A Money Coach in Canada

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I switched to audible downloads and don’t want to haul these up north with me. If you want any, they’re yours for the asking (but you’ll need to pick up). They’re all paperback unless specified, and all in decent condition. Any left over will either go to the library or recyling bin.


Philosophy/Political/Religion Books:

Sophie’s World, Jostein Gaardner

The Doubter’s Companion, John Raulston Saul:  Kate G.

Sources of the Self, Charles Taylor   Sandra V.

Jesus, a new vision, Markus Borg:  Isabella

A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle:   Kate D.

The demon-haunted world, Carl Sagan

The Tao of Pooh, Banjamin Hoff:    MJ

Class Warfare, Noam Chomsky

On Equilibrium, John Ralston Saul:   Isabella

The Koran    Kate D

Spiritual Literacy (a lovely compendium of short spiritual writings. Think, Ghandi, Jesus, Dalai Lama)

Self-help-y books:

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey

Unlimited Power, Anthony Robbins

Simple Loving, Janet Luhrs

Excel for Dummies:   E

Take Time for your Life, Cheryl Richardson

Art, for dummies:   E

Dr. Perricon’es 7 secrets to Health & Longevity

Secrets to Great Health, Matsen

Money-type books

The Wealthy Barber, David Chilton:    E

Buffett, The Making of an American Capitalist

Idiot’s guide to Online Investing, for Canadians: E

Secrets of the world’s richest investors (ed: not as boring or hype as it may sound), Adrian Day

The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas Stanley/William Danko:   E

Smart Women Finish Rich, David Bach

Don’t Worry, Make Money (ed: not as flaky as it may sound.) Richard Carlson:   E

How to Talk to a Liberal, if you must, Ann Coulter (David Drucker, thought you might like that one? 😉   )

Beardstown Ladies (still a classic for investment clubs):   E


Les Miserables (in english), Victor Hugo

The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco   MJ

Possession, A.S. Byatt   MJ

The Kite Runner, Hosseini   MJ

In Cold Blood (movie “Capote”), Truman Capote    MJ

The Murder Room, P.D. James (yeah, I know, not *exactly lit.  but if you have “Children of Men”, care to trade?)   MJ

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (if you don’t know, don’t ask)

The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky

Plan B, Anne Lamott    MJ

Oh, and for my fellow Christians – 2 that may spontaneously combust if they’re on the same shelf:

The Pressure’s Off, Larry Crabb

The Purpose Driven Life (if you don’t know, don’t ask)

also (these won’t spontaneously combust):

Answering God, Eugene Petersen:   Isabella

Poetry by George Herbert

Knowing God, J.I. Packer:

Ordering your private world, Macdonald

Jesus: A New Vision, M. Borg:   Isabella

Magazines – a disgraceful number of old issues


Cdn Living

Martha Stewart:   Mrs. K

New Internationalist


B.C. Business


For the past 3.5 years I worked for Citizens Bank of Canada (bank esp. for progressive Canadians) which in turn is owned by Vancity Credit Union. The whole glory of credit unions is that they are cooperatives, and the members not only share in the profits (I’ll get mine in a month or so.  yippee!) but also we get to decide who is going to govern the credit union.

Last week I had coffee with Jennifer Sweeney who is running as an independent to be a director.  Last time, she missed being elected by a very small margin, and I hope this time she gets a landslide – I think she’s exactly right for the position.

Among other things, I probed re: employee engagement.  I’m a By The People, For The People kinda gal (would you guess?) and after 3.5 years on the inside am even more convinced that it’s the folks who do the everyday tasks that make, or break, the cooperative spirit of Vancity, and thus the quality of experience the members receive.   It’s not about metrics or output, it’s as much about soul as anything.   Genuine Soul, combined with competence, can generate results the likes of which Canada has yet to see from a financial institutions.


Here is Jennifer’s response to my query.  Read it and consider if you would also like to see her on the Board of Directors, and vote accordingly.


I had coffee with Nancy last week and she asked me my thoughts on employee engagement.

When I hear the term “employee engagement” I often wonder if it has become another meaningless catch-phrase.  People are quick to adopt new words and terminology without thinking about what they mean.  If employees are “engaged”, what does that look like?  What does it feel like?  How do you know?  How do you make it happen?

A few years ago, I worked under contract for a government ministry to address recruitment and retention of professionals working with young children.  During that time I had the chance to travel around the province and hold confidential interviews with people about their work and their working conditions.  Over and over, I heard stories of people going above and beyond the call of duty when there was a supervisor, manager or local champion who valued them and worked to support them.  I started reading anything I could put my hands on to help me understand the complexities of retention in an increasingly mobile workforce.  I posted a note above my desk to remind myself of this fact:  most people leave because of their boss, not their job.

The most corrosive element I have seen in my years of work with people in many different environments is when there is a lack of trust or trust has been breached. Few people have the courage or the willingness to enter into the difficult conversations that must happen in order to move past a problem. Human resources professionals need to be in a position to fully support employees in reporting problems and working them through.

As I am running for election for the board of directors of Vancity, I have been thinking about the role that a board plays in governing an organization.  A culture where people comes first is vital for real employee engagement.  This takes a human resources department that has adequate resources to influence major decisions.  Healthy organizational culture with employees engaged in the mission of the organization makes for happy employees providing outstanding service to members.   That is what I would like to continue to see at Vancity.

2691340417_599ab43455Photo Credit: Susan Charlip

who can also be found at Charlip’s Web – check out her blog.

Friends, I do believe I’ve just enjoyed the steal of the year, and it was a BC getaway.

The Galiano Inn & Spa has a two-for-one weekdays through March and I can’t say enough good things about my experience.

For $125 a night, my best friend of 20 years (we were thrown together as roomates in 1st yr UBC, and have kept going strong ever since) and I got a 5-star getaway of Gulf Island luxury.

We each had a room with french doors opening right out onto the ocean front.  The rooms were lovely – elegantly appointed, mediterranean feel, cork floors, heated bathroom floors, deep baths, and environmentally friendly soaps etc.   Mmmmm.

Breakfast was included, and I expected coffee and perhaps a danish.  Instead, omelettes with smoked salmon, goat cheese and pumpkin seeds, or crepes with fruit and ricotta cheese were on offer.  And this was preceded by fresh OJ and just-out-of-the-oven muffins.

Also included was 30 minutes in the spa steam room plus another 30 minutes in the flotation room.   I added on a 60-minute reflexology treatment for $100 and it was the best I ever had.  Four days later, my feet still feel good.  Louanne is a quintessential west-coast healer and among other things has me convinced to spend more time walking barefoot on the earth.

Dinner was also exceptional.  The somalier was simply perfect – the exact right balance of  maintaining a slightly fussy air, professional, yet not snooty.  Their lamb is to die for apparently.   Several of the other guests raved (I can’t bring myself to eat lamb, myself).

The daschunds particularly appreciated that there was a pet-friendly unit, although they messed things up by barking in my absence and disturbing other guests.  Bad Dogs!

Lest I appear all uncharacteristically shi-shi, I hasten to add we all (weinerdogs too) hiked to the bluffs one day, and walked through the forest (but not barefoot) to the Hummingbird Pub the next.

If you are looking for a high-end getaway at an incredibly reasonable budget (for its class) book yourself in!  Let Jenny (the incomparable manager) know Nancy sent you.

2543656036_a0cff14caaPhoto Credit: Afearonwood

Readers:  do you know of any other truly special “deals” for getaways in Canada these days?

2113534574_e671e534c9_mPhoto Credit: JSpitfire

I signed the written offer over the weekend, so can now, finally, publicly discuss my new job!

The one that’s taking me from Vancouver to Yellowknife!


I will be working for the Government of the Northwest Territories, in their Corp. HR Recruitment dept.

My role will be to create and implement strategies to attract professionals to the north, as well as enhance and create strategies to develop a northern workforce.


The north, more than the rest of Canada, needs healthcare professionals:  physicians, nurses, lab technicians, and social workers.  In fact, some of the north has a suicide rate multiple times the national average, in part because we need more people in supportive roles.  If I can help fill those roles and make a difference, well… that’s what I’m doing this for.

And in the immediate term, the Federal Gov’t budget included significant funding for Infrastructure/Social Housing Investment = we’ll need Engineers!  any Civil, Structural, Geo-tech engineers reading this, contact me!  Some of this may include alternative energy infrastructure so that may be of real interest to some readers.

And last, if any of my finance friends – accountants, eg. – from Vancity are looking for a change, find me!


Here are a couple other areas I see on the horizon that I find extremely interesting:

1.  Cdn. Sovereignty over the Arctic Ocean, with its mineral and gas deposits is increasingly fragile.   By 2013 Canada needs to submit its “pitch” for extended sovereignty to the U.N.    China, the US, and Russia are also more than a little interested in the area – geopolitics in action!  The Cdn gov’t will be  embarking on an ambitious ocean-mapping project , building a high-arctic research station, and I would imagine investing in infrastructure like ports and airstrips (I’m just surmising).

2.  Another development that I’ll be monitoring closely are the pipelines:  The Arctic Pipeline signed off on by Sarah Palin, and Obama (a few days ago), and the ongoing discussions re: Mackenzie Pipeline.

All of these will have significant HR implications.


So, that’s it as I understand it.  Awesome, huh? To be a part of something good, of finding the right people to join the public service, I am uncharacteristically humbled.  And excited.

Oh, and my many social-media pals, you can believe social media will be a significant part of strategies I/we develop – in fact, I’m completely serious, it was the photos on Flickr and the Yellowknife Facebook Groups that ultimately convinced me to move up there.

I imagine Linked In will be a much bigger part of my life.  If you’d like to connect there, simply as a contact, or because you may be up for a northern adventure yourself, please link with me!

Vancouver-based pals:  the lovely MJ aka “Urbanista”  is organizing a meet & greet & goodbye for me at the Irish Heather, Sunday the 15th (I leave on the 20th) at 4pm.   Please contact her to RSVP (ha!  almost wrote RRSP!) and drop by.  Would love to say hi & bye 🙂

ps:  this was my 400th post!


On Saturday at 9:15 pm, I handed in my pass and walked out of Citizens Bank of Canada for my last time.
All good things must come to an end.

Many readers will know of my longstanding love affair with Canada’s best-kept-secret bank. It’s appeal to me has been threefold:

  1. First and foremost, the fact that it’s owned by Vancity, a credit union, makes all the difference.  It means the profits don’t go to shareholders around the world, who may or may not give a damn about Canada.  Instead the profits go back to the community. Each year, members of the bank get to both nominate and vote for who gets the profits.  Loads of non-profits, mostly local but some in other parts of the globe, have received significant boosts from CB.   For example, a Soya Coop in Ghana received $60K for two consecutive years.  Last year, Habitat for Humanity received $50K.   I personally also helped build the home the money funded.  Cool, eh?
  2. The pricing can’t be beat. The chequing account is completely free, plus now you don’t get dinged for international ATM use.   The savings account usually (but not always) is the highest in Canada.  So start saving there, if nothing else!
  3. It’s online. I don’t know about you, but going into a branch is the last thing I want to do with my time.  CB is all online, baby, with a couple exceptions in downtown Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.   Inside scoop:  It’s phones are open 24/7/365 and the standard is for every call to be picked up within 1 minute and we nearly always hit that target.

I’m really proud that Canada has this bank – ING isn’t the only game in town! (although frankly I think ING is fabulous too.  Really set the pace.)

So a year ago, as many readers may recall,  I pitched and got a trial role of Bank Evangelist – I wanted to tell more Canadians about CB, esp. using social media.  But alas, barely a few months into it, we all know what happened in the financial industry.  So back I went to being a banker instead of the evangelist.

Meantime, an amazing opportunity opened up in Yellowknife, NWT, and I got the job.  I’ll blog about this tomorrow (a number of people have been asking).

Leaving a workplace is never easy.  I was there 3.5 years, albeit part-time, and as you can guess, am deeply passionate about the bank.  (That doesn’t change just because I’m leaving!)  I met so many competent, committed and interesting people and over time, you just do start to care about people you rub shoulders with day after day.   I’ll miss them.  A Lot.  And of course I also met a small handful of rascals who just.didn’t.get.it <le sigh>.  So like with all changes in life, much as I’m looking forward to my new life in Yellowknife there is the cloud of “loss” that departure from a workplace brings.

Anyway, so long, adieu,  Citizens Bank of Canada.   I still have my money with you and don’t think I’m not still going to evangelize you so get ready for 5000 new applications from the NWT.

Readers:  when was the last time you left a workplace?  Was it hard for you too?  Or were you more focused on the next thing?