Monthly Archive: May 2008

Staying in character

In a week of bad to so-so news from the banks, one story stands out. Ed Clark, CEO of TD Bank, today announced he will exercise some $20 million in options, keep 15 per cent for himself in bank shares, give away $8 million to charity and use the rest of the money to pay for the cost of the options as well as taxes owing. Of all the definitions of leadership that I’ve ever heard, this ranks with the best. Clark started his working life as the most reviled bureaucrat ever to offend business. As a public servant in...

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Lifelong learning

We’ve been back from Florence for a while, but when people ask about our time there, we no longer talk about what we saw or who we met, we’re more likely to describe how the experience changed us. Sandy discovered that her creativity knows no bounds, that she has her own unique artistic voice, and can create beauty from wire, paints, plaster of Paris, charcoal, screening, beads, bottle bottoms – anything she chooses. For my part, I learned that I can easily live without the public profile of my picture on a newspaper column or my byline on some magazine...

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Glory in the flower

Florence is a city that celebrates all the seasons. In May, the weather moves immediately from the high spring of April to high summer. Daytime temperatures soar to 27C and stay there. Right now, on the gently sloping hill around Piazza Michelangelo, with its spectacular views of the city, there is a glorious iris show. The annual event, first held in 1957, showcases thousands of specimen plants. Stone pathways lead past mounded beds exploding with the familiar blue, white, purple, and yellow blooms in various combinations but there’s also black and chocolate and a triple iris that’s as big as...

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In today already walks tomorrow

It was Dan Quisenberry who famously said, “I have seen the future. It looks like the past, only longer.” I hate to quarrel with the ace relief pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, whose submarine-style delivery dominated the 1980s, but the future is getting shorter all the time. Fifteen years ago, when I was working with Don Tapscott on the best-seller The Digital Economy, Don said the most important message in the book was for people to get on the Internet. Now, the web is ubiquitous. Ten years ago, Research in Motion – the subject of my next book –...

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Yankee go home

What is it about Canadians that we are so smitten with American celebrities we will sit agog, listening to their canned remarks? When David Gergen came to town last week much was made of Gerry Schwartz, Chairman and CEO of Onex Corp., arriving late and having no seat – such was the drawing power of Gergen, advisor to four American presidents. A chair was found for Gerry, just another rapt member of an audience who could have known all of Gergen’s profundities simply by watching CNN where he appears on late-night panels so often that he must have a cot...

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A love story

In case you missed it, here’s a link to the online version of the ad promoting Fantasy in Florence that ran in last Saturday’s book section in The Globe and Mail. This marks the first anniversary of publication and a suitable time to celebrate the book’s position as #1 in books about Florence.

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Resurrecting Eaton’s

I have just three words to those folks at Sears who are considering a relaunch of the Eaton’s catalogue: Don’t do it. When I wrote my 1998 book, “The Eatons: The Rise and Fall of Canada’s Royal Family,” I discovered a whole new market who’d never before bought my books: sixty-year old women. Put me in front of an audience of 200 retired school teachers, and after my speech, I’d go to the back of the room and sign 150 books sold by a local bookstore, unheard of levels of interest. These women of a certain age had shopped at...

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