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, March 7, 2017

"Don't let your brain get warped by money"/ "Saying no without causing offense"

Dec. 28, 2015 "Don't let your brain get warped by money": I cut out this article by Justin Weinhardt in the Globe and Mail on Jun. 19, 2015.  It's more of a psychological article:

Every day we make tradeoffs. Some appear small, like eating a quinoa salad for lunch instead of a pastrami sandwich so you can shed a few pounds before summer. Other tradeoffs are more important, like working longer hours to increase your bank account and climb the socioeconomic ladder, foregoing spending time with family and friends. Generally we are aware of the tradeoffs we are making. However, as you climb the socioeconomic ladder, you might be unaware that you will be leaving your empathy, compassion and charitable spirit below you.

This is your brain on money.

The effect of money on empathy

In an illuminating Tedx Talk, social psychologist Paul Piff shares a number of shocking studies on the influence money and greed has on behaviour. Mr. Piff begins his presentation by showing videos of people playing Monopoly. However, this is not your average game. One player is given twice the amount of money, able to collect more money passing Go and can use three dice. The video shows that as the game progresses the people with the most money become the people with the most deplorable behaviour. They are rude, aggressive and arrogant. At the end when asked why they won, the respondents who were randomly given advantage said it was because of their hard work and smart decisions.

So, people who have an advantage in Monopoly are mean – what does that mean for real life?

Mr. Piff and colleagues find that those who are lower on the socioeconomic ladder value communal relationships and are more empathetic and compassionate than those higher on the socioeconomic ladder, who value individual achievement and self-interest.

The effect of money and greed on ethical behaviour

Imagine the following day. You have a big negotiation coming up with an influential and successful business executive. On your way to the negotiation, you are stopped at four-way intersection – you got there first but a Mercedes-Benz S-Class cuts you off. Later, you see the same car blow right through a crosswalk ignoring the pedestrian on the corner. You arrive at the negotiation and notice the successful business executive is the owner of the Mercedes-Benz.

Your anxiety builds, as this is not the type of person you want to be negotiating with. During the negotiation, unbeknownst to you, the executive lies and gives you an unfair deal. As a final straw, you see the executive steal candy from a candy donation display that raises money for children. If this story seems impossible, I have bad news for you. Mr. Piff and colleagues found that each of these things were more likely to happen the more money you made – even stealing candy from children.

The effect of money on volunteering and prosocial spending

Can how you are paid influence how much you volunteer?

A study conducted by Sanford DeVoe and Jeffrey Pfeffer found that individuals who are paid hourly or bill their time are less likely to volunteer. In another experiment they conducted, individuals who billed their time in the experiment were less likely to send letters to the sick children than those who did not bill their time to volunteer. Remember this the next time you bill your clients.

Does the way we spend money change our happiness?

Research by Elizabeth Dunn, Lara Aknin and Michael Norton has found that those who spent money on others rather than themselves reported greater happiness. In addition, in an experiment where individuals were given money and told either to spend it on themselves or on someone else, those who engaged in prosocial spending – spending it on someone else – reported the greatest levels of happiness. Moreover, this effect has been replicated in 136 countries.

What is the ideal society?

Do we want a society where greed makes people less empathetic, compassionate and ethical? When we see inequality and unfairness, what should our response be?

If you think that unfairness and inequality are not issues, I urge you to watch this video of two monkeys receiving unequal payment. The monkey who received unequal pay for equal work is visually angry at the experimenter. Other primates are angered about inequality, what do we think?

Michael Norton and Dan Ariely find that Americans believe wealth is more evenly distributed than it is and would actually prefer it to be more evenly distributed. And these effects were true for all income levels. Sorapop Kiatpongsan and Michael Norton then found in a study of 55,000 people from 40 countries that people dramatically underestimated pay inequality between a CEO and a low-skilled worker.

Estimates of pay ratios between CEOs and unskilled workers ranged from 3.7:1 to 41.7:1. People’s ideal ratios ranged from 2:1 to 20:1. However, these estimates and ideal ratios are far from reality. In the United States the pay ratio of CEOs to unskilled workers is 345:1.

Self-awareness is key

Our ideal world is much different than the world we live in now. As you pursue your economic self-interest, remember there are tradeoffs. Understand the true cost of earning more money. When you make individuals high on the socioeconomic ladder self-aware and remind them about those lower on the ladder, emphasizing charity and compassion, the negative effects of greed go away.

The key to a better society is to remember we are all in this together.

My opinion: I want to say that there are a lot of rich people out there who are nice and generous like Oprah, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.

There are 5 comments on the Globe and Mail website:

Jim Hendricks 196 days ago
I have found in my career that those who obsess about money the most are the most disdainful in terms of vanity, self interest and misplaced sense of self. Business doesn't have to be win-lose - it should always be win-win.

Me: Yeah.

insanity later 195 days ago
PET said many years ago that money does funny things to people. Now I see the scientific evidence of this. Shame. Seems we are heading in that manner as we speak.

Bigfire45 195 days ago
Reads like a socialist fairytale leftie parents tell their kids so that they don't grow up and become "evil capitalists".

Expectationzs 195 days ago
Money buys freedom. The career isn't all that!

One day you will realize all those millions you made for the corporation will not lead to freedom. Only then will you realize you are truly on your own.

Me: Yeah on "Money buys freedom. The career isn't all that!"

chris99999999999 196 days ago
wow.I never realized.

Jan. 13, 2016 "For self-improvement products, guilt is a great motivator": I cut out this article by Susan Krashinsky in the Globe and Mail on Sept. 18, 2015.  Here is another good psychology article:

Inline image
It is a bit of wisdom well understood by any parent who has ever uttered the phrase, “I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.” Guilt is a great motivator.

But that’s not just true when it comes to convincing kids to turn around dismal grades or to rue the day they were caught trying a cigarette. Guilt can also be a powerful tool to inspire consumers to spend money.

New research from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business has found that people are far more likely to buy products associated with self-improvement when they experience feelings of guilt.

The paper, just published in the Journal of Consumer Research, may seem obvious: When people feel they’ve done something wrong, they want to fix it. But the effect is broader than that. Six studies with a total of more than 1,200 participants found that guilt can increase desire for self-improvement products that have nothing to do with the source of their guilt as well.

In what researchers call a “cross-domain effect,” some people may offset those feelings with an unrelated purchase, without realizing the two are linked. Feeling like you’re falling behind at work? You might decide to sign up for a gym membership, buy some running shoes, or download a fitness-tracking app. Upset at yourself for eating all those doughnuts? You might make an appointment with a financial planner. Reminded that you don’t do enough for charity? Maybe it’s time to finally learn how to make paella.

For marketers who advertise their products or services as a way to a better you – whether through education, fitness, nutrition, beauty or financial and career planning – the findings could have some fairly wide-reaching consequences.

“Guilt has this function of reminding you that you can do better,” said Thomas Allard, a doctoral candidate in marketing and behavioural science at UBC, and lead author of the research. “It can be motivating.”

To test this, the researchers performed a number of studies. In one, students on the UBC campus were asked if they would answer a few questions in return for a free drink. Some were asked how they felt about an ad for blood donation. The responses confirmed that it triggered feelings of guilt – a common reaction since many of us do not donate blood as often as we could.

Others were simply asked to answer questions about themselves. They were then given a choice between two types of Vitaminwater. In a separate study, the researchers had tested those two types to see which was perceived as being higher in self-improvement qualities. Nearly two-thirds of the students who had seen the guilt-triggering ad chose the option perceived as better for them, compared to just 40 per cent of those who had not seen the ad.

To further examine the idea, another study had people recall a recent occasion when they felt guilty for letting someone else down. When asked to rate a fitness-tracking mobile application, those people were much more likely to say they would use it, compared to other participants who had not been asked to recall such an experience.

In a similar experiment, people who had recalled a guilty experience were more likely to choose to receive $1 less in payment for study participation, in order to receive a product for students designed to help with study skills.

Other experiments verified that the increased desire for self-improvement products over other products was tied to guilt but not to other related emotions such as shame or embarrassment.

As an example of how this can be useful to marketers, Mr. Allard pointed to an ad campaign for Nike Inc. that ran in Spain in 2012. The campaign slogan was, “If something is burning you up, burn it up by running.” It suggested a number of scenarios where people could release negative feelings by going for a run, including “I’m 26 and still live with my parents” and “My little dance last night in Huertas [a neighbourhood in Madrid known for its nightlife] is today’s trending topic.”

Mr. Allard pointed out that marketers choosing to use negative emotions should follow this example and pair those messages with positive ways people can improve themselves.
“Using negative emotions for marketing is hard,” he said, explaining that it can backfire if people respond by tuning out the message.

Jun. 29, 2016 "Saying no, without causing offence": I cut out this article by Linda Blair in the Edmonton Journal on Oct. 16, 2015.  I put this in my job email, but it could be used in regular life situations.

1. Buy time- tell them you have to look at your agenda and think about it to see if it's realistic to achieve.

2. Keep it simple - say you're busy and don't add anything else.

3. Create distance- leave a message or email and not face to face.

Jul. 1, 2016 Salary tutor: I found this in Career Connections on how to negotiate your salary.

Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want: It also mentioned this book:

From the authors of Women Don’t Ask, the groundbreaking book that revealed just how much women lose when they avoid negotiation, here is the action plan that women all over the country requested—a guide to negotiating anything effectively using strategies that feel comfortable to you as a woman.

Whether it’s a raise, that overdue promotion, an exciting new assignment, or even extra help around the house, this four-phase program, backed by years of research and practical success, will show you how to recognize how much more you really deserve, maximize your bargaining power, develop the best strategy for your situation, and manage the reactions and emotions that may arise—on both sides.

Guided step-by-step, you’ll learn how to draw on your special strengths to reach agreements that benefit everyone involved. This collaborative, problem-solving approach will propel you to new places both professionally and personally—and open doors you thought were closed.

Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want

My week:

Feb. 28, 2017 Jennifer Garner urges childhood education: Today I found this in the Edmonton Journal:

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Hollywood actress Jennifer Garner is asking Kentucky lawmakers to spend $1 million on an early-childhood education program.

The star of the TV show "Alias" and movies including "Juno" and "Dallas Buyers Club" testified before the House budget committee on Tuesday on behalf of Save The Children.
Garner said the program works well in Kentucky, offering literacy and other development programs for children.

Lawmakers said they support the program but noted the state does not have much money to spend because of shortfalls in public pension programs.

Garner is from West Virginia. She testified along with Mark Shriver, Save The Children Action Network president and a nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy.
She is also scheduled to meet with Gov. Matt Bevin.
This story has been clarified to reflect that Garner is from West Virginia, but is not a native.

"Documentary examines surrogacy boom: 'I gave someone else a family'": Today I found this article by Wency Leung in the Globe and Mail.  Being a surrogate mother is a meaningful job, but most surrogates don't get paid.  I also don't want to have kids for myself or for other people.

Looks like being a surrogate mother is not a job for me.

Mar. 2, 2017 Job search complaints:

AIL Canada: I did an interview with American Income Life Insurance Canada as a benefits specialist last month.  The job requires for me to get a life insurance license with a driver's license.  I told them the job was not for me.

A couple weeks later, they call me again for an interview.  I told them about it and to remove me from the list.

This week on Mon. one of them calls me about it.  A few hours later, one of them calls me about it again, but from a different number.  I told them to remove me from the list.

Restaurant job search: I go on Kijiji to look for a job.  They are hiring a lot of cooks, and I'm looking for a server kind of position.  I really have to dig through it.  This is a mild complaint.

Sunrise Records will buy HMV stores: I read this in the business section of the Edmonton Journal:

Is Elite Enterprises a scam?: I have to look into it first.  It seems to selling home alarm systems.  They called me and they said they were a hiring a lot of people like customer service representatives and managers.

I went to this website and it says mainly good pay, but long hours.

This says it isn't a scam:

I went to the Better Business Bureau.  There was 1 complaint.  I see the business address and it is the same place I applied to.

My opinion: I find that this is not a scam.  However, it seems like they were hiring CSRs, and I wanted more of an office administrative job, that doesn't require selling.  It's about home alarm systems and I don't think I can sell that.

It's also kind of far, I have 2 busses that come frequently, but then I would walk a bit.

Kijiji job scams: I seem to find a lot of these in the "customer service" and
part-time, students" sections.  I know there are some legit ones, but it's hard.

"Eat more, waste less": I found this article by Andrea Chiu in the Globe and Mail on Mar. 1, 2017.  Here are some excerpts:

According to a 2014 report from Value Chain Management International, Canadians waste $31billion in food each year, 9 per cent of it at restaurants. So when he learned that luminaries such as Michelin-starred chefs Dan Barber and Massimo Bottura were involved in projects that highlighted food waste, Shepherd was inspired to do something here.

The result is the first Trashed & Wasted food festival, which will be held on March 1 at Toronto’s Wychwood Barns. The goal is to get people to rethink how they approach kitchen scraps and inspire them to waste less, while also raising money for Second Harvest, which collects unused food and distributes it to community agencies. Chefs will create dishes from rescued food and local brewers and distillers will make libations from ingredients that would normally be considered garbage.

In the meantime, festival organizer Shepherd says there are many things Canadians can do at home to participate in reducing waste. The 2014 report highlighted the fact that 47 per cent of all food waste comes from homes. Start with something simple, such as using the cooled water used to cook vegetables to water houseplants or garden, Shepherd says.

“Share or swap food with a neighbour. Just knock on the door, bring them something,” he says. “It’s more than just reducing our food waste and environmental impact. It’s about community as well.”

My opinion: I hate wasting food.  I rarely ever do it.  This is a meaningful job/ restaurant article.  I know some restaurants (big and small) have things like "Buy this food order, and $1 will be donated to this charity."  

Cardinal: Today I finished watching the season finale.  It was good.  You should at least watch the pilot to see if it's for you.

This show also got 2 more seasons:

Taken: I saw the pilot this week.  I never saw the movies before.  The pilot is good with the action like fights, shootouts, and car chases.  However, I don't like it enough to watch another episode.

"As former CIA agent Bryan Mills deals with a personal tragedy that shakes his world, he fights to overcome the incident and exact revenge."

Mar. 3, 2017 Break from routine: Today I woke up a little late.  I helped my grandma go grocery shopping.  I hardly ever go grocery shopping.  The morning I didn't get on the computer and did my job search.  I only did in the afternoon.

Shawn Sadri kicked off plane because of a joke: Another story of "It was just a joke":

Celebrity dentist Shawn Sadri said he was booted from an American Airlines flight after he made a wisecrack about President Trump’s immigration policies.

The 35-year-old Iranian-born dentist to the stars was on a plane that was scheduled to depart from Los Angeles to New York on Sunday when, he said, he saw a Spanish-speaking boy crying and running down the aisle.

When a flight attendant came over to see what was happening, Sadri said, he made a joke that perhaps the boy was upset because Trump was going to deport him.
“She said, ‘Don’t say that — that’s so rude,’ ” Sadri told The Washington Post. “It was just a simple joke.”

“I said, ‘You must be a Trump supporter,’ and she said, ‘So what if I am?’ Once I said ‘Trump supporter’ and ‘deported’ — that was it.”

"Man hopes to see his sisters after 30-yr absence": Today I found this in the Edmonton Journal:

An Edmonton man is longing to see his sisters again now that they have been located after being missing for more than 30 years.

Ken Hakze, 57, was notified last week that police had finally tracked down his two sisters, Anna and Kym, who are both living in the United States.

“My brother Gill called me last week when he was told. He was so shocked. He was really without words at first. We were always hoping they were alive,” said Hakze.

Anna and Kym Hakze were reported missing in 2003 by their mother, who hadn’t seen or heard from her daughters in more than a decade.
The last time the women were seen by family was in the mid-1980s.
Anna Hakze, now 67, was estranged from her family at the time, but was close to her young sister Kym, now 53.

The two walked away from their lives, but were found recently when a detective did online searches on a book written in 1984 by an author who turned out to be one of the women.
They did not know that they were considered missing and that their family had been looking for them, Lethbridge police Staff Sgt. Scott Woods said.

“After so many years, it’s very unusual for a case like this to end with good news,” Woods said in a news release.
“Usually we find ourselves telling a family their loved one has met with some sort of tragedy.”
The women’s mother died some years ago.
“She never knew and that’s very sad,” Ken Hakze said. “She always wanted to reconcile.”

Mar. 7, 2017 Time after Time: I saw the first 2 episodes last night.  It's really good and fun as H. G. Wells chases Jack the Ripper in his time machine.  You should check out the pilot.

"The adventures of young H.G. Wells and his time machine."


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