A Money Coach in Canada

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Photo Credit:  Laffy4K

I’m going in to my office for a couple hours tomorrow for a project that came up at 4:30pm on Friday.   I was caught completely off guard when my manager encouraged me to enter the hours into peoplesoft so that I get paid overtime.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have kids, or maybe it’s because much of my working life I’ve had my own business but frankly I don’t firmly compartmentalize “work” | “the rest of my life”.   Part of this is due to the fact that I’ve always ensured my work has personal meaning to me (with a couple regrettable exceptions).  When your work is connected to your values it’s not something you want to leave at the door.

These porous boundaries are amplified for all of us, I think, by web 2.0.    The ability to interact professionally or personally is no longer bounded by time or location. When I’m on facebook, am I working or simply hanging out with friends?  What if those friends gives me valuable info that I bring into my work role?  Or what if I  FB Friend someone from work, and we develop a camaraderie  which translates to a high-trust culture on the job?

Beyond that, the 9-5 model is based on industrialization and very few of us work in factories.  I don’t know about you, but many of my best ideas or insights come outside of 9-5.  This weekend I’ve spent several hours reading Finding Dahshaa (and if any canadians want to be flung back in your assumptions about First Nations and the rest of us, this is the book!) and Housecalls by Dogsled.  Both will inform, for the better, my approach to my work.   Neither are books I’d have read while in Vancouver.   So is this work, or pleasure?  What about the many times I’m reading blogs and stumble across something that will come to bear on my work?  You get the idea.

Conversely, heaven knows many hours between 9-5 are (at least on the surface) not directly yielding any particular results:  I may be distracted by my sick dog, I may have intellectually wandered far afield from the task at hand or I may be spending too much time pouring my coffee.  For myriad reasons, there’s plenty of time in the office that is not in any obvious, direct way contributing to accomplishment on the job.

What I’m really being paid to do is develop strategies to ensure the north has a world-class cadre of human capital.   Whether I do a better or lamer job of this is not a 9-5 question, but a creative, informed, get-it-done question.   And work-life balance is not a matter of walking away from this role at 5pm each day, but of ensuring all the parts of me – creative, intellect, spirit, body is nourished in all my environments.

I suppose we stick to pay-the-by-the-hour models because it’s the easiest way to measure something (but what?  other than butt in chair?), but it’s certainly not the accurate measure of value provided by employees.

Readers:  are you in a similar situation?  What do you really get paid for?  Have you heard of other compensation models besides piecemeal or performance bonuses?

Hi all —

I joined the green party several months ago.  I think it’s to everybody’s benefit that their platform – the environment especially, and also social justice – is at least on the formal political radar.

Plus, I’ve always had a thing for the underdog.   They’ve made a LOT of ground in the past few years, but they are also the little-party-that-could and does not have the corporations or labour movement behind them as other parties do (or certainly not to the same extent).   As you can imagine, running campaigns is expensive, and it looks like another campaign is going to be required.

Even if you don’t think you’d ever vote for them (although I hope more of us will!), would you consider donating to the party to ensure at least this nascent party can continue offering an alternative to Canadians? This money coach thanks you!

DONATE: here


Here’s a letter from Elizabeth May which I shamelessly cut and paste from an e-mail:

Dear Supporter,

Do you ever find yourself yearning for a time when Canadian politics was not quite so exciting?  When elections seemed to happen every four years and the two main parties represented a sort of middle ground, not great, but not scary?

Of course, these turbulent times are what is putting the wind in our Green sails, but it cannot be altogether satisfying to see our growth as a party while the country and the planet are in such turmoil.

I have never been so sure as I am today that Canada needs Green MPs in Parliament.  My own view is constantly reaffirmed by strangers who come up to me in train stations, airports, and farmers’ markets across Canada saying “Next time you have got to win a seat.  We all need you in Parliament.”

The party decision makers, the federal council elected by the members and the national campaign committee, realize this as well.  We know that an election could happen as soon as this fall.  We have learned a lot from the last campaign.  One central lesson learned is that we need to target and focus resources so that the Leader will be an MP when the election results are tallied.  But I do not want to be the only Green elected.  We have a campaign plan ready and a strategy for bringing home the results we want.

What we desperately need is to finish paying down the debt from the 2008 campaign, before we find ourselves in a 2009 campaign!  You will be happy to know that of the roughly $2.5 million we borrowed, we have paid back over $1.5 million.  Most of this was made possible through the federal financing rules and rebates from Elections Canada.  But, no surprise, the recession has affected our donors.  We need to reach out to more Canadians and we need our current donors to consider making regular monthly donations.

Would you be willing to take a moment to send this email to friends that you know support our goals and aims but may not already be members?

Even a $25 donation is a big help and, of course current Canadian tax law has important consequences. If the donor pays income tax, 3/4 of any donation up to $400 is rebated. $400 donation only costs $100.  It is an extremely cost-effective way to help make the change you want to see in the world.

Secondly, would you be willing to donate NOW knowing that paying down the debt is essential before the next campaign begins?

You know we won’t spend a penny on attack ads!  You know we will keep a positive message of hope.  You know we will work to engage young people and call for greater civic engagement by all Canadians.

That is the message of my new book, Losing Confidence: Power, Politics and the Crisis in Canadian Democracy.  For a limited time, if you send the Green Party of Canada a $400 donation, I will personally inscribe the book.  If you can send $500 I will inscribe two books and you can pass one along to friends and relatives.  (Never too early for Christmas shopping!)

If you cannot give more at this time, I totally understand. I hate to even ask again, as I know you have received appeals from the party before.  It is a big help if you can share this message with your email list of friends.

Thanks again, more than I can say for all your support.

Elizabeth May, O.C.
Green Party of Canada

Photo Credit:  Grant Neufeld


Photo Credit: Angie22

I saw Twilight this weekend. Allegedly it’s as popular with the yummy-mummy crowd as its original teenage target market.

I can see why. While the acting was wooden and the dialogue banal, there’s no question that the eye-candy factor was off the scale. More importantly, and I expect this is the real appeal, it had all the themes of a classic high romance. Edward Cullen, a vampire, is entirely smitten with the gorgeous, strong-but-innocent Bella. So smitten is he, that he will wrestle down his most primal blood-lust urges in favour of offering her his love, his protection and his fierce yet tender care. Again and again he comes close, so very close, then with difficulty pulls himself back and practices Restraint of the Highest Order.

What woman wouldn’t respond to a gorgeous man who denies himself so entirely, for her sake and the sake of their love?

I couldn’t help but wonder:  does a woman or man who practices self-restraint with their money (I’m not talking cheaping out here, I mean practicing self-restraint for the greater good) have any sex appeal at all?  Any?

1581395559_8c6386f382Photo Credit: Isaac Valle

“How,” I wondered, “is it possible that this lovely, sophisticated, smart summer student actually goes .. goes .. Fishing?”   An expression of horror registered on my face, and said student asked about it.

“How can you kill a fish?”  I stammered.   She burst out laughing and replied, “It’s a fish, Nancy!  A fish!”.

“Yes,”  I replied, “but it was a live fish and when you’re done with it, it will be a dead fish.”

Colleagues chimed in with the obvious about What Did I Think I Was Eating When I Went Grocery Shopping, yada yada yada.

They had irrefutable points, but I guess in the back of my mind I’ve always subconsciously prided myself on being several steps removed from the ugliness of slaughtering the food I eat.

Until last Wednesday.

Last Wednesday, I saw the documentary, Food Inc. And like Martha Stewart, I think anyone who eats needs to see it!

While it’s not gruesome, it is a very stark account of the corporatization of food.

1. For one thing, we’re not getting real food much anymore, folks.  It looks like food, tastes like food and maybe smells like food, but really, it’s bordering on food substitute.  Think of it:  When food becomes a commodity, the corporate discussion centers around making the most food, the most cheaply, for the most profit.   I’m guessing there’s not a lot of, “but, by altering food this way, what health impacts does it have on people?”

2. And if you don’t think there are health impacts from the food in the supermarkets, do a quick google search on diabetes 2.

3. Last, although the film avoided gratuitous violence, anyone with half a heart for animals will be disgusted by the conditions of the life and slaughter of livestock in the corporate supply chain.   In my not humble opinion, we dehumanize ourselves by numbing ourselves to how livestock is treated.

Up here in Yellowknife, I have an opportunity to make meat choices that are better for me, and for the animals.

I’ve been converted.   I think it would be healthy for me to learn to fish – to become intimate with the entire process of life, death, and consumption.   The student has agreed to take me with her, and is prepared that I will probably cry at some point in the process.  (I said, healthy, not easy)

I simply cannot bear the thought of hunting, but there are a lot of people who hunt here, and I plan to acquire the ability to eat game – cariboo, moose, bison.

After seeing how beef and pigs and chicken are treated, it is clear to me that hunting and fishing are so much more civilized and humane.   The fish has had a good fish life – swimming in the good clean lakes up here, eating whatever fish eat.  The bison have had a good bison life – eating grass, drinking fresh water, roaming freely.  No antibiotics.  No force-feeding of corn.  No horror-show cramping into tiny spaces.   And with any luck, a quick, merciful death.

Wish me luck, readers.  I want to do this;  I know it’s the right thing;  but it’s hard to confront the brutal reality that I kill another living thing in order to sustain my own life.

90831475_12d2e94978 Photo Credit:  wpwend42 Creative Commons.

Mostly when I was a kid, I was doing what kids do – piano lessons, school, learning to skate, reading, discovering boys, makeup and Farah Fawcett.

But in the background there were certain events that shaped my subconscious sense of the world:

  • A continuous, vague terror that the world would be blown up by nukes
  • Fear of the USSR and fear of China
  • Mulroney as PM; Reagan as president
  • Crazy inflation (oh yes, I remember! chocolate bars jumped from ¢10 to ¢25 in a year!)
  • Advent of McDonalds and McJobs
  • Discovering their were no decent jobs for my cohort when we graduated
  • Graduating with depressing student debt loads
  • AIDS
  • Growing up when adults were hippies and seeing them morph to yuppies
  • Women and the glass ceiling;   women backing off from feminism
  • St. Elmo’s Fire, Thirty-Something, LA Law
  • The movie Wall Street and its legendary Greed is Good speech

In short, it seemed like there was always a promise … a golden promise …that was just out of reach.   Just ahead of us were people with great jobs, advancing their careers and building their stock portfolios.

For me?   I worked like a madwoman – competent, educated, dedicated –  and yet always felt one step behind, somehow, until I started my own business as a money coach.

I took this personally, until I found out that it was sheer demographics:  The tail-end boomers got the remaining good jobs, the market maxed out, and my peers and I were left stranded.   Sucks to be Gen X!

But there’s good news coming.  The world will be our oyster within five years.   Or it would be, if those baby boomers would hurry up and retire, already.  And the probability of that just took a nose-dive, since retirement portfolios are no longer so attractive.

But I’m not bitter.  Yet.

I do recognize myself, shockingly so, in this National Post summary of Gen X, by Ray Williams.  He writes of Gen X:

They question authority, seek bigger meaning in life and work, are technologically savvy, live in the present, are skeptical, see career as a key to happiness, are open to multi-careers, consider challenge and variety as being more important than job security and constantly aim to achieve work-life balance….the Generation X manager is typically mature beyond their years, very adaptable and flexible, and team oriented. They have high expectations of employees and don’t buy into power structures. Generation X managers need positive validation for their work or they will not hesitate to quit their jobs. They hate being micro-managed and want independence in their work, which may explain why so many of this generation have turned to entrepreneurship.

That’s a characterization I can live with.   And with any luck, my peers and I will indeed discover our unique strengths as more senior management roles finally, finally open up to us.   Just don’t expect me to cheer lead any strategies to retain our aging workforce, ok?

Readers, any of you Gen Xers?  Does this resonate for you?

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