Get free and unlimited cell phone calls in Canada

August 11, 2010
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He can't afford his cellphone bill, either.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: He can't afford his cell phone bill, either.

Raise your hand if you live in Canada. Keep it raised if you have a cell phone. Raise it still if you pay too little for your cell phone plan.

It’s a tragic irony that Canada – the country which gave us the telephone and the BlackBerry – is notorious for having among the world’s worst mobile phone rates!

You do not have to put up with it any longer!

This article’s title is not a joke: You can get unlimited daytime minutes and unlimited long-distance on your cell phone in Canada for just $2.99 a month.

I’m not selling anything. I’ve just found a simple approach that works, and I want to share it.

My friend Alex Frakking explained how to get free outbound and inbound calls using the method I discuss below. With Alex’s blessing, I wrote this guide to share a few tips that make using this system even simpler. Follow the steps below:

8 steps to unlimited daytime minutes and unlimited long-distance

  1. Get a Skype To Go phone number. (Choose a number in your local area code.)
  2. Buy a few dollars of Skype Credit to get started, or buy Skype’s Unlimited US & Canada plan for $2.99 per month.
  3. Get a FreePhoneLine.ca phone number. (Choose a number in your local area code.)
  4. Login to your FreePhoneLine account. Set your “followme settings” to “Always /Forward/” as shown below:
  5. Freephoneline.ca call-forwarding settings (Click for a larger image).

  6. Add a FollowMe number. (The FollowMe number receives forwarded calls.) Input your mobile phone number as your FollowMe number.
  7. Phone your mobile carrier’s customer service department. If you don’t already have it, ask the customer service representative to give you either Rogers’ MY5 plan, Bell’s Fab Five plan, or any plan that allows you to make unlimited calls to at least two numbers. Add your Skype To Go and FreePhoneLine numbers to your MY5 (or  similar) plan.
  8. Install a calling-card dialing-application (CCDA) on your mobile phone. I use BlackBerry EasyDialer. The EasyDialer software license is a one-time-payment of $9.99. (Without a CCDA it is inconvenient to make calls with Skype to Go. I recommend EasyDialer or your preferred CCDA.)
  9. Setup your CCDA to make calls to your Skype To Go number. If you use EasyDialer, make your “Calling Card Details” screen look like this (and input your Skype To Go number as the “Service Number”):
  10. Setup your BlackBerry EasyDialer setup screen like this to have EasyDialer make outgoing calls with Skype To Go

    Setup your BlackBerry EasyDialer screen (as pictured here) to have EasyDialer make calls with your Skype To Go number.

Now you’re ready to make unlimited daytime and long-distance calls in the U.S. and Canada with Skype To Go, and to receive calls with FreePhoneLine:

Make calls with Skype To Go using your Calling-Card Dialing-Application

  • To call a number from your mobile’s address book: Select the contact, and then call the contact’s number using your CCDA. E.g., using EasyDialer: go to the address book; search for your contact; press the BlackBerry menu button; select “Call with EasyDialer.” (This calls the contact using Skype To Go: First, EasyDialer calls your Skype To Go number. Second, once connected to Skype To Go, EasyDialer automatically calls your contact’s number. Note: your contact will see that the call is coming from your mobile number, not your Skype To Go number.)
  • To call a number not in your address book: Go to your mobile’s phone screen; dial the number; instead of pressing the “call” button, make the call with your CCDA. E.g., using EasyDialer: Go the phone application; dial the number; press the menu button; select “Call with EasyDialer.”

Receive calls with FreePhoneLine forwarding to your cell phone

Calls to your mobile number during your daytime minutes use your mobile plan’s limited daytime minutes. Once you exceed your limit, we all know our carriers charge us (a lot!).

You charged me 15 f***ing cents a MINUTE for every minute I exceeded my daytime minutes!

You charged me 15 f***ing cents for every MINUTE over my daytime minutes!

To prevent calls to your mobile number from exceeding your plan’s daytime minutes, encourage people to call your FreePhoneLine number instead of your mobile number (FreePhoneLine forwards calls to your mobile):

  • List your FreePhoneLine number as your mobile number in your social networking profiles (on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)  and in your email signature
  • When people ask for your mobile number, give them your FreePhoneLine number

I adopted this system two months ago (with Rogers as my carrier). I’ve drastically reduced my cell phone bill while enjoying unlimited daytime calling and unlimited long-distance calls in the US and Canada! It works for me and Alex; it will work for you, too.

Share your questions, tips, and experiences in the comments below.


How to start a blog and get a domain name

August 6, 2010

BusinessWeek discusses how blogs are changing business with 120,000 new blogs appearing daily.

You might want to start a blog to share your ideas, to connect with others, or to improve your writing.

This article explains how to: choose a blog service; host your blog; get a domain name; and receive email at a domain.

Choose a blog service

A blog service is software which makes it easy to create and maintain a blog. It’s a content management system that allows you to author, edit, and publish blog posts and comments. It provides an interface (similar to Microsoft Word) which allows you to format text and insert images without having to worry about html or programming.

The WordPress interface for editing posts. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress.

The WordPress interface for editing posts. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress.

I use WordPress: a top reviewed blog service which Daily Writing Tips calls “A state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time.”

Choose a host for your blog

A web host provides space to store files on a server, and makes your blog accessible on the internet.

A blog service will host your blog for free — or you can install your blog software on your own server or with a third party provider.

You can start by letting a blog service host for you (which is free and easy to setup). Later, you can further customize your blog by migrating to your own host. There are pros and cons between wordpress.com hosting and wordpress.org self-hosting.

I started with wordpress.com hosting; I might later self-host on wordpress.org.

How to get a domain name with email forwarding

WordPress gives you a domain name such as “yourname.wordpress.com.” Read on if you want a custom domain name, like “yourname.com” or “mybusinessname.com,” and if you wish to receive emails sent to “yourname.com.”

Search for a name

Go to GoDaddy.com and search for your desired domain name. If “yourname.com” is not available, go to “yourname.com” to see if it is for sale.

In 2007, kevinkane.com showed a page advertising the domain name for sale. I emailed the owner; he sent me a quote for $200. I made a certified offer through Network Solutions. The owner then transferred ownership of kevinkane.com to Network Solutions. I completed an account information form and kevinkane.com became mine.

I’m surprised I was able to get the domain, considering that there are 188 Kevin Kanes in the U.S. alone. The most famous KK might be Canadian singer Kevin Kane (who sings much better than me by the way).

Choose a name

When you search for “yourname.com” at GoDaddy, you’ll see similar domain names available. Some cost money; some are free. Pick your favorite, or use something like “yourname.wordpress.com” at your blog service.

Register the name

To use a custom domain name, register it with a domain name registrar. Consumersearch.com lists GoDaddy among the top three registrars. GoDaddy will register a .com name for about $9.20 per year.

Map the name to your blog service

When you sign-up for a WordPress blog, you receive a URL such as “yourname.wordpress.com.” Mapping a domain makes your blog available at “yourname.com” without the “.wordpress.com” portion.

I use WordPress domain mapping for $9.97 per year.

Get email sent to your domain name to forward to your personal email

Email forwarding sends messages sent to “example@yourname.com” to your email account with gmail, hotmail, or any other email provider.

GoDaddy provides five email forwarding accounts for $3.02 a year.

If you host your blog at wordpress.com — and you have a domain name with a registrar such as GoDaddy — then add your registrar’s MX servers into your custom DNS records at your wordpress account. (This is easy to do.) The GoDaddy MX servers are: “MX 10 mailstore1.secureserver.net” and “MX 0 smtp.secureserver.net.”

That’s all there is to it. Feel free to ask questions or share tips in the comments below.


How I benefit from volunteering with Junior Achievement

July 30, 2010

Note: Junior Achievement has not reviewed or endorsed my post. My opinions written below do not necessarily reflect those of Junior Achievement.

I began volunteering this summer with Junior Achievement (JA). My only regret is that I didn`t start sooner! As I`m sure you can relate, I felt I was too busy. I finally reached the point where I had talked so much about volunteering someday, that I decided if I don`t start now, I`ll still be talking about getting-around to it when I`m 132.

Why do people volunteer, anyway?

Junior Achievement volunteers facilitate hands-on business programs which help young people understand the key concepts of work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy

Junior Achievement volunteers facilitate hands-on business programs which help young people understand the key concepts of work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy

The American Psychological Association interviewed Mark Snyder, PhD, a psychologist from the University of Minnesota, who in the mid-1980s began studying volunteerism.

The linked article shows that in the United States, nearly one out of three adults regularly spends some time volunteering. “When I initially started thinking about this, I was struck by how much easier it was to come up with reasons why people shouldn’t volunteer than why they should,” said Snyder. “It’s time consuming, it’s stressful, it takes time away from your job or family or leisure.” What is it, he began to ask, that propels so many people to donate their time, energy, and efforts?

Snyder and his colleagues eventually identified five primary motivations for volunteering:

  1. Values. Volunteering to satisfy personal values or humanitarian concerns. (For some people this can have a religious component.)
  2. Community concern. Volunteering to help a particular community – such as a neighborhood or ethnic group, to which you feel attached.
  3. Esteem enhancement. Volunteering to feel better about yourself or escape other pressures.
  4. Understanding. Volunteering to gain a better understanding of other people, cultures or places.
  5. Personal development. Volunteering to challenge yourself; meet new people and make new friends; or further your career.

If you are considering volunteering, volunteer for something that matches your motivations. (Younger volunteers are more likely to volunteer for career-related reasons, while older volunteers more often cite abstract ideas of good citizenship and contribution to their communities.) “People whose experiences best matched their motivations were more satisfied with the experience. Those same people also said that they’d be more likely to continue volunteering.” (1998, Clary, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 74, No. 6, pages 1516-1530.)

Snyder’s team found that people who have more seemingly “selfish” motivations – esteem enhancement, personal development and understanding – are more likely to stick with a volunteering organization longer than people with more “other focused” motivations, such as values. This finding suggests that volunteers, and volunteer organizations, are best served when volunteers perform roles and engage in activities which allow the volunteers to achieve the personal gains that matter most to the volunteers. The most committed, productive, and long-term volunteers seem to be those whose volunteer experience satisfies a personal agenda: Volunteers do best in helping others when in the process of helping, they help themselves, too.

Snyder concurs: “Volunteering can have an altruistic component, reflecting a true concern for the welfare of others, but also an egoistic component, in that the volunteer receives clear benefits to the self. It’s better to see the two feeding each other, rather than being in competition.”

I’ll share how the motivations above (values, community concern, esteem enhancement, understanding, and personal development) have impacted and rewarded me during my tenure with JA.

How I benefit from volunteering with Junior Achievement

Values

I value being a leader, a role model, and a mentor. JA provides me with a platform to facilitate programs with young people, allowing me to excite and instruct them to engage the world of business. The “working world” is tough; it can feel remote and confusing to kids. JA gives me the opportunity – such as through facilitating the Dream Big program – to inspire young teenagers with lessons from their own role models; to help motivate and prepare them for their first part-time and volunteer job; to explore their dream career job; to choose values which support their dreams; to decide the skills and knowledge they want to obtain to reach their dreams; and to learn how to find and communicate with mentors, who can help them overcome obstacles.

I am grateful to my mentors who help me pursue my dreams. I value reciprocating the favor by being a mentor myself, through my involvement with JA.

I believe it`s important to provide young people with experiential business programs that can imbue them with the confidence and skills they need to become the leaders of tomorrow. It means a lot to me to provide to young people some of the most important and inspiring programs on work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. These programs can literally, in a few hours, change the course of a student’s life!

Community Concern

Andre Agassi and one of the first graduates from the Andre Agassi Preparatory Academy

Andre Agassi and one of the first graduates from the Andre Agassi Preparatory Academy

In the video at the end of this article, a man says, “We all care about our community. Volunteers care. They don’t care more. They just do something about it.” His statement struck me. Many people who don’t volunteer are nonetheless benefactors to their communities. My mom owned and managed a business for 15 years, employing about 10 people at a time. She worked six or seven days a week, taking one vacation-week only once every three years – for 15 consecutive years! She would have been pressed to find time and energy to volunteer. But her customers loved her and she provided jobs to many people who worked with her for years. I am proud that my mom was a recognized community entrepreneur and leader. Ain’t nobody gonna tell me that she didn’t contribute!

I sympathize with kids in my community. As I chat with them, I see that they have the same ambitions and insecurities that I had when I was their age. As I grew up, I didn’t experience a JA program. It would have given me an early edge. When I see kids in my JA workshop become motivated and confident, I imagine that the program – and maybe me as a person – is a spark which propels them toward their dreams of work success and community contribution.

A former participant of JA wrote:

“What has impacted me more than anything? JA. Really. Junior Achievement broke through and hit me over the head in high school. From there I have been fascinated with how business, governments and markets work. They gave me the curiosity and the desire to learn. From there, I have gobbled knowledge and know how. Embraced mentors, teachers and anyone with a differing opinion than me. I am volunteering in many capacities and plan to commit some time to this organization. Our children need to learn everything JA stands for.”

I’m grateful that the teachers appreciate how JA programs enhance their curriculum. I enjoy how each teacher contributes to the program by helping me tailor it to their classroom’s personalities and dynamics – every class is different!

Well known tennis star Andy Roddick shared a story about Andre Agassi:

“When I was 17 years old, we were on a flight together. I was very nervous, but Andre was kind and encouraged me to ask him questions. When I asked about his biggest regret, I expected some answer related to our profession. Instead he said it was not starting his charitable foundation earlier. There are most likely plenty of kids at Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, a model K-12 charter school for disadvantaged children in Las Vegas, who have never watched a match of his. I promise you that Andre could not care less. He would rather be viewed as the man who gives them dreams and opportunities.”

Actions speak louder than words. Volunteering shows that I give a damn: It demonstrates that I’m done talking about my values of helping others. Now people see that I’m doing it.

Esteem Enhancement

When I think of my volunteer work, I feel great.

I did an exercise that involved listing things that motivate and drive me. I listed everything that I find fun, interesting, or exciting; anything that means something to me.

For each item listed, I asked “Why do I care about it?” I wrote the reason why I cared. Then I looked at the reason and asked, “Why do I care about that reason?” I kept going deeper until I found that my reason for caring about almost everything reduced to the same fundamental reason.

For example, one item I listed which drives me is “Reading and learning new things.”

I asked, “Why do I like reading and learning new things?” I answered that I like learning to be a better writer by reading works of good writers.

Then “Why do I like learning to be a better writer?” Because I want to influence others. Being a better writer helps you to more effectively influence others – whether you’re writing an email, proposal, blog article, or book.

“Why do you want to influence others?” Because influencing others helps me earn money and win respect; people appreciate receiving information and feeling inspired.

“Why do people appreciate receiving information and feeling inspired?” Because it helps them to be more successful; to feel better about themselves and their own possibilities.

“Why do you care about helping people be more successful; to feel better about themselves and their own possibilities?” Because then they’re more likely to achieve their goals and feel happy – and I will have helped make that happen.

“Why do you care about helping people achieve their goals and helping them feel happy?” Because achieving goals, being happy, and helping others – is the reason we’re here. If we’re not here to develop ourselves; to be our best; and to help others be their best – then what else is there? Doesn’t it all come down to being our best and helping others be their best? Then we all enjoy the progress and happiness that flows from productive, happy, and sharing people?

Invest three hours in facilitating a JA program, and you will feel a sense of euphoria and contribution that will stay with you a long time. Contrast that with watching three hours of TV, or three hours playing a video game. The enjoyment derived from watching the program or playing the game is often temporal – usually vanishing the moment you turn off the TV.

Understanding

Through JA, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of – and strengthened my connection to – young people, students, teachers, schools, and non-profits in general.

I’ve learned that kids are unaware of the diversity of available careers – most dream of doing the same 30 or so white collar professions. They have little idea of what work their parents do (other than by job title, if even that). Parents need to help kids understand – in simple terms – what they do and how they do it, so kids can start having meaningful discussions about their own career possibilities.

I’ve observed that JA employees work hard! I’ve been biased by the notion that government and non-profits might not be as efficient as for-profit organizations. In my experience with JA however, the staff are devoted and run a lean ship.

I’ve been reminded of how hard it is to be a kid in high school. Today, it’s so easy for me to walk into any school, to speak with anyone, and to facilitate a program for 45 students. But in my first year of high school, when I had to present in history class, I could barely breath. I didn’t know how to talk to girls. It was crushing when I failed at something. It took time and practice for me to become a fluent, self-assured speaker; to learn that failure is normal as we progress on the crooked – rather than linear – path to success.

When I share my early struggles with kids, it can give them hope that they too will overcome their self-doubts. It encourages me as well – when I think of how daunting some of my current obstacles seem – to be reminded that not long ago, I wouldn’t have been able to speak in front of five people, let alone 45. One day, I’ll look back on my current obstacles, and smile at how trivial they appear in retrospect.

Personal development

The graph below shows that volunteers report gaining many skills through volunteering. The full survey shows how volunteering also improves job opportunities.

Percentage who reported gaining skills from volunteer activities

Percentage of volunteers who reported gaining skills from volunteer activities. Source: 2000, National Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating, http://www.givingandvolunteering.ca/files/giving/en/factsheets/benefits_of_volunteering.pdf

Another survey reports:

  • 73% of employers would recruit a candidate with volunteering experience over one without
  • 94% of employers believe that volunteering can add to skills
  • 94% of employees who volunteered to learn new skills had benefited either by getting their first job, improving their salary, or being promoted

I volunteer to explore new fields of potential interest. Ibarra’s “Working Identity” shows that we discover who we are – and what we like to do – not by introspection, but by trying out new things; engaging in new experiences; and starting new relationships. From these experiments we learn about our skills and preferences. Volunteering is a great way to try out things you might like to do: the barrier to entry is low, and it’s easy to move on if it’s not the right fit for you. Volunteering with JA has reinforced my conviction that I love to speak and facilitate; it’s shown me that I’m almost obsessive in my passion to continuously refine the workshop content – to see how I can make it more engaging and beneficial.

Volunteering with JA enhances my leadership skills. I first heard of JA when an entrepreneur mentioned that she developed her leadership skills with adults by first leading kids as a JA volunteer.

For any skill you wish to strengthen, volunteering provides a safe environment to practice. The second time I facilitated a JA program, I walked into a strong-minded and unruly class. The students were engaged with my material, but as they observed my inability or unwillingness to seize control of the classroom, they became increasingly loud and interruptive. By the end of the morning I had lost order.

Then I witnessed an amazing thing. The students went into a classroom with a new teacher. The same teenagers were actively participating, and rarely did they lose focus, interrupt the teacher, or goof off. When a student did something that detracted from the lesson, the teacher corrected the student immediately and efficiently. I watched in astonishment and took notes.

The teacher explained to me that to gain the respect of the kids, I need to immediately establish myself as the alpha male and leader. I need to correct any misbehaviour promptly, abruptly, and consistently – in a firm but fair manner – with direct, simple instructions. When a kid lifts his desk, I can’t ignore it, and I can’t ask, “Excuse me, if you don’t mind, would you please put that desk down?” Instead I need to tell the student, with authority, “Put that desk down.” I started improving my non-verbal communication, too: standing straighter, looking directly at students, and walking closer to them to engage or to correct.

The next class I facilitated had an extra 20 teenagers (45 in total). I maintained order.  The students completed the exercises more thoughtfully. And the students and staff said it was an enjoyable and impactful program. I was asked to return to give the workshop to another group. Though I struggled the previous week, volunteering enabled me to get a fresh start to try again.

If you’re between jobs, volunteering shows that you’re not isolated at home and feeling depressed. It demonstrates that you’re active, meeting with people and productively contributing. It provides you with great stories to share. If you do a good job, then you will get testimonials and references that help you receive introductions, and maybe even a job offer.

Volunteering with JA has helped me meet interesting people and to make new friends. Volunteering offers the best kind of networking: you give value without expecting anything in return, rather than just taking.

If you volunteer in a teaching role, you find that nothing helps you master your subject matter more than having to teach it. Each time I deliver a program, I notice what works and what does not. The next time, I leverage more of what worked, and I omit or change what did not. It’s a continuous experiment of improvement.

I deliver the Dream Big Program in three hours, but I’ve spent days becoming more of a subject-matter expert on things related to the program. For instance, I gained insight into my own dreams and life experiences (e.g., I confirmed some of my skills in public speaking and coaching). I learned of role models that teens have today (from Terry Fox and Michael Jackson to Steve Nash and Bill Gates); careers kids care about (often high-paying, white-collar professions); what gets them excited about part-time jobs (money to buy a car, electronics, and clothes); and how to motivate them to volunteer (show how volunteering develops leadership skills, provides references, and gets their foot-in-the-door to otherwise inaccessible opportunities). I’ve learned about taxes for students working part-time jobs (in Canada, for students under 18, and who earn less than $10,000 a year, the only amount deducted from their pay is a small amount for employment insurance. They effectively pay no income tax and are not deducted for the Canada Pension Plan.) I’ve seen the values which students believe can support their dreams (e.g., persistence and risk-taking); of how values can conflict (e.g., loyalty vs. independence, candor vs. harmony); and how to help them resolve the conflicts. I’ve developed ways to add and strengthen forces that support young people’s dreams, and how to overcome their perceived obstacles. I’ve learned how to help them find mentors, and how they can work with them.

As a teaching volunteer, you learn as much or more from your students and your teaching experience, as your students learn from you.

How you can volunteer

If you explore volunteer opportunities, aim to try something that you’ll love to do – which you’ll personally gain from. If you join a random cause or role just to “help others,” you’ll find that you can also help others in any other organization or role. Consider what you’d like to try out; people you wish to meet; a skill you want to improve; or an industry you desire to learn about. The more personally motivated you are, the more rewarding the experience will be, and the more you’ll contribute to the recipients of your volunteering.

If you’d like to partner with the business community and educators to engage young people in hands-on programs which foster skills in work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy, then volunteering with Junior Achievement could be a very fulfilling experience for you!

For teenagers, here are 20 Ways to Help Other People (and yourself) by Volunteering.

I’ll leave you with this video which shows how we all volunteer daily, even by just holding a door for someone. It explores why now is a great time to volunteer.


Update: Multiple monitor screens: maybe the fastest way to boost your productivity immediately

July 30, 2010

I added content and revised: Multiple monitor screens: maybe the fastest way to boost your productivity immediately


What it’s like to meet Jack Welch

November 11, 2009

“I’m here to pimp my wife’s book” were the first words spoken by Jack Welch, when he presented alongside his wife, Suzy Welch, to an audience at the Indigo book store at the Manulife Center in Toronto, on April 27, 2009.

Jack was referring to Suzy’s new book, 10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea. (As an aside, 10-10-10 received poor reviews. I believe reviewers compared the book to Suzy’s first book, Winning, which she co-wrote with Jack. 10-10-10 is nowhere near the caliber of Winning, though I think Suzy targeted the Oprah Book of the Month Club audience with 10-10-10.)

Kevin Kane, holding the Croatian edition of one of his favorite books, Jack and Suzy Welch's Winning

Kevin Kane in Croatia, holding the Croatian edition of one of his favorite books, Jack and Suzy Welch's Winning

When I heard that Jack was coming to Toronto, I just *had* to meet him. This is Jack Welch, the man who was named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune magazine in 1999; who during his 20-year tenure as CEO of General Electric, from 1984 to 2004, increased GE’s market capitalization from $14 billion to more than $410 billion, making GE the largest and most valuable company in the world.

So what’s it like to meet the man in person? Jack entered the store with his wife, the much younger and stunning Suzy Welch. Suzy is the former Executive Editor of one of my favorite magazines, the prestigious Harvard Business Review. Suzy speaks with considerable authority and presence, and has a vivaciousness that initially made me wonder if she might actually upstage her husband.

But once Jack started answering questions, the words of Warren Buffett came to mind when Warren said, “When you talk with Jack about management, his energy and passion fill the room.”

Though Jack genuinely tried to let the evening be Susie’s show, he couldn’t help but oblige the audience by answering a few of their questions. Here are, at random, a few thoughts which Jack shared:

  • Jack was challenged on whether his admonition to “follow your gut” might lead people to not consider important data in the decision-making process. Jack responded by relating “gut intuition” to “pattern recognition”: your gut identifies patterns of experience you’ve seen before, and intuitively hints you toward a correct decision based on your previous encounters. Jack advised us: “Don’t ignore your gut. Your gut is a legtimate data point. But combine your gut with additional data to make a better decision.”
  • People naturally dismiss ideas from people they dislike, regardless of the merit of those ideas.
  • Two questions Jack asked himself during his life and career: “What do you want people to say about you when you’re not in the room?” and “What would make you cry with regret on your 70th birthday?”
  • On the economy, and the US government’s plan to “spend its way out of the recession”: “How are we going to pay back the debt incurred, when realistically, the US will grow at only 4-percent, we have more global competition than ever, and people have fundamentally become more frugal?”

I approached Jack after the question and answer session and asked, “Which idea is tougher to sell inside organizations – candor or boundarylessness?” (These are two concepts Jack strongly endorses in his books.) Jack’s eyes widened and he responded, “They are both as tough as nails to sell!” He looked at me intently and stated emphatically, “You have to reward these behaviors.” Discussing these ideas really got Jack fired up, and we shared stories about them for some length of time.

Then Jack started asking questions about me and my career. He took a keen interest in me, and he is very encouraging. He maintains a relaxed but focused attention when he speaks with you, and he projects a down-to-earth warmth and sincerity. He frequently makes funny remarks, and he even laughed at all my jokes. Even my girlfriend doesn’t get all my jokes, so clearly Jack is a very enlightened person from my perspective. Meeting Jack Welch reminded me of how gratifying an experience it is when you discover that a celebrity whom you have admired from afar turns out to be just as impressive and likable when you meet them in person.


Lords of Loads & Logistics: 8 billionaires who built the shipping empires which bring the world’s goods to you

October 30, 2009

The cover story of the October 2009 edition of Forbes magazine features America’s 400 most wealthy people. Eight of 400 built their fortunes in the transportation industry. The eight are quite the motley cast of characters. I’ll share some highlights and sidelights, and their impacts on Canada.

Dennis Washington, $4.2 billion, Marine & Rail Transportation, Mining, Montana. With a net worth of $4.2 billion, Washington leads the pack of logistics moguls, and is the 61st richest person on the Fortune 400 list. He owns the largest tug and barge fleet in British Columbia. Washington also owns a large private estate on Stuart Island, British Columbia, including a luxury fishing lodge and golf course. He began his business career at age 30 in 1964, with a $30,000 loan and a single bulldozer.

Victor Fung & family, $2.6 billion, Li & Fung, Hong Kong. Despite the recession, outsourcing firm Li & Fung actually increased sales 25% in 2008. They supply clothes, furnishings, and toys to retailers including Disney, Abercrombie & Fitch, Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, and Target.

Donald Schneider, $2.5 billion, Schneider National, Wisconsin. Schneider National is the US’ largest privately held freight carrier, with sales of $3.7 billion. Schneider managed to take market share from some smaller, struggling competitors during the recession. A Wharton MBA, he introduced a 60-mph speed cap on his fleet last year, in order to reduce fuel costs. In one of my Canadian Institute of Transportation and Traffic (CITT) courses, we debated the efficacy of speed caps. The general consensus of my colleagues is that speed caps actually increase total transportation costs: Savings on fuel are outweighed by an increased expenditure on driver hours, and other costs associated with delivery delays.

schneider-national-truck-overturned

A Schneider National truck is overturned. When the accident occurred, I wonder if the driver was moving at less than 60 mph? Though truck drivers sometimes get a bad rap, the high majority are excellent, safe, and professional drivers.

Stewart Rahr, $1.95 billion, Kinray, New York. Kinray is the world’s largest independent pharmaceutical and generics distributor. Rahr started Kinray after dropping out of law school. “Stewie Rah Rah, the #1 King of All Fun” adorns the wall of his office in Queens, NY. The business card he used this summer is a one-billion dollar bill, featuring a picture of Rahr with Donald Trump, Arnold Palmer and Bill Clinton. Now that’s original. Reminds me of Jeffrey Gitomer, who used to distribute a business card for his company’s mascot, which was his pet cat,”Leo.”

Fred Smith, $1.65 billion, Federal Express, Tennessee. Fedex is the world’s largest private shipping firm. The bulk of FedEx’s business is in the movement of courier packages, which is why everyone reading this article has heard of FedEx, though many outside the logistics industry will not be familiar with the other companies, which primarily distribute freight to manufacturers and retailers. A Yale grad, Smith envisioned an integrated network of planes and trucks in his senior thesis; he then launched FedEx in 1971. How about that! A thesis turned into a business plan! I published a thesis myself, though it has yet to yield $1.65 billion. Smith pioneered elaborate tracking systems, saying, “The information about the package is just as important as the package itself.”

Fred Smith, who founded FedEx so that he could continue to play with model airplanes from childhood to retirement

Fred Smith, who founded FedEx so that he could continue to play with model airplanes from childhood to retirement

William E. Conner II, $1.5 billion, Supply Chain Services, Hong Kong. Conner began working for his father’s company at age 12. He holds an MBA and law degree. With 35 offices in 20 countries, more than half of his business comes from women’s apparel and home goods, with the balance from textiles, lighting and other apparel.

Manuel Moroun & family, $1.3 billion, Central Transport, Michigan. Manuel is battling the Canadian Canadian government to maintain his priceless monopoly over the Detroit River border crossing. He owns the Ambassador Bridge, which is a channel for 25 percent of the commerce between the U.S. and Canada. The Bridge handles 8,000 trucks a day, and $100 billion worth of goods each year.

Johnelle Hunt, $1.1 billion, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Arkansas. Johnelle is the widow of trucking titan Johnnie Hunt. With sales of $3.7 billion, J.B. Hunt is the largest U.S. public transportation company, serving the U.S., Canada and Mexico with over 10,000 vehicles.


Proactive Personality and the Successful Job Search – Journal of Applied Psychology

October 24, 2009

While obtaining my degree in Psychology at the University of Waterloo, the hardest work I did might have been writing an undergraduate thesis. I was incredibly lucky, though. My thesis adviser, Doug Brown, was working with three other colleagues on the publication of a large paper to be submitted for publication in the most prestigious journal in Industrial / Organizational Psychology, which is the Journal of Applied Psychology (JAP).

At the University of Waterloo, Bill Gates is a bigger draw than Britney Spears and Paris Hilton combined

At the University of Waterloo, Bill Gates is a bigger draw than Britney Spears and Paris Hilton combined

For my thesis, Doug invited me to write a paper that would contribute to this larger article for the JAP. The opportunity to be published in the JAP, as an undergrad, was an auspicious stroke of fortune that I couldn’t turn down.

Of course I had no idea how much I’d have to work my butt off! But it paid off, and I still had a little bit of butt left when all was said and done.

Since the JAP is best, most world-class publication of the field, my paper had to be world-class, too, which is an unusual expectation of an undergraduate student. But Doug was a tremendous coach. He mentored me every step of the way, helping me improve my standard of excellence with each subsequent revision of my paper. In other words, he made me rewrite that damn paper about 26 times!

But I’m grateful his standards were so high, because he taught me to become a much better scientist and writer. He taught me how to:

  • thoroughly conduct research, so that I understood the literature surrounding my topic, and so that my argument was buttressed by existing peer-reviewed evidence
  • make powerful, empirically-supported, and logically consistent, arguments
  • write more clearly and succinctly
  • present a compelling and persuasive story

Below is a synopsis of the article, and a link to a pdf of the full article:

The current article tests a model of proactive personality and job search success with a sample of 180
graduating college students. Using structural equation modeling, the authors tested a theoretical model
that specified the relations among proactive personality, job search self-efficacy, job search behaviors,
job search effort, and job search outcomes. Job seekers were surveyed at 2 separate points in time, once
3–4 months prior to graduation and once 2–3 months following graduation. The results suggest that
proactive personality (a) significantly influenced the success of college graduates’ job search, (b) was
partially mediated through job search self-efficacy and job search behavior, and (c) was independent of
self-esteem and conscientiousness. The findings are discussed in terms of their general implications for
understanding the nature of the process through which distal personality factors, such as proactive
personality, affect the nature and success of an individual’s job search.

Keywords: proactive personality, job search, social– cognitive theory, self-efficacy

uwaterloo final exams

Ah, this brings back memories (nightmares?), of final exams at U of Waterloo. Notice that the three guys on the right look totally stumped, hands on heads, whereas the girls to the left are cool and collected.

Note: I contributed to my portion of the article in 2002 and 2003, though the article was not published until 2006. It typically takes this period of time for an article to be reviewed and published in the JAP.

Proactive Personality and the Successful Job Search – A Field Investigation – Journal of Applied Psychology – Brown, Kane, Cober, Levey – 2006


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