Monthly Archives: October 2017

Small Business, more than business – it’s social

first jobThere has been a lot of ink used about small business in Canada since the government introduced ideas about taxation. From these discussions it is generally agreed that Small Businesses are good for Ontario and Canada. They support community non-profits, create jobs – first jobs and spur growth in our local economies. There is more to it, there’s what small business does socially, yes, small business is a good social addition to our society.

By social, its not social media, but actually being social; social with customers, social with co-workers and social with supervisors. I recall my first job at 17, clearing a parking lot of grocery carts and looking after the parcel pick-up. It was also where I learned my first lesson of employment. I will have more about that first lesson later.

The social lessons of the small business employer have helped many youth with their first jobs. While as children we learn a lot from our parents, there are lessons that can only be learned from others. In our first jobs we experience different cultures, different languages and finally learning to have someone other than our parents as being figures of authority – someone else that we have to listen to and follow instructions from.

In our first jobs we have to listen to others, that can be challenging, but what saves us when have a new boss that is ‘challenging’ in their ways is our enthusiasm that we have for that first job and the regular pay cheque. We learn that what drives our employers is their need to succeed. Their business is their future and the future of their family. What we learn is not obedience but a respect for authority. While we learn respect in our first experiences of employment it also teaches us that we can also earn the respect of others when one day, we are in a position to supervise and employ others. While we might not know it then, we do learn good and bad leadership styles and hopefully keep the good lessons and learn outcomes from bad leadership.

The first job is not likely to be in an office cubicle, it’s also not likely to be behind a computer. It will probably be in retail, or a service industry – a Tim Horton’s or McDonalds. What is learned in these social settings will set us up for how we treat others for the rest of our lives. I learned in my first job to work with people of all different personalities, how to work for people with different personalities and how we serve so many people in our communities with different backgrounds. It can be very challenging, not everyone can ‘survive the bad boss, but these first jobs teach us the meaning of ‘being’ social to so many and smiling through it all.

In these jobs as service counter clerks, cashiers, grocery clerks is knowledge gained about business from so many that we worked for in those first jobs. When small businesses are lost, so to are opportunities to learn the social lessons by youth in those first jobs. When small business is called the backbone of the local business it should also be known as the great educator of our future business leaders, the leaders who will be better than we are because they will learn from our lessons and our weakness.

My first real lesson of employment came from the words of Roger Kingston, Store Manager of the old Woodchester Mall Dominion Store.  After working for a few weeks he asked if I liked my job, I said yes. He asked me “why does it look like you don’t? You know, you won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t want to work here, but if you do, when you come for your next shift have a smile and have fun when you’re working.”

Boy did have those words helped, I went on to work at that store for 7 seven years and worked in many different positions.  I never forgot to work with a smile. and always made sure I enjoyed working, whatever I was doing.  I’ve had lapses when I let emotion get the better of me and suffered for it, but I’ll never forget the second chance that Mr. Kingston gave me. Because of that I have paid forward second chances to those I thought deserved it.

Small business is not just business, it’s social and the social lessons learned in those first minimum wage jobs we all had. We kill those job opportunities and we also lose those invaluable lessons that build the character of next generation leaders.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

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What I learned from the Hip

Hip 1I am just an average Tragically Hip fan, I have never experienced the band live.  I am probably more of an admirer than what people would call a true fan, I bought the CD’s created the iPod playlist and chose to learn to play Ahead by a Century on my new guitarI can’t say that I remember how to play it today if I took the guitar out of its case. I consider the Hip to be the new Guess Who, who I grew up listening to with songs of Canadiana. You can’t forget about Running back to Saskatoon; Share the Land, Albert Flasher and of course American Woman. So back we go to about 15 years after the Guess Who and here come the Tragically Hip, 5 kids from Kingston who before we knew it started telling us more about Canada and taught us and reminded us about a nation we weren’t aware of.

The Hip opened up the stories of Canada through their songs. There is the cottage anthem of Bobcageon, the Maple Leaf anthem of Stanley Cup angst 50 Mission Cap and the vastness of the west that include the Paris of Prairies. Like the Guess Who and Gordon Lightfoot their music the Hip created a pride in Canada through their music.

As the word of the Hip spread so did their celebration of not only Canada, but also of whom they were – they were us – you and I. We were and are students of the Hip. The first lesson is that we are all equal. They were equals among themselves and because of that they survived. The Tragically Hip was able to stay together for 30 plus years because they didn’t break up.  The Hip battled through the difficult times.  Simple to say, but harder to do. Image five brothers that stay together for 30 years. In a typical family there is always an oldest brother, a youngest brother and a middle brother. Could the five brothers stay together with those dynamics in place?

Equality created the staying power of the Hip and only when it was clear that the limits of time were ending did Gord Downie seek to create equality for those that had it taken from them. Their music brought Canadians together, around a campfire, the small concert halls and during the #ManMachinePoem Farewell Tour where thousands gathered in public squares, parks, bars and living rooms to watch the Farewell show from Kingston.

From the Hip we learn again, learn to seek our purpose, large or small while there is
time and we work on our purpose until there is no more time. Their music will live on like other bands, dare I say it, as The Beatles, the universal presence of their music will grow and their appeal will continue to expand.   Because there isn’t going to be new music their musical legacy will outlast many others because of the popularity and the connections the Tragically Hip made with Canadians in every bar and on every concert stage they played on. We loved and embraced their music “Fully Completely”.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

Book Review: Liberty’s Lieutenants

Libertys LieutenantsAh history, we all need to know it so we know where we’ve been as a society and it acts a roadmap of where we need or might be going.

I came to know of Liberty’s Lieutenants as the author works in the office beside me. I am always game to support local musicians, local artists and local authors that I know and happily bought a copy of Matthew Kelman’s book, a book that took the most of the past two years to write, edit and self-publish.

The book has a twofold purpose, first it’s a book about our liberties, our freedoms. . Our six freedoms are the freedom of conscience; freedom of speech; of association; to bear arms; freedom of movement and freedom to own property. Secondly Kelman has selected twelve historical figures (and one historical document) that have defended at least one of the six freedoms; all have military backgrounds and have been on the battlefield.

Kelman has divided that book into three eras; The Ancients; Renaissance and Revolution and thirdly Modernity. In each of these eras Kelman presents a portrait of battlefield warriors that typify how battles were fought. Common in each of their successes is the ability to adapt and change as the tools of warfare evolved and became more dangerous.

Liberty’s Lieutenants is a good start for those that are interested in history and curious about it as well. It is well written, but not written as a textbook. Some of the portraits Kelman provides are available in cinematic form already. Napoleon, William Wallace and the battles of Greeks and Romans are all ready to view, with artistic license given to the Director and Screenwriter. After reading the book, I challenged myself with deciding the top moments of Liberty’s Lieutenants. So I have my three favourite profiles.

The Romans and Greeks (from the Ancients) clearly influenced how wars were fought in the future. These warriors were outstanding strategists, but they were also busy politicians. The two professions went hand in hand, and did so for thousands of years. The practice of being a wealthy noble and military leader existed as recently as the 1800’s. Both the Romans and Greeks had military careers hampered by political actions taken against them while they were on the battlefield, only to be taken to court or lose office when they returned – even if victorious.

The 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta was celebrated in 2015. The Magna Carta is general considered the beginning of the division of powers between the Monarch and an ‘elected’ body of representatives. I don’t pretend to think those 35 words are sufficient to anyone who wants to understand the Magna Carta. Trying to do that is a daunting task. A travelling display made its way across Canada 2 years ago as an effort to educate us all about the beginnings of our parliamentary democracy. In Liberty’s Lieutenants, Kelman clearly explains where this all came about from 77AD to 1815 in 11 pages. Not to knock historians that have written essays and papers on the subject, but those eleven pages has been the best explanation I’ve read since 2015.

Of the thirteen chapters examined in Liberty’s Lieutenants, taking conversations being held across Canada and the US about historical figures today, the most interesting selection by Kelman is Robert E. Lee. My history lessons say Lee was a Confederate General; he fought and led Army of Northern Virginia in the war that was all about slavery in the in south. Right? Turns out it is only partially right. General Lee fought because he was against the North invading his home state of Virginia. Kelman writes that ‘Lee was morally and politically opposed to the institution of slavery’. Lee was invited to fight for the Union, declining because as I stated earlier ‘his reservations against raising a sword against his native State.’

Lee’s leading of the Army of Northern Virginia was not always successful, in fact had he been successful the US would look a lot different today. His leading of the Confederate Army was strictly a ‘nation’ issue and not related to slavery. He twice offered his resignation after battlefield losses, his offers to resign were always denied by Confederate President Jefferson Davis. This profile of Lee certainly changed my thinking of the man.

In each profile a generous description and background of events leading up to a conflict and the conflict itself are provided. Kelman also penned the maps of military movements providing a visual for his words. I would only suggest to him to include phonetic pronunciations for names, especially in the opening chapter with Greeks and Romans. I also felt a timeline would’ve been beneficial in locating his subjects with their contemporaries.

Liberty’s Lieutenants is a good read and a good precursor for additional historical reading. Liberty’s Lieutenants gives the reader of a few eras to consider for further study as their interest by be more in the time of “The Ancients” rather than the age of “Modernity” or visa versa. It could be that the age of “Renaissance and Revolution” is more a reader’s preference. In Liberty’s Lieutenants, Mathew Kelman gives a taste of each and lets you decide which road you’ll travel next.

Liberty’s Lieutenants is available on Amazon.ca.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

When did it become legal to do illegal things?

When did it become all right to break the law? When did good intentions become the alibi to commit a crime?

Overdose Prevention Ottawa (OPO) popped up in a park in the Vanier Quarter of Ottawa as a protest to the City’s lack of address in the opioid crisis in the city. The City of Ottawa had been approved for a Safe Injection Site (SIS) and a site in Sandy Hill is being prepared for opening. The OPO was the organizers response to address a need that could not wait until the permanent SIS was open.

The OPO opened without the required permissions – the route the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre completed for the SIS, and it is unlikely they even tried. The politicians and Ottawa Police are playing ping-pong with the issue as calls to the police from area residents are met without any police response. The Police have stated that the owner of the park, the City of Ottawa, must direct the police to take action, clearly there has been no request made from the city. Ottawa By-Law may have been called in but again it is unsure if any tickets were issued. Meanwhile for several hours a day a park, designed for family use, is a spot for illicit drug users.

The opioid crisis is real and needs to be addressed in the serious manner it deserves.

Following the OPO showing up Ottawa Public Health indicated that prior to the opening of the SIS in Sandy Hill, a temporary site would open in the Byward market, not far from where the OPO popped up. Since the OPO pop up site was created to fill a gap until the SIS was open and the prevention of overdose deaths could be addressed immediately, there was every expectation that when the temp site on Clarence St opened we would see OPO fold up.

Nope, they’re still there, without required permissions in the same park that is now is seeing calls from residents to police about addicts on front steps go unanswered.   OPO has indicated they will pop up elsewhere in Ottawa, again without any permits.

What is to happen to the Clarence St. temporary site when the SIS is open? I predict it won’t close. The City, under pressure from OPO will keep it open as a satellite of the Sandy Hill SIS.

When did committing illegal acts become legal and unpunishable?

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can follow me at www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I occasionally post about the little things in life I see and do.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net