January 28th, 2011

Taking Time to THINK

Finding time to THINK is a challenge for many executives and managers … and from my observation, one mistake many make is in not recognising that basic fact.  They go through their days, “doing stuff”,  reacting to situations, driven by the immediate demands of their days.  They may actually be excellent at handling the “fires”, at marshaling “the troops”, at dealing with all of those daily tasks that need to be dealt with.  They get through their weeks feeling like they worked hard, maybe a little frustrated that things “feel out of control”, maybe a sense of “being on the treadmill” … but the next week they go back to doing things exactly the same way.

Our society has a name for that … its called insanity.

In order to be truly successful, managers and executives need to take time away from their “frantic existence” and THINK, REASON and STRATEGISE.  I’m not even talking about strategy sessions or planning sessions.  I am talking about one manager taking time to THINK about how they could contribute more effectively.  About taking (a) the knowledge they have accumulated, (b) the experience they have, (c) the input of their team … and applying it to improve their situation! 

 It requires THINKING .

Are you taking time to THINK … or are you on the treadmill letting your days run you?

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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January 28th, 2011

Boxing, Injuries, Training & Kevuary

As mentioned in a recent blog entry I have volunteered to be one of the participants in a “white collar boxing” event designed to raise money for cancer research.  This will be the fourth annual Fight for the Cure,and I wrote a blog entry about my participation called Are You Willing to Give … Blood!

The event is March 26th and training was going well, right up until Christmas and a sprained MCL which manifest itself while in the ring sparring!  Ouch … big ouch!  So here I am still trying to rehab my knee and hoping to get back to training soon … before my opponent gets too far ahead of me!

What to do?  what to do?

My physio told me I can get back on a bike, and I reintroduced my spinning bike to my training regimen, I am doing some upper body weights, I am doing abs … but I am not learning to box!  Never fear I have a secret weapon!!!  Kevuary!  

Those who read that blog entry will know it is my annual four weeks without alcohol, and I am getting close to the end of a traditional Kevuary which I started January 1st this year.  So … as demonstration of my commitment I am going to continue Kevuary (except for that one week Mexican vacation in late February) right through to march 26th.

Tony … be scared!  All that non-boxing training coupled with a three month Kevuary means you will have trouble catching me in that ring!!!  I’m thinking the next step will be even more drastic … praying for a recovery that gives me a couple of months training before I get in the ring!!!

To all my friends … cross your fingers for me!!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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January 26th, 2011

Energy People

Kevin’s definition of an Energy Person:  Someone who positively influences the “energy” in your workplace.  It might be the high energy sales guy with lots of personality; it could be the super nice person who is always “up”; it could be the joker in the office who brings a smile to everyone’s face.

Energy people can have a very positive impact on the morale of your company, which affects productivity.  They can make the workplace a fun place to be, tend to be good performers and they are viewed very positively by management.  Energy people also tend to be happy … glass-full kind of people.

Are you born an energy person … or can it be a learned skill/habit?  I believe it is easier for a naturally outgoing person to be an energy person … BUT if you are prepared to make the effort you too can be that person.

So, be positive, be thoughtful, be energetic, think “glass half-full”; make a positive impression on those around you; walk fast and smile … the benefits will be obvious for yourself and for those around you.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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January 26th, 2011

Life-long Learning … 10 Tips!

The concept of life-long learning is espoused often and by many (including me).  It’s a fact that in a fast changing world it is important to keep learning, but in a fast paced world it is also hard to find time.  What are some REAL WORLD ideas that anyone can use to keep learning and growing?

  1.  Read … given how few people actualyy do read, even the act of reading will put you ahead of the curve!.
  2. Get a Mentor … find someone (or some people) who would be willing to spend a little time helping you to grow professionally.
  3. Set aside time for further education … one course a year, a semester etc.  Do something you can stick to.
  4. Keep all of the training materials from any course you take.  Re-visit them six months later and you will very likely learn something new, that was lost on you the first time around.
  5. Borrow training materials from co-workers.
  6. Find blogs related to your field and follow them … set aside time each week to do this.
  7. Get involved in your industry association.
  8. Get involved in charity work … you can learn a lot from the other volunteers.
  9. Get your company to support your training plans.
  10.  Create an action plan based on the above … do what works for YOU!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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January 24th, 2011

Tips for Business Travellers

I have written numerous blog entries about business travel over the years, in May 2009 I blogged about some the challenges with business travel referencing some of those older entries.

I also recently read an article with some advice for business travellers that I though wasn’t as comprehensive or useful as I would have expected.  So, I thought I could probably come up with some tips based on my years of business travel.  So here goes …

  1. Be organised … don’t leave stuff till the last minute.  Pick your seat, book your hotel etc well ahead to get best prices, the right timing and the seat/hotel you want.
  2. If you have not been there before do a little research.  Google map the area, look at hotel amenities, look at a local tourist site for restaurant options etc.
  3. Consider using discount sites like Hotwire to get best pricing.
  4. Don’t stress yourself out by arriving at the airport at the very last minute.  The more experience you have the more clear you become about how long it take to get to the airport, get through security etc.  I leave myself time to pick up water, newspaper, snacks once through security.
  5. Don’t rely on the airline for drinks or food … it might work out fine, but be prepared.  Bring your own bottled water and nutritious snack.  You need to stay hydrated, and fed!
  6. Have all of your travel docs together (electronically and/or on paper)
  7. Create a “reading” file with photocopied/printed articles etc to use time productively (Note an e-reader may do this even more efficiently)
  8. Create an airplane folder of work items you can “knock off” while captive on a plane.
  9. Exercise where possible … consider a skipping rope, running stairs, push-ups and sit-ups if there is no gym.
  10.  Travel as light as you can, do not check luggage if at all possible.  Some very specific thoughts on travelling light …
  • Get light luggage;
  • Mix and match clothes eg one suit with two pairs of pants will go a long way.
  • Learn to fold efficiently, so things don’t crease
  • Pack as few toiletries as possible … use hotel “stiff” where possible.
  • If travelling to the same place all the time consider leaving some stuff there, (shirt, tie, pants, toiletries, casual clothes etc)
  • Take exercise gear and pack stuff inside the shoes … razor, socks, underwear etc. to save space.
  • Think through your stay and don’t take things “just in case” … do you really NEED casual clothes, if so can a pair of jeans and a t-shirt complement your work jacket and shoes?

 

As I have said many times, business travel can be a real chore but if you do it right then you can minimize the hassles.  I’m sure there are many frequent travellers out there who have their own tips and tricks .. feel free to comment!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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January 23rd, 2011

50 Good Deeds

I have blogged many times about the fact that if we were all a little more thoughtful, perhaps gave a little more than we took, then this would be a much nicer world.  Just a few days ago I blogged about how good It feels when people are nice to you … with the suggestion that you could be nice to others and give them that feeling.

Today I came across an article from Zoomer magazine called 50 Good Deeds.  It was an interesting story about a woman, Lisa Bendall, who decided to brighten people’s lives in little ways.  She determined to do a good deed every day for 50 days.  

That’s pretty cool I think, because after 50 days you will have created a habit and just maybe it will become second nature. 

What if we ALL decided to START with 50 Good Deeds for 2011?

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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January 20th, 2011

CANADIAN JOB MARKET – Mini update Dec 2010/Jan 2011

CANADIAN JOB MARKET – Mini update Dec 2010/Jan 2011

General Observations:

In December Canada had a net gain of 22,000 jobs and the unemployment rate stayed at a pretty respectable (certainly for 2010) 7.6%.  Concerns about inflation were allayed in November with the consumer price index rising just .1% for an annual rate of about 2%, considered very reasonable.   The Canadian staffing index dropped to 83, which looks like a big drop however the index measure hours worked and December is a big vacation month and the seasonal expectation is for lower hours.  The index was up 9 points from December 2009. 

The Canadian dollar continues to be strong, remaining very close to parity with the US dollar with a value of greater than 99c. There continues to be concern in the markets, whether it be the economic state of Portugal or Ireland, the strength in the Chinese economy, the effects of Wikileaks or potential for strife around the World.  The TSX has however continued to perform strongly, up another 100+ points from last month at 13,304 as opposed to 13,172 in November.

For Eagle, December represents one of the biggest “contract end” months of the year and is always greeted with some trepidation.  For us December was a busier than normal month, with client demand remaining strong and a larger than normal number of contracts extended beyond the year end … another good sign that our clients are more optimistic and the Canadian economy is still doing well in its recovery!

More Specifically:

The GTA (Greater Toronto Area) has been Eagle’s consistent engine of growth for 2010 and December was again a very busy month.  If anything it is getting even busier, with consistent demand from the financial institutions as they invest in their systems.  The Telcos are also very busy as they invest in their systems to remain competitive in an ever more competitive landscape.  As expected the increased demand across large clients has meant that the system integrators also enjoying growth which means increased demand in the professional staffing world too, as they seek to augment their teams and access niche skills.  Even the provincial market has been relatively busy of late!  The GTA market generically has been busy in both of Eagle’s areas of focus technology resources and finance and accounting professionals.  The need has been for both full time resources and contract/temporary resources … so Toronto is a good place to be looking for a job if you have skills in IT or accounting.

Demand across Western Canada continues to increase, yet clients are also very careful about how they spend, and so rates, to date, are being held down and the demand for full time staff is fairly high.  Like the GTA this phenomenon is happening in demand for both IT resources and finance and accounting professionals.  Calgary remains the hottest market with increased demand across multiple industries but driven by the oil and gas sector and its supplier base.   The other Western markets continue to see increased activity too, just not at the Calgary/Toronto pace!  

Eagle’s Eastern Canada region continues to heat up too, with Montreal particularly busy in demand for finance and accounting professionals as well as technology professionals.   The Federal Government in Ottawa has been fairly busy in their need for contract resources of late.  Technology employment in Ottawa is heavily dominated by the government too as the number of private sector jobs have dwindled over the last few years as the hi-tech sector has shrunk.  There is an uptick in demand for full time employees too but the strong supply in the region means that Ottawa is still an employer’s market.

The following are some facts/indicators we are watching as of time of writing:

> The price of oil is steady at just over $88 a barrel, meaning oil companies in the West are investing in projects again.
> The TSX had another decent month currently sitting at 13,304, up more than 100 points from the last month reading of 13,172.
> The Canadian dollar continues to be strong and remains North of 99 cents US.
> Prime remains at 3% after three recent increases, and is not expected to rise again soon!
> Canada added 22,000 jobs and the unemployment rate stayed steady at 7.6%. 
> December was a strong month for Eagle, following a bumper quarter. 
> The Canadian Federal government market continues to generate demand, focused primarily on renewing their aging systems, and addressing the “boomer’ brain drain to retirement.

 Summary:

December is often a slow month due to less work days and the distraction of the holiday season.  This year however we continued the job of recovering from the recession.  Unemployment rates are respectable, certainly on the world stage, the Canadian dollar remains strong and inflation is not an immediate concern.

Across the country employers continued to demand resources to help them to be more competitive in this global economy, comply with changing regulatory requirements (IFRS) and differentiate from competition.  We have seen steadily increasing demand in the larger markets for some time now and the pendulum is switching from an employer market to a candidate market.  Clients want to bring on the very best employees and the top contractors whether in the technology space or the accounting world.  More and more we are having to instruct our clients to be a little more flexible in their demands and the need for a speedy hiring process is paramount.

I said it last month and at the risk of being repetitive I will offer this advice to any companies considering hiring.  (a) Start the process now; (b) develop very clean processes to find, screen, choose, hire and onboard these new resources; and (c) know that you will have a lot of competition, so don’t procrastinate!

That is my monthly look at the job market across Canada and some of its influences.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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January 19th, 2011

National Non-Smoking Week

I often blog on the subject of health and fitness, for example I did a series of blog entries that I called the Healthy Executive Series.  Given that this is National Non-Smoking Week it seemed topical to blog about quitting smoking!

More than half the people who have ever smoked in Canada have quit … so you or someone you love can too!

Did you know…?

  • More than 37,000 people will die prematurely this year in Canada due to tobacco use
  • Unless they quit, up to half of all smokers will die from their smoking, most of them before their 70th birthday and only after years of suffering a reduced quality of life
  • The average smoker will die about eight years earlier than a similar non-smoker
  • There is strong scientific evidence that smoking is related to more than two dozen diseases and conditions.  Some of these diseases and conditions include various forms of cancer, heart attacks, circulatory problems, tooth decay and gum disease

The Top 10 Reasons to Stop Smoking

  1. Better health. Improved health is the number one reason to quit smoking. As soon as you quit your body starts to heal itself.
  2. Better breathing. Smoking affects your breathing – the longer you smoke the harder it is to breathe.
  3. Personal appearance. Quitting will improve personal appearance by reducing bad breath, yellow teeth and fingers, and prematurely aging skin.
  4. Role model for children. Be a positive role model for your own children, and for everyone else’s children.
  5. No more second-hand smoke. If you quit smoking you will help protect your friends and family from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
  6. Better smell. When you quit smoking, your sense of smell will increase and everything will smell better – including yourself, your house and your car.
  7. Fewer places to smoke. With increased smoking restrictions in public places, including workplaces, there are fewer places to smoke these days.
  8. Smoking is expensive. You will save hundreds or thousands of dollars each year if you quit smoking.
  9. Smoking is a fire hazard.
  10. It is never too late to quit smoking. If you have tried to quit before, take this as a positive sign, not a failure. It often takes several quit attempts to quit for good – each time you try to quit smoking you are closer to your goal.

Keep trying to quit smoking – don’t get discouraged!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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January 18th, 2011

It Feels Good When People are Nice to You …

It does, doesn’t it?  When people go out of their way to be nice it makes you feel good.  It doesn’t have to be any big deal. 

There are tons of ways to make people smile, to affect them in a positive way.  If we all did it every now and then perhaps we would also be the recipients of those feel good moments!

Here are some excerpts from previous blog entries that might make you think about this stuff …

1. SMILE … its CONTAGIOUS. I wrote this blog entry in October 2006 about all the reasons why you should smile, even though you don’t actually NEED a reason to smile … its just a good thing to do!
2. I wrote a blog entry in April last suggesting that you CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY, and in fact it is very possible to do just that!
3. In August 2006 I shamelessly plagiarised TEN TACTICS FOR A SUPERB RELATIONSHIP from Robin Sharma. Remarkably its all about being nice to each other!
4. In August of 2007 I talked about the EMOTIONAL BANK ACCOUNT which I learned from Stephen Covey, and the need to make deposits in all of those accounts!!!
5. Finally, in March 2006 I explained one of my favorite personal sayings WALK FAST and SMILE, which once again focuses on the power of a smile!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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January 17th, 2011

Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr day

Martin Luther King Jr. Day…. This holiday, celebrated in the United States,  marks the birthday of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.  It is observed on the third Monday of January each year around the time of his birthday, January 15th

In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles.

In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience. and inspiring his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, a manifesto of the Negro revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, “l Have a Dream”, he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson; he was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became, not only the symbolic leader of American blacks, but also a world figure.

At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.

On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.

The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honour began shortly after his assassination.  Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983 and was observed for the first time in 1986.  It was officially observed in all fifty states for the first time in 2006.

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)

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