We Want to Support You!

August 10, 2014

This year, the MB Chapter started a new project “We Want to Support You!” where the Chapter will sponsor Members that are trying to raise money for a specific charity or event.

On May 3, 2014, my daughter and I participated in the 2014 Marathon- Lace Up Manitoba, 5mile walk/run for the Junior Canadian Diabetes at the St. Vital Park.  It was a chilly morning but my daughter and I met a lot of great people at the event and we had a lot of fun.

I raised over $350 which supports to the Canadian Diabetes Manitoba youth camp.  The focus of the camps are to provide children living with type 1 diabetes with opportunities to enjoy an authentic camp experience while having all of their diabetes needs monitored by a dedicated team of trained medical professionals.

While at camp, children learn about diabetes management in an enriching, safe and fun environment. At camp, diabetes education is experiential; meaning that learning about how to better manage diabetes happens through doing. These experiences result in “ah – ha!” moments and “diabetes milestones.” When children leave camp, they will have also gained a new level of independence in managing their diabetes and feel empowered to continue the healthy practices they learned at camp

Thank you CIC for your $25 donation to this great cause!

See how to apply for support here. We would love to highlight other members so I encourage everyone to participate in a good cause!

Debbie Baines, CCP

 

Team Diabetes - Deb & Daughter  Team Diabetes - All

Team Diabetes - All banner


Membership Report: July 2014

August 10, 2014

Membership Report to Jul 2014CIC membership seem to be stabilizing after years of effort to reverse the declining membership. The number of CCPs is down though, reflecting the continuing retirement of our members, though most encouragingly, there are close to 140 students in the system which has brought the membership in 2014 to be consistent with that of 2013, the first time membership has not declined sharply year-over-year.

Manitoba’s numbers reflects this overall trend, and membership is consistent with last year. National office’s staff changes caused some delay in sending membership notices out, so our numbers took some time to build. With some phone calls and emails, our membership will grow by a few more numbers before the end of summer.

Click on the image to enlarge.

 


Genius Bars

August 10, 2014

I had a recent experience with Apple’s Genius Bar. My son was having problems with his computer and insisted we go. I made the appointment online and got a confirmation email right away (a very good start).

In the few days between making the appointment and actually going, I constantly referred to the upcoming meeting as our ‘date at the nerd bar’. Actually, I was looking forward to the experience – my son was genuinely excited about having his machine looked at and happy to be going with me (and vice-versa), and I was interested in what was going to happen.

I will start with the conclusion: the “Genius” of the Genius Bar is not the staff – though they are very knowledgeable. The genius is that there is a Genius Bar at all. It is a free service (for Apple computer owners), and it is staffed by people who listen, respond, and then listen some more.

Technically they are doing after-market service, but what they really did at our ‘nerd date’ was to prepare my son and me for our next electronics purchase. The service was excellent, the staffer solved the problem and answered every single one of my (very chatty) son’s questions.

So what “genius” service can the credit and accounting department can offer to internal staff? That is hard, but I could (and did) take some immediate action…

  • I decided to get back into the habit of reading every sales rep’s weekly report (moderately painful to read), and responding when it was appropriate
  • I remind my staff that we want to make interactions with credit and accounting a painless experience for them, so they not only want to call back, but let their colleagues know “hey, it isn’t so bad talking to accounting”

So while there is no genius bar, better customer service is possible by just listening, then responding in a timely, informative and friendly manner.

As a side benefit, the reach of the credit and accounting folks is stretched a bit, allowing them to grow in social ability, an area that does not always come as second nature to them. People like being liked, and become more positive as a result, and that starts a circular pattern that grows on itself.

Conclusion: Frank Burns’ (of MASH) was right: “It’s nice to be nice to the nice!

Genius!


At the Setting of the Sun

August 10, 2014
  • BOOK REVIEW – Final Accounting: Ambition, Greed and the Fall of Arthur Andersen
  • Barbara Ley Toffler, Jennifer Ringold, 254 pages, Broadway Books, 2003, ISBN 0767914546

Arthur Andersen surrendered its CPA licence (which is the license that allows US audit companies it to perform audits of publicly traded companies) in August of 2002, effectively shutting the company down.  After being convicted of obstruction of an SEC investigation (related to Enron and Andersen’s shredding of documents), the once largest audit company in the world was out of business.

Final Accounting outlines how this happened, and places the blame squarely on the culture of a company used to being at the top of its profession, and on the leaders that failed to act on what they knew: the company was headed off the rails.

Toffler and Ringold reveal the making of an “Android” (the term for employees trained the “Andersen way”), the company’s money making strategy called “billing your brains out” and the divisive nature of the incentive plans within the company that pitted partner against partner, employee against employee.

The book chronicles the changes that took the company away from its winning mantra “Think Straight, Talk Straight”, and how those changes put the focus on pleasing the client at all costs.

Even at the very end, when there was little hope to save the firm, Toffler writes how the culture of denial, arrogance and pride caused the leadership at Arthur Andersen to fail to acknowledge that change was needed.

Toffler writes with inside knowledge: she was, ironically, the Partner in charge of Ethics and Responsible Business Practices at Arthur Andersen during the company’s crisis, and in a perfect place to document the fall of the once-great firm.

Companies like Enron, WorldCom and others that Andersen audited failed because of fraud at the highest levels within that company—fraud that Andersen knew about and yet failed to act, or worse, failed to notice.

The read is interesting and fast paced, and captures well the sadness and bitterness over individual failures as well as the failure of this once proud company. Well worth the time!

Subsequent to the release of this book

Interestingly enough, in 2005 the judgement against Andersen was overturned by the US Supreme Court in a unanimous decision. The company was essentially cleared on the basis that the instructions given to the original jury were so broad that the outcome would have been a guilty verdict no matter what the evidence.

Andersen maybe innocent of the charges, but guilty of astoundingly bad judgement. Not surprisingly, the company has not returned to business on a viable scale.


Cloudy With a Chance of Convenience

July 15, 2014

It is amazing what can change in 18 months. Last time we blogged about cloud storage , the main topic was how awesome Windows Live was as a cloud service.  It has email, calendar, free cloud storage (up to 7GB) and free online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. All still true, though it is now called “Outlook” and has changed its look to the Windows 8 look (tiles and pastel colours).

18 months later, I am still a loyal user of SkyDrive, happy that I can access and edit those files (including this one) from wherever I am. I also now use Dropbox, which has a different (and better) interface with my phone, and have been dragged into using Google Drive by another organization in order to share files with me. In all cases, I can see my online files on every device, and I can get them wherever I am.

Some security advice: don’t save anything overly personal or confidential to the cloud, and never save banking access info to the cloud. While it is unlikely that you will be hacked, it does happen from time to time. There are also many employees of these cloud services who do have access to those files, and though unlikely that they will troll through your files and cause you problems, it is something you should know.

Cloud computing in general has recently taken a significantly public stage with Edward Snowden’s revelations about just how much of our data can be watched (answer: all of it!). According to the movie “Terms & Conditions” (available on Netflix) everything is being recorded. And everything includes your phone calls, every email, every website you have visited, and every document you upload to the cloud. It is all being recorded and stored on a more or less permanent basis, and in fact a new facility in Utah is being build to do just that.

So I am not sure that “the cloud” as fluffy a place as it was for me 18 months ago. Yet even for the overly cautious, there is a lot that the cloud has going for it, and a small business or charity may find significant advantage to using these services. File sharing across long distances or many users, moving very large files between users, and for voluntary organizations, having a place to save files that is not tied to an individual’s computer can be significant in terms of organizational continuity.

Cloud services offer more secure business services, and (if you are willing to pay for it) individuals can get similar services. Dropbox is likely the most widely known outside of the integrated email service of Google and Outlook, but there are others like Box who offer similar services.

As with many things, sometimes we do stuff just because we can. For a very large majority of individuals, instant access to documents is simply not really needed (though we may want it). For businesses, access and file sharing is close to an absolute necessity.

To see if cloud storage is for you, check out these cloud services: www.dropbox.com and www.box.com.  There are good videos on what these services do, they are very jazzy…remember they are trying to sell you their services. Finally, assess what you need. If you are very mobile and want access from wherever, then online storage is a solution you can use.


Membership Report – May 2014

June 10, 2014

Click on the picture below to expand the report.

The May report shows an overall decline in membership for both Manitoba and Nationally. There are two things happening: first, members are retiring (see the increase in lifetime memberships, typically awarded to retiring members). Second, not everyone has paid their dues. Membership is calculated basis paid-up members, and there are always some who pay late (as credit professionals we may have a passing familiarity with that sort of behaviour)!

Student enrolment has increased by 27 (BC and Montreal specifically), and that is great news!

May Membership Report


The Artful Dodge

June 10, 2014

Have you ever been the victim of the Artful Dodge?

Let’s look at a recent and tragic case where an elderly man was discharged from the hospital, sent home and died before he got into his home (see this article).

The Manitoba Health Minister said that they will be reviewing the rules around how taxis help patients into their homes. This is a typical Artful Dodge…what is the issue here, that a taxi driver did not walk the man into his home, or that the hospital missed an imminent heart attack and sent an elderly man home in -40 weather?

The core argument made by the Minister is called an ad hominem argument (Latin for “to the man”), which is where a claim is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the person making the claim. It is a common debating technique, and one which is very difficult to defend yourself against.

While responding to this issue may be a challenge, the first hurdle to cross is realizing that you are facing this sort of situation. Many people’s first inclination is to (defensively) respond, thus starting an argument about something unrelated to the issue at hand.

If you are faced with this argument, generally you should try not to respond to the question, as it just takes you further away from your point. You should call the person on their argument (“that is not relevant”) and then restate your main point, the idea being that you want to discuss the main point and not the irrelevant point.

If you choose to respond to an ad hominem attack, an option is do what Jon Stewart tends to do, which is to accept the attack, embrace it with a self-deprecating joke, and then point out that they haven’t made a real argument: “Yes, I’m an idiot, and yet even I can see the gaping flaws in your argument. So the question is, why can’t you?”*

But what if the person making the ad hominem argument is your boss? What if a new policy is being developed in your area and someone is pushing an agenda you do not agree with? A clever or sassy answer may feel good but might be anything but wise in terms of your career.

So what kid of arguments might you face from your employer when debating, say, a new policy or procedure?

He or she might say “You don’t have the formal training and lack credibility to comment on this issue”, which would be a devastating thing for your boss to say, especially if said in front of others. But there are some good responses that will not get you fired…

  •  I have X years of experience in doing this work and I feel that I have a good understanding about what does and does not work
  •  I have an outside perspective on this issue and I think that good ideas can come from the outside
  •  Has my lack of formal training been an issue in this area up until this point?

Many people shy away from arguments, we have been trained to be polite and to avoid them, and others sometimes use that fact to their advantage. Don’t let them!

First recognize that you are in the situation, and then politely, but firmly, refute the argument. If you can do that, you will have made yourself a more valuable employee, and that will be noticed.

 

*From <http://www.quora.com/Logical-Fallacies/How-do-defend-against-and-respond-to-an-ad-hominem-attack>


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