4 Latest Tech Gadgets to Help Your Business

Entrepreneurs and managers have been, in recent years, enabling their businesses to become more efficient with their scheduling and transactions by using new tech gadgets and other forms of technology. There is no longer the need for a small business owner to hire a big team of employees to keep up-to-date with their clients, maintain schedules, have answers to curious questions and more, when a piece of technology can do it all for them – especially if they have partners and clients who live abroad or on the other side of the country.


Therefore, businesses should consider adopting these four gadgets to become more efficient with their daily tasks and projects:

Google Home

Bluetooth speakers have revolutionized the way we listen to music, but the speakers lack intelligence and cannot function as an assistant. Google, unsurprisingly, has taken this idea of the Bluetooth speaker and transformed it into a smart speaker – Google Home. It’s not a smartphone; it’s a smart home control centre, an assistant, as well as a music/entertainment player and a task manager. Also, it can provide an answer to any curious questions.  It’s surprisingly inexpensive for a device that has so much built into it. It can be brought home for just $130.


ZutaLabs Pocket Printer

This is a great gadget to have when needing a printer on the go, and it’s a “lifesaver” when one brings the wrong document to a meeting or when adjustments to a business contract need to made. This printer is about the size of a computer mouse and fits nicely inside a pocket. Just lay the paper on a flat surface, place the printer on the top left of the page and press print; you can print up to an impressive 100 pages with just one cartridge. This pocket printer is available for pre-order for $199 but is expected to move up to $250 after its release.


Wearable technology

Wearable technology – specifically smartwatches – has been great for those who want to keep track of their fitness, heart rate and provide notification updates on the go without carrying around a smartphone. However, a smartwatch can have other functions that are beneficial for a small business. It helps businesses manage tasks, meet deadlines, schedule meetings/appointments and maintain their schedule. Smartwatches even come with a microphone built-in, so important meetings can be recorded and documented. There are multiple options in the markets. And yes, most of the smartwatches are compatible with both Apple iOS and Android. Just choosing one may take some research in order to understand the benefits of each one.



At first glance of the iTwin, it looks as if it were a USB flash drive.  But, in fact, it holds no storage space. Rather, it connects two remote computers to each other by using “a pair of iTwin units.” It enables a business to share files in real-time as long as both computers have an internet connection. Indeed, it does the exact same job as a cloud service, but it has more security options. So, your documents are safer than they would be in a cloud. However, it is much more expensive than a free cloud service. You can buy a pair for $199.


M. Policicchio | DBPC Blog

How to Handle Feedback as a Leader

It’s impossible to get to the top – or anywhere else for that matter – without listening to suggestions or advice. When you’re put in charge of a team, it’s not because you’re perfect, but because direction is needed. But you can’t lead your team to success while operating in a vacuum; feedback is key.

A leader is responsible for making sure that their business has satisfied employees just as much as satisfied customers or clients. And there’s no better way to do that than by having a staff that feels empowered to speak openly and honestly.

But how does the person at the top learn how to listen to the people they’re charged with overseeing? Here’s a look at how to handle feedback as a leader while not taking it personally.


Think It Through

We’re often told not to be emotional at work, but most of us spend so much time at our jobs that it’s nearly impossible not to be. Whether you’re laughing at the water cooler (which fosters important bonds that strengthen collaboration) or having a disagreement, emotions are part of the job. But if there’s one time that you need to think more than feel, it’s that brief moment between hearing feedback and reacting to it. Take a moment to really listen to what the person is telling you, process it, and then frame your response in a professional manner, and as a leader it’s even more important to maintain control of your emotions. Remember, neither of you is trying to escalate the problem, you’re both working on a solution.


It’s Not About You

If you thought about your reply before reacting, then you likely know that the feedback, at least in most cases, isn’t personal. When people complain or express their concerns, it’s normally not for the sake of creating a problem; it’s often rooted in something, and as a leader it’s crucial to keep that in mind. It’s important for a manager to know how their workers feel and what they think of the business and how it’s doing. In a healthy work environment, what the staff is saying shouldn’t be seen as a personal attack, so there’s no reason to feel defensive or threatened.


Ask Questions

When receiving feedback, it’s important to ask yourself certain questions. Is there merit to what’s being said? Does the person have a point? Getting some constructive criticism should be seen as a learning opportunity, since no one is perfect. Debating each point raised will get you nowhere, and it can be exhausting, while also likely discouraging that person or others from providing more in the future. If the feedback is given respectfully and supported by evidence, then it’s important to reflect on it and find a solution. The point is to resolve the issue and grow, both as a business and a team. Take employee feedback at face value, instead of assuming that they’re wrong or being troublesome.


Say ‘Thank You’

Have you thanked your team, lately? When presented with good ideas, it’s important to give credit where credit is due. Taking ideas from your subordinates is never a good option and will likely lower morale and foster a hostile environment. The amount of good ideas coming from your team can actually be seen as a result of strong leadership; it’s not a competition. If you’re hearing good suggestions for how to improve the business, remember to thank those responsible – preferably in front of the rest of the team – and let them know they’re valued.

Managing a team isn’t easy, especially if it’s a group with different personalities working towards the same goal. Whether you’re giving feedback or receiving it, it’s always best to ask yourself why it’s needed and how it will help improve things. Letting others voice their opinions comes with the job, and it will make you a better leader and manager to simply listen.


Dontei Wynter | Contributing Writer


Importance of Having a Hobby

Your life’s muse

It’s important to have hobbies as they improve cognitive abilities and enrich our lives.


At the age of 40, Winston Churchill, the firebrand leader who helmed the United Kingdom during WWII, discovered the perfect antidote to his depression — painting. He passionately pursued this hobby, which brightened his days and left a trove of national treasures. In his book, Painting as a Pastime, Churchill writes, “Like a sea-beast fished up from the depths, or a diver too suddenly hoisted, my veins threatened to burst from the fall in pressure. I had great anxiety and no means of relieving it … And then it was that the Muse of Painting came to my rescue — out of charity and out of chivalry … and said, ‘Are these toys any good to you? They amuse some people.’”

This is the power of hobby. As children, we all engaged in extra-curricular activities like sports, music, dance and visual arts. But the hours spent on these enterprises are inversely proportionate to our age. By the time we reach adulthood, we stop all or most of these activities because of a perception that hobbies are the luxurious indulgences of the idle rich; an active pursuit of them will result in the dereliction of our duties.

Collective wisdom, however, says pastimes are perfect stressbusters. While work is what we must do, hobbies are what we want to do. They let you escape the daily hustle-bustle and allow your grey matter to recharge. Engaging in hobbies stimulates the brain to produce feelings of pleasure, happiness and satisfaction.

Hobbies also build self-esteem. After a workday spent feeling worthless, engaging in a favourite pastime will help you feel empowered. Sometimes hobbies challenge you — as you overcome the hurdles, your confidence grows. You will carry over this positivity to your personal and professional lives.

Creative juices overflow when you regularly hobbyhorse. An ignited mind thinks of new solutions to problems, be it at work or home. Remember, a heightened problem-solving ability is an asset in the workplace. Hobbies can also complement our jobs — civil engineers can use their skills to renovate their homes and statisticians can use their acumen while playing cards. These hobbyists simply take parts of work they enjoy and place them in non-stressful environments.

Hobbies encourage you to discover new people with similar interests and mindsets. As social beings, we want to be part of a community and interact with fellow human beings. The joy these interactions bring will have a positive effect on your mental health.

A new hobby will improve your skills. Hobbies are also a great source of revenue — many bakers began cooking as a hobby. You’ll never know what change your newly acquired skills will bring about, and before long you may also consider changing your career!

Hobbies make your life richer, mind sharper and downtime more enjoyable. You must develop a hobby or two so that you will have something rewarding to do with your spare time instead of guzzling cans of beer while watching the Blue Jays play.



Nithya Caleb | DBPC Blog

Best saving strategies for the golden days

At 5:30 am, the alarm shrieks a-ring, ring, ring — the death knell of sleep — and I spring out of bed mentally listing out my to-dos for the day. As I sip a hot cup of coffee, the vision of a myself lounging on a Muskoka chair by a lakeside cottage galvanizes me to perform optimally at work and thereby save crucial dollars for my retirement.

However, before saying sayonara to full-time work, you must ensure sufficient income for the autumn of life, which might be anywhere from 20 to 30 years! This requires careful planning. With the following strategies, your lakeside cottage may have to find space for a sleek boat!


Saving schemes:

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)s encourage Canadians to save for retirement by offering tax benefits, which are twofold — contributions to RRSPs are tax deductible and the money compounds sans tax till you withdraw it. You can also open a Tax-Free Savings Account that allows your savings to grow tax-free.

Old Age Security:

Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have lived in Canada for more than 10 years after the age of 18 will be eligible for Old Age Security when they turn 65. The amount is not tied to your contributions but depends on the length of your stay in Canada.

Canada Pension Plan:

CPP is designed to replace approximately 25% of your earnings. Canadians earning $35,000 or more annually and who are over the age of 18 must pay into the CPP. The contribution rate is 9.9%, which is split equally between you and your employer. If you are self-employed, you pay the full amount. Your CPP benefit amount depends on the length of time and the amount you contributed and the age you choose to begin receiving your pension — you can start at any time between the ages of 60 and 70.

Employer pension plans:

Some Canadians will also receive benefits from employer-sponsored pension plans like Defined Benefit Pension Plan (DBP) and Defined Contribution Pension Plan (DCP). In a DCP, you and your employer contribute an established amount annually. You must choose how your contributions are invested. The amount of retirement income is not guaranteed because it’s market-dependent. DBPs are an agreement where the employer promises to pay a certain amount of money each year after retirement. You run the risk of that fund not being managed properly or your employer experiencing financial troubles, even bankruptcy.

All the above benefits will only cover a portion of your income requirement-post retirement. The reality is that only two out of five Canadians are covered by workplace pension plans and the pension provided by government won’t be enough to get by — In 2015, the maximum payout for CPP was only $12,780 per year.

Start early:

To ensure you have enough income to last throughout your retirement, you need to start saving early. In the 2016 Sun Life Retirement Now report, 89% of the surveyed ranked starting to save and invest early as their number one tip. When you factor in wildcards like medical emergencies and children who need long-term support, you will need 70% of your working income when you reach retirement. This is not an unattainable target when you adopt these methods.

Pay yourself first:

This simple technique, made famous by David Chilton in The Wealthy Barber, makes saving easy. Figure out how much you want to save, set-up an automatic withdrawal plan with your bank for that amount and spend the rest.

Bank tax returns:

An easy way to boost retirement funds is to increase the amount of tax refunds saved. Also, save at least half of any pay increase you receive. When you receive another raise, keep saving the earlier amount as well as half of the new increase.

Practice premeditation:

Put a brake on impulse purchases. Refuse to buy anything over $100 on the spot. Force yourself to think about it for at least a day. Also, comparison shop online for better deals.

Prepare for retirement:

Try living on your projected retirement income before quitting to see if it meets your expectations. Adjust your retirement plan accordingly.



N. Caleb | DBPC Blog

Cognitive Behaviour

You always work hard on every job or project, no matter what it is. But you always see your co-workers/peers, who appear not to work as hard, get the promotion you want. That’s when you start to think that there is no point to working hard because you are destined for failure. This lack of promotions start to affect your cognitive behaviour, and clouds your perspective – you automatically think negatively about everything.  There is no point in wearing good clothes because you spilled sauce on your favourite shirt, or you shouldn’t diet because you ate fast food. It’s safe to say that negative thoughts cause negative experiences. Your thoughts and feelings will affect your emotions, which, as a result, disrupt the way you behave in certain situations. Experts refer to this as having Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) wired into your brain.


ANTs was crucial for humans’ survival in the Pleistocene Epoch (about 1.8 million years ago) because their pessimism prevented them from going out on a hunt when they heard or saw animals that were bigger and stronger than them. They may have starved that night, but they lived to hunt another day. But in this modern era, having ANTs is damaging; all you are doing is hurting yourself because there is nothing to hide from. So, it’s time to stop thinking negatively, and know that you can control your thoughts.  There are several ways to do it, you just need to see which fits your needs the best.


The ANT Eater

According to psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Amen, flipping your negative thoughts to positive ones can change your life for the better. Positive thoughts can affect your appearance, energy and enable you to succeed with your diet.  He developed the ANT eater technique, which enables your brain to devour all negative thoughts. He says that you can do this by writing down “what your ANT-eater would say to that ANT to kill it.” This tactic allows you to clearly identify what exactly the thought is. If the thought is clearly identified, you can see if it even holds any truth to it. And if you can prove the thought to be false, then talk back to it, and tell them they are wrong.


Enjoy Your Positive Experience

In his book, Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence, Neuroscientist, Dr. Rick Hanson argues that reminiscing on a positive experience is great for the mind. Even though a “good experience is pretty mild,” one should try to “stay with it for 20 or 30 seconds in a row – instead of getting distracted by something else.” He says that by doing this, you create more positive patterns in the brain (it learns from experience), which builds new neural pathways.


Challenge Your Mind

Ever feel that your aches and pains seem to be non-existent when trying to solve a puzzle or memorize a piece of work? Well, use this to your advantage. You can shake off negative thoughts and put your mental focus on something else. Dr. Hanson says a good challenging mind exercise is to “count backwards from 100 in increments of seven,” or randomly multiply two numbers “like 14 and 23 in your head.”


There are many other mental exercises to perform that will enable you to overcome your cognitive behaviour. You can slow down your talking and walking, and relax yourself. Or you can become determined to overcome your negative thoughts on your own. But, most importantly, you need to remember there are no roadblocks. There might be stop signs, but they are only brief – you can keep moving forward.


M. Policicchio | DBPC Blog

What is a Balanced Scorecard?

Considered by Harvard Business Review as one of the most influential ideas of the 20th century. The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) is a strategic management system created by Robert Kaplan and David Norton. Aware of the changing economy and increasing reliance on financial calculations, they designed it as a tool to assist companies in creating a more complete measurement system. This system allows them to utilize not only finances, but also other intangible assets like employees, brand recognition, product perception and relationships with clients and suppliers.

The BSC does more than just assess the company results. It also translates the organization goals and vision into actionable plans. To do this Kaplan and Norton use four perspectives to design and evaluate their strategies.

Learning and Growth Perspective
This involves employee training and professional development. Management should think what procedures need to be implemented or improved upon in order to achieve the company’s vision. Are employees knowledgeable enough to meet expectations? Do they have the tools they need to perform well? Are the supervisors ready to train and mentor their personnel? These are the questions managers must answer when designing a plan. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of this plan is highly dependent on the performance of the staff and supervisors.

Internal Business Process Perspective
As the name indicates, this perspective is about understanding the internal procedures of the company. It means knowing what procedures need to be altered in order to better satisfy shareholders and customers. Each department should stipulate their own internal objectives, targets and initiatives, so that they can work more efficiently to achieve the organization’s vision. Every department has different goals and needs, so procedures need to be tailored differently for each part of the business.

Customer Perspective
This looks at the number of returned products and client complaints versus the overall level customer satisfaction. There are different procedures that can be established to help determine how your service stacks up. An effective business plan should always consider the clientele; customer satisfaction is the priority of the company, since unhappy clientele are bad for business. Know what your users think about your company and its products or services, then make the necessary corrections to address problem areas.

Financial Perspective
This focuses on a company’s financial measurements. On its own, using only this approach can lead to an unbalanced vision; however, using it in tandem with data from other perspectives will allow a company to utilize proper cost-benefit analysis and produce better changes to their strategy.

As mentioned before, the BSC is not just a measurement structure; it’s also management system. Based on the unique strategies of each perspective, the organization can design an overarching execution plan. This is something that will link the strategic planning of each perspective to an actionable plan using the following six steps.

  • Develop the strategy
  • Translate the strategy
  • Align the organization
  • Plan Operations
  • Monitor and learn
  • Test and Adapt the strategy

Implementing the BSC is not an easy task. All staff and management needs to be invested and on the same page for it to work as intended. It may be difficult to learn to adopt new processes and strategies if your company is used to doing things a certain way, but by being diligent, the organization will eventually find a route to greater success.


V. Sanchez | DBPC Blog

Investment Options for Non-Risk Takers

Living paycheque to paycheque and relying on retirement money isn’t feasible and not enough to sustain a living due to the unpredictability of the economy. This is where investing and saving comes in, which usually depends on your attitude towards risks. Aggressive risk takers aim for higher returns – go big or go home; moderate risk takers earn average yield; conservatives protect themselves from price volatility and want to make sure that their capital remains secure.

The following are some of the most common investment options for non-risk takers:

GIC, Term Deposit
This offers guaranteed rate of return (fixed, variable or market-based) and good option for capital preservation. You can also use this as the fixed income part of your portfolio. Investments with longer term offer higher yield.

TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account)
Since its introduction in 2009, this type of investment has become very popular among Canadians irrespective of age and/or earning level. Due to flexibility and zero tax penalties, TFSA offers not just stability but liquidity. Additionally, the contribution limit is cumulative and indexed to inflation.

In essence, when you invest in bonds, you’re lending money to the government and/or corporation(s). You can choose between short, medium, or long-term and earn fixed return based on the coupon rate. Again, the longer the term, the higher the return. Its value fluctuates because it can traded or sold, but it can be cashed anytime.

Money Market Fund
Aside from liquidity, one doesn’t need a lot of capital to open an account. This is also ideal for those who don’t want to worry too much about the stock market. Financial institutions invest your hard-earned cash in short-term debt securities to various businesses and government bodies.

RRSP, Annuities
These are unique products wherein you enter into a long-term “contract” with financial institutions, including insurance companies, in order to accumulate assets and help manage your income upon retirement. Some of its benefits include tax deferral, lifetime income, payout flexibility and safety.

Cash Value Life Insurance
This is considered a good investment because the returns are safe. Additionally, it provides protection during “extraordinary” events not just for yourself but for your family as well plus you earn something on the side. You pay higher premium but it has the potential to build cash over time.

Low risk investments don’t provide big returns, but they offer stability and security for those who can’t afford to lose money or would just like to avoid as much risk as possible. If you’re new to the investing process, it’s important to prepare a financial plan and know the reasons why you’re doing it. Do your own research and analyze what’s available. Experts say, “Diversify.” Explore different low-risk and/or short-term options and spread your money across the board but limit your portfolio to the number of instruments you can handle and what support your needs and goals. You can then use what you earn to develop a more aggressive plan in the future.

Protect your source of income and have your assets work for you!


Z. Ricafrente | DBPC Blog

7 Traits of an Effective Recruiter

A great recruiter is more than a “job filler”. Although filling an order is part of the job, recruiters should be able to sell, communicate and negotiate. Our report will outline 7 essential traits that classify an effective recruiter.

Customer Relations
Like every customer oriented job, recruiting requires communication and professionalism. A recruiter should possess outstanding interpersonal capabilities and communicate on various levels. The recruiter has to be confident and charismatic and know what client needs. Many factors will affect the completion of an order and it’s part of the recruiters’ job to demonstrate efficiency and wisdom throughout the process. A recruiter should always be accessible. Clients expect to work with someone who will keep them informed and is available when required. Finding the most qualified and suitable candidate should be paramount to both recruiter and client. The recruiter should ensure the candidate and client are compatible and the work environment and culture of the company is adaptable to the candidate. Obtaining and maintaining, the clients’ loyalty can be challenging, but it is one factor which makes a recruiters job more rewarding. Great listening skills and an open communication channel help foster great relationships.

Finding Qualified Candidates
Finding qualified candidates for a client is not an easy task. There are many steps that will impact this process. Sourcing qualified candidates starts with having an accurate depiction of the clients’ requirements. There should be a clear understanding on what kind of person he/she wants to hire and what the requirements are for the position. One of the most effective ways to have a qualified pool of candidates is through the use of tools such as assessments and interviews. An assessment allows the recruiter to distinguish between candidates that meet all the technical requirements of the position. Through an interview the recruiter becomes acquainted with the candidates’ personality, and his/her familiarity with the position. After the interview the recruiter is better equipped to decide if the candidate will be a good fit for the company. It’s also imperative to know more about the candidates’ personality, education and work experience to make an accurate match, thereby fulfilling the expectations of both parties. With the guidance of an effective recruiter, the candidate will also make the right decision regarding the job.

A vital aspect of a recruiters job is sales. It is not just about acquiring new clients, it is also selling the job to candidates.

The recruiter must know:
a) The company’s target market
b) The employers specific requirements
c) If the employer is serious about the order
d) If the candidate meets the employers requirements

Often times, recruiters lose their focus and offer services to companies that do not have any need for their service. This mistake can be time consuming and costly. A recruiter needs to know who, why, when, where and how to sell staffing services.

IT Literate
Technology is evolving very rapidly. For the most part, recruiting is conducted on computerized software. This allows recruiters to utilize various tools to connect with prospects, contact candidates and source new clients. Social mediums like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+, allow companies to connect with clients and candidates providing opportunities to increase their network.

Detail Oriented
An effective recruiter pays close attention to details. Recruiters should focus on meeting clients needs. Neglecting or overlooking minute details can harm the process, and negatively affect the relationship with clients or candidates. The recruiter has to complete an order with efficiency and accuracy.

Time Management
A great recruiter should always be aware of and consistently meet deadlines. They must be realistic on the length of time needed to fill a position, and never mislead clients. This will eventually impact future decisions for jobs with the company. Candidates also appreciate knowing the time frame for a position to be filled and to be notified when the position is filled.

Team Oriented
Recruiting requires team work, not just with co-workers but also with clients and candidates. Open communication will allow the recruiter to have a better understanding of what the client is looking for. Often times, clients are not specific with their requirements. It is the recruiters’ responsibility to get to know the client and establish a relationship where they can work together to select the best candidate for the position.

An effective recruiter will know what the candidate needs to improve on and the best candidate to choose for the job. Both candidate and recruiter should work together to ensure the candidate has a professional resume. If the candidate gets an interview, the recruiter should provide all the necessary information to prepare the candidate for the interview. Finally, the recruiter must give moral support to the candidate, as some candidates get nervous during interviews. Team work is essential to complete every aspect of the process.

There are several other traits that could be included in this article, however under our consideration, these 7 traits would make a successful and effective recruiter.


T. Bhatti & V. Sanchez | DBPC Blog