Lies, Damn Lies, and Entrepreneurship

Yup.  For example, Dr. Anita Kelley of Notre Dame did an interesting “science of honesty” study in 2012.  She tested 110 subjects, half of whom were told to stop telling lies for ten weeks and half of whom were given no special advisement about lying.  When those in the no-lie group told three fewer lies than in other weeks, they complained less of headaches, tension, sore throats, anxiety and other maladies than those in the control group.  The non-lying participants also reported that their close personal relationships had improved and their social interactions were more easeful.  

3 Strategies James Altucher Uses to Master New Skills and Perform at His Peak

He also figures out how those same microskills help him in other areas of his life. For example, the “crowd work” he learned for stand-up helps him perform better during TV interviews or when he’s dealing with customers or employees.  

How to apply this to your life: Rather than say, “I’m a bad writer,” identify the microskills you need to improve, like storytelling or sentence structure. Then, sharpen those skills one small step at a time. Keep in mind that everything you do, from golfing to closing sales, requires a set of microskills that you can improve.

5 Things Your Cover Letter Needs If You Want People to Read It, According to a Recruiter

Do recruiters read cover letters?  Big disclaimer: I am just one lowly recruiter. There are a lot of other people in my profession and I don’t speak for us all. But what I’m about to say is what I feel is an accurate sample size of what most of my peers in my field can all agree on. Hard truth on this one: absolutely not. Not only do we not usually read them, most of the time we don’t even open that attachment or give cover letters a cursory glance. It’s such a waste of time. Many companies have even stopped asking for them altogether. But I’ll tell you who DOES read cover letters: hiring managers. Not all. In fact, a lot don’t, but in the entire hiring equation, were I to assign likelihood, a hiring manager is more prone to read the cover letter than anyone else involved. And even then, I’d add another factor that narrows the field – hiring managers at small companies with lower hiring volume (like a small non-profit) are more likely to read a cover letter than a hiring manager at companies like Amazon or KPMG. In my opinion, if you want your cover letter to be read, do these things:

NAFTA’s open borders mean Canadian exporters are caught in trade war crossfire: Don Pittis

Soybean farmer Philip Shaw is suffering from the effects of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Ironically, as U.S. President Donald Trump threatens to up the ante with China, the NAFTA deal that he has called “the worst trade deal ever” means Canadian exporters like Shaw are suffering the backwash from sanctions never intended for them.

Regular readers may recognize Shaw as an agricultural economist I have quoted. But wearing his other hat as a Canadian soybean producer, the Dresden, Ont., farmer has been caught in the midst of an intensifying global tariff storm.

Double trouble

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” says Shaw. “I assume this is very bad for trade, for soybeans. It’s been very bad for me.”

That pain is an example of the unintended consequences when the world’s countries start gunning for each other in a trade war. And strangely, while Canadian businesses should be exempt from counter-tariffs exacted by other countries on U.S. industries, that’s not the way it has worked out.

Instead, the Canadian economy could end up suffering a double whammy.

A customer scoops soybeans as she shops at a supermarket in China, the world’s largest importer of the product. (Reuters)

As well as being hit by U.S. tariffs such as those on Canadian steel and aluminum — plus the effects of the Canadian countermeasures trade experts say are necessary — Canadian product prices have already been hit by counter-tariffs from China that were supposed to be aimed exclusively at U.S. targets.

If Trump’s latest threat to put tariffs on more than a half-trillion dollars worth of Chinese goods leads to the inevitable Chinese response, the list of Canadian products affected is likely to expand.

Soybeans are a perfect illustration of how the process could work.

All-Canadian trade routes 

Unlike some products such as corn and Alberta oil, the vast majority of Canadian soybeans don’t even pass through the U.S. on their way to global markets.

In theory the Canadian product should be unaffected by foreign counter-sanctions. The Canadian supply chain follows distinct domestic routes outside the notional Chinese tariff barrier, which is the U.S. border.

Canadian soy, travelling by ship out through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, or by rail to British Columbia ports, is entirely exempt from China’s counter-tariffs.

Transport trucks cross the Peace Bridge between Fort Erie, Ont., and Buffalo, N.Y. NAFTA means low prices on U.S. commodities are exported to Canada. (Hyungwon Kang/Reuters)

But as Shaw laments, when the price of U.S. soybeans fell as China stopped buying them, the price of Canadian soy fell with it.

“The imposition of a 25 per cent tariff on American soybeans destroys American soybean demand, which by default destroys it for Canada as well, because our prices are $2 less than they were about eight weeks ago,” says Shaw.

So if there’s a 25 per cent tariff on U.S. soybeans and no tariff on Canadian soybeans, shouldn’t Canadian prices be at least 25 per cent higher?

“No, no, no, it’s free trade across the border,” says Shaw.

The NAFTA disadvantage

Despite all Trump’s trade war sabre-rattling and threats against NAFTA, unless specifically excluded by exceptional trade rules, agricultural goods, including wheat, corn, beef and pork, flow back and forth across the undefended border tariff-free as if they were travelling within one country. The same applies to most non-agricultural commodities including energy and minerals.

While Shaw says the Canadian government would step in if someone tried to ship U.S. soybeans pretending they were Canadian, with an undifferentiated commodity where one soybean is virtually identical to the next, prices in any free market level out like water on the surface of a lake.

As soybeans leave from one end of the figurative soybean lake, cheap U.S. soybeans flood into the lake, keeping prices the same.

Something similar is already happening in global commodity markets. As Chinese buyers cancel U.S. orders and look for alternative sources, the price from Brazil, the world’s largest producer, have soared to a four-year high.

“Premiums have jumped as soon as the Chinese started purchases of Brazilian beans,” agricultural commodity expert Stefan Vogel told the Financial Times.

Grain traders find a way

But already that price difference is starting to alter trade supply lines. Bizarrely, Brazil has begun importing cheap U.S. soybeans for their own use, while exporting their own crop to China at a higher price. Countries that don’t have a tariff on U.S. beans are switching to U.S. sources.

“Grain traders are very adept at figuring out ways to work around these artificial barriers that governments put in place,” says Winnipeg agriculture analyst Chuck Penner, who writes a market newsletter, LeftField Commodity Research. 

“They will find another destination and move them in there,” he says. “But at a discount. They will move it at a cheaper price.”

And in a world where Canadian and U.S. producers are joined at the hip by the NAFTA’s open borders, Canadian producers will get that cheaper price as well.

Follow Don on Twitter @don_pittis

Renata Ford faces growing cash crunch as she pursues Premier Doug Ford in court, records show

The sister-in-law Doug Ford says he’s “broken down brick walls to take care of” looks to be scrambling for cash to support herself and her kids and has taken out a high-interest second mortgage on her home, according to court and land records.

In sworn financial statements filed in family court last year as part of an estate proceeding, Renata Ford, widow of former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, said she was spending $91,960 annually on housing, transportation and other expenses for her and the couple’s two children. That was against a pre-tax income of $50,660 — with only $28,237 in the bank.

She recently took out a $195,000 second mortgage at a steep 12.5 per cent interest rate.

“No earned income and ever increasing debt at unbelievably dizzying interest rates is actually a recipe for financial disaster,” said Rona Birenbaum, a Toronto-based financial planner.

‘Bent over backwards’

The revelations about Renata Ford’s finances provide context for the $16.5-million lawsuit she launched against Doug Ford last month over his handling of Rob’s estate, and put to the test the newly installed Ontario premier’s vow to “do anything” for her kids.

“I’ve protected Renata in the toughest times … for the last God knows how long, for 15 years. Fifteen years of taking care of her, both financially, personally, and I’ve bent over backwards, broken down brick walls to take care of Renata,” Doug Ford said in the wake of the suit.

“I have also stood by my brother and his family through so many of their challenging times, and will always be there for” their kids, he said.

Rob Ford, seen in 2014, left an estate worth at least $1.14 million under control of his brother Doug. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Renata Ford’s financial statements from January 2017 listed monthly costs like groceries, clothing for her and the kids, $1,500 for housing and utilities, and miscellaneous expenses like vacations and children’s activities — ultimately totalling $7,663 a month.

Against that, she declared income of $3,083 a month from an RRSP and $1,066 from a pension. But those same financial statements showed there was only $3,580 left in her RRSP account. 

When Rob Ford passed away in March 2016, just $197,000 remained on the family home mortgage, according to Renata’s financials. But since then, that debt has ballooned, with land records showing she upped her borrowing in February to $780,000 at an interest rate of 8.5 per cent.

Then, just four weeks ago, she borrowed a further $195,000 against the house, getting a second mortgage at 12.5 per cent.

“She doesn’t have a lot of options at this point,” said Birenbaum, CEO of financial planning firms Caring for Clients and Viviplan, after reviewing the documents obtained by CBC News.

Premier may have valid excuse: lawyer

The sworn financial statements are from a family court case that Renata Ford launched in January 2017 — separate from her $16.5-million breach-of-trust claim against Doug Ford that she filed days before last month’s Ontario election. That lawsuit alleges he has mishandled the entire Ford family fortune and failed to pay out Rob’s estate, estimated to be worth at least $1.14 million.

Doug Ford has said his sister-in-law’s allegations are “false” and “without merit” and he has no idea why she is making them.

Toronto estate lawyer Joseph Gyverson said the premier may have a totally valid reason for not yet having paid out assets from his late brother’s will. He pointed out that Renata Ford’s 2017 family court application, only recently abandoned, stated that “no distribution of the estate can be made by the executor” until the case was resolved.

“It could entirely excuse Doug Ford’s supposed failure to distribute assets in a timely manner,” Gyverson said.

There’s also the thorny issue of Rob Ford’s stake in the family printing company, Deco, which could provide a significant monetary boost for his wife and kids.

“After the late Mr. Ford’s estate is finalized, if it isn’t finalized already, Mrs. Ford will likely receive an additional inheritance,” financial planner Jason Heath said.

But, Heath said, “private company shares are not as easy as public company shares to deal with as they don’t trade on a stock market and their value is not as easy to determine.”

Lawyers for Renata Ford wouldn’t comment on the state of her finances or her lawsuit against Ontario’s premier. No one answered multiple calls to the phone number on a handmade “for sale” sign outside her house.

Spokespeople for Doug Ford declined to answer questions about whether his sister-in-law’s family is in financial trouble, and if so, what he’s doing to help.

Want to calculate your risk of heart attack or stroke? This new online tool will help

Ottawa researchers say their new online calculator can give an idea of a person’s chance of having a stroke or a heart attack within the next five years.

Their research, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, says the calculator lets people accurately predict their risk of both hospitalization or death due to cardiovascular disease.

If the calculator finds a person’s risk to be, for example, five per cent, it means that five in 100 people with similar risk factors will experience a serious cardiovascular event in the next half decade.

Doctors … don’t necessarily ask about lifestyle factors that could put you at risk of a heart attack and stroke.– Dr. Doug Manuel, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital

“In cardiovascular disease, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Dr. Doug Manuel, the paper’s lead author and a senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital.

“We hope this tool can help people — and their care team — with better information about healthy living and options for reducing their risk of heart attack and stroke.”

The calculator was based on data from Statistics Canada’s health surveys and is available at an online health calculator website called Project Big Life.

Risk number based on healthy living 

While the risk for cardiovascular disease — one of the leading causes of death in Canada — is commonly assessed by measuring blood pressure and cholesterol levels, the new calculator bases its assessment on healthy living choices. 

Using survey data from more than 100,000 Canadians, the calculator analyzes factors that include alcohol consumption, diet, physical activity and whether the person is a smoker.

The calculator also takes into account a person’s stress levels, their sense of belonging, their ethnicity, immigration status, socioeconomic status, education levels, and whether they already have diabetes or high blood pressure.

It then offers up a measurement of the person’s “heart age.” 

“A lot of people are interested in healthy living, but often we don’t have that discussion in the doctor’s office,” said Manuel, who is also a professor at the University of Ottawa.

“Doctors will check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but they don’t necessarily ask about lifestyle factors that could put you at risk of a heart attack and stroke.”

Gunman and 2 victims dead, 12 others injured in Toronto Greektown shooting

A gunman and two victims are dead and 12 others are in hospital after a shooting in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood on Sunday evening, police say.

One person killed is a woman. One of the injured, a young girl aged eight or nine, is in critical condition, according to authorities. 

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which probes police-involved shootings, said the suspected gunman, 29, is also dead. Police, meanwhile, are working to determine what may have led to the violence. 

The Toronto police homicide squad said all families of the victims have been notified.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders urged the public to share any information they have about the shooting, including video of what happened. He said police don’t know what prompted the attack but are investigating all possibilities.

“I’m looking at every single possible motive for this,” he said. “When you have this many people struck by gunfire it’s a grave concern.” 

The motive for the attack is unknown. “I’m looking at every single possible motive for this,” said Chief Saunders. (Paul Smith/CBC)

According to the SIU, a man walking along Danforth Avenue fired at groups of people several times at about 10 p.m. ET on Sunday. Saunders said the man was armed with a handgun.

The SIU said police located the gunman on Bowden Street, near Danforth and Broadview Avenues, and an exchange of gunfire took place. The SIU said the gunman fled from the area and was found dead on Danforth Avenue.

Saunders said it’s not clear how the suspect died but no officers were injured.

Police have not said which restaurants were shot at, and they have not confirmed if the gunman was on the north or south side of Danforth.

Toronto police officers gather near the scene of the shooting. There is still a heavy police presence in the Danforth. (Paul Smith/CBC)

Early Monday, investigators from the SIU were still at the scene. ​The SIU investigates when there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault involving police. 

The SIU said six investigators and three forensic investigators have been assigned to investigate the circumstances surrounding the gunman’s death. 

There was also still a heavy police presence on the Danforth. Evidence markers were laid throughout the scene.

Danforth Avenue from Carlaw to Broadview Avenues is closed to traffic as police investigate. Police said the street would be closed until noon on Monday

Toronto police’s homicide squad has taken over the investigation. It is asking witnesses, business owners and residents who may have taken videos or photos in the area around the time of the shooting to contact the unit.

Condition of most injured not known

Emergency crews were called to the scene near Danforth and Logan Avenues in Greektown, part of which is located within Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood, shortly after the shooting.

The condition of the other victims is not known yet, according to police spokesperson Mark Pugash. He said it is too early to say whether the shooting was motivated by terrorism.

Eight of the victims were taken to trauma centres in Toronto.

Police said the critically injured girl was taken to Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Hospital spokespeople said four people were taken to St. Michael’s Hospital and three to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Two body removal vans left the scene of the shooting early Monday. 

There is still a heavy police presence on the Danforth in Toronto following a shooting that left two people dead and 12 injured. The suspected gunman is also dead. (Paul Smith/CBC)

Mayor calls shooting ‘unspeakable act’

Mayor John Tory extended condolences to the families of the victims and thanked first responders for rushing to the scene to treat the injured. He said the shooting was an “unspeakable act” and an attack on the city.

“Our entire city has been shocked by this cowardly act of violence. As I said earlier this morning at the scene, I’m, of course, angry as we all are that someone would carry out such an attack, which really amounts to an attack on our city itself,” Tory told city council.

“The gun violence in any part of our city is horrible and completely unacceptable.”

Tory acknowledged that Toronto has a gun problem. He said he plans to reach out to provincial and federal officials to discuss public safety and the legality of guns. He said the city will be relentless to find out why the shooting occurred. 

“In times of such horror, it is good to know that Toronto is not alone and Toronto will never be alone, and most important of all, that the people of Toronto will never be alone,” he said.

“While our city will always be resilient in the face of such attacks, it does not mean such a terrible act committed against our residents is any less painful. This is an attack against innocent families and against our entire city. This is a tragedy, another tragedy in our city this year.”

Toronto police officers walk on Danforth Avenue after a shooting on Sunday left two people dead and 12 others injured. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

On Sunday, Tory asked anyone with information — including video surveillance footage, dashcam video or cellphone recordings — to contact police.

“Guns are too readily available to too many people,” Tory told reporters during a news conference two hours after the shooting.

“It’s almost inconceivable that these things can happen.”

Toronto Coun. Mary Fragedakis, whose ward includes Danforth Avenue, told council in tears that the victims and loved ones are in her thoughts and prayers.

“This is so heartbreaking,” she said.

A video from one witness shows a man dressed in black clothes and a black hat walking quickly and firing three shots from the sidewalk into at least one shop or restaurant. 

WARNING: This video contains images that some may find disturbing

Other politicians have reacted to the shooting.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed condolences on Twitter, calling the shooting a “terrible tragedy.”

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale commended police and first responders in a tweet. He said his office has been in touch with the mayor’s office.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Twitter, “My heart goes out to the victims,” and thanked first responders for acting quickly. 

Fragedakis, whose ward includes Danforth Avenue, tweeted, “Words cannot express my sadness over this despicable act.”

Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack told CBC Toronto seasoned officers have been saying they’ve never seen anything like this.

“It’s just a terrible scene. Families enjoying themselves on the Danforth, supposed to be in a very safe area, and this happens,” he said. “It’s absolutely devastating.”

Witnesses describe chaos

Jody Steinhauer tells CBC News she was at Christina’s restaurant on the Danforth with her family when she heard what sounded like 10 to 15 blasts of firecrackers.

She said she was told to run to the back of the restaurant.

“We started to hear people scream out front,” Steinhauer said.

Carrie Lahey said she was eating dinner at 7Numbers restaurant with her boyfriend when she saw the gunman enter through a side door and shoot a woman. 

“We were sitting out on the patio, and we heard shots, so we ran inside and he came in the restaurant and shot the girl right in front of me,” she said. “If we didn’t run inside at that time, we probably would have been dead right now.”

Police officers stand watch Sunday night on Danforth Avenue, near where a gunman opened fire. (Cole Burston/AFP/Getty)

Lahey said the police treated the woman ahead of paramedics arriving to the scene.

“Thank God for the cops because the paramedics showed up so late that the cops saved her life.”  

John Tulloch was getting out of his car on the Danforth when he heard gunshots. 

“I thought it was fireworks at first ’cause it was a rapid fire,” he said. “We saw people starting to run in our direction. I still didn’t know what it was and then more people started running.”

Gunshots can be heard in this witness video

Andrew Van Eek, who lives in the area, said he stuck his head out the window after he heard the gunshots ring out. 

“There was a lot of commotion in the street,” he said. “I saw somebody come just down the sidewalk and shoot into Demetres restaurant.”

He described the suspect as a white male, who was dressed in all black. Police have yet to provide a suspect description.

Tory said this incident hasn’t given much time for the city to heal after 10 people were killed just a few months ago in a van attack.

In April, a white van mounted a sidewalk on a busy Toronto street and ran down pedestrians.

Alek Minassian, 25, of Richmond Hill, Ont., now faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

Police are seen near the scene of Sunday’s mass shooting. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

“We were so used to living in a city where these things didn’t happen and as we saw them going on in the world around us [we] thought they couldn’t happen here,” Tory said. 

“I can say to people to just try and stay calm while police try to figure out what happened here.”

On the weekend, an additional 200 police officers were deployed in various areas of the city in response to a recent spike in gun violence that officials have blamed primarily on gang activity.

‘He shot the girl right in front of me’: Witnesses describe hysteria, terror of Toronto Greektown shooting

Carrie Lahey was having dinner at a restaurant in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood Sunday evening when she saw a woman shot right in front of her.

“We were sitting out on the patio and we heard shots … so we went inside … and then he came in the restaurant and he shot the girl right in front of me,” Lahey said. “It went right through her lungs … thank god for the cops, because the paramedics showed up so late that the cops saved her life.

“It was really bad … we were hiding in the basement … my boyfriend went to the bathroom … as I was going to the bathroom … the guy came through the side door and shot her right in front of me.”

Police say the suspected gunman is dead, and police are working to determine what may have led to the violence. One victim, a girl aged eight or nine, is in critical condition.

Another witness, named Jeff, described driving by and seeing the shooter pull a gun and fire into a restaurant in the area.

“The shooter approached and he was facing the cafe he pulled out a black gun and started shooting at the window just as we were passing him,” he said. “We saw the glass shatter. I didn’t stop to see if he shot anybody but I saw people were fairly close to the window and I assume somebody got hurt.

He would zigzag across the street he would just head for a group of people and start shooting some easy targets.”

Seeking refuge

As terror erupted in the neighbourhood, two frantic and injured people were running toward Tanya Wilson’s door.

Wilson runs Skin Deep Tattoo studio on Danforth. She was on the way out of her shop when she heard the crack of gunshots. Then she saw two people running to her door, bleeding.

“They had been shot so I brought them down stairs, put on some gloves and tried to take care of it as best I could,” she told CBC News. “I shut the lights off and locked the doors because I didn’t really know what was going on and I didn’t know if the person would follow them into where they ran.”

A police officer stands guard at the scene of a mass shooting in Toronto on Sunday night. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

While chaos reigned outside, Wilson was making makeshift tourniquets for the two people, who she believed were mother and son. They had both been shot in the leg.

Police looking into motive

“I just went to the back and grabbed some articles of clothing, and just tied above their wound really tight, told them to relax. I was kind of freaking out yelling at them … just because I wasn’t really sure what was going on and everything was happening extremely and extremely fast.”

“The police came first and we took the piece of clothing, that I tied the legs with, off and I tried to find cord so to tie it off better and tighter. So we wrapped their leg with I think extension cord, I’m not really sure, speaker wire or something. And we were just trying to all work together I guess. And then paramedics came took care of them … and took them out.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders urged the public to share any information they have about the shooting, including video of what happened. He said police don’t know what prompted the attack but are investigating all possibilities.

“I’m looking at every single possible motive for this,” he said. “When you have this many people struck by gunfire it’s a grave concern.”

Saunders it’s not clear how the suspect died but noted officers did exchange gunfire. No officers were injured.

Here is what we know so far about how the shooting unfolded: