Tracy's blog

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

"Four steps to making better decisions"/ Amy Cuddy

Jan. 7, 2016: These are business articles, but they could still be applied to making decisions outside of work and make decisions in other areas of your life.

"Have a tough decision?  Here are three ways you can make it with confidence": I cut out this article in the National Post on Aug. 16, 2011.  It was adapted from the Harvard Business Review, Reuters:

When you're facing a high- stakes decision, take the time to test your intuition, says Harvard Business Review.  "Even the most decisive manager can face despair when dealing with a high- stakes matter.  Next time you're up against a career- making decision, try doing these three things:

Trust and challenge your gut: In some cases, your first instinct may be right, but it's probably not based on rational thought.  It's important to question your initial reaction and test it once you've gathered more data.

Check your bias: Self-interest can be subconscious.  Recognize when you may be partial and ask a trusted peer to double-check your decision for any prejudice.

Involve others: Big decisions shouldn't happen in a vacuum.  Consult with others to gather differing opinions.  This will help you make a more informed choice and give you a better shot at winning buyin.

"Four steps to making better decisions": I cut out this article by Harvey Schachter in the Globe and Mail on Mar. 27, 2013:

By Chip Heath and Dan Heath
(Crown Business, 316 pages, $29.95)

You may have heard about the increasing number of organizations experimenting with doing a “premortem” – imagining that the decision the managers are about to take will turn into a fiasco and that, later, they will have to dissect the reasons for the dismal outcome.

Such an exercise illuminates issues you might be ignoring or missing in your excitement with the prospective course of action. But a premortem is basically a negative outlook, only part of the picture.

So in their new book, Decisive, Chip Heath and Dan Heath ask you to imagine instead a “preparade” – a celebration of the fabulous success arising from your decision.

One challenge of preparing for success is ensuring you don’t face disastrous complications when you try to keep pace with your success. Minnetonka Corp., the maker of Softsoap, for example, was well-prepared for the blockbuster success of that product because the company had assured plentiful access to supplies of dispensers for the liquid soap.

Chip Heath is a professor of business at Stanford University and his brother, Dan, is a senior fellow at Duke University’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship. The two collaborated previously on two excellent books, Made to Stick and Switch. They have an ability to take the latest research, weave it together with entrancing stories, and present a simple framework to help you in your work.

They manage that again here, with some excellent tips for improving your decisions, and a neat four-stage conceptual formula:

1. Widen your options

A big problem in making decisions is “narrow framing,” leaping on the first decent idea that surfaces or viewing a problem in simple binary terms – yes or no. The authors point to a study by business professor Paul Nutt who, after analyzing 168 corporate decisions, found that in only 29 per cent of the cases was more than one option considered.

That tracked closely with a study by Carnegie Mellon professor Baruch Fischhoff, who found that, among teenagers, 30 per cent of the time the decision made (to go to a party, to break up with a boyfriend) was a simple yes-or-no, rather than considering other options. “Most organizations seem to be using the same decision process as hormone-crazed teenager,” the brothers say.

One antidote is to assume that none of your options would work and then, when those vanish, see what you can come up with. Also, set up several teams to consider several options at once.

2. Reality-test your options

A second villain of decision-making is the tendency to simply confirm your biases with your analysis, using self-serving information. To combat this, you must get outside your head and collect information you can trust. Here the brothers share a technique favoured by Roger Martin, dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management: For each option, consider what would have to be true for it to be the right choice. This clarifies thinking, and separates people from their biases as they analyze factors more carefully.

3. Get some distance before you decide

A third factor in bad decision-making is when emotions lead us astray. The solution is to try to distance yourself from the decision. For example, the authors suggest that when you’re struggling with several appealing options, ask yourself what you would tell your best friend to do in the situation. The options will be the same, but your perspective may change dramatically.

The authors also share a technique from business writer Suzy Welch, dubbed 10/10/10: Consider how you might feel about the decision you are intending to take 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now, and 10 years from now.

4. Prepare to be wrong

Often we’re overconfident about how things will unfold, so we need to stretch our sense of what the future might bring. One recommendation is to “bookmark the future,” as an investment analyst does by imagining the best and worst possible outcomes from a monetary choice. The premortem and preparade are also useful strategies to prepare for an uncertain future.

Books about decision-making are common these days. But the Heath brothers have a winner with their outline of the four villains of decision-making and their many practical solutions, informed not only by behavioural economics studies but also examples of successful and unsuccessful decision makers.


Howell Malham Jr., co-founder of Insight Labs, which brings some of the world’s smartest people out of boardrooms to tackle the world’s toughest problems, provides an irreverent, illustrated guide to strategy in I Have a Strategy (No You Don’t) (Jossey Bass, 215 pages, $27.95).

If you’re daunted by the feeling you aren’t visionary enough to be a successful entrepreneur, consultants Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits share some techniques about customer insight and rapid experimentation in The Lean Entrepreneur (John Wiley, 256 pages, $37.95).

In The Bankers’ New Clothes (Princeton University Press, 398 pages, $30.50) Anat Admati, a professor at Stanford University, and Martin Hellwig, the first chairman of the Advisory Scientific Committee of the European Systemic Risk Board on banking, look at what’s wrong with banking and what to do about it.

Jun. 1, 2016 Amy Cuddy: I found this article on Yahoo:

Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy is perhaps best known as the creator of the "power pose."

As she described in her 2012 TED Talk, power-posing is about taking advantage of the body-mind connection: You adopt the body language of powerful people so that you feel and act more confident.

But power posing is just one path to a state of calm self-confidence that will help you succeed in challenging situations. That state, which Cuddy calls "presence," is the subject of her new book by the same name.

Cuddy defines presence as being attuned to and able to express your full potential. When you're present, you approach challenges without a sense of threat.

Whether you're interviewing for a job or pitching your startup, people can tell right away if you're present, and they judge you more positively when you are.

In an interview with Business Insider, Cuddy said there are three things people see when you're present:

1. You believe your story

When you're present, you demonstrate conviction and passion so that other people come to believe your story, too.

In the book, Cuddy describes a yet-unpublished study she conducted, in which participants went through mock interviews. For five minutes, they had to persuade the interviewer that they were the best person for the job, while being completely honest. All the while, the interviewer held a completely neutral expression.

Three independent pairs of judges watched videos of the interviews, looking for presence, believability, and hireability. Sure enough, the interviewees who were rated more present were also rated more believable and more hireable.

Cuddy writes: "Presence mattered to the judges because it signaled authenticity, believability, and genuineness; it told the judges that they could trust the person, that what they were observing was real."

2. You're confident without being arrogant

In the book, Cuddy quotes a venture capitalist describing what turns him off during an entrepreneur's pitch: "They're too high energy and aggressive, maybe a little pushy. It seems defensive, I don't expect them to have all the answers. Actually, I don't want them to have all the answers."

Being open to feedback is key, Cuddy told Business Insider. The more you shut down other people and their perspectives, the less appealing you become. That's because it can seem like you're trying to cover up a sense of uncertainty.

"A truly confident person does not require arrogance, which is nothing more than a smoke screen for insecurity," Cuddy writes. "A confident person can be present to others, hear their perspectives, and integrate those views in ways that create value for everyone."

3. Your verbal and nonverbal communication is in sync

When we're being inauthentic — or when we're intentionally deceiving someone — Cuddy said our verbal and nonverbal communication is incongruent.

In the book, she explains that's because you're constantly trying to adjust what you're saying and doing to create the impression you think others want to see.

On the other hand, when we're present, our verbal and nonverbal behavior matches. People aren't distracted trying to figure out why something feels "off," and they're more likely to put their trust in you.

Ultimately, if you're confident in yourself, other people will be more likely to be confident in you, too. It doesn't necessarily mean you'll get the job or the investor's money, but you'll walk away knowing that you did the best you could — and the right opportunity for you is out there.

My week:

May 5, 2017 Medical clinic interview: I did a job interview here a couple of days ago.


1. It was 2 buses to get there and it comes frequently.

2. The shifts are Mon. -Fri. 9am-5pm.  Full-time.

3. The pay is good.  No benefits.

4. I can do the duties with answering phones, filing.


1. The main con was that it is a very busy clinic.  The phone is ringing every 10 min.  There are up to 80 patients a day.

I am 1 of 2 receptionists working on a shift.  It seems so busy and stressful that I would be stressed out.

My opinion: I would still work there if I got hired.  There is the saying in life:

You regret the things you don't do in life than the things you did.

But then again, we have all done things in life we regret too. You know like mistakes.

The point is, I was 1 of 6 being interviewed.  They were to call by this time and they didn't, so I didn't get hired.  That's fine.

Asian restaurant interview: I got another interview.


1. The shifts are Mon. -Fri. 10:30-3:30pm or 10:30-5:30pm.  It depends on how busy it is.

2. The pay is min. wage and we pool all the tips together.  The kitchen gets 30%.


1. It seems like a lot of people there work 6 days a week.  They do want you to work on the weekends.  I told them I wanted to work at my Restaurant #1 on the weekends.

2. They seem to want open availability in case to cover other shifts like nights.  I don't have to work at nights.

My opinion: She did say my English was good, I have my Proserve, and experience. 

It seemed like a maybe for both of us.  By all means, there could be an applicant who says he or she has open availability, Proserve, experience, and can get to the restaurant easily. I saw this ad on the internet and checked it out.  I typed in Edmonton, AB for jobs.  Only 8 jobs pop out.  I did not type in what kind of job I was looking for, I just wanted to see how many jobs are listed there.

Sasha Exeter: I found this magazine with her on the cover while I was at the job interview at the medical office.  I looked her up because it said she was a blogger.  She's more about lifestyle, fashion and food.

May 9, 2017 Good weather: Over the weekend, it was really warm.  I was able to sit on my lawn chair in my backyard and read the newspaper.  That's my favorite activity in the summer.

Work and reward: I want to add to something I posted:

Sept. 24, 2016 "Bad state of play": I found this article by Ana Swanson in the Edmonton Journal today:

Danny Izquierdo, a 22-year-old who lives with his parents in Silver Spring, Md., has found little satisfaction in a series of part-time, low wage jobs he’s held since graduating from high school.

But the video games he plays, including FIFA 16 and Rocket League on PlayStation and Pokemon Go on his smartphone, are a different story.

“When I play a game, I know if I have a few hours I will be rewarded,” he said.
“With a job, it’s always been up in the air with the amount of work I put in and the reward.”

My opinion: It's not always true.  I know that when I go to work, I do my job and I get paid.  Money is the reward.  At least in the 2nd restaurant job.

At the 1st restaurant job, I get tips and that can vary a bit.

My May 9, 2017 opinion: I want to add that there are some jobs that are 100% commission.  You don't know if you can make a sale.

I remember I did a phone interview at Sport Check (at Kingsway mall) and Urban Behaviour (at City Centre mall).  They said: "You either get paid min. wage or 100% commission.  Whichever pays more, we'll pay you that."

For example, you make $100 in min. wage, but you make $105 at commission.  They will pay you the commission.

When I did the phone interview at Sport Check, it was in 2006.  I was working at the Office Supply store after I got laid off from Call Centre #1.  Kingsway was kind of some effort to get to.  I told them I had a job.

I did the job interview at Urban Behavior in 2006 for the holiday season.  I didn't get hired.

Restaurant jobs: I was talking to a co-worker of mine.  She says she has tried to stay away from working at Bourbon Street at West Ed mall, but she ends up there.

Earl's: She was a table setter and then she quit because of the dress code.  White shirt, black skirt and purple tights.  I had a problem with the purple tights.

She worked at 3 of the restaurants there.  I'm not saying she's a job hopper, but you have to be careful of what you put on your resume so you don't look like one.

She did say she was looking for a 2nd job, but not sure if she wants a 2nd serving job.

Today I did something different.  I looked for only administrative assistant jobs, and no restaurant jobs.  I usually look for both.

Job complaint: too much competition: I know I'm not supposed to write about this.  I will make one mild one:

There is a lot of competition.  I remember talking to my career counselor at MacEwan way back in 2012.  She says if I go to Kijiji, everybody goes there and there is a lot of competition.

If I go to big companies like ATCO, Enbridge with a big name, there's lot of competition.

The tip is to go to a smaller company and less known.  I have done that.

Also I go on Indeed too.  I apply for a job, and then it tells me how there are a number of applicants for that position.

May. 11, 2017 Bar interview: The other day I did an interview at a bar to be like an administrative assistant.  When I was there, I was told that I had to drive around to 5 locations around the city like 5 days a week. 

I have to look and count the inventory of the alcohol and write it down.  I can't call a worker at the bar and count it through the phone, and I write it down.  So I didn't get hired.

HMV: I checked out the website to see if they still sell things online.  It turns out they don't.

I have read that Sunrise Records has bought some of the locations and will replace it.  I have low expectations of that.

I have read that 3 Wholesale Foods stores were to open in Alberta this year, but they didn't because the economy wasn't very good.  That's fine, because we can still buy groceries elsewhere.

Pop Bar: Also the Pop Bar at West Ed mall closed down.  I looked on the WEM website and it's not listed.  They sold popsicles and gelato.  You can go to Sorrentino's for gelato.

Filmmakers meetup: Yesterday I worked from 8am-3pm.  I got home and watched the new episode of Prison Break.  I psyched myself up and went to the Filmmakers meetup.

It is a mental and emotional boost.  I talked to M about Prison Break.  Also I met a new guy V.  He has been there before, but  I never met him.  I met C, I don't totally remember meeting him.  He said he was an Uber driver.  I have never met anyone who drove for Uber.

Also R came and he told me about this guy he knows who has a driller job that pays $2300 a week.  He has a mortgage and struggles to pay for it.

Tracy: He should rent out the basement of his house to make money.
R: He has 9 snakes.  Do you want to live there?  Or someone who does?
Tracy: I'm sure there would be.
R: He needs to sell the house.

May 12, 2017 Express is closing all their Canadian stores:


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