Category Archives: Integrity

“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….

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.

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.

the 2016 Presidential Election ……err… sort of…

This election has, on every front, been the most degrading, disgusting exhibit of lying and arrogance ever.

 

hillary-clinton-vs-donald-trump-cartoon-joe-heller-fb

The complete and utter disrespect shown between the candidates and their representatives on an international scale shows a contempt and disregard both to each other, and regrettably the American public, never before seen with such a worldwide audience.
Not only have their handlers NOT put a stop to this highly embarrassing and debasing behaviour, but they virtually compliment it. We have heard allegations of fraud, murder, tax evasion, sexual assault, sexual misconduct, chauvinism  daily, as well as a never ending barrage of inappropriate language. The only possible upside to this is that certain talk show hosts find their shows nearly written for them by the candidates and their representatives……..at least they add some levity to the situation.
But the extremely serious side of this discussion is that fundamental civility has gone out the window, what we see in its place is an outrageous display of:
  • Lying
  • Abuse of Power
  • Sense of Entitlement
  • No Dignity
  • No Ethics or Decency
  • No Civility
hillary-trump-debate-thumb-tpi-123
And above all, absolutely NO display of manners or class whatsoever.
Does this display, shown on an international scale, demonstrate what we can expect from the General Public, Business Executives and Senior Politicians??  That somehow it has become permissible to behave in this disgraceful and embarrassing fashion??   Has it become the norm to insult and berate others publicly with no fear of reprisal??
The basis of Civil Society is CIVILITY.  When this is lost, we can expect an exponential increase in Fraud, crime, and an increasing lack of physical security, due to the incredible sense of entitlement these individuals show.
Has becoming a public bully somehow become socially acceptable?
Manners and Class have always won out in the end, but they are taking a serious beating in this very public debacle.

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.

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……….

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!!!