Trust and Competency

Companies and Individuals that exude both trust and competency in their work are increasingly hard to find.

A few recent examples:

Samsung

  • Leadership charged with collusion
  • Produces sub-standard home appliances
  • Revealed only recently that “Smart TV’s” are prone to hacking and can be used to record behaviour

City of Toronto

  • Road maintenance contracts awarded to “select” firms who are then sub-contracting to lower bidders

Province of Ontario

  • Contractors using sub-standard asphalt to win the bid, only to keep repaving because of the poor quality
  • Ontario Power Generation/Ontario Hydro-Ridiculous solar re-purchase agreements for residential producers that lead to super high hydro rates

I could go on but would rather focus on why this continues to happen. When we accept sub-standard and poor performance as the new “Norm” we endanger the very existence of our institutions and companies. Dealing with poor performance adds costs and inefficiencies. We must go back to demanding more from our workers, management and governments to live up to what is expected of them.

Holding people, managers and representatives to account is not easy, nor HR friendly, but it must be something we are prepared to do. Accepting sub-par performance will mean that people will go elsewhere or lose faith entirely. Both scenarios are not good, but losing someone’s trust can be devastating.

If you are not happy with your product, service or government representative, make it known that you demand better. Hold them to account, vote, or find someone that you can trust and is competent.

Remember

Are you with me?

Regards,

Rick Barbosa

 

 

 

Has “Free Trade” really helped us?

In my humble opinion NO.

Here is what I used to base my answer on. When we lowered tariffs in North America it was meant to encourage a freer flow of goods between nations. Economists tell us that increasing trade creates wealth and was essential to grow economies on both sides of the border or for that sake internationally (TPP, CETA). Free or tariff reduced trade is only a recent trend so we must look at why we had tariffs in the first place.

Tariffs or “taxes” were meant to protect our local and mature markets that were the envy of the world. Our Markets (Canada/US) harbored a healthy working population with disposable income and a robust manufacturing sector. Unlike other parts of the world North America (Canada/US) had made investments for the betterment of it’s population that included:

  • Health and Safety
  • Organized Labor
  • Minimum wage
  • Social Security/Government pensions
  • Workplace or Self-Directed retirement plans
  • Workers Compensation
  • Employment standards Legislation
  • Environmental Protection

Anyway you cut it, these programs increased our cost of production, albeit while producing a higher standard of living. The Tariffs made cheaper goods that were made in countries or states that did not have any of these obligations competitive by increasing their landed cost. In most cases local was cheaper when you factored in tariffs. This drove investment in both countries by companies who wanted to serve these rich markets by making it cost effective to produce locally.

We were told that lowering tariffs would drive competition and innovation because we would be allowed access to their markets on an equal footing in exchange for access into our markets. That did not happen. Restricted or limited access is what we got.

Too often national or state interests fell outside of NAFTA like Health and Safety, minimum wage, and environmental standards. So what in essence happened is that for companies to survive the onslaught of cheaper goods they too had to go offshore to remain competitive. In fact the standard of living has not increased in Mexico, the U.S and Canada. All the wealth that has been created did not raise the standard of living in any developed country, instead it only boosted the multi-national corporations bottom lines. This came at the expense of blue-collar and lower level white collar workers.

I am a strong proponent of responsible capitalism and competition. It’s the best system period and one that drives growth and innovation. When Free Trade was introduced and as other European and Pacific agreements pop up we must ask ourselves one fundamental question:

Is the playing field really level on  both sides?

Rick Barbosa

Albert

 

The Road to Prosperity: Step 4 Live Below your Means

Like my other posts, the 4th step on the “Road to Prosperity” is not new or a “Quick Fix” but instead is time-tested and wisdom from generations of prosperous families and individuals throughout the ages. All of us have heard stories of celebrities and lottery winners that have wound up broke and worse off from lack of proper money and lifestyle management. To a lessor extent, our neighbours that try to “keep up with the Jones” often find themselves up to their eyeballs in debt and stressed out.  A prime example here in Canada are those hoards of Hockey parents spending thousands of dollars each year on their children for fees, equipment and travel. Many say they are doing it for the kids, but if you’ve ever hung out with Hockey parents its more often than not about the social aspect of the group. Many parents don’t know what to do with themselves once the kids choose not to play sports anymore or simply outgrow or don’t make the cut any longer. Parents often come to me with stories of how they blew 50k or more on organized sports with nothing to show for it but a burnt out mini van and a large line of credit.

To truly build wealth we must look at not just what we are doing or making in our careers, but how we are living our lives. It’s easy for governments to print money because there is no individual accountability to pay it back. They just tack it on to future generations’ tax bill and carry on. You and I live in the real world where we have to balance what comes in with what goes out. If we’re spending more than we’re making trouble is not far behind. In these situations the main culprit is “Lifestyle”. Keeping up appearances and a façade can only go on so long. Better to have a smaller house, older car and better family cohesion than to worry about maintaining all of the above.

Learn to live well. Don’t worry about what everyone else has. Appreciate what you have.  Think about what you need versus what you want and watch your wealth grow.

Take care and till next Step,

Rick Barbosa

 

The Road to Prosperity: Step 3 Pay Yourself

It’s not a secret, nor is it a new concept, but it is worth repeating, and it is extremely important if you ever want to build wealth and prosperity. After accepting responsibility for your future, tracking and budgeting your spending, the next logical step is to ensure that you treat yourself as an item on your budget. One of my clients asked me how do I pay myself??? Trying to keep things simple I said, treat yourself like a bill. You pay Hydro, Gas, Mortgage, so why not pay yourself. She immediately got the concept. She slotted “Savings” into her spreadsheet and began slowly putting away money each paycheque and was surprised how fast it started to add up.

Now there are different schools of thought on the order and importance savings plays in your budget so I will give you my view based on my own personal experience. During my crunch years (raising kids, paying the mortgage, high household debt) I made it a priority to pay my loans and mortgage off as quickly as I could. This meant that I put very little aside into savings, but still managed to save something each time. My reasoning was simple. I was going to get rid of the debt sooner and sacrifice now (social life, travel, entertainment) while the kids were young so I could enjoy life later. Some may opt to have a more balanced approach, while others are able to both save and pay off debt successfully at the same time. Whatever method you choose, so long as you remember to keep something aside for yourselves then things will work out. If you’re not saving, then ask yourself this question, “What do I have to show for all my hard work?”

Until next time.

Take Care.

Rick Barbosa

The Road to Prosperity: Step 1 Take Responsibility

responsibility2

Prosperity however you define it, either being happy, healthy or financial stable, all comes about by what I’ve learned is the first and most important step in getting there. Taking personal responsibility means you take ownership for your situation. Don’t wait around for someone else to make things happen, instead, realize that you and you alone are the one who needs to take steps if you want to be financially stable. Successful individuals all have this in common. Those who rose to the top or have great jobs realized that only they could get themselves there. It’s easy to be lazy and just do the bare minimum and get by in life and just pay the bills. Wouldn’t you rather have little to no debt, a paid off house, savings and better vacations with your family?  Taking responsibility or being “accountable” for your life is going to get you there. Don’t rely on employers, government agencies, friends, family etc… These as many of you know can be unpredictable and can lead you into a false sense of security.

The road to prosperity is not a quick one, it takes time, effort, focus and patience. But when you start seeing the results of your actions and how empowering responsibility for one’s success can be, you won’t look back.

Here are some “Areas of Responsibility” that you need to take ownership for.

  1. Education-Go as far and as financially feasible as you can. Make sure you are “investing” in the right career path
  2. Learn your job well or start your own. Being OK at something just doesn’t cut it anymore. Be Great at something.
  3. Learn about money. How to handle it and make it work for you. Don’t be its slave, be its master
  4. Take care of yourself and your family.
  5. Be an example for those around you. Help others like those who have helped you. We all depend on one another.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and stay tuned for Step 2 on the Road to Prosperity.

 

Take care,

Rick Barbosa