Thursday, December 9, 2010

There’s a Lot to be Thankful for in Business This Holiday Season

A lot of North America is going through tough times especially our friends to the south who are still finding their way out of the recession. Just when it was thought that things were turning around it now seems that the recession is still got a hold on the U.S. and well in Canada things are still pretty much the same. We are holding our own and things are starting to look brighter every day.

It does not matter much where you are in the grand scheme of business or what religion you practice or preach, the holiday or the Christmas season is upon us and as a world we still have a lot to be thankful for. The following represents my five top business things to be thankful for this holiday season.

One: I want to say thank you for the internet and all the free services provided by the internet. Everything from sharing pictures and photos with friends, talking on Skype and having access to free email and millions upon millions of bytes of information on Google. This is one business tool we should never stop thanking.

Two: I want to say thank you for my Blackberry mobile phone. The Blackberry in my mind is one of Canada’s greatest inventions. Mind you it’s now taking second place to the Apple IPhone and the I pad but hopefully it won’t be there for long and with the advent of the new tablet in the spring, Blackberry should be back in the game.

Three: I wanted to say thank you to my customers. Customers are my greatest asset. They teach me how to run my business. They demand more from me and push me to be better than I could ever be alone. A wise man once said, if you want to know how to sell your product, just ask your customers. Too often as business people we forget that it’s our customers that are really our business. Without them we would not have a business, so thanks.

Four: I wanted to thank my suppliers. Without them I would also not have a business. They help me to produce the products I need to sell. Without my suppliers I would not have the research and development and the help to develop better products. So to my suppliers, thank you.

Five: I wanted to thank all the folks at the National Networker. It’s a great thing that they do month after month providing information for everyone. They have built an amazing resource and without it I would not have a monthly forum to express an opinion and tell some amazing stories. So to the team at the National Networker, thanks and lets have a great 2011 and to you the reader, thanks.

So we have a lot to be thankful for. I left out the usual stuff, like my family, my health and my banker, however those things get thanked every day.

I also thank the creator for making my life an amazing thing and in Canada (and North America for that matter) we have the opportunity to do anything we want in business.

So if you are business person out there and think and wonder when it’s going to turn around, just remember you are connected and you to have a lot to be thankful for. As we move into a new year, there are a lot of little things to be thankful for. It’s the little things that take care of the big things. So when in doubt say thanks and prosper.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing Helps the Public Sector Market.

If you are a lot like me and think that Federal, Provincial or Municipal governments lack marketing expertise, all one needs to do is look at the recent Ontario Government communications fiasco in launching the new Eco Tax in Ontario. The Eco tax is being called a levy by the Provincial government when in reality it’s a surcharge on a purchase that looks a lot like a tax. The government launched this program July 1st and has already had major complaints from both the consumer and retailers.

One of Canada’s major retailers Canadian Tire has already told the government it will not be charging the tax because it’s too confusing, complicated, does not provide a service to its customers and is hard to administer. On top of that, the provincial government actually lied to its residents saying that it will cost other $5million dollars for pulling the tax when it has over $73 million taxpayer dollars tied up in investments inside the ad hoc government department that is acting at the custodian of the funds.

The bottom-line for the Provincial Government of Ontario, a major marketing and communications blunder. So why is it that government organizations stumble, when it comes to giving constitutes the right information in a timely manner?

All you need to do is as Jim Mintz from the Centre of Excellence for Marketing in the Public Sector. Jim has dedicated his life to marketing, primarily in the public sector with Health Canada where he launched some of Canada’s most successful health campaigns. When it came time to retire, Jim left the government and setup of the Centre. CEPSM as it is called helps all kinds of public sector clients learn the ins and outs of marketing to Canadians. Jim’s group now consists of 17 associates many who had notable public sector careers in marketing, communications and advertising along with a team of younger associates that run the Centre’s Social Media, Web and advertising divisions.

Jim also taught marketing at Carleton University up until last year and regularly gives seminars and workshops on New and Social Media and Social Marketing which includes modifications of habits, beliefs, actions and views about many of the country’s major social and health issues. Jim eats, sleeps and talks marketing. He has developed strategies and launched campaigns for health, public safety, and has taught clients from almost every level of government on how to market their programs and services.

The Centre also has affiliated offices in Regina, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. So the next time you see a public figure, group or organization needing help in marketing or communicating, give The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing a call. They can be found on the web at or contact Jim directly at

Canada Is Rebounding While the U.S. Falters

It’s the dog days of summer and I was reviewing the difference in attitudes in between Canada and the U.S. in business. The Canadian market is holding its own. I recently tried to do a joint-venture partnership with a company in the U.S.

I was surprised that the people I was trying to work with were negative and down on the economy in the U.S. and I was also surprised how fragile they were in taking risks. As a business person who has consistently worked throughout North America for the past 30 years I was surprised that Americans were sounding like Canadians in the 70’s and Canadians were sounding like Americans in the 80’s. Canada is on the rebound and there are a number of reasons.

Canada's economy has consistently outperformed that of the United States since the beginning of the financial crisis. And while it's showing signs of slowing down, Canada's pending decline will be far shallower than that of the United States, and its rebound more dynamic.

Canada's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 6.1% in the first quarter of the year - the highest rate of growth among developed nations - and the country is expected to lead Group Seven (G7) nations in economic growth for at least the next two years; why ? Well there are many reasons.

Canada’s banking system is sound, banks stayed out of the mortgage business and while granting credit made it flexible for Canadians to get into the mortgage business but did not get that involved in the sub-prime game. Canadians look at the word market and not just at their own market. This has allowed them to make huge gains in Far East, North and South America and Europe. The country has bountiful resources including: lumber, oil, raw materials, water and land, much of it undeveloped.

Canada’s economy is moving into a service-based economy more that it’s been in the past. Health Care, education, knowledge and a highly educated work force also have an impact. Compared to the U.S. corporate interests have less influence over government policy and we have far less government debt.

The Canadian economy grew at a 2.0% annualized pace in the second quarter of 2010, shy of the 2.5% gain expected by forecasters. The increase was slower than in the previous two quarters in large part due to a 3.0 percentage point (ppt) net export drag. Inventory rebuilding and increasing domestic demand offset the weight from trade. The first-quarter growth rate was revised to show a 5.8% annualized gain from 6.1% previously.

Both consumer spending and business fixed investment rose in the second quarter although consumption slowed to a 2.6% annualized pace from the strong 4.3% rise recorded in the first quarter. Investment spending posted a healthy 9.1% annualized gain with spending on machinery and equipment rising by a solid 29.7% annualized pace. Residential investment slowed in the quarter, rising 1.2% although this followed two quarters of very strong increases. Spending on non-residential structures eked out a mild 1.0% increase, contrary to expectations for another decline.

Gains in these areas contributed to decent growth in the final domestic demand of 3.5% building on three quarters of very strong gains. The contribution from inventories was smaller than expected in the second quarter, adding 1.8 ppt and matching the first-quarter's revised contribution. The rise in domestic demand in recent quarters suggests that this inventory rebuilding in large part was desired.

The strength in domestic spending also contributed to imports rising at a rapid 16.4%annualized pace. Export growth was milder at 6.0% resulting in net exports subtracting 3.0 ppt in the quarter. Our expectation was that this component would cut 3.8 ppt off the quarterly growth rate.
While the overall growth rate disappointed forecasters, this report confirms that domestic conditions in the economy remained strong.
Let’s hope our friends to the south will start spending money, investing in real assets and remember that they are still one of strongest countries and economies in the world.

You just need to get Americans to start thinking like Canadians – for years we had to do it the hard way and with 1/10th of the population of the U.S. it should be easier for the U.S. to rebound. As good neighbours I hope things will improve for our southern cousins soon. We are beside you in Afghanistan, terrorism and we will be behind you as well in helping your economy rebound.
Kensel Tracy is a business coach and Senior Partner with the Corporate Coachworkz in Chelsea, Quebec Canada.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Olympics Have Come and Gone In Vancouver, But Networking Contiues On

Canada’s Olympic host city Vancouver is once again on the networking agenda this month. In keeping with the trend in writing stories about Western Canada, this month’s column focuses on Vancouver and the Vancouver Business Network Forum. The Vancouver Business Network Forum (VBNF) is a dynamic, fast growing multi-cultural Business Networking Group based in Burnaby, B.C.

Its primary goal is to enable business people to benefit from the mutual sharing of valuable information and experience, gained through VBNF connections, working together to achieve the maximum degree of success possible, and at the same time to provide shared, and effective, cost-saving services.

Since its inception in January 2005, the VBNF has expanded its membership to three active chapters, namely: VBNF - Vancouver, VBNF – Burnaby and the VBNF – Chinese which focuses exclusively on Vancouver’s Chinese business community

The VBNF is also in the process of exploring and developing potential business connections with world-wide trading partners, enabling the organization to create new commerce and employment opportunities in B.C. and Canada

The purpose of the forum is to provide an equal opportunity for all participants of the network to promote their products and services regardless of their origin and race. This is truly reflective of the new attitude in Canada where many of Canada’s newest business people are from throughout the world and the far east and have gravitated to Canada to open shop in one of the world’s truly great democracies.

In Canada we have a cultural melting pot where business people of all backgrounds try to work together. This multicultural approach is truly reflected with the VBNF. The VBNF sees itself as the most effective and fun focused business networking group in Vancouver. Members and guests can attend free business seminars, networking meetings and a variety of community and business building and networking events. Meetings are held monthly and rotate throughout the three chapters.

Member services include business consultation, web development, web hosting, and assistance with payment systems, advertising in online and printed member’s directories, networking and business building both locally and internationally. For those interested in starting a business in Vancouver or moving your business there this may be a great networking group to get started with.

If you would like more information on the Vancouver Business Network Forum you can reach them virtually at

Kensel Tracy is a Senior Partner and the Marketing Coach at the Corporate Coachworkz Inc. located in Chelsea, Quebec and is President of Business Over Breakfast Clubs of North America opening up Networking Clubs in every City in Canada and the USA. If you have a story of interest please contact him at