Yearly Archive: 2012

You can go home again (The Sequel)

Joey Slinger, long-time columnist at the Toronto Star and winner of the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour Writing, has been pummelling me with messages ever since my recent post about Guelph. Slinger also grew up in Guelph where he rose to the rank of sergeant-major in the cadet corps at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute. I was just a lowly private. Both of us wrote for the Guelph Mercury. He was full-time. I was merely a weekly high school news columnist while I was a student. So you can see he was always one step ahead. Slinger took umbrage at...

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Shifting sands

My opinion about Stephen Harper began to shift last March. I met him for the first time when he was in Toronto for the official sod-turning of the tunnel to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Unlike his cold and stand-offish public image, the Prime Minister was warm, gracious, and relaxed. My two grandchildren were also present. With a smile, he said to each of them, “Shake my hand, look me in the eye, and tell me your name.” He took time to chat even though the official ceremony awaited. Last month during a lengthy Q&A session at the Canadian American...

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You can go home again

My co-author, Susan Papp, and I attended a reading and book signing today at The Bookshelf, a wonderful bookstore in Guelph. Susan and I each read passages, we did a short Q&A with Frank Hasenfratz, the subject of our book, Driven To Succeed, and then Frank answered questions from the 75 or so people on hand. Barb and Doug Minett, owners of The Bookshelf, have done a terrific job in a difficult industry. Their establishment – which also offers first-run movies and has an excellent cafe – is among the best independent bookstores in Canada. For Susan and I, the event served as...

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Getting closer all the time

I have seen the new BB10 from BlackBerry and it is both sleek and slick. I viewed the touchscreen version and can report that the keys are bigger than the keys on either the iPhone or Android smartphones in the hopes that businesspeople will find the larger size helpful and won’t flee elsewhere. Overall, it looks and behaves like the PlayBook. No surprise there, the two devices share the same software. The audio and the video both work well. There are only two issues. One is that old bugbear, the developer community is slow to produce apps. Second, when exactly is...

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Hotel helter skelter

The design problem with the new Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville is obvious right from the forecourt. In the middle is a four-tiered fountain that could come from the Renaissance, the pad uses a mosaic of stone inspired by a Persian rug, and the glass canopy over the entrance has a floral pattern reminiscent of a nineteenth-century textile by William Morris. It’s as if they weren’t sure what to do so they did everything. The hodge-podge continues inside. A minuscule hotel lobby that could seat a dozen gives onto a room containing only a sculptural dandelion. The front desk is...

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A woman’s work is never done

There’s that number again, 21.7 percent. According to a study by The Council of Canadian Academies, women represent one-third of all full-time faculty, but only 21.7 percent of full professors. I say there’s that number again because if you look at other sectors such as financial services, law, and accounting the proportion of women in executive positions or partner roles is usually about 22 percent and has been for some time. On boards of directors, the share is even lower, about 11 percent, with no progress in recent years. Whenever I see a half-page advertisement for a law firm or...

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A modest proposal improved

Yesterday I spoke to a class of eager young business students at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. They’ve been reading my BlackBerry book under the guidance of Professor Knut Jensen who issued the invitation for me to tell his class why Research In Motion started its sad downward slide right after the book came out in March 2010. Readers of my blog will be familiar with my thesis but I had a few new thoughts worth sharing. I told them I was dubious about RIM’s future and not at all convinced that the new BB 10,...

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Turning Magna into magnanimous

Frank Stronach’s plans to run for office in Austria sound familiar to me. In 1987 he hired me to write a book about his life that would also contain policy ideas for Canada. The story of his business career creating Magna was inspiring but his policy platform was a tad thin. The book was never published. Frank would have loved to be prime minister, particularly if he could somehow just be appointed to the job, but he was willing to go through the democratic process. He ran as a Liberal for Parliament in 1988 in York-Simcoe and finished second, about 7,000 votes...

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