Category Archives: Relationships

On Cruelty

We live in strange times, this has been said repeatedly over the centuries, unfortunately we appear to have reached the apex in disgraceful behaviour.

Gone are the days of civility, or any soupcon of decency, just pure unadulterated arrogance and utter cruelty. The concepts of consideration and good manners are treated with contempt. Those who are mind-numbingly rude and pushy, and constantly bragging about themselves are treated with awe, they must be truly AMAZING to be able to behave like that.

When bad manners are given nomenclatures such as ‘ghosting’ you know there is a serious problem in society.
Total strangers post cruel cutting comments on Facebook, insulting those opinions which vary from their own.
Bullying both on line and in person have reached absolutely catastrophic levels, as has the levels of youth suicide.

People decide to humiliate and insult others thinking they are somehow the ‘cool kids’ regardless of the pain they may cause others, but worse, they actually brag about it. The sad thing, is they usually know absolutely NOTHING about the person they are humiliating.

Clearly I grew up in a gentler more civil environment. Good manners and respect for others being forefront in one’s comportment.

Making a large number of friends within the Asian Community brought a further understanding of such concepts as ‘Honour’ and ‘Face’, simply and extension of previous learnings.

On Friday I was in a grocery store in the north end of the city, and asked a gentleman for assistance. He turned to look at me, and I saw his face was severely disfigured, probably from fire. He was extraordinarily shy. He explained he would have to go into the basement of the store to find my mushrooms, and it could take 5 minutes, and I assured him I would not move from my current spot. Several minutes later he emerged with an enormous box of fresh Portobello mushrooms, newly wrapped and boxed. I thanked him and wished him a wonderful New Year. He grasped my hand and wished me the same, with a huge smile on his face, and clearly wanting to continue speaking with me, so I chatted with him for a couple of minutes, then paid and left. It was only while I was driving away that I realized I was probably the only person who had treated him with dignity.

People cut each other off on the road in dangerous conditions for no apparent reason than being utterly inconsiderate of the lives and safety of others. They cut into lines, treat servers in stores and restaurants like trash – no wonder it is so difficult to be served politely – when people feel a sense of entitlement and rage at everyone within earshot for no apparent reason.

The arrogance, self-aggrandising and just plain nastiness abounds, and it is inflicted upon anyone close by who have absolutely NO IDEA why they are being targeted. Unfortunately this creates an angry society, where it becomes ‘ every man for himself ‘ . Gestures of generosity must be public not private as well, with the appropriate ‘look at me, I am generous and giving back’ whatever that is supposed to mean, as all they ever do is take.
The number of people they destroy along the way is inconsequential. Ironically, some of those so-called generous people are not giving of their own wealth, but that of others. There are numerous events where the so-called organizers and fame seekers are actually earning as much as 15% of the money they raise, then seeking public acknowledgement of their generosity.
Unknowingly, all the volunteers work for free, pay for their own tickets to the events, and are contributing to the pockets and fame of the person who is gaining the most.

I can not comprehend the level of cruelty that some individuals are bestowing upon others, and the fact that it somehow gives them some sense of power. If the person they have harmed is a total stranger, I fail to understand how they can bask in all this perceived sense of power, when all they did is offend and damage a total stranger for no apparent reason.

Perhaps the concept of humility is missing from their DNA.
How many suicides will it take for parents to discipline their children against bullying?? It is currently at crisis level… Men are teaching their sons to be ‘MEN’ and women are teaching their daughters to be ‘LEADERS’, however this sense of entitlement is being translated into cruelty, as they are not teaching the concept of decency and consideration of others.

Teachers are allowing students to call them by their first names, further eroding their position of authority, so how can they teach them respect for others??

Clerks in shops are being allowed to treat customers with utter disrespect because no one is monitoring their bad behaviour.

We need to go back to basics and teach respect, manners and consideration of others.

Living one’s life with decency and dignity is..

NOT shaming others
NOT being cruel
NOT being a liar
NOT taking amusement from the pain and suffering of others
NOT speaking down or shouting down of others when they voice an opinion
NOT interrupting others

Look around you, how many people do you actually know who are living by these rules??

Do you consider them weak or polite??

Think hard about the answer……..it says a lot about who you are………

Christmas Returns

The mad panic to shop for Christmas is now over, now come the Boxing Day Sales and the millions of returns.

Shop-keepers are ‘braced’ for the annual onslaught, having hired extra staff and security guards.

WHY???

I simply do NOT understand how hard it is to actually purchase appropriate gifts for Christmas or anything else. If people paid even a modicum of attention to the likes and dislikes of their family and friends, this would become a thing of the past. The only true excuse for a return is the wrong size or colour. But then again, why on earth would you buy a RED sweater for someone who absolutely DESPISES red??   Wool for someone with allergies who only wears cashmere, …chocolates with nuts for someone with a NUT allergy……..

From the time I was a child, people have given me totally inappropriate and unwanted gifts and expected me to not only say ‘Thank You” but also actually mean it.

I guess the look on my face was a dead giveaway!!!  I will never be a poker player!!… particularly when you are holding a DOLL in your hands which you are about to go outside to smash into smithereens.

You bought me a DOLL!?!?!

REALLY???

You bought me a frilly DRESS?!??!

You MUST be joking…..

You bought me a RED WOOL Sweater??

Great………I hate RED, and am violently allergic to wool.

You gave me chocolates with NUTS???

Seriously??!!??

How HARD is it to actually listen?? Is the gift about the recipient of the ego of the donor?? At times, it is unclear.

I know that I am not the only one who feels this way, otherwise the shops would not have to hire extra staff, security guards, and impose rules about returns.

If you actually CARE about someone, try LISTENING to them. Pay attention to their likes and dislikes.

Please do NOT be condescending and use the old tired adage, “ it is the thought that counts” as it is truly offensive. If there was actually any thought, the gift would not be in process of being returned.

Several of my friends have told me over the years that I am the ONLY one who ever gives them gifts they actually want and enjoy, and, guess what, they end up returning nearly ALL the gifts they receive from everyone else.

Years ago, I was the President of a professional organization where we hosted high caliber speakers on a monthly basis for our luncheons and conferences. I took the time to ring up either the wife or secretary of all our speakers and actually ASKED what they would enjoy within a certain price point. Apparently I was the only one to ever do that. The CIO of a large railway who was an extraordinary speaker became a regular fixture at our events. His wife kept a list for me of items he wanted for his sailboat, and he was absolutely thrilled. One day while visiting his office, he opened several huge drawers in his secretary’s filing cabinet and showed me box after box of cheap pen sets, framed lithographs, and cheap oil paintings as well as other utter nonsense he had been given, non of which was of interest. It would be checked for nametags and given to charity.

Thousands and thousands of dollars of unwanted gifts, because NO ONE actually thought to inquire as to what he might actually like.

Just how many cheap pen sets do you think he wanted?? How totally unoriginal.

As CIO of a large corporation, if there was one thing he did NOT need, it was cheap pens.

He is but one of several executives who told me the same thing. One other senior executive would place everything on a couple of desks and invite the staff to help themselves. He kept nothing. There was never anything remotely of interest.

For myself, I have NEVER played with dolls, continue to absolutely HATE dresses, as well as the colour red.

So, as you stand in line totally frustrated by the time you are wasting with your returns, try spending the same amount of time to contemplate gifts that will please the recipient in the future.

It is really NOT that hard, and is certainly appreciated.

And maybe, just maybe sometime in the future, returns will be a thing of the past.

Civility and Dignity, rapidly disappearing…..

There is an escalating breakdown in civility and the treatment of others with dignity.

Everyone is in such a hurry to show the world just how UNIMPORTANT they are, no, NOT a typo, extraordinarily bad manners really show the extraordinarily bad manners exhibited by certain people.

In meetings and speaking with a myriad of people from all walks of life, certain disturbing trends in bad behaviour increasingly come to the forefront of conversation.

One actually wonders if there are any corporations monitoring the day to day behaviour of their employees? I am not speaking of call centers where all calls are recorded, but of daily interactions. Methinks not.

From shops with surly cashiers not only refusing to speak to clients in their own language, but actually INSULTING them to their face, assuming (perfect usage of the word!!) they do not understand, to restaurant employees being so discourteous as to actually laugh in the face of their customers, also, assuming they do not understand….in this case, a Chinese restaurant, with the waiters speaking Cantonese, and forgetting the white Gweilo female customer just spoke to them in Cantonese, or the fact that the other white female is the one who invited a group into the same restaurant ……remember ?? she is the one who will decide the tip!!

The bad behaviour in this restaurant towards white clients has escalated to a point where the waiters often laugh at the clients in their face, and laugh at them using chopsticks.
Have they forgotten these white clients tip double what Chinese clients do??? To be insulted???!!!!!

Have they forgotten just how quickly word gets around these days?? In the blink of an eye in the digital world, everything can change.

Representing companies today in any type of marketing role has become an invitation to be insulted.
Ring up certain individuals today, complete with proper introduction, and be screamed at, and have them hang up on you.

Or, after a polite call, complete with referral, have the individual …get this….aspiring to an open VP position within his company, call back, speak for a couple of minutes, give the name and phone number of his secretary to set up a meeting.
Call the secretary, book the meeting, send a follow up note to the aspiring VP and an Invitation to the meeting as requested.

Turn up for the meeting, after spending 2 hours in traffic crossing the entire city, wait over 40 minutes, only to have an arrogant secretary come down to say that the aspiring VP never heard of the individual, never spoke to them, and is a VERY BUSY IMPORTANT MAN!!

But wait a minute!! He GAVE THE NAME AND PHONE NUMBER OF HIS SECRETARY TO SET UP THE MEETING!!!

Call back to set up a new meeting, no apology from anyone, be told by the arrogant secretary that the aspiring VP has no recollection, and mention AGAIN that he was the one who provided her contact information.

As per the request of the secretary, send off digital proof of the phone calls, emails and invitation only to receive a rude email that the aspiring VP is not looking for any new suppliers. SO why book the meeting in the first place???

SO, he made someone lose an entire day in traffic, lost revenue, cost of travel, and instead of being gracious and APOLOGIZING, slams the door in their face. HUH???

I ask you, what does that say??……..in my mind, he is probably dirty, or just so arrogant he does not think anyone will hear about it……guess what??!! …They already have, and once this BLOG goes live, others may wonder…..

Or, help a senior individual who has been unemployed for months, with his terrible resume, only to have him send it all over on his own, and never return the new finished product. Well, the Executive Position for which he was interviewed is now totally beyond his reach, as his dishonesty ensured that we will not represent him. To answer your question, the position pays more than he has ever earned. He will NEVER know who the client is, and he is STILL unemployed….ah….shucks!!!

Or, another cutie, a certain individual sent their CV for a position in Sherbrooke, but lives in Montreal.
They were invited to come for an interview for a certain position.
Drove to Sherbrooke, 2 hours, lost a day’s work, were interviewed for a totally different position, shown the door with NO thank you for coming to see us, NOTHING.
Then the poor interviewee gets to drive back to Montreal in heavy traffic, another 2 hours lost, gas and car expenses.
No follow up on behalf of the rude company. Please someone, explain to me what that was all about?? Even if you did not like the person, can you not at least say THANK YOU for coming and losing your day???

Is this the new normal??

What happened to honesty, decency and civility??…what happened to treating people the way YOU wish to be treated……..
What happened to all this so called AUTHENTICITY??

Speaking to someone managing a retail store and hearing the horrors of what occurs in the dressing rooms is enough to make you lose your lunch.

What I find so extraordinary, is that ALL these offenders are simply EMPLOYEES, and can be fired at the pleasure of their employer. They are so arrogant, so contemptuous, so inconsiderate, one questions where this comes from.

It is time that corporations pay more attention to the behaviour WITHIN their walls, instead of blaming the changing business landscape. Bank cashiers, store cashiers, wait staff in restaurants, receptionists in Companies, lower level managers, all seem to think they are somehow allowed to behave in a rude, insulting fashion.
They all seem to forget that they do NOT OWN the companies.
The little fellow in the T shirt and sneakers may be a billionaire.
The Blond woman in jeans could be a company President.
Appearances today are EXTREMELY deceptive.

Been to Sears lately?? No need to wonder why they are going out of business. RUDE. RUDE. RUDE.

Bye …bye!!!

In Palm Beach Florida, on more than one occasion, someone has received absolutely awful treatment by someone in a shop or restaurant, and has turned around and purchased the business simply to have the pleasure of FIRING the people who were rude.

Today appearances ARE deceptive. My clients certainly are a great example of that.
The young man with a man bun, unshaven, in sneakers and jeans has a Master’s Degree, owns his own airplane, and is earning in excess of $300 US per year.
Totally shy, very sweet, and unassuming.

More than ever, the louder, flashier, and more outspoken the individual, the more likely they are broke.

Can you really afford to allow your staff to treat your suppliers and clients like trash?? In an increasingly competitive world where information travels in nanoseconds??

Open your eyes folks!!!

“Like me on Facebook”..

Join my network on Linkedin, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat……

Social media has become the new personal ad agency for millions. They no longer use social media to stay in touch with distant or lost friends, but now it has become an exercise in absolute hype, with certain people adding everyone they meet, and everywhere they go, and everything they hear about to make themselves appear more ‘hip’ and popular.

We hear more and more about “ Click Agencies” where you pay a fee to have incremental ‘clicks’ or ‘likes’ in order to appear more popular or even more fabulous, and some are paying even more to be selected to go to the top of Google Searches through Google Analytics.

For some individuals, life has become nothing more than an endless stream of shallowness, photos taken trying on fabulous clothes, shoes or handbags in high end shops that are never purchased, which is grotesquely cruel to the shop clerk working on commission, and spending their time on someone who has neither the money nor intention to actually purchase the goods, but simply wasting their time trying to look fabulous for the 15 seconds required to take a selfie and post it on social media.

Photos of cocktails in posh clubs, dinner plates in fabulous restaurants, in doorways of private clubs…all to enhance one’s perceived fabulousness….all fake, all shallow, all over in 15 seconds, but with a photo which lives on forever….

So, are they really trying to impress us or themselves? Certainly, I have asked numerous people about some of their so-called ‘friends’, and have been repeatedly told that they have no idea who the individual is, however as they were asked to be ‘friends’ they added them to increase their public footprint and media presence…….seriously???!!??

I receive an endless stream of invitations to add people on Linkedin due to my International network, when I invariably email those I know personally to advise that I do not participate, it is fascinating to see how few actually reach out to say hello. Most never reply. So it is painfully obvious that they were fishing for my contacts and were caught……..one or two inadvertently admitted it………

There is a dark side to this behaviour, these people have shown their true colours, and I know truly they are, and they will be avoided.

The latest buzzwords are ‘Transparency” and “ Authenticity” ….but the reality is that the large majority of people blasting these concepts around are anything but.

Like most things in life, there has to be a balance, if one is a student of human behaviour, which clearly I am, I tend to monitor trends, behaviour, speech patterns, body language, and actions over words. Invariably people get found out. …

“Thou doest protest too much…..” if someone has to post endlessly about their “ Authenticity” , fabulousness, or brag about their sheer volume of followers, there is something fundamentally wrong…..

Life is to be lived, with real live humans, for more than 15 second installments, and ideally in private….

Friendship

Friendship or a business arrangement? Sometimes it is hard to tell.

If one is reasonably sociable, there are always new people to meet, and as the holiday season approaches, endless cocktail and Christmas parties. Some people are absolutely incredible at walking up to total strangers, extending their arm and introducing themselves, and often, this is also where you discover their true motives.

Some kind souls are truly out there to meet new and exciting people, such as moi, others are only soliciting business, some overtly, others more sneaky. If you have met as many people as I have, and are slightly cynical, which I have unfortunately become, it usually does not take long to ascertain their true motives.

One aspiring social climber, with no career, no education, and little to talk about except her children, and how totally ‘AMAZING” they are, has been slowly bouncing from one charity organization to the other to try and meet new people she deems to be socially ‘acceptable’. Other than being nice to look at, she is so boring you want to cry, and clearly, as her looks do absolutely nothing for moi, I am thrilled to report that I did not make the grade!!! Not wanting to be cornered to hear about her children was probably the clincher!!

Then there is the incredibly rude, pushy woman who grew up in the east end of the city from a working class family. Some of her school contemporaries speak of not being allowed into their living room at all, the the plastic wrap covering the sofa’s in case someone ‘important’ should come to visit.
She got an excellent education, promptly married an up and comer in the firm where she went to work, and quickly retired to have children and social climb. She acquired a nice address, but not the best, and with his money she now considers herself the arbiter of who is ‘in’ in social Montreal. What she does not understand is that wearing a ball gown and attending balls to be seen does NOT a nice person make. Class and manners still count, and she has neither. Her very aggressive social climbing really took off about 10 years ago, to the extent that she now has, WAIT FOR IT…….a fan club of women she has publicly offended as she deems them to be “ below her” . To her friends are simply ‘stepping stones’ which are quickly acquired and discarded once their usefulness has expired.
NOTE to SELF……..PEOPLE DO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING!!!!

Another woman I met who owns a PR Firm and has a reputation of being a nightmare to work for, calls people she has met, and invites them for lunch., to see if they have the social clout to be her ‘friend’, translation, ‘who can you introduce me to’ !??! Unfortunately, this resulted in a lunch where, surprise, surprise, we split the bill for lunch, it was NOT an invitation as previously indicated, and it came to a fairly rapid end when I told her I would not share my contacts with her on Linkedin or any where else. In polite company, inviting someone to lunch implies that YOU are going to pay, and NOT split the bill…..If you haven’t gathered from my commentary, it was NOT a particularly fun experience.

Another quasi-socialite, who proclaims loudly about how she wishes to ‘age gracefully’ is by far one of the most ungracious women I have met. She is an absolute embarrassment to be seen with in a restaurant.
Several years ago we ran into one another in London, and she mentioned that she would love to go out for a meal, we discussed restaurants and she mentioned one that I frequent, and the fact she had never been able to get into it. I offered to make arrangements to go the following evening as I know the owners and have been a regular there for years. So, we met there, and placed our orders. As always it was lovely, and I ran into several people I know, much to her surprise. Not being a name dropper, there are many people who have absolutely no idea where I have been, who I know……
We had a pleasant evening until the bill arrived. Then the tone of the evening changed drastically. She is SUCH an embarrassment I wanted to crawl under the table. She examined the cheque and studied each entry to ensure that she did not pay for anything that she did not consume, arguing about her alcohol consumption, then counting out her contribution, practically down to the penny, and leaving the equivalent of pennies towards the tip. THIS RESTAURANT WAS CONSIDERED THE PLACE TO BE ‘SEEN” in London for over 30 years and she was unable to get in until she came with me. Did she offer to pay for dinner? To pay the tip?? ABSOLUTELY NOT. So, needless to say, guess who found herself leaving the entire tip, which was 20% of the total, and NO, this is not a restaurant where one skimps on gratuities…….The taxi ride home was equally unpleasant, she asked to be let off first, and contributed 2 pounds to the ride, guess who got to pay the balance………and it certainly was NOT 2 pounds!!

Once before in Montreal we had been to dinner and as she has no vehicle, I found myself being the chauffeur, no, let me rephrase that, the driver, because the chauffeur is at least paid. SO, my gas, as it was MY car, I got to pay for parking, and she was delivered door to door. The unpleasantness with the cheque was the same, the only difference is the amounts were significantly lower.

Naively I thought this was a one time event, but as I learned in London, this woman is anything but gracious, and certainly not a friend. Did I mention she lives in a MILLION DOLLAR condo on Sherbrooke Street???!!!

We all meet people and become friends with them, sometimes we are extraordinarily lucky and they stay for a lifetime, I am extremely fortunate, and certainly have my share of those, they are scattered to every corner of the world, come in all shapes and colours, the sign of a true friendship is when you speak to someone you haven’t seen for a year and the conversation and comfort level continue as if you were with them an hour earlier. If it is painful, then it is probably a sign the friendship is over.

Friendship is not a business relationship. Friendship is not taking advantage of the kindness of others. Friendship is not being a cruel gossip in the back of someone.
Friendship is a mutually beneficial relationship between 2 people which, at times can be unbalanced, but over the years in a true friendship it balances out, and there is an implicit understanding that each party is there for the other during good and hard times. To be comforting when they are depressed or sick, to offer a shoulder to cry on, to give them a hug when they are sad, to come and bring them a small thoughtful gift when they need cheering up, not to be critical or judgemental.

To be UNSELFISH.

TO SHARE.

TO LOVE.

Anything else is a business arrangement.

The True Cost of Social Climbing in Montreal

As someone who has travelled the world and has friends from every possible walk of life, I am absolutely fascinated by some of the questions people ask of me.

A week or so ago, I was chatting with someone who owns a very high end fashion shop, his merchandise starts at around $1000 per item, and goes to well in excess of $100,000. We have known each other for over 20 years (yes, we met when we were VERY young!!) and have shared some terribly entertaining conversations over the years. His clientele are primarily aspiring socialites who want to be seen in the ‘right’ clothes, and yes, I am trying hard to be politically correct, but at times it is extremely difficult. Although he is wealthy, he is looked down upon as a shopkeeper, hence the conversation and the segue, from social climbing, real estate and eventually death, not much was missed.
Interestingly I had a similar conversation with a lovely Barrister in London a few months earlier, who is currently residing in London England and was having a difficult time meeting people. I gave her some tips as she requested, she had  been astonished by the breadth of my contacts and Social Life in London over the years, considering I live in Montreal!!   When we last conversed, she had been following my advice and was beginning to enjoy a social  life in London.
For the last few years I have been admittedly absent from the social scene, and enjoying being relatively invisible, which has definite advantages. The never ending solicitations to purchase tickets to someone’s pet charity of the week have subsided, the requests for fundraising, and the never ending calls just simply asking for money or time have all but evaporated, and the calm is wonderful.
The last event I worked on was hugely successful, however an incredible amount of time and money was poured into its success. It was done willingly, there was no coercion, but being thanked properly would have been a nice touch, and it never came., It was the proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back.
So you must be wondering where this is leading…
My wealthy shopkeeper friend asked me what steps he must take to become ‘socially connected’ and as we are good friends, he asked me what the associated costs could be. He was genuine in this, although he knows all the ‘right people’ due to his line of business, he actually does not get to socialize with them, and was curious as to what one actually does to be seriously ‘out there’.
I described an extremely aggressively social climbing businesswoman I know who has been fired in each job she has ever held, yet goes from strength to strength. Yes, you have read about her before, and the answer is that she uses the same ‘head hunter’ who is pleased to reap a huge fee every 1 1/2 to 2 years moving her from client to client. Ethical?? Not for a second, but with fees of well over $50,000 each time, this firm’s so called ‘ethics’ can be bought, and you now know the price!!!
She has a PR firm on retainer and every employer gets to pay the bills for the PR firm and for her very public social life. For every party she attends, her name and face hit the newspapers so the public are wowed by her apparent success and image. She is but one following this practice, there are many. It is not uncommon at all.
PR firms develop an image and promote the public face of many executives and politicians.
SO, to answer your question, the ‘right’ house downtown or in Westmount, absolutely lowest possible entry price is $1.5 million, for the condo or home, but $5 million is seriously more acceptable. The ‘right’ car, a large Range Rover, BMW or Mercedes SUV in the driveway, spending over a certain amount every year at 3-4 high end stores in the city so that invitations to private events are forthcoming, and the requisite mention in the social pages.
The ‘right’ clothes at the ‘right’ balls, tickets starting at $1000 per person and rising exponentially from there. Ideally a great table starts at $25,000 so that one is close to the ‘head table’ again, depending on the event, that number can easily rise to $100,000. Yup. You did read that number correctly.
Then there are the clothes for the event, figure minimum $5000 for a gown, but $10,000 for a more important designer, something from a house in Paris will start at $50,000. Hair, makeup, nails, shoes, jewellery, purse, wrap, and of course, his tuxedo, nothing under $2500 will do. Estimate, over $10,000 for each event, and,, Heaven forbid!! One couldn’t possibly be seen in the same gown at two consecutive events!!
As with everything there are pathetic cheats, and inevitably society learns about them and whispers nasty words behind their skinny backs. One ever aspiring socialite has a reputation for purchasing gowns for $10,000, bringing them to her dressmaker to copy, stealing a label and leaving the price tag firmly attached, then returning them within 48 hours. She has been rumoured to take gowns from consignment stores home to ‘show her husband’, then wearing them to an event and bringing them back the next day.  Her arrogance however had her caught, as she was photographed on a couple of occasions in these gowns, and now the shop owners will not allow her to remove anything from the stores unless it is paid in full and not returnable.
This woman is now in her 60’s and has been scratching and clawing her way up the social ladder for years. She is still in the same place as ever, with the same handful of friends, it has been a costly exercise to stay in the same place because she is not a nice person. Her husband, who is equally unpleasant just pays the price to keep her quiet. He is always striving to sell SOMETHING to someone at these events, so over the years everyone who is anyone absolutely runs from them.
The ‘Season’ generally commences mid September and goes to the end of December, then restarts in March through to June. During this time it is expected that one is seen at a minimum   of 5 important events per month, and during the ‘down time’ one is to be seen vacationing in a hot climate, and skiing in Europe. It is socially acceptable to fly economy, but one MUST either stay with friends or in a posh, known hotel, and to be seen out at fine restaurants with glamorous friends which can easily cost upwards of $1000 per evening, as one must order a decent bottle of wine or two.
When summer finally arrives, one’s Country home is opened for never ending ‘casual entertaining’ and enough bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate the never ending stream of guests, many of which will be required to stay overnight due to their level of inebriation, (which is a fabulous excuse for a night out and no costs involved ) and unfortunately there are far too many of those  famed for this  behaviour.
So you ask, what is the cost of all this? It can run easily into $100,000 per year and climb exponentially. If one participates in the  annual Grand Prix madness, a weekend can easily run to over $50,000 to acquire the best tickets and invitation to the many events with the drivers and their entourages. Hopefully one owns a company with deep pockets which can pick up these insane costs, otherwise you had better be earning serious money, but with all this, regardless of attending the ‘right’ Museum ball, supporting the ‘right’ charities, wearing the ‘right clothes’, if certain socialites do not like you, GOOD LUCK, as their social cattiness will destroy any whiff of success……..
Many of these social denizens actually come from actually nothing, but they have clawed and scratched their way up the social ladder, re-inventing themselves with every new and improved marriage to the next more successful and wealthy  husband. Stealing someone’s husband is unfortunate but often necessary. They are ever so quick to deny their backgrounds, as their surgically enhanced noses tilt higher and higher towards the sky.
Is this only Montreal? Absolutely NOT. It is the same in every international city worldwide, the only difference being a different set of rules and costs. Some of the house costs can be mind numbing, the event costs even more so, and depending on your manners and behaviour, acceptance becomes more and more difficult.
With homes in Holland Park, London now reaching the $100 Million range, yes, indeed, one must be a Billionaire today to get in to that particular social stratosphere. The ‘Right’ Country Seat, minimum 20 rooms if it is the ‘Right’ address, but at least 50 is de rigeur, with lots of surrounding park land for privacy, and another residence somewhere warm, with a Private Jet and Helicopter to get you to your destination at a moment’s notice.
Can one have an exciting social life in London without that level of wealth?? Absolutely, but one had better speak a minimum of 2 languages, 4 is more acceptable, have travelled extensively, know about art, economics, and have an absolutely wonderful sense of humour, so that your personality is your introduction instead of your wallet.
Ten years ago, at a very exclusive Gallery Opening, I was introduced to a Gentleman who looked like he had just escaped from an 18th Century Painting. He wore a white frilly shirt, a black leather Frock Coat, Breeches, and fabulous over the knee boots, long blond curly hair and bottle green eyes completed the package, with the most absolutely stained hands I have ever seen. An oxymoron……..but a twinkle in his eye and a huge smile on his face. He was surrounded!! He was funny!! His position in life?? He owned a leather company, but nothing you would expect. He made all his own clothing which was spectacular, but he was actually under non-disclosure as he was working for a Saudi Prince, and was doing leather work on his private boat, and we are speaking of something in excess of 300 feet of private boat. Furniture, walls, floors, you name it.  A massive contract in the millions of pounds, and here he was, the life of the party. He looked like a pirate, but was anything but. He was to do the Private Plane of the Prince once the boat was completed.
So, he was meeting some of the wealthiest people in the world and travelling to exotic locales with his team, so they could complete their work. Should the Prince decide they were off to a new port, he and his staff were abord to continue the work, so provisions were constantly being loaded to ensure they had what they needed.
So why Death?? …..Seems like a strange inclusion in a BLOG about Social Climbing. The conclusion is simple, no matter who you know, how rich you are, how popular  you are, what parties you attended, it all boils down to a very humbling ending. You will be all alone in that wood box for eternity. I have been to a frightening number of funerals, and seen behaviour which is horrifying.
At the end of the day the only things that really matter were the acts of kindness people remember, generosity to those who have a better life due to your kindness, and it need not be monetary, those whose life you may have changed by your assistance or the time you spent with them.
Non of the rest really matters, it is superficial, it is fake.
Please leave your affairs in order so that we do not hear about the absolutely disgustingly greedy behaviour of your heirs at your funeral. It will be the only thing anyone will remember.

Being a USER

Friendship and all relationships are about balance, there are periods in time when the pendulum swings towards one or the other, as life plays nasty games on us all, we go through periods when life is wonderful, and others when life is truly awful, and how we deal with the bad times is what defines us.

Some people are incredible at making others feel like they are owed everything, others of us quietly slink into a quiet corner to lick our wounds and reappear when life improves. We take care of ourselves, and do not make our particular problems those of everyone around us.

We have all met them, they are charming, they make you feel like part of an exclusive group, welcome. It starts with a small favour, and over time the request for favours escalates until the relationship is totally one sided. If you don’t deliver on the latest request, they throw a temper tantrum which is embarrassing and extremely public, and if the request is not granted after an explanation is requested, you are eliminated from their fabulous lives. Fabulous through your generosity!!

The world has become a cruel place. With social media we are bombarded with pictures of the ‘in crowd’ and their fabulously lavish lifestyles. We see endless pictures of their homes, vacation homes, vacations, cars, jewellery, clothes, and private planes, the ridiculous numbers of Facebook ‘friends’ , Twitter followers, Instagram and whatever else is the social media of the moment. I know several individuals who have thousands of Facebook ‘friends’ but they do not even know 10 % of the people. They portray this incredibly cool image of success and more importantly fun and popularity, so others flock to be in their presence, and there it all begins, little favours asked with a sweet sideways glance and a slight touch, which subsequently escalates to utter insanity. At what point does one become tired of the endless requests for SOMETHING, and there is ALWAYS a request for something. Be it names and contact information for an event, the person who is pleading for this information now has YOUR contact list, and over time the provider of this information becomes irrelevant, as the ‘user’ moves on to fresh prey with a new address book.
I know of several people who have been absolutely drained of their contact lists and subsequently dumped when there is nothing left to gain.
From Political fundraisers, Charity fundraisers, artists hosting events, someone is always demanding more. Nothing is ever enough, ever.

Friendship has to be balanced, as do all relationships. There HAS to be something to be gained for all parties. One person can not always be making requests and expect them to be granted. Some of these USERS are extraordinarily adept at networking and portraying a public face of kindness and generosity, which the givers never quite seem to receive as the USER works their way through the never ending source of the generosity and kindness of others. But wait!! Over time they become less relevant and less in demand. There is always someone new and more exciting standing in the shadows waiting to appear on the horizon, and slowly the USER is left behind. The unfortunate giver is relinquished and left in the shadows……….

Impressed by their Title

If it isn’t obvious by my blogs, I am a student of human behaviour, the human condition providing endless sources of entertainment and consternation.

Human behaviour never ceases to intrigue, every day someone I meet shares some tidbit which leaves you with your mouth flopping in the breeze in shock.

From mind-numbing rudeness on the telephone, or those who somehow think they are too busy or important to return phone calls, yet they have absolutely no clue as to the reason for the call. People are reserving multiple tables in multiple restaurants for 15 people and do not have the common courtesy to ring up and cancel the poor restaurant they deem as unimportant, leaving restaurant owners holding the bag for staff and food which goes uneaten, and an empty table being eyed by some poor group who did not reserve but are being turned away. Beyond unethical behaviour.

There seems to be a malaise in the marketplace, many people are commenting on it, from various walks of life. People are holding positions clearly above their capabilities, and are spending their days scrambling to cover up their incompetence, and instead of working with others to improve their knowledge, surrounding themselves with other equally incompetent individuals, all of them scrambling to retain their titles and fat salaries, and being rude to anyone they consider below their station in life.

This morning a friend with a PhD in Bio Science rang me up for a chat. Apparently the CIO at his previous company just let go 15 individuals who did not kow tow to her and her directives. This department ironically is 8 years late in implementing a project, and well over $50 million over budget. It will finally be implemented this year simply because those working on it are so fed up they have taken it upon themselves to ignore most of the directives and are just doing it. The CIO is grotesquely incompetent, and blames every possible thing that goes wrong on her staff. She has burned through some amazing people, many of those who have left are fabulously talented, and could not work for her. How she has managed to stay in office is seriously questionable. We constantly hear the expression ‘do you know who I am’ ?!??.. She is one of those….

Having been rendered speechless by this person I did references on her and was rolling on the floor laughing at some of the comments, including that one of her biggest accomplishments in her previous company was leaving!!!!

Whether someone is pushing for a table in a restaurant, running a project, in a line, one unfortunately hears these words far too often. I have a friend with delusions of grandeur who never stops telling everyone ‘I’m a XYZ. (family name) …..almost no one knows this family name, and yet one hears this constantly as if it is somehow supposed to impress…

The irony is that inevitably these self-important individuals are not remotely important or successful except in their own minds..
Growing up in England one was reminded constantly NEVER to name drop or self- promote, that it is the height of bad manners. In America, people are doing the opposite, and, frankly it is tiresome.

The Lady, Countess, Lord, are apt to come across as boring and unsuccessful. Yet one hears low level clerks in shops or companies dripping with condescension. The 21 year old shop clerk in an antique shop I frequent is by far one of the rudest young men I have met in a long time. Bristling with arrogance and condescension, interrupting people to give his opinions, and over talking if one has the audacity to try and ignore him. He is broke, living in a shared apartment, however, the strut and voice of authority with which he speaks would leave you wondering if he was so rich and successful he had earned the right to be so mind-numblingly rude.

If someone has to interrupt others to try and indicate their importance, then it is clear they are simply rude, selfish bores.
Courtesy and manners have seemingly been out of favour for a while, particularly with the youth, however it is interesting to note just how many people are complaining, and making a point of ignoring the ignoramus.

Years ago I came up with the ditty, “the bigger the strut, the bigger the loser”, which couldn’t be more true than today.
No one cares who you think you are, or tell us you are, your behaviours speaks volumes, and yes, we are watching…

RICH and Angry

The wonderful thing about the human race is that they never cease to amaze and provide an endless supply of anecdotes for me to detail in my blog!!

I am absolutely fascinated by several individuals I know who are extraordinarily wealthy, through chance of birth and marriage, yet, they are mind-numbingly cruel, angry people. They are tooling around in Bentley’s, Ferrari’s, and other posh cars, eating in the best restaurants, seated at the best tables where they are assured of ‘being seen’ , flying on private jets, wearing the most expensive clothes they can find, but are nasty, nasty, nasty. The mere idea of being polite or kind to someone except when they want something from them, is inconceivable, and generosity, just for the sake of it, is something they can simply not comprehend.

What I can’t quite figure out is why they are so cruel and rude? One would hope that if you are fortunate enough to acquire such wealth without exerting any effort other than the mere fact of being born or married into it, that you would be the nicest person in the world, but no, they are totally unpleasant, nasty individuals, who treat everyone like they are after something, and must be brushed off. Most of us look at you and think you are fortunate for miraculously falling into such a situation, but your behaviour belies any possible understanding. Interestingly, other than a few belligerent movie stars and singers who have come to believe they are GODS, I don’t actually think I have ever met someone who worked for their wealth who portrays such shameful behaviour. Most people who have earned their wealth understand how incredibly lucky they are, and how precarious it is, and the fact you can lose it all overnight, due to something totally beyond your control.

One gentleman I have known for years has made and lost his fortune several times. He is kind, generous, very funny, and was recently in Europe speaking at a University about Entrepreneurship. He is generous to a fault, and employs people around the world from nearly every possible race imaginable. Many are invisible, not wanting to flaunt their wealth.

So, if you didn’t work for it, why are you so mean?? Rude? Disrespectful? Because you think you can? Because somehow now that you are rich you feel above everyone else? You only associate with people you consider important enough to be in your refined company? Rich enough? Famous enough??

So, let me paraphrase, you inherited or married wealth, did absolutely nothing to earn it, contributed nothing to the good of mankind other than promoting yourself and procreating, strut around in fine clothes and jewellery, drive expensive cars, and sneer at the world.

There is always someone better looking, richer, kinder, more educated, more travelled, more successful, out there…..and the rest of the world sees you as your truly are. We avoid you at all costs, and want as little to do with you as is possible. You have absolutely no idea who you have offended along the way. Some of the ‘little’ people you have tromped over are in fact more wealthy and successful than you will ever be, and they are NICE. But you never take the time to actually LOOK at who is in front of you or LISTEN to them.

It is very sad.
At the end of the day the only people who will be around you will be only there to take your money, the one thing you have been fighting against forever, as you will have offended and chased everyone else away. What a delicious, sad irony.

Friendship in the New Age

We hear of people of all ages feeling isolated and lonely, yet there are so many on-line dating sites today it is insane, and the latest statistics which have just come out speak of nearly 50% of the adult population living alone.

There are a panoply of new ways to meet people, yet we hear of more suicides than ever, bullying and lonely desperation. So, what has happened?

Some people have thousands of ‘Friends’ on Facebook, and even more contacts on Linkedin, yet they just spent the Christmas holidays alone.

We see people glued to their mobile phones, texting in elevators, walking across the street in busy intersections, texting in restaurants, in meetings, on the bus, while sitting on the toilet, and some are still at it at 3 am.

Everything must be done by email or text, and it must be NOW. But, how do you make lifelong, lasting friendships if your life is spent on-line? If you are with someone and are paying attention to your phone, what does that say about you?

With instant communications, we are bombarded with images of movie stars and models and their fabulous lives. Just think of the ‘Twitter’ feeds of some which are followed by literally millions of eager followers, but this is not real. People have forgotten or have never even learned how to meet and greet other people, in person, and to express interest in what the OTHER person has to say, and what THEY are doing. You have to start by turning the phone OFF.

Life has become a series of images across a screen, lived vicariously, one image at a time. Where many people lack the skills to meet face to face, they are the same ones who don’t return messages on voice-mail, and unless you text them, they won’t answer you.

Some are going so far as to change their phone numbers on a regular basis to avoid actually having live conversations with their ‘Friends’ . How sad is this?

Friendships and relationships are terminated on-line, via Facebook or text, which is downright cowardly, not to mention totally rude and dis-respectful to the other person. How can anyone be so cold as to treat another person like this?!!

Life and friendships are about meeting people, in person, one at a time, and building relationships, whether profound or superficial, but the only way there is a chance is to spend the time with someone, with the phone turned OFF. Pay attention to the person you are with, they may surprise you.

I am always fascinated by those who interrupt others to talk about their fascinating lives and experiences. They need an audience, however the only way to develop enduring relationships with others is to actually LISTEN to what they have to say. I spoke with someone like that this week, well, actually I tried to speak and was interrupted non-stop by the other party. When I put the phone back on the receiver (land-line) , I actually looked at it, and asked the receiver what had just happened. My knowledge of the subject at hand is much more profound and personal than that of the caller, yet 20 minutes later, I hadn’t really been allowed to speak about it at all.

In my previous blog, ‘The Gift of Giving’ I discussed selfishness, which has crossed the boundary into friendships. Friendship, like loving relationships, are about balance, it has to offer something positive to both parties. It can’t lean only one way.

If you want to develop and maintain friendships, contact has to be in both directions, likewise invitations and generosity, regardless of one’s means.

No money for posh restaurants? No problem. Invite people to your home for Mac and Cheese. Throw in a few extra ingredients and make it into an event!!

In our home, we host friends for evenings of wonderful home-made onion soup and live music, not expensive to do, but certainly memorable. It is not about the cost, but about the gesture and the ensuing memories.

Friendship and consideration for others go hand in hand.

SO next time you wonder why you don’t have more real friends calling and inviting you out, ask yourself what behaviour you have exhibited towards others, and whether you would like to be the recipient of such shoddy behaviour. I think not.