CEO Blog

Category Archives: Strategy

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to business strategy.

Do You Have a Plan?

Goals quote by NightingaleGoals can make a big difference in your life.

If you have no real plan for your life then here are a few thoughts for you.

1. If you don’t know where you are going, then you might not like where you end up.
2. If you have trouble defining where that end point should be, or what it looks like, then pick a point along the way! e.g. If you don’t know what your career will look like in 10 years, then decide where you would like to be in a year.
3. Aim big. If you shoot for the stars you might not get there, but you will go a long way towards them. If you aim for the roof, you might not even get there!

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”   Bruce Lee

4. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! So … plan your strategy for success in small bits, it will make it easier to achieve.
5. Review your plans regularly, make sure you are tracking to plan and adjust accordingly.
6. Get help! Find a mentor/mentors, people that will help you.
7. Treat your life seriously … you only get one shot! So, make sure you do what you want with it … and make sure you enjoy it!
8. Fact: Hard work and good planning will get you a LONG way! If you apply some smarts to that formula you will rock the world!

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”  Nelson Mandela

9. Its not all about you! Sometimes you get more by giving. You will need to figure this out for yourselves, but my advice is to “give” as much as you can.
10. Every day is the start of the rest of your life, if you are late starting on your journey that’s OK. Just start!

“I do know that when I am 60, I should be attempting to achieve different personal goals than those which had priority at age 20.”  Warren Buffett

Goals don’t have to be hard … but you really should have some.

“To live a fulfilled life, we need to keep creating the “what is next”, of our lives. Without dreams and goals there is no living, only merely existing, and that is not why we are here.”  Mark Twain

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Underestimate Change at Your Peril

Andy Grove quote about complacencyThe longer you are in business the easier it is to become complacent … and complacency is the beginning of the end.

It is easy to underestimate the new competitor on the block, yet the big box stores put the local corner stores out of business, Amazon is taking a bite out of all kinds of businesses and we have a new word in our lexicon, namely Uberization!

It is easy to underestimate the speed of change, yet 88% of the Fortune 500 companies 60 years ago don’t exist now.  The top five publicly traded companies by market cap in 2016 were all tech companies, yet five years ago only one of them was a tech company.

It is easy to underestimate the small startup that has a new way of doing things.

It is easy to underestimate the new technology that will change how your competitors operate.

It is easy to underestimate the impact of big competitors coming into your space.

The reason it is so easy to underestimate all of this stuff is that change is hard, change requires effort, change requires a new way of thinking about old problems … and many people just don’t want to work that hard.

The truth is that our world is changing at an every increasing speed and we can embrace the excitement and opportunity of that … or we can wait and see what happens to us.

Stay current, keep learning, have an open mind … do NOT be so focused within your business that you miss what is happening to your business.

“Time changes everything except something within us that is always surprised by change.”  Thomas Hardy

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Avoid Unintended Consequences

Drucker quote about decision makingHow many times do we see a negative impact from seemingly harmless or well-intentioned actions?

We see it from governments who implement well-intentioned legislation only to cause negative affects in the “real world”.    As just one small example, attempts to help the “underdog” will often increase costs to business owners, and for small business owners the impact will be felt in lost jobs.

We see it from companies who will have a knee-jerk reaction to a “one off” situation and bring in rules that have negative consequences.  If you implement restrictive policies because of one bad experience then you create a less welcoming environment and that will be felt when trying to compete for talent with companies that are not so restrictive.

We all do it at a personal level.  We do or say things that inadvertently cause ripples.  It might be social niceties such as inviting some people to the party and inadvertently upsetting others, or by complimenting one friend and another takes offense.

If you want to avoid unintended consequences, then you need to think “bigger picture”, and you need to be sensitive to your actions.

Some things you might consider:

  1.  Don’t make knee jerk decisions.  Take the emotion out of your decisions and let some time pass before you “act”.
  2. Get input.  Consider other people’s perspectives.
  3. Think ahead.  Try to anticipate what else you should consider;  who else you should consider and how else your decision might have impact.
  4. Have a plan that includes (a) the objective you want to achieve, (b) a plan to get to that objective and (c) any possible outcomes from your plan.

It is possible that the decision is more important than any repercussions, but in that case the consequences are not unintended … they are just consequences!

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”  Yogi Berra

Obviously we can’t anticipate everything, but TOO often we don’t even try … make an effort, thoughtfulness is always appreciated!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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#Social for the Small Business

Social media quote by David NailIn 2016 small businesses NEED to be on social media.

I went searching for a professional this week, and was given several names as potentials.  My first stop was LinkedIn … if they had no LinkedIn profile they came off my list.

I am a baby Boomer and even I look to social media for answers.  Younger generations are even more demanding.

How do people find you?  If you believe the quote here, and I do, then you MUST have a #Social presence.

Millenials expect to see your online presence.

Today there are more millenials in the work place than Boomers !  That is not a market you can afford to miss!

“Social media is here. It’s not going away; not a passing fad. Be where your customers are: in social media.”   Lori Ruff

Interesting thought … the target of this article will not see it!  Do them a favor and share it with them.

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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10 Signs Your Sales Rep is Struggling

Coaching quote by Ara ParasheghianIn a perfect world a manager will know how well, or not, their salespeople are doing.  They can then help course correct, adjust strategy or provide training in time to ensure that they deliver as expected.

However we rarely operate in a perfect world and one thing salepeople seem to universally good at doing, is hiding their sins!

So … here are ten signs that just maybe your salesperson is not doing as well as they might have you believe.

  1. Lack of Results.  The obvious indicator, but sometimes we don’t get the numbers until too late.  In many cases the numbers are a result of effort done previously, so by the time we have the numbers, the problem has been around for a while!
  2. Lack of activity.  This is a classic.  Very often salespeople who are struggling will be spending more time in the office, more time “researching” prospects and less time selling.
  3. Lack of relationships.  Great salespeople have a wide network and are always adding to it.  Salespeople can be successful with a small network, but that also makes them vulnerable .. a key contact leaves and suddenly the results go South!  Don’t let your salespeople coast with a few key contacts!
  4. Lack of direction.  The successful salesperson will know exactly what they need to do to keep their success going, the struggling salesperson will seem a little lost, perhaps distracted and not sure where to spend their time.
  5. Lack of facts.  Struggling salespeople will talk in generalities.  “It was a GREAT meeting”, “the client is going to be spending”, or perhaps  “I’m sure things are picking up”.  A little digging, asking very specific questions about detail will uncover the  reality that the salesperson is operating on the “hope and a prayer” plan!
  6. Lack of effort.  Nothing saps energy out of salespeople like a slump.  Just when they they should be upping the ante, they are demotivated and not putting in the effort.
  7. Lack of focus.  A struggling salesperson will often go into panic mode, chasing everything rather than executing against a well thought out plan.
  8. Lack of energy.  Related to number 6, but a struggling salesperson might feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.  Their usual energy is not evident and they seem to be slower and less “vital” than usual.
  9. Lack of ideas.  Successful salespeople are creative, and always finding new ways to grow their business.  When a slump hits they might be out of ideas, struggling to find ways to change their situation.
  10. Lack of confidence.  All of the above are manifest in a general lack of confidence, and a need for help … although salespeople are not always good at recognising that they need help or at asking for it!

Early recognition that a salesperson is struggling makes the fix so much easier.  The longer the slump goes on, the harder it is to turn around.

Recognise the signs and work with your salesperson to come up with actions that will change their situation, because as we all know the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” (Thank you Einstein).

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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How Busy People Get Stuff Done

Stephen Covey quote on timeDo you ever wonder how some people can accomplish so much with their time?

They establish and run huge companies, are seemingly involved in charitable ventures, political lobbying and oh by the way they have a home life too!

There is a reason why Benjamin Franklin said, “If you want something done, ask a busy person.”

Yet the truth is that we all have the same number of hours in our day!

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”  H Jackson Brown Jr.

Time is a resource that we never get back.

What lessons can we learn from those ultra busy people that could help us be more productive?  I am no Richard Branson, but I have enjoyed some success in my life.  Here are some of the lessons I would share.

Understand what is important to you!

  • If you don’t have a clear idea about what you REALLY want, then it will be difficult to assign the right level of priority to your time.
  • If you want to be great at your chosen profession you need to understand what that looks like and put a plan in place to get there.
  • If you want to be super involved in your kids lives, then equally you need to have a plan that allows you to achieve that.
  • You need to be realistic because very often competing priorities will result in failure in both goals!  Choices are hard, they involve compromise and delivering tough messages … but you need to do it.

Focus your energies on “high return” activities.

  • Once you understand your priorities then your choice of where to focus your energy becomes easier … I did NOT say easy.  You have multiple competing demands on your time and not all of it is within your control, so you need to manage that!  (Remember … you are responsible for you … not your parents, your friends, your boss or even the government!)

Outsource/delegate whatever you can.

  • Almost everyone struggles with this.  Why should I pay someone else to do something I could do myself?  You don’t need to … unless you want that time for something more important.
  • If having someone else clean your house meant more time with your kids is it worth it?
  • If having someone clear your driveway, do the yard work, paint the house etc. meant more time to study for promotion, work at a hobby, invest in your relationships etc then what is that worth?
  • For many years I have used a concierge service in Ottawa (Balance in Style) that have handled many, many tasks small and large that would otherwise have taken my time.  Most times they do it better than I could, and it allowed me to focus my time on what I viewed as “higher return” items!

Be a Time Management Guru

  • An up to date “To Do” LIst;
  • Religious use of your calendar;
  • Prioritise your tasks;
  • Set goals.

Think bigger … that is not the same as think BIG (work your way up to that)

  • Change yourself
  • Invest in yourself
  • Believe in yourself
  • Stretch yourself

Get involved.

  • When something is important to us we make time for it.
  • Just by “jumping in the deep end” we force ourselves to figure out how to fit this new commitment into our life.

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”  William Penn

What tips do you have for people wanting to get more out of their lives?

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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How to Get Your Prospect’s Attention

Sales quote w clement stoneIt is a constant challenge for salespeople … how do you get the attention of your prospects?

We try cold calling, and get ignored.

We send emails that don’t get read.

We get on social media and try to connect with our prospects … and then get their attention, only to be shut down quickly.

What gives?

How are salespeople supposed to do their job if they can’t get the prospects attention?

Here are a few thoughts …

“Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.”  Zig Ziglar

1.  Most decision makers are extremely busy, and their time is probably their most important asset … you need to demonstrate that you will not waste their time.

  • Get to the point.
  • Have a compelling story, but don’t be hokey.
  • Make sure you have the right person.
  • Understand what is important to them.
  • Don’t ask them to do your work.  (Visit your website, point you at the right person etc.)

2.  If a decision maker doesn’t know you then you are already at a huge disadvantage.

  • Get referrals whenever possible.
  • Get out and meet lots of people, while NOT selling.  Get involved in the community, with charities, in clubs, etc.
  • Use your network to get introductions and grow that network.
  • Use your social media to provide value, NOT to sell.  Become known as a thought leader.
  • Find ways to meet the people you are targeting, without a sales pitch and hopefully in a non-threatening environment (industry organisations, networking groups etc.)

3.  If you can’t get close to a decision maker, then get close to the people who are close to them.

  • Executive assistants are great people to know.
  • Receptionists wield a lot of power.  If they put in a good word for you it often has influence
  • Direct reports or even trusted senior employees might be able to help your cause … IF you build a good rapport with them.

4.  The sales profession requires a short, medium and long term strategy.  If you are not consistently working on your long term plan, then you will never get ahead.

  • Work harder than those around you.
  • Network more than those around you.
  • Give back more than those around you.
  • Take the short term wins, but always be working towards a longer term strategy.
  • Build your credibility every day.

“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”  Mary Kay Ash

Perhaps you might have other suggestions for the up and coming salesperson?

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————

Make Time to Think

Change direction quote by Jimmy DeanWhen did you last take some time to JUST think?

Typically when we have a few minutes we will turn on the TV, pick up our smart phone, get on Facebook, email, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn or some online tool.

Many of us will have grown up multi-tasking … we watch TV and do our email, we eat our meals watch the news on TV and have a conversation with our kids all at the same time!

We lead incredibly busy lives, expected to work hard in a demanding job, commute a long way because that is where we can afford to live and when we get home there are a ton of commitments.

Who has time to think?

“Even if you are on the right track, you’ll still get run over if you just sit there.”  Will Rogers

There is just too much to … DO!

THAT, right there, is the problem.

We build a life for ourselves, but rarely step back to see if it is really working for us.

We run our lives this way … being driven by the busyness of our days.

We run our companies this way … “DOING” from the minute we start to the minute we finish.

Good companies will force us to get out of the “day to day” routine every now and then, forcing us to look at the business strategically.  THAT is where the big decisions happen, where the change in course happens.

Who is forcing you out of the day to day routine for your home life?  (Hint … YOU are responsible for YOU)

Who is forcing you to take time away from DOING your job to actually THINKING about it?  (Same answer)

“I can change the story. I am the story.”  Jeanette Winterson

It doesn’t need to be commitment of days at a time … although the return might just be worth it.

It does need to be a regular thing … because we build “ruts” for ourselves very quickly.

Do yourself a favor, lose ALL of the distractions (even your favorite music) and take time to THINK!

“I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.”  Anthony Robbins

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Planning Your Time

Quote about time ... we all have the same amount of time as genius's of the pastOne of the skills that financial advisers bring to the table is an investment allocation plan.  A plan that works specifically for your situation, and allocates different percentages of your investments into different risk categories.   The idea being to get the right balance of growth and risk in your portfolio depending upon a bunch of factors.

Most successful and wealthy people in our society pay attention to this.

“The main reason people struggle financially is because they have spent years in school but learned nothing about money. The result is that people learn to work for money… but never learn to have money work for them.”  Robert Kiyosaki

What if we took the same approach to our time?

We all have twenty-four hours, but very few of us maximise our “return” on those hours.  When I talk about “return”, it is a very personal thing … it might mean more investment in your career, it might mean more investment in your hobby, it could even mean a conscious increase in “down time”.

“Insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  Albert Einstein

We all know that in order for our situation to change, then we need to change something.  In the same way we look at our risk/reward profile in our financial portfolio we need to look at our risk/reward profile in our time management.  If I want to achieve something (professional OR personal) then what am I prepared to invest in order to get there!

Let’s look at our twenty-four hours.

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”  J.K. Rowling

We could assume three large buckets of time … sleep, leisure time and work time.  (You could call them anything you like … because for many people leisure time is anything but leisurely!)  Depending upon our situation in life we might decide to increase or decrease our “investment” in the various buckets.

THE SLEEP BUCKET

Let’s deal with sleep first, because it is the easiest.  Common thinking would suggest that we need eight hours sleep a night, but in reality we are not all the same.  How many hours sleep do you need to be healthy and refreshed?  Would 30 minutes less make a difference?  Could you do with a little less during the work week and a little more at the weekend?

“Even where sleep is concerned, too much is a bad thing.”  Homer

If you can recover 30 minutes a day, five days a week then you can use that time elsewhere … that would be one hundred and thirty hours a year.  Time that you could use on learning, fitness, career development, hobbies … or anything that is important to you.

“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”  Thomas Dekker

THE WORK BUCKET

Let’s look at your work day.  You might spend eight hours at work (and you can actually do a lot in eight hours IF you focus on your productivity during those eight hours!)  You will also have commute time, so let’s call that another two hours a day.   So you have ten hours a day dedicated to the work bucket.

“Think ahead. Don’t let day-to-day operations drive out planning.”   Donald Rumsfeld

Is that getting you where you want in your career?  Could you add a little more time dedicated to career advancement, if that fits your current situation?  (Perhaps an evening course, or some reading each evening).  Could you do it on your commute?  Maybe you could do something on a weekend, get up a little earlier than usual and put in  few hours of study?  One of the things I did, to reduce my work hours and increase my time with family, was to move closer to work, and reduce commute time.

“Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.”  Sigmund Freud

THE LEISURE BUCKET

Leisure time is probably not the right title for the third major bucket.  Anyone who has kids knows that there is not much leisure there, certainly when they are younger!  However, there is time to do things other than sleep and work.  The question is do you consciously think about that time, or does it just happen?  Do you consciously choose to “chill” (watch TV, play video games, nap or whatever else you do with your down time) or is that a default?

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”  Dwight D. Eisenhower  

If you are young and starting out in your career you could make some different decisions.  You could choose to do the minimum amount of work possible, or you could choose to invest in your career.  You could choose to spend as many hours possible on video games or you could allot some of those hours to improving your knowledge.

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make.  It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.”  Robin Sharma

If your kids are older you could choose to revisit how you spend your “leisure time”.  Do you maximise your well earned “chill time” or do you invest some of that time back into yourself.

If you are in an executive role you will be struggling with a balance between work and family.  You need to find what works for you, there are no cookie cutter answers and no perfect world.  Compromise is probably the best you can manage during this phase of your life, but don’t forget to be kind to yourself!

Summary

Financial planning should be a very personal “thing” … there is no right and wrong answer, it just needs to be the right thing for you.

Time planning is the same thing … we need to be conscious in our decisions about how to use time, rather than just letting it happen!

“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.”  Albert Einstein

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————

The Destructive Power of Bad News!

Henry Ford quote .. our belief determines the outcome“Pessimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy; it reproduces itself by crippling our willingness to act.” Howard Zinn

The recession of 2008 was a clear example of how bad news feeds on itself.  Not a day went by without the “chicken littles” of the world calling for Armageddon!  Amazingly enough the more they talked about it the lower confidence fell and sure enough we had one of the worst recessions on record.

The naysayers did not create the recession … but they sure as heck hurt the speed of recovery.  The economy is built on confidence and killed by fear … we need to listen to the glass half full people!

Fast forward just a few years and here we go again with the doom and gloom merchants crying in their beer!

Well as I see it the oil patch is just one sector … and it too will recover in time.  It will also be more efficient and more able to withstand the tough times.  A weak Canadian currency is bad for some, but good for others.  The unemployment rate in Canada is not awful.  There are still lots of jobs being advertised.  The boomers are starting to retire in droves and we have a different set of issues caused by “skill shortages” and knowledge loss to contend with … it’s not all bad news from a jobs perspective.

“Nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules.”  Douglas Adams

The people making all these “doom and gloom” predictions will all do just fine … they always do.  Some of them do better when the economy suffers because they profit from the disruption.

Message to Business Owners … ADD JOBS!

It doesn’t matter whether I like our Wynn Liberal Government, our Trudeau Federal Government or Notley’s NDP government … my job as an employer is to find ways to keep my business healthy and to create jobs.  I operate a National business and need to work within the parameters that exist … I’m very focused on what I need to do!  I will make a conscious effort to stop knocking those governments because it is not helping and they need to be aligned with me in fixing things!  If every business owner were to add just a couple of jobs we would be in decent shape … what do we need in order for that to happen?  A few dollars less profit?  Governments that are going to stop adding costs?  Lets do this!

“In the business world bad news is usually good news for somebody else.”  James Surowiecki

Message to Governments … LESS POLITICS MORE COOPERATION

Those governments I mentioned, together with all the other governments here in Canada (at all levels), need to be focused on helping add private sector jobs … because they need a healthy tax base in order to meet their various agendas.  Find ways to help business, not throw up road blocks.  Find ways to create a partnership.  Avoid a single minded focus on your election platform … because right now, we can’t afford your dreams!  Governments need to be very focused on improving TRUST and CONFIDENCE.  We need leadership NOT politics.

Message to Individuals … OWN YOUR SITUATION

If I am an individual caught in this downturn and without a job, I have two options … I can cry “woe is me” and wait for “someone” to fix things; or (b) I can do whatever it takes to get work.  That might mean moving to where the jobs are; it might mean taking different work or a lesser pay; it might mean creating my own job; or it might mean finding the opportunities that ARE there and making sure that I am the one who gets the job.

If you have a job, then do it well … every day when you go to work be very focused on doing the best job that you can.  Protect your job, while helping your company through a tough time.

Message to Doom and Gloom Merchants … SHUT UP!

You really don’t need to fan the flames.  Try to be more balanced in your reporting.  People really do want to hear ideas for positive change … not just the constant whining about what that government did or did not do; or the “opinions” about what MIGHT happen!

To everyone … THE SKY IS NOT FALLING!

If your sources of news are “Doom and Gloom” merchants find other sources.  Ignore the “Chicken Littles” of the world.

Focus on the positives and let’s not talk ourselves into another recession!

MY GLASS is half full!

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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