already making a little money outside class.

    “I’m comfortable in this field. I would love to be able to do it professionally like Fadila,” she said.

    El Gadi launched the school in her home of Sale, a city near the capital, Rabat, because “I haven’t forgotten where I came from.”

    Embroidery made El Gadi’s career and she hopes the same will happen with the children at her school. Sandra Charteau, a professional embroiderer, comes twice a week to teach — although Charteau cannot speak Moroccan Arabic, the children are learning French and eventually English as part of their lesson plan.

    El Gadi hopes they will be able to establish themselves, either as artisans or in haute couture.

    “Demand is high for craftsmen. I myself am always looking for trained staff for my own studio.”

    My week:

    Mar. 15, 2017 "Employee jumps through drive-thru window to help ill officer":

    MIAMI -- A McDonald’s employee jumped right through a drive-thru window in order to help save a Miami-Dade police officer, reports CBS Miami.
    McDonald’s employee Pedro Viloria helped a driver who fell ill at the drive-thru window in Miami.
    “I thought, ‘If those kids lose their mother today, that’s going to be tragic,’” said Pedro Viloria.
    Viloria was working the window at the McDonald’s early Tuesday morning.
    He was serving breakfast to a lady in an SUV along with her children, a boy and a girl.
    Viloria noticed something wrong with the mother; so did the kids.
    “Her kids were screaming, ‘Mother, mother, stop it, mother what are you doing?’” Viloria recalled.

    On surveillance video you can see the SUV start to move. Apparently the woman’s foot was off the brake.
    Viloria knew he had to make a move, so he hopped out the service window in pursuit of the SUV and the stricken driver. He did it just as the SUV came to a stop up against the driveway curb.
    Viloria said he told the kids to call 911 right away.
    The kids did just that as a firefighter walked into the McDonald’s.
    The firefighter was unaware of what was happening, but soon enough he headed out knowing something was happening. He and his partner rushed to help; so did an off-duty paramedic.

    Within what seemed like seconds, fire rescue was on the scene.
    “I was with the kids telling them it was going to be alright,” Viloria said.
    McDonald’s released a statement applauding Viloria’s actions.
    “First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the officer and her family during this difficult time. I think I speak for our McDonald’s family when I say how proud we are of Pedro. He is an excellent employee, so it didn’t surprise me that he took immediate action and jumped through a window to help save this woman. And he was not the only member of the team that played a pivotal role in ensuring she received the medical attention she needed. A second employee, who asked to remain unnamed, assisted with CPR. Their quick thinking and action were everything in that moment.”
    Mar. 22, 2017: I'm supposed to get a call back from this Asian restaurant last Fri. but they didn't call me.  It was one of the ones that will be opening soon.  That's fine.

    Job interview #1: I did a job interview last Fri.  It was for an Asian restaurant that will open soon.


    1. I can work the hours because it's daytime.

    2. It's a sit-down restaurant and I can get tips.

    3. It's 2 buses to get there, and they come frequently.


    1. It was a new restaurant and the job security is not that good.  80% of all restaurants close down within the first 2 yrs.

    2. It's 2 buses to get there, but I feel like it's a little more effort to get to a regular job.  If it's 2 busses to get an office job, then I would make the effort.

    I have mentioned this before.  I would rather ride a bus for 1 hr instead of drive for 30min.  It's one of those situations with a pro and con.

    My opinion: I would work there if I get hired.

    Job interview #2 : Today I did a job interview.  My dad drove me there.  The location hasn't opened for this new Asian restaurant.  It will be a couple of months before I work there.  A couple of weeks to see I'm hired or not.


    1. It was a restaurant and it served food I liked.

    2. It was downtown and easy to get to.

    3. I can do the job.


    1. It was a new restaurant and the job security is not that good.  80% of all restaurants close down within the first 2 yrs.

    2. This is a mild con.  It was fast food and not a sit-down restaurant where you get tips.  When I went to the website, it didn't tell you if it was a sit-down restaurant.

    My opinion: I would work there if I get hired.

    Mar. 23, 2017 Job interview #3:  This was for a medical office.


    1. There are 2 buses to get there.  They come frequently.  I am willing to make effort to go there.

    2. The pay was very good.  It had benefits after 3 months.

    3. It was a medical office so it was with my meaningful career goal.


    1. It seems kind of hard and challenging.  It seems very busy.  I don't know if I can succeed.  There may be more people who are more qualified than I am.

    My opinion: If I get hired, I would work there.

    Asian restaurant called: I got a text message from another Asian restaurant.  I then looked it up on the internet and they were only open at night.  I called the manager back.  It closes at 9:30pm and if it's busy I would have to stay later. 

    I wanted a daytime job and it wouldn't matter if I had to stay later because it's the day.

    I would keep 70% of my tips if I worked at this place.

    I told him I wouldn't be going to the interview.

    Job interview #4: An Italian restaurant emailed me for an interview.  I passed my resume to them in person a couple of weeks ago.  There was an on the internet so I applied.  I went to the interview today.


    1. It was in downtown and easy to get to.

    2. The restaurant paid tips.


    1. It seemed like they wanted someone with hostess experience already.  When I passed my resume to them a couple of weeks ago as a server, they didn't call me at all.  They are still hiring a server, but they wanted someone with experience.

    2. The availability.  The manager did ask if I was going to school or will be, and I told him I wasn't.  He was looking for someone to work on Fri. or Sat. nights.  I wanted to work days.

    He was planning on hiring more part-time workers in the summer.

    My opinion: If I get hired, I would work there.

    Autistic muppet: Here's some light and fun news:

    Folks on Sesame Street have a way of making everyone feel accepted.

    That certainly goes for Julia, a Muppet youngster with blazing red hair, bright green eyes — and autism. Rather than being treated like an outsider, which too often is the plight of kids on the spectrum, Julia is one of the gang.

    Look: On this friendliest of streets (actually Studio J at New York's Kaufman Astoria Studios, where "Sesame Street" lives) Julia is about to play a game with Oscar, Abby and Grover. In this scene being taped for airing next season, these Muppet chums have been challenged to spot objects shaped like squares or circles or triangles.

    "You're lucky," says Abby to Grover. "You have Julia on your team, and she is really good at finding shapes!"

    Mar. 24, 2017 Kissara closing down: I was in downtown today.  I already put this on Facebook.  This women's clothing store in Commerce place is closing down.  It sells more older women's clothes like 40-50yrs old. 

    Mar. 25, 2017 Amy Jo Johnson: She was the Pink Power Ranger on the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers.  I watched that show when I was in gr. 3.  I loved that show and kids at school did too.  When I read this article and interview about her, it was insightful.

    How she was 21 yrs old and made a lot of money to her, but in industry standards, not really.  Here's an excerpt:

    Multiple Rangers were replaced after demanding higher wages. David Yost, the Blue Ranger, who later came out as gay, said he quit the show after enduring homophobic slurs from the crew.

    In a guest column for Variety this week, Johnson wrote that in addition to being paid "peanuts," she "almost died a few times because of the makeshift low-budget stunts we performed."

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    "Track your time, talent, and energy to succeed"/ job contract question

    Mar. 13, 2017 "Track your time, talent and energy to succeed": Today I found this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail:

    For the past 50 years, executives have focused on using financial capital wisely, since it was the most precious resource a company had. But today, according to two Bain & Company consultants, that’s no longer true. Financial capital is abundant and cheap. And that’s likely to continue for at least two decades, due to demographics; notably more and more people shifting from the heavy-spending years when they have children to the savings decades that follow.

    Instead, the consultants argue – after a study looking at the differences between top companies and less successful ones – three other resources demand attention: Time, talent and energy. Managing those well, instead of squandering them as we are inclined to do, is the key to success.

    “Companies have rigorous methods developed for managing financial resources. Investments have to exceed predetermined hurdle rates [for what the return will be]. The investment is tracked. But time, talent and energy are not tracked with the same rigour,” Michael Mankins, who with fellow Bain partner Eric Garton wrote the book Time, Talent, Energy, says in an interview.

    Time is the most obviously and frequently squandered, Mr. Mankins says in the interview. It’s scarce and critical. But we misuse it. He notes that Andy Grove, former chairman and chief executive officer of Intel, says we would never allow an employee to walk away with a piece of office equipment but they routinely walk off with their colleague’s time.

    And the pressure expands exponentially, in an era of greater telecommunications, as we connect with more people who connect us to more people. Then there are meetings, which also seem to mushroom. “You need to invest time as carefully as money,” he insists.

    Monday morning, look at the meetings in your calendar for the week and see how many you have set up that have too many people attending. Pare that down to the essential folks for the decisions being taken. His other quick tip: Eliminate “reply to all” on e-mail, either technically, by stripping it from computers, or through a cultural change you should model. Each reply to all tugs at people’s time.

    More broadly, follow in the footsteps of Alan Mulally, who, when he became CEO of Ford, found that the top executives came to head office every month for a week of meetings. He told them he had no idea if that was needed but insisted they would add no more meetings unless they subtracted some. The consultants call that a fixed time budget: Establish one now, based on the existing meetings, and begin reducing.

    Beyond that, organizational complexity is a drag on people’s time. Simplify. “If you think your work force is not as productive as it should be it’s not their fault. It’s your organization. You have practices and structures that are too complex and involve too many people. It’s an outcome of growth, and you must change it,” Mr. Mankins says.

    The key with talent, their study found, was deployment. There was hardly any difference in the number of star players between the top companies, where those A players composed 16 per cent of staff, and the regular companies, where they were 14 per cent of staff. The difference was they were deployed in the best companies on strategically important tasks rather than evenly across the firm’s functions. The consultants urge you to be more thoughtful, assigning these “difference makers” to roles where they truly can make a difference, as Apple, Google, Tesla and other top companies do.

    You also, obviously, want to improve your ability to find these A players and the best way to do that, the consultants found, is to have A players handle the hiring – not outside consultants and not B players, who may be challenged by the top talent they scout.

    Finally, focus on increasing the discretionary energy that people bring to their work. Engaged employees are 75-per-cent more productive than satisfied employees. But even more significantly, inspired employees are 125-per-cent more productive than satisfied employees. So you don’t just want to engage employees; you want to inspire them.

    And that will occur when their personal mission and ambition is aligned with the company’s mission and ambition. Toms Shoes has inspired employees because, for every pair they sell, the company gives a pair to somebody in need. You may not have such a gambit at hand but you can try to help employees see their personal link to corporate goals, give them more autonomy and manage humanely.

    Time, talent and energy are the key to success, the consultants argue. Find out where your company falls short and then improve.

    "I have tasks beyond the end of my contract. Should I keep working?": Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:


    My six-month contract ends in one week. I have not been offered a renewal, yet my supervisor is talking about work duties beyond the expiration date as if my employment continues indefinitely. I reminded her recently of the end date. She replied that everyone will soon have a performance review “except for a few employees who are not eligible.” Should I just keep working for the same pay after the Friday deadline, with no benefits?


    Chris Jones
    Associate, Litigation & Dispute Resolution, McLeod Law LLP

    This appears to be a fixed-term employment contract rather than a contract for services as you would see between a company and an independent contractor or consultant. The distinction can be important as the rights of employees and independent contractors are different.

    Most employment contracts are for an indefinite term and continue until one side terminates it. Unless an employer has just cause to terminate the contract, the employer will be required to provide advance working notice or pay in lieu of notice.

    A fixed-term employment contract lasts for a specified amount of time. When the end point of the fixed term contract is reached, employment is automatically terminated without either the employer or the employee needing to do anything further.

    The short answer is that you are not obligated to work after the expiration date. However, it may be in your best interest to continue working. If the employment relationship continues past the expiration date, and there is no agreement on a “new” expiration date, the courts have consistently held that the relationship ceases to be for a fixed term and, instead, continues under an employment contract for an indefinite term. That will be the case whether there is an offer of renewal or not.

    Keep in mind that the parties can always agree to change the terms of an employment relationship. It sounds as if your supervisor wants to keep you on as an employee. The upcoming expiration date of the contract could be used as an opportunity to renegotiate employment terms.


    Bruce Sandy
    Principal, Pathfinder Coaching and Consulting, Vancouver

    Your supervisor is obviously satisfied with your work and wants to keep you in your position. Does your supervisor know that you may not be satisfied with your current compensation and lack of benefits?

    Get clear on what you want and how you want to be viewed. Regardless of whether you stay or go, you want to get a positive reference and maintain a positive relationship with this client organization.

    You have an implied and continuing contract until either your employer or you choose to end it. If you want to continue to work with this client organization, do not end your contract abruptly unless another client organizaton wants to hire you right away. If this is the case, then you need to let your current employer know.

    If you want either increased compensation or full-time employment status, then continue to work, set up a meeting with your supervisor and indicate that you would like to continue under contract with increased compensation, or as an employee with appropriate compensation and benefits.

    "Terry O' Reilly knows marketing"/ complex change

    Mar. 1, 2017 "Terry O'Reilly knows marketing": Today I found this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail.  It's about marketing and I'm not really interested in that.  However, I did like it:

    The host of CBC Radio’s Under the Influence shares anecdotes and lessons covering the basics in a new book

    This I Know By Terry O’Reilly Knopf Canada, 283 pages, $34

    Terry O’Reilly, host of CBC Radio’s Under the Influence, knows marketing from long years in the trenches, first with ad agencies, then as co-founder of Pirate Radio and Television.
    His book, This I Know: Marketing Lessons from Under the Influence, opens with 14 sturdy, anecdote-infused chapters covering the basics of marketing – from strategy to storytelling to nudging – in an engaging, memorable way.

    His final chapter, a punchy series of “This I Know” statements, crystallizes those ideas and shares his most compelling beliefs.

    This, then, is some of what Terry O’Reilly knows: Don’t whisper a dozen things, say one thing loudly: Effective marketing messages are single minded. “If a commercial idea can’t be summed up in one line, it’s not ready to be a commercial yet,” he writes.

    And while he can be critical of ad agencies, here he lays the blame on clients, who overrule their agency experts, wanting “to stuff ten pounds of potatoes into a five-pound bag.”

    Agencies must display more backbone, insisting on single-minded messaging. Small brands need a big personality: A small company can’t compete with a larger company’s budget so it must take to a different battlefield, breaking through the clutter with a gutsy, vibrant
    approach that develops a distinctive personality.

    Radio is still powerful: It has endured the growth of movies, television, VCRs, the Internet and social media. People listen to radio alone, intent – a human voice whispering in their ear. That’s why, if you listen to his show, you consider him a reliable friend.

    Humour is the WD-40 of advertising: Since advertising is an interruption, you need humour to open the sticky door. It makes the intrusion polite and entertaining, giving listeners a smile in return for spending the time listening. It also shows your company doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    Creativity is an amplifier: Effective advertising should be interesting, provocative and surprising rather than blunt, boring and rude. It must evoke emotion, not just drown the audience in facts. “Creativity gets attention. Creativity amplifies the message,” he declares. But it’s not all that common. Watching TV between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., you might see 70 commercials, with perhaps two that are good. That’s a lousy batting average, he says, and the reason ad blockers are becoming common.

    The advertising industry needs way more female creative directors: Women control 80 per cent of consumer spending, yet only 3 per cent of creative directors in North America are female. “If the golden marketing rule is know thy audience, why aren’t women in the driver’s seat at agencies? It makes no sense to me. It has got to change,” he says.

    People over 45 have the most money and buy the most products: The advertising industry is infatuated with the 18- to 34year-old demographic. But boomers spend more in almost every category and, contrary to popular belief, will change brands if you make a good case.

    Advertising is an art: Marketing directors would prefer if marketing were scientific – if there was some formula and predictable results. But persuasion is an art. “Yes, there is a place for data and research and algorithms, but it still comes down to a blank page and an idea,” he says.

    Marketing rules are meant to be broken: When Dennis Hopper arrived on the set of Apocalypse Now, he told Francis Ford Coppola he intended to ad lib his lines. The legendary director replied, “You can’t change your lines until you know your lines.” The same holds true in marketing. Know the rules and then pick the right time to break them so you can grab attention and fulfill your mandate.

    Amateurs think marketing is all about selling, but pros know
    it’s about differentiation: You won’t sell if you haven’t distinguished yourself from competitors.

    Marketing is a glorious puzzle: “It has a lot of pieces, but putting the big picture together has kept me happy and engaged for over 30 years,” he says.

    And the book will keep you happy and engaged as you grapple with that marketing puzzle.

    "Five ways leaders can engage their team during complex change": Today I found this article by Caroline Brereton in the Globe and Mail:

    Thanks to erratic economies, digital disruption, demographic shifts and other forces, change and its challenges can blindside leaders every day.

    Health care leaders are in the midst of mergers or other complex changes to support Canada’s aging population, which is expected to increase from almost six million seniors today to more than 10 million in 20 years.

    Fallout from these or comparable changes in other sectors threaten a leader’s success, status or legacy.

    How does a leader mitigate risks and adeptly steer their team through change? The answer lies in focusing on people. Engage your team, partners, clients and other stakeholders to foster dynamic dialogue and co-creation.

    According to Dr. John Kotter, author and leadership professor emeritus, Harvard Business School, “70 per cent of all organizational change efforts fail, and one reason for this is executives simply don’t get enough buy-in from enough people for their initiatives and ideas.”

    We may not have all the answers but when we engage, we bring stakeholders’ questions, concerns and fears to the surface. As leaders, we need to listen to our stakeholders’ authentic feedback, reframe it, help them understand our perspective on issues and explain how we plan to address them.

    Without engaging, the vacuum fills with rumours that can rapidly spread through social networks and outspoken activists. We undo our team’s good work, if we fail to engage.

    Here are five proven ways leaders in multiple sectors can engage people during change:

    1. Start internally to set a shared vision

    A leader must consider each team’s priorities and the culture they need to manage through the change.

    Start by interconnecting your teams with common goals, shared quality indicators and a united vision. Regularly measure employee engagement, based on values, such as recognition, trust, communication and empowerment.

    Health care has unique challenges. Today’s patient care teams need to know how the change will impact the value of their work. To retain them, you must engage them with energizing work and the ability to co-develop a better way to deliver care.

    You need to mesh as a team before you can integrate with others. The more cohesive you are, the more you can engage the strengths of each other and effectively realize your organization’s new vision.

    2. Involve frontline employees and others to shape change

    Attain input from key employees, partners, vendors and others on the frontline.
    Understand what each of those stakeholders does to deliver your mission, not for your organization’s benefit but for the people you serve. Provide transparent communication and timely feedback opportunities that enable them to shape how and when processes change.

    Coordinate changes through carefully prioritizing and sequencing work that respects interdependencies. Consider how each change affects people and seek solutions to maintain continuity.

    3. Consult clients with a solutions-focus

    Engage clients, customers or patients through a structured, solutions-focused approach.
    Whether it’s a focus group, an advisory forum or exhaustive site visits, like Cargill’s “learning journeys,” define a clear scope and guiding principles to facilitate the process. Engage this group in a way that uncovers valuable insights about what really matters to them.

    Cancer Care Ontario developed a Patient and Family Advisory Council that our community care access centre (CCAC) modeled for its Share Care Council, with a mandate to provide input on programs or services. Feedback from our council informed a new approach to help patients transition from hospital to home, which reduced their readmission rate by 52 per cent.

    4. Engage those with the highest stakes

    Meet with those people most affected by change, such as employees, who will be re-located, or frail patients with new care providers.

    Take a long-term view on how the change will impact their lives and what supports they need, even beyond your strategic plan’s timeline. Thoughtfully interact with them in-person, explain your limitations and collaborate with them on long-term solutions.

    In its Authentic Advocacy report, the Arthur W. Page Society recommends enterprises move beyond transactional stakeholder activities to “long-term agreements based on shared belief and commitments, marked by true listening.”

    5. Probe for tough feedback and follow through

    Encourage feedback through broad-reaching formal tactics, such as surveys or an ombudsperson, even if it’s hard to hear.

    Use those tactics to ask questions or create opportunities to hear assumptions behind concerns. We can’t assume all input is based on the best or most up-to-date information. Taking this important step can lead to critical clarity. It may also prompt dialogue that leads to better solutions.

    Explain what is feasible, response plans and timelines; then, follow through.

    Engaging is not difficult but it takes time for a leader to put people at the centre of change. That time is invaluable because in the end, it’s those stakeholders’ commitments that make a change successful.

    Caroline Brereton is chief executive officer of the Mississauga Halton Community Care Access Centre (CCAC), as well as vice chair, Ontario Association of CCACs Board of Directors. She blogs at CarolineBreretonONCare.