Little tubes of death

They are around us every day – perhaps even in front of you at this moment. Little tubes of death that are seemingly innocent and yet cause mass devastation. 


Have you thought about straws? The unnecessary little plastic tubes that come in our drinks. Most of us take them right out and leave them on the table to be gathered and thrown out. 

There are some people who require them. There are some drinks that require them. However, for the most part, they are redundant (your lips were meant to do the job, right?). 

Straws are little, but think of every drink that comes with a straw in one day in one restaurant. Then compound that over 365 days. Times all the restaurants in our city. Over all cities in B.C… 

In the U.S,. 500 million straws are used each day. That is enough straws to fill 127 school buses every single day.

It’s estimated that three per cent of the trash covering Vancouver’s coastline is plastic straws and plastic stir sticks.

These little tubes of death end up in our oceans on our coastlines. Because of their size, animals mistake them for food. The straw that graced your drink a year ago could be the reason a turtle dies tomorrow. Or a bird. A dog running along the beach to fetch a ball and sees the colourful plastic straw in the surf. 

The truth is ugly, but there is a way for you to make a difference. 

In the spring, Vancouver became the first major city in Canada to fight straws. They introduced a “Single-use item reduction strategy” that restricts food vendors from automatically providing patrons with straws. 

Vancouver is also looking at ways to reduce usage of plastic cups, bags and other single-use items.

There has been some dialogue in the Okanagan about reducing straw usage, but you don’t need a city council report to start doing your part today. 

  • Tell your server you don’t need a straw. 
  • Servers ask your patrons if they need one. 
  • Restaurant owners put a label in your menu asking customers to let their server know if they require a straw. 

This is a challenge dropped to every Okanagan citizen to do their part: 

The fourth Friday in February is National Skip the Straw Day. Let’s start today so that by February, there are no straws to skip.


Who cares what drives you

Leadership 101: Don’t ask if you don’t want the answer.

The worst thing performance leaders can do is ask questions when they have no intention of considering the answer in their future decisions.

A powerful example of this is the standard on-boarding question: “What drives you?”

Performance leaders usually nod at the answer and imply they will note it in the employee file for future reference. But do they?

“What drives you” is one of the most significant questions you can ask the young working force (such as millennials).

They are proud of their values and can communicate them clearly them because they’ve been blasting them all over social media for years. 

Millennials have values such as volunteering, flexible work arrangements, and freedom to schedule their day. If performance leaders ask their new hire “what drives you,” and notes it down – they’ve immediately set a standard for the new hire and future decisions.

For example, you are a new hire at a retail store. Your performance leader asks what motivates you… to which you passionately reply that flexibility in your work day means a great deal, so you can volunteer with a local not-for-profit.

The employer nods in understanding and writes it down to give the impression you’ve been heard. No further comment from the leader implies that it is OK to ask for flexibility going forward.

Imagine the disappointment when, the following week, you ask to start late and make up the time by working late to accommodate a charity event and the answer is ‘No.’ “what about the week after instead?” … met with “No” again – “that just doesn’t work for my store and our needs.”

Your No. 1 value, which the employer recognized, acknowledged and even wrote down, has been crushed – and that is the beginning of the end for a millennial.

Am I suggesting an employer should avoid that question? Absolutely not. I love the insight that question provides. However, as a performance leader, you must be ready with an explanation if the answer is not in line with how your business operates.

In that example of the retail store, the response to the flexibility issue could have been acknowledgement and then clarification that a request for time off must have two weeks notice or a vacation time arranged because of the limited open hours of the store.

The hire still feels heard, but won’t be set up for disappointment.

The bottom line is simple: Don’t ask if you don’t care or, assuming most people do care, be ready to clarify what are possible ways to incorporate that identified need in your organization or relationship immediately.

If the answer to what drives someone is not possible, say so with empathy and explan why. Eliminate the disappointment later with a real and clear conversation now.   

The more time devoted to clearly outlining what is possible with your business, relationship, or volunteering, will mean greater success for everyone involved. 

“A successful person finds the right place for themselves. But a successful leader finds the right place for others” — John Maxwell

Thinking like a millennial

From the moment we enter school, we are asked: “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

We are primed for an office life of sitting, taking instruction and executing action plans. Growing up, we see evidence of hard-working parents who stayed with the same company for 20, 30, maybe even 40 years.

Their tenure is celebrated with pins, parties, and plaques that hang nicely on their office wall.

The mindset of following your passion and loving what you do wasn’t as recognized or celebrated in generations past. While Gen Xers may have paved the way for millennials (Gen Y) to think and feel as they do, Xers defined their responsibility as making an income to support their family, grow their net-worth, and plan for retirement.

Millennials don’t necessarily think about responsibility the same way; Instead, they start with gratifying themselves. They strive to figure out what they are passionate about and how they can stand out while pursuing it.

That statement is supported by facts such as:

  • the declining rate of pregnancies
  • the average tenure in a job or with a company (Hint: it sure isn’t 20 years)

Millennials are focused on themselves and if they don’t like something – they move on.

That may be viewed as selfish by some members of the exiting workforce, but it’s not. There is nothing selfish about wanting to be happy. There is more self-awareness in the pursuit of finding your passion, which leads to increased contentment and the associated ripple effect that we all enjoy.

But, what if you are stuck between two generations of thought process? What if you think you should have a career role at an established company – and yet, your heart is telling you to go find your purpose?

For those of us born in the ’80s, this could mean a life-long struggle of deciding which path to pursue: long-tenure at a company and the pins to celebrate it or searching for what makes your heart beat faster and attempting to monetize it.

Of course, this article can’t address each person. Perhaps you’re part of the group whose purpose is clear, and you love where you work and what path you’re on. I tip my hat to you wish you all the best.

Most of us millennials born on the border between Gen X and Gen Y will, however, struggle with how to achieve that goal.

If this article rings true for you, know that you aren’t alone. It’s a challenging place to be stuck, and not just for you – think of the employers looking for good talent and a committed work force.

How does a business attract and keep millennials? Think of those who raised you and can’t understand why you aren’t successful by their definition of “long-tenure.” 

It isn’t that these groups don’t want to understand. It is just an incredibly different approach to life for them. Employers are scrambling to work with millennials by looking at flexible working arrangements, and job perks that extend beyond pay incentive.

Parents are supporting their children’s pursuit of happiness by supplementing their finances through living arrangements. Young adults now live with their parents longer than any previous generation.

So, what does someone do when they can’t decide on the path? There is no clear answer. But, look at those who have been successful by following their dreams. It wasn’t easy. They worked tirelessly and often without recognition or support, but in the end, they succeeded because they believed in themselves.

The pursuit of happiness is the worthiest path you can be on. Remember to thank those who helped or are helping you walk it.

Don’t judge those who can’t understand it. Instead, help them understand by sharing your story of why you feel inspired and what success looks like for you. This is your life.

I’ll finish with this amazing quote from Karen Lamb:

“A year from now you’ll have wish you started today.”


Victimized by annoyance

Part 1 of 2

Annoying someone to the point of purchase is an age-old tactic learned in youth and practised every day – we just call it a different name as adults.

We have all been the victim of the “annoyance approach.”  

Consider that children learn quickly that if they annoy an adult enough, they usually get what they want.

Children can generally learn immediately who surrenders fastest and who takes time and effort.

I often listen to exchanges of “please, please, please please” from a child pointing at a food item or toy, making me remember my own pleas to my mother for the next best thing that would make my small world so much better.

This approach was highlighted when I encountered a small boy selling jewelry while travelling in Belize with my husband. There were many children who sold handmade necklaces, bracelets and anklets to tourists in their free time.

This one child stood out because he effectively used this “Annoyance” approach – asking again and again. He was almost implying that you would be a fool for not buying.

He would ask the same people as many times as it took, sometimes walking away and coming back after a few minutes. While that may sound ineffective – most people eventually bought one of his trinkets – me included.

The interesting thought is that it generally does work for children; perhaps, not on everyone – and not 100 per cent of the time, but the rate of return is high — and we carry that lesson through to adulthood.

As adults, we label it with different words: Persistence, resolve, determination… but it is all the same — using annoyance to get what we want.

This annoyance approach is effective and present every day, in all forms. For example, while scrolling through Instagram, I often get ads mixed in with pictures of smiling friends.

I recently saw an ad for a sundress; at first, no impact, I scroll on. Later that day, I see it again; now, I linger on it for a moment, starting the justification process of why I need a nice new sundress.

However, I can’t seem to rationalize it yet, so I scroll on. The sundress comes up again in my feed. Like a child yelling “please, please, please” at me, I weight the choice of purchasing vs. not.

If I purchase, I can test the quality and shipping time of that company, also, I could use a new sundress (the narrative of need had time to develop in my brain).

I click on it, only to see that it is inexpensive and, if I buy one more item, shipping is free. I buy.

That ad “annoyed” me until I bought it. TV ads do that. Billboard ads are placed on popular routes so potential buyers see them every day.

We are annoyed into buying most things.

My article next week will reveal whether this is an effective approach — and I think you’ll be surprised at the result. Until then, monitor your purchases and ask yourself – would you have bought this if you only saw the ad once? Or have you been annoyed into buying it?

There is no wrong answer; many purchases I’ve made because of the annoyance factor have made me very happy. It is only awareness that is important. The more we can be aware of the motives behind our actions, the more we will gain satisfaction from the result.

So “please, please, please, please” read my column next week for the continued exploration of this idea.

More Mindful Communications articles

About the Author

Like most people, Christy has taken many paths. On the officially documented life list, she is a certified yoga teacher, an advanced open water diver, a financial adviser, a Harley rider and owner, an author, a community advocate.

She has been trained in coaching, negotiations and communication studies. She competed at a provincial level in competitive swimming and now has a passion for overall fitness.

On the un-documented list, Christy’s diverse experience is both positive and full of pot holes. She is the founder and CEO of a start-up company that never made it past the start-up phase. She has enough tattoos to classify as a walking adult colouring book. 

She has gone through all the identity phases at different times in her life: hippie, gothic, classy professional, biker... and is now a unique blend of them all. She a spiritual junkie and is addicted to adrenalin, learning and travel.

The bottom line: She is full of love and lessons with a hope that those who read this and connect with her will benefit from what she learned and be inspired to reach for the limitless possibilities of life.

Connect with her at:[email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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