Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Me In Mediocrity

“When small men attempt great enterprises, they always end by reducing them to the level of their mediocrity.” Napoleon Bonaparte

After getting back from my holiday, I had a meeting set up with an acquaintance of mine that had been introduced to me from a mutual friend. Let's call my acquaintance Johnny Laemass. I was going to introduce Mr. Laemass to a senior manager that I know at a large, locally based multinational company.

The intention was to match-make the two for a very decent work contract that would have benefited Johnny's company greatly, and satisfied the managers needs to the T. This company was a perfect fit for Laemass. It was exactly what he specialized in, located near his office and with a lot of upside opportunity to grow along with this big multinational.

As I looked through my emails I noticed a few from him. It was clear that Johnny Laemass had a healthy ego. That's ok, but it was also apparent that Laemass was a taker not a giver. He began to dictate his terms of the potential contract to me, saying what he would do and what he wouldn't. How he'd like to add a charge on for his travel time and work that he deemed as outside of the contract. Hey, we hadn't even got in the car yet to go. I followed up with him on the phone, because sometimes the nuance of email can be misinterpreted. But you know, Laemass was even worse on the phone.

He began the conversation with a very 'Me' based attitude, instead of learning more about the company and preparing potential solutions for the trouble spots they were having, he looked for ways to maneuver this would-be contract to his favour. I thought "What am I doing talking to this guy - he clearly doesn't get it." I thought I'd mull it over and set up a meeting with Laemass before introducing him to the senior manager, because after all he was introduced to me by a friend who said he was highly capable and talented. And to be fair, he was.

Anyways, at 10:40 in the evening the day before our scheduled meeting, I get a call from Johnny Laemass with a few more potential scenarios to run over. This time he wanted to know if it was ok to break the contract midway through, if he didn't like it. Yeah, well I suppose it is if you are the kind of guy that lacks integrity and is ruled by mediocrity.

As Schwarzenegger would say, the introduction was 'terminated'. I had a plan B introduction planned anyway that worked out greatly. She wasn't as experienced as Laemass, but was willing. And her willingness to listen and honestly serve the customer was what won the contract over and made a happy marriage for both.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Mindset of Winning Real Estate Investors

"Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears." Les Brown

As I write this article the headlines in the paper are screaming bad news. Oil is up to $147, then down to $115, war in Afghanistan, Russia, your backyard wherever threatens us. Hurricanes, earthquakes and tidal waves all add to the turmoil. South American and Middle Eastern leaders turn on and off the oil tap at their whim, playing with the economy as they would a spoiled child. Healthcare is bankrupt, layoffs are eminent. Riots erupt in protest for cheaper medicines. Food prices are soaring as we turn to making bio-fuels because our planet is dying; global warming is cooking the penguins alive - but no-one will eat them because they're all vegetarians.
America slips into a recession, or a depression if you’re feeling especially gloomy. The U.S. housing market is so bad that bankers in Detroit can barely give a house a way for a dollar- then when they finally do, half of the derelict property has been stolen; metals melted down for money, wood burned for fuel...

It is enough to make you scared isn't it? There is a lot more to be pessimistic about too, especially if you watch TV or read the papers regularly. But, that's not the only story. As overwhelming as it all seems sometimes, it's not so bad.

One of the scariest things I see people doing these days is sitting on their money, frozen in fear. Afraid to lose their fragile nest egg by making a bad investment all the while it erodes away, slipping into the hungry mouth of inflation. Read More

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

REIN's Alberta Top Ten Towns

REIN (Real Estate Investment Network) has released it's Alberta Top Ten Towns and once again Edmonton is the best place to invest in Alberta. A market full of fear and many banks tightening up lending due to the sub prime mess in the states doesn't negate the fact that some markets in Alberta will perform better than others.

Edmonton's economic fundamentals, excellent future and continuous infrastructure improvement will keep the city at the top this year. If the current plateau scares you, it's only been a year, look further at the many billion dollar projects planned for the next 15 years. They will keep the economy vibrant and growing.

"If there were no strong economic fundamentals supporting the market, it would be a good thing to be afraid," However, when you study the long-term strength you will be able to relax and not let those from outside the country take up all of the good deals and look like geniuses five years from now." REIN Alberta Top Ten Towns Report


1. Edmonton
2. Calgary
3. Red Deer
4. St. Albert
5. Grande Prairie
6a. Lethbridge
6b. Fort McMurray
7. Airdrie
8a. Cochrane
8b. Sylvan Lake
9a. Lacombe
9b. Devon
10. Sturgeon & Strathcona Counties

For the detailed report with specifics on each town click here

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Canadian Property Market Balanced

As a whole the recent cooling has balanced out the market of course as an investor your investment area should not focus on the national market but on one specific area.

"The property market in Canada is well balanced and prices should rise in line with general inflation, according to economists.

The market has moved from a strong sellers market but it is unlikely to suffer a serious downturn, economists from Scotia Economics say in a new report.

But there are significant regional differences. Former hot locations like Calgary, Saskatoon and Vancouver are now favouring buyers." Read Article

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rich Kids

Thank goodness I realized my money skills weren't up to par when I was young enough to make the significant changes necessary to ensure I wouldn't be worried about money at retirement. For the 35% percent of Canadians that are losing sleep at night it's time to take a course, read a book and make the changes necessary.

One thing seriously lacking is a foundation in money management for kids. Although I can still spell antidisestablishmentarianism thanks to Ms. Carroll in grade 4 - one thing I never learned in school was how to make a budget or even balance my cheque book. Now kids have more options as parents are themselves seeing what is missing in their own financial education.

"We teach the kids that money makes you more of what you already are," "You as a person determine how the money will show up in your life and how you use it." Kim Deep president of Kidz Make Cents a company providing youth with financial education

The government of Alberta has a series of courses you can take to improve your financial savvy, like Money 101 for teens and there are many private organizations that can help you or your children learn how to make money not waste it.

Find a course near you!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Time Management

The most important thing that I have had to improve is my time management. Since I've gotten pregnant and my belly is expanding I am becoming less and less comfortable sitting at a desk for large blocks of time.

My new strategy, which I got from Brian Tracy, is to block my time into 4 hour segments where I make an A, B and C list of my tasks and get them done - NO MATTER WHAT. It's really working well. Before I didn't allot time to one specific task just knew that I had to do it and sometimes it would take 4 hours, now if I only have 4 hours to do three tasks I do them all. It's actually amazing what I can accomplish when I am restricted in the time to do it.

Once you have mastered time, you will understand how true it is that most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year - and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade!
Anthony Robbins

Monday, August 18, 2008

On The Road To Being A Y.A.W.N

*I drive a fuel efficient mini-car.
*I don't buy brand name clothing nor do I want to.
*Our monthly living expenses are ridiculously low by choice.
*All our expendable income goes into investments.
*I tithe a percent of my income to help children in Africa.

Looks like we are on the road to being Y.A.W.N.s (Young And Wealthy but Normal). Why are they called Y.A.W.N.s? Because they are boring. Un-sexy as they sound, if everyone did this debt would be erased, people would be happier and the world would be a better place - especially if we all gave more to charity.

The basics behind being a Y.A.W.N, and they are very basic, are as follows:

1. Live below your means
2. Remember that stuff does not define self-worth
3. Give back

It's not rocket science but it's hard to follow in the conspicuous consumption world we live in.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Cabin In The Woods

We are back from our relaxing and incredibly cool week in Kirifuri, Nikko Japan. The hardest part is not getting back to work but re-adjusting to the incredible temperature difference between the highlands and Utsunomiya. I know it's selfish but I pray for rain everyday.

We stayed in a really cute cabin, spent most of our time reading and relaxing did some archery and just chilled. The absolute highlights were a huge deer in the neighbours yard that seemingly was oblivious to people and fireflies whose season is supposed to be June but I guess no one told these guys.

Our friends Jiorji and Harue, who own Seibu Net Home in Saitama, came to visit for a night and we had a wonderful time with them. They are great to hook up with because we can always bounce our business ideas off them or vent about the latest hurdles we are facing. They also were kind enough to bring a real Japanese treat, "Wagyu" - incredibly tender and delicious steaks that probably cost close to ¥7500 each.

Friday, August 08, 2008

We Are Off!

We are heading out to the cool mountains of Nikko and Kirifuri Highlands. I hope everyone in Japan has a great Obon holiday and is able to avoid traffic and long waits.

Is This You?

" The petty economies of the rich are just as amazing as the silly extravagances of the poor. "
William Feather

Don't Read If You Are Easily Offended!

Your mom is a ......?

We put an ad on Facebook to show how people can use offshore mortgages to invest in Real Estate. In response this email came through my site. Someone clearly doesn't like negatively geared advertising - " Don't Read This.." etc. I blanked out the "bad" words.

The funny part is THEY READ THE AD, CLICKED it and FILLED out the questionnaire - yeah it doesn't work at all!

I'm bombarded by ads all the time. We try to make our ads as constructive as possible. The follow up content is always relevant. If you re-acted like this to every ad that you came across I imagine you would be wrapped up in a straitjacket - as this person clearly is.

I had to laugh at this little person's anger.

Name: Your Mom
Phone: (555)EAT-"#$%%
Location: Your grandmother's grave, peeing on it.
How did you hear about us: Facebook
Topic: Don't read this!


Do you want to receive our newsletter: No

Thursday, August 07, 2008

More Like News Of The Weird

I know this is last week's news but I just came across it. Fidel Castro is very angry with Edmonton because 2 teenage players from the Cuban baseball team defected during an international junior baseball tournament in the city.

"Edmonton has become a dumping ground," "The Cuban athletes were badly taken care of. That city has the privilege of hosting that championship every year. We should analyze whether it is worth attending that tournament." Fidel Castro

Unfortunately the leader believes the defection has caused Cuba to lose 5 Gold medals in the Beijing Olympics that start today.

To soothe Castro's ruffled feathers, mayor Stephen Mandel has offered him a free flight to Edmonton so he can experience the beauty of the city and see that we

"I'm not sure Castro can really have a handle on Edmonton since he's never been here," Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel

Read Article Here

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Not For The Squeamish

We went to our last Papa Mama class to prepare for the delivery. I can tell you it was NOTHING like you would get in North America. It's my first child but if child birth classes are like this in Canada I would have heard about it!

We watched a very dark home birth video with a woman faintly groaning in the distance and then a baby popped out from under a red blanket. It had absolutely nothing to do with the actual birth that most people in the class will experience as we have all chosen a city hospital. I guess it was just a "this could be you scenario??".

The highlight was when the midwife, a lovely lady, put on special shorts that had a simulated vagina in the crotch, laid on the floor and showed us from 4 different angles how the baby will look when it comes out. I hope she is getting paid a lot. Todd and I didn't know where to look but our eyes kept straying to the frilly pink material sewn between her legs.

Last but not least and mildly interesting is that when women in Japan decide to eat their placenta they eat it raw with a bit of wasabi and soy sauce. It's buttery texture and rich flavor is compared to "BASASHI" or horse meat sashimi - which is actually quite delicious.

Temptation fleeted across my mind but only that.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Turn Your Tenants Into Team Mates

I was delighted to see that Don R. Campbell updated his blog recently. The newest post shows how to be a successful investor rather than a statistic on the MLS - care about your tenants.

"That means that the absolute first step in becoming a sophisticated real estate investor is to begin to think of your tenants as clients or customers. Without them you do not have a successful business no matter how hard you work or how many properties you own. Change your thought paradigm from tenant to customer and your marketing and business opportunities will begin to grow exponentially." Don R. Campbell

REIN (Real Estate Investment Network) actually has a series of publications that help you rent your properties and treat your tenants in a way that keep you the most tenanted and talked about property on the block.

Where Should You Move?

If you are thinking of relocating in Canada and need some help deciding where to start a new phase of your life then Money Sense's "Canada's Best Places To Live List" might help you out.

"Money Sense's third annual list of Canada's Best Places to Live is designed to help you measure as many different aspects of a community as possible. You can use our findings in several ways. Perhaps you're planning to relocate. Perhaps you're looking to invest in real estate. Maybe you simply want to know how your community stacks up against its neighbors. Whatever your situation, we've got the facts you need." Money Sense

The list is based on 4 main categories: prosperity, affordable housing, weather and air quality and lifestyle which are further broken down into three or four sub-divisions.

Frankly, as they themselves state in their report, there are many places that seem to have higher rank than they deserve, one clear thing is that this is not a list I would base investments on. Lifestyle maybe.

Excel Chart
Read Article

Friday, August 01, 2008

Alberta On BBC Women's Hour

I get the Women's Hour Podcast from BBC and throughly enjoy listening to it whenever I'm driving in my car. I was surprised to hear that the Alberta government went to the U.K to entice immigration to Canada. It's a short snippet and the link will probably expire in 7 days but if you care to listen here it is.

Listen to BBC Women's Hour