Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

"My startups has six cofounders. Here's how it works"/ "Holiday season is do-or-die for small operators"

May 8, 2017 "My startup has six co-founders. Here’s how it works": Today I found this article by Jas Chahal in the Globe and Mail:

Our team may be larger than usual, but everyone on it has different backgrounds and skill-sets, which gives us a strategic advantage

JAS CHAHAL Orthopaedic sports medicine surgeon, assistant professor at the University of Toronto and co-founder of Therapia

Choosing co-founders to start a venture is one of the most important decisions an entrepreneur has to make. It’s common to see a founding team with two or three members, but at Therapia, an on-demand physiotherapy platform, we have chosen a team of six co-founders, all of whom have different backgrounds and skill-sets, which we believe gives us a strategic advantage. Here’s why:

Everyone has a different area of expertise

One of our greatest assets as a founding team is that we each have our own strengths, and more important, that the others respect those strengths. We were careful when building our team to ensure that each founder had a diverse and specialized background.

Two of our founders are physiotherapists who bring a combined 30 years of rehab industry experience. They understand the unique problems that physiotherapists, patients and business owners experience. Two of us are medical practitioners, so we’re the ones prescribing courses of physiotherapy after surgery, and dealing with the ramifications of treatment that is cut short.

We understand the value and challenges of physiotherapy from a referrers perspective so we can better tailor our platform to the medical community. We also have a technical co-founder who is the expert on the platform itself, and a finance-focused co-founder who handles financial projections and modelling.

Six founders with varied backgrounds mean that each person owns their area of the business, and decision-making becomes easier when you defer to the expert in that area. If a decision needs to be made related to physiotherapy, we know who to turn to for the final call; and the same is true of decisions related to tech, finance and medical.

Clear leadership is key

Most startups work for a long time with a flat management structure with founders being responsible for every aspect of the business. As a company matures, there comes a time for a clear leadership and organizational structure to emerge. At Therapia, in order to remain agile and responsive, we nominated a CEO early. He has been given the power to make decisions to move the company forward without delay. We think of our founders as a board of directors. They help set the big picture strategy, but leadership needs to be empowered and trusted to execute the strategy with speed and confidence.

Pods help categorize responsibilities

When it comes to execution, a team of six can be too many. At Therapia, we have created small working groups or “pods” that are responsible for delivering results in their key area.

We have pods focused on marketing/analytics, funding/business development and platform development. We have found that given clear objectives, a group of two to three can move very quickly.

There is cross-over, just like a marketing team would talk to a sales team about priorities and plans, but this approach helps us to execute quickly on our core priorities within the company, and it’s an approach that could work for any small business, not just one with multiple co-founders.

We stay connected around the clock

Since all of Therapia’s founders are busy professionals, we needed tools to help us stay connected throughout the day. Like many startup teams, we are not always in one physical space together and we work around the clock, so we utilize tools such as Slack, Dropbox, Google Docs and Asana to collaborate and work together.

Communication has been key for our founding team. We also do mandatory weekly inperson sessions so we can catch up face-to-face. Communication tools can help bridge the gaps, but nothing beats face time.

It’s clear that large founding teams may not be the best option for every startup, but it works for us.

May 12, 2017 "Holiday season is do-or-die for small operators": I found this article by Chris Atchison on Nov. 26, 2015 in the Globe and Mail:

Misti Mussatto is making her stock list, checking it twice – and hoping it has the right mix of toys for this holiday season.

The co-founder of Toy Jungle and Toybox, two Vancouver-area independent shops, hopes that her stores will be go-to stops for children compiling their wish lists for Saint Nick – not to mention weary parents trying to find the hottest gifts.

For a small to medium-sized retailer such as Ms. Mussatto – whose stores will generate much of their $2-million in annual revenue over the holidays striking the right balance between the season’s hottest sellers and traditional items can be as much art as science. Miss the mark and it can spell doom for a store’s bottom line.

“In our 18 years in business, it’s a question we’ve been working hard to come up with better answers to,” Ms. Mussatto concedes.

An even more pertinent question for independent retailers is how to make sure their often limited cash flow can deliver the inventory that customers want, while ensuring strong return on investment by the end of the year.

Those critical decisions are often made in the face of overwhelming competition from, Wal-Mart, Indigo Books & Music and other large-scale retailers – both online and off – that have the industry clout and deep pockets to acquire large quantities of the year’s must-have items.

“The biggest challenge we see in our industry is that every year some toys become hot because they’re well-advertised,” Ms. Mussatto explains. “But the big companies don’t always ship to us first. So if they’re short on something, Wal-Mart and Toys “R” Us will get it all, or we won’t get it at a competitive price.”

It’s a scenario that plays out across retail categories, from toys to electronics to apparel. The larger competitors also have the capital to restock inventory or pivot and introduce new items if their preholiday product-picking gambit falls flat – all while obtaining more favourable payment terms from suppliers.

Indeed, managing cash flow is just as important as carrying the right merchandise at this time of year. This is where smaller players need to think creatively, says Ken Morris, principal at the Boston-based retail consulting firm Boston Retail Partners LLC.

“Small retailers have something their competition doesn’t: the theatre of the shopping experience,” explains Mr. Morris. “You can’t compete by selling brand-name merchandise that people can buy anywhere.”

Instead, smaller operators should stock unique products or focus on high-touch customer service as a differentiator, says Mr. Morris. They should stock merchandise so they can satisfy demand for colours, sizes and the varied preferences of a retailer’s often diverse customer profile.

In the toy business, for example, sales are often driven by the top 10 most popular items, which are usually stocked by big-box stores. To overcome that challenge, Ms. Mussatto developed a top 10 list chosen by her young customers via online voting throughout the year. One lucky child wins a prize each month for his or her submission.

In essence, Toy Jungle fuels its own product demand with the help of its pint-sized clientele, at the same time creating a more immersive online and offline experience.

Ms. Mussatto is also careful to consult with suppliers for their take on the year’s hot sellers. That’s critical, says Maureen Atkinson, a senior partner with J.C. Williams Group, a Toronto-based retail consultancy.

“The problem with asking customers what they think they’re going to want is that they don’t really know,” she says. “It’s important to look for suppliers you can really depend on for good information, not just to push their goods, but somebody who has the experience and can help you sort through whether products will really sell.”

Securing the right items still requires adequate cash flow, however.

As Ms. Atkinson notes, retailers need to build relationships with their suppliers to secure favourable payment terms – often 60 to 90 days – to help them build cash flow, while considering other tools such as inventory financing, a tactic that allows retailers to leverage purchased inventory to provide cash flow.

Some store owners rely on more traditional methods.

Paula Conning, the owner of Clerksons Home Store Ltd., in Collingwood, Ont., about two hours north of Toronto, uses a bank line of credit and a credit card to purchase inventory once she researches popular furniture and home accessory trends for the season.

“This year we’re stocking about $30,000 more in inventory over last year to prepare for extra Christmas business,” she says. “I like to buy [stock] with my Visa card upfront because that makes my vendors happy. You can sometimes get a 5-per-cent discount if you do that, or take 90 days to pay.”

Ms. Conning says maintaining strong business relationships with her suppliers – in part by paying them promptly – has helped her secure balance-sheet-boosting terms since she first purchased Clerksons with her husband in 2013.

She also offers unique merchandise and has an interior designer on staff who can help customers select furniture or decor for their homes or those of loved ones.

This personal touch helps differentiate her store from big-box competitors. It also delivers strong sales and helps move inventory in a season when wallets open and generosity can trump financial prudence.

“People forget their budgets and buy what they want to buy [at Christmas],” she says. “It’s a terrible time to run out of things that customers want.”


Nov 26, 2015

moderate this........

"Successful leaders focus on execution"/ Lulu Cohen- Farnell

May 1, 2017 "Successful leaders focus on execution": Today I found this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail:

Heidrick & Struggles consultants Colin Price and Sharon Toye spend most of their waking hours trying to understand why some companies succeed and others don’t. When they set out on an extensive four-year study of that puzzle, they expected to find that strategy is critical. But that’s not what they learned.

“We didn’t find strategy doesn’t matter,” Mr. Price says in an interview. “But we found it matters less than in the past.”

They looked at 22 industries, expecting that the top-four companies in each would be doing different things strategically from the bottom four. But the strategies of all the companies in an industry were usually similar, even if the differences in results could be huge. “Execution capabilities drive shareholder value these days,” Mr. Price says.

It’s often thought that some leaders succeed because they are in the right industries, while others are mired in lacklustre fields where success is unlikely. But again, the research suggests otherwise.

In their book, Accelerating Performance, they found the difference between being average in the most and least profitable industries was 19 percentage points, but the average variance between the best-performing and worst-performing companies within an industry is 34 percentage points, almost double. Again, execution is critical.

At the top of their execution recommendations: You need to value time even more than you realized. Mr. Price, in the interview, asks us to imagine a chief executive officer with 10 to 20 things on today’s plate. “Assume 95 per cent are sensible. So success is not determined by the quality of the list, but whether you get it done quicker than the next guy or gal,” he says. And that applies throughout the organization.

“Organizations with a high metabolic rate outperform others. Strategy will only get you so far. You need to accelerate the metabolic rate and outperform others,” he says.

Metabolic rate? That’s an unusual phrase for business. But it normally refers to energy and fits the 13 factors they found driving or dragging corporate performance, which they grouped into four categories under the rubric META, drawn from the first letter of each word: mobilize, execute, transform, agility.

For mobilize, what’s critical is an internal focus, fatigue and confusion. For execute, the factors are complexity (too many layers in particular), unclear accountability and skills gaps.

For transform, it’s fear (leading to missed opportunities), complacency and competition (such as silos, distrust and information hoarding).

Agility is about hindsight (always looking at the past for answers to current problems), immunity (inability to learn from mistakes and desire to avoid failure at any cost), inflexibility and fragility (unable to recover from setbacks).

That’s a lot to keep in mind, and it expands when the consultants then list 39 differentiating actions drawn from those META factors that can determine your success. Here are some they highlight:

Put big people in big jobs: Know your people and know your jobs – and make sure the best people get the big jobs. Sounds obvious, but it’s rare. If your profit was broken into 20 chunks, are the best 20 people heading those units? Usually the alignment is about 30 per cent to 40 per cent, with the big people wrapped up in today’s operations rather than dealing with tomorrow’s important activities. Do you have your firepower where it matters most?

List your priorities on one hand: Companies often have lots of priorities, with associated metrics. The important stuff can get lost in the murk. Help your team to see what are the most important actions. Usually, those will be priorities that, like dominoes, affect many other priorities.

Treat business units as guests, not family: Their research shows that companies lose 40 per cent of their possible value by staying in businesses, countries or products long after the competitive advantage has waned. Jettisoning wasted ventures will save costs and heighten focus as a smaller loss in revenue than you would expect.

They also urge you to halve the number of metrics you use and reduce layers, making “simple,” “consistent” and “scalable” your watchwords. Indeed, the biggest mistake managers make is having too many layers. Worse, often they aren’t even aware of how many they have. The leaders don’t want to change, given the politics involved and the threat to their own power. Another intriguing recommendation: Keep your people healthy. The top companies were actively investing in the physical, emotional and spiritual health of their staff while the laggards weren’t.

So don’t get fixated on strategy. Remember that execution – accelerating performance – is vital.

The Ladder: Lulu Cohen-Farnell : Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:

Lulu Cohen-Farnell is the founder of Real Food for Real Kids (RFRK), a Toronto-based company that prepares and delivers healthy meals and snacks to more than 15,000 kids every day in childcare centres, elementary schools and camps.

I grew up in Paris with grandmothers who cooked all day long. After school, the kitchen was my playground. For me, it’s not a chore to cook – it’s an outlet for creativity, it’s psychotherapy, it’s reflection, it represents many things to me.

Within our family, healthy food and real food was a central thing. My mom was very creative and made everything from scratch. She was a very strong role model for me and told me ‘anything is possible,’ you just have to work hard. It’s a mindset.

I went to business school, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I didn’t know I was going to be in the food business, but during exams, I would cook for all my friends when we studied together. At 1 a.m., when everyone was hungry, I’d make something out of nothing.

I left home at 18 and lived in different countries early in life. I lived in Italy and worked for the Gillette Group, marketing liquid paper. I lived in London for two years and worked for a restaurant group. I was good at branding and promotion, and I was good with people and relationships.

In 1997, I went to South Africa with a friend. Two weeks into my trip, I met David [Farnell], my husband, at a wine-tasting dinner. He was a 25-year-old guy from Massachusetts, and three days after we met, I moved in with him.

My husband was offered a job in Toronto, and he said, ‘What do you think? Toronto is a great city. It has great summers.’ He didn’t tell me the winters were horrible. I came here in July, 1999. I arrived on a Wednesday, and, by Saturday, I had my first cottage experience.

I think [having my son] was the start of me being an entrepreneur. I was working for a brand-strategy firm in Toronto when my son, Max, was born. After a year of [maternity] leave, I was looking for daycare and I was shocked by the state of the food for children. It didn’t matter how expensive, how great the daycares were, they all had something in common: highly processed food.

I asked my son’s daycare [at the YMCA], ‘Can I bring my food in?’ and they said yes. I always ate really well and my passion for cooking was amplified by having a child, so I was making all these purees and using chia and coconut oil and flaxseed oil. I brought Max’s food every day and it was noticed by the caregivers. One day they asked me if I could help them with snacks. We did a pilot and, after six months, they asked, ‘Can you help us expand this program to 12 more YMCAs?’ I thought, ‘I love this, I’m happy every morning, I’m changing the way these kids are eating.’ It was my calling.

I quit my job and started Real Food for Real Kids in May, 2004. David joined me about a year later. Through word of mouth, other centres heard about us, and they asked, ‘Can you do lunches [too]?’ When we started, we knew nothing about the industry, the regulations. We learned as we went, and we grew very organically.

I’m still learning about being a leader. Working with David, who is my partner in life and who I love, is a challenge in itself. We don’t always agree. But we find solutions together, we compromise. Being a leader is learning how to listen, learning how to make mistakes and remembering always there is a lesson in everything.

Hire people that share the same values. You have to find the right people who will get it, who will do the work the way you would do it. It’s about finding people that are mini-entrepreneurs, in a way. And don’t be afraid of sharing challenges with your staff. We ask everyone for feedback and have a very open policy when it comes to sharing ideas.

You need to accept that change can be good. We’re evolving constantly and we have to be adaptable to our market. Attend conferences and connect with people and nurture the relationships you have with your clients.

David and I could not have done this without each other. We have two children, and [RFRK] is our third kid and it’s probably the most challenging one. We have issues and challenges and we stick to it and we don’t give up. That’s my biggest advice to anyone: never give up.

As told to Shelley White. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

TV and movie comparisons/ my old scripts

Feb. 14, 2016 Comparisons:

A character kidnaps the wrong person:

It was done on the TV show In Plain Sight.  The bad guys were to kidnap Brandy, but instead kidnapped Mary who is a FBI Witness protection agent.

It was kind of done in the movie Alpha Dog:

1999, Claremont, California. Middle-class kids, in their 20s, talk trash, wave guns, hang out in a pack. Johnny Truelove, drug dealer and son of a underworld figure, threatens Jake Mazursky, an explosive head case who owes Johnny money; Jake responds by breaking into Johnny's house. On impulse, Johnny and a couple pals kidnap Jake's 15-year-old brother, Zach. Zach's okay with it, figuring his brother will pay the debt soon. Johnny assigns his buddy Frankie to be Zach's minder, and they develop a brotherly friendship. Zach parties with his captors as things begin to spin out of control. Group think, amorality, and fear of prison assert a hold on the pack. Is Zach in danger? Written by

Also this movie:

A senator arranges for his son, a rich white kid who fancies himself black, to be kidnapped by a couple of black actors pretending to be murderers to try and shock him out of his plans to become a rapper.

Character A chases another Character B to get something that A wants:

Premium Rush:

In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city.

The TV show Dark Angel had an episode called "Art Attack" where 2 things were delivered to 2 different places.  Max then has to deliver to the right people.  The boss Normal was kidnapped by the mob so Max had to save his life by delivering the package.

Sept. 5, 2016 A character or characters running in the woods: The Blair Witch Project, The Hunger Games.

Mar. 5, 2017:

The line "I would rather be judged by 12, than carried by 6": It's mainly on cop shows.

I saw this on the TV show Frequency:

"A police detective in 2016 discovers that she is able to communicate with her father via a ham radio, despite the fact that he died in 1996."

I watched the Training Day pilot and a character says the same thing too:

"TV follow-up to the 2001 film 'Training Day' about a rookie cop partnered with a corrupt officer."

Mar. 7, 2017 The lead character's close friend/ cop partner dies.  The lead character avenges his or her death:

Training Day pilot: Kyle's cop partner was killed on the job.  Kyle has to avenge her death in the pilot.

Arrow episode: In season 5, Dinah's cop partner was killed and she avenges his death.

APB: The pilot has the billionaire Gideon's friend killed as he was protecting him.

"After witnessing a violent crime, a tech billionaire purchases a troubled police precinct, rebooting it as a private police force."

The pilot was average.  I never watched the show after that.

Writing tip: A character has to have a deep and meaningful reason to achieve a big goal.  It also has more drama, conflict, and tension and raises the emotional stakes.

Mar. 17, 2017 "2 worlds colliding."  A Bad Guy and a Good Guy are together.  A Bad Guy gets into the Good Guy's personal life and professional workplace:

It was done on Mary Kills People episode "Wave the White Flag" where the drug dealer Grady goes to the hospital that Mary works at.

It was done before on Rookie Blue episode "Going Under."  Chris arrests his personal drug dealer Jamie (played by Edmonton actor Kyle Mac) and Jamie is at the precinct.

Apr. 14, 2017 A character goes missing.  Years later, he or she reappears:

The TV show Thirteen:

"26-year-old Ivy Moxam steps out of an ordinary house, on an ordinary street, on an ordinary day. Ivy hasn't been seen for thirteen years, she was kidnapped in 2003 at the age of thirteen."

The Family: This show came out in 2016.  It was very good with the writing and acting.

"A community is rattled when a politician's son, who was presumed murdered years ago, returns home."

Apr. 17, 2017 A character force feeds kids and teens medication:

I was watching a Blindspot season 2 episode called "Senile Lines."

"As the team tries to defend itself against an old rival, a tattoo leads them to a mysterious death at a foster home."

It turns out the foster mother was feeding the foster kids and teens she was taking care of, with this medication to help them.  It was really to test the medication on them so this doctor and drug company could get their drugs FDA approved faster.

My script: It reminded me of the second TV series I ever wrote when I was 15 yrs old and in gr. 10.  I wrote something like this before.  It was more about this school that was forcing teens/ students to take medication (like Ritalin) to improve their grades.

The script was called Wired.  It wasn't really developed, because there was no deeper reason.

Why is the school force feeding medication to students to get good grades?  There is drama, conflict, and tension there.

So the school gets good grades and then get more money for the school? 

Or you can give the students really easy tests so they can get good grades.  A couple of months ago, I read in the Edmonton Journal about teachers inflating grades.

A family adopts a kid/ teen:

Kyle XY:

"A family takes in a formerly institutionalized teen savant who is missing standard human behaviors such as anger, joy and love."

This is Us:

"Follows a unique ensemble, as their paths cross and their life stories interwine, from sharing the same birthday, to so much more than anyone would expect."

A family adopts a baby here.

My script: It reminded me of the first TV series script I wrote called Outlier.  The family has 3 adopted kids and then a cousin moves in with them.  The cousin was eccentric with quirky habits.  I was 14 yrs old and in gr. 9.

Apr. 24, 2017: I was watching Quantico and it reminded me of the show Alias.  When Quantico first came out, it was training people to be in the FBI.  In season 2, it was training people to be in the CIA.  On Alias, it was about a young woman was a CIA agent and became a double agent.

Teens and kids trained to be spies:

Wired: My TV script of teens being trained to be spies was inspired by me watching Alias.

Alex Rider: This was a book series that I read.  It turned into the movie Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, but it didn't go well at the box office so there was no sequel.

"After the death of his uncle, the 14-year-old schoolboy Alex Rider is forced by the Special Operations Division of Britain's secret intelligence service, MI6, for a mission which will save millions of lives."

Spy Kids: Kids as spies.

"The children of secret-agent parents must save them from danger."

Kingsman: The Secret Service:

A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

This is my right brain/ writer making connections.

My left brain is saying: There is no way what the TV show Quantico teaches the recruits, they would ever teach teens these things.  The teens would not be able to get into these places and missions because they are teens.

I also thought no teen was really good or smart enough to be trained as spies because they are so young.  I know there are teens who have already decided what they want to be and careers they want to go into. 

When I was 14 yrs old, I wanted to be a TV writer and producer and I was going for that dream until after I graduated out of high school. 

However, I was deterred when I couldn't get into NAIT's TV program and went to their Graphic Communications program instead for a yr.  Then I went and started into the TV writer path again by getting into Professional Writing at MacEwan. 

I would not be good enough with the intelligence to get into FBI or CIA or be a cop.

Schools for specific talents: I was thinking about Victoria Performing Arts school and lots of performing art schools.

There is Wagner and they're a tech school.

However, there is no high school about law enforcement.

May 18, 2017 A flash forward to a few years into the future:

On Blindspot season 2 finale: There is 2 yrs into the future.

On Alias season 2 finale:  There is 2 yrs into the future.

On Desperate Housewives season 5 finale: There is 5 yrs into the future.

I had just finished watching the Blindspot season 2 finale today.

May 25, 2017 A shoot out or action scene in a green house:

In Smallville ep "Craving":

"Overweight Jodi submits to a diet of meteor-infested vegetables from her father's greenhouse. They magically make her thin, but she has an intense craving for body fat. Anyone in her vicinity is in danger, including her date, Pete."

There was one in the Flashpoint episode "Good Cop":

"When a cop mistakenly shoots and kills a teenage boy and is found innocent, Team One confronts a rioting crowd and a father whose dreams died the night he lost his son. "

There may have been a Criminal Minds episode.

My week:

May 25, 2016 Victoria Day long weekend: I worked all weekend.  However, I did have fun by sitting outside in my lawn chair and reading the newspaper.  The weather was warm.

Shades of Blue: I also watched the last 2 episodes of Shades of Blue season 2.  It was good because it was unpredictable with the characters getting killed. 

Filmmakers Meetup: Yesterday I went to this, and I met 4 new people.

May 26, 2017 Things are getting cheaper:

Cellphone: Last month my cellphone of 3 yrs stopped working.  The microphone didn't work so people can't hear me.  I went to Dr. Mobile (in West Ed Mall) and they said they don't have the part or something.  I decided to buy a new cell phone.  The last one was $90.  This new one is $57.

I didn't want to buy one because I'm cheap.  But also I didn't want to adjust and adapt to a new cellphone.  I have to deal with change.

Recycle cellphone: I then mailed my cell phone to be recycled.  Place the cell phone (and battery) in the plastic bag/ envelope and mail it.

"Help the Phones- For Food program.  Proceeds from your recycled wireless phone will go to a local food bank.  You'll also be helping the environment." This website (on the bag/ envelope) doesn't work, but the one below does:

No- name chips at Shoppers Drug Mart: Each bag is 200 grams.  The deal is always buy 2 bags for $3.  I went there and it was 2 bags for $2 so that's good.  I bought it.

May 27, 2016 Meeting: I had a meeting at work today.  It was alright.  I had pizza and got some leftovers too.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"How to build confidence at work"/ "How to rebuild your confidence"

Mar. 26, 2016 "How to build confidence at work": I cut out this article be Suzanne Bowness in the Globe and Mail on Sept. 24, 2014.  They mentioned the book The Confidence Code and I did see the authors on The Social.  There are really good and helpful tips to gain confidence.  The article is more aimed at women, but I feel like anyone can learn from this article:

Two women walk into a boardroom for a meeting. One sails in with her shoulders back, takes a seat at the centre of the table, and speaks up. Another quickly sinks into a line of chairs against the wall, and spends the meeting silently hunched over her notebook. Who is more confident?

While confidence may be hard to articulate, we know it when we see it. And those whose stock-in-trade is to help build it say the stakes could not be higher.

“More than anything I’ve ever seen as a therapist, confidence is the No. 1 factor in terms of success. It’s important to be smart and capable, but someone confident supersedes all of that,” says Toronto-based psychotherapist Kimberly Moffit of KMA Therapy Group.

With a new crop of books, such as Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know, prompting renewed discussion of confidence, particularly as it relates to women, we asked experts for advice on how to improve yours.

Beyond physical signals like strong eye contact and open posture, confidence is also recognizable in a person’s behaviour. Signs that you lack confidence can include apologizing, not asking for what you want, being overly confessional, and taking on responsibilities that aren’t part of your job description, Ms. Moffit says. A lack of confidence can also carry over into relationships, your social life and even parenting.

So how can you cultivate confidence you’ve never had? Ms. Moffit uses cognitive behavioural therapy to encourage patients to think more positively. To start, she suggests coming up with a list of qualities you would like to project at work and then repeating them to yourself daily until they become ingrained. She also suggests creating a daily affirmation such as ‘I am confident and respected leader who people look up to and admire.’ It can take a month of repeating these mantras to internalize the message.

You can also turn to your inner circle for a boost when you’re feeling insecure, Ms. Moffit says. Ask your closest family and friends to write down what they love about you. “When you’re having an insecure moment you can open up an envelope and get boost of confidence from that.” Other suggestions include setting goals, volunteering, and hanging out with confident people.

By making a list of things that you want to accomplish, you can gain assurance by knowing your efforts are focused. Volunteering helps build skills and shows that you can take on new projects. The suggestion to network with confident people arises from Ms. Moffit’s doctoral research on entrepreneurship. “If women hang around with other successful women, that improves confidence a lot,” she says.

Work environments that are a poor fit with an employee’s values can also shake our confidence, says Sarah Robinson, a human resources executive turned leadership coach. “What happens is we enter organizations and quickly get caught up in their speed and environment and go along with what that is, rather than who we are,” she says. Ideally, you should find a workplace that aligns with your personal values, she says, and also keep your confidence up by developing a strong sense of your own values and competencies independent of your workplace.

MBA schools encourage students to become aware of when they’re exhibiting a lack of confidence, for instance constantly volunteering to be the note taker rather than the team leader in group projects, says Professor Beatrix Dart, associate dean of executive degree programs at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Ms. Dart is also executive director of Rotman’s Initiative for Women in Business, a program that offers workshops to help women become aware of the roots of their self doubt, develop leadership skills, and overcome other confidence barriers.

Another way to increase confidence is to focus on competence, Prof. Dart says. “Instead of thinking about self-confidence, which is self-oriented, think about competencies, which is more task-oriented.” If flagging confidence is rooted in a skills deficit, such as older workers who feels overwhelmed when surrounded by digitally savvy younger co-workers, then they need to take steps to upgrade their knowledge. “If [a skills deficit] is holding you back, then do what do you need to do to be competent,” such as taking courses, Ms. Robinson.

Almost as important as having confidence is putting it on display. “You have to feel confident but you also have to project that confidence,” Ms. Moffit says. Paying attention to your appearance by getting a great haircut and dressing above your job category are quick fixes that can help you feel more powerful. Taking small steps toward confident behaviour is another route. “Pay attention to your level of engagement. Are you aware of what you do in meetings? Do you sit there? Is there a moment when you could ask a question?” Ms. Robinson says.

Taking action is common advice to improve your confidence, and that’s what Confidence Code authors Ms. Kay and Ms. Shipman arrive at: “Confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into action.” Confidence requires action and vice versa, or as they say, “If confidence is a belief in your success, which then stimulates action, you will create more confidence when you take that action.”

"How to rebuild your self-confidence": I cut out this article by Barbara Moses in the Globe and Mail on Jun. 15, 2012.  Here is a similar article with tips too:

Ask people about their worst career experience and you will hear many different stories. Some will feature bad bosses, toxic colleagues or greedy management. Others will centre on inordinate stress, excessive work hours or uncertain employment.

The key characteristics underlining most of these experiences are feelings of incompetence and powerlessness.

One man who was drowning in his job described the state succinctly: "I used to feel competent, but now I feel decompetent - not incompetent, decompetent - as if every day I go into work, a little more of my competence is eroded."

When jobs turn sour, the hardest hit are often those accustomed to being admired and successful.

I have witnessed several professionals who always seemed to go from strength to strength; they nearly had nervous breakdowns when faced with adversity such as a bad boss they couldn't win over, or a project that went spectacularly south, because quite simply, they had never failed. Core to their identity was: "I am successful at whatever I do." They had no coping strategies for dealing with something as foreign as failure and the assault to their ego was too great.

Perhaps even more worrisome are those who are so accustomed to being beaten down that they have no expectations of success. It is as if they are so numbed and inured to failure, they barely recognize their drift into feelings of incompetence. As a result, they develop a chronic sour and helpless disposition.

Feelings of incompetence spread like a virus, infecting everything we do.

It might start at work, but it will play out in home life, making us grumpy and morose at best, withdrawn and depressed at worst, as parents, partners, and friends.

So if you are suffering from such feelings - and in my experience almost everyone, by the time they are in their mid-30s, will have had one awful career experience leaving them dumbfounded and depressed - don't let it ruin your summer.

Here are some ways to restore your belief in your future.

Take stock

Do an inventory of your successes. What have you accomplished that made you feel good about yourself? Consider successes in all areas of your life - work, personal, community. Mine your history: Some people find important, confidence-affirming information when they go back to high-school experiences.

Learn from your accomplishments

Most of us drift away from sources of deep satisfaction without being aware of it. Identify the common elements in your successes, whether they involve leading, mentoring, writing, teaching, or giving back. How can you incorporate these themes into your daily life?

Neutralize the sting

If you think you are the victim of an unfair job loss, ask yourself: Is this the worst thing that could have happened to me? Will I recover from it? Or if your confidence-eroding experience is related to a bad supervisor, take the bite out your boss's power by imagining him or her in some compromised manner.

Be dispassionate

Don't catastrophize. Was the source of your confidence-crushing experience truly awful? Put it into perspective. How would others describe this experience?

Get support

Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself. Ask friends and colleagues for feedback on what you are good at and what they like about you. Recite these attributes when you are feeling down. If you are depressed and are having trouble moving on, consider getting professional help. Often these experiences, while extremely painful at the time, provide fodder for insight and change.

Take, for example, a client of mine who was fired after a particularly nasty run-in with her boss. With therapy she realized that on the job her ego had been on constant high alert for slights to her competence and that she had interpreted everything he said as an attack. She now understood that her boss was interpersonally clumsy, but not out to get her, as she had presumed. This new awareness of her own sensitivities and distortions was sobering.

Reconnect with old friends

They will remind you of funny or clever things you have done. You will feel appreciated. You will also realize that you have unique attributes that you may have lost sight of.

Don't wallow

It is okay to give yourself a short period to indulge in self-pity and digest the experience, but then it is time to move on. Be judicious in what you communicate to whom and how you communicate it. People quickly tire of continuing laments about unfairness or victimhood.

Do something positive

Change your situation whether by looking for a new job, or having a heart-to-heart with someone who is making you miserable. If the latter, express yourself with care. Do not attribute blame. Instead of saying, "You always ignore me and go over my head," say, "I feel like you don't respect my competence when you (do such and such)."

Make summertime work for you

Do something inventive and different. Never gardened? Pick up a shovel. Never danced? Take a movement class.

Fake it

This is my most powerful advice. Research shows that if you act like you have the ability, the feelings will follow.

My week:

May 13, 2017 Productive: Yesterday was my day off and I did my usual things of looking for and applying for jobs, and reading the business section of the newspaper and the other news.

I also washed the front and back doors.  There are wooden and screen doors to wash.  My grandma wanted me to wash it so I did.

Then I went and passed out more resumes to restaurants that pays with tips.

May 14, 2017 Mother's Day: Today was so busy at my restaurant.  We all know it was going to be busy with all these reservations.  We were all prepared for it.  The day ran smoothly because we timed each reservation. 

Reservations at 10am, 11:30am, 12pm, and 1pm.

May 15, 2017 Clean Water Project Bar: I was passing out my resumes and I passed it at Purdy's Chocolates.  I was told to go the website and I found this:

You (and this special chocolate bar) can make clean, safe drinking water possible in rural cocoa-growing communities.

$2 from the sale of each chocolate bar goes towards raising funds for LifeStraw Community water filters. Read an update about the Clean Water Project.

Sweet and salty, the Clean Water Project Bar is made with crunchy salted butter toffee pieces and milk chocolate crafted from only 100% sustainable cocoa.

May 16, 2017 Song: This old song came to mind.  It's called "Original Skin" by Katy Rose.
She sings:

If I wait to run away
I will be trapped another day

I apply it to my job search.  I can't wait to pass out more resumes so I won't be trapped in having only 1 part-time job.

Law of attraction:

On Apr. 20, 2017: I was thinking about a Pussycat Dolls song in the morning.  At night, I was checking what's on TV and one of their videos come on for Throwback Thursdays. 

Apr. 24, 2017: I was thinking about Call Centre #1.  Later that day, they called me to do a survey.

Old actors:

Jenna Leigh Green: A couple of weeks ago I was watching Quantico.  I then see her name on the screen.  She played the mean girl Libby on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.  On Quantico, she played a rich woman who was at a party.  She looked the same and her voice was the same.  I haven't seen her since 2000.

It reminded me of funny scenes on Sabrina.  How about that time they go to the school field trip and they have to be dressed up in the 18th century?  The students are townspeople and one them is a witch by this card they were randomly given.  Libby accuses Sabrina of being a witch, because Sabrina supposedly threw Libby's shoes out the window and made her wear braids to look like a nerd.

Later Sabrina is on trial and she admits she's a witch right off the bat.

Mr. Pool: Well, then you can sign here.
Libby: Isn't there supposed to be more to this?
Mr. Pool: Well it's not like we're really going to burn her at the stake.

If you look at her credits, she didn't really got a regular part on a show after that.

Demore Barnes: I was reading an article in the newspaper about the TV show American Gods.  His name came up.  Remember, he was a host on the TV show Street Cents?  That was a pretty funny show.  I remember this time:

Cut to Demore and Anna Dirkson.

Anna: We're not doing a fantasy sequence.
Demore: Yes, we are...
Anna: Demore!

They go into a fantasy sequence.

Or this other parody:

The hosts Demore, Anna and Tanya are singing with Ken (Brian Heighton) from "Tell Me More" song from the movie Grease.

Demore, Anna, and Tanya: Tell me Ken, tell me Ken, can you forget about your car?
Tell me Ken, Tell me Ken
Ken: You can't push me that far!
Demore, Anna, and Tanya: Uh huh, uh uh, uh huh, uh uh

You guys are probably laughing at this part.

Haircut: Today I had a day off.  I read that it was going to rain in the afternoon, so in the morning I went to get a haircut in Chinatown.  I went on a Tues. morning and it opened at 10am.  I got there at 10:15 am and there were 2 customers already.  I waited by reading the newspaper.

Job search: After that I passed out 10 resumes to restaurants in downtown.  I was unable to get a job at a full service restaurant that paid with tips.  Now I'm looking for a food counter attendant job.

Words: Now I'm going through all the words I had written down when I'm reading the newspaper and I don't know what the word is:


a woman's loose-fitting, shirtlike undergarment.
(in women's fashions) a dress designed to hang straight from the shoulders and fit loosely at the waist, sometimes more tightly at the hip.
a revetment for an earth embankment.


verb (used with object), evinced, evincing.
to show clearly; make evident or manifest; prove.


commonly regarded as such; reputed; supposed:


a rock consisting of aluminum oxides and hydroxides with various impurities: the principal ore of aluminum.


a medicine that relieves or allays pain.

May 17, 2017 Gym job interview: I went to work in the morning and then to a job interview in the afternoon.


1. It was easy to get to.  2 buses that come frequently. 

2. I can do the job of being a receptionist at the front.  There is some selling of memberships.  There is lots of cleaning the gym, but it's not that big.

3. The hours are part-time and Mon.-Fri.  It's mainly 12pm-4pm or later.

4. The pay is min. wage of $12.20.  There is a gym discount.  However, I don't really care about the gym discount.

5. It's not busy during the day.  I was told it's busy at night.  I won't be stressed out. 


None really.  It seems there is more cleaning than receptionist and sales.

My opinion: The job is average.  It would look good on my resume to say that I was a receptionist at a gym.  If I get hired, I would work there.  If I'm not hired, I wouldn't be sad about it. 

May 19, 2017 TV: Right now I'm happy and excited about TV.

Season finales: There are lots of season finales and good episodes.

Renewed and cancellations: Of TV shows.

"Up fronts": New TV shows coming out this fall are being announced.