The Best Boss

I was asked the other day, “who was your best boss”.  I had to think on that for a while.  I learned from all the bosses I had over the years.  From some I learned what to do, others what not to do.

I remember the patience of my boss when I was hired by the provincial government as an apprentice cartographic draughtsman.  I remember how frugal (avoiding another word) my boss was in my first position with MacMillan Bloedel in Vancouver.  When I took over the Supervisor of Administration position at MB, the boss and I did not get along, but I admired the fact that he always said what was on his mind so whether you liked it or not, you knew where he was coming from.

In my last position with MacMillan Bloedel, I really had several bosses, although I only reported to one on paper.  This was the best ‘boss’.  I had always been blessed with freedom to do what worked for the company but learned the most in those last months of my time with them.

What really stands out is being given a task to do and then being left to do it but always available for mentoring.  Being asked for my opinion and genuinely receiving and using it.  Time and time again you could see the evidence of good, transparent communication and respect for those on the front lines of the company.

When I left the forest industry I fell into a position doing Employment Counselling.  My boss was another who left me alone to figure it out.  He had faith that I had the skills to do the job ad left me to do it.  This was probably the best three years of my working career, partly due to his leadership and partly because of the organization that he built with this leadership.

The best ‘boss’ was really a ‘leader’ who brought out the best in me and I was fortunate to have had a couple.

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Paying Attention!

Ever wonder how some businesses seem to always be on the cutting edge?  It is not really that much of a surprise.  It usually is a combination of networking and observation.

Networking will connect you with the information in the community.  Who’s who, and who is doing what and when.  Observation is a bit more hidden but can offer a great deal of information.

On Vancouver Island, the Business Examiner not only has articles about successful existing businesses, but also new ventures coming to the island.  It also has contacts for those businesses as well as a focus on people who are moving jobs or newly appointed.

In addition, having a connection to your local Chamber of Commerce is vital to keep current on what is happening in your community.  This provides an opportunity to connect with the business community through the various events provided for the members.

Another source of information is the Major Projects Inventory.  This quarterly report is produced by the BC Government and can be found on their website and doing a search for ‘Major Projects Inventory’.  It contains information by region and community on proposed and ongoing projects in the province over $15 million, except in the lower mainland where it is $20 million.  By researching the projects, one can determine if there might be opportunities to be a supplier or if it might create new business ideas in your community.

Some folk watch the building permits in their communities to see what is coming and how that might affect their business.  It is an indicator of where the growth is taking place and whether it is commercial or residential.

Others attend the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance Economic Summit held each year in October.  This gives an overview of the economy and economic trends on Vancouver Island and the best opportunity to network with the movers and shakers from all levels of government, First Nations, large and small business.  There are keynotes, workshops, and seminars on current topics affecting Vancouver Island.

Opportunity doesn’t always knock, sometimes you have to create the door!

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Posted in Believe and Succeed Life Coaching, Business Coaching, Business Planning, Career development, Career professional, Chamber of Commerce, Coaching, Communication, Community Futures, Economy, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employment, Empowering people, Entrepreneurs, Life coaching, Networking, Relationships, self-employment | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Up?

We live in interesting times.  Sometimes moving in two or three directions at once.  Case in point, we have a movement trying to eliminate bottled water and disposable cups, yet the coffee industry in their desire to give us convenience are producing millions of coffee pods that cannot be recycled.

The world is moving towards solar energy but we are building a colossal dam.  The cost of electricity from hydro installations is rising, while the cost of solar installations is dropping.  More and more people will opt for solar as it becomes reasonable, so who will pay for the dam?

Environmentalists would like to see us in electric cars and moving away from fossil fuels.  There is however, no discussion on the effect on the environment of increased mining of manganese, cobalt and nickel and the production facilities required to produce the batteries.

The elimination of oil as a fuel will certainly aid in curbing some of the pollution in the world but it will by no means eliminate the need for oil as it is used in the manufacture of the majority of things used in our homes.  Also, I think we are a few years away from an electric 747.  Aircraft are a huge consumer of fossil fuels.

We are inundated with plastic and have created industries to recycle the waste.  Instead of putting the onus on distributors and manufacturers who overpackage their goods it falls on the consumer to deal with it.

Growing up we lived in primarily what would be called farmland.  We never saw a deer.  Why? Our dogs ran freely and kept the deer population away.  We can’t have dogs running now, so the deer are safe in our communities and people do feed them.  Try and keep anyone away from a free meal!  Now people are upset because there are Cougars coming into the communities.  Guess what? That is their free meal and its plentiful!

We are in an era where there is a push to move to organic foods.  But the certification process for a producer is onerous and expensive and, as a result, is reflected in the price.  Yet the producer who uses chemical controls and additives on what they produce does not have the same expenses.  Seems a little backwards!

Every action has a reaction.  Sometimes it is not the one we necessarily want.

Our actions and reactions need to be thought out carefully and thoroughly.  None of these items are simple so there will be no simple solutions, and probably some will only be compromises.

Remember, minds are like parachutes, not very useful unless they are open.

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Changes and Opportunities

Looking back, the face of business in my lifetime has had quite a ride.  As a teenager in Five Acres in Nanaimo, I remember the neighbourhood and what it provided to our family.  Our eggs came from two blocks away, our milk from a block away, and next door was a cheese maker and where we also got our pork.  For the vegetables that we did not raise ourselves, the Malkin’s truck made weekly visits to the neighbourhood, bringing the market to our door.

Everyone went downtown on Friday night and it was a social gathering as well as getting the supplies needed for the coming week.  There were 3 butcher shops on Commercial Street.  The one I remember was close to the Queen’s Hotel where deer and beef hung in the open, side by side, aging.  Eaton’s was the fixture downtown and a destination.  The liquor store was on Cavan Street and was long before self-serve came into being.  Everything you needed was in a 4 block strip!

Gradually things got busier and Simpson Sears came to the downtown core along with Safeway, providing more one-stop shopping.  As the city advanced towards Departure Bay, more retail development followed and people no longer needed to go downtown as much.

The major change in retail came in 1980 when three major malls were constructed.  Nanaimo became the retail capital of Vancouver Island!  We were the major shopping centre for everything North of Ladysmith on the Island as well as Powell River.  The effect on the downtown core was devastating.  Businesses had little hope in marketing against the giants as they had never had to compete for business.

Gradually the downtown lost businesses as the traffic they had enjoyed was no longer there.  More and more grocery chains began to appear closer to the newer areas of the city, each with a meat department so the independent butcher shops began to close.  People were enthralled at the variety of shops and services in one location at the malls, also a dry location during the rains.  There was a new place for the Friday night social!

But, people eventually tired of the generic store offerings and the downtown began to rebuild its retail once more, but with more boutique shops and services.  It has become a destination once again with its coffee shops, cafes, and waterfront attractions.

Those that survived over the years and the changes that took place, did not just see the negative side of the change, they saw the opportunities that presented themselves.  In business, there are things that you have control over, and things you don’t.  As the song says, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away”.  But, you also have control over what you do and the way you do it, so the entrepreneurs that are in the community today, saw the opportunity and ran with it.

Many changes have occurred over the years, not only in Nanaimo, but in all communities big and small.  The one thing that has not changed is we all need work, food, and shelter.

Where is your opportunity in this changing landscape?

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The Truth According to ……..

We are constantly being bombarded by social media, newspapers, television, radio, websites, blogs, etc., that all have compelling stories and posts that evoke our emotions. (Fear, love, displeasure, etc., etc.)  What is sad is many people take these at face value, while others take them as gospel.

We seem to have lost the ability to reason and research. No story or argument has just one side.  Sometimes there are three sides; both sides of the discussion and then there is the truth!

Taking things at face value can ruin relationships, promote hate, and, in today’s technology, spread erroneous information at the speed of light and it is there forever.  We need to use caution when viewing media messages.  We can cause unnecessary hurt and concern where there need be none.

The era of ‘Fake News’ is not new!  It has been with us as long as communication has existed.  It is reaching prominence as a result of a certain politician, but it certainly is not new.

Throughout history communication has been used to purposely manipulate facts, sometimes with the best of intentions, but with the same devastating results.  What is new is the reliance on social media and the instantaneous responses to what has been posted.

Let’s return to the posture of stepping back from what we read, see, or hear, and ensure we have explored I thought before forming an opinion.  It may not change our opinion, but will at least give us a perspective on the other side of the issue.

It sometimes goes by another name, ‘Education’.

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Are They Really the Top 100?

One of my favourite magazines came out with its annual issue highlighting the ‘Top 100’ companies in British Columbia ranked by revenue.  The rise and fall in revenues over the past year is certainly one economic indicator within the various sectors.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this magazine, look forward to it each month and read it cover to cover. For me, I need more from this particular issue.  Revenue does not necessarily translate into social and economic wellbeing within the communities or province.  I would like to see the addition of the following when ranking the companies;

  • How much taxation flows into the communities and the province from this revenue?
  • How many employees do they have in the province?
  • What charities do they support (volunteering and dollars)?
  • What do they commit, volunteering and dollars, to the communities where they are located?

This may change the order of the companies on the list and give a more complete picture of their relationship to the province and the social fabric of the communities.

Today’s society is interested more and more in social enterprises, businesses who are interested not only in a profit but in using the business to give back to social issues in the community.

Who knows, maybe some day someone will take a deeper look into the real ‘Top 100’ and put it in print.  Any entrepreneurs out there?

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Posted in Communication, Economy, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Employment, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Does it Take?

We often hear the expression, “It takes a village.”  Too often, I see the devastation left behind by bullying, harassment, and abuse.  Those who have suffered will always carry the scars.  The scars can be lack of self worth, self confidence, and withdrawal from society.  We hear of the ones who do not survive, taking their own lives to end the hurt. In many cases they are teens, more susceptible because of their lack of life experience, which might have shown them who they really are.

The ‘village’ is on both sides of this issue.  Bullying, harassment, and abuse does not happen in isolation.  There is a ‘village’ of people who are witness to this and it is their responsibility to step up and try to change the scenario.  Just like there are no innocent people in the middle of a riot, there are no innocent people who are witnessing abuse or bullying.  They may feel they can’t intervene themselves, however, they can report it to someone who can.

On the other side, the ‘village’ is the support needed to heal, once the person is stable and accepting.  This is sometimes difficult because of the resulting lack of trust, self esteem, and self confidence but they need to know that the ‘village’ is there.  There journey back from the abuse and bullying will be slow and it is important that the support is consistent.

Many times, they have had to leave their employment, their surroundings, sometimes their families.  They may have had to seek refuge for themselves and family members to avoid abuse.  It may be a long road before they are able to support themselves.

If you see bullying or abuse taking place, no matter where it is, take action.  Be part of the ‘village’ that supports.

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