Tuesday, 28 June 2011

What makes a good leader!

What Makes a Good Leader?

Executive Summary:

Leadership comes in many shapes and sizes, and often from entirely unexpected quarters. In this excerpt from the HBS Bulletin, five HBS professors weigh in with their views on leadership in action.

About Faculty in this Article:

HBS Faculty Member Joseph L. Badaracco
Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr. is the John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School.

About Faculty in this Article:

HBS Faculty Member Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Rosabeth Moss Kanter is the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

About Faculty in this Article:

HBS Faculty Member John Kotter
John Kotter is the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School.

About Faculty in this Article:

HBS Faculty Member Nitin Nohria
Nitin Nohria is the Dean of Harvard Business School.

About Faculty in this Article:

HBS Faculty Member David A. Thomas
David Thomas is the H. Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
When discussing business leadership, the distinction between good management and good leadership is often made. Managers are thought to be the budgeters, the organizers, the controllers — the ants, as one observer puts it — while leaders are the charismatic, big-picture visionaries, the ones who change the whole ant farm. But such a construction, those interviewed for this article agree, erroneously leads to a bimodal way of looking at something that should really be evaluated on two separate scales. "Everybody has got a little bit of each in them," says John Kotter, who admits he is sometimes guilty of using the dichotomy in an effort at simplification. "It's much better to think in terms of measuring people on a zero-to-ten scale for each quality."
HBS professor Joe Badaracco agrees that the traditional manager versus leader argument ("Clark Kent versus Superman," he jokes) tends to undermine the value of management. "There are lots of people who look and act like managers, who have excellent managerial skills, and who don't make a lot of noise. Nobody is writing cover stories about them. But after they have been in an organization for a period of time, things are significantly better," observes Badaracco. "Now, are these mere managers because we can't compare them with Martin Luther King? Or are they leaders because they accomplished something that needed to be done?"
If leaders disclosed all their concerns and doubts, stock prices would plummet, their competitors would be all over them, and employees would be jumping ship.
—HBS professor Joe Badaracco
Some great managers struggle with change and fail to be great leaders, while a great leader might fail to create a sense of stability in an organization and not measure up as a manager. HBS professor David Thomas points out that "increasingly, the people who are the most effective are those who essentially are both managers and leaders."

Communication Is Key

"Communication is the real work of leadership," says HBS professor Nitin Nohria, who documented the importance of persuasion in his 1992 book Beyond the Hype: Rediscovering the Essence of Management. Nohria believes effective leaders are masters of the classical elements of rhetoric, as outlined by Aristotle centuries ago. "You can reach people through logos or logic, by appealing to their sense of what is rational," he explains. "You can use pathos, appealing to their emotions, or you can make an argument based on their sense of values or ethos." Great leaders, he notes, "spend the bulk of their time communicating, and they know how to employ all three of Aristotle's rhetorical elements."
Nohria also feels that leaders are able to distill their message, however complex it may be, to something that is accessible to those who may not share their knowledge or background. Joe Badaracco agrees. "You need a talent for simplicity — for saying things in a few words. General Electric's Jack Welch is a good example. He is astonishingly articulate and able to convey complicated concepts in just a few phrases."
Of course, knowing your audience is also essential. "Great communicators have an appreciation for positioning," states John Kotter. "They understand the people they're trying to reach and what they can and can't hear. They send their message in through an open door rather than trying to push it through a wall." Badaracco believes part of knowing your audience is the ability to listen. "Communication can't always follow the top-down model," he says. "With the fluidity of information in business today, leaders need to be masterful listeners; they need to be able to receive as well as send."
David Thomas stresses the importance of "multimodality" in communication. "What you say is only the beginning," he states. "Your behavior, your actions, and your decisions are also ways of communicating, and leaders have to learn how to create a consistent message through all of these. It's been said many times, but leaders lead by example."
For Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a key question is whether a leader's personal passion matches his or her aspirations. "There are so many false starts, unexpected obstacles, and surprising turns along the path to change. Daily work often drains energy needed for change," she says. "Leaders must pick causes they won't abandon easily, remain committed despite setbacks, and communicate their big ideas over and over again in every encounter."

Telling the Hard Truths

What happens when leaders must communicate facts that are hard to take? Nitin Nohria reflects on Winston Churchill's devastating defeat at Gallipoli, which resulted in over 100,000 Allied casualties during World War I. "The campaign was a total fiasco for British military leadership," he notes. "When it was over, Churchill took complete responsibility. A setback like that could have been paralyzing, but he was able to move forward to lead his country to victory in World War II."
The lesson, says Nohria, is that Churchill and other great leaders are pragmatists who can deal with difficult realities but still have the optimism and courage to act. "Enduring setbacks while maintaining the ability to show others the way to go forward is a true test of leadership," he asserts.
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, has said that one of the key elements of being a good business leader is the capacity to tell the hard truths. "Leaders struggle with this problem all the time," says David Thomas. "From a leadership point of view, you always want to move toward telling the hard truths and helping people cope with the realities of change. But as a manager, you might be more inclined to minimize the complexity of a situation so things can run smoothly for as long as possible. It's often a judgment call."
The ability to render that judgment can sometimes make or break a company. "The phrase 'public confidence, private doubt' comes to mind," observes Joe Badaracco. "If leaders disclosed all their concerns and doubts, stock prices would plummet, their competitors would be all over them, and employees would be jumping ship. But even if you can't be absolutely open with everyone, leaders have to confront their companies' problems and, of course, share them with top management."
John Kotter underscores the positive potential of facing problems head-on. "Great leadership does not mean running away from reality," he argues. "Sometimes the hard truths might just demoralize the company, but at other times sharing difficulties can inspire people to take action that will make the situation better."

Monday, 20 June 2011

TFSA: All small business owners should have this plan!

The TFSA, or Tax Free Savings Account Canada, is here!

The Tories have promised something for investors since they were elected. The biggest election promise that I was hoping for this year was the capital gains exemption that they spoke of a couple years back. The plan was that investors could carry forward their capital gains taxation provided that the money was reinvested within 6 months. We can all see the benefits of this type of taxation, but we can also see the immense amount of additional paperwork and cost required from the government.
You probably know by now that the new budget does not include the capital gains exemption. However, there is a big bright spot in the budget for investors, that is the introduction of the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA). I’m actually pretty excited about this account as it has MANY possibilities.
The Details:
  • Starting 2009, anyone aged 18 or older can contribute $5000/yr to the TFSA.
  • The TFSA can grow and be withdrawn completely tax free.
  • You never lose contribution room even when withdrawn.
  • Withdrawals can be made at ANY TIME with no withholding tax.
  • Contribution room can be carried forward indefinitely.
  • You can contribute to a spousal TFSA, and they can withdraw from it tax free (income splitting).
  • Withdrawal income does not affect government benefits like OAS, GIS, or CCTB.
The Fine Print:
  • Contributions are not tax deductible.
  • Capital losses cannot be claimed.
The Possiblities:
  • The account can be used as a simple savings account where interest can grow tax free.
  • This could be an opportunity for stock trading pros to utilize their options/shorting strategies without their gains being taxed as income.  Thus far (as of Jan 2, 2009), Questrade is the first discount brokerage to offer a tax free trading account.
  • An opportunity for income splitting where couples now have double the TFSA room to play with.
  • Invest in strong foreign dividend companies and withdraw the dividends TAX FREE. Right now, if you receive foreign dividends, they are taxed at your marginal rate. If you put these foreign dividends in an RRSP, they grow tax free, but you are taxed when you withdraw. The TFSA provides a great way to get exposure to those juicy American dividends, tax free at that.
  • Invest in higher yield bond funds/income trusts and withdraw distributions as a tax free income supplement.
  • Opportunity for non-registered portfolio rich seniors to move their dividend paying stocks into a TFSA to prevent OAS reduction.
How does this affect The Smith Manoeuvre strategy?
According to Jonathan Chevreau, the interest used to borrow for TFSA contributions are not tax deductible. Along with that, the contribution limits are restrictive for a full fledged leveraged account. These factors make the TFSA not ideal to use with The Smith Manoeuvre.

Other TFSA resources:

Mariner Motel
Woodstock ON
T: 519 537 5332

Friday, 17 June 2011


One of the most frequent questions I am asked is whether one should pay down their mortgage or invest in their RRSP’s. Although I am a big believer that financial freedom is achieved first and foremost by being mortgage free, there are a few factors that play into the equation such as, the return on your investments, your marginal personal tax rate and your current mortgage rate.

Why are these factors important? Well the higher your personal tax rate is the greater your tax savings will be on your RRSP contributions. So if you are in a high tax bracket, contributing to your RRSP may make more sense than paying down your mortgage. However, if interest rates are rather high, potentially higher than what you might return on your investments then paying down your mortgage first may make more sense. And visa versa, if the rate of return on your RRSP’s is consistently higher than your mortgage interest rate then investing in the RRSP is the better choice.

These are not the only factors to consider. A suitable decision can only be made after all your financial circumstances are known, such as
  •  How far off is your desired retirement date?
  • How many years do you have left to save for retirement once your mortgage is fully paid down?
  • What will your current sources of retirement income be i.e. RRSP’s, company pension plan & Government pension plan?
  • What is the type of lifestyle you want in retirement and what will it cost?
  • How many years in retirement will you need to fund ie. 20 years, from age 65 to age 85?

If you make paying down your mortgage your priority, you’ll save a lot of money in the long run on interest costs and be debt-free sooner. Unfortunately your retirement income may be at risk. However, if you decide to invest in your RRSP’s and forgo any additional payments to your mortgage, you will pay more in interest costs and be no closer to owning your home. You will however, have the benefit of tax-deferred, compound growth and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you can live the lifestyle you desire in your retirement.

   Tips to consider
  1.  Contribute the most you can each year to your RRSP. Consider setting up an automatic monthly savings plan. The ‘pay yourself first’ method of investing will help ensure that you are consistent with your contributions to your RRSP plus you will get the benefit of dollar cost averaging. You can then use the tax rebate to either invest back into your RRSP or use it as a lump sum payment down your mortgage.
  2. Make sure that your mortgage amortization is no more than the numbers of years you have left until you retire.  For example, if you plan on retiring at age 65 then you should ensure your last mortgage payments is made before this date. Ask your banker for help with this.
  3. Make bi-weekly mortgage payments instead of monthly payments. Using this strategy will cut years off your amortization as you are actually making an extra payment each year.
  4. If you take out an RRSP loan at prime or prime plus one, consider using your tax rebate to pay down higher rate loans. For example, if you take out a $10,000 RRSP loan at 4.5%, use the tax rebate to pay off your 18% visa bill. Then make your scheduled monthly regular payments to the RRSP loan.

 Whether you decide to pay down your mortgage or invest in RRSPs, in the end both are good strategies that focus on paying yourself first. Although I usually advise clients to do both – contribute to your RRSP and pay down your mortgage (using your tax rebate).  Start early and be consistent and you should have a mortgage free home and money in the bank by the time you hit retirement. With proper planning and determination you can achieve both.

Rhonda Sherwood, CFP. FMA
Wealth Advisor

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

How to Beat Summer Heat

How to Beat The Summer Heat

How to Beat The Summer Heatthumbnail
Beat The Summer Heat
Here are a few tips to stay cool in the summer!



Things You'll Need

  • Summer clothes - Tank tops, shorts, flip-flops, visors, etc.
  • Tiger balm (obtainable at any pharmacy.)
  • A spray-bottle fan (check at walmart or other stores)
  • Cool drinks
  • Fruit salad, cold sandwiches, jello, popscicles, icecream
    • 1
      Buy some from a local lemonade stand!
      Stay hydrated! The best way to keep cool is to keep a cold drink on hand. Iced tea is a classic summertime drink. Lemonade is also very cooling. Avoid extra-sugary soft drinks. The sugar and caffeine will just make you thirstier and fills you with empty calories. Try Crystal Light on-the-go in a water-bottle if you want some extra flavor.
    • 2
      Replace this as often as needed- when dirty.
      Change your air-conditioning filters once a month. I know, it's a pain, but keeping your AC free from dust, animal fur and other blockages will let it run at optimum efficiency. This will save you money on your electric bill, and keep you cool! Have the AC in your car tuned up as well. This service is available at most local service stations.
    • 3
      City shorts are an acceptable office-casual attire.
      Dress for the summer sun! Wear light clothing, and try to keep the layers to a minimum. If shorts are unacceptable at the office, try capris. That added bit of exposed skin can really make a difference. If you're a suit-wearer, get a suit that is made in "tropical weight." The tailor will know what this means.
    • 4
      Tiger balm- this helped me survive the last hurricane aftermath. No power = no AC!
      Still sweating? Try some tiger-balm! This herbal, mentholyptus-based salve is great for sore muscles, but it also provides a cooling sensation to your skin. Apply a small amount to your skin before slathering it on. Sensitive skin may find it a little too strong. Spray-fans are also popular. These battery-operated fans are affixed to a spray bottle that you fill with water. You can mist your face and neck, and feel a great breeze.
Ads by Google

Tips & Warnings

  • Shade makes a difference! If you need to be in the sun for a long time, wear a visor or light sun-hat.
  • Light shoes are necessary for ultimate cooling. Avoid boots and high-tops. If your feet are cool, so are you!
  • A cool dip in the pool is a great way to cool off- and great exercise!
  • ALWAYS wear sunscreen when you are going to be exposed to the sun's rays. Even a short time in the sun can cause sunburns.
  • Overcast days don't always mean you can't burn. Wear that sunscreen!
  • If you are feeling faint, nauseous, weak or disoriented, seek medical help immediately. Hyperthermia and heat-stroke are serious, and can lead to illness and even death.

Read more: How to Beat The Summer Heat | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2319796_beat-summer-heat.html#ixzz1PGlAlWT1

Friday, 10 June 2011

Home Energy Savings Tips!


Thermostat Using electricity wisely means using it efficiently but also using it at times of the day when demand is typically lower. On weekdays, peak demand occurs in the late afternoon or early evening as people return home from work. Delaying energy use until later in the evening or the weekend will help reduce these peaks. As well, consumers can also benefit from keeping energy use to a minimum during extreme hot and cold spells.
You can see how much electricity is being used throughout Ontario on the Demand and Price Information page. Here you can watch as demand increases through the day and starts to decrease by early evening. In the end, saving electricity will deliver benefits to both your pocketbook and the environment.
Year-round tips:
  • Turn off lights, TVs and other appliances when they are not needed.
  • Wash laundry in cold water. This does just as good a job, keeps your colours bright, and saves lots of energy.
  • Take short showers instead of baths. A five-minute shower uses about half as much water as a bath.
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescents, which are four times more efficient and last about eight times as long.
  • You can also control the intensity of your incandescent bulbs with dimmer switches to save money. A bulb dimmed by 25 per cent uses 10 per cent less energy.
  • Install motion sensors on light switches.
  • Using a low-flow shower head can save up to 15 per cent of hot water costs; aerators on your sink faucets can reduce water use by about 10 per cent.
  • Use small appliances such as a microwave, slow cooker, electric kettle or toaster oven instead of the stove.
  • Take clothes out of the dryer and fold them while they are still warm to prevent wrinkling; your iron uses a lot of energy.
  • Shower and run your dishwasher, washer and dryer early in the morning or late at night.
  • Try setting your dishwasher to start after 9:00 p.m. when off-peak prices begin. If your dishwasher has a timer – use it.
  • Consider a home energy audit to find out how energy efficient your home is and the best way to spend your home-improvement dollars.
Winter tips:
  • Since up to 25 per cent of heat loss is through windows, plastic window covers can help reduce drafts. They can be purchased at most hardware stores.
  • Keep window curtains open during the day to allow solar energy into your home.
  • Put removable, temporary caulking on the inside of your windows that you can peel off in the spring.
  • Reduce the temperature on your thermostat when you’re not at home and overnight. Many new thermostats can be programmed to change the temperature automatically.
  • If you have forced air heating in your home, give your furnace a break by having ducts cleaned regularly and checked for leaks. Leaky air ducts can cause distribution losses of up to 30 per cent.
Summer tips:
  • Proper maintenance of your air conditioner can increase its efficiency by about five per cent.
    • Replace the air filters that keep dust out of the duct system – usually every three months for most models.
    • Remember to check the SEER number (an energy efficiency rating) of an air conditioner before you make this important purchase. An energy efficient air conditioner may be more expensive but it could pay for itself during its lifetime.
    • Get your air conditioner tuned up on a regular basis. You can clean the outside compressor yourself with a hose, removing debris that impedes air flow.
    • Following instructions and safety precautions from your air conditioner’s manufacturer, you can also clean the grilles and fan blades, clean and lubricate the fan motor, and clean the coil fins.
  • Reduce the time your air conditioner is on.
    • Raise the thermostat by 1 C and lower your electricity bill up to five per cent.
    • Open windows at night and use fans to blow in cool air. During the day, close your windows and draw the curtains closed to keep out solar energy.
    • Use fans to cool your room. You can cool the main floor of a house by using a fan to blow cool air up from the basement.
  • Go 'green' and lower your electricity bill
    • Planting the right vegetation can lower your energy consumption. A tree or shrub that shades your central air conditioner can improve its efficiency by up to 10 per cent.
    • Consider planting a deciduous tree on the south side of your lawn to block the sun during the summer, and let in solar energy during the winter when it sheds its leaves.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Exploring Tips to controlling Credit Card Debt -- Canada.

Mariner Motel Woodstock Ontario/Motel Hotel Site --  We at the Mariner Motel feel that every Canadian can benefit from this read about debt control and management.  Follow the steps outlined and you can reach your goals to be debt free.  Thanks

Mariner Motel Woodstock ON
T: 519 537 5332

If your debt load is more than you have ever expected, you need not fret as you’re not alone. According to the Statistics Canada, the debt-to-income ratios of the Canadian households have reached record highs, ranging somewhere above 148%. This alarming figure shows that the Canadians owe $1.48 on every dollar of their disposable income that they have. If you’re one such Canadian, you need to take some solid steps that will help you lighten your overwhelmingly large load. The consumer debt crisis in Canada has been in the centre stage, it has been surveyed that the Canadian homeowners owe a whole of $1.5 trillion of debt.

Though debt settlement can be a worthy option when it comes to repaying your debts, yet you must take some steps on your own to make sure that you manage this debt level that is soon spiraling out of control.
Debt usually results from reckless spending habits and out-of-control usage of credit. It needs no mention that credit is important as it helps us purchase things that we cannot afford with money, yet too much usage of credit may lead you into high interest debt that can take a toll on your personal financial lives. Credit needs to be managed wisely so that it doesn’t become a burden on you. Following some simple personal finance management tips you can easily get a grip on your finances and thereby reduce your debt burden. Getting out of this spiraling debt level not only seems attainable but you may also feel rewarding. Have a look at the perfect recipe for a debt reduction plan.

1. Study your monthly expenses: Make a list of your income and expenses so that you can ease off the pressure on your wallet. Create a monthly spending plan by implementing a frugal budget so that you can eliminate all the unnecessary expenses and concentrate only on the things that you need. Monitor your savings so that you can have enough funds to pay off your debts on time.

2. Restrain the usage of your cards: Unless you restrain the usage of your credit cards, you can never see positive results in your debt life. The more you use credit while shopping for things, the more you dig yourself deeper into the debt hole. Lock your cards in your cupboard and carry cash while you go out. Stop shopping as soon as you exhaust your cash.

3. Consolidate your debt: Having one monthly payment will be easier on your wallet than having to manage multiple payments in a month. Choose to consolidate your debts whether by signing up with a debt consolidation company or by taking out a debt consolidation loan. With minimized interest rate, debt repayment will become easier for you and you can let go of the thought of filing a bankruptcy.

4. Choose to make bi-weekly payments: If you want to make debt more manageable, you have to explore the ways in which you can get debt free sooner. Paying bi-weekly means you need to make 26 payments instead of 12 payments in a year. If you pay more frequently, you have to pay lesser on interest rates and therefore you can become debt free sooner.

5. Speak to a financial planner: A financial planner in Canada may help you take the best step towards your financial goal. Paying off credit card debt and consumer debt can become easier if you get help from a financial planner. He will tell you how to balance your income and expenses simultaneously.
Pull out your credit report once in a month to confirm whether or not everything is being listed in it. Make needed changes to boost your score and remain creditworthy to your lenders. If needed, you can either consolidate your debts or go for debt settlement to repay your creditors on time.

Mariner Motel Woodstock ON
T: 519 537 5332

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Benefits of Vitamin D even though the sun is out you need it daily!!!

Facts About Vitamins

Although vitamins are needed in very small quantities in the body for normal health and growth, there is increasing evidence that larger doses of some vitamins and minerals can have specific therapeutic and preventative effects on diseases. Of all the benefits of Vitamin D, the main one is that it helps maintain the level of calcium in the blood by regulating its absorption. Vitamin D synthesized from sunlight when our bare skin is exposed to it and can also be obtained from the diet. Obtaining a sufficient amount of vitamin D from our everyday diet and sunlight may prove to be quite difficult for some people since there are very few foods that contain vitamin D.

Vitamin D Supplements

There are two types of vitamin D supplements available on the market, vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (calciferol). Generally many nutritionists recommend vitamin D3 as humans synthesize this form of the vitamin in the presence of sunlight, it is the more potent form, it is more stable compared to vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 may be less toxic than vitamin D2. You can obtain the benefits of Vitamin D through supplementation if you are not able to meet the daily requirement.

Sources Of Vitamin D

The benefits of Vitamin D can be obtained from getting adequate sunlight. About 20-30 minutes of strong sunlight on bare skin will produce about 20,000 IU (100 micrograms) of Vitamin D per day. However, darker skinned people need 5 to 10 times longer exposure to the sun to get the same amount of Vitamin D. As a result, darker skinned people are at higher risk of Vitamin D deficiency. The best food sources of vitamin D include the flesh of fish and fish liver oils. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese and egg yolks.

Vitamin D Deficiency Symptoms

Deficiency in vitamin D may result from inadequate intake, impaired absorption as well as inadequate exposure to sunlight. It has been noted that most vitamin D deficient diets are associated with milk allergy, lactose intolerance and a vegetarian diet. The classic diseases resulting from vitamin D deficiency are rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Rickets results in soft bones and skeletal deformities as the bone tissue is unable to get sufficient minerals. Osteomalacia results in weak muscles and bones, symptoms include bone pain and muscle weakness.

Vitamin D Toxicity

High doses of vitamin D (greater than 40,000 IU) may result in hypercalcemia (high levels of blood calcium). The main symptoms include nausea, vomiting, weakness, excessive thirst, frequent urination and may eventually result in irreversible renal failure. The benefits of Vitamin D are many, and do not just include healthy bones but it has also been used to treat psoriasis, hypoparathyroidism and cancers associated with breast, prostate and the colon. If you are unable to meet the daily requirement of vitamin D in your diet, a walk in the sun could be the all you need!

Mariner Motel Woodstock ON
T: 519 537 5332