The annual Dragon Boat event took place in Nanaimo this past weekend.  The value of community really is evident by the sheer numbers involved in creating a successful event.  A volunteer board contributing hundreds of hours.  Save-On Foods sponsoring the Survivor’s Dinner with their Nanaimo staff cooking and serving.  Rotary Club of Nanaimo North’s members and friends tending the bars and hundreds of local businesses contributing to the success.  At events like this what you don’t see is the volunteering behind-the-scenes that makes it all happen.

Also what you don’t see is the economic contribution to the community.  Competitors for Dragon Boat are from all over British Columbia, Alberta, Washington and Oregon bringing their dollars for food, accommodation and keepsakes to take back home.  Of course, the most valuable contribution that stays in the community is the money from the event which goes to the Nanaimo Hospital Foundation for cancer support at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital.

Also on the weekend is Kathaumixw in Powell River.  This event occurs every other year with choirs from all over the world taking part in a week long event that fills their recreation centre for the entire time.  The community has supported this musical choral competition since 1984 with dedicated volunteers returning year after year, ensuring a world class event.  Because of this, the community is recognized world wide for its musical endeavours.  If you are going there for the event, you need to book your accommodation months in advance.  There is an economic benefit to the business community and the Powell River Academy of Music that supports many of the local programs.

The power of volunteering does not get the attention it deserves.  Many of the assets of communities are initiatives of individuals who champion the ideas and gain a following to support it to fruition.  Take a look at your community and count the number of public projects that are being used on a daily basis.

Take it to heart and consider the difference you can make in your community by giving some of your time and talents.

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Canada Day 2018

Wow!  One Hundred and Fifty-one years young!  Our vastness has been both a benefit and a curse.  Economic Development has been a challenge as it has flourished where transportation is prevalent and slow where the cost of moving goods is high.

Each region has had its sector of the economy although it ebbs and flows as the demands of the market change.  Once reliant on ourselves for food and necessities, we are now part of a global market.  We now consume foods that we only read about in books 60 years ago and much of the food is subject to scrutiny and recalls as production sometimes comes into question.

I always remember my father talking about the Great Depression.  He said that on Vancouver Island they didn’t have it that bad.  He said that they all had big gardens, and some had livestock.  They would trade vegetables for meat and vice-versa.  They did not have to rely on buying imported products.  If it was imported, it came from Vancouver.

We are at an interesting point in our history.  We have an exploding senior’s population.  The economy is good.  The unemployment rate is low and jobs plentiful.  Many occupations are struggling to find workers.  We are potentially on the brink of a trade war, which could seriously slow the economy.

For future Canada Days, I would like to see Canadians, wherever possible, buy Canadian.  Supporting local economies is the the best way of building Canada.  I know that some say that local is too expensive, but they fail to see the benefit of having the money stay in the community and spent on other goods and services from businesses paying local taxes and employing local citizens.

In some ways we need to return to a simpler life and pay attention to our neighbours rather than cheap labour half way around the world.

Celebrate by going to your local markets eh!

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Know When to Hold Them, Know When to Fold Them

I grew up in a community and an era when fathers worked for the same employer for 40 years, then retired.  I went to school with many who thought that would be reality for them as well.  Reality has a way of kicking us in the slats if we are not paying attention.

The world has changed dramatically on the past 50 years.  Resource industries, which provided those long-term jobs have had the reality of the Global market to contend with and have gone through major restructuring, or as the catch-phase goes, ‘right-sizing’. Translated, it means loss of jobs.

Add to that the influence of technology and we see many jobs that simply are not needed anymore.  I entered the cartographic drafting field when we were drafting on linen and hand lettering as had been done for over a hundred years.  Within 30 years of my getting into the field it fully computerized.  Not to say it is a bad thing, but the joy for me vanished as I could no longer be involved in the whole process of producing the mapping.

I am not complaining.  I have been fortunate and always been able to grasp the opportunities and do work that met my values and ethics.  I have been a cartographic draftsman, ran a mapping department, ran an administrative section, worked in Human Resources, been an employment consultant, and had my own company doing training and development.

Those coming into the workforce today need to gather as much education as they can as the changes I went through will seem trivial to their career path in their lifetime.  My grandchildren will work in jobs that did not even exist in my time in the workforce.  Job security does not exist as it was in the past.

More than ever, there needs to be the realization that everyone is self-employed.  You and only you, are responsible for keeping current in your field and seeking the opportunities that present themselves whether you work on your own or you are employed by someone else.

The only advice I can give is ‘Do What You Love’.

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Posted in Career development, Coaching, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Employment, Empowering people | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Politics of Business

In my role as an Employment Counsellor I got to hear many stories of why people found themselves unemployed.  For some it was simply that the business wasn’t doing well and there was not enough cash flow for them to be employed.  For many, they blamed the culture of the organization.  There was favouritism, employees had to tiptoe around certain people, there was a lack of knowledge on the organization, other employees were taking credit for the things they had done.  In other words, office politics was creating an unhealthy workplace.  The only thing consistent in the organization was the inconsistency.

It is difficult to imagine a politics free organization, but some have managed to come close.  Because people are involved, it is difficult to avoid.  The culture of the organization begins at the top and communication is the key.  By being open and transparent, employees have less to speculate on, reducing the potential elephants in the room.

Politics begin when conversations are underground and caused by a lack of knowledge or conflicting information within an organization.  Whether the message is good or bad, a leader shares it with the employees to minimize the speculation.  Employees also do not know how they can help if they do not know what is going on.

Once politics takes over in an organization it is difficult to gain back the trust of the employees.  Hard work on communication needs to take place.  If you can get buy-in from the employees, programs such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® can be instrumental to understanding change, conflict, communication, and building teams.

The sad thing is many organizations do not have a finger on the pulse and think everything is doing well.  They are surprised when good employees leave and do not believe that their culture has caused the resignation.  Many times, the employee leaving is not given an exit interview, so no insight is gained as to why they are leaving.

If you are a manager, owner, or CEO, be open and consistent with your employees and know who they are and what they do.  They are not your friends, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly!

Keep the politics out or they may ‘elect’ to leave!

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Posted in Assessments, Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Coaching, Communication, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Employment, Empowering people, Human resources, Leadership, Listening, MBTI, Myers-Briggs, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Team development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Did I Hear You?

When we listen, we sometimes let the ‘inner voice’ interfere with the conversation.  We let our mind think about our response rather than respectively waiting for the person to finish.  We may miss out on the important points of the conversation as a consequence.

This past weekend we attended a celebration of life in Vancouver for a friend who passed away recently.  The adult children all recounted stories of life with their father.  He was a highly competitive man who excelled in a variety of sports and shared that enthusiasm with his children.  He took an interest in everyone he came across and was a natural as a salesperson.  A born prankster, his humour could entertain for hours with a myriad of embellished stories.

Although we only crossed paths 2 – 3 times a year, we had know the individual for over 20 years.  Through he and his family we thought we knew everything about him so it came as a complete surprise when we learned he was also a talented jazz musician!  In all of our conversations had we tuned that tidbit out?  How could we have not known?  I suspect our ‘inner voice’ came into play at some point obliterating the opportunity to follow the musical path and, as a result, the conversation did not take place.

While ‘listening to hear’ is important and respectful no matter who you are with, it is crucial for business.  Poor listening skills with customers and clients can be costly for your business.  Mistakes in orders and services can result in unwanted expenses for the business, and in a worse-case scenario, the loss of a customer or client.

Most of us are not good listeners.  We listen at about 25% of our potential, which means we ignore, forget, distort, or misunderstand 75% of what we hear.  Hard to believe perhaps, but none the less, true. Such lazy listening habits can be very costly, both personally and to our business.

Do yourself a favour and silence the ‘inner voice’.  Wait until the other person has finished before creating a response. You may be surprised a what you learn!

As always, feel free to share this post giving credit to the author.

Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Clients, Coaching, Communication, Customers, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Listening | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Challenge of Community Giving

When you open the doors to you new enterprise, more than customers come through the doors.  The many community organizations that do the great volunteer work arrive with their hands out.  This will be continual, and this is how the social work of the community is done.

They will be looking for sponsorships, goods and services, and donations, for golf tournaments, silent auctions, sports teams, charity walks and other ventures.

Before you open the doors, you need to prepare for this challenge.  You need t o decide what you will support and when.  In the start-up of your business you need to have all of the money staying in the business.  You may decide that once your business attains a particular bottom line, you will begin supporting the community.  You may choose to incorporate it into your grand opening.

Whatever you do you need to have a plan.  You need to know what you will support and stick to it.  Much like advertising you need to be consistent.  You may have a particular preference in a charity, or you may have a soft spot for children or seniors and direct your energies there.

By being prepared, you won’t be taken advantage of and compromise your bottom line.  It is wise to look at what your customers support and do the same.  In the end, you are the one who has to decide where you want to focus your energies.

Community support is not just giving your merchandise or money, it can also be your time.  If you are a sole proprietor, time is not plentiful, so you need to be careful.  Being visual in the community is equally important as money so don’t discount the value of committing.  Although you may really want to support the cause, remember that your business needs recognition of some kind as well.

Be aware that it will happen soon after your opening day.  You need to be in control so make it part of your business plan.

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Business Planning, Customers, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Entrepreneurs, Marketing, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Road Rage

Today I witnessed Road Rage first hand.  It ended without physical contact and, while it did not involve me, I quite easily could have been a casualty.

The light changed and the car to my right and myself began to move through the intersection.  The car beside me accelerated faster and when the woman was about a car-length ahead I heard the screaming of an engine and a white Mustang accelerated and stopped about a foot from the back of the Lady’s car.

Sensing that something was about to happen, I slowed down and as I did the Mustang cut me off and sped ahead swerving in front of the Lady and braking hard.  The lady also braked hard and luckily stayed in her lane as, by this time, I was alongside her.  The driver of the Mustang then accelerated up a side street waving a one-finger salute.

Obviously, the woman did something that displeased the driver of the Mustang, but nothing is worth endangering others.  It also points out that there are people out there with unresolved anger issues that are dangerously close to doing something serious that will hurt themselves and others.

We read about those who go into workplaces and kill fellow employees and it seems distant and not something we can relate to.  Road rage is no different.  This Mustang driver had a weapon, a high- powered car, that in the right situation could have disastrous results.  He also appeared intent to ‘get even’ by his actions.

I don’t have the answer as to what causes a person to become unhinged to the point of being potentially destructive.  Could it be drugs, alcohol, lack of maturity, a mental issue perhaps, but why?  To what end?  What will it prove?  Maybe I’m just an old guy, tired of spitting into the wind, but I just walk away.  There are no winners here.

Just because of attitude, I can imagine how much fun the guy in the Mustang is going to be to work with today.

Be careful out there.

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Communication, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Managing stress, Relationships | Tagged , , | Leave a comment