Brands that Aim to “Super-Please”

It’s not too often these days that a brand steps up and takes action to “super-please” its customers, but one of my favourite brands, Babor skincare, did just that for me recently by sending me the most wonderful package of their products.  I’ve loved great skincare products for most of my life and they are especially important these days, given the TV work that I do (in an HD world, no less!).  Regardless, who doesn’t love skin that looks and feels great every day?


I’ve been using Babor for a while now and here’s a look at the products I will be trying and commenting on (via my Instagram page) over the next while:

  • Cleansing HY-OLa cleansing oil for all skin types.  With oil-based cleansers being all the rage these days, Babor has combined the natural cleansing powers of water and oil and developed a unique bi-phase, deep action cleanser that promotes skin vitality.
  • Phytoactive Sensitivethe treatment phase for cleansing with HY-OL, containing herbal essences tailored to sensitive skin types, designed to refresh and lend radiance.  Since I love scent, I can’t wait to try this relaxing product.
  • Rejuvenating Face Oil, a newly launched product designed to give skin an extra boost.  Inspired by Dr. Babor’s research on lipids and by the black rose, this luxurious face oil lends new radiance to the skin.  Looking forward to trying this product, as face oils provide such great moisturizing benefits.
  • Hydra Plus Active Fluid, from Babor’s luxurious ampoule collection, Hydra Plus provides a moisture boost to dry and dehydrated skin.
  • Algae Active Fluid, another powerful ampoule, bringing the benefits of the sea to dry, dull skin.
  • Ampoule Advent Calendar, and finally, Babor’s festive Advent Calendar featuring 24 ampoules from its collection, resulting in healthy, hydrated, and glowing skin, just in time for the Holidays.  Who says we can’t celebrate all year long?

I definitely have my Babor favourites, but I’m looking forward to adding some new products to the list.  Brands that go out of their way to let customers know that they truly matter are more than worthy of a mention, and I’m pleased to do that here.  Thank you so much!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (February, 2018)

Fun discussion this past weekend with Natasha Fatah and Elmer Kim on the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel.  In a busy segment, we discussed the week that was, including:

Falcon Heavy, Spacex, and Tesla’s Wild Ride:  With the breathtaking launch of the largest rocket in history, what does this mean for the future of space exploration?  With a Tesla Roadster being launched into space, could the Company’s future reach similar heights?

The Cost of Raising the Next Generation of Olympic Athletes:  As the 2018 Winter Olympics commence, what are the financial implications of rising to this level of competition?  Can Olympians bank on endorsements after they have represented Canada at sport’s highest level?

As a life long space enthusiast, all aspects of the Falcon Heavy launch are not only exciting, but also fascinating from a business perspective.  Since humans are explorers at their core, traveling beyond our world and seeking to understand it are within our DNA.  Advancements such as more robust space exploration at a much lower cost, the ability to re-use components, and greater functionality are to be celebrated, not to mention the phenomenal release of that Tesla Roadster!  Expect far more in the future, including a variety of projects and the Mission to Mars, and hopefully further advancement of rockets and air travel right here on Planet Earth.

And speaking of Earth, Tesla has some definite work to do in resolving its operational issues and increasing its Model 3 production.  What’s important to remember is that the Company is moving from a niche manufacturer to “mass production”, which represents a very different business.  When this occurs, companies can face a host of growth related issues, many of which are not glamorous and require a lot of analysis and hard work to resolve.  Critical to doing so is having the right people in place to get the job done, and advisors can help to move the growth strategy forward.

For many athletes, the pinnacle of their careers is completing on the global stage, something with which the Olympics is synonymous, but getting there in financial terms can be just as challenging.  Although some funding is available, what’s often needed is taking a broader approach, including donations, sponsorships, scholarships, and even crowdfunding.  The earlier that high potential athletes and their families can start planning, the more resources that can be identified.

We had hoped to chat about the Dow’s wild ride of its own, but time was short on this busy news day.  As always, thanks so much, CBC, and see you next time!


Lifting Off to a Whole New Level of Teamwork

In honour of today’s historic Falcon Heavy launch, here’s a new spin on lessons learned from Canada’s Astronaut.  I was fortunate to meet him not that long ago and his perspective was inspiring and highly relevant to the business world.

I recently attended the Canadian Venture Capital Association’s annual conference, of which I have been a longstanding member.  Although there was a lot of great information to utilize and reflect upon, I found the comments of Colonel Chris Hadfield, “Canada’s Astronaut”, to be particularly insightful.

Although paraphrased and representing just a portion of his powerfully illustrated keynote address, here are some concepts that especially resonated with me:

  • How are you going to finish and what are you going to do next?  When considering any achievement, it’s important to think about the task at hand, recognize where you need to “get to”, and what it will take to finish strong.  The power of the words “finish” and “strong” is not lost on those who excel, but is often not well achieved (or fully understood) by others.
  • What does success look like and are you prepared to achieve it?  Visualizing successful outcomes and practicing the skills that are required in order to get there can greatly reduce the risk of failure.  Be clear on what it will take to cross the finish line, visualize it, and practice every step.
  • What does failure look like and how can it be avoided?  Visualizing failure requires a thorough understanding of it and getting to this point often isn’t easy.  Ask yourself if you have enough knowledge in order to resolve it, should failure loom.  Having said that, “the beauty of failure is that it is deep in learning”; such a powerful concept.
  • Teams need special attention. Words and communication alone are not enough.  Having a shared vision of what success looks like, watching for changes in actual behavior (not just talk!), and celebrating success often can help to bring a team together to achieve great things.

These areas are fundamental for individuals who strive for success and are essential, in the case of teams.  How true this is when considering the pioneers of space, who often only have each other to rely upon, including identifying and resolving problems.  Although astronauts train extensively to address challenges, it doesn’t mean that trouble arrives with advance notice.

Considering life and death, mission critical situations should make everyday teamwork seem much more attainable; but why is it often so difficult?  Perhaps the answer is found by reflecting on one final thought: Impossible things happen; do something unprecedented.

I’m ready to board, are you?

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (January, 2018)

Happy New Year!  Back in the studio this past weekend for the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel with John Northcott and Elmer Kim.  We discussed the week in business, including:

  • NAFTA and Mixed Signals from the US.  First, Trump says the US might pull out of NAFTA; next, he says the talks are moving along well and he might extend the deadline.  What could be in store for Canadian businesses?
  • Tim Hortons and Minimum Wage.  Canada’s favourite coffee shop has faced a backlash over how some franchisees have responded to minimum wage increases in Ontario.  What are the implications for the brand and lessons learned?

Both of these stories have received a significant amount of public and media attention.  Here’s a quick take:

  • In terms of NAFTA, it’s no secret that Trump’s target of dissatisfaction has been Mexico, and that Canada and the US are significant trade partners.  Bringing an end to NAFTA isn’t as easy as some might think, and regardless, Canada and the US need a basis to do business together, whether it is under NAFTA or some other arrangement.  Canada should be focusing on its global trade strategy, as well as its options for trade with the US.  Canadian businesses, on the other hand, should be focusing on the significant work that needs to be done in order to approach global opportunities.  Talking to a business advisor is a great first step!
  • The Tim Hortons saga is a good example of what can happen when important business and implementation planning are not managed well.  This type of situation can also be impacted by a lack of communication: between a company and its franchisees (or locations), employees, and customers.  And as for the public sector, we can all agree that providing a fair wage is a good thing, but leaving it up to companies to implement a large increase simply isn’t a wise strategy, given that a business’ payroll is typically its largest expense.  A more gradual approach that starts sooner rather than later would have been a better idea.

Thanks for watching and see you soon, CBC!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (December, 2017)

Great to be back in the studio for the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel, alongside Elmer Kim and John Northcott.  We discussed a busy week in business, including:

Our world has changed so much in recent years and an area of increasing concern is security over financial systems.  Hackers always seem to be one step ahead of business and public sector systems, and although many breaches have been on a relatively isolated basis, the risk a widespread incident should be very concerning.  It’s critical to ensure that organizations have the necessary plans in place to combat this risk, as not only are their operations at stake, so are their reputations.

The ongoing saga of proposed small business tax changes has resulted in more uncertainty for Canadian companies.  Recent developments demonstrate how little those in government who are responsible for this area actually understand, in terms of how business works.  Now is the time to support companies in their growth and development, and requiring resources to be dedicated to addressing tax changes is of no meaningful value.  This is especially true, given that there is an opportunity for Canadian companies to pursue global opportunities, as circumstances in the US become increasingly uncertain.

Finally, the impact of the loss of US net neutrality remains to be seen, but it’s fair to say that a lack of fairness is never good.  Expect legal action and other delays to keep this situation percolating for a while.

Thanks very much, CBC.  See you in 2018!

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (November, 2017)

It was my pleasure to appear on the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel again this past weekend with Michael Hyatt and John Northcott.  We discussed the week in business, including:

The stories about the lack of female leaders in tech companies and gender inequality are discouraging, in terms of how our world should look in 2017.  Although much progress has been made, there is still so much left to accomplish.  We can all help to make strides in this area by ensuring that the companies and organizations within which we work have appropriate systems in place to support progress that is fair for everyone.  We can also support young women and girls in knowing that they can achieve anything in their lives, regardless of their gender, and ensuring that action is taken to make this happen.  Too often, companies and organizations defer to the “same old” practices, and this is an important impediment that must be resolved.  Simply put, it’s time to shatter the mold.

Much has been done to support financial literacy on a personal level, but many business leaders lack the finance knowledge that is required to build and grow a successful company.  We can help entrepreneurs and business leaders to understand what they need to know, setting them apart from others.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts with your viewers, CBC!

Getting to Better Budgeting: 5 ways to up your budgeting game

Published by the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association in GreenMaster (Fall, 2017).

The very thought of budgeting can conjure up feelings of an abundance of effort for little in the way of outcomes.  Ask people how successful they are when it comes to meeting (or beating) their budget and many will say “not even close”.  Suggest that a budget should be prepared before getting started with a new fiscal year or venture and the response might be “we can’t predict the future, so why bother?”.  And when all else fails, there’s always the familiar excuse of “nobody looks at those things anyway”.  These viewpoints are more common than one would expect, but actually, they are far from accurate.  Why is this the case?

The simple reason is that budgeting is a learned skill, and practice makes it better.  When considered in this context, here is what the comments above actually mean:

What They Said Translation
“Not even close”

The budget wasn’t reasonable.

We didn’t pay enough attention to the budget once it was developed.

“We can’t predict the future, so why bother?” We don’t know enough about our organization to prepare a meaningful budget.
“Nobody looks at those things anyway” We don’t understand budgets.

Experienced advisors know these misconceptions all too well, and the only way to overcome the challenges of budgeting and improve outcomes is to take action.  This means implementing a sound budgeting process, upon which an organization can build over time.  Here’s how:

  • Assign the right resources: Those who are responsible for conducting the actual budget work should have relevant experience, including a professional accounting designation.  Since budgeting is a specialized area, in the event that an organization’s staff members have not previously conducted budget work, the necessary training and education should be provided in advance.  Advisors can also be helpful in this regard.
  • Have a game plan: Developing a budget doesn’t just happen, and it’s important to have an action plan that identifies all critical activities, timing, and responsibilities.  The budget should have a standard format, including an Income Statement, Balance Sheet, Cashflow Statement, as well as supporting schedules and assumptions that provide the rationale for how amounts were developed.
  • Engage the senior team in the process: A budget shouldn’t be developed in isolation, such as by an organization’s leader or the “Accounting Department”.  This approach can result in those on the senior team taking the view that the budget “doesn’t belong to us”.  In order to avoid this scenario, all members of the senior team should be involved, by way of developing the budget assumptions that pertain to their area, as well as review of drafts and finalization.  This approach gets everyone on-side, making the budget that of the organization and its team.
  • Draft, review, and revise: Budgets don’t typically come together on the first try, so it’s important to prepare a draft version, review and critique it as a team, and revise where required.  This process might take a few drafts, but it is rich in learning for everyone involved.
  • Implement and monitor over time: A budget only means something if it is formally implemented and monitored over the full period to which it pertains.  Common mistakes include developing a budget and either not formally implementing it (so people think it doesn’t matter) or failing to compare actual performance to budget on an ongoing basis.  Either scenario leads to poor outcomes.

The good news is that the work is in getting started and these efforts can be leveraged over time, through re-use and enhancement of what has already been put into place.  Starting now creates the opportunity to get on the path to making the process easier sooner.  What’s more, the good performance that can be generated will add some distance to your game.

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (October, 2017)

Pleased to have returned to the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel this past weekend, joining Elmer Kim and Aarti Pole.  We discussed the week in business, including:

The demise of Sears reinforces just how much the retail industry has changed, in terms of how goods are purchased and the type of shopping environment that people seek.  Expect more changes to come, particularly in terms of the logistical aspects of this sector.

Many, if not most, Canadians are surprised to learn just how much of the economy is comprised of small businesses.  Given the increased uncertainty in the US political environment, it stands to reason that countries (and companies) are seeking out business partners and suppliers with greater stability.  This represents an important opportunity for companies in Canada, but conducting the right research and planning in advance are integral.  Is your business ready?

Thanks very much, CBC, for the opportunity to share my views on these stories with your viewers.  See you again soon!

MEDIA: The Diversity Files

I was recently interviewed by CBC News Network Radio regarding a story about an organization devoted to the advancement of women in the workplace having selected a man as the Chair of their advisory board. Although I’ve never been one to point to my gender as impacting my career progress, it served as a reminder of what an important issue this is.  I’m taking the opportunity to discuss this topic in a new blog segment, The Diversity Files.

Having women in leadership positions provides a tremendous role model opportunity, in terms of what can be achieved in the business world.  I was fortunate to grow up in an environment where I believed that anything was possible, in terms of the career that I could have.  It was not until I was much older that I appreciated the fact that not all girls (and boys, for that matter) have this experience.  There are also many points in a person’s career where discouragement could set in; being passed over for an advancement opportunity or pay raise, encountering difficult co-workers, or the boss who doesn’t support your efforts (or, perhaps, has the audacity to take credit for your work!).  These moments can call into question if it’s worth the effort, if that lifelong goal is really achievable.

It’s no secret that, even in 2017, women are still underrepresented in a number of senior level roles, including that of business owner, the executive ranks, and on governance Boards.  In too many cases, women are so badly underrepresented, it is difficult, if not impossible, to explain.

Studies have found that companies who employ more women in the C-Suite are more profitable, and those who have women on their Boards generate better performance at the governance level.  Since strong financial results and better corporate performance are integral to building shareholder wealth, it begs the question: why are there not more women in the senior ranks of so many companies?  Why?  Based on these findings alone, it doesn’t add up, not to mention what it means on a human level; the very thought that one being is somehow lesser than another.

This reality points to the business world itself.  Could there be something systemic that makes it less likely for women to progress to senior levels?  Unlocking the code to resolve this problem isn’t a casual matter; rather, it is integral to driving better results and fostering inclusion.  It is also simply the right thing to do.

It is not as if there is a lack of qualified women, educated in business and in the corporate world, to fill these roles.  Solutions lie in more women pursuing senior level positions, being supported when they do, as well as given their fair amount of the opportunity; they have earned it!  Women, without question, have the ability to perform well in senior roles, and doing so just doesn’t drive results; it represents a powerful opportunity to set an example for the next generation.  Heaven knows, they are watching.

MEDIA: CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel (August, 2017)

It was my pleasure to appear on the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel this past weekend with Michael Hyatt and John Northcott.  We discussed a variety of the week’s business topics, including:

Thanks so much for welcoming me and see you again soon

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