Monthly Archives: April 2009

a 2 degree town…

Vancouver at times is frightening. There is no anonymity – I have joked with folks and not really joked that Vancouver is a 2 degree town; meaning  you will have someone in common with anyone you meet for the first time. And if you haven’t seen someone for a while, chances are high that you will run into them. Here are a few examples from last week:

  • During my regular Tim Hortons morning walk I ran into a former VP  that I used to work with. We have since booked a coffee date.
  • Meeting with a new potential collaborator… Here is the conversation: “you look so familiar….” “you do too….” “hmmmmm” “where do you live” “Downtown” “Me too” “I am in the XXXX building” “OMG we are right across the street!!” Then the moment of pride as you instantly feel bonded and a bit smug because you are soooo connected.
  • Over drinks with friends on Saturday night – dear friend says: “one of Paul’s cousins is marrying a gal that you went to school with”. At which point I say “Alana H?” We then proceeded to have an OMG moment.
  • Over dinner with a a client who recently moved to Vancouver from New Zealand. Here is the conversation: Client: “we lived in New Zealand and now live in XXXX neighborhood” Suzanne:  “do you know XXXX”  Client: “I do, she lives around the corner and our kids are friends”. But of course.
  • Getting out of a cab late Saturday night. Random voice in the night:  “Suzanne?” Yes that is me. Hi how are you – let’s go and have a glass of champagne…

It goes on and on.

  • Lesson: last week I espoused on the dangers of facebook. Well – there is also danger in 2 degree Vancouver. Everyone knows everyone else. Do good work! Keep your noise clean and don’t ever burn bridges or do anything psycho. We will all know about it sooner or later.  

Facebook blunders…

Facebook danger

Facebook danger

Today on the cover of the Globe and Mail our dear province was featured as Ray Lam, the NDP candidate for Vancouver – False Creek  resigned after some embarrassing pictures surfaced on Facebook. The pictures included Ray with his pants down showing his underwear and with a hand on a woman’s breast. Oh dear.

The dangers of Facebook… As someone who used to recruit people for a living and now advises clients on how to recruit most effectively, I know that when recruiting, googling someone and checking them out on Facebook is a “de rigueur ” part of the recruitment process. What the heck was Ray thinking? Seeking political office is asking thousands of people to select you for the important job of representing their interests within the government. It is the ultimate recruitment.

To not be “holier than though” I decided to do a quick test on myself. I do not have a Facebook page but am on Linkedin and have a corporate website. Taking a bit of a deep breath… I googled my name. What came back? Well there is a famous Suzanne Boyd – not me :). She used to be the editor of Flare magazine and there are lots of articles on her. There was my biography on the Financial Post Executive Blog (I blog for them) and on the second page of return results there was an article for which I was quoted in the Province newspaper a few months ago. No embarassing pictures…pheew. But to all of you out there that enjoy posting party pictures/naked pictures/crazy pictures on your social media sites, just know that it ain’t all that private. To those of you recruiting who are not googling and facebooking candidates – you may want to start doing it.

Poor Ray may have been a fantastic MLA… but alas, he has been taken out by Facebook.

The importance of recognition – Bo the Portuguese water dog


 Stop the press – major news announcement this weekend – Bo the Portuguese water dog moved into the Whitehouse! It was on CNN, Fox News and on the cover of the Globe and Mail along with   pundits chatting about the breed, how the labradoodle came up short and that there will be a surge in demand for Portuguese water dogs… Love it. And kudos to Whitehouse chief of staff Rahm Emanuel for not missing a political heartbeat by making sure that Bo came from Senator Ted Kennedy’s dog trainer in Virginia 🙂 That guy is an ANIMAL.  

So why the collective “awwwwww”? A dog was promised to Sasha and Malia (Obama daughters) by Dad during his acceptance speech on election night back in November.  It was a gift to them to thank them for their support and sacrifice during the campaign. What do us HR types call that? Recognition. What is recognition all about? Doing something that shows that you care and that you appreciate the work of others. That you understand that none of us are islands and that great things cannot be achieved alone. What does the collective fawning and positive press tell us? People like people who recognize others in meaningful ways for meaningful contributions. So go to it… you are not required to give someone a pooch, but perhaps a “thanks” or a “I appreciate you and all that you do”. We will all like you more and who know’s, you too may end up as a soundbite on CNN.

Ahhh another day with the automakers…


The Chrysler Fiat deal is having a precarious day as Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat and a dual Italian/Canadian citizen insists that the CAW and UAW reduce their labour costs to be in line with those of Japanese and German automakers. Using terms like “historical entitlement” and characterizing labour demands as nonsensical, Mr. Marchionne insists he is willing to walk away from the deal if these demands are not met.  Sergio is clearly in the drivers’ seat. Chrysler is on the verge of bankruptcy and its only way out is to find a partner by the end of the month; once partnered they will receive seven billion dollars in bailout money. Fiat is not on the verge of bankruptcy and with a successful deal will receive a platform from which to penetrate the North American market, though they will have to maintain Chrysler brands like Dodge and Jeep. Sounds pretty good… 

But I can’t think of a single friend (maybe one?) who drives a domestic (GM, Chrysler or Ford) vehicle. I did own one – a Ford Escort… I drove it 86,000KM, put in two clutches and then sold it for $2100. My current vehicle is a 1994 Toyota 4Runner with 290,000 Km’s on it. A trade in on the Toyota will net me $2400. Hmmmmm. Lesson – don’t buy domestic – you will be poorer. Why is it that North American autoworkers are likely the best paid in the world, yet produce cars that don’t hold their value and pollute the environment on a massive scale -Ford Expedition anyone? Gimme a Prius! Fiat on other hand is kind of cute and funky – I have clear memories of a very cute boy who drove a Fiat Spider… I don’t have similar memories of Dodge caravans…   Sergio, bring costs in line and cut the deal… I look forward to “fix it again tony (Fiat)” arriving on these shores… And Sergio, with that dual citizenship I can totally see you in a nice Yaletown condo overlooking the Mini Cooper dealership 🙂

What we can learn from Oprah

I am in a bit of a neutral zone – meaning I have just finished a very intense project that spanned many many months. I am initiating a new project but we are in the early days… starting to get moving but not quite at a fever pitch. It feels a bit strange but aha this is what change feels like. Always a good thing to go through what you preach – I can officially state that I am in a neutral zone. I have cast off from a shore but am now in my little boat and can see the new destination but can’t quite make out the shoreline. It feels a bit discombobulating. So here is what I have learned about change in my own personal experiment/experience over the past few days:

  • Structure and routine are beautiful things. Previously I had a 20 minute walk to a client site every morning and evening on my way home. I now have a 20 minute walk around my office culminating in a steeped tea from Tim Hortons. It feels good.
  • We need to talk to people. I am communicating like crazy – lunching, dinnering, having coffee constantly. When you leave an environment with lots of people all around you it is strange to go to one that is much quieter. Turn on the music!
  • Oprah is incredibly effective. All the leadership training in the world – watch this woman for one hour (I popped in her DVD special last night). Amazing – she can connect at all levels, challenge without being threatening, be empathetic without being a marshmellow and pick up on people’s emotions instantly. She also inspires others through her actions to do good things like give. Hmmmm…
  • Exercise is crucial. With a routine change I have fallen off the wagon this week and dare I say, I feel a bit fuzzy and tired. Get back on that stairclimber!!
  • Choose who to listen to wisely. I heard a rabbi state the other day that at the moment he is only listening/watching President Obama. In times of change or crisis too much information/opinions from too many places can reduce energy, be tiresome, angst inducing and unproductive.