Category Archives: Personal Challenges

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 where I post about the little things in life I see and do. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at I can be reached at

A virtual walk in the snow

RHBS 172There is something to be said for walking away from something you enjoy. Not like Trudeau v1.0 and his walk through the snow on the second last day of February in 1984 (it was a leap year). I took a walk in my mind and made the decision on Friday to not post on social media for the weekend. It was surprisingly easy, but I was tempted.  We had a great weekend, I didn’t post on Twitter or Facebook at all about a Saturday at Lake Opinicon and the great music we heard.  However as difficult I thought it might be that day, it was quite easy and I focused on the music, the food, the beautiful surroundings in and around Chaffey’s Lock and the company of Liz, who posted a few photos on Facebook and Twitter.

I took a virtual walk in the snow after what I thought was a tough weak in social media. To those that say that I should have known what I was getting into because of the two topics I was posting about – it was the overall tone of the discussions of the day that took a toll, not so much what people what commented on after I posted. I think that many would agree that in Ottawa it was a perfect social media storm when the debates over the Ottawa Pride parade requesting the Ottawa Police not wear their uniforms in the parade collided with the Omar Khadr settlement rumours and then the government announcement.

The tone of the two conversations clashed and I burned out.

In the ashes was a weekend of feeling free, no pressure, no need to make a comment – only to read and see what other people say. It turned out to be an opportunity to see how others react, comment and rationalize on the two issues. Having eyes and not allowing your voice to be heard does permit for thought. There was no “I have to comment right away or else it’s old news” to worry about. I also saw that extreme comments and tweets were emotion over logic. The Khadr affair is clearly the best example of this – it should be, and I hope someone picks up on this, a separate lesson in the teaching plan of anyone that instructs students in the use and influence of social media. I see this being the pinnacle of a debate on the usefulness or the drudgery of Facebook and Twitter.

What lies ahead is still unknown, what I thought was going to be a weekend in virtual hiding was a weekend awakening and the thought provoking self-analysis of my own way I use my social media feeds. It have been ‘tempted’ to post on Instagram since Friday, but I had to be true to my self-declared sabbatical. I haven’t posted today (Monday) and haven’t had the burning desire to do so.

As a confession, I did post on my #RedHeartBlueLife blog (see link below) Sunday night but that’s it. I’ll post this blog – but I don’t see how this is the same as posting on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. My plan is to stick with it, the sabbatical, for the rest of this week.

I have vacation planned in Thunder Bay next week and then I’ll be travelling for work the week after in Western Canada. Those two weeks seem like they most certainly will be ‘Instagramable’ opportunities for me, lord knows I will want to be sharing it all. Maybe it will be baby steps, but for now it’s okay, I’m okay and I am okay with not being slayed by people who don’t know me because I have (in my mind) a logical opposing point of view.

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 where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at I can be reached at

132: Hope, the ultimate pay-it-forward (better than coffee)

hopeI have a friend who likes to debate with me (and anyone else who dares try to talk to him about it) about hope,  believing in a higher spirit/God and its benefits. He says he does not deal with the positive or negative, but in facts – they will drive what he believes. My argument to him is what do we have without hope? What reason do we have to get out of bed each morning? Like many, I have my share of mornings where bed was the safest place to be, to stay, so no one could hurt me. I could pull the covers up and cry if I wanted or just close my eyes and see what the world looked or felt like when I opened them again.

I agree that on the surface, some of the facts we see each day present a pretty gloomy picture. To that I would say, scratch the surface, go a few layers down and then tell me what you see, are there people, organizations and actions happening that demonstrate a brighter side that will come – but in time. What drives those people, organizations and actions? Can all these come together without a higher calling that calls us to act? Does it really matter where our individual sense of hope comes from? If we have hope – then we act on it. Acting on our belief in hope is like paying it forward. It’s not unlike having the person in front of you in the drive thru lane pay for your coffee.

For the days where I wonder where my hope has gone, I always remember where it came from. For my friend, religion was a bad experience; I thankfully had the opposite experience. As a kid you don’t always want to church but we went, I never recall a Sunday thinking ‘wow, there’s a couple of hours I’ll never get back.’

I don’t know how my brothers and sister felt about the bible readings after dinner on Sundays – but I was never bored with them. My church upbringing lead me to be coming a Youth Leader at Summer camp and in Church both home in Mississauga and in Ottawa many years later. It for a while almost led me to down the path of becoming a Minister. For whatever reason that never happened, but there was never any regret for doing any of those things.  Those days gave me hope, they still do.

My friend often quotes Sir Winston Churchill as being the only world leader that saw the menace of Adolf Hitler as he reflects on his considerations of world affairs today. I dare say that while Churchill saw things others didn’t or ignored – he had hope. As hopeless as he feels our conversations about religion being a source of hope and good are, I hold out for the day where there might be a hint of consideration that I might have a wee tiny slice of credibility in my argument.

Hope is the invisible and ultimate pay it forward moment for a better day that makes tomorrow a reason for getting out of bed.

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 for what I see, hear and read.

I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at

#114 August: How did I do?

C minus

At the start of the month I wrote “What? It’s August? Already?” I mentioned that I would make up for a month of no posts with more activity on this blog. I wrote about writing more, promising posts as follow-ups to previous blog entries and bringing other writers to you by re-blogging quality writers.

Let’s see how August turned out; 7 blog posts (including this) were uploaded, it surpasses any other month in the past 12 months. In June I posted 6 times, I am trending up but not enough. The post I am proudest of is #113 The Art and responsibility of an Apology. If you have not read it please do and let me know if you agree with me or not, don’t hold back.  That post was my second most viewed post in the month, just behind #110 8 Days in July: Clinton 2.0.  Ironically, my post about Trump (#109 8 Days in July: The GOP) barely registered compared to the others in the month.

I also talked about a vlog I’ve planned “Pint of View”, it has moved forward, I have not recorded the test but the content has been developed and it just needs me to have the guts to record it and watch the outcome of the test.

Now, we move to September, a month were the lazy pace of the summer is taken over by the hustle and bustle of back to school and Parliament coming back in Toronto and Ottawa. These fast paced days will provide fodder for blogs and I will be posting more in September than in August – up is the only way to go.

My request you, to everyone that reads this or my others posts is click on “follow” and be alerted when a new post is up and ready for you.

For August I will give myself a C-, and I can do much better. I hope you will pleased with how September works out for me as the writer and you as the reader.

Thank you for reading this post, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at

rhbs108: What? It’s August? Already?

july to august


…and just like that, it is August…

I realized that it’s the start of August today, July is gone.

There are times when it is best to keep it simple. July was that time, making sure there was time at the end of the day to chill and make sure everyone is alright and leaving the other stuff for another day – or in my case another month.

It is not like I planned not to post, it’s just what happened. But now that it has happened I need, make that want, to get back up and continue sharing with you. I had made some noise a while back about sharing posts of other bloggers and in my post “More than a Coat of Paint” (June 2016), some promises where made about follow up pieces talking about the Ontario government and what we have had to endure for the past few years under the “leadership” of Kathleen Wynne. I will get those up and, as well will share the content of some bloggers from around the world and here in Canada.

I have been planning something new for you called “Pint of View”, it came out of a discussion with a friend and former co-worker of mine who sadly passed away a couple of months ago. I had talked about her and mused about the future in the post from February “Between a Blog and Hard Place”.  Laurel came up with the title and through a continued online chat, a format and was born for a short video blog – a vlog.  The idea is that each post will be no more than between 3 and 5 minutes long and would be topic I would share over a pint, as I would with a friend at a bar, on my balcony or even while driving my car. As I get prepared to launch it,  I am getting set with trial runs and editing to make sure it looks and sounds good – something to be proud of. I hope that it will be live soon and up available on You Tube.

For today, August 1st, I say bah-bye to July and cheers to a new month, it will be a productive, fun and worthwhile effort for me, and I hope you will agree and find it just as enjoyable.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at

1578 / Alcalá de Henares / University — a fresh drawing everyday day

Just now at Universidad de Alcalá de Henares. Graphic Expression congress.

While I struggle at times to come up with a weekly post and relevant content, an example being this week as I missed my self imposed Sunday post deadline, I come across this guy named Hugo (I think) who does not post a word, but a daily sketch!  Pounding out a blog post can be sometimes a challenge knowing the busy lives we lead, but to commit to a drawing a day – that impresses me.

To read Hugo’s story, it started 5 years ago, as Hugo, who is a teacher, challenged his students to draw everyday.  They said he was crazy and to prove them wrong he started his blog – and this post is number 1578.  Let the beauty of this sketch and his 1577 others sink in and may they inspire you to be creative in your own way.

I am challenging myself to add more content and to share some great blog posts that I enjoy with you my readers.  So, I hope to add two posts a week – one original and one a reblog from the WordPress Reader.  It is my goal to be able by the end of the summer to add two original blogs posts and share one each week.  THREE post a week by the end of August.  I am going to be going through the WordPress Reader daily looking for great creative post to share.  If you have a WordPress blog you would like to share e with me, please do…I will share it be re-blogging it.

For now, enjoy Hugo’s sketch of the day, and tomorrow’s…


via 1578 / Alcalá de Henares / University — a fresh drawing everyday day