Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Planet Dundas Square

I visit the Daily Dose of Imagery photo blog almost every day. I love this guy's photography of our beautiful city. He may use the same locations all the time, but one of them happens to be Yonge Dundas Square which is where my office is. His Flickr location is and he's also put together a very cool panoramic view of this area of downtown Toronto at:

There are deals to be found (from nice people too)

Ok, not completely a football post, but related...

I had a meeting in the West end of the city today and the office tower I was visiting had a small food court
(yes, the Hero burger didn't disappoint) and a few shops. On the way back to the car, a Man U shirt caught my eye and I stepped inside. It was a very plain looking store, mostly bargain racks and a strange selection of formal ladies attire. But sure enough, they had a few shirts of the world's biggest football teams clearly hanging on display. I saw an Arsenal shirt I've contemplated purchasing and checked the price (expecting to see the usual $110 price tag). All the shirts were $55 ! I made quite a big deal of the bargain with the sales lady who simply stated she doesn't want to be greedy and prefers to sell a good number of them and pocket a decent margin. She buys the shirts for $35. She had sold about 10 yesterday and I'm sure she'll sell a few more in the last few weeks of European football.

If anyone wants to pick up an authentic replica football shirt, pay a visit to Dalia at D&S Boutique in the Sun Life Financial Centre (Bloor and Islington) - say the Arsenal fan sent you !

Apart from saying that great deals can be found (if you keep your eye open), the reason for putting this into words was to acknowledge family-run, small businesses. And especially, those shop owners who are smart enough to have an eye for a hot product and simply what to make some good, fair, and honest money. Dalia provided great, friendly service that left me with a nice little story to tell. Plus I wanted to give her a little free advertising.

It just keeps on getting better

Apologies to the non-sports fans, but I have to write a quick wow on today's Champions League semi final bout. Just like the weekend game, this one was jammed full of the drama of the game, right thru to the very last seconds of extra time. I hope anyone who's a football fan saw it. For those that missed it, the result sets up a repeat match-up of Chelsea and Manchester United on May 21st in Moscow for the final.

Frank Lampard after putting away a gut wrenching penalty kick. Clear emotion with memory of his mother who passed away less than a week ago. I'm sure she'd be proud of her boy.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

I billion fans weren't disappointed

An estimated 1 billion people in over 600 million households all over the world tuned in to today's Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United. Why ? Arguably 2 of the best football teams in the world squaring off with one just 3 points ahead of the other with only 3 league games to play in the season. The stage was set for a cracker of a game and it didn't disappoint.
  • Goal line clearances
  • Ravanous fans
  • Arguing teammates
  • A penalty
  • Some blood
  • Super timed expert tackles
  • Controversial calls
  • Emotional sub plots
  • Boiling over tempers
  • Star studded substitutions
  • and a hot sunny day

Discover alternative opportunities with the follow-on question (if you're interested)

Example, buying clothes, electronics, etc. People are afraid to show interest because they don't want to be pressured into a purchase. You, as a customer, should always ask more if you are a really interested buyer (and not just a shopper). The fact you don't ask the follow-on question tells the sales person you're really only browsing and not interested in making a purchase.

Business. Good sales people ask lots of questions when have the opportunity (and sometimes even when the timing isn't ideal - following your customer into the washroom perhaps). But they only ask if they are really interested in doing business with the specific customer.

Relationships. Sometimes, people are afraid to ask further follow-on questions because they think their questions may be misconstrued as being nosy. If you're interested in what the other person is talking about, it's only natural you want to know more. The lack of the follow-on could suggest the other party isn't interested in the topic or you. But it could mean they are just being (overly) polite or shy.

Education. Whether in the 8th grade classroom or attending a business presentation, asking a follow-on or
clarifying question is the best way to solidify a newly learned concept or a way to find out more information (if you care and if you're interested).

In all of these situations, a follow-on question may open up alternative opportunities. The simple follow-on question ("
no, this isn't perfect, you don't have anything else you'd recommend, do you ?") could lead to a new idea or open your eyes to something you may have overlooked in your own shopping search; or perhaps in a sales meeting, a simple "Would you like to hear what else our company can do for you ?" or "is there someone else in your organization who you think would like to hear about us ?", could uncover new sales opportunities.

In relationships and at different times during a conversation, you could be on either side of the discussion, the one asking the questions or the one answering. If you're interested, you'll ask more questions of the person. If you're interested, you'll answer and ask your own questions. If one is more interested than the other, then the discussion will end abruptly or uncomfortably. Or worse, one person may get the impression the other person is interested and continue the (one-sided) discussion. At the end of which, the receiving party is saying
"man, I'm glad he's gone". But who's to blame ?

In verbal conversation, this back and worth is a natural process and one that ultimately, should produce a rich experience for both parties (if they're interested). With traditional letter writing (and maybe with blog writing), this is almost impossible. I remember writing letters when I was young with common questions like "
how's school going ?" or "did you like you holiday in Bognor Regis ?". What did I expect, a letter back in two months with the answers ? Electronic communications are tricky though. Many times, you don't want to ask the follow-on question because you think your barrage of emails is becoming intrusive or annoying, but that's only the case if the other party isn't interested in discussing alternatives with you or providing more information. But if they are interested and are really open to alternatives and want to build the relationship, then they won't mind at all. Instant messaging is the closest electronic option to the verbal conversation and the long back and forth Q&A is accepted (however, normally, only people that have already established good relationships use IM).

I think that when the right questions are asked and it leads us to something fulfilling, we unknowingly say we're lucky. As many would agree, you've made your own luck by asking follow-on questions and opening up alternative opportunities.

Any questions ?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Drew Carey pumps up the real football on Letterman and other misc. footy bits

Great to see some stateside publicity for the beautiful game (see youtube clip below). Drew happens to be one of America's biggest soccer fans - just look at some of the stuff you can find if you google "drew carey soccer".

Great to see TFC win their first game of the season on Sunday (against Beckham's boys, no less). For me, this comes just in time as Arsenal's premier league and Champion's league hopes were crushed last week. I love that MLS is just starting up as the leagues in Europe wind down - footy year round ! I'm also off to the our footy store shortly to pick some new boots for the lad as he's trying out for his school team this week.

If you're looking for a more comprehensive world football web site, then you may want to check in regularly to ESPN's soccernet. I actually heard about this from my Geordie mate Ashley (actually from Sunderland, and my hairdresser - don't laugh).

Who's your pick for the Champion's League ?

And a fellow blogger that I just found that seems to have a lot to say is jmayers and his "the beautiful game blog". I also just found this interesting (but very biased and "colourful") response to an article about soccer in the US on another "beautiful game" blog.

And finally - odd football item of the week - UW Engineering students add a virtual spark to the pub favourite foosball.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Football commentary

Just watching the LA Galaxy vs TFC footy game and I've got to rant. Not about our poor defense or the constant, ineffective, long balls but the horrible US commentary. Unfortunately, today's game is in LA and there's no Toronto based TV commentary. It's like they forget there's actually a game going on sometimes, with all the "colour commentary", iffy history lessons, and promotional "shout-outs". You just really appreciate the simplicity of a nice bloke's play-by-play commentary.

1-1 at the half, maybe I'll turn the volume down a little and let my son do the commentating.

On a related note, I was gutted about Arsenal's loss to Liverpool in the Champion's league mid-week. The thing that was quite disappointing was that the fantastic run from Walcott that ended with the Gunner's second goal was overshadowed by the final result.

And don't get me started on some dodgy refereeing over the last couple of weeks.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Hey PJ, put a record on

I finally got around to adding a new playlist on finetune, hope you like it - Latest rotation of tracks just in time for spring 2008. All over the map with a few old surprises, but common thread comes back to giving you something to move to. To access all my playlists go here.

Hey PJ, put a record on

I finally got around to adding a new playlist on finetune, hope you like it - Latest rotation of tracks just in time for spring 2008. All over the map with a few old surprises, but common thread comes back to giving you something to move to. To access all my playlists go here.

Politically incorrect observations from the foodcourt

Just enjoying my Hero Certified Burger (best burger in food court land) in the TD food court and concourse. Stupid really, because it’s nice enough to eat topside today.

I occasionally stop at this food court for lunch when I can’t make the 8 block walk back to the office without refueling. Perhaps it’s because I grab a seat at the concourse-facing bar that I seem to notice a number of clear patterns in this tangible and palpable rat race:

  • Ethnic defined cliques are just as prominent in the lunch hour business crowd as there are in the school yard. Perhaps related to this is the corollary that even people of similar height seem to team up for their refueling. A perfect distribution across all races.
  • The peacock-like young finance ace is still easy to spot, suite and tie, sharp starched collar, perfect posture with a gait that speaks super confidence. Optional accessories include ear-piece, Blackberry or attractive administrative assistant. Very few sightings of visual minorities in this category. Interestingly, it’s quite difficult to spot the female superstars of high finance with the exception of a few somber toned business suits.
  • There is the occasional sighting of a new “couple”, arm-in-arm, or hand-in-hand – couldn't they pick a more romantic spot than a stroll between Druxy’s Deli and Asian Gourmet ?
  • Why so few boomer specimens - they haven't all retired yet have they ? It can’t be just the food choices or their old fashioned work ethic. It actually feels like I’m average age or maybe, dare I even say, older than most of the passerbys.
  • One child spotted with Dad.
  • Surprisingly not too many people talking on the phone or listening to their iPods – perhaps the lunch hour is the last part of the day that remains true to traditional social behaviour – take a break and simply enjoy the company of your colleagues. That being said, I’m sure there are thousands working thru lunch at their desk.
  • One laptop user – me.
  • Belts laden with Security badges, cellphones and smartphones.
  • Large numbers of Tim Horton’s and Starbucks being taken back to the office as the numbers and noise levels become lower (1:35pm).
  • Here is another occasion where I’m amazed at the simple fact that there are millions of people in this great city that are strangers. I often have a related feeling getting onto the subway in the morning. It is true that I don’t keep the most regular schedule, but even so, I get on the subway at the same station almost every day, I probably step on to the same subway car most days too, and I only rarely glimpse the face of someone familiar. I think I’m going to lose today’s game of sit-here-until-I-see-someone-I-know-game.