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New Ideas for Business Meetings

July 21, 2014 | Christina | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

When I entered the workforce, my first employer showed staff a video on how to make business meetings more productive.  The video was entitled Meetings, Bloody Meetings with John Cleese and Robert Hardy.  It remains one of my favourite videos on the topic.

Today, there are new ideas on making a business meeting more productive.  In the article "Here's One Way to Fix Boring Meetings" by Jena McGregor, two newer ideas are discussed; i.e. stand-up meetings and walking meetings.

In stand-up meetings, employees stand in order to make "the gatherings more effective or more efficient".

In walking meetings, attendees walk step by step.  This type of meeting was popularized by Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have recently published their findings in relation to standing meetings.  Their research indicates that "standing meetings improve creativity and teamwork".

For additional information on improving business meetings, here are a few recent titles available at the Toronto Public Library:

Effective Meetings
  No-image-book (1)   Talk Lean
Effective Meetings in 7 Simple Steps HBR Guide to Making Every Meeting Matter Talk Lean: Shorter Meetings, Quicker Results, Better Relations

For more titles, search the Toronto Public Library catalogue with the recommended subject Business meetings.

A history of beer

July 14, 2014 | Raya | Comments (2) Facebook Twitter More...

Beer glass image


Archaelogists have learned that beer was first discovered about 12,000 years ago. Roughly around the same time cereal agriculture was developing. According to historians, it  most likely came about when some grain began to ferment after coming in contact with water.

Many scholars have found evidence that some early humans grew and stored grain for beer rather than for bread. The earliest reference to beer can be traced back at least six thousand years to the ancient civilization of Sumeria. At that time beer had a cloudy appearance due to the residue it contained and would have been too heavy to create a head of foam. Despite the bitterness, beer remained a popular beverage.

By 2000 B.C., the Ancient Babylonians began brewing at least 20 different varieties of beer. Citizens received daily beer ration, calculated by their social standing. Beer was used as barter and workers were often paid in beer. Hammurabi's Code, the ancient Babylonian set of laws, also prescribed death to bar owners who overcharged their patrons for beer.

Ancient beers tasted different from what we drink today. It was common to add spices and herbs to the fermenting mixture. Some strange ingredients included olive oil , carrots and poppy.

Beer continued to be consumed during the Greek and Roman eras. It was in the Middle Ages when Christian monks began brewing beers seasoned with hops, creating the clear and frothy beverage we see today.

Today, the beer industry is a multi-million dollar industry largely dominated by Europe. By 2015, the projected value of the market will be USD 137, 458.9 million by 2015 (Transparency Market Research).

In Canada, the beer economy supports 1 out of every 100 jobs and generates $5.8 billion in government revenues. The brewing industry is over three times larger than the wineries and distilleries industries. Beer consumption in one province supports jobs in many other provinces along its supply chain. Every $1 spent on beer in Canada generates $1.12 in GDP across the country.


To read more about the beer industry, take a look at these and other books:

  The Craft Beer Revolution by Steve Hindy Beer Blast by Philip Van Munching The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Masfield Bitter Brew by William Knoedelseder

Ontario Bear by  	Alan McLeod and Jordan St. John Beer is Proof God Loves Us by Charles W. Bamforth Lager heads : Labatt and Molson face off for Canada's beer money by Paul Brent Beyond the pale : the story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. by Ken Grossman

Take that extra step to make your business dream a reality!

July 5, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Another successful round of Business Inc. programs has come to an end at Agincourt Branch, Bloor Gladstone Branch, and North York Central Library this spring. We had an amazing group of students at all three locations who were dedicated and driven to take that extra step to make their business dreams a reality!

Do you have a business idea and want to take that extra step in boosting your business plan?

Join the eight-week business program this fall at Fairview Branch, Parliament St. Branch, or Mount Dennis Branch and reap in the benefits of getting expert assistance with preparing your business plan, access to a business advisor, and networking with other likeminded entrepreneurs.

Furthermore, upon completion of the program, you will be awarded with a Business Seminar Series Certificate from Toronto Business Development Centre and be eligible to apply for a small business loan ranging from $5,000 to $30,000.

Have more questions? Visit the Business Inc. page on the Toronto Public Library or attend an information session at either of these locations to learn more before applying:


Fairview Branch- Monday, September 22nd at 6:30pm

Parliament St. Branch- Wednesday, September 24th at 6:30pm

Mount Dennis Branch- Thursday, September 25th at 6:30pm


For more information on starting your own small business, check out these great titles:

   Everyday entrepreneur        The complete canadian Small Business Guide         The Economy of You         The Young Entrepreneur's guide to starting and running a business




Financial guide for Canadian students

June 23, 2014 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

It can cost upwards of $20,000 a year for a student to live away from home while studying for a four year liberal arts degree, and Canadian students are taking on more debt each and every year. With tuition fees rising faster than the rate of inflation, it means that a student's budget will take a greater hit in the future. Saving money before and during your education may not be easy but by having a plan in place you will find that there are numerous ways you can keep costs down while attending college or university. Here are a few ways you can save money:


  1. Live at home while going to school. Going away for school can be a great experience, but the trade off is that it is much more expensive. In 2009, the average cost of a four-year degree for someone living away from home was $77,132, compared to $51,763 for those living at home, a difference of $25,369.

    If living at home isn’t an option for you, consider roommates. Sharing your accommodations is usually much cheaper than living in residence or living on your own.
  2. Apply for grants, bursaries and scholarships.
    It’s worth your while to research and apply for as many as possible. If your application is successful, the big benefit is that it is money that you won’t have to pay back. Keep in mind that many post-secondary institutions offer automatic scholarships for maintaining your grades at a certain level. Generally, the higher your grades, the more money you receive.

    Visit the following sources for help finding grants, bursaries and scholarships that you might be eligible for:
  3. Manage your student loan and other borrowing carefully.
    If you are offered more money than you actually need, request a lower amount. Avoid the mistake of spending everything and increasing your debt simply because the money is available.

    Review your spending against your budget each month to be sure you are on track and that your money will last until the end of the term.
  4. Be wary of credit cards.
    University and college campuses are popular advertising spots for credit card companies looking for new customers. Be cautious—credit cards are a very expensive way to borrow money if you aren’t diligent about paying off your balance in full every month. The average interest rate for student credit cards is 17.3% (based on student cards in FCAC’s credit card selector tool database).

    For example, if you have a $1,000.00 balance and the minimum payment is either 2% of the balance or $10 (whichever is greater), and you make only the minimum payment, it would take you 19 years and 4 months to pay off your balance and you would have paid $1,931.11 in interest. Your total cost would be almost triple the purchase price.
  5. Opt-out of health and dental coverage IF you already have similar coverage.
    Your tuition will often include fees for health and dental insurance. However, in most cases you’ll have the opportunity to “opt-out” of the school’s coverage. If you opt-out, you will usually be reimbursed the fees that would have automatically been included in your tuition. Depending on the school’s plan this can be up to a few hundred dollars a year. But keep in mind:
    • Do not opt-out unless you have similar health and dental coverage elsewhere.
    • You may have to provide proof that you have equivalent coverage elsewhere to successfully opt-out.
    • There is often an “opt-out” deadline, after that point, you won’t be able to opt-out.
  6. Sell old textbooks.
    Sell or trade your textbooks yourself, or find out if there is a student run or local consignment shop that will sell your old textbooks for you. They will take a share of the money, but you will still almost always earn more than you would get selling your books back to your campus bookstore.
  7. Buy used books.
    New textbooks are expensive. Whenever possible, buy a used version of the textbook you need.

    There is often pressure to buy the latest edition of a textbook, but keep in mind that the latest version may not have changed significantly from the previous version. Look into whether you can use an older (and cheaper) version without missing out on any key information.
  8. Use your student card.
    Many businesses offer discounts to students, so take advantage. Check with your school’s student association for a list of local businesses that offer student discounts.

    You can also sign up for the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) which can get you a discount on a range of products and services, including travel. The ISIC is usually free for university and college students. Visit the ISIC website to see what kinds of discounts are available.
  9. Shop around, use coupons, and look for bargains.
    It might seem tedious, but for the budget conscious student, a few dollars in savings will add up over the course of a degree or diploma.
  10. Take advantage of tax deductions and tax credits for students.
    Both the federal and provincial governments offer tax deductions and tax credits for students for things like tuition fees, books, moving expenses and more.
  11. Save on transportation costs.
    Walking and biking are the cheapest ways to get around but if those options aren’t practical for you, consider public transit. Some schools include the cost of a transit pass, sometimes called a “U-pass,” in your tuition. Be sure to find out if that's the case for your school. 

(Source: Financial Consumer Agency of Canada)

Need more help? Check out these great books:

Student Student2 Student3 Student2



Small Business Network: Come meet Said Karfa

June 14, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (1) Facebook Twitter More...

Want to learn from others? Enjoy sharing your own experiences? Or just want to soak in the collective wisdom of the group?

North York Central Library's Small Business Network is for you!

This month's topic is all about creating relationships using social media for your small business. Who better to discuss on these expanding interactive platforms than Said Karfa, founder of Q-Marketing, a consulting company for the Fortune 500 Companies.

  Said Karfa

Said Karfa joined the Entrepreneurship Branch as a Business Consultant & Social Media Advisor to work with new entrepreneurs. Consulting for the Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment, Said markets entrepreneurial programs via social media improving brand awareness and qualified leads.

Using social media for marketing can enable small business looking to further their reach to more customers. An integral part of the sales process is getting to know prospects and establishing relationships, and it turns out that social media can help entrepreneurs accomplish this quickly and easily.

Said will share the steps to make sales using social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube).

Join us on June 18th at North York Central Library from 6:30pm to 7:30pm to hear Said share his expertise and network with other inspiring enterpreneurs. Register by calling 416-395-5613. Registration is free.

Don't forget your business cards! See you all there.

"Succeeding in Business is all about making Connections" -- Richard Branson

Do You Know Your Retirement Income Sources?

June 9, 2014 | Christina | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Do you know where your income will come from after you retire?

In an article titled 'Plan for Your Pay Cheques" (dated October 2011) by Jim Yih, a financial writer, and an article titled 'Retirement Income Sources - Know Them All' (dated March 2014) by the Investors Group at, there are several sources of income a retiree may be able to count on.  Here is a list of possible sources:

Employer-sponsored Pension Plans:  In Jim Yih's article, it is stated "about 40 per cent of Canadians who are still working participate in a pension plan, and 56 per cent of retirees collect a pay cheque from a pension plan.  For these people, pensions will form the foundation of their retirement income."  In these plans, the saving was achieved by "employee and employer contributions."

Canada Pension Plan (CPP)/Quebec Pension Plan:  The Investors Group's article states that the Canada Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan "pays a monthly pension to people who have been employed and contributed to CPP.  Benefits are approximately 25 per cent of your average annual earnings during your working life up to certain limits.  Benefits are indexed to inflation, are taxable, and can start at a reduced amount as early as age 60, or as late as age 70 with an increase."

Old Age Security (OAS): This program is funded out of general tax revenues.  According to the Investors Group article, OAS provides "a basic monthly pension benefit at age 65.  Benefits are taxable, adjusted for inflation, and 'clawed back' in increasing amounts as your individual net income climbs above a threshold amount.  Individuals with lower incomes may also qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)."

Individual Retirement Plans:  When you retire, investments held in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) can be converted to income in different ways.  

  • Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF):  In a RRIF, you withdraw money from the account instead of contributing to it.  The Investors Group notes "a RRIF offers the flexibility of a wide range of investment choices as well as your choice of the amount you wish to withdraw each month."
  • Annuity:  According to the Investors Group, an annuity offers "the simplicity of a guaranteed lifetime income but can't be increased to keep up with inflation or escalating living costs."

Non-RRSP Investments:  Jim Yih notes that you can create another source of income if you have investments outside of an RRSP; e.g. savings, bonds, stocks or investment property.  He states "any asset that you own outside RRSPs may fall into this category.  The income created from such investments might include interest, dividends and capital gains."  

Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs):  In 2009, the Government of Canada introduced Tax Free Savings Accounts.  Jim Yih states, "the capital contributed to the account is already tax paid."  The advantage to a retiree is that " the income earned will never be taxed on withdrawal."   TFSAs are "accounts where you would withdraw funds as needed and replace those funds in the account according to rules."

Service Canada has a Canadian Retirement Income Calculator. This online service will provide you with retirement income information, including OAS and CPP benefits.  It also allows you to see the impact of increased savings. The calculator will help you better understand how each level of the retirement income system will contribute to your future financial security. Note:  The calculator's results are rough estimates for information purposes only - not financial planning.  

For more information on retirement income, check out the following titles at the Toronto Public Library:

How much is enough Real retirement 7 most important equations
How Much is
The Real Retirement The 7 Most Important Equations
for Your Retirement
Master your retirement Retirement's Harsh New Realities Your retirement income blueprint
Master Your Retirement Retirement's Harsh
New Realities

Your Retirement
Income Blueprint

For additional titles, search the Toronto Public Library catalogue with the recommended subjects Retirement - Canada and Retirement income - Canada.

Great business reads for the beach

June 2, 2014 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...




Summer is finally here, and as we pack our things for the cottage and the beach why not bring along a business book. Now, if you think that finding a great business book to read while away on vacation is too difficult, think again! The business book genre offers unique opportunities in summer reading. The following is list of easy and entertaining, dramatic narratives that will hold your interest all vacation long:


BbbPulitzer Prize–winner James B. Stewart shows for the first time how four of the eighties’ biggest names on Wall Street—Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Martin Siegel, and Dennis Levine —created the greatest insider-trading ring in financial history and almost walked away with billions, until a team of downtrodden detectives triumphed over some of America’s most expensive lawyers to bring this powerful quartet to justice. Based on secret grand jury transcripts, interviews, and actual trading records, Den of Thieves weaves all the facts into an unforgettable narrative—a portrait of human nature, big business, and crime of unparalleled proportions.



Weaving together the multigenerational sagas of the industry's four wealthiest families, Burrough brings to life the men known in their day as the Big Four: Roy Cullen, H. L. Hunt, Clint Murchison, and Sid Richardson, all swaggering Texas oil tycoons who owned sprawling ranches and mingled with presidents and Hollywood stars. Seamlessly charting their collective rise and fall, The Big Rich is a hugely entertaining account that only a writer with Burrough's abilities-and Texas upbringing-could have written.




Bbb4It was one of the FBI's biggest secrets: a senior executive with America's most politically powerful corporation, Archer Daniels Midland, had become a confidential government witness, secretly recording a vast criminal conspiracy spanning five continents. Mark Whitacre, the promising golden boy of ADM, had put his career and family at risk to wear a wire and deceive his friends and colleagues. Using Whitacre and a small team of agents to tap into the secrets at ADM, the FBI discovered the company's scheme to steal millions of dollars from its own customers.

But as the FBI and federal prosecutors closed in on ADM, using stakeouts, wiretaps, and secret recordings of illegal meetings around the world, they suddenly found that everything was not all that it appeared. At the same time Whitacre was cooperating with the Feds while playing the role of loyal company man, he had his own agenda he kept hidden from everyone around him—his wife, his lawyer, even the FBI agents who had come to trust him with the case they had put their careers on the line for. Whitacre became sucked into his own world of James Bond antics, imperiling the criminal case and creating a web of deceit that left the FBI and prosecutors uncertain where the lies stopped and the truth began.


It is commonly believed that the Great Depression that began in 1929 resulted from a confluence of events beyond any one person's or government's control. In fact, as Liaquat Ahamed reveals, it was the decisions made by a small number of central bankers that were the primary cause of that economic meltdown, the effects of which set the stage for World War II and reverberated for decades. As yet another period of economic turmoil makes headlines today, Lords of Finance is a potent reminder of the enormous impact that the decisions of central bankers can have, their fallibility, and the terrible human consequences that can result when they are wrong.



Bbb6The Music Corporation of America was founded in Chicago in 1924 by Dr. Jules Stein, an ophthalmologist with a gift for booking bands. Twelve years later, Stein moved his operations west to Beverly Hills and hired Lew Wasserman. From his meager beginnings as a movie-theater usher in Cleveland, Wasserman ultimately ascended to the post of president of MCA, and the company became the most powerful force in Hollywood, regarded with a mixture of fear and awe.

He shifted the balance of power from the studios—which had seven-year contractual strangleholds on the stars—to the talent, who became profit partners. When an antitrust suit forced MCA’s evolution from talent agency to film- and television-production company, it was Wasserman who parlayed the control of a wide variety of entertainment and media products into a new type of Hollywood power base. There was only Washington left to conquer, and conquer it Wasserman did, quietly brokering alliances with Democratic and Republican administrations alike.

That Wasserman’s reach extended from the underworld to the White House only added to his mystique. Among his friends were Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa, mob lawyer Sidney Korshak, and gangster Moe Dalitz—along with Presidents Johnson, Clinton, and especially Reagan, who enjoyed a particularly close and mutually beneficial relationship with Wasserman. He was equally intimate with Hollywood royalty, from Bette Davis and Jimmy Stewart to Steven Spielberg.


Bbb3A #1 New York Times bestseller and arguably the best business narrative ever written, Barbarians at the Gate is the classic account of the fall of RJR Nabisco. An enduring masterpiece of investigative journalism by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, it includes a new afterword by the authors that brings this remarkable story of greed and double-dealings up to date twenty years after the famed deal. The Los Angeles Times calls Barbarians at the Gate, “Superlative.” The Chicago Tribune raves, “It’s hard to imagine a better story...and it’s hard to imagine a better account.” And in an era of spectacular business crashes and federal bailouts, it still stands as a valuable cautionary tale that must be heeded.



Small Business Network: Tips from a Successful Entrepreneur

May 24, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (3) Facebook Twitter More...

RyanDid you miss Ryan McKnight at North York Central Library's Small Business Networking session in April?


Not to Worry!


Below you will find a few of Ryan's tips he shared on starting a business that you may find useful:


Look for trade shows and associations so that you can meet people who are likely to help you. Take the time to talk to people about what they do outside of work. You cannot be "pushy"-- you have to give as well as take.

Business Plan:

MaRS Discovery District's Entrepreneurship 101 free weekly series features key topics related to starting a successful business.

Lean Launch Lab teaches companies how to operate lean start-ups. The lean startup movement was developed by Steve Blank, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. His book, "Four Steps to the Epiphany" is available in Toronto Public Library's catalogue.  


Alterna Savings and Credit Unit Ltd. offers micro financing.

Access Community Capital Fund offers up to $5,000 for the first loan; up to $10,000 for the second loan.

Canadian Youth Business Foundation provides $5,000 for young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39. Now called Futurpreneur Canada.

Business Development Bank of Canada dedicated exclusively to entrepreneurs provides $10,000.

ScotiaBank is great for first timers.

Ontario Catapult Microloan Fund for Social Ventures helps promising social entrepreneurs and innovators with low interest loans of $5,000 to $25,000.

Ignite Capital offers Canadian entrepreneurs the opportunity to compete for a start-up award of $20,000 and provides support program.

Crowdfunding for your business can yield results, especially if the business has "social" value such as being eco-friendly, etc.

Angel Investors are really looking for a sure thing, so they are probably unlikely to invest in start-ups.


There will be tasks that you will need to delegate, either because you do not want to do them or because you are not good at them. You can find people to take on these tasks. Some "virtual assistants" will work for a very low figure, as they want the experience. You can hire them for a task to see how they do and, if you are satisfied, you can re-hire them.

Get the right freelancer at

Founderdating is a network of talented entrepreneurs helping one another to start and grow companies. All too often you know people with similiar backgrounds and skill sets to your own. With Founderdating, you can find world-class people who have extensive knowledge in certain areas. It is a great place to find consultants or to find people who help with projects.

LinkedIn is also a great place to find experts. All those starting a business should get a LinkedIn account.

Social Media:

If you cannot do this yourself, find someone who will do it for you-- see Delegation, above.

Market Research:

MaRS Discovery District provides free weekly sessions in their Entrepreneurship 101 series.  


Don't miss this month's Small Business Networking session with Satish Kanwar on Tuesday May, 28th at 6:30pm at North York Central Library.

See you then!


Socially responsible investing

May 12, 2014 | Raya | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...




Have you ever considered investing in socially responsible companies? Not sure how to find these companies? And what exactly is socially responsible investing (SRI)? An investment is considered to be socially responsible when the company you are investing in does not produce or sell any addictive products such as alcohol or tobacco, is environmentally friendly, uses alternative energy and clean technologies to produce their products and provides healthy working conditions in overseas factories, as well as at home. These investments can be made in individual companies or through mutual funds. In Canada the Responsible Investment Association is a non-profit organization that provides public awareness of responsible investment (RI) and believes that RI is a valuable investment tool to enhance returns, reduce risk, and catalyze positive social change.

Although historians believe that SRI has been around since biblical times, modern SRI is a relatively new development in the investment world. The movement can be traced back to the tumultuous 1960s when investors became concerned about civil rights, the environment and militarism. During the 1970s the Vietnam war, women's rights and anit-nuclear sentiment were included in the movement. It is believed  that investors helped to dismantle the apartheid system in the 1990s by pressuring the South African government both vocally and financially.  Incidents like the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Bhopal Union Carbide plant disaster and numerous social issues such as human rights in overseas factories,  workplace health and safety issues, as well as the production of greenhouse gases have become rallying points for socially responsible investors.

To read more about SRI, check out what the library has for you:

Sri Sri2 Sri3 Sri4

Sri5 Sri6 Sri7 Sri8



Small Business Network: Come Meet Satish Kanwar

May 5, 2014 | Thanusa | Comments (0) Facebook Twitter More...

Are you thinking of starting a business? Or you have an existing business and looking to get advice from a successful entrepreneur to help it succeed?

Well you can do so at Toronto Public Library's Small Business Network sessions.

North York Central Library is hosting the Small Business Network session on Wednesday May 28, 2014 at 6:30pm in the Teen Zone Study Room.


Come meet Satish Kanwar, Director at Shopify.


Satish will share his personal journey from being a first-time entrepreneur. From start-up to sale of his design consulting business, he will discuss his major influences, key challenges, and critical points in his business that helped it succeed.    




Welcome! We are specialized librarians in our business department and we write about current issues for small business owners and those interested in personal finance matters. For more information and resources see our Small Business & Personal Finance page.

Your comments, posts, messages and creative content are welcome, provided they encourage a respectful dialogue and comply with the Library's mission, values and policies.
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