A Money Coach in Canada

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2462011478_c0e4e5d3451.jpgSome of you may need kleenex. This is a story of the best of the business world.  It’s easy to forget that big businesses can make positive change and be a Good Thing in this old world of ours.

Consider this story. Levi Strauss got called out for one of the worst PR nightmares possible: two of their factories in Bangladesh were filled with child-labourers. They had not done full diligence in checking their contacting sources.

They were caught in an impossible dilemma.

Continuing to use the child-labourers would be unconscionable.

But “firing” them all would send them into equally horrific lives of prostitution and poverty, likely pulling down their families with them.

Levi Strauss did the entirely unexpected.

They continued paying the children their wages … but sent them to school instead. The children had their positions held for them, if they still wanted them, upon graduation.

Not many people know this story. It deserves telling. At a time when so many corporations do things that are horribly wrong, sometimes, a corporation steps up and responds courageously in a way that rights the wrongs.

I don’t know about you, but Levi’s is now my brand of choice. And the beauty is, I honestly don’t think they made their decision based on this potential outcome. If they did, more of us would know the story.

Photo Credit: achi

Readers:  do you know of any other stories of corporations doing The Right Thing?  (god, I hope so.)

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This weekend I splurged and spent a chunk of change at a spa.

And not any old spa. The Spa Utopia. Pan Pacific location. Yes, it’s every bit as wonderful as it sounds.

It raised the questions it usually does: I walked by beggars, including women who sleep on stairs and cardboard, enroute to the spa. How can I justify this splurge in face of the people whose primary needs are not being met?

Like many of you, I have grappled frequently with this question. Here are a few thoughts I have, and I hope to god I’m not defending the indefensible.

  1. No one is served by everyone being destitute. Rather, we need to find ways where we all enjoy a reasonable standard of living. The fact that I have a reasonable standard of living is a good thing.
  2. Spa experiences are a good thing. A gorgeous luxury. When it is within my means, and when I go to a spa, the appropriate response is not guilt, but rather ensuring I celebrate and enjoy the experience fully.
  3. Notwithstanding, I remain accountable (to whom? For me, the creator of all people. But also, to my society. And also, to the marginalized themselves. Food for thought: a priest in an inner city church in the states made the comment: No one gets to heaven without letters of recommendation from the poor) — I remain accountable for the people I encounter locally, and the people across the globe, who are going to bed hungry, and outside.
  4. I cannot solve the planet’s poverty with my salary. But I can give with increasing generosity. My rule of thumb is that I both give monthly to a charity and also, for every splurge, I give an equal amount to the charity, in addition to the regular amount.
  5. I can request political change and policies that do more than I can do singlehandedly to eradicate poverty locally and globally.

Readers:  how do you balance luxury spending in the midst of a planet of hungry people?

5 years ago, Kat joined my very first Smart with Money seminar series.

She came by accident more than anything – happened to see the advert the same day it started, the time and location was convenient so she impulsively signed up and showed up.

Kat was in her mid-30s, and had recently quit her high-paying job-from-hell in favour of doing what she felt called to do.

Only problem was, doing what she felt called to do resulted in $23,000 in debt. Her lifestyle hadn’t shrunk with her income, and she’d taken a significant hit. In fact, her new income scarcely met her basic living costs here in Vancouver.

During the Smart with Money course, Kat began to track her spending. She also faced her debt – and found it overwhelmed her with anxiety and burden. And then there was the mind-set. A child of very difficult economic circumstances, Kat needed to believe she could be on solid financial ground, that she could be an empowered woman with money, and that her financial past was in no way determinative of her financial future.

These kinds of issues don’t get solved in a matter of months (contrary to some claims). But Kat was resolute.

Over the years, she and I had many talks. There were tears and discouragement to be sure, and sometimes an issue had to be visited and revisited until new mindsets and habits really took hold.

You can read some of her own posts on my business blog.

There were a series of breakthroughs.

The definitive one came this past Friday.

I was in a meeting with my boss, and Kat, also a member of Canada’s best-kept-secret bank made the effort to come share a really great moment with me. She found my boss’s office, knocked on the door and held up a deposit slip.

Debt: $0.00

Savings: __________ well, I won’t say, ’cause that’s private, but it was a very respectable sum, indeed.

This, she accomplished while getting a number of courses under her belt, and staying at the same place of employment.

I’ve asked her to write a blog post, and will hound her to do so, but in the meantime,

Kat…. Kat… Kat.. WOOOHHOOOOOO! Congratulations from your money coach who’s freaking proud of you.

Readers:  Have you ever had a big Breakthrough Moment when you felt like something was permanently different for you, financially?  I’d love to read about your experience too – leave a comment 🙂  !

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Photo Credit: UncleWeed

Thanks to Darth Guru for pointing to this!

Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) a very worthy organization has forwarded this for dissemination:

C A R N E G I E C O M M U N I T Y A C T I O N P R O J E C T

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
For Immediate ReleaseFriday, June 13, 2008
Downtown Eastside Welcome Wagon to Visit Concord Pacific.
“There’s still time for you to be a good neighbour, Terry.”

This is the message that Downtown Eastside residents and their supporters will bring to the CEO of Concord Pacific at his office on Friday.

In the last few weeks, members of the Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP), tried to get an appointment with Terry Hui, but didn’t succeed. They want the owner to reconsider his application for 1/2 million dollar condos at 58 West Hastings and instead turn over the property for social housing. The group wants the site named after Darrel Mikasko, the homeless man who couldn’t get into a shelter and died in a fire trying to stay warm.
Concord made billions off the Expo lands and can afford to give a little back, especially in our neighbourhood where people are going to be pushed out because of new condo development,” said Robert Bonner of CCAP.
Joe Le Blanc, a resident of Vet’s Manor said Concord is “putting their condos between the Portland Social Housing Project and the Grand Union Hotel, between despair and hope. We need more hope and that means more social housing.”
“It would be nice for developers to give back to the community they are making so much money off of us”, said Phoenix Winter, another CCAP member from the community, who is referring to Concord’s condos on Powell Street now under construction.
The welcome wagon troupe will bring in some special gifts in a basket to Terry Hui that they hope will inspire him to consider donating his land to Downtown Eastside residents in need. Among the gifts, will be a Hope in the Shadows book, 200 letters calling for social housing on the site, tickets to the premier of the film “The Way Home” about homelessness and a sample of critters that plague the Downtown Eastside.

Time: Friday, June 13 at 1:00 p.m.
Place: 1095 West Pender Street, Vancouver – meet outside front doors
Contacts: Wendy Pedersen 604-839-0379; Jean Swanson 604-729-2380

____________________________

note from Nancy: this is my ‘hood. I’ll be there tomorrow, if anyone wants to join me.

also, I think CCAP is being generous. If I understand correctly (and I still need to get the facts) I believe this permit did not go through proper notification processes, and city hall has issued an apology.

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