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, May 25, 2017

The Ladder: Sue Gardner/ France Margaret Belanger

Mar. 20, 2017 The Ladder: Sue Gardner: Today I found this article by Sue Gardner in the Globe and Mail:

Sue Gardner, 49, is the former head of the Wikimedia Foundation and of Presently based in San Francisco, she is an adviser and consultant specializing in digital rights and access to information.

That was very good timing for that “13 Canadians we want back” article [in The Globe and Mail] because every Canadian I know is considering whether to go back. It should be a bonanza for tech companies especially.

There’s a ton of things I miss about Canada. Every time I go back, I’m struck by how comfortably prosperous it appears. I live in San Francisco, where visible poverty and degradation is enormously depressing. I ask myself every day how a part of the world with the highest density of millionaires in the United States, I’m guessing, is like this. I’m vulnerable to rose-coloured glasses; relative to the United States, it looks like a wonderland.

I was born in Barbados. I was one [year old] when we moved to Port Hope, Ont. My parents’ iconoclastic streaks were part of my upbringing; my dad an Anglican priest, mom a public-school principal. They taught us to live our own lives and do what we thought was right, not fall in line with what others were doing.

I went into journalism to make information available so people could make the best possible decisions of how they want to live their lives. I was at CBC for 17 years [also leading] I built the staff from 35 to 160. A piece of why I left was that journalists were starting to get disintermediated; everybody had access to a printing press.

I wanted to fix up the organization behind Wikipedia so it could be long term, sustainable and strong. Wikipedia had passed The New York Times and CNN in popularity, outstripping Wikimedia Foundation’s ability to support it. It was in a Florida strip mall; I moved it to California, built [the] staff from eight to 200. Hundreds of millions of people were reading Wikipedia and new technology made it possible. We created the platform, space and tools – and got out of the way.

The first four months here, I went to major fundraising meetings and there was never another woman – I asked myself is this 1922? It’s hard when you’re in the middle of whatever you’re doing to get a sense of big shifts. Around 2010, I started to feel increasingly uncomfortable with what we were building. And it was becoming clear that targeted
advertising was going to be pretty much the only business model that powered the industry.

I left in 2014. I will always love it, but was beginning to feel I was at a luau on some fabulous tropical island, meanwhile there are storm clouds and volcanoes erupting – but you’re having a good time. Wikipedia was a huge outlier; I felt proud of how great it was. We were acting ethically and had this great model where users pay, but it was becoming clearer the spirit in which we were engaging, of generosity and information sharing and love, was not broadly held. I needed to grapple with the big questions I’d been able to sidestep.

Hubris is the engine of Silicon Valley. I’m allergic to hubris. In the “move fast and break things” model, very few were giving thought to the downsides of the world we were building, implications for people’s privacy and security, what could be done with data, discrimination. I think about how Donald Trump got elected – still something I can barely say – how many things had to break and fail.

A big contributing factor was social networks; they enabled alt-right people to gather and grow, and enable ongoing harassment of women and silencing minority voices. Business models created made it profitable to make up lies and spread misinformation [such as] by Macedonian teenagersSilicon Valley never promised public service positive outcomes. It broke our hearts because we saw what Hillary Clinton faced, the misogyny and
undermining. She was probably the most qualified person ever to run and lost to the least qualified ever. It’s double standards.

As told to Cynthia Martin. This interview has been edited and condensed.

Apr. 17, 2017 The Ladder: France Margaret Belanger: Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail:

France Margaret Bélanger is executive vice-president, commercial and corporate affairs, and chief legal officer of the Montreal Canadiens.

I grew up in Matane, a small town in Quebec.
It’s a nice town, but I wanted to study at an English CEGEP in Quebec City. Although I had been to English summer school, I still didn’t really speak English well. It was very difficult because, despite my being an extrovert, I no longer had the courage to raise my hand in class to ask a question. I became humbler and more introverted.

I think I’m an ambivert now – a mix of introverted and extroverted. I can go out every night, especially in this business of sports and entertainment. I like to meet people; I like to be with friends. But I can easily stay at home and do my own thing.

Ever since I left law school, I had wanted to do an MBA. I had two kids, and I said to myself, ‘If you don’t do your MBA now, you’ll never do it.’ I hoped to become an even better business adviser to my clients. Very often, clients see you as just a lawyer and call you once the business deal has been finalized. But as a corporate lawyer, you want to get the call at the outset when clients are considering doing a deal. You want to be there early on and be part of the whole process, not just for the execution part.

I believe in a strong personal connection and being genuinely interested in others. When connecting with a business contact, some people will get straight to business, but I find it somewhat gauche. Of course, it all depends on the context but I find it important to engage on a personal level where possible.

For the most part, I’ve worked in male-dominated offices. There were certainly young female associates at Stikeman, but as you went up the ladder, there were few women partners. Sometimes I was the only woman in the boardroom, out of 15 people. You get accustomed to that. At the end of the day, if you start to make an issue out of it, everyone will make an issue out of it.

I spend more time listening now than I did earlier in my career. If you’re supposed to give advice to people, you have to listen and understand what the issues are. Facts change, and new facts come in, so you need to make a decision to the best of your capacity, given what you know at that time. You need to listen in order to do that effectively.

If you want people to follow you as a leader, you can’t impose. You can’t decide on everything yourself, your group needs to buy in. We respond to different things. I am motivated by different things than my dad, who’s 87; how he used to motivate his employees is also different than how I am doing it today.

My passion is to be the best I can be every day, in everything that I do, always. I want to contribute to an organization. At Stikeman, when clients called me and trusted me with their issues, problems and transactions, I would deliver a solution. I always cared. At Canadiens, the sense of ownership I had as a lawyer for my clients – I still feel that every day for this great organization.

The best career advice I’ve received is to be relentless and not to give up. That came from my parents. And it’s tough, because sometimes you receive a complete ‘no’ and it is difficult not to stop; you’re intelligent and you hear ‘no,’ so it means ‘no.’ But you need to be relentless and not give up.

You need to work for success. There are no shortcuts. Thinking that you are going to get ahead by some fluke or chance – luck is always good, but there is no way around just plain old hard work. You need to learn, and that takes time. Don’t let one person or an event or a situation change what you want to do. One of the keys to success, at least at a law firm, is finding people that will mentor you. That, and hard work, are fundamental.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

17 hours ago

great advertising for a run-of-the-mill exec
women are over-represented in the Globe's advertising-as-news articles like this. poor, sexist journalism imo


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