How to get MBA smart for free

I started an interview saying he should fire me.

This was in a meeting with a VP of “Special Projects”. I was his last appointment of the day.

In 10 minutes he knew exactly how I ran my department. I handed over the process flow diagrams, document templates, our group org chart and the sales funnels.

I showed that it would benefit the company twofold that I was no longer the director of my team.

  1. save money and hire a second manager for ½ the salary
  2. continue the intake of new business having two managers with resource failover, reporting directly to our VP.

First, he asked where I got my MBA. Then he asked if I would help him restructure the company, even after I told him I had no MBA.

I studied languages and sociology. A whole lot falls under those categories.

When you are born super curious, you might get spanked a lot. As a kid, I got into a LOT of trouble. It’s a miracle I have any subsequent siblings.

I blame my parents though. No subject was off limits growing up. We still talk about anything.

Our Sunday big family lunch discussions are pretty insane and you won’t ever leave without learning something useful.


So here is how I got my MBA smarts for free:

I want to know everything about everything. Almost.

The cut-off for my hyper-intellectualization obsession follows the T.H.I.N.K criteria.

T- Is it Truthful

H- Is it Helpful or Humourous

I – Is it Inspiring

N- Is it Necessary

K- Is it Kind

Add to that the perfect storm: I was given and I hunted opportunities to grow in corporate environments and startups.

My hyper-intellectualization genes went to work. I absorbed lessons on how to run and how to ruin a business very fast. It was probably the steepest learning curve in my life so far.

The time in my life was right (young and no kids and the boom and bust) and I was motivated.

The faster I learned, the faster I could change jobs and the faster I learned….repeat cycle 10 times. Bonus: I demanded better pay each job jump. The more useful my skills were, the more I got paid.


So how to here are my 5 tips for learning something you (formally) know nothing about.

  1. Define what your criteria is for what makes the cut to learn
  2. Determine who the contemporary and historical “experts” for that specialty are.
  3. Dedicate specific time every day to play to read and watch and listen to your “experts” daily.
  4. Develop fresh ideas in that specialty every day and give them away. Share them via blog, email and any media format you have.
  5. Decide if the specialty really lights your fire. If not, STOP. Do it all again.


May you fail fast, learn faster and follow what lights your fire.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The long goodbye

It was a pretty good day for a funeral.  It was predicting rain but instead we got fluffy snow, a less sombre end to a long goodbye process.

My aunt, and godmother, was buried this morning after more than 15 years of frontal lobe dementia. I honestly can’t recall when we last were able to talk to one another, the memory is so distant now.

I wondered for whom it would be hardest and who already said goodbye when she slipped away years ago.

I was a bit surprised. It shows everyone processes life events in their own way.

Every year the stigma gets lifted a little more around mental illness.

The more we talk about it, the better it is for everyone.

Nothing like a funeral to aid in a daily re-evaluation of whether I am really living my life or is my life living me.

Breathe deep. Every day gets better.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dear Craigslist Joe…I replied to my first personal ad today for a BFF in downtown T.O. ….

I saw (on Netflix) a fantastic documentary: Craigslist Joe

It’s by a young man named Joe Garner who took a month off his normal life to live off Craigslist.  It took him from coast to coast and back.

No money, no social network, no human safety net, no help from family.

Brave. Crazy. Impossibly wonderful. He is positively adorable.

I watched this movie with my family.  It was the best holiday film ever.

Today, I decided to check out the “Strictly Platonic” postings, and wading through all the shit, I did manage to find a really unique posting.

It’s a shot in the dark but from how she described herself, she sounds cool, if she isn’t a total lying weirdo    ever replies to my reply.

Here’s to finding grace in strangers, and besties where you never imagined.

Winter solstice is around the corner. Thank heavens because the dark and the house re-development are really depressing me.





Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Time, Time, Time…See What’s Become of Me… (Bangles)

Time is a created thing. To say “I don’t have time,” is like saying, “I don’t want to.”
~ Lao Tzu

I am trying to be mindful of this because all I seem to hear around me is “I have no time”.

We have sold our home (whew).  In the nerve wracking process we had to purge and conceal all of our extra stuff. 

Aside from the agony of trying to find something that you have stashed away (the wheat with the chaff), the zen feeling of having just a minimal amount of things around you was inspiring.

Originally we were sure we had to renovate the downtown home with a 1 bedroom and washroom addition and expand the main floor for a mudroom and laundry area.

Then I had an idea.  What if we actually had less stuff? Could we actually fit in the smaller spaces.  So we taped out each of our rooms using the measurements we took and our Visio diagrams for furniture layouts and pulled in our stuff and stood in the rooms.

That made it easy to mark what we had to give away.

It’s a bit scary at first thinking of a more compact space.

It gets easier to realize that stuff eats time like mofo.

The less stuff you have to dust and re-organize and neatify…the more time you have to live away from your stuff.

That is a good trade because I’d rather figure out how we can manage with fewer bathrooms than waste my time cleaning three bathrooms.

I just hope not to upset the kids with the minimizing process.

Any suggestions on figuring out how to language “get rid of it” in a way that doesn’t feel like they’ve just become refugees would be appreciated.

Making more room for life, one day at a time.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Great Escape

I adore this Patrick Watson song The Great Escape. It’s sad and sweet all at the same time.

Last night we sold our home of 5 years. It was our dream home for many reasons. 

Our ‘20 year house’.  We poured our love into it.  Mended it with as many efforts as we could.  Sacrificed vacations for it at the drop of a hat. I practically earned an engineering degree researching updates and investment work on the house.

Mid summer the air conditioner broke down in the midst of a crazy hot one in Toronto.

We had just booked flights to Miami and for a real week vacation by a real ocean with a real beach.  Shockingly, we went anyways. It was nasty to suffer the heat when we got back.

I think that vacation was tipping point to making our escape from being under the thumb of one expensive house after another. Four house purchases and sales.  Each time a move up he society ladder.

Laying on the beach watching our girls frolic, something came undone. And it could not be done up again.  It was the realization that lifestyle is a choice.

We came home and purchased and installed a new A/C unit. Still the escape hatch kept opening to owning less house and more life.

I no longer felt joy as we continued to obsessively make plans for house.. I normally was excited to keep ahead of the next home maintenance thing.

Suddenly it felt like buying a new dress for a date when your gut is telling you to break up.

Breaking up with your neighbourhood is hard to do.  We all  have met some heart-squeezing friends.

As I stood in the school line-up the first day of school though, I just felt out of place and sad.

We had been flirting with moving to the west Annex in Toronto. It’s a fairly gentrified but urban pocket.  We had been cheating on our neighbourhood with it for a long time. 

Every weekend we were taking off first thing Saturday morning returning only to sleep.

Out of nowhere a house that needs more mending than ever,  found us.

Despite all the scary things it may have hiding underneath it, the energy in that house made us buy it after seeing it for just a few moments.

The fall market to sell a home is a tricky thing.  It could be lovely and leafy and colourful. Or leaf-rotting can begin.  We decided to make a super-human effort to finish up our last projects for this home to get it to market  while the weather was lovely. 

It would be a quick job for regular people but with my crazed standards for how things are done, it was hard physically and mentally.

We had to hurry because my dad was in Italy for only a few more weeks. It would have killed him to watch us sell the house we happily offered our retirement funds to every year for upgrades.  My mom joined him in Italy and he found out we had bought. He called me 8 times trying to talk me into staying.

A huge leap of faith, 14 hour days of tidying up and mending and tiling and karma took care of the rest.  We showed the house to 150 people.  Crazy with open houses and constant showings.  The girls were starting to feel homeless.  “Please can we go home NOW mommy?”

Polishing the taps. Picking up every crumb. Every piece of clothing laundered and put away.  I wanted to make everything perfect so a nice family would see this home had the right energy for them. 

We had some really unpleasant people come through and several were serious about the house.  I was grinding my teeth when they presented their offers.

I now understand who gets your home matters when you put your soul into a house. 

So while we are ‘status downsizing’ homes and it is sad to leave our schoolyard friend big and small, I hope we friends we have made are real and will last.

Getting ready for taking offers today, I did a first nations smudging ceremony.  My mother-in-law bought the items for me.  I needed to cleanse the house of the bad energy some people brought in here.  The sage burning smelled like pot but the sweet grass afterward smelled less illegal. It allowed good energy in. I could feel it.

Here’s to a new adventure of simpler living, bigger life. I wish the new family living here many years of joy together.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Well it looks like the road to heaven But it feels like the road to hell. (g. michael-Freedom ‘90)

I saw this quote on Pintrest and it pushed me to post finally:
Follow a passion, not a paycheque.

I have been a reader of ever since I saw the founder, Graham Hill on a TED talk. Every human being needs to see this TED talk. I purged like a mofo afterwards.

The movement is so small, it’s enormously impactful.

I was stuffing my brain with more Big Life, Less Stuff information, when I came across official Small House movement.   I was also stunned by Gary Chang living in Hong Kong in 330 square feet. A space that transforms before your eyes with sliding walls. It has had over 7 million views.

I purged even more after watching the “We The Tiny House People” .  My desperation seized me to change and make a life the focus of my work,  not making a living. 

If you think this won’t affect the way you look at your stuff and life and (non) use of things, I challenge you to watch the videos. If for nothing else, you might be blown away at the sight of home something the size of your living room having moving walls to repurpose the space over and over again.

Warning, watching these videos might lead to becoming obsessed with  downsizing and recapturing passion for a life without over-consuming habits and debt.

It sure has driven me to hourly daily review of the MLS for a more lifestyle oriented neighbourhood and a more compact, efficient and usable home.

Now I am having major lust for the furnishings for a super small space. Be still my beating heart. Resource Furniture is beyond dreamy in form, function and design.  I could live gladly in a closet-sized super compact home with this furniture.

And YES they have a store in Toronto.

If they can do this with a bunk bed, imagine how swanky a master bedroom suite looks. The website has full videos that nearly made me cry from the brilliant design.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Prom 2012

Yeah, so whatever. We’ve all seen Pretty In Pink.

We live in a very affluent area. Our school fundraises money that most Toronto schools could not imagine possible. So you can imagine even a grade 6 graduation from our school triggers an avalanche of spending on prom clothing and accessories.

Certainly something taken for granted for 99 percent of the kids going to graduate from our public school.

I was reading the May 2012 North Toronto Post.  It profiled a local resident named Cindy Blakely  co-founded a non-profit agency that allows girls from low income families to get a prom dress and boys to find grad clothing too.

The non-profit called New Circles is only two years old. In it’s first year, it provided 7500 clothing items to hundreds of families. In 2011 they gave out 170,000 clothing items to a staggering 16,000 families.

It certainly gave me pause for thought, given how often I have to purge my 9 year old’s room of clothing that will not fit into drawers any more. We are very lucky that it is easy to make donations to a women and children’s shelter though the Sporting Life store just 5 minutes from our home.

Every year I vow to buy less, and be more. It’s time that message resonated louder with my children.

Here’s a reality check from the article that make me weep:

“Blakely recalls one young woman in particular.  As she was leaving he prom boutique, she asked when she had to bring back the dress.  Blakely said that she didn’t, the dress was hers.” That young girl’s mother returned to the agency to tell Blakely that once a week her daughter puts on that dress. “It makes her feel beautiful”.


If you have clothing to donate, or time to give. Please consider them.

Now up to the attic to grab some fancy clothing I wear once a year.

Be more. Be more. Be more.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment