Monday, December 15, 2014

EMyth #HoldMeToIt

We're hoping that EMyth Small Business Coaching and Consulting ( help us grow our business in 2015. Although I've written about business for 14 years as a journalist, running a small business is quite a different thing. There are so many challenges – from operations to marketing – that present so many different problems for small business owners. Next year, we'd like to grow our SAT and ACT tutoring business online, as many students want to prepare for the SAT and ACT in parts of the country in which there is no SAT or ACT preparation locally. 
In order to grow online, we really need to focus our marketing online. My idea would be to focus on a particular region and build business region by region.
We would need help with
·        Search engine optimization: We definitely want to do white-hat (legitimate) search engine optimization.
·        Blogging: It sounds old school, but I believe this would still be an important part of our online marketing. We’d like to figure out the most effective way to blog.
·        E-mail marketing: We are just starting to get into marketing via email using email marketing tool ConstantContact. We’d like to figure out how to make best use of this tool, including launching a newsletter.
·        Online advertising: Facebook, Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp. The possibilities for online advertising are endless and often leave me, as a business owner, confused. I’d like to find out the best online advertising for my business.
·        Social media marketing. We would like to find out about particular social media campaigns that would build awareness about our services.
·        Video marketing. Marketing via video seems to be all the rage nowadays. We’d like to find out how we can use video marketing.
·        An in-bound call center. Customers understandably despise voicemail. We’d like to find the best way to start and maintain calls through an inbound call center.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Alexandre Bilodeau is a true Canadian Hero

I found this in my drafts folder... (It's an old entry but still appropriate.)

I've lived in Canada for less than two years, but I understand very well why Alexander Bilodeau is a national hero. It's not just because he won gold in men's freestyle moguls. It's not only because he won Canada's first-ever gold medal on home soil, after gold droughts in Montréal and Calgary.
He's also a hero because he's so humble; Canada loves humility.
And Canada loves people who fight for those who are less fortunate.
So what better than to have a humble gold medalist who looks up to his older brother, who has cerebral palsy?
Bliodeau pulled his brother out of his wheelchair with such ease before a CTV interview that it was clear he was accustomed to helping his brother get up and walk. It was clear that he remained close to his brother. He doesn't pity his brother; he admires him. And that's how it should be.
Within a few days after immigrating here from the USA in July 2008, I learned about another Canadian hero, Terry Fox, who had cancer and ran across Canada, with one prosthetic leg, to raise money for cancer research.
I can't think of one American who is not only well-known but also revered because he raised money for charity. Canada's national heroes are different from national heroes of other countries.
And Bilodeau fits right in with Canada's blueprint for heroism.
Congratulations, Alexandre. As a new immigrant to Canada, I am proud to call you my hero.

Don't Worry. I've Suffered All My Life.

There's a great Colombian expression that Luis and I have imported to Canada.
Suppose you are sitting and you offer me your seat.
I could say: "No te preocupes. He sufrido toda mi vida."
It means, "Don't worry. I've suffered all my life."
What a wonderful Colombian expression!
Every time I say it people just laugh hysterically.
For the last year, we've had lots of our friends in Vancouver picking up the expression.
It's a hit every time.
It's just so much fun to have make laugh so much.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Olympic celebration

Here are photos of Luis and me visiting downtown during the Olympics.
Here are more pictures of the Olympic celebration. First, there are pictures of friends of ours and then pictures of the view from our apartment, followed by pictures of the celebration after Canada beat the U.S. for the gold medal in hockey.
Crosby for Prime Minister!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Vancouver Olympics 2010

Luis and I went to various pavilions of the Olympics on Sunday. After we had a bison burger and Saskatchewan, we went to the Saskatchewan pavilion and had this photo taken.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tami and Eddie

We had a great time with our friends Tami and Eddie.
They got to see a the nice view from our apartment on the first day, as the weather was great. Then we walked along English Bay at night.
Then they spent several days in Whistler skiing. While they went skiing, they got snow. But it rained here, and the rain continued upon their return.
But even with the rain, we enjoyed the aquarium and the Sun Yat Sen garden. We only had one nice day upon their return -- their last full day here.
We went to the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge, hiked a bit, then checked out the view from Capilano Park.
We also had some great food around town.
Here are some pictures from their trip, including some views from our apartment.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Foreign-transaction fees on credit cards

I hate those stupid foreign-transaction fees on credit cards.
Friends from New York are coming up to visit, so I warned them about the foreign transactions fee on credit cards.
Visa and MasterCard charge banks 1% for foreign transactions. Initially, banks passed along merely the 1% fee. But then they started getting greedy and realized they could make a profit from it. Some of the banks now charge 2% or 3% for transactions in a foreign currency, or even for transactions that occur abroad in US currency.
Capital One doesn't charge the fee at all, so I use Capital One for all of my charges.
But I recently lost my card, so I had to use my Bank of America card, which I originally got from MBNA.
MBNA used to not charge the fee. Now they were taken over by Bank Robber of America.
They charged me 3% -- a $34.25 fee for purchase of nearly $1,200.
I was livid. I didn't even know B of A charged the fee. MBNA didn't.
I've been with MBNA since 1996, have a $30,000 credit line and have been a great customer.
But I was so mad I called up to cancel, telling them I was angry about the international fee and that Capital One doesn't charge the fee. I figured they would just credit the fee.
Customer service representative answered the phone said, "Thank you for being a customer since 1996. How can I help you?"
I told her I would like to cancel my credit card because of the fee. And she promptly canceled my credit card.
Later I called up and said instead of canceling the card I would rather just get a credit for the fee. The customer service representative told me they have been instructed not to credit that fee. I asked a lot of questions and I was persistent, but I wasn't getting anywhere.
I asked if I would get credit if I returned the merchandise. She said I would not.
I was upset. This was really the principle of it.
Then I called up and disputed the charge. The customer service representative told me that I could not dispute the charge because it was a fee.
I asked for a supervisor. He said his supervisors could not credit the fee. I asked to speak to them. He said they were busy.
I told him that the bank must allow me to dispute the fee under the Fair Credit Billing Act.
He said, "What act?" I said, "The Fair Credit Billing Act."
He came back and said that he could not credit the fee because he cannot access it but that customer service would do so.
He then transferred me to customer service. The customer service representative thanked me for being a customer since 1996 (not realizing I heard he canceled the card) and promptly gave me a refund of the fee.
I don't mind them passing along a fee from Visa or Mastercard that they have to pay. (I do mind Visa and Mastercard charging them because they make money on the transaction itself.)
Anyway, my friends charged a hotel in Whistler. Their fee: more than $55. The comment in her last e-mail: "I'm getting a Capital One card."
B of A and the others will lose customers to Capital One, which lives by its promise to not charge fees. It's the same reason is doing well. Both treat their customers right, and their customers come back.
I miss MBNA. I don't miss Bank Robber of America.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Squirrels in Montreal

I'm not making this into a squirrel blog, but as a close friend and a lover of squirrels is one of the biggest fans of my blog, I've posted some nice pics of squirrel statues from a building in Parc Mont Royal in Montreal. The building was very dark, but I did the best I could.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Banff Squirrel

Luis and I visited Banff and saw many cute squirrels, especially at Lake Louise.
Check out this other cute Banff squirrel.
As a couple was preparing to take a timed shot, the squirrel popped up in front of the camera, which zoomed in on his cute face, leaving the background blurry.
I laught at this photo every time I see it; it's now my desktop background.
Check out the full caption here.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy July 4th

This morning Luis and I said "Happy Anniversary"to each other. But we sort of forgot that it's also the Fourth of July. He's working at Staples today and I'm teaching the SAT this afternoon.

It's weird being out of the country for the 4th.

We do have a fourth of July here in Canada, you know. Did you think that the calendar goes from July 3rd to July 5th in Canada???

Yesterday, I was speaking to a PR guy in Washington State. I said, “Have a Happy Fourth of July.” He said, “You, too. Oh, no. You don’t celebrate that.”

I said, “I’m American. I do celebrate it.”

Anyway, Happy Fourth of July!

By the way, for those of you who don't yet know, I got a summer job at The Vancouver Sun. It's going great. I love it. The paper has a hiring freeze. So I'm filling in for people who are on vacation. But it's full-time for the summer.

I'm applying for a teaching jobs in the fall.

Luis is still processing his papers to get his licence (<==Canadian spelling) in medical technology.
Oh, by the way, we filed a discrimination complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal against the guy who refused to rent to us because we're gay. Even though we're obviously not going to take the place. we want him to know he can't do this.

That brings up the fact that we found a place with an incredible view in Burnaby, which is a city next to Vancouver. We're less than 10 minutes from the SkyTrain (subway) which would bring us downtown in less than 30 minutes. It's more of a hike, but we got a two-bedroom for less than we are paying for a one-bedroom now.

Anyway, enjoy your barbecues.