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This week, I will not write about a successful entrepreneur, an amazing inventor, or business owner. Rather, let’s talk about a custodial worker who lives by the old expression, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” and has learned the art of compound investing. Now in her 50’s, she can retire pretty much anytime she chooses.

Local entrepreneur and educator, Mike Cassidy, heard Anne Sheehan’s story at an event, and it reminded him of a story in a book I recommended to him written by Tony Robbins called “Money – Master the Game.” He realized we have a master right here in PEI, cleaning the McDougall Hall Business Building on the UPEI Campus.

Anne is one of the most inspiring people I have met in a long time. In fact, she now provides lectures to students enrolled in the Advanced Entrepreneurship Program at the Business Faculty of UPEI taught by Mike Cassidy. He is an exceptionally forward-thinking professor who continually challenges his students and ensures they hear real-life lessons from everyday people who initially struggled, and then achieved great success.

Anne is not highly educated nor is she a financial wizard. In fact, she came from a poor family of 11 siblings, and knows what it is like to be cold and hungry. As she got older, she decided that she did not want to be dependent on others or the government, and wanted to retire comfortably.

She also knew that her future depended on taking personal responsibility for the choices she made. She refused to join the crowd who continually complains and blames others for their hardships.

The first step in her success happened in her early 20’s. She went on a quest to understand millionaire thinking. She spoke with successful people, read books, and listened to motivational tapes. She then set clearly articulated goals for her own future.

Anne began by putting small amounts away from each paycheck directly into an RRSP (she did not even get to see it), then expanded that to include TFSA’s and other savings programs. She also made sure she did not accrue any debt.

She realized that by borrowing, people end up paying twice as much for everything they buy, with half of what is earned going to making lenders rich. But to do that, she did without many day-to-day luxuries her friends enjoyed. She was determined to set money aside for her future.

As a result, she was able to pay for her son’s tuition and purchase a house and is now mortgage-free. She even earns additional revenue from renting the extra space.

To assist with sticking to her self-imposed discipline she used four strategies:

  1. Got rid of credit cards
  2. Worked multiple jobs at the same time
  3. Set up automatic deposits into her savings accounts
  4. Gave up smoking and put that money into investments

She is now teaching her son these principles, and she is available for speaking to groups. She lets people know the importance of setting goals, treating others with respect, investing in their own personal development, and making choices that bring happiness.

Anne Sheehan is changing lives, one person at a time, whether it is students or just people she meets. She teaches them to respect and love money, not abuse or waste it. Her advice to everyone:

Do not let fear control your life, take personal responsibility for wherever you find yourself.

My question for all workers:

What are you doing to plan for a comfortable retirement and life of independence?

I’m a big fan of Chip and Dan Heath, bestselling authors of Made to Stick (which explained why certain ideas catch on while others die), Switch (Which showed us how to make changes at work and in life), and Decisive (which explained how to make better choices).  As of today, they just launched their newest book, The Power of Moments: Why Certain Moments Have Extraordinary Impact.

In this book, The Heath brothers dissect what, specifically, makes a particular experience memorable and meaningful. And then based on these attributes, challenges us to “be the author of them.”

So why should you care?

In business, the whole notion of creating an exceptional customer experience (CX)  is at the top of everyone’s minds.  And some have done a great job at defining some basic attributes. (For example, see Lior Arussy’s book, Exceptionalize It).  The Heath brothers take it one step further to provide further ideas to springboard and implement CX thinking.  It certainly has got my brain thinking!

In my life, I can also see how these principles apply.  Many years ago, after my second child was born, a dear friend shared her secret to raising great kids.  She said, “Your job is to make positive memories.  As they get older, that’s what they remember.”  And now that my kids are grown and flown the nest, when I asked them, “What do you remember about your childhood?” they replied some simple things – like making sure I made a favorite chicken buffalo sandwich for school.  I never understood how that was important, but now I do (hint: it relates to a transition and connection).

So if you want to be more intentional about making magical moments at work and in your life, I highly recommend this book.


KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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As many of you are aware, this past summer I have been writing about a diversity of entrepreneurs in Prince Edward Island (PEI).  What I have discovered is that we have some of the most brilliant and hardworking business owners and leaders in the country.  We also have diligent employees, who sincerely want to do their best to help their organizations achieve success.

So why are many organizations struggling, and why can’t leaders get everything done?  More importantly, why are relationships between management and staff reported to be at an all-time low?

It is because companies promote high-potential, talented people who have proven themselves to be very capable at doing their jobs.  However, when they get promoted to management, instead of doing things and fixing problems, which they are good at, they are now required to “get things done through others” ─ they must become coaches, not workers.  But, these new managers have very little experience or training on how to manage, coach and be a mentor, and often the talents and skills of their people are overlooked.  Often, they end up burning out, trying to be a manager who takes care of every detail and solve every problem.

This detracts from the development and job satisfaction of their people, and they are perceived as a controlling, micro-manager, who will eventually fail.  Have you heard the expression, “You are either born to be a manager or you are not?”  This is not true.  Almost everyone can be a great and successful manager with the appropriate training.

I also hear the Peter Principle recited by leaders – meaning people get promoted to their level of incompetence.  This too is a fable.  What actually happens is we promote talented people with great potential into management positions, and then do not provide them with the support, skills development, or coaching they require.
Repeatedly, these managers say to me: “It’s quicker to just do it myself.”  In the long run, it’s not.  Skilled managers who have been trained to delegate, develop, and empower others always get more done, more effectively, and are generally less stressed.
A 2011 Poll by DDI Research Group found the following:
  • Only 11 percent of managers in U.S. companies have any formal management training.
  • Over 20 percent said they were promoted into management because of their technical skills.
  • A full 57 percent had to learn management skills through the “sink or swim,” “baptism by fire method.”

These figures are inexcusable. I suspect the statistics might even be worse in the Maritimes.  Most companies would not hire somebody to drive a truck, or even clean windows without appropriate training.  So why do organizations continue to put people in management positions where they are responsible for other human beings – probably the most important job they will ever have ─ with little or no training?

Today’s competitive pressures have forced every corporation to re-examine its practices. Many companies now realize that they can’t afford to continue to operate with ineffective, unskilled front-line management.

To succeed in the future, every organization must:

  • Have highly skilled, but less layers of managers.
  • Have day-to-day decision making closer to the customer.
  • Utilize the collective capabilities of every worker.

The organization that can harness the collective potential of all its employees will become a powerful force for producing long-term success. But, this will only happen with a skilled and supportive management team.

My question for business owners:

Do you have a formal on-going training process to ensure your managers are prepared to take on the role of leader?

When you first enter Island Chocolates in Victoria by the Sea, it feels like you’ve gone back in time to a general store of the 1800’s.  That’s because you have!  The building was actually the Wright Brothers General Store from 1888 into the 1960’s.  It still has that charm because the Gilberts did their best to restore most of the building to its original look and feel. Continue reading “Growing A Sweet Business: Managing the Supply Chain” »

Have you ever had an amazing customer experience where everything smacks of the brand promise?  At a restaurant, the maitre de, the server and the chef paid attention to every detail.  During your hotel stay, the towels and the amenities were above the brand’s standards.  Sure you have!  In Janelle Barlow’s book, Customer Branded Service, she calls this confluence of events as “brand on.”  The company and the employees are delivering at and above the brand’s promise to the customer.
Continue reading “Brand ON or Brand Off?” »