5 things not to say to someone working at a hotel’s front desk

1. “Why didn’t you put up a sign that the computer isn’t working?”
Well, ok…do you have a hundred thousand calls coming in at once? If you did, would you have time to make a sign, and leave the desk to stick it to the computer? No, I didn’t think so.

2. “But I gave you my credit card when I reserved”
I promise I am not taking your credit card to go shopping at Barney’s. Just give me the card so I don’t get yelled at by my boss for not doing my job right. Regardless, we will charge you and you are not getting anything for free.

3. “I would like to make a dinner booking”
“Of course, for what day?”
“Oh I don’t know yet”
*5 mins later*
“I still don’t know”
Well…I don’t even know…Why are you..? Oh forget it.

4. “No, you are not really fully booked, I know it”
You don’t know it, because you are not looking at the reservations! The hotels want business, but if there is no room in the restaurant, that’s just the way it is. Yelling at someone will certainly not free up a table for you. Alternatively, you could eat somewhere else.

5. “I’m afraid you cannot bring your friends to the gym during these hours”
“Why? I do it all the time”
If you do it all the time, then why are you asking if it’s ok? Just.Stop.Lying.About.It.

All of the above + 8 hours of stress =

Women are from Venus, some university students are from Mars

There was a time when a university degree was a one way ticket to a great job and a fulfilling life. Now, thanks to the state of America’s economy, university graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to find well paying jobs. The article I read in the Globe & Mail not only sums up how tough the job market is, but how misled students in certain majors are.

We all know those people who believe that the world will be a better place without corporate greed. Apparently, they exist more in Quebec than anywhere else in Canada, sending the Quebec university students to an entirely different planet. While corporate greed effects the middle class, and governments are taxing heavily, and doctors are charging high amounts for private healthcare, these three sectors provide high paying jobs! ┬áBy encouraging students to take classes such as philosophy and ancient roman history, professors are actually disabling them because degrees in these subjects don’t have as much value as science or finance degrees. (I admit, considering the financial crisis, a science degree might be more promising right now)

I am all for doing whatever you are passionate about, but it’s still crucial to think of the future. Philosophy gives you some valuable life lessons, and art history is fascinating but when will you be able to use that knowledge for a successful living? I understand that success has a different meaning to everyone, but I think making enough money to pay for a comfortable living is a common goal for society. Professors can preach their ideas on how students can change the world by learning about “life” and “history”, but it’s also up to the students to think about their future. Is the purpose of university not to get a higher education, broaden your prospects, and eventually find a better life? This article made me think twice.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/opinion/quebecs-university-students-are-in-for-a-shock/article2418431/

Siri, the iPhone lady, will kill our brain cells

Before they said video games made you dumb, then it was teenage drinking, and now, I can say with full confidence that Siri the iPhone lady will kill our brain cells, with vengeance.

Take a look at the commercial above. Is it really so difficult for Zooey Deschanel to make her way to the window to see if it’s raining for herself? Unfortunately, this is very representative of the direction in which technology is taking us. It is also extremely contradictory to what we are taught in elementary school, which is to think and take your best guess before asking for the answer.

I know I’m making it sound like technology is all bad, and that we need to go back to using old fashioned ink and pen, but that is honestly not the case! Of course technology such as computers and cell phones were invented to make life easier, and they do exactly that. Remember the days when you had to look up a restaurants phone number in the Yellow Pages to make a reservation? The internet makes that task so much easier because sometimes you can make a reservation online, or you can find their phone number faster. Now, Siri can help us do that too! Except she makes it too easy, and soon we will lose the will to use our hands to type a question into Google. Next thing we know, she will be making the reservation for us!

Now, imagine this: Siri gets so stressed out from demanding people constantly asking her questions, and decides to take a holiday. We would actually have to Google the nearest gas station while on a road trip, because Siri would not be there to find one for us like one of the iPhone commercials suggest. It’s a tad scary to think how long this might take, considering by now, our efficiency would have gone to hell. What’s worse is that Zooey Deschanel would have to find a place that delivers tomato soup on her own. Alternatively, she could learn to make it herself. Oh wait, I forgot! Googling and reading has become too difficult now. I guess we can only hope that Siri doesn’t get too comfortable on the beach…

Henley on Thames: the life, the lessons and the Regatta

Have you ever wondered what working in a quaint English town would be like? One with a scenic river, traditional pubs and churches that are centuries old. Well, I spent an incredible six months working at a boutique hotel in a town exactly like this one.

Henley-on-Thames


This experience was not quite the same as the one in Spain because I learned more about work ethic and office politics. Over the six months, I formed strong friendships with a few of my colleagues, who I keep in touch with till today. By the end of the internship, I realized how few people know that employees liking their jobs, and managers giving them a reason to go hand in hand.

Many people in “powerful” positions (I put powerful in quotations because they might not be that important) love to throw their weight around. Human nature takes over when people think hold power over others, but interestingly enough, their power trips are often misplaced. If they don’t use their positions for the general well-being of a company or those around them, you begin to wonder if all they have is misplaced confidence.

Funny story. There was a girl I worked with who was not in a managerial position, but was very close to the boss. She felt that was her cue to mistreat everyone else because she knew she could get away with it. Here is what happened:

Good friends with the boss + boss wanting to be friends with her + not caring about the well being of his employees = unhappy employees + poor management + her misplaced confidence

My internship in Henley taught me a million more lessons like this one. The best advice I can give from this situation is: If they are not important to your job, don’t take them too seriously. On a different note, go to Henley during the summer time. It is lovely during the Regatta, which are the rowing races. It’s small but definitely worth the visit.

Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity vs. the System

Video

I was introduced to TED two years ago in my Organizational Behaviour class, and since then, I have watched the videos on YouTube occasionally when the mood strikes. I realize that I might be a little behind on the program considering this video is a few years old, but I was glad that someone else shares similar views on a subject that I spent many years thinking about.

“Smart” is a word that is thrown around quite freely, and tends to have different connotations depending on which stage of your life you are in. In school, one is considered “smart” if they get a high scores on tests. In the work field (aka real life), one is labelled “smart” if they can meet or exceed the expectations of their job. This is only a general statement of course, opinions on being “smart” vary depending on fields of work, and cultural upbringing.

Often times, people think that smart equals creative, and visa versa. I think that one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. They both depend on each individual’s strengths, their inspirations, and their personal goals. Sir Ken Robinson is questioning if the education system realizes this. I appreciate his example of how subjects such as math and science are at the top of the curriculum, while arts and music are at the bottom. I have come to think of this as the “subject hierarchy.” Perhaps the educators feel like career paths such as medicine are more promising than art, which is why they lay so much emphasis on math and science. Why though? Not everyone has an aptitude for math and science. Is the point of education to push students in the direction which society considers “the right path”? Coming from a private school, we were given quite a lot of liberty with our subjects, but I always felt that there was a hidden expectation to go in a “certain path” Mind you, this may have been more from a social aspect, but still…it was there.

Take Sir Robinson’s example of the girl who became a dancer, and is now a multi-millionaire who works with Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Studying math, science, and other subjects that are mandatory would have done her no good, and although her case may be rare, I think it is so representative of millions of students who are not in need of these subjects. It works the same way if a student who wanted to study sciences said they were not interested in art. Their school would not force them to take art, but a student who says they don’t want to take math will be forced to. When we are younger, teachers encourage us to use our imaginations, yet when we grow older they are not so open to our creativity. It is almost to say “play time is over” – but for some people using their creativity and imaginations is not “play time”, it is real life to them. They want to go on and use their creativity to build a life that is fulfilling to them. Once enrolling in university, many students may develop interests in subjects that never crossed their minds before. This is normal in university, but somehow not in primary and secondary education. Were students not given more liberty before to find their passions? Or is the education system focusing more personal development and being “well rounded”?

There are two sides to every story, and it’s not that one is more correct than the other,I think Sir Robinson’s main point is that the purpose that education serves is to steer students in a direction that they want to go in. Not one that is generally considered correct.