Category Archives: Travel

Life Lessons #002: Teamwork in companies — not wanted by managers 

I used to work in an advertising company in the Greater Vancouver, Canada, area. I started out in the customer service department before moving into the training department and got a nice trip to the Philippines out of it. 

But what I would like to address in this post is the fact that “teamwork” is not wanted by managers. 

At this company, the customer service department was managed by someone named Kiran. He was a bright guy, charming, and ambitious. He was the one who hired me, and we got along very well initially because he recognized my work ethic and ideas. I was helpful and professional when dealing with customer service issues. I did a great job for him.

Eventually, I realized he was more interested in building cliques in the office and he treated me as someone who could solve his problems and help him look good — but I was never one of “them.”  I was always an outsider and was kept around only because I worked hard and I worked smart, and I got work done and solved his problems. That’s what bosses want. 

There are many stories about the cliques, which I’ll save for another time, but for now I’ll talk about the one in which he was a manager who didn’t believe in teamwork. 

One day, a manager from the sales department came into the customer service department to talk to Livia, one of the customer service reps. Apparently, Livia had not shown proper etiquette while on the phone speaking to a client, and the sales department manager came in to discuss this with Livia. 

At that time, there was only myself and Livia in the room when the sales manager came in. I didn’t think much about what the sales manager said, because it sounded like good advice and something valuable to learn from. I’d worked previously for St. John Ambulance in their customer service department, and we (ie. that department) used to receive all sorts of helpful suggestions from other managers in the organization. 

Back to this advertising company… like I said, I didn’t think much about it other than just some friendly advice. But after the sales manager left, Livia (who was hired the same time I was) threw a hissy fit. She didn’t like to be told what to do. I tried to calm Livia down by giving her a pep talk. I said just treat it like it’s constructive criticism. As I was finishing my talk, Kiran walked in. Livia, naturally, complained to Kiran about what had happened. I interjected and said I tried to calm Livia down by saying for her to take it like constructive criticism and move on from that. 

Kiran, to my surprise, said, “No, DON’T take it.” He had a scowl on his face and was agitated. I was surprised because Kiran’s role was manager and he wasn’t acting like one. He wasn’t even in the room to witness the incident and was quick to make his own judgement based on what Livia said. Okay, perhaps there’s some history between him and the sales department that I didn’t know about, but still… 

Kiran then proceeded to say that NO OTHER department is to come into our department and tell us what to do and what not to do. He even added that if anybody from another department came in and wanted us to do something, ie. help out with anything, say no. Just make an excuse not to do it, ie. We’re busy, etc. etc. etc. And if you offered or volunteered to help out another department, and somehow ran into difficulties, that would be your own fault and Kiran himself wasn’t ever going to bail you out of such a mess. Livia was happy that Kiran had her back.

But think about that last part for a moment: So, we’re all in the same organization/company and we’re supposed to “hate” other departments and not work together? Sadly, Kiran wasn’t the only manager to say this. I’ve heard this sort of instruction from other organizations I’ve worked for, too: Do not agree to help another department when they come asking for help

I would like to believe that this is stuff you probably just see in movies or TV dramas, but it actually happens in real life too, which is very unfortunate. 

With that same company, it was about a year later when there was a business trip to the Philippines, and I was one of the staffers requested to make the trip. I didn’t want to go, but I was told I had to go. 

To make a long story short, by that time I had been promoted and was no longer in Kiran’s department, but I was still reporting to him, ie. he was still my immediate manager. During this trip, each department was supposed to put together some sort of performance for the clients. I was not involved in the performance part of the trip, but, again, I was with Kiran’s group. 

There was a list with the order in which each department was to do its performance. The company’s Director of Operations, Hillary, asked me to let Kiran know that she wanted the order of the performances changed, which impacted Kiran’s group. (I don’t remember exactly now, but Kiran’s group was supposed to go later than scheduled.) Okay, so I went to Kiran and relayed the message. Kiran snapped and said something to the effect that I’m on his team, not Team Hillary. If I wanted to be on Team Hillary, I might as well not be on his team. I was taken aback and tried to explain I was just relaying the message, but that fell on deaf ears. 

I didn’t think anything of it at that immediate moment, but Kiran essentially was done with me. He refused to speak to me again the rest of the trip. Every time I was around, he had a scowl on his face. Every time he was talking to others, he was his charming self. Okay. Whatever. 

I was just the messenger. But again, I was used to this sort of thing. Growing up, I had experienced the same sort of thing with my parents. I would be a messenger to deliver some “bad” news. The recipient of the news would snap and accuse me of being on that team and not this team, etc. etc. etc. I was used to it. So, when this happened in a professional setting, I guess I was unfazed. If this could happen at home, it could happen anywhere else. 

Back to the Kiran saga. When we returned to Vancouver a few days later after the business trip, I had it out with him in the office. I was no longer going to be treated like I was a slave. When he made an unreasonable request in the office from that point on, I stood up to him and said it was not reasonable or acceptable. 

From an employee’s standpoint, my response would be labeled as me being disgruntled or uncooperative. But if you looked at things from my point of view, I was always being cordial and cooperative but there has to be a limit in terms of how poorly bosses treated me. That behaviour exhibited by Kiran during the latter part of that business trip made me not take him seriously anymore. In fact, we had several disagreements in the office after that trip. I was not going to be bullied or treated like a second-class citizen just because he no longer liked me for relaying a message from the Director of Operations.  

We still hung out for lunch at times during work — and there are more stories about that, too, some of which were unpleasant — but I no longer took him seriously. More on that on another post.

Reflecting back on Korea Trip 2018 – Cafe 7gram…

This post is also found on one of my other websites, “Let’s Grab A Burger.”

Cafe 7gram at 71-5 Jongno 2(1)-ga, Jongno-gu in Seoul is close to the hotel I stayed at during my Korea trip in September 2018.

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I hung out there a few times during my second week of stay in Korea, including a couple of daytime visits when people were actually there to discuss business. It was great for me, just chilling while others were busy working. I recall being there one evening too – when it was nice and relaxing.

The few times I was there, I had some dessert items and beverages while working on the editing for my John Cangelosi baseball book (as I had tentatively reached an agreement with an American publisher during the first week I was in Korea) and writing my book on the 1992-93 Montreal Canadiens.

One time, the second floor was completely empty – other than me – and I texted my tour guide (whom I had befriended that week) to joke that I had the whole cafe rented. (The ground floor had only a table and some window seats, unlike the spacious second floor.)

Overall, Cafe 7gram served my purpose when I was in Korea. I was able to get some “work” (ie. writing) done yet also enjoy a, more or less, peaceful environment at the same time. After all, I had spent four days on a trip around Eastern Korea the previous week – doing sightseeing, obviously – and didn’t really have time to touch the laptop.

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LA Trip 2018: Day 1 (Continued)

LA Trip 2018: Day 1 of a two-day trip to Los Angeles, California (Continued)… to be a guest at the Fred Claire Celebrity Golf Classic, an event to raise money for cancer research for City of Hope.

1:00 p.m. Mid-day at the Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, California… A gorgeous day to be outdoors… Ahhhh… did I say it was a Monday?

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1:30 p.m. Dodger great Orel Hershiser chats with DodgersNation about what he’s been up to (including his friendship with Fred Claire and his current broadcasting career), with some of my books on display… I learned a lot, actually, being in the room listening in on Hershiser’s interview.

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4:00 p.m. It’s DodgersNation chatting with the one and only Tommy Lasorda, the long-time former manager of the Dodgers!

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Jerry Reuss and Mickey Hatcher were also at the event to help raise money for Mr. Claire’s cause.

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Here’s the great knuckleballer Charlie Hough, who’s holding two of my books. I had a chance to speak with him briefly – he loves to talk knuckleballs!

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6:00 p.m. Dinner began, and then a silent auction and speeches.

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in terms of the speeches, there were some inspirational words spoken by Mr. Claire himself, a couple of doctors, and Tommy Lasorda.

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All in all, an enjoyable and inspirational evening…

LA Trip 2018: Mission Bar & Grill at SFO

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During my brief LA trip on August 20 and 21, I had a brief stop at San Francisco International Airport.

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Feeling hungry, I stopped by Mission Bar & Grill inside the airport to have a late lunch before boarding my next flight home to Vancouver.

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I decided to have their Fried Calamari along with an orange juice. It was 2:30 pm at the time, and fairly busy – but I didn’t have to wait long for the food to arrive. (In fact, based on the time stamps on the photos I took, the calamari took less than 10 minutes to come to my table.)

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The calamari came with some excellent dipping sauce. I enjoyed it – it was awesome.

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The staff was friendly and professional – exactly what you would expect in an establishment at a busy international airport. Not a fancy meal, but I would say everything was great. Awesome experience.

LA Trip 2018: Day 1 (August 20th)

LA Trip 2018: Day 1 of a two-day trip to Los Angeles, California, to be a guest at the Fred Claire Celebrity Golf Classic, an event to raise money for cancer research for City of Hope.

Okay, here’s the beginning of my trip.

We can call this “Sleepless at YVR”… Lots of other people were at the Vancouver International Airport overnight, like myself, for their early flights on Monday morning, August 20th.

But while most of them were able to nap peacefully, I was unable to fall asleep. So, Sleepless at YVR it is…

Vancouver International Airport (YVR), around 3:30 a.m. Sleepless…

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My flight was for 6 a.m., and going through the line for your bags to be inspected was a pain in the ass. Those people were rude (more so than the ones I encountered in LA). Plain rude. But it is what it is. I guess those people were just annoying. Fortunately, that was a very small part of the journey and did not define it.

7:05 a.m. Instead of watching a movie during the three-hour flight, I decided to have the following on my screen during the entire time:

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8:19 a.m. In flight… less than an hour before the plane was to land!

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The 9:00 a.m. hour in Los Angeles, California. While the “estimated arrival time” shown on the screen said 8:30-ish, the plane was actually scheduled to land in Los Angeles at 9:05 a.m. … and it did. Unfortunately, according to the announcement by the pilot, there was plane congestion because of other planes not moving out of the way. That meant we were stuck on that plane for nearly an extra hour before we could get off. Surprisingly, nobody made a fuss.

10:05 a.m. Ahhhh… it was 10 a.m. and I was outside LAX. The best part about travelling (for me, anyway, on this particular trip) is you’re not in any rush to get anywhere. Sure, you have to get to the airport early to ensure you don’t miss your flight, etc., but it’s a Monday, a workday, a workday morning, everyone’s rushing to go someplace… but not me.

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I did want to arrive at the Oakmont Country Club in Glendale, CA, as early as I could… but I mean, it was only 10 a.m. and I was in no rush. Even if I arrived at noon, it would be okay. I mean, I could get used to this type of leisurely schedule!

The 10:00 a.m. hour. Getting from LAX to my hotel in Glendale… now, going from the airport to the hotel was a long trip, but at least the place I was staying at was minutes away from the country club. Yes, I know I could have taken a flight to the Bob Hope Airport, but none of those flights worked out for me time-wise.

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Anyway, getting to Glendale meant riding through downtown LA, and on the way I saw Staples Center, the LA Coliseum, the convention center, etc. Plus, what looked like the ABC-TV building, neat-looking buildings, and some other views…

Since I was in LA for only two days – there’s something called “work” that I had to get back to by Wednesday, as I wasn’t allowed to take more days off – it wasn’t a sight-seeing visit. So, there weren’t a lot of photos for sight-seeing or views.

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11:43 a.m. After checking into the hotel (Days Inn Glendale), I took a shower, etc., and then headed out to the country club. It took nearly an hour by car.

Reception gave me the directions to find the participants for the Fred Claire Celebrity Golf Classic, and within minutes I was out there watching the golfers do their thing to help raise money for cancer research for the City of Hope.

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12:00 p.m. LA TV/radio personality Fred Roggin and former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete on location (along with their producer and staff) to get set up for – and ready to begin – their 12-2pm show on AM570…

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12:45 p.m. DodgersNation, along with West Coast Multimedia, was on hand too for the event…

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A banner showing Fred Claire and Tommy Lasorda with their World Series trophy…

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To be continued…