The View from The Niagara Guide

General observations and musings on how we can make Niagara a better place.

Litmus Test

Mark Kawabe - Monday, September 19, 2016

A litmus test for social justiceThere are lots of "marginalized" people in our society. What makes someone marginalized? In general, if people are part of society but aren't welcome by the majority, they are considered marginalized.

If you think about the news headlines, you'll probably be able to think of many marginalized groups in our society. Women. Visible minorities. People with disabilities. Indigenous people. The LGBTQ+ community. The list goes on, and on, and on.

There are those who've said that marginalized groups should just "get over it" and get on with bettering their lives. It's easy to say, but it doesn't recognize the reality that the structures of society weren't created to give those groups equal opportunities. This is why we often hear discussions about institutionalized racism, sexism, rape culture etc.

I watched an interesting video about racism that I think applies to many of societal issues. Here's the link to the video. In short, the audience (predominantly "white Americans") was asked to stand up if they would be happy to receive the same treatment as the black population is generally treated. Nobody stood. The question was repeated, yet nobody stood up.

It was then pointed out that every audience member obviously knew African-Americans are treated worse than white people in American society. The question was then asked why everyone was willing to accept the situation and allow others to be treated that way. Silence.

If you find yourself wondering why a group is complaining of how they're being treated, you can ask yourself a similar question.

Are you willing to be treated the same way women are treated in society?

Are you willing to be treated the same way the poor are treated in society?

Are you willing to be treated the same way indigenous people are treated in society?

Are you willing to be treated the same way people with disabilities are treated in society?

Are you willing to be treated the same way LGTBQ people are treated in society?

And, if you're not willing to be treated that way, are you working to change the status quo for everyone's betterment?

 



Here We Go Again

Mark Kawabe - Friday, June 24, 2016

The British people have spoken and have voted to leave the European Union. 52% of the population have chosen the uncertainty of leaving vs. the uncertainty of remaining. The one thing the two sides have in common is fear.

The fear of staying in the EU, with its perceived bureaucracy, ability to impose rules on its member states and unaccountability was enough to convince a majority of Britons to vote to leave. The fear of economic uncertainty was an major factor in why almost an equal number voted to stay.

The start of the plunge at the top of a roller coaster

With all the uncertainty, one thing is certain: change is scary, but it's less scary if we seem to be in control. 52% of voters felt they would have more control over their futures by not being part of a larger entity. Thinking we have control over a potential outcome helps reduce fear.

The media headlines today are fear-provoking. They always are and they always will be. Fear is how the media get our attention and make their money. If there's one thing you have control over, it's your ability to recognize that despite the challenges you face, there are some things you control and some things you don't. Control what you can, then deal with whatever else comes your way to the best of your abilities.

We're on a big roller coaster. There's a build up, we go over the precipice and then are thrown around more loops, curves, swoops and hills. Ultimately though, we wind up in the same place as we were before, a little shaken up, our equilibrium thrown off, our hair a mess, and slightly changed for the experience.

Enjoy the ride as best you can and remember: we're all in this together.

 



Avoiding Business Erosion

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Change is all around us. It's in our society, in our technology, in our work, in our home. I think humans have a gene for change wired into their DNA. Unfortunately, we don't seem to have any genes that make dealing with change any easier.

Business Erosion

Your business is operating in an environment where new competition starts up seemingly overnight and old markets dry up and fade away. How are you adapting to this change? Are you like water, just going with the flow? Or, are you an island, trying to weather all storms with stoic resolve?

Welland native Anthony Lacavera certainly knows how to create and navigate change. He founded Wind Mobile in 2008 and took on telecom giants Rogers, Bell and Telus. His company was recently sold to Shaw Communications for $1.6 billion.

Niagara Falls business fixture Sunny Halani has shepherded his UPS Store through major changes in the printing industry. The internet has posed a double challenge to the world of print. Email and PDFs have reduced or replaced (for some) the need to print brochures. The internet has also allowed the creation and rise of low-cost, DIY services like VistaPrint whose low prices are very appealing. Sunny's built a business based on stellar customer service, exceptional product quality and of course, his Sunny personality. In a world where print material is often considered a commodity, Sunny's way of doing business is helping his business thrive.

Wind Mobile's innovations allowed it to prosper. Sunny's UPS Store's success is based on superior customer service and doing the job right. What will be the right approaches for your business to take for it to stand the test of time and stand up to the winds of change?



What if . . . ?

Mark Kawabe - Wednesday, April 21, 2010
  • Everyone was healthy: We might need 50% less doctors and nurses. Convenience stores might close because of lowered cigarette sales. There could be two or three times as many stores selling nutritional supplements, bicycles, running gear and sports equipment and less selling televisions and Lazy-Boys. Personal trainers would be able to make a very comfortable salary. Fast food restaurants would switch away from serving fat-bombs to healthier fare - or close completely. Our communities would have cleaner air and water. We'd probably know our neighbours as we'd see them while out for our evening walks. 
Getting rid of one problem could cause lots of problems - depending on which side of the fence you sit. This is why many people are happy with the status quo - problems and all. They're in businesses that exist because there are problems in society.

We "all" recognize that we should eliminate problems in our society. "Everybody" thinks its a good idea. Since you're part of that whole, what have you done today to make our society a better place?

Coming soon: "Feel Good Niagara" - helping people learn about how they can make their lives better.

Take Your Head Out of Your Ass

Mark Kawabe - Friday, March 05, 2010
You are so the same as everyone else that nobody cares.

"But wait - I'M DIFFERENT!!!"

So, how exactly are you different enough that people SHOULD care?

I'm waiting...

...still waiting...

...and waiting.

The truth is most of us are lousy at communicating our differences which is a shame, because it's the only thing that's really important. We let potential customers assume we fit the "standards" of our industry and since we've co-operated by colouring inside the lines like everyone else, there's nothing special about us to make people go WOW!!! Yep. Guilty as charged. Me too. Been there, done that. Perhaps I'm still doing it.

But today I'm taking a friend's advice and taking my head OUT of my ass, giving it a shake and looking at myself and my business with a more critical eye. Change is happening all around me anyway, whether I want it to or not. If things are going to be different and better, change had better begin with me.

Or in your case, you. I hope you're enjoying the view and the fresh air. Now get to work on making things better.

And, for those of you who are seeing this on a Friday afternoon and thinking change can wait until Monday, the good news is you're right. It CAN wait. The better time to start is now.

Make it a great weekend!


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