Upcoming Retirement Workshops

Maria Saley will be conducting open courses this fall as follows.

Plan your Ideal Retirement:  Beyond the Dollars:  September 24th and October 1  9:00-1:00

Plan your Ideal Retirement: Beyond the Dollars:  November 19 and 26  9:00-1:00

If  you are interested in signing up, please use the contact information on this website.


Everyone is looking for the “secret” to happiness. Well, there are several and a very important one is gratitude, which is really just feeling thankful for things. Certainly, it is easy to feel gratitude when we have just won the lottery or received an amazing job offer. However, gratitude is especially important when we are facing more challenges than usual. It helps to keep our spirits up and be better companions for others. People who practice gratitude are often more productive and successful as well.

So how do we do this? First, gratitude doesn’t work if it is just what other people think we should be grateful for. You have to feel good when you think about it. Many of us can remember how our parents told us to be grateful for broccoli on our plates when there were millions of starving children in the world. Did I feel grateful or happy about that? Not really at that point. I was more grateful that my teacher had given me an A that day or that my new friend had walked home with me. If I thought about those things again, I felt happy. Maybe you think you should feel grateful about something but you really don’t feel any lift when you think about it. Then think about something else that does make you feel good when you think about it. It can take a bit of work when you are facing many challenges but once you start, you will find it easier. I feel grateful every time I think of good friends or just being able to go for a walk in the park, enjoying all the birds and greenery.

How to start? Set a certain time per day (right before going to sleep at night can work well) and think of at least one thing that was good that day and you are grateful for. Some people will start a journal and write it down. Once you can think of one thing, work on thinking of three or more. You will start to notice things during the day that you can write down or think about later. Soon, you will make it a habit and you can practice switching from depressing thoughts and instead, focus on what you are grateful for!

Check out this link for more ideas. http://www.thechangeblog.com/gratitude/

Some people who are close to retirement age may find themselves suddenly retired by their employer who needs to downsize their workforce.
This can be great if you were already thinking about retiring, but can be very difficult for someone who was planning to work longer and now suddenly has lost all the benefits of work. There are several important benefits of working that need to be replaced in retirement in order to avoid just “passing time” and wasting away.
In addition to financial, these benefits include socialization, structure, purpose, and intellectual stimulation.
So where to start if you are suddenly retired? First, take some time to allow yourself to catch your breath. Then, use this time to start thinking about all those things that you never had time for and start making a list. Think about who you are and what you really want from the rest of your life. Then find ways to connect with people who are interested in the same things that you are thinking about. The danger of being retired is that you have lots of time so there can be a tendency to put things off indefinitely and then they become harder to do. Make goals and tell someone else who will keep you accountable.
The most important message: Allow the real you to take over. What is there inside of you that is still wanting to come out?

Maria Saley will be conducting several open courses this fall as follows.

If  you are interested in signing up, please contact the educational institution that is listed.

U of C Continuing Education 

–  BUS 260 Successful Teams: How to Build them:    October 30, 2013


Dealing with Difficult People: October 17 – Edmonton, October 22- Calgary     This seminar is for APEGA members in training (MIT’s)


SELL 115 Technical Sales:  November 12, 13 and 19


I heard an interesting quote the other day.  “Almost all conflict is a result of violated expectations”  (Blaine Lee, author of  “The Power Principle: Influence with Honour”)   http://www.amazon.com/POWER-PRINCIPLE-INFLUENCE-HONOR/dp/0684846160#    I have not yet read his book, so my comments may or may not agree with his, but I liked the quote because it really made me think about this idea from my own context.   I do most of my work with leaders and teams, and we talk a great deal about different types of trust.    “Violated expectations” would likely undermine trust of reliability as well as trust of intentions.   Why do issues come up between people?  Often, there is an expectation that the other person will think the same way that we do.    Their actions may upset us because we think that they should act the way that we expected them to, which would be influenced by our background.  When we “trust” someone to act that way, and we think our trust is violated, that often creates conflict.

The issue this really raises is the importance of communication about expectations. Part of this is the detailed instructions that we may provide for a certain task.  However, I think an even deeper piece is important here and that is the greater understanding of the other person and their thoughts and expectations so that we can find a place where our expectations can meet.  Everyone arrives with different experiences that may have altered their expectations about what they should be doing.  Maybe an employee thinks his boss should help him with a task whereas the manager thinks the employee should do it on their own. The first step is to understand each other’s stories about why we have certain expectations.  With this understanding, we can have more sensitivity to the reasons for their actions or attitudes.  Then we can talk about what is important to achieve for the task at hand and come to agreement on how each of us will contribute to the outcome that we have agreed to, in a way that fits for each of us.  With this method, there is a higher likelihood of success and this will build trust that each of us will respond in a the way that we now each expect. 

Just for a test for yourself, think of a conflict situation in your life,  explore how violated expectations might be a part of it, and how you could come together more effectively with deeper communication.


Many professionals work for a number of years for corporations and then wonder if they should start their own business.  Although this can be very rewarding in the right circumstances, there are several factors to consider before going this direction.

Firstly, do not leave your corporate job without seeing first if there are more intraprenerial or flexible opportunities at the corporation (or another one).   If financial security is an issue, this can be the best route. Many companies are trying harder to retain good workers through increased work flexibility and more job enrichment.   Also, you often can be involved in larger and more interesting projects within a company than what you can access in the early years of your own business.  

If you still want to go ahead,  I have compiled the following list of  rules to help you avoid common pitfalls. (derived from hundreds of reviews of small business successes and failures)

1) Make sure that you have some experience or expertise in the business that you are looking at.   If it is not with that particular service or product, it should be with the type of industry or customers that will be involved. 

2) Prepare a business plan, complete with financial projections and marketing strategies.  Present it to other people who can give you objective feedback and create discussion.   This will force you to think through what you will need to do and the feasibility of your plan.  If you will need financing for the business, you will need to present a business plan to the lenders.

3) Talk to other people in the business and observe what they are doing.   Learn from others” mistakes.  

4) Develop a network of support people who can help you on your way.  

5) If you are looking at purchasing a business, make sure that you get good legal and financial assistance.

6) If possible, run it first on a part-time basis to see how viable it really is and whether you enjoy it.    This is not always possible, but is the easiest transition to success.

7) Make sure that you have enough money saved up to allow you to start without undue financial stress and pressure.   Depending on the type of business, you may not make any profits in the first year or so.  It is important to take some time to develop networks and relationships that will pay off in the future, so you don’t want every meeting to be about “hard-selling”.   If you are desperate for business, your prospects will often sense this and either grind down your pricing or be scared off.  Think about yourself in their shoes.   Your personal life will also take a great toll.

8) If you are thinking about a partnership, be careful about choosing your partner.  This is critical, since differences in priorities can be catastrophic to a business.

9) Make sure that you have the right personality factors to run your own business.  You don’t need to have all the recommended qualities but you need to figure out how to deal with the ones that you don’t have.   There are several online quizzes that you can go to and test yourself on this.   Here’s a link to one of them.   http://www.entrepreneur.com/personalityquiz

10) Have passion for what you are doing!  If you don’t have the passion, you will not have the enthusiastic energy required to reap the rewards. 






Interesting article in the Globe and Mail yesterday.   According to this article, over 50 percent of Boomers are thinking of starting their own business before retirement.     If this plays out, there are significant implications and opportunities to consider.

First of all , there are several reasons why this is occurring.

1) Boomers have always wanted more from their lives and see themselves as young at 60.  This is somewhat justified since on average, they will have at least 20 more years of life after 60. Boomers want to keep learning and challenging themselves into their older years and may feel disillusioned or bored with their corporate job. 

2)  It is much easier to start a business these days, with thousands of franchises available, many consulting opportunities and online opportunities for marketing, communication and support as well as actual online or remote businesses.  Barriers to entry in many businesses are much lower than in the past, when you had to have a physical office and staff.    Also, many businesses are now run from home so can be set up from anywhere.

3) Many Boomers are short on retirement funds, due to market fluctuations and/or lack of savings.  Less than 30% of Boomers have a guaranteed pension.  So instead of kicking back at 55 with a guaranteed pension, they need to keep making money, but on their own terms.  Many times, they do not need to replace their corporate salary but still need to make some money.  They may have wanted to start their own business for a long time, but did not want to take the risk of giving up the corporate salary and benefits before now.

So , what are some implications of this?   Well, if you are a company in Calgary, where we have a very low unemployment rate, you may wish to retain these employees rather than have them leave and start their own business.    In many cases, much of the skills and knowledge is with these employees.   Companies who are able to create more of an entrepreneurial environment may be able to retain them.  For example, flexible work schedules, less heirarchy, open forums to exchange ideas, feeling like their own boss are some possible attractions.  Many Boomers want to try something different as well, and might welcome more of a mentoring/teaching role. 

Opportunities will grow for the businesses who serve small business, such as website developers,  bookkeepers, accountants, lawyers, printers and so on.  In fact, these businesses may be some of the business opportunities that emerge for entrepreneurs. Business coaches may be more in demand as Boomers figure out what they will focus on and then how to execute successfully. 

This entrepreneurial trend is not isolated to Boomers, since younger employees are also increasingly looking at entrepreneurship as an option.  This is a trend across generations.  Interestingly, a young person is much more likely to consider this path if someone in their family runs their own business.   Again, larger corporations who can offer an entrepreneurial feel will be able to attract more of the younger generation who are looking for that.

In my next blog, I will talk about what to consider if you are thinking about leaving your corporate job to start a business.




I came across an interesting book called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”  by Susan Cain.   The book discusses how introverts can bring a different kind of value to the workplace.   This topic is very interesting to me since I sometimes work with organizations who have a high percentage of  introverted or quiet people.

Among other things, extroverted people get energy from being with other people and introverted people are just the opposite – they can feel exhausted by being too much with other people.   They prefer to think before talking.   When asked what they would like from their extroverted co-workers, the most common response from quiet people is that they wish that extroverts would talk less, so that the introverts could think and have a chance to formulate a response.     Probably all of us have been in a meeting where someone who seldom speaks says something and it is really worth listening to.    Extroverts will often be thinking out loud as they are talking whereas the quiet people like to think things through before they say something.   Generally speaking, organizations often depend on quiet people to do things right and take care of the details, but their great ideas do not always get showcased.   

There are some good tips for the quiet people, such as planning ahead before a meeting or conversation, or perhaps joining a speakers group to gain more skills and confidence while “thinking on their feet”.   However,  perhaps there are tips that we could  also give to the extroverts to result in more contribution from everyone.  It starts with awareness of how others prefer to contribute.   For example, providing others with details on what will be expected before a meeting can help.  Many times it can work better in a meeting if people are teamed up in pairs or small groups to discuss a topic and have someone present back rather than putting everyone on the spot.    In the smaller group, there is a better chance for a quiet person to  state their ideas.    

Some of us can swing from being a quiet person to an extroverted person or vice versa, depending on the situation.  It is worthwhile to notice when that happens and to plan for the situation.     Generally, if we are more familiar with a topic and the people involved, we tend to be more talkative.   


It is interesting to observe what we say when we introduce ourselves to others.  Usually, it is something like,  “Hi, I’m ….. and I work at ……. .   We generally then refer to people that way as well, such as “He’s …. and works at…..

But does that really say anything about who we are?    Wouldn’t it be interesting if we picked one important piece of who we are as a person and stated that instead.   “Hi, I’m ….. and I really enjoy …..   .   Or I’m ….. and the thing I am most excited about right now is …..   

Imagine how much more quickly that connections with others would occur.     For example, if you told me that you were most excited about an upcoming trip, how could I  resist from asking you about it and striking up a conversation?   Compare that response to what happens when you state your name and where you work.   Sometimes people will ask more about what you do, especially if they know the company, but it is more of a struggle to get that connection going. 

With social media, we accomplish some of this through Facebook or Linkedin , when people read your profile or Wall.  However, when we meet in person, we tend to default back to the formal and boring introduction.  

Next time you are in a group setting with new people, try to give others an interesting tidbit about yourself as part of your introduction and see what happens.   Then ask them what they are excited about right now!


People are told to find their passion and pursue it, in order to be happy and successful in life.   If people are asked, at first many of them have trouble coming up with something.  Then, a large percentage of people will figure out that they are passionate about things outside their work, such as art, music, family, and skiiing.   If we do some simple math, we know that not everyone can have a career in these areas.   This is not to minimize the importance of enjoying life outside of work.  

I would like to offer another way to figure out where we should focus our efforts in order to enjoy our work.   Think about what the purpose of your work is.   Purpose is the knowledge and recognition that you are doing something that is making some kind of difference that we think is meaningful.     I also refer to this as Contribution.  It is helpful for leaders and managers to discuss this and reinforce the contribution or purpose that each person fulfills in the organization.   Peers should also acknowledge contribution to each other.  There are various levels of purpose that can be examined, from the whole company level down to team level.  Interestingly, people often become more passionate about their work when they figure out how they contribute to some larger purpose, as long as that purpose has meaning to them.  So passion can follow purpose. This doesn’t have to be about saving the world.  The other day I heard about a carpetlayer who had been doing his job for 30  years and said he had always been happy at his job because he felt like he was contributing something positive to how people felt in their environment.

Should you quit your job if you don’t feel like there is any purpose in it?   Well, maybe, maybe not.  Before you do that, perhaps ask others what they think your purpose or contribution  is and see what they say.   Sometimes, hearing others tell us that we are doing something worthwhile helps us to see that and feel motivated about it.   This may also help us to re- focus our efforts on where we contribute best.     Another option is to notice if another role in the organization is more aligned with how we think we can contribute.   If you are managing others, help your team members to understand and articulate their contributions. 

Daniel Pink  has a new book out called “Drive”, where he talks about Purpose as one of 3 key motivators in the workplace.   http://www.amazon.ca/Drive-Surprising-Truth-About-Motivates/dp/1594484805/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321043843&sr=8-1