Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

medical lab assistant/ medical transcriptionists

Feb. 17, 2017: I am still looking for a deep and meaningful job.  How about a job in the medical field that is not too hard:

Medical lab assistant: This is at NAIT, and it seems pretty hard to get in:

Entrance Requirements

Academic Requirements

60% in each of:
  • Grade 12 English
  • Pure Math 10 or Math 10C or Applied Math 20 or Math 20-2
  • Chemistry 20
  • Biology 20
NAIT's MTH20T Academic Upgrading course is recognized in lieu of Math 20-2.
View the English Language Proficiency Requirements for the Program: NAIT | English Language Proficiency

Non-Academic Requirements

  • Interview - Selected applicants will be contacted for an interview.

  • Online Career Assessment - An assessment of the applicant's knowledge of the program/profession which must be written prior to the interview process. To maximize the Career Assessment score, it is highly recommended that all applicants tour one or two medical laboratories or talk to a Medical Laboratory Assistant.

  • Immunization Requirements - Students are required to be immunized against vaccine preventable diseases, as determined by Alberta Health. After acceptance into the program, students will be given further information on immunization requirements. Failure to meet the Police Information Check, immunization and tuberculosis testing requirements may result in denial of access to clinical training.

  • Police Information Check - Students are required to provide a current Police Information Check (also referred to as a Security Clearance or Criminal Record Check) which must include a Vulnerable Sector Search. Please do not proceed with the Police Information Check until an offer of acceptance and follow-up instructions have been issued by the program. The Police Information Check is only considered valid when reviewed by a NAIT official within 90 days of completion.

  • Biosafety Course Requirement - Biosafety is mandatory for all students in the MLA program to ensure compliance with the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act. A biosafety course will be delivered online using Moodle. Students will be directed on deadlines and completion requirements during program specific orientation. If course requirements are not met, access to designated labs may be denied.

  • Computer Skills - Applicants must complete a keyboarding assessment at a net minimum of 30 words per minute with 90% accuracy. It is the student's responsibility to ensure they possess basic computer skills for success in the program. Effective October 1, 2016, all new keyboarding test assessments will have an expiry date of 1 year from the date of assessment. We are honoring assessments submitted for previous academic years. Please click here for instructions.
Student Selection Process and Criteria

Student selection is competitive and based on criteria that may include academic achievement beyond the stated minimum prerequisites. Applicants with prior NAIT Health Sciences credentials may be given special consideration for the interview shortlist. The selection process is based on:
  • Phase 1 - Academic entrance requirements are reviewed by the Office of the Registrar and applicants are shortlisted for interviews. Last year, applicants successful in receiving an interview had a minimum average of 79.5%.

  • Phase 2 - Shortlisted applicants are interviewed and ranked. Final student selection ranking is based on:
Academics - 40%
Interview - 40%
Career Assessment - 20%

Feb. 22, 2017 X-ray technician:

Entrance Requirements

Academic Requirements

60% in each of
  • English 30-1
  • Pure Math 30 or Math 30-1 or 30-2
  • Chemistry 30
  • Biology 30
5 or more credits of post-secondary Human Anatomy and Physiology completed within 5 years of the application deadline with a final grade of 60% or greater. The NAIT course that meets this prerequisite requirement is ANPH100 Anatomy and Physiology.

Medical Laboratory Technologist:

As part of the health-care team, the Medical Laboratory Technologist performs a large variety of laboratory tests and procedures to assist physicians in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease.

Medical Laboratory Technology focuses on the analysis of human blood and body fluids for microorganisms, cellular and chemical components. Preparation of tissue samples for microscopic examination is also covered.

My opinion: That's pretty hard.

Medical transcriptionists: are healthcare documentation specialists who primarily edit dictated medical reports. The use of electronic medical record and voice-recognition technology has increased the importance of ensuring the accuracy of a patient’s medical documentation as more medical professionals access and rely on this record.

Transcriptionists play a vital role as part of the medical team.

My opinion: This maybe the only program that seems deep and meaningful, and that I actually have the aptitude for.

I should go in for a "Student for a day" to see what the program's like.

"Let's put an end to door-to-door selling"/ business trends

Nov. 14, 2016 "Let's put an end to door-to-door selling": Today I found this article by Rob Carrick in the Globe and Mail:

They say in the sales world that the pitch doesn’t really begin until the customer says no.

For door-to-door sales, that’s wrong. Tell the person at your door that you’re saying “no thanks” to his or her sales pitch and the whole concept of door-to-door sales. There’s no coming back from that.

It’s time we all agreed that serious business cannot possibly be conducted on a door-to-door basis. When you open your front door to a salesperson, end the conversation quickly and politely by saying you don’t make serious financial decisions while standing on your doorstep.

There’s a high correlation between door-to-door selling and scamming. That’s why the province of Ontario recently proposed new rules that would make it possible to ban unsolicited door-to-door sales of certain household appliances, including water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners and water filters.

Veteran CTV consumer-issues reporter Pat Foran says door-to-door marketers are well paid to secure long-term rental contracts, and that leads to a lot of “deception” at the door. “It’s a huge complaint I deal with on almost a daily basis,” he said in an e-mail.

A door-to-door scam seen this year in Ottawa, where I live, hinges on false claims being made about the city’s drinking water in order to sell water-filtration equipment. In Calgary, door-to-door sales people have run a scam in which they claim to be building inspectors who need to look at a home’s furnace. The “inspectors” then find problems with the furnace and aggressively try to sell a replacement.

Not all D2D commerce means a scam risk. The guys who want to seal your driveway or the university students offering to aerate your lawn are just selling a service, and it might be one you want and need. But purchases of any size, let’s say $100-plus, are best made when you take time to consider your options.

In today’s world of widely available online consumer information, the idea of making a major purchase such as a furnace or air conditioner at the front door is a joke. If you need a furnace, invite a few heating and cooling companies to give you a quote and then research the brands they sell to see how reliable and effective they are.

Some might say that cutting off door-to-door salespeople is a sign of how we’re evolving into a society of hermits. We prefer to engage with people via social media and have no interest in opening our front door for a chat with a friendly salesperson. In fact, door-to-door sales have a much worse impact on our sociability than Facebook, Twitter and such.

We now have a generation of homeowners who never answer the door for fear of getting trapped in a conversation with someone selling weed control, water purifiers and even financial advice. Not too long ago, a young man knocked on our front door in search of prospective clients for an investment adviser working for one of the big banks in Ottawa (gross, I know). Get rid of these sellers and we’re all free to answer our door again.

Door-to-door sales began more than 100 years ago with the likes of the Fuller Brush Co., which did a brisk business in selling brushes and other household products. The reason this sales method has survived into the Amazon age of e-commerce is that it works.

Effective salespeople can still get people to buy things in a face-to-face setting. They use sales techniques such as being enthusiastic, making eye contact and asking questions to draw customers out. If you answer the door to a sales person, don’t engage. If they ask why your answer is no, don’t elaborate.

Charities are the grey area in door-to-door sales. The Canadian Cancer Society says canvassing of homes is one of its oldest and largest fundraising efforts, and other legitimate charities also use this method of raising money. Yet our front door has been knocked on by people raising money for sketchy-seeming charities that can’t even produce a brochure explaining what they do.

Follow your gut and your heart when considering a door-to-door appeal for charitable giving. Door-to-door selling of products and services is dead, though. Reputable companies don’t make pests of themselves trying to sell you their products.

Feb. 15, 2017 "The top tech trends that will influence businesses in 2017": Today I found this article by Jeff Cates in the Globe and Mail:

With the start of the New Year, most savvy leaders make sure to carve out time for reflection and taking stock of their business. During this time, it’s equally important to look ahead and identify the upcoming trends likely to impact how you position your company for success.

Customers expect organizations to be at the forefront of innovation, regardless of the products or service they provide. If you’re not looking towards emerging technologies in the pipeline, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to drive your business forward, even if you don’t consider yourself a tech company. These days, all companies will be significantly impacted.

It can be daunting to sift through the buzzwords and identify what tech innovations show the greatest potential to transform the business landscape and empower leaders to operate more effectively.

Here are the top three emerging tech trends I think are mostly likely to impact businesses in 2017 and how leaders can harness them to get ahead in the coming year.

Machine learning

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) which focuses on the creation of computer programs that can teach themselves to evolve and grow when exposed to new data. Machine learning processes use large-scale data sets to predict customer behavior and provide personalized promotions or recommendations to consumers based on this information. Coupled with the global explosion of social networks in recent years, there has never been more data available right at your fingertips.

While leveraging machine learning for AI assistants like Microsoft’s Cortana or Amazon’s Alexa is an obvious application, you don’t need to be a consumer tech or robotics company to apply it to strategic business decisions. Over the holidays, my family and I spent some quailty time with Alexa and Hey Google and were amazed at how quickly having an always-on AI became our go-to for questions and simple tasks like playing music.

This bleeding-edge process is an example of “working smarter, not harder” at its finest and is the trend I’m personally most excited about. With machine learning software-as-a-service companies can build a connected platform of data to provide a tailored intelligent service, giving their customers more of what they want and spending less time doing it.

As more users join our QuickBooks Online ecosystem, our platform of connected data continues to expand, driving our ability to leverage machine learning. This growing community will make our ecosystem work harder and enable our customers to operate more efficiently and strategically. Ultimately, our vision is to harness this data to create an artificially intelligent strategic advisor for your business.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality has been a trend to watch for a while now, but with the recent launch of consumer VR headsets like the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift and Sony’s PlayStation VR, coupled with entry-level mobile headsets like the Samsung Gear, VR is more accessible to users than ever before. In fact, according to a recent study by IDC, spending on AR and VR in Canada is expected to hit $500-million (U.S. in 2017.

So how can businesses start integrating VR into their operations? If you think immersive experiences just impact gaming, think again. From advertising to tourism to healthcare and beyond, the usage cases for VR are nearly limitless. It’s changing the way businesses interact with consumers, empowering brands to draw in audiences like never before. One of my favourite examples of VR done well is TOM’S “Virtual Giving Trip” this year.

For companies with remote workers, virtual reality will also be a powerful tool to keep colleagues connected. In fact, Oculus is already pushing for a more social environment on VR with its Oculus Avatar feature, allowing users to create a digital version of themselves and interact with their connections from anywhere in the world.

Blockchain technology

Best known as the technology underpinning the bitcoin digital currency, blockchain has implications for business way beyond crypto-currencies. Blockchain is an extensive globally-distributed database running on millions of computing devices and open to anyone, where not just information but anything of value can be exchanged and stored securely.

The financial services industry has been the first to take advantage of this new technology. Where trades are typically confirmed by a central clearinghouse that maintains its own central ledger, blockchain architecture removes this middleman from transactions, eliminating added fees and wasted time.

In the last year, more than 40 financial institutions reported working with blockchain technology, and it’s starting to gain momentum across a variety of industries. For example, Mycelia, a new “collective of creatives, professionals and lovers of music,” has developed songs with smart contracts built in, allowing artists to sell directly to consumers without going through an intermediary like a record label or music streaming company.

Today’s blistering pace of technological change provides business leaders with an unprecedented opportunity to build new efficiencies into their business models and reach their audiences in creative, compelling new ways. We’re sure to see some incredible innovations come of age in 2017. Getting ahead of these trends now can position your company to lead the market for years to come.

"Toys have the power to evoke compassion"/ "Volunteering becomes a lifesaver"

Jan.17, 2017 "Toys have the power to evoke compassion": Today I found this article by Craig and Marc Kielburger in the Edmonton Journal.  I guess making toys can be deep and meaningful:

There could be more at stake in the toy aisle than we realize.

The 2016 holiday rush capped off a record year of approximately $26 billion in toy sales in the United States alone. (That’s a lot of Rogue One action figures.)

Meanwhile, toymakers have stepped up to meet demands for more diversity. Take Mattel’s Barbie line, featuring seven skin tones and more realistic body types, or Lego’s set featuring a Minifigure in a wheelchair, both released last year.

We know that research links children’s toys and media choices to their self-esteem. Characters who look more like they do, rather than imagined ideals, help kids build confidence, the foundation for leadership skills.

But here’s the kicker: Seeing toys that look like others (a different race, for instance) nurtures compassion.

If playtime is linked to self esteem, leadership and compassion, could diverse toys help create the next generation of activists?

“(Diverse) dolls give kids a more robust and healthy sense of the world and of themselves,” says Samantha Knowles, director of the award-winning documentary Why Do You Have Black Dolls?

Homogeny can have the opposite effect.

Watching TV has been proven to boost self-esteem in white boys, who identify with an assembly line of white male protagonists, but lowers self-esteem for girls and children of colour, who usually see themselves in supporting or negative roles. Kids connect with characters who look like them, even if those characters are sidelined.

But during playtime, your kid is the casting director. A toy they can identify with makes them the hero of their own story, and could overcome what we call activist’s block, the selfdiminishing excuse we hear often: “I’m just one person. What can I do?”

When you’re seven years old, an action figure modelled after you is empowering. You are less alone.

“It sends a subtle message that you matter and that what you look like matters,” Knowles says. “Someone took the time to make something in your likeness.”

Better yet, give kids a toy that looks like someone who might be unfairly represented otherwise.

Studies show that diverse dolls help kids become more empathetic and comfortable discussing not just race, but the way stigmatized groups are treated differently. This is a conversation that North America could use some help with.

“It’s one thing to say, ‘This is what race is.’ It’s a more subtle, more powerful thing to give them toys and let them learn,” Knowles says.

A kid’s toy box is his or her tool box for crafting new narratives, so it matters what you fill it with.

Any kid should be able to rehearse their first UN speech with a Barbie who shares their skin tone or imagine their Nobel Prize-winning breakthrough with a Lego scientist who shares their gender.

Toys can also help children recognize the stories they share with others who are different, and provide an imaginative space to see themselves as heroes.

Not just death-defying action heroes, but the kind of hero who has compassion — one who stands up for others.

Jan. 9, 2017 "Volunteering becomes a lifesaver": Today I found this article in the Globe and Mail.  This is among a few other articles about transformation and moving beyond New Year's resolutions: 

Carl Wiese, 64, began volunteering as a meal-delivery driver for Humber Community Seniors’ Services in Toronto nearly 10 years ago. He says it saved his life.

After 17 years, my marriage fell apart. That’s when I started getting real health problems. I was so unhappy and depression took over.

I was also getting terrible irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea every day, and aches and pains all over my body. I used to go hiking in the woods, for instance, and I’d walk for 20 miles.
Now, I was at the stage where if I went a quarter of a mile, I was so sore and out of breath and tired and aching. Eventually, doctors decided that was fibromyalgia.

I had been doing a little bit of volunteering at the Toronto Wildlife Centre, but it was becoming difficult for me to get there. From my home, it was two buses and a long walk. And I just couldn’t walk any more.

I remembered my mom used to get Meals on Wheels whenever I went out of town on business. As a driving instructor, I would travel right across Canada for companies like DuPont, Kodak, Procter & Gamble and Hewlett-Packard. One day, coming home from the wildlife centre, I saw a sign on the window at Humber Community Seniors’ Services: Meals on Wheels drivers needed. And I thought, “Gee, my mom used to love that so much, I should go and try it.”

Before I started volunteering at Humber, I had reached a point where I didn’t want to take my own life or anything, but I just wished I could just die. I was so unable to do all the things I so loved doing.

The day I went in, everything started to change. I do believe it saved my life. Two amazing things happened. The first was the emotional support. The staff there were so supportive. And going to each house delivering the meals, I started to realize, “Wow, I’m not in as bad shape as I thought I was.”

These people were inspiring me because they’re fighting their battles and doing so much to keep themselves alive. So I started thinking, “I’ve got to look after myself better.”

One of the most important things was seeing the meals I was delivering and going, “Gee, that’s not how I eat.” McDonald’s, Harvey’s, Wendy’s was a typical dinner, especially once I became single again.

So I started eating the same foods Humber serves, and boy, oh boy, each year, I got a little better and a little better. I ate more fruits, more vegetables. Now I never buy processed food, I buy fresh only. And now I’m in pretty good shape. I still have a bit of trouble walking distances or carrying anything, but it’s much better than I used to be.

In the beginning, I was only able to volunteer one or two days a week. Now I go nearly every single day. I love doing the meals and if I can’t make it, I miss it.

Mostly, it’s just the people. Meeting people, talking to people. You know, when they open their door and say, “Hi Carl, how have you been? I’ve missed you.” That makes you feel good. It makes you forget about your tummy ache and your headache.

As told to Wency Leung

My week:

Feb. 14, 2017 Work: 2 days ago my boss G at my 1st restaurant job asked if I can come on Feb. 14.  I was able to.  Today was so busy this morning and afternoon.  Then it was busy to set up for tonight because there are so many reservations.

‘Hot Mugshot Guy’ Is Actually Working — as a Runway Model: I found this on Yahoo news.

Jeremy Meeks has slowly been making his way into the fashion world since being released from prison in March 2016 after serving over a year, and Roitfeld isn’t the only fashion icon he’s met with. Meeks, who has signed with White Cross Management, spent some time with Anwar Hadid — Gigi and Bella’s younger brother — over the summer.

The comments:

Typical American pop culture ... take a thug and glorify them.

  • Goes to show you, that in the U.S.A.....crime does pay!

  • Sean C
    Sean C
    Good for him and good work to the fashion industry willing to give him a chance. I hope he is very successful in his new career. We all have skeletons, some worse than others, but if your skeletons got out wouldn't you want to be forgiven and be allowed a chance to correct your mistakes? And who would expect that the fashion industry would be the ones to embrace him? Makes you think they are not as snobbish as they appear.

    My opinion: I thought this was it kind of inspirational that he went from jail to runway.  I would say he is good looking in the face, but he has too many tattoos.

    Feb. 15, 2017 Job search complaints: I am really diving into my job search.  I need to write about it to deal with it.

    Work- at home scams: There are so many work- at- home scams, it's hard to find one that isn't.  There are Pizza 73 telemarketer jobs that you can work from home.  It's been awhile I read about a job ad like that.

    I would really avoid looking into work- at- home job ads because it's hard to find a legit one.

    Job scams: I can look for a regular admin assistant job, and I get emails to apply for some.  However, it seems kind of like scams, but not as many as work-at-home.

    I'm sure there are some of you guys who are sick of my weekly emails/ blog posts asking: "Is this a scam?"

    I'm sure you guys are saying: "Look it up on the internet first and then if you still can't tell, then ask your friends.  Don't ask your friends first."

    Job security: I have mentioned this before.

    Call Centres: They pay a couple bucks higher than min. wage, but the job security is not that good.  I got laid off from Call Centre #1 and #3.  Call Centre #6 gave me work for a few months and then I didn't get work.

    I worked at Call Centre #4 in 2010.  They dismissed me after 1 day because I didn't get enough surveys completed.  One of my friends works there last year, and she told me she didn't have any shifts for a month.

    Restaurants: It is competitive.  I was working at my 2nd restaurant job.  The manager owned 3 restaurants and she had to close one of them down last year because there weren't enough customers at that location.

    Retail: These days there isn't really a lot of job security in this, especially clothing stores.  There are so many clothing stores closing down in the last few years.

    HMV Canada closing down: I have applied there before.  I did a job interview there in 2008.  I was a very good fit for the job in my teens and early 20s.  I love music, TV, and movies.  I was really interested in entertainment.

    Now that the store is closing down, I will never be able to work there.

    However, I can't be too sad.  I like working in restaurants more.

    Bookstores: Hollie Shaw in the National Post wrote about how Indigo is going very well and HMV is closing.  Indigo is selling more than books.  They sell lots of home décor and toys.  That's why they're still here.

    2007 flashbacks: This reminds me of the summer time when I was hanging out with my friend Heather.  She said she still likes having a cd instead of listening to an iPod.

    This also reminds of Professional Writing in college.  My teacher Doug complained about how he didn't like going to a bookstore and they're selling yoga mats and potpourri.

    I'm sure some of you guys are laughing at this part.

    Jordan Axani on The Social: I wrote about him before, but I got his name wrong like Axon. 

    "Jordan Axani planned a trip with his girlfriend, but they split. He's offering his ex's tickets to any woman with his ex's name and a Canadian passport."

    I wrote about him as a look alike:

    Host: So who do you want to play you in a movie?
    A woman in the audience yells out: Matt Damon!
    The audience laughs.

    My opinion: I was going to say that.

    Axani: I was going to say Sean Connery.

    Taylor Swift look-alike: Here's another one:

    The benefits of reading: Today I'm putting up articles I cut out this from the Edmonton Journal on Jan. 27, 2017.  It was an advertisement.  However, I found a similar article on this site with the same kind things listed:

    Reading gives muscle to your memory.

    Reading improves empathy.

    Reading can encourage life goals.

    Reading about someone who overcame obstacles may motivate you to meet your own goals, Ohio State University researchers found. If you’d like a raise, following a character into the boss’s office may give you the courage to make the same request. The more you identify with a character and experience the events as if they were happening to you, the more likely you’ll be to take action.

    My opinion: I can say that about reading news articles about real people.  I do feel empathy.  Do you feel it when I send/ post those "deep and meaningful" job articles?

    Feb. 16, 2017 Restaurant job interview: This was last weekend.  It was an East Indian food restaurant.  I looked it up on the internet and saw the nice photos of the food and the restaurant.  I thought it was a place to sit and eat, and not fast food.

    A job interview is like an information interview.  I went to work in the morning and took a cab to get the location.  They were going to open a new location next month, so I had to go to this location for an interview.

    I got there and filled out an application.  It turns out it was a fast food place that was opening at a mall, but you can't tell from the website.  The restaurant I was interviewed at, was not fast food- looking.  It was very nice and not like McDonald's at all.

    They give the schedule out every 2 weeks, so I can plan my life.  I get cash tips and tips into my paycheck.

    It has been about a week, and I called the guy who interviewed me.  He told me HR was going to call me.  Looks like I didn't get hired.  That's fine.

    Feb. 17, 2017 Fit for the job: I remember this TV show Daria.  They had a TV movie called "Is it College yet?"  I found the video (4min in).  I have the DVD.  Quinn is out to dinner with her friends.

    Stacey: I know Quinn, why don't you get a job here?  There are lots of cute guys and hostesses get to dress up and wear hoopy earrings.

    I was a teenager when I saw this.  I thought that was a really good fit for Quinn.

    Monday, February 13, 2017

    "A few good men"/ Happy Love Day!

    Jan. 16, 2017 "A few good men": Today I found this article by Erin Anderssen in the Globe and Mail. 

    This is my 150th job email/ blog post since I started posting these articles since Jan. 2015.  This is my 6th "deep and meaningful job" email/ blog post this year.  I posted the first one around 2015.  This is the 7th "deep and meaningful job" email/ blog post in the whole blog.

    In the classroom at Ottawa’s Algonquin College, at a bed by a window, Morgan O’Dell, 19, reaches out a tattooed arm to delicately wash the nether region of a floppy-haired mannequin. O’Dell’s classmate, Hamza El Hilali, 24, steps in to keep a white blanket in place, to guard their “patient’s” privacy. Her name, they have been told on a slip of paper, is Miss Howard, she has weakness on her left side, and their assignment is to take turns practising giving her a partial bath, working as if their plastic patient were a real person.

    O’Dell and El Hilali stand out in the room, two of a handful of male students in Algonquin’s one-year personal-support worker program, which is dominated, as is the profession, by women.

    Indeed, El Hilali says his friends were baffled when he chose the program. But he was drawn to the field after seeing his mother care for his grandparents. He is the eldest, and his sisters are much younger, and the care of his own parents should “fall to me,” he says. “Gender doesn’t matter.”

    O’Dell, with his bushy hair and tattooed arm, describes the same motivation: He is close to his grandparents, who may need his care some day. Also, he notes, there are jobs in health care. “There are better opportunities here.”

    He’s right: As boomers age, and health-care workers retire, jobs in the field will open up. Debates about how to find the workers needed to staff the long-term care residences or to help seniors live longer in their homes – both a preferred and cheaper option – are increasing across the Western world, in countries such as Britain, the United States and Canada.

    Yet there remains an untapped pool of workers, some 50 per cent of the population: men, who comprise still only a tiny fraction of the paid caregivers in Canada’s economy.

    There’s been a big push by schools and governments to get women into the traditional male-dominated fields of engineering, science and technology, and for good reason: These are growing fields, women are a pool of untapped talent, and they should have equal access to these professions. But there’s been far less focus on moving men into caregiving jobs, which are still overwhelmingly held by women. In Canada, men represent around 6 per cent of registered nurses, and only about 3 per cent of health-care aides, also known as personal-support workers. These are the staff who cover daily needs such as bathing, dressing and, in the home setting, even cooking.

    The failure to draw more men into these jobs is a missed opportunity. As boomers age, a more gender-balanced work force will better serve the increasingly diverse demographic of seniors requiring care. For young men with less education, unemployment rates have risen and wages have fallen – they need to look beyond disappearing manufacturing jobs for work. Meanwhile, gender divisions around caregiving persist, leading to care being undervalued. (Studies have found that, even in female-dominated professions, such as nursing, men still out-earn women.) There’s a reason why many personal-support workers don’t make much more (and some even less) than a cleaner. Meanwhile, providing care to a population living longer with more illness has become more medically complicated.

    The presence of a few good men won’t fix this. But young men such as O’Dell and El Hilali are debunking a stereotype. “We shove care into a corner,” says Emanuela Heyninck, Ontario’s pay-equity commissioner, “because it’s seen as a female job, and it’s just not a skill that society is used to paying for.”

    That has a trickle-down effect: If a job is considered women’s work, then men can feel and look out of place, then patients, raised in that same society, are more likely to prefer women to provide intimate care, to assume a feminine touch is required. Low pay, low status, lousy hours only make the prospects less appealing – to men and to women.

    Workers, for instance, are often asked to work casual hours, or split shifts, making their already low income more precarious. This leaves some personal-support workers piecing together a collection of part-time jobs that may not come with benefits. Recognizing this issue, some provinces have recently raised the minimum wages of support workers – in Ontario, it is now $16.50.

    “It’s a great first step,” says Deborah Simon, the chief executive officer of the Ontario Community Support Association. In addition to better pay, she says, people need to recognize the contribution that personal-support workers make to daily living. “Some people assume they are there for cleaning services,” says Simon. “They are trained way beyond that.” (Solving split shifts is more complicated, since the bulk of the work peaks at specific times of the day, particularly when patients wake up and when they go to sleep.)

    Peter Kellett, assistant dean of the nursing program at the University of Lethbridge, studies gender and paid caregiving. On his office wall hangs an 1990s recruitment poster featuring a group of men standing in masculine poses – a martial arts black belt, a biker, a rugby player – who also happen to be (surprise!) nurses. The slogan, still used today, reads: “Are you man enough to be a nurse?”

    Kellett believes this message is counterproductive, unintentionally reinforcing sexist tropes about caregivers. (What’s the reverse? “Are you woman enough to be an engineer”?) When he started nursing 20 years ago, he says, men were there to serve as muscle or security guards more than to provide comfort. Even today, he says, men in nursing are less likely than their female peers to hug patients, lest their actions be misinterpreted. “Society is moving much more slowly on gender than we like to think.” In reality, Kellett says, men take on the job for the same reason women do: “They want to care for people.”

    This was the appeal for Marc Sebreno, 35, who graduated in July from Algonquin’s personal-support worker program. He was laid off from his previous job, driving a bus for Greyhound, and, with the advent of self-driving cars, he doesn’t figure those kinds of jobs are coming back. Looking for a new career, he thought about his mother, who has multiple sclerosis, and the importance of good care in her life. “It aligns with my values,” he says. He would like to work in the community he says, because “it gives me more time to spend having a conversation or a laugh.” To offer that kindness to an isolated senior, or a cancer patient, he says, “it doesn’t matter if it is a man or a woman.” But at a few interviews he says his gender has been greeted with surprise.

    In the classroom, O’Dell and El Hilali are finishing up Miss Howard’s bath. In response to a question about the mannequin’s new diaper, O’Dell quickly says, “Oh, it’s not a diaper. It’s a brief.” That’s a more respectful term, El Hilali explains. Together, they list of what they call DIPPS: dignity, independence, privacy, preference and safety. “Our job,” says El Hilali, “revolves on those principles.” Some day, a real-life Miss Howard will be grateful.

    This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at leadershiplab.

    As a business leader, if you’re focused on cultivating hard skills at the expense of soft skills and emotional IQ, you’re doing it wrong. Identifying employees with the right soft skills is crucial to building a strong talent mix and setting your team up for success, and yet leaders are struggling to find and nurture these skills.

    Beyond compromising morale, there’s a financial risk to neglecting the right skills when building a team: Bringing in – and having to let go of – the wrong person can cost you six to nine months of that employee’s salary to replace them, according to a study done by The Society for Human Resource Management. So, which skills in particular should you be on the lookout for? Our research found the most important soft skills for Canadian managers are teamwork, problem-solving and communications.

    Here are three reasons why hiring for and cultivating these skills among your employees will pay dividends long-term:

    Keep your company nimble

    The past few years have been hard for Canadian companies with the declining dollar and an uncertain economic environment. As we face the long road to recovery and the economic landscape continues to shift, it’s more critical for business leaders to lead by example and remain flexible in the face of the unknown.

    The tools and hard skills you value most to deliver your product or service may shift, but building a team of adaptable problem-solvers with proven strategic chops will help you pivot as required and keep up with the pace of change.

    Build better business relationships

    In today’s era of constant communication where any misstep can go viral, it goes without saying that we must be especially conscious of how we’re communicating with colleagues, employees and clients. And yet strong communication skills are often undervalued in the workplace. According to the Mitchell Communications Group, miscommunication costs businesses $37-billion in the United States and Great Britain every year.

    Your employees are the frontline of your organization and shape your customer experience and how your brand is perceived.

    People want to do business with those they like and trust and it’s on company leadership to empower their teams to build these positive relationships or risk damaging your reputation.

    Consider clarifying your company’s view on communicating internally and externally. Hire employees with the specific communication skills and experience that match your company’s views. Invest in training on collaboration and communication for your existing team.

    Ultimately, boost your bottom line

    There’s also a strong financial case for soft skills. Communication, interpersonal skills and time management were found to be worth an extra £88-billion ($144-billion Canadian) to British businesses. According to Joshua Freedman, a leading expert on emotional intelligence, business leaders and employees who rated highly in this category had more successful relationships with their teams, clients and customers, leading to improved productivity and sales.

    As leaders, we need to ensure that we entrench an appreciation for soft skills and screen for these qualifications from the beginning. You might need an exceptional mobile developer or expert in systems management, but if they can’t collaborate or problem-solve, they probably aren’t the right hire.

    Learning is a continuous process. Once you’ve built an emotionally intelligent, collaborative and strategic team, offering continued opportunities for mentorship or training, whether in person or through online courses such as LinkedIn Learning, can help continue this momentum.

    The implications of doing so are clear – well-rounded individuals who possess both the practical knowledge needed to succeed and high emotional intelligence are integral to the long-term success of your business. Jonathan Lister is vice-president of sales and country manager at LinkedIn Canada.

    My week:

    Feb. 5, 2017 The A Word: I was checking out what's on TV and this came on.  The episode was called "The Sleepover" and it starts off with a 5 yr old boy wearing his headphones and listening to music and singing.  He is holding a toy mushroom.  I thought: "Does he have autism?"

    It turns out he does.  That's good to have a show about a character like that and how the family deals with it.

    I know The Big Bang Theory has the character Sheldon who has Aspergers.

    The Degrassi: The Next Generation has Connor who has Aspergers.

    The A Word has a 1st season of 6 episodes and it has a second season coming out.

    Feb. 6, 2017 Autism: The beauty of having a blog is that I can see how often I wrote about a topic.  It seems I have written about it 22 times.  I have some more emails and blog posts saved into my drafts, but I have not published it yet.

    I am looking at everything like there is a job.  There are jobs to help people with autism like special needs teachers.  There are high-functioning people with autism that do not need help.

    Telus World of Science: I was looking for a job and this place was hiring.  I emailed one of my friends with a science degree.  She emailed me back:

    "I have some friends who worked for them. They don't pay well, overwork you, and it's a toxic environment."

    Benefits specialist: I wrote about this job interview before.  I was going through my notes, and it turns out I did a phone interview with them in 2015.

    Today I did another interview that was pretty similar to the one above.  The only things that were different was:

    1. It was at another company.

    2. The company was going to pay for the education to get the licenses.

    However, I did another interview for an administrative assistant position at this company.

    Feb. 8, 2017: The man who interviewed me was nice and thoughtful.  He said if the benefits specialist wasn't a fit for me, he set up another interview after that so I can talk to someone else at the company to be an admin assistant. 

    He didn't have to do that, but that was nice.  I thanked him.

    Tues. Feb. 7, 2017: It was busy.  The night before I got a call from one of my bosses An to come to work because one of the workers was sick.  I then worked there in the morning.

    Kitchen helper job interview: After that, I went to a job interview.  It was average.  I then got home and was tired.

    Wed. Feb. 8, 2017: Today I went to work again because the worker is still sick.  It was kind of busy and I was there in the morning and afternoon.

    Thurs. Feb. 9, 2017: I went to work from 8am-1:30pm.

    Feb. 10, 2017 Law of attraction: It's about what you focus on, you get more of.  I wrote about jobs like vet, mechanic, and personal trainer a couple of weeks ago.

    Vet: Then when I was at my 2nd restaurant job, this guy who works there says his girlfriend is studying to be a vet.

    Mechanic: I was at the bus stop and there is this guy who I haven't seen since Sept. 2016.  He told me that he was a mechanic for 8 yrs and then stopped.  He was only getting paid by the car and not the hours.  He can be at the mechanic shop for 8 hrs and not get paid by the hour.  A car comes and he fixes it and then he gets paid.

    Personal trainer: The he told me he went to NAIT and studied to be a personal trainer for 1 yr and a half.  This was back in 2002 and he was getting paid like $7 something.  Back then the min. wage was $5.90/hr. 

    He also worked at a warehouse and American Eagle Outfitters with his personal trainer job.

    My opinion: I find that if you went to college to get a career, you should get paid a living wage.

    The Globe and Mail: I found this:

    Salary: The money starts at about $20 per hour for trainers hired on staff by fitness clubs and can increase to more than $100 per hour for those with their own personal training business. Some trainers who work with celebrities or professional athletes can earn hourly rates closer to what lawyers charge, up to about $400 an hour.

    I wrote the below for myself.  I just called them today and I didn't get hired.  That's fine.

    Feb. 7, 2017 Kitchen helper job interview:


    1. Good pay: $13.50/hr.  30 min unpaid break.  2 10 min paid break.

    2. It's 50 cents a day for a meal.

    3. Full-time 6am-2:30pm.

    4. It's in downtown, so it's easy to get to.

    5. Health benefits after 6 months.

    6. Work ends early in the afternoon so I can still look for another office job.


    1. It may be too much work if I work 48 hrs a week at both my jobs.

    2. The manager's accents is kind of hard to understand.  Maybe miscommunication.  However, I will ask her to repeat and I will spell things out to make sure I heard it right.

    3. It was kind of intimidating with all these cops.

    Physical therapist: This is a deep and meaningful job.  It falls into the medical field so it's hard.

    Educational Requirements

    Before they are allowed to practice, physical therapists must have earned a graduate degree from accredited academic program in physical therapy. These programs typically culminate in a doctoral degree and take at least three years to complete. To gain admission to a physical therapy program, students typically need to earn a bachelor's degree, complete science prerequisite courses, gain volunteer or observation experience in physical therapy, submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, and maintain an acceptable grade-point average.

    Massage therapist: This is a deep and meaningful job.  It's in the medical field, but it's only 2 yrs to become one.  I looked at the courses and there is science involved with the anatomy.

    Feb. 12, 2017: Today is a Sun. and I worked all day.  I'm pretty tired.

    Feb. 13, 2017 #GrabYourWallet: I found out about this movement last week when I learned that the big US department store Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump's products from their stores.  Was it Trump haters boycotting the store or was it because Ivanka's products were not selling as well?

    "The #GrabYourWallet boycott began October 11, 2016 in the wake of the Trump Tapes when a brand strategist and a grandmother simultaneously realized they could no longer in good conscience shop at retailers that do business with the Trump family. Never having met, Shannon Coulter and Sue Atencio joined forces and announced on Twitter they'd be boycotting any retailer that carried Trump products, with the goal of motivating those companies on the list to stop doing business with the Trump family.

    They published a short list of such retailers later that same evening and on October 14th, Shannon introduced the #GrabYourWallet hashtag -- both as a response to Donald Trump's infamous hot mic remark and a reference to women's epic consumer power. The hashtag and the movement exploded on social media and has been viewed over 700 million times. Since then, the #GrabYourWallet boycott has grown into a movement and central resource for the flexing of consumer power in favor of a more respectful and inclusive society. It's been reported on by The New York Times, Vogue, Washington Post, The Guardian, Cosmopolitan, CNN, MSNBC, Nightline, and BBC among many other media outlets (see below). Notable figures who have amplified or supported the movement include Don Cheadle, Greg Louganis, Lucy Lawless, Roseanne Cash, Neko Case, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Reich, Pam Grier, and Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry's). /// To get in touch, send an email to shannon (at) grabyourwallet (dot) org."

    "Pressure on Trump after North Korean missile launch": Today I found this article by Kanga Kong and Isabel Reynolds in the National Post in the Edmonton Journal:

    "Reuters reported Saturday that Sears Holdings and subsidiary Kmart will discontinue online sales of 31 items from the Trump Home collection."

    Trump's Inauguration: I didn't watch it because I don't like him.  If I watched it, I would get angry like if I was watching a paternity test on the Maury Povich show.

    I'm sure some of you guys are laughing at this part.

    News: When I read the national and global news and there is Trump, I skim and scan it really fast.

    The same with the business section if he's in it.

    Happy Love Day!: I got this from The Simpsons where this card company needs to create a holiday to make more money.  The Simpsons celebrate Love Day.