Category Archives: Business

IS THE GLASS HALF FULL??

We have our own histories, realities, perceptions, interpretations and opinions based upon our own life history, optics, and experiences.

Some people, like moi, tend to question, and are, by certain individuals, considered to be cynical, others simply accept whatever is thrown at them as the truth.

Society today, bombarded with the faces and manufactured stories of the rich and famous, clamour to be part of that experience. Life is lived instantaneously through images captured and posted online to make the perpetrator feel somehow more important, connected. Some people, like myself, were brought up NOT to brag, not to ever use the name of another to promote ourselves, are somehow lost in the wind…and forced, unwittingly to do some level of self promotion otherwise we are perceived as weak, or somehow, losers.

Remember when the elegant Society Queens said there were only 3 times in ones’ life that your name should appear in the newspaper?? Birth, Engagement and Death. Period.

Today if your name is not plastered everywhere in social media, you are somehow considered to be ‘out of it’ not ‘with it’ . Unimportant. Passe…..

Women in particular, were brought up to gush positivity, never say anything negative about anyone, and smile. Unfortunately, today, people lie incessantly, and promote themselves ruthlessly. From the Social Pages with the gushing social editor ranting endlessly about all these Fabulous people and their equally fabulous lives and careers, to those who have carefully crafted  public personae, to worse, those who pay a fortune to PR’s to spin their fabulousness, and ensure they are invited to the BEST parties, and photographed …..

One acquaintance brags incessantly about her fabulous life, her international business….to hear her speak one would believe she is earning millions. Reality is a far cry from the rhetoric. She is broke and seriously in debt.

Another scratching social climber  from a poor immigrant family, is nauseatingly sweet to those who she feels will promote her pretend fabulousness, while ruthlessly destroying the reputation of anyone in her path.  Over the last few years I have unfortunately found myself increasingly distancing myself from both the self-promoters and the believers. The believers feel that having the self-promotors in their lives somehow makes them more complete, part of the ‘in crowd’ whatever that is.

They describe these individuals as brilliant, kind, exceptional, whereas others of us can’t get far enough away from them. Watching from a safe distance, however, is an absolutely fascinating experience. From speech patterns, eye movements, body language, being an observer as opposed to a participant is amazing.

There is one particularly pushy individual putting on airs and speaking with a fake English accent, trying to convey his British Upper-Class status. Unfortunately, both his actual behaviour and speech patterns convey the exact opposite.

The vocabulary is wrong, and most importantly, anyone from an important British family would NEVER publicly humiliate someone else ……it is simply NOT done. This individual is famous for it. Cross him in any possible way and be screamed down, with absolutely no consideration as to who is watching…..

There are several older socialites who continue to scratch and claw their way up the social ladder, utterly ruthless as to destroying anyone who is not helping them reach whatever heights they are seeking. One publicly exclaimed that she no longer speaks to those not in her social class….Seriously?!??!  she comes from nothing, and by making this statement, it speaks volumes to the fact she has zero class.

Go to London, associate with the powerful and find a totally different reality. They are incredibly polite and speak  to everyone.

I am always fascinated by elderly women still wearing Princess garb to balls at 70 years old. The description of ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ comes immediately to mind, scratching to reach some mysterious place which continues to elude them.

But true civility and elegance are timeless, and anyone watching from afar simply sees them as sad.

Another of my favourites are those who speak with soft kittenish voices, trying to show their current prey how sweet, kind and considerate they are.

In truth, most are pure poison.

From trying to lure a potential  man to the shop-keeper trying to elicit the secrets of those around her, with this fake sweet, ‘do come sit with me and tell me all about it’

But do something to cross these women and experience the most vicious attack ever, and the sweet soft voice immediately becomes loud and vulgar and seriously cruel.

If, in life, something appears too good to be true, then usually it is precisely that. From the investment yielding profit margins that exceed anything on the market, to Real Estate deals……. remember the old jokes about buying swamp land in Florida??

It is increasingly difficult today to know what is real.

From company web pages extolling their incredible success, and international reach, then find out the business is in someone’s basement and the so called successful President with the incredible resume has been fired from every job he has ever had. …but the web page is extraordinary, impressive. If you are a believer you will be taken in, and it will cost you dearly.

A certain politician has now been documented with 440 lies. …this is mind blowing. Many of those who voted for him, still believe in him, and will not be convinced that he lied.

They believe the rhetoric, drank the kool-aid, still do not doubt even though the truth is in front of their eyes.

True believers.

So, one could argue either way, cynic or realist?? Doubter or believer??

Many people do not wish to question, they are safe and content and unthreatened in their ignorance. It is easy. Safe.

How many times does someone need to say they are honest, kind, generous, popular, successful before others blindly embrace this false truth?? That you have been lied to, used, and nothing was real.

Is the glass half empty???

Shoplifting – The Latest Expression of Entitlement

Some of us have had to do a myriad of jobs to support ourselves, one of my summer jobs was store detective for the opening of a new department store. How I ended up there is a whole other story!!

It turned out to be an absolutely fascinating experience.

First, we were told about the various motivations which drive people to steal. The most obvious is extreme poverty, driving a need for food, but unfortunately, it is not the critical driver. Most people steal for the thrill, and many of them steal inconsequential, really small items which they not only can easily afford, but in many cases, have no need for the item.
We were then given extensive training in comportement, which included kinesiology, or body language. As someone who is highly visual to start with, it was brilliant.
A total life and career change later, the ability to instantly recognize a shoplifter is still very much a part of my awareness.
Over the  period of 5 days, recently witnessed two blatant examples of shoplifting, and was subsequently served by a very teary young lady who had just been obliged to call the police over a shoplifter, and was extremely upset, so she was thrilled to have someone with whom to share her experience. The thief was an older woman well known to the police. When she was informed that she had to stay in the shop under supervision to wait for the arrival of the police, she calmly sat and read a newspaper. The sales clerk was in tears.  The police arrived and not only recognized her, but remembered her name and all the shops she had robbed.
The sales clerk was devestated at having to arrest this old woman, and the thief was totally calm. A huge tell about them as individuals.
The previous week in this same shop, they had made a $500 sale to another older woman, only to witness her on camera stealing another $60 worth of merchandise on her way out of the store. When confronted at the door, she exclaimed that she had ‘paid them enough, and she deserved it’ .. Once again, the police were called. This one was not so calm about being obliged to wait.
In this particular store, which is a very high end craft and decorative item shop, the clerk told me that they had to install cameras throughout the store due to the increasingly high incidence of theft, and that almost ALL those stealing were older  women who could easily afford to pay for the merchandise.
The Palm Beach Post recently posted an article about a young girl being caught stealing $454. From Sephora. Her excuse was that she wanted to give it to her best friend for her birthday. She is a student at the University of Florida, and should know better.
She now has a criminal record which will hamper her career for life. Brilliant!!
In their idiotic drive to reduce plastic shopping bags, which in my mind is utter insanity  as everything is in styrofoam and shrink wrap, heavy plastic, or plasticized cardboard, the incidence of shoplifting in pharmacies and grocery stores has skyrocketed. We see people dragging zippered trolleys which are overflowing with stolen merchandise. Pay attention next time you are in a grocery store which does not give out plastic bags.  People walk around with their shopping cart and their trolley. One cheap item in the shopping cart, when they think no-one is looking, one expensive item into the trolley. I was told that the item stolen the most is expensive steak. They go to the till, and pay for the items in the shopping cart, which is but a small percentage of the value of the items which made their way into the trolley. Virtually  NO cashiers have asked to see what is in the trolleys.
At a lingerie store, clients often walk in with 10 items to try on, then make sure they take long enough that the sales clerk has wandered off, only to exit and hand off 3 items, wearing 7 items cleverly hidden under their clothes. Do you REALLY want to make people strip??!! ….    For merchandise which costs $.50 to manufacture in southeast Asia??
Standing in line at a high end organic grocery store, we watched a woman pay for all the articles in the top tray of her trolley. The bottom was full. She was on her way out the door when I pointed it out to the cashier who called her back and made her pay for it.
She was absolutely furious, and it was clear through her body language that this was a regular occurrence  but  this was the first time she was caught. She clearly knew where the cameras were and cleverly avoided having her face picked up when she was obliged to pay. She was hunched over with her head down.
Any normal person making this mistake would have been horrified, and would have expressed their utter embarrassment, and apologized. She was angry at being caught.
How would you have reacted??
An older man at a pharmacy rudely rushed everyone in the queue  out of the way and ran with  a shopping cart filled with merchandise out the store. Non of the coloured tags to indicate it had been paid for were on any of the merchandise. He ran through the parking lot to his car on the other side of the lot. From what I could see, non of the articles in the cart were life necessities, but luxury items such as potato chips, soft drinks, bottled water, candy bars, toilet paper, etc.
We are ALL paying for this in increased prices, and the cost of increased surveillance.
A certain Westmount socialite living in a multi-million dollar home and with ample funds to attend black tie galas dressed in expensive gowns has stolen from every single one of her friends, and many of their friends.
At first someone thought was an accident, until by fluke one evening, someone mentioned that they had a sense when she had been in their home that things conveniently disappeared. Heads bobbed up and then everyone joined in mentioning they had all been robbed, and never wanted to mention it. Jewellery, Hermes gloves, scarves, cashmere scarves, and more jewellery and cash .
Interestingly, as this woman is popular and her name regularly appears in the social columns as being someone fabulous, the assumption was that she couldn’t possibly be stealing, but as the conversation ensued, it became clear that no one was safe from her. Worse, when they recognized things on her, they were under the assumption that they had been given as gifts. It was not a particularly pleasant evening as it became clear that this ‘fabulous’ woman was a serious kleptomaniac. Then came the stories of shopping in her presence, and being afraid of being caught as she was equally light fingered in stores, mostly taking inconsequential items such as lipstick, candy bars and the like.
As there are no coincidences in life, I decided to go educate myself, so I went to the Westmount Police Station 12, and spent an interesting hour with a lovely police officer who was kind enough to discuss this with me.   The big question was about shops who do not persecute shoplifters.
What I learned was that several companies do not prosecute, for the simple reason that the cost of merchandise versus the cost of 1-2 employees spending a day in court, and their expenses was not justified.
The other compelling reason for not stopping shoplifters was the safety of their employees.
For the majority however, as soon as someone was seen pocketing merchandise, they were stopped and escorted to a private locked room by 2 security guards while awaiting the police.
So, it was not my imagination, the police officer confirmed my sense that shoplifting was seriously on the rise.
By the end of our chat, I had him in hysterics when I mentioned how obsessed I am about never doing anything which could effect my Security Clearance, and described a funny incident at the Toronto airport when I gave the blond customs official a paper with $3000 in purchases written on it. She could not believe anyone actually wanted to do that, same explanation, and she understood why I was pleased to pay, and charged me a very fair amount.  He said the police congratulate me and wish there were more like me as we are an anomaly.
Neither of us can understand why someone would risk their career and reputation to steal an item valued under $10.
So, be vigilant, and be careful.
You are indeed being watched.

More telephone madness…..

It never abates, just gets worse.  Clearly our company falls into this category, but it is intentional. After having a published phone number and address for ever, and having to tolerate incredibly rude people actually turning up at the door, and in some cases being threatening, others trying to sell a myriad of unwanted products, and far too many looking for jobs, and having been told by ‘Outplacement Firms’ that turning up at someone’s door unannounced is wise, it has been a choice, and in our case, as our Company has operated ‘Word of Mouth’ from the outset, yes, we are difficult to find.

I have been screamed at by SO many rude sales people calling and insisting on speaking with the President, and calling me every possible name imaginable, when I have politely inquired ,
‘how may I help you’ ??
What they ALL missed, was that they WERE speaking with the President, and were RUDE, RUDE, RUDE.
This is not the case of the corporations where I tried to reach people over the last few weeks. They were ALL FORTUNE 500 companies, listed on the stock exchange, and with thousands of employees.
The latest in the list of corporate insanity, is saving money by eliminating a central phone number and receptionist.
Google their head office phone number, and find a 1-800  customer service number, and a customer service email address, along with a diatribe about their ‘preference’ for email.
Are they for real?!!
When I advised a Vice President of one of these companies about it, he emailed me back and announced that he was also unable to find one and would look into it.
Several weeks later, still no published phone number, in 2 cities.
These companies are ostensibly running businesses for profit,
They have shareholders.
They have customers.
They have employees.
They require NEW customers.
Unless I am seriously missing something, if you can’t EVER reach a human being, why on earth would you ever want to do business with them?  And the bigger question , which is actually the point of this BLOG, is just exactly WHAT HAPPENS IN CASE OF EMERGENCY?
Are you supposed to email an anonymous address may only be read by or answered by someone thousands of miles away in an offshore call center??  It could take days or weeks before someone actually responds, and they are clearly not in any position to do anything.
SO, if someone is walking on the street and sees something happening, there is absolutely NO WAY to contact the company about it, other than to run into the lobby and grab a security guard who probably couldn’t care less.
If there is a crisis at someone’s home, and a neighbour tries to call someone at work to notify them, it is impossible.
Clearly in the rush to automate and save money, the concept that humans actually make up a company has been missed.
My favourites include companies with a central phone number with an automated voice telling you to leave your message in general delivery. Attempts to reach an operator result in the call being
terminated.
The other stroke of genius is when one calls a company only to be rudely interrogated by some snippy receptionist who insists on knowing the reason for your call, and why you do not have the person’s personal mobile number. If she is unsatisfied with your response, she will hang up on you.
I asked one incredibly rude woman if she was actually paid to insult people before hanging up on her. She was seriously incredulous she was so rude.
This is a common complaint from people I know in numerous industries.
Is anyone listening??
Does anyone care??

Security Experts

Low tech or High tech – can you trust yours??

Just to make things interesting, we will start with lower technology, i.e., burglar alarms and work our way up from there.

Several years ago I was seeking a reputable burglar alarm company for my home. Spending as many as 5 months away made the concept become more of a necessity. It is not difficult to see uncut grass and hedges, and no footprints in the snow over an extended period of time.

Being a blonde female sole homeowner made things more than unpleasant.

I approached over 16 companies on the telephone, many were eliminated immediately when they insisted on speaking with my husband. No second chance on that as you know the service will be terrible.

Round two of those who were actually invited to visit after getting through the initial phone screening. Same issue, usually 10 minutes into the visit, when the proverbial question of when they could meet ‘the man of the house’ . A couple of them were formally introduced to my male cat, and rapidly escorted out of the door.

The level of incompetence and arrogance encountered in this process was extraordinary. One mind numbingly rude woman proclaiming herself as an ‘EXPERT” ….oh…how I just LOVE these people…..somehow made it through the initial screening and visit, but then came back with a drawing of the layout of my house and her ‘expert opinion’ of how to alarm the house. The price was absolutely over the top, and the lack of vision was terrifying. She kept pushing me over and over to sign the contract…….all in French, as she claimed she could not speak English, or more importantly, didn’t choose to, She droned on and on at how she was an ‘EXPERT” and at the top of her trade. I walked her into the middle of my back garden and insisted she look at my house in the bright daylight and asked if she noticed anything. Blank Stare. No Comment. Asked again. Was blasted with her physical signs of agitation at my disrespect, she clearly had NO idea what I was referring to.
Shook my head in disbelief, only to be met with a look of total condescension. Seriously?? This is how you close a sale for in excess of $10,000??? …..just saying……..

I pointed out the dining room window off in a secluded dark corner, then the shed leading to the basement door, also in a dark corner, then the basement windows under the deck which were enclosed with lattice work. And asked whether or not she had considered them as potential points of illicit entry.
She huffed and puffed and exclaimed that they could be added to the original quote. Really??? No apology, no explanation, just changes and more charges.
Once again, in the back door, and rapidly out the front door she went, becoming increasingly unpleasant along the way.

I guess we stupid blonde women need to be bossed around by ‘EXPERTS” like her. The concept that I might actually know something was beyond her comprehension.
She probably thought my husband gave me the house in a divorce. ABSOLUTELY NOT THE CASE. House was purchased by me, with my money, earned by ME. PERIOD.

An altogether unpleasant experience and appalling waste of time. The time lost is seriously galling, as it is time not spent on my business.

The last person to come was strangely from up North, and was actually my last resort. After going through all the ‘BIG BRAND’ alarm companies and being totally disgusted by them all, he had been recommended by a friend. He arrived with a smile, and a wonderful sense of humour. What a pleasure. After a house and garden tour, he looked at me and suggested that he felt I knew more about my house than him, and perhaps we should do the design together. What a concept!!! Along the way, he admitted that he had missed 2 key points of entry which I did not. He got the contract!!!
Many of the new alarm companies are pushing cellular technology as it is cheap and easy to install. DO NOT DO IT.

There are simply too many people driving around with devices to hack into these systems, it is just too easy.
Make sure that you TOTALLY understand the critical entry points and security issues regarding a system as well as the security of your person and your possessions. Not much point having a system if the most expensive article in the house is not properly covered. From roof entrances, to basements, back doors, windows and garage windows, ensure they are totally covered. Simply having the door from the garage monitored does not prevent someone from getting in and waiting for your arrival. Your life may depend upon it.

Also, make absolutely sure that the technicians and installers coming into your house have had proper Security background checks and that the company has certified this in writing. Some installers have been known to have criminal records and you do not want them to have access to your system or your home.
HIGH TECH

We constantly read about huge technology hacks where the confidential information of as many as 500 million individuals has been compromised. Unfortunately many very large well known corporations are unwilling to make the investment into proper Security Professionals, for both the data and the physical site.
They are constantly seeking ways to save money on infrastructure costs, and look to outsourcing as a way to save money. The only problem is that no one knows who has access to your data.
Senior Security Professionals are expensive, ideally with a Master’s degree in Cyber Security, and knowledge of penetration testing and physical security. Hiring some kid out of university in an entry level position is like advertising your utter disrespect or the critical data of your clients.
Think about it, travel companies have your date of birth, credit card numbers, a scan of your passport cover page……….shall I continue???
Retailers have similar information, including your shopping habits, and locations…….
Financial Companies have your personal information including such private information as Mother’s Maiden Name and passwords……
Credit card companies even more information including education, job history, locations of previous and present home……..and then the awful Credit agencies………

I hope I am frightening you………..
The big question, of course, is whether this whether or not this data is protected at all, or is easily available for a good hacker or unethical employee to access……

One ‘Security Expert” in a large retailer bragged to all his friends that he had ALL the confidential information on all the key executives in his firm, and all the client credit card numbers and pin codes……..He went on from there to a large Financial Institution, and on to his current gig where he is now considered the ‘RESIDENT CYBER SECURITY EXPERT”…….all through rabid self promotion on Linkedin and Security blogs. But, wait for it……….he continues to BRAG about the information he gathers…………albeit to a much smaller audience………and much more discreetly.

Several well known hackers have been offered high paying positions in large companies who feel they are well protected by these clowns, unfortunately, I do not share this trust or optimism. Once a thief, always a thief, and unless you know what trigger put them over the edge in the past, you certainly cannot foresee the future.

I will stick to only working with individuals with clean pasts and ideally a high level of Security Clearance.
If you are running a large infrastructure, complicated networks, and security, it is up to YOU to protect the data. PERIOD.

So, dear readers, be careful what information you share and where you share it.
Someone is always lurking around the corner trying to obtain it.

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.

MUCH too cool for moi!!

This seems to be a recurring theme. It is rude, frustrating and incredibly arrogant.

Once again, I tried to reach a friend by telephone. He recently joined a growing internet company. When I got nowhere with his mobile, it has been acting up a lot lately, I rang up his wife who suggested that I text him, and ensured me the number is still good. He has been having a lot of problems with the phone for a while. No, she did not have a new office number for him.

Not being overly patient, and preferring to actually speak with people, I figured, why not just call him directly at his new job. Logical thought. …!!??? Apparently NOT.

After spending 10 minutes ‘googling’ his new employer in Montreal, and finding no phone number whatsoever, I found one in Toronto and reached a chirpy, up-talking receptionist who proudly announced that no one in the company has a phone or phone number, and that one is required to either contact people on their personal mobile phones, and NO, they do not give the numbers out, or but everyone can be reached by email. Well that is all well and good, but I have no idea how you are supposed to acquire this information other than calling. I inquired as to his email, and was pleasantly given the information.

My question, is how is one to do business with a company with no phone number, and mysterious email addresses?? According to their website, one sends a request which is handled by a call center in INDIA, and with any luck someone will actually get back to you. Maybe not.
Certainly not the way I wish to do business. Being terribly old fashioned, and actually WANTING to speak to people, this is not for moi.

Having said that, OUR Company has NO website, absolutely NO Digital presence, and ours is a clear message. Due to the nature of our business, which is HIGH END IT Consulting and Search, we do NOT welcome unsolicited resumes. We work exclusively on a word of mouth basis, and are not interested in being inundated with useless resumes. Somehow some seem to get through, but they are not welcome.
As we are ALL industry practitioners with extensive experience, usually someone can find us within 2 phone calls. OUR clients are provided with numerous phone numbers as well as email, and are actually welcomed to call us after hours, at THEIR convenience.

I am mystified at how a relatively new company selling products can hide behind a website and call center in India, making it virtually impossible to identify or contact a human being. So if you are having problems, it goes to say that you will be totally ignored. Call India and hope that the recipient of the call actually understands what you have said and takes an action. If you have been paying your bills online as well, good luck.

Interestingly, I have several clients seeking service providers of this nature. They recognize the changing business landscape, and understand that by having an on-line presence, one has a global reach to sell their products. However, the other side of this equation, is that in a number of cases, these are individuals who are older, well established businesses, who actually expect the service provider to come and see them to discuss their needs. They will NOT do business with a company which does not understand this business model.

It is fine to try and be the ‘cool’ kid on the block, and reach out to millennials, however, there are an enormous number of successful business owners in their 50’s and 60’s who wish to be treated with respect, and be able to interact with actual humans, so these ‘funky, cool’ companies will NOT see their business, and it is HUGE.
These are the same baby boomers who are currently inheriting TRILLIONS of dollars from their families, and in many cases, looking to upgrade their homes and businesses.

If one is purchasing a generic item on line, and one can seek the same article from numerous suppliers, and price shopping is fine, but entering into a long term service oriented business agreement where it is virtually impossible to either identify or reach a real person is short sighted, and frighteningly arrogant.

They are mission out on BILLIONS. SO NOT COOL after all.

Very Busy Important Man

Well, I am thrilled that I never promised no to write on this subject again, because the stories from friends, acquaintances and my own personal experiences make it difficult to hold my pen back, sometimes it simply can’t help itself, and here it is again, 1:30 in the morning on January 4, 2016, and my pen is racing across a sheet of paper with a mind of its own!!

In my business and personal life, I meet and have met an extraordinary cross section of people, judges, lawyers, doctors, people with titles, politicians, business executives, entrepreneurs, artists, and just about everything in between.
Most of the people I work with are highly educated, highly intelligent, and well travelled. Some have extraordinary life stories to share. So why is it, we all keep running into self important losers, or better, posers, who are loud, vulgar, self promoting and constantly reminding us that they are ‘very busy important people’ ???!!!

Last month someone finally called me back after my having left 3 messages over the course of the month. After 3 messages I usually deem the person rude and do not bother to call them again. He apologized, but then ruined the moment by telling me he is a ‘busy man’

STRIKE 1.

He then took the time to speak with me, and promised me a resume within a week. That was 2 weeks ago. Still haven’t heard a word from him.

STRIKE 2.

Once again, the salary he is currently earning is $80,000 below the position for which I am seeking someone. This is a role over $200,000, and highly visible. It is a life changer for the right person.
Guess what?? We are done. I am no longer interested in him. Clearly his career is not his primary concern, so he is no longer mine.

STRIKE 3.
There is an ART Gallery owner I have known for years who appears to think she has reached the pinnacle, and no longer has to return phone calls.
After leaving 5 messages on her mobile phone, 3 emails, and a visit to the Gallery for a vernissage, at which she was to have attended, and did not, yup, her OWN gallery, she never showed up for an opening……..full of guests and the artist……..yikes!!

I am still waiting for her to return my call, well, not really. The irony, is that I was bringing her a new fabulous artist to review for her gallery. He is well known, and has sold to a great many prominent Quebecers, and would be a major catch for her gallery. He is also super connected.
But she is TOO BUSY. Too important.
She never even looked at the portfolio.

Incroyable!!!

Over the holidays this same person posted on FACEBOOK that she had been really busy and that people should not expect her to return their calls, yet she posted endless photos of herself out partying.
Really?!!

How can anyone run a successful business and PUBLICLY announce that they are too busy to return anyone’s phone calls??!!
If there was a serious illness in the family it would be understandable, and an apology with an explanation would have been the correct thing to do, but there was no illness, just an arrogant woman out partying, and posting pictures of herself doing so.

So, if someone was ringing up to make a huge purchase?? Too bad, so sad. She was too busy to call them back??

Utter insanity.

You simply can’t make this up. It is the absolute height of bad manners.
How is it the busiest, most successful people answer their OWN phones, get things done, and the low level totally insignificant ones need this rhetoric??

This morning, January 4, 2016, I received an email from a CIO referring me to someone in his firm, a call from a friend who is a Judge wanting to wish me a Happy New Year in person, and a Senior Sales Executive, all 15 minutes apart.
They are all seriously busy. All of them took the time.

All of them really are ‘busy important people’ but with manners. What an old fashioned and oft forgotten concept, but certainly appreciated.

I shared the anecdote about the Gallery owner with the Senior Sales Executive, we have known each other for an incredibly long time, I thought he was going to cry he was laughing so hard in utter disbelief. He thanked me for the laugh, and said he hadn’t heard something so incredibly ludicrous for a while. Nothing like good old fashioned laughter to start the day!!!

So, a big THANK YOU to all of those who provide me with the inspiration for these BLOGS. You are obviously too arrogant to be aware, but you certainly keep us all entertained.

And to the rest of the readers out there, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

On the Take!

Over the last few years we have increasingly heard of companies implementing more and more policies ostensibly around the issue of ethics. Many have web pages speaking loudly about their professionalism and business ethics, and like many things, this falls under ‘thou doth protest too much’, but the reality of these companies couldn’t be farther from the truth.

One large Consulting Firm offers ‘ethics’ lectures to their employees, and distribute booklets on their ‘code of conduct’ while simultaneously the Senior Executives exhibit mind numbingly dishonest behaviour, and will spare no effort or expense to sign a contract. We hear of trips to Florida with expensive escorts, casino nights in the high roller suites, where the huge losses of the poor losers are covered in exchange for the signature on a tasty contract. Other gifts which are widely spoken of in the industry include Mercedes, condos, rumour of one VP receiving a cheque for, yes, get ready for it, $1 million in exchange for a particularly large contract. Another executive is rumoured to have received a 150 foot boat. There is constant chatter in the market, however no one is prepared to go public with these allegations for fear of never being able to work again.

Another huge firm is rumoured to be paying for expensive golf club memberships, apparently the fees at one club in Toronto are in excess of $200,000 annually……private boat trips for executives and their families in exotic locations, some of the payoffs are insane, in some of the smaller firms, one particularly pushy individual (I am being polite) is known for purchasing everything from dishwashers to wall to wall carpet and snazzy cameras to ensure he has exclusivity.
One company we were working with changed their policies along the way, and decided that all their suppliers in IT had to sign a new contract in order to provide Consulting or Search services. We were rushed off our feet by a particularly unpleasant young woman in HR, and as it was the means to an end, we went along with this as several Directors and VP’s had indicated their desire to work with us. I found myself being rushed to sign and deliver the document. Well, when something smells fishy, there are probably rotten fish somewhere …….and there certainly were. The last trip to see her, was different. This time I was actually received in her office instead of a small conference room. When she left the room for a moment to confer with a co-worker, I was able to cast a peek around the room and on the surface of her desk. There were many signs that she favoured a competitor, cups with logos, a leather notebook cover embossed with their logo, snazzy desk accessories, but the real tell was the $2500 Louis Vuitton purse and the silk $500 Hermes scarf carefully draped on the back of her chair. When she re-entered the room, I carefully checked her shoes and clothes, and it was clear that they were not in the least expensive, in fact, quite the opposite.
If she had the means to purchase the purse and scarf, she certainly would have not been wearing $60 shoes and a polyester suit. So, clearly they were gifts which she cherished from our competitor, and the type of gifts that we will NEVER provide.

Several months went by, no contact, no mandates, utter silence. No way to reach her, emails not answered, phone calls not answered. One day I called her from the reception area of a client’s office as I was told I would be waiting a while for the client to get back as they were stuck in traffic. I had space and time on my hands, as well as unlimited use of the phone the receptionist kindly provided, so I decided to use my time well. I called our Princess and, lo and behold, she answered immediately with a perky voice!! I introduced myself and politely asked if she had been travelling as she was difficult to reach. Always a good approach. I also mentioned that we had received to mandates or follow up whatsoever to the signing of the contract, at which point she rudely told me that ‘just because you have a contract do NOT expect any business’ ….
So what was all this about?? Why run suppliers off their feet to sign a contract if you have no intention of giving them any business??

Turns out, I spoke to a couple of other individuals in other firms who had the same experience. One gentleman was so angry that he decided to do a LOT of digging…..and was told that purchasing had signed numerous vendors to protect themselves from any image of impropriety, but the reality was that they have 2 ‘Preferred Vendors” who wine and dine them at incredibly lavish restaurants, send them on exquisite trips and buy them fabulous gifts, so unless one is prepared to offer up even better gifties, there is absolutely NO chance of ever doing any business in that firm. ….. . . . And it just gets BETTER………just this week a close business friend was offered a contract in that firm through a personal friend. He went for an interview, and was then sent to meet the Vice President as part of the so called vetting process. On his way to leave, the VP told him that he expected $5.00 per hour in CASH for every hour he worked there. My friend was speechless. He shook the VP’s hand and left. Now he finds himself in the situation where he needs the revenue but has no intention of paying. He is terrified that the VP will find an excuse to terminate him if he doesn’t pay up. THIS IS INCREDULOUS.

For the record, this is a huge semi public corporation, vendors are screened within an inch of their lives, but NO ONE is watching the employees who are making these rules and enforcing them. Increasingly we hear of companies where everyone from the Secretary, Purchasing and Senior VP’s are receiving huge gifts from vendors. Apart from being beyond dishonest, the other serious problem is that this behaviour is stifling small industry.
If start-ups are the driving force for the success of a growing economy, they are systematically being choked out before they have a chance. Many companies are forcing their suppliers to produce their financial records, and allow them to audit their accounts at any time. This is arrogant to a fault.
If a small start-up has an incredible product but a minus cash flow, how are they ever to get their product to market? To say these practices are disgraceful is an understatement.
One last comment on these practices, is that it is also a dishonest power play enabling large corporations to effectively steal great ideas from these little firms as they do not have the financial means to protect themselves.

Where are the ethics in this??

At some point these practices will be exposed and it will be a frightening sight to see the public reaction to this.

Lying in the Electronic Age

Lies, Lies, Lies
There have always been a variety of types of lies, some cone from a kind and gentle  place, others are motivated by deception, greed, or from psychopaths who simply can’t tell the difference! No morality whatsoever from the liar makes it difficult for the rest of us to differentiate.
Some lies can be for self-aggrandisement, and we all know these people. Bragging endlessly about their fabulous lives and name dropping to enhance their image or perceived self importance.
The down side is that there is no consideration of the potential consequences.
The motivation can be simple or extraordinarily convoluted.
There are kind ‘white lies’ which are meant to spare the feelings of the recipient. If someone asks how something looks, telling them they look cheap, hideous, or fat will not do much to enhance the relationship. Likewise the age old ‘do I look fat in this” well, you just KNOW that you don’t want to tell the truth. It would be unkind and could result in disaster unless the person asking is secure and mature enough to handle the answer. Usually not.
There are lies of omission, to cover up incompetence, lies of one’s whereabouts, lies about one’s wealth, or lack thereof, lies regarding friends, trips, jobs, hobbies, finances, some are insignificant, and  sometimes the response can also be justified if the person asking the questions is inappropriate and rude.
In the electronic age it is even easier than ever to lie, as usually there are no witnesses to see the red flushed face, the downwards glance, the averted eyes, the twitch, the head touch, or whatever the tell. An inanimate screen can’t tell the truth from the lies.
Resumes are enhanced well beyond reality, education, titles and experience manufactured which bear no similarity to reality.
Some lies are exceptionally cruel, spreading false rumours can ruin reputations and careers, often out of sheer jealousy.
Then there is deception or misrepresentation which causes people to believe something which is not true.
Betrayal is another vicious lie. Throwing someone ‘under the bus’ to protect oneself is disgusting, and frightfully dishonest.
Plagiarism or copying someone’s works, be it music, literature, term papers, inventions and calling it one’s own.
Compulsive liars can emerge from a variety of sources. Some have extremely low self esteem and are seeking attention, others have been lying so long they no longer can tell the difference.
There are broken promises, which are a failure to honour a promise or commitment, where there was never any intention to do so. The most common of those being someone saying ‘lets get together for lunch’, or ‘I’ll call you next week’, or,  “ I”m on the phone, I’ll call you right back”, ‘please lend me the money, I will return it tomorrow’…….why say it if you have no intention of delivering?? These are hurtful lies, which other than making the person saying them feel better about themselves, actually hurt the recipient as they create a false expectation.
Fabrication is the lie of claiming a knowledge about something of which you know absolutely nothing.
Bold-faced lies are evil, everyone knows they are absolute lies and they insult the intelligence of the recipient.
There is an old expression, ‘on the internet no one knows you are a dog pretending to be a dog’ , and unfortunately on the internet, it is truer than ever, and really not as funny as it was.
Some businesses have extraordinary web presences, splashy web-sites proclaiming fabulous offices and business competencies. One individual starts a new company every January which he bankrupts every December. This has been going on for 30 years. He re-opens with a slightly different name, with virtually the same logo, but the differences are indiscernible unless you are seriously paying attention. Being an information junkie, we have his ads going back over 30 years, printed, so that it is possible to put them side by side and see the subtle changes.
He proclaims international experience, lavish offices and a vast partnership of senior executives. The truth is, he is living with his mother in law just over the border of Ontario with NO office, having escaped Quebec due to the vast number of bailiffs chasing after him.
His web site is gorgeous, it is meticulously detailed outlining his huge business acumen, however, the truth is far from what the web site portrays.
Just because a company has a fabulous web presence, does not ensure that there is anything behind it. We see many companies with extravagant web sites making claims of successes, but in fact they have $50 per month identity plans in shared offices. The addresses may be impressive, but the reality is not.
Unfortunately, like many things, it is ‘buyer beware’. Just reading the label is not enough.
Then, of course, is my favourite,  LINKEDIN. To say that people lie on that site is the understatement of the year.
We found one small local company where 6 of the 10 employees have the IDENTICAL resume, the most shocking fact is that the President also shares the same one!!! The other employees comprise a secretary, bookkeeper and sales staff.     So, if the President is complicit in this fraudulent practice, how on earth can you trust anything that anyone in this company does or says??
They claim to be Microsoft, Citrix experts……..but I would be terrified of using them.
Another small R & D company with 14 employees shows 10 with identical resumes, all claiming to be SCRUM MASTERS. Again, 10 with the IDENTICAL resume.How is that possible??
We see fabricated education, titles which were never held, jobs where the candidate was fired disappearing completely from resumes, one fellow went so far as to speak of his incredible successes in a job he had held for a mere 3 days!!  He single handedly put together a team of Enterprise Architects and delivered sensational results………..in 3 days??
There seems to be an expectation that these ‘enhancements’ be tolerated, however when someone looks you in the eye and insists that the details are true, without flinching, it is absolutely terrifying to think what else they could lie about. Lying  for some has become an art form.
A couple of years ago I re-interviewed a gentleman who I had previously interviewed on 2 separate occasions. He miraculously had a shiny new MBA on his resume, and the dates and titles did not line up. Titles and dates had morphed, likewise successes.  He lied to my face repeatedly, and was confronted repeatedly. He insisted. I persisted. Finally I took out the 2 previous resumes and showed them to him. The interview ended abruptly.
Personally, having to keep track of lies is way too much work!! I am much too lazy for that!!
We estimate that 60%, yes, indeed, 60% of the resumes posted on LINKEDIN are fraudulent. Unfortunately most of the people doing the first interview do not have the experience or maturity to catch these lies.
As we only work through word of mouth, we have references on the individuals we meet before we meet them, and we do additional personal references afterwards, sometimes as many as 5 if there is any doubt at all.
Dating sites, well I have heard so many horror stories and misrepresentations about these sites it is incredible. One woman actually posted someone else’s photograph. Two men who both know each other were at a party and people were talking about their dating stories. They both met the same woman at different times, only to discover the tall slim blonde was a shorter brunette. She claimed to be a University Professor, and her excuse was that she didn’t want her students to see her photo on the site. This is complete and utter fraud.
So, each of these men took time to go downtown to meet her, paid for gas, parking, cocktails, lost the time,  to meet someone who was not even remotely what they expected.
Co-incidenttally, both men were at the same dinner party discussing their dating disasters, and her name and profile came up. So, everyone at the party heard about this woman’s lies, and learnt her name. Incredibly embarrassing, but very entertaining for the rest of us.
We hear of men posting photographs of themselves from 20 years earlier, women claiming to own huge successful businesses who are seeking a man to pay their rent, it is endless.
The other big lie is Real Estate agents. There are some who spend tens of thousands of dollars advertising themselves in every print form imaginable. Every newspaper, web site, magazine shows their mugs smiling their fake smiles, proclaiming their successes. The give-away is that they hop from agency to agency as they do not actually sell anything, and end up scrapping with the other agents.
One local woman is so unpleasant no will buy from her, but she has become a listing agent due to her endless advertising. She snaps up listings from unsuspecting people who see her face everywhere thinking that she must be incredible. She is. Rude, vulgar and dishonest.
Unfortunately there are many of them out there, it is absolutely mandatory to do research BEFORE signing the listing agreement, otherwise you might find yourself with a house on the market for over a year with no visits whatsoever. The longer it is on the market, the more questionable it is to potential buyers. The market jargon is that the house listing is ‘burned’.
The online presence of many of these agents suggests something far different than the truth. Once again, you can’t believe everything you read.
It is not hard to find a PR company who will enhance your web presence and your web appeal.
Increasingly, many executives, musicians, movie people and others pay a fortune to have an exquisite web presence. For someone in the industry, we know that they embed keywords so that the names of these individuals always turn up in searches.
Their smiling faces and supposed successes are repeated over and over, the poor unsuspecting reader thinking that because it is on line it must be the truth. Unfortunately  it usually is not.
The sad irony is that many highly successful companies and individuals who are highly discreet are overlooked as they refuse to participate in the hype.
Lastly, FACEBOOK. How many people do we all know who have hundreds of FACEBOOK friends but no real friends?? Once again, they have manufactured an image of themselves which is fictitious  but extraordinarily appealing.
One local woman has literally hundreds of friends on Facebook. I actually confronted her one day about it, and inquired where she had met a couple of people she claims are her friends. It did not make any sense to me that they knew one another.   They DON”T.     Whenever she hears a name of someone she thinks is socially important, she immediately sends them a request to be friends, and many people simply accept.  They have never met, probably never will, and would walk by each other on the street.
Apparently this is commonplace, however I find it extremely sad.
Just think how pathetic this appears to the people who are really friends with these individuals, when they inquire where they met so and so, and are told that they don’t know each other. Oops.!!!
So, be careful out there. You could be talking to a dog pretending to be a dog, or worst, you could hire one!!!

Millennials and The Job Market

We hear endlessly how the baby boomers are holding on to their jobs longer and longer and depriving the Millennials from employment opportunities.
This, of course, is utter nonsense. The baby boomers have a business knowledge which no 30 old can even comprehend.

You only have to go to any mall and see the infinite number of ‘help wanted’ signs in their windows, as well as the complaints from small business owners that no one wants to start at the bottom anymore.

Ask most baby boomers how they got their start and you will hear about people holding down 2 – 3 crappy jobs while going to University at night to get a degree. I am one of those.
Did most of us have a career plan ? For the most part, we didn’t even know what that was. Did we have a plan? Some people had a ‘life’ plan, but beyond that, most people had absolutely no idea what they wanted to do in life. However, by working in numerous industries, at one point something jumps out. Many of us continue to work nights and weekends to service clients. The business world does not shut down after 5 pm.

Some of the complaints we hear are due to sheer laziness, others do have merit.
Companies no longer hire dozens of students straight out of University and train them like they did in the past.It is costly, time consuming, and today’s youth do not exhibit the loyalty traits of the past.

But, how is it that the children of first generation immigrants find jobs, buy homes and drive nice cars?? Simple. Because they will do ANYTHING to earn money. No job is too menial, they will hold down 2-3 awful jobs to finance their education and they save, save, save. They don’t expect to wear designer clothes and drink expensive coffees. They often wear hand-me-downs and bring food from home. Some of the stories I have heard over the years about what people went through to come to Canada are extraordinary. From prison camps to just about everything in between. I know many Vietnamese boat people.
These people work hard and NEVER complain. Being in Canada is everything to them.

So, some words of advice in your job hunt:

If you score a job interview,

don’t expect instant gratification. You cannot expect to graduate with no work experience and earn $60,000 or more, furthermore, you are not the only applicant.
* Nothing is worse than interviewing someone who thinks they are too good for the job. You have to START somewhere.

* Your Mother may think you are beautiful, brilliant and special, the rest of us think you are arrogant, self centered and lazy.

* Up-talking and interrupting the interviewer is a guaranteed way to ensure you are NOT hired.

* You have no business experience, yet you sit in the interview voicing opinions on how YOU think the Company could be run better. Really???!!

* If you are even remotely serious about your career, DO NOT tell me about your children or plans to have 5 of them.

* I do NOT care if you think you are green. You are not.

* Having absolutely NO experience of any kind on your resume whether volunteering, or anything else, tells us are extremely lazy and not even remotely ambitious.

* If you turn up for a meeting and are not well dressed, your hair is uncombed or greasy, your hands and nails are dirty, your shoes are unpolished, clothes are not washed or ironed, you do
Not shake hands, do not wait for permission to sit down, do not establish eye contact with the interviewer, and speak to them as if they are stupid, it is over before it has started.

* do NOT tell us how your last boss was stupid. Maybe he was by hiring you.

* If there are no super jobs where you live, don’t complain, MOVE, many of us did.

* Don’t sit in my office and tell me how jealous you are that I get to work in splendid surroundings. I worked 70-90 hour weeks for many years, and continue to do so.

* Just because you actually turned up for the interview does not ensure you will get the job.

* no one cares how busy you are, be on time, or just slightly early. That does NOT mean one hour early. That is rude.

* Playing with your mobile phone, or answering calls during the interview, as if your phone is more important, tells the rest of us you are not even remotely interested, or remotely polite.

* The inability to ask questions regarding either the job, the company or the interviewer does not inspire confidence.

* Telling the interviewer about your vacation plans will ensure that you will be permanently on vacation.

* Do not post a fake resume or fake University degree. Most of us can see past it, and do not want to employ frauds.

* Many companies want to ‘try and buy’ be open to trying a new approach.

* Unless you have a PhD in Astrophysics and speak 5 languages, be realistic about your employment options and salary requirements.

* Don’t tell me you are in a hurry, you are important or you are busy. I will gladly hurry you OUT.

* Do NOT name drop. EVER. I don’t care how important you think you are or who you may have seen from a distance. Unless you are interviewing for a Senior Marketing Role or that of a
Government Lobbyist, it is of no interest whatsoever.
A Variety of part-time jobs, spoken languages, travel, University Degrees, and even a PhD are wonderful. Add to that a willingness to travel and learn, and take whatever is thrown at you, will
Guarantee success. Also, remember it is a big world out there with a lot of competition. The world does not stop doing business after 5 pm. Nor does your work day.

If you don’t want Companies to take advantage of you, don’t try and take advantage of them. Salaries, benefits and perks must be earned.
There are endless opportunities out there, it is a big world. Open your eyes, consider the options, EVERYWHERE, and go for it.
You might be surprised.