BOOMERBROADcast

Baby Boomer's social commentary on life in OUR sixties for those who experienced life in THE sixties.


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Want to start a successful business?

It’s simple. Go into competition with Bombardier. They seem to have more business than they can handle, very little competition, a guaranteed source of financial handouts from various levels of gullible government and no particular business or management skills. Anyone can do better than that with a little business savvy, some creative thinking and an already available source of skilled workers. The recent news they were laying off 7,500 workers worldwide including 2,000 in Canada prompted me to repost a piece I wrote earlier this year about Bombardier.

Here’s the solution to our problems with Bombardier

It’s a perfect storm and has all the ingredients needed to launch a successful business enterprise—strong market demand for both present and future products, skilled, available workforce, existing manufacturing plants available for retooling, tested financial metrics and business case, shortage of reliable suppliers. All that’s needed is smart management to pull it together and we’re in business.

Let's get this trainwreck back on track.

Let’s get this train wreck back on track.

Bombardier is a train wreck of back-ordered stock on a track to disaster. For years we’ve been enduring the ongoing saga of mismanagement, government bailouts, law suits and failure to deliver. They’re being sued by the cities of London, England and Berlin for failure to deliver public transit vehicles on schedule. Toronto Transit Commission is at their wits’ end trying to get delivery of long overdue streetcars and could face similar difficulties with future transit vehicle deliveries. Yet Bombardier keeps accepting new orders because buyers seem to have nowhere else to turn.

Well, dear readers, I have the solution. We did it during World War II and it could work again. Re-open the General Motors and Ford plants throughout southern Ontario that closed when manufacturing jobs went south, and tool them up to build streetcars, trains and other heavy industrial mass-transit vehicles. Get Oshawa, Windsor, Talbotville and other automotive plants making streetcars and trains. If Bombardier can’t do the job, then give the work to those who can.

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Imagine the jobs that could be created in Oshawa, Windsor and other automotive towns.

I’m sick to death of hearing about the incompetency of Bombardier and failure to meet their obligations when half of Oshawa is collecting employment insurance benefits and would love to be back to work. If automotive plants could switch to making tanks and fighter planes during the Second World War, I’m confident Canadian ingenuity could make it happen again for trains and streetcars.

Throwing more money at Bombardier in government bailouts has proven to be a bottomless money pit. The company is poorly managed and despite their continuous unfulfilled promises they have no viable plan for turning things around. And now Delta has given them an order for new C-Class planes. Good luck Delta.

The first step is easy. Let's talk.

The first step is easy. Let’s talk.

Here’s the solution. Set up a conference call or better still, a meeting at Tim Hortons somewhere along Highway 401, between the automotive execs, the UAW, the Quebec and Ontario Government Ministers of Economic Development and Bombardier and let’s get this show on the road. I’ll buy the Tim-bits if it helps sweeten the pot. Time’s a’wastin’ and jobs are waiting. I’d be happy to facilitate. Just call me.

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What on earth was The Hudson’s Bay Company thinking?

A Canadian icon?

A Canadian icon?

All I want for Christmas is not Mariah Carey. The marketing people at The Hudson’s Bay Company should have their Canadian citizenship revoked. My sense of national pride has been replaced by outrage over their recent selection of American “superstar” Mariah Carey to unveil the new Christmas (yes, I said Christmas, not holiday) windows in their downtown stores at Queen and Yonge Streets in Toronto. Founded more than three hundred years ago as a fur trading institution, The Hudson’s Bay Company (the Canadian equivalent of Macy’s) is one Canada’s oldest national icons, ranking right up there with much younger Tim Horton’s.

Mariah f#$%#ng Carey? What’s wrong with hiring a genuine Canadian such as our own beloved Jann Arden, Drake or even Justin Bieber? And on the subject of cost, apparently they gave Carey one million dollars to lip-sync (that’s the rumour) two songs. Even Céline Dion might agree to lip-sync a couple of tunes for a million dollars. This marketing faux pas only exacerbates my ongoing beef with Hudson’s Bay Company about their serious and persistent lack of sales staff to help customers and the invisibility of checkout counters in their mall stores. Trying to find a sales associate or a checkout counter at a Hudson’s Bay store in any suburban mall is like searching for a healthy food choice at Timmie’s.

Where's the sales staff?

Could someone please help me? Where’s the sales staff?

Just imagine how many Canadians could have been employed to assist customers in their stores for one million dollars, not to mention the increase in sales resulting from said assistance. Hell, I would have put on a Canada Goose parka or striped Hudson’s Bay point blanket wool coat (depending on the weather) and my trusty Sorel’s (click here for great Canadian boot companies) and turned up to sing at the event for nothing. I guarantee that would have driven customers into the store faster than any blast from Mariah Carey.

Do I sound a little angry? Apoplectic is a more appropriate word. I’ve written numerous letters and emails to various Hudson’s Bay managers over the years encouraging them improve their approach to customer service but this one really takes the cake. I just wish they would consult me first on major marketing issues. You’ll get more than your fill of Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” in every retailer’s P.A. systems before December 24th, to the point you’ll want to throttle her. Am I right or am I wrong in being angry?

Click below for links to previous related Boomerbroadcast posts about retail service:

Love their merchandise and provenance. Hate the way they treat customers.

Love their provenance and love their merchandise (as evidenced by my recently purchased Hudson’s Bay Barbie doll). Just hate the way they treat customers.

How to improve sales at The Hudson’s Bay Company

The solution for Canadian retailers is as easy as 1, 2, 3

Retail rant hits home

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How Boomers and Millennials strengthen and enhance each other

Guest Blogger: Holly Whitman

My mom is insanely crafty. Always has been. Some of my best early memories involve coming home from school to see her sewing up Halloween costumes for me and my siblings.

Nurses and volunteers provide love and services beyond professional.

Nurses and volunteers provide love and services beyond professional skills.

In my college years, the crafts continued, but the projects changed. When I’d visit home, I’d see her doing things like making scrub caps for her doctor friends and fellow nurses, crocheting stuffed animals from scratch and quilting baby blankets for friends.

I wasn’t the only one who loved her crafts. Before long, her colleagues were making requests and paying her more than she’d charge for caps. One of her nurse friends even went so far as to sneak off to the pediatric ward with a couple of her stuffed animals. She came back with about 35 orders from thrilled parents.

Unfortunately, my mom isn’t one to charge for the cost of labor. She’s an extremely generous and practical person, and as she once told me, “I’d never pay $40 for a stuffed giraffe! Why should I charge people so much?”

The answer, of course, is simple: an entrepreneur needs to make a profit.

To Mom, though, profit was an afterthought. Her projects were always about sharing her joy and never about making money. When Dad and I pointed out that making a profit would fund more projects, though, she agreed to let me help her with the business.

And so began our partnership. I learned a lot working with Mom, but the big takeaway I think others could benefit from knowing is that baby boomers like her and millennials like me make a great business team.

  1. Boomers Are Strong Communicators, Problem-Solvers and Multitaskers
Each generations brings a unique skill set to the table.

Each generation brings a unique skill set to the table. The sum is stronger than each of the parts.

Not all boomers are crafty like my mom, and not all millennials are business-savvy like me. However, influential social and economic factors have caused deep-seated differences between the members of each generation. It’s these differences, I believe, that made our team stronger than it would have been if composed of two baby boomers or two millennials.

According to the Generational Differences Chart provided by the WMFC — an organization dedicated to understanding and strengthening bonds between family members — baby boomers are strong communicators, problem-solvers and multitaskers. Each of these qualities is vital to running a successful business.

In my own experience, I saw evidence of each of these skills in my mother. She was always proactive about hashing out ideas and concerns. She stayed calm and offered solutions when we’d hit a snag, and she juggled everything that needed to be done like a pro — she concurrently crafted, taught me to craft and learned the business tech skills I offered.

  1. Millennials are a valuable resource in helping boomers negotiate the tech world.

    Millennials are a valuable resource in helping boomers negotiate the tech world.

    Millennials Are Practical, Innovative and Tech-Savvy

Millennials, of course, have different innate qualities. For example, because we’ve grown up in an economic recession, we’re overall very financially practical. When we hit a financial stumbling point early in our business days, I made the decision to sell my car. My parents thought I was crazy but the truth was, we needed the money and I could no longer justify extortionate monthly car payments when I could trade it in for a used Pontiac Aztek that I paid less than $3,000 for in cash. The money I saved from those payments were channeled into supply costs and traveling to different fairs around the state to sell our creations. It was a tough choice, but necessary.

In addition to being financially practical, the WMFC’s Generational Differences Chart reveals that millennials are innovative and tech-savvy — two qualities that are vital in today’s business world.

For our business, online selling and marketing were the factors that really made the business take off. Mom continued to sell her crafts at work, while I created and maintained accounts on Etsy and Pinterest and marketed our handmade products on social media sites.

  1. Millennials and Boomers Both Have a Great Work Ethic

According to the Generational Differences Chart, boomers and millennials share several key traits, including optimism, open-mindedness and a strong work ethic.

Each of these traits can only benefit a growing business, but the most important of all is the work ethic. Business partnerships can succeed with a certain amount of friction — in fact, friction leads to compromise and innovation — but one quality that’s non-negotiable is a shared work ethic.

Luckily for me, my partner was also my mother. Even without our overlapping generational qualities, chances are I would have shared the work ethic she raised me with. As it turned out, the work ethic we shared — whether generational or not — was the foundation of a successful, enjoyable and equal partnership.

The Big Takeaway

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone, but business partnerships are just about inevitable. Whether you’re thinking of starting up your own company or you just want to become a better worker in general, try out different team dynamics.

You don’t have to be a baby boomer, and you don’t have to be a millennial. No matter what generation you belong to, the takeaway from this story is the same: Each member of a business team should bring different qualities to the table.

So before you launch your business or even choose teammates for a work project, do a little research. Consider reaching out to one or more members from a generation different than your own. You might be pleasantly surprised at the result.

admin-ajax-php-2Holly Whitman is a journalist and freelance writer originally from London, England and now living in the United States. Visit and follow her blog Only Slightly Biased by clicking here.

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What’s the deal with selfies?

Mirror mirror on the wall . . . what the hell happened?

Mirror mirror on the wall . . . what the hell happened to us all?

The rest of the world must have a whole lot more self-confidence than I do or perhaps they’re just incredibly vain because I totally don’t get everyone’s preoccupation with taking pictures of themselves, a.k.a. selfies. I’ve tried it a couple of times and after seeing the results I needed trauma counselling. It’s one thing to look at yourself in the privacy of your own bathroom mirror but something else to see yourself how others do. Unfortunately, this aversion to selfies excludes me from a number of potential career and lifestyle choices:

  1. Girlfriend, wife or mistress of Prince Charles or Prince William.
  2. Prime Minister of Canada, Chancellor of Germany or Queen of England
  3. Fashion model or cover girl.
  4. Instagram sensation or celebrity of any kind

Fortunately I did not pursue any of these career paths and was graciously spared the constant high-definition scrutiny of paparazzi with telephoto lenses trained on me leaving Loblaws. However, this does not exclude me from being worried about the possibility of my picture turning up without my permission on Entertainment Tonight or the evening news, inadvertently photobombing someone who does earn their living from their looks. It’s a constant worry.

Is it because I just don't measure up that I choose to abstain?

Is it because I just don’t measure up that I choose to abstain?

It’s not easy being a baby boomer who was raised to be modest and told that it was shallow and vain to draw attention to one’s self. When we were still in our twenties and still sporting firm, flat tummies and long slim, wrinkle-free necks, we participated in the odd sassy group shot with our besties and perhaps a rare head-shot when the hairdresser had just given us the teased and sprayed hairdo of our dreams for a special event. Otherwise, we absolutely never turned the camera on ourselves.

It’s not recommended you pull a Justin Timberlake in the voting booth or you could wind up with a mug shot for your portfolio. And while I’m still recovering from the shock of seeing a picture of myself up close, I continue to marvel at those who snap selfies in front of Abercrombie & Fitsch or while chowing down on their lunch. Their fascination eludes me and you can be sure I will never again snap a selfie, at least not until I’ve totally mastered PhotoShop or finished therapy, which will probably be never.

Stay tuned Boomers.

We’re featuring a guest blogger in our next post—a genuine millennial

who appreciates what our generation has to offer.

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Am I alone in my journey from the Age of Aquarius to the Age of Austerity??

Your Boomerbroadcaster's hoouse is relatively sedate with a couple of pumpkins and some garlands of autumn leaves.

Your Boomerbroadcaster’s house is relatively sedate with a couple of pumpkins and some garlands of autumn leaves.

Thanksgiving and Halloween decorations tend to morph together as autumn sets in. Canadians generally don’t go as overboard as Americans with a front yard full of tombstones and skeletons hanging from trees (unless we still have young children at home) but we do like to acknowledge the harvest. Our front door hydrangea wreaths are replaced by fall apple wreaths and we arrange a few pumpkins on the front steps alongside a straw doll or two. A cornucopia of fake gourds and berries decorates the diningroom table and we dig out our fall tablecloths and place mats.

When I was hauling the Rubbermaid bin of fall decorations up from the basement, I recalled retired neighours we had when I was growing up. I didn’t really understand as I watched their Christmas decorations shrink bit by bit every year until they were finally celebrating with just an illuminated ceramic tree sitting on an end table surrounded by tiny presents. There were always dishes of chocolates and a Christmas candle on the coffee table but otherwise things were pretty minimal. Now that I too am retired and have all the time in the world to embellish my home with seasonal decorations, lovingly bake colourful cookies and craft craftie crafts, I . . . . well, I don’t.

Not in my front yard.

Not in my front yard.

When a friend downsized from a house to a condo a few years ago she reduced her Christmas decorations from seven storage bins to one. But she’s finding it hard not to buy more colourful and imaginative doo-dads to add to her seasonal decorative arsenal. We love all the seasonal goodies in the stores and we love it in our homes but the work involved in unpacking and putting everything up, taking it down and repacking it again, then hauling all the containers back down to the basement or the garage . . . well, many of us just can’t be bothered any more. The last time I had a real Christmas tree a few years ago, slicker than Tom Sawyer I coerced the grandchildren into taking it down and packing the decorations away. I liked that system so much I haven’t put up another tree since. We just string lights on one of our fake indoor fig trees, attach a few baubles and call it a day.

All I want for Christmas is . . .

All I want for Christmas is . . .

I’ve heard that there are actually people with enough to money to hire seasonal decorators and while that will never be an option on my retirement budget, I sure do like the idea. Imagine having a little van arrive three or four times a year with Easter eggs, bunnies, baskets, Halloween decorations, Santas and all the accoutrements for whatever other seasonal holidays you celebrate. Your fantasy would materialize in a few hours and remain for the appropriate time frame before the little van returns with the next season’s array of goodies. I guess that addresses one seasonal icon I can relate to—The Grinch. I have some fake pumpkins and gourds but I sure wish I had one of those little illuminated ceramic Christmas trees. Then, my life would be complete.

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Why are Americans so black and white . . . or red and blue?

Canadians are more open to flexibility in their voting choices.

Canadians are more open to flexibility in their voting choices.

The absolute and rigid loyalty of Americans to their respective political parties, whether Republican or Democrat is a mystery to me. It’s just one of those things that makes Canadians different from Americans. Most Canadians will admit to voting left at times, other times for the right and most often safely down the middle depending on who is touting the best middle ground platform. We don’t actually vote for our Prime Minister but instead have to consider each party’s respective stand on issues we care about such as health care, the economy or perhaps the environment. Then, we vote for the individual in our riding who represents the party or issues we support and hope that he or she gets the majority of “seats” to carry the election. The leader of that chosen party gets to be head honcho (Prime Minister) and run the country on our behalf.

With the exception of my ninety-year-old father who in seventy-two years of voting has never cast a single vote for anyone other than a Conservative (except for that one time he voted for a pseudo-Conservative running as Reform party candidate), Canadians are fairly open-minded and flexible about who we vote for. We take the time to understand the issues and while many of us have specific political leanings, unlike Americans, we’re not locked in to a party ideology that may have shifted from what we believe in. Most of us can claim at least one vote for each of the three major parties over the years.

'Til death do us part.

Til death do us part, for better or worse.

It boggles my mind how intelligent, educated people in the United States can support someone like Donald Trump simply because he’s Republican. Would it kill these people to vote Democrat rather than have a egomaniacal misogynistic liar running their country? Hillary comes with more than her fair share of baggage too and it baffles me how these two people got short-listed in a country of nearly four hundred million people. Was everyone drinking beer and watching football when they should have been following the lead-up to voting? It seems to me that if the Republicans ran a goat, then life-long Republican voters would elect said goat so long as it was painted red. I would like to think that the current circus playing out for the American presidency south of the border couldn’t happen in Canada but Toronto once had a certain mayor that precludes us being smug.

They said Brexit would never happen in Britain and it did. The pollsters are increasingly wrong but the horse-race for the Presidency is getting scarier and scarier. And we’re just the neighbours, not the people who have to live in the United States post-November 4th. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope it’s not a total disaster. Either way, whether it’s red or blue, it’s the people’s choice, for better or worse. That’s what democracy is all about. Buckle up for the shock waves across that invisible wall. And while we’re at it, paint it black.

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The experts have weighed in on the Princess Margaret show home

Home sweet five million dollar Oakville home.

Home sweet five million dollar home in Oakville.

It’s time for my annual review of the Princess Margaret Lottery’s multi-million dollar show home in Oakville, Ontario. I’ll begin by saying that it always puzzles me why me and my Baby Boomer BFFs are never consulted on these projects. I’ve written to major commercial and residential housing developers and blogged about what we like and do not like, yet they continue to ignore us. Consequently, they end up designing and building retirement condos that don’t have enough closet and storage space, no balconies suitable for sitting outside and barbecuing our dinner, inefficient kitchens and no linen closets.

Last weekend my honey and I visited the newest Princess Margaret show home valued at five million dollars in Oakville, Ontario. Friends have also checked it out and while many aspects are wonderful, which is to be expected from designer Brian Gluckstein, we agree there are some serious flaws.

  1. Why oh why do they always put the laundry room in the basement. So wrong.

    Why oh why do they always put the laundry room in the basement. Soooo wrong.

    The biggest mistake they make every year is putting the laundry room in the basement. The room is usually large enough to host a barn dance but me and my BFF experts figure that if someone can afford a home like that, the least they can do is put another laundry room on the second floor, perhaps incorporate it into the master ensuite for doing items you don’t want the maid to handle. Who wants to hike miles from the second floor humping a basket full of sheets and towels down to the basement at the opposite end of the house or at the very least to wash your frillies or iron a blouse? Sheesh! It’s not rocket science. That’s what happens when men who don’t do housework design homes.

  2. Sticking the TV/media area in a hallway in the basement with awkward bench seating while devoting an entire room to music jamming on a fake stage seems a bit weird. Maybe watching television and movies is more of a priority for us than playing the drums but that’s just the way we are.

    The casual "blue room" is reportedly Brian Gluckstein's favourite room. Not mine.

    The casual “blue room” is reportedly Brian Gluckstein’s favourite room. Not mine.

  3. We wish Brian (or his designers—we’re inclined to think one of his “people” had a greater hand in the decorating) had stuck with his traditional colour palette of various taupe shades for the big things and bringing in colour in the accessories which require less of an investment. The greenish-blue, seafoam and teal colours are for very subjective tastes which do not include me and my BFFs.
  4. There was an awkward stretch of marble counter in the master bathroom that blocked an attractive architectural niche that they’d filled with a giant plant, like an afterthought—oops, better stick a plant there so this counter won’t look like a mistake. I can think of eight hundred more attractive uses for that niche. For example, a makeup vanity taking advantage of the natural light would be perfect. But that could be my bourgois taste dictating that everything has to have a purpose.

    The great room was pure Gluckstein. Unfortunately the diningroom table seats only eight people.

    The sunken great room was pure Gluckstein. Unfortunately the diningroom table seats only eight people.

  5. The diningroom was half-a-day’s hike from the kitchen and the table seats only eight people. That could be a problem at Thanksgiving or Christmas not only for my family but most families, particularly if you’re Italian.

The landscaping was perfection, laid out in lovely zones for chatting, swimming, eating or just relaxing with a good book. The garage was a teeny bit on the small side. By the time we put the Ferrari (included in the prize) and my Ford Escape in the garage, my honey’s vehicle would have to sit outside in the snow. While dozens of Perrier bottles and vintage boxes of Corn Flakes artistically lined the kitchen pantry shelves, in reality most of us don’t use our pantry shelves for artistic expression. Real-life cupboards are jammed with an assorted variety of half-used boxes of cereal, cookies and biscuits, Tupperware bins of dusty flour, sugar, raisins and other comestibles as well as open bags of chips, oily bottles of condiments, bags of pasta, extra cases of pop and spare rolls of paper towels. There is no logical rationale for having this mess visible from the kitchen.

hh! Excuse me while I read for a while before my snooze.

Ahh! Excuse me while I read for a while before my afternoon snooze.

The washed oak herring-bone flooring and neutral porcelain tiles were divine and something I would love to have in my own home. I really did like the library and true to the Brian Gluckstein esthetic, it reached to the second storey. The beauty and warmth of this room was enhanced by shelves of lovely leather-bound matching encyclopedias, law books and other visually attractive volumes. Somehow I don’t think my trashy paperbacks, beauty and decorating how-to books, magazine collections, self-help guides and tattered cookbooks would have the same cachet on those gorgeous shelves.

While I am a huge fan of Brian Gluckstein, all this suggests I’m just not cut out to live a life of the rich and famous. Perhaps if I didn’t do my own laundry, entertained family and large groups of friends at a restaurant rather than at home, played bass guitar in a boy-band or never stocked actual food and supplies in my pantry, the house might work for me. As it is, it’s just not me. So, when I win the Princess Margaret show home (which I will because I bought several tickets), there’ll be a large For Sale sign on the front lawn. Just make the cheque payable to Lynda Davis. And clear the track for Justin and Kathleen who will be there with their hands out for their share.

Click here for my review of the 2013 show home.

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